Allentown Local News

 

LOCAL NEWS FOR FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2014

LOCAL NEWS FOR FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2014

  THE CAMPAIGN FOR CHANGE GROUP GIVES THE ALLENTOWN SCHOOL BOARD STRAIGHT "Fs" ON A GIANT REPORT CARD.  ABOUT 50 COMMUNITY MEMBERS MARCHED TO THE DISTRICT'S ADMINISTRATION BUILDING THURSDAY TO DELIVER THAT REPORT CARD.  THE GROUP GRADED THE BOARD IN FIVE CATEGORIES:  ATTENTION TO ALL STUDENTS, DIVERSITY OF STAFF, FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT AND HUMAN DIGNITY.


  THE BETHLEHEM REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY HAS OK'D A $1-A-YEAR LEASE THAT GIVES ITSELF FOUR YEARS TO FIND A DEVELOPER TO CONVERT THE OLD ARMORY AT SECOND AND PROSPECT AVENUES INTO A RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT THAT COULD INCLUDE CONDOS, TOWN HOMES AND APARTMENTS.  PLANS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT COULD BE RELEASED LATER THIS SUMMER.  THE ARMORY, WHICH WAS BUILT IN 1930, HAS BEEN USED IN RECENT YEARS TO HOUSE IMPOUNDED VEHICLES AND FOR POLICE STORAGE.


  RESIDENTS IN QUAKERTOWN WERE SURPRISED TO SEE A BEAR ROAMING AROUND IN THE AREA NEAR ROUTE 309.  THE BEAR WAS SPOTTED IN BACK YARDS AND NEAR STORES.  THE STATE GAME COMMISSION SAYS THE BEAR APPARENTLY DECIDED TO HEAD BACK INTO THE WOODS AFTER CHECKING OUT QUAKERTOWN AND DOESN'T APPEAR TO POSE A PUBLIC SAFETY HAZARD.


  A VETO-PROOF MAJORITY OF PHILADELPHIA CITY COUNCIL IS SUPPORTING A BILL TO EFFECTIVELY DECRIMINALIZE THE POSSESSION OF SMALL AMOUNTS OF MARIJUANA.  THE BILL PASSED THURSDAY, 13-3, WITH EVERY DEMOCRAT IN FAVOR OF IT AND EVERY REPUBLICAN AGAINST IT.  A SPOKESMAN FOR MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER WOULD NOT IMMEDIATELY SAY WHETHER THE DEMOCRAT WOULD SIGN IT.  THE MEASURE WOULD ALLOW THE POLICE DEPARTMENT TO CHANGE ITS POLICY TO NO LONGER REQUIRE OFFICERS TO ARREST SOMEBODY WHO IS 18 AND OLDER FOR POSSESSING 30 GRAMS OR LESS OF MARIJUANA.  IT WOULD STILL BE PUNISHABLE BY A $25 FINE.  THE BILL'S SPONSOR, COUNCILMAN JIM KENNEY, ESTIMATES THAT THE NEW POLICY COULD SAVE THE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND THE COURTS $4 MILLION A YEAR.  NUTTER DOES NOT HAVE TO ACT ON THE BILL UNTIL SEPTEMBER.


  DEMOCRATIC GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE TOM WOLF'S CAMPAIGN COFFERS STILL SHOW THE STRAIN OF HIS FOUR-WAY PRIMARY BATTLE.  WOLF, A BUSINESSMAN WHO POURED $10 MILLION INTO HIS WINNING CAMPAIGN AND LEADS GOV. TOM CORBETT IN THE POLLS, REPORTED THURSDAY THAT HE RAISED $3.5 MILLION OVER THE FIVE WEEKS THAT ENDED JUNE 9.  BUT HIS CASH ON HAND CONTINUES TO HOVER AROUND $3 MILLION.  CORBETT WAS UNOPPOSED FOR THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION. HE HAS $4.8 MILLION IN THE BANK, EVEN THOUGH HIS RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN SPENT MONEY TWICE AS FAST AS IT CAME IN DURING THE WEEKS SURROUNDING PENNSYLVANIA'S MAY PRIMARY.  CORBETT RECEIVED $1.4 MILLION IN CONTRIBUTIONS BUT SPENT NEARLY $3 MILLION.  THAT PUSHED HIS TOTAL EXPENDITURES TO MORE THAN $11 MILLION.


  A U.S. SENATOR IS URGING THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO TIGHTEN PROCEDURES AFTER A CONGRESSIONAL AUDIT FOUND SECURITY PROBLEMS AT COMPANIES USING RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL.  IN A LETTER TO THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION, SEN. BOB CASEY OF PENNSYLVANIA SAID HE WAS TROUBLED THAT THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE FOUND AT LEAST TWO CASES IN WHICH EMPLOYEES WITH CRIMINAL HISTORIES WERE GRANTED UNESCORTED ACCESS TO HIGH-RISK RADIOBIOLOGICAL SOURCES.  THE CONCERN IS THAT A TERRORIST COULD USE STOLEN MATERIAL IN A SO-CALLED DIRTY BOMB.  CASEY IS SEEKING TIGHTER RULES THAT WOULD DISQUALIFY A PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEE IF THE PERSON HAD A CONVICTION FOR TERRORISTIC THREATS.  NRC SPOKESMAN DAVID MCINTYRE SAID HE COULDN'T COMMENT UNTIL THE AGENCY REVIEWS THE LETTER.  THE AUDIT WAS BASED ON VISITS TO 33 INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES, INCLUDING SOME IN PENNSYLVANIA.


  PENNSYLVANIA IS SUING OIL COMPANIES OVER THE GROUNDWATER POLLUTION CAUSED BY LEAKS AND SPILLS OF GASOLINE CONTAINING THE ADDITIVE MTBE.  THE OFFICES OF ATTORNEY GENERAL KATHLEEN KANE AND GOV. TOM CORBETT SAID LAWSUITS WERE FILED THURSDAY IN PHILADELPHIA CITY COURTS.  THE LAWSUITS COME IN THE WAKE OF A U.S. SUPREME COURT DECISION IN APRIL NOT TO OVERTURN A $105 MILLION VERDICT AGAINST EXXON MOBIL FOR CONTAMINATING NEW YORK CITY'S GROUNDWATER.  VERMONT FILED A SIMILAR MTBE LAWSUIT EARLIER THIS MONTH AND NEW HAMPSHIRE LAST YEAR WON A $236 MILLION VERDICT AGAINST EXXON MOBIL.  PENNSYLVANIA IS SEEKING TO RECOVER MILLIONS OF STATE TAXPAYER DOLLARS SPENT TO CLEAN UP MTBE, AS WELL AS DAMAGES AND PENALTIES FOR MARKETING MTBE DESPITE THE OIL COMPANIES' KNOWING IT WAS A POTENT THREAT TO GROUND WATER.


  IN FEBRUARY A PITTSBURGH POLICE DOG WAS KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY.  THAT PROMPTED DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATOR MATT SMITH TO TRY TO STIFFEN THE PENALTIES FOR HARMING A POLICE ANIMAL.  "THIS KIND OF OFFENSE IS NOT GOING TO BE ACCEPTED AND WE WILL CERTAINLY BRING THE FULL WEIGHT OF PENNSYLVANIA LAW AGAINST A PERPITRATOR IN AN INCIDENT LIKE THIS," SMITH SAYS.  THE SENATE HAS UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED SMITH'S BILL, WHICH HIKES MAXIMUM JAIL TIME FOR SOMEBODY HARMED A POLICE ANIMAL FROM SEVEN YEARS TO TEN YEARS AND THE MAXIMUM FINE FROM $15,000 UP TO $25,000.  GOVERNOR TOM CORBETT IS EXPECTED TO SIGN THE BILL.


  ATLANTIC CITY'S REVEL CASINO HOTEL IS BACK IN BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR THE SECOND TIME IN LITTLE OVER A YEAR.  THE CASINO IS ASKING A BANKRUPTCY COURT JUDGE TO ALLOW IT TO OPERATE NORMALLY WHILE UNDER CHAPTER 11 PROTECTION.  REVEL IS SEEKING A BUYER THROUGH A BANKRUPTCY COURT SALE, BUT WARNS THAT IT MAY SHUT DOWN IF A BUYER CANNOT BE FOUND.  NO TIMETABLE HAS BEEN SET FOR A SALE.  THE CASINO THAT COST $2.4 BILLION TO BUILD WOULD BE EXPECTED TO SELL FOR A STEEP DISCOUNT IN BANKRUPTCY COURT.  A BANKRUPTCY FILING LAST YEAR WIPED OUT 82 PERCENT OF REVEL'S DEBT, BUT FINANCIAL IMPROVEMENT IT HAS MADE SINCE THEN WASN'T ENOUGH TO PREVENT A SECOND TRIP THROUGH CHAPTER 11.


  EMPLOYEES OF MANY NEW JERSEY SCHOOL DISTRICTS MAY SOON BE ALLOWED TO LIVE OUT OF STATE WITH NO QUESTIONS ASKED.  A STATE SENATE COMMITTEE ON THURSDAY ADVANCED A BILL THAT WOULD ALLOW EMPLOYEES OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN 10 COUNTIES NEAR THE BORDER WITH NEW YORK OR PENNSYLVANIA TO LIVE OUT OF STATE.  IT WOULD BE A MAJOR REVISION TO A 2011 STATE LAW THAT REQUIRED PUBLIC WORKERS AT ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT IN NEW JERSEY TO LIVE IN THE STATE, THOUGH IT ALLOWS EXCEPTIONS FOR CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.  ADVOCATES FOR THE CHANGE SAY THE RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT HAS MADE IT TOUGHER TO RECRUIT EDUCATORS.

 

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