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Cory Booker Would Be Front-Runner In Prospective 2014 New Jersey Senate Race, Poll Finds
Nov-29-2012 472 0


Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) would likely fare well in New Jersey's 2014 Senate race, according to a poll released Thursday by the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling.

If Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) doesn't run for reelection, 48 percent of Democrats would support Booker, putting him far ahead of potential rivals Rob Andrews and Frank Pallone, PPP found. Nearly six in 10 Democrats said they'd rather see Booker run than Lautenberg, while 22 percent would rather see the current senator stay in place.

Lautenberg, who is 88, has refused to comment on his 2014 plans. His spokesman told NJ.com that he is focused on rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, and that "retirement is the last thing on his mind."

In the general election, Booker would defeat one possible Republican candidate, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, 52 percent to 29 percent, PPP found. Lautenberg would win 48 to 33 percent against the same opponent.

“Democrats will likely hold onto their Senate seat in New Jersey regardless of their 2014 candidate,” said Dean Debnam, PPP's president.

Booker would face longer odds if he entered the 2013 gubernatorial race against New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), whose approval ratings have shot up since his handling of the storm. A Quinnipiac poll found Christie leading Booker by 18 points in a hypothetical matchup. Lautenberg recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he's not sure any Democrat could win against Christie.

The PPP polled surveyed 600 New Jersey voters between Nov. 26 and Nov. 28, and had a 4 percent margin of error. An oversample of 300 Democratic primary voters had a 5.6 percent margin of error.

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wfaa Jun-23-2016 87 0
A grand jury has cleared the McKinney Police officer seen on video forcing a teenage girl to the ground outside a pool party last year.

Seven minutes of video posted to YouTube put Eric Casebolt and the city of McKinney in the national spotlight in June 2015.

In that video, Cpl. Eric Casebolt is seen using profanity and aggressively throwing a 15-year-old girl in a bathing suit to the ground, face down, outside a pool party in Craig Ranch. He then appeared to pin her down with his knees.

A Collin County grand jury on Thursday determined there was not enough evidence to warrant criminal charges against Casebolt, who was a 10-year veteran of McKinney PD.

The Texas Rangers completed an investigation into the incident in January. The results of that investigation were given to the district attorney's office and then presented to the grand jury.

The full results have not been made public.

McKinney Police will hold a public forum next week regarding the grand jury's decision, according to a statement from the city:

Several community leaders involved with the Police Chief’s Advisory Council will be on hand to speak at the meeting focusing on the theme: Moving Forward, Strengthening Police and Community Relationships. All McKinney residents are invited to attend this meeting.
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CHEVEL JOHNSON Jun-23-2016 101 0
About 200 people showed up Friday to help celebrate a Louisiana honors student and standout athlete who was blocked from participating in his graduation ceremony last month because of facial hair.

Democratic state Rep. Katrina Jackson of Monroe and the Rev. Roosevelt Wright III of New Orleans sponsored a ceremony for Andrew Jones after news spread that he was prevented from attending his graduation ceremony because of a Tangipahoa Parish Schools System policy about facial hair.

The dress code policy, found in the Student Handbook for grades 4-12, states the following:

"Hairstyles and mustaches shall be clean, neatly groomed and shall not distract from the learning environment nor be a safety factor for any of the school's curricular offerings. Beards will not be allowed. Any hairstyle that distract from the unique environment of a school shall be dealt with by the principal or his/her designee of that school."

The new celebration was held at the African-American Heritage Museum in Hammond. Some students from Jones' class and other graduates from the area are expected to participate.

Superintendent Mark Kolwe defended the decision to prohibit Jones, a 4.0 student and summa cum laude graduate, from walking with his class at Amite High School, saying rules have to be enforced and Jones received enough warning before the ceremony to shave.

A telephone message from The Associated Press left for Kolwe was not immediately returned.

Kolwe in an earlier statement noted that Jones was one of four graduates who arrived at the ceremony unshaven. Three of them shaved in a restroom at the site where the ceremony was held with a razor provided by the school. Jones, who had a professional shave off the sides of his beard and neatly trim his goatee, refused.

"This policy was explained to the student in question on multiple occasions prior to graduation day, and the consequences for failing to comply with that policy were explained to him and his parents on multiple occasions on graduation day. The student's parents tried to convince him to shave, but he ignored their request ... Andrew made that decision for himself by failing to comply with the reasonable requests made by his parents and school officials that he comply with the rules applicable to all other students," Kolwe's statement said.

Amite High School Principal Renee Carpenter declined to discuss the situation when contacted by The Associated Press.

Jones and his family have told other media outlets that the rule was not enforced throughout the school year and they know of students with facial hair at other schools in the district who were able to participate in their graduation ceremonies.

They refused comment when contacted by The Associated Press, citing a pending lawsuit.

"He was unfairly excluded from the most important day of his life," Jackson and Wright said in a statement. "A beard should NEVER upstage academic excellence."

Jackson said when she initially heard about Jones' situation, she believed he should have submitted and shaved because he didn't follow the rules. But after hearing that he was allowed to participate in other school activities with facial hair, she believes the prohibition was unfairly enforced on what is generally considered a student's biggest day.

"It's wrong to enforce that policy on a young man who had worked so hard to achieve his goals," Jackson said. "Students are responsible for following rules, but we as adults are responsible for enforcing them. As adults, we can't arbitrarily enforce the rules. This was a rule that was never enforced until graduation."

"Anytime a young man such as Andrew has shown academic excellence, it's unfair to not reward him," Wright said. "His academic achievements are incredible."
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Lawrence Hurley Jun-23-2016 169 0
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the practice of considering race in college admissions, rejecting a white woman's challenge to a University of Texas affirmative action program designed to boost the enrollment of minority students.

The court, in a 4-3 ruling written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, decided in favor of the university in turning aside the conservative challenge to the policy, meaning a 2014 appeals court ruling that backed the admissions program was left intact.

The Supreme Court was weighing for the second time a challenge to the admissions system used by the University of Texas at Austin brought by Abigail Fisher, who was denied entry to the school for the autumn of 2008.

Affirmative action is a policy under which racial minorities historically subject to discrimination are given certain preferences in education and employment.

Fisher said the university denied her admission in favor of lesser-qualified black and Hispanic applicants. She maintained that the program violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Kennedy said that "considerable deference" is owed to universities when they are seeking to determine student diversity. He said that "it remains an enduring challenge to our nation's education system to reconcile the pursuit of diversity with the constitutional promise of equal treatment and dignity."

But in the Texas case, the challengers had failed to show that the university could have met its needs via another process, he said. Kennedy noted that the university "tried and failed to increase diversity" through other race-neutral means.

The university has disputed whether Fisher would have gained admission under any circumstances. University officials contend that having a sizable number of minorities enrolled exposes students to varied perspectives and enhances the educational experience for all students.

The high court upheld a July 2014 ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the university. That court endorsed the school's "limited use of race in its search for holistic diversity."

The university admits most freshmen through a program that guarantees admission to students in the top 10 percent of their Texas high school graduating classes. It uses other factors including race to admit the remainder. Fisher was not in the top 10 percent of her high school class.

The high court had considered Fisher's case once before. In June 2013, it did not directly rule on the program's constitutionality but ordered the appeals court to scrutinize it more closely.

Writing in dissent, Justice Samuel Alito contended that the court's majority had turned its back on principles from the first Fisher ruling, which he said required judges to give more scrutiny to racial admissions and defer less to university officials, and he opened his dissent remarking, "Something strange has happened since our prior decision in this case."

"Here, UT (the University of Texas) has failed to define its interest in using racial preferences with clarity. As a result, the narrow tailoring inquiry is impossible, and UT cannot satisfy strict scrutiny," Alito added.

Alito added that while the university's stated goals are laudable, "they are not concrete or precise, and they offer no limiting principle for the use of racial preferences. For instance, how will a court ever be able to determine whether stereotypes have adequately been destroyed? Or whether cross-racial understanding has been adequately achieved?"

While the university's program has resulted in a measure of racial and ethnic diversity, the percentage of black and Hispanic students on campus still remains lower than in the state's overall population.

Fisher, now 26, graduated from her second choice college, Louisiana State University, and now works as a financial analyst in Austin. Fisher said she has stayed in the case to help others in similar positions.

"I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has ruled that students applying to the University of Texas can be treated differently because of their race or ethnicity. I hope that the nation will one day move beyond affirmative action," Fisher said in a statement.


Edward Blum, a conservative activist who engineered Fisher's challenge, said that racial classifications and preferences are among the most polarizing policies in America today.

"As long as universities like the University of Texas continue to treat applicants differently by race and ethnicity, the social fabric that holds us together as a nation will be weakened. Today's decision is a sad step backward for the original, colorblind principles to our civil rights laws," added Blum, the president of the conservative Project on Fair Representation.
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Reuters Jun-23-2016 127 0
Baltimore police officer Caesar Goodson Jr was found not guilty on Thursday of second-degree depraved heart murder in the death of black detainee Freddie Gray, the most serious criminal charge he faced.

Judge Barry Williams handed down the verdict in Baltimore City Circuit Court. Goodson, 46, was the driver of a police transport van in which Gray broke his neck in April 2015. His death triggered rioting and protests in the majority black city. (Reporting by Donna Owens; Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and Jeffrey Benkoe)

A Maryland judge will issue his verdict on Thursday in the closely watched murder trial of a Baltimore police officer for the death of black detainee Freddie Gray, an incident that triggered rioting and protests.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr, 46, was the driver of a police wagon in which Gray broke his neck in April 2015. Prosecutors said he gave Gray a "rough ride," failed to ensure his safety and should have called for a medic.

Goodson's defense team argued in Baltimore City Circuit Court that Gray caused his own injuries by falling inside the transport van. Goodson also lacked the training to recognize that Gray was hurt, they said.

Goodson faces the most serious charges among the six officers charged in Gray's death, making his the marquee case for prosecutors. They failed to secure a conviction in two earlier trials of officers.

Judge Barry Williams will hand down his verdict on Thursday morning. Goodson waived a jury trial, and Williams is hearing the case in a bench trial.

Gray's death spawned protests, rioting and arson in the majority African-American city of 620,000 people and stoked a debate on U.S. police treatment of people of color.
Gray, 25, was arrested for fleeing police officers unprovoked in a high-crime area. He was bundled into Goodson's van shackled and was not seatbelted inside the van, a violation of police procedure.

Goodson, who is also African-American, is charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, three counts of manslaughter, reckless endangerment, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

If convicted on all charges, he faces more than 68 years in prison.

During closing arguments on Monday, Williams peppered prosecutors with questions about what evidence they had that Goodson had bounced Gray around in the van with intent to harm him.

Prosecutor Michael Schatzow told Williams that Goodson's failure to secure Gray and his injuries were enough to show that Gray had gotten a "rough ride."

In the two previous cases, the manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter ended in a hung jury in December, and he faces retrial in September. Williams acquitted Officer Edward Nero of misdemeanor charges last month. (Writing by Ian Simpson in Washington, editing by G Crosse)


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Jun-22-2016 110 0
Florida is one of 26 states to receive a failing grade for its gender and racial diversity, according to the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, progressive legal organization. Florida ranked 29 out of 51 state court jurisdictions in the country because it's judiciaries are 45% less diverse than the state population.

The findings echo some of the research done by the Herald/Times in 2014, which found that Gov. Rick Scott appointed only nine black attorneys to judgeships in his first four years.

The report, authored by law professors Tracey E. George and Albert H. Yoon, compiled the race, ethnicity, and gender of 10,000 sitting judges on state courts. It is titled The Gavel Gap: Who Sits in Judgement at State Courts?

“The vast majority of Americans’ interactions with the judicial system, ranging from traffic violations to criminal proceedings, happen in state courts,” said George of Vanderbilt University. “When people do not see themselves represented in their community leadership, when the vast majority of judges cannot relate to the lived experience of those they serve—this is a problem. It creates a mistrust of judges, and propagates the mystery surrounding the court system. For the first time, we have the data we need to identify and address this serious problem.”

Photo: Tampa Bay Times
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Matthew Dolan Jun-22-2016 96 0
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette will announce he is filing a civil lawsuit Wednesday arising from his Flint drinking water investigation, Schuette's office said late Tuesday.
Schuette's office gave no details about the civil suit.

Schuette is to be joined at a 10 a.m. ET news conference by Special Assistant Attorney General Noah Hall and members of his investigative team, which is led by Royal Oak attorney Todd Flood and Andrew Arena, the former Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Detroit.

In April, Schuette announced felony criminal charges against two Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials and one city of Flint official in connection with the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water. The city employee, Mike Glasgow, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor and is cooperating with the investigation as other charges were dropped. The two DEQ employees, Stephen Busch and Mike Prysby, are awaiting preliminary examinations.

Flint's water became contaminated with lead when the city, under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, switched its drinking water source from Lake Huron water treated by the Detroit water system to Flint River water treated at the Flint Water Treatment Plant.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials have acknowledged a disastrous mistake in failing to require the city to add corrosion-control chemicals as part of the treatment process.

The corrosive water caused lead to leach from pipes, joints and fixtures. Although Flint reconnected to Detroit water in October, after state officials acknowledged the lead-poisoning problem following months of denials, the risk remains because of damage to the water infrastructure system.

Officials also are exploring possible links between the river water and outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease tied to 12 deaths.


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Jun-22-2016 202 0
Multiple sources within and around the University of Louisiana System Board of Regents have confirmed that Grambling State University President Willie Larkin will either resign or be fired this week.

Dr. Larkin, who was appointed as GSU president last July, drew controversy last week after details about a trip to Cuba were confirmed by staff members to be a vacation for the first-time president, and not an academic outreach trip as he initially promoted to the campus and local media outlets. The trip coincided with the release of the university’s strategic plan.

In February, Grambling’s Faculty Senate voted ‘no confidence’ in Dr. Larkin, citing a vague administrative response to pressing issues such as falling enrollment, fundraising, and the loss of the school’s nursing program. Shortly after the faculty vote, Dr. Larkin penned a letter to the campus community, in which he referred to himself as the university’s ‘healer.’

In that same letter, Larkin announced the reinstatement of the school’s national search for a new athletic director, just days after discontinuing the search in light of budgetary concerns.

Dr. Larkin previously served as chief of staff for Morgan State University President David Wilson, and was on staff when university regents voted to fire Wilson in 2012 three years after his appointment for a string of controversies and general mismanagement at the school.

Regents reversed the decision a few weeks later, and voted to retain Wilson on an ‘indefinite appointment’ agreement instead of a multi-year contract.

Officials at Grambling and the University of Louisiana System did not return calls. No formal announcement about the transition, or a potential interim appointee, have been announced.

Grambling is the system’s sole historically black university.
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david boroff Jun-18-2016 234 0
A Baton Rouge assistant principal is accused of killing a pregnant co-worker by shooting her in the head after she allegedly threatened to tell his wife about their affair.

The body of 40-year-old Lyntell Washington was found in a roadside ditch in nearby Iberville Parish on Tuesday, eight days after she disappeared. Robert Marks, in custody since she vanished, was hit with first-degree murder and first-degree feticide charges on Friday after initially being held for kidnapping.

Marks, 39, is an assistant principal at Brookstown Magnet Honors Academy, where Washington, a former Teacher of the Year, according to WAFB, served as an instructional specialist. Marks has been placed on administrative leave.

A colleague told Baton Rouge police that Washington was pregnant with Marks' child and had threatened to expose the relationship. Marks knew Washington was five months pregnant, according to a police report.

Washington asked Marks in one text message if he is "attempting to avoid his responsibilities with our unborn daughter," according to screen shots recovered by the police.

Marks was arrested on June 9 after Washington's 3-year-old daughter was found alone near her mother's car.

The little girl told detectives that "Mr. Robbie" had hurt her mother. The child also said she heard a bang and saw her mom "shaking."

"She further stated that Mr. Robbie was trying to clean the blood and that her mother was 'in the lake,'" according to the police report.

Marks told authorities he last saw Washington at a Walmart at about 8 p.m. on June 8. However, cellphone records showed that their phones traveled to Iberville Parish later that night before returning to the area where Washington's car was found.

Marks admitted to his relationship with Washington, but refused to answer other questions from detectives.

“We continue to press him for information and still no answer and still no emotion," Baton Rouge Police Cpl. L'Jean Mckneely Jr. told the Advocate. "This is a heinous and senseless crime."
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Lindsay Kimble Jun-18-2016 142 0
Attrell Cordes, known to fans of the critically acclaimed R&B group PM Dawn as "Prince Be," has died. He was 46.

Cordes died Friday of renal kidney disease at a hospital in his home state of New Jersey, his rep confirms to PEOPLE. He is survived by his wife Mary and three children: Christian, Mia and Brandon.

One of the most influential voices of the '90s, Prince Be started PM Dawn with his brother Jarett in 1988. Their chart topping hit "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and their single "I'd Die Without You" was featured in the 1992 Eddie Murphy comedy Boomerang.

The Jersey City, New Jersey, natives drew their name from "the idea that in the darkest hour comes the light," according to their website.

Going on to release three more albums together, Cordes and his brother eventually parted ways as a musical act.

"Prince Be Rest In Peace forever more, Pain from Diabetes can't harm you anymore, My Heart is at Peace B-Cuz U suffered so long, Tell Grandma I said Hi & Stay Blisstatic & Strong," a post read on the group's Facebook page.
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