In case you missed it: This week’s best reads from Pa. cities

    A mail carrier passes a closed bakery Thursday

    A mail carrier passes a closed bakery Thursday

    Would it be asking too much to go a solid week without any bad news emerging from the Trump administration?

    Would it be asking too much to go a solid week without any bad news emerging from the Trump administration? We’re less than a month in and have already experienced the kind of troubling news that not only adversely affects the nation, but the world.

    On Monday, Michael T. Flynn resigned as President Trump’s national security adviser after admitting he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his phone calls with a Russian diplomat. 

    The next day, it was revealed, through phone records and intercepted calls, that members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election.

    And on Wednesday, Trump lashed out at the nation’s intelligence agencies, saying that Flynn, was brought down by illegal leaks to the news media.

    The investigation continues. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, stay tuned.

    Boscov’s vision and passion

    In Pennsylvania this week, the commonwealth mourned the death of Albert Boscov, 87, who led the largest family-owned chain of department stores in the country, Boscov’s, for nearly six decades. He announced that he had late-stage pancreatic cancer on Feb. 1.

    In a statement, Jim Boscov, CEO and Albert’s nephew, said, “He was a man of vision and passion and he had a profound influence on the retail business community and the community at large.“

    Creative uses for Pennsylvania school buildings

    Shifting demographics, diminishing resources, and the costs of maintaining large and aging facilities have all contributed to the steady stream of school closures — even when those buildings had historic backgrounds and architectural importance. But a city landmark, the Gothic-styled West Philadelphia High, has escaped the wrecking ball. It is currently being rehabilitated as a 300-unit apartment building at a cost of $24 million.

    Controversial pipeline approved

    In environmental news, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approved earth-moving and water-crossing permits for Sunoco’s controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline project. The news didn’t sit well with some nearby residents.

    “It’s not just a piece of paper. It’s people’s lives, it’s entire ecosystems, and watersheds and communities and homes and farms,” said one resident who had been protesting the pipeline.

    A Day Without Immigrants

    All the talk about undocumented immigrants posing a threat begged the question: Are immigrants a drain or a benefit to cities? Numerous studies demonstrate that immigrants can be expensive for state and local governments. But over time, immigration provides a net boon to the federal coffers, as well as the nation’s economy. 

    Still, the Trump administration has ramped up its deportation efforts. Pennsylvania wasn’t among the states where large-scale immigration enforcement took place last week, but communities in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have reported raids.  

    On Wednesday morning, the City of Philadelphia, a sanctuary city, provided the number for a hotline created by New Sanctuary Movement, an interfaith immigrant justice organization. New Sanctuary Movement director Peter Pedemonti said there have been six raids in the last two weeks. 

    Scores of businesses in Philadelphia and across the nation closed Thursday to honor the Day Without Immigrants protests, all while the president promised to issue a new executive action related to his travel ban, which bars refugees and travelers from seven majority countries from entering the United States.

    Trump offered no details, only to say the new ban would “comprehensively protect our country,” and would be announced sometime next week.

    You may be wondering about the status of the original ban, which a federal panel of judges halted a few weeks ago? It’s on hold before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until the new executive action is rolled out.

    Meanwhile, in Harrisburg…

    Gov. Wolf announced the consolidation of the investment offices that oversee two of the commonwealth’s biggest funds., the State Employee Retirement System and the Public School Employee Retirement System.

    Although the savings won’t be huge, the proposal would represent a marked shift in how Pennsylvania manages its money.

    And in Washington…

    As the week rolled on, more rumblings reverberated out of Washington. On Wednesday, Trump moved quickly to replace fast-food executive Andrew Puzder, who withdrew his nomination to head the Labor Department as his support on Capitol Hill faltered. Trump chose R. Alexander Acosta, a Florida law school dean and former assistant attorney general for civil rights. Acosta would be the only Hispanic in Mr. Trump’s cabinet.

     

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