February 20, 2014 |
Across a brightly lit room, three dozen immigrants sit shoulder-to-shoulder on three pew-like benches. Many look scared. Some murmur in Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Haitian Creole. There is no bailiff; none but the judge to maintain order, call the cases, and render judgments, DIY-style. Lawyers waiting for clients' cases to be called pile up outside the four small courtrooms in the cramped corridor that one translator calls the "Hall of Anxiety. " With a backlog of 4,901 cases, Philadelphia's Immigration Court, housed on the fifth floor of a federal building in Center City, is chronically overburdened and thinly staffed, and reflects the workload crisis afflicting the nation's 57 other immigration courts.
November 12, 2013
TODAY is the Veterans Day holiday. But if today is typical in all other respects, 22 American veterans will commit suicide. That brutal reality - 22 veteran suicides a day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs - is driven not just by what our vets are asked to withstand on the battlefield, but by our treatment of them once they come home. In fact, Veterans Day seems increasingly to have become the day we take stock of our failing of our veterans, rather than a day to honor them.
September 24, 2013 |
Joseph Palmieri thought the city's assessment of the building that has housed his family's East Mount Airy clothing business for the last 68 years was way off the mark. So he asked the city Office of Property Assessment (OPA) to take another look, filing for a "first-level review. " In all, the owners of nearly 50,000 properties filed similar requests this year after OPA sent out the results of a citywide reassessment key to the property-tax system City Council approved in June.
July 12, 2013 |
Increased pay for court-appointed lawyers in death-penalty cases and increased scrutiny of potential capital cases by prosecutors have significantly reduced the backlog of Philadelphia homicide cases awaiting trial. That's the conclusion of a report filed Wednesday with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court by a Philadelphia judge overseeing changes in the city's homicide trial program. According to the 11-page update by Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner, the number of untried capital cases in Philadelphia dropped from more than 100 in August 2011 to 40 a year later.
June 26, 2013 |
RICHMOND, Va. - The Food and Drug Administration is taking a small step to whittle away a backlog of 4,000 tobacco product applications, some of which have lingered for more than two years. The federal agency said Tuesday it had authorized two nonmenthol versions of Lorillard Inc.'s Newport brand under a 2009 law that gave the FDA authority over tobacco. It also said it had rejected four applications submitted to the agency for review, but did not disclose the products. In addition to regulating a number of aspects of tobacco marketing and manufacturing, the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products also must review new cigarette or smokeless tobacco products.
June 22, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs is chipping away at a massive inventory of disability claims for veterans, reducing the number of claims considered backlogged by about 15 percent in recent weeks. Republican lawmakers are skeptical that the trend will continue, but they have been unable to agree on a solution to a problem that has become a major headache for the Obama administration. The VA pays disability benefits to veterans who are injured or become ill as a result of their active service.
June 21, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - The Veterans Affairs Department is chipping away at a massive inventory of disability claims for veterans, reducing the number of claims considered backlogged by about 15 percent in recent weeks. Republican lawmakers are skeptical that the trend will continue, but they've been unable to agree on a solution to a problem that has become a major headache for the Obama administration. The VA pays disability benefits to veterans who are injured or become ill as a result of their active service.
June 4, 2013
The Corbett administration doesn't seem to care that it has acquired a reputation for callous treatment of poor people. If it cared, it wouldn't have failed to process federal energy assistance applications and risk thousands of low-income customers having to pay reconnection fees through no fault of their own. The state Department of Public Welfare is responsible for processing applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP),...
June 1, 2013 |
Nearly 14,000 low-income Philadelphia families are waiting for the state to process their claims for federal home-energy assistance - a repeat of last year's backlog that state officials had promised would not happen again. About 8,000 of the families have been waiting for more than 90 days. Because the payments are late, some people face a shutoff of their gas and electricity. Even if the bills eventually get paid, those whose utilities are turned off may be compelled to pay reconnection fees on top of the initial bills, a situation that could be catastrophic for poor people unable to meet even basic needs, advocates say. "People are going to be without hot water and a stove," said Lance Haver, director of the city Office of Consumer Affairs.
April 5, 2013
BY APRIL, most of us are happy to be viewing winter weather in the rearview mirror. But there are thousands in the city who dread April more than the deep freeze of February, because that's when the moratorium on utility shutoffs expires. That means that PGW and Peco are now allowed to shut you off if you haven't been able to keep up on your utility bills. This is a cold drama that gets played out every year. But some years are harder than others, and this past winter has seen not only higher utility prices coupled with a colder winter, but also a program that helps low-income people with heating bills has a backlog of applications only slightly smaller than the huge backlog of last year.