News Briefing: Dec. 16-22, 2016

News Briefing: Dec. 16-22, 2016

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Run to support homeless

The third-annual Homeless for the Holidays run/walk will take place in South Philadelphia this weekend.

The event features a 5-kilometer run and a 2.5-kilometer walk. Proceeds from walk admission will benefit Pennies From Kevan Foundation, which will distribute the money to local homeless agencies. Pennies From Kevan was founded in honor of Kevan Matthew Isaacs, a supporter of local homeless communities who died in 2013. 

The run/walk kicks off at 10 a.m. Dec. 18 at FDR Park, 1500 Pattison Ave. Registration can be completed online at through Dec. 15 or starting at 8:30 a.m. onsite the day of the walk. Canine companions are welcome to join the walk. Free parking will be provided at the former Naval Hospital lot across from the park. 

Participants can receive $5 off their registration fee if they bring a pair of unused gloves, socks or thermal underwear, which will be donated to the homeless.

Carlisle passes nondiscrimination law

Lawmakers in Carlisle adopted an LGBT nondiscrimination law last week.

The borough, located outside of Harrisburg, became the state’s 37th municipality to extend nondiscrimination protections to the LGBT community. Borough Council members approved the proposed Human Rights Ordinance Dec. 8 in a 5-2 vote.

Several-hundred people attended the council meeting, with residents voicing both support and concern before the vote.

The legislation bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations and establishes a Human Relations Commission to enforce the law. It is set to take effect in March.

A bill to enact statewide LGBT-nondiscrimination protections has languished in the state legislature for more than a decade.

Cosby back in court 

A Montgomery County judge is weighing whether to permit testimony by a litany of women who’ve accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault in the actor’s upcoming trial.

Cosby appeared before Judge Steven O’Neill Tuesday, as his attorneys argued that prosecutors should not be allowed to call some or all of 13 women as witnesses in a case brought by Andrea Constand. The former Temple University and out lesbian contends that in 2004 the TV star and comedian, then a friend of hers, sexually assaulted her in his Montgomery County home. 

Several-dozen other women since came forward with similar allegations, and prosecutors want to call some of them to the stand at Cosby’s trial next year to illustrate a pattern of assault. At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge consented to 11 of the 13 accusers being named in court proceedings, since they had publicly accused Cosby; two remain anonymous. Many of the women’s names were shown on a projector during Tuesday’s hearing, which prosecutor Kevin Steele contended was a defense maneuver to expose their names to the media.

The defense was expected to call into question the women’s credibility when the hearing continued Wednesday, when PGN went to press. 

— Jen Colletta

Two antibias complaints resolved

Federal antibias complaints filed by two Philadelphia men with HIV recently were settled, but details of the settlements haven’t been divulged.

“John Doe” and “James Doe” worked at Elwyn, a nonprofit human-services agency based in Media. Both men filed federal lawsuits against Elwyn earlier this year, claiming the agency subjected them to various forms of illegal discrimination. 

They sought more than $50,000 in damages and reforms within the agency.

Neither side had a comment for this update.

Another deadline extension granted in Morris 911 case

Another deadline extension has been granted for a state agency to rule on an open-records request for 911 recordings in the Nizah Morris case. 

In November 2015, PGN asked the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for a certified copy of its Morris 911 recordings.

The matter was in arbitration with the state Office of Open Records for several months, but arbitration was unsuccessful, and it was assigned to an OOR appeals officer. 

The OOR was expected to issue a final determination on Dec. 16 but, earlier this month, the OOR requested an extension.

PGN agreed to the request, and a new deadline of Dec. 30 has been set for an OOR final determination.

Morris was an African-American trans woman found with a fatal head wound in 2002, shortly after a “courtesy ride” from Philadelphia police in the Gayborhood. Her homicide remains unsolved.

— Timothy Cwiek

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