March 26, 2014 |
HARRISBURG - Dismayed at reports that their colleagues in the House took cash from an undercover informant, Republican and Democratic state senators are proposing legislation to ban lawmakers from accepting cash gifts. Reforms that closely mirror each other are being drafted by two Republicans - Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster County and Lisa Baker of Luzerne County - and a Democrat, Daylin Leach of Montgomery and Delaware Counties. The GOP proposal would prohibit lawmakers from accepting monetary gifts, including cash, money orders, checks, and gift cards, from lobbyists or anyone else with a stake in the legislative process.
March 24, 2014
When the Pennsylvania House's top Democrat addressed Inquirer reports that four of his colleagues allegedly took money from a lobbyist turned informant, his condemnation was less than full-throated. "If it's true that any legislators accepted gifts without reporting them," Rep. Frank Dermody said in a statement last week, "they should correct that reporting mistake. " This pale formulation underscores not only the legislature's laissez-faire institutional attitude toward questionable behavior, but also the limp laws it has produced.
March 24, 2014 |
Tyron Ali just wanted to help. If an elected official needed money for a campaign, he could deliver. Worried about paying a bill? He could provide the cash. Advice on how to maneuver politically? Talk to Ty. All the while, unbeknownst to the recipients of his largesse, Ali was taping every word. As he was chauffeured around in a BMW sedan, the Philadelphia lobbyist-turned-undercover agent wore a hidden recording device. Sometimes, it was in the lapel of his crisply pressed shirt.
March 22, 2014 |
PHILADELPHIA City Council passed an ordinance Thursday that bars city officers and employees from receiving cash from anyone seeking business or official action, while allowing receipt of non-monetary gifts worth up to $99 per donor per year. The vote was unanimous. The bill amends the existing gifts ordinance with language that is easier to enforce, and some say stricter, than is on the books now. Mayor Nutter is expected to sign the bill into law. The city code now prohibits gifts of "substantial economic value," but leaves the term undefined.
March 21, 2014 |
HARRISBURG - The hustle went down in a dimly lighted hallway outside his office in the state Capitol. Democratic State Rep. Angel Cruz had just finished talking to a Philadelphia lobbyist about a forthcoming House vote on the controversial voter-ID bill, when the lobbyist asked him to take a walk outside the office. There, he said, the lobbyist pulled out an envelope stuffed with cash and asked Cruz to vote against the legislation. "I'm like, whoa," Cruz said in an interview Wednesday.
March 8, 2014 |
Mayor Nutter couldn't have put the need for school funding in starker terms. In his budget address Thursday, he called public education the "paramount issue" facing City Council. Later he described getting more money for the schools as "a fight for the future of this city. " But his own spending plan offered no new revenue streams for schools, relying instead on two proposed taxes with uncertain fates to come up with the $195 million the School District has asked for. Education advocates were quick to say the city had "shortchanged" children again, and Nutter acknowledged that his initial budget was a bit light.
February 21, 2014
The pay-to-play culture is so entrenched in Pennsylvania politics that campaign finance reform efforts have been about as successful as throwing a pail of water on a towering inferno. Never mind that polls show the public is increasingly frustrated with a political system that gives special interests way more influence over the public policy agenda than mere voters, whose taxes finance the lucrative government contracts and favors that the big donors to political campaigns get. Need evidence of this twisted arrangement?
February 20, 2014 |
WEST CHESTER The West Chester University freshman who made the shot of a lifetime during a halftime challenge Saturday - but lost out on the cash prize because it took him two tries - has $10,000 headed his way. From Pizza Hut. "[We] know greatness when we see it," Pizza Hut's official Twitter page wrote to Jack Lavery on Tuesday afternoon. "We have a check for $10K and free pizza for a year for you. What say you? #PayJackLavs" Lavery, an 18-year-old from Horsham whose story erupted on social media and radio talk shows, was still reeling from the news a few hours later and said he was humbled by the gesture.
February 20, 2014 |
NORRISTOWN Montgomery County officials fired a longtime doctor at the county-owned Parkhouse nursing home Tuesday after auditors concluded that he tried to cash in on his position by passing inside information to the company trying to buy the facility. The 15-page audit report concludes that Elliot Menkowitz, an orthopedic surgeon, violated county ethics and procurement policies in ways that could have given Mid-Atlantic Health Care an unfair competitive advantage in its $35 million bid for the Royersford facility.
February 19, 2014
WHO NEEDS to sell CDs and downloads when you can strike gold in a real-estate deal gone bad? The New York Post 's Page Six reports that popstress Rihanna has won a multimillion-dollar settlement after some lousy advice from her former accountant left her with a mere $2 million in cash on hand. Filing suit under her real name, Robyn Fenty, in 2012, the singer claimed that bean counter Peter Gounis and the firm Berdon LLP okeydokey'd her purchase of a $7 million Southern California house despite the fact that she was "bleeding cash" in 2009, the year the deal was closed.