Top 5 Live-WURD Monday October 19
1. New rules for when Philadelphia police shoot
Under the Police Department’s new rules on shootings by officers, the Police Advisory Commission’s director will have equal standing with four deputy commissioners in deciding whether or not police actions are justified.
“It’s a dramatic change,” said commission director Kelvyn Anderson of the regulations that were made public last week and took effect last month. “We’ve been complaining all these years. Now we have access.”
The city’s police union has asked the state labor board to overturn the new regulations, and a hearing is set for January.
Most of the changes emerged after a March U.S. Department of Justice report that was critical of the way Philadelphia police use lethal force.
Departing Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had requested the inquiry after police-involved shootings spiked in 2012. That year, 58 people were shot by police.
2. Concerns deepen over school nursing shortage
Years of cuts, combined with a higher-than-usual number of retirements and other staffing challenges, have resulted in an unprecedented problem for the Philadelphia School District: Three city schools have no nursing coverage at all. Sixteen more have no regular coverage.
District officials blame the staffing challenges and say that they are working diligently to fill a handful of vacant positions, that they want to find ways to add health services despite a brutal budget.
But to those on the front line, those words ring false.
“This has nothing to do with what’s best for our kids – it has do with money and what they can cut,” said Denise Morris, the nurse at Lamberton Elementary, who feels fortunate to be assigned to just one school all week. “So many of our kids don’t have advocates, but this is unsafe.”
Superintendent William Hite last week said that he hasn’t been comfortable with the nurse staffing levels for “a long time.”
The district began exploring outsourcing some health services in the spring. Hite said he would do it only if it meant getting more nurses and other medical staff in schools.
3. Snake loose on SEPTA bus causes evacuation
An escaped four-foot snake slithering loose on a SEPTA bus caused a minor panic among passengers Sunday and prompted an emergency evacuation in West Philadelphia, according to transit authority officials.
A SEPTA spokesman said that a rider boarded the Route 52 bus just before 3 p.m. with the animal draped around his neck and hidden under his jacket.
Somewhere along the route the snake escaped and coiled itself in a compartment under a seat.
The driver pulled over near the intersection of 52nd Street and Westminster Avenue to evacuate the bus’ passengers. A SEPTA mechanic was later able to retrieve the animal after an hour and return it to its owner by dismantling part of the seat, transit authority spokesman Andrew Busch said.
“There was surely some excitement and some alarm among some folks upon seeing the snake and it getting away from the owner,” he said.
4. Wolf, Republicans talking budget, but not with each other
More than a week has passed since House Republicans defeated Gov. Wolf’s plan to fund the state’s spending plan through tax hikes. Neither the governor nor legislative leaders have returned to the bargaining table, instead leaving the talks to their staffers.
House Majority Leader Dave Reed said GOP staffers were negotiating under the assumption that Wolf’s signature proposal – increasing the personal income tax and sending the extra revenue to schools – was off the table.
“I think that brings the scope of discussions into a narrower area,” Reed said, offering pension reform, liquor privatization, and gambling expansion as potential revenue sources.
But the governor said nothing was off the table – and complained the GOP had not delivered a counter proposal.
School districts and nonprofits have been without state aid since July 1, either borrowing or cutting their way to survival.
5. Ebony Releases Controversial Cosby Show Cover
Ebony‘s November 2015 cover is upsetting a lot of Cosby Show fans. Two former cast members, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Raven-Symoné, have also weighed in.
The image depicts a smashed glass-covered vintage photo of Bill Cosby, who has made headlines over resurfaced sexual assault allegations, and the rest of the cast of the hit ’80s family comedy series.
“This is our annual Family Issue and we decided, after much deliberation, to go with a focus on what we felt was an urgent and provocative conversation happening within the Black community,” Ebony said in a statement to E! News. “It wasn’t just about making a statement; the cover is also asking questions.”
“Can we separate the man with 50 or more allegations of sexual assault and related crimes against him from the fictional, heroic father?” the statement said. “Should we? I think it is fair to say that no matter what someone feels about our cover, Ebony is not the reason there is a shattered family image we are dealing with. This is a moment of reflection, for many Black people, a painful one for different reasons.”
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon