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.
September 21, 2007
Steve is a 50-something married man who's been around the block. Mia is a 20-something single immersed in the Center City dating scene. They may not agree, but they have plenty of answers. If you'd like an answer to your romantic troubles, e-mail them at S&M@phillynews.com or write: S&M c/o Daily News, Box 7788, Philadelphia, PA 19101. Q: I'm good friends with both halves of a couple. The guy recently confided in me that he plans to propose to her soon and swore me to secrecy.
April 6, 2007
Solving the Philadelphia Department of Human Services' problems requires as much openness and public attention as possible. The Inquirer reported last year that 20 children died of abuse or neglect between 2003 and 2005 after they or their families had contact with DHS. The cases pointed out weak and inconsistently applied DHS policies, a poor system for evaluating the risk a child faces, and too little training for too few caseworkers....
March 27, 2007
Host Iraqi children Back in the 1970s, a program was put into place for both Protestant and Catholic children from Ireland to come to America during the summer months and live with host families in the hope of learning to accept each other's differences. Although Ireland still has some religious tolerance issues today, abductions, shootings, car bombs and other such outright displays of hatred have disappeared. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could offer the same type of program for both Sunni and Shiite Iraqi children to come here in an effort for them to live peaceably one day in Iraq?
December 7, 2006 |
Two years ago, debris in the Delaware River punctured the hull of the Athos I as the oil tanker headed for Citgo's asphalt refinery in Paulsboro. The vessel spilled 265,000 gallons of heavy crude into the river, fouling 115 miles of shoreline, killing wildlife, and leaving unknown consequences for the river's health. A few months after the spill, we at the Work Environment Council asked the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection whether we could review the refinery's required spill-prevention and cleanup plan.