Philadelphia, PA

Justice Dept: SFX excludes diabetics

April 09, 2002
The Justice Department sued the world's largest concert promoter Tuesday, claiming the company's ban on hypodermic needles at its shows discriminates against people with diabetes.
     The federal suit accuses Houston-based SFX Entertainment Inc. of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by forcing music fans to choose between missing a show or taking an unreasonable health risk.
    Many diabetics carry an insulin injection pen or syringe and blood testing equipment, and can experience life-threatening diabetic attacks at any time, the suit said. 

Some disabled to get more test time

February 27, 2002
Physically disabled law school applicants may be given extra time to take the Law School Admission Test if they can show they were granted the same accommodation on another standardized admissions test, the Justice Department says.
     The department announced a settlement of its 2-year-old lawsuit against the Newtown, Pa.-based Law School Admission Council, which annually administers the half-day standardized test of reading and verbal reasoning skills to more than 100,000 law school applicants.
     The settlement announced Tuesday affects dozens of physically disabled law school applicants who were denied additional time to take the LSAT. 

HUD'S excuses: A house of cards

February 19, 2002
Last month's tale of a home buyer who got snookered after settlement drew a slew of responses from folks with similar tales of woe. And as the horror stories mounted, officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) once again came up with laughable explanations and excuses for the not-so-mysterious thefts and disappearances.
     The saga began with Antoinette "Toni" Mann, who bought a charming 1950s-era Olney twin last fall only to discover after writing the $53,000 check that someone had stolen her furnace, nine antique sconces, and 11 glass doorknobs. She found skid marks on the basement floor where the heater had been dragged out, and live electrical wires hanging from the walls.
     Mann, a University of Pennsylvania researcher, wouldn't stomach the $6,000 loss. She demanded reimbursement from HUD and Golden Feather Realty Services, which has a King of Prussia office and a $236 million contract to manage 9,500 HUD properties across the country - including 600 in Philadelphia. 

Reform Jews seek synagogue in Philly

January 08, 2002
In an unusual pairing, the state attorney general's office and the American Civil Liberties Union are asking a suburban community to let a congregation of Reform Jews turn a former Roman Catholic convent into a synagogue.
     Congregation Kol Ami has been trying to move into the Abington Township site for two years. The group hopes to start a synagogue and school in the community north of Philadelphia.
     Its efforts have been held up by neighbors and officials, who argue the plan would bring excessive noise and traffic to the residential cul-de-sac shared with million-dollar homes. 

EEOC sues Allstate Insurance

December 28, 2001
The federal government is suing Allstate Insurance Co., accusing it of illegally converting thousands of agents to private contractors and forcing them to sign a waiver forfeiting their right to sue the company for age discrimination and other job issues.
      The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the lawsuit in federal court in Philadelphia on Thursday after a year of failed negotiations with the nation's second-largest insurer.
      The EEOC said the waiver violates non-retaliation clauses of federal labor law, including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Judge orders new trial for inmate

December 20, 2001
A judge Wednesday ordered a new trial for a death row inmate, saying the prosecutor engaged in a pattern of racial discrimination during jury selection.
     Judge David N. Savitt said the jury selection process "fatally" prejudiced the trial against William Basemore, who was convicted of the 1986 stabbing death of a security guard during a restaurant robbery.
     The prosecutor in the case used preemptory challenges to eliminate 19 potential jurors, all of whom were black. The judge said there was "a conscious strategy to exclude" black jurors. 

Court rejects INS detention arguments

December 20, 2001
Rejecting arguments that most deportees are flight risks, a federal appeals court said the Immigration and Naturalization Service must offer individual detention hearings to criminal aliens while they are waiting for deportation hearings.
     In a ruling that could affect thousands of detainees, the court ordered the INS to hold a detention hearing for Vinodbhai B. Patel, a St. Louis, Mo., business owner jailed since September 2000 after employing and housing an alien.
     Since 1996, the government has required that all immigrants who face deportation because of the crimes they have committed must stay in detention after they finish serving their time, regardless of how long the deportation process lasts. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  ruled Wednesday that the policy was unconstitutional. 

Pa. officers cleared in civil trial

November 08, 2001
Police are not responsible for the death of a high school football player who killed himself after officers allegedly threatened to tell his family he was gay, a federal jury decided late Wednesday.
     Jurors cleared three police officers in a civil lawsuit that claimed they caused 18-year-old Marcus Wayman's death in 1997 by threatening to tell his grandfather he was gay. 

Mother of suicidal teen-ager sues

November 05, 2001
In 1997, an 18-year-old high school football player in Minersville and a 17-year-old friend were stopped by police after leaving a party.
     Police charged the boys with underage drinking and, after finding the younger one with two condoms, took them to the station, where they were lectured on the Bible and homosexuality.
     The arresting officer, F. Scott Willinsky, allegedly asked if they were "queer" and threatened to tell their families they were gay. Marcus Wayman, the football player, told his friend he was going to kill himself. 

Beg, borrow, besieged: Homeowners fall prey

February 05, 2001
After Veronica Harding paid $7,500 cash for her house in 1980, she thought her financial future was secure. But today, rather than enjoying retirement, she faces $308 in monthly mortgage payments for the next 27 years. 
     By the time the 71-year-old Harding owns the house outright again, she will be 98. If Harding lives that long, a final $32,000 "balloon" payment is due.
     "I'm going to end up paying $1 million for this house," she joked.  Harding's saga began in 1997 when she needed money for repairs and updates to her rowhouse on West Hagert Street in North Philadelphia. What she got was a costly $35,000 predatory loan. 

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