Top 5 Live-WURD Thursday October 29
1. SC Sheriff: Officer Ben Fields fired, ‘disrespectful’ student to blame
The school resource officer who was caught on camera violently flipping a South Carolina high school student at her desk has been fired, Richland County authorities announced Wednesday.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said an internal investigation over the Monday incident at Spring Valley High School in Columbia focused on whether Senior Deputy Ben Fields had violated the department’s policies.
He said at a news conference that the department looked at cellphone videos taken from the classroom and interviews with witnesses, and concluded that the maneuvers he used in the confrontation were “not acceptable.”
“From the very beginning that’s what’s caused me to be upset, and continued to upset me is that he picked the student up and threw the student across the room,” Lott said.
Fields, 34, was initially suspended without pay, and the FBI, the Justice Department and state law enforcement have opened separate investigations into the brutal take down.
2. Surprise testimony during Fattah Jr.’s trial: FBI agent admits sharing information with The Inquirer
The lead investigator in the federal bank and tax fraud case against Chaka “Chip” Fattah Jr. testified in federal court Wednesday that he was a source for an Inquirer reporter and tipped her off to a 2012 raid by the FBI at Fattah’s Ritz-Carlton condo.
Under questioning from prosecutors, FBI Special Agent Richard Haag said he kept in contact with Inquirer reporter Martha Woodall for months during the investigation to learn more about Fattah’s work at a for-profit education firm that contracted with the Philadelphia School District.
In exchange, he said, he provided Woodall limited information about the federal investigation. He said he did not share any grand jury material with her or give her details about the course of the probe.
3. Auditor: Budget crisis could push school debt to $1 billion
More than two dozen school districts across Pennsylvania have borrowed $431 million to stay afloat during the state’s budget crisis, and the total could exceed $1 billion if there’s no deal by December, a top state official said Wednesday.
“We go from bad to borderline disastrous if something isn’t done before Thanksgiving,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said at Capitol news conference.
He spoke on the 120th day of Pennsylvania’s budget stalemate, right before the state Senate, led by a united Republican majority, tried and failed to override a previously-vetoed stopgap budget, which would have sent cash to schools and human services agencies while a final deal is negotiated.
The GOP needed three Democrats to break ranks and pass the plan, but the Democrats unanimously rejected the measure, echoing Gov. Wolf’s sentiment that legislators’ energy should be spent discussing a final accord.
Wolf has proposed using tax increases and a new levy on natural gas drillers to generate as much as $400 million in new funding for schools. But leaders of the GOP-led legislature have rejected Wolf’s plan, saying taxpayers don’t have the appetite for increased or new taxes.
4. House passes budget deal, Senate expected to act soon
Congress on Wednesday moved a step closer to clearing a bipartisan budget deal that would boost spending for domestic and defense programs over two years while suspending the debt limit into 2017. The House passed the bill on a 266 to 167 vote late Wednesday and Senate leaders have promised to quickly move it through the upper chamber.
The agreement would essentially end the often contentious budget battles between congressional Republicans and President Obama by pushing the next round of fiscal decision making past the 2016 election when there will be a new Congress and White House occupant.
House Republican leaders unveiled the proposal earlier this week and immediately faced challenges from conservatives upset over both the secretive negotiations that led to the agreement as well as the policies contained in the bill.
Some of this discontent was dealt with after a change was made to the bill late Tuesday night to ensure that the full cost of the $80 billion in new discretionary spending was offset by an equal amount of mandatory spending cuts and increased revenue.
5. 2016 Republicans vs. the media
Republican presidential candidates tore into CNBC’s moderators at Wednesday night’s GOP debate, issuing the sharpest attacks on the mainstream media of the 2016 election cycle.
Sen. Ted Cruz accused the moderators of trying to instigate a cage match, Sen. Marco Rubio called the media a super PAC for Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump slammed the “ridiculous questions.”
“I was very disappointed in the moderators. I’m disappointed in CNBC,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told reporters in the spin room in Boulder, Colorado.
“It’s like they tried to design a Rubik’s cube for every question to take the worst element, I think, of what the moderators and what the media should bring to the table. And all I can tell you is that while I’m pretty much proud of our candidates for pretty much sticking together, I’m very disappointed in the moderators and I’m very disappointed with CNBC.”
“People who want to be President of the United States should be able to answer tough questions,” he said in a statement late Wednesday night.
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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