SCRANTON, Pa. — State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who has already endured a tough year professionally, has filed for divorce after 14 years of marriage, saying her union is irretrievably broken.
SCRANTON — Pennsylvania’s attorney general is seeking a divorce from her husband of 14 years.
The Post-Gazette aims to explain and illustrate the complexity of lawmakers and their outside interests. Among the many questions: Does the Pennsylvania Legislature have a conflict of interest problem?, and who polices legislative ethics in the state?
Startling news came out of Harrisburg in waves in 2014, featuring an unlikely new governor, another disgraced Supreme Court justice and some very consequential court rulings declaring Pennsylvania laws unconstitutional.
Allegheny County council will lose one of its original members at the end of the new year.
North Huntingdon commissioners last week adopted a $15,614,867 budget for 2015 with no tax increase.
There was no wig or fake beard, and rather than being an undercover boss, Mayor Bill Peduto went under an apron when he showed up at the Light of Life Rescue Mission on Tuesday afternoon.
It’s not yet clear if the Allegheny County controller will get to audit the authority that owns the city’s three big sports venues. Even less clear is who should.
What happens when a mayor who is elected on a platform of transparency appears on a reality TV show that pulls back the veil on America’s leaders?
The state Constitution, the state ethics law and legislative rules say lawmakers should not vote on legislation that would confer a special benefit on them. But they’re allowed to vote on legislation generally affecting the fields or professions to which they may have financial ties.
There sometimes is overlap between Pennsylvania legislators’ official duties and outside interests, and some cases raise potential conflict-of-interest issues. 
Tom Wolf will be sworn in as the state’s 47th governor outside the East Wing of the state Capitol at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
Tom Wolf will be sworn in as the state’s 47th governor outside the East Wing of the state Capitol at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 20.
HARRISBURG — A review of thousands of emails between the state Supreme Court and the Office of Attorney General found no improprieties, other than already-reported pornographic messages sent by a justice who retired following his suspension from the court in October.
The Pennsylvania Ethics Commission is a key oversight body for state lawmakers and other public officials at the state and local levels of government.
If Pennsylvanians get to vote on a constitutional amendment that would add the General Assembly’s definition of what a “purely public charity” is, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale wants to make sure they have some numbers to consider.
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania lawmakers’ willingness to stop taking gifts from lobbyists, state contractors and other people who want to influence state government is about to be tested.
Do you know what your state legislator is doing when not writing or voting on laws? It’s more difficult to answer than it should be, so we’ll try to explain and illustrate the complexity of lawmakers and their outside interests. 
Last week’s Irwin council meeting highlighted a continued division among borough officials over whether to hire additional full-time police officers. Council, however, did unite to reject a $5.1 million budget proposal for 2015 and an accompanying 1.5-mill tax increase.
Pennsylvania state police said their Internet-based systems are back up and running.
Contending that he could restore respect and vision to the Allegheny County controller’s office, Mark Patrick Flaherty launched a bid Tuesday to oust his successor, Chelsa Wagner.
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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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