The Brief: No Peace for the SRC

Green Williams Clarke

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission approved five out of 39 applications for new charter schools yesterday night at the tail end of a meeting that featured four arrests and lasted five hours. The decision appeared to please no one. One prominent national ed reformer called on SRC Chairman Bill Green to resign, for not approving enough charter applicants. Pretty much simultaneously, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten condemned the decision to approve any new charter schools. Gov. Wolf issued a statement saying his administration “continues to believe that the district’s financial situation cannot responsibly handle the approval of new charter schools.” We haven’t heard yet from Republicans in the General Assembly, but you can bet they would like to have seen more new charters than the five the SRC authorized. Read more »

Kane Asks Court to Quash Grand Jury

Kathleen Kane

Attorney General Kathleen Kane has made her case why the Pennsylvania Supreme Court should quash a grand jury that has recommended she face charges related leaking secret case information to the media.

“Kane’s defense attorneys claimed in legal filings Wednesday that Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter had no legal authority to appoint a special prosecutor to lead a grand jury media leak probe,” the Morning Call reports. “Kane’s attorneys say Carpenter could not appoint a special prosecutor with subpoena powers because the state’s special prosecutor law expired in 2003. Such a unilateral appointment would have been illegal under the old law, which said a randomly selected three-judge panel could vote to appoint a special prosecutor, not an individual judge, the legal brief states.”

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Kane to Defend Wolf in Open Records Case

Kathleen Kane may be in a fight for her political life, but there’s still business to be done.

Her office said Tuesday it will defend new Gov. Tom Wolf from a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania Senate Republicans after Wolf fired Erik Arneson, the state’s new open records chief who was given a last-second appointment by then-Gov. Tom Corbett as he left office.

“Our office is representing the Governor’s Office,” Kane spokesman Aaron Sadler told PennLive.

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Kane Grand Jury: Scale Back Reporters’ Shield Law Because Our Job Was Hard

A new grand jury report is calling for weakening the Pennsylvania “Shield Law” that protects journalists from being forced to reveal their confidential sources. Why, you wonder? Surely there must be a good reason for undermining the freedom of the press, right?

Nahhhh.

The report was provided to the news media by a special prosecutor investigating allegations that Attorney General Kathleen Kane leaked material from a different grand jury to the Philadelphia Daily News. Earlier this month, the special prosecutor subpoenaed two journalists at the Philadelphia Inquirer to try to uncover their sources for a report that a grand jury had recommended charges against Kane. The Inky fought back by invoking Pennsylvania’s awesome Shield Law, one of the strongest in our country.

And now the grand jury wants to blow a hole through that law, by adding a “criminal-fraud” exception for grand jury proceedings. Translation: If someone allegedly violates grand-jury secrecy rules while providing information a reporter, that reporter could be compelled to reveal their source.

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Docs: Grand Jury Recommended Charges Against Kane

Documents released today by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court confirm that a grand jury has recommended charges be brought against Attorney General Kathleen Kane for the leak of information from an earlier grand jury.

The documents were unsealed as part of a broader court battle involving Kane, who is challenging the authority of the special prosecutor who led the grand jury, as well as the judge who appointed the prosecutor.

“Kane’s defense team argued a Montgomery County judge had no authority to appoint a special prosecutor to run a grand jury under state law and the state constitution’s separation of powers clause prohibits the court from investigating a member of the executive branch, Kane,” The Morning Call reports. “The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied the motion to quash the grand jury and unsealed the records as requested by Kane’s defense lawyers.”
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Six Burning Questions About Grand Jury Leaks

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane looks on before newly elected members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are sworn in, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Republicans who control both the Senate and House picked up additional seats in the November election. In the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats 119 to 84 and in the Senate, 30 to 20. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane looks on before newly elected members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are sworn in, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa. Republicans who control both the Senate and House picked up additional seats in the November election. In the House, Republicans outnumber Democrats 119 to 84 and in the Senate, 30 to 20. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

The scepter still hangs over Kathleen Kane’s head.

It’s been a couple of weeks now since the Inquirer reported that a grand jury recommended the Pennsylvania attorney general be indicted for leaking the secrets of a previous grand jury. And it’s been nearly as long since the Inquirer revealed that two of its reporters had been subpoenaed for the apparent leak of information from Kane’s grand jury.

We’re still waiting to find out if the Montgomery County District Attorney will accept or reject the grand jury’s recommendation. But there’s an obvious absurdity in this scandal, now that we’ve reached the point that a leak about a leak is being investigated.

How did we get to this point, anyway? The answer may be easier to find if we understand Pennsylvania’s grand jury process. We talked with several experts who were unconnected to the Kane case, and would not comment specifically on it — choosing instead to describe the grand jury process in general terms. (We also relied on the Pennsylvania code concerning grand juries.)

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Kane Lawyer: Inky Reporters Are “Wrong Target”

Kathleen Kane’s lawyer on Tuesday said that two reporters from the Inquirer should not be subpoenaed by investigators trying to determine who leaked information from grand jury proceedings suggesting that charges had been recommended against her.

The Inquirer revealed the existence of the subpoena on Monday. Tuesday, Lanny Davis said the leak should be investigated — but not by targeting journalists.
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Daryl Metcalfe Calls Kathleen Kane a Woman!

Kathleen Kane

When I was 8, I had a habit of chewing gum at school, even though it wasn’t allowed. My preferred brand was Bubble-Yum, which was rumored to be filled with spider eggs, but was the most plush, pillowy, bubble-friendly gum imaginable. I may have been picked last for every team, but I could blow better bigger bubbles than anyone I knew. It was the closest I got to athletic success.

I was sent to the principal’s office a number of times for my gum-chewing. This was in 1976 at a school founded by a progressive, idealistic group of parents who would absolutely have considered themselves in tune with the most liberal social movements, feminism among them. Yet the principal told me that the reason my affront was so grave was that chewing gum was “unladylike.” She said, “Don’t you want to be a lady, Elizabeth?”

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