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NEWS
October 6, 2014 | By Claudia Vargas, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams, elected in 2011 on promises of openness and accountability, has handed out 38 contracts, some to his political donors, without competitive bidding or other safeguards required by the City Charter. In two years, records show, the Sheriff's Office has signed contracts worth $1.2 million without formal bidding or city Finance and Law Department approval. Payments have come out of proceeds from one of the office's main duties: sheriff's sales. The charter says any contract over $32,000 - a limit adjusted for inflation every five years - must be competitively bid. Contracts under $32,000 must be for one-time services and can't be renewed.
NEWS
October 6, 2014 | By Dylan Purcell, Inquirer Staff Writer
Evan Weinstein believes it's bacon's time. "I feel like it's the age of pork," said Weinstein, one of the founders of the inaugural Pennsylvania Bacon Festival, a sold-out event Saturday at Xfinity Live! in South Philadelphia. The "bacon-themed block party," as America Loves Bacon organizers referred to it, was held in a parking lot packed with bands, food trucks, vendors selling bacon themed T-shirts, bacon jams and bacon desserts, and thousands who paid $25 to get in. "I don't even like bacon," Allison Pezzuto, 27, said between bites of a maple-bacon-glazed funnel cake she was supposed to be sharing with friends.
NEWS
October 5, 2014 | By Stacey Burling, Linda Loyd, and Marie McCullough, Inquirer Staff Writer
Hospital and public health officials are acutely aware of the public dismay at the poor handling of the first case of Ebola diagnosed - too late - in this country. Thomas E. Duncan, 42, arrived in Dallas from Liberia on Sept. 20. He became sick and went to a Dallas hospital on Sept. 25, but was misdiagnosed and sent home. He returned to the hospital by ambulance on Sunday and is now in isolation, in serious condition. About 50 people who came into contact with him after he developed symptoms - which is when the disease is contagious - are being monitored closely, including four family members who are under quarantine for 21 days at a Dallas apartment complex.
NEWS
October 4, 2014 | By Tom Avril, Inquirer Staff Writer
Art students commonly learn to draw by sketching a model who is not wearing clothes. In the dim, after-hours light at the Academy of Natural Sciences, Jason Poole's students are drawing from a model without flesh: a dinosaur skeleton. How can you draw a creature no one has ever seen? The bones are key, providing a framework for artists to envision fully formed prehistoric beasts with muscle and skin. Every Monday night for 10 weeks this fall, the 13 adult students enter a side entrance of the venerable natural history museum, sign in with a security guard, and head off to Dinosaur Hall, where they squat on the floor in the shadows of Tyrannosaurus rex . Poole, 44, of East Oak Lane, is their guide, equal parts art teacher and anatomy instructor.
NEWS
October 4, 2014 | By Vernon Clark and Robert Moran, Inquirer Staff Writers
Two Philadelphia firefighters were charged Thursday with separate crimes - one with kidnapping and sexual assault while impersonating a police officer, and the other with assaulting his pregnant ex-wife and her boyfriend. Lt. Jemal Johnson, 45, an 18-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department, was arrested after a 48-year-old woman alleged that she was forced to perform a sex act on him late Wednesday night. Johnson was driving his Nissan pickup truck at 13th and Ruscomb Streets in the city's Logan section around 10:30 p.m. when he pulled over and began questioning a woman who had just left a friend's home, said Police Lt. John Stanford, a department spokesman.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 4, 2014 | By Inga Saffron, Inquirer Architecture Critic
You may think that Philadelphia is run by the mayor in City Hall. In fact, there are 10 mini-mayors around town who rule their turf with near-absolute power: City Council's district representatives. They alone determine what projects get built, where bike lanes are located, whether residents can nominate their neighborhoods for historic status, and much, much else. Their power comes largely from their ability to veto zoning bills. That may explain why some Council members remain intent on undermining the new zoning code, which was designed to simplify development in Philadelphia by reducing the need for special bills and variances.
NEWS
October 3, 2014 | By Chris Hepp, Inquirer Staff Writer
Mayor Nutter on Wednesday wanted to make a few things clear: He does not condone marijuana use. It is not a particularly wise personal choice. And it remains illegal. With that out of the way, he put pen to paper and signed a new city ordinance that decriminalizes possession and public use of small amounts of the drug. As of Oct. 20, possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana will be considered a civil offense in Philadelphia, punishable by a $25 fine. Public use of the drug also will be a civil offense, with a $100 fine or up to nine hours of community service.
NEWS
October 3, 2014 | By Michael Matza, Inquirer Staff Writer
Born in Liberia and now living in Darby Borough, Tina Dennis eagerly anticipated the marriage of an uncle in her homeland. Dennis, a nursing home assistant, and her sister Precious, who lives in Maryland, were to meet in Atlanta and fly to Monrovia, the capital, this month, arriving a few days early for bridesmaid fittings. "It was to be a big wedding," she said Wednesday. "I'm from a huge family. " But Ebola, the epidemic responsible for more than 3,000 deaths in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone since January, derailed her plans.
NEWS
October 2, 2014 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Philadelphia jury found Ali Marsh guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday for his role in the bloody 2012 home invasion that killed a Strawberry Mansion man, seriously wounded his wife, and traumatized their two young sons. Marsh - who was removed from the courtroom Friday after he testified in his own defense, and accused prosecutors of "railroading" him and the judge of bias - had no visible reaction as the Common Pleas Court jury returned its verdict after about six hours of deliberations since Monday.
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