Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

How train drivers handle deaths on the tracks; Why Dems are worried about a local 2020 election | Morning Newsletter

All the local news you need to know to start your day, delivered straight to your email.

An unidentified man walks along the track near the Fern Rock Station in Philadelphia, Pa. Monday, November 6, 2019
An unidentified man walks along the track near the Fern Rock Station in Philadelphia, Pa. Monday, November 6, 2019Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

    The Morning Newsletter

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

It’s a cloudy start to what will be an overcast day. At least it won’t be that cold as we’re looking at a high of around 54 degrees.

In today’s newsletter, you can read about the long-gone Philly eateries our restaurant critic misses, how a community comes together to help bridge the divide between prison and home, a mystery involving what could be trillions of acorns, and the drama at a New Jersey Senate hearing involving George E. Norcross III.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

Many of America’s train engineers share an awful secret. Nearly half have operated a train that killed someone on the tracks. Locally, it’s estimated to be even worse, and many longtime engineers have experienced more than one death.

Afterward, many suffer nightmares, anxiety, and symptoms of PTSD. Some drivers leave railroad work forever. It’s typical for agencies to grant just three days off after a fatality, with additional time granted with a therapist’s approval.

The narrative following the elections earlier this month (and in recent years, too) was that huge wins by Democrats in the Philadelphia suburbs meant the region was turning bluer and bluer. But behind the scenes, Democrats are scared that they might struggle in a key 2020 House battleground: the Bucks County-based 1st Congressional District.

GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick survived the blue wave in last year’s midterms. Dems see Fitzpatrick as beatable in 2020. But they can’t seem to find a top-tier challenger to take him on.

In the zip code with the city’s highest incarceration rate, almost everyone has someone locked behind chain link and razor wire. One man named Tyreek Dekeyser has been home for 13 months and keeps a list of 50 names, inmate numbers, and addresses that he writes to regularly. They’re childhood friends, cousins, family members, and more.

This weekend, he invited his North Philadelphia neighborhood to join him. He hosted a portrait session and a special installment of a biweekly letter-writing event he runs on the campus of the nonprofit Village of Arts and Humanities. “If the community pulled together, there would be less crime,” he said. “It’s people not getting along.”

What you need to know today

  1. The Eagles will host the remainder of the Camden-Pleasantville high school football game that was interrupted by gunfire Friday night. The game will resume Wednesday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.

  2. A vocal critic of George Norcross was forcibly removed Monday from a hearing Norcross was speaking at. The hearing was about New Jersey’s controversial tax incentive program.

  3. Bucks County prosecutors decided yesterday not to pursue the death penalty against Sean Kratz in the murders of three young men on a remote farm in July 2017. Instead, he’ll spend his life in prison.

  4. Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering moving up the state’s presidential primary election beginning in 2024. That would give Pennsylvania more say in picking who gets nominated for the White House.

  5. A charter school is pushing for a takeover of a fiscally distressed district’s elementary schools.

  6. Pennsylvania will no longer hold death-row prisoners in endless solitary confinement. They’ll get the same rights as the rest of the general prison population.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

This time of year seems to bring us some really pretty skies😍. Great shot, @d_smoove.

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. Here are long-gone Philly eateries that our restaurant critic misses so dearly.

  2. New Jersey residents could see a ballot question about legalizing marijuana when they vote in November 2020.

  3. After a $125 million donation came with a name-change at Penn’s law school, students and alumni fired back. Yesterday, the school’s dean announced a compromise.

  4. Acorns — yes, acorns — have been quite abundant this fall. But no one’s quite sure exactly why that is.

  5. SEPTA’s modernized payment system hasn’t yet made it to Regional Rail quite yet. That’s expected by the spring, but there’s a murky timeline to get there.

  6. Could we be close to seeing the end of the banking and credit card industries? A co-founder of PayPal thinks so.


“It seems the Philly cheesesteak is going the way of cashmere, china, and tangerines — products that eventually dropped association with the places for which they’re named (Kashmir, China and Tangier).” — Philly-area native Jess Rohan writes for The Inquirer about eating the “exotic” Philly cheesesteak in Cairo, Egypt.

  1. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins has a list of things community members want from Mayor Jim Kenney as he picks the city’s next police commissioner.

  2. The Inquirer Editorial Board writes that “instead of moving toward renewable energy, Pennsylvania is battling to grow the commonwealth’s dependence on fossil fuel."

What we’re reading

  1. The Philadelphia Tribune spoke with Michael White about the stabbing death of Sean Schellenger in Rittenhouse Square. Last month, he was found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter. He said the last year has been the “scariest year" of his life.

  2. A New York-based coffee company will close all its Philadelphia locations by the end of the year, Billy Penn reports.

  3. ProPublica and the New Yorker tell the story of one grieving family’s mission to hold Boeing accountable for the 737 MAX airplane.

Your Daily Dose of | Bill Lyon

“There’s an old adage in sportswriting: Be faster than everyone who is better than you, or be better than everyone who is faster than you. That adage did not apply to Bill. He was faster and better," writes Inquirer sports columnist Mike Sielski. Lyon, a sports columnist at The Inquirer for more than three decades, died over the weekend at the age of 81.

Correction: Monday’s edition of this newsletter misstated the amount of money involved in a lawsuit with Taco Bell. The suit was over $2.18, not for $2.18 million.