Happy Monday, Philly, and welcome to another week. This morning’s top stories will leave you with a mixture of sadness and hope today. First, the life and death of Jessica Ney is a parable of the perils of opioid recovery. Her death soon after rehab puts the challenges facing those in recovery in sharp relief. In other news, colleges around the country, including some close by, are preparing for a new cohort this fall: students with intellectual disabilities. New programs are opening up previously unheard of opportunities and students can’t wait to get started. Speaking of education, on Friday Gov. Wolf signed a new budget which has some great news for Pennsylvania schools. All this and more ahead, let’s get to it.
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The story of Jessica Ney is unfortunately all too common. She went to rehab for a heroin addiction and was excited to restart her life thanks to local programs that helped her find a place to live.
But at just 28 days (with insurance declining to cover a longer stay), the rehab program wasn’t enough and she refused medication-assisted treatment. Just a few hours after she left, she died of an overdose.
Ney’s story isn’t just common, it illustrates one of many reasons the opioid crisis has such a grip on the region. Drug recovery is incredibly precarious and high quality care is hard to come by.
This fall, 270 colleges — including 13 in Pennsylvania and six in New Jersey — will welcome students with intellectual disabilities full-time. In 2004 there were just 25 such programs.
At West Chester, students will audit undergraduate classes, participate in internships, and get support from peer mentors.
The programs aren’t without their challenges, but it looks like there’s a wave of change coming to higher education.
While you were celebrating the beginning of the weekend on Friday, Gov. Tom Wolf was celebrating the approval of an on-time spending plan negotiated with the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.
The good news: the plan involves no new taxes or fees. The bad news (at least for Wolf, per his requests): there’s no increase in minimum wage or tax on natural gas drillers, either.
What you need to know today
- President Trump took to Twitter Sunday to suggest those attempting to enter the country should not receive due process and be immediately sent “back from where they came,” something experts say would be both illegal and unconstitutional. As the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexican border continues to spark debate, some are calling the practice distinctly un-American. Historians are saying, not so fast.
- A Pennsylvania grand jury is expected to soon release a report on sexual abuse and cover-ups among Roman Catholic dioceses. Members of Protestant and Orthodox Christian churches agree a grand jury would find the same within their denominatons, too.
- Protests continued over the weekend in Pittsburgh in response to last week’s police killing of an unarmed teen who was running away from an officer on foot. The shooting has prompted calls for the state’s attorney general to take over the case.
- In the wake of last weekend’s shooting at an arts festival, Trenton residents who have hope for the city’s future are frustrated by poverty and crime while others are looking for a way out.
- New Jersey is poised to impose a 5-cent fee on plastic shopping bags — all Gov. Phil Murphy has to do is sign the bill. But environmental groups actually aren’t happy with the plan.
- For those who couldn’t stay awake until the end, the Phillies lost their lead to the Nationals on Sunday Night Baseball. Distract yourself ahead of this week’s Yankees series with some trivia about Carlos Santana: there’s a reason he uses so much pine tar on his bat.
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- On Saturday, Philadelphians took to Market Street to celebrate Juneteenth, the day the last of the nation’s slaves learned they were free in 1865, with a parade and festival. As they told my colleague Mensah M. Dean, attendees had many reasons for celebrating.
- Philly held its first Maker Faire (like a carnival, but for start-ups) Sunday. It was full of robots and drones, but there was room for smart pillboxes and 3D-printed animal tissue, too.
- Americans love avocados (guilty as charged) but tend to toss out the fruit’s pit. Turns out, eating the pit is possible, though not without controversy.
- The Sixers are still getting heat for trading Villanova’s Mikal Bridges to the Phoenix Suns for Zhaire Smith during Thursday’s NBA draft. Smith says the not-so-warm welcome just “makes me want to work harder.”
- Sometimes fighting illness requires treating food like medicine. One Philly health care plan is doing just that by offering members meals designed to improve their health.
- Three years ago, a Haddonfield Memorial High School sophomore English class read Ishmael Beah’s harrowing memoir about his time as a South Sudanese child soldier. Now they’re crowdfunding to help send him to Emory University.
“Yet, with all the city’s needs, like a stubborn 26 percent poverty rate and epidemics of gun violence and opioid abuse, it’s worth asking whether this is the best use of the city’s public and private resources.“ — The Inquirer Editorial Board on the impact of Philly’s new $10.3 million Rail Park and its potential for increasing gentrification.
- As Pennsylvania continues to struggle with the opioid epidemic, two bills under consideration by legislators threaten to send the state backwards in its progress, writes staff writer Abraham Gutman.
- In light of the 50th anniversary of a searing expose on the inhumane conditions at Pennhurst State School and Hospital, Dennis B. Downey, professor of history emeritus at Millersville University, believes we’d do well to remember how the expose’s creator sought to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.
What we’re reading
- How well do you know Philly? Try your hand at Philadelphia Magazine’s 100-question quiz (the first two parts are out now) to find out. It’s pretty fun and pretty difficult. For the record, my score was “Yo, Bro!”
- This story from the Guardian also has a quiz — but it’s about the British origins and legacy of the “Now That’s What I Call Music” series. Just try not to read it.
- Here’s a bit of trivia for the Philly-phile: Hidden City explains why big guns and cannons used to be half-buried in city curbs and on street corners.
- Metro Philly’s profile on Vickson Korlewala, a Liberian immigrant and entrepreneur who was wrongly arrested in 2014, and how the event affected his family is a difficult look at the city’s justice system and where it goes wrong.
- Domestic abusers are using smart thermostats, locks, lights, and speakers to torment their victims from afar. The New York Times’ story on this disturbing new trend will have you rethinking who has control over your devices.
Your Daily Dose of | Balance
Paddle board yoga may seem too adventurous for every day, but local classes come with one great motivator: if you don’t strike the right pose, you’ll fall in the Delaware River.