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Pa. primary endorsement turmoil; SEPTA intros new flex pass; ‘Half Vaxxed’ gets Peabody nod | Sunday roundup

Philly native’s Sixers dream comes true 🏀

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Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

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RECAP: Looking back on the week that was

• Endorsement turmoil as primary nears

It was a tumultuous week for Pa. primary campaigns. Among Republicans, Trump’s backing of Oz for U.S. Senate left McCormick supporters scrambling, while the former president’s anti-endorsement of McSwain for governor led Corman to jump back into the race hours after pulling out. Philly Democrats made waves by snubbing progressive incumbent state reps Krajewski and Fiedler, in the latter case endorsing a candidate with apparent GOP ties.  [Reuters/AP/WHYY/KYW/@g_donnelly4]

• SEPTA intros new flex pass in budget proposal

With a promise not to raise fares, SEPTA proposed a $1.6 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year. That’s a 6% increase over the current operating budget, and about a quarter of it relies on federal COVID relief, which will run out in 2024. Also in the proposal: a revamped FleX DayPass that offers discounted access to all transit modes for 24 hours. A series of public hearings on the budget are set for May 16-18.  [SEPTA (PDF)/Inquirer$/MyChesCo]

• Penn’s treatment of FGLI students under fire

After a scathing New Yorker article detailing intimidation and retaliation on Penn’s behalf, the administration released its hold on former student Mackenzie Fierceton’s master’s degree. A subsequent campus protest in support of the onetime Rhodes scholar drew additional media scrutiny to the university’s treatment of what are known as “first-generation, low-income” students. [New Yorker/Billy Penn/Billy Penn/Penn Today/Intercept]

• ‘Half Vaxxed’ snags Peabody nomination

WHYY and Billy Penn’s “Half Vaxxed” podcast has been nominated for a Peabody Award, which is often described as the radio industry’s Pulitzer Prize. Just getting on the finalists list is considered prestigious — a few dozen are selected from over 1,000 entries. If you haven’t listened to the inside story of how Philadelphia trusted its COVID vaccine rollout to an inexperienced startup, binge all 5 episodes here. [Peabody/Billy Penn/WHYY]

Corinthian Gardens next to Eastern State Penitentiary

Corinthian Gardens next to Eastern State Penitentiary

Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

VISION: Looking forward to the week ahead

• Mask mandate takes effect

Philadelphia on Monday becomes the first U.S. city to reinstate a mask mandate this spring. It applies to all indoor public spaces, although venues can opt to require vaccination for entry instead. Also, you can remove your mask when eating or drinking at restaurants. A debate is raging over whether Philly’s criteria are too sensitive or set a model for precautions. Following the case spike over the past couple weeks, city COVID hospitalizations are starting to creep up. [Billy Penn/WHYY]

• Prep for legal weed sales across the river

If trips over the Ben Franklin Bridge triple this summer, maybe chalk it up to New Jersey finally giving dispensaries the green light to sell recreational marijuana. Sales were supposed to start back in February, but the launch had been repeatedly delayed. April 21 is the targeted start date, though not all outposts with licenses will be able to vend, since municipalities can vote to ban sales. [WHYY/NJ gov/NJ Monitor/Leafly]

• Sixers look to shine in playoffs

The Sixers face the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the NBA Playoffs this week. Is this the year they beat their nemesis from the north, where a buzzer-beater bounce once crushed Embiid’s championship hopes? After a stellar Game 1, where rising star Tyrese Maxey set records, things look promising. For Northeast Philly’s Charlie Brown Jr., meanwhile, just being on his hometown roster is a dream come true. [Fansided/Liberty Ballers/PhillyVoice/Billy Penn]

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