Government & Politics

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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Government
6:06 pm
Wed September 12, 2012

PA Missing Out on Drilling Taxes

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Drilling Tax Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

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. 

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
Government
5:48 pm
Tue September 11, 2012

Bill Would Make Home Invasion a Distinct Crime in Pennsylvania

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Home Invasion.mp3

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.).

Read more
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.

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more
Government
5:25 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

PA Pension Panel Floats Idea of Controversial Bond

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/pension debt wilson.MP3

If you owed 40 billion dollars on a constitutionally protected contract, you might appear to be grasping at straws, too.  That’s what it sounded like to some in attendance as the chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Employee Retirement Commission, Anthony Salomone, brought up the pension obligation bond. 

Read more
Government
7:35 am
Mon September 10, 2012

PEMA Pleased With Response To Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee

One year after flooding from Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) says clean-up efforts in the commonwealth aren’t done yet.
Cory Angell, a spokesman for PEMA,  says more than $1.7 million have gone toward repairing public property damaged by last year’s storms.

“Currently our numbers reflect that there are 40 public assistance projects.  Now that’s the infrastructure," said Angell.  "That would be your roads and your bridges or municipal buildings, things like that.” 

Read more
Government
7:35 am
Mon September 10, 2012

Potential Changes For Property Taxes Statewide

One state House member sees an opening for his proposal to switch local governments reliance from property taxes to levies on purchases and income.

Representative Seth Grove (R-York)  is calling for giving local governments the power to choose to freeze property taxes in favor of a levy on income taxes.

He says his legislation would give voters the option of allowing their counties to levy a one percent sales tax that would gradually wean its local governments off of property taxes. 

Read more
Government
10:35 am
Sun September 9, 2012

Pennsylvania State House Democrat Continues To Push Cell Phone Ban

A state House Democrat is following up the texting-while-driving ban with a proposal to outlaw all hand-held cell phone use behind the wheel.  Representative Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny) acknowledged his plan is unlikely to come up for a vote, but said it should be a priority.  The House returns to session September 24, but there are only eight scheduled voting days remaining in this session.

The 15-term legislator faces a Republican challenger in the November election, but Markosek says his interest in tightening the distracted driving laws isn’t occasioned by the campaign season.

Read more
Government
6:46 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Local Congressmen React To The August Jobs Report

The nation's unemployment rate for August was 8.1%, down from 8.3% in July. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that employers added 96,000 jobs last month, but that's down from an average of 139,000 per month since the beginning of the year.  According to the Labor Department, the jobless rate declined in part because many people gave up looking for jobs, reducing the size of the labor force.

Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA-18)  called the jobs report "dismal" and "nothing short of a national disgrace."

Read more
Government
5:55 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Allegheny County's Credit Score

http://2cccd5dfe1965e26adf6-26c50ce30a6867b5a67335a93e186605.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com/Bond Rating Wrap_Emily Farah_SOC.mp3

An A+ might be the highest score possible on a test, but it’s not when it comes to credit ratings.

That’s the grade Allegheny County received when analyzed by two different bond rating agencies for the 2011-12 fiscal year.  A+ is  classified as an “excellent” score, the highest being classified as “exceptional” at AAA, AAA-, or AA+. Moody's and Standard & Poor's gave the county the same grade a year ago.

Read more
Government
5:55 pm
Fri September 7, 2012

Two Vacancies Filled on Real Estate Appeals Board as Caseload Gets Heavier

With thousands of property re-assessment appeals in process, two vacancies on the Board of Viewers have been filled. The group hears appeals of commercial and residential assessments, so it’s one step above the informal and formal appeals process, but below the Court of Common Pleas. The Board was left with two vacancies this summer when one of its members died and another resigned.

Read more
Government
2:07 am
Fri September 7, 2012

Port Authority Pleads its Case to RAD

The Port Authority of Allegheny County is counting on The Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) to contribute $3 million for ten years to help open the door for state funding.

At RAD's budget request hearing Thursday, Port Authority CEO Steve Bland and Jennifer Liptak, chief of staff for Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, made the argument to board members that public transit should be considered a regional asset, and therefore eligible for funding.

Read more

Pages