(UPDATE) Former Christie Ally Pleads Guilty in Bridgegate

In this Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, David Wildstein, who was Christie's No. 2 man at the Port Authority, speaks during a hearing at the Statehouse in Trenton. The Christie administration stands accused of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge, linking New York and New Jersey, in order to create a huge traffic backup as retribution against a local mayor for not endorsing the governor's reelection. Documents released Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, by a New Jersey legislative committee looking into the scandal surrounding Gov. Chris Christie show two figures, Wildstein and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's Deputy Chief of Staff, at the heart of the case making running jokes about the idea of creating traffic jams as a way to strike at enemies. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

In this Jan. 9, 2014 file photo, David Wildstein, who was Christie’s No. 2 man at the Port Authority, speaks during a hearing at the Statehouse in Trenton.

[Update 4:15 p.m.] Christie responds. The Asbury Park Press:

“Today’s charges make clear that what I’ve said from day one is true,” Christie said, via Twitter. “I had no knowledge or involvement in the planning or execution of this act. The moment I first learned of this unacceptable behavior I took action, firing staff believed to be accountable, calling for an outside investigation and agreeing to fully cooperation with all appropriate investigations, which I have done. Now 15 months later is it time to let the justice system do its job.”

[Update 2 p.m.] Vox has some additional details, including news that two other officials have been indicted in the case:

David Wildstein, a former Port Authority official, pled guilty to two counts of conspiracy — for having intentionally misapplied the agency’s property, and for violating the rights of the town’s residents to travel.

Two other former members of the administration, Bridget Kelly (Christie’s ex-deputy chief of staff) and Bill Baroni (the top operational Port Authority official appointed by Christie), were charged on multiple similar counts.

In addition, Vox reports, there are other, as-yet-unindicted co-conspirators referred to by prosecutors.

[Original] The New York Times has the breaking news:

David Wildstein, another former Port Authority official and ally of Mr. Christie, pleaded guilty for his role in the lane closings.

Read more »

Center City District: We Didn’t Know Protest Was Scheduled for Dilworth

Dilworth Park fountains at #PhillyIsBaltimore protest

Occupy Philly moved in to the old Dilworth Plaza on October 6th, 2011. The concrete plaza was quickly taken over by the activists, who made thousands of signs.

The city was about to embark on a massive, $50 million renovation of the plaza, turning it in to Dilworth Park. Mayor Michael Nutter originally had a truce with the protesters and campers, allowing them to stay until construction started. But when they voted not to move, the mayor struck a different tone. The protesters were eventually evicted from the site.

Construction began. Though the design was discussed at a multitude of forums, when the park opened it felt like a reaction to Occupy Philly: The benches were curved, so you couldn’t lay on them. A fountain took up a large chunk of the park. It seemed like a park that was designed to stifle protest. There’s even a “free speech zone” just outside the park on the north end of City Hall.

Yesterday, we got a taste of it, when the Center City District kept the fountains on during the Philly Is Baltimore protest. They were only turned off about an hour in. The normal schedule for the fountains is 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends. The Center City District, which has a 30-year lease on the property, says it did not realize the protest was going to be at Dilworth Park.

“Public reports suggested that 15th and Market Street was to be the staging point for a march through Center City,” CCD spokesperson Linda Harris said. “No request or suggestion was made to the City or the CCD that a rally was to be held in Dilworth Park.”

Read more »

Philly Shows Nation How to Protest the Right Way

On Thursday, one day before prosecutors announced serious charges against six police officers in the death of Baltimore man Freddie Gray, Philadelphia was home to the “Philly is Baltimore” protest, an attempt on the part of organizers to show solidarity with the people of Baltimore and to speak out more generally about the deaths of unarmed black men who died in police custody. I was in the middle of the protest well into the night, and at its peak, I’d estimate the crowd to have topped 1,000. (You can see my photos and videos from the street here.)

People were angry. People were loud. People were screaming at the police.

There were chants like “fuck the police, fuck the police, fuck the police” and “shut the fucking city down, shut the fucking city down, shut the fucking city down,” in addition to non-profane chants of the “no justice, no peace” ilk.

And the “Philly is Baltimore” protesters did, in fact, shut down good portions of Center City, snarling traffic in the early evening hours and continuing to be the bane of motorists’ existence throughout the night.

But what the “Philly is Baltimore” protesters did not do is cause any real trouble. Read more »

No Mariota? No Hope.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Oregon vs Kansas State

For Philadelphia fans, the most nerve-racking 10-minute waiting period of any professional sports draft ended with a figurative hot knife to the belly.

After months of anticipation coupled with downright obsession that the Eagles would land Marcus Mariota and everything would be right for the world, the Tennessee Titans took Mariota with the No. 2 pick in the draft. And if that weren’t enough, minutes later, the Titans general manager popped out of his war room to say that they were not trading him ANYWHERE. Ouch.

Does it really matter that the Eagles tried hard to get Mariota? Perhaps reports are true that the Birds offered two starting defensive players and three draft picks in an attempt to move into the No. 2 drafting spot. Chip Kelly can never admit that because if he does, he tells the quarterback who now must start for him this year, Sam Bradford, that he wasn’t adequate enough. Bradford’s a big enough boy to understand what was going on this whole time, but still.

I’ve said that if the Eagles didn’t acquire Marcus Mariota, it would haunt this city’s fan base forever. So let the haunting begin. Read more »

What I Learned About Philly Through My Google Search History

google

Shutterstock.com

 

I realize that I’m late to the Google search download game.

The option to download your search history – as in, your entire search history – has been available since January, when Google quietly rolled out the feature. It came to the attention of the Internet masses last week, when a third-party blog spelled it out: Everything you have searched for while logged into Google has been saved, and you can take a peek if you want.

I did not want. Read more »

Broad Street Run, Festivals Will Make a Mess of SEPTA All Weekend Long

SEPTAbus48-driving-behind-taxi

A weekend full of festivals and the Broad Street Run on Sunday will cause detours on a slew of SEPTA bus routes.

The reroutings begin at 8 p.m. Friday, when all of the bus routes that run on or cross the Benjamin Franklin Parkway from 19th to 23rd streets — Routes 7, 32, 33, 38 and 48 — will be detoured for the Philadelphia Science Festival Carnival. The detours will remain in effect until at least 11 p.m. Saturday.

Three more detours begin early Saturday morning: Read more »

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