February 23, 2011 |
The epic battle over accusations that Chevron Corp. polluted a large expanse of the Amazon rain forest played out before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Tuesday as the energy giant sought the release of thousands of pages of confidential documents it said could shed light on improper tactics of plaintiffs' attorneys. Lawyers representing Chevron asked the Third Circuit to uphold a lower-court opinion that records be released. They are being held by Philadelphia trial lawyer Joseph Kohn, who for years financed the litigation before withdrawing from the case in November 2009.
February 9, 2011 |
The disclosure that Villanova University's law school altered admissions data that figure prominently in national rankings occurs amid ongoing concern that the rankings offer both a false picture of educational quality and create incentives to manipulate grades and test scores. The nation's most prominent rating service, U.S. News & World Report, for years has been the focus of scorn among college and university administrators who say that at best it gives an inadequate picture of educational quality.
December 2, 2010 |
All the hoopla about whether WikiLeaks has harmed U.S. foreign policy has missed the most stunning lesson of this drama. We now know that, in the age of the Internet, two obscure individuals can upend U.S. diplomacy and command global headlines. A bored U.S. Army private and an obsessive Australian oddball have set the world on edge. Although I am a journalist, and journalists are supposed to love leaks, I do not think this is a good thing. Consider: If two hackers can cause such a global stir by dumping tens of thousands of secret diplomatic cables onto the Web, what comes next?
November 29, 2010
Time has all but run out for the Senate to take a modest and reasonable step to restore sanity to out-of-control campaign spending. Although a majority of senators favor the DISCLOSE Act, Republican lawmakers are blocking a vote. The measure, which passed the House last summer, proposes a basic requirement that people who donate hefty sums for election ads identify themselves. What's wrong with that? In this year's midterm elections, at least $125 million was donated secretly to defeat or support various candidates.
October 27, 2010 |
THROUGHOUT the campaign for governor, candidates Tom Corbett and Dan Onorato have called for more transparency in state government and politics. But when it came time last week for the two candidates to file reports on their own recent fundraising, running upwards of $9.4 million, neither was willing to provide the state or the news media with clean, computerized lists of the people, businesses and political-action committees bankrolling their campaigns....
September 29, 2010 |
When former New Jersey Sen. Wayne Bryant filed his financial-disclosure statements from 2004 to 2006, he listed his law firm, Zeller & Bryant, as a source of earned income. But Bryant did not have to reveal that his firm received $192,000 in retainer fees during that period from an influential Bergen County law firm. An indictment filed Monday in federal court charges that while those fees were purportedly for legal work relating to a Meadowlands project, they actually were bribes in exchange for the senator's support of the law firm's clients' development projects, including proposals to redevelop Petty's Island and Cramer Hill in Camden.
September 2, 2010
AS OF THIS writing, there are five lawmakers in Harrisburg who we know for sure respect the public's right to know about campaign-finance contributions. They include several key members of the legislative leadership, including Sen. Jake Corman (chairman of the Appropriations Committee) and Rep. Sam Smith (House minority leader). We're hoping more will join them. We know for sure three won't. Last week, we called on Harrisburg lawmakers to voluntarily disclose, in real time, the donations they receive through Oct. 1 from donors seeking to influence the debate on a new gas extraction tax. The Legislature has given itself a self-imposed deadline of that date to sort out the details of the tax - how much it will be, whether there will be any exemptions and what regulations will accompany the tax. But because of the way the state's campaign-finance laws are written, legislators will likely cast their votes on the matter before having to disclose the donations they receive from those with interests in the issue.
August 27, 2010 |
Question: Recently, we purchased a rehabbed house where mechanicals, the roof, windows, and the like were pretty much all replaced. When we asked our real estate agent for a disclosure from the buyer, the agent said there wasn't one because it was a rehab. Looking at the Pennsylvania disclosure law, in a resale the seller should always provide a disclosure, but there's also a provision that new properties do not require one, if a warranty if offered. What is a rehab considered, a new building or a resale?
August 23, 2010
UPSET ABOUT the Marcellus Shale tax vote, and Pennsylvania campaign finance in general? Take action: GET ANGRY. Go to www.commoncause.org/pa and download their report on campaign contributions and natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, "Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets. " DEMAND REAL-TIME DISCLOSURE from elected officials. Call or e-mail your state representative or senator (see on Committee of Seventy Web site, http://guide.seventy.org ) and tell them that you expect them to disclose - within one business day - any donations they accept between Sept.
August 23, 2010
IT'S BECOMING increasingly clear how much of a toll that natural gas extraction from the state's Marcellus Shale formation is taking on the environment and potentially on human health. It's also increasingly clear why it's taking so long for state lawmakers to return the favor, and impose a tax on drillers. A new report from the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association found that Marcellus Shale drillers in the state have piled up 1,435 violations in the last 2 1/2 years . The great majority - 66 percent - have the potential for direct impact on the environment.