Thursday, February 28, 2008
Kiriakou is conflicted on waterboarding. He says in the short window after 9-11, he thinks the United States needed to do whatever it took to forestall another attack. But he says he believes the United States now needs to take the moral high road.
Kiriakou says he's had a mixed response from his former colleagues on his decision to speak out. He says about a third believe he should have kept his mouth shut; another third have supported him. He says another third have told him they are similarly conflicted on the issue.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The amount, which is roughly one month of fares, would earn roughly $5,000 a month in interest if deposited in a bank. McNeil says that less than .001% of fare box revenues, but they are concerned and are trying to get the money deposited as soon as possible. She says they're balancing overtime to ensure a gain, and are looking at temporarily reclassifying vacant finance department positions to help shrink the backlog. They're also considering outsourcing the whole process to a bank.
McNeil says she can't say when the backlog will be cleared, but the barrels remain in a guarded, secure vault.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Still, he says, some corruption remains. For the short term, and Evans says he doesn't know how to define "short term," he believes Coalition forces need to be in Iraq to make sure police keep control.
The Current Affairs Panel is speaking at the University of Pittsburgh's student union at 4 pm and will be at libraries in Mount Lebanon and Peters Township later tonight.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Taylor has spent his career working with science-based museums across the country, including the California Academy of Science, and American Museum of Natural History in New York. His first job was as a Program Specialist for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and he says he's glad to come back. While he's sometimes envied his colleagues that didn't bounce around different institutions, he says that experience gives him the perspective and confidence to step into the director role and know that it's where he wants to be right now. He says the great thing about the Carnegie Museums are their collections, and he wants to make them more visible during his time here to enhance education.
Taylor takes the place of Billie DeWalt, who left the position after 6 years to help found a new museum for musical instruments in Phoenix, Arizona. Zhe-Xi Luo and Dave Smith have been acting Co-Directors since DeWalt left in January, 2007. Taylor will begin work from the Director's office April of this year.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Listen to the full-length story here.
View art work 1 here.
View art work 2 here.
Another artists using every day objects in new and creative ways is Haegue Yang. She creates art, using items such and mini blinds, air conditioners, theater lights and even scent machines used by department stores. Yang says she will collect much of her material from local sources before she installs in Pittsburgh to make sure she gets the right feel.
The work of American born artists Doug Aitken will grace the façade of the museum. He is creating a new film that explores the “new American landscape” and he says he was inspired by the exhibition subtitle “Life on Mars.”
Matt Monahan is also thinking about “Life on Mars.” While working on the pieces for the show he has been playing the David Bowie tune of the same name. Monahan works in paper, foam and a long list of other materials and he says he has not yet decided on what he will use for the International.
WDUQ’s Mark Nootbaar speaks to many of the artists in the version of the story aired this morning on WDUQ FM.
WDUQ’s Mark Nootbaar will examine a different aspect of the Carnegie International every month through the opening of the show.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
In a public hearing today, family, fans, and community members all spoke in support of preserving the artist's home. The city's Historic Review Commission recommended approval because of its ties with regional and national cultural development. Ellis wants to use the now-vacant home as a retreat for writers. Wilson's sister Frieda Ellis says the house is important to the life and future of the Hill. The Young Preservationists Association and Preservation Pittsburgh also gave their support.
Some speakers used part of their allotted 3 minutes to chastise Council members for dragging their feet in getting the nomination to a vote. According to the city code, the nomination expired in early February, but council will proceed with a vote next week because it wasn't Ellis' fault. Marimba Millones of the Hill Community Development Corporation asked the Council to look into the matter and report its findings. Councilwoman Tonya Payne represents the Hill and chaired the Planning, Zoning, and Land Use Committee at the time. She says she doesn't think an investigation is necessary.
Councilman Ricky Burgess recently introduced a measure to extend Council's time to vote on historic nominations, with a provision that if they're recommended by the Historic Review Commission, they automatically pass even if council takes no action.
Councilman Bill Peduto said they will begin addressing this and other procedure problems tomorrow in Council.
The bidding plan is part of a 2003 federal overhaul, and officials from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it will save $1 billion by the year 2010. Pittsburgh is one of 10 metropolitan areas chosen to adopt the plan in 2008, with 70 more signing on in 2009. Study co-author Stephen Foreman says small companies won't be able to compete with large suppliers, and since CMS controls most of the market, they won't be around for the next bidding cycle, and there will be less competition to keep prices down. Foreman says he doesn't know of any provisions for small suppliers, but according to the CMS website, suppliers with an annual gross revenue under $3.5 million are accorded some protection. In each product category, there is a 30% participation target for small suppliers, if they're willing to accept the lowest bid price. They can also network and submit a collective bid for consideration.
Suppliers will know within the next 4 weeks which bids are accepted for the Pittsburgh region.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Listen to the full-length story here.
Hours before a vote in the state House of Representatives to open up government records to the public, three media outlets won legal costs from a state agency that denied access to its paperwork.
A Commonwealth Court judged awarded $48,000 in legal fees incurred by a Harrisburg newspaper, the Associated Press, and a Pittsburgh television station to be paid by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.
The outlets fought PHEAA for nearly two years in court over access to financial records. Ultimately the journalists prevailed - and discovered the agency spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on board retreats, including cigars, alcohol, and falconry instruction.
Deborah Musselman with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, which advocates for access to government records, says this is a win for all state residents. "It's got to be a victory for access because the agency was found to be in violation of the open records act. So it's appropriate that they would pay those costs."
Meantime, Musselman says her organization continues to support Senate Bill 1 - which was approved by the House Monday night. If enacted, proponents say, it would take the state's record access law from being one of the worst in the nation to perhaps one of the best.
Low-income working Pennsylvanians are one step closer to a $400 rebate from the state. The state House Appropriations Committee Monday passed a $131 million dollar plan to help 475,000 residents who earn less than $32,000 dollars a year.
Pittsburgh single mom Jennifer England told lawmakers the money would make a big difference in the lives of her two children. "I'm sure that all across Pennsylvania there are working families with children that spend way too much time practicing the art of self-denial. To families like mine, $400 can change the tenor of an entire year."
But Republican Representative Dave Reed questioned the wisdom of creating a state program while awaiting the details of a similar federal program. "I would just suggest from a general policy standpoint that perhaps we're getting a little bit ahead of ourselves by moving this bill so quickly this week. We don't even know what the impact of the federal program is going to be."
Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf countered that everything the state could do will complement federal economic stimulus plans. "If it works as intended... that's going to help everybody. It's going to help middle class folks, it's going to help working families, it's going to help entrepreneurs with businesses."
Despite Republican opposition, the measure did pass the House Appropriations Committee, and now goes to the full House for approval.
Monday, February 11, 2008
PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi says crews are now erecting temporary shoring towers to take weight off of the 60-foot pier while they inspect under the bridge and see what repairs and replacements are needed. There is no cost estimate at this time. A complete re-inspection is nearly completed, showing a structurally sound bridge, and the dropped span is an isolated incident.
Struzzi says PennDOT was alerted to the problem after a 9-1-1 call reported a bulge on the bridge. Once the magnitude of the damage was known, the bridge was completely closed. A girder slipped off a rocker bearing, which allows the bridge to respond to temperature changes. Struzzi says nearly every bridge has rocker bearings, and there are very few problems with them that can't be anticipated by inspections.
Listen to the full-length story here.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Pennsylvania may hold a significant number of Democratic delegates at 188 - but its late April 22nd primary usually means the nomination is already decided.
Muhlenberg College Political Science Professor Chris Borick says this could be the year that changes that trend.
"In essence we're inching towards relevancy, something I would have said seemed impossible last fall or even a few months ago. But the way this thing has been breaking, it seems that we're increasingly becoming a place that the candidates might have to turn to as we move into the later spring."
In terms of which way the state might lean, Franklin and Marshall College political scientist Terry Madonna said although the most recent Pennsylvania polls showed Clinton way ahead, that could change.
"My best guess is that would close dramatically should they begin to campaign in the state and run television commercials, because that's been pretty much true in every state where the race has been joined by the two candidates."
Madonna says if the race is still tight after the Texas and Ohio primaries on March 4th, the candidates would likely spend much of the following six weeks campaigning in the Commonwealth. Voters in Pennsylvania's Democratic Primary will select 103 of the state's 188 delegates. 27 are super delegates including the governor and members of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation. The final 58 delegates will be chosen at the State's Democratic meeting June 6th and 7th.
Keynote speaker Keith B. Keys of KBK Enterprises spoke to DUQ about the qualities they and others look for when deciding to award a contract. He noted that vendor relations and orgainized, accountable finances are essential qualities of a viable, competative company.
Also in attendance was Don Barden of PITG Gaming. Barden is developing the Majestic Star Casino on the North Shore. Though he did not commit to a specific percentage of contracts that he would award to minority businesses, he did say that it was important to him to diversify the work, and he hoped that minority contractors would make themselves stand out from the competition.
In an aside he also mentioned that he would be pushing for table games to be legalized in time for the casino's opening in 2009. In response to questions of whether it was smooth sailing from here on out with the construction project, Barden laughed and said the he hoped so, because he has begun to feel like a marathon "hurdle jumper."
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Rendell led off his address to the legislature with the economy, repeatedly urging lawmakers to take action now on an economic stimulus package...
"Doing nothing is not an option if we want to protect the gains we've made together since 2003. But by acting now, we can stimulate Pennsylvania's economy, protect our citizens from the impact of the national downturn and continue to make the Commonwealth more competitive in the battle for jobs and opportunities."
The governor is proposing one-time $400 payments to 475 thousand low-income Pennsylvanians families; increasing the state's debt limit and funding infrastructure improvements that would provide work for the construction industry.
Among failed initiatives that Rendell is reintroducing are his "energy independence strategy" and the half-billion-dollar Jonas Salk Legacy Fund for medical research.
On health care, the governor says the expansions of PACE and PACEnet made for a good start -- but he notes too many people lack much-needed health coverage...
"There really is only one answer. We must tell our sickest Pennsylvanians that we're going to help them by ensuring access to health care for every citizen, and we're going to do it this year."
To pay for the health insurance, Rendell is proposing a 10 cents a pack increase in the cigarette tax and extending the tax to cigars and smokeless tobacco.
Rendell wants the state to borrow 600-million dollars over three years to fix structurally deficient bridges, spend 100-million dollars on flood control and boost basic education subsidies by 291-million dollars.
Despite objections raised by DeNaples counsel about the perjury charges filed against him by the Dauphin County district attorney last week, state Gaming Control Board Chair Mary Colins says her panel must act to protect the interests of the Commonwealth.
"The allegations regarding the lying to the board by the licensee is probably one of the most serious allegations that can be raised and that is why the Board took this action."
The board also appointed a trustee to oversee the casino and related facilities, former Shippensburg University President Anthony Ceddia.
Meantime DeNaples' lawyer John Donnelly says the appointment of the trustee goes beyond the power of the gaming act.
"The probability will be an enormous amount of expense attached to it that we think is unnecessary. And also the scope of the power of this trustee, as I understood. I'd like to review the opinion, but the scope seems overly broad."
Donnelly says DeNaples' legal team is considering whether to appeal that portion of the Board's order.
Guillermo Cole, spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department, says the amount released was not harmful, though it did smell. He says the vapors are like gasoline fumes, and recommends opening up houses where the odors still linger.
Cole says if the small amount of vapors hadn't been released, the reactor would have exploded, causing fires and the release of more hydrocarbons.
Councilman at-large Chuck McCullough says Mahone has presided over the financial mismanagement of the Airport Authority for the last 5 years, and the county can become more fiscally responsible by removing him from his current position. He says Mahone has been uncooperative in repaying $42.5 million to the county.
Mahone was quoted as calling McCullough "uninformed."
McCullough says it's not a partisan issue, but one of good government. The 5 votes failed to block the reappointment, which extends Mahone's tenure to 2012, but it still has to come before committee.
McCullough also wants to launch an evaluation of the Airport Authority, Port Authority and sanitary authority Alosan. He says each has horrible financial track record, and while he's not advocating privitization or elimination, there needs to be a closer look at how to make these systems financially viable, if that's possible.
Mahone could not be reached for further comment.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Monday, February 4, 2008
Aftergood says the government spends about $9 billion annually keeping secrets. If it's justified, he says that's money well-spent. But he believes the government too often keeps secrets to hide its own incompetence. He also believes government secrecy has been increasing over the last decade. After the 9-11 attacks, he says people were willing to accept more secrecy in government in the name of safety. But he thinks public opinion shifted as opposition grew against U.S. policy in Iraq.