May 7, 2015

PENNSYLVANIA

Pittsburgh: Lawsuit settled with promises of diversification

The American Civil Liberties Union and the city of Pittsburgh reached terms reached a $1.6 million settlement in a three-year lawsuit, including promises to change the Bureau of Police’s hiring approach. Five black plaintiffs alleged the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police discriminated in its hirings. Only 4 percent of officers hired since 2001 are black.

Harrisburg: Action pledged to limit retirement benefit increases

Jake Corman, Senate Majority Leader, proposes to lock in the benefit increases of state workers and school teachers to the enhanced pension rates from 2001-2015. Opting out of the plan entails either taking bigger deductions per paycheck or reverting to the 2000 pension formula, with slower but more lucrative rates.

Allentown: Spiking pensions with overtime

In 2011, a generous pension contract expired, leading 43 Allentown firefighters to retire all at once. Allentown pensions included overtime in the contract, so by working extra overtime in his last couple of years, one firefighter spiked his retirement between 20 and 25 percent. More than 500 Pennsylvania municipalities can’t cover pension obligations, partly due to spiking.

Philadelphia: Dearth of primary care in low-income neighborhoods

University of Pennsylvania researchers report a huge disparity in the number of residents to the number of healthcare providers throughout Philadelphia. In some lower-income areas, there are 3,000 residents per provider, and in some parts of Center City, the numbers are more like 300 residents for every one primary-care provider. The city plans to add more exam rooms as the Medicaid program expands.

NEW FROM PUBLICSOURCE

Some states require few checks for armed security guards

NATIONAL

The exploited labor of NY manicurists

New York has about twice as many nail salons as Los Angeles or San Francisco, but its employees usually make less than $3 per hour or between $30 to $40 a day. Oftentimes they have to pay to work, sometimes as much as $200 down, in order to begin an unpaid apprenticeship. Chinese, Korean and Hispanic workers routinely perform manicures 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week, with no overtime.

NSA phone record collection deemed illegal

A federal appeals court in New York has ruled that Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, concerning the NSA’s ability to log domestic phone calls, is illegal, as the act nears expiration in June. The ruling doesn’t require the cessation of the program, but it might help prevent lawmakers from re-instituting it.

Government wastes natural gas

A report by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reveals that taxpayers are losing millions of dollars because the government vents and flares 3.1 million cars’ worth of methane gas. The GAO also found that the Bureau of Land Management fails to inspect many of its high-risk wells.

WORLD

British Elections

Yesterday, Britain held Parliamentary Elections, with rigid poll results expected. The Labour and Conservative parties are projected to split two-thirds of the vote, with no clear majority winner. Results will be announced this morning.

WEATHER

Thunderstorms and tornadoes propagate through the Midwest. Threats of thunderstorms span from eastern California all the way to Pennsylvania and New York, which could include hail and strong winds. There are a couple of things you can do to stay safe.

IN OTHER NEWS

Baby macaque named after princess

The Takasakiyama Natural Zoological Garden in Japan named its firstborn monkey this year Charlotte, after the newborn royal. The zoo traditionally lets the public name the first macaque offspring, but they’ve gotten some backlash this time because some consider the name insulting.