Teens across the country are preparing to cast their ballots for the first time during the 2020 election cycle. And in Pennsylvania in particular, the primary system sort of forces first-time voters to solidify a political identity in order to participate. My colleague Julia Terruso went to a town outside of Scranton to talk to high school seniors about how they’ve been forming their political identities.

In other news this morning, Mayor Jim Kenney reacted to a particularly violent weekend in the city, the Supreme Court will hear arguments today about the Bridgegate controversy from 2014, and a former Philadelphia Museum of Art exec has lost his current job after more fallout regarding his alleged behavior with female colleagues.

For young people turning 18 in the months before a major presidential election, registering with a political party is the first time they formally define the political identities many of them have been developing for years. Republicans? Democrats? Something else? Nothing? But in a state such as Pennsylvania, where the primary is closed, you’re sort of forced to join a camp in order to participate.

In Dunmore, a small borough outside Scranton, politics have become more muddled. Historically Democratic, the region has grown more Republican over the years. And at the local high school, the would-be first-time voters are feeling that split.

“A lot of people ... they just see your party and don’t want to listen to what you have to say,” said one student, a Democrat whose mom is a Trump supporter.

Joshua Helmer is “no longer employed at the Erie Art Museum,” according to an unsigned statement posted on the museum’s Facebook page yesterday. The 31-year-old went to Erie after he separated from the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2018 for undisclosed reasons. Pressure for Helmer’s removal grew this past weekend with the circulation of a petition and a New York Times article alleging he entered into relationships with female subordinate museum staffers while dangling possibilities for professional advancement.

Hundreds of current and former Philadelphia museum staff members signed a statement that expressed solidarity with the women who spoke out in the Times article. The statement calls for structural change, and signers say the allegations against Helmer “barely scratch the surface.”

In less than 48 hours, police said, seven people were killed and 12 others were wounded by gunfire. In a 10-hour stretch on Sunday, 10 people were killed or injured in less than 10 hours. The violence spanned neighborhoods across the city.

The outburst pushed the city’s homicide total to 14 homicide victims in 12 days so far in 2020. Police stats show that it’s the most killings this early in the year in five years.

What you need to know today

  • Early voting is coming to Pennsylvania in time for the 2020 election. Well, kind of. It’s not exactly what most people understand as “early voting.”
  • Cory Booker is ending his presidential campaign. The New Jersey senator’s calls for love and togetherness were cheered by voters who saw him but didn’t quite resonate enough to make a bigger impact in a crowded field of Democrats, our D.C. correspondent reports.
  • Felisha Reyes-Morton, 30, is the youngest member of Camden City Council. And she had to grow up fast. Her father was killed in a drug-related slaying when she was 1. She became the head of her household as a teenager when her mother served a federal prison sentence. “I strongly believe that trauma has helped me build skills needed to work through the cultural dynamics, to take ownership for people’s rights,” she said.
  • Did the aides of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie commit fraud when they executed Bridgegate? The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today regarding the 2014 scandal that helped sink Christie’s White House ambitions.
  • After a falsified data scandal in 2018, Temple’s online MBA program is back in the U.S. News and World Report rankings for the first time. Before the scandal, it was ranked No. 1. This year, it’s not close.
  • A pet groomer and three Philadelphia customers are in the middle of a legal fight over the death of a 12-year-old Maltese and the alleged strangulation of his litter mate.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

Great shot, @visual21nate! This picture reminded me of our story from October 2018 on “old man crews,” or Philly’s original skateboarders who refuse to put away their decks.

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

  • 🦅One Eagles veteran thinks the Birds are close to another title. But only if they “combine that grit with that talent.”
  • 💃🏾🕺🏾No matter if you want to watch dance performances every night or learn about dance traditions, the International Association of Blacks in Dance has something for you. The group is coming together in Philly this week for its international conference and festival that starts tomorrow. We break down the lineup for you.
  • 🍝Our restaurant critic, Craig LaBan, isn’t entirely sold on the whole “restaurant week” concept. But he does have some picks for the spots worth eating at during Center City’s Restaurant Week, which is going on right now.
  • ⚾The Houston Astors should have been stripped of the 2017 World Series title for cheating, writes sports columnist Bob Brookover. Major League Baseball handed down one-year suspensions to the now ex-Astros general manager and manager yesterday for a scheme that involved video replay technology and trash cans to steal signs on their way to a championship.
  • 🚦Automated speed cameras are coming to Roosevelt Boulevard. It’s part of the effort to slow down drivers on what’s considered Philly’s most dangerous roadway.
  • 🏈After starring at St. Joe’s Prep and at Penn, Kevin Stefanski’s high school coach said that “he could have been very successful in the business world.” Now, the 37-year-old will be the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns.


“For too long, U.S. policy in the Middle East has been addicted to dictators and autocrats, neither of which care for their people. And this gap between the people and their leaders is the main factor driving instability and violence.” — write Brian Katulis and Michael Rubin about U.S. policy in the Middle East. Katulis and Rubin are co-editors of a book that asks what really causes instability in the region.

What we’re reading

Your Daily Dose of | 📸Photos of the Week

Every Monday, my photojournalist colleagues make a gallery of recent pictures they’ve taken and tell the story behind one of them. This week, staff photographer Michael Bryant talks about capturing the short-lived burst of snow that moved through the region on Wednesday.