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Government & Politics
8:49 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Mayor Proposes Increases in Homestead Exemption, Senior Tax Relief, Reduction in Millage Rate

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is proposing increases in the city's Homestead exemption and Senior Tax Relief Credit, as well as a reduced millage rate. This comes in response to higher property values found through the court-appointed property reassessments.

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Economy & Business
8:30 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Red Kettle Campaign is $270K Short

Think about walking in or out of a store during the holiday season.  It almost seems incomplete without a bundled-up, bell-ringer standing next to a red, Salvation Army donation basket.

The question is:  keep moving or be charitable.  Western Pennsylvanians did more of the latter in 2012 compared to 2011, but the region's Red Kettle Christmas Campaign still came short of meeting its goal by $270,000.

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Government & Politics
8:05 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Business Owners Debate Lawrenceville Neighborhood Tax

The battle lines were quite literally set in Pittsburgh City Council Chamber on Monday as both supporters and opponents of the Lawrenceville Business Improvement District (BID) took seats on opposite sides of the room.

Though there were a few more speakers in favor, most of the public hearing was spent in a back-and-forth discussion of the Lawrenceville Corporation's plan for a BID. A Business Improvement District is a neighborhood fund that assesses a yearly fee on property owners in order to pay for extra public works services within the district.

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Government & Politics
6:19 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Obama: I Will Not Let Deficit Talks Be Tied To Another Debt Ceiling Debate

At a news conference dominated by discussion of what's expected to be Washington's next big political battle, President Obama insisted Monday that he will not let Republicans tie an increase in the federal government's borrowing limit to negotiations over cuts in future federal spending.

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Government & Politics
5:12 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Kane, DePasquale, McCord Bios

ATTORNEY GENERAL

NAME: Kathleen Kane

AGE: 46

EDUCATION: bachelor's degree in international studies, University of Scranton (1988); law degree, Temple University Law School (1993)

EXPERIENCE: Private law practice, Philadelphia (1991-95); assistant district attorney, Lackawanna County (1995-2007)

FAMILY: Kane and her husband, Chris, live in Clarks Summit, in Lackawanna County. They have two sons.

___

AUDITOR GENERAL

NAME: Eugene DePasquale

AGE: 41

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Government & Politics
12:58 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Car Chase in Pittsburgh Ends in Double Shooting

A driver and his mother remain in serious condition after they were shot by police during a chase in Pittsburgh.

Police Chief Nate Harper says the 37-year-old driver and his mother, who was his passenger, remained in serious condition Sunday after the early morning shooting. Harper says five officers fired on the car after it fled following an attempted traffic stop when it ran a red light.

Investigators say the chase stopped when officers fired at the car and it hit a parked car. The driver and his mother were taken to the hospital.

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Government & Politics
8:52 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Kane Readies for Swearing-in

The state’s Attorney General-elect has named her top staffers, but not the person who will investigate the handling of the Jerry Sandusky case.

Kathleen Kane said Friday she still has no timetable for the investigation she promised during the campaign, when she criticized the Attorney General’s office for taking years to press charges against Sandusky. Kane will be sworn into office Tuesday.

Gov. Corbett was Attorney General during the investigation of the former Penn State defensive coordinator. He has suggested Kane should hire outside counsel for the Sandusky probe.

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Transportation
8:52 am
Mon January 14, 2013

UPMC Replacing Diesel Shuttles, Adding EV Charging Stations

The fumes emitted from diesel fuel are far from pleasant, especially when drivers find themselves following these types of vehicles down the highway. An Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will allow UPMC to replace 20 diesel-fuel shuttle buses with compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.

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Economy & Business
8:52 am
Mon January 14, 2013

$350K Grant for Facelift for Downtown Pittsburgh

A grant that's going to a downtown Pittsburgh nonprofit might kick start the area's aesthetic makeover.  Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation awarded the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) with $350,000. PDP decided to use the funds for the Paris to Pittsburgh Facade Grant Program, which provides a 50% matching grant of up to $30,000 to downtown business owners interested in revamping their business' exterior.

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Government & Politics
8:52 am
Mon January 14, 2013

PennDOT to Privatize 511?

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) wants to hand over operation and management of the state’s 511 system to a private company.

Launched in 2009, 511 provides traffic-delay warnings, weather forecasts, traffic speeds on urban interstates, and access to more than 670 traffic cameras.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar said they can’t make updates and changes as quickly as a for-profit could.

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Economy & Business
8:52 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Tourism Spending Up in Allegheny County in 2011 – Expected to Continue Upward Push

Visitors to the Pittsburgh area contributed $5.3 billion to the local economy in 2011 (the most recent year for which the study was conducted), according to the Pennsylvania Tourism Office.  Overall spending by visitors to Allegheny County was up 8.9 percent over 2010.

“The money that we are supplying into the local economy is a substantial amount, and that helps to provide government services for people here locally, provided through people that don’t live here,” said Craig Davis, President and CEO of Visit Pittsburgh.

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Arts & Culture
8:52 am
Mon January 14, 2013

Speaking Volumes: Michele Ament

Shady Side Academy math teacher Michele Ament puts her commuting hours to good use listening to audiobooks.

Edmund Morris, Theodore Rex

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Economy & Business
10:24 am
Sun January 13, 2013

Former 'Occupy Pittsburgh' Park Slated for Spring Reopening

More than ten months after the economic protest group Occupy Pittsburgh abandoned its encampment in a downtown green space, the small park known as Mellon Green is still entirely fenced off to the encircling sidewalks.

According to BNY Mellon spokesman Ron Gruendl, the global financial firm is hoping to reopen its park in the spring.

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Economy & Business
10:24 am
Sun January 13, 2013

From Corn Belt To Main Street: The Drought's Far-Reaching Grasp

The U.S. had its hottest year on record last year. That heat, combined with the relatively dry winter that came before, has brought a historic drought.

From forest fires and low crop yields, to infrastructure and recreation, the drought has been costly, with early estimates putting the cost at between $50 billion and $80 billion.

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Government & Politics
10:24 am
Sun January 13, 2013

Democrats to Take Oath in PA's 3 Row Offices

A trio of Democrats is poised to be sworn in to Pennsylvania's three statewide row offices this week, signaling a new political dynamic in a Capitol that's otherwise under Republican control.

Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane, Auditor General-elect Eugene DePasquale and state Treasurer Rob McCord followed unique paths to the independent posts that are often springboards to higher office.

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Government & Politics
10:14 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Corbett Goes With Brit Firm to Run PA Lottery

Camelot Global Services, the British national lottery operator, is poised to take over management of the Pennsylvania Lottery after Gov. Tom Corbett's administration said Friday that it had awarded a contract to the company in a deal that pledges $34 billion in profits to the state over the next 20 years.

Pennsylvania, whose lottery is among the country's largest with $3.5 billion in sales last year, is on track to become the third state, after Indiana and Illinois, to hire a private lottery manager.

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Government & Politics
8:37 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

State Democrats Calling on Governor, Administration to Slow Down on Lottery Privatization Plan

As negotiations continue on a plan to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery, State Democrats are calling on the governor to slow down the process and make it more transparent. Senator Matt Smith said the proposal amounts to an improper expansion of the lottery.

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Government & Politics
8:06 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Vigil For Pittsburgh Woman Killed by Abuser

Friends and family gather Saturday for a vigil to remember Ka’Sandra Wade, formerly of Larimer.  The 33-year old Pittsburgh woman was fatally shot on New Years Eve by her ex-boyfriend Anthony Brown, who had a history of domestic abuse.  The 51-year old Brown shot and killed himself the next day when police came to his Point Breeze home.

The vigil will also mark the formal announcement of the development of “Ka’Sandra’s Law,” a proposal intended to improve police procedure and response time regarding 911 calls.

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Economy & Business
6:24 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Goes Local

When the subject of wine comes up, it usually has to do with grapes grown on the French Riviera, stateside in southern California, or even along route 79 heading towards Erie.

“[State wineries] are a robust part of the economy,” said Stacy Kriedeman, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PCLB).  “The commonwealth has more than 150 wineries, according to the Pennsylvania Winery Association, and that infuses more than $2 billion into the economy. So it’s a very valued sector of the agricultural community.”

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Government & Politics
6:05 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Human Trafficking Awareness a Goal In PA

Human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world after drug trafficking.

Senator Daylin Leach (D-PA) has been at the forefront of pushing for legislation aimed at combating human trafficking.  Leach is supportinbg 2012's House Bill 235, which in his words will “save thousands of lives in our state and bring criminal perpetrators to justice.”  However, that measure was not passed and would have to be reintroduced in the 2013-14 legislative session

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Government & Politics
2:24 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Casey Not Pleased With The Length Of Farm Bill Extension

Pennsylvania’s Senior U-S Senator says he hopes the stop gap extension of the country’s agricultural and farming policy gets a longer-term fix soon, and that a lot of work lies ahead to solidify agricultural and farming policy for the next five years

Bob Casey (D-PA) sounded the alarm loudly before the New Year, when it looked like the country wouldn’t get a new five-year farm bill, and as one consequence, would see milk prices skyrocket.

A new farm bill was passed in the Senate, but not in the House.

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Science & Technology
1:34 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

PA Soldiers Practice in Virtual World

The Pennsylvania National Guard’s training center at Fort Indiantown Gap is getting a new $500,000 virtual training device that allows its soldiers to be completely immersed in a virtual battlefield.

During a demonstration at the Lebanon County facility, soldiers wear helmets and virtual reality goggles. Their weapons are replicas, and they have nodules all over their bodies corresponding to their virtual avatar.

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Government & Politics
12:41 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

Lottery Deadline Extended, Talks Continue

The Corbett administration has once again delayed a decision on whether to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery until Friday, January 11. The one-day extension of the bid by Camelot Global Services will allow talks to continue between the British-based company and the Corbett administration for an even longer-term delay.

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Government & Politics
9:28 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Jerry Sandusky's Lawyers Argue For New Trial

Jerry Sandusky emerged from prison to attend a hearing 200 miles away at which his lawyers argued Thursday he deserves a new trial on child molestation charges because they didn't have enough time to prepare for the first one.

The 68-year-old former Penn State assistant coach played no active role in the proceedings, but briefly greeted his wife and supporters beforehand.

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Government & Politics
8:46 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

Homeowners Might Get Another Chance to Challenge Assessments

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has proposed legislation that would allow property owners to appeal real estate values this year.

The county’s administrative code is currently written so that annual appeals are allowed, except for years when assessment numbers go into effect, such as this year.

Fitzgerald said it’s a matter of keeping the code constant.

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