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RECAP: Looking back on the week that was
• Affordable housing tax break for North Broad
In its last session before the calendar flips, City Council put forth a new measure that would give a new tax break to developers of residential buildings who price 30% of units as “affordable.” As written, the legislation only applies to certain areas along and near the North Broad corridor, where a new business district just formed and gentrification is fast changing the housing stock. Household income in those areas has jumped an average of $20k over the past decade, per new Census figures. [WHYY/PHL Council/Billy Penn/Inquirer$]
• Freeze prompts electric grid warning
The forecast held up for Philly’s coldest Christmas Eve/Christmas Day in decades, and the regional chill prompted an unusual request: the company that coordinates the power grid in Pa. and 12 other states asked people to conserve electricity by lowering thermostats and postponing use of dishwashers and clothes dryers. It seems to have worked — PJM Interconnection did not have to implement rolling blackouts, which happened elsewhere in the U.S. [Billy Penn/NBC10/WHYY/AP/Insider]
• RIP Thom Bell, ‘Sound of Philadelphia’ architect
When Thom Bell died last week, Philly lost one of its most prolific and influential musicians. The 79-year-old was one of the architects of “The Sound of Philadelphia,” the funky, orchestral soul that defined 1970s pop music. Bell worked as a producer, arranger, and songwriter, sometimes with Gamble and Huff, and sometimes on his own, helping create classics like “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind)” and “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love.” [WHYY/NYT$/Fresh Air]
• Pennsylvania Hospital’s ‘angel wings’ go viral
A photo from Pennsylvania Hospital went viral because of decorations meant to be wings of an angel. Instead, they looked like…female anatomy. Many observers thought maybe the similarity was purposeful (“Is that in an OB/GYN office?)” but turns out it was not. The woman who posted the pic was thrilled about the attention, which she called an opportunity for “body positivity.” [Billy Penn]
VISION: Looking forward to the week ahead
• New excavation license required for construction
To help curb Philadelphia’s relatively high incidence of building collapses — which is exacerbated by a building inspector staffing shortage — the city is enacting a new rule requiring excavation licenses. The law, which passed last year and goes into effect Jan. 1, requires construction companies to submit plans before starting any digging. [WHYY’s PlanPhilly x 2/Inquirer$]
• Legal battle for judge who sentenced Meek Mill
In the latest move in an unusual intra-court conflict, Common Pleas Court Judge Genece Brinkley is petitioning the Pa. Supreme Court to reinstate cases taken away from her. Judicial leadership reassigned the cases after years of complaints about overzealous sentencing and conflicts of interest. After Brinkley sent Philly rapper Meek Mill to jail for a probation violation, news surfaced about demands that he write a verse about her. Meek’s situation led him to cofound the Reform Alliance, which advocates for criminal justice. [BP/Inquirer$/Grio/BP/TMZ/WHYY]
• Mummers parade returns with new sponsor
Perhaps Philadelphia’s most infamous event, the Mummers Parade returns this weekend for its 123rd march down Broad Street. Here’s our 101 on the event, explaining its long, troubled history and efforts for reform. The imagery is always spectacular — check out pics from last year — and this time around it has a new sponsor, Live Casino. Also, beware of road closures, which start midweek. [BP x 2/South Philly Review/WHYY]
• Harden rumors mar Sixers Xmas win
After the Eagles fell to the Cowboys on Christmas Eve, it should have been a relief for Philly sports fans when the Sixers came from behind to beat the Knicks on Christmas Day, notching their eighth straight win. But just before tip-off came a report that star guard James Harden is interested in being traded back to Houston. Does he really want out? “I don’t know where that report came from,” Harden said after the game, wearing — as he is wont to do — one of the most colorful coats around. [NBCS/PhillyVoice/Bleacher Report/Billy Penn/NBA]