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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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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read today

Published by Mike Pound on .

(Associated Press photo)(Associated Press photo)

1) We all had a chance to speak – or, uh, tweet – directly with Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday morning, when he held the first of what he said would be occasional Twitter town hall meetings. During the 30-minute session, Governor Go Time answered questions about his priorities, his moratorium on executions and whether his Jeep is a stick or an automatic (spoiler alert: it's a stick). He clearly had links ready for questions that required answers of more than 140 characters. You can take a look at the Storify of the entire session here.

2) When you go through that Storify, you'll probably notice that Mr. Wolf didn't respond to any questions about his tax plan, which he'll reveal during his budget address next week. Don't take it personally, though – he's not talking to us about that stuff either.

3) The dean of Duquesne University's law school won't get a shot at serving on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court after all. Dean Ken Gormley's nomination to fill out one of two vacant seats on the court died on Tuesday, the day after fellow nominee Thomas Kistler, Centre County's president judge, withdrew his name from consideration. Mr. Wolf took pains to nominate one candidate from each party, so when Judge Kistler, a Republican, withdrew after a controversy over a racially insensitive email he sent two years ago, the compromise that would have also seated Mr. Gormley fell apart.

4) Also from the Falling Apart Department: Republicans in Washington are finding that holding a majority in both houses of Congress isn't a guarantee that things are going to be easy.

5) Also from the No Guarantees Department: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual – you know, President Obama's former chief of staff – couldn't muster a clean majority in his re-election bid Tuesday night. The result? The famously hot-headed Mayor Rahmbo has to contend with a runoff election against Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in April.

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Catch up with Tom Wolf on Twitter

Published by Mike Pound on .

wolftwittertownhall

Have a question for Gov. Tom Wolf? You have a 30-minute window this morning to ask him directly.

Govenor Go Time will hold a Twitter town hall meeting at 11 a.m. today to answer questions about his first month in office. Point your questions towards the @GovernorTomWolf Twitter account and maybe you'll get an answer from the Mr. Wolf himself.

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Jesse White seeks Washington County DJ seat

Published by Mike Pound on .

Jesse White

Jesse White didn't stay out of politics for long.

Mr. White, ousted from his seat in the state House last year, will seek nominations to serve as a district judge covering Mt. Pleasant, Robinson, McDonald and his hometown of Cecil. Mr. White, 36, has cross-filed to appear on Democratic and Republican ballots in May's primary election.

Mr. White served four terms as a Democratic state representative, but he lost a challenge in November to newcomer Jason Ortitay, a Republican. The loss was the Mr. White's first election following a controversy in 2013, when it was revealed that he had been impersonating other people on social media sites to take on political rivals

And things haven't been quiet for Mr. White since the loss. Earlier this month, he was sued in Washington County Court by his mother, Sharlene Watazychyn, who claimed that Mr. White racked up debts totaling $28,000 on a credit card he used her name to obtain. In response, Mr. White said his mother filed false claims because she was upset over not being permitted to see her grandson.

On a website touting his candidacy, Mr. White said his court would offer evening hours and be respectful to all. In a statement, he also said he would work with local law enforcement to get a grip on drug problems in the community.

"As a legislator, it was no secret that I often shown my passionate and aggressive side while fighting for my constituents and community," Mr. White said. "However, I understand that a judicial role requires a different and more measured approach, which is what I plan to bring into the courtroom every single day. My courtroom will be one of respect, fairness and justice, with no strings attached."

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