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Pa. House elects surprise speaker, who declares Independent

The U.S. House wasn’t able to come to a decision yesterday, but after turmoil, the Pa. House did end up with a new leader — an unexpected one.

  • Rep. Mark Rozzi of Berks County, a longtime Democrat, was elected speaker in a 115-85 vote. Rozzi was nominated by a Republican, and on assuming the position, immediately declared himself an Independent.

“My staff will be made up of people from both parties,” Rozzi said, per WITF. His switch means that even if Dems win all three special elections for vacant seats, Spotlight PA notes, the House will be evenly divided, 101 D and 101 R.

Pa. Rep. Mark Rozzi in April 2022, at a press conference with Gov. Wolf Credit: Sam Dunklau / WITF

Philly’s stray cat population may have avoided pandemic spike

Philly’s stray cat population, estimated to be around 400k before the pandemic, appears to have stayed relatively stable over the past couple of years

  • That’s likely thanks to a grassroots network of animal welfare organizations, which have been onboarding volunteers to trap, neuter, and release the outdoor felines.

ACCT Philly’s city contract doesn’t include spaying, Jordan Levy reports, but so far the org hasn’t seen a huge surge of cats like elsewhere in the U.S.

Some of Philadelphia’s 400,000 stray and feral cats in 2019 Credit: Emma Lee / WHYY

RECAP: What else happened?

$ = paywalled

Boathouse Row in winter Credit: Mark Henninger / Imagic Digital

Weekly brief on gun violence prevention (with PCGVR)

We publish this report each week in partnership with the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting

  • A day-by-day account of how police investigation of a nonfatal but targeted shooting — perhaps sparked by a dog that ran outside — can drag on for weeks, leaving a family scared for their lives. [Metro]
  • Artist Jonny Castro, a former Philly police officer, uses his talent for portraiture to memorialize victims of violence and fallen first responders. [Billy Penn]
  • Philly-based fashion brand Milano di Rouge treated five local women who lost children to gun violence to a health and wellness day, with meals, makeovers, and a spa visit. [South Philly Review]
  • The Eagles on Thursday will announce a $410k donation to nine local nonprofits working on both long- and short-term solutions to gun violence. Last year the team’s “Inspire Change” campaign brought $300k to 32 anti-violence efforts. [Inquirer$/WHYY]
  • In the first half-year of a program announced last spring, the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative gave out 300 free surveillance cameras, which were used 28 times in police investigations. [KYW/@RealJabariJones]

By the numbers in Philadelphia

  • 22: Shooting victims recorded last week, vs. 33 the week prior. [City Controller via @PCGVR]
  • 469: Shooting victims recorded during the last three months of 2022, down 18% vs. the prior year and down 30% vs. 2020, but still up 34% vs. the average from 2015-2019 [Open Data Philly via @PCGVR]
  • 516: Homicides in 2022, 8% down from 2021; up 64% vs. five years prior [City Controller]

MAYOR WATCH

Mayor Kenney joins partners at Girard College to announce activities and options for volunteering on the MLK Day of Service (10:30 a.m.). Dr. King famously led a 1965 rally alongside Cecil B. Moore to help desegregate the North Philly school for boys.

ON THE CALENDAR

? The Philadelphia Film Society embarks on a yearlong quest to show all 100 of Sight and Sound magazine’s “Greatest Films of All Time” list. Things start with “Get Out.” (7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4)

? The Barnes’ First Friday reception this month features music from Colombia-born and Philly-based pianist Luke Carlos O’Reilly. Admission is $28 or $10 for students. (6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6)