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Accused of molesting a teenage girl, Kentucky lawmaker refuses to resign

Kentucky lawmaker Dan Johnson is refusing to resign amid accusations he molested a member of his church when she was 17.

State leaders from both parties are calling for Johnson’s immediate resignation after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting (KyCIR) published an expose Monday detailing allegations of how the Republican state representative — and self-proclaimed “Pope” of his Louisville church — woke his daughter’s friend during a sleepover in 2013 and forced himself on her, slipping his hands up her shirt and bra and putting his fingers in her vagina.

“What you did was beyond mean, it was evil,” the victim said she wrote in a Facebook message to him shortly after the incident, according to KyCIR.

Johnson on Tuesday denied the accusations.

“This allegation concerning this lady, this young girl, absolutely has no merit, these are unfounded accusations, totally,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/12/12/accused-of-molesting-a-teenage-girl-kentucky-lawmaker-refuses-to-resign/?utm_term=.7ca40e0fee0f

General Assembly to track sexual harassment complaints against lawmakers

Maryland will track allegations of sexual harassment made against state lawmakers, and politicians who violate the state’s code of conduct can be expelled from the legislature.

Leaders of the General Assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to update the guidelines for reporting and tracking complaints against state lawmakers — though the identity of the accused wrongdoer will remain confidential.

The new policies come amid a national conversation about holding accountable people accused of sexual misconduct, and they follow a tide of allegations of impropriety by high-profile men in Hollywood, the media and politics.

“This is a watershed moment in time, and we want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly, that there’s a place that they can go, and that there’s a remedy,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said at the start of the Legislative Policy Committee meeting in Annapolis, where the new policy was approved.

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-sex-assault-20171212-story.html

Panel pushes for cost savings in state employee health care

DOVER — The committee that reviews health benefits offered to state employees voted Monday to make some changes to copays in an effort to encourage workers to seek better and cheaper care.

The State Employee Benefits Committee lowered some copays while raising others, potentially saving the state around $2 million. Copays for basic imaging, currently $20, will go to $35 when a patient visits a hospital-based facility but will be zero for free-standing facilities. State employees who use freestanding sites for MRIs and CT scans will continue to have no copay, but the fee for using a hospital for those services jumps from $35 to $50. For outpatient lab work, non-preferred labs will now carry a $20 copay while preferred labs will remain at $10.

Additionally, as part of a plan to encourage competition, certain facilities will be designated “centers of excellence” for orthopedic and spine procedures. Those that do not receive the title will carry higher copays for the select care for individuals with state health benefits.

“The State Employee Benefits Committee today made some minor adjustments that will incentivize employees to use services that provide the best value for what is needed for their health care and we’ll continue to monitor going forward what our experience is with regard to the slight changes in copays,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mike Jackson said after the meeting.

Read more: https://delawarestatenews.net/news/panel-pushes-cost-savings-state-employee-health-care/

Wilmington councilman proposes ban on fake guns for kids

Youth in Wilmington will be prohibited from using fake guns if a new law is passed.

An ordinance, introduced Thursday, would make it illegal to sell fake guns to minors and would make it unlawful for minors to possess fake guns without the supervision of a guardian. The law would also make it illegal to remove or obscure characteristics of fake guns that show they are imitations, including the orange plug.

"The close resemblance of many imitation firearms to real firearms creates confusion and alarm in law enforcement officers and the general public when such imitation firearms are displayed or brandished in public," the ordinance states.

Violators would be assigned community service, the ordinance states.

Read more: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2017/12/07/wilmington-councilman-proposes-ban-fake-guns-youth/918839001/

MARC trains to UD? Possibility inches closer with award of Newark train station contract

A likely expansion of passenger rail service to the University of Delaware inched closer last week when the state awarded its second contract to reconstruct the Newark Train Station.

Wilmington-based Bancroft Construction Company won the phase-2 contract with a $7.6 million bid – nearly double a state engineer's $3.8 million cost estimate.

With the award, Bancroft crews will construct a station building for waiting passengers that includes bathrooms and a ticket window. The work is expected to last 453 days, according to contract documents.

It is one part of a larger undertaking by the state and federal government to expand rail facilities and track capacity in Newark at a cost of $62.3 million.

Read more: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/2017/12/11/marc-trains-ud-possibility-inches-closer-award-newark-train-station-contract/939943001/

Former Farenthold staffer says Texas congressman made lewd jokes about women with aides

WASHINGTON — A former spokeswoman for Corpus Christi Rep. Blake Farenthold used a podcast on Monday to back up another former aide’s accusations that he engaged in inappropriate sexual banter with staff.

The first accuser, Lauren Greene — who also once served as Farenthold’s communications director — received an $84,000 settlement after suing Farenthold in 2014 for sexual harassment, gender discrimination and a hostile work environment. The four-term Republican has maintained his innocence and recently vowed to repay taxpayers.

Elizabeth Peace has not accused Farenthold of sexual harassment during the nearly two years she worked as his communications director. Still, in a podcast on her personal website, she said he made sexual jokes about women, gossiped about lawmakers who were having affairs, and oversaw an office culture in which some staffers — like Farenthold — made lewd jokes and comments.

“My boss would make sexual jokes about women and I didn’t stand up and say: ‘That’s offensive,’ ” Peace, a former television news anchor, said in her “Girl, Let’s Talk” podcast. She added that about a “half dozen times, I did say: ‘Congressman, you can’t say that’ or ‘Congressman that’s not appropriate’ or ‘Congressman, there’s an intern in the room.’ ”

Read more: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/12/11/farenthold-former-staffer-says-texas-congressman-made-lewd-jokes-women-aides

Christie's Trenton state office buildings' plan ramrodded through last minute despite no resident su

TRENTON >> Capital city residents received an unexpected early Christmas present from Gov. Chris Christie — whether they wanted it or not.

After deciding last month to hold off a plan to tear down and construct two new state office buildings in Trenton until Gov.-elect Phil Murphy takes over, the State House Commission unanimously voted Thursday morning at a special meeting to forge ahead with the $220-million project during Christie’s final month in office.

In September 2016, Christie outlined his vision to bulldoze the state’s Taxation building at 50 Barrack St. and Health and Agriculture building, which is located at 369 S. Warren St., to free up space in Trenton for redevelopment.

A new seven-story, 175,000-square-foot building will be erected at the northwest corner of John Fitch Way and South Warren Street to house Taxation, and a five-story, 135,000-square-foot Health and Agriculture building will be constructed on the southwest corner of North Willow and West Hanover Streets. Both spaces are currently state-owned parking lots.

Read more: http://www.trentonian.com/general-news/20171207/christies-trenton-state-office-buildings-plan-ramrodded-through-last-minute-despite-no-resident-support

Former New Jersey governor hired friend for 'no-show' job

NEWARK >> A former New Jersey governor who is now chairman of the board at a major hospital recommended that the hospital hire a friend who was given a “no-show or low-show” job, according to a published report.

NJ.com reported former Republican Gov. Donald DiFrancesco made Jill Cooperman his assistant weeks after she was hired by University Hospital in Newark in 2014. Her salary soon rose and her title changed, spurring a whistleblower complaint.

The hospital board hired an outside law firm to investigate the accusation, and the firm found the complaint credible. The institution “had a high-level administrator without a clear job title, job description or supervisor,” the report said.

Cooperman declined to comment.

The report said Cooperman was “often absent from the office, that she often leaves work early or in the middle of the day and that her whereabouts are often unclear or unknown by her colleagues.”

Read more: http://www.trentonian.com/general-news/20171211/report-former-nj-governor-hired-friend-for-no-show-job

5 years and $350K later, city forced to rehire whistleblower

Nearly five years after Assistant City Attorney John McGovern was fired from Orange’s law department, he is back to work.

The rehiring of McGovern — a whistleblower who has spent the better part of the last several years in court over his wrongful firing — was a victory, appellate court judges ruled this year, not only over his termination, but also over a “tortured” court process, elongated and confused by the city’s inept and missing responses to court orders in the case.

“They were a disaster,” McGovern’s attorney, Ron Ricci, said in a phone interview of Orange’s response to McGovern’s lawsuit. In Ricci’s 21 years as an attorney, he said he’d “never seen anything like it.”

Questions about a medical leave

McGovern worked a part-time position in the city’s legal department, handling mostly worker’s compensation issues. In a November interview with NJ Advance Media, McGovern said he enjoyed the job for years, until early 2013, when he was asked to deal with the medical leave of a city clerk.

Read more: http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2017/12/5_years_and_350k_later_city_forced_to_rehire_whist.html

Another ex-day trader pleads guilty in multimillion-dollar insider trading ring

A former day-trader admitted to making more than $760,000 as part of a ring that stole confidential information from investment banks and their clients so they could trade on the information, federal authorities said.

Joseph Spera, 56, of Boca Raton, Florida, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and one count of securities fraud in U.S. District Court in Trenton, according to news releases from the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Federal authorities say Spera and his conspirators short-sold the securities of at least 13 public companies between June 2010 and July 2013 based on information obtained from the alleged ringleader, Stephen Fishoff, and others. It was Fishoff, according to the SEC, who recruited Spera and his childhood friend, Paul Petrello, into the ring.

Petrello and two others -- Fishoff's friend, Steven Constantin, and Fishoff's brother-in-law, Ronald Cherin -- have already pleaded guilty in federal court and await sentencing. They've also agreed to partial settlements with the SEC and may face additional monetary sanctions from the commission.

Read more: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2017/12/florida_man_convicted_in_multi-million_insider_tra.html
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