July 3: SEPTA’s late buses | Undercover to curb illegal dumping | Cigarette tax passes PA House | DRPA hires crisis communications pro | Chief Data Officer, Tim Wisniewski

Hot. Rain. (Again.) Arthur has been upgraded to a hurricane and will be swinging past us in one form or another. That could mean rain on our parade. For now, your Thursday buzz:

SEPTA’s new buses are late to arrive from the factory. The Inquirer reports that the first of 275 new SEPTA buses were delivered this week, a year behind schedule. “The buses have been delayed by a shortage of workers, improper seat installation, faulty electrical systems, and bus panels that were painted the wrong color,” SEPTA officials said.

In Philly it takes undercover cops to help curb illegal dumping. The Daily News profiles Robert McKoy and Danny Percell of the Police Neighborhood Services Unit, the police equivalent of an anti-blight squad. It is a daily battle against deadbeats, who dump mountains of tires, construction debris, and trash on vacant lots, in “a war they cannot hope to win.”

Late last night legislation to enable Philly to levy a local $2 per pack tax on cigarettes passed the PA House, providing a new source of revenue for Philly’s public school system. NewsWorks explains the political wheeling and dealing and notes that all members of the Philadelphia delegation voted in favor of the measure. The funding is likely to bring in $40 million -$45 million in the first year, but some are concerned that the new surcharge will prompt those who can to buy cigarettes outside of the city. That means this bill could burden urban smokers with limited choice and mobility, and may not be a stable funding stream.

The Delaware River Port Authority’s spokesman Tim Ireland resigned in May and now DRPA has hired a “crisis communications” consultant to do damage control, the Inquirer reports. DRPA continues to receive public scrutiny thanks to a “criminal investigation, commuter woes, and equipment problems.”

Tim Wisniewski has been named the city’s new Chief Data Officer, promoted from his post as Director of Civic Technology to fill Mark Headd’s shoes, Technically Philly reports.

The Buzz is Eyes on the Street’s morning news digest. Have a tip? Send it along.

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