Gov. Chris Christie's early endorsement of Donald Trump appeared to pay off last week with the Republican's stunning presidential win. But since then, Christie has been removed from his post as chairman of Trump's White House transition team, Christie allies have been demoted or ousted and the governor's prospects for a top job in Washington seem to be dimming. The chief reasons: The George Washington Bridge lane-closures scandals and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, whose father was prosecuted by then-U.S. Attorney Christie more than a decade ago. Kushner and his wife, Trump's daughter Ivanka, have been "banging pots and pans" to block Christie's ascent, a source said. Read more
The local tax gap between Philadelphia and its suburbs dropped in 2015 to its lowest level in 15 years, according to a new Pew Charitable Trusts study. The study found that Philadelphia's average tax burden was, for the first time, lower than the average tax burdens in Delaware, Camden and Gloucester counties. But the city's bill remained higher than those of Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, Burlington and Salem counties. "This is good news for the city," said Steve Wray, executive director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. "If you narrow the tax differential, it's a decision that is allowed to be about your lifestyle choice as opposed to purely financial." Read more
A federal judge has cited the pornographic email scandal that has engulfed the Pennsylvania Supreme Court among his reasons for giving a South Philadelphia woman a chance to challenge her double-murder conviction. U.S. District Judge Gerald A. McHugh has granted Donetta Hill – a prostitute convicted in 1992 in the claw-hammer killings of two of her johns – a hearing on her claim that detectives coerced her confession by using racist and sexist taunts. The judge noted that two of the Supreme Court justices who rejected that argument in 2011 were exchanging pornographic, sexist and racially insensitive emails themselves. "The fact that two Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices recreationally viewed - on state computers and on state time - numerous depictions of graphic sexual violence with captions degrading African Americans and endorsing abuse of women is cause for grave concern given [Hill's] background and its potential relevance to her claims for relief," McHugh wrote in a footnote to his opinion. Read more
A hot air balloon made an unexpected landing Wednesday at a Kensington playground. The 80-foot-tall Kubicek balloon came down on a baseball diamond at McKinley Playground. The balloon captain told police that the landing was planned, but authorities are investigating. When asked for their destination, "they said they really didn't have one," Chief Inspector Scott Small said. "That doesn't make sense to me." Read more
The Delaware River Port Authority says reopening the defunct Franklin Square PATCO stations is a priority for the near future. "That area’s jumping. The ridership numbers are good," said John Dougherty, DRPA board member and leader of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98. "There are so many people coming to Philly that would take the PATCO speed line back." Funds in DRPA's 2017 capital budget were set aside to start the design process for renovations that would be needed if the station, which was most recently in use from 1976 to 1979, reopens. Read more