January 17, 2014
A Pennsylvania judge has found the state's voter ID law unconstitutional.
According to the ruling from Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley, the requirement to present an acceptable form of identification when voting in person "unreasonably burdens the right to vote." The requirement was challenged in court after Republican legislators passed it and Gov. Tom Corbett signed it into law by in March 2012.
Opponents of the law celebrated the decision. House Democrats noted that their members had uniformly opposed the law. Witold Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and one of the lead attorneys for the challengers, wrote in an email: "Once the Commonwealth admitted they couldn't identify any of the fraud supposedly prevented by the voter ID law, the act was plainly revealed to be nothing more than a voter suppression tool." Corbett administration officials could not be reached for immediate comment.
In his ruling, Judge McGinley wrote that the law poses "a substantial threat" to hundreds of thousands of qualified voters. "Voting laws are designed to assure a free and fair election; the Voter ID Law does not further this goal," the decision reads. Pennsylvania had moved to make acceptable identification more easily available, but the law's challengers argued this was not enough. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Cox Communications Inc. isn't preparing a bid for Time Warner Cable Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, removing one potential suitor for the New York-based cable company for the time being. Time Warner Cable, the No. 2 U.S. cable operator, is being pursued aggressively by Charter Communications, which has had three offers rejected in recent months. This week Charter, the fourth-largest cable operator, kicked off a campaign to persuade Time Warner Cable's shareholders to support its latest deal proposal, valued at $61.3 billion including debt.
Cox had previously been considering making an offer of its own, raising the possibility of a bidding war. As deal talks unfold, the company could reverse course and decide to enter the fray again, one of the people familiar with the matter said. But for now, Cox is on the sidelines. Atlanta-based Cox is the nation's third-largest cable operator, with about 4.5 million TV subscribers. Some analysts say Cox, which has a stronger balance sheet than Charter, might be in a better position to finance a deal and could get a better reception from Time Warner Cable's management if it made an offer.
Comcast Corp., the No. 1 U.S. operator, has held preliminary talks with Charter about collaborating on a bid, discussions that were renewed Wednesday, according to a person familiar with the matter. Reuters earlier reported the renewed talks between Comcast and Charter. The companies discussed an arrangement in which Comcast would participate in a Charter-led bid and wind up with some Time Warner Cable systems as part of a deal. It is less likely now that Comcast will pursue a standalone bid for Time Warner Cable, the person said, though its view could change.
As other potential bidders have weighed their options, Charter has been moving forward. In an effort to ratchet up the pressure on Time Warner Cable, the company made its acquisition efforts public this week. And in a conference call with analysts, Charter executives laid out their arguments that they could run Time Warner Cable more efficiently than the current management team. Charter's latest cash-and-stock offer for Time Warner Cable is valued at $132.50 per share. Time Warner Cable has said it wants $160 per share and has called Charter's bid "grossly inadequate." Time Warner Cable shares were trading around $134.98 at midday on Thursday. An activist investor who supports Charter's bid could mount a proxy fight if Time Warner Cable continues to resist its advances. Thursday was the beginning of a month-long window during which Time Warner Cable investors can notify the company of nominations for board directors. Reuters
Former state Sen. Vince Fumo, back home in Philly since August after serving four years in federal prison on public corruption charges, seems to be getting ready for life after house arrest. Fumo now has a LinkedIn.com page listing himself as chairman and CEO of Fumo & Associates. That sounds to us like a lobbying firm. And sure enough, Fumo has joined three LinkedIn discussion groups that focus on state and federal lobbying.
Fumo isn't doing any talking with the media until at least February, when his term ends. But already he's racking up LinkedIn recommendations from Pennsylvania AFL-CIO president Rick Bloomingdale, Philadelphia Republican Party general counsel Michael Meehan and state Rep. Mark Cohen. It appears the LinkedIn page is a placeholder for a future endeavor, since the Pennsylvania Department of State doesn't currently list Fumo & Associates as a registered business or lobbying firm. Philadelphia Daily News
Philadelphia will soon have a new skyscraper towering over the city, but a familiar good luck charm will have a top perch. A small statue of William Penn is credited with reversing a 25-year championship drought among city sports teams. Historically, no building in Philadelphia could be taller than the William Penn statue atop City Hall. The tradition ended in the mid-1980s - and the title drought ensued. Comcast set out to "reverse the curse" by placing a small William Penn figurine on top of the office tower it opened in 2007. The Phillies won the World Series the following year. Comcast is now planning an even taller tower next door. But a Comcast spokesman says William Penn will be moving up, too, when the 59-story tower opens in 2017. philly.com
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