The Inky has an interesting new twist on Webcamgate today (h/t to the Clog commenters for hipping me; I hadn't read the paper this morning).
The vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission could scarcely contain his scorn.
Before the commission was yet another appeal from a Philadelphia-area family, again seeking a break on unpaid electric and gas bills that by last year were closing in on $30,000.
This family lived in a $986,000 house on the Main Line. The breadwinner, until recently, had earned well more than $100,000 per year. Yet he and his wife were in hock to creditors, ranging from Uncle Sam to their former synagogue - and had regularly been stiffing Peco Energy for five years, breaking payment plan after payment plan.
"Our procedures," the commission's Tyrone J. Christy wrote in a Dec. 17 motion, "were not meant to allow customers living in $986,000 houses, with incomes in excess of $100,000 per year, to run up arrearages approaching $30,000."
The debtors in question were insurance broker Michael Robbins and his wife, Holly, who now find themselves in the national spotlight after suing the Lower Merion School District, saying it allegedly spied on their child at home via a Web cam on a school-issued laptop.
What's more, it seems the reason Blake's computer may have been considered stolen â€” and hence, why the district may have snapped a picture of Blake, at home, popping Mike and Ikes or whatever the hell he was doing â€” is because the debt-ridden family declined to pay the $55 insurance fee that allows students to take their Macbooks home.
The Robbins' attorney, Mark Haltzman, says these are questions newspapers shouldn't be asking.
"I absolutely advised them, because I know the low level that newspaper people will go to for a story," Haltzman said yesterday, "even if it has nothing to do with the merits of the case."
"Why does that matter?" Haltzman said when asked about the debts this week. "This is typical of any time someone stands up for their rights. Everyone tried to find a way to bring them down."
Even so, it was the apparent failure to pay a fee - a $55 insurance payment to permit the Robbinses' son Blake to take his laptop home from Harriton High School - that might have prompted the district to activate the Web cam.
Right. Because you get to accuse school officials of spying on their children in their homes â€” their bedrooms, even â€” and no one's going to question your motives.
Doesn't make the school district's policy choices correct, but at least the pieces are starting to fall in place.