Archive: May, 2010
As Congress reauthorizes the Child Nutrition Act that funds school meals, it should remember the adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
At issue is the Universal Feeding program, which allows more than 110,000 Philadelphia students to eat free lunches without having to fill out applications.
Because the city has such a high poverty rate, the school district basically deems all students eligible. The Department of Agriculture approved the concept when it began the “pilot” program in 1991. But now the federal government wants the district to require more paperwork to determine who gets a free meal.
It’s the first day of June, and you know what that means in Harrisburg — only 30 days until the legislature misses the deadline for approving the state budget.
If that’s a cynical assessment, it’s also one with ample precedent. The seven previous annual budgets submitted by Gov. Rendell failed to receive the legislature’s approval by the legally required deadline of June 30.
Due to persistently low tax collections in the weak economy, this year the state is facing a budget deficit of about $1.3 billion. Only a few months ago, officials were hoping the deficit would be half that much.
Now that a state panel has reported its findings from investigating Luzerne County’s “kids for cash” scandal, Gov. Rendell and court officials should act swiftly to implement needed reforms.
The Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice was created last August to look into charges that two juvenile-court judges took millions of dollars in kickbacks to place young offenders in for-profit detention centers.
Federal authorities charged Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. with racketeering. Conahan has agreed to plead guilty, while Ciavarella awaits trial. The scandal led the state Supreme Court to toss out thousands of juvenile convictions.
The once-obscure Jersey Shore legislator Daniel Van Pelt became famous last summer when the feds rounded him up with a busload of other officials and — why not? — rabbis. This month, he was convicted of taking a $10,000 bribe from Solomon Dwek, a corrupt developer turned prolific federal informant.
The verdict followed a three-week trial that featured a fascinating defense. His lawyers argued that Van Pelt thought Dwek’s payment was no bribe, but rather the first “retainer” of his new career — consulting.
While the difference between a fee and a bribe might seem obvious, recent history suggests it isn’t to New Jersey politicians. Here, then, are a few questions to help confused Garden State officials determine whether they are in fact consultants or criminals: