Another top EPA official is said to exit amid deepening scrutiny
WASHINGTON — A third top EPA official is leaving the agency amid intensifying scrutiny of Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel, spending and condo rental, said two people familiar with the move.
Associate Administrator Liz Bowman, the top public affairs official at the Environmental Protection Agency, is set to handle communications for Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing personnel matters before a formal announcement.
Bowman’s departure follows two others just this week: the exit of Albert “Kell” Kelly, the top EPA adviser on Superfund cleanups, and former Secret Service agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, who led Pruitt’s security detail. Longtime Pruitt ally Samantha Dravis announced her resignation last month.
The exodus comes amid steep criticism of Pruitt — including calls by at least 170 Democrats and four Republicans for his ouster. There are at least 10 formal investigations into Pruitt, including over his rental of Capitol Hill bedroom from a lobbyist for $50 a night under unusually generous terms, frequent taxpayer-funded travel to his home state of Oklahoma, questionable spending decisions at the EPA and raises for two top aides over White House objections.
Farenthold says he won’t pay for his replacement special election
WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Blake Farenthold said he will not pay for the special election to fill his seat. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called for Farenthold to pay for his own election last week.
The Texas Republican left Congress over revelations that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit. The former lawmaker should use the $84,000 he’s not returning to taxpayers to fund the election for the Corpus Christi seat, Abbott said.
Farenthold said he will not pay for the special election because he doesn’t believe it is called for. “Since I didn’t call it and don’t think it’s necessary, I shouldn’t be asked to pay for it,” the Texas Republican said.
Ciara Matthews, deputy communications director for Abbott, told CNN Farenthold’s decision is “disappointing.”
“It’s not surprising that his last act would be to stick taxpayers with the bill at the worst possible time,” she said in a statement. “While Mr. Farenthold may consider this resolved, we’re not closing the case on this issue.”
Farenthold resigned April 6 amid an Ethics Committee probe into the congressman and his office for alleged sexual harassment, inappropriate comments to staff, and discrimination based on gender. When media reports surfaced in December that Farenthold’s office had paid a former employee an $84,000 settlement over such claims, he promised to reimburse the Treasury Department fund that covers member offices’ labor and workplace disputes. Farenthold has not yet followed through on that promise.
Man, 28, fatally stabbed by co-worker at Philadelphia International Airport
PHILADELPHIA — A dispute Thursday between airplane cleaners over a light being turned off in a break room at Philadelphia International Airport ended with one of them stabbed to death and another in custody, police said.
Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives said the incident involved three Worldwide Flight Services employees, who work under contract to Frontier Airlines.
He said the dispute started about 11:30 a.m., when one man turned off a light in an employee break room in Terminal E and a co-worker began arguing with him. The break room was not accessible to passengers. According to Walker, the argument turned into a scuffle, and when it subsided, a third man, age 35, pulled out a knife and slashed one of the other men in the stomach. Walker said some workers at the airport have access to knives or other sharp objects as part of their job responsibilities, which can include opening boxes.
The 28-year-old stabbing victim was taken to Penn Presbyterian Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:51 a.m., Walker said.
Authorities at the airport took the 35-year-old suspect into custody while he was waiting at the airport for a ride, Walker said. The man was being questioned Thursday afternoon at the Homicide Unit.
No names had been released as of 4 p.m. Thursday.
—The Philadelphia Inquirer
District superintendent in NJ busted for defecating on school grounds
NEW YORK — The superintendent of a school district in New Jersey was busted for relieving himself in public on school grounds on a “daily basis.”
Kenilworth Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Tramaglini asked for and was granted a paid leave of absence, the district said Wednesday.
The school resource officer at Holmdel High School in central New Jersey was alerted after coaches and staff members said they were finding human feces on or near the high school track area and football field “on a daily basis.” Officials monitored the area, and apparently witnessed the 42-year-old Tramaglini as he defecated.
The latest incident at the Monmouth County school took place at 5:45 a.m. on Monday, according to The Asbury Park Press.
“I don’t know if it was daily, but it’s been going on for a while,” someone in the Holmdel community told Patch. “I heard it was at least eight times in the past few months.”
Tramaglini, a Matawan resident, was charged with lewdness, littering and defecating in public, cops said Thursday.
Brian Luciani, the Director of Academics, will assume Tramaglini’s responsibilities.
“The Board of Education wants to assure faculty and staff, students and parents, that the district will continue its responsibilities without interruption,” Kenilworth Public Schools said. “Every day, and especially during challenging times, we are fortunate to have veteran administrators and other dedicated professionals on whom we can rely.”
Tramaglini makes nearly $150,000 a year, according to The Asbury Park Press.
—New York Daily News