Racist and pornographic emails sent by two former state prosecutors, now working in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, could impact the pending criminal cases against two black state lawmakers charged in a bribery sting. Frank Fina and Marc Costanzo sent and received the messages while building the cases against state Reps. Louise Williams Bishop and Vanessa Lowery Brown. The state Attorney General's Office dropped the case, which was picked up by the Philadelphia DA's office after Fina and Costanzo, who are accused of instructing the lead investigator to target black politicians, went to work there. A. Charles Peruto Jr., an attorney for Bishop, says his client was the victim of racial targeting: "I am not going to back down on behalf of Bishop. Everything is going to be exposed." Read more
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf says the plan to resolve the state's five-month budget stalemate is in "deep peril," blaming Republican lawmakers for the agreement's potential collapse. GOP leaders and the Democratic governor disagree on both why the pact is falling apart and how to salvage it. The spending plan standoff has stalled funding for schools, counties and nonprofits. "We need to end this nonsense," Wolf said. Read more
A group of parents is accusing Upper Dublin schools of discriminating against black students by giving them disproportionately more out-of-school suspensions and placing them in lower-level courses. The complaint to the U.S. Department of Education and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission says black students make up 7.3 percent of Upper Dublin's 4,232 students, but received 45 percent of suspensions last year. The complaint, filed by the Public Interest Law Center for a group called Concerned African American Parents, also says no black students are in the gifted program at the district's elementary and middle schools. "The district's practices reflect a national trend of excluding African American kids from higher-level courses and feeding them into lower-level or even special education classes," attorney Sonja Kerr said. Read more
Buccini/Pollin, a dominant real-estate presence in Wilmington, is moving into Philadelphia for the first time with a package of acquisitions that includes the Omni Hotel Independence Park in Old City. The company expects to close today on the purchase of the hotel, which will be rebranded as a Marriott Renaissance, and two hotels in King of Prussia. "We feel that now is an opportune time to invest," copresident Robert Buccini said. "Philadelphia is headed in the right direction, and we've got a lot of confidence in Center City." Read more
The West Chester University marching band is headed to New York City for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The group is one of just 10 high school and college bands nationwide picked to perform in the parade, which generates big television ratings and draws thousands to the city's streets. "We don't get to perform for audiences like that on a regular basis," band director Andrew Yozviak said. The university's band played in the parade once before, in 1986. It's the only group from Pennsylvania this year. "I've been watching the Macy's parade since I was little," said drum major Jacqueline Cotto. "I always wanted to march in it. That was always a dream." Read more