News & Brews December 1, 2023

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Feds rest case in Johnny Doc trial

Federal prosecutors rested their case yesterday in the embezzlement trial of former Philly labor leader John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty. And, as it so happens, the defense also rested its case—with Dougherty offering no defense and co-defendant Brian Burrows calling one witness. Dougherty is accused of embezzling more than $600,000 from the union he formerly led. Closing arguments are set for Monday.

Philly teachers’ union uses healthcare money for real estate

Elisabeth Messenger of Americans for Fair Treatment and Andrew Holman of the Commonwealth Foundation investigate how the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers is using a fund that’s meant for members’ health benefits to “bail out its failed real estate endeavors.” More than a decade ago, the union gave a $4.8 million loan to an outfit called the 1816 Chestnut Street Corporation, which is the “real estate arm” of the union’s healthcare fund. “Today, the loan balance is the same, with no payments made and no interest accruing.”

Pa. pols head to New York for annual Pa. Society

The Inquirer reports that among those heading to New York City this weekend for the “ritzy” Pennsylvania Society weekend are incoming Philly Mayor Cherelle Parker and Gov. Josh Shapiro. For Shapiro’s part, he “spoke at last year’s Pennsylvania Society dinner as governor-elect, touting ‘the bipartisan coalition’ that helped him win office while vowing to govern in the same spirit of bipartisanship. On Saturday, he’ll address plenty of people in tuxedos and ball gowns who think he didn’t keep that promise.” Indeed.

Pa. lawmakers want investigation of water utility hack

The AP reports that U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman, along with U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio “have asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate how foreign hackers breached a water authority near Pittsburgh, prompting the nation’s top cyberdefense agency to warn other water and sewage-treatment utilities that they may be vulnerable.” The hack occurred late last week in Aliquippa.

Lawmaker reacts to being outed for outrageous mileage reimbursements

Rep. Pat Harkins (Erie County) says he’ll no longer seek mileage reimbursements for in-district meetings after being outed for getting more than $150,000 in total mileage reimbursements since 2018. He told the Erie Times-News, “It is too high, I agree. That’s not why I’m there. And if I were to look at it as a person not knowing what I do, I would be outraged too.” How ironic that Harkins was totally fine with it until the latest media focus. Now, he’s suddenly understanding the ‘outrage,’ while subtly accusing those who are upset with not knowing what he knows.

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