Newsletter for Sept. 24, 2014
HARRISBURG COMES THROUGH
The state Senate agreed to let Philly tax cigarettes, after a tense summer and a strapped-for-cash school district. Pic by Instagram user @snoopoz
CIGARETTE TAX FINALLY PASSES P.A. SENATE, HEADS TO GOVERNOR
After a summer of bickering over how to let Philadelphia tax cigarettes, the state Senate approved the measure on Tuesday, sending a bill to Gov. Corbett that will provide $49 million in much-needed revenue to Philly’s schools. Without the funds, the district was looking at more than a thousand layoffs. And it’s not a new idea — as Mayor Nutter told NewsWorks, City Council approved the measure a year ago. Still, it’s a big win for the district. It’s also a bite out of smokers’ wallets. A pack of cigarettes costs about $7 in the city today, so the tax is a 29 percent hike.
D.A.: 3 FROM BUCKS CO. TO FACE CHARGES IN ‘VICIOUS’ GAY ATTACK
The brutal beating that left two men hospitalized — one with his jaw wired shut — has resulted in charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and criminal conspiracy, city D.A. Seth Williams‘ office said Tuesday. Those facing charges? Philip Williams, 24; Kevin Harrigan, 26; and Katherine Knott, 24, all of Bucks County. A video released by police days after the beating on Sept. 11 near Rittenhouse Square sent social media users scrambling to identify the attackers; on Tuesday Williams’ office thanked the public for helping the investigation into what its release called a “vicious attack.”
SEPTA SUED FOR REFUSING ADS FROM ANTI-MUSLIM GROUP
The city’s transit authority turned down anti-Muslim ads that a group called the American Freedom Defense Initiative tried to place on city buses and billboards. So the organization — which succeeded in placing the ads on transit systems in New York and Washington, D.C., and is defined as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — is headed to court. The AFDI says its right to free speech was violated. As a Temple U. prof told the Daily News, ” The whole point of the First Amendment is to protect speech that offends. No exceptions.”
TO DO: PAY WHAT YOU WANT AT THE ART MUSEUM
WHAT: Every Wednesday after 5 PM, the Art Museum’s admission is entirely in your hands.
WHERE: 2600 Ben Franklin Parkway
WHEN: 5-8:45 P.M.
HOW MUCH: Up to you!
BILLY PENN LIKES
COOL: MO’NE DAVIS WILL BE IN THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME
The jersey that Taney Dragons standout Mo’ne Davis wore when she became the first female pitcher to win a Little League World Series game? That’s headed to Cooperstown, for a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The 13-year-old is planning to donate the apparel to the museum in a ceremony that will be attended by Mamie “Peanut” Johnson — one of three women to play in the Negro League.
GREAT SCHOOL FUND WANTS TO GIVE $100M TO PHILLY SCHOOLS, WITH A TWIST
The Great School Fund has already invested $11.5 million to turn around city schools that are perpetually starved for resources. And the organization, with backers that include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is hunting for an additional $100 million to continue its mission. Director Jessica Pena defined the way the Fund invests in public, private or charter schools. If a school is failing, they’ll create a charter school — they’ll use the same building, but hire a new staff of teachers. So what they’re seeking are “visionary principals” who can continue results that Great School is already seeing. The nonprofit says schools that have received its grants have outperformed the district in reading and math.