Historic Preservation Gets A Big Helping Hand From the National Trust

The designation of Philadelphia’s historic neighborhoods as a National Treasure covers not just the well-known historic precincts of Center City — it extends to neighborhoods all over the city, from the factory town of Tacony to colonial Germantown to the 19th-century streetcar suburbs of West Philadelphia, shown here. | Photo: Neal Santos for the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The designation of Philadelphia as the first and so far only World Heritage City in the United Statea two years ago brought with it bragging rights but not much in the way of resources to preserve its historic character.

Today’s official announcement that the National Trust for Historic Preservation has added Philadelphia’s historic neighborhoods to its list of National Treasures will do something to help preserve that character.

At a midday ceremony in the studio of the KieranTimberlake architectural firm, Mayor Jim Kenney, National Trust for Historic Preservation President and CEO Stephanie Meeks and Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia Executive Director Paul Steinke explained how the designation would both help the city bolster its historic preservation efforts and use its historic structures as engines of economic renewal, especially in the city’s more disadvantaged districts. Read more »

Meet Mayor Kenney’s Secret Girlfriend

Left: Mayor Jim Kenney and girlfriend Letty Santarelli board an IcelandAir jet in Philadelphia. Right: Santarelli waits at the airport.

Mayor Jim Kenney is doing all right for himself. Not only did he get to take a free trip to Iceland last week as part of IcelandAir’s new nonstop service to the island country, but he got to do so in the company of his secret girlfriend, Letitia “Letty” Santarelli. Read more »

First Nonstop Flight to Iceland From PHL … Stops in Boston

Photo | Victor Fiorillo

It was supposed to be a blissfully uninterrupted five-and-a-half hour trip to jagged peaks, blue lagoons, cascading waterfalls and the Northern Lights.

But Icelandair’s inaugural flight from Philly to the Keflavik International Airport, located about 30 miles southwest of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, took a little detour. The nonstop flight did, in fact, stop. In Boston. Much to the dismay of Mayor Jim Kenney, who was on board, as well as our reporter Victor Fiorillo.

The flight began experiencing technical problems around 10:40 p.m. while over Canada (apparently people on board detected a rubber smell) and was rerouted to the Logan International Airport, in Boston, where it landed around 12:30 a.m. Kenney, Fiorillo and the rest of the passengers are currently awaiting their next flight, set to depart from Logan at 4:30 p.m. and arrive in Iceland at 1:30 a.m.

iceland

Photo | Victor Fiorillo

City spokesperson Ajeenah Amir said the redirect was “obviously very out of the ordinary” and that “we and Icelandair are committed to doing all we can to ensure future travelers have a smooth travel experience on this new route.”

Yesterday marked the first day that Icelandair began offering nonstop flights between Philadelphia and Iceland. To kick off the flights, which will depart four days a week, Reyjkavik Mayor Dagur Bergþóruson Eggertsson took a two-day tour of Philly earlier this week, courtesy of Kenney, whose expedition is scheduled to include a dinner at the U.S. embassy and a trip to Iceland’s parliament.

Some commenters were having a bit of fun watching yesterday’s travel fiasco unfold.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

Poll: More Than Half of Pa. Voters Want to Legalize Weed

Image via Pixabay.

More than half of Pennsylvania voters – 56 percent – want to legalize marijuana, according to a new survey from Franklin & Marshall College.

According to the poll, support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high in Pennsylvania. In 2006, when F&M first surveyed Pa. voters on the topic, just 22 percent of participants supported legalization.

Here’s how support breaks down along party lines, per the poll: 75 percent of independent voters are in favor of legalization, 65 percent percent of Democrats are in favor, and 44 percent of Republicans support legalization. Across the board, support has grown drastically since 2015, when the poll found that about 40 percent of Pennsylvania voters supported legalization.  Read more »

Kenney: Pennsylvania Should Just Legalize Weed Already

kenney, weed

On Saturday, Philadelphia police arrested 22 people at a pot party held by marijuana activist NA Poe – proving that the war on drugs is alive and well in Philly.

This morning, Mayor Jim Kenney stopped just short of criticizing the bust when he called it “overkill” and said that the “real solution to this is legalizing [marijuana] in the state of Pennsylvania as they did in Colorado,” according to Philly.com.

At Poe’s Northeast Philly warehouse party on Saturday, Police arrested 19 men and three women, confiscated 50 pounds of marijuana, about $50,000 in cash, several handguns and about 100 pounds of cannabis edibles. About 200 people were detained.

The event functioned as a sort of pop-up market where people could buy and sell various marijuana products. Poe, whose real name is Richard Tamaccio, told Philadelphia magazine’s Victor Fiorillo that he and his girlfriend, Rachael Friedman, sold about 300 tickets to the party, which cost attendees $50 each. They’ve both been charged with seven counts, including possession with intent to deliver; possession of a controlled substance; possession of an instrument of crime; use or possession of drug paraphernalia; conspiracy; causing or risking catastrophe; and recklessly endangering another person. Poe is being held on $250,000 bail.

Marijuana has been decriminalized in Philly since 2014. Kenney worked with Poe and Chris Goldstein (a fellow weed activist who was detained on Saturday) to draft the legislation, which largely applies to those who are caught with less than 30 grams of marijuana.

Following a press conference this morning, Kenney said that while “clearly, it’s illegal to sell [larger] quantities … there was probably another way” to crack down on the pot party “as opposed to the amount of resources that were put into this, especially considering our ongoing relationship with that community,” according to PhillyVoice.

Kenney reportedly said he doesn’t “micromanage the police department” and that he wasn’t aware of plans to raid the party. He noted that the event was also deemed a fire and safety hazard for several reasons – officials with the Department of Licenses and Inspections were also present at the bust.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

Kenney Hiring State, Federal Lobbyists to Appeal to Republican Legislators

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration is in the process of hiring lobbying firms to appeal to Republican legislators in both Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., according to City & State.

The news organization reports that the administration issued a request for proposals for a federal lobbyist this week. In February, the administration signed a $41,667 state contract with Republican lobbying firm Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and began its search for a second Harrisburg lobbyist.  Read more »

Jim Kenney Owes Seth Williams an Apology

Seth Williams (Matt Rourke/AP) and Jim Kenney (Jeff Fusco).

Seth Williams (Matt Rourke/AP) and Jim Kenney (Jeff Fusco).

Back in 2015, Alex Capasso — then the chef and a partner at The Crow and Pitcher, a little restaurant off Rittenhouse Square — was arrested and charged with one count of distribution of child pornography by the U.S. District Attorney. That’s some pretty bad stuff, right? His friends and co-workers were “shocked and disgusted.” His partners threw him out of the business, with a representative saying publicly that it would “be a blessing to the innocent partners and staff if his infamy did not take them all down in flames.” The restaurant changed its name and, at the time of this writing, Capasso sits in federal custody awaiting trial. The evidence against him looks pretty solid and, if guilty, he deserves, of course, to spend a long time in jail.

But here’s the thing: Capasso is not guilty. So far, he’s been accused of a crime. He hasn’t had his day in court. He has his side of the story to tell. Still, the guy’s life has been ruined. Which brings me to Seth Williams … and Jim Kenney. Read more »

OPINION: Michael Weiss Must Step Down From His Public Roles in the Gayborhood

Michael Weiss | Image via Mazzoni Center's website

Michael Weiss | Image via Mazzoni Center’s website

Michael Weiss is arguably one of the most powerful and politically connected men in the Gayborhood. He’s the co-owner of several popular bars (Woody’s, Rosewood Bar Lounge, and Voyeur), the board secretary of Mazzoni Center, a member of the Philadelphia LGBT Police Liaison Committee, an elected Democratic committeeman/treasurer for the city’s Eighth Ward, and a “special adviser” to District Attorney Seth Williams. Read more »

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