Government & Politics

Government
9:20 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

What Would You Pay to Park Near CMU?

Carnegie Mellon University researchers will be able to go through with a study of the optimum rates for parking meters near the school, after Pittsburgh City Council passed the necessary legislation Monday.

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Government
8:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Billboard Tax Discussions Heat Up

Pittsburgh City Council has heard from the public on both sides of the argument over a proposed ten percent tax on billboard advertising, and now the measure will be moved to a preliminary vote.

At a public hearing on Tuesday, most people testifying supported the new levy on advertisers, with many arguing that the billboard companies pay very little in property taxes despite the size and presence of the structures.

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Government
8:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

PA Commissioners Gather on Budget Issues

County commissioners from across the state will be swapping ideas on how to stretch a dollar this week as they gather at a fall conference. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania will open its meeting in Hershey Monday.

Commissioners might not be sweating any kind of local fiscal cliff, but big spending decisions are due soon.  Counties must submit budget proposals by the end of the month, and final spending plans must be adopted by the end of the year. 

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Government
11:47 am
Sun November 18, 2012

City Councilman Proposes New Agency to Address Blighted Properties

One Pittsburgh City Councilman has proposed a bill that would create a Pittsburgh LandBank, a board that would bring together various city agencies and authorities to create a long-term strategy for buying and repurposing abandoned properties.

Councilman Ricky Burgess said the board would be made up of staffers from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Authority, the Finance Department, and the Law Department. He said they'd write a plan for the city to address blight.

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Government
8:25 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Gov. Corbett Sees No Rush to Open Health Care Exchange

President Obama’s re-election means the implementation Affordable Care Act will move forward, but Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says he sees no reason to rush to implement one of its centerpieces: a health care exchange in Pennsylvania.  U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told governors Thursday evening that the department is extending the deadline to declare their intentions from Friday to Dec. 14.

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Government
9:57 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Working America Worries Over Cuts to Social Programs

Activists, labor allies, and staff members of Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, gathered outside U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s (D-PA) Pittsburgh office today to deliver letters asking that he save “family protecting programs.”

Working America Member Coordinator Liz Laycak said the main programs they are concerned about are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  

She said Casey promised organized labor last week that he will fight to protect those federal programs.

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Government
7:15 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Corbett's Numbers Are Up, So Is Apathy

A new poll suggests voters have a higher opinion of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s job performance in the wake of super storm Sandy.  However, nearly 1 in 4 say they just don’t care.

Forty percent of respondents in a Quinnipiac University poll say Corbett’s doing all right on the job compared to 38 percent who don’t care for the job he’s doing.  The remainder of those polled had no opinion of the governor at all.

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Government
7:14 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Cooperating on Transportation, Economic Development

Citizens and elected leaders from the city of Pittsburgh and 36 inner ring suburbs will discuss mutual concerns including public transportation and development at the second annual Community Briefing and Reception hosted by The Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) this evening in Oakland.

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Government
5:30 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

2 PA House Dems Want Probe of Voting Glitches, Misinformation

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Government
11:21 am
Thu November 15, 2012

City Council Considers Buying New Emergency Alert System

Pittsburgh would contract with a private vendor to implement a state-of-the-art emergency alert system under new legislation in City Council.

Councilman Corey O'Connor's bill would allow the city's Emergency Management Agency to send out a request for proposals (RFP) to technology companies that deal in emergency alert software.

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Government
9:27 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Saccone Lead Grows in 39th House District

There might be an official winner soon in the 39th Pennsylvania legislative district.  Representative Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny) is trying to fend off a challenge from the man who held that seat for 26 years.

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Government
7:14 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

Invest in Downtown Pittsburgh, Here + Now

The Downtown Retail Task Force released its recommendations Wednesday to attract and retain retailers in the Golden Triangle.  A year in the making, the task force, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) created 5 strategies to encourage retail investment downtown. 

The first step is enhancing street infrastructure.  Ravenstahl said the focus of the plan is on creating a welcoming environment with additional streetlights and trees as well as more pedestrian pathways. 

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Government
6:55 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

City Settles G20 suits for $215,000

The city of Pittsburgh has agreed to a settle a pair of lawsuits stemming from the actions of police officers before and during the 2009 Pittsburgh G20 summit.  The city admitted no wrongdoing in the cases but has agreed to pay out a total of $215,000 to the plaintiffs.

“As I think most often happens when you have a settelment, no party is exstatic and no party is upset but its probably a good resolution for both sides,” said  ACLU of Pennsylvania Legal Director Vic Walczak.

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Government
2:36 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

The Perfect Financial Crime – Almost

How would you construct the perfect financial crime?

First, you need the prey – someone who has a big pot of money to invest and needs financial advice. Like a large transit agency.

Then you line up bankers who conspire to make profits big enough to pay kickbacks to the advisers who set up the deals.

Finally, you hope no regulators are watching.

Such a plan worked for eight years and one of the entities defrauded was the Port Authority of Allegheny County. This spring the authority was one of the patsies featured in a New York City trial.

Government
12:51 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

PA Farmers Worry About Fiscal Cliff

Add Pennsylvania farmers to the long list of people wary about automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect next year unless Congress works out a deal.

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Government
9:07 am
Wed November 14, 2012

New Laws Affect Women's Health Care

In the last few years, a glut of laws has been proposed or passed in Pennsylvania that women’s health advocates say threaten to shrink the availability of abortions in the state.  But lawmakers say the laws are all about patient safety. 

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Government
11:55 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Councilman Proposes 'Scarlet Letter' for Absentee Landlords

One Pittsburgh City Councilman has proposed a unique solution to force landlords into fixing up blighted properties — "old-fashioned shame."

Councilman Bill Peduto has introduced a bill that would authorize the Bureau of Building Inspection to put large red signs in front of the ten worst properties in the city, based on Housing Court convictions and building code violations. The signs would be slightly larger than stop signs, and would list the landlord's name, home address, and phone number.

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Government
8:21 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Accused Cop Killer Rushed to Hospital on day of Jury Selection

Jury selection for the trial of a man charged with fatally shooting a Penn Hills police officer was put on hold indefinitely this morning after the defendant was found unresponsive in his jail cell.  Defense attorney Veronica Brestensky said 35-year-old Ronald Robinson is on life support at UPMC Mercy.   

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Government
7:22 pm
Tue November 13, 2012

Mayor Presents Balanced $470M Budget for 2013

Noah Brode WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl presented a $470 million operating budget proposal to City Council on Tuesday, saying the 2013 spending plan runs a surplus but includes no new or increased taxes while at the same time increasing pension fund payments.

Touting a continuation of fiscally responsible policies, Ravenstahl said the new budget would also put the city's rainy day fund at a "healthy" $50 million.

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Government
9:04 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

PA Lawmakers Praise Pro Vets Laws

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State lawmakers are recognizing Veteran’s Day by highlighting several measures passed in recent months that benefit Pennsylvania’s men and women in uniform.

Among the measures touted is a law that provides additional revenue for veterans programs. The Veterans Trust Fund will get $1.7 million from the sale of the Scotland School for Veterans Children in Franklin County.

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Government
7:13 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Williamsport Law OK, $300,000 Shale Payment to Follow

The city of Williamsport will receive an extra $300,000 from Pennsylvania's booming natural gas drilling industry after state officials said they corrected miscalculations in how revenue from fees was to be distributed among municipal governments.

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Government
5:57 pm
Mon November 12, 2012

Pitt Marks Vets Day with a Roll Call.

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The names of United States servicemen and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan were read aloud Monday on the University of Pittsburgh campus as part of the school's Veterans Day celebration.  This is the second time the university has participated in the Remembrance Day National Roll Call. 

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Government
8:53 am
Mon November 12, 2012

Special License Plates for Military Heroes

Nearly one million of the 12.7 million Pennsylvanians are military veterans and many of those have been decorated for valor or meritorious service.

In time for Veterans' Day, The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has unveiled seven new license plates that are available to decorated military personnel, active and retired.  "These are our heroes," said PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight.

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Government
8:53 am
Mon November 12, 2012

What is Art? Asks the Mayor's Office

The public this week will have its first opportunity to give input on Pittsburgh’s efforts to build a comprehensive public art and design plan.  The first two of six public meetings on ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH will be held Tuesday night and a spokesperson for the city is encouraging everyone to attend.

“We’ll ask residents what is important to them,” said City Spokesperson Joanna Doven.  “What do they even think art is in the city of Pittsburgh… What do residents care about most?”

Doven said the goal is to get Pittsburghers to help shape the plan.

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Government
12:00 pm
Sun November 11, 2012

Altmire Returns More Than $1 Million In Unused Congressional Funds

U.S. Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA-4) is wrapping up his third and possibly last term in the House.  Altmire, who was defeated in the April Democratic primary in the redrawn 12th district by fellow incumbent Mark Critz, says over his six years in office he has returned more than $1 million in unspent office funds.

A pre-determined budget is given to each member of the House at the beginning of each term and is used to administer offices in Washington and their districts.  That's about $1.5 million a year in taxpayer funds to be used at the discretion of the members.

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