- - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

ALABAMA

Hispanics protest new immigration law

ALBERTVILLE | At least a half-dozen poultry plants shut down or scaled back operations Wednesday and many other businesses closed as Hispanics in Alabama skipped work to protest the state’s toughest-in-the-nation immigration law.

The work stoppage was aimed at demonstrating the economic contribution of Alabama’s Hispanic immigrants. The pervasiveness of the protests was unclear. But a poultry company spokesman said officials were reporting unusually high absences at plants in northeast Alabama, where much of the state’s chicken industry is based.

Republican supporters say Alabama’s strict new immigration law is intended to force illegal workers out of jobs and help legal residents find work in a state reeling from high unemployment.

The law allows police to detain people indefinitely if they are suspected of being in the country illegally and it requires schools to check the status of enrolling students.

KANSAS

DA says he may probe some domestic cases

TOPEKA | A district attorney said Wednesday that his office will review all misdemeanor domestic violence cases forwarded to him by the Topeka police and determine on a case-by-case basis which ones merit pressing charges.

Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor, who announced last month that he would no longer pursue such cases, said in his statement Wednesday that he now has “sole authority” over such cases after the city of Topeka voted to repeal a local domestic violence ordinance.

“We will do so with less staff, less resources, and severe constraints on our ability to effectively seek justice,” Mr. Taylor said. “But we will do so willingly to preserve the public safety of all the citizens of Shawnee County.”

His statement comes a day after the mayor and council of the state’s capital city voted to repeal Topeka’s ordinance against domestic violence, a dramatic turn in their attempt to force the county to back away from its earlier decision. Victims’ advocates had decried those moves as endangering public safety and putting already scared victims at greater risk.

Mr. Taylor said in September that his decision to stop prosecuting misdemeanors committed inside Topeka was because of budget cuts.

MASSACHUSETTS

Lost in corn maze, family calls 911 for help

DANVERS | Authorities say a family that got lost in a 7-acre corn maze called 911 for help, apparently taking advantage of the police department’s motto: “We want to be bothered.”

The maze at Connors Farm in Danvers can take up to an hour to navigate.

A police officer entered the maze with a farm manager to search for the disoriented father, mother and two children. The family didn’t realize they had almost made their way out and were just 25 feet from the street.

Farm owner Bob Connors told the Boston Globe the maze was designed so that people would get lost in the long corn stalks.

NEW JERSEY

Stuttering student told not to speak

RANDOLPH | Officials at a community college in northern New Jersey declined to say Wednesday whether they disciplined an adjunct professor who asked a stuttering student not to speak, but acknowledged that the professor acted improperly.

Administrators at County College of Morris said history professor Elizabeth Snyder was wrong to email Philip Garber Jr., 16, to urge Mr. Garber to save his questions for after class “so we do not infringe on other students’ time.”

“This way, you can express your ideas and knowledge completely and I will have a better understanding of what you know,” Miss Snyder’s email went on to say. “You can give me the sheet after each class.”

Bette Simmons, vice president of student development for the college, said Miss Snyder should have advised classmates to be patient with Mr. Garber.

College President Edward Yaw said Miss Snyder is still employed at the college. He wouldn’t say what, if any, disciplinary action had been taken against her because it was a personnel matter.

PENNSYLVANIA

City seeks bankruptcy for $458 million of debt

HARRISBURG | Pennsylvania’s distressed capital city filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, citing “imminent jeopardy” from lawsuits related to a debt-saddled municipal incinerator and setting up a power struggle between the mayor and City Council.

The federal petition for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, being sought to help Harrisburg get out of debt, listed about $458 million in creditors and claims and six pending legal actions by creditors.

“The city does not have the ability to pay those money judgments or any significant portion thereof and still provide health and safety services to its citizens and other essential government services,” wrote Mark D. Schwartz, an attorney hired by the City Council.

A spokesman for Mayor Linda Thompson, who has resisted calls for bankruptcy because of fears that it would further tarnish the city’s name, said the council lacks the legal authority to seek it.

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