Government & Politics

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.

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Vet Wrap Web.mp3

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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Government
1:57 pm
Sat November 10, 2012

Corbett Considers Expanding Lottery

The administration of Gov. Tom Corbett said Friday that expanding Pennsylvania Lottery gambling to keno and online games will be one of the best ways to produce more revenue from the $3.5 billion lottery system that funds programs for the elderly.

The administration made the statement as part of an update on its talks with companies about privatizing the management of the lottery under a 20-year agreement. Asked about it Friday, Corbett would only say that the ideas are "on the table."

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Government
9:05 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Patrick Fitzgerald Delivers Keynote at Law Enforcement Awards

The 15th Annual L.E.A.D. Awards for outstanding performance in law enforcement were given out Friday at the Pitt Law School.  Patrick Fitzgerald, former U.S. Attorney from Chicago, delivered the keynote address on the topic of how law enforcement has evolved in response to extremist terrorism.  

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Government
8:30 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Corbett Signs Tougher Penalties on Underage Drinking

Teenagers partying in the South Side and Oakland will get hit with harder fines if cops find them with alcohol in their bloodstream.

Governor Tom Corbett signed into law legislation that increases fines for underage drinking and public drunkenness.

Senate Bill 941 sets the fee for both infractions to a maximum of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for further offenses.  Currently the fine limit is $300 for first time violations and $500 for anything further.

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Government
7:52 pm
Fri November 9, 2012

Vets Day: Remembering to Remember

A long list of events celebrating Veterans Day will be strung out over the coming days giving western Pennsylvanians ample opportunity to celebrate the holiday.  However, for many, the nearly 100-year-old tradition of remembering those who have served has become little more than a few red letters on a calendar.

Those who will celebrate the day will do so in different ways.  Some will celebrate in a public fashion by watching a parade; others will do something more subdued and solitary, such as visiting the grave of a fallen soldier.

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Government
11:21 am
Fri November 9, 2012

Mayor, City Council Members, Lawmakers Ask State to Release Pittsburgh from Act 47

At a public hearing on Thursday, Act 47 coordinators, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and others said the city is ready to be released from Act 47, the Financially Distressed Municipalities Act. Speakers recounted what landed the city its financial distress status in 2003. Back then, Pittsburgh was operating with a debt burden of more than 20% of its operating budget, pools and recreation centers had to close and hundreds of city employees, including police officers, were laid off.

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Government
10:02 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Hill District Shop-N-Save Funding Finished

“We’re going back out there, that dirt that has been sitting dormant for so long is going to be active again.”

Cheryl Hall-Russell, the CEO and President of Hill House Association, announced the completion of the funding phase for the Centre Heldman Plaza—a retail center that will also house a Shop-N-Save grocery store: the first supermarket for the Hill District in almost 30 years.

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Government
9:19 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Thomas Merton Center Honors Medea Benjamin

The Thomas Merton Center is honoring Code Pink and Global Exchange co-founder Medea Benjamin at its 40th Anniversary Celebration Thursday night. Benjamin created Code Pink after 9-11 and the war in Afghanistan. She said they chose the name based on the color-coded terrorism warning system created by the Bush Administration. Lately Benjamin has been leading a campaign to educate the public about the impact of unmanned drone strikes abroad.

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Government
9:11 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Corbett Open to Another Sandusky Investigation

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said Attorney General elect, Kathleen Kane, is welcome to make good on her promises to investigate the way the AG's office handledthe Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case under his leadership.

Kane said repeatedly on the campaign trail that she fully intends to open an investigation into why it took nearly three years to arrest Sandusky, and why the case was handled the way it was.  The Democrat also said if she found no evidence of foot-dragging, she’d move on.

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Government
8:43 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Local Vets Graduate from Veterans’ Court

Eight military veterans from the Pittsburgh area graduated Thursday from the Allegheny County Veterans Court program which started on Veterans' Day in 2009.  The initaitve offers drug and alcohol treatment, mental health services and employment help to veterans who are facing criminal charges. Veterans who complete the program can have charges dropped or their criminal record erased.

Common Pleas Judge John Zottola, who supervises the court, said Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)  is common in returning vets. 

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Government
5:54 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

$15 Million Penalty Agreement Reached in Le-Nature’s Case

A Wisconsin bottling equipment firm will pay a $15 million penalty to avoid prosecution and has agreed to pay $110 million more to settle legal claims for its alleged role in a massive accounting fraud involving defunct western Pennsylvania soft-drink maker, Le-Nature's.

Franklin, Wis.-based Krones Inc. says it cut the deal to avoid the "continued uncertainty and risk" involved in the legal proceedings, but denies any role in the fraud.

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