Aldi signed on for the ground floor of the planned apartment complex at Broad and Fairmount

Aldi also has opened or is in the process of opening what it calls “mixed-use development” stores in Chicago, Minneapolis, and the Washington, D.C., area, Bob Grammer, vice president for the Aldi division that covers eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and northern Delaware, said in an email.

Stolen paint truck crashes, drenching suspect

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — Police say man driving a stolen truck carrying a load of white paint crashed into a number of cars and flipped the vehicle, spilling the buckets all over the road and the suspect, covered head-to-toe in paint, fled but returned as police arrived.

Police in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, say the man shoved an officer, and as they tried to handcuff him, he was so slippery that he got out of the cuffs and attempted to flee again. He was caught and secured, but officers were also covered in paint as a result of the struggle.

The truck was reported stolen from Delaware. The 29-year-old driver, Roberto Ramirez of Wilmington, Delaware, was charged Tuesday after being treated at a hospital overnight.

No attorney information is available for Ramirez.

Homeless Samaritan suing couple who raised funds

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) — A homeless man whose selfless act of using his last $20 to fill up the gas tank of a stranded motorist in Philadelphia got him worldwide attention is now suing the couple who led a $400,000 fundraising campaign to help him. 

Johnny Bobbitt says he’s concerned that Mark D’Amico and Katie McClure have mismanaged a large part of the donations raised for him on GoFundMe. The New Jersey couple deny those claims, saying they’re wary of giving Bobbitt large sums because they feared he would buy drugs.

MORE: Woman raises more than $350K for homeless man who helped her

Bobbitt’s lawsuit contends the couple committed fraud by taking money from the fundraising campaign for themselves. His lawyers want a judge to appoint someone to oversee the account.

A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled for Thursday.

South Street is getting 'midblock' crosswalks to make it safer for pedestrians

However, there are no plans to install the traffic-calming measures elsewhere — yet.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

In a city where the mentality is often “cars over everything,” the freshly painted crosswalk stripes on South Street halfway between Ninth and 10th are an unusual but welcome sight.

The markings form a midblock crosswalk — a clunky phrase, but simple enough concept in urban design. They facilitate road-crossing in areas where corner crosswalks just don’t cut it. In this particular case, the thinking went, people have been jaywalking across this stretch near Delhi Street to get to Whole Foods for the nearly two decades of the grocery store’s existence, so why not alert oncoming drivers and guarantee safer passage for pedestrians?

The Streets Department added the midblock crosswalk as part of a recent repaving of the heavily trafficked corridor. Pedestrian safety advocates have already hailed it as a vital addition.

“This type of crosswalk offers a visual cue to motorists of what to expect from road users,” said pedestrian advocacy group Feet First Philly in an email to Billy Penn. “It is only natural for pedestrians to cross here, and this simply raises visibility and makes all road users safer.”

Call it a rare case of government agencies adapting to — rather than trying to transform — human behavior. However, there’s little evidence it’s going to become a trend.

Crystal Jacobs, a spokesperson for the Streets Dept., confirmed another midblock crossing in the works further down South Street, near Hancock.

But beyond that? No plans.

“We determine the need for midblock crossings during field observations,” Jacobs said, “using metrics that measure the number of pedestrians crossing midblock and the distance to the nearest crosswalk.”

The traffic-calming measure is in tune with the initiatives outlined in Mayor Kenney’s Vision Zero Policy, Jacobs noted. Released last year, Kenney’s three-year action plan called for installing two “raised intersections” — elevated crosswalks that sit flush with the curb, encouraging drivers to yield to foot traffic and pass more slowly — which were completed on Broad earlier this year. But the plan doesn’t commit to any midblock crossings. So for now, it’s a take-what-you-can-get sorta thing.

At this point, it’s not even clear how many midblock crossings there are in Philly. And there’s no info on the price tag to install one. On South Street, the cost was rolled into the Streets Department’s federally subsidized repaving program budget.

“We don’t have any data,” said Richard Montanez, deputy commissioner of transportation at Streets. “But we’ve been slowly installing them as we do the resurfacing.”

While the total number likely isn’t very high, university campuses are notable exceptions where midblock crossings abound. In May, a federal grant was awarded for another one on Drexel University’s campus in University City.

Pro tip: If you want a midblock crossing near your office, get your boss — or better yet, building owner — to talk directly to Streets.

That’s what Liberty Property Trust and Brandywine Realty Trust did to get one installed in 2016, effectively connecting the rear entrance of the Comcast Center (co-owned by Liberty) to the Wawa at 3 Logan Square (owned by Brandywine). The two real estate juggernauts offered to pay for whole project, and it was a done deal. (Philadelphians take their Wawa access seriously.)

Neighborhood advocates on the hunt for a midblock crossing? Per Montanez, Streets is all ears.

Said the deputy commissioner: “Put it in a request.

Danya Henninger contributed reporting.

Meek Mill donates 6K backpacks to Philly students

– On Wednesday, Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill and Dream Chasers are donating more than 6,000 backpacks to 12 schools throughout the city’s school district.

The two made the announcement at Mill’s alma mater, James G. Blaine Elementary School, where he is personally handing out backpacks to students.

“Growing up in Philly, I’ve watched families struggle to make ends meet and buy basic school supplies for their kids,” Mill said. “Those memories stay with me and that’s why I’m committed to giving back to families in my hometown, putting smiles on kids’ faces and helping them start the school year on the right note with the right supplies.”

District students at different grade levels will receive new backpacks and school supplies via Mill’s contribution. The backpacks, created through PUMA’s joint venture partner United Legwear, will also be available in three color schemes.


This year's N2N Festival in West Philly is a free Aretha Franklin tribute concert

This year, the 23rd annual N2N Festival is presenting a Tribute to the Queen of Soul, with several headliners throughout the day, beginning at 1 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. The headliners are national recording artists – Kathy Sledge, Jean Carne, Kelly Price, Kindred the Family Soul, Keke Wyatt, and Monica. N2N will also have performances by local artists as well as specials guests such as Wendell Holland, II, Skeet and Patty Jackson. Also, the Festival will also provide free health and wellness resources, food and merchandise vendors, community resource tents for families and senior citizens and a kid’s zone.

Where: 49th to 51st and Baltimore Ave., Willows to Catherine Sts.

When: September 8, 2018 from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

How much: Free

Comcast reports problems in Philadelphia, Jersey

– Some Comcast customers in Philadelphia and South Jersey are reporting issues with their service.

Viewers reached out to FOX 29 Wednesday explaining they are unable to watch broadcast stations, including FOX 29.

The ComcastCares customer service account on Twitter acknowledged XFINITY TV customers “may be having issues.”

In the meantime, viewers can access the FOX 29 live stream online or through the FOX 29 app.

Good Day Philadelphia will also be streamed live on Facebook and Twitter.

Catholic board seeks parishioner-led investigation

A committee created by the Catholic Church specifically to prevent sexual misconduct by clergy on Tuesday issued a damning assessment of the failings to stem the abuse, calling it an “evil” caused by “a loss of moral leadership.”

The National Review Board called for an investigation led by parishioners, saying a new wave of abuse scandals point to a “systematic problem” and that the bishops themselves can’t be trusted to lead an investigation.

Some survivors of clergy sex abuse said the call was a disingenuous attempt by the church to get around a true independent investigation.

The board was formed in 2002 in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal that started in the Boston Archdiocese and rocked the church globally. The committee said it was compelled to seek a lay-led investigation after recent revelations from a grand jury investigation into six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania and allegations that led to the resignation last month of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C.

The grand jury report estimated 300 Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children – and possibly many more – since the 1940s, and accused senior church officials, including McCarrick, of systematically covering up complaints. McCarrick formerly served the church in Pennsylvania.

“Intimidation, fear, and the misuse of authority created an environment that was taken advantage of by clerics, including bishops, causing harm to minors, seminarians, and those most vulnerable,” the board said in its statement. “The culture of silence enabled the abuse to go on virtually unchecked.”

MORE: Pennsylvania priests molested over 1,000 children, per report | Key dates in the Pennsylvania church abuse scandal

Dennis M. Doyle, a professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton in Ohio and a Catholic theologian, said the National Review Board’s call would be a notable shift in the church’s history of a hierarchal authority.

The call for a lay-led investigation, he said, “is an acknowledgement that the people in power can’t be in charge of investigating themselves.”

It also seems to take a page from a three-page letter issued a week ago by Pope Francis, who blamed the church’s top-down culture for allowing the abuse to take place in a shroud of secrecy.

The pope demanded an end to “clericalism” – the culture that places priests on a pedestal. He said lay Catholics must help end that culture, since rank-and-file members of the church are often the ones who most fervently hold up their priests as beyond reproach.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, also this week asked for a meeting with the pope to discuss the crisis.

The review board said the recent revelations make it clear that the crisis cannot be fixed by church hierarchy.

“What needs to happen is a genuine change in the Church’s culture, specifically among the bishops themselves,” it said.

MORE: Priest abuse hotline gets 400-plus calls in wake of report | Catholics consider withholding donations amid child sex abuse scandals

Besides an investigation led by the laity, it recommended creating a whistleblower system independent of the bishops to field allegations anonymously and then report them to the local bishop, law enforcement and the Vatican.

Marci Hamilton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and expert on religion and the law, said the review board’s call doesn’t go far enough to fix the crisis or prevent clergy sex abuse that has roiled the church for decades.

One of the longstanding difficulties in identifying cases has been that victims can sometimes take years before they are willing or able to step forward. In many instances, the statute of limitations prevents law enforcement from prosecuting priests in these long-ago cases.

Hamilton said it’s critical that the statute of limitations be extended.

“It’s time for prosecutors and lawmakers to step up regardless of what happens in the church,” he said.

Tim Lennon, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the move by the review board a weak effort that needs to go much farther. The organization wants a church-wide independent investigation into pedophile priests, such as the one conducted by the Pennsylvania grand jury.

“The church is looking every which way to have a cooperative partner so they can continue their cover-up. SNAP demands that all investigations be independent, separate, with subpoena power and testimony under oath,” Lennon said. “Otherwise it is a sham and whitewash.”

For the full grand jury report, see here.


Philly's mayor doesn't pay his interns

Over the past few years, there’s been a growing push for employers to start paying their interns. Unpaid internships are thought to discriminate based on socioeconomic status, and not provide equal opportunity.

The nationwide “pay your interns” campaign has converted a few prominent public entities: the U.S. Senate recently decided to pay its interns, and before that the Democratic National Committee vowed to do the same.

But the movement hasn’t yet reached Philly city government. At least, it hasn’t reached the office of Mayor Jim Kenney.

Year round, Kenney’s office hosts the Mayor’s Internship Program, where participating students can learn firsthand what it’s like to work in the executive branch of local government. It’s most intense during the nine-week summer session, when the program welcomes about 50 interns, all of whom work on daily tasks and research final projects for city departments.

The current minimum wage in Philadelphia is $7.25/hour. But that’s not applicable here. Working 25 hours per week in the summer — or 10 to 15 in the fall and spring — Kenney’s interns earn exactly zero dollars.

This circumstance is not unique to Philly, noted city spokesperson Mike Dunn. New York City and Baltimore offer only unpaid opportunities, he said, while cities like Chicago, San Diego, Dallas and Phoenix offer a mix of paid and unpaid.

Philadelphia falls into that second category. Not all city interns go without pay.

Some departments that provide user-charged services to the general public, such as PHL Airport and Philadelphia Water, are operated as “enterprise funds” — aka in a manner similar to businesses — and are therefore “usually in better position to dedicate funding” to paid internships, Dunn said.

But the Mayor’s Internship Program is the city’s largest, with the most interns of any department. And pays none of them.

Mayoral interns are instead advised to seek academic credit, and told they can look for independent funding from their university or another agency. That approach works sometimes. This summer, the program hosted 10 people who were paid via grants or stipends from outside entities, Dunn said.

But that means the vast majority of this year’s summer interns — 40 in total — were unpaid for their nine weeks of work.

Jordan Laslett, a senior political science major at Temple, was among the lucky few to find some outside money. He participated in the Mayor’s Internship Program as a paid summer associate, with funding from AmeriCorps.

Without it, Laslett said he wouldn’t have been able to afford to take the internship. In fact, when he first saw the program listed on a careers website, he ignored it.

“I scrolled right by it, because I’m not in the habit of taking unpaid internships,” Laslett told Billy Penn.

Isaac Santiago, also a senior political science major at Temple, interned under Mayor Kenney for free.

He had to take a part-time job at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to make it through the summer.

“I enjoyed my overall experience,” Santiago said. “I was born and raised in Philadelphia, and I loved working for the city.”

“But it’s a little frustrating,” he added. “Your friend is interning at a major law firm, an architectural firm, an engineering firm, and they’re getting paid $16 an hour. That helps them with traveling costs, with food. It was hard.”

Laslett decided to explore the issue further. For his final project in the Mayor’s Office, he created a survey to question his fellow interns on their experience taking an unpaid position. Thirty-five out of 50 interns responded, with the following results:

  • Eight received an independent grant/stipend for their work in the Mayor’s Office. 27 did not.
  • 19 worked another job during their internship with the Mayor’s Office. 16 did not.
  • 29 considered not taking the internship due to its lack of pay. Six did not.
  • 30 had to commute to their internship with the Mayor’s Office. Three did not.

At the end of the summer, Laslett presented the results to his supervisors, pleading with them to track down some money to pay interns — or at least offer a travel stipend. Otherwise, he thinks the whole opportunity is unfair.

“What about the disenfranchised student who can’t afford to take an unpaid internship?” Laslett said. “We’re all in a position of privilege. There’s people out there who are better than us, or just as good as us, who can’t be in the position we’re in.

“Being such a progressive city,”  he said, “they need to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to young people in the workforce.”

After viewing the presentation, would the Mayor’s Office consider paying its interns? Results are unclear — but probably not.

Kenney’s office will continue to “evaluate funding options to provide paid opportunities,” Dunn said, but they also want to maintain the size of the program to welcome as many interns as possible. So basically, the Mayor’s Internship Program can’t track down the cash to pay all 50 of the interns, and they’re unwilling to cut the program in size.

If the program payed interns minimum wage for a 25-hour work week, it would cost the city $1,631.25 per intern. Covering 50 interns for nine weeks would add up to more than $80k.

Laslett hasn’t yet given up hope. He plans to try to schedule meetings with Mayor Kenney, local state representatives and members of City Council to lobby them to fund the program. He’s also the president of the Pennsylvania College Democrats student organization, which he says he’ll use to advocate for paid internships in city government.

“Me, personally, I can’t make anything happen,” Laslett said, “but if I have the support of my organization and some state reps in the city of Philadelphia, people will start to listen.”

Philly schools to dismiss early Weds. due to heat

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia School District plans to dismiss students at 1 p.m. for the second day in a row Wednesday due to expected high temperatures.

The district says all after-school activities including athletic programs and professional development sessions are canceled for those days.

WEATHER ALERTS: Watches, warnings, advisories by county

School employees are expected to work normal schedules and administrative offices will operate on regular business hours.

The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory through Wednesday night for the region, warning of temperatures in the low to mid 90s.

MOREPhiladelphia issues Code Red due to excessive heat Heat Advisory Wednesday; oppressive humidity

Man arrested in fatal stabbing at SEPTA station

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Authorities have made an arrest in the fatal stabbing of a man at a Philadelphia train station.

The Aug. 9 stabbing occurred around 3 a.m. on a SEPTA regional train platform in the city’s downtown area.

Authorities say 28-year-old city resident David Simpson was stabbed multiple times all over his body before the attacker fled the scene. The attack at Jefferson Station was caught on video.

A man charged in the attack was taken into custody Tuesday at a Philadelphia home. But the man’s name and the charges he may be facing have not been disclosed.

Man charged in deadly hit-and-run in Bucks County

– Police have made an arrest following a fatal hit-and-run in Levittown.

The incident occurred back on August 21 when a vehicle fatally struck 70-year-old Emanuel Weintraub while he was walking in the 8800 block of New Falls Road in Levittown.

The man arrested is 41-year-old Anthony M. Woods who is charged with third-degree murder, leaving the scene of an accident involving death or injury and other related injuries.

According to officials the collision was captured on surveillance video and witnessed by multiple people. Police say Weintraub was crossing the two-lane roadway in a crosswalk when a four-door sedan crossed a double-yellow line to pass another car that had stopped at the intersection to let Weintraub get by safely.

Officials say Woods believed he had struck a child instead of an adult, and that he did not stop because he believed he had drugs in his system.

Line forms overnight for 2nd day of Aretha viewing

– Fans will have another chance to say their goodbyes to The Queen of Soul Wednesday in Detroit. A public viewing for Aretha Franklin continues at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. 

Fans began to line up in the middle of the night on Wednesday, too. Fans have been flying in from all around the United States and some even came from other countries as well. 

Ella Norman came from Cincinnati and arrived around 10 p.m. Tuesday. She said they slept in the car and then got in line around 4 a.m. 

“I feel like I’ve known her all my life because I grew up with her music, my mom; my aunts; my sisters. I’m just a big fan,” she told us. 

Yesterday, fans strolled by the casket, some in tears; one woman blew a kiss to Franklin, who was surrounded by massive arrangements of roses of different hues. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer looked as if she was preparing for one more performance. She wore earrings, red lipstick and red nail polish, and her hair was cut short. Her dress — with its ornamental elements and sheer netting fabric — was reminiscent of an outfit she would wear onstage and “something she would have selected for herself,” her niece, Sabrina Owens, told The Associated Press.

The Wright Museum is a cultural landmark in Detroit, where Franklin grew up and spent most of her life.  Museum board member Kelly Major Green said the goal was to create a dignified and respectful environment akin to a church, the place where Franklin got her start.

Green said Franklin’s attire and pose communicated both power and comfort, as she did in life.  The shoes, in particular, show “The Queen of Soul is diva to the end,” Green said.

On Thursday, a public viewing will take place at Aretha Franklin’s hometown church of New Bethel Baptist Church on Linwood, where her father was a former pastor. That viewing is from noon – 4 p.m.

Then, on Friday, family and loved ones will gather for the private funeral at Greater Grace Temple, where Ariana Grande was just added to the list of performers

Grande will be among entertainers Steve Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia, Faith Hill, Shirley Caesar, Chaka Khan and more. Franklin’s rep, Gwendolyn Quinn, says Franklin met Grande when the two performed at the White House in 2014 for then President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as part of the “Women of Soul” concert. Quinn says Franklin enjoyed meeting Grande at the time. Franklin’s family was moved by Grande’s performance of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” after Franklin’s Aug. 16 death.

Besides performers, speakers include former President Bill Clinton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Smokey Robinson.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report

Wolf makes visit to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s governor is heading to Puerto Rico to examine damage from last year’s Hurricane Maria and to develop cultural and business ties.

Gov. Tom Wolf is paying his own airfare and accommodations for the two-day trip that will end Friday morning.

MORE: Hurricane’s death toll in Puerto Rico put at nearly 3,000

Pennsylvania is home to more than 350,000 people who are from Puerto Rico or descendants of Puerto Ricans. The state has hosted people displaced by Maria.

The visit comes as the territory’s governor increased its death toll from the September hurricane from 64 to nearly 3,000, based on an independent study.

Vatican knew of abuse cover-up, Shapiro reiterates

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Pennsylvania’s attorney general is repeating his accusation that the Vatican was complicit in the cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s latest comments about the Vatican came during TV appearances Tuesday.

A state grand jury report released two weeks ago found that hundreds of priests in Pennsylvania had molested more than 1,000 children over the past 70 years. Shapiro said at the time that a church cover-up reached to the Vatican.

MORE: Pennsylvania priests molested over 1,000 children, per report | Key dates in the Pennsylvania church abuse scandal

The report revealed no internal Vatican documents and provided scant detail about the Vatican’s role, beyond describing confidential reports that bishops made to the Vatican about abusive priests.

Pope Francis last year acknowledged the Catholic Church was slow to realize the damage done by abusive priests and said the decades-long practice of moving pedophiles around rather than sanctioning them was to blame.

For the full grand jury report, see here.