Corruption Scandal Scrambles Pennsylvania Politics, Jan. 18, 2010 On the eve of the corruption trial of a powerful former state legislator, I look for Time.com at the sweeping corruption probe known as "Bonusgate," in which prosecutors charge that legislative leaders of both parties used public money to support loyal allies and lavish bonuses on aides illegally doing campaign work. The scandal has toppled the leadership of the State House of Representatives and left a yawning power vacuum in the already dysfunctional legislature. It has also shaken up the gubernatorial race, where the frontrunner, Attorney General Tom Corbett, faces accusations that he is using the probe to boost his own political fortunes.
In Hershey's Possible Cadbury Bid, a School's Fate, Dec. 15, 2009 As Pennsylvania candy company Hershey considered a bid for British company Cadbury, I took a look for Time.com at a little-remarked-upon dynamic behind the deal - the fate of a charitable school in rural Pennsylvania. As it turns out, the vast majority of Hershey's voting stock is held by the board of the Milton Hershey School, an institution for poor children founded a century ago by Hershey's founder. The need to protect the school "in perpetuity" colors Hershey's business decisions in ways unusual for major American companies.
Do You Have the Right to Flip Off a Cop? Sept. 15, 2009 David Hackbart was mad, and he wanted to show it, but he didn't think he would end up in federal court protecting his right to make a rude gesture and demanding that the city of Pittsburgh stop violating the First Amendment rights of its residents. For Time.com, I have a look at how Hackbart's impulsive vulgarity wound up as a legal test of whether police can arrest someone for the famous "one-finger salute." The story generated national attention and I was featured in an interview on Air America's Ron Reagan Show.
Can Joe Sestak Buck the Odds? Aug. 12, 2009 Congressman Joe Sestak's effort to unseat Sen. Arlen Specter in the Democratic primary in 2010 may seem like a long shot, but many strategists and analysts say it's just so crazy it might work - voters are worried about Specter's reliability as a Democrat after his abrupt party switch in the Spring, his job approval numbers are way down, and the little-known Sestak has a surprising strength in fundraising. In a piece for Time.com, I look at the odds of Sestak staging an upset.
Could Tom Ridge Upset Dems' Specter Strategy, May 7, 2009 Within hours of Arlen Specter's unexpected switch from Republican to Democrat, Pennsylvania Republican fixed on a possible hero to win back the seat - former Gov. Tom Ridge. As the speculation on Ridge's political future reached a climax, I took a critical look for Time.com at the question of why Ridge - now retired and successful in business, and facing a number of possible liabilities in a return to politics - might want to run. Although I doubt I can claim any credit for it, just hours after the article appeared online, he announced he would not run.
Pennsylvania Democrats Reserved on Specter, April 29, 2009 While Democrats in Washington greeted Sen. Arlen Specter into their ranks with euphoria, Democrats back home in Pennsylvania were much cooler to accepting their old Republican rival's switched allegiance. For Time.com, I looked at the curiously understated reaction of some key state Democrats when Specter unexpectedly switched parties.
Who is Setting Fire to Coatesville? Jan. 27, 2009 A wave of arsons unsettle Coatesville, an aging steel town an hour west of Philadelphia. Police are unsure whether it is the work of gangs, but they say they are not yet ready to ask for help from the National Guard to keep order. For Time.com, I detail the crimes and look at how frightened residents are reacting to the blazes - at least 14 in a month, on top of 15 last year, including one fatal fire.
Election Day Dispatches, Nov. 4, 2008 As part of Time's Election Day coverage, I was one of 30 correspondents nationwide visiting polling places, talking with election officials, interviewing voters, and looking for the color and occasional silliness that comes with an election. The result was a rolling article on Time.com that developed through the day (the full, final article is available here). I kept an eye on the key Philadelphia area, where Barack Obama was hoping for a sufficiently smashing win to head off any chance John McCain would snatch Pennsylvania away from him.
How John McCain Thinks He Can Win Pennsylvania, Oct. 29, 2008 As the presidential election moved into it's final weeks, it became obvious that the McCain campaign was staging a major offensive in seemingly unlikely territory: the Blue state of Pennsylvania. For Time.com, I examine whether the this push in the Keystone state was a doomed final stand - a political Battle of the Bulge - or whether the McCain campaign knew something that even experienced pollsters and political operatives didn't.
How Safe is Your Insurance Company, Oct. 10, 2008. Just weeks after the global economic meltdown claimed some of the most famous names in the financial sector, rumors began to swirl that traditional insurance companies such as MetLife might be in danger of collapse as well. For Time.com, I examine the ways the insurance companies might be vulnerable, but find that, despite the possibility of large financial losses, they are not likely to be sucked under by the sub-prime mess thanks to fundamental differences in the way they do business.
A Building Battle at Valley Forge, June 3, 2008 A plan to build a private museum and convention center on a site inside Valley Forge National Historical Park has stirred opposition from area residents and preservationists, who worry that the developers will pave over historically significant ground and set a dangerous precedent for other private parcels in and around National Parks. For Time.com, I examine the dispute and the tortured history of the proposed American Revolution Center, the nation's first comprehensive Revolution museum, which began with near unanimous support a decade ago but has evolved and split residents, historians and public officials.
The Boy Scouts' Free Speech Fight, May 29, 2008 The formerly cozy relationship between the Boy Scouts and the City of Philadelphia has collapsed in recent years over the Scouts' policy of barring gays and atheists. The city wants the Scouts to stop discriminating, abandon the publicly-owned headquarters building they have occupied for 80 years for just $1 per year, or pay up a full market rent of $200,000. With the deadline to pay up or leave looming, the Scouts sued, saying the city was violating the group's constitutional rights. For Time.com I examine the latest dispute between the Scouts and local governments over the no-gays policy.
Letting Victims Track Tormenters, May 19, 2008 For Time.com, I report on an expanding national system to allow crime victims and others to track the status of inmates and be notified in minutes if they are released or escape, the latest development in the trend toward using technology for greater surveillance in law enforcement. Supporters say this is a vital tool for domestic violence victims in protecting themselves.
Philly's Cop Beating: No Rodney King, May 14, 2008 When a TV news helicopter filmed a crowd of white Philadelphia police beating three subdued black suspects after a car chase, all the classic elements were there for an ugly racial explosion, except for one thing - the explosion. For Time.com, I examine the notably subdued public reaction to the incident, despite some heated rhetoric by a national civil rights activist, and the unusually swift action by the city's new mayor and police commissioner.
The Primary to End All Primaries? March 5, 2008 With comeback wins in Texas and Ohio, Hillary Clinton set herself up to compete in the last big prize of the presidential primary season - Pennsylvania. But the campaign leading up to the April 22 election promises to be long and expensive and Barack Obama is enjoying a surge of grassroots support. For Time.com, I look at the efforts by both campaigns to organize for a primary that nobody had expected to matter. By 6 p.m., the story was the #1 most viewed story on Time.com and the #2 most emailed; CNN.com was posting as its lead online story.
Why the Future of Television is Lost, Oct. 2, 2006 A profile and analysis of the remarkably successful ABC show Lost. I found and interviewed a wide assortment of rabid fans and interviewed experts and cultural observers to understand the meaning and importance of the show.
When the Melting Pot Boils Over, Aug. 23, 2006 When the small Pennsylvania city of Hazleton decided to take matters into its own hands in dealing with illegal immigration, it drew international attention and sparked a lawsuit that could define how far state and local governments can go in closing their own borders to immigrants in the United States without permission. In this Time.com article, I take a look at the debate its legal and political meaning.
Why Teens are Obsessed with Tanning, Aug. 7, 2006 Originally, this piece was part of a larger package about the lives of teenagers in America today. My main role was to find teenagers who use indoor tanning salons and explore their lives. This proved to be no small task - first, finding the teens, but second, convincing them to talk to us. Eventually, using the popular teen website Myspace.com, I found two friends in Easton, Pennsylvania with thoughtful and interesting stories to tell. The results were so good that the editors broke the story out on its own. I also interviewed tanning industry officials and legislators considering regulating the business.
Barbaro update, July 24, 2006 When the race horse Barbaro took a sharp turn for the worse, Time asked me to keep a close eye on his condition and prepare an extensive report on his ailments. As it turns out, the horse proved more resilient than anyone expected and he survived the crisis. But I had prepared a detailed draft to explain to readers why a seemingly healthy animal might need to be put to death. That draft never ran, but the reporting laid the groundwork for later coverage for People magazine, both of his condition and his death.
The Opus Dei Code, April 24, 2006 The impending release of the movie "The Da Vinci Code" pushes the shadowy Catholic organization Opus Dei to open up to the public to combat the negative image of the group portrayed in Dan Brown's thriller. I was the lead reporter on the two-month cover project, looking into the fascinating and often misunderstood world of Opus Dei. I coordinated contact with Opus Dei in the United States and conducted the key interviews with American officials and many of the members we profiled.
A Big Win for Plan B, March 13, 2006 Wal-Mart changes its national policy on emergency contraceptives under pressure from state regulators. I learned of Wal-Mart's plans in advance, allowing Time to switch a previous story concept and publish a timely look at the mega-chain's change of heart.
Take Two Aspirin and Read This Now, Jan. 30, 2006 The Medicare drug plan's rocky start means confusion and fear for thousands of the elderly and disabled. I sought out and interviewed pharmacists and confused patients, including the dramatic story in the lead.
Lynn Swann's Opponent Fumbles, Jan. 27, 2006 A racist remark by his opponent's chief advisor assures that Lynn Swann will become the GOP nominees for governor of Pennsylvania. A breaking story on Time.com.
Curbing the Puppy Trade, Dec. 12, 2005 Regulators and activists eye the "puppy mills" of Lancaster County. I interview activists and attempt to get comment from the reluctant owners of the industrial puppy breeding operations.
Bush's New Nominee, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2005 A closer look at the character and decisions of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. I talk to colleagues to get behind the "Scalito" label pinned to the nominee. Two breaking stories on Time.com.
Screening the Priests, Oct. 17, 2005 As the Vatican considered taking a harder line on homosexuals in the priesthood, Time looked at the psychologists who help screen the candidates. I first discovered that there were professional psychologists involved in the application process and located several, including the one primarily profiled.
New Rules of Fight Club, Sept. 26, 2005 The growing popularity of "Ultimate Fighting" and mixed martial arts bouts leads state regulators to reconsider longstanding bans. I surveyed state regulators across the country and talk with doctors about the risks of this new sport.
America's Worst Mayor: John Street. April 25, 2005 The Street Administration has been dogged by charged of corruption and the mayor himself, although reasonably successful on several major initiatives, remains widely disliked. A companion to a package "America's Best Mayors."
Has Pennsylvania Found Its Arnold? March 14, 2005 Former Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann surges in his unlikely quest to become Pennsylvania's governor.
Why Did Nitro Kill Himself, Feb. 28, 2005 After a star of the TV show "The Contender" shoots himself to death, I venture into his tough West Philadelphia neighborhood to find friends, family and fellow members of the city's thriving boxing community.
Chapter 11, Verse 1 July 19, 2004 With the Catholic Church under pressure from sex abuse law suits, the Archdiocese of Portland breaks new ground by declaring bankruptcy. I talk to church officials and bankruptcy experts to unravel the complex rules and far-reaching implications of the move.
Low Carb Frenzy, May 3, 2004 An examination of the diet craze as it reached its peak. I found and talked to low-carb companies, including the one profiled in the lead.
The Body Snatchers, March 22, 2004 Scandal envelops the UCLA Medical Center after news that officials were illegally selling parts from cadavers donated for scientific research. I covered the investigation closely, keeping Time apace or even ahead of its local and national daily competitors.
The New Science of Dyslexia July 28, 2003 New research gives fresh understanding and hope to people with dyslexia. I spoke with educators and families, including the one profiled in the lead.
The New Politics of Pot, Nov. 4, 2002 A series of state laws and initiatives put unprecedented pressure on the federal ban on marijuana. I looked at the complex dispute in California over medical marijuana and interviewed experts on the history, science and law of marijuana regulation.
Firing on the Fourth, July 15, 2002 When a gunman opened fire outside the El Al airlines desk at LAX on July 4, I was the only Time reporter in town over the holiday. I covered the shooting and later went to suburban Irvine searching for clues to the gunman's past and motives.
Why Condit is Running Again, Dec. 31, 2001 With his scandalous story knocked off the front pages by Sept. 11, California Congressman Gary Condit tried to repair his reputation and keep his seat in Congress. I interviewed Condit and his opponents and profiled the changing politics of his Central Valley district for a piece in the annual Man of the Year issue.
Questions? Comments? Contact Me: SPScully@seanibus.com