Government & Politics

Government & Politics news from 90.5 WESA.

Obama: Tough Choices Must be Made

Oct 11, 2011

President Barack Obama met with his Jobs Council in Pittsburgh on Tuesday before making a campaign-style stop at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) hall on the South Side, where he called on the U.S. Senate to pass his American Jobs Act.

The Pennsylvania Building and Construction Trades Council has denounced state lawmakers' efforts to change the state's prevailing wage law.

Frank Sirianni is President of the Council. He called the package of bills supported largely by Republicans a stunt that mocks prevailing wage law and hurts workers and taxpayers. Proponents argue that the law costs taxpayers money.

"That is simply not true. Getting rid of prevailing wage is simply a way to cut construction workers' wages in the state of Pennsylvania," Sirianni said.

Pittsburgh City Council may vote to shut down operations of the Municipal Courts Building this fall, a move that could save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Council Finance Chair Bill Peduto said Pittsburgh must stop operating a building that's used only by other government bodies for their court systems, and the city should sell it if possible.

With a Second Avenue address next to the Allegheny County Jail, Peduto said the building isn't exactly prime real estate for businesses, so he doesn't have any potential buyers right now.

Raja: Drink Tax No, Parks Drilling Maybe

Oct 6, 2011

Allegheny County Executive candidate D. Raja said he would definitely eliminate the County's 7% drink tax in his first budget if he is elected in November. Raja made the statement while releasing his taxing plan Thursday morning outside of the Convention Center.

Raja said the drink tax kills or hobbles local bars and restaurants. He said the drink tax, along with the rental car tax, also makes it harder to attract lucrative convention traffic.

In the ongoing tit-for-tat between the two Allegheny County Executive candidates, Democrat Rich Fitzgerald has released his plan for development at Pittsburgh International Airport. The short document released Wednesday by Fitzgerald focuses on three major efforts.

Marcellus Shale Drilling

Throughout the primary, Fitzgerald has called for Marcellus Shale drilling on airport land. His most recent position paper remains consistent with that, with a few amplifications.

Another Republican Challenger For Casey

Sep 27, 2011

The leader of the Armstrong County Tea Party announced his candidacy in Pittsburgh Tuesday for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Bob Casey (D-PA). Tom Smith, a former coal company owner, is conducting a two-day cross-state tour to unveil his campaign.

Fitzgerald Wants Government Transparency

Sep 26, 2011

The Democratic nominee for Allegheny County Executive wants to put government spending and contracts online to make it easier for taxpayers to see where the county spends their money.

City Maintains Control of Pension Plan

Sep 19, 2011

State officials announced Monday that Pittsburgh's pension fund is above the required percentage needed to keep it under city jurisdiction. The state Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) said it would take over administration of the fund if it was not above 50% of the amount owed by January 2011. City Council passed a bailout December 31st of last year that included $735 million in parking tax revenue to bolster the fund over 31 years.

How Would Electoral Vote Change Impact Campaigning

Sep 15, 2011

A plan to split Pennsylvania's electoral vote would mean presidential candidates next year will need to focus on winning individual congressional districts, not just the statewide popular vote. That has political strategists considering how the plan will be a game-changer for their line of work.

An audit from the Pittsburgh Controller's office recommends the city improve its accounting of employees who work in parks partially funded by the Regional Asset District.

Controller Michael Lamb said the accounting problem is that annual RAD funding pays the salaries of 65 workers at four city parks, but sometimes those employees work on non-RAD projects. Lamb said that's offset by city-paid employees working on duties meant to be funded by RAD, but the administration doesn't have the records to prove it.

Santorum Picks Up Support in PA

Sep 7, 2011

Pennsylvania State Senate Republicans are sounding their support for Pennsylvania's former U-S senator, Rick Santorum, as he makes a bid for the party's presidential nomination. This week Santorum gathered endorsements from two key G-O-P senators.

According to a study from the Commonwealth Foundation, average prices for top-shelf wines and spirits out of state were found to be significantly cheaper than in-state options. The vast difference in price and selection has led to illegal bootlegging, which could potentially cost Pennsylvania millions of dollars annually.

Perzel Admits Guilt in Legislative Corruption Probe

Aug 31, 2011

Former Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel today pleaded guilty to eight counts of conflict of interest, theft and conspiracy as part of a deal to cooperate with prosecutors in the ongoing investigation of legislative corruption. Perzel, who served more than 30 years in the House before being defeated in last November's election, had originally been charged with 82 counts. His plea agreement includes charges he used House Republican technology and staff for campaigns and fund-raising and also stole state money to pay for vendors contracted during campaigns.

Pennsylvania's Top Elections Official Favors Voter ID at the Polls

Aug 24, 2011

A member of the Corbett administration is voicing her support for a state law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls. Carol Aichele, the commonwealth's Secretary of State, said her department aims to protect every Pennsylvanian's right to vote.

If a voter ID law is passed and signed, a person would only be able to cast a ballot, in person or by mail, after proving three things: U.S. citizenship, residency in Pennsylvania and that he or she is 18 years or older. "The voting requirements are pretty … pretty generous," said Aichele.

Council votes yes on drilling ban ballot question

Aug 1, 2011

After prolonged debate Monday morning, the Pittsburgh City council took a 6-3 vote to place a question on the November ballot asking city residents if they want to essentially ban Marcellus Shale drilling and other activities within city limits.