Noah Brode


 

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Pittsburghers will have three more chances to buy hot dogs, T-Shirts and other paraphernalia after City Council gives final approval to three new vendor sites on Tuesday.

Council gave preliminary approval to the necessary legislation on Wednesday, and if approved next week, the three new vending sites will be advertised in local newspapers.

Although Pittsburgh City Council voted on Wednesday to fund a police education program at the Community College of Allegheny County, at least one Council Member raised questions about the necessity of a rule that requires all Pittsburgh police officers to have 60 college credits before joining the force - particularly for military members.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has spent roughly $4 million since 2010 to merge its financial management system with Allegheny County's, and City Council on Wednesday approved $150,000 additional dollars for its new electronic database. Final approval is expected next Tuesday.

Pittsburgh Innovation Performance Manager Chuck Half said when it's implemented, the "JD Edwards" financial system from the software company Oracle, will save Pittsburgh money every time the city cuts a check to a city employee, a vendor, or a pensioner.

In a first-ever report, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation received high marks for 'safety' and 'accountability,' a middling grade in 'mobility,' and a poor assessment in terms of 'preservation and renewal.'

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Acid mine drainage is the most widespread water pollution problem in Pennsylvania. When water wells up inside abandoned coalmines, it leaches the iron compound ‘pyrite’ from the rock to form an acidic, sulfuric brine — called “yellowboy” for its color. As the pressure builds in the empty, underground mines, it often begins to seep out, the risk of a blowout increases, and, at times, the yellowboy could end up flowing into the nearest stream and killing wildlife.

Democratic State Senators have a few problems with Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budgets for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

First of all, State Senator John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) said DCNR's budget is too dependent on royalties garnered from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling in state forest land. While $53 million of the DCNR budget comes from the state's General Fund, roughly $77 million comes from royalty fees on gas extraction.

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Pennsylvanians and tourists pulled the slots levers fewer times last month than in February of 2012, according to a report from the state’s Gaming Control Board.

Of the ten Pennsylvania casinos operating in both months, revenue was 11.5% lower this year. Even counting a casino that opened last March, Valley Forge Casino Resort, the state’s income fell 9.2% to $196 million.

Gaming Control Board spokesman Richard McGarvey said the decrease probably resulted from a few contributing factors.

In its first year, a program at Allegheny Valley Hospital in Natrona Heights has substantially reduced readmission rates for its sickest patients.

Allegheny Valley Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas McClure said the High-Risk Care Team (HRCT), created February 2012, singles out the patients who have the highest risk of returning to the hospital. McClure said the five team members do everything they can to ensure those high-risk patients don't have to come back for more treatment.

Elected officials at three levels in Allegheny County have announced tentative plans for the creation of a gun buyback program, in which residents would be paid to drop off illegal guns at the county sheriff's office.

State Representative Ed Gainey (D-Allegheny) said he understands that criminals won't turn in their own illegal guns, but he said family members might hand them over if they can do so anonymously and for a reward.

A bill in Pittsburgh City Council would prohibit smoking in the playground areas of city-owned parks.

The legislation from Council Members Rev. Ricky Burgess, Corey O'Connor, and Bruce Kraus was held for two weeks on Wednesday so Council could get an opinion from Michael Radley, the Director of Citiparks, before passing the measure.

Councilman Burgess called it a common sense regulation.

Millions of people around the world get paid to perform small online tasks for private companies. By most estimates, these 'crowd workers' get paid anywhere from $3 to $9 per hour to gather information, transcribe text, or evaluate websites. Some work for as many as 50 companies in one day, with flexible hours and little commitment.

Usually, there are no contracts, no unions, and no opportunites for training or advancement. Sometimes, there's no pay at all.

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