Politics & Government

We cover politics and government with an eye to providing to voters clear, in-depth, nonpartisan information. 

DOJ Taps US Attorneys In Pittsburgh, NY To Coordinate Ukraine Investigations

7 hours ago
Julio Cortez / AP

The Justice Department has appointed U.S. attorneys in New York and Pennsylvania to coordinate federal investigations into Ukraine-related matters, including new information collected by President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Summer Lee for PA

When Democratic Party leaders endorse a candidate running in the spring primary, they hope doing so will help unify the party. On Sunday, the Allegheny County Democratic Committee may have done so by accident: From the state level on down, just about every Democrat not on the committee is denouncing one of its choices. 

Emily Previti / PA Post

Steve Ulrich stirred controversy when he took over York County’s elections office on Jan. 10 — just days before a special election — for his left-leaning social media posts and having zero experience running elections.

Matt Smith / Keystone Crossroads

Carmelo LaMantia stops by Mi Casa Su Casa, a breakfast and lunch cafe in downtown Reading, quite a bit. Exactly how often is in dispute. 

Mel Evans / AP

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee gathered for its annual endorsement meeting on the South Side Sunday – and for a handful of young, progressive, female candidates in closely-watched races, the outcome wasn’t pretty.

Patrick Semansk / AP

California billionaire Tom Steyer is the first Democratic presidential candidate to file signatures to get on Pennsylvania's primary ballot. That's according to information from the state election office Friday.

J. David Ake / AP

Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to have Pennsylvania join ten other states in a regional cap-and-trade agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions ​is moving slowly through the vetting process.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has reached a plea deal with Michigan prosecutors, resolving a nearly year-long court case stemming from an altercation with police at a Detroit hotel last year. Wagner pleaded no-contest to a misdemeanor offense Thursday morning, while authorities dropped a felony offense of resisting police. But a dispute over the terms of Wagner’s sentence suggests that, despite the settlement, the dust has yet to settle.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh-area official accused of obstructing police at a Detroit hotel pleaded no contest Thursday to disturbing the peace and was placed on probation, prosecutors said.

The charge is a misdemeanor, and the case could be dismissed if Chelsa Wagner completes the six-month probation without any problems, the Wayne County prosecutor's office said.

Top Pennsylvania State Senator Joe Scarnati Won’t Run Again

Feb 13, 2020
Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati will not seek re-election, he told The Associated Press on Wednesday night.

Scarnati, 58, a fifth-term Republican from Jefferson County in northwestern Pennsylvania, said he wrestled with the decision to step down after 14 years in a job steering a Republican majority through turbulent elections and fights in the Capitol.

But it's the right time, he said, adding that the decision was personal and not political.

“After 20 years, I always like to say, it's good to go out and go out on top,” he said.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

It remains unclear why the U.S. Department of Justice has apparently tapped federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh to review material from President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilors Ricky Burgess and Daniel Lavelle sent a letter to Carnegie Mellon University on Wednesday, urging the school to join their efforts to enhance racial equity in the city. The letter came after CMU came under fire for omitting communities of color from a student orientation map.

Matt Rourke / AP

On today's program: The Allegheny County Executive and FBI Pittsburgh weigh in on local election security; the origin of two architectural marvels in Homewood and Larimer; a journalist recalls the forced migration of 2,000 minority residents nearly 100 years ago; and why firefly species could be in danger. 

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Licensed mental health providers may soon be barred from providing so-called conversion therapy to LGBTQ youth in Allegheny County. In a 13-2 vote Tuesday, Allegheny County Council approved a measure to prohibit the treatment for minors.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County election officials have been on a shopping spree, having bought 40,000 blue pens, 15,000 folders, 5,000 clip boards, eight high-speed scanners, two high-speed letter openers and 1,400 rolls of "I Voted" stickers ahead of the 2020 primary.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilor Ricky Burgess introduced legislation Tuesday that would adopt a nonprofit group's plan for determining how to spend money generated by a new parks tax.  

Carrie Antlfinger / AP

Pennsylvanians can now apply online to vote by mail, without an excuse.

Ed Mahon / PA Post

Gun rights activists across Pennsylvania are encouraging county and municipal leaders to adopt “Second Amendment Sanctuary” ordinances to prevent local governments from enforcing a broad range of gun restrictions.

But the president of a prominent gun rights group in Pennsylvania is not on board.

“I personally believe that these things are misguided,” said Kim Stolfer of Firearms Owners Against Crime, based in southwestern Pennsylvania. “And it flaunts the law.”

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has said he'll veto a bill that would give tax breaks to manufacturers that use Pennsylvania natural gas. But Republicans—and a few others—are trying to see if they can override him.

The bill passed with support from more than two-thirds of lawmakers in each chamber. That means if nobody changes their position, members can ensure the bill becomes law. 

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

A spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto says the administration will be sending a communication to City Councilor Deb Gross, notifying her that she has indeed been replaced by fellow Councilor Erika Strassburger on the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Board.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A challenger in what will likely be among the most closely-watched Democratic primaries in western Pennsylvania has amassed a considerable war chest in his bid to topple state Rep. Summer Lee. And building-trades unions are already playing a notable role in the Monongahela Valley-based terrain of state House District 34.   

AP

When President Trump ran for office four years ago, he said the government could save hundreds of billions of dollars on drug costs -- if it was allowed to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Jerry Wong / flickr

Pennsylvania’s Auditor General is telling lawmakers that the commonwealth needs more money to impose dog laws.

He’s following up on a previous audit of the Dog Law Enforcement Bureau, a little-known office within the Agriculture Department that ensures the welfare of dogs in kennels and boarding facilities and oversees licensing and rabies vaccines.

Leah Millis / AP

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, and his acquittal by the U.S. Senate Wednesday on two impeachment charges, Vice President Mike Pence headed to Pennsylvania.

After a Philadelphia event where he advocated for government-sponsored private-school scholarships, Pence made his way to Camp Hill, just outside Harrisburg, where he spoke at a Women for Trump event.

His message to the crowd was straightforward.

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto got City Council’s approval to remove City Councilor Deb Gross from the board of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, replacing her with fellow Councilor Erika Strassburger.

Governor Plans To Veto Natural Gas Manufacturing Tax Credit

Feb 5, 2020
Marie Cusick / StateImpact Pennslvania

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf will veto a bill that would provide millions in tax breaks for new construction of facilities that use natural gas extracted in the state to produce fertilizer and other chemicals, his spokesman said Wednesday.

The bill, which passed both legislative chambers this week by veto-proof majorities, authorizes the “energy and fertilizer manufacturing tax credit” for projects that require at least $450 million in construction and start-up costs and that create at least 800 jobs.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Pittsburgh City Councilors Anthony Coghill and Deb Gross backed off from some of the requirements they sought to impose on spending from a parks tax voters approved last year

Patrick Semansky / AP

 

On today's program: What Pennsylvanians should know after the State of the Union; one local business thrives in the film economy; takeaways from Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2021 budget, and how Republicans are reacting; and a remembrance of TV personality Quentin Crisp. 

Pence Mixes Politics, Education Policy In Pennsylvania Swing

Feb 5, 2020
Cliff Owen / AP

Vice President Mike Pence is making a swing through Pennsylvania on Wednesday to tout the Trump administration's support for funding tuition for private school students and, on the campaign side, to make an appeal to women voters.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

A proposal to create a countywide police review board could have better prospects this year after Allegheny County Council blocked the idea during its last session. But at a meeting of council's Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday, Democratic councilor Liv Bennett said the bill must change first.

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