December 11, 2014 |
Responding to housing-industry concerns that tightened mortgage-credit rules would hamstring the critical first-time-buyer market, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer 3 percent down-payment loans to qualified borrowers. Fannie's My Community Mortgage program, open to first-time buyers with a 620 minimum credit score, starts this week. Freddie's Home Possible Advantage, available to all qualified buyers, begins in March. Andrew Bon Salle, a Fannie Mae executive vice president, said his program's goal was to help qualified borrowers gain access to mortgages, but added that it would not "solve all of the challenges around access to credit.
November 8, 2014 |
IT APPEARS more heads will roll - maybe already have - in the porn scandal that has consumed our state government. Renee George Martin, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, yesterday confirmed that her office's human resources department is wrapping up an investigation into at least 30 current employees who used state computers or email accounts to send or receive pornography. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review yesterday reported that "six or more" employees have been fired or offered early retirement.
October 22, 2014 |
T HE CITY shells out a pretty penny every year to settle lawsuits based on allegations of police misconduct. MuckRock.com, which bills itself as a "collaborative news site" that helps journalists, researchers and citizens analyze and share government documents, posted an online report yesterday that looked at how Philadelphia's annual payouts stack up against those in a handful of other large cities. The findings might not surprise you. The city has shelled out more than $40 million to settle 584 of the 1,223 police-misconduct lawsuits - think wrongful-shooting deaths, excessive force or illegal searches - filed since January 2009, the website reported.
October 8, 2014 |
WHATEVER happened to good old American know-how? The nation that invented modern management seems to be suffering a crisis of competence. The Secret Service can't protect the White House. Public-health authorities can't get their arms around a one-man Ebola outbreak. The army we trained in Iraq collapsed as soon as it was attacked by Islamic extremists, and our own veterans can't get the care they need at Veterans Affairs hospitals. And, lest we forget, it was only a year ago that the White House rolled out its national health insurance program, only to see its website grind to a halt.
August 6, 2014 |
Defense lawyers for six Philadelphia narcotics officers accused of robbing and violently attacking drug dealers took aim at the criminal case against their clients Monday, calling it a series of weak allegations built on the testimony of "trashy riffraff" and one rogue officer. They also accused federal prosecutors of omitting key facts in laying out their indictment, including that many of the raids now deemed criminal acts were witnessed by police supervisors and members of other law enforcement agencies.
July 22, 2014 |
With four years separating Medford Township from a fiscal crisis that nearly put it in default, not to mention an embarrassing sex scandal involving its former mayor, town leaders are preparing to host the latest in a series of workshops called the Local Government Institute designed to educate residents about how local government works. Starting in September, elected officials, board members, emergency management leaders, and others will discuss the workings of their boards and agencies in biweekly sessions open to the public.
July 10, 2014 |
Mayor Nutter's office said Tuesday that it had established six centers where residents will be able to get help applying for a host of government benefits, including food stamps, Medicare, and tax breaks. "Every year, eligible Philadelphia residents leave millions of dollars on the table by not enrolling in critical benefits programs," said Eva Gladstein, who heads the mayor's Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity. In response, the city has established BenePhilly, a program that aims to place counselors trained in benefits at existing social-service agencies, including Project HOME and Catholic Social Services.
July 5, 2014
What better occasion than Independence Day to reflect on a political movement whose adherents insist its essence is embodied in one of the seminal events of this country's birth, the Boston Tea Party? The spirit of protest is what today's tea-party patriots refer to as they liken themselves to those early Americans who, in 1773, hurled an East India Company cargo into Boston Harbor rather than pay a tax levied by the British Parliament with no colonial representation. With names like the Berks Sons of Liberty, Northeast Pennsylvania Spirit of 1776, Defenders of Freedom, and Tea Party Time Network, today's purported scions of the colonial rebels try to incite the passions of Americans who believe government looms too large in their lives.
July 2, 2014 |
Three environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, contending that it improperly approved a Pennsylvania plan aimed at addressing haze pollution. They say the plan fails to limit emissions of haze-causing chemicals from major facilities in the state, and that iconic parks and wilderness areas - from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey and then to as far as Acadia National Park in Maine - suffer because of it. "The law on the books says we need to deal with the pollution choking our national parks," said Matt Elliott, the Pennsylvania and Delaware program manager with the National Parks Conservation Association, one of the groups that sued.
June 21, 2014 |
TRENTON - State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Thursday that he would give Rutgers University 90 days to change its governance structure, based on an internal university report, or he would move forward with controversial legislation to expand its governing board. If the board of governors and board of trustees do not act, Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said, he would deliver the legislation to the Assembly. "The proposition is simple: Rutgers has a chance to reform itself or the state will reform Rutgers," Sweeney said in a statement about an hour after the Senate passed the bill on a 22-13 vote.