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Local
6:50 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

CCAC Students Demand Tuition Freeze

Students of the Community College of Allegheny County protested the school's impending tuition hikes on Friday.

About fifteen students of various ages petitioned CCAC President Alex Johnson to freeze tuition rates at Fall 2011 levels, presenting administrators with a large placard filled out with dozens of students' signatures.

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Economy
5:44 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Housing Official Talks Rust Belt in PA

U-S Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Shaun Donovan took a trip to Pennsylvania this week to meet with clergy, city council members, and state lawmakers to dive into problems common to Pennsylvania's older cities, boroughs, and townships.

The top housing official in the Obama administration is singling out Pennsylvania cities where federal programs stand to benefit struggling neighborhoods.

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Environment
4:11 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Conservation Groups Urge Supercommittee to Avoid Cuts to Environmental Programs

The National Wildlife Federation released a report outlining ways for Congress to reduce the federal deficit while also protecting programs they say are critical to public health and the environment. The Conservation Works report outlines how the U.S. would be affecting by cuts to conservation programs. In Pennsylvania, one of the areas that would take a hit is outdoor recreation.

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Environment
7:09 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Region's Air Quality is the Focus of Ambitious New Undertaking

More than 40 organizations and a growing number of individuals are taking on the challenge of improving Pittsburgh's air quality as part of the so-called Breathe Project. That's a multi-million dollar effort that includes scientific research, public awareness campaigns and calls to action.

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Health
6:52 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

New Research Center Will Explore Personalized Medicine

UPMC will invest nearly $300 million into a new research facility that will focus on cancer and aging along with personalized medicine.

"Right now we take care of diseases that are really syndromes," said Chief Medical and Scientific Officer Steven Shapiro. "Patients have different susceptibility of those diseases, different courses of those diseases, different drugs that one person may respond better to. This is a way of finding the appropriate variation for an individual, to tailor treatment toward that individual."

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Science & Technology
6:06 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Solar Jobs Leave Pennsylvania While Increasing Nationally

PennEnvironment released new data Thursday showing that Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the nation for solar jobs, down from second last year. According to a new report from the Solar Foundation, the number of solar workers in the state has dropped from 6,700 to 4,703 at 750 businesses. Nationally, solar industry employment grew by 6.8% last year to about 100,000 workers at 17,000 locations.

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Transportation
5:23 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Greenfield Bridge May Come Down in 2014

The crumbling Greenfield Bridge may be demolished in a few years, with a larger structure slated to take its place.

By approving bills to fund a study of the proposed demolition, Pittsburgh City Council has started the engine of a process that would result in the demolition and replacement of the 89-year-old bridge, which spans the Parkway East near the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

Pat Hasset of the Pittsburgh Department of Public Works said the study would examine the details of both parts of the process.

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Government
4:38 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Research Group Cautions About Red Light Cameras

With the state legislature debating possible expansion of red light cameras from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and 18 other Pennsylvania cities, Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG) warns of their ineffectiveness.

PennPIRG's program associate Alana Miller said the private companies who are contracted to operate these cameras have goals to generate revenue rather than promote safety.

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Economy
3:59 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Occupy Pittsburgh Protests Romney Campaign Fundraiser

Despite a cold, rainy day, about thirty Occupy Pittsburgh protesters gathered outside the Consol Energy Center Thursday to protest a private campaign fundraiser held by Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.

Calling Romney a "one-percenter," the Occupy Pittsburgh crowd criticized his method of raising campaign funds. The protesters said many of his top campaign backers are the large banks they vehemently oppose, and that corporations and business leaders paid $1,000 to $2,500 for lunch with the GOP front-runner at the Consol Center.

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Local
2:47 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

Voucher Would Average $8,500 in Allegheny County

The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a proposal to create vouchers for 17 school districts in 11 counties, including the Pittsburgh Public School District. In all, Allegheny County hosts 18 failing schools.

The proposal would create vouchers for students from low-income families. But, those students would need to be living in one of the school districts containing the worst performing schools.

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Local
2:00 pm
Thu October 27, 2011

PA Senate Inches Toward Impact Fee

Pennsylvania Senate leaders are aiming at passing a natural gas impact fee bill by early next week.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has unanimously approved sections of the measure strengthening environmental regulations. It gave the green light to a 61-page amendment hiking penalties imposed on drillers who violate regulations, and broadening buffer zones between natural gas wells and water sources. The amendment actually strips all impact fee language out of the bill.

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Local
8:05 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Council Passes CDBG Bill in Reversal of Mayor's Decision

Funding levels for Pittsburgh community groups remain in limbo, as City Council and the mayor seem entrenched in opposition on the allocation of $500,000 in federal grants.

Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that would return the allocation of 2010 Community Development Block Grant funds to the levels recommended by a dedicated committee.

Councilman Doug Shields said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl should not have changed the funding levels submitted by the city's Advisory Commission on Community Based Organizations (ACCBO).

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Local
7:35 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Bill Would Limit City Council Mass Mailings

Pittsburgh Council Members' ability to send out mass mailings would be restricted under a bill being considered by the legislative body.

Sponsoring Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said the bill mirrors the Congressional laws regarding "franking," under which lawmakers may use public funds only for mailings within their respective legislative districts.

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Local
7:31 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Heated Debate Over Bill To Make English Pennsylvania's Official Language

Differing opinions on how well immigrants are assimilating are rising to the surface as state House lawmakers consider making English the official language of Pennsylvania. The legislation would ensure all state government business conducted and documents printed are in English.

Representative RoseMarie Swanger (R-Lebanon County) said her bill would encourage recent immigrants to learn English. She said past generations of immigrants were more diligent about learning English.

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Government
6:20 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

County Executive Candidate Lays out Plan for First 100 Days in Office

Republican County Executive candidate D. Raja has released eight policy packages during the campaign, and now has released a plan he said he'd implement immediately if elected.

"One, assemble the best team there is, that's the first thing I would do," said Raja, "the second thing I would do is meet with all the department heads in Allegheny County and work out the metrics we want to publish and on the first day of my administration that is what I'd roll out."

Those metrics would include economic prosperity, which he said he'd measure by keeping track of unemployment.

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Local
4:02 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Study: Drilling Not Substantially Impacting Water Wells

Tests of water wells near gas drilling sites generally didn't find detrimental changes in water quality, according to a new report issued by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania at Penn State University. However, scientists said more research is needed on the sources of methane in water wells.

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Transportation
2:57 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Millions of Dollars Handed Out for Alternative Fuel Projects

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is giving out more than $4.4 million in Alternative Fuels Incentive Grants. The money will be split among 12 projects throughout the state. The projects are focused on developing the state's natural gas and electric vehicle infrastructure.

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Local
12:26 pm
Wed October 26, 2011

Corbett: Liquor Store Sale Needs More Review

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett says the private study he commissioned to size up the state's liquor system calls for a privatization plan similar to one being pushed by the state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai.

While the Turzai plan pegged income from the sale of liquor licenses at $2 billion, the study released by the governor says the state could make up to $1.6 billion dollars from such a sale.

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Local
8:01 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

After Stn. Square Shooting, Councilman Wants New Hospitality Laws

In the wake of a shooting outside a Station Square club Saturday, a Pittsburgh Councilman is calling for more stringent laws to govern bars and nightclubs.

Two people were shot outside the jam-packed Club Zen at 1:30 a.m. Saturday. Councilman Bruce Kraus said one young man may be permanently paralyzed from the waist down as a result.

Kraus took the opportunity to announce his plan to write legislation that he said would help prevent such incidents.

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Local
6:56 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Dog Adoptions Halted at Area Shelter after Virus Scare

Dog adoptions and drop-offs are on hold for at least 5 days at the Animal Rescue League in Pittsburgh because of a case of Canine Parvovirus.

About two weeks ago a stray dog was brought to the shelter. Shortly after, it became sick and was diagnosed with the virus. Parvo is highly contagious and can live in the environment for up to a year.

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Local
6:54 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

School Vouchers Move in Harrisburg

The Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee has approved a measure that contains a limited school vouchers program and charter school reform. The measure could be called in the full Senate later this week.

The plan restricts school vouchers to students from low- to middle-income families who live within the district of one of the state's 143 failing schools. Sponsor Senator Jeff Piccola (R-Dauphin) called the plan "vastly scaled back," and argues it's not as if the reforms leave failing schools with no public funding.

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Local
5:29 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Bill Aims to Encourage Commercial Development in Pittsburgh

Prospective commercial developments in Pittsburgh may be given an encouraging nudge through tax abatement legislation introduced in City Council on Tuesday.

Councilman Bill Peduto's "Pittsburgh Stimulus Plan" would give budding commercial developments the same tax exemptions that residential projects enjoy.

Under the bill, both residential and commercial developments would be completely tax-free for two years, with tax obligations rising slowly for the next eight years.

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Government
2:31 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

County Council Members Call for Investigation of Public Defender’s Office

Allegheny County Council members William Russell Robinson and Amanda Green Hawkins will introduce a motion calling on Chief Executive Dan Onorato, County Manager Jim Flynn and Allegheny County Chief Public Defender Michael Machen to meet publicly with the council about the system.

This follows a scathing report from the ACLU claiming that Allegheny County fails to provide adequate legal representation to poor criminal defendants. Robinson said with thousands of people in the county depending on the legal representation, this poor level of service is unacceptable.

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Local
2:29 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Parents May Have to Say Yes to Kids Tanning

A Pennsylvania Senate committee has approved a bill to regulate teenagers' use of indoor tanning salons. The measure would require minors to have a parent or guardian with them before using a tanning facility for the first time. Anyone younger than 14 years-of-age would need a doctor's written permission to use tanning beds.

In February, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for tanning booths to be off limits for all minors, but Senator Pat Browne (R-Lehigh County) doesn't think an outright ban is necessary.

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Transportation
8:58 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

PennDOT Builds Floodgates in Pittsburgh

Construction will begin Tuesday on a floodgate system on Washington Boulevard and Highland Drive aimed at preventing the same type of tragedy that took the life of four people earlier this year.

"We've been designing the project for the last several months and we anticipate starting construction this week and wrapping it up in the first part of 2012, hopefully by January," said PennDOT District 11 Executive Dan Cesna.

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Economy
8:21 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Pittsburgh Area Businesses Learn the Ins and Outs of Marcellus Shale Supply Chain

It takes a lot of players to get natural gas from the ground to the marketplace. That was the message of a one-day seminar in Cranberry Township which helped regional businesses learn how to get into the supply chain. Natural gas development goes beyond drilling and extraction; the Marcellus Shale Coalition said more than 400 businesses are part of any one well development.

"There is a lot environmental, water management, land management, manufacturing opportunities, transportation and logistics," said Kathryn Klaber, President of the Coalition.

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Local
6:31 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission Weighs In

A panel billing itself as the counterweight to the governor's Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission has released its own set of concerns and recommendations for natural gas drilling policy in Pennsylvania.

"The rules are disjointed and lack cohesion. By capitalizing on loopholes, waivers, inadequate regulations, and piecemeal processes, the industry has increased its bottom line at the commonwealth's expense," said Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission member Roberta Wilson. Wilson is also a member of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania.

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Local
5:09 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

South Side Nightlife Draws More Scrutiny

Following two shootings and a police officer struck by a suspected drunk driver Saturday night, the South Side's nightlife has again become an issue the city must deal with according to one Pittsburgh councilman.

Bruce Kraus, who represents the South Side emphasized it isn't his place to enforce changes, but rather Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office, which he feels has remained stagnant on this matter.

"Again, I'm going to argue that our role as council members are to advocate and to legislate, but we do not administrate," Kraus said.

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Local
4:54 pm
Mon October 24, 2011

Washburn Square Park: New Model for a Shrinking City?

Washburn Square Park in the North Side officially opened Monday. Fifteen years ago it was the site of 46 dilapidated rowhouses; now there are three single-family homes and an open greenspace.

The Brightwood Civic Group sought funding originally to replace the old homes with 17 dwellings, but the Urban Redevelopment Authority had another idea.

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Local
9:00 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Harrisburg Bankruptcy Sparks Act 47 Review

Last week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed legislation aimed at better equipping the state as it deals with distressed municipalities that are having problems implementing a fiscal recovery plan. The change has prompted lawmakers to look for ways to fix the law designed to help all of Pennsylvania's financially troubled cities.

Local government experts say more cities across the commonwealth will find themselves in fiscal dire straits and the state's Act 47 program needs to change if it's going to help.

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