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Report: Sexual harassment allegations against U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla.

Washington

Fla. Democrat said to face ethics inquiry

A congressional ethics panel is investigating allegations that Florida Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings sexually harassed a member of his staff, the Wall Street Journal reports. The investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics began at least a month ago after Judicial Watch, a conservative group, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Winsome Packer, a Republican staffer on the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Hastings was chairman of the group. Packer alleged that she had been sexually harassed by the congressman and that he retaliated when she tried to report it. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told the Journal that his organization has been contacted by House investigators. "We can confirm that Ms. Packer is cooperating with the Office of Congressional Ethics," he said. Hastings told the newspaper, "Quite frankly your source has as much or more information than I do and I would suggest you rely upon them. It would be impossible for me in a paragraph or a page or two or a tome or volumes one and two to help you understand the dynamics of these events. I'll leave it at that."

CHICAGO

Storms cause delays at airports

Thunderstorms and heavy winds pounded the upper Midwest Tuesday night, leaving thousands stranded at Chicago's two major airports after their flights were canceled and temporarily delaying the departure of Vice President Joe Biden, who was in town for a fundraiser. More than 300 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 30 flights were canceled at Midway International Airport. Commonwealth Edison reported power outages to about 110,000 of the utility's customers. No tornadoes were immediately reported.

ALBANY, N.Y.

Gay marriage showdown looms

After a day of more closed-door negotiations, New York's Senate left unsettled a bill to legalize gay marriage, setting up a pivotal showdown today as lawmakers look to end the legislative session and national groups look for a sign of things to come on the divisive issue. The Assembly has already passed Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's bill, and the issue appears to be one vote shy from approval in the Senate.

MADISON, Wis.

Concealed carry ban to be lifted

Lawmakers in Wisconsin, one of the last states to prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons, approved lifting the ban Tuesday and sent Republican Gov. Scott Walker a measure he is expected to sign into law. Once the measure takes effect this fall, Illinois will be the only state that bans carrying guns, knives and other concealed weapons.

Times wires

Report: Sexual harassment allegations against U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla. 06/21/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 21, 2011 11:48pm]
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  1. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan

    War

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]
  2. Trial begins for man accused of threatening to kill Tampa federal judge

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Jason Jerome Springer was in jail awaiting trial on a firearms charge when he heard inmates talking about a case that had made the news.

    Jason Jerome Springer, 39, is accused of threatening to kill a U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich, according to a federal indictment.  |Hernando County Sheriff's Office photo]
  3. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments

    Editorials

    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.
  4. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  5. Money is the issue as Hillsborough strains to fix school air conditioners

    K12

    TAMPA — With more than 200 repair requests tumbling in every day, school officials in Hillsborough County are broadening their circle of air conditioning mechanics as they struggle to control a debilitating cycle of breakdowns and sweltering classrooms.

    Hillsborough school officials want to expand the number of contractors who work on broken school air conditioning systems. But it all gets rolled into a workload that has increased by 40 percent since 2011. "With no increase in budget, no increase in equipment and no increase in manpower, and as the equipment gets older and needs more maintenance, this is going to continue to grow," said Robert Weggman, general manager of maintenance." [iStockphoto.com
]