April 5: Soda tax back in court | DRPA inspector general vacancy | Pittsburgh’s lead water wars

Mayor Jim Kenney’s key policy, the sweetened beverage tax, goes back to court today against the American Beverage Association’s claims that the levy is unconstitutional. NewsWorks’ Bobby Allyn covers both sides of the debate over legality of the tax and the appeal underway. For further context, NPR News’ Allison Aubrey interviews Larry Ceisler, a spokesperson for the Ax the Bev Tax coalition, the founder and CEO of Pee Wee Prep who advocates for the benefits of the tax, and a Philadelphian with no political ties whose every beverage consumption has been affected.

The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA), a bi-state authority responsible for PATCO and the Ben Franklin, Walt Whitman, Betsy Ross, and Commodore Barry bridges, keeps losing its inspectors general, according to the Inquirer. Both inspectors general have “resigned with the same complaint: The DRPA board made it impossible to accomplish anything.” Jason Laughlin looks into the open job position, ongoing audit, and DRPA board of commissioners itself.

In Pittsburgh, 27,000 households who get Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) sewage service aren’t not eligible to participate in the Authority’s planned free water filter distribution program or its free lead service line replacement program, if they get their water from Penn American, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. While many homes have lead service lines, “lead contamination can enter the water supply if work on adjacent mains or service lines inadvertently removes protective coatings on the inside of lead lines running into residences.” Penn American recently made the repairs to the main and connecting lines, but attest that the water supplier has consistently met federal water standards and its customers are “not affected by the lead issues by the lead issues currently affecting customers of the PWSA.”

Is it actually possible for Mayor Kenney and City Council to realize the mayor’s proposed plan to get the pension fund 80-percent funded in 13 years? The Philadelphia Citizen’s Larry Platt examines how the pension crisis that has afflicted municipalities across the country and how other “states and cities routinely pick a very optimistic assumption.” To put Philadelphia’s $149 million pension fund loss into context, PlanPhilly’s Jim Saksa breaks down how the city’s pension funds work and how Philadelphia got itself into this state

The 20 year-old Beasley Building Mural at 1125 Walnut Street, well known for its blend of public art and local architectural references, is currently undergoing restoration. Hidden City’s Karen Chernick interviews meta muralist Michael Webb on his work and how he adapted the mural to its architectural home.

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