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Mysterious bill protects one Pa. casino, waterfront tower project stalled, Philly detective meets 'Undercover Gangster' | Morning Newsletter

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Illustration by Amy Junod
Illustration by Amy JunodRead moreAmy Junod

Happy Monday, folks. It was a chilly, Eagles-less weekend and it's set to be another chilly day, with a wet morning to boot. We're kicking the week off with a fresh candidate in the Pennsylvania lieutenant governor's race, more bad news for Meek Mill (sorry, fans), and an exciting new series I think you're gonna love.

If you like what you're reading, it's free to sign up to get this newsletter in your inbox every weekday. I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and feedback, so please email me, tweet me @aubsn, or reach our social team on Facebook.

— Aubrey Nagle

» READ MORE: Undercover Gangster: A cop and a criminal on a collision course

In the first of a five-part series, "Undercover Gangster," reporter David Gambacorta follows the lives of two men as they tread their fathers' footsteps down very different paths.

One is Joe Murray, a Philly-bred detective trying to live up to his family name (and reeling in a social media following along the way). The other is Michael Lockhart, a voice of gun violence prevention by day and a gun-toting gangster by night.

The choices they make lead them on a collision course. Follow along all week as each new chapter is revealed.

» READ MORE: Last-minute addition to law protects one Pa. casino

A mysterious amendment to the sweeping expansion of casino gambling in Pennsylvania protects one of the state's casinos, Mount Airy Casino Resort, from competition. And no one knows who added it. Intrigue.

The casino's owner is the daughter of Louis DeNaples, the casino's founder who was forced to sell his share in the business after he was dogged by claims of ties to organized crime. The bill opens up opportunities for "mini-casinos" around the state, but they must be 25 miles away from one of the state's larger gambling houses.

Legislators are hoping to attract these "sinners" — in this case gamblers, drinkers, and smokers — so the taxes they pay on their vices can help balance the state budget. But "sin taxes" are a double-edged sword: the tax is meant to curb a bad habit, so relying on its revenue is no safe bet.

» READ MORE: Is the Delaware River waterfront Philly’s Miami Beach?

If developer Jeffery Kozero gets his way, it will be. He wants to build 10 towers of up to 34 stories along the Delaware River. But if Kozero's history — checkered with unfinished houses, unhappy customers, and unpaid contractors — has any weight, it could all be a pipe dream.

His current plans would require big zoning changes meant to maintain the neighborhood's feel and keep away speculative, doomed-to-fail projects, and so far he doesn't have the green light.

The same zoning rules that keep Kozero's plan in limbo have Bart Blatstein's South Philly super Wawa on hold, too. The neighborhood has spoken: no thanks.

What you need to know today

  1. The Chester County Democratic Committee mourns Adam Swope, an activist who was instrumental in last week's historic wins and was killed in a car crash Saturday.

  2. Goateed and tattooed mayor of Braddock John Fetterman is returning to the campaign trail. He'll run for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania in 2018 against incumbent Mike Stack.

  3. A Montgomery County cemetery is accused, yet again, of overselling its prepaid burial plots, forcing families to decide whether to disinter loved ones or change plans for the recently departed just hours before the funeral.

  4. A move from the Trump administration could kick thousands of Haitians, who came here after an earthquake and a hurricane devastated their home, from the Philly area.

  5. More bad news for Meek Mill fans: his sentence from Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Genece Brinkley, called excessive and unjust by some, is right on par with Brinkley's history. Worse news: so far all of her sentences were affirmed on appeal.

  6. Is talk of a thaw between District Attorney-elect Larry Krasner and the Fraternal Order of Police too soon? Local officers have taken to social media to say he's #NotMyDA.

  7. The youngest captain in the history of string bands will march in this year's Mummers Parade. Jake Kudrick, 11, will lead the Duffy String Band, which his father Teddy led for 32 years before he died suddenly last month. A touching tribute, indeed.

» READ MORE: #OurPhilly

We want to see what our community looks like through your eyes. Show us the park that your family walks through every weekend with the dog, the block party in your neighborhood or the historic stretch you see every morning on your commute to work.

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 to build those followers!

That’s Interesting

  1. The Friends of Independence National Historical Park are not throwing away their shot to restore the First Bank of the United States. Founded by the 10-dollar founding father without a father, Alexander Hamilton, the bank is the room where it happened — the creation of our financial system, that is. If they raise $26 million for the job, that would be enough.

  2. SEPTA has responded to customer complaints — a cherished notion, I know — and is allowing parents to keep kids in their strollers (rather than folding them up) on buses most of the day.

  3. Last year North Philly's Kenderton Elementary was in full-blown crisis mode, but, with the help of a new principal, they've turned the school around. Here's how they did it.

  4. Two music execs (who've worked with Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Mariah Carey, no big deal) are helping Philly students learn the skills they need to work in the entertainment industry.

  5. Need a reason to smile? The story of Gianna Masciantonio, a three year old who's now chemo-free thanks to two miracles — one medical, and one a kiss from Pope Francis in 2015 — should do the trick.

  6. Ahead of their face-off with the Cowboys this week, the Eagles' front office is making moves and quickly course-correcting, writes columnist Marcus Hayes.


"We are witnessing an all-out assault on the Bastille-like fortress of male domination, patriarchy, and the sexual reign of terror that has come with that. "
— Columnist Will Bunch
  1. If the Eagles go to the Super Bowl, the NFL won't let fans watch it at the Linc — and columnist Ronnie Polanezcky hopes to change their minds.

  2. Community efforts to end the cash bail system are great. But without meaningful community input, risk assessment algorithms are not an adequate replacement, Media Mobilizing Project policy director Hannah Sassaman writes.

What we’re reading

  1. Philadelphia Magazine tells the strange story of how in 1974 the city tried to stop gay men cruising for other men down a Rittenhouse street — by putting up a traffic sign.

  2. Ever wondered what would happen if universal basic income became a reality? I have, and this deep exploration of real world examples from Wired answered some of my questions and raised even more (in a good way).

  3. As accusations of sexual assault and misconduct continue to bubble up through every corner of Hollywood, The Ringer says pop culture journalism has become "Entertainment: SVU."

  4. There's a weird trend in food writing that makes every fad a battle of the sexes. As Jaya Saxena writes (among very beautiful illustrations, I might add) at Taste, "When men enjoy something, they elevate it. But when women enjoy something, they ruin it."

  5. Millennials are all-too-familiar with the specter of college loans halting dreams and stalling plans, but this Rolling Stone report breaks down how it will actually doom us all. Great!

A Daily Dose of | Ornithology

That’s the study of birds. The Academy of Natural Sciences is hoping you’ll help them in their ornithological endeavors by letting them know when you find a dead bird. Yes, really.