Pittsburgh City Council on Monday voted to create the Pittsburgh Land Bank, the culmination of weeks of rancorous debate and compromise.
In Allegheny County, April has quickly become Deer Lakes Park month.
Five years ago Alex Hribal almost certainly would have gone straight to an adult jail following his arrest on charges that he stabbed more than 20 people inside Franklin Regional Senior High School.
HARRISBURG -- A Dauphin County Court judge on Thursday made public a wealth of documents detailing the secret sting investigation that recorded Philadelphia Democrats accepting money and gifts -- and revealing a fierce behind-the-scenes legal fight about the undercover operative at the heart of the operation.
Three weeks ago, when residents packed the pews at a Hill District church calling on city council members to “kill the bill,” compromise on a proposal to create a land bank, an independent entity that would handle Pittsburgh’s vacant land, didn’t seem possible.
A controversial bill that would enable larger and financially healthy state-owned universities to secede from the State System of Higher Education may not have the votes to pass the Legislature — at least not this year, its prime sponsor now concedes.
HARRISBURG -- A Commonwealth Court panel on Wednesday questioned the validity of the NCAA consent decree entered into by Penn State University in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
Like a boxer answering the bell, state Treasurer Rob McCord bounced up as he offered the evening's first answer on how he would pay for his education proposals.
Burgettstown lawyer Paul Walsh is dropping out of the race for the 46th Legislative District in favor of another Democratic candidate.
A motion to censure a member of Allegheny County Council is on the agenda for council's meeting tonight.
A judge on Monday ordered lawyers for the city of Pittsburgh and UPMC to meet and determine whether to make a mirror image of the data on former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s computer.
HARRISBURG -- The state Senate on Monday approved a version of legislation that would remove exemptions for labor disputes in bans on stalking and harassment, but a House Republican spokesman said the Senate changes need review.
Katie McGinty has some empathy for restaurant workers. She spent much of her childhood watching her mother march off to an evening shift as a hostess in Philadelphia eateries.
HARRISBURG -- From creating a statewide database of child abuse reports to boosting children's advocacy centers, Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law additional changes to Pennsylvania's protection laws Monday, part of a sweeping series of reforms recommended by a task force convened in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
HARRISBURG -- Two political experts will attempt to answer this perennial question today: how to get more women to run for political office in Pennsylvania?
CAMP HILL, Pa. -- As they mingled outside panel discussions with names like "Obamacare: No Magic Beans" and "How Free Market Capitalism Raises All Boats," Pennsylvania conservatives described views of Gov. Tom Corbett that ranged along a spectrum of support.
"If you want to hide a secret from someone,'' state Sen. Mike Stack advised the Oakland audience, "talk about it at a lieutenant governor forum because no one will hear it.''
A former Pittsburgh mayoral candidate and his wife were charged today with allegedly making more than 100 unnecessary phone calls to Allegheny County’s 911 dispatch center since March 8.
Even when pollution discharges from shale gas well pads and impoundments contaminate private water supplies, those violations often go unrecorded or publicly reported by state environmental regulators, according to documents filed in the Pennsylvania Superior Court case challenging the constitutionality of the state's oil and gas law, Act 13.
HARRISBURG — A new poll shows Tom Wolf maintaining a large lead in the Democratic race for Pennsylvania governor, but with an even larger number of undecided voters.
HARRISBURG — State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said Wednesday that she will support a move to unseal secret court records that detail an aborted sting investigation and a legal fight over the non-prosecution deal given the key informant in the case.
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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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