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.
February 12, 2014 |
A PHILADELPHIA man will serve more than 10 years in a federal lockup for his role as the mastermind and leader in an elaborate check-cashing scheme, U.S. District Judge Juan R. Sanchez ruled yesterday. Phillip Eric Weems, 36, was sentenced to 10 years, 1 month in prison for forging and counterfeiting checks totaling $1.2 million with the help of 70 accomplices. Weems' organization defrauded and attempted to defraud more than 50 victims, including banks, check-cashing companies and dog breeders, officials said.
February 10, 2014 |
The story at the heart of Kids for Cash - judges taking kickbacks from the developer of a private juvenile detention center, then funneling thousands of children there - happened right in Robert May's backyard. A producer with a New York-based distribution company, SenArt Films, and a track record in both fiction and nonfiction features ( The Station Agent , The War Tapes ), May lives in Franklin Township, Luzerne County. He has two children who were 10 and 13 back in 2009, when news of the scandal broke - not just in Pennsylvania, but also in media outlets around the country.
February 7, 2014 |
"THE HUNGER Games" is just sci-fi, set in a future we'll probably never see. Right? No decent society would allow its leaders to throw working-class teens into a deadly meat-grinder in order to create an authoritarian public spectacle designed to keep the rabble in line. Keep telling yourself that as you watch the hair-raising documentary "Kids for Cash," based on the notorious case of Luzerne County judges convicted of sending juveniles to a new for-profit prison that they endorsed building and whose developer paid them under the table.
February 5, 2014 |
What will they think of me? The question brought Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. to tears. For years, Ciavarella, a former Luzerne County Court judge, had defiantly fought charges that he took kickbacks to sentence thousands of young offenders to private juvenile detention centers. During a moment of reflection while awaiting sentencing for corruption in 2011, Ciavarella broke down, imagining how his own grandchildren would perceive him. "I would hope that they understand that their grandfather screwed up big-time," he said, tears welling in his eyes.