Thursday, June 14, 2007

Thursday round-up

  • The Inquirer offers a profile of Josh Shapiro, who has ridden the reform wave (and his role in brokering the O'Brien speakership) to remarkable prominence in only his second term in the State House.

  • Somehow I missed this: apparently Councilwoman Reynolds-Brown, always at the forefont of Philadelphia's most pressing issues, engineered a resolution last week to declare Philly a "pro-choice city." Now grumbling among Republican councilfolk is leading to a reconsideration of the move (which passed by only 9-8). Meantime, the school board continues to crumble, people keep getting shot... tell me why we're working on symbolic measures? Story here and here.

  • The School Reform Commission is reviewing its deals with private contractors like Edison, and may revise the terms under which they are offered renewals.

  • The first free laptops have been given to low-income folk as part of Philadelphia's citywide wireless Internet program, with a total of 100 such computers (and support) to be given out this summer. The hope is that such computers will help people find work, as well as help children of low-income families keep up with their info-savvy peers.

  • City Council takes a pass on the hot casino issue, tabling two opposing bills until after summer vacation. I suspect that neither side is going to be happy about the delay, which appears mainly to be based in the hope that the state courts will again remove responsibility for this decision from local officials.

  • A federal judge has ruled that religious headwear can be banned by local police departments. The argument makes sense to me: when you see a police officer, you want to respond to the position they hold, not to some aspect of their personal beliefs or style, which is the whole reason for consistent uniforms. I sympathize with religious traditions, but I guess they should color one's choice of profession (as with pharmacists who claim to dislike a subset of their prescriptions).

  • Governor Rendell reports that Pennsylvania is showing signs of good financial health.

  • AAJane notes that Patrick Murphy is introducing legislation to look after homeless veterans, and judges that the measures suggested are good ones.

  • I've only been marginally following the serial date-rapist case, but that was enough to make me go ballistic over Christine Flowers' casual dismissal of anyone who'd find a date online (caus', you know, it's reasonable to think they're going to drug your drink). Anyway, more interesting is the fact noted by Jill Porter that expert testimony is excluded from rape cases in Pennsylvania, alone among the states. It's notable that the jurors asked for clarification of what it means to give consent, especially when under the influence of alcohol or other drugs; an expert might also clear up Ms. Flowers' misunderstanding of how a "proper victim" (cough) behaves after the fact.

  • Fire drill coming, gotta run. Two NJ stories on land-seizures and PATCO cards...


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