Here's what will make news in Philadelphia this week

Posted: August 13, 2012

COURTS

Kensington Strangler trial

Antonio Rodriguez, who told police he raped and strangled three women in 2010, will face justice for those crimes when he goes on trial Monday.

Rodriguez, 23, who came to be known as the alleged Kensington Strangler, chose a nonjury trial, an expedited format that could wrap up in a few days. The three murders in November and December 2010 stoked women with fear in and around Kensington until police were able to link Rodriguez to the attacks through DNA evidence.

Gosnell hearing

The case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell is scheduled to be in court for motion hearings on Monday. Gosnell, 71, is facing the death penalty for overseeing an illegal abortion clinic in West Philadelphia that allegedly killed eight babies who were born viable. He is also facing a third-degree murder charge in the death of a patient who died during a botched abortion. Gosnell's trial will take place in March.

Prelim for priest

Andrew McCormick, 56, the latest Catholic priest accused of sexually violating a child, is scheduled to have his first court appearance Thursday. During the preliminary hearing, it is possible that his alleged victim will testify. The man, who is now in his 20s, was just 10 in 1997 when McCormick allegedly molested him. McCormick has been suspended from Sacred Heart parish in Swedesburg, Montgomery County, since March.

City Hall

Rare summer meeting

Who said City Council is on summer vacation?

Sure, the 17-member legislative body isn't set to return from its three-month summer recess until September, but in a rare move, City Council will hold a committee hearing Thursday to examine the issue of violence in the city's parks and recreation facilities.

Recently, a 12-year-old girl was raped in a rec center, and there have been shootings in several parks.

"Crime doesn't take off during the summer, so I don't see how we cannot address this important issue," said City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who called for the hearing. "The idea is to talk about what's happening. Is it something unusual or a trend?"

Want to join the discussion? Share possible solutions? Stop by City Hall at 9 a.m., Room 400.

EDUCATION

School violence eyed

It's no secret that school violence in the district is a high-priority issue for officials up at 440 N. Broad St. So what better time to dive into the massive problem than in the summer, before kids head back to school?

The "Culture Builds Safety" summit, a three-day training program for district principals and assistant principals, starts Monday at Lincoln Financial Field. The next two days' trainings will be held at Fels High School. The program aims to assist principals in establishing safer cultures for their students. Speakers will talk to staff about brain science, the psychology of trauma and transforming school culture. The district will present its revised Code of Conduct on the second day.

Participants will break out into smaller groups on the third day and choose among sessions including "Creating Nonviolent Schools Through Youth Leadership," "Know More, Say More: Teen Dating Violence" and "Sugar and Spice Program to Combat Female Bullying."

DEVELOPMENT

What's up with new zoning?

The city's new Zoning Code goes into effect Aug. 22, and the education-and-outreach arm of the City Planning Commission has been hosting a series of zoning workshops to teach residents what the new code is all about.

Many neighborhood groups also have to learn what it means to be a "registered community organization" in order to have an impact on planning and development in their communities.

The next Citizens Planning Institute workshop is from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, 1515 Arch St., 18th Floor, Room 18029.

Sign up at cpisummerzoningworkshops.eventbrite.com.

— Mensah M. Dean, Jan Ransom,

Regina Medina and Valerie Russ

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