We’ve got a nail-biter, folks. It’s Wednesday and all eyes are on the very close special election in Western Pennsylvania, as well as the National School Walkout taking place today. We’ve also got news on a budget proposal for New Jersey and an update on Meek Mill, from the man himself. Without further ado….
If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up for this newsletter here.
Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District, south of Pittsburgh, is too close to call this morning. Democratic candidate Conor Lamb leads by a hair over Republican candidate State Rep. Rick Saccone; all of yesterday’s ballots are in, but absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted.
Despite the razor’s edge race, Lamb declared victory Tuesday night, though Saccone hasn’t conceded.
Regardless of the final outcome, the close race should worry President Trump and the GOP. Trump won this district by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016.
Before the start of a criminal justice panel at the University of Pennsylvania last night, the mother of imprisoned Philly rapper Meek Mill made her first public statements in support of her son’s release. “I’m begging the DA Krasner,” a tearful Kathy Williams said, “Can you please help me out?”
Williams was far from the only notable name speaking out. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and retired boxer Bernard Hopkins also spoke before the panel.
Meek Mill, who was sentenced to two to four years in state prison in November, even phoned into the panel from prison, saying, “I want to be a light for Philadelphia.”
In his first budget address Tuesday, N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy proposed raising taxes on millionaires, corporations, and hedge fund managers to pay for an ambitious agenda that includes investments in pensions, schools, and transit. Murphy also wants to restore the sales tax to 7 percent.
What would a tax on millionaires look like? Murphy said it would bring in $765 million this calendar year.
The budget plan also assumes the state will legalize marijuana by Jan. 1, 2019. Support of the plan at Tuesday’s announcement was tepid on both sides of the aisle.
What you need to know today
- The great Stephen Hawking, the best-known theoretical physicist of his time, has died at age 76.
- Students across the country will join the National School Walkout today in support of gun control. But students at Parkway Center City Early Middle College wonder, would the Parkland, Fla. activists have walked in solidarity with us?
- Voters in two South Jersey towns were split on whether to approve borrowing for big-ticket school improvement projects yesterday. Pennsauken approved improvements while Collingswood did not.
- President Trump unceremoniously fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by tweet Tuesday, a day after Tillerson condemned Russia’s alleged involvement in the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain. Local business leaders have some thoughts on Trump’s management style.
- Teachers are struggling to keep the latest fad, e-cigarettes as tiny as USB drives with flavored nicotine, out of classrooms. Speaking of which, a Chadds Ford high-schooler just won $175,000 for her research into the damage of vaping on lung cells.
- Mayor Kenney’s task force on historic preservation is set to release a report on the city’s efforts today, and it’s far from all positive.
- Though Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services is desperate for more foster parents, two of its foster care agencies are turning away LGBTQ candidates.
- Students are demanding change at United Lutheran Seminary, a dual-campus school based in Philly and Gettysburg, after it was revealed the seminary’s president previously directed a conversion therapy group.
- A New Jersey inmate who had been on the run for 23 years — he’s now 73 — has been caught in Orlando. What was he doing all that time?
Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly
Strawberry Mansion #fairmountpark #howphillyseesphilly #visitphilly #philadelphia #myphillyphoto #phillygram #justgoshoot #myphotostory #instagoodmyphoto #photography #photogram #photographyislifee #gameoftones #photographyislifee #photographyislife #picoftheday #photooftheday #ourphilly
A post shared by Tom Callan (@the_mcubephoto) on
We want to see what our community looks like through your eyes. Show us the park that your family walks through every weekend with the dog, the block party in your neighborhood or the historic stretch you see every morning on your commute to work.
Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!
- In Eagles free agency news: the Birds released longest-tenured player Brent Celek, restructured Lane Johnson’s contract, will most likely lose Trey Burton, plan to add defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, a five-time Pro Bowler, to their lineup, and continue looking for veteran players of high football character. Free agency officially opens today.
- Annoyed by the region’s harsh and, at times, unpredictable winter? You can thank Arctic (read: global) warming.
- For the first time in nearly 50 years, the University of Pennsylvania is hosting a “teach-in” — a five-day series full of free public activities focused on race, guns, immigration and more.
- Set your DVRs, American Idol fans: one South Jersey teen and two Philly-area singers are heading to the Hollywood episodes.
- Retail workers in our area are suffering from the stress of their low pay and unpredictable working hours, a new study shows.
- For your weekend to-do list: This year marks the 100th anniversary of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein’s birth, so the National Museum of American Jewish History is celebrating the phenom with a new exhibit.
- Now that Villanova is headed back to the Big Dance, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette caught up with “Piccolo Girl,” the Villanova pep band member who famously played through her tears when they lost in 2015.
- Jake Arrieta put on a Phillies jersey for the first time yesterday. Here’s how the Phillies landed the ace pitcher.
“There’s no definitive way to know how much of the ignoring of her story was simply fatigue, in a nation where gun deaths remain off the charts, and how much is because both Courtlin and her alleged killer are African-Americans.” — Columnist Will Bunch on the largely overlooked death of Courtlin Arrington, a 17-year-old from Birmingham, Ala. who was shot and killed at school.
- Ahead of today’s National School Walkout, leaders of the Philadelphia Youth Commission and the Millennial Advisory Committee tell young people how to take a stand against gun violence.
- As CBS readies a mysterious interview with porn star Stormy Daniels, CNN’s Michael Smerconish explains how Donald Trump’s legal team may have the upper hand over Daniels in the court of law, if not in the court of public opinion.
What we’re reading
- ESPN has gone behind the scenes with the Sixers’ executive chef, whose operation JJ Redick calls, “a top-10 Philadelphia restaurant.” Don’t sleep on the gorgeous photos by the Inquirer’s own Tim Tai, either.
- The next in their series on gentrification, WHYY’s latest inquires how race factors into which Philly neighborhoods gentrify and how quickly. The patterns may surprise you.
- Greg Bullock, father of high school basketball star Devin who was gunned down in 2014, tells Billy Penn he’s struggling to keep his Sharswood home, which he’s turned into a community hub since Devin’s death.
- Vox has taken a deep dive into how America’s prison system is fueling the opioid epidemic. Perhaps most importantly, the report discusses which states are actually helping fight the crisis and how others can improve.
- This photo essay on the “toys” Rohingya refugees are creating from trash in Bangladesh, via Fast Company, is a devastating and necessary look at the crisis they face.
Your Daily Dose of | #Goals
The students of 27-year-old Roneisha Smith-Davis, who opened a dance studio to inspire her neighborhood in 2013, say she’s more than just a dance teacher. She’s their hero.