June 20, 2011 |
Twice a week they meet at a secret location, the public barred from their inquests and deliberations. Most of us never will never know their names. Yet the 23 men and women who make up each grand jury in Pennsylvania can help shape public policy, clean up government, make streets safer, and put any of us on the path to prison if we break the law. Despite the media attention grand juries' reports may attract, Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney David Augenbraun says few people understand how the panels function.
May 14, 2011 |
The head of the Philadelphia Archdiocese's panel on priest sex-abuse is blasting the cardinal's response to the pedophilia crisis, and pulling back the curtain on the panel's long-secret operations. Cardinal Justin Rigali and his bishops "failed miserably at being open and transparent," review board chairwoman Ana Maria Catanzaro wrote this week in the lay Catholic magazine Commonweal . "What will it take for bishops to accept that their attitude of superiority and privilege only harms their image and the church's?"
October 15, 2010 |
This week's new DVD releases deal with dragons, comic-book heroes, and a secret organization. How to Train Your Dragon, Grade A-: An 11-year-old Viking must train a dragon in this animated adventure. Satisfying both children and adults isn't easy, but How to Train Your Dragon hits the mark with the right mix of silly and serious. Toss in dazzling computer-generated animation and a perfect score by composer John Powell, and this is the best work from DreamWorks animation since Shrek in 2001.
July 23, 2010 |
In at least one area of political life, the spirit of bipartisanship is strong, and the Obama administration has picked up pretty much where the Bush team left off. That's the realm of information control: treating the news media as a pestilence, using secrecy rules to stem inconvenient disclosures, ducking informed scrutiny in favor of staged encounters, punishing unauthorized leaks vigorously, and generally regarding publicly significant information...
December 26, 2009 |
One of state government's most secretive agencies is housed near the end of a hallway on the third floor of the Pennsylvania Judicial Center, just across Commonwealth Avenue from the Capitol. A piece of ordinary white bond paper, tucked into a protective plastic sleeve and taped to a window at the entrance, says "Judicial Conduct Board" in half-inch letters. There is a small waiting room in Suite 3500, but the door leading to the inner offices is marked with two signs: "Confidential Area.
October 1, 2009
In a dozen or more legal challenges dating from the Bush era, the U.S. government's defense against allegations of torture or spying on American citizens has been to claim that litigation would jeopardize national security by revealing state secrets. That has prohibited litigants from their day in court. Even worse, the tactic deprives the American people of the chance to judge for themselves the legality and morality of antiterror strategies employed by the government. So it's welcome news that President Obama has pledged to curb the use of such state secrets claims.
May 3, 2009 |
When the owners of the Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel wanted a tax cut, they knew where to turn. In a private meeting in 2003, the then-chairman of the city Board of Revision of Taxes gave the hotel owners a once-in-a-lifetime deal. He dropped the Ritz's value from $35 million to $19.5 million, saving it $400,000 a year in property taxes. The chairman, David B. Glancey, says he can't remember how he arrived at the number. But he says the break - worth more than $2 million so far - was justified because the hotel was in financial trouble.
September 28, 2008 |
They have changed the sheets for world leaders. Popped champagne corks for mobsters. Lugged the suitcases of royalty. And delivered room service to Hollywood megastars registered under aliases. Oh, the stories the employees of the Philadelphia Four Seasons could tell. But won't. Of the several hundred loyal souls on staff, 31 have been working there since it opened 25 years ago. They are sworn to secrecy about the guests they serve. So they'll never reveal what happened in the summer of 1989 when the Rolling Stones blew through Philadelphia for the launch of their comeback Steel Wheels tour.
July 1, 2008 |
A Dauphin County judge yesterday convened a hearing ordered by the state Supreme Court on whether grand jury secrecy rules were violated during the investigation of casino owner Louis DeNaples. Common Pleas Court Judge Todd A. Hoover ordered the hearing closed to the public in spite of objections raised by attorneys for DeNaples that it should be conducted in open court. "This is a very serious matter, and Judge Hoover is proceeding accordingly," said attorney William C. Costopoulos, a member of the DeNaples defense team, during a break.
October 12, 2007 |
Jerome Latham's face clouded as the hearing proceeded, threatening to turn as red as the likeness of the ball of fire on the front of his white T-shirt, as a phalanx of lawyers maneuvered to defend their clients, caught up in a stolen-body-parts scandal. "I better get out of here before I go off!" the 46-year-old New Jersey resident declared during the proceedings in the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center. His sister, Debra Brown, 49, of Philadelphia, managed to calm him. More than a year ago, their deceased mother was cremated by the McCafferty Funeral Home, one of three businesses involved in a case that has shocked and outraged Philadelphia and the nation.