Nutter aide hit by truck

Debrah Merlin, 62, an assistant deputy mayor in the Mayor's Commission on Aging, was stuck by a pickup truck in Center City Tuesday evening and taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Merlin was struck at 18th and Chestnut streets as she crossed the intersection. She was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital in critical condition with rib, leg and skull fractures.

There were no injuries to the 39-year-old driver of the pickup, who stayed at the scene.

Cardinal's Christmas Masses

Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, will celebrate Christmas Masses tomorrow evening. Masses will be at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and midnight, accompanied by music, at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul.

Masses on Christmas Day will be celebrated at 8 and 10 a.m. and noon.

Turnpike's about-face on tix

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is making a policy U-turn and deciding to resume printing the toll schedule on tickets it hands out to motorists who pay cash. Tickets with the fare increases currently scheduled to take effect Jan. 2 won't be available for a few months. After Jan. 2 and until the new ones are ready, the turnpike will issue tickets without the toll schedule.

The commission is reversing a decision that had been adopted as a cost-savings measure, because tolls are going to increase annually. It was supposed to save about $80,000 a year.

Murderer guilty of assault

Cody Wright, 24, of Philadelphia, already in state prison on a murder conviction, now has additional time to serve behind bars after being convicted in Schuylkill County Court of assaulting another inmate in December 2009.

Wright, an inmate at the State Correctional Institution/Mahanoy, did not react as Judge John E. Domalakes convicted him of simple assault and harassment and sentenced him to one to two years in prison.

Corbett taps budget secretary

Tom Corbett filled the hot seat in his prospective Cabinet yesterday by appointing former state Education chief Charles Zogby as his budget secretary, while the man Corbett tapped to become his chief of staff said he has changed his mind and is accepting a job with the governor-elect's longtime political consultant.

Corbett vowed during his election campaign to balance the 2011-12 budget without increasing state taxes or fees, despite widespread expectations of a potential deficit of $4 billion or more.

Meanwhile, Brian Nutt confirmed he has accepted an offer to become a managing partner of the BrabenderCox political consulting firm in a new Harrisburg office.

Tough times for tracks

The state Racing Commission has approved a full schedule for the state's financially struggling horse tracks for 2011 but acknowledged that the number of racing days will almost certainly be reduced.

The commission awarded thoroughbred and standardbred owners 141 days of racing, but Lennon Register, an executive with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park tracks, told the panel that a request to reduce the number of racing days would come as the tracks move to privatize. Gov. Christie has been looking for a way to get the state, which has provided a $30 million subsidy to tracks, out of the horse racing business.

- Staff and wire reports