The Brief: Supreme Court Candidate Gave Homophobe-Baiting Defense

LGBT advocates say former defense attorney Michael George made "repulsive" arguments during a 1988 murder trial.

Adams County, Pa., Judge Michael George speaks during a Pennsylvania Supreme Court debate, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, at the Widener University Commonwealth Law School in Harrisburg, Pa. On Nov. 3, voters will fill three vacancies on the seven-member state Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Adams County, Pa., Judge Michael George speaks during a Pennsylvania Supreme Court debate, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. | Photo by Matt Slocum/AP

1. LGBT advocates say Adams County President Judge Michael George, who is running in the state Supreme Court race as a Republican, gave a “repulsive” defense in a 1988 murder case.

The gist: In 1988, Claudia Brenner and her girlfriend Rebecca Wight were shot near the Appalachian Trail. Wight was killed at the scene. Stephen Roy Carr is now serving life in prison for first-degree murder. His lawyer in the case was George. The Philadelphia Daily News reports that during the trial, “George delved deep into Brenner’s sex life with Wight, hoping to get some residents — and potential jurors — in conservative Adams County to speculate about whether the couple’s sexual orientation might have provoked Carr into opening fire.” George himself said in an interview afterward that, “In a way, we wanted to get the local folks talking more about the lesbianism than the murder.” LGBT-rights advocate Ted Martin called George’s defense “repulsive” and told the Daily News he is worried about the possibility of George ruling on hate-law legislation and other LGBT issues on the state Supreme Court.

Why it matters: At this point, you may be wondering: What are George’s chances of winning a Supreme Court seat? According to, George was the worst fundraiser among both Democratic and Republican candidates for the Supreme Court in the most recent filing period. He “took in less than $90,000 in contributions and had about $185,000 on hand.” Only Independent candidate Paul Panepinto brought home less money. However, George does have powerful friends: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the state’s Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed him, along with some business and anti-abortion groups.

2. There’s at least one politician left in Philly who is still publicly making the case for patronage.

The gist: In the era of civil service exams and good-government campaigns, it’s not every day that you hear elected officials in Philadelphia strongly defend “patronage,” the practice of hiring politically-connected residents. But Register of Wills Ronald Donatucci is happily keeping that flame alive. In a great profile written by the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Claudia Vargas, Donatucci says, “I’m proud of this office. It’s patronage. … It works.” Donatucci is up for reelection next month. Ross Feinberg, Donatucci’s GOP opponent, said he would help to shut down the Register of Wills office if elected. Under Feinberg’s plan, the court system would take over the office’s duties.

Why it matters: The Inquirer does a good job of laying out the stakes in the Register of Wills race, which is one of the most under-covered races this season. Do you think patronage is abhorrent and that the Register of Willis office should be abolished? Then vote for Feinberg. Do you think the office is running smoothly? Or are you a ward leader’s cousin? Then vote for Donatucci.

3. Ten thousand poor Philadelphians could lose Internet access next week.

The gist: Technically Philly reports that Sprint is pulling the plug on its WiMAX network, part of which is owned by nonprofits Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon. Those institutions offer low-cost Internet service to impoverished Philadelphians, and are suing Sprint, claiming that their customers’ Internet speeds will slow down in some cases after WiMAX is closed. According to Sprint, this is all just a “contract dispute” and other partners have moved onto the company’s new network LTE without any trouble. But Technically Philly says the upshot of this disagreement is big:

 What’s certain is that if it doesn’t get straightened out by Nov. 6, customers in Philadelphia will lose access to their home Internet.

That includes the 2,300 local customers of JumpWireless, a two-year-old Mobile Citizen reseller who provides Internet to those affiliated with nonprofits like Philadelphia FIGHT, which supports those living with HIV/AIDS, and Career Wardrobe, which helps women get into the workforce. They also have customers who are residents of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Why it matters: Yes, there’s another company in town that you might have heard of, which provides discounted Internet service to low-income residents. But Comcast’s “Internet Essentials” program is only available to Philadelphians who have a school-aged child. That means that many seniors, who are disproportionately impacted by the digital divide, among others, are ineligible. Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon help fill in those gaps.