— Trying to get into the Christmas spirit this afternoon! LIP News will be back tomorrow.
* I couldn’t have said it better (the comment to the left was posted on Lancaster Online under Murse’s column). Not only that, but on the same day LNP ran his ridiculous piece, the LNP editorial board had the unmitigated gall to state the following (click here):
A fundamental rule of public service is this: You’re not really serving the public if you’re using your office for personal gain.
How do you respond to that, Murse? Is LNP really serving the public or are you lining your own pockets? What hypocrisy and what a betrayal of the public’s trust!
WHO ARE THEY TRICKING?
12-16-19 UPDATE –Tom Murse’s column is now online (click here). Can a newspaper learn new tricks or can editors and reporters learn new tricks? And who and why are they trying to trick? So many questions, so little time! Please check back later today.
* The purpose of the Newsroom Employment Diversity Survey, launched in 1978, is to document employment trends in U.S. print and online publications and help newsrooms reflect the growing diversity of their audiences. The survey measures progress toward ASNE’s goal of having the percentage of minorities working in newsrooms nationwide equal to that of minorities in the nation’s population by 2025. From The American Society of News Editors (click here).
LNP IS NOW HIRING MINORITIES!
From the front page of today’s LNP print edition (not currently online).
LNP has named Tom Murse “executive editior” (he was previously the “managing editor”) and today we get a full line of platitudes and crap from this man including the below. Hey, Tom, you’re 30 to 40 years behind the times on that! How embarrassing!
Angela Benedict’s first three dockets; the one for child endangerment on July 8th , the one for DUI and multiple other charges on July 26th and the one for Burglary and other charges on July 30th, all indicate that she is scheduled for a status conference before President Judge Dennis Reinaker on February 13, 2020. She was just formally arraigned in Common Pleas Court on the final docket yesterday. Benedict obviously has a very serious drug and alcohol problem and she is a danger to the public. Jaquia Morales (pictured right above) obviously has mental health issues and I will come to her case tomorrow.
**** On September 25th, Angela Benedict was arrested and charged with indecent exposure, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness (see her docket below). Her bail was set at $7,500 cash. According to the Lancaster County Prison she was committed on November 7th and as of this morning she continues to show up as being in the prison.
*** On July 30th, Angela Benedict was arrested and charged with burglary and other crimes (see her docket below). Her bail was set at $20,000 cash and this time bail bondsman James Fable posted it for her. Her bail was revoked and then reset at $50,000 cash. And apparently Fable posted that as well because she was free to commit other crimes on September 25th!
** Angela Benedict’s bail was set at $3,000 cash for endangering her daughter’s life, and on July 15th, bail bondsman Sylvester Jones posted it on her behalf. On July 26th she was arrested for the below. And even though she was out on parole, her bail was inexplicably set as unsecured. But these charges were not filed until after she had committed two different felonies on July 30th.
FINALLY BEHIND BARS!
* Luckily for the residents of Lancaster County, Angela Benedict is finally in jail. She is the woman pictured on the left below. After she was arrested on July 8th of this year for endangering the welfare of her child per the below (click here for the original LNP article): A woman, under the influence of drugs, left her infant daughter alone in the woods of southern Lancaster County for more than three hours on Monday, according to Pennsylvania State Police. Angela Lynne Benedict, 33, of New Providence, was incoherent and unable to give police much information about her 17-month-old daughter’s whereabouts in the woods of Providence Township, policesaid. She was arrested three more times within the next four months for significant crimes (see below). How was this allowed to happen? How was she free to commit these crimes?
— 12-13-19 UPDATE– Busy day today. LIP News will be back tomorrow.
WHAT CAUSED THIS FIRE?
A COUPLE OF MORE MONTHS AT WHISPERING HOPE
The DA’s press release on today’s plea is below (click here for the original). An East Earl man pleaded no contest Thursday in Lancaster County Court to years of sexual abuse against four pre-teenagers. David Stoltzfus Smucker, 75, pleaded to 20 felonies, including rape of a child and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child. Assistant District Attorney Fritz Haverstick said Smucker told the victims to keep the contact “secret.” The girls were abused between 2014 and 2018 at Smucker’s home on Smoketown School Road and at other locations. Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker accepted the plea and will order sentence after a background investigation is completed in a couplemonths. A no contest plea has the same legal ramifications as a guilty plea. By pleading no contact, Smucker does not admit guilt, but concedes there is ample evidence for conviction. Smucker is staying at Whispering Hope in Cumberland County, under bail conditions. He was transferred from Lancaster County Prison, in part, because the prison is not equipped to handle his medical needs. In court, ADA Haverstick read aloud the many different acts Smuckerforced the children to perform. Some of the children said they were abused every time they were at Smucker’s house. ADA Haverstick said he will present testimony at sentencing about “extraordinary impact” these acts had on the victims and community. The abuse was reported to Lancaster County Children and Youth last year. State police were then contacted and opened an investigation. The Lancaster County Children’s Alliance also assisted in the investigation, conducting interviews of all four victims. Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Nelson Renno filed charges. Four counts of aggravated indecent assault of a child were dropped as part of the plea.
& LNP DOESN’T MENTION IT!
Both of the above LNP articles that went online yesterday feature April Koppenhaver of Mulberry Art Studios (pictured left) and her and other artists’ objections to the proposed artwork for Ewell Plaza. Koppenhaver addressed the Public Art Advisory Board on Monday evening and city council on Tuesday night. And yesterday, her building at 253 W. King Street burned. What caused the fire? Click here and here for the LNP articles pictured above and please check back later today.
** The owner of the building involved in the Lancaster city fire today at 253 W. King Street is April Koppenhaver (click here for WGAL’s coverage). I spoke to her at approximately 11:00 am to 11:35 am this morning.
WHERE IS THE EQUAL JUSTICE?
On the court calendar, President Judge Dennis Reinaker is also scheduled to apparently sentence an Issac Lapp into the ARD program tomorrow morning (see the “BREAKING NEWS” immediately below on Smucker). He has the same defense attorney as David Smucker and he has a plain sect name so I decided to look him up.
He has two felony counts of Aggravated Cruelty to Animals and numerous other charges (see his docket below). Lapp has been out of jail on $25,000 unsecured bail since his arrest and now he is going into the ARD program?
Remember Ashley Gaston who spent three months in prison on $50,000 cash bail before it was finally reduced for kicking a newly acquired dog she alleged tried to bite her son?
It is not only good to be white in Lancaster County but being white and plain sect will keep you out of jail in Lancaster County!
— There will be more on April Koppenhaver and the Ewell Plaza artworkcoming to this site shortly.
** I spoke with April Koppenhaver by phone this morning. A full report will be coming.
* If anyone would like to attend city council meetings and livestream them, please let me know. There is a standing offer of $50.00 per meeting from this site.
LNP: LIARS & THIEVES!
I think it would be good for April and others there to know that they were censored this evening. Such purposeful pettiness on the part of Lancaster city’s bureaucrats who are absolutely held to no account when it comes to doing their jobs. This comment in last night to this site after there was no livestream of the city council meeting. I will try to contact April today. The idea that LNP presents themselves as a “community watchdog” has me so infuriated this morning that I will send a link to former Commissioner Molly Henderson’s book “Pressed” to everyone I can think of so they know what liars and thieves these people actually are. Please check back later today.
April Koppenhaver of Mulberry Art Studios has been hard at work to replace the hideous artwork proposed for Ewell Plaza (see below). She and others are expected to be at tonight city council meeting which begins at 7:30 pm and should be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel (click here). If you recall, for the last city council committee meeting, the livestream video ran for over two hours with no sound. Unbelievable. Can anyone in the city manage to livestream tonight’s meeting with no glitches? And why hasn’t LNP mentioned a word about the city’s repeated and constant livestreaming errors?
* How could this woman expose it all in a well written book and everyone involved are still getting away with it? I haven’t read the book but after looking at reviews on amazon this book sounds juicy. A comment in this morning under yesterday’s post. That is a very good question! How are they still getting away with it?
COMING TO SAY GOODBYE?
Trump and Pence are coming on a historic day – impeachment articles against Trump are expected first thing this morning! On top of all that excitement, city council meets tonight at 7:30 pm. Wow! Please check back later today.
I am so grateful that Molly Henderson wrote the book “Pressed.” It’s almost impossible for decent people to believe that the Steinman family and their news organization used their power and influence to line their own pockets and take millions and millions of dollars from the public. But that is just what they did and Henderson carefully documents every step. And they are still doing it today. Please read “Pressed” and there will be much more to come.
** The below was posted on this site on November 12th (click here for the original). The link to buy “Pressed” is here.
* Remember this, Tom? I remember it very well and it’s also in former Lancaster Commissioner Molly Henderson’s book, “Pressed.” You share a byline on this “informal poll.” Maybe you’re the one who should “GET OUT?”
DOES IRE KNOW LNP BREAKS EVERY CODE OF JOURNALISM ETHICS EVERY DAY?
The LNP editorial board tells us to get our flu shot this morning. And I am going to come back to Tom Murse and his incredible hypocrisy on another day. On the subject of flu shots, Shyanne Aukamp-Corcoran filed a federal lawsuit on December 5th against her former employer, Lancaster General Health, over her flu shot. The “Factual Allegations” of the suit are below. She is represented by attorney Lindsay J. O’Neil of the Lancaster law firm of Gibbel Kraybill & Hess, LLP. I find this from the suit to be very interesting: “…because Plaintiff had tattoos and piercings, she did not actually view her body as a temple that should be preserved and kept holy.” I wonder when she got the tattoos and piercings.
This woman spent more time in prison for kicking a dog than a man would for beating on a woman or molesting a child. Almost 2 yrs on parole and another 3 yrs of probation just to make sure they keep her in the system. She also has time served. Same disturbing judge that believes pedophilia is nothing. This comment into this site today. Exactly! And this is the same Judge, President Judge Dennis Reinaker, who we just learned was one of five judges involved in porngate. When will LNP tell the public?
A HOT TRIGGER?
There are several items missing from the DA’s press release regarding Ashley Gaston kicking the dog (see below in this post). — This was a newly acquired pet (a pitbull named “Trigger”) and she had only had it for about two weeks. — She alleges the dog got aggressive and tried to bite her son. — She has not had “Trigger” all this time – the dog has been in the care of the SPCA. — As noted in the press release – she spent the summer – three months – in jail. Further: — If “Trigger” is aggressive and she allowed this dog to remain around her children she could be charged with child endangerment if anything happened. — Anyone adopting “Trigger” should be informed that the dog attempted to bite a child.
** Meanwhile, 78-year-old John Snoke has entered a not guilty plea to two separate summary offenses for “caring for” feral cats. According to his dockets, Snoke is scheduled to have a summary trial on both citations before District Judge David P. Miller on January 10th, 2020.
* The first comment posted on the DA’s Facebook page under the Ashley Gaston post below.
A Lancaster woman who repeatedly kicked her dog will be under court supervision for nearly five years and surrender ownership of the dog, a Lancaster County judge ordered Thursday. Ashley Gaston pleaded guilty to felony aggravated cruelty to an animal and two related misdemeanors regarding the June 7 beating of a pit bull, “Trigger,” outside Gaston’s Beaver Street home. A witnessvideo-recorded the beating. Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker sentenced Gaston to time served – she spent three months in prison – to be followed by about 20 months on parole, then three years of probation. Gaston must surrender ownership of “Trigger” and pay $3,009 in restitution regarding care for the dog due to the incident, according to Assistant District Attorney Christine Wilson. Lancaster city police charged Gaston with kicking and stomping the dog’s head and commanding her 9-year-old son to also beat the dog. The dog sustained cuts and contusions, including bruised lungs, and received care at Philadelphia veterinarian clinic. In court, Gaston apologized to police, the city, her son, and the dog, according to ADA Wilson. Gaston also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of endangering a child and corruption of minors. Officer Ryan Burgett filed charges.
Isn’t this special? LNP is telling folks how to be smarter in their water usage. Seeing as LNP and their off the tax-rolls Marriott Hotel are partly responsible for this increase, why doesn’t the editorial board just shut the hell up! Please check back later today.
There were five judges involved in the porngate scandal – two of those were Supreme Court justices Michael Eakin and Seamus McCaffery who both ended up resigning after their identities were revealed. And we’ve never known who the three other judges were until now – and one is Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker. And he is quoted in the “Philadelphia Citizen” report as follows about one of the emails (click here): “One was a picture of, it was like a child and they were fully clothed but the way they were standing it looked like they were urinating, I think, into a fountain, and there was some funny caption with it, and it was just … nothing.” If it was just “nothing,” then why was it included in the report? Why did it involve a child? How many emails did Reinaker send and receive and did he respond to any. It is shocking that almost five years after porngate exploded, Reinaker’s name is just coming out as one of the three unnamed judges. And the public needs answers! The sidebar above is from the “Philadelphia Citizen” article linked to above. Please check back later today.
Below are the two email responses from City Clerk Bernie Harris and Communications Manager Amber Strazzo in response to my emails this morning asking what happened and when the video with audio would be available for the public. It obviously is not a high priority for these two who are paid with your dollars.
Patrick Hopkins gave an over two hour presentation on the budget for 2020 and once again the city’s livestream “failed.” The public has a right and a need to know what transpired. Afterall, it is their money! City council members are supposed to be public servants. And where is LNP?
There will be much more tomorrow.
* Tony Dastra, as a private citizen, successfully livestreamed these meetings for over a year. Since the city took over, they have had a problem with one-third of every livestream of a meeting. This is inexplicable and unacceptable. There is no excuse for this level of “incompetence!” Or is this purposeful?
A MEETING WITH NO SOUND!
— ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE! —
This was my text message exchange last evening with Amber Strazzo, Communications Manager for the City of Lancaster. There was an extremely important, over two hour city council committee meeting and there was no sound. This is unacceptable!
The City is falling apart and going bankrupt and we’re talking about changing pronouns in our codes. Unreal.
A comment into this site today.
Yes, the three newly elected city council members made changing pronouns in the city codes a priority in their discussion with LNP reporter Tim Stuhldreher (click here for the video).
How did these three get chosen by the Democrats to run unopposed and thus be obvious shoe-ins? Below is their conversation regarding the proposed artwork for the garage in Ewell Plaza. This is nothing short of sad and ridiculous. There will be more to follow and remember there is a very important city council committee meeting tonight at 6:00 pm and you can watch the livestream here.
Stuhldreher – Most recently at the city council meeting we took a vote on the public art and the garage. You know, we had two mayors come forward, one giving a fervent argument to carry on and another, you know, screeching halt. What do you think of the way city council handled that? Did they do the right thing? Would you guys have done something differently?
Amanda Bakay – Yeah, I think that, you know, given that they needed to make a decision that they did the best that they could do. I think that when you get the opportunity to ask for accountability from someone that you’re going to go give an awful lot of money to, you need to make sure that it is set in stone. And I feel that’s what we did in this instance. And, you know, I’m glad that a lot of people felt able to come and express themselves at that meeting and overwhelmingly I think that the people at that meeting felt like the project shouldn’t go forward. But I do think that public art is important and that public art needs engagement from the public. And so if we are going to do that we found a way to do that so that will hopefully be a really inclusive process and I feel good about…I feel good about what happened personally.
Xavier Garcia-Molina – I agree with everything you’ve said. Yeah, if anything I think the opportunity that arose is the knowledge that maybe we can do a better job of educating the community on public art and what the process is like and what a concept is.
Stuhldreher – Getting it out in front of the public sooner in the process?
Xavier Garcia-Molina – Right. Exactly. And, but again, it’s not something that was a mistake or wrong. I think it’s just an opportunity that we have now that we know people are actually genuinely interested in public art and want to participate in even in that conversation. Because when I think we are looking at the participation – there hasn’t been a participation that large since the Marriott was up for discussion. And so people want to get involved in conversations so it’s important that we are doing our best to, like you said, get that information before them ahead of time.
Jaime Arroyo – I agree with what Amanda and Xavier said and I think moving forward we are going to have to figure out how to balance our city’s history with art and there’s going to be times we don’t always agree with everything, but, um, you know, the opportunity here is to improve the process and how we do that. And I think city council did a good job of putting those contingencies in place to make sure that, yes, the community will be engaged moving forward to figure out what the final piece is going to be there. Remember, what was published isn’t necessarily what’s going up. I think there was a little bit of confusion but that speaks to how we should probably improve the process moving forward and I’m sure that there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for that.
Both Bakay and Garcia- Molina nod their heads in agreement and say, “yes, yes” and Garcia-Molina says, “They’re already tackling it and thinking about it.”
— FINANCIAL MATTERS —
It’s Cyber Monday and there is also a city council committee meeting tonight at 6:00 pm and very serious financial matters are on the agenda (click here for the full agenda):Coming later today, a look at LNP reporter Tim Stuhldreherl’s interview with the three new city council members – Amanda Bakay, Xavier Garcia-Molina and Jaime Arroyo (click here to watch it on YouTube). And yes, LNP’s Marriott Hotel is mentioned. Can you say “conflict of interest?”
* The lights will be on in the con center for seven days in December (click here).
HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
All of the above are from the LNP article, “Lancaster’s CRIZ Authority had $7.15 million to allocate this year: Here’s where it’s going,” (click here).
The convention center is getting $900,000 and LNP’s for-profit, off the tax-rolls Marriott Hotel is getting $685,029. But the resident’s utility fees are going up by over $200 dollars a year in 2020. How is this possible? Why do Lancastrians put up with this? And LNP has the unmitigated gall to run an editorial this morning talking about being the public’s watchdog. They are not a watchdog – they are thieves! Please check back later today.
LIP News will resume daily publishing on Sunday, December 1st. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
CORRUPTION IN LANCASTER
The below letter is being mailed to President Judge Dennis Reinaker today. LIP News is withholding the writer’s name. Click here for “SECOND PFA AGAINST OFFICER” for background on this case.
Dennis E. Reinaker Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County Lancaster County Courthouse 50 North Duke Street PO Box 83480 Lancaster , PA 17608
Re: Request for Recusation/Transfer to Berks County
Dear Honorable President Judge Reinaker,
In 2013, I was a victim of domestic violence and terroristic threats at the hand of Jonathan Caple. As stated in the police report, Jonathan dragged me by my hair into our house; breaking my sunglasses that were on my head, kicking down a small fence in our backyard and breaking the backdoor. He then held me against the wall and put his police weapon to my head and threatened to “blow my fucking brains out” in front of our two daughters. Terrified by what they saw, the girls ran and hid in a closet. The police did NOT arrest Jonathan upon coming to the residence. They treated him as a friend and fellow officer. They casually escorted him off the property with his car. I filed a PFA immediately and waited for action to be taken. I strongly believe the local PD and DA did not take proper action because Jonathan Caple is a police officer in Lancaster City . They closed the case showing lack of concern for my wellbeing or the safety of my children.
Unfortunately, your District Attorney’s office and the local Mount Joy police department did not properly handle the situation because Jonathan is a police officer. The DA was aware of this violent crime against me and my children. Yet, Sue Ellison failed to take action by bringing charges against Mr. Caple for his crime.
I am disappointed that Lancaster County has done nothing to help me, but has continued to protect one of their officers and shown complete Prejudice. For the past 5 years I have been contacting different agencies to seek out justice and no one will do anything in Lancaster county to help me. The Mount Joy police department refused to release the police report to me until I retained a lawyer in 2018 to assist me. After reading the report, I noticed several inconsistencies. The PD repeatedly told me the case is closed and they can not reopen it. With the severity of the crime involving a Lancaster County/City public servant, why was this case not picked up by the State of Pennsylvania to prosecute him? Why did the Lancaster City PD Internal Affairs not remove Mr. Caple’s badge after investigating his misconduct? In 2018 when our daughters gave statements of what they witnessed, why didn’t Lancaster City PD take action against him? My 11 yr old daughter is now documented by the Lancaster County court admitting to specific details of her father putting a gun to her mothers head. When is Lancaster City Internal Affairs going to stop protecting Jonathan Caple?
In 2018, within the 5 year statute to file charges of Terroristic Threats, I went to the Manheim Twp. police department for another domestic violence matter involving Mr. Caple and Detective Billiter directly contacted the Lancaster County Detective associated with the DA to address the crime that took place in Mt. Joy , but once again I was ignored. My daughters were forced to give statements to the Children’s Alliance in Lancaster . Where they went into great detail about the abuse they witnessed and the Gun held to their Mommy’s head. I never received any letters from the DA closing the case. When I called to follow up today, 11/26/2019, I was advised that the DA never had an investigation and that it was closed by Mt Joy police. I would like to know why this case was not opened by the DA’s office in 2018 and Mr. Caple was not charged at that time with Terroristic Threats with witnesses?
To resolve the problem, I would appreciate your help in recusing the District Attorney’s office from all of my cases and moving them outside of Lancaster County to be heard fairly in Berks County PA. I would also like to request any criminal/civil case matters involving Mr. Caple or myself to be heard in Berks County for complete and total fairness. I respectfully request you to open the case from Mt Joy and allow more time for me to have an opportunity to have a fair hearing in Berks County . Your DA’s office specifically, Sue Ellison, has intentionally obstructed justice and has expressed great prejudice. As she is friends with Jonathan Caple and has worked with him in the past.
Most recently, I had a custody hearing in front of Judge Conrad where he allowed Jonathans attorney to monopolize 6 hrs of the 7 hr hearing, rushed me through my testimony and would not allow me to call my only 2 witnesses. Judge Conrad did not allow my evidence of missed visits, late pickups or taking my daughter out of state without my knowledge or consent. Judge Conrad allowed Mr. Efstration to slander me and my family repeatedly during the hearing. No one should have to endure that kind of behavior in a courtroom or anywhere. My daughter spoke with Judge Conrad and shared that she wanted to be with Mom more and dad less. Dad screams at her and hits things when he’s angry. He ignores her most of the time during his visits, never took her to the doctor, and prevented her from participating in sports activities. She shared her story of witnessing dad put a gun to mommy’s head and threatened to kill her and that she hid in a closet because she was scared. Judge Conrad openly stated in court he believed my daughter was telling thetruth about the gun, but still gave Mr. Caple 50/50 custody. Judge Conrad charged me with contempt and told me that it doesn’t matter if dad did the same thing. Why is it ok for Mr. Caple and not for me? His actions in this matter show obvious prejudice and complete disregard for my daughters’ overall wellbeing or happiness. Lastly, I called Judge Conrad’s law office, where he is partner and holds stock, for a lawyer referral. The lawyer there recommended Mr. Gary Efstration, Jonathan’s lawyer. I am respectfully asking for this case to be transferred out of Lancaster County and for Judge Conrad to recuse himself from further handling this case.
My 11 year old daughter ran away from school today on what was supposed to be her fathers’ day. She came running through the front door of our home begging, “Mommy please let me stay home” “ I don’t want to go back there with him”. She has described being left alone for 2 days and overnight with her best friend. Neither of the girls slept because they were incredibly frightened. They described hearing sounds and sneaking around the house room by room to see if Jonathan was home, but he was not. The girls ate ice cream sandwiches, snickers and kit cat bars until Jonathan stopped by on Sunday afternoon to drop off McDonalds. At 545pm on Sunday 11/10/19 her Uncle Matthew came over to pick her up at dads house to drop her off to me and ended up driving to the wrong drop off location. Which later confirmed the girls story that Jonathan was not there to provide Matthew with the correct information. When I called the Manheim Twp. police to report this, they told me its not against the law in PA to leave your children at home alone…even overnight. They called Mr. Caple to advise him of the report, but did not notify Children and Youth of the incident. As mandated reporters, I feel it was their responsibility and duty to call, but protecting a fellow police officer was their only concern.
Thank you for taking the time to read my concerns. I look forward to your reply and a resolution to my problem. Please contact me at the above address or by phone at [redacted].
LNP PULLS HER STRINGS!
LNP reporter Tim Stuhldreher chatting up Patrick Hopkins before last night’s city council meeting, the photo of Mayor Sorace that accompanies today’s LNP story linked to below.
** Stuhldreher loves to jump up and take pictures of council members and citizens addressing city council and they are used in LNP. But he couldn’t take a picture of Mayor Sorace giving her budget address last night? Instead, they run a file photo of Sorace in their offices before their logo. As if there was any doubt, Sorace is LNP’s new puppet!
* Lancaster has enjoyed a remarkable surge of private investment — half a billion dollars since 2015. But the benefit of that growth on the city’s finances, the mayor said, has been more than offset by factors such as declining federal and state aid, rising pension costs, the city’s large proportion of nontaxable properties and Pennsylvania’s outdated municipal finance system. From the LNP article linked to below (italics mine). And that includes LNP’s for-profit, publicly funded, off the tax-rolls Marriott Hotel. What an absolute disgrace. I will come back to former County Commissioner Molly Henderson’s book “Pressed” about the con center/Marriott Hotel and LNP after Thanksgiving.
$204.68 AVERAGE INCREASE
There’s no property tax increase proposed in Lancaster city’s draft budget for 2020.
However, it calls for hikes in water, sewer and trash fees that would increase typical ratepayers’ costs by $51.17 per quarter, or $204.68 per year.
From today’s LNP article, “Millage unchanged in Lancaster’s proposed 2020 budget, but utility rates to rise,” (click here).
Yes, at last night’s city council meeting Mayor Sorace proposed signifiicant increases for city residents. And this is just the beginning… The breakdown is below:
From tonight’s city council meeting agenda (click here for the full agenda).
There is a very important city council meeting tonight at 7:30 pm when Mayor Sorace is scheduled to present the proposed 2020 budget (click here to watch the livestream on the city’s YouTube channel). I will report on that tomorrow and then this site will go on Thanksgiving vacation until Sunday, December 1st, when daily publishing will resume.
* The below is part of an excellent comment into this site: I find it weird that the serve and protect philosophy has been replaced by jackbooted skinheads who appear to have zero training on how to deescalate situations like this one – an unarmed piss-drunk woman. Time and time again, their actions as I’ve seen in these videos escalate suspects. It sometimes appears that it is done purposely so they can take out aggressions that have zero to do with the person being detained. And if they do this in public, I can only imagine how they behave in private. And sure as anything, this woman will retain a lawyer for permanent head injuries suffered when he smashed her head to the ground. Regardless of her guilt or innocence.
CHANGE THE TRAINING!
From left to right: Mackenzie Brandt under arrest, today’s LNP article (click here), Police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser.
Berkihiser [Lancaster City Police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser] defended the officer’s actions. “Basically the officer was doing everything he was trained to do,” he said Monday. From the LNP article linked to above. And that is why there were three federal lawsuits filed against your officers in a recent six week period! Please check back later today.
This happened less than a block from the LNP offices. It happened within steps of their precious Marriott Hotel. But LNP can’t do a story unless the police issue a statement. They haven’t held these police accountable for years. This is absolutely disgusting and it is not journalism. Call LNP and demand answers – (717) 291-8622!
There will be much more tomorrow.
** The woman in the video is Mackenzie Brant who was celebrating her 25th birthday. She is now in Lancaster County prison on $150,000 cash bail. Her very serious charges are below.
* A second video from Saturday night’s arrest in front of Tellus 360.
* This is simply amazing. In this whole LNP article they never state why she was in a New York prison for two years (click here)! This LNP reporter could probably learn a lot from this reporter. What is wrong with LNP? What are they teaching their young reporters? According to National Public Radio (click here): In 2010, during her senior year at Cornell University, she was arrested with 6 ounces of heroin and sentenced to prison.
Several interesting emails and comments: The Steinman House was supposed to be auctioned on November 5 – 7. I have NOT seen (but maybe missed???) any news on that! Did it happen? I’m curious. If it was cancelled, didn’t see that either.
That is a very good question. The last thing in LNP regarding Conestoga House was about the November auction (click here), I will try to find out more on Monday.
This about the proposed artwork for Ewell Plaza:
This was a public art project without the “public” part. No local artists or architects were consulted and local money, including Criz money, is being sent to Florida.
You make a very good point about CRIZ money going to Florida! This whole thing is so outrageous and I will come back to it after Thanksgiving.
This comment in this morning:
Paper today regarding sale of shell site. I’m confused by this whole thing and LNP doesn’t provide really any explanation, but I think there’s likely more than meets the eye.
I don’t know anything about it other than the city sued Shell in 2012 and the Judge’s Final Order is below. I will read up on that case and see what I can find out. Today’s LNP article is here.
One of most corrupt, shocking and heartbreaking cases I have covered over the last 15 years is the case of Akeem Washington. Several Lancaster City Police Officers and the DA’s Office conspired and lied to put an innocent man in jail for years. It was a modern day lynching. I am going to work on sending a submission to the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and will post here when I do (click here for their website). I encourage everyone else to contact them regarding this absolute travesty of justice.
** When Tony Torrellas was shot dead in the home of the mother of his son, DA Craig Stedman ruled his death was justified and he did not name the killer. And LNP didn’t blink or question it or hold Stedman accountable. Stedman is protecting this man. His name needs to be released. In 2013, Stedman named the shooter (click here): Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman ruled that Ismar Martin of 426 N. Queen St., was justified when he shot David Montes during an altercation at Martin’s home on Feb. 13. So why hasn’t he named Torrellas’ shooter? In the below recent Fox-43 article, the shooter is named.
* Knock me over with a feather! LNP is looking to hire a “Public Safety Reporter” and their description is below (click here for the ad). LNP has not held the police, prosecutors and judges accountable for over 40 years! In fact, they have served as their public relations ambassadors. Do you really think they are going to start doing their job and holding them accountable?
“Revisiting cold cases. Identifying trends in crime. Examining the criminal justice system and holding police, prosecutors and judges accountable. Reporting from the field in real time, with all the digital storytelling tools at our disposal, on natural disasters and emergencies. LNP | LancasterOnline’s Public Safety reporter serves as the eyes and ears for our community’s 540,000 residents by breaking news online, providing context and insights in print the next day, quickly parsing data to explain why it matters, routinely chasing down enterprise stories and following through on mid- to long-range investigative projects.”
COPYING THE DA IS NOT REPORTING!
UPDATE 11-22-19 –Philadelphia Defense Attorney Perry de Marco, Sr. responded to my email yesterday and confirmed he represents Rahmir Hopkins and was present at his preliminary hearing on Wednesday (see below). And yet, there is not a word about him or any actions he took in the DA Office’s press release and therefore, LNP which simply re-wrote it, doesn’t mention his defense attorney either. This is terrible “reporting.” Please check back later today.
— Making some phone calls this afternoon. LIP News will be back tomorrow.
*** DA Spokesman Brett Hambright tweeted the below shortly after tweeting his press release on yesterday’s preliminary hearing. Hmmm. I think a video of the shooting would be better. Why wasn’t that captured?
** The District Attorney’s Office never mentions the defense or the defense attorneys in their releases. According to his docket, Hopkins has private Philadelphia Attorney Perry de Marco, Sr. (see below and click here for his website). I will call and try to confirm he is representing Hopkins and that he was present yesterday. Hopkin’s preliminary hearing was originally rescheduled so he could hire a private attorney and not use assigned Public Defender Edwin George Pfursich IV.
* From the DA’s press release this morning (click here): A Lancaster teenager will face homicide and related charges in County Court after a preliminary hearing Wednesday revealed video footage of him at the scene and an incriminating eyewitness statement. Rahmir Hopkins was 14 when he shot 24-year-old Luis Perez on Oct. 9 in the 600 block of South Lime Street, according to charges filed by Lancaster city police. Perez was shot in the back as he tried to get up as two of Hopkins’ companions kicked him, according to testimony at the hour-long hearing. “(Hopkins) pulled a handgun and shot the victim in the back,” First Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson said in a brief argument following testimony. At the conclusion of the hearing, District Judge Jodie Richardson ordered Hopkins face the charges in Lancaster County Court. FADA Anderson called three detectives to outline evidence in the case. Hopkins, now 15, wore a blue jumpsuit for the hearing. He watched closely as a detective narrated about eight minutes of surveillance footage captured at the scene. Video cameras positioned at two corner stores did not record the shooting, but they did record Hopkins and his two male companions engage in a confrontation with Perez. Perez can be seen falling into the street, where he was pronounced dead. Hopkins is seen in the footage in a corner store purchasing a bottle of red juice, which he then carries outside. He is seen in later footage, at the location of the shooting, with the bottle of red juice. Lancaster city police Detective Eric McCrady said he instantly recognized Hopkins as the male in the gray hooded sweatshirt with the juice because he had questioned him recently about a separate homicide case. Detective Robert Whiteford testified of an eyewitness who watched the altercation and shooting from his front porch. The witness identified for police who he saw fire a gun: a male in a gray hooded sweatshirt in surveillance video still photos. Hopkins is presumed innocent. He is also charged with two felonies regarding illegal possession of a firearm. He is at Lancaster County Prison without bail.
I DON’T CARE WHAT VINCE EATS!
From a Letter to the Editor titled, “Not happy with smaller paper,” (click here).
There have been a number of letters recently complaining about the reductions in the LNP print/digital edition. And online this morning there is this:
There is not one thing that I want to read or watch in all of that. Where is the news? Please check back later today.
— Taking a break this afternoon. LIP News will be back tomorrow.
THREE LAWSUITS IN SIX WEEKS
A Lancaster woman last month filed a federal lawsuit accusing a city police detective of sexually assaulting her, putting his hands up her shirt and groping her breasts “on the pretext” of searching for drugs during a 2017 traffic stop.
LNP reported in July on the practices used by county Drug Task Force officers to make prostitution arrests, including an instance in which an undercover officer allowed an alleged perpetrator to complete “several minutes” of a sex act on him before arresting her. Similar cases — and more extreme ones — have cropped up around the state.
Everyone knows the police should not have sex with those in custody but if a bill is needed to absolutely enforce this then let them pass a bill.
But what is the city doing about their police? In a front page article on November 5th about Detective Nathan Nickel allegedly groping the woman’s breasts, LNP notes this is the third federal lawsuit against the city police in six weeks. What is being done about this? This is not acceptable! Is Nickel still on the street?
From left to right: Raymond Rowe, today’s LNP article (click here), Philadelphia Appeals Attorney Todd Michael Mosser.
On October 28th, Raymond Rowe, who pleaded guilty to the rape and murder of Christy Mirack, filed a Motion to Withdraw Counsel. On November 6th, Philadelphia Appeals Attorney Todd Michael Mosser filed an Entry of Appearance and is now listed as Rowe’s attorney on his docket. It certainly looks like an appeal will be forthcoming. See below for the latest portion of his docket and click here for the website for Mosser.
GONE TO THE DOGS!
…My next train of thought was: Is a fund for matching City Council members with guide dogs needed? Have they not visited the galleries or noticed the wonderful murals in our city (and county) created by local artists? Have theymissed the thriving art community centered in downtown Lancaster?
From a Letter to the Editor of LNP titled, “Local artist should design installation,” (click here).
What an excellent letter and, yes, shame on them! What an expensive disgrace this whole thing has turned into.
WGAL states the following: Police are investigating the deaths but said the case isn’t suspicious and foul play is not suspected.
* According to the actual ordinance, I’m not sure this person should have had a python in the first place (see below and click here for the ordinance and the definition of a wild/exotic animal).
Similarly, it is illegal for the owner of any animal to allow the animal to go beyond the boundaries of their premises or to run at large over the streets or public grounds or upon the property of another. From the Manheim Township CrimeWatch entry on feral cats and other animals including “reptiles,” (click here). Not to beat a dead horse, but I seriously want to know why the owner of the 8-foot python was not cited. Please check back later today.
FERAL CAT OR PYTHON?
So the Manheim Township police cited a 78-year-old man for “caring” for feral cats but did not cite the owner of this snake (click here)? And according to this article, a neighbor said this was the third time the snake got loose. Who owned the snake? Why weren’t they cited? And in the LNP article there is also this: According to Sergeant Michael Piacentino, Manheim Township police do not typically respond to animal calls unless the animals pose a danger to the public. What in the world? Feral cats or an 8-foot python?
** My guess is the Manheim Township Police Department will not appreciate this very recent news article run by Fox-43 (click here).
YOU CAN’T KILL THEM & YOU CAN’T FEED THEM!
* Remember when a man shot and killed a cat and LNP kept it as a lead story for days and the comments under it exploded (clickhere)?The below commenter later even offered to pay someone $20.00 to take his strays, but still no one came! Ok, Cat lovers which one of you will take the 5 strays I have? The mother was dropped off in my yard and had kittens 7 months ago. SPCA won’t take them and none of the other shelters in Lancaster county willeither, I have called them all. SPCA charges $ 50.00 per cat and still wouldn’t take them. I caught three and took them to the Lancaster branch willing to pay the $ 150.00, but they say the cats are too feral and I had to bring them back home. TNR is $ 30.00 to $ 50.00 each and I have to bring the cats back home. I don’t want the cats they keep killing birds at my feeders.
ARE GETTING CATTY?
From today’s police log (click here), a random photo of feral cats.
How was he caring for them? Was he feeding them? How do the police know the cats are feral? What about people who allow their cats to be outside and roam? How much will this citation cost Mr. Snoke?
The transcript of Ms. Fitzgerald’s exchange at Tuesday’s city council meeting continues below and begins following the last question from Wade-El in yesterday’s portion of the transcript.
Cohen – So, in the one meeting that we had with R&R we were fairly adamant that cost was an issue with the project and they should take cost into consideration when developing their feasibility study. Like any vendor, like any project, there will be a negotiation that if they do come in at $800,000 and the budget is at $600,000, we will need to negotiate and figure out a way to cut the – either – I mean either it has to go one way or the other. We either have to fund more or find the funding to do it or we need to do – they need to do changes to bring it into budget.
Wadel-El – So just to be clear, you’re not going to be – I don’t mean for this to sound combative though I know that it does – you’re not going to be standing in front of me here a year from now telling me why this project cost $1.1 million dollars? This particular piece like the façade piece? Just because I keep getting from multiple people this $800,000 and the $350,000. I just want to know that what we are talking about in some kind of secure fashion is, in fact, $600,000 dollars and it’s not going to be a year from now that it’s going to be $1.1 million – just so we’re all straight on the facts.
Cohen – Yes, at the Parking Authority we have been very consistent from day one – their preliminary budget was $600,000 for the project. So if they’re coming in greater than that, as I said, they will have to figure out a way to work within that budget or there will have to be a way for additional funding to cover it. Our intention is with all the pieces that are being bid, all the costs for this project, that they will need to figure out a way to stay within budget.
Wade-El – Thank you, Mr. Cohen. I feel like you are warming up over there, mayor.
Sorace – Yes, just to underscore the fact that the budget that was presented with R&R was based on a conceptual design. It is not the final design. The final design will be billed within a budget of $600,000. There is no wiggle room on that. There is no come back to council. There is no other money laying around for this. This was money – the reason why I think this is an opportunity and why art is integrated into architecture – is that there is not a budget for public art. This is integrated into the construction of the building. Ifthis wasn’t there, there would be some other element that would cost $600,000 dollars. This is a one-for-one exchange for the screening that would go over the front of the garage. There are stipulations related to that screening. It cannot be a wall. It has to be ventilated. It has to withstand certain wind. All of these other things that are part of the architectural and engineering that needs to also go through a process in addition to the public art.
So I just want to restate that because there are questions about this – the budgeted money – and we are setting the budget – actually, not us here – the Lancaster Parking Authority in consultation with Walker, who builds garages. In consultation with Benchmark Construction which is the – what is the term du jour…
Cohen – Project manager.
Sorace – They are the project manager but they are also assuming all of the risk…
Cohen – Construction manager.
Sorace – Construction manager and risk for meeting the budget. Is that correct?
Cohen – Correct.
Fitgerald – So just to clarify – you are giving me your word, Mayor Sorace, that we will stay within the $600,000 budget even though the conceptual proposal came in at $800,000? And I would just have one brief question to follow up. If the one-and-a-half million CRIZ money doesn’t come through for the next 20 years, who does thatdebt fall on?
Reichenbach – Thank you, ma’am.
Fitzgerald – For the bond?
Reichenbach – Thank you. Appreciate your public comment. It’s not a back and forth. I will allow her to answer if she has the time but I want to give other people a public comment period as well. So if Mr. Delfs – if you want to comment or Mr. Cohen?
Delfs, city director of community planning and economic development – I just wanted to clarify one part of the question. The initial concept rendering from R&R studios that we are all familiar with – that was created before R&R Studios was given a final budget. So they will have to work within the $600,000 budget they were provided with. Thank you.
Reichenbach – Mr. Cohen.
Cohen – For clarification, the debt is of the Parking Authority. The Parking Authority issued bonds of 29 and a half or so million dollars. So the burden is on the Parking Authority to pay that debt with the support of the CRIZ dollars.
Reichenbach – Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for answering the question.
UPDATE 11-15-19 – The remainder of Ms. Fitzgerald’s comment to city council will come later today.
WHAT ABOUT THE CORNERS?
The beginning of the exchange between Ms. Fitzgerald and the city council members at Tuesday’s city council meeting is below. The rest will come tomorrow – and it gets even better!
Reichenbach – Good evening.
Fitzgerald – Hello. I’m _____ Fitzgerald and I sent you all a couple of questions earlier today. The number one question is – I got to read the proposal that R&R put forth and their estimate for the west façade was $800,000 dollars. And I’ve heard Larry Cohen speak publicly more than once saying that the façade would cost $600,000 dollars no matter what was included in the façade.
So my question is – which is it – and who would hold R&R responsible for staying within that budget? I understand we’ve already floated a $29 million dollar bond to pay for the construction of this garage and that we’re counting on one-and-a-half million dollars per year for the next 20 years beginning next year to pay this bond back. And that’s going to be CRIZ money which we hope comes forward.
So, as a resident of the city, I’m concerned about the budget. I’m concerned about the lack of accountability in the R&R proposal. It said, very clearly, that their say goes – no one else’s. It is their art. You can’t tell them what to do. It’s their conception, their vision; however, we’re supposed to be telling them to do it for $600,000 dollars instead of $800,000 dollars? And then that doesn’t even include the other corners that were going to cost $350,000 dollars? So the proposal was over a million dollars. Who’s going to hold the budgetand what is the number going to be?
Reichenbach – Thank you, ma’am.
Fitzgerald – If you have an answer I want to hear it!
Wade-El – Can I get Chris, Larry, somebody to give me like a definitive answer on that? Just in front of the whole body. Somebody – I don’t care who it is. Larry, thank you.
Cohen – Larry Cohen from the Parking Authority. The budgeted amount for the artwork is equal to 2% of the budget for the project which is approximately $30 million dollars so the budgeted amount for the art is $600,000.
Wade-El – Thank you, and just to answer the rest of Ms. Fitzgerald’s question, what happens if R&R comes back and says, “Well, we think it’s going to be $720,000 dollars actually?”
WHAT IF THE CRIZ DRIES UP?
Janet Diaz, the absurd headline in today’s LNP print edition, James Reichenbach.
Kudos to Janet Diaz again for being the only one willing to deviate from the company line. Reichenbach [Council President James Reichenbach] voted no in what felt like an insult vote to all the well spoken residents, as he spent all night defending the art and then did not support Janet Diaz’s motion to delay approval to allow a more definitive concept tobe presented for approval. He got very defensive while repeating a blatant lie that the City wouldn’t be on the hook for all this cash if the CRIZ dries up sometime over the next 20+ years. Good riddance, glad that his time on council is coming to an end. Part of an excellent comment into this site under yesterday’s post. Exactly! Reichenbach’s behavior was bizarre and unacceptable. And Diaz is the only one on that council with a backbone. Good for her! Please check back later today.
So just to clarify – you are giving me your word, Mayor Sorace, that we will stay within the $600,000 budget even though the conceptual proposal came in at $800,000? Ms. Fitzgerald speaking at last night’s city council meeting. Please go to the 1:24:47 mark in last night’s video and listen to the full comment and answers given to Ms. Fitzgerald (click here for the video). This is absolutely shocking. I hope to have a complete transcript tomorrow.
* R&R is already $200,000 over the budget they are allotted of $600,000! This is outrageous! Read the motion! Is R&R going to do all that?
In the screenshot from last night’s meeting below, former Mayor Rick Gray returns to his seat after making a nonsensical comment and former Mayor Art Morris is at the podium commenting.
Phase 1, Part 1: R&R will visit Lancaster to meet with the 151 North Queen project team responsible for the engineering and construction of the development.
Phase 1, Part 2: R&R will remain in close contact with the Hammel Architects to coordinate architectural requirements for the artwork.
Phase 1, Part 3: R&R will receive and consider the findings and recommendations from the Historical Commission as documented in the Commission’s meeting minutes and reports and content to be collected and provided by the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development and respond to said feedback and engage with selected members of the Historical Commission regarding said feedback.
Phase 2: R&R will make at least three additional visits to Lancaster between April 2020 and September 2020 tied with key opportunities for community participation. [That’s Phase 2, Section 4 – sorry.]
Phase 2, Section 5: R&R, these are the artists, I apologize, will meet with key stakeholder groups to include members of the Ewell family, the Public Library Board and selected members of the Historical Commission to understand the scope and parameters of Lancaster’s Historic Architecture Ordinance.
Phase 2, Section 6: R&R will have a presence and community festivals and events to gain insight and input towards the creative development of the artwork.
Phase 2, Section 7: R&R will utilize a range of engagement techniques including those noted above to determine what language if any will go on the building façade.
Phase 2, Section 8: As a culmination of the engagement process, R&R will hold design and ________ or other forums where community members can vote for their favorite artistic concept of two to three presented depictingrelevant variables relating to the words, color, arrangement and composition of the material to be included in the final realized design.
COUNCIL PASSES ARTWORK WITH “CONDITIONS”
City councilman Ismail Smith Wade-El at last night’s meeting: Council President Reichenbach and counselors: I move that council issue a certificate of appropriateness for the proposed 151 N. Queen development conditional on a community engagement plan which will be read into the record with all legal force and affect tonight, this evening as follows, and which the city administration will later and as we discuss this item, will elaborate on further. But it includes the following as indispensable components… To be continued…
Tonight is the night to see if any of these city council members have a backbone and care about what the citizens think and want. A portion of the agenda for tonight’s city council meeting is below (click here for the full agenda). The meeting, which begins at 7:30 pm, should be livestreamed on the city’s YouTube channel (click here).
** Please send a link to “Pressed” on Amazon.com to every city council member (click here for the link to Amazon and their email address are below):
* Yet with its two daily and Sunday newspapers, Lancaster Newspapers functioned as the print source of information for Lancaster County. The Steinmans had a complete monopoly over the print market (62). The newspaper still remained the primary means of getting local news. Lancaster Newspapers’ involvement in the project meant that its reporters and editors would cover a project in which the Steinmans held a major financial stake. That is not merely the appearance of a conflict of interest; that is a conflict of interest. From page 68 and 69 of “Pressed.” And that is exactly why this site has stated for years that the Steinmans and LNP break every code of journalism ethics in this country every day.
LNP: YOUR COMMUNITY, WATCHDOG NEWSPAPER?
It took Lancaster Newspapers more than eight years to disclose its ownership in a project that involved more than $100 million of public money. This indicates how the company covered the project. The company used the newspapers to promote the project, rather than report on it – and, when necessary, to attack opponents of its downtown hotel project. From page 265 of the book “Pressed” by former Lancaster County Commissioner Molly Henderson. Click here to buy “Pressed” and please check back later today.