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Cory Booker Would Be Front-Runner In Prospective 2014 New Jersey Senate Race, Poll Finds
Nov-29-2012 391 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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Nick Nehamas Sep-02-2014 68 0
Hundreds of adoptive parents across the five boroughs who've sent their children to live elsewhere are continuing to pull in monthly checks of up to $1,700 per child while the city, state and feds look the other way, the Daily News has learned.

Because of a confusing tangle of bureaucratic rules and a lack of city oversight, the parents can continue receiving the government subsidies for months, and even years, until the child turns 21.

"It's crazy," Jahad Ritchens, 21, said of the payments that had been going to his adoptive mom, Cequasia Ritchens, for almost six years after she kicked him out. "I'm living out here on the street and she's getting all this money. It's like I don't matter to no one."

For the state and the city to do nothing ... is an abuse of the taxpayer, of the system, of the problem that subsidy was meant to address.

It also means that taxpayers are often double-paying for the kids' care — first to the absentee parent, then anywhere from $29,000 to $123,000 a year per child for foster care.

"For the state and the city to do nothing ... is an abuse of the taxpayer, of the system, of the problem that subsidy was meant to address," said retired Brooklyn Family Court Judge Paul Grosvenor.

He now serves as a judicial hearing officer overseeing a special court to assist children in foster care who will never return to their parents. And he said he deals with "hundreds" of cases a year where adoptive parents keep the subsidy after letting their children go.

"In some instances, it's a windfall," Grosvenor said. "The parents place this child (in foster care). They have no intent of ever being involved with the child again — they're essentially walking away — but they're still receiving this monthly subsidy."

Using a combination of city, state and federal funds, the city Administration for Children's Services sent $294 million in checks last fiscal year to help cover parenting costs for 22,686 children, according to records obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request.

The agency told The News it does not know how many parents are receiving subsidies for children no longer in their care.

The subsidy was the result of an act of Congress in 1980 designed to encourage parents to adopt "hard-to-place" children from foster care.

Desinee Smith, 18, was one of those kids.

Children's Services removed her from her birth mother's custody when she was just two weeks old.

"My mom kept having kids and ACS kept taking them away," she said.

Her first foster mother died of cancer when she was 5. After spending two years with another relative, she was adopted by a woman named Tanika Quashie — the daughter of her late foster mother.

They moved from Staten Island to East New York, Brooklyn, in 2004, where Smith said she was miserable.

"I was bullied and tortured at school," she said, and went to live with her biological sister in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, when she was 9.

Quashie showed up several months later to bring her back.

"Tanika didn't want to give up the money," Smith said.

She lived with Quashie and her kids until she was 13, when Quashie sent her up to Syracuse to stay with another relative. Smith said Quashie sent the relative half of her subsidy check, and kept the other half for herself.

Smith said she had to fend for herself upstate. Her guardian wouldn't buy her clothes or food, or even take her to the doctor or dentist, and "I was doing things I shouldn't have been doing," she said.

"I ... beat up half the kids up there. I done everything in my power to get sent back to Brooklyn. My mind wasn't right," she said. "I was wild."

She ran away from Syracuse early last year, stayed for a while with her brother in Brooklyn, then enrolled in a federal Job Corps program in Delaware to earn her GED and build career skills.

Smith filed for welfare in June, because she said Quashie hasn't been sending her any money — even though the two have lived apart for five years.

"Forget the wants. The needs — (Quashie's) not doing any of that," said her brother, Rodney Brown. "She hasn't been doing my sister right."

Smith said her adoptive mom gave her $600 four months ago but nothing since. Now the soft-spoken Smith — like hundreds of other discarded children in the city — has found herself in the heart-wrenching position of having to sue for child support from the parent who tossed her aside.

Unless Smith's child support lawsuit is successful, Quashie, who did not return requests for comment, could continue getting checks for another three years.

"I'm tired of it. She's not sending me any money. She's just keeping the whole check," she said.

Smith has to take legal action on her own, because the city won't do anything to fix the problem.

While other cities in the state, including Albany, will sue reneging parents to force them to turn over the child support, New York City tells children that they must navigate the complicated process on their own.

“(ACS) should be going after every adoptive parent for child support," court referee Tamara Schwartz told city lawyers at a hearing last December for an adopted child whose mother had returned her to foster care. "They go after parents (who receive) public assistance. They should be doing that for foster care."

It's unclear how many other children and young adults are in Smith's position.

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Sep-02-2014 73 0
A high school football player died Monday after he collapsed on his Staten Island field during practice, shortly after running sprints, his family said.

Miles Kirkland-Thomas, a 16-year-old defensive tackle who was set to start his junior year, was ordered to do wind sprints after showing up late for the Curtis High School varsity football team’s 9:30 a.m. practice, his father, Jamar Thomas, 44, told the Daily News.

Miles, who hailed from West Brighton and was 6-feet-2 and 321 pounds, was stopped by coaches after completing just two sprints, Thomas said, citing what the coaching staff told him.
Miles was talking to one of his coaches when he collapsed about 10:30 a.m.

“The coach said he was talking to him; he said Miles took a step back,” Thomas said. “He said Miles fainted toward him; he went to grab him — they both hit the ground.”
The temperature was about 80 degrees at the time, with the humidity making it feel almost 90 degrees, the National Weather Service reported.

Emergency responders tried to revive the teen, who was in cardiac arrest when he was rushed to Staten Island University Medical Center, where he died, his father said.
Miles’ family was not aware that he suffered from any preexisting conditions, and he had passed a physical in July that cleared him to play.

“He took his physical in July and he was fine. He was cleared to play — all he had was a blister on the back of his foot he got from his cleats,” Thomas said.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said the agency was investigating the death.

The father said his son had likely run up a steep hill that leads to the school in St. George in an effort to make it to practice on time — an exertion that could have left him winded before he began the on-field sprints. On holidays like Labor Day, there is not a bus option for Miles to take to practice, his father said.

Miles, “the baby” of five children, was obsessed with the gridiron and dreamed of playing college and pro ball, his family said hours after he died.

The teen’s uncle, Clarence McNatt, once played for the NFL’s Detroit Lions, and his older brother played for Bacone College in Oklahoma, his family said.

“We’re a big sports family,” Miles’ sister, Lashawnder Kirkland, 37, said. “Football was his life. He loved football — that’s the way he was.”

His father recalled his son recently asking him if he would be allowed to move away from home if he won a college football scholarship. “He was asking me, if he got a scholarship to play out West, would I let him go,” he said. “He was trying to convince me.”

Thomas added that the family was awaiting the results of an autopsy that was expected to be performed Monday night.

“I want to know what my son’s last — what was the last thing he was experiencing prior to this,” Thomas said. “We don’t know what happened. Nobody can tell us.”

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Sep-01-2014 148 0
Ray J Norwood pleaded no contest to trespassing to settle charges that he grabbed a woman's buttocks, smashed a police car window and spat on a cop, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Norwood, infamous as Kim Kardashian's partner in the sex tape that launched her reality show career, was arrested after an incident at a Beverly Hills hotel on May 30.


Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Edward Moreton sentenced Norwood, 33, to three years of probation and 50 hours of community service for the trespassing conviction. He'll also have to attend alcohol therapy and anger management classes.

Norwood also is banned from the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, to which he must pay restitution determined at a hearing in December.

The singer-reality TV star was charged last month with four misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, vandalism, resisting arrest and battery.

Beverly Hills police arrested him at the hotel after a woman complained that he "grabbed her buttocks," a police statement said. Although the initial police report said it was decided that the "contact was incidental," the complaint alleged that it was sexual battery because Ray J did "unlawfully touch an intimate part" of the woman for the "specific purpose of sexual arousal, sexual gratification and sexual abuse."

The vandalism, battery and resisting arrest charges stemmed from what happened after police arrived at the hotel. Norwood "became belligerent with the valets and refused to leave," despite repeated requests by hotel security, the police statement said.

"After the uniform police officers took Mr. Norwood into custody and placed him in the rear of a police vehicle, he became belligerent and used his feet to shatter the side window of the police vehicle," the police statement said. "Mr. Norwood was subsequently removed from the police vehicle in order to restrain his feet; at which time he became combative and spat into the face of one of the officers."

Ray J's publicist did not respond to CNN request for comment.

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Sep-01-2014 134 0
The mother of a Mississippi kindergartner alleges her daughter came home with a battered and bruised face after being attacked by another child on a school playground last week.

Lacey Harris filed a report with Pascagoula Police Department on Thursday alleging another child viciously kicked Avalynn Harris several times in the face while they were on the slide, according to the Gulf Live newspaper.

However, neither those claims nor photos of the girl’s swollen face sparked an investigation at Arlington Elementary School because “there’s no indication something criminal took place,” Lt. Jim Roe of Pascagoula Police told the Gulf Live.

“I have spoken with school security and an assistant superintendent is investigating the matter,” Roe said.

That investigation resulted in a statement from the Pascagoula School District that AvaLynn was injured while playing on the playground, but “no other children were involved in the incident,” the statement read.

In a Facebook page, “Justice for AvaLynn,” Harris details what her young daughter said about the Aug. 26 incident on her playground.

“She was kicked repeatedly in the face until she fell off of the slide on the school’s playground,” Harris wrote.

The school is unable to confirm a beatdown because no teachers witnessed the alleged incident to prove “whether or not another student had harmed Ava,” Harris added.

Even though the attack has not been confirmed by the school nor police, Harris is asking for help with AvaLynn’s medical costs on GoFundMe and has collected more than $6,000 in donations.

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Reuters Sep-01-2014 184 0
In Detroit, even the most basic necessity cannot be taken for granted.

Some 15,000 residential customers have lost water service, and tens of thousands more are in danger of losing it, thanks to past due bills. But businesses owing hundreds of thousands of dollars have not been disconnected, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department records show.

According to a department list, the top 40 commercial and industrial accounts have past-due accounts totaling $9.5 million. That list includes apartment complexes, the Chrysler Group, real estate agencies, a laundromat and even a cemetery.

Meanwhile, stories of residential shutoffs abound. Tangela Harris been doing her best to keep up, but when she was no longer able to work she had trouble stretching her monthly $780 in disability benefits to pay the water bill. So her water service was disconnected. Harris has since come up with $1,100 to have services restored but is having trouble keeping her $180 monthly payment to the water department. On top of that, her home has entered foreclosure because Detroit water bills are rolled into property taxes.

“They can say my house is condemned and take it,” said Harris, 38, a community organizer. “People think we’re not prioritizing, but it’s not that simple when you’re under the poverty level. It’s a different mindset.”

In March, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced it was going after deliquent accounts in earnest after a reprieve this past winter. The city is in bankruptcy, after all, and looking for revenue where it can. In March, about half the department’s customers had outstanding balances, meaning they are at least 60 days past due or more than $150 behind. That amounted to $118 million in charges. Through June 30, service was severed to 15,200 customers, and about 92,000 remain in shutoff status.

The $9.5 million owed by non-residents would amount to $625 for each severed customer and $103 for those in shutoff status.

So far, most businesses have been exempt. At the beginning of July, the department issued 10-day shutoff notices to 250 commercial customers. Despite repeated requests, the department was unable to say how many of those, if any, have had their services discontinued. Vargo Golf Co., an Oakland County-based golf course management firm, owes $478,000, while a business called Russell Industrial Associations is more than $181,000 behind.




The $9.5 million owed by non-residents would amount to $625 for each severed customer.

The No. 1 scofflaw isn’t a business but the State of Michigan, which the department said owes more than $5 million. Dave Murray, deputy press secretary for Gov. Rick Snyder (who is sheparding Detroit through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history) said the bills have been disputed for the last five years over a possible broken water main near the old state fairgrounds in the city limits, which was mothballed several years ago.

“The attorney general’s office has entered into discussions with the City of Detroit, and it would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing negotiations,” Murray said.

Detroit Emergency Manager Bill Nowling said that, particularly among businesses, conflicting accounts of what is owed are not unusual. “What happens is that they dispute them, and there’s a process for regulating disputes. It doesn’t mean they won’t get shut off,” he said.

Kevyn Orr, Detroit’s emergency financial manager, has generally defended the shutoffs, saying payment arrangements can be made. He’s also said many customers have since paid up and have had services restored.

Valerie Blakely hopes she’ll be cut some slack. The Detroit mother of five said she had couldn’t both keep her house warm during one of the worst winters in Michigan history and pay her water bill. When workers recently showed up to disconnect services, she blocked them. They then proceeded to turn off services to nearly every house on her block, she said.

“My neighbors were standing out in the street, unable to cook or do their dishes,” she said, adding that she has about three weeks to pay up, or face another visit by an agency contracted to shut off water.

Rome Adams works for Go Detroit, a community organization that delivers free bottles of water to customers affected by the water department’s crackdown. He said he’s seen pitiful living conditions.

“I feel like they should go after the businesses first, because most of them can afford to pay better than the people,” he said, shaking his head.

More than 500 people rallied in downtown Detroit last week against the disconnections, calling them humanitarian violations. Since then, the department has suspended shutoffs for about two weeks. A caravan from Windsor, Ontario across the river recently delivered a couple of hundred gallons to needy customers.

“This is bad,” Rome said.

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david harding Aug-31-2014 206 0
A British woman who was being held captive in the Democratic Republic of Congo so she can be "cured of gayness" is now safe, her girlfriend claimed.

Christina Fonthes, from Manchester, northern England, traveled to Africa earlier this month with her mother and sister to stay with an aunt. But shortly into her stay, the lesbian 27-year-old had her passport taken by her mother, reports The Independent.

Fonthes, a LGBT activist, was told her family wanted to keep her in the DRC to "fix" her sexuality. They were apparently unhappy with her decision to be an out lesbian.

On Saturday, girlfriend Jessica Creighton announced on Twitter that the Fonthes is safe and "on her way back to the UK."

"It's been an unbelievably tough few days," wrote Creighton, a sports journalist who has dated Fonthes for three years.
Same-sex relationships are legal in the DRC, although one MP this year tried to bring into law an anti-homosexuality bill.

Fonthes is the co-founder of Rainbow Noir, an organization that aims to be a safe haven for LGBT people of color in Manchester. Her friends from the group have been campaigning to raise awareness of her case on social media.


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Aug-30-2014 162 0
A young African-American father was tased by police while trying to pick up his children from preschool — and recorded the whole ordeal with his cellphone.

On Tuesday, Chris Lollie, of St. Paul, Minn., uploaded a video of his Jan. 31 arrest in a downtown skyway, which has outraged many viewers who feel he was racially profiled.

"The problem is I'm black," he told the cop, who laughed dismissively. "No it really is because I didn't do anything wrong. I'm not sitting there with a group of people. I'm sitting there by myself… not causing a problem with anyone."

Before the exchange, a security guard called the cops when he allegedly refused to leave an area in the First National Bank Building, police said.

The video shows Lollie politely but firmly tell an officer that he was within his rights to sit there. He also declined to identify himself, repeating that he did not break any laws or do anything wrong.

"That's a public area and if there's no sign that… say(s), 'This is a private area. You can't sit here,' no one can tell me I can't sit there," he said.

Another cop arrived and reached out for Lollie, who politely asked not to be touched.

"You're going to go to jail then," the second officer said. "Yeah you're going to go to jail… I'm not here to argue with you. Put your hands behind your back."

"Don't choke me! I have asthma sir!" Lollie said. "My kids are right there!"

The situation escalated quickly and one of the officers shot Lollie with a Taser, presumably in front of his children.

Afterward, Lollie said, "I just got off work at 9 o'clock… I came up here to pick up my kids at 10 o'clock and I get this? You racist motherf---ers. All y'all. I didn't do anything wrong. I'm a working man and I take care of my kids."

The St. Paul Police Department responded to the video on Thursday with a message on its Facebook page.

"As is often the case, the video does not show the totality of the circumstances," the statement reads.

Police wrote in a report that Lollie was "actively resisting by attempting to pull his arm away" and tried to "shove past us as he was pulling away from us," according to Twin Cities News.

"This is racist. They stopped me because I'm black," he told onlookers as they took him to jail.

He was charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process but all counts were dismissed on July 31, police said.

After the court dismissed his case, authorities returned his cellphone which they had been holding as evidence, the Star Tribune reported.

Now that "evidence" is being used against them.

The St. Paul Police Department did not return a call from the Daily News for comment.

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Sasha Goldstein Aug-30-2014 498 0
An Atlanta police officer was busted trying to skip town Thursday, nearly one week after he kidnapped a woman he met online, took her to a secluded suburban area, shot her and then set her dead body on fire, police said.

Tahreem Zeus Rana, 23, was caught around 8:30 a.m. Thursday after he tried to board a flight to Monterey, Mexico, possibly en route to India, WSB-TV reported.

The murder suspect was on the no-fly list, cops said, and has since been fired.

"We are shocked and saddened by these developments,” the department said of the three-year veteran. “The officer has been relieved from duty, and is in a non-enforcement status."

Rana met 26-year-old Vernicia Woodard on Backpage.com for a “romantic exchange” in Rana’s hometown of Hapeville, a southern Atlanta suburb, police there said. He took the woman to a rural part of the town, shot her several times, then lit her on fire, police said.

A city worker found the burning body on Elm Street the morning of Aug. 22, the news station reported.

"He took her to a secluded area to do the crime and then, after killing her, used some kind of fuel to light her body on fire," Hapeville police Detective Stephen Cushing told the station.

Police believe he used his service weapon to kill the Woodard, mother to an 8-year-old. He became the prime suspect after the woman’s phone records led investigators to Backpage.com and eventually Rana, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

A “wanted” poster featuring Rana’s picture was released to the public Wednesday.

The murder comes as a shock to Hapeville police officers, who recalled watching Rana grow up in the community. He had a clean disciplinary file.

"I've been a police officer in city of Hapeville for 15 years and actually saw this young man grow up and heard him say, 'When I grow up, I want to be a police officer," Det. Cushing told the station.

Rana faces charges of murder, arson, kidnapping and tampering with evidence. He’s next due in court Sept. 12.

"Being someone who works in law enforcement ... it hurts a lot more to know that it was somebody in law enforcement," Woodard's sister, Tashara Gilyard, told WSB as she held back tears.

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Aug-30-2014 190 0
The death of a 45-year-old man while in police custody has been ruled a homicide, the medical examiner’s office said Friday.

The coroner said Ronald Singleton’s July 13 death in Midtown was brought on by “physical restraint by police during excited delirium.”

The medical examiner also said heart disease and obesity contributed to the Kips Bay man’s death.

Singleton had 61 arrests on his record, including busts for drugs, assaults and weapons possession.

Ronald Singleton, 45, died July 13 after being restrained by police.

His heartbroken wife, Lyn Warren Singleton, 44, admitted that her husband of 19 years had a drug history and multiple run-ins with the police. The 5-foot-7, 210-pound man “went into a panic” when cops approached him, she said.

“He was never good with police,” she said. “He always went into hysterics — this is before he even started indulging.”

She blames the cops for not giving the father of four and grandfather of three the medical attention he needed.
“They didn’t pay attention to him when he was crying for help,” she said. “Someone having a heart attack is different signs than someone just bugging out.”

On the day he died, Singleton was acting “overly irate and irrational” in the back of a taxi near St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Ave. and E. 51st St., police said.

The cabbie flagged cops down after Singleton cursed and screamed at him during the 12 a.m. altercation. When Singleton tried to fight off arriving officers, cops restrained him, putting him in a protective full-body wrap known as a burrito. He was not arrested, police said.

An ambulance was taking Singleton to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation when he went into cardiac arrest, officials said. It was immediately redirected to St. Luke’s—Roosevelt Hospital, where Singleton died.

Singleton’s widow said a detective called and told her that her husband was at the hospital. When she called St. Luke’s, she said, a Dr. Lee told her Singleton was dead on arrival and wore handcuffs.

No disciplinary action has been taken against the officers involved in subduing Singleton, a police source said. The Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating the incident.

Singleton’s death occurred four days before Eric Garner died on July 17 after Staten Island cops put him in a chokehold — a practice banned by the NYPD in 1993. Garner’s death has been ruled a homicide.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who led a march against police brutality in Staten Island last weekend, vowed to investigate Singleton’s death thoroughly.

“It’s disturbing ... I’m very disturbed,” Sharpton said. “These are the reasons why we have to deal with changing police policy and training.”


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