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Economy
8:37 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Local Expert Predicts Ho-Hum Holiday for Retailers

A local marketing professor thinks national estimates for holiday sales are a bit inflated.  Duquesne University’s Audrey Guskey said while the National Retail Federation is looking for 4.1 percent growth over last year’s holiday sales, she is expecting a more modest 3.5 percent.

“With the economy being very tough we are going to see shoppers holding back a little bit and not spending as much,” said Guskey.  “So it will be a ho-hum holiday season.”

Some retailers made pre-Black Friday headlines by announcing they would begin their traditional sales Thursday evening.

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Economy
5:27 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

Chance of Economic Growth in PA Dim

The state’s nonpartisan economic analysis agency says Pennsylvania’s standing for the next five years isn’t looking particularly good.

Pennsylvania’s agency for nonpartisan economic analysis sees low revenue growth and high deficits in the commonwealth’s future. 

The Independent Fiscal Office is projecting just a zero-point-eight percent growth rate in revenue for the next fiscal year.

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Government
2:01 pm
Thu November 22, 2012

County Controller's Office Could Sustain Layoffs Due to Budget Cut

The Allegheny County Controller's office is warning of possible layoffs it would sustain if County Council passes the 2013 operating budget proposed by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

At Council's Budget and Finance Committee meeting Wednesday, Deputy County Controller Amy Griser said her office could be forced to lay off as many as twenty employees if the 10 percent cut goes through. Griser said the Fitzgerald plan would put the County Controller budget at $5.7 million, roughly $650,000 less than the current allocation.

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Government
8:23 am
Thu November 22, 2012

Putting A Yellow Dot in Your Car Window Could Save Your Life

You’re in a car accident on your way to work. Emergency responders arrive to help, but they face two challenges: they don’t know whom to contact on your behalf, and they know little about your medical history.

The Pennsylvania Yellow Dot and Emergency Contact Information programs are aimed at solving both problems.

The Yellow Dot program allows people to fill out forms with emergency an medical contacts, and their current medical information.

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Health
8:23 am
Thu November 22, 2012

National Awareness Tour Targets “Disease of Self-Sabatoge” - Lupus

Lupus affects some 1.5 million people in the US, most of them women between the ages of 15 and 45. The word “lupus” is well-known, but what it actually does is less-so.

“It is an auto-immune disease, so immune system attacking self. Your immune system is supposed to be your defense against external infections and invaders and for reasons we don’t fully understand it turns on self and mounts an attack against self,” said Dr. Susan Manzi, co-founder of the Lupus Center of Excellence at West Penn Allegheny Health System.

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Economy
8:09 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Keeping Pittsburgh Warm and Fed on Thanksgiving

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Light of Life will serve Thanksgiving dinner at its North Side mission on E. North Avenue Thursday from 1-6p.m.  to anyone in the community who wants to have a meal and will deliver meals to the elderly and disabled at 13 high rises in Pittsburgh.

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Government
8:07 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Mixed Reactions to Pennsylvania Lottery Privatization Bid

Governor Tom Corbett is reviewing a contract bid from Camelot Global Services that would put the British company at the helm of Pennsylvania's $3.5 billion lottery system. In the meantime, politicians and experts are expressing mixed reviews of the privatization bid, which promises billions of dollars in additional revenue over the next twenty years.

 

State Senator Wayne Fontana, an opponent of privatization, said it’s curious that the commonwealth has received only one finalized bid since it requested private management proposals in April.

 

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Transportation
6:27 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

PennDOT Halts Plans to Turn to Ramp Metering for Parkway East - Will Re-evaluate Plans for Easing

PennDOT has scrapped a plan to put traffic signals on the ramps leading to the Parkway East.  The goal was to improve flow but drivers were worried it would do the opposite.

A transportation study done by the University of Pittsburgh recommended a combination of ramp closures and so-called ramp-metering-- a method in which signals or other devices that gauge when a vehicle can best enter the highway are placed at ramp entrances. But, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the outcry over that plan was loud.

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Health
5:14 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

UPMC in Talks to Take Over Altoona Regional Health System

UPMC has entered into negotiations with a Blair County health system for a possible affiliation agreement. Altoona Regional Health System has been exploring affiliation options for nearly a year, UPMC beat out other large health systems, including Highmark for the right to negotiate.

“Now, the discussions get down to more specifics about what an affiliation would look like, and we’re not putting any timelines on this, so we’re not sure when the next step will be,” said Altoona Regional Spokesman Dave Cuzzolina.

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Government
1:12 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

PA Gets Single Bid to Run Lottery

The Britain-based company that runs the national lottery in the United Kingdom is pledging to produce more than $34 billion in profits over 20 years if it wins a contract to manage the Pennsylvania Lottery, Gov. Tom Corbett's administration said Tuesday as it moves toward privatizing the state's $3.5 billion system.

The administration said it will weigh the offer by Camelot Global Services, which it said is good until Dec. 31, and is the only one it said it will receive after two other companies that it would not identify dropped out.

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Environment
11:04 am
Wed November 21, 2012

Pittsburgh Botanic Garden: Almost a Reality

The Pittsburgh Botanic Garden has been in the works for more than 20 years without much result. Finally there's something to see with the promise of much more to come. Doug Oster, contributor to The Allegheny Front and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist, takes us on a tour of the site with Botanic Garden president Greg Nace. See photos and listen to the story at our partner Allegheny Front's website.

 

 

Government
1:03 am
Wed November 21, 2012

County Councilman Offers Alternative 2013 Budget

Allegheny County Councilman Michael Finnerty has drafted a 2013 operating budget that offers higher spending levels for the County Controller, the sheriff's office, and the Department of Human Services.

Finnerty said his plan takes roughly $236,000 from the "fringe benefits recovery" line item to pay for those spending increases. The millage rate of 4.73 and overall spending amount of $799.4 million in the Finnerty budget remain identical to the plan offered by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

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Government
9:19 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

City’s First Dek Hockey Rink Officially Open in Banksville – First of Several

The first of 12 dek hockey rinks in the region was officially opened Tuesday in Banksville Park. It’s a joint effort of the Penguins Foundation, Highmark, and the City of Pittsburgh called Project Power Play.

“A second rink is under construction at Lewis Park in Hazelwood, and there’ll be more in the city and eventually in the county also outside of the City of Pittsburgh,” said Penguins CEO David Morehouse.

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Government
9:10 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Bills May Boost Women, Minority Participation in City Contracts

Pittsburgh City Council is considering new legislation meant to boost the participation of minority- and women-owned businesses in city contracts.

Councilman Ricky Burgess said his bills would create a uniform way for all city departments and authorities to report contracts with minority and women-owned vendors. He said that would make it easier for the city’s Equal Opportunity Review Commission to determine whether or not Pittsburgh is meeting its participation goals.

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Government
8:42 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Corbett: Pension Reform Top Priority, Offers No Details

90.5 WESA

Governor Tom Corbett has made it no secret that pension reform tops his legislative to-do list in 2013.  But he’s still not discussing the details of any possible solutions. 

For months, Corbett has been referring to rising pension costs as a Pac-Man poised to eat the state budget. But he says he’s still not ready to divulge what reform might look like. And to those prodding him to offer solutions for the state’s pension problem, Corbett said: slow down.

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Government
6:19 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

PA Police Go After Aggressive, Impaired Holiday Drivers

PennDOT and police statewide are joining forces for "Operation Safe Holiday," an initiative including seat-belt, aggressive-driving and impaired-driving enforcement aimed at keeping roadways safe this holiday season.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said these laws can be more difficult to enforce during the holiday season.

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Economy
5:30 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Marcellus Drilling: Economic Boost vs Environmental Threat

More than 70% of tri-state area citizens see Marcellus Shale drilling as a chance to give the local economy a boost, but eight in ten residents believe drilling poses at least a slight threat to the environment and public health.

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Government
12:55 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

SEA Hits Back Against Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority are trying to convince a judge who should pay to add 3,000 seats to 11-year-old Heinz Field.

The Steelers contend their lease requires the authority to pay about two-thirds of the $38 million the team expects it will cost to add the end zone seats and a new video scoreboard.

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Science & Technology
11:06 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Identification of Fossil Solves a Long-Time Mystery for Scientists

One of the mysteries of paleontology has persisted for more than 100 years – the classification of the Necrolestes patagonensis fossil. An international team of researchers, including Carnegie Museum of Natural History scientist John Wible, has found an answer – it’s a mammal. What it was has remained an enigma, even though three “beautiful” fossils of it were found in South America in 1891.

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Government
11:02 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

City Billboard Tax Gets Preliminary Approval

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval on Monday to legislation that would create a ten percent tax on billboard advertisements, setting up a final vote on the new excise tax at next Tuesday's Council meeting.

The bill's sponsors, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak and Council President Darlene Harris, say the tax would bring in two to four million dollars annually. They argue the tax is warranted because billboard owners pay very little in taxes for the small properties on which the large structures stand.

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Government
9:20 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

What Would You Pay to Park Near CMU?

Carnegie Mellon University researchers will be able to go through with a study of the optimum rates for parking meters near the school, after Pittsburgh City Council passed the necessary legislation Monday.

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Arts
9:16 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Spielberg Marks Gettysburg Address Anniversary

One of the world’s best-known directors helped mark the anniversary today of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  The crowd of hundreds laughed in the morning cold as the event’s keynote speaker, director Steven Spielberg, called them fellow “Lincoln obsessives.” The Oscar-winner says over the course of creating his latest film, “Lincoln,” he has come to think of the nation’s 16th president as an old friend.

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Environment
7:56 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Lawmakers, Labor Leaders, Energy Executives Urge Extension of Wind Energy Tax Credit

The decade-old Wind Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) is set to expire at the end of the year if no Congressional action is taken. In Pittsburgh Monday, elected officials, energy executives, and labor leaders urged extension of the PTC, which provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents for every 1,000 watts of wind energy produced.

“If Congress allows the tax credit to expire this year, more than 4,000 good, family sustaining, middle-class Pennsylvania jobs will be lost and 37,000 jobs nationally,” said Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA-14).

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Economy
5:37 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Turkey Dinner for the Underprivledged

Pittsburghers have been donating food and cash since October to help Urban Impact, Light of Life, and Circle of Hope ministries distribute unprepared food items to 170 local needy families and their effort culminated a busy volunteer effort Monday.  Laundry baskets overflowing with turkey, stuffing, pies, mashed potatoes and canned goods were put together and distributed by volunteers who aim to feed those who would otherwise not be fortunate enough to feast on a Thanksgiving dinner this year.

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Economy
8:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Unemployment Agency: $300 million Hard to Track

Limited employer engagement, failure to identify and share best practices, and programs operating below capacity are only a few factors causing problems for those trying to help the unemployed in southwestern Pennsylvania.  The Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is conducting a survey of agencies that help the unemployed and will use the results to create a framework for Allegheny County.

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