In case you missed it: The week’s good reads about Pennsylvania cities

     At the second annual Keystone Crossroads Urban Ideas Worth Stealing conference in Harrisburg, Guillermo Velazquez (center), chair of the Latino Business Initiative of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, discusses immigrants starting small businesses. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    At the second annual Keystone Crossroads Urban Ideas Worth Stealing conference in Harrisburg, Guillermo Velazquez (center), chair of the Latino Business Initiative of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, discusses immigrants starting small businesses. (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    Conference-goers make off with  plenty of ideas worth stealing. Will Allentown mayor get elected before he gets slapped with corruption charges? Immigrant detainees with no criminal records face a long journey and more.

    More than 100 people gathered at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg Wednesday made off like thieves in the night.

    Their heist?  A bounty of great ideas stolen from the Keystone Crossroads second annual Urban Ideas Worth Stealing Conference. Like-minded people, committed to solving common city problems, heard ideas such as ways in which immigration has transformed American communities; better processes for redistricting in Pennsylvania; how residents can adapt to gentrification, and much more.

    Panelists and audience members discussed Pennsylvania cities’ biggest challenges, and offered their experience addressing them. They also tweeted some of the day’s highlights.

    Is Allentown mayor next on the list?

    Let’s see. There was Buddy Cianci in Providence, Rhode Island. Joe Ganim in Bridgeport, Connecticut. And perhaps the most infamous of all, Marion Barry in Washington, D.C.

    Will Allentown mayor Ed Pawlowski share the dubious distinction of those mayors who were re-elected despite getting slapped with federal corruption charges?

    Pawlowski hasn’t been charged with a crime, but his lawyer said an indictment is imminent in a federal corruption investigation that has gripped Allentown City Hall for the last two years — which happens to coincide with the primary election on May 16. Pawlowski is running for his fourth term.

    Norristown millennials test political waters

    For some millennials, the 2016 presidential election was a catalyst to get more politically- and civically-involved, and in Norristown, more of them are jumping into local politics.

    “When we start to get involved as young people, we can start to see the types of forward movement that we all want to see,” said 22-year-old Rebecca Smith, who’s running for Municipal Council. “If we’re just sitting around hoping for the past, we’re never going to see the change we want.”

    Her friend, 27-year-old Shae Ashe, is running for school board. The primary election is May 16.

    Detained immigrants face long journey ahead

    The 12 people federal immigration agents took into custody at a mushroom farm in southern Chester County April 26th face a long journey ahead. Despite lawyers decrying the detentions as unlawful, the fact that the immigrants had prior contact with Immigration and Customs Enforcement serves as an express ticket out of the country.

    It didn’t matter that, according to lawyers, none of those arrested had a criminal record. 

    Amtrak engineer charged

    In a surprise reversal, a Philadelphia judge ordered city prosecutors to file charges against Brandon Bostian, the engineer who operated Amtrak 188 when the train derailed in May 2015, killing eight and injuring 200 others. 

    The family of one of the victims filed a private citizen complaint against Bostian, charging him with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

    The order reversed an announcement from the Philadelphia district attorney’s office earlier in the week that it would not file charges against Bostian, citing insufficient evidence. 

    Environmental impact news

    Cheap natural gas from Marcellus Shale has created a rush to build power plants, and that’s a problem, according to Moody’s Investors Service. The Moody’s analysis says the plants will swell power supply in the region coordinated by PJM Interconnection, operator of the largest power grid in North America, drive down prices and force the closure of many coal-fired plants over the next four years.

    The report also says that power supply within the 243,417 square mile area covered by PJM will surge by 25 percent by 2021, and lead to  “widespread” closures or conversion to gas at coal-fired plants. 

    Speaking of energy, six residents of Middletown Township, Delaware County, are suing Sunoco Logistics, saying that its planned Mariner East 2 pipelines would violate a township ordinance that requires a pipeline to be at least 75 feet from occupied structures.

    The suit is part of a strategy by citizens’ groups in Middletown to use municipal regulations to force changes in the construction of a pipeline that opponents say is a threat to public safety.

    The suit says that each of the plaintiffs lives less than 75 feet from the route where the two new pipelines would carry highly pressurized ethane, propane and butane.

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