Government & Politics

Government
2:30 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Terrance Williams Execution on Course

Convicted murderer Terrance Williams has been denied a request for clemency and his scheduled October third execution remains on track.   Prosecutors say it’s remarkable that, despite many reviews in court, no judge has overturned a death penalty decision for Terrance Williams. He was sentenced to death for a 1984 murder he committed as an 18-year-old.

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Government
7:35 am
Tue September 18, 2012

Reapportionment Commission to Consider School Board Election Districts

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A panel charged with redrawing the boundaries for the nine board seats for the Pittsburgh Public Schools district will get public input this evening.  The reapportionment commission appointed by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, City Council and Mt. Oliver will use 2010 U.S. Census information to determine what if any changes will be made. 

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Government
8:35 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Rendell Insists Pennsylvania is Still Swing State

Some pundits have already written off Pennsylvania as a swing state, saying the state will easily go for President Barack Obama this election. However, former Governor Ed Rendell is pushing against that tide.

Rendell is using every public appearance he can to warn Obama supporters that Pennsylvania could still swing Republican and go for Mitt Romney in the upcoming presidential election. As Rendell advises against complacency, he said the Obama campaign has given him some push-back.

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Government
8:16 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Audit Finds Compliance in Reassessment Contracts – But Says Bar Was Set Too Low

The office of the Allegheny County Controller has been examining the recent property reassessment process for the past four months. Controller Chelsa Wagner said the office found Tyler Technologies, which was the firm contracted to do the reassessments, technically complied with the terms of the contract, but Wagner added, the contract imposed a very low standard of accountability on Tyler.

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Government
5:32 pm
Mon September 17, 2012

Foundation Sues to Remove Ten Commandments from Valley High School

The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has filed a federal lawsuit against New Kensington-Arnold School District, seeking the removal of a large stone monument depicting the Ten Commandments outside the school's main entrance.

FFRF co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said her group first asked the district to remove the six-foot-tall monument in March, at the request of local families. Gaylor said the letter cited both the First Amendment to the Constitution and a 1980 Supreme Court ruling that prohibited posting the Commandments within high schools.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon September 17, 2012

Service Authorities Can No Longer Transfer Money To Municipalities

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Pennsylvania’s municipalities are going to have a harder time getting a little help from their friends under a new state law. Municipal authorities, who provide services like maintaining water lines and sewer systems, are no longer allowed to transfer money to assist the municipalities that created them.

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Government
7:35 am
Mon September 17, 2012

New Welfare Regulations, Or Lack Thereof

A state program providing monthly cash grants to the poor has been shuttered for just more than a month, but welfare advocates are urging for its restoration.

The state's General Assistance program provided roughly 200 dollars a month to very low-income clients, some of whom were unemployed, sick, disabled, or were recovering addicts or domestic abuse victims.

Republican Representative Gene DiGirolamo of Bucks County says he’d like to see General Assistance restored, if only in part.

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Government
10:35 am
Sun September 16, 2012

ACLU Launches “Let Me Vote” Campaign

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania is introducing new tools and information on its website so voters can be sure the ID they’re bringing to the polls this November is the right one, according to the ACLU.

Associate Director Sara Mullen said they are worried about the misinformation people are hearing about voter ID requirements. She said many believe they need a birth certificate to get a PennDOT ID.

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Government
5:26 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

911th Airlift Wing Safe – For Now

The U.S. House this week approved legislation that will keep the federal government running into next year, and will keep the 911th Airlift Wing from being closed, at least for the time being. The temporary funding measure, or Continuing Resolution, restricts the Department of Defense from retiring, realigning, divesting, or transferring aircraft of the Air Force.

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Government
8:37 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Allegheny County Jail Finally Gets A New Warden

20 months and three interims later, the Allegheny County Jail has a new warden.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced today he has appointed Orlando Harper as the new warden of the lockup.

Harper comes from Washington D.C., where he started as a security officer in 1986 and worked his way up the ranks to his current position of Deputy Warden for Operations at that city's Deprtment of Corrections.  Harper’s appointment ends the seven month term of William S. Stickman III. He was the third interim warden since former warden Ramon Rustin left in January 2011.

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Government
4:56 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

PA High Court Hears Voter ID Arguments

Pennsylvania's state Supreme Court justices on Thursday aggressively questioned whether a politically charged law requiring photo identification from each voter should take effect for the Nov. 6 presidential election and whether it guarantees the right to vote.

With the election just 54 days away, the justices did not say when they will decide, although lawyers in the case expected them to rule before the end of September.

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Government
3:12 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

City Council Approves $7 Million in URA Funding

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to two bills that together channel nearly $7 million toward the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority for 2012. The money would be used for the URA's development projects in various city neighborhoods, as well as employee wages and property purchases.

However, the money wasn't approved until after Council Members asked some tough questions about accountability of city funds with the nonprofit community redevelopment groups the URA deals with regularly.

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Government
3:12 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Is PA Still In Play?

Pennsylvania has long been considered a battleground state.  But the last week has marked a change in campaign spending which might indicate the commonwealth has lost its swing. 



”This is great to be in Cornwall, a historic place.  By the way, where do you get your hoagies, here?  Do you get them at Wawa’s,” asked Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney while campaigning in Lebanon County in June.

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Government
1:10 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Man Convicted of 1994 Hazelwood Shooting Freed

A Pittsburgh jury says a man who spent 18 years in prison in a murder case isn't guilty.

Thirty-seven-year-old Terrell Johnson has been serving a life sentence in the July 1994 murder of Verna Robinson of Hazelwood.

The jury in the retrial delivered a not guilty verdict late Wednesday afternoon, prompting Johnson to break out in tears.

Authorities in Allegheny County said Johnson killed Robinson to prevent her from testifying against a friend in a drive-by shooting several months earlier.

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Government
9:22 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

City Council Approves $7 Million in URA Funding

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to two bills that together channel nearly $7 million toward the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority for 2012. The money would be used for the URA's development projects in various city neighborhoods, as well as employee wages and property purchases.

However, the money wasn't approved until after Council Members asked some tough questions about accountability of city funds with the nonprofit community redevelopment groups the URA deals with regularly.

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Government
7:39 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Secretary of Commonwealth Urging Young People to Vote

Highlighting the importance of voting and the state’s new voter ID law, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele talked to a class of seniors at Chartiers Valley High School Wednesday. It’s part of an ongoing effort to reach out to young voters, which will continue through Election Day.

“When I was their age we had to wait until we were 21 to vote, so I’m going to talk to them about how important it is for them to participate in the process and how important the young people’s vote is for the future of this country,” said Aichele.

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Government
7:06 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Voter ID Opponents Bash New State Law

Local politicians, labor groups, and community organizations gathered in Pittsburgh City Council Chamber on Wednesday to denounce Pennsylvania's new requirement to require photo identification before voting.  The event came one day before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the new state law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has challenged the voter ID requirement in court, arguing that it unconstitutionally inhibits some Pennsylvanians' ability to vote.

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Government
6:06 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

PA Missing Out on Drilling Taxes

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The Public Utility Commission reported this week that revenues from the state's impact fee on Marcellus Shale gas drillers totalled $206 million, but a liberal-leaning policy group says the commonwealth could have collected tens of millions more if it imposed a shale gas tax.   The impact fee is a flat amount assessed on wells drilled in the state with the revenues designated to offset negative effects of the drilling on municipalities and counties. 

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Government
2:34 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

Former Senator Jane Orie to Appeal Prison Sentence in Corruption Case

Former state Senator Jane Orie has filed notice that she's appealing her 2½- to 10-year state prison sentence for campaign corruption and forgery charges.

Orie's two-page notice to the state Superior Court does not specify why she's appealing the sentence she received in June following her conviction on charges that she used her state-funded legislative staff to do political fundraising and campaign work.

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Government
8:23 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

City Council, Labor Leaders Push for 'Second Bill of Rights'

Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to endorse a "Second Bill of Rights" that calls on the federal government to guarantee American citizens additional rights related to employment, voting, education and healthcare.

The nonbinding Will of Council document will be sent to the White House and to Pennsylvania's congressional delegation, according to sponsoring Councilwoman Darlene Harris. She said the members of the state legislature would also receive a copy.

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Government
6:43 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

City Council Considers Special Billboard Tax

A ten percent tax on billboard advertising in Pittsburgh could raise up to $4 million for the city, if Pittsburgh City Council passes a new bill introduced on Tuesday.

Sponsoring Councilwomen Darlene Harris and Natalia Rudiak said the tax revenue would be put toward the purchase of police cars, which they said must be replaced every two or three years. However, Rudiak said she could not recall if the legislation included language to codify that usage, and the text of the bill was not available on Council's website at the time of this article's publication.

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Government
5:48 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Bill Would Make Home Invasion a Distinct Crime in Pennsylvania

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One Philadelphia state senator is hoping to make a distinct crime out of home invasions, in response to a spate of recent home invasions in southeastern Pennsylvania.

The State Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing in Philadelphia on Thursday to gather input on the legislation from State Senator Mike Stack (D-Phila.).

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Government
5:47 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Pitt Law Professor Thinks Law Enforcement Can Do More

The FBI reports that 322, 537 crimes were committed in Pennsylvania in 2010 with 14.4% being violent offenses.  According to a University of Pittsburgh law professor, more scientific methods could have been used by police to investigate those crimes.

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Government
2:26 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Corbett Tries to Free Small Businesses of Overregulation

The governor is promising a whole new ball game for small businesses who he says are trapped under the weight of state regulations. 

After touring a Lebanon County manufacturing company Monday, Governor Corbett outlined new ground rules for state regulators. They’ll have to embark on a more thorough exploration of how regulations, while still in the proposal stage, could ask too much of small businesses.

The legislation being pushed by Corbett has been stopped twice before by former Governor Ed Rendell, something Corbett said illustrates a backwards approach to governing. 

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Government
6:38 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

Current, Former DEP Secretaries Joust over National Energy Policy

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael Krancer argued in favor of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's energy policy at an energy summit in Pittsburgh on Monday, while former DEP chief John Hanger touted the Obama administration's energy platform.

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