Government & Politics

Government
6:44 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Open House for Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

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Women and minority business owners can receive some tips on how to better compete for government contracts.

Allegheny County’s Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MWDBE) will host its ninth annual Open House tomorrow evening from 5:30 to 7:30 in the Liberty Room of the Human Services Building at One Smithfield Street downtown.  

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Government
2:34 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

NRC Meets with Nuclear Plant Owners

Senior management from FirstEnergy Operating Co. (FENOC) will sit down with officials from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NEC) Wednesday to discuss the performance of the company’s three nuclear power plants.

FENOC currently operates three plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio including Beaver Valley in Shippingport.

Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan said they periodically meet with companies running nuclear power plants to discuss issues such as expectations of performance and the commission’s activities at the plants.

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Government
12:27 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Senators Argue Payday Loans In PA

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So-called payday loans are not legal in Pennsylvania, but a bill passed by the state House to allow them is now getting a vigorous hearing in the Senate.

Kerry Smith, an attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, said there is no great clamoring for short-term loans in the commonwealth. 

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Government
12:24 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

AG Candidates Spar Over Independence

Three candidates vying for the role of the state’s top fiscal watchdog have faced off in a debate in which independence and political ambitions were strong themes.

The major party candidates – Republican John Maher and Democrat Eugene DePasquale – are both running for re-election to their state House seats while each has a simultaneous bid for Auditor General.

Enter the Libertarian, self-appointed thorn-in-side to the two-party system.

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Government
9:00 am
Mon September 24, 2012

Major Changes Proposed In Child Welfare Practices

A state lawmaker is calling for changes in local child welfare practices, which could save the commonwealth money by moving children out of costly foster care and institutions. Meantime, child welfare advocates are asking to clarify legislation about the process of placing and counseling children.

The two measures aim to involve family members in the placement of children who receive services from Pennsylvania’s county child welfare offices.  Both bills would impose new rules about searching for next of kin and meeting with a child’s extended family.

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Government
7:14 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

State Cracks Down on PSSA Cheating

Pennsylvania’s Education Secretary says student progress on statewide tests this year declined, but the drop can be chalked up to a crackdown on cheating by educators.

The data shows 76 percent of students throughout the commonwealth tested at or above grade level in math, and 72 percent met or surpassed grade level standards for reading. Secretary Ron Tomalis says the data set from this year’s test scores is the first to accurately show student achievement in Pennsylvania schools, without the contaminating effect of falsified tests.

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Government
8:05 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Poll Shows Romney and Obama Neck and Neck in Pennsylvania

A new survey released by Susquehanna Polling and Research has President Barack Obama leading Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania by only one percent.  Conducted between September 15th and 17th the poll shows Mr. Obama with 48 percent of the vote compared to Governor Romney’s 47 percent.  The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percent.

The survey, conducted for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, polled a random sample of 800 likely voters. Respondents who said they were not likely to vote were taken out of the results.

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Government
6:05 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Dowd Legislation Would Allow Pittsburgh Fracking

In 2010, Pittsburgh adopted a first-in-the-nation ordinance banning drilling companies from extracting natural gas within the city using hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking.” Now, one council member who previously voted for the ban might be changing his stance.

Councilman Patrick Dowd voted for the ban two years ago along with the remainder of Pittsburgh council. Though the ban has yet to be lifted, Dowd today unveiled four zoning bills that would permit natural gas drilling within Pittsburgh city limits.

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Government
5:08 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Allegheny County to Provide Voter IDs Through CCAC, Kane Centers

Allegheny County will provide residents with valid photo identification now required to vote under state law.

As the court battle continues over Pennsylvania's new voter ID law, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced Thursday that the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) and the Kane Regional Centers will distribute photo IDs to registered voters in Allegheny County.

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Government
7:35 am
Thu September 20, 2012

City Council Approves Plan to Create City Archives Commission

Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to give preliminary approval to a bill that would create a Commission on City Archives.
The legislation is up for a final vote on Tuesday.

Sponsoring Councilman Patrick Dowd said the commission would be tasked with establishing a standard practice for archiving across all city departments, which currently have disparate and unofficial policies for storing old government files.  Dowd described the basement of one city building as a multi-story warehouse for "cages and cages" of dusty maps and papers.

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Government
6:59 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Public Hearing Ordered for City Billboard Tax Proposal

Pittsburgh City Council has ordered a public hearing on a proposal to put a ten percent tax on the cost of advertising on billboards.

Council chambers today entertained an animated discussion of the merits and drawbacks of such a tax with members apparently split on the issue.

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Government
6:52 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Better Communications Needed In Emergency Response Network

Emergency responders testified before state lawmakers in Pittsburgh today about proposed changes to Title 35, which is a 34-year old state law covering emergency preparedness.

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Government
5:51 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Settlement In Snow Death Lawsuit

More than two-and-a-half years after a Hazelwood man died while waiting for an ambulance, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have reached a tentative agreement to settle a lawsuit.  That’s according to the attorney for the family of 50-year old Curtis Mitchell who died from complications of heart disease February 7, 2010.

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Government
3:24 pm
Wed September 19, 2012

Presidential Adviser Speaks on “Smart” Deficit Reduction and Trade with China

The Director of the National Economic Council said it is unfair for China to offer subsidies to auto plants in certain provinces because such sponsorship of automotive exports is suppressing manufacturing in the United States.

Gene Sperling, one of President Obama’s top advisers spoke at Carnegie Mellon University today about the direction of U.S. economic development.  Sperling was a guest on  WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh  and discussed trade issues with China and deficit reduction.

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Government
7:35 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Task Force Wants to Stop Death Penalty...Temporarily

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A state Senate task force has sent a request to Governor Tom Corbett requesting a temporary halt to capital punishment until the group’s studies are comprehensive and complete.

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Government
6:27 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

PA High Court Vacates Commonwealth Court Ruling on Voter ID

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has sent back to Commonwealth Court a request for an injunction against the state's Voter ID law.  In doing so, the justices vacated the decision by Commonwealth Court that upheld the law that plaintiffs claimed would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania voters who would have difficulty getting the proper photo identification to be presented at polling places.

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Government
3:14 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Voter ID Gets Easier for Native Pennsylvanians

For registered voters born in Pennsylvania, getting a photo ID card to cast a ballot in November is about to get a little easier.

Native Pennsylvanians who need to confirm their birth certificates using the state’s records will soon be able to do so with one visit to a PennDOT licensing center.

Zack Stalberg, president of the voter advocacy group the Committee of Seventy, said state agencies have eliminated the need for Pennsylvania-born voters to make second trips once their birth records are verified.

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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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