Toyota Returns To Number 1 In Global Auto Sales

TOKYO — Toyota Motor sold a record 9.75 million vehicles last year, according to an official tally released Monday, roaring past General Motors and Volkswagen to reclaim its title as the world’s top automaker in 2012.

General Motors, which held the top spot in 2011, mustered 9.29 million vehicles in global sales last year.  The U.S. company had been the top-selling automaker for decades before losing its lead to Toyota in 2008.

Volkswagen sold 9.1 million vehicles last year, a record for the German automaker, which has expanded its presence in emerging markets.  VW also outsold Toyota in 2011.

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Courtright Announces Candidacy For Scranton Mayor

The hundreds of supporters entering the front door at the Keyser Valley Community Center on Sunday to see Democrat Bill Courtright formally announce his campaign for mayor of Scranton received smiles and handshakes from the candidate himself.

Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” played in the background as Mr. Courtright focused on themes of “returning the luster” and reaching out to the people of his hometown – a place of staggering municipal debt and significant skepticism about city leadership.

The city’s current tax collector and a former city councilman, Mr. Courtright, 55, of 126 Ridgeview Drive, said he will bring commitment, competence and character to City Hall.

Without going into a lot of detail, he also offered insights into his immediate priorities if elected mayor, calling for an in-depth analysis of the city’s finances and plans to create a panel of community leaders to help solve the city’s problems.

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Governor Christie Quietly Takes On New Jersey Lottery

English: , U.S. Attorney, Governor-elect of Ne...

English: , U.S. Attorney, Governor-elect of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

TRENTON – Gov. Christie hasn’t held a news conference about it, and his treasurer has refused to testify on it.  But the Republican governor is close to privatizing the bulk of a $2.8 billion New Jersey institution.

Following a national trend already under way in Pennsylvania, Christie is negotiating a 15-year contract with a company to operate the state lottery in an effort to increase sales, thereby building more revenue for schools and state institutions.

Like Pennsylvania’s Republican Gov. Corbett, Christie bypassed the Legislature, much to its chagrin, in bidding out the system.  And like Pennsylvania, New Jersey got just one bid in response to its request for proposals.

Unlike in Pennsylvania, where the pending contract was ultimately posted online and must be submitted for approval to the Democratic attorney general, New Jersey’s lottery bid is not public.  Christie could just sign a contract in the next two months.

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Property Taxes To Rise Across Philadelphia Suburbs

English: Pennsylvania county map

English: Pennsylvania county map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hundreds of thousands of property owners in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties are getting something they probably don’t want in the new year – higher real estate taxes.

Countywide increases, approved in December, affect the owners of all 382,304 real estate parcels in Chester and Delaware Counties.  Some people are taking a double hit, as at least 27 towns in those counties also have increased taxes.

Bucks and Montgomery Counties kept their rates the same, but at least 28 municipalities raised real estate levies.

While the reasons vary, officials say the overarching reason is basic: Revenue is down; costs aren’t.

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New Lancaster City Arts Manager Hits Ground Running

There was a learning curve when Lancaster city hired its first two public arts managers — the first from Colorado and the second from Indiana.

Tracy Beyl, who took over the position this month, needs no introduction to the arts in Lancaster nor to the city’s program.  She was there at its inception.

Beyl moved less than three blocks to the City Hall post from her former office at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design.

It was there that Beyl was involved in establishing the college’s mural resource project a decade ago.  That initial effort was to provide resources to people in the community who wanted to create public art.  It later was expanded from murals to all public artworks.

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New Restaurants Coming To Lehigh Valley International Airport

Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Ai...

Aerial photo of Lehigh Valley International Airport (IATA: ABE, ICAO: KABE) in Hanover Township, 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cash-poor and in need of some good news, Lehigh Valley International Airport operators are turning to a new strategy to appeal to passengers: their stomachs.

OK, a really good hoagie or a perfectly mixed latte isn’t going to make anyone buy a plane ticket, but airport officials are hoping to attract at least some people who aren’t scheduled for a flight.

LVIA has hired a San Diego company to take over three restaurants and a newsstand in hopes of upgrading the offerings and increasing the airport’s take.  First Class Concessions has a deal to renovate and run the airport’s retail space for the next decade.

“This will enhance the concessions and we think that will drive up usage,” said airport Executive Director Charles Everett Jr.  “We believe the quality will be such that it will attract people who are not using the airport for travel that day.”

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Keeping Lid On Lawsuits Carries Big Price Tag For Reading

Reading has been busy in court the last few years, but its track record has been pretty good.

It has resolved 139 suits brought against it since 2004, with no payout to plaintiffs in two-thirds of them. The cost for its attorneys was more than $1 million.

At the moment, the city has more than 70 cases under way in county, state and federal courts, or in agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

“It’s tough keeping track (of the cases), but the attorneys handling them do a good job of it, and keep me in the loop,” said Charles D. Younger, city solicitor since 2000.

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