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How to make a living on the Delaware River; why Mayor Kenney could threaten to pull a water bill discount for Philly’s ‘eds and meds’ | Morning Newsletter

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Alexey Bachmanov, who works for River Services, hangs up one of the ropes that was keeping tugboat against dock  in Philadelphia, PA on November 13, 2019.
Alexey Bachmanov, who works for River Services, hangs up one of the ropes that was keeping tugboat against dock in Philadelphia, PA on November 13, 2019. Read moreDavid Maialetti / DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photogra

    The Morning Newsletter

    Start your day with the Philly news you need and the stories you want all in one easy-to-read newsletter

This morning, we’re talking about water. For thousands in the Delaware River watershed, the ecological staple translates to an economical one, too. And in Philly, Mayor Jim Kenney is pressuring several major institutions to go with the flow and raise wages for their workers, or face losing a major water bill discount.

Speaking of bills, there’s one on the table in New Jersey that would require elementary school students to learn cursive.

— Oona Goodin-Smith (@oonagoodinsmith,

To thousands south of Trenton, the Delaware River, the Schuylkill, and the watershed that feeds them isn’t just part of the environment, but a vital piece of the economy, too.

The bodies of water generate billions of dollars in revenue and taxes, keeping everyone from cargo ship drivers to canoe renters and restaurateurs financially afloat.

Reporter Jason Nark follows the money along the waterways.

Mayor Jim Kenney is ramping up the fight over security guards’ wages at Penn, Temple and other institutions, threatening to pull their 25% water bill discount if they do not raise worker pay to $15 an hour.

In 2018, water bill reductions saved the University of Pennsylvania and its hospitals more than $2.2 million, and saved Temple University nearly $600,000.

In other labor news, Philadelphia’s Fair Workweek scheduling law has been delayed, leaving advocates to question what the setback suggests about the future of worker-protection laws in the city.

Founded in the 1700s by German immigrants who moved to east of Lancaster from Philly, the Ephrata Cloister faced an anti-immigrant screed from Benjamin Franklin, who detested the arriving hordes of German speakers, fearing they would never learn English and would reject local customs.

This year, the state-run site’s popular Christmas week tours in Pennsylvania’s conservative heartland focus on the parallels between the treatment of migrants then and now.

What you need to know today

  1. The president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts vowed Tuesday that the school would “do better” in handling sexual-misconduct cases and said the school has “a lot of work to do” around supporting victims of sexual violence. His statements follow an Inquirer story published this week which detailed the statements of two students who said the school mishandled complaints that they were raped by a fellow student.

  2. State Rep. Movita Johnson-Harrell, a West Philadelphia Democrat who has been under investigation since winning a special election in March, is saying she expects to be charged with a crime this week, according to sources. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said charges would come today against an unnamed legislator.

  3. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a 300-page report Tuesday, making the case that President Donald Trump misused the power of his office and, in the course of their investigation, obstructed Congress by stonewalling the proceedings.

  4. City Council took a step Tuesday toward changing Philadelphia’s controversial 10-year tax abatement policy for the first time since its enactment two decades ago, with a vote to advance a bill that would reduce the tax break for new residential construction.

  5. Security personnel for the controversial Mariner East pipeline engaged in an illegal “buy-a-badge scheme,” recruiting state constables to act as private guards at local construction sites and taking steps to obscure payments to them from public scrutiny, according to the Chester County district attorney.

  6. A new bill in New Jersey’s Assembly would require the Garden State’s elementary school students to learn, read, and write cursive by the end of third grade.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Keep the holiday decor photos coming, Philly. 🎄Thanks for the shot, @gritadelphia.

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

  1. In his new book, Donald Trump Jr. calls Philadelphia’s own “Johnny Doc” a “swamp creature.” Fresh off a visit to the White House, indicted labor leader John J. Dougherty responded with subtle shade.

  2. Two Philly designers — one who is Muslim, self-taught and known for her hijab line, and one who is a 65-year-old Drexel grad — will represent the City of Brotherly Love on a new season of Project Runway this week.

  3. Thanks to a $100,000 upgrade, Christmas has come early for the magical growing tree in Philadelphia’s Nutcracker ballet.

  4. Can the Eagles reset and save their season? Perhaps, but only if the hungry dogs stop sniffing themselves and start running again, writes columnist Marcus Hayes.

  5. He was a World War II glider pilot-turned-historian and author. She was a director of mental health services. And they were both deeply in love. After 65 years of marriage, this Montgomery County couple died just three days apart.


“Not only is our economy increasingly reliant on technology, but economists have noted we are now experiencing a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ that encompasses artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum computing, and advanced telecommunications. But don’t worry. Pennsylvania’s elected leaders don’t think college is all that important.”The Inquirer Editorial Board on the “Rust Belt of higher education.”

  1. For Pennsylvania’s immigrant families, a new “public charge” policy will only increase confusion, stoke fear, and undermine health and health care, writes the president and CEO of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

  2. Columnist Will Bunch compares President Trump’s situation with Ukraine to Ronald Reagan’s Iran-Contra affair.

What we’re reading

  1. Despite the narrative of a “retail apocalypse,” the retail market is actually thriving in Center City, PlanPhilly reports.

  2. Using a guide for hard-to-buy-for holiday gift inspiration? A former gift guide writer explains in the Atlantic what really happens when you buy presents from an internet secret Santa.

  3. How does “cancel culture” play out in the halls of high schools? Teenagers explain to the New York Times.

Your Daily Dose of | Love Bug

Herbie the Love Bug changed a Wynnewood man’s life. Now, he’s using his own Herbie to change the lives of others.