Government & Politics

Government
7:53 am
Wed October 31, 2012

Critz vs. Rothfus in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District

Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District was redrawn last year to eliminate much of its territory in Greene, Fayette, and Washington Counties. Those areas were replaced by the northern tier of Allegheny County and all of Beaver County.

The new 12th District took in the home of District 4 Congressman Jason Altmire, setting up a hotly contested Democratic primary between him and District 12 Representative Mark Critz. Critz won that election this April and now faces North Hills attorney Keith Rothfus.

EPA Coal Regulations

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Government
8:27 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

US Atty. Hickton: Efforts to Increase Police-Community Trust Working

In an effort to combat the decades-old problem of mistrust between some communities and law enforcement, a Pittsburgh community group is hoping to implement some changes. U.S. Attorney David Hickton convened the Community-Police Relations Group about a year and a half ago. In that time, they’ve achieved four major accomplishments to that end.

“We have, with great cooperation from the police and city leadership, enhanced police training,” said Hickton, “two, we have done a study of effective community police collaboration models within our own community.”

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Government
4:31 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Executive: Allegheny County 'Dodged a Bullet' with Hurricane Sandy

With only about 2,300 residents without power as of Tuesday morning and few emergencies reported, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said it seems as though the Pittsburgh area weathered Hurricane Sandy fairly well.

"It appears now that it's hit the middle of the state toward Harrisburg, that it's now heading north," said Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said he expects a total of four inches of rain over Monday and Tuesday, which he said would probably not cause large-scale flooding.

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Government
2:26 pm
Tue October 30, 2012

Winds Slow, Lights Come on, Flooding Still Possible

UPDATE: Oct 30, 4:15pm

FirstEnergy now reports fewer than 50 customers in Allegheny County are without power.  Duquesne Light says it stands at 650 customers without service.  Somerset County still has about 1,000 homes and business waiting to have power restored and hard-hit Fayette County still has nearly 1,600 customers without electricity.

Both companies say they hope to have all power in the area restored by midnight.

ORIGINAL POST:

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Government
9:43 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Worst of Sandy Passes, 2,300 in Allegheny County Without Power

UPDATE: Tue, 7:36am

The strong winds and heavy rains passed through western Pennsylvania overnight leaving minor flooding, downed trees and power outages in their wake.  Duquesne Light and FirstEnergy report a combined 2,300 customers without power in Allegheny County.  Another 3,400 are without service in hard-hit Fayette County and another 2,200 have no power in Somerset and Cambria County combined. Fayette County was especially hard hit with FirstEnergy reporting 4,400 out of power.  Statewide more than 1.2 million are without electricity.

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Government
8:00 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Incumbent Murphy vs. Democrat Maggi in 18th Congressional District

Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi has challenged long-time Republican Congressman Tim Murphy in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District. Maggi is touting his experience in local government, while Murphy is running on a conservative voting record.

Congressman Murphy has won at least 58 percent of the vote against Democrats since 2002, but Maggi is still hopeful he can unseat the five-term Republican in the newly redrawn district.

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Government
12:32 am
Tue October 30, 2012

Government and Nonprofits Offer Local Storm Help

UPDATE: Oct. 29 9:53pm

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has ordered non-emergency City personnel to stay home Tuesday.

“As this storm bears down on our City, we need to make sure we are keeping all residents out of harm's way whenever possible,” Ravenstahl said.

At the same time Ravenstahl announced that trash pickup would run on a normal schedule Tuesday and the city's 311 center will be open to take non-emergency calls from city residents.

ORIGINAL POST:

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Government
7:44 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Mayor Says Pittsburgh's Prepared for Hurricane Sandy

The felled trees, downed wires, power outages and possible flooding expected as a result of Hurricane Sandy have prompted Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to warn certain city employees of long hours in the days to come.

The mayor said Monday that city forestry crews will be on 24-hour shifts to remove any fallen trees, while other public works employees are prepared to take on 12-hour work cycles. He said the city has prepared for the oncoming storm under a new emergency operations plan he signed Friday.

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Government
7:18 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

City, County Get Ready- Eastern PA Reacts

School closures, event cancelations and the postponement of Halloween activities are the first indications that the megastorm swirling over Pennsylvania is having an impact on southwestern Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Public School District and several suburban districts have cancled class for Tuesday.  Municipalities throughout the region including Pittsburgh have put off trick-or-treating until Saturday when the weather will be more conducive to young ghosts and goblins traipsing trough the neighborhood looking for sweets.

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Government
12:27 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

PA Prepares for Storm, Impact on Pittsburgh Unclear

In Eastern Pennsylvania schools are closed, transit services are shutting down and shelters are opened in anticipation of the dangerous winds and flooding promised by Hurricane Sandy.  In southwestern Pennsylvania local officials are on alert but it is still unclear what the megastorm will mean to the region.

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Government
12:11 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Correction Reform Legislation Passed As Result Of Bipartisan Efforts

Pennsylvania is expected to save approximately $300 million as a result of a bipartisan effort to pass corrections reform legislation. The final component of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) redirects and increases funding for non-violent offender programs while reducing spending on and the number of inmates in state prisons.

The reinvestment portion of the reform was unanimously passed in the Senate and House in the last days of the 2012 session. The first half of the JRI was passed in July 2012. Both have been signed by the governor.

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Government
12:06 am
Mon October 29, 2012

New State Law Meant to Curtail Human Trafficking

In 60 days, Pennsylvania bars, restaurants, massage and nail parlors, and other venues will be required to prominently display a human trafficking hotline number, thanks to a new state law signed last week by Governor Tom Corbett.

Sponsoring state Senator Daylin Leach said many victims of human trafficking are forced into labor or prostitution, most often at these sorts of establishments. Leach said the bill is meant to throw a lifeline to those victims of human trafficking who may feel hopeless.

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Government
12:06 am
Mon October 29, 2012

Is Pittsburgh No Longer "Financially Distressed?"

Update 10:10 a.m.

Due to the severe weather from Hurricane Sandy that's expected to hit the state, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has postponed the hearing scheduled for 4 o'clock this afternoon in the City Council Chamber on removal of the city of Pittsburgh from Act 47 oversight and lifting of the "financially distressed" designation.

"In light of the declaration of a state of emergency for PA and the danger posed by the pending storm, we are postponing today's Act 47 hearing in Pittsburgh."

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Government
10:00 am
Sun October 28, 2012

County Jail Gets $1.2 Million to Reduce Return Customers

As Allegheny County moves into its third year of a three-year program aimed at reducing recidivism rates, it has learned that it will have more money than it expected to support the effort.  The U.S. Department of Justice Second Chance Act Demonstration Program has increased its grant for the Allegheny County Reentry Initiative to $1.2 million, an increase of $370,000 over last year. 

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Government
7:57 pm
Sat October 27, 2012

Voter I.D Issues Continue

Last week, the  people who brought the protracted legal challenge to the voter I.D law took issue with the state again.

They asked a judge to order the state to stop misleading ads and correct false messages to make sure voters know they don’t need photo ID to vote in November.

They specifically mention outdated mailings and misleading robocalls planned for the very near future.

The judge has given the state a chance to respond, with its deadline one week before Election Day.

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Government
5:18 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Casey, Smith Spar But Barely Scratch Surface

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey tried to paint his Republican challenger Tom Smith as someone who would worsen partisanship in Congress, while Smith contended he knows better than Casey how to improve the economy, as the two candidates largely stuck to rehearsed scripts in their first and only debate Friday.

The hour-long debate broke little ground in their campaign discussion, and a panel of questioners from WPVI-TV in Philadelphia tried several times to ask questions that would produce more in-depth information.

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Government
3:18 pm
Fri October 26, 2012

Statewide Team Formed to Fight Methadone Abuse

Deaths from methadone overdose increased six-fold between 1999 and 2009 according to Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia) who sponsored legislation recently signed by the governor, which creates a Methadone Death and Incident Review Team with the goal of reducing deaths and injuries.

The team would review all fatalities in the state where methadone is the primary or secondary cause of death and track methadone-related incidents that cause serious injuries.  That could include sales of methadone outside of a methadone clinic.

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Government
11:47 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

Sandusky Questions to Corbett Have Become "Personal"

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Wilson Wrap_Sandusky.mp3

Governor Corbett is again finding himself having to defend the handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case by the state Attorney General’s office.

The handling of the case was most recently questioned by the Democratic candidate for state Attorney General. 

Saying the criticism becomes personal after a while, Governor Corbett asked, where’s the evidence of a conspiracy?

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Government
8:40 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

For the 8,500 Local Kids Left Behind, Prison Takes its Toll

Bullying, trust issues, poverty—those are some of the problems that can affect a child whose parent is incarcerated.

The results come from a report released today by a Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation (PCGF) initiative examining how parental incarceration impacts a child.

According to the report, 2.7 million children in the U.S., including 100,000 in Pennsylvania, have a parent or parents in prison.  In Allegheny County, there are 8,500 children who are separated from one or both parents because of imprisonment.

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Government
6:13 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

State Takes Election Complaints Online

Registered Pennsylvania voters who see suspect behavior on Election Day or encounter unhelpful poll workers will be able to submit their complaints online for the first time this year.

The Department of State has developed a new section on its website to make it easier to lodge a complaint. But the state’s website is only a clearinghouse for voter beefs.

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Government
8:18 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Lost Your Medicaid Benefits? You Might Get Them Back

On Friday, the Department of Public Welfare will send out around one hundred thousand letters to Medicaid recipients in Pennsylvania who lost their benefits in the past year telling them they might want to consider reapplying.  They might even get some of their debts covered.

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Government
5:14 pm
Wed October 24, 2012

Without Appeal, Mt. Pleasant to Get Gas Fee

The Mount Pleasant Township man who filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has withdrawn his complaint opening the door for the state to send out more than a half million dollars in Marcellus Shale impact fees to the township. Tony Pawlosky had appealed to the commission arguing that the township’s zoning ordinance did not comply with Pennsylvania ACT 13, which regulates gas drilling in the state.

PUC spokesperson Jennifer Kocher said the $511,855.78 check will be sent out within the next 10 days.

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Government
11:32 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Pittsburgh Public Schools Wants to be More Competitive, Fiscally Responsible

In a wide-ranging discussion of education Tuesday, Pittsburgh City Council members heard about the Pittsburgh Public School District's goal of being more financially frugal and more competitive with its private counterparts.

PPS Executive Director of Strategic Priorities Cate Reed said the district's administration needs a five-year plan that would help the district be more thrifty with waning allocations from the state government.

"We need to embark on that vision, envisioning what a 21st Century educational delivery model looks like in an urban school system," said Reed.

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Government
8:17 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Sen. Casey Makes Rare Campaign Stop

Republicans and Democrats alike have been criticizing Pennsylvania’s senior U.S. Senator for his lack of public appearances in the run-up to the November sixth election.  Now, with the election just two weeks away and polls showing an ever-tightening race, Democrat Bob Casey has hit the campaign trail with a stop in Hershey.

Casey met with union workers and later discussed how he contrasts with his Republican opponent, Tom Smith.  He said there is a stark contrast when it comes to Medicare benefits. 

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Government
7:44 pm
Tue October 23, 2012

Minority Businesses Want Revisions to City Contracting Practices

Minority contractors told Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday that the city is not doing enough to give women- and minority-owned businesses equal access to city contract opportunities.

The public hearing stemmed from an August report from City Controller Michael Lamb, which found that Pittsburgh's Equal Opportunity Review Commission (EORC) is failing to report exactly how much city money is paid to "Minority Business Enterprise/Women Business Enterprise" (MBE/WBE) companies.

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