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Trump’s favorite Democrat might rep an N.J. district; Philadelphia’s marijuana decriminalization can frustrate those on probation | Morning Newsletter

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Marijuana is largely decriminalized in Philadelphia. But people who get high while on probation are still risking incarceration. It’s a paradox that has many in the city frustrated. And over in New Jersey, a Democrat has gotten something that few, if any, of his left-leaning colleagues have gotten from President Donald Trump: a kind tweet.

Also, a student group at a local college is on a mission to see smiles grace their peers’ faces, and we have some tips on scoring cheap flights out of Philly.

— Josh Rosenblat (@joshrosenblat,

Melonie Alvarado appeared for her probation-violation hearing nearing the end of a three-year term. She was in trouble for using marijuana. After failed tests, the judge revoked her probation, setting her up for more probation, community service, court-ordered drug treatment, or even prison.

Alvarado and others are frustrated with trying to reconcile probation orders with shifting norms and laws regarding the drug, especially in Philadelphia.

Peter LaFrance initially dismissed his shortness of breath as a consequence of age and having smoked when he was younger. But when the 57-year-old’s symptoms got worse, a doctor told him he had a serious problem: heart failure and type 2 diabetes. And the situation became even more dire months later, when the bills for tests and scans during his week-long hospital stay arrived.

His insurance plan refused to pay because heart failure and diabetes were pre-existing conditions, according to his plan. Even though he had just been diagnosed, LaFrance was still saddled with $35,000 in medical debt.

President Trump’s Twitter account is usually populated by frequent attacks on opponents and praise for his supporters. And among the steady stream of tweets came one that cut against the grain a bit. Instead of scorning a Democrat, Trump quoted him.

Rep. Jeff Van Drew is a Democrat from New Jersey who represents a conservative-leaning district outside of Philadelphia. Quickly, he’s emerging as one of Trump’s favorite Democrats. And it remains to be seen how that will impact his ability to keep his seat in 2020.

What you need to know today

  1. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission voted yesterday that the Neshaminy School District can continue to use its high school football team’s name, one that some may find offensive. But it must also educate students about Native American history to prevent stereotypes.

  2. When it comes to the 2020 elections, Pennsylvania Democrats aren’t just focused on Trump. They want to take back the state House.

  3. A former Philadelphia police officer who’s facing murder charges for fatally shooting a man after a 2017 traffic stop will be tried before a jury of city residents. His lawyers had requested to fill the panel with non-Philadelphians due to the publicity surrounding the case.

  4. New Jersey wants to give Planned Parenthood and others more than $9 million after they said they had to turn down federal money because of President Trump’s “gag rule” that keeps them from making abortion referrals.

  5. The bankrupt Philly refinery is seeking millions more for a new round of bonuses that would pay executives depending on the success of a plan to sell or reorganize the company.

  6. Cheyney University learned that the financially beleaguered school would keep its accreditation on Monday. The ruling ended years of uncertainty about whether the nation’s first historically black university would have to close.

Through your eyes | #OurPhilly

I don’t know if a more quintessentially “fall” photo has been taken. Nice shot, @strangerphilly.

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. An Eagles starter left the team’s loss Sunday to the Seattle Seahawks early because of symptoms related to anxiety. "Make no mistake I’m NOT ashamed or embarrassed by this nor what I go through daily,” the player wrote in a statement.

  2. Potato filling is Pennsylvania’s most searched-for Thanksgiving side dish. What the heck is it?

  3. There’s a generational divide between older and younger Republicans when it comes to climate change, according to a national survey released yesterday.

  4. The team behind Zahav opened a pita sandwich shop and cafe in Washington Square West yesterday. And that’s not the only new restaurant big names are opening in Philly this fall and winter.

  5. The FDA is warning people about an outbreak of E. coli infections due to romaine lettuce and salad mixes coming from a region in California. If you need to call an audible on your Thanksgiving salad plans, here are some romaine-less options for you.

  6. Here’s some advice on scoring the best deals on flights from Philly for your next escape.


“One month, seven children shot — five of them fatally. Could these tragedies give Harrisburg the minimal courage, or at least an ounce of compassion, to allow Philadelphia to enact even mild gun control measures? Don’t hold your breath.” — The Inquirer Editorial Board writes about a state law that keeps Philadelphia from enacting and enforcing gun control measures.

  1. What do “socialism” and “capitalism” even mean these days? Duquesne University professor Antony Davies and James R. Harrigan, the director of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom at the University of Arizona, write for The Inquirer about how politics have made the terms essentially meaningless.

  2. American University faculty member and author Naomi Moland writes about the Trump administration’s wanting to cut funding for Sesame Street.

What we’re reading

  1. Climate change is threatening Graffiti Pier, Billy Penn reports.

  2. Did you know how hard costume design is for animated movies? I had no idea, but Vox talked with the team behind Frozen 2 to figure out why.

  3. The New York Times looks at ways to remember the 2010s. Remember when spandex was a thing?

Your Daily Dose of | Happiness

Some students at Lafayette College are on a mission to spread happiness to their fellow students. For example, the “Lafayette Happiness Project” dispatched members across campus posting notes with positive messages on walls, poles, mirrors, whiteboards, and more.