Council to Nutter: Find Your $105 Million Somewhere Else

Philadelphia City Council  | Photo Credit: City Council's Flickr page

Philadelphia City Council | Photo Credit: City Council’s Flickr page

Close, but no cigar, Mayor Michael Nutter.

That was the general message from Council members at their hearing Tuesday on Nutter’s five-year fiscal plan, the first budget hearing of the season.

Lawmakers said they expect to provide additional money to the city’s cash-starved school district, but not in the way the mayor has suggested. In response to a request from school officials for an extra $103 million, Nutter has proposed raising property taxes by 9 percent in order to send slightly more than that, $105 million, to the district.

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10 Charts That Show Philly’s Outlook Is More Precarious Than Philadelphians Think

Philadelphians have a giant crush on Philly, according to poll results released last week by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Forty-eight percent of residents surveyed believe the city is moving in the right direction, the highest amount since Pew started asking the question six years ago.

But like any serious crush, Philadelphians’ view of the city is somewhat idealized.

Pew’s new “State of the City” report found Philly continues to face major, entrenched problems, ranging from a sky-high poverty rate to an underfunded government pension system. As the paper puts it, “The realities of the city—as embodied by the often unforgiving numbers—are complex and nuanced, with seemingly a negative for every positive and vice versa.”

Here are 10 graphs from the Pew report that show the city’s outlook is much more of a mixed bag than Philadelphians think:

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Women Come Forward in Facebook Frat Scandal


Women who say they were pictured on the secret Facebook page maintained by a Penn State fraternity have come forward to talk to investigators, officials say.

“Some female Penn State students have been interviewed by State College police, and a few were able to identify themselves from screen shots taken from the Kappa Delta Rho Facebook page, Lt. Keith Robb said,” the Centre Daily Times reports. “Members of the fraternity have also stepped forward and are assisting with the investigation, he said.” Read more »

Tony Williams Is Finally Starting to Own School Choice

Photo Credit: AP/Matt Rourke

Photo Credit: AP/Matt Rourke

For years, mayoral candidate and state Sen. Anthony Williams has been Pennsylvania’s highest-profile Democratic champion of charter schools and vouchers. When he ran for governor in 2010, he received a whopping $6 million-plus from three multimillionaires who back school choice. He’s sponsored voucher legislation. He founded a charter school. Williams has arguably been more passionated about school choice than any other policy question he’s wrestled with in his career.

But not on the mayoral campaign trail.

His first TV ad doesn’t mention school choice once. His education policy paper doesn’t say anything about vouchers, and though it touches on charters, it mostly focuses on reinstating charter reimbursement funding from Harrisburg. At a press conference earlier this month, Williams said it was “curious” that he had been dubbed the charter-school advocate in the mayor’s race, since his contenders had expressed support for charters, too.

It’s led to quite a bit of speculation: Is he keeping quiet because he’s the presumed frontrunner, and it’s simply a good strategy to lay low as your contenders tear each other apart? Do the polls show school choice is unpopular among Williams’ base? Are Williams’ true motives — maybe, just maybe, turning the entire School District of Philadelphia over to charter operators — too extreme to discuss with voters? (FWIW, when we asked Williams to clarify whether there is any truth to the rumors that he wants to fully charter-ize the district, he said, “I don’t know where they got that.”)

Perhaps the answer is “none of the above,” because at a mayoral forum Tuesday, Williams finally … kind of, sort of … began to own the issue of school choice.

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Penn State Prez Eric Barron to Name Task Force to Reevaluate Frat System


Eric Barron | Photo Credit: Michelle Bixby/PSU

Penn State president Eric Barron says he is creating a task force to look into fraternity and sorority life at the university in the wake of allegations that its Kappa Delta Rho chapter posted photographs of nude, unconscious women online.

“This comprehensive examination of fraternity and sorority life and its culture will not be simple and it may not be comfortable,” said Barron. “It will, however, be thorough.” Read more »

Penn State Students Rally Against Facebook Frat


Penn State students braved the snow Friday to rally in support of the women who were allegedly pictured nude and unconscious on a fraternity’s invitation-only websites.

Police are investigating allegations by a ex-member of Kappa Delta Rho that the frat ran two Facebook pages where members shared “photos of unsuspecting victims, drug sales and hazing.” A police warrant said some images were “of nude females that appeared to be passed out.”

Protesters carried signs that read, “Rape Culture Lives Here,” “Support the Victims” and “This Isn’t Satire” (an apparent reference to a frat member who told Philadelphia magazine that a Kappa Delta Rho Facebook page was satirical). Read more »

PSU President: We Might Need to Reevaluate Frat System


Eric Barron | Photo Credit: Michelle Bixby/PSU

In the wake of allegations that Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho chapter posted photos of nude, unconscious women online, university president Eric Barron says the entire fraternity system may need to be reexamined.

“We must ask if a reevaluation of the fraternity system is required,” he said. “Some members of the university senior leadership believe it is, and we are considering our options.”

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Member of Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho Defends Fraternity


When news broke this week that a Penn State fraternity had allegedly run two private Facebook pages where members posted photographs of nude, unconscious women, hazing and other illicit deeds, we, like everyone else, wondered: How could anyone do this? Who could justify such behavior?

An ex-fraternity member first told authorities about the Facebook pages, which were dubbed “Covert Business Transactions” and “2.o,” according to a police warrant. They allegedly featured photos of “nude females that appeared to be passed out” as well as “marijuana and edibles, concentrates, ADD medication, and some cocaine.” Police said fraternity members could face charges of invasion of privacy and harassment.

We found a member of Kappa Delta Rho who was willing to talk anonymously about what happened and how fraternity members are reacting to news coverage of the scandal. His remarks offer a glimpse into the mindset at Kappa Delta Rho.

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