3 Stories From The Heartland: 02/16/2017


Each day we highlight three local news stories from the heartland that deserve some national attention.

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1) Alabama House Approves 'Sanctuary Campus' Bill

Generally speaking, legislation designed to counter an idea being pushed by a Change.org petition is a bad idea. But the Alabama House has approved legislation that would allow the attorney general to pull state funds from colleges and universities not in compliance with immigration laws:

Williams said last week that a student movement at the University of Alabama Huntsville to declare it a sanctuary campus inspired the bill. A UAH official said last week that a someone circulated a change.org petition on that issue and that a rally in its support drew four students. Williams Tuesday spoke broadly of campuses on the Pacific coast during the two-hour debate.

Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, accused Republicans of pursuing a “political agenda” before addressing the state’s needs, such as funding for Medicaid, prisons and law enforcement.

“We ought to be getting on the budget,” he said. “I’m surprised this will be the first thing we bring up in this session when we have all these problems.”



2) Too Fat For Workers' Comp: Greg Staffa's Sad But All-Too-Common Story

Most people are familiar with the idea of workers compensation. While the programs vary a bit state-to-state, the general approach is that if you're hurt at work, your employer is responsible for your resulting medical bills and perhaps for some percentage of lost wages. But it turns out, qualifying for workers compensation can be difficult. You have to prove that your medical problems are the result of your job and your claim can be denied for a lot of reasons. Including just being too fat to determine whether your injuries are the result of a job or just a few too many orders of jalapeno poppers.

Northwest wasn’t sure. The company sent Staffa to Dr. Bradley Helms, a specialist in “physical medicine and rehabilitation.”

Helms later reported his charge was a “pleasant, well dressed and groomed gentleman.” And fat. “Moderately obese,” Helms documented in one passage — so much so that “his body habitus” made it “virtually impossible” to detect his muscular injuries.

Staffa calls Helms’ work-up “the fat report.” Northwest’s claims adjuster, Liberty Mutual, used the diagnosis to blame Staffa’s “underlying and personal condition” for any lingering issues. His workers’ comp claim was denied.

Staffa thought he’d be in line for a less strenuous job supervising and answering phones, a common occurrence under an “accommodations” program between his union and the airline. But Northwest laid him off.




3) Was Trump Really A Top Student At Wharton? His Classmates Say Not So Much

President Donald Trump has often discussed his time at the Wharton Business School and has stated in several interviews that he finished "first in his school." Two student reporters at The Daily Pennsylvanian looked into his claims and discovered that not only did he not finish first in his class. He didn't even make the Dean's List:

Given that there are 366 listed 1968 Wharton graduates on QuakerNet, Penn’s alumni database, the Dean’s List of 56 students represents approximately the top 15 percent of the class. The omission of Trump’s name suggests that his academic record at Penn was not as outstanding as he has claimed.

 

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