They say all's fair in love and war, but Mary Kane, an 85-year-old widow from Chester Springs, says she can't help but feel scammed by a Philly dating firm that charged her $4,750 (down from the original $7,000 price tag) for a suitor she didn't even ask for, leaving her to question the service's ethics. But ethically dubious baggage won't keep New Jersey voters from casting their ballots along party lines in races that mirror Minnesota's. Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, federal prosecutors have launched a probe into the state's Catholic Church in an unprecedented inquiry into whether decades of clergy sex abuse and the ensuing cover-up constituted any federal crimes.

Mary Kane, an 85-year-old widow, in her home in Chester Springs. Kane paid $4,750 to join Philadelphia Singles, a matchmaking company and has not heard from the company after repeated calls about their failure to honor her requests.
Erin Blewett
Mary Kane, an 85-year-old widow, in her home in Chester Springs. Kane paid $4,750 to join Philadelphia Singles, a matchmaking company and has not heard from the company after repeated calls about their failure to honor her requests.

Dating is hard these days, and many are turning to apps and matchmaking services to help find a spark. But not all Cupids are created equal, leaving some love-seekers feeling set up.

For Mary Kane, an 85-year-old widow from Chester Springs, $4,750 seemed like a steep price to pay to King of Prussia-based Philadelphia Singles, but the firm promised her at least seven "wonderful men" and pressured her into signing a contract, she says.

And while she specifically requested a highly-educated partner, Kane was paired with one man and one man only — an 81-year-old without a college education.

Consumer reporter Christian Hetrick dives into the world of matchmaking services, providing you the pitfalls of paid assistance when it comes to courtship.

In Minnesota's Eighth District — which includes the state's vast mining range — Republicans feel they have their best bet to gain a Democratically-held seat next month and counter punch losses elsewhere. Two and half hours south, though, GOP incumbents in affluent suburbs are running for their political lives, and educated women are leading a Democratic surge that, they hope, changes power in the U.S. House.

What does any of this have to do with our region? All too much.

Reporter Jonathan Tamari said his visit to the two districts last week mirrors races throughout New Jersey and Chester County, providing a look at the geographic polarization that is shaping much of American politics, and already split many states, including Pennsylvania, into deep blue pockets around cities, wide red swaths elsewhere, and little overlap.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, it looks as though bribery allegations and ethical baggage won't keep voters from casting their ballots along party lines. And in Bucks County, officials are scrambling to find enough poll workers to staff Election Day stations.

Want to stay up-to-date on our area's weird and wild world of politics as we count down to midterms? Let award-winning reporter Holly Otterbein be your guide with the weekly Clout newsletter.

Less than a day after the Pennsylvania Senate failed to take action on allowing victims of sexual abuse to file lawsuits for decades-old damage, U.S. prosecutors are investigating the church whose sweeping scandal prompted the bill.

The U.S. Attorney's Office has subpoenaed every Roman Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania for a trove of records, opening a potentially unprecedented inquiry into whether decades of clergy sex abuse and the ensuing cover-up constituted any federal crimes, from the possession of child pornography to transporting children across state lines for the purposes of engaging in sex.

With the Senate gone until January without resolution on the bill to allow sexual abuse victims to sue their attackers and the institutions that housed them, it's unclear what will happen to the legislation.

What you need to know today

  • If you found yourself breaking out your winter coat yesterday, you weren't alone. It was the coldest day in Philly over the last seven months, and things are looking to stay chilly throughout the weekend.
  • Has Philadelphia seen change from Mayor Jim Kenney's push to save the schools — the catalyst behind the soda tax? A new study shows that while there have been some victories, community schools are not yet transformed, and overall, the effort's results have been mixed.
  • Racial tensions continue to roil Haverford Township and its schools as residents and officials met Wednesday to discuss and debate results of a report alleging discrimination and hate crimes within the Delaware County township.
  • What's next for Kensington? City officials have laid out a range of "immediate" goals for the opioid-plagued neighborhood that include clearing a major drug encampment, launching a mobile drug-treatment team, and conducting a large-scale neighborhood cleanup — all within the next month.
  • Premium rates for Affordable Care Act health plans are on the decline, but that doesn't mean that everyone will be paying less for health care. Philadelphia-area residents who bought plans with a tax subsidy last year may be in store for sticker shock when they receive their renewal notices.
  • The Sixers came out strong against the Bulls with a 127-108 win at The Wells Fargo Center last night, finding redemption at home after a rocky start in Boston.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday that Pennsylvania is leading the pack in a 29-state outbreak of drug-resistant salmonella infections linked to raw chicken products. Maybe it's time to think about giving the other white meat a try.

Through Your Eyes | #OurPhilly

"All I'm saying is the song would've been a lot better if he sang 'Philly, Philly' instead of 'New York, New York.'" – @jpoakes_photography

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

  • It's official: what was once the Electric Factory will henceforth be known as Franklin Music Hall, but don't worry, the venue will still accept tickets under its former alias.
  • There is such thing as a free lunch today in University City, where the new Steve's Prince of Steaks will hand out cheesesteaks, fries, and sodas, and I-CE-NY and Creamery Cafe will give away free desserts around the corner. Don't say we didn't tell you.
  • You may have already gone Behind the Walls at the Eastern State Penitentiary's haunted house this season, but do you know what it's like behind the scenes? Reporter Grace Dickinson peels back the cobwebbed curtain to give a look inside the lives of the actors often working second and third jobs and sleepless nights to scare the masses.
  • There are pens, and then there are $50,000 luxury gold "Chaos" pens emerging from CGI skeletons, swords, and flames. Sylvester Stallone, apparently, prefers the latter.

Opinions

Chicken Coop
Signe Wilkinson
Chicken Coop
"After betraying victims, the Senate slunk out of Harrisburg to get on the campaign trail. They have a lot of nerve asking for your votes when they couldn't even vote to help victims of abuse." — The Inquirer Editorial Board on the Pennsylvania Senate leaving the Capitol for its last session day without taking a vote on allowing a window for victims of sexual abuse too old to sue their abusers the ability to file civil claims.
  • The most frustrating thing about President Trump is that he shows bullying, too often, can get you where you want, says columnist Will Bunch.
  • The quiet closure of Philly's Special Victims Unit due to mold is frustrating, wrong, and a disservice to child victims of sexual assault, writes columnist Ronnie Polaneczky.

What we’re reading

  • How much of your Philadelphia neighborhood can you get to without getting behind the wheel? Check out PlanPhilly's map, where the walkability of your community can be tied to some surprising statistics.
  • Because we're all looking for warm and fuzzy moments these days: Philly Voice reports this West Chester high schooler has compiled a book filled with feel-good stories about owners adopting their four-legged best friends. I'm not crying, you're crying.
  • Before Turkish reports say he was brutally murdered and dismembered, missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi wrote one last column for the Washington Post, underlining the importance of a free press in the Arab world.
  • Can ex-felons in America ever really get a second chance? Attorney and author Reginald Dwayne Betts pens his personal tale post-prison in the New York Times Magazine.
Ed Vincent pushes berries at a cranberry harvest in Chatsworth, New Jersey Wednesday October 17, 2018. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Ed Vincent pushes berries at a cranberry harvest in Chatsworth, New Jersey Wednesday October 17, 2018. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

Your Daily Dose of | Cranberry

New Jersey's cranberry farmers are up against some berry bitter competition when it comes to selling the fruit, but they've got their fingers crossed that Chinese tariffs aimed at Paul Ryan don't bog them down.