Ok, now it’s cold. We’re not quite dealing with Chicago’s polar vortex experience, but our region will still see dangerously low temperatures today. All that is to say: bundle up like you’ve never bundled before. We have plenty of advice for you on how to stay safe today, too. Once you’re warm and inside, you’re going to want some time to unpack the charges laid against labor leader John J. Dougherty, Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon and others yesterday. The sweeping federal probe could reshape organized labor and politics in our region.
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Labor leader John J. Dougherty (known as “Johnny Doc”), Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon, and six others affiliated with Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers were charged with embezzlement, bribery, and theft Wednesday in a sweeping federal indictment.
It alleges Dougherty and his associates stole more than $600,000 in union funds and spent it on expensive meals, construction projects, no-show jobs, and some surprisingly mundane purchases.
The six others indicted — Brian Burrow, Michael Neill, Marita Crawford, Niko Rodriguez, Brian Fiocca, and Anthony Massa — have direct ties to Dougherty. They’ve been charged with misuse of funds and giving false statements.
Buying a councilman
Authorities also claim Dougherty used his influence over Henon to intimidate employers who used non-union workers and even to delay legislation.
As both a City Council member and a top official of the Local 98, according to the indictment, Henon crossed a line when using his Council role to bully Comcast, CHOP, Verizon and others for the union’s benefit.
What’s next for Philly unions
Local 98 has been the single biggest independent source of campaign funding in Pennsylvania during the last few election cycles. The case has the potential to destabilize the union’s leadership and the futures of its allies.
The local labor community is left wondering: which is the real “Johnny Doc”? The hard-line advocate for workers, or the man who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his own local?
It will be particularly cold today and tomorrow with highs in the 20s and wind chills below zero today, before temperatures rise again this weekend.
To deal with the arctic air, reporter Bethany Ao talked with people who work outside for their best “it’s freezing” tips and reporter Aneri Pattani learned how to not get frostbite or hypothermia.
But you can’t just think about yourself today. Tips for keeping pets safe in freezing temperatures are crucial. Staying inside? Make sure your pipes don’t freeze while you’re at it.
What you need to know today
On Wednesday, the School District of Philadelphia released ratings for 316 city schools and named 42 the best and most promising of the year.
A story hour at the Lansdale Library has caused a stir. Residents are complaining about its hostess, local drag queen Annie Christ.
It’s been nearly a dozen years since the Church of Scientology said it would build a huge house of worship in Center City. Now it could finally be happening.
The city’s new program to distribute municipal IDs is taking a bit longer than expected. Instead of launching this month, they’ll be ready in the spring.
Gov. Tom Wolf is once again seeking to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage to $15 by 2025. So far, his calls for action have gone nowhere under the Republican-controlled legislature.
Philadelphia police embarked on a three-day anti-crime initiative last week in and around Kensington and came away with 180 arrests, more than $260,000 in drugs seized, and 20 guns confiscated.
Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly
What a poignant reminder, @sophieheng.
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!
Great news for local hip-hop fans: Lady B., the beloved personality ousted from 100.3 WRNB in 2017, is coming back to radio.
Looking for a car? You’re in luck: the Philadelphia Auto Show revs its engine this weekend and provides a low-pressure shopping environment.
Some people look at an 11-foot-deep plot of land and think, “That’s too small for a building.” Others think, “This is a great spot for the skinniest apartment in Philadelphia.” Architect Brian Phillips is in the latter camp.
If you think you have the flu or a cold, take some doctors' advice on what to do next, whether it’s to see a doctor or stay away from people for a while.
Snap. Crackle. Pop. Why do your joints sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies? Sometimes it’s harmless but sometimes you need medical attention.
“But to create more opportunity for students like Zephaniah to ‘come out ahead,’ state officials should waste no time considering new ways to expand parent and student choices so even more students can aim high.” — Jonathan Butcher, a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, on why Pennsylvania should expand school choice.
American politics are more divided than ever, but Pennsylvania State Sen. Anthony Williams and Charles Mitchell, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, say there’s one thing that can unite us: criminal justice reform.
The Trump administration’s efforts to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro revive unhappy memories of previous U.S. attempts at regime change, writes columnist Trudy Rubin.
What we’re reading
Ahh, what could have been. Curbed Philly has examined a 100-year-old plan for Philadelphia’s subway system that provides some food for thought in 2019.
The story behind why South Street Cinema’s free showings on Code Blue nights were shut down is a sad ending to an otherwise touching show of community support, via Billy Penn.
Penn students receive alerts for some crimes on campus, but not others. The Daily Pennsylvanian poked around to find out why and came out with a helpful explainer.
The Intercept’s investigation into how prisons are building huge databases of prisoners' voices and those of third parties on phone calls to improve a voice surveillance system is startling to say the least.
Another must-read investigation comes from the Greenville News: they’ve dug through years of civil asset forfeiture cases in South Carolina and found disturbing patterns of a policing system built to target minorities.
A Daily Dose of | Stats
Have you ever asked the TV, “How did Joe Buck know that?” The answer is likely Ed Sfida, a full-time television stat man who works everything from the Super Bowl to Villanova basketball games.