MCCC Hosts Physicians For Social Responsibility Program On Fracking

Blue Bell, PA— Far from the Marcellus Shale fields of southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia region has largely escaped some of the direct impacts from the exploration, drilling, transportation and waste handling from natural gas operations—commonly referred to as fracking. However, a proposal of an energy hub in Philadelphia and new pipelines headed to the region may bring it closer to home.

Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) Philadelphia will hold a program at Montgomery County Community College on March 11 at 7 p.m. to review the different operations of fracking, the risks of harm to health, and the exponentially higher releases of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. The program, which is free of change and open to the public, will be held in MCCC’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

PSR is a public health, non-profit organization that provides education, training and direct services and advocacy on issues that threaten health and that medicine cannot cure. Andrea Thomas, MCCC alumna and current graduate student in Arcadia University’s Public Health and Medical Science program and PSR intern, will help participants gain a clear understanding of the ways fracking operations can impact health and the environment.

The program is sponsored by MCCC’s Division of Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in collaboration with MCCC Diversity Faculty Fellow Natasha Patterson. For information, call 215-641-6445. To learn more about Physicians for Social Responsibility, visit http://www.psr.org.

Pennsylvania House Votes In Favor Of Selling Off State Liquor System

HARRISBURG — The effort to change Pennsylvania’s state liquor monopoly is on a familiar path filled with many obstacles.

The state House voted Thursday to approve turning the wine and liquor retail and wholesale business over to the private sector, but the proposal faces a rough road in the Senate, which failed to take action on a similar proposal in the last session. And Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf favors improving the service in the existing stores to generate more money for the state rather than licensing them to the private sector.

Thursday’s House vote was 114-87 for the proposal, with every Democrat and a few Republicans opposed.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/02/26/House-to-vote-on-Pennsylvania-liquor-privatization-bill/stories/201502260159

FCC Approves Internet Neutrality Regulations

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved regulating the Internet as a utility in a 3-2 partisan vote, handing a big victory to Net neutrality proponents who lobbied for a decade for tough rules to protect consumers.

The FCC’s action forbids telecom companies from blocking websites, and slowing or speeding up some Internet traffic. This means that all Internet streams should be treated the same, or neutrally, without preferences.

The FCC also voted to make it easier for municipally run Internet providers to expand and compete with Comcast and other private telecom companies, a move lauded by activist groups.

“Some states have created thickets of red tape to limit competition,” said FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler, who spearheaded the changes. “What we’re doing today is cutting away the red tape.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150227_FCC_approves_net_neutrality_regulations.html#U82MxlMqFvJ5vFJw.99

What You Need To Know About The Bill To Privatize State Liquor Sales

Legislation to end Pennsylvania’s 82-year monopoly on liquor sales is due for a vote Thursday in the state House.

The plan would dramatically change the way alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania.

House Bill 466, sponsored by Speaker of the House Mike Turzai, is similar to a proposal that cleared the House in 2013. It would close the 600-plus state stores and replace them with 1,200 private licenses.

“In a year when we are faced with a potential $2 billion budget deficit, I personally think it is important to consider avenues for revenue other than taxes,” Turzai said in a memo to colleagues seeking support.

It was estimated last session that the proposal would generate about $1 billion up front, with continued revenue from existing liquor and sale taxes.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-bill-to-privatize/article_a18654d0-bb6b-11e4-bc93-6bbbd42717b0.html

Mount Joy Names Second Interim Police Chief In Less Than A Month

Mount Joy borough officials appointed a new interim police chief Monday after accepting the resignation of the former interim chief, who was only on the job for two and a half weeks.

At Monday’s meeting, council accepted the resignation of Luis Mendez, who began as interim chief on Feb. 6, and reinstated him to his former position of part-time patrol officer.

Council then appointed Maurice “Bill” Williams as the new interim chief.

Williams, a retired lieutenant from the Lancaster City Bureau of Police, will take leadership of Mount Joy’s police department on the condition that he passes pre-employment testing.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/mount-joy-names-second-interim-police-chief-in-less-than/article_88aed5f0-bc6e-11e4-b902-bbcbb68bf956.html

Thanksgiving Payroll Snafu Cost Luzerne County Government $2,000 In Bounced Check Fees

Luzerne County ended up reimbursing employees about $2,000 for bounced check fees caused by late paychecks last November, officials said today.

County Budget/Finance Division Head Brian Swetz said about 50 employees submitted requests for fee reimbursements, most between $20 and $35.

The impact of the fees was lessened because two financial institutions waived fees — PNC Bank, which handles the county’s banking, and the Luzerne County Federal Credit Union, Swetz said.

Read more:  http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152031362/

Wolf’s Pick To Lead Pennsylvania State Police Draws Ire Over Wearing Uniform On Job

HARRISBURG — Col. Marcus Brown, Gov. Tom Wolf’s choice to lead the state police, has served as a patrol officer, a SWAT commander and the second-in-command of the Baltimore police.

He has led the Maryland Transportation Authority and the Maryland State Police.

But since his swearing-in on the day of Mr. Wolf’s inauguration, a group of retired troopers has taken exception to his decision to don the gray uniform of the Pennsylvania State Police.

They post on a Facebook page created to protest his wearing of the uniform, and encourage others to contact state senators, who must confirm Col. Brown, 50, as state police commissioner. In interviews, retired troopers said their questions are not limited to the uniform but extend to other issues, such as an association with then-Gov. Martin O’Malley’s push for gun-control measures. (Col. Brown has said he supports the Second Amendment and that there are no firearm proposals on the Pennsylvania agenda.)

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2015/02/23/Wear-suit-not-state-police-uniform-retired-troopers-tell-nominee/stories/201502230017

Boston’s Policy On Affordable Housing Inspires Pittsburgh Task Force

The ultra-chic Residences at Mandarin Oriental in Boston’s Back Bay — a development with its own concierge and marble foyers, as well as rents that range from $4,700 to $17,000 a month — has been the province of the rich and powerful since opening in 2008.

But not exclusively.

Thanks to a 15-year-old city policy, teachers, police officers and other modest wage earners live next door to the wealthy at the Mandarin and other luxurious residential developments in Boston.

Because of the city’s inclusionary development policy, the Mandarin houses 10 affordable apartments — comparable in size and quality to the others — with rents ranging from $1,365 to $2,340 a month. The lucky recipients were chosen by lottery.

Read more:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/02/22/Boston-s-policies-on-affordable-housing-inspires-Pittsburgh-leaders/stories/201502220077

Half A Block Leveled Without Permits In Philadelphia

Little more than a year after a botched demolition triggered a Center City building collapse that killed six, a demolition company took down nearly half a block of buildings in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section without obtaining the required permits, an Inquirer investigation has found.

While dismantling five buildings last spring, Ashaw Demolition of Oxford Circle also brought down a house that had been in a family for four generations without informing the owner, the owner contends in court documents.

And Ashaw used at least some of the unsafe and discredited techniques that caused the collapse at 22d and Market Streets, city inspectors said.

The demolition violated tough new rules the city adopted so the tragedy of the collapse would never be repeated, inspectors said.

Read more:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Building_anxiety_at_LandI.html

Pennsylvania Shale Gas Production Eclipsed 4 Trillion Cubic Feet In 2014

Pennsylvania shale drillers produced more than 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in the second half of 2014, setting another record despite low prices that have prompted a cutback in activity, the state reported Tuesday.

Producers pulled more than 4 trillion cubic feet of gas from shale last year, a 30-percent increase from the year before.

Industry groups applauded the numbers while sounding a cautious tone about what they see as threats to development: depressed prices and a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to impose two new taxes on sales and production.

“This is a tremendous success story – a story about jobs and opportunity,” said Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president for government affairs at America’s Natural Gas Alliance. “We hope the story continues, and that the next few chapters include sensible tax policy and new infrastructure so that Pennsylvania residents can fully benefit from the commonwealth’s abundant natural gas supplies.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7748482-74/based-wells-gas#ixzz3S2v34nob
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Philly’s On A Roll

Kat Clark, 25, has chosen to make a home in West Philadelphia after graduating in 2012 from Swarthmore College.

“It’s just a great place to live,” she said as she sipped coffee at La Colombe in the shadow of City Hall. Though the Chicago-area native considered relocating to New York City after school, the lure of Philadelphia’s cultural offerings, combined with the city’s comparative affordability, proved too tempting.

“There are a lot of artistic people around and this great academic scene,” she said, ticking off a laundry list of attributes that drew her to move here. “It’s not too large, but you can still do everything else you would do in a big city.

“In Philly, there’s still a lot going on, but you have space to grow,” echoed her friend, 24-year-old Tayarisha Poe.

Read more:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Philly_is_on_a_national_roll.html

Hotels, Money, David Cohen Helped Philly Snag 2016 Democratic National Convention

WASHINGTON – Hotels, money, Comcast executive David L. Cohen, and maybe some special treatment at the Liberty Bell all helped Philadelphia get over the top to win the right to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, city and party leaders said Thursday afternoon.

“The role of Philadelphia in shaping our nation’s history is unmatched,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee. “But what’s also unmatched is the comprehensive proposal” the city put together.

The three finalists to host the convention — Philadelphia, New York and Columbus, Ohio — were judged on logistics, security and resources to host the gathering that Democrats hope will serve as an energizing springboard to the 2016 presidential race, Wasserman Schultz said on an afternoon conference call with reporters.

Philadelphia presented the best combination of all three – though the proximity of thousands of hotel rooms to the Wells Fargo Center and sports complex were among its biggest draws, she said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/capitolinq/Hotels-money-David-Cohen-boosted-Philly-convention-bid.html#BvsKUxkxJvvgDLfi.99

Police Probe Pottstown Shooting, Victim Flown To Lehigh Hospital

Editor’s note:  Unfortunately, I was almost right in the middle of this tonight.  Getting a little too close for comfort.  I think the Attorney General’s Mobile Task Force is sorely needed.  Much of the crime in Pottstown is drug related.  It’s time to get serious and ferret out these criminals.  This needs to be the first order of business, not tourism. People are not going to flock to Pottstown if it is NOT SAFE! You are putting the cart before the horse.

POTTSTOWN – A shooting that took place in the area of a downtown alley Wednesday evening resulted in at least one victim being taken by car to the hospital and then flown by helicopter to Lehigh Valley Hospital for further treatment.

The patient’s condition and name were unavailable at press time.

Personnel at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center refused to provide any information or even confirm a shooting victim was or had been in the hospital.

However, The Mercury learned from another source that a patient flown from the hospital’s helicopter pad was the shooting victim.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150211/police-probe-pottstown-shooting-victim-flown-to-lehigh-hospital

Plan To Relocate Pittsburgh Playhouse Downtown Approved; Millcraft Proposes Condos For Saks Site

The stage is set for the relocation of the Pittsburgh Playhouse to Downtown. City planning commission members unanimously approved plans for construction of new playhouse complex on Forbes Avenue Downtown today, clearing the way for its move from Oakland.

Approval came over the objections of preservationists who urged the commission to no avail to save three Forbes Avenue facades that will be relocated and integrated into the new complex under the plans advanced by Point Park University.

With today’s decision, Point Park intends to start construction in March with the demolition of three Forbes Avenue buildings and hopes to have the new complex ready for audiences in July 2017.

The $53 million project will feature a 550-seat main theater, a 200-seat adaptive theater with doors that will open to a plaza for outdoor performances, a 100-seat black box theater and supporting facilities.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/development/2015/02/10/Millcraft-proposes-to-build-condos-garage-at-former-Saks-site-Downtown-Pittsburgh/stories/201502100184

Brian Williams Suspended From NBC News For Six Months After Misleading Statements

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – NBC News has decided to suspend Brian Williams from his duties as “NBC Nightly News” chief anchor and managing editor for six months without pay in the wake of the scandal over his misleading statements about his time covering the Iraq war in 2003.

The controversy over Williams’ embellishments have engulfed NBC News since the early last week when his account of facing enemy fire while riding in a helicopter was challenged by Iraq veterans.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/television/Brian_Williams_suspended_from_NBC_News_for_Six_Months.html#m7KJ1cDLDZuPP1Qe.99

CEO Of Royal Square Development Shares Market Street Vision For York

For Joshua Hankey, Wednesday was about as big a day as they come.

Only minutes after closing a deal on one key property — The Weinbrom Jewelers building at 58 W. Market St. — Hankey presented his $11.7 million plan to redevelop Market Street to a packed audience at the Yorktowne Hotel Ballroom.

The 36-year-old president and CEO of Royal Square Development and Construction presented his vision of a transformed Market Street to about 180 Rotarians and guests, a crowd that included business owners, clergy, attorneys, doctors and other prominent citizens.

The vision, Hankey said, is to breathe new life into the Market Street corridor, so that it serves to link thriving commercial areas on Beaver Street and the Royal Square neighborhood Hankey’s company is redeveloping.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27461444/ceo-royal-square-development-shares-market-street-vision

Atlantic City Has $12.8M Debt Due Tuesday; Lenders Wary

Just how wary lenders are of Atlantic City’s credit is evident in their recent demands as the city tries to refinance $12.8 million in debt due Tuesday.

Three lenders expressed interest in making the loan, but one wanted to charge 12 percent interest. Another was willing to lend at a lower rate but wanted a state guarantee, which the state rejected, Mayor Don Guardian said Saturday.

Talks continued with a third prospective lender, and a decision is expected Monday, Guardian said, adding: “We are prepared to make the payment regardless.”

The financial turmoil in Atlantic City, half of whose gambling revenue has disappeared since 2006, has intensified in the last year, as four of 12 casinos have closed, and 8,000 people have lost their jobs.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20150202_Atlantic_City_must_refi__12_8M_debt_due_Tuesday__lenders_are_wary.html#ko1yGKWcfBpViIB0.99

Philadelphia Schools Plan To Hire 400 Teachers In 2015-16

The Philadelphia School District plans to hire at least 400 teachers for the 2015-16 school year.

In a district that has spent the last several years closing schools and laying off teachers, that is notable.

Particular areas of need, officials said, are secondary math and science, special education, art, music, and upper elementary school.

In an effort to compete with charter schools and other systems, the district has also changed its application process, shortening the hiring timeline and requiring applicants to submit more information up front.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20150202_Phila__schools_plan_to_hire_400_teachers_in_2015-16.html#bVX3ueoSf5fh64GA.99

Downtown Lancaster Marriott’s Owner Proposes 96-Room, $23M Expansion

Lancaster MarriottThe math is simple.

If the Lancaster County Convention Center wants to attract bigger numbers of large conventions, it needs bigger numbers of nearby, convention-quality hotel rooms.

And right now, despite 299 rooms in the adjoining Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square, plus 134 more at The Hotel Lancaster two blocks away, research studies show that downtown is coming up short.

But a new proposal by the Marriott’s owner would make the convention center more appealing to the organizers of these big events.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/downtown-marriott-s-owner-proposes–room-m-expansion/article_b1b39a1e-a8da-11e4-b47b-3bbb05f76f38.html

Scranton Councilman Worries New Union Contract Ties Hands In Exiting Act 47

Scranton could have a difficult time shedding its distressed city status because of the pay raises and other perks in the revised police contract, a city councilman warned.

The city has until 2020 to successfully exit the state’s Act 47 financially distressed municipalities program. The new seven-year police contract approved by a split city council Thursday and signed by Mayor Bill Courtright Friday will hinder the city because the contract locks in pay raises and benefits beyond 2020, said Councilman Bill Gaughan.

He questioned whether the contract extension would “tie the city’s hands” by eliminating the possibility of negotiating in 2017 savings in a new police contract, while at the same time locking in raises and benefits a year beyond the Act 47 deadline of 2020.

Mr. Courtright disagreed that the contract extension will make it more difficult for the city to successfully exit Act 47.

Read more: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/city-councilman-worries-new-union-contract-ties-hands-in-exiting-act-47-1.1825840