May 2014 Philadelphia flooding

May 1st, 2014 – 4:06pm

I filed repeated updates to a story about widespread flooding in the Philadelphia in May 2014. I also posted updates and photos (which were used on to social media from one of the most significant flood sites. The heavy rain had fallen overnight, and my tweets were some of the earliest to show the severity of the flooding.


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The struggle with life in Philly, after serving time in prison

April 27th, 2014 – 6:55pm

By Emily Babay

Leroy “Beyah” Edney was 11 the first time he got locked up.

Edney was at a Philadelphia rec center when an argument with another kid turned violent. It didn’t turn out so well for the other kid. Edney spent six months at a juvenile detention center as a result. A few years later, he began stealing cash from supermarkets. He worked his way up to robbing banks and stores at gunpoint.

“My appetite got bigger and bigger,” Edney says.

Edney, now 56, has served half his life in prison – 28 years to be exact. He’s determined not to go back and works seasonally now as an artist at that same rec center in Overbrook. Edney has no employer benefits but recently obtained health insurance.

Edney was released for the last time in 2008, making him one of the more than 85,000 inmates released from Pennsylvania state prisons between that year and 2012, the most recent data available.

That number is growing: More than 19,000 Pennsylvania inmates were released in 2012 alone — nearly twice the number from a decade earlier. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and across the country, the number of people incarcerated has been leveling off in recent years, after decades of steep increases. And the number of federal inmates could soon fall further, under new plans to ease sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.

Thousands of former prisoners are back on the streets in cities like Philadelphia. They are trying to readjust, find jobs, and just stay out of trouble. For many, it hasn’t proved easy.

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Fire at Suit Corner building

April 9th, 2014 – 8:48pm

When a major fire broke out an historic suit store in Old City, I wrote a quick web story, then went to the scene and posted updates and photos on social media. Live updates from the scene are below:

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Read more: breaking news, multimedia and social media,

Rampant overtime spikes city employees’ pensions in Philadelphia

April 7th, 2014 – 6:48pm

By Brian X. McCrone and Emily Babay

The City of Philadelphia has spent nearly $900 million in overtime during the past five years, partly as a strategy to keep costs down by hiring fewer full-time workers. But a analysis shows the strategy is driving up pension payments to thousands of employees.

Overtime has allowed unionized municipal employees to boost their yearly pay and to inflate, or “spike,” their pensions at a time when the city pension fund is less than half funded, according to the examination of 167,000 payroll records from the calendar years 2009 through 2013. The records were obtained from the city through a request using Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law.

Through overtime pay, a single employee can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional retirement income. Pensions are based on an employee’s three highest years of pay, excluding workers in the police and fire departments.

Many city employees are logging almost superhuman amounts of hours, year after year, the analysis found. City officials say they look at departments’ overall overtime spending, though there appears to be little or no study of its short- or long-term effects on municipal finances.

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5 years later, still no ‘dots’ to connect in Eric Birnbaum’s slaying

February 10th, 2014 – 6:43pm

By Emily Babay

Eric Birnbaum stayed late at his Bucks County office on Feb. 10, 2009. As usual, he was one of the last out the door, leaving with law partner Terry Goldberg about 8:30 p.m. The two childhood friends were used to working late into the night together.

Divorced with college-age daughters, Birnbaum walked into the dark on the mild winter night, climbed into his car and drove five miles to the Northeast Philadelphia home he shared with his long-haired dachshund, Oscar. He planned to walk and feed Oscar, then eat his own dinner, his normal evening routine.

In short, it was a typical night for Eric Birnbaum. And it was the last night of his life. Continue reading »

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Philadelphia casino hearings

January 29th, 2014 – 7:45pm


I covered several days of suitability hearings for the applicants bidding for Philadelphia’s second casino license, live-tweeting the proceedings and filing multiple stories. Below are links to the stories I wrote and my tweets from the hearings (tweets for each presentation are in chronological order).

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Gallery: New trails coming to Philadelphia

June 18th, 2013 – 7:17pm


I researched new projects planned as part of Philadelphia’s developing trail network to create this gallery, which included information about 17 of the trails’ locations, lengths and status. Click the photo to see the full gallery on

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Building collapse at 22nd and Market streets

June 5th, 2013 – 4:20pm

I posted updates, photos and videos from the scene of a building collapse that killed six people in Philadelphia, and sent in information that my newsroom colleagues incorporated into articles. I reported from the collapse scene for several hours the day of the disaster, as well as much of the day after, as crews continued clearing rubble from and investigating at the site.


Read more: breaking news, multimedia and social media,

Gallery: Philadelphia children missing for more than a decade

May 7th, 2013 – 7:22pm


After three Ohio women were rescued after spending roughly a decade in captivity, I looked at the cases of Philadelphians who had also gone missing as children and remained so 10 or more years later. I researched the cases, obtained their photos and wrote the captions. Click the photo to see the gallery on

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Camden native’s journey from rough neighborhood to NFL workouts

April 8th, 2013 – 6:35pm

By Emily Babay

Matt Marshall faced tough odds when he stepped on the field at the NovaCare Center in South Philadelphia to workout for the Philadelphia Eagles.

But regardless of what the coaches thought of him, the Camden native has already achieved his goal to “not to be a statistic.”

The University of Arkansas graduate grew up in the waning days of Camden’s crack epidemic near The Alley, an infamous, open-air drug bazaar that was razed in 2004. A drug dealer was shot dead on his home’s doorstep. Close friends have faced the ends of gun barrels.

So when Marshall left the field, he felt he was already on his way.

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