Entries in Fines (8)


Penn State May Loan Athletic Department Money to Pay Off NCAA Fines

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) -- Penn State University is considering a loan to its athletic department in an effort to pay the $60 million fine imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its role in ignoring past sexual abuse of young boys, according to Penn State President Rodney Erickson.

“And in all likelihood the university will have to extend the athletic department a long-term loan that they can pay back as they get on their feet, and as we adjust their budget going forward in the football program,” Erickson said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation.

He also said that the university would dip into the athletic department’s reserve fund along with a long term loan from the school itself.

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, which has sent shockwaves through the State College, Pa., community over the past eight months, the NCAA hit the university with the unprecedented $60 million fine and capped scholarships for players.

The massive fine and harsh sanctions come in the aftermath of a damning report issued by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which harshly criticized the university and longtime football Coach Joe Paterno for failing to take action in the sex abuse case of Sandusky, his former assistant coach.

The university president promised the fines will be paid from athletic reserve funds.  Penn State makes $60 million on football alone every season.  The fines will not affect the education of the other 80,000 non-football playing students, Erickson said.

In addition to the fines, the university will likely face multiple lawsuits from abuse victims.  Erickson said Penn State is properly insured for liability but is not looking for a long drawn-out fight in court.

“We hope to be able to settle as many of these cases as quickly as possible.  We don’t want to, if at all possible, drag victims through another round of court cases and litigation,” he said.

Penn State faces significant financial challenges in the years to come.  The university already has about $1 billion in debt and risks a downgrade to its creditworthiness, according to a report put out by Moody’s Analytic last year.

Unrelated to the university’s money problem, Erickson also issued an on-screen apology for the school for the first time.

“We’re deeply sorry and sad, regretful that this happened at our university.  We want to do the right thing.  We want to help them in their healing process,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Massachusetts Town Swears Off Swearing

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass.) -- Middleborough, Mass., is like many small American towns with its white picket fences, kids playing in the park ... and swearing.

There's too much swearing, according to 63-year-old Mimi Duphily, a Middleborough resident and member of the town’s Downtown Business Coalition. She decided to do something about it.

“Kids were standing on the sidewalks, well, adults too, really, and yelling at someone like 100 feet down the block, using incredible profanity,” Duphily said. “It was gradually getting worse and worse.”

So Duphily brought up the issue to the Downtown Business Coalition and word eventually got around to Middleborough Police Chief Bruce Gates.

And now Chief Gates has called on the citizens of Middleborough to give police the authority to fine swearing citizens with a $20 ticket.

And this isn’t the first time the issue has been brought up in Middleborough.

“We used to have a law against swearing but it wasn’t enforced because that meant it was criminal,” Duphily said. “But now, if you pay the ticket, then it’s done and over with.” That, she says, makes the law more enforceable.

Duphily said she has heard many negative reactions, but that the intention was never to infringe on anyone’s rights.

“We don’t want to do anything about your private conversations, that’s between you and whoever you talk to,” Duphily said. “It’s mainly for aggressive behavior or verbal assault of someone who’s a distance away from you. It’s really just about when it rises above what is acceptable behavior.”

Duphily said she and the Downtown Business Coalition began to complain about the use of profanity in Middleborough because it was affecting businesses in the area.

“It was so appalling that customers weren’t comfortable and businesses were suffering,” she said. “Older people and parents with kids wouldn’t even walk by anymore because it was so uncomfortable.”

And despite the negative reaction from some, Duphily says people in other states are curious about the new proposition.

“I’m getting emails from people saying, ‘Let us know how it goes,’” she said. “People all over -- from Virginia, to out West, all the way to California.”

But the proposition first has to be agreed upon by the people of Middleborough, who vote on it at the annual Town Hall meeting.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Texting While Jaywalking? New Jersey Town Issues Tickets

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(FORT LEE, N.J.) -- If you’re caught texting while crossing the street in Fort Lee, N.J., you’d better be ready to cough up $85 for a ticket.

Police Chief Thomas Ripoli said that jaywalking had become a dangerous problem with pedestrians traveling while distracted by technology, be it their cellphones or mp3 players.

“They’re not walking in the crosswalks. They’re walking against the red light, and they’re being struck by vehicles,” Ripoli said Monday. “We had three fatalities this year, and 23 people hurt, hit, [in] a three-month period.”

Last year, 74 pedestrians were struck and two people were killed in Fort Lee, a city of 35,000, just across the Hudson River from New York City.

Officers started handing out pamphlets in March, but Ripoli said that when residents didn’t heed the warnings, the police started ticketing offenders.

According to The Record, the local newspaper, more than 117 tickets had been issued so far.

In 2008, according to an Ohio State University study, more than 1,000 people -- double the previous year’s number -- visited emergency rooms after they were injured while walking and talking on the telephone.

Researchers at Stony Brook University in New York found that texters were 60 percent more likely to veer off line than those walking and not texting.

Chief Ripoli said he hoped the jaywalking crackdown would encourage the public to become smarter when traveling on foot.

He said the tickets had nothing to do with collecting more money for the city.

“I’m here to make sure my officers and the public are safe,” he said. “We believe you should make eye contact with the vehicles when you’re crossing....Technology is interfering a little bit with the safety of the public.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chicago School Nets $190,000 in Student Fines

Creatas/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Forget watching the clock, chewing gum, or slouching. At the Noble Network of Charter Schools' 10 Chicago campuses students are on their best behavior-- otherwise it will cost them.

"Students tell us by and large they don't like the whole system as most teenagers would, but the proof is in the pudding," said Michael Milkie, CEO and superintendent of the Noble Network of Charter Schools.

Last year, the schools collected an estimated $190,000 to help defray the cost of having teachers stay after school to supervise detention. Students earn demerits for everything from having flaming hot chips, which Milkie said have been shown to being addictive, to having their shirts untucked.

After earning four demerits, the student is sent to a three-hour detention. Admission fee: $5.

"These are schools of choice. We have thousands on the wait list and we do communicate [this policy] really well with parents," Milkie said.

But Noble's unique approach, which it has relied on for the past 13 years, has drawn scrutiny from some parents and eduction advocacy groups who said it's being used to push out students.

"These extremely punitive, nitpicky programs are not the ones that really work," said Julie Woestehoff, executive director of the Chicago-based advocacy group Parents United For Responsible Education. "The students need to feel they're not like dogs or 2 year olds. They're actually maturing human beings who need some guidance and not someone to jump on top of them."

Donna Moore said her son, who is a second-year freshman, has been hounded at the school for everything from not having his eyes on the teacher at a given moment to having his shoe untied.

"He was retained because of detention. He was told his first year that at that time he had hit 33 detentions and had to retake his freshman year," Moore said, adding that it was impossible for students to keep up on school work when they keep being punished.

But Milkie said the school's unique system of fees -- he doesn't call them fines -- has yielded dividends.

Not only is more money now spent on education and less on paying teachers overtime to supervise detention, but test scores have also improved.

The average ACT score across Noble's 10 campuses last year was 20.3. Chicago Public Schools students scored an average of 17.2. The school's scores have consistently climbed since 2003.

Even though Donna Moore isn't happy with the way her son has been treated, she said she plans to keep him in the Noble school system.

"I send him there because there are not really many choices," she said. "It's the decision to deal with the devil I didn't know versus the devil I did know. Now I want to stay and make it better for all students."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dept. of Transportation Issues First Ever Fine for Tarmac Delay

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that American Eagle Airlines became the first airline to be slapped with fines for violating the department’s three-hour limit for tarmac delays.

On May 29, 2011, 15 different American Eagle Airlines flights left 608 passengers sitting on the Chicago O’Hare International Airport tarmac for a total of 225 minutes -- 45 minutes beyond the limit.

For the violation, American Eagle Airlines has received a fine of $900,000 -- the largest fine to date in a consumer case not involving civil rights violation.

"A total of $650,000 must be paid within 30 days, and up to $250,000 can be credited for refunds, vouchers, and frequent flyer mile awards provided to the passengers on the 15 flights on May 29, as well as to passengers on future flights that experience lengthy tarmac delays of less than three hours," the DOT said in a statement Monday.

The rule, which was put in place in April 2010, states that any U.S. airlines operating with 30 or more passenger seats are prohibited from allowing their flights to remain on the tarmac for more than three hours without giving passengers an opportunity to deplane.

“We put the tarmac rule in place to protect passengers, and we take any violation very seriously,” explained U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “We will work to ensure that airlines and airports coordinate their resources and plans to avoid keeping passengers delayed on the tarmac.”

And it seems to be working.  In Monday’s press release, the DOT notes that between May 2010 and April 2011, the larger U.S. airlines required to file tarmac delays reported 20 tarmac delays of more than three hours but less than four hours.  By comparison, during the 12 months before the rule took effect, these carriers had 693 tarmac delays of more than three hours, and 105 delays longer than four hours.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Serena Williams Fined $2,000 for U.S. Open Outburst

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Serena Williams was fined $2,000 by the U.S. Open after unleashing her wrath on an official who called her out for on court hindrance during Sunday’s women’s final.

Tournament referee Brian Earley issued his ruling Monday, a day after Williams was issued a code violation for verbal abuse by chair umpire Eva Asderaki during a 6-2, 6-3 loss to Australia’s Sam Stosur at Flushing Meadows.

Williams got off relatively easy. In a statement to ABC News, the United States Tennis Association said Grand Slam committee director Bill Babcock determined that “Williams’ conduct, while verbally abusive, does not rise to the level of a major offense.”

A major offense could have spelled trouble for Williams, who was already under probation after a similar outburst at the 2009 U.S. Open. Nonetheless, Sunday’s break in decorum may have tarnished the charmed comeback for Williams, who was kept off the court for nearly a year with injuries and medical problems.

It all started when Williams, 29, and Stosur, 27, were in the first game of the match’s second set and the Australian went after Williams’ forehand shot. But just before the ball hit Stosur’s racket, Williams belted out, “Come on!” Stosur barely tapped the ball, and the score went from 30-40 to deuce.

Asderaki, the chair umpire at Arthur Ashe Stadium, gave Williams a code violation and a point penalty -- giving the game to Stosur.

Reacting to the decision, Williams did not quite have a repeat of her 2009 on-court calamity, when she physically threatened a lineswoman who called her for a foot foul in an obscenity-ridden rant. But she was heard to say the following to the umpire:

“Don’t even look at me. I promise you, don’t look at me … Don’t look my way,” “Who would do such a thing? And I never complain. Wow. What a loser,” “You’re out of control, you’re a hater and you’re unattractive inside,” “A code violation because I expressed who I am? Really? We’re in America the last time I checked.” But the kicker -- which could potentially be seen as a threat was: “If you ever see me walking down the hall … walk the other way.

Williams was called for hindrance, which is an interpretation of her yell of “Come on!” as deliberate interference. Once the point and game were awarded to Stosur, the crowd at Arthur Ashe booed for over a full minute. But that didn’t slow the ninth-seeded Australian, who rallied against Williams, pushing the 13-time Grand Slam champ around the court with strong forehands and powerful serves.

Williams narrowly avoided another on court meltdown -- along with the $82,500 fine and two-year probation by the Grand Slam committee that she was handed after her notorious 2009 tirade.

After her loss on Sunday, Williams explained herself.

“I just yelled, ‘Come on!’ ” Williams said. “It was a great shot. It was beautiful. I hit it like right in the sweet spot. I don’t know. It was a good shot, and it was the only good shot I think I hit. I was like, ‘Woohoo!”

She also seemed to put the whole episode behind her. On her Twitter page, she wrote, “Congrats to Sam Stoser. She played amazing! As for me next time.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are Red Light Camera Fines Voluntary?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Tickets from red-light cameras are not as enforceable as most motorists think, and now their high cost and the widespread public backlash against them may be leading to their removal in America's car capital.

As the bright light flashes when a car zips through a red light, most motorists are not really sure if they have been caught, until a ticket shows up in the mail, along with a fine of up to $500.  The "gotcha!" cameras have even led some drivers to put a box over their head or even wear a mask to avoid the ticket.

In the city of Los Angeles -- considered to be the driving capital of America -- the fines for these tickets are, unbeknownst to many, voluntary.

City officials in L.A. said they were shocked to learn that there's no real enforcement of the tickets due to the fact that courts find the cases difficult to prove, as the person receiving the ticket is often not the person driving the car at the time the photo was snapped.  The courts have now ruled that violations caught on a photo are unenforceable, since there is no live witness to testify against an alleged offender.

Discovering this has angered those who've shelled out hundreds in fines, leading many to ask if they can have their money back.

"If you paid the fine, you paid the fine.  If you didn't pay the fine, you were pretty much able to get away with it," Paul Koretz of the Los Angeles City Council told ABC News.

Approximately 40 percent of ticketed drivers got away with not paying those hefty fines that come with a red light camera ticket -- which is why Los Angeles is dumping the cameras altogether.

And the trend to rid cities of the unpopular cameras may go nationwide.

The city of Houston has already banished the cameras, and according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a total of nine states have banned the red-light cameras.  Several others have passed laws limiting the use of camera enforcement.

Getting rid of the cameras will ultimately save the city of Los Angeles around $1million per year.  But some are still concerned that without them, there may be more collisions.

A study this year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims that in 14 of America's largest cities the cameras have saved 159 lives during a four-year period.  The study also said that if all 99 of the country's largest cities had them installed, 815 lives could have been saved.

Still, some believe they may cause more harm than good when motorists stop short because they are thinking about the camera, causing a rear-end collision.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Arizona Governor Proposes Fining Fat Residents, Smokers

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- As part of a plan to revamp the state's Medicaid program, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced on Thursday that she is proposing fees for adults who lead unhealthy lives.

Childless adults who are obese or suffer from a chronic condition and who fail to work with their doctor to meet specific goals would be charged $50 annually. The $50 annual fee also would apply to all childless adult smokers.

"If you're not going to manage those things and take some personal responsibility, and in turn that costs the state more money, then you need to have some skin in the game," said Monica Coury, assistant director of Arizona's Medicaid program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 25.5 percent of Arizona residents were obese and in 2010 15.9 percent of the adult population smoked cigarettes, a total of more than 762,000 individuals.

Arizona ranked a little below the average when compared to other states for the percent of residents that were obese. As for smoking, the state was listed in the bottom 10, with one of the lowest smoking rates in the country.

Specifics on the implementation of the smoking fee are yet to be determined, but options could include random audits and relying on enrollees' statements, said Coury. "You need to be responsible for the fact that your smoking costs us more," she said.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Brewer wrote: "My proposal includes requirements and incentive strategies that will encourage individuals to take greater control of their health."

Democratic State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema told ABC News that while she supports efforts to encourage people to live healthier lives, she feels the fees penalize the wrong people and reach too far.

"There are some people who have diabetes and are obese through no fault of their own," Sinema said. "To fine people for medical conditions that might be beyond their control, that's just not right. ... This would punish people with disabilities who have done nothing wrong.

"We know that drinking Coke and soda pop isn't good for you, and people do it; the governor herself is one of those people," Sinema added. "It's very nanny state, which is very interesting because historically Arizona has been a very libertarian state."

Brewer's overhaul is projected to save the state $500 million, helping close a $1.1 billion budget shortfall.

It also would restore transplant funding from Medicaid, coverage that  controversially, was cut last fall. If approved in its current state, Brewer's plan would go into effect Oct. 1.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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