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Best of 2018: music, movies, and more; tax collector chaos in Pa. town | Morning Newsletter

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Meek Mill performs on the Rocky Stage during the Made in America festival on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 01, 2018. HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff Photographer
Meek Mill performs on the Rocky Stage during the Made in America festival on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 01, 2018. HEATHER KHALIFA / Staff PhotographerRead moreHeather Khalifa / Staff photographer

Can you believe it's already December? The year has flown by, but luckily our movie, music, TV, and theater critics have been reflecting on the past 12 months to compile their Best of 2018 lists. Rediscover your favorite cultural moments of the year, find out what our critics deemed the cream of the crop, and let the debates begin. When you've finished your trip through time, you won't want to miss a tale from Lancaster County on the power that one Election Day vote can have.

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— Aubrey Nagle (@aubsn, morningnewsletter@philly.com)

Take a break from holiday stress to look back on the year in pop culture, thanks to the Inquirer Arts & Lifestyle critics' Best of 2018 lists. From theater to live music, from the big screen to the small screen, they’ve named their favorites of the year.

Think your vote doesn’t make a difference? Then you should get to know Jeffrey Cutler.

He was elected tax collector in 2013 in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County by one vote — his vote, a write-in.

He set up shop as township tax collector and that's when, local and county officials say, things went sour. He's since been stripped of his office and has responded with a torrent of lawsuits.

What you need to know today

  1. Just two lifers have been granted commutation since Gov. Tom Wolf took office nearly four years ago. Lieutenant governor Mike Stack says the system is broken and is using his last days in office to call for reforms.

  2. Prescriptions for benzodiazepines, which include common anti-anxiety drugs, have skyrocketed. "Benzos" can be dangerous on their own, but they're much deadlier when mixed with opioids. 

  3. Mayor Jim Kenney issued a directive Monday to crack down on public land flipping, requiring developers to follow through with their plans within 18 months and to get permission to resell public property within five years of purchase.

  4. A wave of fresh faces that are more pro-gun-control will join Congress next year. Four bills that gun control groups have made a top priority are likely to come up this session.

  5. A five-alarm blaze burned through a four-story apartment building in Overbrook Monday displacing more than 65 people, many of whom took shelter for the night at West Philadelphia High School.

  6. Comcast Spectacor has hired Valerie Camillo, who had been the chief revenue officer at the Washington Nationals, to lead business operations at the Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

Did she say where she was going, @matthewscottbarber? 🤔

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. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons may have led the Sixers to a 116-102 victory over the Pistons last night, but fans might be more concerned with new star Jimmy Butler, who left the game with a groin injury.

  2. In his North Philadelphia barbershop, Prentice Michael Boone hosts six-week courses on the basics of barbering for local youth, teaching them skills they could pursue as a career. His story is part of a new series, Made in Philly, on the millennials making a change in the city.

  3. Chocolate chip, schmocolate chip. Impress your guests and cookie swap competitors this year by taking baking advice and recipes from Philly's chefs.

  4. The Eagles' season is likely over thanks to Sunday's devastating loss, but at least the Birds can learn some much-needed lessons from the defeat. Silver linings, folks.

  5. Why did the raccoon cross the Atlantic City Expressway? Because he could, thanks to the South Jersey Transportation Authority and the infrastructure it's built just for furry and flying friends. 

  6. Last week, four members of the Camden 28, a group of anti-war activists who plotted to steal and destroy records at the city draft board office during the Vietnam War, reunited in the building they targeted in 1971. Their message, they say, is as important as ever.

Opinions

"More than two million people are behind bars in the American criminal justice system. Almost all of them will eventually be freed. It is in no one's interest that they are ill-equipped to deal with that freedom when it comes." — Beth Anne Mumford, Pennsylvania state director of Americans for Prosperity, on why Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey should support the First Step Act.
  1. After reporting on a Kensington school where a cell phone ban sprouted a cottage storage industry at local corner stores, columnist Ronnie Polaneczky found there are good reasons to keep the ban in place.

  2. Hospitals in Pennsylvania are facing staffing crises and to fix it they'll have to listen to nurses, writes Betsy M. Snook, CEO of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association.

What we’re reading

  1. For years, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office has auctioned off properties seized by the police in a process known as civil asset forfeiture. WHYY's startling new report on the pervasive program shows how members of law enforcement benefitted directly from the sales.

  2. Reporters frequently get information from the government by filing Right-to-Know requests, but you don't have to be a reporter to do so. Billy Penn's guide to filing these and other requests shows you where to start.

  3. Philadelphia Magazine is celebrating Wawa Week. (Isn't that every week??) They kicked it off with a list of what their favorite Philadelphians eat there, from Michael Solomonov to Alex Holley and beyond.

  4. Rap fans who haven't heard of Bri Steves yet should add her to their playlists — as Philadelphia Weekly reports, the Philly rapper is about to be even bigger.

  5. One man's quest to host a huge holiday light show and the four-year battle it began in his neighborhood is a dark and sometimes humorous cautionary tale, thanks to the Inlander.

Your Daily Dose of | Puppy Love

It was puppy love at first sight when a group of South Jersey veterans met their new service dogs, trained by inmates at the Camden County Correctional Facility, on Monday.

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