PA Pols Want to Stop Locking Up Parents of Truant Students

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Is pressing charges against the parent of a habitually truant student a good idea?

State Sen. Vincent Hughes has a simple three-word answer: “Oh hell no.”

Hughes and a number of Democratic and Republican state senators are trying to remove that option from the table with a Senate bill that could overhaul the way schools address truancy across Pennsylvania. Read more »

Wait, How Many Public School Students Are Truant?

Photo | It's Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

Photo | It’s Our City via Flickr / Creative Commons

There was a moment during Monday’s marathon City Council hearing on youth gun violence that could have been punctuated with the jarring sound of an old record being scratched.

First Assistant District Attorney George Mosee told City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and other members of Council’s Committee on Public Safety that on any given day, almost 50 percent of Philadelphia public school kids aren’t in school.

The district has roughly 134,000 students. If that number were accurate, the city’s truancy problem would be indescribably bad, even by Hunger Games standards.

Karyn Lynch, chief student support officer for the School District of Philadelphia, testified that Mosee’s estimate was wrong — like, dramatically wrong. The council members repeatedly quizzed both Mosee and Lynch about truancy, exposing a simmering tension between the School District and the D.A.’s Office over how to drive down the number of kids who skip school.

We tried to sort things out today. Read more »

Deputy D.A. Recommends Arresting Johnny Doc, Gets Demoted

Seth Williams (left); John Dougherty (right)

Seth Williams (left); John Dougherty (right)

Was a high-ranking member of the District Attorney’s Office demoted over a controversial investigation into Local 98 leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty?

Multiple law enforcement sources have told Philadelphia magazine that Laurie Malone, a deputy district attorney who oversaw the office’s Pre-Trial Division, was abruptly reassigned to a lower ranking post last month, not long after she recommended filing criminal charges against Dougherty for allegedly punching a non-union electrician at a South Philly worksite in January. The D.A.’s office denies that there was internal disagreement on the matter.

The case has been a political hot potato. District Attorney Seth Williams referred it to embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane because of a “long-standing professional relationship” with Dougherty, the D.A.’s spokesman, Cameron Kline, has said. Local 98 has made political donations to Williams in the past.

It was a notable decision for a district attorney who had previously boasted about his willingness to pursue criminal investigations no matter where they lead. “There are no free passes when it comes to political corruption. You don’t get a pass just because you are a friend, or a member of my political party, or race,” Williams said last March, when he filed charges against three longtime Philadelphia politicians who were ensnared in the infamous Tyron Ali bribery case that Kane had refused to prosecute. Read more »

Deputy D.A. Recommends Arresting Johnny Doc, Gets Demoted

Seth Williams (left); John Dougherty (right)

Seth Williams (left); John Dougherty (right)


Was a high-ranking member of the District Attorney’s Office demoted over a controversial investigation into Local 98 leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty?

Multiple law enforcement sources have told Philadelphia magazine that Laurie Malone, a deputy district attorney who oversaw the office’s Pre-Trial Division, was abruptly reassigned to a lower ranking post last month, not long after she recommended filing criminal charges against Dougherty for allegedly punching a non-union electrician at a South Philly worksite in January. The D.A.’s office denies that there was internal disagreement on the matter.

The case has been a political hot potato. District Attorney Seth Williams referred it to embattled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane because of a “long-standing professional relationship” with Dougherty, the D.A.’s spokesman, Cameron Kline, has said. Local 98 has made political donations to Williams in the past. Read more »

5 Takeaways From the Alleged Johnny Doc Brawl

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

The Philadelphia Inquirer broke a bombshell of a story today: John Dougherty, the politically influential labor leader, was in a physical altercation with a nonunion electrician on January 21st at a worksite — but spokesman Frank Keel says Dougherty acted purely in self-defense.

According to Keel, contractor Joshua Keesee threatened Dougherty’s family members, and then Keesee “rushed John and threw a punch” at his head. “John Dougherty ducked the contractor’s punch and countered with a punch to the assailant’s face. That was the end of the incident,” says Keel. “We firmly believe that there should be no criminal or civil charges filed in this matter.” Keesee, though, has another story: He claims that Dougherty took the first hit, and broke his nose in the process.

City police are investigating, according to the Inquirer. District Attorney Seth Williams referred the matter to Attorney General Kathleen Kane, whose office said Tuesday that she “set up a conflict wall regarding the decision to accept or deny the referral and/or initiate charges.” That’s because Dougherty’s electricians union was a donor to her 2013 campaign. There’s a lot to chew on here, lots of potential impacts. Here are five takeaways from the incident: Read more »

The LeSean McCoy Saga Is Playing Out on Sports Talk Radio

LeSean McCoy. (USA Today Sports)

LeSean McCoy. (USA Today Sports)

Earlier today we told you about Philly FOP President John McNesby’s comments on LeSean McCoy. Speaking on the WIP Morning Show with Angelo Cataldi — yes, the same people who bring you Wing Bowl — the head of the cops’ union in Philly said he wanted LeSean McCoy charged with a crime stemming from a fight at the Old City club Recess.

Now District Attorney Seth Williams has responded on a different WIP show, the Mike & Ike Show with Michael Barkann and former Eagles player Ike Reese. Yes, the saga of ex-Eagles running back LeSean McCoy is playing out on sports talk radio. He isn’t even on the anymore!

“There is no timetable other than us getting it right,” Seth Williams said on the radio this afternoon. Read more »

Philly FOP Head Wants LeSean McCoy Charged

LeSean McCoy (Photo | Jeff Fusco). John McNesby

LeSean McCoy (Photo | Jeff Fusco). John McNesby

John McNesby, the head of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5, is incensed that LeSean McCoy has not been charged in an alleged beating at an Old City club that sent two off-duty cops to the hospital. He’s so angry about it he made an O.J. Simpson reference.

“I’ve never waited this long, ever, to see somebody arrested,” McNesby said on the 94 WIP morning show today (listen below). “So, it doesn’t pass the smell test. Something’s funny going on. I know that they have more discovery on this case then they had in the O.J. Simpson case. I mean it’s taken up rooms. So I mean, how much more do you need? All you have to do is clearly look at that video.” Read more »

Seth Williams Reacts to Lawsuit Report

Seth Williams

District Attorney Seth Williams today responded to a Daily News report that his office had settled a racial discrimination lawsuit with a former employee, taking to the paper’s letters-to-the-editor page to assert: “I am proud of my record, my decisions and the way I have run the District Attorney’s Office.”

The paper reported Tuesday that the suit was brought by MK Feeney, a white female homicide prosecutor who says she was fired in 2011, accused of being “untruthful” in the aftermath of a Daily News cover story about turmoil in the the prosecutor’s office. Her suit said that a fellow homicide prosecutor — a black man, and a member of the same fraternity as Williams — later confessed to leaking the info, but was not fired. The city settled the complaint for $190,000, and Williams admitted no wrongdoing.

“In the (Daily News) story, the reporter failed to mention two things,” Williams wrote today. “First, that he was the reporter who received the leaked information in 2011 from the individual profiled and failed to disclose that in his article. Second, that the individual who was not fired was treated differently because he was honest, remorseful and admitted that he conspired with the profiled employee to improperly share expungement information that could harm another assistant district attorney.”
Read more »

Report: City Settled Race Discrimination Suit Against D.A.

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

District Attorney Seth Williams | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

City Hall in 2014 settled a racial discrimination lawsuit aimed at District Attorney Seth Williams, the Daily News reported today.

The suit was brought by MK Feeney, a white female homicide prosecutor who says she was fired in 2011, accused of being “untruthful” in the aftermath of a Daily News cover story about turmoil in the the prosecutor’s office. Her suit said that a fellow homicide prosecutor — a black man, and a member of the same fraternity as Williams — later confessed to leaking the info, but was not fired. That man has since left the D.A.’s office.

“She would not have been fired if she was black. She was not the right color. She was not in the same fraternity,” a source told the paper. Read more »

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