Government & Politics

Government
1:10 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Toomey Returns to Ideas in Super Committee

The state’s junior U.S. Senator is working on attracting bipartisan support for a plan to avert the fiscal cliff.

Republican Pat Toomey said the framework is based on what he proposed while serving on the so-called congressional “super committee” to reduce the national deficit last year. That panel failed to reach a consensus, which triggered the 2013 automatic spending cuts and tax hikes involved in the fiscal cliff. But Toomey said he’s pushing for his super committee proposal once more.

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Government
8:58 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Pittsburgh May Hire Contractor to Launch, Manage Emergency Alert System

If City Council passes the necessary legislation, Pittsburgh would hire a company to set up and manage an emergency alert system for its residents rather than build the system itself.  The Alert system would have the capability to send out mass phone calls, emails, and text messages.

Sponsoring Councilman Corey O'Connor said the new alert system probably would cost between $50,000 and $100,000 each year, depending on the number of city residents who sign up for the alerts and the level of competition in the bidding process.

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Government
8:43 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Senators' Wives Advocating For Completion Of Flight 93 Memorial

Eleven years after 9/11, the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Somerset County remains unfinished, and the spouses of Pennsylvania's two U.S. Senators are working to raise the remaining funds to complete the project.

Kris Toomey, wife of Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Terese Casey, wife of Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)  will co-host an event tomorrow in Shanksville to raise awareness and funds.

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Government
8:42 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

Pennsylvania Republican House Representative Comes Out As Gay

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The Head of the State’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens lobby is applauding the decision of a Republican state House lawmaker to come out as openly gay. Representative Mike Fleck of Huntingdon County told his local newspaper the decision was part of his effort to be authentic, and that he does not expect it to change his voting pattern.

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Government
5:58 pm
Mon December 3, 2012

51 Year Old Law for Libraries Gets Modernized

Pennsylvania libraries are being given more latitude as managers try to catch up with modern patrons with a new state code that updates old requirements involving staff education, collection requirements, facilities and technology. 

“Technology continues to change,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said.  “It changes the way we are learning and advancing our learning, and it changes our libraries,” Corbett said as he signed the legislation.

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Government
8:23 am
Mon December 3, 2012

City Councilwoman Critical of Mayor's Capital Budget Plan

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak says the $64 million capital budget proposed by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is amorphous and needs serious refinement.

Rudiak said many of the budget line items are devoid of important details.

"We look at bike infrastructure, we look at bridge repairs, we look at building improvements, we look at pool rehabilitation -- there's no detail in any of these categories about which pools, or which buildings, or which playgrounds are going to be focused on next year or in the next five years," said Rudiak.

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Government
8:19 am
Mon December 3, 2012

2 Year Head Start on PA's Gubernatorial Election

The 2014 gubernatorial race is officially on, with Democrat John Hanger as the first officially declared candidate.  But is it too early?

The short answer according to Terry Madonna, pollster and political science professor at Franklin and Marshall College, is, "no."

The general election is two years away, but Democrats considering a run have to get their act together for the primary, scheduled in May 2014. Candidates will have to pass around petitions for getting their name on the ballot even sooner.

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Government
2:21 pm
Sun December 2, 2012

Former State Democratic Leader Sentenced to Prison for Corruption

A federal judge has sentenced former Democratic state Senator Robert Mellow to 16 months in prison for corruption charges.

On Friday, the judge also ordered Mellow to pay nearly $80,000 in restitution to the state Senate, along with a $40,000 fine to the federal government.

The decision from U.S. District Judge Joel Slomsky orders Mellow, long one of the most powerful figures in state government, to have supervised release after his prison sentence as well.

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Government
3:30 am
Sun December 2, 2012

Bring More Hollywood, And More Money, To Pennsylvania

To make money, you sometimes have to spend money, and the Pennsylvania film industry holds to that adage.

The Pittsburgh Film Office and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office believe the commonwealth could attract more film and television production if the legislature would consider increasing the state’s $60 million film tax credit program.

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Government
8:46 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Ravenstahl Undecided on Billboard Tax

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says he is still reviewing the billboard tax legislation passed this week by the city council.  The measure would levy a 10 percent tax on the revenue generated by any billboard within the city limits.

Currently the billboards are subject only to a property tax based on the value of the land on which they sit.

“Our law department is examining the legalities of it,” said Ravenstahl. 

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Government
8:43 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

President Obama Visits Suburban Philly Toy Factory, Urges Action to Avoid Fiscal Cliff

President Obama brought his message about the fiscal cliff to a toy manufacturer in Montgomery County Friday.  The visit is an attempt to leverage public opinion to get his way on a deal with Congressional Republicans. 

The president says he’s hopeful that, come January first, the country won’t wake up to more austere budgets and higher tax rates across the board. But that’s not stopping him from asking people to tweet their members of Congress to come up with a deal soon.

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Government
12:22 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

DA Reveals Security Findings in Western Psych Shooting

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. has released consultant reports recommending security upgrades in the wake of a shooting at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in March.

A spokesman for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center didn't immediately comment on the findings by two private security consultants. They recommend $2.1 million worth of upgrades, including adding a command and operations center, a new security card access system for employees, video surveillance, panic buttons and emergency call stations.

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Government
9:17 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Corbett Tackles the Lottery and Agrees to Cooperate with Sandusky Investigation

The governor’s office is still reviewing the lone bid submitted to run the Pennsylvania Lottery.  The bid came from a British company after months of behind the scenes work.         

Governor Corbett is downplaying his misgivings about gambling when discussing its potential expansion in the state.

“The question is, is there more gambling?  Yes.  Is there a benefit to it?  Yes.  Am I concerned about gambling addiction?  Yes,” said Corbett. “But it is going on.  And I’m looking at, you know, can we get more revenue for senior projects, for senior programs.”

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Government
5:20 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Pennsylvania Opens First Trade Office In Indonesia

Pennsylvania this week became the first state to open a trade-based office in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) new center will provide support and resources to business throughout the state looking to develop viable international markets and increase sales.

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Government
3:53 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

President Obama Fights the Fiscal Cliff in PA

The nice thing about bully pulpits is they’re terrifically mobile. President Obama is bringing his to Montgomery County Pennsylvania this Friday to promote his plan for averting the fiscal cliff.

Christopher Borick, a pollster and political science professor at Muhlenberg College, says after a first term marked by deep conflict, a trip like this is fuel for the Republican critique that the president hasn’t been easy to work with.

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Government
12:35 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Former DEP Sec Runs for PA Governor

John Hanger, a Democrat and former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, is the first to announce he’ll seek the Democratic nomination for governor.

At an event in Harrisburg, he touted his record of breaking up the electric utilities' monopoly in Pennsylvania in the 1990s and leading the charge to create a renewable energy industry in the commonwealth.

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Government
2:54 am
Thu November 29, 2012

City Council Divided over Proposed Change to Council District Map

Pittsburgh City Council voted 5-4 on Wednesday to approve a controversial amendment to the Council District map proposed by the Reapportionment Advisory Commission (RAC) earlier this fall.

After half an hour of heated discussion, a slim majority passed the revision, which shifts around several wards in order to maintain the District 2 boundaries from the current 2002 Council District map. Councilwoman Theresa Smith represents District 2 and proposed the amendment during debate on Wednesday.

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Government
9:27 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Mother of Toddler Mauled by Zoo Dogs Will Not be Charged

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium should have launched a better immediate response to the early November incident in which a South Hills toddler was mauled to death by a pack of African painted dogs after falling into the zoo exhibit, according to District Attorney Stephen Zappala.

As he announced some preliminary results of his investigation into the incident, the DA did not say whether he would seek criminal charges against the zoo, but Zappala said he will not charge any family members.  Zappala did mention some potential charges he would review in similar situations.

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Government
8:36 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

City Council on Track to Create Equal Opportunity Department

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to legislation that would give city government the ability to crack down on contractors who flout Pittsburgh's equal opportunity requirements while doing business with the city.

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Government
9:01 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Child Abuse Task Force Calls For Sweeping Changes

A special task force created in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal is calling on the legislature to make changes in the law to allow reports of child abuse within an institution to go up the chain of command.

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Government
6:41 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Making Allentown Safer One Phase at a Time

Allentown is between Mt. Washington and the South Side, the T runs right down its main street, and there is a small business district. But, blight and safety concerns have hampered growth in the area. A little less than two years ago, the Allentown Business District Safety Initiative was launched to address that. Phase I added lighting, gates and fencing to improve the safety of the neighborhood.

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Government
8:57 am
Tue November 27, 2012

On-Line Holiday Shoppers: Don't Forget the Sales Tax

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Pennsylvanians who observed Cyber Monday by taking to the Internet for some holiday shopping should save their receipts. Consumers are responsible for reporting online purchases to the state when those purchases don’t include sales tax.

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Government
8:57 am
Tue November 27, 2012

$26.5M For Parks, Trails Improvements in PA

Nearly two hundred projects across the commonwealth are receiving a combined $26.5 million in grants intended to enhance existing and create new recreational opportunities as well as conserve natural resources.

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Government
8:20 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Allegheny County Juvenile Justice Recommendations Released

Following two years of work, the Allegheny County Commission on Juvenile Justice has released a report outlining recommendations and rules for those working in all levels of the juvenile justice system.  

“Among the recommendations in the report are: judicial ethics, including mandatory formal training sessions on judicial ethics at regular intervals. Judicial training: including a recommendation that all family division judges attend a minimum of 12 hours of continuing education each year,” said Allegheny County President Judge Donna Jo McDaniel.

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Government
7:42 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Community Update On 911th Airlift Wing

As Congress considers legislation to block the closure of the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township, U.S. Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) will hold a community meeting this evening to update local residents on the status of the base.

Other area officials including State Representative Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny) and County Council members Heather Heidelbaugh, Michael Finnerty and Vince Gastgeb will be on hand to discuss the next steps needed to keep the critical military installation.

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