More Sting Charges Expected

Williams Kane

The “double-dog dare” continues to backfire on Kathleen Kane.

Nearly a year after the attorney general invited Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams — one of her loudest critics — to try to prosecute the “abandoned sting” of corrupt Philly lawmakers she had decided not to prosecute, despite having recordings of those lawmakers accepting gifts that were never reported to the state. Williams gleefully accepted the offer and not long after started cranking out the prosecutions.

He’ll add three more names to that list today at a news conference where he’ll announce charges against “two current and one former” state representatives. He did not name them, but the Inquirer and Daily News identified the three as State Reps. Louise Williams Bishop and Michelle Brownlee and former State Rep. Harold James, all Democrats from Philly. Read more »

50 Years After Bloody Sunday, a Push for Racial Fairness in Sentencing

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I caught up with State Sen. Vincent Hughes on Sunday afternoon by phone — he had spent the weekend in Selma, Alabama, joining the 50th anniversary celebration of the “Bloody Sunday” march that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and was driving with former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to the airport to return home.

“Pretty powerful,” Hughes, the Philadelphia Democrat, told me. “Pretty powerful to stand on the same ground where, 50 years ago, people were beat in the head … just to secure the right thing, was just a powerful thing.”

“People took charge of their own destiny, and they changed the country in a meaningful way,” Patrick added. “That’s an important lesson about the power we have when we look up instead of looking down.” Read more »

Does Michael Nutter’s Property Tax Stand a Chance?

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

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

It’s never easy for a mayor to sell a tax hike.

So the fact that Mayor Michael Nutter is asking City Council to raise property taxes by 9 percent to help fund Philadelphia’s cash-strapped schools as 15 of 16 Council members are running for re-election is fairly gutsy. Oh, and he’s also proposing this after property taxes have gone up three times during his tenure. And a year after the first round of property tax bills went out under his Actual Value Initiative, a citywide reassessment that boosted taxes for some residents.

Is this remotely doable?

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State Legislators Want to Bigfoot Philly’s New Sick Leave Ordinance

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Pennsylvania legislators met yesterday in Harrisburg to hone a bipartisan amendment that would vitiate the seven-plus years of work that went into Philadelphia’s sick leave ordinance by making it retroactive to January 1st of this year.

SB333, proposed by state Sen. John Eichelberger and state Sen. Lisa Boscola, “would provide for clear state preemption of local mandated leave ordinances.” Such ordinances, a memo from the legislators suggests, represent overreach by local governments, which should apparently be confined to a certain “sphere of power” that doesn’t obstruct the uniform application of public policy. Read more »

Tom Wolf’s Incredible Plan to Overhaul Philly Taxes

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Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled his first budget plan for Pennsylvania Tuesday, and it’s nothing if not ambitious.

What got a little lost in the coverage of Wolf’s budget address, though, is that he is also proposing big changes for Philadelphia’s local taxes. The Wolf administration says his budget would provide about $538 million in tax relief for the city, which would be funded by his planned hike on statewide personal income and sales taxes. Here are the specifics, via Wolf spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan, which he says would all go into effect in 2016-17:

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Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Budget Announcement

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Governor Tom Wolf is announcing his big, bold agenda today at 11:30 a.m. and Philly Mag’s Holly Otterbein will be providing live updates of the address. (Read the full text of his address below, and read Holly Otterbein’s take on the five boldest elements of Wolf’s budget.)

Watch the live stream here, and follow along on Twitter:



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Tom Wolf: We Found $109M in Savings in Two Weeks

Gov. Wolf | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Gov. Wolf | Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

About two weeks ago, Gov. Tom Wolf launched the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Modernization and Efficiency. He even calls it by its cheesy acronym: GO-TIME.

Wolf says the office has already located $109 million in expected cost savings for Pennsylvania.

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Pa. Senate Eyes Low State Vaccination Rate

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Remember that Pew study showing Pennsylvania has the second-lowest vaccination rate in all the 50 states? The news didn’t go over so well in the Pennsylvania Senate.

The chamber’s Committee on Public Health and Welfare this week gave approval to a resolution calling for a study on how to increase youth vaccinations in the state. “According to the Pennsylvania Immunization Coalition, approximately 23 percent of 2-year-olds in Pennsylvania are not up-to-date for the currently recommended vaccines,” Sen. Shirley Kitchen, a Philadelphia Democrat, said in a memo sponsoring the resolution. “The goal of this staff study is to improve public health by addressing issues that affect youth vaccination within our Commonwealth.
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