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Local
6:07 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Pittsburgh Region Second Most Decentralized in US

A new study of government operations throughout the United States finds Pittsburgh to be second most decentralized region when it comes to how local governments interact. Chicago tops the list.

David Miller led the research team at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Metropolitan Studies. He said Pittsburgh is leading the way in a national trend. "Nationwide 70% of metropolitan regions are more decentralized in 2007 than they were in 1987," said Miller.

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Transportation
5:23 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Conservative Group Questions Airport Authority's Bid to Run San Juan Airport

Citing a lack of details and a track record of sub-par management of Pittsburgh International Airport, the Allegheny Institute, a conservative think tank based in Mt. Lebanon, is questioning the Allegheny County Airport Authority's bid to run Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Authority is among six groups trying to win the contract. Institute Senior Research Associate Frank Gamrat said while they are all for privatization, "what makes us skeptical of the proposal is they're not starting in their own back yard first."

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Local
9:41 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

PLCB Might Have Double Charged Customers

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board said it became aware of a credit card processing error Tuesday that might impact customers who made purchases in stores between November 23 and November 28, 2011.

In a statement released Wednesday, the PLCB announced that while processing daily credit card data, duplicate charges were posted to customer accounts. The error only affects in-store purchases and not items purchased through the agency ecommerce website.

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Local
8:23 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

State-Owned Universities Struggling With Funding Cut

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett has proposed a cut of $82 million to the 14 state-owned universities like IUP, California, Slippery Rock and Edinboro in his 2012-13 budget. This follows a $90 million reduction for the current year. That cutback amounted to about $800 per student, and resulted in a $436 tuition hike.

System Chancellor John Cavanaugh testified Tuesday before the Senate Education Committee. He said because of the governor's proposed 20% cut in the new budget schools are already taking cost-cutting measures, including the distant possibility of closing a school.

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Local
7:16 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Orie Attorney Calls Evidence Against Her an “Optical Illusion”

The jury hearing the retrial of State Senator Jane Orie (R-McCandless) listened to opening arguments Wednesday. Judge Jeffrey Manning outlined the 26 charges against her, which include criminal conspiracy, ethics violations, obstruction of justice and new charges that she committed perjury and submitted forged documents at her first trial last year.

Orie is accused of using state-funded staff for campaign work that benefited her and her sister, State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin.

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Transportation
6:03 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Blind, Disabled Speak Out Against PAT Cuts

The Port Authority of Allegheny County got an earful on Wednesday from hundreds of people angry about the Board's plan to drop about half of its bus routes and reduce service on the rest.

PAT said it's legally required to balance its budget, so it has no choice but to raise fares and cut routes to deal with a $64 million budget deficit coming this July. If they're passed, the cuts would take effect in September, while fares would increase in July.

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Local
5:53 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Calls for “Common Sense” Energy Policy

Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Welch was in Pittsburgh today, taking President Obama and Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey to task on their energy policy decisions, including over-regulation, failure to approve the Keystone Pipeline, and investment in wind and solar instead of proven, readily obtainable sources of energy. Welch also blamed Mr. Obama and Casey for high gas prices.

"It effects every American family, directly or indirectly … and across this country as you see people trying to make ends meet, $10 more a week is a life changing event," said Welch.

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Science & Technology
3:59 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

Gas Company Proposes 9% Rate Hike For Residential Customers

Peoples Natural Gas is asking the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to approve a base rate increase of $28.4 million to fund its modernization efforts. The plan, which began last year, is to replace all 44 miles of cast iron pipes throughout the company's system.

"We look at the cast iron pipeline system as the most at-risk pipelines." said Joe Gregorini, Vice President of Rates and Regulatory Affairs. "The fact is that's fairly old pipeline that's been around many, many years."

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Local
9:01 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Pittsburgh Launches Free Spay and Neuter Program

It's estimated that more than 20,000 homeless pets are euthanized in the Pittsburgh region every year. In an effort to reduce the pet population, the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Animal Care and Control will offer free spay and neuter services for the pets of eligible city residents.

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Economy
9:00 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Proposed Budget Cuts General Assistance Benefits

State legislators are taking their first cracks at the Department of Public Welfare's proposed budget that eliminates cash benefits and makes cuts to mental health assistance. Governor Corbett wants to eliminate a $319 million General Assistance program that provides cash assistance benefits to about 60,000 Pennsylvanians.

Democratic Senator John Blake of Luzerne County says that oft-stated mission could be obscuring cuts that cannot rightly be called savings.

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Government
7:13 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

State Democrats Want to Know How Many School Districts are in Financial Trouble

The ranking Democrat on the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee asked the Department of Education for a list of school districts that are financially distressed or on the brink of bankruptcy. Only one district was named: the Duquesne School District in Allegheny County. Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis said that's the only district that falls under the legal definition of financially distressed.

Senator Andy Dinniman (D-Chester County) said the department is interpreting the law too narrowly, and there are many more districts in financial distress than just the one.

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Arts
4:01 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Authority Prepares Stonycreek River for First Full Whitewater Season

Overseers in Cambria and Somerset Counties are preparing for the Stonycreek River's first full season of whitewater recreation this year.

The Cambria-Somerset Authority expects healthy water levels in the Quemahoning Reservoir this spring, thanks to a relatively warm winter. CSA Chairman Jim Greco said that could mean more whitewater discharges from the reservoir into the Stonycreek.

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Local
2:18 am
Tue February 28, 2012

Jury Selection Completed for Orie Corruption Trial

Jury selection has been completed for the retrial of Pittsburgh-area state Sen. Jane Orie, who's charged with illegally using her state-paid staff for political campaigns — and then lying about that and forging documents she presented while testifying at her first trial last year.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys selected a dozen jurors and four alternates on Monday in Allegheny County Court. Judge Jeffrey Manning earlier said opening statements in the trial would not begin until Wednesday.

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Transportation
9:38 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Transportation Funding Plan on Backburner

A plan to address Pennsylvania's aging roads and bridges may not be decided until the lion's share of the state budget takes shape, according to the head of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Lawmakers are wondering if and when Governor Tom Corbett will follow up on the fact-finding report of his special transportation panel with a plan to put recommended funding measures into effect. The Transportation Funding Advisory Committee called for billions of dollars of reinvestment into PennDOT's deteriorating infrastructure last summer.

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Local
9:28 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Six Chosen for Orie Trial Before Noon

Jury selection was moving more swiftly than expected for the retrial of Pittsburgh-area state Sen. Jane Orie, who's charged with illegally using her state-paid staff for political campaigns — and then lying about that and forging documents she presented while testifying at her first trial last year.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned only 24 of 101 potential jurors summoned before both sides broke for lunch on Monday. The attorneys had selected six of the 12 jurors and four alternates needed.

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Transportation
8:05 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

New Law Makes It A Federal Crime to Point Lasers at Aircraft

Laser pointers are increasingly being used for more than just presentations, and a new law makes it a federal offense to direct the light from the device at an aircraft or its flight path. U.S. Attorney for Western Pennsylvania David Hickton says that incidents involving laser pointers and aircraft are becoming an epidemic.

"This is not a nuisance. This is not a prank," he said. "This is a serious federal crime which could cause disastrous consequences and will have serious repercussions in the criminal justice system."

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Local
6:19 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Partnerships Build Upon Pittsburgh Film Industry

Pittsburgh's 31st Street Studios has announced new partnerships with three entities: Paramount On Location, Knight Vision Studios, and a portion of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center. The Paramount partnership will offer production support services including lighting, grip, and transportation services.

Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) will begin housing some of its classes at the 31st Street Studios complex this semester.

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Local
5:57 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Time To Make Maple Syrup in Western Pennsylvania

Milder than usual temperatures have caused some producers to tap their trees in January, well before the traditional date of February 14th, according to Everett Sechler, President of the Somerset County Maple Syrup Producers Association. Each year, a 2- to 2-1/2"- deep hole is drilled in a new location in the sugar maple tree trunk to collect the sap that is stimulated to flow by cold nights and warm days.

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Local
4:49 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

Hundreds Take Advantage of City's Free Reassessment Help

66-year-old Bill Tyhurst has lived in the same South Side Slopes home for nearly his entire life. Built on Monastery Street around the turn of the century, the house has deteriorated over the decades, and Tyhurst said it could do with a thorough remodeling.

And yet, the assessed value of the house more than tripled in Allegheny County's 2012 reassessment of property values. Tyhurst said the property's estimated worth jumped from $39,900 to $128,100.

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Science & Technology
8:00 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Fallingwater App Now Avaliable

Ever wonder if there was a way to carry Fallingwater in your pocket all the time? Now you can have interactive photos and videos of Frank Lloyd Wright's masterpiece on your smart phone and in your hand.

The Fallingwater app was developed by in-D media, a multimedia company, for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, which owns Fallingwater. The app includes 275 color photos, 17 virtual reality panoramas, and 25 minutes of video.

Linda Wagner, director of Fallingwater, said one of the most fascinating things about the app is its interactive content.

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Economy
8:00 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Two Out Of Three Low Income State Residents Have Trouble Finding Housing

A new analysis of census data indicates a shortage of homes for those living on a $20,000 income. The study, released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, found there are only 36 affordable and available units for every 100 low income people living in Pennsylvania.

Liz Hersh, Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania, says these numbers are troubling.

"There's only about a third the supply of the apartments that are needed in the market. So the market is in very short supply of apartments that are both available and affordable," Hersh said.

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Science & Technology
8:00 am
Mon February 27, 2012

New Tap And Pay Technology To Thwart Virtual Pickpockets

Virtual pickpocketing may have just become more challenging.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have created a new method to improve credit card security that allows a card to be turned "on" and "off."

With new technology such as Near-Field Communications (NFC) and Radio Frequency Identification (ID), consumers no longer have to swipe their credit card to make a purchase or withdraw money. Instead, they may simply "wave" their card over a scanner.

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Local
8:00 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Attorneys General Fight Google Privacy Policy

Some 36 state attorneys general are asking to sit down with the head of Google to discuss an imminent change in the Internet behemoth's privacy policy. Among them is Pennsylvania's attorney general, who feels the new policy could actually threaten users' privacy.

Google has been touting its new privacy policy with emails to registered users and notices on all of its websites. The change would be an automatic merging of personal information held by services like YouTube and all other Google products.

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Local
8:00 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Pennsylvania Insurance Department Will Answer Health Insurance Questions

Funded by a $1 million grant from the federal government, the state insurance department has hired more people to answer consumers' questions about health insurance. The move comes as more provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented.

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Transportation
5:52 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Pennsylvania Investing in Sixteen Rail Projects Throughout the State

Governor Tom Corbett announced this week 16 freight-rail improvement projects will benefit from a $23 million investment. Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway in Allegheny County will get $1.6 million to rehabilitate and expand track, prepare for a transload area, and install new turnouts, track, and ties.

In Beaver County, the Aliquippa Ohio River Railroad will receive $490,000 for upgrades. State Senator Elder Vogel (R-Beaver County) said the railway has been requesting the funds for more than a year now, and they'll be used for improvements on about 7 miles of railway.

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