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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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Government
8:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Billboard Tax Discussions Heat Up

Pittsburgh City Council has heard from the public on both sides of the argument over a proposed ten percent tax on billboard advertising, and now the measure will be moved to a preliminary vote.

At a public hearing on Tuesday, most people testifying supported the new levy on advertisers, with many arguing that the billboard companies pay very little in property taxes despite the size and presence of the structures.

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Transportation
8:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Traveling for Thanksgiving? Be Ready For Busy Roads

Are you one of the 43.6 million Americans traveling more than 50 miles for their Thanksgiving celebration? If so, consider traveling on an off day or be prepared to hit traffic.

Ruth Nagy, Managing Director of Travel Operations for AAA East Central, said about 90 percent of travelers, or 39.1 million, this Thanksgiving will be going by car.  She said some are flying, but limited seats being offered by the airlines have reduced that number.

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Science & Technology
8:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

DCNR’s Interactive Online Map Now Features Pennsylvania’s Geology

Ever wonder where an earthquake could strike in Pennsylvania and its magnitude?

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has centralized that data along with information about the commonwealth's bedrock geology, waterfalls, rock formations and other features into the interactive geographic information systems map (GIS).

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Arts
8:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

Speaking Volumes: Ruth Drescher

Ruth Drescher from Squirrel Hill will be the first to admit that Paul Auster's new memoir -- written entirely in the second person -- may not be for everyone. But she found Winter Journal unexpectedly compelling.

Paul Auster, Winter Journal

This memoir from the author of The Invention of Solitude details his mother's life and death, as well as the effects of time and aging on one's body and memory.

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Government
8:26 am
Mon November 19, 2012

PA Commissioners Gather on Budget Issues

County commissioners from across the state will be swapping ideas on how to stretch a dollar this week as they gather at a fall conference. The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania will open its meeting in Hershey Monday.

Commissioners might not be sweating any kind of local fiscal cliff, but big spending decisions are due soon.  Counties must submit budget proposals by the end of the month, and final spending plans must be adopted by the end of the year. 

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Government
11:47 am
Sun November 18, 2012

City Councilman Proposes New Agency to Address Blighted Properties

One Pittsburgh City Councilman has proposed a bill that would create a Pittsburgh LandBank, a board that would bring together various city agencies and authorities to create a long-term strategy for buying and repurposing abandoned properties.

Councilman Ricky Burgess said the board would be made up of staffers from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Authority, the Finance Department, and the Law Department. He said they'd write a plan for the city to address blight.

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Economy
1:39 pm
Sat November 17, 2012

PA Jobless Breaks Rising Streak as Payrolls Grow

Pennsylvania's jobless rate is down for the first time in six months as employers expanded their payrolls slightly in October.

The state Department of Labor and Industry said Friday that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.2 percent, as both overall employment and the number of people working or seeking work grew.

The national unemployment rate is 7.9 percent.

Pennsylvania's jobless rate had begun rising again after it dropped back to 7.4 percent from the recessionary peak of 8.7 percent in 2010.

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Education
9:36 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

State System Teachers Vote to Strike

Union faculty at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities have given their leadership the authority to call a strike.  Ninety-five percent of the faculty who voted supported the strike authorization.

“The overwhelming support for our negotiations committee and our negotiations team sends a strong message to the State System,” said Dr. Steve Hicks, president of The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. (APSCUF) “Our members are united for a fair contract that benefits all faculty and students by maintaining quality education.”

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Education
8:38 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Duquesne City Schools gets Recovery Officer

The Duquesne City School District has been placed into Financial Recovery and a Chief Recovery Officer has been chosen.  Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis today appointed Paul B. Long to the post.

The  63 year old Long is a native of McKees Rocks and graduated from Shaler High School.

“I am pleased to appoint an individual who has the experience and proven track record of stellar financial management,” Tomalis said. “I am confident that Paul will be successful at devising a plan to stabilize the district’s finances.”

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Government
8:25 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Gov. Corbett Sees No Rush to Open Health Care Exchange

President Obama’s re-election means the implementation Affordable Care Act will move forward, but Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says he sees no reason to rush to implement one of its centerpieces: a health care exchange in Pennsylvania.  U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told governors Thursday evening that the department is extending the deadline to declare their intentions from Friday to Dec. 14.

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Environment
5:25 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Greening the East Busway

Nearly 300 trees will line the Martin Luther King Jr. Busway in Homewood to add greenery and reduce noise for the residents who live between North Braddock Avenue and North Homewood Avenue.

The project is a collaboration among the city of Pittsburgh, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Tree Pittsburgh, and Operation Better Block (OBB). 

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Economy
4:06 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Cardboard City To Highlight Homelessness

While Rome wasn’t built in a day, this cardboard city will be built and taken down in one.

Beginning at 6 p.m. today and ending at 6 a.m. Saturday, Somerset County will be home to this cardboard city, which will be located at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Somerset.

Roofs Over Our Families (R.O.O.F) will host the event as part of a series of activities for National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week.

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Education
2:30 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Penn St. Trustees Set to Search For New President

Penn State trustees are set to formally begin the search for a new president against the backdrop of renewed scrutiny of university governance in light of the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal.

Trustees are scheduled Friday to wrap up two days of regularly-scheduled meetings with a full assembly of the board. A vote to officially approve the search for President Rodney Erickson's replacement is on the agenda.

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Health
12:12 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Pennsylvania’s Rehabilitation, Psychiatric Hospitals on Strong Financial Footing

Non-general acute care facilities in Pennsylvania, such as rehabilitation and psychiatric hospitals, remained financially sound during fiscal year 2011. That’s according to the most recent report from The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). The strongest category was rehabilitation hospitals which saw statewide operating margins improve 3.76 percentage points.

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Government
9:57 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Working America Worries Over Cuts to Social Programs

Activists, labor allies, and staff members of Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, gathered outside U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s (D-PA) Pittsburgh office today to deliver letters asking that he save “family protecting programs.”

Working America Member Coordinator Liz Laycak said the main programs they are concerned about are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  

She said Casey promised organized labor last week that he will fight to protect those federal programs.

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Education
9:02 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Goals, Budget Details in “State of the District” by Superintendent Linda Lane

Pittsburgh Public School Superintendent Linda Lane will discuss the district’s progress and future direction during her state of the district address Thursday evening. She said five key areas will be the focus: finance and enrollment, achievement, effectiveness, equity, and satisfaction. The district faces several challenges including declining enrollment and budget deficit, but Lane said rather than looking at the challenges, she is looking at opportunities for growth.

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Arts
8:53 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Mister Rogers’ Sweater Drive Welcomes Every Neighbor

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh kicked off its 13th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive today, hoping to “warm up the winter for a family in need.”  The iconic Fred Rogers began each television show by putting on a pair of sneakers and a cardigan sweater.  One of his sweaters is displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History.

Marketing Director Bill Schlageter said the Children's Museum is proud of how many people have participated through the years.

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Government
7:15 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Corbett's Numbers Are Up, So Is Apathy

A new poll suggests voters have a higher opinion of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s job performance in the wake of super storm Sandy.  However, nearly 1 in 4 say they just don’t care.

Forty percent of respondents in a Quinnipiac University poll say Corbett’s doing all right on the job compared to 38 percent who don’t care for the job he’s doing.  The remainder of those polled had no opinion of the governor at all.

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Government
7:14 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Cooperating on Transportation, Economic Development

Citizens and elected leaders from the city of Pittsburgh and 36 inner ring suburbs will discuss mutual concerns including public transportation and development at the second annual Community Briefing and Reception hosted by The Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) this evening in Oakland.

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