Over the course of its 34 years, City Paper has written countless stories that ended injustices, prompted state investigations or federal lawsuits or were revelatory in explaining the human condition. Some simply embarrassed the hell out of miscreants who were plainly deserving. Here are 10 memorable stories from the last two years. If you went back over the last three decades, you would find a similar list of stories journalism that matters for every year that this alt-weekly was on the planet. Lillian Swanson
Death of a Schoolgirl.
On Sept. 25, 2013, Laporshia Massey, a sixth-grade student, fell ill from complications of asthma at a West Philadelphia school that did not have a nurse on duty. She died later that day. The underfunded School District had made severe cuts in staffing, including school nurses. When City Paper first reported the student’s death the next month, the widespread attention increased pressure on Gov. Tom Corbett to release $45 million in federal funds that he had withheld from city schools. Daniel Denvir
A Bitter End.
When Joseph Yourshaw died after ingesting an overdose of morphine, his daughter, Barbara Mancini, got caught up in a yearlong battle to clear her name. At her elderly father’s request, she had handed him the hospice-prescribed bottle of morphine. His death was ruled a homicide, and Mancini was hit with felony charges. After the charges against the Roxborough nurse were dropped, City Paper published the first interview with her about the nightmare she had lived through. Emily Guendelsberger
Prisoner John Steckley may have been mouthing off to the guard at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, but he appeared to be posing no physical threat. Even so, corrections officer Tyrone Glover cold-cocked Steckley and then, along with another guard, beat him up. Yet, it was the prisoner who was charged with assault. After City Paper posted an edited version of the prison video in October 2014, the charges against Steckley were dropped and the District Attorney’s Office announced a change in policy it would review all video evidence before charging an inmate in an altercation with a guard. Glover, who also was involved in an earlier beating of an inmate in front of visitors to the prison, recently was allowed to resign from his job. Daniel Denvir
Why Forgiveness Is So Powerful, Yet So Hard.
Janice Meeks’ son, Kevin Johnson, was paralyzed from the neck down in a shooting in West Philly in June 2003. Michael Whittington, who was then 16, didn’t pull the trigger, but was there at the time and was sentenced to prison. Though Kevin Johnson died three years after the shooting, his mother found it in her heart to forgive Michael. City Paper was there when the pair embraced on Meeks’ front porch. Natalie Pompilio
Badge of Dishonor.
Philadelphia Police Officer Christopher Hulmes admitted lying in sworn statements in 2011, but was permitted to continue on the job, making more arrests and testifying in court. After a story published in August 2014, he was sent to desk duty and finally terminated from the force. He is now facing perjury charges. Daniel Denvir
What, Me Vote?
Anthony Clark is chairman of the City Board of Commissioners, an agency that runs Philadelphia’s voter registration and elections. But a review of his voting records in October 2014 showed that he hadn’t bothered to vote since 2011 missing five city elections. After a City Paper article, he made it to the polls in November 2014. Months later, Clark won the nomination for the post in the primary. It’s Philadelphia, Jake. Jim Saksa
Houses for Cash.
The grievous harm caused by the district attorney’s civil-forfeiture program came under scrutiny by City Paper in 2012.The DA raises millions of dollars each year for its own use by seizing cash, cars and even houses from people who have rarely been convicted, and often not even charged, with a crime. In August 2014, the Institute for Justice and local law firm Kairys, Rudovsky, Messing & Feinberg filed a federal class-action suit against the DA, citing many of the findings in CP’s reporting. And the state Commonwealth Court has ruled that seizing a house for $160 worth of weed was an “excessive fine” and thus unconstitutional. Stay tuned. Isaiah Thompson
UberX, the popular ride-sharing service, entered the Philly market in October 2014, even though it is not legal here. A City Paper reporter went undercover and drove 100 rides to see whether a middle-of-the-pack driver can really make $90,000 a year. An accompanying story on tips for UberX drivers included one on “how not to pee your pants.” Emily Guendelsberger
How Clean Is the Kitchen?
Unlike New York or L.A., Philadelphians have no shorthand way, no letter grades, for patrons to know whether a restaurant has passed Health Department inspections with flying colors or whether there are creepy crawlies in the kitchen. City Paper teamed up with AxisPhilly to create and post a searchable database with five years’ worth of inspection data and a rating system. It was a first for the city. Tom Ferrick and Ryan Briggs
An insightful look inside Philadelphia’s House of Correction, a fortress that some are hoping to replace with a new jail. Warden William Lawton says there is no fire-suppression system in the jail, originally built in 1874 and rebuilt with the same bricks in 1927. “If the place were to catch fire, we’d need to unlock each cell, one by one. It’s hard just to provide the humane to people.” Jerry Iannelli