Bucks County’s Kathryn Knott will likely soon see the light of day after a judge sentenced her in February to five to 10 months in jail for her role in the September 2014 Center City gay bashing. But her legal troubles aren’t over. A Norristown woman has sued Knott and others for what she says is retaliation over what she thought were anonymous Internet comments she made about Knott and the case. Read more »
All this week, the city has been celebrating its long love affair with science via the Philadelphia Science Festival, organized by the Franklin Institute. The event, now in its sixth year, has gotten so big — in 2015, 95,000 of us attended — that its signature Science Carnival has moved from the Institute to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. It’s this Saturday, April 30th, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it’s FREE!!! You’ll find more than 175 exhibitors presenting hands-on, family-friendly experiments and activities concerning everything scientific, from robotics to live animals to slime-making to helicopter tours. (They’re promising an “explosive grand finale moment” that we happen to know involves trash cans.) As a windup to the carnival, here’s a collection of oddities (not all are on public display) you might not have realized are housed at the Institute — testaments, all, to the enormous breadth of human curiosity and invention.
1. The Wright Brothers’ 1911 Model B Flyer. This model, the most-intact Wright Brothers airplane remaining in the world, was one of the first mass-produced aircraft. It was also the first to fly nonstop(!) from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. The Institute has an entire Wright Aeronautical Engineering Collection of artifacts that includes the detailed and exhaustive notebooks Orville and Wilbur used to record their wind-tunnel tests. Read more »
In November of 2013, Melanie Bullock was assaulted and stabbed in Philadelphia. She survived the incident, and reached out to the state’s Victim Compensation Assistance Program for help a few months later. Her story took a bizarre turn from there.
The fund provides financial assistance to crime victims, so Bullock fit the bill. The problem, according to the state Attorney General’s Office, was that Bullock allegedly provided the program with phony pay stubs and tax records in an attempt to collect $38,500 in supposedly lost wages.
Investigators from the A.G.’s Office dug into the lost earnings claim Bullock filed in May of 2014, which indicated that she was a finance manager at a company called Blue Ivory Stones LLC, supposedly earning $5,500 a month. Bullock even had her boss, Tara Johnson, sign off on some forms, confirming the whole story.
Frank Long says he was right on the cusp of getting a job as a bus driver for SEPTA when two 20-year-old convictions for drug offenses got in his way. And according to his lawyers, that never should have happened.
In a lawsuit filed this week, Long claims that a SEPTA recruiter first offered him a job in person in late 2014, but later rescinded the offer when a background check revealed the convictions from 1994 and 1997. Because those convictions are so old, and seemingly unrelated to the job Long was hoping to get, his lawyers say SEPTA acted in violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Pennsylvania Criminal History Record Information Act. They’re betting it’s not the only time SEPTA has run afoul of those laws, and are asking a judge to approve class-action status for the federal civil suit they’re bringing against the transit agency, as Newsworks and the Inquirer both reported earlier this week. Read more »
(Editor’s Note: This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.)
John Estey, a Philadelphia lawyer and onetime chief-of-staff to former Gov. Ed Rendell, was charged with illegal wire fraud in federal court Friday. He has agreed to plead guilty. Read more »
Donald Trump may be on the verge of capturing the Republican nomination for president. But his chief campaign surrogate continues to drop in popularity in his home state.
Per a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll, the governor’s approval rating has hit a new low. Only 26 percent of New Jersey voters have a favorable opinion of Chris Christie, down three points from February and a huge drop from the soaring popularity Christie enjoyed after Hurricane Sandy.
“Among the New Jersey politicians we poll, Governor Christie continues to generate the most negativity among voters, even more so than the state’s currently indicted senator [Robert Menendez,” Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University, said in a release. “Not even Christie’s backing of Donald Trump has helped him with New Jersey Republicans, who give Trump higher ratings than Christie and are now more likely than ever to vote for Trump come June.” Read more »
The high-pitched chime of Mister Softee’s ice cream truck is one of the first signs that summer has reached Philadelphia. The upbeat, instantly recognizable notes awaken the streets of the city and remind us that there’s life to be lived outside. Young kids run out of their homes, demanding a few buck from their parents for a chocolate-and-vanilla swirl.
The famous jingle was born in Philly, from the mind of Les Waas. He created the tune in 1960 for a Mister Softee’s radio ad, not knowing it was bound for fame. It was adopted as the song for Mister Softee’s trucks and is still in use across the nation almost 60 years later. Mister Softee’s has more than 600 trucks that span 15 states, as well as a franchise in China.
Waas died on April 19that the age of 94, reportedly of pneumonia. Read more »
Aja Beech is a 37-year-old mother of two from Fishtown who wants desperately to get away from her husband of seven years, construction worker Tobias McQueston. She’s broke, so she started a GoFundMe campaign titled “I Need a Divorce,” launching it a few days after McQueston was charged with assaulting her in March. She’s exceeded her goal of $5,000 and is now working with a Philadelphia attorney to put an official end to the marriage. Though crowdfunding for divorce isn’t unheard of, the involvement of domestic abuse charges seems to be unusual.
Beech told Philadelphia magazine that McQueston has assaulted her several times in the past, and medical records indicate that a 2014 incident documented by police resulted in a concussion. According to a criminal complaint filed by the District Attorney’s office in the March event, Beech’s husband is accused of pushing her face into the ground, giving her a bloody nose.
“It’s all bullshit,” claims McQueston, who is not the father of Beech’s two children. “I never physically assaulted anyone. It’s ridiculous. That’s all I have to say about it.” He is currently free on bail awaiting a June trial on charges of simple assault and reckless endangerment, and he can’t go anywhere near Beech thanks to a stay-away order issued by the judge.
Cpl. Robert Pawlowski was recently suspended for 30 days by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross for allegedly uttering a string of racially charged insults about an African-American commander and an African-American police officer in December.
Pawlowski was off-duty and hanging out at a lounge inside the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No.5’s Northeast Philly headquarters when he allegedly approached two white officers who worked in West Philly’s 18th District and described their boss, Capt. Robin Wimberly, as a “banana-eating monkey,” according to police records. Read more »
Four baby black-and-white ruffed lemurs went on display this week at the Philadelphia Zoo’s PECO Primate Reserve. Together with their parents, Huey and Kiaka, the lemur family sits just inside the entrance to the primate house. The babies were born on February 21st, so they’re a little more than two months old.
Everything is going well with the lemurs’ introduction to their new habitat, according to Philadelphia Zoo lead primate keeper Desiree Brown. They haven’t been startled by all the visitors, and the they’re eagerly exploring their enclosure.
“They are actually learning to jump as far as they can,” Brown says. “We kind of kept them in another place that was a little less high, a little less exciting. You’ll notice they’re starting to fly from branch to branch and they’re adjusting great. And the public has not been a problem. We were a little concerned about that and they are doing wonderful. And they’re enjoying watching all the kids and the visitors.” Read more »