Archives for March 2018

Cosby Judge Wont Step Aside…Jury Selection Monday

The Norristown judge in Bill Cosby’s retrial rejected demands from the comedian’s defense lawyers to step aside during a Thursday hearing in which they made clear they plan to attack his accuser as a greedy liar who falsely accused him of sexually assaulting her to collect a payoff. Judge Steven O’Neill shot down what amounted to a last-ditch effort to postpone the trial by defense lawyers who lost their bid to overturn his ruling allowing up to five additional accusers to testify against Cosby. Lawyers argued the judge should remove himself because his wife is a social worker and advocate for assault victims, pointing to a $100 donation made in her name to an organization that gave money to a group planning a protest outside the retrial.
The judge said the donation was made 13 months ago by the department where his wife works at the University of Pennsylvania and he’s “not biased or prejudiced” by her work. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday as the 80-year-old Cosby faces charges he drugged and molested former Temple University athletics administrator Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004.

Court Rejects Request to Throw Lt. Gov Stack Off Ballot

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor is staying on the ballot after a judge rejected a claim that he falsely listed his mother’s home as his residence on election records when he actually lives in a state-owned mansion at Fort Indiantown Gap. A Commonwealth Court judge on Wednesday sided with Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Stack, saying his actions show his intent to make his mother’s Philadelphia home his residence. The decision says that’s where Stack’s been voting, getting mail, paying taxes, storing some personal belongings and sometimes sleeping. Stack sold his own home in the city in February 2016, about a year after taking office as lieutenant governor. Stack’s campaign calls the challenge a “spurious” attempt by one of his primary opponents to deceive voters.

PA High Court Rules in Favor of Turnpike Whistleblower

Pennsylvania’s highest court is upholding a $3.2 million verdict in favor of a whistleblower fired after exposing waste and wrongdoing in Pennsylvania Turnpike contracts, hiring practices and E-ZPass discounts for large trucking firms. The state Supreme Court said Tuesday Pennsylvania’s Whistleblower Law allows judgments for non-economic damages in matters that cause embarrassment, humiliation, reputational damage and mental anguish. The unanimous decision left in place the award to Ralph Bailets, who sued the turnpike commission over his 2008 firing as manager of financial systems and reporting. A turnpike spokesman declined comment on the decision.

Penn State Student Died Monday

Police are investigating the death of a Penn State student this week. State College police say the parents of 25-year-old Charles Cudlipp found the student’s body at his off-campus apartment Monday morning. The cause of death is unknown. Authorities do not suspect foul play. The Centre County coroner is doing an autopsy. The university said in a statement Cudlipp was a chemical engineering major from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. He was expected to graduate in summer 2018.

PA Gov Among Those TO Speak at Firefighter Memorial

Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., are scheduled to speak at a public memorial for two Pennsylvania firefighters killed in the collapse of a former piano factory.
York Mayor Michael Helfrich is also slated to speak at the service in York on Wednesday honoring firefighters Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony. They were killed last week when a large section of the factory’s wall collapsed on them. Two other firefighters were injured.
The men had been looking for hot spots and searching for the cause of an earlier blaze at the factory. A private funeral for Flanscha is scheduled for today. Anthony’s funeral will be Thursday and will be open to the public.

Republican PA Congressman Wont Seek Re-election

A Republican Pennsylvania congressman has announced that he will not seek re-election, boosting Democratic hopes of winning his House seat. U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello announced on Sunday that he would not be running, ending weeks of speculation about his future. During an appearance on MSNBC, the second-term congressman called it “the most difficult decision” he’s ever had to make and said it was due to a number of factors including the state’s new congressional map. Under the discarded map, Costello’s suburban Philadelphia district had a Republican majority that nevertheless helped Clinton beat Trump there by 2 percentage points in 2016. The redrawn district has slightly more Democrats and Clinton would have won it by 9 percentage points. Costello was expected to face a tough election battle against Democrat Chrissy Houlahan.

Penn State Hazing-Death 2nd Prelim is Underway

State prosecutors began laying out their case today against 11 Pennsylvania State University fraternity members accused in the death of sophomore pledge Tim Piazza after a house party a little over a year ago. None of the defendants were in court, waiving their right to be present as the preliminary hearing got underway before Centre County Judge Allen Sinclair. It’s the second time in less than a year the case will go before Sinclair, and also comes as Sen. Majority Leader Jake Corman, unveils legislation that would toughen penalties for hazing deaths. Piazza, a sophomore from New Jersey, died in February 2017 from injuries he suffered after drinking copious amounts of alcohol, fell down the stairs and was left unattended for hours after a pledge ritual party . His death and the subsequent charges have drawn national attention and led to a crackdown on Greek life at Penn State’s flagship campus.

PA Teachers Get Protection After Personal Info Exposed

Several hundred thousand teachers in Pennsylvania are receiving letters offering free credit monitoring after their personal information was released publicly last month due to a “human error.” More than 300,000 school teachers are getting letters informing them their names, Social Security numbers and other identifying information may have been released in February. The letter says the state Education Department has contracted a company to offer 12 months of credit monitoring, a $1 million insurance reimbursement policy and identity theft recovery. The Department of Administration says an employee had accidentally set the state Education Department database to allow anyone using the system to see other users’ personal information. It is unclear if the employee faced any disciplinary action.

Eichelberger Supports Crime Victims Package

State Senator John H. Eichelberger Jr., (R-Blair), Wednesday voted in favor of a package of bills strengthening protections for victims of crime and ensuring that victims and their families are treated with respect and dignity by the criminal justice system. Six of the bills would strengthen and reform Pennsylvania’s domestic violence laws, offer greater protections to victims of domestic violence and their children, and hold abusers accountable. Another measure, known as Marsy’s Law, would establish a crime victims’ bill of rights in the Pennsylvania Constitution to protect and expand the rights of victims of violent crime. Senate Bill 449 allows Magisterial District Judges to use a risk assessment tool when determining bail in domestic violence cases. Senate Bill 449 now goes to the Governor for his signature and enactment into law. The other six bills were sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Blair County Awarded Architectual Prize

The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art (SAMA) announced this week that Blair County has been selected to receive a 2018 Award for Architectural Excellence for its historic courthouse restoration project. In announcing the award, SAMA stated that Blair County has in its transformation of the 1875-1906 Courthouse demonstrated those characteristics associated with SAMA’s Award for Architectural Excellence including quality of design, respect for the fabric of history when renovating or restoring, creative architectural solutions, and attention to detail. SAMA’s award is the second acknowledgement of the County’s historic courthouse restoration project. Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) awarded Blair County a Keystone Construction grant in the amount of $80,000 for the restoration of the Lawyers’ Lobby, a project that is already underway.