Join City & State PA for our Launch Event on May 18 to help us celebrate a new era of political reporting in the commonwealth. Pick up a copy of our latest issue, featuring “Ten Titans: the most powerful behind-the-scenes players in Keystone State politics,” and mingle with a who’s who of PA government and politics!
WEATHER: Philadelphia, partly cloudy, high of 77; Harrisburg, partly cloudy, high of 74; Pittsburgh, scattered thunderstorms, high of 83.
NEW THIS MORNING:
* A jury sided with Philadelphia developer Ori Feibush in a suit alleging that Councilman Kenyatta Johnson blocked his attempts to buy public land. The ruling could jeopardize the practice of “councilmanic prerogative,” lawmakers’ unwritten power to control land use in their district, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer.
* Both Attorney General candidates, Republican John Rafferty and Democrat Josh Shapiro, were touched by a fictional company represented by ex-Rendell aide John Estey as part of his cooperation with a federal sting operation. Rafferty co-sponsored legislation benefitting the company and Shapiro accepted a campaign contribution, reports the Patriot News.
* Council President Darrell Clarke proposed an alternative to Mayor Jim Kenney’s plan to use a 3-cent soda tax principally to fund a universal pre-K program — namely, a 1-cent tax to fund a lot of things other than universal pre-K, the Inquirer reports.
* A new report from The Nation slams Philadelphia DA Seth Williams, arguing that he has failed to deliver on promises he’d bring justice to communities of color, while pursuing policies that “punish the weak and vulnerable.”
* The state Supreme Court will rule on the Philadelphia School Reform Commission’s decision to cancel teachers’ contracts during a 2014 budget crisis, the Inquirer reports.
* The court will also hear a case arguing that the state must cover pension costs related to defunct charter schools, according to the Morning Call.
* The former CFO for Visit Philly, the city’s chief tourism agency, pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars of funds from the nonprofit, writes the Inquirer.
THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE:
* Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is already walking back his claim last week that he was “not ready” to back Trump ahead of a Thursday meeting, CNN reports.
* A group of staffers and volunteers for Bernie Sanders’ campaign have circulated a memo arguing the Vermont senator should drop out of the race to focus resources on a post-primary, anti-Trump campaign, according to Politico.
* Hillary Clinton mocked Trump’s statement that he would probably not release his tax returns before the election, writes the New York Times.
TEN TITANS: The next issue of City & State PA magazine will feature profiles of the most powerful behind-the-scenes players in Keystone State politics, detailing their influence and connections. If you have suggestions for who should be on the list, email Editor Greg Salisbury at email@example.com. Want to advertise in the issue? Email David Alpher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Lamenting the fact that “small-time scams are the currency of a culture that pervades Philadelphia politics,” the Inquirer editorial board weighs in on the indictment of Democratic state Rep. Larry Farnese and what it means for the city.
* Continuing in a corruptive vein, an Inquirer op-ed by former Republican state Sen. Bruce Marks opines that John Estey is not the only one guilty of wrongdoing in his bribery case – the FBI is also guilty of intentionally trying to catch Republican lawmakers through infringing upon personal liberties.
* US Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) pens an op-ed in the Inquirer calling for President Obama to acknowledge that there are US troops in the Middle East who are indeed involved in a combat capacity.
* Daily News columnist Dom Giordano notes the involvement of players like Bernie Sanders, Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett in the sugary drink tax debate, and wonders when both sides will realize that there are more important things to do than creating nanny-state policies.
* Washington Post columnist George WIll, fresh off of his takedown of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, returns to the theme of excoriating hybrid government-chartered entities by focusing his ire on Congressional enabling of the money-hemorrhaging Amtrak.
* The Intelligencer editorial board salutes two write-in candidates, Larry Mullins of Warminster and Drew Kreiling of Middletown, who garnered enough votes to appear on the November ballot for seats in the state House of Representatives.
* In his Newsworks blog, Dick Polman is left almost speechless by the words and actions of Republican leaders like Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-South Dakota) in response to an anonymous allegation that Facebook edits out conservatively themed stories from its “Trending Topics” box – conveniently forgetting and/or ignoring both the First Amendment and common sense.
* The PennLive editorial board calls on Gov. Wolf to reconsider his threat to veto the proposed change to teacher layoff legislation, arguing that the law, which would make layoffs performance-based instead of seniority-based, is what is best for students, families, teachers and administrators.
* A Tribune-Review op-ed by Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Washington Post, uses a recent Real Clear Politics average of polls, which shows an astonishing 65 percent of Americans believe we are on the wrong track, to elucidate that Democrats should take anyone who can harness that discontent – like Donald Trump – with the utmost seriousness.
Want to subscribe to City & State PA’s new glossy magazine? Just send an email to David Alpher at email@example.com and get the details!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: to PA Rep. Jordan Harris … Want to wish someone a happy birthday in our newsletter? Email us their name, job title and upcoming birthday at firstname.lastname@example.org
8:45 a.m. – Gov. Wolf will make remarks at the Harrisburg Regional Chamber Breakfast. Radisson, Ballroom North, 1150 Camp Hill Bypass, Camp Hill.
9:15 a.m. - Mayor Kenney will be at one of the largest and longest-running citywide job fairs. The fair draws several thousand job seeking adult professionals, recent college grads and veterans. McGonigle Hall-Gymnasium, 1800 N. Broad St., Philadelphia.
10 a.m. - The PA House Gaming Oversight Committee will meet. Parx Casino, 2999 Street Rd., Bensalem.
10 a.m. - Mayor Kenney will be at the ribbon-cutting of the first reading nook that will be housed in a neighborhood barber shop; at least three other barber shops will house reading nooks as part of efforts by the Words at Play vocabulary program, a part of PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great initiative, and the Free Library of Philadelphia to bring literacy to communities by meeting people where they live. Creative Image Unisex Hair Salon, 2737 Cecil B. Moore Ave., Philadelphia.
11 a.m. - Mayor Kenney will be joined by Gov. Ed Rendell at a press conference announcing the return of PoliticalFest, an interactive festival celebrating political history, government and the road to the White House, designed to engage visiting delegates outside official Convention proceedings. National Constitution Center, Bogle Room, 525 Arch St., Philadelphia.
2:30 p.m. – Gov. Wolf will hold a roundtable with state and local elected officials, law enforcement, health professionals, and advocates to discuss Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis. Martin Library, Bill Simpson Room, 2nd Floor, 159 E. Market St., York.
3 p.m. - Mayor Kenney will sign an executive order establishing Language Access Philly, a citywide program designed to bridge the access gap by making it easier for residents with limited English proficiency to obtain essential public information and services. Mayor’s Reception Room, City Hall Room 202, Philadelphia.
4 p.m. - Mayor Kenney and Councilman Allan Domb will meet with students as they visit the offices of Philadelphia Futures, a nonprofit that has been supporting the city’s low-income, first-generation-college students for over 25 years. 230 S. Broad St., Philadelphia.
5:45 p.m. - Mayor Kenney will attend the Police Athletic League Annual Awards Dinner, which serves as the largest fundraiser for the Police Athletic League. Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown, 201 N. 17th St., Philadelphia.
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KICKER: “With the bill passing unanimously in the Senate, I think it's clear that no one knew they were not a real company” – Republican state Senator (and AG candidate) John Rafferty explains why he and 19 of his colleagues cosponsored a bill benefiting a fictionalized company repped by criminal informant John Estey during a federal sting operation. From the Patriot News.
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First Read is the morning email newsletter from City & State, covering politics and government in Pennsylvania. © 2016 City and State PA, LLC.