Mail voter map; How two men escaped from prison; Philly’s I-95 billboards

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How will mail voting affect Philly’s May primary election?

Of over a million registered voters in Philadelphia, nearly 95k requested a mail ballot for this year’s primary, per Pa. Department of State data. 

  • With the mayoral contest potentially hinging on a few thousand votes, counting those mail ballots could be key to knowing who wins.

Where will the mail votes come from? It’s most common in neighborhoods that have high turnout overall, Asha Prihar found, like Northwest Philly and Center City — with a few hot spots in West Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s mail ballots in a secure area at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in 2020. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

An accounting of Philly’s I-95 billboards, where lawyers reign

Philadelphia’s highway billboards, which can rent for around $6k/week, present an ever-changing mix of messages.

  • But one industry dominates, per a Billy Penn survey conducted this spring. Personal injury law firms take up 20% of billboards along I-95’s central Philly stretch.

That follows a national trend, experts tell reporter Ella Lathan, who found the second most popular topic is food, then shopping, then eds and meds. And don’t forget about gambling! Find her full accounting here.

A sampling of the many I-95 billboards advertising personal injury law firms in spring 2023. (Ella Lathan for Billy Penn)

RECAP: What else happened?

$ = paywalled

• Pa. House members have formed a new Black-Jewish caucus, co-chaired by Philly reps Jordan Harris and Jared Solomon. [KYW]

• Two men who escaped from prison in Northeast Philadelphia over the weekend are still at large. Here’s what we know about who they are, how it happened, and the pervasive problems on the inside. [Billy Penn]

• A write-in candidate is trying to disrupt North Philly’s District 5 election, where one name is on the ballot to succeed Darrell Clarke. [Billy Penn]

• Over half of Pa. teens put into the foster care system were there for “behavioral problems,” a new report found, compared to less than a third nationwide. [Casey Foundation/Axios]

• Ala Stanford, of Black Doctors COVID Consortium fame, has stepped down as a regional director for the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. She’ll return to the Philadelphia health equity center she founded. [Tribune$]

• A plan to restore the historic Germantown YWCA is in jeopardy as the developer struggles to meet a looming deadline to get funding. [WHYY’s PlanPhilly]

• The Mütter Museum yanked all the online videos of its medical specimens and oddities as it ponders how to ethically and responsibly present its collection. [WHYY]

Pa. Convention Center and surroundings (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

Weekly brief on gun violence prevention (with PCGVR)

We publish this report each week in partnership with the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting. • “Eight Hard Truths About Violence” is the latest report in the foundation-funded Vision Philadelphia series, produced with Penn’s Crime & Justice Policy Lab. Some of the points: Ignoring the immediate crisis in favor of the long term can backfire; don’t over-attribute violence to youth; and there’s no evidence gun buybacks work. [Scattergood x 2]

• A question on the May primary ballot asks if Philly should create a cabinet-level public safety director. Who’s for it? Who’s against it? [Billy Penn]

• Mural Arts on Friday hosts a community conversation and exhibit in the City Hall courtyard called “Mother’s Love,” honoring 55 families who lost children and loved ones to gun violence. [Mural Arts]

• After a 16 year old was shot and killed in Southwest Philly, his family donated his organs to save five lives. [Inquirer$]

• Medical research has not found any causal link between playing video games and real-life gun violence, per a new analysis out of Stanford, which found gaming might even be part of the solution. [Fortune]

By the numbers in Philadelphia

  • 32: Shooting victims recorded last week, vs. 27 the week prior. [City Controller via @PCGVR]
  • 603: Shooting victims this year so far, down 18% vs. this time last year. [PCGVR]
  • 142: Year-to-date homicides, down 15% vs. last year’s pace; up 40% vs. five years ago [Philly Police]


Kenney is still in DC at the conference on affordable housing.


🎨 The Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art hosts a free opening party for its 122nd Annual Student Exhibition, showcasing work of third- and fourth-year undergrads. (4 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 12)

🚲 The Ride of Silence honors bicyclists killed or injured by motor vehicles. This year’s event is a slow, 8-mile ride around Center City that culminates at the Art Museum steps. Participation is free; RSVP here. (6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 17)

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