November 26, 2013 in Nation/World

In brief: Child abuse cases to be reviewed

From Wire Reports
 

PHOENIX – A top Arizona government official says his department will review more than 6,000 unexamined reports of child abuse and neglect by next Monday – Dec. 2.

The director of the Department of Economic Security also says in a plan submitted Monday night that all reports forwarded to case workers will be investigated by Jan. 31.

Clarence Carter sent the plan to members of the Legislature’s Child Protective Services oversight committee.

Carter revealed the problems with the unexamined reports on Thursday and was grilled by members of the oversight committee. He then promised to formulate a plan to address the backlog.

Some Democrats have called on Carter to resign. But Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, is supporting him.

State police are reviewing how the mistakes happened.

Cocaine guilt spurs call for resignation

MIAMI – The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida on Monday called for U.S. Rep. Trey Radel to step down following his recent cocaine conviction.

Chairman Lenny Curry joined a growing number of Republican leaders from Radel’s district demanding his resignation.

Radel pleaded guilty to cocaine possession last week, acknowledging that he purchased 3.5 grams of cocaine last month from an undercover police officer. He has since taken a leave of absence and checked himself into a rehabilitation facility.

As part of a plea agreement, Radel admitted he agreed to buy the cocaine for $250 in a Washington neighborhood on Oct. 29. After the undercover officer gave Radel the drugs, federal agents confronted him, court documents show. Radel agreed to talk with the agents and invited them to his apartment, where he also retrieved a vial of cocaine he had in the home, the documents said.

Contractor charged in fatal wall collapse

PHILADELPHIA – A building contractor will face murder charges for a botched demolition in downtown Philadelphia that killed six people inside an adjacent store, officials announced Monday.

Prosecutors called Griffin Campbell “the center of culpability” for the June collapse, and said he ignored his client’s warning the night before that disaster was imminent.

“The tragic and preventable collapse … robbed our city of six amazing Philadelphians that perished in the rubble and left an additional 13 wounded,” Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said at a news conference. “The motive was greed.”

Campbell, 49, had a deadline to meet, was being paid a flat fee, and wanted to preserve as much salvageable material as he could, leading him to cut corners, Williams said. He charged Campbell with six counts each of third-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, along with other charges.

Griffin’s subcontractor, equipment operator Sean Benschop, had previously been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and remains in custody on $1.6 million bail.

The building owner who chose Campbell’s $112,000 bid to take down three attached storefronts – when other bids were two or three times that amount – was not charged Monday. And his architect was given immunity in exchange for his grand jury testimony.

The collapse occurred when an unsupported brick wall crashed down onto a smaller Salvation Army store, trapping shoppers and workers in rubble. Campbell was also charged with risking a catastrophe, conspiracy and endangerment.

High-speed rail hits judicial hurdle

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A judge on Monday tore up California’s funding plans for what would be the nation’s first bullet train, issuing separate orders that could force the state to spend months or years redrawing its plans for the $68 billion rail line.

Judge Michael Kenny rejected a request from the California High-Speed Rail Authority to sell $8 billion of the $10 billion in bonds approved by voters in 2008, saying there was no evidence it was “necessary and desirable” to start selling the bonds when a committee of state officials met last March.

He said the committee, which included state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, was supposed to act as “the ultimate ‘keeper of the checkbook’ ” for taxpayers, but instead relied on a request from the high-speed rail authority to start selling bonds as sufficient evidence to proceed.

In a separate lawsuit, Kenny ordered the rail authority to redo its $68 billion funding plan before continuing construction, a process that could take months or years, although rail authority officials believe it can be done much more quickly than that. He had previously ruled that the authority abused its discretion by approving a funding plan that did not comply with the requirements of the law. The judge said the state failed to identify “sources of funds that were more than merely theoretically possible.”

Oil leaks into river when towboat sinks

LECLAIRE, Iowa – A towboat sank in the Mississippi River near the Quad Cities-area community of LeClaire, releasing oil into the water, the Coast Guard said.

The Stephen L. Colby struck a submerged object Monday afternoon, which caused the vessel to sink. The Coast Guard said the nine members aboard the towboat made it to safety.

About 100,000 gallons of petroleum products were reportedly on board the sunken towboat operated by Marquette Transportation Co.

Capt. Byron Black of the Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River said the agency was assessing the situation along with the Environmental Protection Agency and local emergency crews.

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