December 28, 2017
‘Tis the season to revisit stories from throughout the year and bring readers up to speed on developments in the meantime.
To that end, I’ve clicked back though the PhillyVoice archives and picked 20 stories (or columns) that I wrote in 2017 to answer one important question: What happened next?
Today, we start chronologically with updates on 10 stories and will follow with 10 more on Friday. Click the link to read the original story.
Enjoy, and hope to see you back for the 2018 roundup!
• • •
On a chilly Thursday in January, Brennon Jones embarked upon a mission to offer free haircuts to homeless people in Center City. What started as a goal of kindness evolved into something that drew national attention to the barber to the tune of television appearances, a short documentary and, ultimately, receiving the gift of a barbershop to call his own in November.
What happened next: Phenomenon Perfection Hair Studio opened its doors on Old York Road on November 12 and Jones has been getting used to being a barbershop owner in the weeks since. “The opening was amazing. There were 100-plus people there from all over the place,” Jones said. “The last few weeks were very good and Makeover Mondays (when the homeless can come for free haircuts) have been a success. There’ve been at least 50 – maybe more – in the past few weeks.”
• • •
Emotions ran high at Delaware Valley Charter High School, located not too far from Albert Einstein Medical Center, when 19 football players declared their college intentions on Senior Signing Day. It was the first-ever event for the school.
What happened next: It wasn’t good. A state board upheld a decision to close DVCHS’s doors after the school year as allegations of financial and academic shortcomings swirled. By September, former students complained of not being able to get their transcripts. In other words, the first-ever event was also a last-ever event.
• • •
They called it “trolling with a purpose,” with the “it” being their desire to build a "rapid response team to combat (Donald) Trump every time he tries to lie to the American people and berate us for factchecking.”
What happened next: While questionable statements continue to come from the Trump White House, things didn’t go as planned for the duo. “We never got the involvement we really expected from our subscribers, so the project is somewhat dormant now,” said Aaron Peskin. “We had expected to build something where others would get involved but unfortunately that never really materialized, so instead we decided to devote our efforts more directly. We haven't given up, but at this point we're considering other ways to make a difference on more of a grassroots level.”
• • •
As the family of young Jayanna Powell still coped with the tragic loss of an 8-year-old girl killed by a hit-and-run driver (who would later receive a mixed verdict in the case), state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams stepped in.
Williams announced at a West Philadelphia press conference that he was proposing legislation that would send hit-and-run notifications out on the state’s Amber Alert system and legally require auto-body shops to tell law-enforcement agencies if a vehicle matching the description has been brought to them for repairs.
What happened next: The bill was introduced on February 15. Ten months later, it remained in “pending” status before the Senate Law & Justice Committee. Expectations that it would be in place before year’s end did not come to fruition.
• • •
Milton Street – a former state politician, perennial city candidate and well-known rabble rouser – took on a side gig: part-time Uber driver. By February, he launched an effort to organize some 12,000 peers against the ride-sharing behemoth because of quirks with its UberPool service.
“I’m asking all drivers to reject UberPool,” he said in announcing that effort to PhillyVoice. “It’s not that I don’t think that Uber is a good service. It is. But exploitation of the work force brought about labor unions. I just don’t like the exploitation.
“At the very least, Uber should make uberPool voluntary, but they won’t. If it’s voluntary, the service will shut down because the drivers just don’t want to do it.”
What happened next: Narrator: It didn't happen. Several attempts to reach Street to discuss it in recent weeks were unsuccessful.
• • •
Jane Winters was walking two dachshunds along Point Breeze Avenue on February 28 when they were attacked by a pit bull that burst through the front door of a hardware store they’d just passed. She said she had little help getting information about immunizations from the dog’s owner or from Philadelphia police. As a result of the attack, she had to undergo painful rabies treatments.
What happened next: Things apparently haven't improved all that much in Point Breeze since the attack. Winters said she heard from a woman in July whose dog got attacked by the same canine. Also, there was an unrelated dog attack more recently in the neighborhood.
She's spoken several times with City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson's office about it, and the legislative director had been in touch with the 17th District police precinct to discuss best practices moving forward in these cases.
"We wanted them to be more aware of what was going on," she said. "He'd spoken with the district's community relations officer but they hadn't had the time to update the officers. So, nothing's happened with that. We just want to know what's being done about this?"
She said the focus is on better understanding, and improving, procedures that are already in place.
"Obviously, they don't work well at all," she said. "In a case like mine, police showed up, there were several witnesses, but then we get reports from the neighborhood that the dog wasn't quarantined at all, wasn't muzzled. There's no course of action to punish (the owner) at all). The dog attacks again and nobody seems to care."
As for the personal fallout, Winters said her six-year-old dachshund "Lil Bit" has returned to the veterinarian several times to deal with scar tissue on his chest. "He'll be going back again soon since there's another lump on his chest," she said. "I just want to make sure everything's OK."
Winters said feeling still hasn't returned to the base of her thumb, where she was bitten.
"There's still pain sometimes," she added.
Money from a GoFundMe campaign went to cover early vet expenses. It didn't cover much.
"I'm still thousands of dollars in debt, and creditors are knocking my door down," she said.
• • •
Three women and three juveniles allegedly attacked Robert Barnes, a 51-year-old homeless man, after a dispute about who would pump gas for customers outside an Olney gas station on April 7, 2015.
Barnes remained comatose until his death on November 25, 2015, and charges were upgraded from assault to murder.
Trial for the adult suspects – Aleathea Gillard, 36; Shareena Joachim, 25; and Kaisha Duggins, 26 – was delayed several times throughout 2016 and 2017.
What happened next: The wait has been painful for the Barnes family and others who’ve checked in via email for updates. The victim’s sister Diane told PhillyVoice that the trial is slated to start on January 31, 2018, and that she’s been told by the District Attorney’s Office that the defense “cannot reschedule it any more." “It’s been emotional," she said, "but it’s a relief to finally have them officially face justice.
• • •
A four-second video posted to Twitter of a Philadelphia police officer apparently swinging his department-issued bicycle at a Make America Great Again March protester sparked an Internal Affairs Division investigation.
What happened next: “The matter was fully investigated,” according to Officer Troy Brown, a department spokesman. “There was no further action taken.”
• • •
Daryle Lamont Jenkins and the One People’s Project have made a name for themselves putting white supremacists on blast via doxing for the past 17 years. In fact, he’s been deemed “the public face of Antifa,” which makes him a hero to many and a villain to some.
Obviously, this year has seen an uptick in the need for their services.
In a March interview with PhillyVoice, Jenkins broke it down like this: “My agenda is fighting what’s wrong. I know I’m winning.” With white supremacists seemingly more empowered than at any point in recent years, the definition of victory has gotten a bit murkier.
What happened next: Following Jenkins on social media is a lesson in watching a man tirelessly continue his mission, sending dispatches regularly from gatherings where white supremacists are present. I asked him for his take on what the year 2017 has done to America. He said it’s energized like-minded Americans in the way he’d always hoped.
“A lot of wake-up calls this year. A lot of things we have taken for granted being threatened many of them a lot of us never thought could be, at least not by other Americans,” he said. “The year starting out as us trying to figure out how to protect them, but after Charlottesville I think people really got on their footing, which is why Election Day happened the way it did, Roy Moore lost, and the #MeToo movement has exploded. I always believed we would, but everyone else needed to.”
• • •
To hear candidates who lost to write-in candidate and Democrat Emilio Vasquez in a special election for the 197th District state-house seat, there were some shady dealings on Election Day. Republican Lucinda Little and Cheri Honkala of the Green Party weren’t having it, so a lawsuit was filed.
“The election appears to have been stolen,” said Honkala. “We would like the election result to be thrown out, and a new election to be held. What is most surprising is that the Democrats did not make much effort to win the election fair and square. I guess they figured that stealing it was less work.”
What happened next: In October, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that four people were charged with intimidating voters, casting fake ballots and falsely certifying results from a polling place at Kensington and Allegheny avenues that had drawn complaints about illegal engineering. Vasquez remains in the seat, but will have to seek re-election in 2018.
In a somewhat unrelated wrinkle, a Change.Org petition launched in October sought signatures for a potential Cheri Honkala for President run in 2020. As of mid-December, it garnered 16 signatures.
Part Two: A look back at 10 more stories – with updates – coming tomorrow.