<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Philadelphia Political News and Philadelphia Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Thu, 02 Oct 2014 12:58:17 -0400 Thu, 02 Oct 2014 12:58:17 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Senator to College: Drop Convicted Cop Killer from Commencement]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:18:57 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/PHI+mumia+abu+jamal+042611.jpg

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey is calling for a Vermont college to rescind its offer to a convicted cop killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, to address their fall 2014 graduates during its Oct. 5 commencement ceremony.

"I cannot fathom how anyone could think it appropriate to honor a cold-blooded murderer," wrote Toomey (R - Pa.) in a letter to Goddard College's interim president, Robert Kenny. "What possible enlightenment can your students obtain from this man?"

Abu-Jamal, 60, is currently serving a life sentence at the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pa. for the 1981 murder of 25-year-old Philadelphia Officer Daniel Faulkner. 

Students in the fall 2014 graduating class selected Abu-Jamal, who is a 1996 Goddard College graduate, as their commencement speaker, according to a college spokeswoman. Abu-Jamal also hosts a radio show that airs on WGDR-WGDH Goddard Community Radio every Sunday.

The Goddard College president did not immediately respond to requests for comment. It is unclear if they will adjust the ceremony in response to the Senator's letter.

School officials announced Abu-Jamal as the speaker Monday, explaining his remarks were prerecorded and the short video will roll during the ceremony.

"Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that," Kenney said in a Goddard College news release Monday.

But Toomey disagrees, saying the dialogue sparked by including Abu-Jamal in commencement is a "slap in the face to Danny Faulkner's family, and to all of the law enforcement officers who risk their lives for us every day."

"Is there any crime so heinous that Goddard would not reward the perpetrator with a spot as commencement speaker?" Toomey asked. "This is not a question of free speech. It is a question of judgment and your school's basic sense of right and wrong."

"[What] lesson is Goddard teaching its students about their moral responsibilities, as members of a civil society, to their fellow citizens?" he continued. "Abu-Jamal has never apologized or expressed any regret for his heinous crime."

Celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg and others have publicly expressed their support for Abu-Jamal, who has gained followers from around the world claiming he was the victim of a racist legal system.

Yet the politician points out that the killer's claims the jury was racist "has been rejected by multiple state and federal courts and is belied by the facts."

Abu-Jamal was originally sentenced to death, but prosecutors later agreed to a life term after a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing, citing flawed jury instructions.

The commencement ceremony -- one of 20 Goddard holds each  year -- will begin at 4 p.m. Oct.  5 at the school's Haybarn Theatre at 123 Pitkin Road in Plainfield, Vermont. 

Goddard College is a liberal arts college with three locations -- Plainfield, Vermont; and Seattle and Port Townsend, Washington.

Contact Alison Burdo at 610.668.5635, alison.burdo@nbcuni.com or follow @NewsBurd on Twitter.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Philadelphia School Supporters Rally for Funding]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:00:31 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008255643_1200x675_336411715573.jpg Religious leaders and education advocates called for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and his opponent Tom Wolf to fund public schools.]]> <![CDATA[Tour (or Buy!) Jon Runyan's $5.8M Mansion]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 20:08:07 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Jon+Runyan+Home+credit+John+Martinelli.jpg

New Jersey Congressman and former Philadelphia Eagle, Jon Runyan is selling his seven-year-old Mt. Laurel home for $5.8 million. The posh mansion, a custom-built 23-acre French chateau, was designed by renowned architects David Donachy and Christopher Caulder. The 13,148-square-foot dwelling contains 5 bedrooms, 8 ½ baths, an elevator along with several other amenities. The house is located at 263 Mt. Laurel Rd., Mount Laurel, NJ.

Runyan played for the Eagles as an offensive tackler and helped them reach the Super Bowl in 2004. He is known for his commitment on the field as well as his commitment to community service. The player has involved himself with several non-profits in the Philly-South Jersey are, including the Leukemia-Lymphoma Society, the American Red Cross, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

In 2010, Runyan retired from the NFL and became New Jersey's third district congressman, beating Democrat John Adler. During his tenure in Washington, the congressman has served on several committees like the Armed Services Committee, the Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Natural Resources Committee.

Selling his house is not the only transition in Runyan's life. He is also stepping down from Congress and will not seek reelection. NJ.com reports that while he was honored to serve as a representative of New Jersey, he did not intend to make a career of politics. Spending time with his family is now his top priority.

Although Runyan is selling his Mt. Laurel mansion, his realtor Melissa Young said he plans to stay local, but hasn't decided which town or neighborhood his family will call home next.

Photo Credit: John Martinelli]]>
<![CDATA[CA Plastic Bag Ban Approved]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:23:45 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/212*120/Plastic+Bag+Ban+Store+Counter+copy.jpg

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags Tuesday.

The measure, first proposed by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

Moments after Brown signed the measure, the American Progressive Bag Alliance called it a “back room deal between grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism.”

The group plans to launch a referendum effort for the November 2016 ballot to repeal the measure.

San Diegan Laura Quinn-Stalker had mixed feelings about the news.

“Although I reuse my plastic bags constantly and will miss that,” she posted to NBC 7’s Facebook page, “I think this is important to do.”

“Won't see a dime saved in my pocket. Now, I have to buy garbage bags,” Oxnard resident Wade Wilson posted.

For years, a statewide plastic bag ban has been an elusive goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste in oceans and waterways that costs millions of dollars to cleanup.

About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2 Cities Aim to Cut Crime Through Federal Program]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:14:01 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008229410_1200x675_334843459735.jpg Wilmington, Delaware and Camden, New Jersey look to be selected to take part in a federal program aimed at cutting back city crime and violence. NBC10's Matt DeLucia reports.]]> <![CDATA[Bridgegate: Christie Under Fire]]> Sun, 26 Jan 2014 13:06:14 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/christie+gwb+scandal+inset.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[Philly's Gun-Carrying Mom Dances After Court Decision]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 14:54:08 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/shaneen+allen+after+pti+court+hearing_edited-1.jpg

Philly mom, Shaneen Allen, did a happy dance outside a New Jersey court Thursday morning after an Atlantic County prosecutor relented in her controversial gun-carrying case, allowing her to enter the same pretrial intervention program offered to former NFL star Ray Rice in his domestic abuse case.

"The last year has been hell for me. Insomnia, depression," said Allen, a 27-year-old mother of two who spent 46 days in a New Jersey jail -- and was facing up to 10 years in prison -- after crossing into the state with a handgun that she had a permit to carry in her home state of Pennsylvania. Her case raised questions of fairness and preferential treatment as well as a review of state law after people learned that the same prosecutor and judge who denied leniency in her case, allowed Rice to avoid jail time by entering the pretrial program. Rice was charged after punching his fiancée in an elevator at the Revel Casino, knocking her unconscious.

"There is no explanation. I did nothing wrong, other than a simple mistake," Allen said.

On October 1, 2013, Allen was pulled over in Atlantic County for a routine traffic stop. When the officer approached her vehicle, she informed him that she had a handgun in the car and presented her concealed carry permit for Pennsylvania. Allen quickly learned that her Pennsylvania gun license held no legal weight in New Jersey when instead of getting a traffic ticket, she was arrested and charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and armor penetrating bullets.

Records show the director of Atlantic County’s Pretrial Intervention recommended Allen for the program, but prosecutor Jim McClain and Superior Court Judge Michael Donio denied Allen’s acceptance into PTI.

After the controversy made headlines, McClain asked Judge Donio for time to review the case.

On Wednesday, the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office released a clarification of the 2008 "Graves Act" directive, which deals with incidents in which out-of-state residents who hold a valid permit to carry a firearm in their home state are arrested in New Jersey and charged with illegal possession of a firearm under New Jersey law.

According to the clarification a defendant may "avoid conviction for a Graves Act crime by being admitted to the PTI program." The clarification also states that under New Jersey law prosecutors are "not permitted to reject categorically a defendant's application for PTI on the grounds that he or she is charged with a crime that is subject to the presumption of imprisonment or a mandatory minimum sentence."

Upon reviewing the clarification, McClain allowed Allen to enter the PTI program. If she completes it, her charges will be dropped.

"Life definitely begins for me today," Allen said. "I'm giving them depression pills back!" She is also entertaining the idea of becoming an advocate for people in similar circumstances.

"I know young ladies and young men going through the same thing. They lost jobs, some are in jail," Allen said. "I'm not just doing it for me. I'm doing it for all the Shaneen Allens out there so this never happens again."

Allen, who broke down in court Thursday, hugged her sons, 11 and 3, outside of court. Despite how much she loves Jersey, Allen said she won't be back anytime soon.

Photo Credit: Cydney Long]]>
<![CDATA[NBC10 @Issue: NJ Domestic Abuse Bills]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:46:46 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008186790_1200x675_332596291875.jpg no description]]> <![CDATA[Pa. Lobbyist Accused of Sexually Assaulting Woman ]]> Sun, 21 Sep 2014 07:54:24 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AJ-Marsico.jpg

A Pennsylvania lobbyist was arrested Saturday after he allegedly raped a woman inside a Center City hotel.

A.J. Marsico, 40, is accused of sexually assaulting a 27-year-old woman at the Hyatt at the Bellevue on the 200 block of South Broad Street back on August 21.

Marsico was arrested at his apartment on the 1400 block of South Penn Square. He is charged with indecent assault, aggravated assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault and other related offenses.

Marsico is a senior associate at Greenlee Partners, a Pennsylvania government affairs firm. He is also the younger brother of Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico Jr. and cousin of Ron Marsico, a Pennsylvania state representative.

Marsico is also the husband of Action News reporter Annie McCormick. Marsico maintains his innocence, says his attorney, Fortunato N. Perri Jr.

This story is developing. Stay with NBC10.com for updates.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Hugh E. Dillon/The Philly Post]]>