Welcome to what’s supposed to be a sunny Friday, with temperatures reaching the low 60s.

The bribery trial of City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson and his wife, Dawn Chavous, started yesterday with opening arguments and the first prosecution witness.

And as we continue to dive into census data, we take a look at how Philly lost 25,000 residents in the first year of the pandemic.

Also, the Sweet 16 of the men’s NCAA Tournament continues tonight here in Philly. We set the scene for tonight’s matchups along with:

Let’s get into Friday. 👇🏾

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr, morningnewsletter@inquirer.com)

Bribery or one big ‘mistake?’

That’s what a federal jury will decide about City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson, based on the first day of the federal trial of him and his wife, Dawn Chavous.

Prosecutors painted Chavous and Johnson — a three-term member of Council — as a South Philadelphia “power couple” who lived beyond their means and greedily lined their pockets with bribe money from a struggling nonprofit while ignoring constituent concerns.

“Kenyatta Johnson and Dawn Chavous were willing to sell Johnson’s elected office,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gibson said. “They did so, providing official acts, legislation, votes and intervention in exchange for a series of payments totaling nearly $67,000. In lawyer-speak [that’s] quid pro quo corruption.”

But the duo’s lawyers, in their opening pitch, balked at the government’s contention that $67,000 the organization paid Chavous through consulting contracts between 2013 and 2016 was meant as a payoff to her husband.

Our reporters Jeremy Roebuck and Oona Goodin-Smith detail more of the backstory and the other arguments in yesterday’s opening of Philly’s latest bribery scandal.

In addition, our Nick Vadala explains the significance of South Philly’s Royal Theater in all of it.

What you should know today

  • The lawyer for the driver accused of killing two state troopers and a third man says his client is “devastated.”

  • Amid a surge of gun violence near campus, Temple’s police chief, Charles Leone, has resigned.

  • Philly resettlement agencies are preparing to take in some of the 100,000 Ukrainian refugees set to enter the United States.

  • The Merriam Theater has been renamed the Miller Theater on the heels of a multimillion gift given to the Kimmel Center, which owns the historic property.

  • The sale of recreational marijuana in New Jersey is still waiting for launch as regulators say the Garden State just isn’t ready yet.

  • The Eagles dropped a surprise with the signing of edge rusher Derek Barnett to a two-year deal yesterday.

  • Rochelle Wallensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was in Princeton yesterday to talk the state of COVID-19.

  • Local Coronavirus Numbers: Here’s your daily look at the latest COVID-19 data.

Philly lost 25,000 residents in the first year of the pandemic, according to census data

Philadelphia lost 25,000 residents from July 2020 to July 2021, according to new census data. That number represents roughly 1.5% of the city’s total population but is the largest one-year dip since 1975.

So where did all of those people go? We don’t have exact locations, but data did also depict an uptick in people moving to suburban collar communities during the same time period.

But putting it in perspective is a comparison of Philly and other larger metropolitan cities, such as New York and Chicago, which saw population loss in the hundreds of thousands.

Our reporter Ximena Conde extracted more data offering a look at the decline, what else drove it, and what it could mean in the long term.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

There are 10 candidates currently vying to be the next governor of Pennsylvania. Today’s question: Which one of these three resides the farthest from Philadelphia? The closest? Republican candidate Dave White from Delaware County and Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro from Montgomery County. Take a guess and find the answer here.

a. Melissa Hart

b. Lou Barletta

c. Jake Corman

What we’re…

🧐 Investigating: How so many elected Philly officials get away with not living within city limits – and not voting last year.

🥱 Learning: All about what makes a cough chronic.

📖 Reading: The problem for some trying to have a sex life post-pandemic.

🧩 Unscramble the Anagram 🧩

You can get one on the first day it reopens … for free.


Think you know? Send your guess our way at morningnewsletter@inquirer.com. We’ll give a shoutout to a reader at random who answers correctly. Today’s shoutout goes to Carol Basile of Rittenhouse, who correctly guessed FREDDIE MITCHELL as Thursday’s answer.

Photo of the day

That’s my week. Ashley Hoffman delivers your weekend wrap this Sunday and I’m back Monday to get your week started. Have a good one. ✌️