June 15, 2015

PENNSYLVANIA

Pittsburgh: Legal trouble after campaign loan?

Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Monongahela) used PAC money provided by a New York state senator to defeat an incumbent Democrat in Washington County. But did a $100,00 personal loan from the same senator run afoul of campaign laws? At best, the loan is unusual, observers say. And it could be illegal.

Pittsburgh: City expands free meals program

Free breakfast, lunch and snacks will be available to children and teens by the City of Pittsburgh at 125 locations, starting today. The city plans to serve meals to 7,460 young people on average each day, a 10 percent increase from last year. The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank estimates that 45,000 children in Allegheny County are “food insecure.”

Harrisburg: Grudges pervasive during budget talks

While Gov. Tom Wolf is apparently better liked than his Republican predecessor, friction between the new governor and conservative lawmakers is palpable. Trouble basically started as soon as Wolf, a Democrat and a businessman, took office. And the headbutting has continued and escalated through budget talks. If state leaders aren’t getting along personally, they also don’t agree on how to solve the state’s deficit (or how big it actually is).

Statewide: Frustration over taxes and school funding

Pennsylvania schools rely on property taxes for funding. Some residents claim schools are spending more than they can afford and keep asking taxpayers for more. Gov. Wolf thinks the system is unfair, but a state commission studying school funding missed a deadline to come up with a better idea. Meanwhile, school officials claim many of their expenses are mandated.

Statewide: Polluted water for fracking?

Could frackers use water from abandoned coal mines instead of fresh water from Pennsylvania streams? Sen. Bartolotta (see above) wants energy companies to use the already polluted water, revising a proposed Senate bill from last year.

NATIONAL

Heavy weaponry may go to Eastern Europe

For the first time since the Cold War, the Pentagon could ship heavy weaponry to former Soviet nations, which are now part of NATO. In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, the United States is contemplating shipping tanks and other weapons to equip up to 5,000 U.S. troops in the Baltic region.

Cold, dead (and damp) hands

California is facing a devastating drought. Should the rich be allowed to water anyway? Steve Yuhas, a resident of Rancho Santa Fe, sure thinks so. He and his super wealthy neighbors will be subject to water rationing next month, but some residents think they should be able to keep lush lawns green so long as they can afford the bills.

Escaped inmates used contractors’ tools

Two killers who escaped from maximum security prison in New York did so using tools stored in prison by contractors, according to District Attorney Andrew Wylie. David Sweat and Richard Matt avoided detection by putting the tools back after working each night. The manhunt stretched into its ninth day on Sunday.

Former police chief retried for murder

Richard Combs, a white former police chief from South Carolina, is back on trial after a previous jury failed to decide if he was guilty of murder for the shooting death of Bernard Bailey, an unarmed black male. The jury deliberated for 12 hours and deadlocked.

IN OTHER NEWS

A comeback for Esperanto?

"Li ŝatas salti en la naĝejo por preni la pilkon," Linken Kay, a native Esperanto speaker tells his dog (describing how he jumps for a ball). The so-called universal language has only about 1,000 native speakers, but it has been adapted by up to 2 million (or maybe 200,000) speakers across the globe.

The daily report was compiled by Jeffrey Benzing. You can reach him with questions or suggestions at jbenzing@publicsource.org.