Government & Politics

Government & Politics
7:23 pm
Sun February 3, 2013

Panetta: 'My Mission Has Always Been To Keep The Country Safe

For more than 40 years, Leon Panetta has split his life on two coasts: his home in California and his work in Washington, D.C. It's a career that included 16 years in Congress, stints as White House chief of staff for President Clinton, and as the head of the CIA and the Pentagon under President Obama.

As Panetta prepares to leave his job as defense secretary, he sat down with Rachel Martin, host of Weekend Edition Sunday, to talk about his years in Washington and serving in the Obama administration.

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Government & Politics
7:15 pm
Sun February 3, 2013

Education to be Highlighted in Corbett Address

The plight of Pennsylvania's public schools will dominate many of the Legislature's debates this spring as the politics of education grows increasingly volatile.

It'll start with Gov. Tom Corbett releasing his budget proposal Tuesday.

Corbett has left open the possibility that he'll propose more aid for public schools. School districts continue to struggle a year after Republicans pushed through deep reductions in state support.

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Government & Politics
8:13 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Pension Reform: Big Part of PA Budget Debate?

Governor Tom Corbett is expected to focus in part on the state’s rising public pension costs in his budget address Tuesday.  

Corbett has suggested he’s interested in a reform package that includes reducing the unearned benefits of current state and school employees.

But Dave Fillman, director of Council 13 of the Pennsylvania American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, the state’s largest public sector union, said his group will definitely take the commonwealth to court if legislation is passed to change the benefits of current employees.

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Government & Politics
5:59 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Port Authority CEO Steve Bland Fired - National Search for Replacement Underway

The Port Authority of Allegheny County voted 5 -3 Friday to oust CEO Stephen Bland.  Bland has served as head of the Port Authority since 2006, but recently, rumors of friction between him and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have circulated. Fitzgerald has been critical of Bland over budget numbers, union relations, and service cuts. 

The “no” votes came from board veterans Mavis Rainey, Eddie Edwards Jr., and Amanda Green Hawkins.

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Government & Politics
4:36 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Casey Urges Passage of Gender Pay Equity Bill

Nearly fifty years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, prohibiting employers from discriminating on the basis of gender, women still earn significantly less than men for doing the same work.

How much less? In 2012 in Pennsylvania, women were paid $694 per week while their male peers received $849, a pay gap of 18.3 percent.

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on Congress to pass pay equity legislation citing a recent report on the continuing gender pay gap.

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Government & Politics
7:09 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Former SCI Pittsburgh Guard Found Guilty

A fired Pittsburgh state prison guard accused of physically and sexually assaulting inmates who were gay or serving time for child-sex crimes has been convicted on 27 counts of mistreating them and exposing himself, but was acquitted of dozens of other charges — including all of the sexual assault allegations he faced.

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Government & Politics
6:16 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

"Wanna Bet?" Pennsylvanians Should Think Twice

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Pennsylvanians should probably stop to think before saying, “Let’s bet on it.”  It’s illegal in the commonwealth to organize or participate in a small betting pool like ones often seen for the Super Bowl and March Madness. 

State Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh) wants to change that.  Boscola introduced legislation to legalize small betting pools, in part to save taxpayer money.

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Government & Politics
1:20 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Arming Teachers Not High on Pennsylvania Lawmaker List

What has become a flashpoint in the national debate over guns doesn’t appear to be gaining traction in Pennsylvania: arming school teachers to ward off mass shootings.

The same day the state Senate adopted a resolution creating a task force to study how Pennsylvania schools could be better protected in light of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut last month, state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis said state law already provides for arming guards in schools, and about 140 school districts and charter schools have such officers.

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Government & Politics
1:08 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Governor Corbett Proposes Liquor Privatization Plan

Grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, restaurants and "big box" stores would be able to sell beer and wine to go under a liquor license privatization plan announced by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

"Why do we continue to deal with an antiquated liquor system that is seventy-five years old? The question should be, why don't we have choice? Why don't we have convenience, like 48 other states in the union?" asked Corbett, calling the state's system of liquor sales a "vestige of prohibition."

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Government & Politics
6:51 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Senate Wants NCAA Fines Against Penn State To Remain in PA

Earlier this month Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett announced he would file an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA for how it planned to appropriate $60 million in fines against Penn State from the Jerry Sandusky case.  Corbett said any fine money should remain in the state.

The state Senate today voted unanimously in favor of a bill that would require the fine money be spent on programs to prevent child abuse and help abuse victims in Pennsylvania.  

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Government & Politics
5:48 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Protesters Denounce Corbett Fundraiser in Pittsburgh With Shale Companies

As Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett reportedly held a campaign fundraiser with Marcellus Shale natural gas companies at the David Lawrence Convention Center on Wednesday, a few dozen protesters gathered outside to criticize Corbett's economic policies.

The activists from One Pittsburgh said the governor refused to put a tax on the gas companies while cutting state funding for education and human services.

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Government & Politics
5:11 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

ALCOSAN's Plan Addressing Sewage Overflow Submitted to Federal Government

As required by the federal government, the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN) has submitted its plan addressing sewage overflows. ALCOSAN has also requested an extension to study the feasibility of adding green infrastructure improvements to the plan.

A 2008 consent decree required ALCOSAN to come up with a way to stop sewage overflows into waterways during wet weather. A draft Wet Weather Plan drew criticism because it didn’t include any so-called green options. Instead, it called for “grey” infrastructure improvements such as larger pipes and massive storage systems.

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Government & Politics
11:51 am
Wed January 30, 2013

Scarnati Backtracks on Tactics For Liquor Privatization

You can’t always get what you want in the state Capitol. But if you do, it’s all right to claim the high ground afterward.

Gov. Corbett is expected to announce Wednesday afternoon his plan to privatize the state’s liquor stores, less than a week before his budget address. But Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati is already wrinkling his nose at the plan and espousing a bargaining philosophy that’s exactly the opposite of what he’s said in the past.

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Government & Politics
10:28 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Governor Corbett Announces Funding for More State Police Training

In advance of Presenting Pennsylvania’s budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Governor Tom Corbett announced Tuesday it will include plans to fund three new State Police classes. By the end of FY 2014, 290 new cadets will be trained. This, said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan, comes at a critical time.

“The responsibilities of the Pennsylvania State Police continue to increase and because of retirements and some spaces for classes we didn’t have, our manpower is about 500 below what our compliment is supposed to be,” he said.

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Government & Politics
7:27 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Pavlot Grilled in Orie Melvin Trail

Suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin's defense attorney is trying to cast doubt on the authenticity of documents prosecutors say ties the jurist to illegal campaigning in the office of her sister, former state Sen. Jane Orie.

Defense attorney Dan Brier asked the senator's former chief of staff Jamie Pavlot how documents dated in 2010 got into the files of political-related material that Pavlot testified she took home from Orie's office in November 2009 and turned over to prosecutors later that month.

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Government & Politics
6:51 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Gov. Corbett's Approval Rating Tumbles

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s mid-term approval rating is the lowest it’s been since last June.  A Quinnipiac University poll finds 42 percent of registered voters disapprove of the way the governor is handling his job, while 36 percent approve of his efforts.

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Government & Politics
8:26 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

PA Budget Chief: Pension Reforms Essential

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's chief budget adviser says his boss is likely to call for a reduction in future pension benefits for current employees in next week's budget speech.

Speaking at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg on Monday, state Budget Secretary Charles Zogby said deep cuts in education or other programs are inevitable unless the rising cost of Pennsylvania's two major public pension funds is reined in.

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Government & Politics
8:19 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

B-PEP Unhappy With Pittsburgh Police Review Board Appointment

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Pittsburgh City Council will vote Tuesday on the confirmation of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s nominee, Karen McLellan, to fill an unexpired term on the Citizen Police Review Board.  With the expected confirmation of McLellan, the CPRB will consist of four white males, two black females, and one white female.

Tim Stevens, Chairman of B-PEP, the Black Political Empowerment Project, said there should be an African-American male on the CPRB.  

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Government & Politics
6:43 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

Former Aide For Sen. Orie Testifies in Justice Orie Melvin's Trial

<Strong> Updated 7:36am </strong>The case against Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin continues Tuesday with the cross examination of a key witness who testified Monday that the suspended justice tried to cover up alleged campaign corruption in the office of her sister, former state senator Jane Orie.

Jamie Pavlot was chief of staff for Sen. Orie, when the Allegheny County district attorney began investigating in 2009 whether Orie and Melvin — then a Superior Court judge — were misusing their respective state-funded staffs to do campaign work.

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Government & Politics
6:02 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

County Commissioners Jump on Block Grant Bandwagon

County commissioners across Pennsylvania are calling for a statewide expansion of a relatively new effort to change the way the state funds human services programs.  The state launched a pilot program where human service funds once earmarked for seven different services are instead all put into a single pot.

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Government & Politics
8:17 am
Mon January 28, 2013

PA Senate Debates More Money For School Security, Including Armed Guards

The Pennsylvania Senate’s top office holder says he wants to see millions more in grants for schools trying to beef up their security.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, of Jefferson County, said in a co-sponsorship memo that the legislation was prompted by the “nationwide discussion on the issue of school safety” after school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last month.

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Government & Politics
8:17 am
Mon January 28, 2013

PA Dems Question Corbett's Pension Reforms

Pennsylvania State House Democrats are calling Governor Tom Corbett’s search for pension reforms wrong-headed, because rising costs are on track to subside. They say the key now is to find new revenue to pay for the debt connected to the state’s pension plans.

Corbett has repeatedly said since last summer he wants to find a way to tamp down rising pension costs.  Next fiscal year, state and public school employee pension costs will require an additional $530 million just from the state’s General Fund.

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Government & Politics
11:51 am
Sun January 27, 2013

Long-time Women’s Rights/Environmental Advocate Announces Run for Pittsburgh City Council

Jeanne Clark officially announced her candidacy for Pittsburgh City Council on Saturday, she’s seeking the District 8 seat currently held by Bill Peduto, who is running for Mayor. Clark said there are four main areas she will focus on, among them city finances.

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Government & Politics
12:00 pm
Sat January 26, 2013

State Legislation Would Address LGBT Bullying

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State Representative Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, is supporting House Bill 156, which provides for anti-bullying programs in Pennsylvania schools that would specifically protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.  

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Government & Politics
6:42 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

Orie Melvin Defense Tells Jury to Look for the North Star

Attorneys for suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie made their opening arguments to a jury of 9 women and 3 men Friday morning in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas downtown.  The two co-defendants are accused of misusing government resources and staffers for Melvin’s state Supreme Court campaigns in 2003 and 2009.  There are also counts of conspiracy, tampering with evidence and official oppression.

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