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Philly releases best and most improved schools; new police commissioner has her first day on the job | Morning Newsletter

Philadelphia Inquirer logo Philadelphia Inquirer 2/11/2020 By Josh Rosenblat, The Philadelphia Inquirer
a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Shannon Turner is a Philly cabaret singer who is on a comeback career swing after almost dying from a heart attack and stroke. © STEVEN M. FALK/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS Shannon Turner is a Philly cabaret singer who is on a comeback career swing after almost dying from a heart attack and stroke.

Philly Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw spent most of her first day on the job in meetings after taking some time to visit with officers in various districts. Also yesterday, the city School District recognized the schools that were the best and most improved, according to the district’s annual report cards. We also have stories on the Phillies (pitchers and catchers report to spring training today), how Philly progressives are taking advantage of the same campaign finance laws they decried a decade ago, and Pennsylvania’s lawsuit against an e-cigarette maker.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

Philly progressives used to criticize weak campaign finance laws. Then they learned how to use them.

A decade ago, progressive politicians decried the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that helped open the floodgates for an unprecedented amount of political spending. They claimed it would be a step toward an oligarchic system dominated by the super-wealthy. But, in the years following, Philly’s progressive left has capitalized on the new Wild West in campaign finance.

In Philly, liberals have been beating establishment Democrats with the help of outside groups that often end up outspending the candidates themselves. As a result, campaign finance reform hasn’t been the rallying cry it once was. For example, District Attorney Larry Krasner’s 2017 victory was boosted by almost $1.5 million from liberal philanthropist George Soros.

New Philly Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw takes over her new department

Philly’s new police commissioner arrived before dawn yesterday, walking into Police Headquarters about 5:45 a.m. She told reporters that she was excited to go visit officers and spent most of her day in a series of meetings. Outlaw, 43, is the former chief in Portland, Ore., and a 20-year veteran of the Oakland Police Department before that.

“Just some face time," she said of her plans for her first morning on duty. “Get an opportunity ... to know who’s out here, to know who’s out here getting the work done, and for them to have an opportunity to see me.”

Which are the best and most improved Philly schools? Here are 57.

The Philadelphia School District recognized schools yesterday as the top and most improved in the city. The news came as the district released its annual report cards for 216 traditional public and 87 charter schools.

Schools land in one of four tiers, with the highest being model schools, finishing with scores of 75 to 100 on the School Progress Report. The highest-scoring school this year was Penn Alexander Elementary in West Philly.

What you need to know today

Pennsylvania is suing Juul, the leading e-cigarette maker, blamed for contributing to a sharp rise in e-cigarette use among teenagers.A longtime Pennsylvania state senator from Chester County is retiring.The developer of the Comcast Technology Center is seeking over $100 million in a lawsuit against its general contractor. The suit accuses the contractor of not taking responsibility for costs and causing a two-year delay on the opening of the Four Seasons hotel at the top of the building.The Tibetan community in Philly wants a new, two-story center where people can gather for celebrations, ceremonies, and teach children the intricacies of the culture.Philadelphia Energy Solutions has urged Bankruptcy Court to approve the sale of the shuttered South Philly refinery complex to a Chicago real estate firm. The firm has plans to redevelop the site, and PES says that efforts to have the complex resume oil-refining are a “fantasy.”Through your eyes 5/8 #OurPhilly

Shout out to you, @jbake_photography! Great job trying something new. Here’s some advice from one of my photojournalist colleagues: “Keep shooting! Practice makes perfect. Everyone can and should always be learning and willing to improve in their craft.”

Tag your Instagram posts or tweets with #OurPhilly and we’ll pick our favorite each day to feature in this newsletter and give you a shout out!

That’s interesting

??Here are the best anti-Valentine’s Day events going on around Philly this week.??What happened to a community garden in South Philly???Fashion at the Oscars focused on prioritizing strength, columnist Elizabeth Wellington writes.??A Philadelphia gay bar posted a notice on Facebook last week saying it was closed “due to hate.” But the full story is more complicated.??At some point, we all get called for jury duty. But don’t let that deplete your appetite. Restaurant critic Craig LaBan offers his survival guide to eating well and caffeinating properly while on jury duty.?Phillies pitchers and catchers report to spring training today. Overall, the franchise has invited a huge group of players down to Clearwater, Fla. My colleague breaks down all 69.Opinions

“This is not the first time we have seen SEPTA hiding the condition of their vehicles. ... The public expects better. The public expects SEPTA to be more transparent about its issues, especially problems that can impact its ability to serve its riders.” — writes Daniel Trubman and Michael Noda of 5th Square’s Transit Committee about issues on the Market-Frankford Line.

Amanda Gilson, a nurse at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, writes about how the recent purchase of the hospital by Tower Health and Drexel has changed employees’ benefits. She writes that her fellow nurses deserve parental leave and safe staffing.With the impeachment trial over, the Inquirer Editorial Board writes that gun control can help unite Congress.What we’re reading

Philadelphia Magazine interviewed a local doctor whose pharmaceutical firm is testing a unique immunotherapy approach that might be used to fight coronavirus, other viruses, and cancer.A small events business in New Hampshire has handled almost every campaign event in the run-up to today’s primary, the New York Times reports.About a fifth of the U.S. beef supply is produced in the Texas Panhandle. A Texas Observer investigation reveals that the state isn’t doing anything to protect communities from being choked by fecal dust.Your Daily Dose of 5/8 Cheat Death (x3)

Shannon Turner spent a good deal of her 20s in and out of the hospital, struggling with autoimmune diseases. In 2012, she was in a coma, and after she woke up, she was told that she died three times before stabilizing. Two years after she was told she’d likely never walk unassisted again, she was back on stage. And in 2019, Philadephia Magazine awarded her and her accompanist “Best Cabaret Act."


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