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US Rowing Accepts Resignation of Longtime Men's Coach Mike Teti

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Longtime U.S. rowing coach Mike Teti, who has been criticized by some of his former athletes as being emotionally abusive and using physical intimidation, has resigned but immediately accepted a position funded by a large donor leading a new high-performance training club that still has ties to the national program.

The Associated Press in July reported that American rowers under Teti feared his intense and intimidating style. An announcement from US Rowing CEO Amanda Kraus on restructuring within the program did not address the allegations but rather the need for immediate change after the U.S. team failed to win any medals at the Tokyo Olympics.

Kraus, who took over in November 2020, said there will no longer be a formal relationship with Teti and she accepted his resignation last week. She expressed the sport’s commitment to new leadership and direction for the build up to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“We are thinking about a culture that focuses more on athlete wellness, athlete care and communication, all of those things,” Kraus said Thursday in a phone interview, later adding that US Rowing “won’t have any contracts with any of the high-performance clubs.”

She posted a letter on the governing body’s website last Friday addressed to “national team athletes, hopefuls, partners, supporters and friends” that stated “meaningful changes need to be made in order to create an athlete-focused approach” going forward.

Nine rowers who spoke for the AP story described Teti’s intimidation — all but one discussing the situation on condition of anonymity because they either want to continue in the sport or feared retaliation — and said they have direct knowledge of the coach physically threatening athletes or verbally attacking them if they challenged him in any way.

Teti, meanwhile, was announced as head coach of elite rowers and prospects for California Rowing Club — at the same boathouse where he trained Olympians and other hopefuls in recent years ahead of the Tokyo Games.

This center, funded by the Rogers Family Foundation, will give elite rowers a choice whether to train there under Teti or with the national team. US Rowing will centralize its men’s and women’s training centers in Princeton, New Jersey, where the women’s teams were already headquartered. The center will host 12 men and 12 women as full-time residents.

Some male rowers have already relocated to the East Coast while others have indicated their plans to do so, Kraus said Thursday. US Rowing also has opened a search for a new Chief High Performance Director and also is accepting public comment through Oct. 29 on the selection process for the 2022 senior national team.

While California Rowing Club and Teti will be involved in training elite rowers who choose not to be based in Princeton, it’s unclear how much influence he will have on the makeup of the U.S. team.

In addition, US Rowing has received a 100-plus page report from an assessment begun early this year by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee into the Americans’ national team programs, including the men’s group that had been based in Oakland under Teti’s guidance.

“As we prepare for 2024 and beyond, it is clear that meaningful changes need to be made in order to create an athlete-focused approach that maximizes USRowing’s resources and those of the overall rowing community here in the United States,” Kraus wrote in her letter. “USRowing wants to enable our athletes to train and compete in sustainable environments that provide them with the stability and support they need to thrive over the long term.

“We are also committed to creating a system of high performance that will drive unprecedented success in our sport. In order to accomplish this, USRowing will be restructuring our national team’s staff, selection process, and training centers,” she said.

In her letter, Kraus said US Rowing since March has evaluated its national team operations “and how they relate to our athletes’ pathways to success” by conducting athlete exit interviews and surveys, an internal report from the sport’s High Performance Council, the USOPC assessment and input from leaders in other sports — both national and international governing bodies.

The law firm Arent Fox conducted the USOPC assessment, sending a letter in January that was obtained by the AP, that focused in part “to review whether elite athletes’ concerns are capable of being heard in a fair and neutral way that does not contribute to a fear of retaliation.”

Some athletes shared their concerns about the culture under Teti by reaching out directly to Kraus in hopes of creating change in coaching leadership.

The 65-year-old Teti, the only member of the National Rowing Hall of Fame inducted as an athlete and coach, has denied any wrongdoing, telling the AP, “I believe that I have coached fairly, with the athletes’ well-being in mind.”

Teti was investigated by the watchdog group SafeSport in 2018 and also in 2016 on behalf of the University of California at Berkeley, where he formerly coached. The SafeSport probe was closed with no sanctions and Cal never disclosed its findings.

He rowed in the U.S. eight boat that won a bronze medal at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and coached the men’s eight to gold at the 2004 Athens Games. Four years later in Beijing, he guided the eight boat to a bronze medal before beginning a successful tenure at Cal, where he stayed for a decade. Ahead of the Summer Games in 2012, he was called in to lead the eight in qualifying for London, where the boat finished fourth.

“I am extremely grateful to the Rogers Family Foundation for creating this opportunity for our athletes. I am also excited and encouraged to see how far we can go with this group of talented young athletes,” Teti said in a statement on the rowing club’s website. “I believe our athlete-centered approach at the CRC, in partnership with USRowing and the restructuring of their new high-performance model, will allow each athlete to control their path to the Olympic Team.”


Amazon Delivery Driver Gets Carjacked, Taken For Wild Ride in New Jersey

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An Amazon delivery driver was taken for a wild ride when he was carjacked Thursday afternoon in New Jersey, with the van ending up on railroad tracks.

The driver for Amazon Prime was out making deliveries around 4 p.m. in Paterson, law enforcement sources said, when a man allegedly ran up to the open vehicle, pushed him inside and sped off.

Officers who were nearby at the corner of Fulton Street and Straight Street saw the van blow through a stop sign, as the delivery driver was waving his arms for help outside the passenger window, according to the law enforcement source.

Police chased after the speeding vehicle, and the suspect — later identified as Rafael Rodriguez — turned onto railroad tracks near Lafayette Street and East 16th Street. The truck quickly got stuck, the law enforcement source said, after which officers were able to move in and place Rodriguez under arrest.

Rodriguez was treated at the hospital for minor scrapes and bruises, while the Amazon driver was not hurt.

No charges had been announced, and an investigation is ongoing.

Macy's Christmas Light Show Is Back for 2021, but Only Once a Day

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One of the most beloved and iconic Christmas traditions in the Philadelphia region will return to light up the 2021 holiday season in Center City, but you are only going to be able to see the show once a day.

Macy’s this week announced the return of the FREE Christmas Light Show and Dickens’ Village to the former Wannamaker’s location at 1300 Market Street (across from City Hall).

Both the musical light show — dating back to 1956 — and the “Christmas Carol”-themed animated display — dating back to the 1980s — have delighted children of all ages for decades. The COVID-19 pandemic forced both events to not be held in person in 2020 and this year visiting with your family will be different than you remember.

Macy’s Christmas Light Show in 2021

The biggest change to the light show traditionally voiced by legendary actor Julie Andrews and featuring the “The Nutcracker” and “Frosty the Snowman” backed by the sounds of the world-famous Wanamaker Organ in the department store’s Grand Court is that instead of multiple showings a day, it will only be held once daily.

The light show — featuring around 100,000 LED lights between the characters on the wall and the massive Christmas tree 🎄 — begins Wednesday, Dec. 1, and runs through the end of the year with daily showings, except on Christmas Day.

“To discourage continuous crowding,” the light show will only run once a day at 10:30 a.m. from Dec. 1 to Christmas Eve and at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 26 to 31, Macy’s said. You won’t need tickets to attend and organizers said times are subject to change.

It is unclear how many people will be allowed to watch each daily show.

For people not wanting to crowd into the store or not make the trip into the city, they can watch the light show online on Macy’s Santaland website.

How to Get Tickets for Macy’s Dickens’ Village

One free holiday tradition that definitively will require a ticket for admission is Dickens’ Village, which runs in person from Friday, Nov. 26, through Friday, Dec. 31.

“Macy’s Dickens’ Village will take guests through select animated displays telling the story of the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol,” Macy’s said.

To take the journey, folks must reserve tickets five days in advance on the Santaland site. Tickets will go on sale for opening day on Monday, Nov. 22, and will be open up at 5:30 a.m. each morning moving forward.

Organizers didn’t say how many people each day will be allowed into the “Village.”

Macy’s Holiday Windows Return

One tradition that remains mostly the same is the window gazing from the sidewalk outside the store.

“As the first department store to feature Christmas window displays, Macy’s has created a destination in its windows, bringing the spirit of the season to life in animated fashion,” Macy’s said.

Macy’s Holiday Windows will be on display from Nov. 26 to Dec. 31. The windows will “feature a journey of discovery and triumph as a very special reindeer takes to the sky to help Santa Claus bring joy to millions of children, all made possible when she finally believed,” Macy’s said.

Holiday Lights and Shopping Return to Dilworth Park

Visitors to Macy’s can hop across the street to Philadelphia City Hall for the Made in Philadelphia Holiday Market (running daily from Nov. 20, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2022) featuring artisans and handmade goods outside City Hall and the Deck the Hall Light Show (running on the hour from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. on weekends from Nov. 22 to New Year’s Day) on the west façade of City Hall.

The First Annual Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular in Oaks

Not feeling up for the Macy’s holiday traditions or not wanting to come into Center City? A new holiday tradition starts this year in Montgomery County.

“Tinseltown Holiday Spectacular presented by Dietz & Watson will bring the magic of the holiday season to the Greater Philadelphia Area through an immersive, one-of-a-kind event where guests can stroll through a winter wonderland of lights, check off their holiday shopping list, dine on festive treats and beverages (including adult beverages like Spiked Warm Cider and Christmapolitans), skate on a synthetic ice surface, and much more. Tinseltown will run from Black Friday (November 26) through January 2,” organizers said.

The event, backed by Comcast Spectacor, claims to feature 1.2 million lightbulbs.

You can buy tickets ($13.99 for children 5 to 13, $19.99 for adults) to the “Spectacular” by clicking here. Children under 5 are free.

Panel Upholds Pa. School Mask Rule After House GOP Sought Review

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What to Know

  • A special panel within Pennsylvania’s state government is rejecting a request by state House Republicans that it force the Health Department to formally adopt the statewide mask order in schools as a regulation or stop the policy altogether.
  • The Joint Committee on Documents voted 7 to 4 on Thursday to uphold the validity of Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam’s Aug. 31 order.
  • The order applies to K-12 schools and child care facilities and is designed to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

The statewide mask order for Pennsylvania schools does not need to be enacted through the state’s system of passing governmental regulations, as state House Republicans had sought, a panel decided Thursday.

The Joint Committee on Documents, an obscure entity that includes of members of Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, other executive branch officials and legislative leaders, voted 7-4 that Acting Health Secretary Alison Beam’s Aug. 31 order did not have to be enacted as a regulation.

The committee meeting was required after the House Health Committee voted along party lines to request the review and asked the committee to take it up in a Sept. 14 letter from its Republican chair, Rep. Kathy Rapp of Warren County.

In a statement released after the vote, Rapp said the decision “blatantly ignores our foundational constitutional separation of powers, the rule of law, local control, parental and student rights, and especially individual liberty.”

The order applies to K-12 schools and child care facilities and is designed to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

Had the committee determined the masking order needed to be promulgated as a regulation, it would have ordered the Health Department either to go through the complicated process of establishing it as a regulation within 180 days or to stop using the order at all.

The joint committee’s chairman, Pennsylvania Legislative Reference Bureau Director Vince DeLiberato, said he voted against upholding the order but would have kept it in place for six months while a formal regulation is developed.

“I cannot stand for the proposition … that this committee can shut down an emergency order today,” he said.

The hearing came a day after a state court heard argumentin a pair of lawsuits challenging the order, including one filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican. The status of Beam’s order as a regulation is also an issue in those cases.

Opponents of leaving Beam’s order in place as it is said they were concerned about the fact that the order does not have an end date and said they doubted existing law gives Beam the authority she exercised.

“This is a limitless order, and I think that’s problematic,” said lawyer James Kutz, representing Rapp at the hearing.

Health Department lawyers said that Beam took action in face of the pandemic’s wide effects and that her order is meant to implement an existing regulation.

“The limitation is the disease,” said Health lawyer Kevin Hoffman. “And unfortunately the disease has tremendous reach.”

The committee’s decision can be appealed to Commonwealth Court. House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, who voted to make it go through the regulatory process, said a decision about the appeal has not been made.

“I think it’s quite clear that the order as written impacts everybody, it impacts everybody uniformly and is generally applied as a law because it does have penalties tied to it,” Cutler said afterward.

Here's How You Can Celebrate Halloween in Philadelphia and Its ‘Burbs

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Spooky season has arrived, with Halloween right around the corner. From haunted houses to guided ghost tours, here are some of the best ways to celebrate in the Philadelphia area.

Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride in Delaware County

The Bates Motel offers a haunted motel experience with professional performers and animatronic effects and pyrotechnics.

Where: 1835 N. Middletown Rd., Glen Mills, PA

When: Thursday through Saturday from 6:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Sunday though Monday from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. through Oct. 31

Fright Factory in Philadelphia

Located in the basement of a 120+ year old factory, Fright Factory is a high-scare, high-startle haunted house for adults.

Where: 2200 S. Swanson St, Philadelphia, PA

When: Thursday through Sunday through Oct. 31, and Wednesday, Oct. 27. Open from 7:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. all other days

Lehigh Valley Screampark in Lehigh County

Screampark is home to four attractions: Hollow of Horror Hayride, Condemned Haunted House, Operation Bio-Purge and 6 Feet Under and the Feeding Grounds.

Where: 2951 Betz Court, Orefield, PA

When: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. every Friday and Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 31. 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. on Sundays.

Ghost Tour of Philadelphia

The Ghost Tour of Philadelphia offers a candlelight walking tour through the back streets and secret gardens of Independence National Park, Old City and Society Hill.

Where: Departs from Signers Garden at 434 – 498 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA

When: Select dates and times through Dec. 25

Fright Fest at Six Flags Great Adventure

Fright Fest is back in 2021 at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. The park will feature seasonal decorations, live shows and haunted mazes through Halloween.

Where: 1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson Township, NJ

When: Select days through Oct. 31

Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary

The former prison’s Halloween Nights experience includes 15 attractions such as haunted houses, interactive performances and themed bars and lounges.

Where: 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia PA

When: Select nights until Nov. 13

Halloween Parade and Trick-or-Treat Main St.

Newark, Delaware’s annual Halloween Parade is back with marching bands, floats, antique automobiles and costumed characters.

Where: Main Street, Newark, DE

When: Sunday, Oct. 24 from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Parking Lot Horrors in Chester County

You can watch a scary movie from the safety of your own car at the Haunted Drive-in at Exton Square Mall. Costumed staff will roam the crowd to scare moviegoers during the films.

Where: 260 Exton Square Pkwy., Exton, PA

When: Movie showings and times can be found here.

Boo at the Zoo in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Zoo is hosting it’s annual family-friendly Halloween event with candy, photo opportunities and seasonal décor.

Where: 3400 W. Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, PA

When: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31 and Friday, Oct. 29

Center City Bar Crawls

If you’re 21+ you can participate in one of Philly’s Halloween bar crawls. The  “Official Halloween Bar Crawl” takes place in Center City on Oct. 23, Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 with a costume contest and live entertainment. The “Trick or Drink Halloween Bar Crawl” takes place in Center City on Oct. 29, Oct. 30 and Oct. 31.

Simmons Meets With 76ers Teammates, Says He's Not Mentally Ready to Play: Source

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Simmons meets with Sixers teammates, says he’s not mentally ready to play originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Another day, another development in the ever-evolving relationship between Ben Simmons and the Sixers.

Simmons addressed the team before its shootaround Friday morning. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Simmons has expressed he wants to play but isn’t mentally prepared. 

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the next steps for Simmons will be “based upon the determination of medical professionals.” NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark confirmed that reporting. 

Georges Niang, who scored 11 points on 4-for-5 shooting Wednesday in his Sixers debut, preferred not to share details of the meeting with Simmons. 

“The locker room is a sacred place,” he said. “I don’t really feel comfortable sharing team business, especially when it’s being addressed in the locker room. Obviously Ben addressed us today and you guys know that. … But the locker room has always been a sacred place to me. What’s said and done in there I don’t really feel comfortable revealing, and that’s how I’ve been since Day 1.”

Did the team exit the meeting in a good place?

“Yeah, I think we left the meeting understanding what he had to say,” Niang said. “And we came out and got ready for Brooklyn.”

Tobias Harris tweeted the Sixers would “embrace our brother” when Simmons is ready to play. 

As of early Friday afternoon, Joel Embiid is questionable for the Sixers’ matchup with the Nets at Wells Fargo Center.

Shake Milton (right ankle sprain) and Grant Riller (left knee injury recovery) remain out. Simmons was officially listed as doubtful with the designation of “return to competition reconditioning,” though his situation is obviously more complex than an injury report can capture.

Assuming Simmons does not make a stunning return to the Sixers lineup, Tyrese Maxey is expected to continue as the Sixers’ starting point guard. He was strong in that role in the Sixers’ season-opening win over the Pelicans, recording 20 points, five assists and one turnover. Andre Drummond would presumably start at center if Embiid sits. 

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Higher Wages, Sick Pay Now Attached to Pa.'s Incentives

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What to Know

  • In a stalemate with lawmakers over raising the minimum wage or requiring companies to have paid sick leave, Gov. Tom Wolf will impose those requirements on companies getting financial incentives from the state.
  • Wolf signed an executive order requiring companies receiving incentives to pay at least $13.50 an hour, rising to $15 an hour in 2024.
  • Wolf signed an executive order requiring companies receiving incentives to pay at least $13.50 an hour, rising to $15 an hour in 2024.

In a stalemate with lawmakers over raising the minimum wage or requiring companies to have paid sick leave, Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday he will impose those requirements on companies getting loans, grants or tax breaks from the state.

The minimum wage that incentives-receiving companies must pay is $13.50 an hour, rising to $15 an hour on July 1, 2024, under an executive order signed by Wolf. State contractors already must pay that amount, under a prior executive order Wolf signed in 2016.

The sick pay requirement has no required time frame attached to it.

The state annually budgets for tens of millions of dollars in grants, loans and tax breaks for companies that make certain promises to expand in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has been set to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour since 2009, when Congress last increased it.

Since Wolf took office in 2015, he has urged the Republican-controlled Legislature to increase the minimum wage, without success amid GOP opposition.

Currently, 29 states have set minimum wages above the federal minimum, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Thirteen states have enacted laws to require paid sick leave, the NCSL said. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have approved their own ordinances to require it of companies doing business in those cities.

Boy, 14, Critically Wounded in Spate of Philadelphia Shootings

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A 14-year-old boy was shot multiple times throughout his body inside a West Philadelphia home – just one victim in a spate of shootings Thursday night into Friday.

The child sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and arms but was listed in stable condition at Temple University Hospital, Officer Miguel Torres, a Philadelphia Police Department spokesman, said. The shooting also killed 29-year-old Faree Givens, who was struck in the chest and head when someone opened fire on the 900 block of W. Cambridge Street shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday, Torres said.

At least 175 children have been shot in Philadelphia this year, according to a tally by the city controller’s office.

In North Philadelphia, 23-year-old Jabriel Purnell died on the 900 block of 11th Street after being shot in the head, chest, neck and elbow around 6:20 p.m., Torres said.

Also in North Philadelphia, a 21-year-old man was left in critical condition after yet another double shooting. The man sustained gunshot wounds to the jaw, right shoulder and left thigh, police said. An 18-year-old man, meanwhile, was shot once in the foot.

On Friday, a 41-year-old man sustained a non-life-threatening gunshot to the hip in the Frankford neighborhood, police said.

Police did not immediately announce arrests in any of the shootings.

At least 445 people have been killed in Philadelphia this year, according to PPD crime statistics.

There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.


These Are NJ's Statewide Ballot Measures as Early Voting Begins

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Starting Saturday, registered voters in New Jersey will be able to cast their votes early.

In addition to choosing preferences for crucial positions like the governor of New Jersey, voters will also have to decide on a number of statewide and local ballot measures.

Here are the statewide ballot proposals and what they mean:

Public Question 1: Sports Betting

The amendment would allow the wagering of all college sport competitions held in the state as well as competitions in which New Jersey-based college teams participate. All of the above are currently prohibited even though sports betting is allowed.

Public Question 2: Nonprofit Gambling

This would allow New Jersey organizations to use raffle money to raise money for their own organization.

In-person early voting ends Sunday, Oct. 31. Voters can find a polling location in their county here. They can also find a ballot drop box here.

Ballots sent through the mail must be postmarked by 8 p.m. on Nov. 2 and must be received by a voter’s local board of elections by Nov. 8.

Editor’s note: There may be additional local ballot proposals in specific municipalities. These are the only statewide ballot measures.

Student Shoots Self in Leg in West Philadelphia School

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A student shot himself in the leg in the gym of a Philadelphia school Friday, police said.

The shooting happened at the Philadelphia Learning Academy on the 4300 block of Westminster Avenue in West Philadelphia. Responding police officers found the 18-year-old student, who was taken to an area hospital and listed in stable condition, Philadelphia Police Department Sgt. Eric Gripp said.

There were some 30-40 other students around the peer who wounded himself when the shooting happened, and there was a total of about 170 students and faculty in the school at the time, Gripp said. The school serves students between 7th and 12th grades, he noted.

The campus was placed on lockdown, with students being put through the school’s metal detector to ensure their safety, Gripp added.

It was unclear how the student who shot himself made it past the metal detector with the gun, Gripp said, adding that he may face criminal charges.

The gun was not immediately recovered. NBC10 helicopter video showed a large police presence around the school, with SWAT officers in tactical vests and helmets going in and out and also checking the perimeter.

Parents were being asked to not show up to the school, but those who headed there were asked to rendezvous at 4200 Westminster Ave.

On Monday, a shooting outside another Philadelphia school left a 65-year-old man dead and a 16-year-old student critically wounded.

“Kids should be safe. They should be there to learn and they should not have to go through life like this, so we’re going to do everything we can to keep them safe,” Gripp said.

At least 175 minors have been shot in Philadelphia this year, according to the city controller’s office.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

New Jersey Governor Race Tests Murphy's Progressive Politics

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Paid sick leave. Taxpayer-funded community college. A phased-in $15 minimum wage.

New Jersey has taken a decidedly liberal shift under first-term Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, increasing income taxes on the wealthy, expanding voting rights and tightening the state’s already restrictive gun laws. It’s a notable change from his predecessor, Republican Chris Christie, who spent two terms pushing more moderate policies.

Murphy’s agenda will be on the ballot on Nov. 2, when voters will decide whether to give him a second term or steer the state in another direction by electing Republican Jack Ciattarelli. History isn’t necessarily on Murphy’s side: New Jersey hasn’t reelected a Democrat as governor in four decades and hasn’t elected a governor from the same party as the president in three decades.

“It’s one of the big, animating reasons why we’re running like we’re 10 points behind,” Murphy said in an interview. “We’re taking nothing for granted. I mean, history has proven that this can be a very fickle year in terms of politics.”

But Murphy does have some sizable advantages. He is leading in public polls and has raised more money than Ciattarelli, and New Jersey has 1 million more registered Democratic voters than Republicans. He’s also welcoming some Democratic heavy-hitters to the state: Former President Barack Obama is due on Saturday, and President Joe Biden is visiting on Monday to promote his spending plan.

The race has national implications, though it has gotten less attention than Virginia’s high-profile governor’s contest. A loss for Murphy would be shocking in a state that Biden won over Republican Donald Trump by nearly 16 points last year. It would also raise questions about whether moderate voters repelled by Trump were returning to the Republican Party now that the former president is no longer in office.

New Jersey’s left turn has been years in the making: The state has voted Democratic in every presidential contest since 1992. It hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since Clifford Case in 1972. But governor’s races have been continually in play for the GOP. The last three Republicans elected governor have won two consecutive terms.

“My focus is solely New Jersey,” Ciattarelli said in an interview. “To win as a Republican you’ve got to be focused on what it is that’s bothering the people of New Jersey and that’s exactly what I’ve done for the past 22 months.”

Public polls show that Murphy has gotten high grades from voters for his response to COVID-19, even though New Jersey was one of the hardest-hit states at the beginning of the pandemic. About 35% of the state’s nearly 25,000 deaths came from nursing and veterans homes. Murphy held daily news conferences about the pandemic at the beginning and is now holding two a week. He ordered most nonessential businesses to shut down early in the pandemic, including restaurants, theaters, gyms and most retail stores. Masks were required and social distancing was encouraged. Schools shuttered and then went mostly remote.

“Many people are very happy with the way he handled the COVID-19 era. The numbers are very clear,” Republican state Sen. Michael Testa acknowledged.

Some Republicans are also concerned that Trump’s unpopularity could be dragging down Ciattarelli’s approval numbers. Since a bruising June primary with rivals who claimed Trump’s mantle, Ciattarelli has sounded more like the moderate he was while in the Legislature, speaking about his support for Roe v. Wade and for immigrants without legal status to get driver’s licenses, for instance.

He’s been playing up his credentials as an accountant and the founder of a small business while campaigning in Democratic-leaning cities as well as GOP strongholds.

Ciattarelli has also had to balance the more traditional GOP wing with the Trump faction. That’s meant calling for lower property taxes, a perennial issue in New Jersey, and decrying COVID-19 restrictions. But it has also meant confronting questions about his appearance at a rally centered on “Stop the Steal,” a reference to Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Ciattarelli said he didn’t know the rally was focused on the former president’s false claims.

Asked whether he would welcome Trump campaigning for him, Ciattarelli said he does his own campaigning and isn’t “into endorsements.” He has also said he accepts that Joe Biden was legitimately elected.

The state’s political environment shifted decidedly to the left during the Trump administration, with Democrats picking up all but one House seat in the state in 2018. They lost a second one when Jeff Van Drew left the Democratic Party over Trump’s first impeachment. Murphy himself won election in the first year of Trump’s presidency running on a self-styled progressive platform. His win was helped by the unpopularity of two-term Gov. Chris Christie, whose top lieutenant ran against Murphy in the 2017 race.

“When you look which way the wind is blowing, it is very tough for a candidate to be a good candidate if the wind is not blowing at your back,” said Assembly Republican leader Jon Bramnick. “And in New Jersey, the wind is blowing definitely more Democratic.”

Shavonda Sumter, a Democratic Assembly member and chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, said the push for more progressive policies like early in-person voting and expanded vote by mail began at least a decade ago. Those policies, vetoed by Christie, became law after Murphy became governor.

Sumter sees the real turning point coming in 2020 during the national reckoning on racial injustice followed the killing of George Floyd by police. She said white people’s increased consciousness of the role race can play in politics has helped Democrats politically.

“Folks woke up and realized this fight is not done,” she said.

For Toby Sanders, a Trenton resident who attended a recent Murphy gun control rally in Bloomfield, this year’s governor’s contest is more than just a state race.

“It’s a bellwether for the nation. It’s a foundation to build on,” said Sanders, who considers himself a progressive.

For other voters, state and local issues are more important.

Mike Gardner, a municipal party official and retired attorney who worked at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said his top issue is getting rid of the high property taxes. He backs Ciattarelli.

Jim Arakelian, a real estate agent and retired law enforcement official, said he doesn’t think police officers have been respected by the Murphy administration, citing the decision to release certain police disciplinary records as a big concern. He’s also skeptical about the media and the polling in the race, citing 2016 and Trump’s surprise victory.

“Polls can be skewed anyway the press wants,” said Arakelian, who attended a Ciattarelli campaign stop at a New Milford pizzeria.

In their own way, some Democratic voters are also skeptical about polls, not wanting to take them for granted.

“America is contested space right now. There is a battle quietly and loudly going on,” Sanders said.

Pa. Cities Among Top 30 Best Places to Retire in 2021

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Lee la historia en español aquí.

Seven Pennsylvania metropolitan areas were ranked among the 2021 best places to celebrate retirement, according to new U.S. News and World Report rankings.

In this year’s ranking, Lancaster was able to rank No.5, while Allentown jumped 29 spots this year, landing No.11. Harrisburg and Reading also ranked No. 13 and No. 15 respectively.

The other Keystone State cities ranked were Pittsburgh, No. 29, Scranton, No. 21, Philadelphia, No. 19, and York, No. 17.

According to U.S. News, Lancaster “offers a balance between natural and commercial spaces that residents appreciate and expansive farms that rub elbows with manicured suburbs”.

Similarly, the report points out that Allentown, which is Pennsylvania’s third-largest metro, offers a “vast collection of historic homes and buildings,” that architects have been able to modernize and convert them into apartments and lofts.

The report also states that several of Pennsylvania’s cities climbed in the rankings this year, partly due to the accessibility of high-quality health-care facilities.

“The cost of a potential retirement spot is a top concern for many retirees, but they are also looking for a high quality of life,” explained Emily Brandon, U.S. News’ senior retirement editor.

To rank each of the 150 ranked metro areas, U.S. News looked at housing affordability, happiness of its residents, health care, employment, and taxes to come up with its rankings in 2021 and 2022.

It also used data from sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and the Tax Foundation.

Here are the top 10 places for retirees, according to U.S. News & World Report 2021 rankings:

1. Sarasota, Florida
Metro population: 803,709
Median home price: $387,630
Median monthly rent: $1,209
Unemployment rate: 6.8%

2. Naples, Florida
Metro population: 371,453
Median home price: $345,000
Median monthly rent: $1,317
Unemployment rate: 7%

3. Daytona Beach, Florida
Metro population: 646,288
Median home price: $278,897
Median monthly rent: $1,076
Unemployment rate: 7.7%

4. Melbourne, Florida
Metro population: 585,507
Median home price: $217,400
Median monthly rent: $1,068
Unemployment rate: 6.7%

5. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Metro population: 540,999
Median home price: $226,550
Median monthly rent: $1,009
Unemployment rate: 7.5%

6. Tampa, Florida
Metro population: 3,097,859
Median home price: $301,963
Median monthly rent: $1,115
Unemployment rate: 7.2%

7. Fort Myers, Florida
Metro population: 737,468
Median home price: $277,900
Median monthly rent: $1,154
Unemployment rate: 7.4%

8. Port St. Lucie, Florida
Metro population: 472,012
Median home price: $233,133
Median monthly rent: $1,162
Unemployment rate: 7.3%

9. Ann Arbor, Michigan
Metro population: 367,000
Median home price: $270,567
Median monthly rent: $1,114
Unemployment rate: 6.5%

10. Pensacola, Florida
Metro population: 488,246
Median home price: $200,800
Median monthly rent: $1,015
Unemployment rate: 6.2%

Click here to see the whole list.

Where Murphy, Ciattarelli Stand on Issues in NJ Gov Race

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New Jersey voters have already begun casting mail-in ballots and on Saturday began heading to the polls for early in-person voting for the first time ever.

The governor’s race is at the top of the ballot, with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy seeking reelection against Republican Jack Ciattarelli, a former Assembly member.

Third-party candidates are also on the ballot. They are Madelyn Hoffman of the Green Party, Joanne Kuniansky of the Socialist Workers Party, and Gregg Mele of the Libertarian Party.

Public polling in the race has shown Murphy with a lead over Ciattarelli. While the gap has narrowed, Murphy also has other advantages, including 1 million more registered New Jersey Democrats than Republicans and more cash on hand than Ciattarelli, according to state data.

Early in-person voting ends Halloween. Election Day is Nov. 2.

A closer look at where the two major party candidates stand on a few big issues:

COVID-19

Murphy has led the state through the outbreak that saw New Jersey as an early hotspot but also one of the first state’s to reach 70% of the adult population to be fully vaccinated. About 25,000 people have died from the virus since 2020, with 35% coming from nursing and veterans homes, according to state figures.

Murphy closed many sectors of the state during the pandemic, including restaurants, theaters, gyms and nonessential retail, while also requiring face coverings. He then loosened restrictions as trends headed in the right direction and curtailed them more as vaccinations increased.

He’s instituted mandates in health care and education, among others, for workers to be vaccinated or to undergo regular testing. Murphy promised a review of his administration’s handling of the outbreak but he said it will not be done in time for the election because the pandemic is still unfolding.

Ciattarelli has said he supports vaccination but thinks masking in schools, for example, should be optional. He also agreed with Murphy’s policy of giving educators the choice to get vaccinated or be tested regularly.

The Republican slammed Murphy’s policy early on in the pandemic of allowing nursing home residents to return to facilities from hospitals regardless of COVID-19 status, faulting Murphy for a spike in deaths among residents. The governor has responded that his policy required them to be segregated from the uninfected and that the facilities were the patients’ homes.

PROPERTY TAXES

New Jersey’s average property tax bill is about $9,100. That’s the highest in the country, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation, making these taxes a constant issue in the state.

Because property taxes finance local governments as well as school districts, Murphy has argued that his increase of state education aid has decreased pressure to raise taxes. Indeed, Murphy has increased aid to schools through the state’s funding formula, which has been approved by the state Supreme Court.

Under Murphy, that aid climbed to nearly $9 billion, up about $1 billion since Republican Chris Christie left office. Property tax increases have slowed over that time, though that’s in part due to a 2% property tax cap instituted under Christie. Murphy says he will continue to fund the formula to take pressure off property taxes.

Ciattarelli wants to freeze property taxes for those over 65 as well as scrap the current school-funding formula to make it “fairer.” He points to high-price homes in Jersey City and Hoboken that have lower rates than $400,000 residences in Toms River and Hillsborough, for example. But it’s not clear what his plan would look like or whether it would pass muster with the state Supreme Court, though Ciattarelli says his plan would.

ABORTION

Murphy, an abortion rights supporter, said he wants to sign the Reproductive Freedom Act into law if reelected. The bill would codify a woman’s right to an abortion into state law, a move that’s aimed at maintaining that ability if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Ciattarelli also supports the Roe v. Wade decision and a woman’s right to choose an abortion, but he says the RFA goes too far by authorizing late-term abortions. He has said if the Supreme Court undoes Roe v. Wade, New Jersey would have to add the right to an abortion into state law, but he does not believe the high court would overturn the precedent decided by the court in 1973.

STATE BUDGET

Murphy’s budgets have grown each year while in office, culminating in a spending plan of more than $46 billion, 15% higher than the previous year. He’s financed the increases in part with tax hikes under his watch, including higher rates on businesses and individuals earning more than $1 million. He’s instituted a host of new programs that languished in the Democrat-led Legislature under his predecessor, Christie. Those include some state-funded pre-K and community college, both of which he wants to expand if reelected.

Ciattarelli laments the growth of the budget and says it needs to be cut. Asked what he would slash, he said he’d sit down with the Legislature on “Day One” to hash that out.

Philly School Works to Return Native American Remains Used in Teaching

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The School District of Philadelphia is working to repatriate Native American skeletal remains found in a high school classroom closet this summer.

A letter sent to parents of Central High School students Friday said the “human skeletal item” was previously used as a teaching aid and dated back to the 1850s.

The district consulted with the Department of Interior, Temple University and other experts about how to handle the remains, Evelyn Nunez, the district’s chief of schools wrote in the letter to parents.

“The District is also working with these partners to return this person, who has been identified as a male Native American, to his home tribe,” she said.

Central High School, founded in 1836, is the second-oldest continuously operating public high school in the country, but it is not alone in its history of using skeletal remains as learning tools.

In a statement Friday, the district said the remains were likely used in teaching through the mid-1900s at the latest, but the district’s schools have not used skeletal remains in classrooms for more than a decade.

The district has launched a search of inventories at all of its schools to make sure any other skeletal remains are identified, treated with respect and also repatriated if possible.

“This is part of the story of early medicine around the world where the deceased entered collections without their consent from cemeteries and other contexts,” said Temple University’s Chair of the Department of Anthropology Dr. Kimberly Williams, who is working with the school district.

She added that archaeological remains from Indigenous communities and communities of color were also frequently sold and traded during “an era of inquiry about the differences between the ‘races.’ This is and was unequivocally wrong and unacceptable.”

Experts often run tests with small fragments of the remains that can determine race, gender and age of the person when they died, as well as an estimate of when they died.

Shannon O’Loughlin, chief executive and attorney at the Association on American Indian Affairs, said researchers may never be able to determine which of the hundreds of federally and state-recognized tribes the ancestor’s remains are affiliated with especially if there aren’t any records of provenance for how or where the remains were obtained.

“What normally happens is they’ll send what’s called a tribal leader letter, asking if their tribes are interested in participating and affiliating the remains and accepting them to bring that ancestor’s remains to rest,” O’Loughlin said.

When there are no records, she said federal officials often reach out to tribes with homelands historically affiliated with where the remains have been housed.

“It’s not going to be easy. Someone has stolen someone’s relative and used their remains for whatever reason, and in the process disconnected them from their people. And that’s not something that can easily be undone,” O’Loughlin said.

Several other Philadelphia institutions have had high profile reckonings recently with the treatment and continued display of skeletal remains belonging to people of color.

The Penn Museum drew fire when it was disclosed that a staff member had displayed remains from a child victim killed in the MOVE bombing in 1985 as part of an online course. Eleven people were killed including five children when police dropped a bomb on the headquarters of the Black organization.

The city public health director also resigned earlier this year after telling city leaders he had ordered a box of bone fragments and possible remains from the bombing investigation be destroyed. A worker in the medical examiner’s office discovered the remains had not been destroyed, and the city after more than 30 years, arranged to return them to surviving relatives.

Person Shot Dead, Home Set on Fire in Delaware

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Intruders entered a Delaware home, shot a person dead and set the home on fire before leaving, state police said.

Firefighters responding to a blaze on 11000 block of Hastings Farm Road in Seaford entered the home and found the 39-year-old victim dead around 2:11 a.m. Sunday, Delaware State Police Senior Cpl. Jason Hatchell said.

Homicide investigators determined unknown suspects entered the home through a side door and fired multiple rounds, striking the victim once, Hatchell said. The victim fell to the living room floor, at which point the suspects set the living room on fire and ran away, the corporal added.

Police did not immediately have more information on the suspects. Anyone with information was asked to contact detective Bluto  at 302-753-3864. Tipsters can also call the Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or submit information online.


SEPTA Workers Union Authorizes Strike

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SEPTA workers on Sunday authorized a strike as they seek higher wages, better parental leave terms and financial assistance for families of workers who died due to COVID-19.

The strike authorization by the Transport Workers Union Local 234 does not necessarily mean that workers will definitely strike, but it does give them leverage as they negotiate a new contract. The current contract expires at midnight on Oct. 31.

“SEPTA has offered us lower wages than everyone else in the region, and we’re not going to accept lower wages and we’re not going to take that. You deserve more and your family deserves more,” Local 234 President Willie Brown said in a video to union members ahead of the strike authorization vote.

Negotiations for a new contract began back in July, and the transit agency has “slow-walked” talks, Brown said in a separate news release about the possibility of a strike.

In addition, the union is seeking enhanced safety measures, with Brown calling for more police officers across the transit system to protect both SEPTA workers and riders. In recent months and weeks, there have been high-profile attacks on SEPTA, including the beating of an employee and multiple sexual assaults of riders.

In recent weeks, operator shortages have led to service delays across various SEPTA lines. Picketing workers would disrupt commutes for more people, including children who take SEPTA trains, buses and trolleys to get to and from school.

Riding SEPTA to school has become all the more important as the School District of Philadelphia experiences a bus driver shortage. In a letter to parents, Superintendent William Hite said nearly 60,000 students use SEPTA to get to school, meaning service interruptions “would have a devastating impact” and could force some or all schools to revert to 100% digital learning.

“While I respect the right of any union member to advocate for themselves, it is my greatest hope that this strike can be avoided so that we can continue to keep our schools open and best support the social, emotional and academic needs of our students without additional disruption,” Hite wrote.

For its part, SEPTA spokeswoman Elvira Méndez said the agency and Local 234 have had “productive” conversations. She added that SEPTA is “hopeful” an agreement can be reached without any service disruptions.

If an agreement is not reached, a strike could begin on Nov. 1.  

Eagles Overreactions: Raiders Debacle Highlights Nick Sirianni's Failings

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Eagles overreactions: The unacceptable part of Sunday’s game originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Raiders took it to the Eagles on Sunday, bludgeoning the defense and turning the offense into a slow slog as the Birds fell, 33-22, in Las Vegas.

After an exciting first drive the game devolved into a complete comedy of errors, piling up on the Eagles until they were hardly playing organized football as the third quarter faded into the fourth and the fans who flew to Allegiant Stadium were filing out.

Let’s dive into some overreactions from a travesty in Sin City:

1. Nick Sirianni just isn’t an NFL head coach

Sunday was a comedy of errors all over the field, but particularly from the Eagles’ head coach.

Nick Sirianni looked once again out of place, making brutal mistakes in the decision-making department and looking way out of his depth.

From accepting a holding penalty rather that gave the Raiders another chance at a third down, to trying an ill-fated onside kick coming out of the half, Sirianni often feels like he’s just feeling around in the dark for the decisions a real head coach would make. Occasionally he grabs one or two, but he often winds up doing something impossibly dumb.

Fans were excited in the first quarter when it seemed Sirianni had come around on the whole “run the ball” thing, before Miles Sanders hurt his ankle and left the game for good. Instead of adapting in real time, Sirianni decided using the dimunitive Kenneth Gainwell in place of Sanders on runs up the middle and off-tackle was a good call for two more drives until he finally snapped out of it.

It seems like the game is moving too fast for Sirianni at times. I know he’s a first-year head coach, but Doug Pederson never looked like this in his first year, even when he made his rookie mistakes.

Sirianni’s team has no sense of identity, very little discipline, and is so disorganized that even Jason Kelce lost his cool on Sunday, getting into a shoving match with a Raiders player after yet another failed offensive snap.

Sirianni had 10 days to prepare and this is what happened. I don’t want to hear about the Sanders injury: this was an embarrassing performance from the head coach.

2. Jalen Hurts is killing DeVonta Smith

We’ve discussed time and again that Jalen Hurts is extremely not the guy of the future. At this point, that seems obvious.

But an unfortunate byproduct of Hurts being bad is that he’s not helping rookie wideout DeVonta Smith, and might even be hurting him.

For two people who are good friends and once shared a football field in Tuscaloosa, it seems these guys simply can’t get on the same page during games. Unless Smith has created enormous separation, Hurts has been incapable this year of throwing ahead of the speedy wide receiver, instead more often than not pegging him in the hip, the thigh, or another body part that I don’t believe has a secret second pair of hands.

Smith is a silky smooth route runner who regularly finds himself open even against good corners, but Hurts isn’t highlighting that ability, instead making throws that are just off enough that it seems Smith should catch it, when it’s a miracle that he’s even able to get his hands on the football. The rookie is constantly torquing his body to reach Hurts’ passes.

Look at what Joe Burrow is doing with Ja’Marr Chase in Cincinnati. It’s likely that Chase is better than Smith, but you can be sure that Smith would be having similar head-exploding success for a rookie if he was paired with a quarterback who places the ball where’s he going to be, not where he just was.

When Smith gets a chance to make a play, he does. Look at this exceptional snag on the sideline:

But those plays few and far between, in large part because of his quarterback. It feels like we’re not getting a full look at Smith’s explosiveness and big-play ability, which is a huge bummer.

3. This is a completely lost year, which is unacceptable

There’s nothing wrong with a rebuilding year. There’s absolutely something wrong with a lost year.

Sunday’s loss was one of those games where you look at the product on the field, look at the decisions the front office made this past offseason, and realize you might come out of 2021 with absolutely no positives. Jalen Hurts? Not a starting quarterback. 

Nick Sirianni? Not an NFL head coach. 

Jonathan Gannon? He’s got me begging for a return to the Jim Schwartz era.

This team is, top to bottom, embarrassingly bad.

The Eagles will basically be starting from scratch next season, if the front office is smart enough to realize its mistakes and cut bait sooner rather than later.

The concern, of course, is a potential refusal to admit those mistakes – at least with Sirianni and Gannon, two guys who have seemed through seven games completely ill-fitted for their jobs – and a doubling-down on those guys for a second season. I can’t see Roseman & Co. sticking with Hurts past this year, but I can absolutely see them giving Sirianni and Gannon another go. Unless they become totally different people over the next 10 games, they shouldn’t.

If they turn it all over after one year, maybe that’ll be the shock to the system Jeffrey Lurie needs to turn a more critical eye towards Howie Roseman, whose decisions have time and time again put this team in bad positions. Sirianni and Gannon aren’t good at their jobs, but Roseman’s poor drafting and poor investments at multiple positions have put them in tough spots.

Sunday’s loss was a legitimate low point for the Eagles. This was once a franchise that stood among the league’s most consistent elite. Every year, the Eagles were relevant and well-run. 

You just can’t say that anymore, and I can’t imagine Lurie is very happy with that development. After a fully lost year, maybe he’ll be angry enough to make real changes.

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Eagles Struggle Yet Again in Loss to Las Vegas Raiders

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Despite garbage time, a pathetic loss in Roob’s Observations originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles must be the best garbage-time team in NFL history.

They specialize in falling behind by three touchdowns and then once the game is out of hand doing some serious stat padding.

I’m not buying it.

Forget the final score. This was a 30-7 game going into the 4th quarter. And that’s who the Eagles really are.

Here’s our 10 Observations from the Eagles sixth loss in their last seven games. The scoreboard says 33-22 Raiders, but we all know it was truly a blowout. 

1. This is when you figured maybe things will start getting better. Coming off a mini-bye against a Raiders team playing with an interim head coach that lost two of its last three games in a stadium packed with Eagles fans. Yeah, about that…. This wasn’t just a loss, it was an organization-wide embarrassment. Every scout, player and coach in the NovaCare Complex ought to be flat-out embarrassed to be a part of a franchise that could play such a pitiful brand of football. If you want to blame Howie or the coaching staff or the players, you’re missing the point. It’s all of them. It’s everybody. When you reach this level of ineptitude, nobody involved should be able to look at themselves in the mirror and not feel like they played a role in this disaster. They can’t score. They can’t call plays. They can’t stop anybody. When they finally do something right, somebody ruins it with a turnover, mistake or penalty. Top to bottom, a catastrophe.

2. I didn’t expect the Eagles to be a great team this year. I didn’t expect the offense to be a finished product, I didn’t expect Jalen Hurts to play consistently week in and week out, I didn’t expect the linebackers to rack up a bunch of Pro Bowl votes. One thing I DID expect was for the defensive line to be elite and help keep this team in games. Boy, was I wrong. They’ve been the biggest disappointment on the team, and on Sunday they got manhandled – they got embarrassed – by an unheralded Raiders front. The Raiders came in ranked LAST in the NFL in rushing at 3.3 yards per carry and they just hammered the ball on the ground, even after they lost leading rusher Josh Jacobs. And they also came in allowing the 8th-most sacks in the league, but this vaunted d-line couldn’t get close to Derek Carr, who dropped back 34 times, completed 31 passes and did not get sacked. Yes, they miss Brandon Graham, but Fletcher Cox is a 6-time Pro Bowler, Josh Sweat just got a huge new contract and Derek Barnett was the 14th pick in the draft. And I’m not even going to get into Ryan Kerrigan, but this defensive line has been just brutal. Through seven games they have just 11 sacks and they’ve allowed 932 rushing yards. That’s NEVER happened before in Eagles history. Horrible.

3. The combination of terrible 3rd-down conversion success on offense and constant long scoring drives by the opposing offense means the Eagles just don’t get to run many plays. They never have the ball. They came into the game 31st in the league in time of possession at just 25:53 and averaging just 59 plays per game, their fewest after six games since 1999 (and second-fewest in the last 50 years). There was a point Sunday – from 6:11 left in the second quarter to 6:15 left in the third quarter – where the Raiders ran 38 plays and scored 30 points, and the Eagles ran SEVEN PLAYS. How is that even possible? We talk a lot about complimentary football. Whatever the opposite of that is – uncomplimentary football? – that’s what the Eagles are running. You’re not going to win many games if you never have the ball. 

4. That might have been the worst game I’ve ever seen Jordan Mailata play. It can’t be easy going from left tackle to right tackle and back to left tackle – with a knee injury in between. But if he’s not healthy, he shouldn’t be out there. Maybe all the moving has been harder than he expected or maybe the knee is still bothering him, but he had a very tough time Sunday trying to block Yannick Ngakoue. We’re not used to seeing Mailata get beat like that, and it’s concerning. The o-line in general played poorly. They’re supposed to be a strength of this team and they were awful.

5. I’m not even sure what to say about Jalen Hurts. His final stats looked pretty (18-for-34 for 236 yards, two TDs, no INTS), but most of that was after the game got out of hand. It’s not that he struggled early, the Eagles just really never had the ball, and he never had a chance. When he did drop back, he was under instant siege. He took off and ran 13 times, which is too many, but it beats a sack. The o-line struggled, DeVonta Smith had three drops, Sanders missed most of the game. One thing I do know about Hurts is that he’s a tough SOB and I’ll never question his attitude, his grit or his toughness.

6. How about that Derek Barnett? Seven games, no sacks. Has he even gotten close? If he has, I missed it. He’s now gone 10 games since his last sack. He was the 14th pick in the 2017 draft. I didn’t understand why the Eagles brought him back this year, and it’s even more of a mystery now. What exactly does he do well?

7. Here’s an absolutely insane stat: The Eagles have allowed four of the last five quarterbacks they’ve faced to complete at least 80 percent of their passes. Dak Prescott completed 81 percent, Pat Mahomes 80 percent, Tom Brady 81 percent and Carr 91 percent. Only one other team in NFL history has allowed four QBs to complete 80 percent of their passes in AN ENTIRE SEASON. That was the 2015 Buccaneers, who allowed five. The last five QBs the Eagles have faced threw 169 passes. Only 38 of them were incomplete. How is that even possible? From 1933 through 2020, only eight QBs completed 80 percent of their passes against the Eagles. In the last 27 days five have.

8. What a shame seeing Miles Sanders go down with an ankle injury after finally getting some work and looking great on that first drive – 5-for-30 rushing. If Sanders is out for any length of time, there’s only one option that makes sense to replace him. Not Kenny Gainwell, who’s best used as a receiver and occasional runner, or Boston Scott, who’s ideally a role player. No, it’s one-time Pro Bowler and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Howard, who’s been on the Eagles’ practice squad all year. He’s a workhorse, he’s healthy, he’s rested and you know he’s only 26? He probably won’t get any carries, but the Eagles need to get him in the mix.

9. One thing I didn’t mind was the onside kick to open the second half. Heck, at that point he had to try something. The Raiders were going to score either way, may as well at least try to get the football back. And Jake Elliott hit a perfect kick and had a chance for the recovery but just missed it. Might have been Sirianni’s best play call of the year.

10. The Eagles need to do everything possible to re-sign Dallas Goedert. In his first game after the Zach Ertz trade, he caught three balls for 70 yards and looked every bit like a No. 1 tight end. He’s the Eagles’ most reliable target, and he really should be getting at least 10 targets a game. And how about Ertz in his first game with Arizona. After never catching a touchdown pass longer than 35 yards in 130 games as an Eagle, he caught a 47-yarder from Kyler Murray in his first game with the Cards. He finished 3-for-66 in Arizona’s win over the Texans. I hated to see Ertz go, but it’s clearly better for both of them to be on different teams.

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Eagles' Miles Sanders Carted Off Vs. Raiders With Apparent Ankle Injury

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Miles Sanders carted off the field vs. Raiders originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

LAS VEGAS — In a game where it looked like the Eagles were actually going to use him, Miles Sanders hurt his ankle.

Sanders was injured on a screen pass in the first quarter against the Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. He is officially questionable to return.

Sanders tried to limp to the sideline but went down and was then helped off the field. It appeared to be a leg injury. 

After a trip to the blue medical tent, Sanders was carted into the locker room.

Before the injury, Sanders had 6 carries for 30 yards, including 5 for 25 on the game-opening touchdown drive. On that drive, the Eagles put Jalen Hurts under center and emphasized their running game. 

Nick Sirianni has been criticized early this season for abandoning the run too quickly and not getting Sanders more involved.

Coming into this game, Sanders had 57 carries for 270 yards this season. But he’s had double digit carries in just three of six games.

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Shooters Kill Man and Injure Pregnant Woman in SW Philly

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A man was killed while a pregnant woman was hurt when people in a car began firing on them in Southwest Philadelphia Sunday night.

The 25-year-old man and 24-year-old woman were in a car along the 7700 block of Lindbergh Boulevard in the Eastwick neighborhood around 8:35 p.m. when bullets began to fly, Philadelphia police said.

The man then crashed into the Wendy’s parking lot at Penrose Plaza and got out of his car to run away, police said. He collapsed nearby and then was shot several more times while on the ground.

The man was hit multiple times throughout his head and body and was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later, police said.

The woman was shot once in the lower back, stayed at the Wendy’s and called for help, investigators said. She was taken to the hospital by police where doctors stabilized her and her unborn child, investigators said. 

No arrests have been made and a weapon has not been recovered.

The incident was one of at least five shootings in Southwest and West Philadelphia over the weekend that left a total of three people dead and four hurt in a 24-hour period.

One incident, a double shooting at 55th and Walnut streets, occurred only two blocks away from where District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Monday the launch of a collaborative response to the gun violence in Southwest and West Philly.

As of Monday night, there were 450 homicides in Philadelphia, up 14% from the same time last year, which was one of the deadliest on record.

There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.

Panel OKs Data for Drawing Pa. Assembly, Congress District Maps

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The five-person commission redrawing Pennsylvania General Assembly district lines gave its approval on Monday to adjusted and validated census-based data they will use to craft preliminary maps over the coming months.

“Even though we have 90 days to develop a preliminary plan under the provisions of the state constitution, we’re all hopeful that we can get it done much sooner than that. That will be our goal,” said former University of Pittsburgh chancellor Mark Nordenberg, who chairs the Legislative Reapportionment Commission.

It voted 4-1 to certify census data that shifts just under 27,000 state prison inmates back to their home districts for the maps that will be used for state legislative elections during the coming decade.

The “no” vote was cast by House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre. Although Benninghoff did not say why at the meeting, an aide later said it was because he believes the prisoner reallocation is on shaky legal ground and that dealing with what he considers extraneous issues is causing delays that could affect next spring’s primary.

The panel, which consists of Nordenberg and the Democratic and Republican floor leaders of the House and Senate, also voted 4-1 to certify data without the prisoners’ reallocation to the General Assembly for its use in drawing congressional district maps, giving state lawmakers a choice of which to use.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, voted no, saying he does not consider it to be appropriate to provide two sets of maps.

“I too, sir, have a concern as to whether or not that would bring additional legal challenges as well,” Costa said.

Nordenberg said there are states that use different types of data for congressional and state legislative maps.

“I feel as if we could not indirectly impose our choice on the Legislature as it sets out to draw the congressional maps,” Nordenberg said. “And so we are leaving them with a choice by providing them with both data sets.”

The commission will determine the state House and Senate maps, although its decisions can be appealed to court. The General Assembly will produce new maps for the state’s 17 congressional districts in the form of legislation that requires the governor’s signature. That also can be appealed.

In August, the reapportionment commission voted to count inmates in their home districts, except those serving life sentences and those who had been living in other states when they were jailed. Nordenberg, who was appointed by the state Supreme Court as chairman, voted with the two Democrats.

That vote was modified a month ago to further limit the group of prisoners counted in their home addresses by excluding anyone whose sentence will expire in the coming decade. In that vote, Nordenberg joined the two Republican leaders.

The commission is using 2020 Census data to redraw the state’s 203 House and 50 Senate districts for use starting with next year’s elections. Officials have previously said counties need new maps by Jan. 24 to provide the requisite information to candidates and others circulating nominating petitions during a period that kicks off Feb. 15.

In all, roughly 37,000 state inmates are scattered among 23 facilities in 19 counties. The policy does not affect federal and county prisoners.

Candidates have until March 8 to submit signed nominating petitions to appear on the May 17 primary ballot. There are also deadlines for advertising new districts in local newspapers and for sending out overseas, absentee and mail-in ballots.

Spending in Pa.'s Supreme Court Race Blows Past $5M

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What to Know

  • Spending in the race for an open seat on Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court has blown past $5 million, with just days left until Election Day.
  • Campaign finance reports filed Friday show that most of it, or roughly $3 million, has been spent to help Republican Kevin Brobson, including spending by third-party groups in the race.
  • That compared with about $2 million to help Democrat Maria McLaughlin.

Spending in the race for an open seat on Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court has blown past $5 million, according to new campaign finance reports, with less than two weeks left until Election Day.

Reports filed with the state Friday show that most of it, or roughly $3 million, has been spent to help Republican Kevin Brobson, including spending by third-party groups in the race. That compared with about $2 million to help Democrat Maria McLaughlin through last Monday.

The reports are out as attack ads are hitting the airwaves on both sides.

Brobson’s largest donor, by far, is a group that receives millions from suburban Philadelphia billionaire Jeffrey Yass, whose favored issue is boosting public school alternatives, like charter schools, and has become perhaps the largest donor to Republicans in Pennsylvania. It has spent more than $1.7 million to help Brobson.

The state Republican Party also has spent more than $500,000 to help Brobson, while a number of business associations also have contributed money to Brobson.

For McLaughlin, labor unions have contributed more than $900,000, while the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association’s political action committee has given almost that same amount. The state Democratic Party has kicked in about $300,000, according to the reports.

The amount spent goes well beyond the last race in Pennsylvania for an open high court seat, in 2017, but remains short of the top spenders in 2015′s contest for three open seats.

The election is Nov. 2. The amount spent on the contest before then could easily exceed $6 million, with the campaigns reporting more than $1 million combined in unspent money and new contributions.

Brobson and McLaughlin are running for a vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Thomas Saylor. The high court is currently in Democratic hands, 5-2, so the race will not change the partisan majority.

Brobson, 50, of suburban Harrisburg, has been a judge on the state Commonwealth Court for more than a decade. McLaughlin, 55, who spent almost two decades as a prosecutor in Philadelphia, was elected to the state Superior Court three years ago after serving as a city judge from 2012-17.


Gunman Accused of Killing Teen Boy, Injuring Teen Girl at NJ Home

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A week after a 17-year-old boy was gunned down in the doorway of a New Jersey home and a 17-year-old girl was shot in the chest, an 18-year-old man is accused of pulling the trigger.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Pemberton Township Police Chief David King announced murder and attempted murder charges Monday against 18-year-old Kai Johnson in the Oct. 18 shooting at the home on Snow Avenue in Browns Mills.

Officers had found 17-year-old Malachi Treherne shot in the head in the doorway of the Snow Avenue home where he was staying, authorities said. Police also found a 17-year-old girl suffering from a gunshot wound to her chest. She was rushed to a Trenton hospital where she was treated and released.

Within hours of the deadly shooting, investigators said “that this incident was not a random shooting.”

On Monday, investigators explained that Johnson and Treherne were arguing inside the Snow Avenue home before Johnson pulled out a gun and shot Treherne twice in the head and the woman at least once in the chest.

A 2-year-old boy was among the other people in the home at the time of the shooting, police said.

Johnson turned himself in on Friday to face first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, child endangerment and weapons charges. He had his first court appearance Saturday and remained jailed in Burlington County awaiting a detainment hearing.

It wasn’t clear if Johnson had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

This case is expected to be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment, authorities said.

Severe Storms With Lightning and Strong Winds Move Through Region

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What to Know

  • A First Alert for strong thunderstorms, heavy downpours and potential flooding for the entire Philadelphia region is in effect from 8 p.m. Monday through Tuesday evening.
  • A storm system from the west combined with a nor’easter, bringing high winds and heavy rain.
  • Every neighborhood should see some sort of stormy weather on the front end of the storm Monday night and overnight. However, the exact track of the nor’easter part of the storm could bring varying impacts depending on where you are Tuesday.

Severe thunderstorms with lightning and heavy downpours are moving through the Philadelphia region.

The NBC10 First Alert Weather Team issued a First Alert for strong thunderstorms, heavy downpours and potential flooding for all neighborhoods from 8 p.m. Monday through Tuesday evening.

First Alert graphic showing the threats of storms and flooding for Monday into Tuesday
A First Alert will be in effect from Monday night until Tuesday night for the entire Philadelphia region.

A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING is in effect for Philadelphia, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Delaware counties until 8:15 p.m.

Other warnings were issued but later expired for  New Castle County in Delaware, Salem County in New Jersey, and Berks, Chester and Delaware counties in Pennsylvania.

Governor Phil Murphy also announced a state of emergency for New Jersey starting at 8 p.m.

This First Alert includes storms for all neighborhoods Monday night with downpours expected to last overnight, flooding rain for the eastern half of the region through Tuesday and high winds at the Jersey Shore Tuesday night.

Thunderstorms, rain and flooding are among the storm threats
Different parts of the region face different threats during the storm.

Ahead of the wet weather, temperatures surged into the upper 70s Monday, as the 11-year-old record high of 76 in Philadelphia fell by early afternoon.

After dark is when the storms began to arrive as a cold front rushes into the region.

That system from the west already left some damage across parts of the Midwest and combined with a system coming off the Carolinas.

The nor’easter part of the storm hasn’t entirely formed.

A look at the forecasted radar for Tuesday's part of the storm.
Expect a big pattern shift that will bring rain and storms to the Philadelphia region.

As those systems combine, every neighborhood should see a threat of strong thunderstorms. Then 2 to 4 inches of rain (or more) could fall and cause flooding — particularly in eastern neighborhoods, especially in New Jersey.

A flash flood watch is in effect Monday night through Tuesday night for Burlington County down to Cape May County. Depending on the exact track of the nor’easter, rain totals could shift.

Winds picked up Monday afternoon with thunderstorm gusts at night. And then, the nor’easter will bring another round of strong winds — especially Tuesday afternoon and evening — to the Jersey Shore where gusts could top out above 40 mph.

Temps in the upper 70s Monday give way to highs in the lower 60s Tuesday.

The best bet to stay ahead of the storm and be prepared for weather warnings that could be issued is to make sure you have the updated version of the NBC10 app downloaded on your device.

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Eagles Trade Joe Flacco to Jets, Gardner Minshew Promoted to Backup

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Eagles trade Flacco, Minshew promoted to backup originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles on Monday traded backup quarterback Joe Flacco to the New York Jets, which means Gardner Minshew is now the Eagles’ new No. 2.

In return, the Eagles get a 2022 sixth-round pick from the Jets that can turn into a fifth-rounder based on playing time, according to ESPN.

This also means Minshew is one spot closer to the starting gig. Reid Sinnett, whom the Eagles claimed off waivers from the Dolphins on Monday, becomes the third-stringer.

“We feel really good about Gardner being our No. 2,” head coach Nick Sirianni said.

The conditional sixth-round pick brings back the pick the Eagles gave up in the Minshew deal in August. That was also a conditional sixth-rounder.

The Eagles signed the 36-year-old Flacco this offseason to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. He has been active as the backup quarterback in all seven games this season but hasn’t played a single snap. The Audubon, New Jersey, native’s return to the area didn’t last very long.

“As far as Joe goes, Joe was just a great person to be around,” Sirianni said. “Joe had a phenomenal preseason and was phenomenal for our room.”

Flacco will now be heading back to the Jets now that rookie Zach Wilson is out for a few weeks with an injury. Flacco spent his 2020 season with the Jets.

The Eagles traded for Minshew back on Aug. 28. Since his arrival, the former Jacksonville quarterback has been the third-stringer and has been running the scout team.

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Boy, 7, Struck and Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver in Philadelphia

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A boy was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.

The 7-year-old boy was on 33rd and Huntingdon streets at 4:18 p.m. Monday when he was struck by a possibly white Buick Enclave that was traveling westbound on Huntingdon Street at a high speed.

The boy was taken to St. Christopher’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:16 p.m.

Police said they later found the hit-and-run vehicle, unattended, on the 4000 block of Balwynne Park Road. They have not yet found the driver however.

No arrests have been made. Police continue to investigate.

Woman Killed in Pocono-Area Standoff Feared Harm From Police, Court Docs Say

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An armed woman shot and killed during a standoff in eastern Pennsylvania following a vehicle pursuit last week had a history of mental illness and believed police were trying to kidnap, sexually assault and murder her, authorities allege in court documents.

Betty Jane Tibaldi, 54, fled from Pocono Township police with her husband after encountering officers in Bartonsville late Tuesday night, state police said. An hours-long standoff on Route 611 ensued until police allege that she aimed a handgun at troopers and fired once before being struck and killed by return fire early Wednesday.

Tibaldi’s 77-year-old husband, Nello, told investigators that his wife believed police “routinely kidnap, rape and murder people.” Another relative said she had schizophrenia, had previously been taken out of a New York hotel by a SWAT team during a mental health crisis, and refused to take medication, according to police.

A negotiator said she was “rambling with paranoid delusions and religious ideas relative to the devil and the portals of hell.” Troopers connected her with a relative who encouraged her to surrender peacefully, but she “interpreted this as him being held hostage,” police said.

Hours into the standoff, Nello Tibaldi told investigators, he decided to surrender and left his gun in the truck with his wife, who was barred from owning a firearm. Asked why he hadn’t thrown it from the car, he called it “their final form of protection from police,” police allege.

Nello Tibaldi was charged with a felony firearms count and a charge of having recklessly endangered officers. He was held in Monroe County jail unable to post bail pending a hearing Tuesday. Court documents don’t list a defense attorney and a listed number for him was no longer in service.

3 States to Limit Nursing Home Profits in Bid to Improve Care

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Nursing homes receive billions of taxpayers’ dollars every year to care for chronically ill frail elders, but until now, there was no guarantee that’s how the money would be spent.

Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York are taking unprecedented steps to ensure they get what they pay for, after the devastating impact of COVID-19 exposed problems with staffing and infection control in nursing homes. The states have set requirements for how much nursing homes must spend on residents’ direct care and imposed limits on what they can spend elsewhere, including administrative expenses, executive salaries and advertising and even how much they can pocket as profit. Facilities that exceed those limits will have to refund the difference to the state or the state will deduct that amount before paying the bill.

The states’ mandates mark the first time nursing homes have been told how to spend payments from the government programs and residents, according to Cindy Mann, who served as Medicaid chief in the Obama administration.

With this strategy, advocates believe, residents won’t be shortchanged on care, and violations of federal quality standards should decrease because money will be required to be spent on residents’ needs. At least that’s the theory.

“If they’re not able to pull so much money away from care and spend it on staffing and actual services, it should make a big difference,” said Charlene Harrington, professor emeritus at the University of California-San Francisco’s School of Nursing who has spent four decades studying nursing home reimbursement and regulation. “I would expect the quality of care would improve substantially.”

“The actual effect will be just the opposite,” said Andrew Aronson, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey. “By trying to force providers to put more money into direct care, you’re creating a disincentive for people to invest in their buildings, which is going to drive the quality down.”

Next year, New York’s nursing facilities will have to spend at least 70% of their total revenue —including payments from Medicaid, Medicare and private insurers — on resident care and at least 40% of that direct-care spending must pay for staff members involved in hands-on care. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker issued rules requiring nursing homes have to spend at least 75% of all revenue on residents’ care. New Jersey’s law requires its nursing homes to spend at least 90% of revenue on patient care. But its state regulators have proposed that the requirement apply only to Medicaid funding. No final determination has been made.

All three states promise a boost in Medicaid payments to facilities that comply with the laws.

Harrington and other advocates say the measures are well overdue, but they are watching how regulators in each state define direct care, who qualifies as a direct care worker, what counts as revenue and whether it is reported accurately.

Jim Clyne, president and CEO of LeadingAge New York, which represents nonprofit nursing facilities, questions the legality of some provisions in New York’s law. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that it will end up in court,” he said.

Aronson said the mandate is based on a misconception — that nursing homes could have kept COVID-19 out of their facilities if they had only marshaled their resources properly. “As long as COVID is in our communities, it will also find its way into our facilities,” he said.

But poor infection control practices resulting from inadequate staffing have been the most common violation cited by nursing home inspectors over the years, according to a study released last year by the federal Government Accountability Office. The pandemic did little to change that trend. In August 2020, a frustrated Seema Verma, then-administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, warned nursing home operators that “significant deficiencies in infection control practices” were responsible for increases in COVID deaths and pleaded with them “to really double down on those practices.”

“Philosophically, if a payer wants to tell the provider how to use their funds within certain parameters, I understand that, but that’s not what the [New York] law does,” said Clyne. “The law goes beyond that. The state is telling the provider how much of other people’s money they have to spend on care also, not just the state’s money.”

Bills paid by Medicare or individuals should be excluded from the state mandate, along with Medicaid funds earmarked for certain purposes such as mortgage expenses, he said.

Medicaid, funded under a state and federal government partnership, provides health insurance to low-income people and typically pays for about 60% of the nursing home care nationwide, usually for long-term residents with chronic health problems. Medicare, funded by federal dollars, insures older or disabled adults, and provides about 16% of facilities’ revenue. The rest comes from private Medicare Advantage and other health insurance companies, and individuals who pay for their own care.

“Nursing homes are primarily funded by public tax dollars, Medicaid or Medicare — and the public has a reason to care about how our dollars are being spent,” said Milly Silva, executive vice president of 1199SEIU, the union that represents 45,000 nursing home workers in New York and New Jersey, and backed the legislation in both states.

The spending mandates are not a new idea for health care. The Affordable Care Act directs health insurers to spend at least 80 cents of every dollar in premiums to pay for beneficiaries’ health care needs. What remains can be spent on administrative costs, executive salaries, advertising and profits. Companies that exceed the limit must refund the difference to beneficiaries.

Harrington disagrees with industry officials who want to exclude Medicare dollars from the calculation of how much nursing homes must spend on direct care. That would leave a large source of profits untouched, she said, and allow them to use that money “however you want.”

Medicare paid nursing homes $27.8 billion in fiscal year 2019, according to the Medicare Advisory Payment Commission, an independent panel appointed by Congress.

Even if only the Medicaid money is affected, though, there’s still a big problem in the direct care spending mandate, said Aronson. “Ninety percent of facilities are losing money,” he said, because Medicaid payments don’t cover the cost of care. In New Jersey, he added, the shortfall is $40 a day per resident.

But some state lawmakers are not convinced. “Medicaid payments may not fully cover the cost of care, but somehow for-profit nursing homes are making money,” said New York state lawmaker Richard Gottfried, who has chaired the Assembly health committee since 1987. More than two-thirds of the state’s nursing homes operate as for-profit businesses and have been able to hide some of those profits in associated businesses they also own and then hire, he said. They can “use real estate gimmicks and shell contracts to make it look like they’re spending money when what they are really doing is just siphoning income into their own pockets,” he said. The use of such “related parties” payments has occurred across the country for several years.

To uncover the facilities’ true income and expenses, the state mandates require accurate documentation. “If they file false documentation, that will be a felony,” said Gottfried.

The spending mandates come at a challenging time for the industry, which is still recovering from the worst of the pandemic and facing a staffing shortage and low occupancy. But New York Assembly member Ron Kim, whose uncle died in a nursing home from presumed COVID, said lawmakers should be able to tell nursing home operators how to spend taxpayers’ money. “If they choose to rely on public dollars to deliver care, they take on a greater responsibility,” he said. “It’s not like running a hotel.”

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

911 Dispatcher Hung Up on Spanish-Speaking Caller Who Later Died, Lawsuit Claims

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Léelo en español.

A federal lawsuit filed against Lehigh County and supervisors of the county’s 911 call center alleges that seven dispatchers were mistreated, to the point of being forced to resign, and that the culture at the workplace was biased against Spanish-speaking callers.

The most serious accusation alleges that a 911 dispatcher hung up on a Spanish-speaking man who later died, along with his nephew, in a fire in 2020.

A county official disputed the allegations on Monday, but declined to release publichly the 911 call highlighted in the lawsuit. County Executive Phil Armstrong said he personally listened to 911 calls involving a July 2020 fire that killed Heriberto Santiago Jr. and his nephew.

Santiago, according to the lawsuit, “… in his native Spanish language, attempted to notify the 911 dispatcher of the fire and his need for emergency assistance.”

The dispatcher who answered the call, according to the lawsuit, allegedly “indicated that she did not understand the Spanish language, told Mr. Santiago to speak English and hung up on Mr. Santiago.”

Armstrong told NBC10 “there has been no recorded evidence that has happened.”

“The first (call) came in from a neighbor. Within 3 minutes of the beginning of that call, sirens were rolling up on the fire,” Armstrong said of the 911 calls he listened to involving the fatal fire. “Another call came up from the person in the building. His call lasted a little over a minute and he spoke perfect English.”

One of the plaintiffs declined to comment on the lawsuit when reached by NBC10, and said other plaintiffs would also have no comment.

The allegations in the lawsuit claim that supervisors and managers mistreated the plaintiffs, and misled them to believe that resigning following allegations of drinking alcohol for a New Year’s toast would allow them to re-apply for their jobs.

Rick Molchany, Lehigh County’s director of special services, who is among the defendants named in the lawsuit, fired 10 employees in January 2020 after the dispatch employees allegedly drank during the toast on Dec. 31, 2019.

Lehigh County Commissioner Dan Hartzell said at the time that the toast sounded innocuous to him, but he understood and respected the decision made by the administration.

“It was a clear violation of county policy,” Hartzell said. “It was determined we cannot let this become a slippery slope.”

In addition to the claims of mistreatment of employees and improper handling of 911 calls from Spanish-speaking residents, the lawsuit also alleges that supervisors and dispatchers openly showed bias toward Latino callers.

“Administrators, supervisors and dispatchers from Defendant County referred to people of Latino/Hispanic descent as ‘you people,'” according to one claim.

In another claim, the lawsuit states, “Caucasian 9-1-1 dispatchers stated openly that they ‘do not like taking calls from Spanish people’ and refused to use a ‘language
line’ translation service to assist them in communicating with Spanish speaking residents.”

Armstrong, the county executive, told NBC10 that the county has opened an investigation into those claims.

“We are looking into everything,” Armstrong said. “If anyone makes an accusation we were going to look into it.”


Police ID Suspect in Violent Home Invasion in Delaware

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State Police are searching for a man who they say was one of three suspects who pistol-whipped two people during a home invasion in Delaware.

Police said three men forced their way into a home on the 9000 block of Middleford Road in Seaford, Delaware, around 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Harding and the other two suspects then pistol-whipped two people inside and demanded property from the victims, according to investigators. Police said the three suspects and two victims then fought inside the home. During the fight, one of the suspects fired two shots from a gun though no one was struck, police said.

The suspects then fled the home after stealing unknown items. The victims were taken to the hospital and treated for their injuries.

Police identified one of the suspects as Danny Harding Jr., 36, of Dover, Delaware. He is described as a man with blonde hair, blue eyes and multiple tattoos on his body, standing 6-feet-tall and weighing approximately 190 pounds.

Danny Harding Jr.

Harding is wanted for several charges, including robbery, assault, burglary and reckless endangerment.

Police did not release detailed descriptions of the two other suspects but said they were both wearing a face covering and carrying a handgun.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Harding or the other two suspects should call Detective William Saylor with Delaware State Police Troop 4 Criminal Investigation Unit at 302-752-3897 or email him at William.saylor@delaware.gov.  

You can also call the Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or submit a tip on the Crime Stoppers website.

Rutgers University Sets December COVID Vaccine Deadline for Staff

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What to Know

  • Rutgers University has announced that employees who are still unvaccinated against COVID-19 have until Dec. 8 to get vaccinated to comply with a federal mandate.
  • University officials said Monday that only about 10% of the staff is unvaccinated, but if those employees are not vaccinated by the deadline they will be disciplined and potentially fired.
  • The New Jersey university will allow employees to request medical and religious exemption by Nov. 8.

Rutgers University employees who are still unvaccinated against COVID-19 have until Dec. 8 to get vaccinated, the university announced Monday.

In a statement, Rutgers Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Antonio Calcado said only about 10% of the staff is unvaccinated, but if those employees are not vaccinated by the deadline they will be disciplined and potentially fired.

The university is following President Joe Biden’s executive order to mandate all federal workers to be vaccinated against coronavirus, NJ.com reported.

Employees who choose the Moderna vaccine must receive their first dose by Oct. 26, by Nov. 3 for the Pfizer vaccine and by Nov. 24 for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to meet the deadline.

The university will allow employees to request medical and religious exemption by Nov. 8.

Rutgers employs 25,600 faculty across its New Brunswick/Piscataway, Newark and Camden campuses.

Pa. Catholic Priest Pleads No Contest to Abusing 11-Year-Old Altar Boy

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A western Pennsylvania Roman Catholic priest pleaded no contest Monday to indecent assault that began when the victim was an 11-year-old altar boy.

Prosecutors said the Rev. Andrew Mark Kawecki, 66, of Greensburg will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years after entering the no contest plea before a Fayette County judge.

A message seeking comment was left for the defense attorney listed in the online docket as representing Kawecki.

Prosecutors said the sexual abuse began in 2004, occurring in a back room of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church in Fairchance, Pennsylvania, among the 15 parishes within the Diocese of Greensburg where Kawecki has served since 1980.

He was removed from ministry and parishioners were notified after investigators received a tip about Kawecki in May 2019.

The attorney general’s office said after Kawecki was charged another victim made allegations of similar abuse but those claims were too old to be prosecuted under the criminal statute of limitations.

Kawecki is expected to be sentenced in January.

4 Charged in Shooting Outside NJ Walmart That Killed Teen and Injured Father

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Three young men and a young woman were arrested in connection to a shooting outside of a South Jersey Walmart earlier this month that killed a teen boy and injured his father.

Kayhree Simmons, 19, Jayviyohn J. Earley, 19, Kweli L. McCants, 20, and Azza Kamnaksh, 19, all of Willingboro, New Jersey, were arrested and charged in the death of 17-year-old Albert Williams of Hammonton, New Jersey.

On Oct. 7 around 10:15 p.m., Burlington Township Police responded to the parking lot of the Walmart Supercenter on Mount Holly Road in Burlington Township. When they arrived they found Williams and his 44-year-old father suffering from gunshot wounds. 

Both victims were taken to Cooper University Hospital in Camden where the teen was pronounced dead. His father was treated and released. 

Investigators said the four suspects had previously planned to meet in the Walmart parking lot when an argument ensued, followed by gunfire. Police didn’t reveal additional details however. 

Simmons is charged with murder, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, conspiracy to commit robbery, hindering and obstruction. 

Earley is charged with murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. He was also charged on Oct. 13 with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm in relation to a drug offense based on evidence uncovered during the investigation of the Walmart shooting, police said. 

McCants is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery and hindering. He was also charged on Oct. 14 with possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine and possession of a controlled dangerous substance based on evidence uncovered during the investigation of the Walmart shooting. 

Kamnaksh is charged with hindering and obstruction. Kamnaksh was also charged on Oct. 13 with possession with intent to distribute marijuana and possession of a firearm in relation to a drug offense based on evidence uncovered during the Walmart shooting investigation. 

Simmons, Earley and McCants are being held in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly. Kamnaksh is lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility in Mays Landing. Earley was detained pending trial during a hearing on Tuesday in Superior Court. The other suspects are awaiting detention hearings. 

Man Killed After Attacking Officer, Officer Shot in Leg, Police Say

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A man was shot and killed after allegedly attacking a Philadelphia police officer with a hammer and a pickaxe in the city’s Overbrook neighborhood Tuesday afternoon. The officer was also shot in the leg during the ordeal. 

A 35-year-old officer and a 43-year-old officer, both from the 19th District, responded to a report of a person with a weapon in the basement of a home on the 5700 block of Overbrook Avenue shortly after 3 p.m. 

“We received information in that initial call that it was possible this person had mental issues,” Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said. “Whether or not that’s the case, we don’t know. Because it all happened so quickly.”

When they entered the home, they were confronted by a 31-year-old man armed with a hammer and a pickaxe, police said. The officers ordered the man to drop the weapons but he ignored their commands and walked toward them, according to investigators.

The 35-year-old officer shot the suspect with a Taser. After dropping to the ground, the man got back up and rushed at both officers, police said. The officers then retreated out of the front door as the man continued to rush at them, according to investigators. 

The man then struck the 35-year-old officer in the head with either the hammer or pickaxe, knocking him to the ground, police said. The man then allegedly sat on top of the fallen officer and repeatedly struck him with one or both of the weapons. 

“All units! All units! My partner’s down,” the officer’s partner yells in audio obtained by NBC10.

The 43-year-old officer then pulled out her weapon and opened fire, striking the suspect multiple times. 

During the shooting, the 35-year-old officer was also shot in the leg. Commissioner Outlaw said she did not know if the officer was struck by friendly fire.

“All we know at this point is that the officer was struck during the confrontation,” Outlaw said. “Obviously as we speak to witnesses who are being interviewed right now, as we review body worn camera footage as the night goes on, we’ll be able to tell as we gather evidence.”

Both the suspect and officer were taken to area hospitals. The suspect died from his injuries while the officer is in stable condition.

“The good news is that he’s talking. He’s smiling. He’s laughing. He’s in good spirits,” Outlaw said. “We do believe he’s going to have to have surgery.”

The second officer who fired at the suspect was not injured during the incident.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Why So Many NJ Voters Don't Have a Political Party and Their Effect on the Gov's Race

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What to Know

  • Three major polls will be released this week, starting Wednesday, on the New Jersey governor’s race between incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli. Experts believe Murphy has a large lead heading into the Nov. 2 election.
  • Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in New Jersey by 1 million. But the biggest variable every election is independent voters, with more than 2.4 million of New Jersey’s 6.5 million registered voters unaffiliated with a political party.
  • The high number of unaffiliated voters — compared to a state like Pennsylvania, where there are many fewer — can be attributed to a few causes, experts say.

Voters in New Jersey are gearing up for their rare turn in the electoral spotlight on Nov. 2, when they will be one of only two states in the country electing a governor.

“It’s one of the few times we get any attention,” said Professor John Farmer Jr., who is director of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics and former chairman of the state’s redistricting commission.

Incumbent Phil Murphy is trying to become the state’s first Democrat since the 1970s to win re-election, Farmer said, which surprises some people because of New Jersey’s reputation for being one of the most liberal states in the country. Murphy faces Republican Jack Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman, in the election Tuesday.

“We’re a liberal state, but reserve the right to change our mind,” Farmer said of New Jersey voters.

There is also a massive number of unaffiliated voters: those registered without a political party. More than 2.4 million of New Jersey’s 6.5 million voters are independent. That’s more than 1 in 3.

Compare that to Pennsylvania where 1 in 10 voters are unaffiliated with a political party.

Could the high number of independent voters be a cause for Democrats' historical inability to re-elect one of their own to the state's highest office?

It could play a role, experts say.

But there also are other explanations for the high number of independent voters, according to Dan Cassino, political director of the FDU Poll at Farleigh Dickinson University.

Two major factors involve the state's strong political boss system, and the way residents are registered to vote, Cassino said.

Political bosses dominate the two major parties in New Jersey, leading to few contested primary races for governor and other high elected offices, he said. That diminishes the motivation of voters to join a political party. In New Jersey, a voter must register with a political party to cast a ballot in that party's primary.

Meanwhile, any New Jersey resident who gets their driver's license is automatically registered to vote as unaffiliated. Many people might not even know they're registered to vote, Cassino said.

"Most of those people are, in fact, partisan. They just haven’t bothered to register with a party," he said. "In New Jersey, we have a long tradition of not having competitive primaries, so there is very little reason to register. But most people are partisans when you push them."

What does it mean for the Murphy-Ciattarelli race?

Cassino said he would be surprised if Ciattarelli has closed to within 10 points of Murphy in three statewide polls being released later this week.

But Farmer said Ciattarelli may have stronger support than in previous months.

"The race is tightening and that’s not unusual in New Jersey," he said. "It's what happens in a typical election year."

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After Decorated Career, NJ's Carli Lloyd Will Savor Final Game With US

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What to Know

  • Carli Lloyd is retiring from soccer after a decorated career that includes two Women’s World Cup titles and a pair of Olympic gold medals.
  • She’ll say goodbye when the U.S. team takes the field Tuesday night against South Korea in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • The New Jersey native ranks second in the world for most-ever international appearances, playing in 315 career games. She has scored 134 goals with the United States, third most in the history of the women’s team.

Reality is starting to set in for Carli Lloyd, who plays her last game for the United States on Tuesday night.

Lloyd, who memorably scored three goals in the opening 16 minutes of the U.S. victory in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final, is retiring from soccer after a decorated career that includes two World Cup titles and a pair of Olympic gold medals.

Admired by teammates and fans alike for her fierce determination, Lloyd will say goodbye when the U.S. takes the field against South Korea in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“Sure there were times where maybe my focus was too intense, but I gave it all I had. And I think that’s what’s really special, walking away from this is knowing that I did give it all I have,” she said.

“This next phase of mine, I think, is going to be no different. I’m going to find something that I’m passionate about and do it to the best of my ability. I want to eventually start a family with my husband and want to be the best mom and strive to be the best wife that I possibly can,” she added. “Yes, it’s going to be a little different. I’m not going to be feeling the pressure of having to perform in World Cups and Olympics, but I got to do that. Now I’ll just shift gears and do something different.”

Lloyd ranks second in the world for most-ever international appearances after having played in 315 career games. She has scored 134 goals with the U.S., third most in the history of the women’s team.

Lloyd hinted for more than a year that she was nearing the end of her career before the Tokyo Olympics. The United States won the bronze medal this summer, with Lloyd scoring a pair of goals in a 4-3 victory over Australia.

She became the first American to score in four different Olympics, and her 10 total goals in the event set a new record among U.S. players.

“She’s a soccer icon everywhere in the world. I’ve said this before: If she was a male soccer player in Europe, we would have statues of Carli Lloyd all over the country, in Europe. I mean, streets would be named after her, complexes, stadiums, everything. That’s how big she is,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said.

Following the team’s 0-0 draw last week against South Korea in Kansas City, Kansas, Lloyd passed her No. 10 jersey to teammate Lindsey Horan, who will wear the number starting in 2022. Horan was honored before the game for her 100th appearance with the team.

“I think it was probably one of the most special moments in my career,” Horan said, close to tears. “I think Carli Lloyd is truly one of the most incredible women’s national team players that has come through the system. And over the past few years, she’s been such a role model for me and I’ve gotten closer and closer with her and gotten to learn so much from her.”

Lloyd, who made her first appearance with the senior national team in 2005, is probably best known for her hat trick that led the United States to a 5-2 victory over Japan in the 2015 World Cup final. Her third goal in that match was a blistering strike from midfield.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lloyd scored in a 1-0 overtime victory over Brazil for the gold medal. Four years later, she scored both goals in the gold-medal match against Japan at Wembley Stadium, becoming the only player to score winning goals in consecutive Olympic finals.

A New Jersey native, Lloyd has also played professionally for some 12 years, spanning stints in the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer league and the National Women’s Soccer League. She also played briefly with Manchester United.

Along the way, she’s said, she tried to play each game as if it were her last. But on Tuesday she said she’ll allow herself to enjoy the moment.

“I’m going to let the emotions flow the way they’re gonna flow. I think I’ve been iced-out Carli for so long, and people have always seen that, people haven’t seen the different side of me. But I’m going to savor it,” she said. “I think it’s going to be truly special for one last time to give everything I have for this team, for the crest, for the country, for the fans. I’m going to soak it all in, that’s for sure.”

After the United States’ run to the 2019 World Cup title, Lloyd said she would try to make the roster for the Tokyo Games, but it would likely be her last major tournament with the national team.

When the Olympics were pushed back a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Lloyd underwent a knee procedure and worked her way back under a new trainer. She took advantage of the downtime to reconnect with her family, from whom she’d been estranged for much of her career.

Her family will be in the stands to cheer for her Tuesday.

“Having them here being able to close out my career is going to be the one of the best things that’s ever probably happened to me,” she said. “Just knowing I can walk away, at peace and content, is really, really special.”


NJ Home's Confederate Halloween Display Draws Outrage

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A Halloween display on a New Jersey home’s lawn is getting a lot of attention lately, but it’s not for the scares it’s giving.

Anyone driving along busy Toms River Road in the rural township of Jackson, in Ocean County, may do a double take when passing by one property in particular. Adorned with multiple no trespassing signs, the home boasts multiple Confederate flags in addition to costumed ghosts — one of which seems to resemble a haunting image of a Ku Klux Klan member in robes.

“I’d like to think it’s just a ghost,” said local resident Doreen Koptyra upon seeing a picture of the decoration. But when she heard the homeowner was flying Confederate flags as well, she said that changed things entirely.

“If it was just a ghost, it’d be fine. But now that you have the flag up, that’s not acceptable,” Koptyra said.

Adorned with multiple no trespassing signs, the home boasts multiple Confederate flags in addition to costumed ghosts.

NBC New York attempted to talk with the owner of the home, but he did not want to speak, only saying that he’s had the decoration for years.

“No, get the f— out!” the man shouted from a distance.

Minutes later, he moved an SUV to try and block the view from the road, while offering an obscene gesture to the camera.

The neighbors who live across the street said they don’t understand why anyone would be offended by the suggestive piece.

“It’s Halloween, people put decorations out, it is what it is,” said Jeannette Benz, who said she wasn’t bothered by the flag nor the decoration. “I think Halloween is Halloween.”

The president of the Toms River area NAACP told NBC New York they are looking into matter, adding that it is unfortunate that a holiday enjoyed by so many would be tainted by such images.

Look at the Redevelopment Plan at Former South Philly Refinery Site

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HRP has settled on a name for its ambitious redevelopment project at the former Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery site in South Philadelphia, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The 1,300-acre site will be dubbed The Bellwether District, an homage to what HRP calls “Philadelphia’s role as an innovator and achiever of many firsts for the country.”

HRP, formerly Hilco Redevelopment Partners, bought the site out of bankruptcy for $225.5 million last year with plans to transform it into a massive warehouse-distribution hub. The company expects to begin construction in the second quarter of 2022 with more than 15 million square feet of industrial, life sciences, light manufacturing and other space to be built over the next 13-15 years. The project is expected to generate 19,000 permanent jobs.

Artists Rendering of The Bellwether District
The 1,300-acre site at the former Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery will be dubbed dubbed The Bellwether District

The development’s new branding includes the tagline “Next Starts Here.”

“Nowhere is the story of re-creation and re-envisioning being played out more dramatically than it is here at The Bellwether District in Philadelphia,” said Roberto Perez, CEO of HRP, in a statement obtained by PBJ.com. “The Bellwether District is a holistic, thoughtful reimagining of post-industrial property into a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable workplace for generations of people and businesses.”

PBJ.com has details on how the project would add four more streets to Philadelphia’s map.

Get the latest business news from NBC10’s partner at the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Carli Lloyd Plays Final Match for US in Rout of South Korea

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Carli Lloyd didn’t score in her final game for the United States, but it hardly mattered. The night was all about her.

Fans chanted Lloyd’s name before Tuesday night’s match, a 6-0 U.S. rout of South Korea, with one holding a sign that read: “One More World Cup, Please?”

Lloyd is retiring after a career that includes two World Cup titles and a pair of Olympic gold medals. Her crowning moment was scoring three goals in the opening 16 minutes of the U.S. victory over Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final.

“It’s been emotional. But there’s just a sense of peace and contentment that I feel — it’s just joy and happiness,” Lloyd said. “It’s been an amazing journey and I gave it all I had, and now I can walk away into the next chapter.”

Lloyd’s final match was her 316th with the national team, the second-most international appearances of any player. She scored 134 goals for the United States, third most in team history, along with 61 assists.

Lloyd was subbed out in the 65th minute and sobbed as she left to a standing ovation by the crowd of 18,115 at Allianz Field. She removed her cleats and pulled off her jersey, revealing another jersey with her married name, Hollins, emblazoned on the back.

“Somebody said that Carli is the U.S. women’s national team. She’s brave. She’s relentless. She’s determined, intense and just doesn’t take no for an answer,” U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “She just pushes through and finds a way. So I think that she’s a great representative of what this team is all about.”

Lloyd, 39, had hinted she was nearing the end of her career before the Tokyo Olympics. The United States won the bronze medal this summer, with Lloyd scoring a pair of goals in a 4-3 victory over Australia. She announced plans to retire shortly thereafter.

She became the first American to score in four different Olympics, and her 10 goals in the event are the most for a U.S. player.

Following the team’s 0-0 draw last week against South Korea in Kansas City, Kansas, Lloyd passed her No. 10 jersey to Lindsey Horan, who will wear the number starting in 2022.

Lloyd made her first appearance with the national team in 2005.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Lloyd scored in a 1-0 overtime victory over Brazil for the gold medal. Four years later, she scored both goals in the gold-medal match against Japan at Wembley Stadium, becoming the only player to score winning goals in consecutive Olympic finals.

Lloyd’s career reached its high point with her hat trick in the World Cup final. Her third goal against Japan was a blistering strike from midfield.

“The way I feel now is literally the happiest I’ve ever been,” Lloyd said. “And I think having a really tough career and really having to dig deep, the end feeling has been the most rewarding.”

A New Jersey native, Lloyd has also played at the club level for some 12 years, spanning stints in the now-defunct Women’s Professional Soccer league and the National Women’s Soccer League. She will finish off her pro season with the NWSL’s Gotham FC, which has two games left in the regular season.

Against South Korea on Tuesday, Horan put the United States in front in the ninth minute with a goal that deflected off an opposing player. It was her 24th career goal.

An own goal put the Americans up 2-0 just before halftime.

Alex Morgan, who replaced Lloyd, scored in the 69th minute to make it 3-0. Megan Rapinoe added a goal in the 85th and Rose Lavelle scored in the 89th. Lynn Williams capped the scoring in stoppage time. The U.S. extended its unbeaten streak on home soil to 62 matches.

“I’m excited to see the future of this team. I’m saying goodbye on the field, but I want to continue to help in any way possible,” Lloyd said. “I’m going to be the biggest fan, biggest cheerleader, and I want to see this team continue to succeed.”

Firefighters Battle Massive Building Fire in Pennsauken

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Firefighters battled a massive fire at a building in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey.

The four-alarm fire started Tuesday night at the U.S. Auto Auction building on the 6600 block of South Crescent Boulevard and caused the roof to collapse. No injuries were reported however.

Crescent Boulevard is closed in both directions near the scene of the fire.

Officials are investigating the cause.

United States Issues Its 1st Passport With ‘X' Gender Marker

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The United States has issued its first passport with an “X” gender designation — a milestone in the recognition of the rights of people who don’t identify as male or female — and expects to be able to offer the option to nonbinary, intersex and gender-nonconforming people early next year, the State Department said Wednesday.

The U.S.’ special diplomatic envoy for LGBTQ rights, Jessica Stern, called the moves historic and celebratory, saying they bring the government documents in line with the “lived reality” that there is a wider spectrum of human sex characteristics than is reflected in the previous two designations.

“When a person obtains identity documents that reflect their true identity, they live with greater dignity and respect,” Stern said.

The department did not announce to whom the passport was issued. A department official declined to say whether it was for Dana Zzyym, an intersex Colorado resident who has been in a legal battle with the department since 2015, saying the department does not usually discuss individual passport applications because of privacy concerns.

Zzyym (pronounced Zimm) was denied a passport for failing to check male or female on an application. According to court documents, Zzyym wrote “intersex” above the boxes marked “M” and “F” and requested an “X” gender marker instead in a separate letter.

Zzyym was born with ambiguous physical sexual characteristics but was raised as a boy and underwent several surgeries that failed to make Zzyym appear fully male, according to court filings. Zzyym served in the Navy as a male but later came to identify as intersex while working and studying at Colorado State University. The department’s denial of Zzyym’s passport prevented Zzyym from being able to travel to a meeting of Organization Intersex International in Mexico.

The State Department announced in June that it was moving toward adding a third gender marker but said it would take time because it required extensive updates to its computer systems. A department official said the passport application and system update with the “X” designation option still need to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget, which approves all government forms, before they can be issued.

The department now also allows applicants to self-select their gender as male or female, no longer requiring them to provide medical certification if their gender did not match that listed on their other identification documents.

The United States joins a handful of countries, including Australia,, New Zealand, Nepal and Canada, in allowing its citizens to designate a gender other than male or female on their passports.

Stern said her office planned to talk about the U.S.′ experience with the change in its interactions around the world and she hopes that might help inspire other governments to offer the option.

“We see this as a way of affirming and uplifting the human rights of trans and intersex and gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people everywhere,” she said.

___

AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington.

Murphy Maintains Double-Digit Lead Over Ciattarelli in Final Monmouth Poll

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s huge re-election lead has narrowed slightly, but he is still 11 points ahead of Republican Jack Ciattarelli less than a week before the election, the final pre-election Monmouth Poll found Wednesday.

Murphy leads Ciattarelli 50%-39%, the university’s pollsters said. The same poll had Murphy ahead by 16 points in August and 13 points in September. 

The incumbent holds sizeable leads among Black, Hispanic and Asian voters, as well as white college graduates, and also among women and in the northern part of the state. Ciattarelli leads by 20 points among whites without a college degree, and is ahead with men and in the southern part of the state.

Ciattarelli also leads by as much as 12 points among those who say they intend to vote on Election Day itself — but Murphy leads by nearly 40 points among early voters.

While Murphy generally gets good marks for overall favorability and for his handling of the pandemic, voters see Ciattarelli as much better on tax policy — and recent polling makes clear that is once again the electorate’s #1 issue. 

At the same time, declining support for the Biden Administration is weighing on Democratic candidates in this year’s races. Both First Lady Jill Biden and former president Barack Obama have come to New Jersey in recent days to campaign for Murphy. (The Monmouth poll found Biden’s approval rating at -6, a 16-point negative swing from two months ago, with even a quarter of Democrats saying they don’t approve of the job he’s doing as president.)

In a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-1, no Democrat has won a second term as governor since 1977.

Murphy is a former Goldman Sachs executive, DNC official and U.S. ambassador to Germany who never held elected office before his 2017 run. Ciattarelli, a businessman and former member of the state Assembly, is making his second run at governor, having lost the primary four years ago. 

While Murphy’s campaign has hammered Ciattarelli for his pro-Trump views and positions on COVID and kids, Ciattarelli’s messaging has focused almost exclusively on lowering taxes — music to the ears of New Jersey voters. (In a recent Emerson College poll, 51% of voters said taxes should be the next governor’s priority, 35 points higher than any other issue.)

But Monmouth’s experts said Ciattarelli’s strength on the tax issue ultimately doesn’t appear to be enough of an advantage, especially given Murphy’s 19-point lead on trust in handling the pandemic, and 15-point lead on trust in education policy.

“Ciattarelli’s attack on Murphy as being out of touch on taxes has resonated with some voters, but not enough to change the overall issue picture for this campaign. Even though concerns about the pandemic have lessened, the shift toward education policy basically produces the same benefit for Murphy. He is viewed as the better candidate on both issues,” Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said in a statement.

The telephone poll of 1,000 voters was conducted Oct. 21-25 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Man Struck, Killed While Walking on I-95 in Delaware

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What to Know

  • A deadly crash involving a pedestrian left Interstate 95 northbound closed for more than three hours Wednesday morning.
  • The wreck caused all lanes of traffic to be forced off I-95 onto the one lane Airport Road ramp.
  • Delaware State Police say that a 20-year-old driver struck and killed a 37-year-old man who was standing on I-95.

Drivers were urged to avoid Interstate 95 northbound in New Castle County, Delaware, during the early part of the Wednesday morning commute as all lanes were closed due to a deadly crash.

The wreck happened just after 4 a.m. in the northbound lanes just south of the DelDOT yard, also known as “Sandbox,” Delaware State Police said. That’s near Route 141 and the Christiana Mall.

Later on Wednesday morning, state police said that a 20-year-old Honda Civic driver struck and killed a 37-year-old man in the northbound lanes of traffic.

“… A 37-year-old male pedestrian from the New Castle area, was within the left shoulder area and began running out into the southbound lanes of travel in an easterly direction,” police said in a news release. “The pedestrian then slowed to a walk and then stood within the left center lane of travel before being struck by the Honda Civic.”

The man — who isn’t being named pending family notification — died at the scene. He was wearing dark clothing and had no light on him at the time of the crash, police said.

The Civic driver managed to stop on the side of the highway. The driver and his 19-year-old passenger were treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released, police said.

The road remained closed for more than three hours, with all traffic being forced off onto one exit lane at Airport Road. Route 13 was among the alternate routes.

DelDOT and Delaware State Police said the road was finally reopened around 7:35 a.m.

Police asked that anyone who may have witnessed the deadly wreck to call Master Cpl. J. Breen at 302-365-8486 or contacting Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or online.

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Suit Claims Trucker in Turnpike Crash Wore Noise-Canceling Headphones

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Victims of a crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that killed five people and hurt nearly all the dozens of passengers on a bus nearly two years ago claim in a lawsuit that one of the drivers was wearing noise-canceling headphones.

The wrongful death and negligence lawsuit filed last week in Philadelphia claims FedEx driver Brandon Stowers’ use of the headphones prevented him from hearing warnings that he was about to crash into the scene of the bus wreck near Mount Pleasant. The complaint includes a photo of the driver in the cab wearing headphones.

The FedEx truck plowed into a bus headed from the New York area to Cincinnati around 3:30 a.m. on Jan. 5, 2020. The lawsuit says one of the plaintiffs, a child identified by his initials, was decapitated in the crash.

The plaintiffs are 18 victims or their next of kin. The 95-page complaint names as defendants Z&D Tour Inc., the bus operator based in Rockaway, New Jersey; Ohio Coach Inc.; Sioux Trucking Inc. and FedEx Ground Package System Inc.

FedEx issued a statement Tuesday saying safety is its top priority and expressing “our thoughts and condolences” to the people involved.

“The allegations against FedEx Ground and Mr. Stowers are without merit and we intend to defend our position should this matter proceed,” the statement read.

A message seeking comment was left for Sioux Trucking. Z&D Tour attorney Dru Carey declined comment. A call to Ohio Coach’s online number was directed to another number that did not allow messages.

The lawsuit says the victims required a range of medical care for such injuries as a broken neck, traumatic brain injury and multiple broken ribs. It seeks damages and asks FedEx to institute a policy to prevent its drivers from wearing headphones.

The National Transportation Safety Board has said light snow was falling when the driver lost control about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh. Two passengers, the bus driver and two occupants in a truck were killed.

The preliminary NTSB report said the bus veered toward the median, swept back across all travel lanes, hit an embankment, rolled onto its side and stopped in the travel lanes. It was then struck by a FedEx tractor-trailer that was itself hit by a UPS truck. The driver and co-driver of the UPS truck were killed.

At least one other lawsuit has been filed over the crash.

Pa. Senate OKs Bill to Criminalize Fleeing Arrest on Foot

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Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would make it a crime to flee a police officer who is trying to arrest them, and an additional crime if a police dog is hurt in the pursuit.

The bill passed, 36-14, with every Republican and seven of 21 Democrats supporting it. The bill goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The bill was introduced by northeastern Pennsylvania senators to commemorate a Scranton police officer, John Wilding, who died of a head injury in 2015 after jumping a fence and falling in pursuit of three 17-year-olds suspected of stealing a sport utility vehicle and attempting to rob a pedestrian at gunpoint.

The severity of the penalty for knowingly fleeing arrest rises based on the seriousness of the underlying crime. It also rises if someone — including a police officer — is hurt or killed in the pursuit. If someone dies, the penalty is a second-degree felony.

Someone fleeing a summary offense would face an additional summary charge if no one is injured in the pursuit.

Police groups support the legislation and backers said it would protect officers who often follow pursuits into life-threatening situations or suffer horrendous injuries in the process.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania said the bill creates duplicative and unnecessary crimes and criminalizes the “legal and constitutional right to run from law enforcement.”

Such a law would likely be used to charge young Black men and other people of color who may be legally running from a police officer, the ACLU said in a statement.

The sponsor, Luzerne County Sen. John Yudichak called the ACLU’s position radical.

“It comes down to a simple question,” Yudichak, a registered independent who caucuses with Republicans, told colleagues during floor debate. “Do those who protect and serve our community like Officer Wilding have a right to have their lives protected by the law?”

On the police dog provision, Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, said the bill would unjustly force someone to allow themselves to be attacked by the dog — and possibly suffer irreversible and serious injuries — or face jail for fleeing.

That ignores the “brutal history of the use of dogs in attacking people of color and it makes this bill unconscionable,” Street said during floor debate.

Teen Ambushed, Killed Near Home After Shift at McDonald's

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What to Know

  • Philadelphia police are searching for suspects after 16-year-old Ahjaon Jackson was shot and killed as he returned home from work with his twin sister.
  • Police say the twins had finished working at a McDonald’s and had taken a Lyft home when they were approached by at least three men late Tuesday evening. Police say Jackson was shot at least 10 times throughout his body.
  • Chief Inspector Scott Small says it appears Jackson was “clearly the intended target due to the fact that he was struck so many times by gunfire.”

A 16-year-old boy who had just finished a shift at a McDonald’s restaurant was gunned down in front of his twin sister near their Philadelphia home Tuesday night.

The siblings had just gotten out of a Lyft shortly before 11 p.m. on the 200 block of East Fariston Drive – near the Philadelphia/Montgomery County border – when Ahjaon Jackson was ambushed by at least three masked men who fired at least 15 shots, Philadelphia police said.

The boy was shot at least 10 times in his head, torso and bac, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said. Police officers found Jackson on the sidewalk a short distance from his home. He died a short time later at the hospital.

“It appears that he was clearly the intended target,” Small said.

Police found a gun on the sidewalk. It was unclear who that gun belongs to.

Family told police the Jackson twins worked at an Olney McDonald’s about a mile away and finished up their shift at 10 p.m.

The twin sister wasn’t struck by any bullets and was able to run home.

Police didn’t immediately give a motive for the shooting. Other employees at the Tabor Avenue McDonald’s said there weren’t any fights at the restaurant – nothing involving Jackson.

Neighbor Pastor Robert Fuller called Jackson “a nice young man.”

Police hope multiple surveillance cameras in the area help them track down the killers.

As of Tuesday night, there were 453 homicides in Philadelphia, up 13% from the same time last year, which was one of the deadliest on record.

At least 178 children have been shot in the city this year, according City Of Philadelphia Office of the Controller figures, which were last updated Oct. 21.

One of those shootings involving children took place about 1 mile from Tuesday’s deadly shooting. Last week, a 17-year-old boy was shot to death as two other teens played with guns inside a North American Street home, police said.

There are additional resources for people or communities that have endured gun violence in Philadelphia. Further information can be found here.

UPS Looks to Hire 7K Seasonal Workers in Philadelphia Area

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UPS is looking to hire 7,000 workers for seasonal jobs in the Philadelphia region as a supply chain crisis intersects with a high demand for deliveries during the busy holiday season, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.

The jobs are needed across UPS’s five local locations in South Philadelphia, Philadelphia International Airport, West Chester, Horsham and Lawnside, New Jersey.

The seasonal positions included package handlers and personal vehicle delivery drivers, which allows workers to deliver packages using their own cars.

UPS has begun its hiring push, and seasonal workers are with the company until about the second week in January, but many typically stay on longer. About one third of those who join UPS (NYSE: UPS) as seasonal workers transition to full-time roles, said Lucia Peyton, director of human resources.

Read more about UPS’s latest hiring push at PBJ.com.

Get all your business news at the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Man Charged in Upskirting Incident at Willow Grove Park Mall Dressing Room

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A man is now charged with filming a young female shopper as she was trying on clothing in a fitting room at the Willow Grove Park Mall in Montgomery County over the summer.

The victim in the Aug. 29 dressing room incident alerted store employees — police didn’t name the store — and the man fled the area.

Earlier this month, Abington Township police released photos of the masked man wearing all black and the newer model white Volkswagen with a roof rack that he was driving on the day of the incident in hope of tracking down the upskirting suspect.

“Additional security footage showed the same suspect attempting to take upskirt videos of other female mall patrons,” police said.

On Tuesday, police said that they received a tip identifying the suspect “almost immediately” after releasing the photos.

“Additional investigation was conducted and detectives were able to identify the suspect and obtain a warrant for his arrest,” police said in a news release.

Thomas Cugini, 31, of Willow Grove, turned himself in Tuesday to face unlawful contact with a child, criminal use of a communication facility, invasion of privacy and harassment charges.

He was arraigned Tuesday and released on bond. A message was left with the attorney listed on his court document for comment.

Felony Charge Dropped Against Man Who Underpaid 43 Cents For a Mountain Dew

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Pennsylvania prosecutors have dropped a felony theft charge against a man who underpaid for a bottle of Mountain Dew by 43 cents.

Prosecutors in Perry County dropped the theft charge this month against Joseph Sobolewski, 38, and downgraded another charge, the Patriot-News reported Tuesday.

In August, Sobolewski went into an Exxon in Duncannon and saw a sign advertising two 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles for $3, he said. He took one bottle, slapped $2 on the counter for what he thought was a $1.50 soda and walked out, not realizing the discount did not apply to a single bottle.

The bottle really cost $2.29, so including tax, he owed the store 43 cents.

State police found Sobolewski and arrested him on a felony charge. A judge ordered him held on $50,000 cash-only bond. He was in jail for seven days before his public defender successfully argued for his release, the newspaper reported.

Sobolewski had twice in the past 10 years been charged with theft, once for not paying for a tank of gas and another time for stealing a pair of shoes from a store. Under Pennsylvania’s three-strikes law, a third theft charge must be a felony, regardless of the amount or value involved. He faced up to seven years in prison.

District Attorney Andrew Bender did not answer emails or calls from the Patriot-News. Sobolewski did not return messages seeking comment.

Sobolewski told the newspaper it was “great news” that the felony was being dismissed. “I feel I was treated unequally because I had a record.”

The newspaper previously reported that Sobolewski had been charged with theft in Cumberland County earlier in the summer on suspicion of trying to take items from a Hobby Lobby with his wife. For that charge, his bail was set at $2,000, and he is applying for a diversion program there.

Philly to Spend $14M on Equipping Police With Stun Guns After Wallace Shooting

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What to Know

  • Philadelphia will spend $14 million to equip all of its officers with stun guns, train them in their use and require officers to wear them while on duty, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
  • Tuesday was the anniversary of the deadly police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr.
  • The shooting was filmed by a bystander and sparked days of protests over police brutality.

Philadelphia will spend $14 million to equip all of its officers with stun guns, train them on how to use them and require officers to wear them while on duty.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the announcement Tuesday, the anniversary of the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., which was filmed by a bystander and sparked days of protests over police brutality. The 27-year-old Wallace, who was Black, was having a mental health episode.

He was holding a knife when he was shot 14 times by two white police officers who were not equipped with stun guns, police officials said. The announcement Tuesday was made in coordination with Wallace’s family, including his mother, who witnessed his shooting.

“The killing of Mr. Wallace, Jr. was painful and traumatic for many Philadelphians,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “This tragic and unsettling incident, along with last year’s protests, underscored the urgency of many important reforms such as mental health training and crisis response resources.”

After the shooting, police and city officials said that nearly two-thirds of the more than 6,000-member Philadelphia police force were not equipped with or trained to use electroshock weapons, a less lethal use of force.

After the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis just a few months before Wallace’s death, protests erupted across the country calling for changes to address police brutality. Advocates pushed departments to require training officers to exhaust other forms of force before firing guns.

After the Wallace shooting, the victim’s family sued the officers, alleging they used unreasonable force, and the city for failing to equip its officers with the stun guns, as had been recommended after a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Justice. The lawsuit is still pending.

Wallace’s family had called for help several times the day of his shooting, and the final 911 call warned that Wallace was mentally unstable.

As part of reforms in how police and first responders handle mental health crises after the shooting of Wallace, the city began a pilot program that pairs a health care worker with a police officer to respond to 911 calls. The city hopes to expand that program.






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