Philadelphia New Pre-K Program Dependent on Beverage Tax Funds

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The City of Philadelphia’s Revenue Department has announced that they’ve collected about $6.4 million in the month of February from the sugary beverage tax. That amount is up $5 million from the first month that the tax was implemented in January of 2017.

While the beverage tax continues to cause controversy among both distributors and consumers, many may not know that the city’s new pre-K program is dependent on the revenue from that tax alone.

There are currently close to 2,000 kids enrolled in the free program within 88 locations around the city.

Deputy Director of Pre-K Mary Strasser says the program has had a major impact on families whose average income is around $34,000 a year, but don’t always qualify for subsidy childcare.

“Mothers and dads are going back to work because they have this great opportunity to have their kids in a safe, educational environment while they’re at work,” Strasser said.

Out of the nearly 2,000 children enrolled, there are about 20 kids in the classroom at the RW Brown Community Center in North Philadelphia.

Director Tiffany Thorpe says the program has given those children opportunities they’ve never had before.

“The kids are going on trips. The kids are learning things. They’re seeing things that they normally wouldn’t see,” Thorpe said. “(The taxes) are paying for books and materials for these kids, educational toys that they wouldn’t have. Technologies…our classes have iPads. You know, it’s things like that that these kids wouldn’t have access to.”

Thorpe made sure to stress the impact the program has not only had on children, but the community as well.

She says parents now have access to resources within the community center such as GED classes and volunteer work. The center has also been able to hire parents of children that attend the class.

Those are just some of the benefits that Strasser wants to shed light on. The city has hired nearly 250 employees at the pre-k sites, and was also able to raise wages for staff.

“The fact that this is an economic engine in some of our poorest communities and neighborhoods is really a wonderful thing,” Strasser said.

Both Strasser and Thorpe believe the negative perception of the beverage tax has the potential to change.

“I don’t think that people would really be upset if they knew that this money is helping us,” Thorpe said.

The city plans to add 1,000 more seats by September of this year, but that amount hangs in the balance due to the lawsuit from the American Beverage Association. However the city plans to stand firm behind their goal of having 6500 kids enrolled over the next five years.

Richie’s Says So Long to Soda

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The city of Philadelphia is now two months into the beverage tax, a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax on the distribution of sweetened beverages as well as syrups and concentrates used to make sweetened beverages.

The tax influenced a popular Temple business, Richie’s Deli and Pizza, to take sugary beverages off the menu all together.

Richie’s has been in the area for three generations. Richie Juniors acquired the business from his father 17 years ago. Juniors is also a Temple alum, and he says his understanding of student financial struggles played a part in his decision to stop selling soda and other taxed beverages.

“It makes it too hard for everybody. For me to implement it, why should I charge someone $5, $6 for a soda?” Juniors said.

Juniors says the tax on sugary drinks forces him to charge too much for soda in order for him to make a profit. His mother Lilly runs a nearby food truck, Richie’s Lunch Box, and she agreed that complying with the tax was too much of a hassle.

“I support Richie,” Lilly said. She admitted she doesn’t mind selling just water and juice.

“It’s healthier,” she said.

The health risks of sugary beverages were a part of the city’s campaign in support of the tax. Although business owners and beverage distributers oppose the tax, it is making money.

Last week the city announced that it collected $5.7 million in the first month of January. That amount is double what they anticipated.

“That means people are complying with the law. And the world didn’t come to an end. It’s amazing,” Mayor Kenny said.

The revenue collected was still shy of their $7 million monthly goal. The money is supposed to go to city pre-k programs as well as parks and recreation.

Stay connected with Temple Update for more on where the money collected from the beverage tax is going.

The 89th Academy Awards Ends With Historic Mistake

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The 89th Academy Awards was filled with many memorable moments which is to be expected when you pack a room with Hollywood’s most prestige artists. However, Sunday night featured one moment that was particularly unforgettable. Perhaps the most talked about moment came at the very end when the Oscar for Best Picture was given to the wrong movie.

Faye Dunway and Warren Beatty were handed the wrong envelope before presenting the award to “La La Land” instead of the actual winner of the best picture Oscar, “Moonlight.” The mistake was corrected on stage as host of the night Jimmy Kimmel made light of the situation to ease the awkwardness.

“Personally, I blame Steve Harvey for  this,” Kimmel said, referring to the comedian crowning the wrong winner of Ms. Universe 2015.

 

Although “La La Land” did not get the biggest award of the night, there were still may highlights for the film that collected 12 statues including Best Actress awarded to Emma Stone.

The award for Best Actor was given to Casey Affleck for “Manchester by the Sea” which many considered an upset, beating out Denzel Washington for his performance in “Fences.”

But Washington’s co-star Viola Davis won Best Supporting Actress and became the first African-American actor to win an Oscar, Emmy and a Tony.

The rest of the night was filled with digs against President Trump by both Kimmel as well as foreign stars including Iranian director Asghar Farhadi who did not attend the ceremony in protest of Trump’s travel ban to seven predominantly Muslim nations. Farhadi won best foreign film for “The Salesman”  and Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian astronaut, read a statement from Farhadi.

“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” it read. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.”

With the historical Best Picture mishap coming at the end of the night, Kimmel attempted to end the show on a positive note.

“Let’s remember this is just an award show,” Kimmel said.

Here is a full list of the 89th Academy Award winners:

Best Picture: “Moonlight”

Actor: Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”

Actress: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, “Fences”

Animated Feature: “Zootopia”

Cinematography: “La La Land”

Costume Design: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

Direction: Damien Chazelle, “La La Land”

Documentary Feature: “O.J.: Made in America”

Documentary Short: “The White Helmets”

Film Editing: “Hacksaw Ridge”

Foreign Language Film: “The Salesman”

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Suicide Squad”

Score: “La La Land”

Song: “City of Stars” from “La La Land”

Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

Production Design: “La La Land”

Animated Short: “Piper”

Live Action Short: “Sing”

Sound Editing: “Arrival”

Sound Mixing: “Hacksaw Ridge”

Visual Effects: “The Jungle Book”

Adapted Screenplay: “Moonlight”

Original Screenplay: “Manchester by the Sea”

SEPTA Returns More Trains to Market-Frankford Line

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This week’s commute should be a little smoother for riders on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford line as the transit agency continues to return more cars back into service.

Last week SEPTA pulled over 100 cars from the line when mechanics found cracks on the support beams of two subway cars which prompted the inspections of many others for the same problem.

SEPTA offered extra shuttle buses along the Market-Frankford line to help with possible over-crowding and delays, however riders say they often expect these problems from public transportation.

University of the Arts student, Gigi Kaloustian depends on the Market-Frankford line to commute to school and work, and she says adding extra time to her mornings for continuous SEPTA problems can be frustrating.

“I’m already waking up early in the morning to get ready as it is. But, it is kind of… it’s stressful,” Kaloustian said.

Kaloustian’s brother, Temple Student Garen Kaloustian shares the same commute.

“I’m always questioning SEPTA’s reliability,” he said.

These concerns stem from SEPTA making headlines in the past few months when they experienced similar defects on the Regional Rail Line last summer followed by a strike just four months later.

SEPTA General Manager Jeff Knueppel says he acknowledges riders’ frustrations.

“I am aware that the M4 car issue coupled with the discovery of the Silver Liner 5 equalizer beam defect this past summer creates many questions. I want our customers to understand that safety is our highest priority,” Knueppel said during a press conference last Tuesday.

SEPTA has not said when the all the cars on the Market-Frankford line will be back in service but for now they want to ensure the safety of their riders.

Protesters Vow to Keep Their Voices Heard

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Hundreds of protesters marched from Market Street to City Hall Thursday evening in what they called a “March Against Discrimination.”

This demonstration came in response to President Trump’s executive order that included a travel ban, preventing people from seven majority Muslim nations from entering the United States.

The Liberty City LGBT Discrimination Club gathered demonstrators representative of the LGBT community as well as other minority groups including Black Lives Matter PA Chapter and the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women

“We are taking to the streets to march in opposition to Trump’s dark and twisted view of America exemplified by his latest series of discriminatory policies and statements coming from his administration,” organizers explained in a social media post promoting the event.

During the march chants rang out like “I deserve safety now,” and “No Trump. No KKK. No Factious USA.”

Demonstrator Dorothy Morrison says she attends as many protests she can in hopes to get results in Washington.

“The more we push, the more things are going to get pulled back.” Morrison said. “We have to just keep pushing and fighting and making this happen, because it’s not going to happen unless we’re out here doing it.”

 

 

Temple’s Latino Student Association Holds Empanada Sale for Haiti

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La Asociacion de Estudiantes Latinos (AdEL) or the Latino Student Association at Temple University held an empanada sale and donated the proceeds to Haiti relief efforts after the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew. AdEL set up shop in the lobby of The View residence hall between the hours of 9 PM and midnight, and sold close to 80 empanadas to hungry students as they passed by.

President of AdEL, Karla Duran, said it was her idea to sell the empanadas later in the evening as appose to during the day because she knew students would be hungry while studying for midterms.

“We thought that around this time, people tend to get really hungry. And it’s midterms, so, like, anything to take a break. And we just thought people coming in and out of The View will just be like ‘Oh my God, empanadas!’ You don’t see this every day, so we thought it was a great opportunity and we just took it,” she said.

The org sold out of empanadas within the first hour.

AdEL reached out to Unicef, a non-profit humanitarian organization, to connect them to Haiti victims of Hurricane Matthew. Duran said after the hurricane, she didn’t see a lot of organizations around campus doing much to help out. She said as a minority organization, she felt it was important for them to get involved.

“Even if we’re not Haitian, we should help. It doesn’t affect just Haiti, it affects everybody,” Duran said.

AdEL’s Community Service Director, Jesus Alvarado, is a resident at The View and helped to connect their org with the building manager to book the space for the sale. Alvarado believes even though the hurricane hit Haiti in late September, the efforts to help out should never end.

“Anybody who can help should help. This was one of the worst hurricane’s that could have ever happened and it went directly on top of Haiti. Just the amount of support that they need, it’s not going to end anytime soon.”

Duran and Alvarado both say they plan on doing another empanada sale in the future, as well as collaborating with Temple’s Haitian Student Organization to collect clothing and toiletries as well.

Temple’s PRSSA Holds Candy Drive for “Safe Halloween” Children’s Party

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The Temple University Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) held a candy drive to collect candy to donate families of the 22nd District of Philadelphia for their “Safe Halloween” party for children.

PRSSA’s Director of Community Service, Erin Quiles, connected with a representative from the Northeast Treatment Center to inquire about new service opportunities. She says when her friend told her about the candy-drive, it was a no-brainer to want to help out.

“He said, ‘Oh my gosh, I have this Halloween event. You’re PR people. Let’s get some candy,” Quiles said.

On Halloween, the Northeast Treatment Center will be collaborating with volunteers and families from the area to host a “Safe Halloween” party for children. The event will be held at the MLK Recreation Center, and kids will have the opportunity to dress up, trick-or treat and participate in a costume contest as well as view the film “Hotel Transylvania 2.”

Quiles, with the help of PRSSA’s Director of Fundraising, Marissa Piffer, promoted the drive through word of mouth and social media, and encouraged members to donate as well.

Quiles says for her, it was important to contribute towards a safe Halloween for kids.

“In recent years, kids don’t have a safe place to go, and that’s just so sad,” she said. “I loved the thought of me growing up and just going to all these random peoples’ houses. And the fact that people can’t do that anymore is like really upsetting.”

So far, PRSSA has collected about 20 bags of candy, but Quiles says she is open to accepting donations up until Halloween day.

For more information on how to donate, contact PRSSA or follow their twitter account @TemplePRSSA.

 

Candidates Battle for PA Voters

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As election day quickly approaches, now just 12 days away, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have made serious efforts to win over the battleground state of Pennsylvania. Trump and Clinton made back-to-back stops in our area recently, and our crews were there to capture their campaigns.

 

Two very different scenes erupted as both presidential candidates made their continuous push for Pennsylvania over the weekend.

Republican nominee Donald Trump made a stop in Newtown at the Newtown athletic center Friday night while Hillary Clinton rallied at University of Pennsylvania the following day, joined by running mate Tim Kaine.

Both candidates told supporters how important it was to get out and vote as they went through their quite diferent policy plans

“We will save the 2nd amendment,” said Trump.

“We have to take on the gun lobby and have commonsense gun safety,” countered Hillary.

And as usual the candidates did not shy away from taking jabs at each other, with Trump claiming Clinton is unfit for the presidency, while

Clinton also endorsed Pennsylvania Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty while criticizing her opponent Pat Toomey for not standing up to Trump.

“He heard him engage in saying terrible things about women.”

But female Trump supporters told us his comments about women did not affect their decision to vote for him.

 

“That was 11 years ago and I think that was a differet situation and he’s a different man now,” said Liz Youse.

According to Ballotpedia’s latest poll, Clinton is leading Trump by 6.8 points in Pennsylvania.

 

Trump Excites Crowd at Newtown Rally

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Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump had no problem getting crowd reactions, and hyping up the energy of the thousands of supporters that gathered in Newtown, PA to hear him speak Friday night. The nominee made a stop in Bucks County in efforts to win over Pennsylvania voters with the election just a little over two weeks away.

Supporters of all ages, young females and teenage boys alike, came together in several chants including ones like “USA! and “Bimg_3717-3uild the wall!” as they awaited the nominee’s arrival. Potential voters waited in line for hours outside of the Newtown Athletic Complex with signs and shirts that bore Trump’s face, and hats that read his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

Trump was introduced by many local republicans that both hold and are running for office as well as the owner of the NAC, Jim Worthington. Sources say about 20 or more people proceeded to cancel their memberships to the athletic complex after hearing of Trump’s scheduled appearance.

Trumped arrived a little after 7 p.m. as the crowd roared and continued their previous “USA!” chants. The candidate spoke of familiar topics such as tax reform, repealing Obamacare, fighting Isis and immigration policies including building the wall between the US and Mexico.

“Don’t worry about the wall. We’re going to have the wall,” he said. “They may not know it yet, but they’re paying for it,” in reference to Mexico.

Trump also took several jabs at his opponent, Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton, calling her “the most corrupt person to ever run for the presidency of the United States.” The crowd reacted with chants shouting “Lock her up!”

The Republican Candidate also continued his accusations that the media has been rigging the election. He told the crowd to turn around to the media post set up behind them saying, “Look at them. They’re the most dishonest people.” The crowd cheered and began shouting “CNN sucks!”

Although the energy was high, the crowd dispersed peacefully after Trump wrapped his speech and prepared to head to Gettysburg, PA for a speech the following day.

Hillary Clinton Promotes Families at Haverford Town Hall

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Democratic Presidential Nominee, Hillary Clinton, hosted a “Family Town Hall” Tuesday afternoon, to discuss her plans to create a better economy for families and children alike. In the candidate’s “Push for Pennsylvania,” Secretary Clinton was greeted by hundreds of supporters at the Haverford Community Recreation & Environmental Center.

Actress and UPenn Alumna, Elizabeth Banks, moderated the event, and the nominee also brought along her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, to validate her theme of family first.

Secretary Clinton began by telling the crowd about her focus to support families and work toward a better future for children.

“What I’ve been trying to do in this campaign is really a continuation of what I’ve tried to do throughout my entire life, and that is to do everything possible to put kids and families front and center.”

The Democratic Nominee continued by touching on issues such as minimum wage, paid sick leave for new mothers, affordable child care and equal pay.

“It should not be so hard to be a young parent,” she said.

Chelsea Clinton also spoke about how important this election was for children everywhere, including her own.

“This election is so intensely personal to me because it’s about my children, their generation, the kids they’re going to be in school with.”

Actress Elizabeth banks then opened the floor to questions from the crowd. Adults and children alike asked the candidate about a range of issues from gun reform, to police brutality as well as local government.

Afterward, Clinton supporters told us they felt more confident than ever in who they were voting for in November.

The Clintons left Haverford and headed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to continue to campaign in the state so crucial to this election.