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Government
4:02 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Legislation Aims to Prevent Another ‘Kids for Cash'

The Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously approved a bill to help reform the Commonwealth's juvenile justice system. The legislation requires children to have a lawyer present at their hearings. If they do not have one, counsel will be provided for them.

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Economy
2:44 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

Union Contract With AT&T Nears End

"Put the American back into American Telephone & Telegraph."

That was the message that Mary Lou Schaffer, President of Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 13550, along with about 100 members and supporters, were saying as they protested outside the AT&T building in downtown Pittsburgh this morning.

The existing labor contract for 40,000 employees nationwide, including 250 at Legacy T Core call centers in Pittsburgh, expires at midnight April 7.

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Government
1:53 pm
Thu April 5, 2012

First Step Toward Trimming Pennsylvania Legislature

State House members have approved a bill that could eventually eliminate 50 seats in their own chamber and 12 seats in the state Senate.

Both Democrats and Republicans voiced opposition to the proposal in a floor debate that stretched on for three days. They say cutting the number of House lawmakers from 203 to 153 will mean constituents have a harder time getting a hold of their representatives.

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Transportation
8:27 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Protesters Demand More Public Transit Funding

Several dozen protesters gathered outside the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh Wednesday to decry proposed public transit cuts.

Occupy Pittsburgh and the local Amalgamated Transit Union teamed up to demand that the state provide more funding to the Port Authority of Allegheny County. PAT is facing a $64 million budget deficit, and plans for a 35% service cut to take effect this September.

ATU Local 85 President Patrick McMahon said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett must take action to fund public transit.

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Government
7:35 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

House Republicans Sue Over Education Funding Law

Two state House lawmakers are preparing to file a lawsuit against the commonwealth to force a change in education funding. They say the rules behind which districts get a bigger piece of the pie are unfair to areas that have experienced huge population growth.

The lawsuit is centered on a state law that in 1991 made it illegal for any school district to get less state money than it got the year before.

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Economy
6:53 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

City Council Delays Responsible Banking Bill Again

Pittsburgh City Council voted Wednesday for a one-week hold on a bill that would set community investment standards for banks that do business with the city government.

Sponsoring Councilman Daniel Lavelle said the delay will allow him time to write in language for a Reinvestment Review Committee. That body of council members, administrative employees and community members would decide which banks to use as city depositories, based on a set of criteria. The city controller would oversee the process.

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Local
6:48 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Demolition in Homewood’s “Killing Fields” Marks Opening Day for Demolition Season

The city of Pittsburgh started the demolition season today as properties on Collier Street named the "killing fields" in Homewood began falling to the ground. Of the 1,507 housing units in South Homewood, only 72 percent are occupied according to the 2010 Census.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says since condemning these properties in 2008, the city aggressively asked the sometimes uncooperative owners to either improve the property or have it demolished.

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Government
6:44 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Santorum Stops at a Carnegie Diner, Vows to Stay in the Race

Many of the people eating at Bob's Diner in Carnegie weren't expecting to see a presidential candidate on Wednesday, but several said they were pleasantly surprised to see Rick Santorum there, eating breakfast and chatting with customers.

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Local
5:29 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

JazzLive International Festival Returns to Pittsburgh

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has been celebrating April as Jazz Appreciation month for more than 10 years. It's become a national celebration, and Pittsburgh has been involved since the beginning. This year, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust chose one of their signature Jazz Appreciation Month events (last night at the Cabaret at Theater Square before the Gregory Porter Concert) to announce the line-up for something that has been attracting national and international attention.

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Government
3:30 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Legislation Would Lower Business Taxes, Close “Delaware Loophole"

The state House Finance Committee has passed a corporate tax reform package that will attempt to close a loophole, but opponents warn the method will hurt the state if it becomes law.

"Multi-state companies can send money to other states with lower tax rates, or no taxes, and in that way avoid paying taxes in Pennsylvania," said Sharon Ward, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

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Government
1:56 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

State Lawmakers Seek Justice for Trayvon Martin

More than a month after the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Pennsylvania lawmakers are joining in the nationwide wave of demonstrations calling for an investigation into the shooter.

House and Senate lawmakers have donned hoodies on the state Capitol steps to show their outrage. Senator Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) says Martin's death is symptomatic of systemic discrimination.

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Arts
1:39 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Carnegie Library Brings Pittsburgh's Industrial Past into the Internet Age

Picture a team of librarians, poring through now-antiquated card catalogs and skimming through seldom-used stacks. They're looking for specific documents: pictures, books, trade catalogs, maps -- anything that helps define the metals industries that dominated Pittsburgh for the better part of the city's history.

Then, the boxes and boxes of books and papers are shipped off to a facility on the North Side, where they're scanned into hundreds of gigabytes worth of computer files.

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Government
2:59 am
Wed April 4, 2012

Santorum to Stay in Race – Vows to Win Pennsylvania

Despite a three-way loss in primary races on Tuesday, Rick Santorum told a crowd gathered in Marshall Township that he's not backing down. The former Pennsylvania Senator appealed to supporters in his home state, and said he's confident he can catch up in the delegate count.

"We have now reached a point where it's half time," said Santorum. "Half the delegates in the process have been selected, and who's ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for strong second half?"

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Government
9:16 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Senate Democrats Introduce Budget Proposal

When Pennsylvania lawmakers return from their Easter and primary election recess, the emphasis will be on the state budget.

Governor Tom Corbett has proposed a $27.1 billion spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. It holds the line on taxes and closes a projected deficit of $700 million, in part by trimming appropriations to the 14 state-owned universities by 20%, and cutting funding to the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State and Temple by 30%.

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Health
8:50 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Child Abuse Prevention Month Begins In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is marking Child Abuse Prevention Month, which aims to educate those who work with children as well as individuals about how to prevent a child from being abused.

In 2010, there were 24,615 reports of child abuse in Pennsylvania, down from 25,342 in 2009.

This year, the Pennsylvania Family Support Alliance (PFSA) will raise awareness of child abuse by painting three murals with abuse prevention themes.

But Beth Bitler, the alliance's Program Director, says this month is meant to do more than just raise awareness.

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Government
8:35 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

DeWeese Says Goodbye

Former Pennsylvania House leader Bill DeWeese (D-Greene County) had his last hurrah on the chamber floor Tuesday after being found guilty on corruption charges for requiring staff members to work on election campaigns as part of their state paid jobs.

DeWeese took the podium, outlining the three parts of his farewell address to the House: gratitude, humility, and friendship.

During his speech, DeWeese said the House should be more about partnership than partisanship in the future. He acknowledged he has played the partisan role.

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Local
6:41 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

City Council Supports Lawsuit Against New Marcellus Shale Law

Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to support seven Pennsylvania municipalities that are suing the state over Marcellus Shale drilling legislation passed earlier this year.

In the Will of Council document, Council President Darlene Harris argued that Act 13 of 2012 is illegal because it infringes on local zoning rights protected by the state and federal constitutions.

Harris said the bill would require any local government that receives impact fee revenue to allow gas drillers to set up infrastructure in all types of zones, except densely populated areas.

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Environment
6:04 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Scrubbers Coming to Indiana County

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has approved the installation of $725 million in pollution controls at a General Electric coal-fired power plant in Indiana County.

The controls will be installed by Edison Mission Energy, which operates the plant.

The Homer City Generating Station is Pennsylvania's second largest and produces enough energy to power two million homes. The pollution controls are commonly referred to as "scrubbers."

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Government
5:38 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

New Poll Shows Santorum's Lead Slipping

The latest poll in the run-up to Pennsylvania's April 24 primary shows Rick Santorum with a smaller lead over Mitt Romney among Republicans in the state compared to two weeks ago.

The Quinnipiac University survey shows the former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator has a 41% to 35% edge over Romney, down from a nearly 14-point lead in that university's March 20 poll. This survey focuses only on Republicans who are likely to vote in the primary.

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Government
4:02 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

Santorum Begins Push for Pennsylvania Primary Win

The Pennsylvania Republican Presidential Primary is still three weeks away but Rick Santorum is starting what's expected to be a concentrated campaign effort in his native state.

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Local
2:09 pm
Tue April 3, 2012

URA Leadership Changes Hands

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority has promoted one of its managers to the position of Acting Executive Director, following the departure of Rob Stephany.

Economic development manager Robert Rubinstein will occupy the director's office for the time being. Stephany has joined the Heinz Endowments.

URA Board Member and State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) said Stephany departed on good terms, leaving behind an impressive legacy.

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Economy
8:29 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

Corbett’s Privatization Initiative Hits Lottery

The Corbett Administration is taking steps to privatize the management of the Pennsylvania Lottery.

Pennsylvania Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser said the move is part of an effort to increase profits, which benefit programs for the elderly.

Meuser said, over the last five years, lottery net profits have grown an average of 0.3 percent per year and revenues are projected to grow an average of 1 percent annually through 2014-15. He said that's not enough to cover cost increases.

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Government
7:52 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

State Senator Wants to Give Allegheny County the Option to Eliminate Property Taxes

The court-ordered reassessment process for Allegheny County has been fraught with confusion and anger, with vocal opponents saying their property values jumped up to 300% in some cases, while comparable neighboring properties increased modestly or not at all. Some elderly residents worry that drastically increased property values will, in essence, tax them out of their homes.

To address that, Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Fontana has introduced a bill that would enable the county council or citizens to eliminate property taxes altogether.

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Local
7:45 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

April Fool's Day an Occasion to Play with Words and Food

Classic books, food, and political commentary came together in a tasty way this weekend as the International Edible Book Festival was celebrated with a contest at the Pittsburgh Public Market in the Strip District.

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Health
7:43 pm
Mon April 2, 2012

2012 County Health Rankings Show Strengths and Weaknesses

Of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania, Allegheny County is worst in the state for particulate matter air pollution, with 49 air pollution particulate days a year.

Kate Konkle, outreach specialist for the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, said, "We don't see that in a lot of communities, but you can also think about, 'Do we have clean indoor air and smoking policies in place?' Some issues are tougher to tackle than others as a local community, and it might be a push at the state level or in other ways to make some of these better."

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