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Sestak to make it official

Published by Mike Pound on .

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Former Congressman Joe Sestak is looking for a rematch in 2016; he'll announce on Wednesday that he's seeking the Democratic nomination to try to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

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1) It's showtime for Governor Go Time – as in, Gov. Tom Wolf gives his first budget address at 11:30 a.m. today. Our Karen Langley has a rundown of what to expect of the speech – tax proposals, Republicans politely applauding, Marcellus Shale interests readying press releases to take on Mr. Wolf's proposed severance tax. You can watch the fun unfold here.

2) It used to be that the sight of the late Mike Wallace, of "60 Minutes" fame, standing on your doorstep was a sign that you're about to have a very bad day. These days, you might say the same for an unannounced appearance on HBO's "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver." In the middle of a 21-minute takedown of Congress over its refusal to deal with the nearly insolvent Highway Trust Fund and other infrastructure issues, Mr. Oliver used an infamous local structure – the Greenfield Bridge and its companion deck built to catch falling debris – as an example of our country's inability to address these problems. To be fair, the bridge and its, uh, younger, shorter companion will be demolished in December and replaced. But Mr. Oliver's line – "That is a college sophomore approach to structural engineering" – is still a classic. Skip ahead to the 7:28 mark to bask in Pittsburgh glory.

3) Tales Of Our Neighboring Governors, Part One: You know how programs like the Academy Awards use seat-fillers when celebrities leave to use the rest room so those of us watching at home don't see empty seats? Maybe that's why Ohio Gov. Kasich is attending Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress this morning.

4) Tales Of Our Neighboring Governors, Part Two: Voters in New Jersey are apparently growing weary of the antics of Gov. Chris Christie. Maybe Mr. Christie could run for mayor of Dallas?

5) State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has done her best to keep her office moving while she defends herself against charges that she leaked information to the media. But for the second time in as many months, Ms. Kane is looking for a new press secretary. Get those resumes updated, boys and girls.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

A gift for John Boehner.A gift for John Boehner.

1) Faced with a tight deadline – and the distinct possibility of backlash if the failed to act – members of the Republican Congressional majority on Friday managed to cobble together a deal to fund the Department of Homeland Security for an entire week. Faced with pressure from the conservative members of his chamber to do something to roll back President Obama's executive actions on immigration and a grumpy Democratic minority in the Senate – along with the prospect of entertaining his guest from Israelhouse Speaker John Boehner has what looks to be a stressful week ahead.

2) Rich Fitzgerald doesn't have an opponent in this spring's primary election, but the Allegheny County executive will have some political targets anyway: Democrats – like county Controller Chelsa Wagner – who haven't followed the Fitzgerald Way during his first term.

3) While most of the conventioneers at last week's CPAC fell all over themselves to anoint conservative brethren like Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, a group of youngsters were working on a novel idea for the GOP: "Hey, guys, howsabout we nominate someone who can beat Hillary Clinton?"

4) A U.S. Supreme Court case worth watching: A legal fight between Republicans in the Arizona state legislature and that state's mandated bipartisan commission that draws legislative districts. On the surface, the case will decide whether such commissions are legally able to manage redistricting; the bigger issue, however, may be who decides each state's election rules.

5) It's the biggest day yet for Governor Go Time: Tom Wolf delivers his first budget address on Tuesday. What we know: He'll propose a 5 percent severance tax on the energy industry and – perhaps in exchange – offer to cut the state's corporate tax rate. What we don't know: The details of his proposal for reforming personal income taxes. Break a leg, Mr. Wolf.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, left, stands up and joins others in the audience in applauding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on Net Neutrality during an open hearing at the FCC in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (Associated Press photo)Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, left, stands up and joins others in the audience in applauding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote on Net Neutrality during an open hearing at the FCC in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015. (Associated Press photo)

1) Not quite sure that to make of the Federal Communications Commission's decision to reclassify Internet service providers as public utilities? The reactions of those who make their living from providing that service – the ISPs – should tell you pretty much everything you need to know. And Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are all unhappy about the decision (although Verizon gets bonus points for a great press release).

2) Kudos to Governor Go Time, whose push to find inefficiencies turned up a pretty decent number: $109 million that can be cut out of the 2015-16 state budget. Most of those savings can be realized by streamlining the state's procurement processes. Still on the horizon: Mr. Wolf's goal of finding $150 million in savings for the next fiscal year.

3) We had a pretty good inkling that the state House – led by Rep. Mike Turzai, a top privatization backer who also serves as speaker of the House – would vote to approve a package that would privatize Pennsylvania's liquor control system. Officials in the Senate, however, are already making it clear that privatization isn't a priority there and Mr. Wolf said on Thursday he would veto the House bill if it makes it to his desk.

4) Legislation that would require state-related universities – we're talking about Penn State, Pitt, Temple and Lincoln here – to disclose more information about how they operate contains a loophole that would allow those schools to hide salary information that they're currently required to reveal. Sen. John Blake, a Democrat from Lackawanna County and the bill's prime sponsor, said he'll seek an amendment to get that fixed.

5) As we mentioned earlier in the week, having a majority in both houses of Congress isn't a guarantee that things are going to go well. U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, a Republican from the Harrisburg area, has another caution for his party mates: Playing hardball now – particularly if there's a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security -- could mean dire consequences for the party. "They will damage us as we move into a presidential year and damage our likely presidential nominees," Mr. Dent told The Hill.

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Baldwin-Whitehall activist to seek seat on school board

Published by Janice Crompton on .

A parent activist who has served as a watchdog during the past year has tossed his hat into the ring for a seat on the Baldwin-Whitehall school board.

Lou Rainaldi Jr., 45, of Whitehall, announced his candidacy this week for the nine-member board -- the same body which took a monumental amount of criticism from taxpayers last year for its actions involving a current board member.

A year ago, parents, including Mr. Rainaldi, began swarming board meetings by the hundreds after it was learned that board member Martin Schmotzer had been appointed to an administrative job in the district with no public input or discussion.

After the initial public outcry, Mr. Schmotzer resigned the $120,000-per-year job and retook his seat on the school board. Mr. Rainaldi and others were critical of the board's actions involving Mr. Schmotzer and other issues, such as a tax decrease last year.

The parent of two school-aged children, Mr. Rainaldi works full time as a software engineer but he spent several hours a day cleaning up what many residents see as a corrupt school board. He videotapes board meetings and posts them on the Internet.

He and other parents created a group called "Baldwin-Whitehall Citizens for School Board Excellence," at www.bwaction.com.

"I was deeply moved over the past year by what I have seen and heard from our school board. Many of you have stood with me as we told the board 'no' to the job creation and appointment," Mr. Rainaldi said in his announcement. "We watched as a 2 mill tax cut was advanced from board comments without any vetting and against the recommendation of the administration. Now, we are hearing that a tax increase will be needed in order to balance the budget along with the possibility of cuts to avoid using our fund balance."

Mr. Rainaldi said his goals as a board member would be increased transparency, public participation and professionalism.

"I believe there is so much more work to do in our district. After much thought and many calls from you, I have decided that I would like to have a seat on the school board. I ask for your support and help to sit on the board and represent you," said Mr. Rainaldi. "I feel that I can better help my fellow citizens and our students from a seat on the board."

 

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