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December 29, 2017

Part Two: A look back at 20 stories from 2017 – with updates

From Philly weed to Joe Frazier honors to a Tigger mailbox: What happened next?

Updates News Coverage
DaddyOFive youtube video DaddyOFive/YouTube

A viral video, posted on April 12, 2017, depicted parents from Maryland playing a prank on their children. It drew quite a bit of criticism from those who viewed it on YouTube.

‘Tis the season to revisit stories from throughout the year and bring readers up to speed on developments in the meantime.

Part One: A look back at 20 stories from 2017 -- with updates

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?

You've hopefully already seen the first 10 updates, so here are the last 10!

•  •  •

WATCH: Horrible parents prank kids to tears, blame 'haters' for mean comments

Original story, April 17

Mike “DaddyOFive” Martin and family’s penchant for using profanity and classic bullying techniques to reduce a young child to tears for the sake of viral videos drew national backlash in April.

That harsh reaction led YouTube, and DaddyOFive himself, to remove some of the videos from public access. Despite an early “false allegations are killing my family” approach, DaddyOFive and MommyOFive later posted an apologetic video.

What happened next: Heather and Michael Martin pleaded guilty in September to two counts of child neglect and were sentenced to five years of probation. It wasn’t an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgement that there was ample evidence for a conviction.

•  •  •

Jessica Kourkounis/for PhillyVoice

A 12-foot bronze statue honoring Philadelphia boxing legend Joe Frazier being unveiled outside the Xfinity Live! complex on September 12, 2015. The artist Stephen Layne recreated Frazier in mid-punch, depicting the moment after Frazier landed the punch that knocked down Muhammad Ali in the fifteenth round of their fight on March 8, 1971, at Madison Square Garden. In 2018, Philadelphia may see a street named after the late boxer.

Joe Frazier's daughter seeks community support to rename street in his honor

Original story, July 26

Nearly seven years after “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier lost his battle with liver cancer, one of his daughters launched an effort this month to get a North Philadelphia street named in his honor.

In July, Weatta Frazier Collins reached out to the community near Frazier’s old gym on North Broad Street (now a furniture store) seeking support, along with posting an online petition. As of mid-December, 9,200 people signed it.

What happened next: Frazier Collins shared some great news when we spoke recently: You should plan on hearing a major announcement in the near future.

“It’s coming along really nicely. I have a meeting at City Hall this week,” she said on December 16. “There should be an announcement early next year since enough people signed the petitions, City Council is OK with it and we’ve gotten support from the community.”

She noted that City Council President Darrell Clarke has been her go-to person.

“At that meeting in the summer, people were saying it should’ve been done before he met his demise,” she shared. “But my father was a pretty modest guy. With all the accolades and awards, he would’ve said he was just doing his job and everybody else who just does their job should be getting one as well.”

While the logistics haven’t been finalized, Frazier Collins is hoping the stretch of Glenwood Avenue from Lehigh to Germantown Ave. could be renamed in honor of her father, who’s legendary gym once sat near that span.

“I know there are a lot of things going on in the City of Philadelphia, people complaining about not having the money to do things, the soda tax, schools being closed down, need to revamp the recreation centers,” she acknowledged. “But, it would be nice if we just moved forward with this. I think it’s a no-brainer.”

And a relatively inexpensive one at that.

Also pertaining to money, Frazier Collins noted that her work with “The Legacy Exists,” a Joe Frazier-inspired scholarship fund, continues. It’s given out some $15,000 in scholarships to teenagers over the past two years.

She wanted to let Philadelphia youths know that applications are now being accepted for the third batch now through February 1, 2018 via The Legacy Exists website. Its third-annual fundraising gala is slated for March 10, 2018 at Penns Landing Caterers (1301 S. Christopher Columbus Boulevard.)

•  •  •

N.A. Poe ponders a life beyond being Philly's marijuana decriminalization hype man

Original story, August 8

Arrested after a high-profile raid at a marijuana-party raid in Philadelphia’s Frankford neighborhood, weed activist N.A. Poe – aka Richard Tamacchio Jr. – had some time to contemplate life itself as he awaits trial.

One realization, which he shared with PhillyVoice this summer: “Do I wish that there was a young N.A. Poe who rose up to be able to carry the movement? Sure. But there’s a lot of reasons people don’t want to do that. A lot of times when you stand up like that, you end up in handcuffs. I don’t necessarily think a lot of people are willing to fight for anything to that point.”

What happened next: At an October preliminary hearing for himself and his girlfriend Rachael Friedman were not only held for trial, but prosecutors successfully added an additional “risking catastrophe” felony charge to each’s laundry list. Their next court hearing is set for January 10, 2018. A trial has not yet been scheduled. We asked Poe for his biggest takeaway from his year that was.

“The war on drugs and personal freedom is still alive and well in America today,” he said. “Also, the food in jail makes school lunches seem like a trip to the Capital Grille.”

•  •  •

Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

Laura Chrzanowski, mother of Laura Brooks, and sister Erin hold Laura's hand as she remains in a medically-induced coma at Temple University Hospital's surgical intensive care unit on Thursday, October 5, 2017, nine days after she was struck by a car in Bridesburg. “You gotta wake up for me,” her mother whispered in her ear.

As daughter lay comatose, family raises questions about police investigation 

Original story, October 9

Laura Brooks was struck by a vehicle as she crossed Richmond Street near her Bridesburg home on September 26. Having suffered substantial injuries – including to her brain – she was nearly killed. The driver remained at the scene.

Her family complained that the driver was not charged in connection with the case and filed a report with the police Internal Affairs Bureau claiming an officer pushed, threatened to use a Taser and arrest them if they didn’t stop asking the driver what had happened. They also claimed the driver was related to an officer who responded to the scene.

What happened next: Laura has made considerable strides at Temple University Hospital in recent weeks, according to her mother, Laura Chrzanowski.

“Laur looks great. She recently had a shunt placed in her brain and is responding to commands,” she said, noting that they hope to move her soon to Moss Rehabilitation Hospital.

As for the investigation, she said police told her of a report that her daughter “ran out between two cars and was wearing headphones.”

“Complete lies. There were no cars on that side of the street, no headphones were recovered at the scene and Laura’s eardrums aren’t ruptured,” she said. “Basically, they’re still trying to avoid everything.”

When she called the IAB investigator, she said he told her he couldn’t yet discuss the case.

•  •  •

How a $51 parking ticket could lead to 'millions and millions of dollars' of PPA refunds 

Original story, October 17

Local attorney Michael Coard spent some of 2017 waging war against the Philadelphia Parking Authority. The battle started when he was issued a $51 parking ticket in Wynnefield Heights. 

His argument boils down to whether you’re illegally parked in a bus zone if your car isn’t in an area painted off as such. He also thinks that, should he win, many people who’ve received tickets for similar infractions would be eligible for a refund.

What happened next: Coard argued his case before a trio of Commonwealth Court judges in November. Though a decision was expected by early December, that didn’t come to pass – at least by December 18. “Nothing yet via postal mail or email from the court,” Coard said that day.

•  •  •

Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

The 'Tigger mailbox' at the heart of a three-year legal battle still stands in front of the Webers' home in Langhorne, Bucks County.

They gave their daughter a cute mailbox – and ended up in a 3-year legal battle 

Original story, October 31

The battle between a Bucks County family and their homeowners association had raged on for three years. At issue: Whether the family could keep a mailbox featuring the Winnie the Pooh character “Tigger” despite complaints that it violated neighborhood guidelines since the family had not applied for the “change or addition” made to their lot.

The case was argued before a Commonwealth Court panel in November.

What happened next: Commonwealth Court ruled against the family and ordered that the mailbox should be removed.

The memorandum opinion, written by Judge Robert Simpson, starts: "In this over-litigated case..." and ends, in part, "This litigation would have benefited from more adult attention early on."

The family is awaiting word from their attorney whether speaking to PhillyVoice about the whole rigmarole would violate a potential confidentiality agreement.

•  •  •

Rizzo statue to be moved to a new location 

Original story, November 3

The statue of former mayor and police commissioner Frank Rizzo became a controversial touchtone in Philadelphia at a time when Confederate monuments were being toppled in the South. Some rallied to the statue’s defense, decrying “snowflakes” who they thought were trying to rewrite history. Those who wanted it removed or moved said the 9-foot bronze statue outside the city’s Municipal Services Building was a stark reminder of troubling times.

In early November, city officials announced that it would be moved and have since identified several possible locations. An announcement wouldn’t be made until we “do our due diligence on these locations,” said Chief Cultural Officer Kelly Lee.

What happened next: You still got some time to prepare yourself for the controversy’s re-ignition. When they announced the statue would be moved – per Lauren Hill, mayoral spokeswoman – an estimated six-month time frame for feasibility studies and the like were put in place. In other words, expect an announcement on or around May 3.

•  •  •

Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

On October 24, 2017, Charlie was left for dead in a pile of trash in Southwest Philadelphia. Three weeks later, he's shown great signs of recovery.

Dog left for dead outside Philly rec center making strides

Original story, November 15

In late October, passersby found a two-year-old pit-bull mix left for dead in a trash pile near the Cobbs Creek Recreation Center. The neighborhood rallied behind the pup that they named Charlie, who was taken to the Philadelphia Animal Hospital for months of treatment. He made great strides after veterinarians thought he might not survive his injuries.

What happened next: Earlier this month, City of Elderly Love – a non-profit which stepped up to help after the horrifying discovery – posted a photo of Charlie with the hashtag #justiceforcharlie on Facebook. “To the world you may be one person,” it read, “but to one person you may be the world.”

In it, Charlie looked to have continued the progress evident when PhillyVoice visited him a couple weeks earlier.

Nikki Rubino, who was among the rescuers who got Charlie to the animal hospital in time to save his life, hasn’t seen the pup in a while since she’s tending to a pair of strays at her home. That’s about to change though.

“I’m planning on going over this week or next to bring him some Christmas gifts,” she said.

No charges have been filed in connection with the case as of December 18, according to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

•  •  •

Stolen-bike purchase outside liquor store sparks quest to find rightful owner 

Original story, November 28

In late November, a man approached Derek Moorer outside a Center City wine-and-spirits shop looking to unload a potentially stolen bike on the cheap. Moorer bought it for $10 and he and his girlfriend Rose Robinson set out to return it to its rightful owner via an online campaign.

What happened next: Nobody ever claimed the bicycle despite the online effort, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a happy ending to this tale.

“A woman named Karen had contacted me thinking that the bike might be her son’s but when we matched the serial numbers it wasn’t his,” Robinson said. “We waited a week and a half after posting all over social media about looking for the owner but still had no luck.”

That’s when she got in touch with Karen again via Facebook and asked if she was still interested in getting the bike since her son’s had recently been stolen.

“Some kids from his neighborhood were all taking turns riding his bike down the block and one kid just rode away with it and never came back,” she said. “Since no one claimed the bike we thought why not give it to Karen’s son and he could get good use out of it.

“She was more than happy to be able to give it to her son because she said they couldn’t afford a new one at this time. We set up a time and she came and picked up the bike. When she came to pick up the bike she brought me a little gift bag as a thank you which was incredibly nice of her. She was very happy to have this bike for her son and we were happy to give it to her.”

•  •  •

No, Cindy Bass won't have 'blood on her hands' if bulletproof-glass bill passes 

Original story, December 11

Eighth District City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, after what she deemed years of research, set out to remedy the plague of “stop and go” shops enabling addictive behavior in some Philadelphia neighborhoods. The effort drew a lot of blowback and – from her perspective – intentionally misleading information as the measure wound its way to a full Council vote.

Sifting through all the rhetoric, the new law would give L&I three years to spark a conversation among impacted parties to decide how to handle the Plexiglass issue, whether that be remove it, keep it or something in between.

What happened next: After a heated, hours-long Council session – its last of 2017 – the bill that could see bulletproof glass removed from some establishments within the next three years passed via a 14-3 vote.

Mayor Jim Kenney, who has already publicly endorsed the measure, is expected to sign the bill into law when Council returns recess on January 25.