Philly stories to watch in 2016

1. Can Kenney and Wolflead?

DemocraticGov. Tom Wolf has been in Harrisburg for about a year after being elected on alargely pro-public education platform. Jim Kenney will take office in City Hall Jan. 4 after a similar campaign with schools at its core. Both are opposed to the expansion of charter schools.

But Wolf had to give up his plan for a 5 percent frackingtax to fund schools as oil prices plummeted, and is six months late on a state budget — in part over disagreements on how to raise education funding.

Meanwhile,Philly schools superintendent Dr. William Hite has warned that the city’s publicschools, which operatein a constant state of near-emergencyunderfunding,can only afford payroll for a few more weeks if nostate budget is passed.

Given those obstacles, it remains to be seen whether the campaign promises of Wolf, and afterwards, of Kenney, to improve public education in Philly and Pennsylvania will ever become reality.

2. Will Cosby get punished?

2015 has been the year where everything good that Cheltenham, Pa.-based Bill Cosby ever did has been swallowed up by his alleged proclivity for drugging and sexually abusingyoung women.

More than 50 accusers havecome forward. Mutiple honorary degrees for Cosby have been rescinded.Patrick O’Connor, chair of the Temple University board of trustees and Cosby’s lawyer, is facing calls to resign for concealing knowledge of the allegations against Cosby.

But most importantly, newly electedMontgomery County D.A. Kevin Steele and his predecessor Risa Ferman reopened a criminal investigation into a 2004 rape by Cosby which their predecessor, Bruce Castor, declined to prosecute. The investigation is ongoing, but if charges are filed, it could end up with Cosby facing jail-time.

3. How low can Kathleen Kane go?

In 2015, Pennsylvania’s first Democratic and first female attorney general Kathleen Kane has been charged with contempt for leaking confidential grand jury information, had her law license suspended, and is the subject of state legislature hearings into whether they can vote her out of office. Even Gov. Tom Wolf said she should leave.

Meanwhile, Kane, who claims she is the victim of a conspiracy to conceal offensive emails swapped by state lawyers and judges in the so-called “Porngate” scandal, has released hundreds of unredacted offensive emails sent by her former colleagues.

She claims there are thousands more emails and has vowed to release all of them. She also appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Porngate. One state Supreme Court justice has resigned and another was just suspended over the scandal while there are calls to fire even more.

But regardless of the gigantic practice in misdirectionthat isPorngate, it’s anyone’s guess how much longer Kane will stay in office — and out of jail.

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