In case you missed it: This week’s best reads about Pennsylvania cities

    Snow and sleet did not deter two members of the Huerta family, visiting from Houston, from running up the Rocky steps during the winter storm in Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (Jonathan Wilson for Newsworks)

    Snow and sleet did not deter two members of the Huerta family, visiting from Houston, from running up the Rocky steps during the winter storm in Philadelphia on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (Jonathan Wilson for Newsworks)

    President Donald Trump’s blueprint budget, funding for public transit, and the storm that wasn’t: Catch up on stories you may have missed this week. 

    It didn’t take long for federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland to block President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban. In their explanation, it was apparent the president’s words on the campaign trail, calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” had come back to haunt him.

    Under the revised order, Trump narrowed the 90-day ban on entry from six countries — Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Libya — to only include those who do not possess valid visas or U.S. green cards. But that wasn’t enough to pass muster with the judges, who continue to believe the ban discriminates on the basis of religion.

    In Philadelphia, the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia has opened a legal defense center to help quell the fears of Mexican immigrants who believe the Trump administration’s aggressive deportation regulations will impact their futures. The center will provide pro bono attorneys to help immigrants do things like establish power of attorneys, and determine next steps on the path to citizenship.

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    The American Society of Civil Engineers graded the nation’s transportation systems and it wasn’t good. It earned a D-, the lowest grade of any form of infrastructure in the country.

    Pennsylvania is no exception, especially in public transit. President Trump has promised a $1 trillion dollar investment in infrastructure improvements, though he hasn’t specified how much would go towards public transit. Trump’s budget director said the White House will uphold Trump’s pledge in new infrastructure spending through an unspecified “infrastructure package” to be released later.

    But the cuts described in his budget outline Thursday drew harsh criticism from some lawmakers and infrastructure advocates, who accused Trump of hypocrisy. Some congressional Republicans have already called it “dead on arrival.” Still, it’s worth seeing how the president’s budget blueprint would impact Pennsylvania.

    Was the storm a dud?

    On Tuesday, the entire commonwealth braced for a Nor’easter that was expected to dump a foot or more of snow on the entire region. But instead, may cities experienced lesser amounts, or got ice, slush and sleet, not snow.

    “We wanted light, fluffy, and volume,” South Philadelphian Rob Watson said. “Instead, we got a storm that feels like my cake fell in the oven.”

    It all begged the question: Was the winter storm the storm that wasn’t?

    In Philadelphia, the civil forfeiture debate rages on: About two years ago, the Philadelphia district attorney’s office was sued over its civil forfeiture program that allows local authorities to seize homes, cars and other assets from anyone suspected of being tied to the drug trade.

    Roughly one-third of these residents have never been convicted of a crimes, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. And in Montgomery County, half the people facing civil forfeiture are African American.

    While officials have taken a number of steps to remedy some of the legal issues highlighted by the suit, the Washington-based Institute for Justice lawyers who brought the litigation were back in federal court on Wednesday raising another question: Should judges and other officials with Philadelphia’s court system be named as defendants as the lawsuit moves toward trial?

    Are you data-driven? The Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center’s got you. It’s the repository for more than 150 data sets from Pittsburgh and Allegheny County government. Yet, the WPRDC’s project director sees data as tools, not answers.

    Why are all the black kids going to the same charter school?

    A new study co-authored by Penn State professors reaches an unexpected conclusion: When Pennsylvania students move from traditional public schools to charters, black students, pick charters that are more heavily African-American than their former public schools. The same goes for Latino students.

    Speaking of education, do you think you’re an expert on Pennsylvania education? Then you should ace this quiz — or maybe not. It’s made a few of us feel that we’re not as smart as a fifth-grader.


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