Last Week Today: Philly Politics & Civics (8/11-8/17) | Philly Views
August 17, 2017

Last Week Today: Philly Politics & Civics (8/11-8/17)

Written by Dan Leer

Last Week Today is a roundup of all things politics and civics that happened in Philadelphia during the previous week. This includes legislation, news from political officials, government initiatives, and internet ephemera.

Weekend – 8.11 – 8.13

Shorter PSSAs

The State Department of Education is shortening the PSSA standardized test 20 to 25 percent, effective next spring. Governor Tom Wolf made the announcement, saying he wants teachers to focus on a “complete education rather than preparing for one exam.” The test will be approximately 93 minutes shorter.

Monday – 8.14

Rizzo Statue Controversy

As the nation watched deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virgina over the removal of a confederate statue this weekend, many began looking at controversial statues in their own cities. In Philly, controversy erupted over the statue of former Mayor Frank Rizzo.

During Rizzo’s time in public service, which started in the late ’40s and ended in 1980, critics say that he pushed policies that hurt African-Americans and other minorities. Multiple Philadelphia City Council members have called for the removal of the statue, and Mayor Jim Kenney says now is the right time to have the conversation. Others say that Rizzo was not a racist, and removing the statue is removing a part of the city’s history, which is dangerous.

Tuesday – 8.15

Cosby Loses Second Lawyer

Another member of Bill Cosby’s defense team has asked to withdraw from the case. Attorney Angela Agrusa follows in the footsteps of Brian McGonagle, who left Cosby’s team two weeks ago. Cosby has less than two months until his retrial, a short amount of time for new lawyers to prepare for the case. Agrusa did not comment on her withdrawal.

Philly Wants the World Cup

Philly formally expressed its desire to host the 2026 World Cup, the most popular sporting event in the world. The event will most likely be in North America, and Philly has thrown its hat into the ring as one of the potential host cities. Last time North America hosted the cup in 1994, only nine cities were involved and Philly was not one of them. More teams will be in the tournament in 2026, and officials say 15 cities should be chosen.

Wednesday – 8.16

Anti-Racism Protests

About 2,000 people marched down Broad Street on Wednesday night, denouncing white supremacists, fascists, Donald Trump and Frank Rizzo while showing solidarity with victims of the deadly Charlottesville protests. The event was called “Philly is Charlottesville” and was designed to bring attention to modern day white supremacy that protesters say exists in our country and institutions, among other things.

Budget Problems Continue

The state has relied on loans from the Treasury to help pay for its unbalanced budget, but the Treasury says it can not continue this practice. State Treasurer Joe Torsella says he is reluctant to loan the state money because its unbalanced budget makes Pennsylvania a risky loan. If the state doesn’t balance the budget, it will be forced to get loans from private banks that will charge much higher interest rates.

Thursday – 8.17

Opioid DUIs

Driving under the influence of opioids is becoming increasingly common, and the amount of crashes due to opioid overdoses is increasing. Officials say users are so addicted they do not even wait to get home to do the drug. NBC10 reports that doing opioids while driving has become so common that first responders often administer the anti-overdose drug Naxolone to any crash-victim that is unconscious.

Next Week

Clear the Shelters

On Sunday, August 19, many animal shelters are waving or deeply discounting adoption fees, in a nationwide effort to find homes for as many animals as possible. Philly shelters participating in the event include Pennsylvania SPCACity Kitties, City of Elderly Love, Morris Animal Refuge, PAWS, and ACCT Philly. If you’ve been thinking about adopting a pet, now is a perfect time.

Solar Eclipse

This Monday, August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse in the United States for the first time since 1979. Get ready for it with our guide to watching the eclipse in Philly.

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