ThinkFest Preview: Jeffrey Yass on School Choice


Jeffrey Yass may be best known in Philadelphia as the suburban stock trader who, along with his two business partners, donated heavily to a pro-Tony Williams super PAC in the 2015 mayoral race.

At the time, the three Susquehanna International Group execs were pretty press-shy, but explained to a handful of journalists that they spent millions on the election for one reason and one reason only: “school choice.” Williams, a Democrat, is one of the most charter-friendly politicians in Pennsylvania.

Now, Yass will make his case for school vouchers publicly at Philadelphia magazine’s ThinkFest, an event showcasing ideas from around the region. Read more »

Sixers Announce Front Office Changes

Bryan Colangelo represents the Toronto Raptors during the NBA basketball draft lottery, May 21, 2013.

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo announced several major changes to the 76ers front office. 

The Philadelphia 76ers announced several updates to their front office this afternoon, including a restructuring of the analytics department.

The 76ers announced the addition of Alex Rucker as their Vice President of Analytics and Strategy. Rucker, formerly a Senior Analytics Consultant for the Toronto Raptors, will lead the team’s analytics department going forward.

In addition to hiring Rucker, the 76ers added Sergi Oliva as the Director of Basketball Analytics, and promoted several employees from within: Ned Cohen to the Vice President of Basketball Operations, Lance Pearson to Director of Applied Analytics, and Vince Rozman to Senior Director of Basketball Operations.

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Weed Activist Dons Pot-Leaf Costume to Promote “Pop Up Weed Garden”

You may have been lucky enough to see Hempy the Weed Leaf running loose in Philadelphia yesterday – but if not, there will be plenty of him to go around at a “Pop Up Weed Garden” planned for this Thursday in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Marijuana activist Nikki Allen Poe donned the costume yesterday to promote the celebratory event, scheduled for 4:20 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the two-year anniversary of marijuana decriminalization in Philadelphia – which Poe and fellow activist Chris Goldstein helped to make happen. Read more »

Clinton, Kaine to Campaign in Philly on Saturday

Tim Kaine; Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine at the DNC in South Philadelphia this July | Photo: Disney/ABC TV (license

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine will make a joint appearance in Philadelphia on Saturday.

This afternoon the Clinton campaign announced visits by the duo, times and locations unspecified, to both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Per a release, the appearance will concentrate on get-out-the-vote efforts and encourage registered voters to visit a Democratic-produced GOTV website.

Most analyses of Clinton’s chances in Pennsylvania rely on a strong voting edge in both Philly and Pittsburgh, both Democratic strongholds. Dems had a 919,000-voter edge at last count largely because of the two cities, and many of the Democratic heavyweights’ visits have concentrated on registering people to vote. Now the message has shifted to getting people to vote. Read more »

Curt Schilling: I’ll Run for Senate Against Elizabeth Warren

Curt Schilling during his Wall of Fame induction at Citizens Bank Park on August 2, 2013.

Curt Schilling during his Wall of Fame induction at Citizens Bank Park on August 2, 2013.

Ed Wade famously described Phillies pitcher Curt Schilling as a horse every fifth day, and “on the other four days, he tends to say things which are detrimental to the club and clearly self-serving.” The reader was left to fill in the punch line: A horse every fifth day, and a horse’s ass the other four. Read more »

Why the Gutting of Civil-Forfeiture Reform Matters to All of Us

Photo: istock/baona

Photo: istock/baona

A former cop recently reminded me about an old Upton Sinclair line that just about fits Pennsylvania’s maligned civil-asset forfeiture policy perfectly: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

That conflict is at the heart of ongoing political and legal efforts to improve a law-enforcement practice that, in its current form, would make a third-world dictator feel all warm ’n’ fuzzy. Authorities have long been able to seize a person’s property if they merely suspect it’s connected in some way to a crime. Think about that: You could lose your house — or even your kid’s piggy bank —  without ever being charged with a crime, let alone convicted. The kicker? The proceeds end up helping to fund the very agencies that seized your stuff. (If you listen closely, you can almost hear someone singing a couple of bars of the “Circle of Life.“) Read more »

Leaked Email: Clinton Considered Ex-Penn President for VP

Hillary Clinton; Judith Rodin

In June, Hillary Clinton selected Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate. But, according to an email released recently by WikiLeaks, there were plenty of other names under consideration — and one had a Philadelphia flavor to it.

On the short list, according to an email apparently from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, was former Penn president Judith Rodin. Podesta organized the list in “rough food groups,” and Rodin’s name was in the group that included Michael Bloomberg, Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, GM CEO Mary Barra, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. (The Clinton campaign has not confirmed that any of the leaked emails, which have been dribbling out throughout October, are authentic.) Read more »

NBA GM’s Optimistic About Ben Simmons’ Future

Sixers rookie Ben Simmons has a fractured right foot | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

70% of NBA GM’s think Ben Simmons will be the best player in his rookie class in five years. | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the offseason we noted that Ben Simmons’ fellow rookies weren’t necessarily enamored with his long-term potential, as six other rookies received as many votes as Simmons did for the question of “which rookie will have the best career” during’s annual rookie survey.

Judging by the results of the annual GM survey, NBA general managers think more highly of Simmons’ future.

Despite a fracture in his right foot that will likely sideline Simmons until at least January, the Australian forward received 13.3 percent of the vote for who GM’s predict will win Rookie of the Year. According to writer John Schuhmann, who conducted the survey, he received some responses before Simmons suffered his injury, and he followed up to see whether the GM’s who responded before the injury wanted to change their vote, so these are the results even with knowledge of the injury.

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