HARRISBURG — Lawyers for former Pennsylvania Treasurer Rob McCord said Friday that he would plead guilty to federal charges stemming from attempts in 2014 to use the influence of his office to gain campaign contributions from prospective donors.
Gov. Tom Wolf banned new oil and gas leases in state parks and forests on Thursday, officially ending plans by the Legislature and the previous administration to raise millions of dollars for the budget this fiscal year through new drilling deals.
HARRISBURG — State Treasurer Rob McCord is resigning his post and returning to the private sector, a surprise Thursday announcement that was soon followed by reports that the former gubernatorial candidate is now under federal investigation.
HARRISBURG (AP) — Gov. Tom Wolf says he’ll post his working calendar online as part of his efforts to provide transparency in state government.
It may take a judge to determine whether the Allegheny County controller has the legal right to audit county-appointed authorities that handle millions of dollars.
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday stepped to the forefront of efforts to ban discrimination against gay and transgender people in Pennsylvania, asking legislators to send him one of two bills that languished in committee last session.
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday that he will nominate justices to temporarily fill two vacancies on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Advocates for legalizing medical marijuana in Pennsylvania are confident that a change in administration and in legislative attitudes will lead to a bill that is more complete and progressive than a watered-down measure that died last year.
HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Wolf met Tuesday with families advocating for the legalization of medical marijuana, one of several signs the issue may have new traction at the Capitol.
HARRISBURG — Senate Republicans moved Tuesday over the objection of Gov. Tom Wolf toward confirming nominations made by former Gov. Tom Corbett.
Saying they were concerned about comments received during a public hearing last week, Peters council Monday voted unanimously to form a special group to help determine if gas well drilling should be allowed in the township, and, if so, where.
A trap-and-euthanize deer management program has been approved in Mt. Lebanon.
HARRISBURG — Senate Republicans joined the fired director of the state Office of Open Records in a lawsuit Monday contesting Gov. Tom Wolf’s dismissal of the records chief.
HARRISBURG (AP) — A leading advocate of open government is calling on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf to reconsider his firing of his predecessor’s appointee as director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records.
Laurel Development will have to wait until Feb. 18 for action on its conditional use and preliminary plan submission for its proposed Pinnacle Point subdivision in South Fayette.
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — One of the main figures in a northeastern Pennsylvania juvenile justice scandal has been disbarred from the practice of law in the commonwealth.
When the police give you an order, you might want to consider not only your rights, but also certain realities, a panel of advocates and law enforcement officials told an East Liberty audience today.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto began his reality TV career on “Undercover Boss.” But on Friday, controversy surrounding his appearance on the show resembled an outtake of "Dance Moms."
HARRISBURG — The chief of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records, fired Thursday by Gov. Tom Wolf, followed through on his promise to show up anyway Friday morning.
After receiving only one development proposal for the Star City property, South Fayette officials will accept another round of submissions, which includes for the first time an option for applicants to purchase the land.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has won a state Supreme Court order barring a district attorney from bringing criminal charges against her until the high court rules on her challenge to the legal status of the special prosecutor who built the case against her.
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Numbers up for Obama/Casey

Published by Tim McNulty on .

New Q poll of Pa says approval numbers are up for both Obama and Casey.

Full results -- with breakdown that includes Allegheny County -- are here.

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Byrd stories

Published by Tim McNulty on .

See the full package of Robert Byrd stories today on the Post-Gazette homepage, including the obit by Jon Schmitz and a look at the senator's possible successors by Jim O'Toole. From the obit:

Mr. Byrd, who grew up dirt poor in the West Virginia coal fields, in a home that lacked running water or electricity, would graduate as his class valedictorian.

And he would graduate from bubble gum to billions in a historic political career that saw him reach the pinnacle of the U.S. Senate, where he used his power to unabashedly direct mountains of federal money to the Mountain State.

"I want to be West Virginia's billion-dollar industry," he proclaimed in 1990 -- a goal he surpassed at least three times over.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read this morning

Published by Moriah Balingit on .

Happy Monday, Early Returners. If you're a Pens fan/motorist (hello, 90 percent of Pittsburgh), it wasn't a great couple of days. Hope you survived this weekend's apocalyptic traffic and performance on the ice. Oy.

1. Mark Belko wrote Sunday that presumed mayor-elect Bill Peduto wants to make Downtown into a "mini-Manhattan" in talking about his plans for developing the city, which would involve a greater partnership with Allegheny County. Hopefully, it means that you'll finally be able to get a decent bagel in the Golden Triangle. 

2. From Harrisburg, Kate Giammarise reports on a block grant program that debuted last year to help fill in the gaps that were left when the state slashed human services funding. The way the funding is currently structured, various programs -- for the homeless, for children and for the drug addicted -- are left battling it out for the grant funds. A bill will change that. 

Does a pilot program give county officials needed flexibility in how they spend dwindling human services dollars? Or does it pit the state's most vulnerable populations -- the homeless, the disabled, those with mental health issues or drug addiction -- against each other in a competition for funds?

3. If the state doesn't pony up more money to repair bridges, some will no longer be able to carry heavier trucks, reports Jon Schmitz. Around 1,500 bridges across the state are in such dire need of repairs that the state will be forced to post weight restriction signage if it can't foot the bill for maintenance. Right now, around 600 bridges have weight restrictions that prevent trucks, buses and some emergency vehicles from crossing them.

Weight limits are just one of several consequences of continued failure to adequately fund the state's transportation system, [Transportations secretary Barry] Schoch said. The state's ability to attract and retain businesses will suffer, public safety could be compromised and urban mass transit systems will face service cutbacks.


4. From Saturday, Tracie Mauriello writes that Pres. Barack Obama is fighting to keep subsidized student loan rates from doubling. 

5. And in case you missed Rich Lord's story from Saturday, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's ex-wife, Erin Feith, has declined to meet with federal investigators, her lawyer said. She's at least the fourth person in the mayor's circle to be questioned by federal authorities. If you'll recall, the mayor's secretary and two bodyguards went before a grand jury in early May. 

And an Early Returns post-script: congratulations to PG alum Daniel "Sparky" Malloy, who wed Katie Cline this weekend. Mr. Malloy was a general assignment reporter, covering bears, among other things. He eventually moved up to cover the Pennsylvania delegation in DC for the Post-Gazette, where he did some stellar reporting on the Upper Big Branch mine disaster. He is now the Washington correspondent for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He and his wife, who works for the Ocean Conservancy, were married in Chapel Hill, where their union was sealed with Carolina-style barbecue. Here's a blurry iPhone picture from the affair:

photo 3

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read this morning

Published by Moriah Balingit on .

Happy Monday Early Returners. Here's a handful of links to get your week started. 

1. Not to toot our own horn (toot, toot), but the Post-Gazette's Sunday paper was a true masterpiece. First, check out Kate Giammirise's piece on why there are so few women in state politics, with women holding just 17.8 percent of seats in the the General Assembly. As an aside, Pittsburgh City Council fares a little better, with three women (including the council president) out of nine holding seats. 

2. Not politics related, but Mark Roth's series on former football players with brain disease is phenomenal. The series started Sunday.

3. Higher ed reporter Bill Schackner reports that former Penn State president Graham Spanier received the highest compensation package among university presidents in 2011-2012. Hopefully that massive severance package will help off-set his legal fees

4. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl made Sports Illustrated, and no, not for his brief career as a silver screen place kicker. Unfortunately, there's no link here, but here's an excerpt from the cover story about Sidney Crosby:

Pittsburgh has been disappointed lately by the behavior of other young stars-most famously, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but also 33-year-old mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who took office at 26 and who recently dropped his re-election bid amid a federal investigation into police spending. (Last week Ravenstahl responded to an unfavorable story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with a rant in the newspaper's online comments section. The highlight: "It's actually laughable to think that you print your newspaper everyday [sic] with a straight face.")

5. And finally, ICYMI, a story that broke late Friday. Rich Lord and I report that the mayor's house received an upgrade from a company related to contractor that did millions in work for the city. It's not the first time the Post-Gazette has inquired about the mayor's abode. In December, Brian O'Neill dared to ask where the mayor lives.

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Breakfast Sausage: 5 stories to read this morning

Published by Moriah Balingit on .

Happy Monday Early Returners! Today, we bring you stories from the South Side to Santiago, Chile.

1. The Pittsburgh Housing Authority hired a recently formed company connected to a drug felon to train residents to cut grass, Rich Lord found

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