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Profile Information

Name: Kathy Hinsman
Gender: Female
Hometown: Pittsburgh PA
Home country: USA
Current location: Pittsburgh
Member since: Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:16 PM
Number of posts: 24,209

Journal Archives

Greetings from her Majesty, the Queen

Pittsburgh lawyer Jason Richey's campaign for governor shows how big money shapes Pa. politics

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/07/03/pittsburgh-pennsylvania-governor-campaign-jason-richey-bill-mcswain-finance-pac-commonwealth-leaders-republican-gop/stories/202206260064

For Jason Richey, it was an abrupt political move that would surprise and sadden his most loyal supporters.

After campaigning for nearly a year as the outsider who would bring working-class values to one of the most powerful governor’s offices in the country, the Pittsburgh lawyer was dropping out.

He immediately endorsed his rival Bill McSwain, the darling of the GOP establishment, who was being bankrolled by one of the state’s wealthiest political action committees.

But then came a movement of money that would confound political experts in Pennsylvania and raise questions about how public dollars can be doled out — and more important, for what political purposes.

Just weeks after Mr. Richey dropped out, the same political action committee that was funding the McSwain candidacy turned around and dropped $250,000 into the bank account of Mr. Richey’s now-shuttered campaign.

Shortly after getting the money, Mr. Richey reimbursed himself for $150,000 he’d loaned his own campaign — money his campaign coffers didn’t have before the Commonwealth Leaders Fund donated it.

Eric Epstein, the founder of a well-known Pennsylvania political watchdog group, questioned whether the money and Mr. Richey’s decision to drop out were connected.

- more at link -

Post-Gazette graphic:

Hmmmm ... it seems that running for PA Governor has become very lucrative for some Repukes!

Edit to add: The Post-Gazette article makes it clear that the money came from Jeff Yass, the Montgomery County billionaire who was backing McSwain, and more than likely he also paid off Richey to drop out early. MUCH more at link.

Pa. Commonwealth Court permanently blocks Gov. Tom Wolf's bridge tolling plan

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/state/2022/06/30/pa-bridge-tolling-plan-blocked-commonwealth-court-judges-governor-tom-wolf-penndot/stories/202206300111

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court on Thursday permanently blocked Gov. Tom Wolf’s plan to toll as many as nine major state bridges, including one on Interstate 79 in Bridgeville, ruling his administration had not properly followed state law in getting the plan approved.

A panel from the court sided with the towns of Bridgeville, Collier and South Fayette to end the tolling plan. In a separate case from May, a Commonwealth Court judge imposed a temporary injunction on the tolling projects.

PennDOT has said the bridges are in deteriorating condition and wants to use tolls to pay for replacement and maintenance, while bringing on a private firm to complete the work. The agency got unanimous approval for the proposal from the state’s Public-Private Partnership Board in November 2020, and only announced in February 2021 which bridges it intended to use for the program.

As of mid-May, contract negotiations were underway between PennDOT and Macquarie Infrastructure Developments, LLC. of Australia, an international group chosen to run the bridge replacements. Tolls hadn’t been formally set, but were expected to be around a dollar or two.

Post-Gazette graphic showing proposed tollbridges:

- more at link -

Gov. Wolf discovered how to make Pennsylvanians mad - charge them for driving over bridges so the state can afford to pay for desperately needed repairs.

Good Boomer Humor (found on Reddit)

(link) https://www.reddit.com/r/goodboomerhumor/new/

Edit to add another good one!

Univ. of Pittsburgh ordered to stop fetal tissue research - could lose funding

Headline: Pa. House puts Pitt's funding on the line unless it stops its fetal tissue research

Link: https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/06/27/pennsylvania-state-house-republicans-approval-for-university-of-pittsburgh-funding-hinges-on-fetal-tissue-research/stories/202206270082

HARRISBURG — If the University of Pittsburgh wants its annual $151 million appropriation from the state, it will have to stop its fetal tissue research.

Pennsylvania House Republicans amended this requirement into the state’s appropriation bill for its four state-related universities by a 108-92 vote. Three GOP members, including Rep. Lori Mizgorski, R-Shaler, joined Democrats in opposing the amendment.

The past few years, Pitt has come under fire from some of the state House’s most conservative members for its fetal tissue research. The disapproval has only grown among House GOP members over the last year for the role former Chancellor Mark Nordenberg played as chairman of the state’s reapportionment committee. The committee redrew district lines in Western Pennsylvania to represent its declining population, which caused some local Republican incumbents to be drawn into the same district or lose their party advantage.

Each year, Pennsylvania sends more than $580 million to its four state-related universities — Pitt, Temple, Penn State and Lincoln. This is used to subsidize in-state student tuition, allowing the schools to offer discounts to Pennsylvania residents.

Criticism for Pitt came to a head this year, with House Republicans officially drawing a line in the sand Monday to block the university from receiving its funding unless it ceases its fetal tissue research, just as the Supreme Court overturned abortion as a federal constitutional right under Roe v. Wade.

The amendment approved Monday makes this funding “conditional,” and would require Pitt to submit a statement to several top state leaders that swore Pitt is not using fetal tissue from elected abortions in its research.

“My goal is not to stop the funding,” said Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill, who introduced the amendment. “As a matter of fact, I want to help Pitt get themselves out of a problem they have created for themselves.”

Mr. Knowles said the Pennsylvania Family Institute, the Pro-Life Federation and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference all supported his amendment.

- more at link -

Pitt could lose ALL of its funding because of one research program. The crazy bullies have taken over the playground!

In case you missed it in General Discussion, Fetterman and Shapiro sounded off today


Several people on DU have asked whether Josh Shapiro (our candidate for Governor) and John Fetterman (our candidate for US Senator) can work together. Here's the answer!

They both tweeted respectfully in favor of each other and they both recognize the dire importance for Pennsylvania and the country to elect these Pro-Choice candidates.

A proposed liquefied natural gas plant in Chester -- and hardly anyone knows about it

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/business/powersource/2022/06/14/proposed-penn-lng-liquefied-natural-gas-plant-chester-philadelphia-gigantic-waterfront-warehouse/stories/202206140035

A New York firm headed by a native Philadelphian aims to build a $6.4 billion liquefied natural gas export terminal in Chester City or another waterfront location near Philadelphia, capitalizing on the abundance of Pennsylvania shale gas and soaring worldwide demand for LNG after Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.

Penn LNG, which is affiliated with a company called Penn America Energy, has been quietly lining up support for the massive project, and it has targeted a 60-acre waterfront site in Chester now occupied by a warehouse complex. Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland said his financially stressed city, which is under state receivership, would welcome the tax revenue and job opportunities from a big industrial development.

Regional labor leaders, eager to create more construction jobs, also have been rallying political support to build a gas liquefaction plant and export terminal along the Delaware, similar to facilities that have sprouted on the U.S. Gulf Coast and turned the United States into a major natural gas exporter. There are only two East Coast LNG export facilities, the larger of which, in Cove Point, Md., is comparable to the facility Penn LNG proposes.

“This has been in discussion quietly behind the scenes over the last five years,” said Jim Snell, business manager of Steamfitters Local 420, which has 4,600 members in southeastern Pennsylvania. “Then the crisis started in the Ukraine, and now I think pressure has just ramped up tenfold. This project needs to get finished.”

LNG projects have attracted strong opposition from environmentalists and community advocates, who say such plants are big polluters, pose a safety risk, and commit the nation to more harmful gas production from hydraulic fracturing when it should be moving away from fossil fuel consumption.

... snip ...

A big cheerleader for LNG expansion is Toby Rice, chief executive of EQT Corp., the Pittsburgh company that has become the nation’s largest gas producer. Mr. Rice last Monday hosted a delegation of diplomats from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas for a bus tour of EQT’s operations in Western Pennsylvania to pitch the benefits of American LNG.

As part of its campaign to accelerate exports, the US LNG Association is presenting an alternative environmental narrative that portrays natural gas as compatible with aims to reduce worldwide carbon emissions. The trade group, which operates as LNG Allies, says that domestic natural gas played a bigger role than renewable energy in reducing the nation’s carbon emissions in the last decade by displacing dirtier fossil fuels such as coal and oil. It says LNG exports can induce more overseas power producers to switch from coal to natural gas, reducing carbon emissions.

- more at link -

It's hard to believe that this proposed new plant would be environmentally safer, but it would surely improve our GNP bottom line.

Pennsylvania's definition of broadband hasn't changed in nearly 20 years

(link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/06/06/pennsylvania-broadband-digital-divide-pa-legislature-definition/stories/202206040054

Pennsylvania’s definition of broadband hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years. Experts say it desperately needs an update.

State lawmakers passed up a chance to increase the speeds that qualify as broadband, despite warnings that they would soon become obsolete.

HARRISBURG — Everyone in Pennsylvania has access to broadband — at least according to the definition set by state lawmakers in the early 2000s.

But ask residents of rural areas about their internet speeds, and you’ll likely hear about slow connections and outdated technology.

What happened? In 1993, the state Legislature approved a sweeping measure they hoped would guarantee universal access to high-speed internet in Pennsylvania.

As a recent Spotlight PA investigation reported, the law cut a deal with the existing landline phone companies, who agreed to make broadband available across the entire state — even in unprofitable rural areas — in exchange for less regulation and the chance to earn higher profits.

Ten years later, with the law due to expire, legislators debated whether to renew it. That involved setting themselves an impossible task: trying to predict the internet speeds of the future.

The 1993 law defined broadband as a minimum download speed of 1.544 megabits per second — blazing fast at the time. By the early 2000s, though, some industry experts warned lawmakers that the original standard would soon be obsolete.

- more at link -

This failure to regulate the ISP/phone companies is more of a concern for the under-served rural areas. Those of us in the fiber-optic service areas (metro and denser suburban areas) don't have to worry so much.

If Hell really exists, does the Devil give participation awards?

Oz's lead over McCormick shrinks to less than 1,000 votes as automatic recount nears

Caption: Allegheny County elections workers review provisional ballots with authorized representatives from Dave McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz's campaigns, Monday, May 23, 2022, on the North Side. (photo credit: Alexandra Wimley/Post-Gazette)

(Link) https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2022/05/23/mehmet-oz-dave-mccormick-votes-guaranteeing-automatic-recount-in-gop-senate-race/stories/202205230084

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 23, 2022

Mehmet Oz’s lead in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate primary shrunk to under 1,000 votes on Monday as Allegheny and other Pennsylvania counties tallied provisional ballots and prepared for the all-but-certain prospect of an automatic recount.

In one of the most closely watched Senate primaries in the country, Mr. Oz led former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick by 992 votes — of more than 1.34 million cast in the race — as of late Monday evening, almost a week removed from the primary election.

With the margin still so tight and both campaigns jockeying for any vote they can get before a likely recount, Mr. McCormick’s campaign asked the Commonwealth Court, in legal paperwork filed late Monday evening, to require Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to tally mail-in ballots that are missing a handwritten date on the return envelope.

There’s no official estimate of how many of these undated ballots exist across the state, but in Allegheny County, the county with the most registered Republicans in Pennsylvania, there are 42 GOP ballots that meet this criteria, election officials said.

- more at link -

The entire count could be completed by as early as Tuesday when the military and civilian overseas absentee ballots will be opened and counted. However there's no way to determine how many are Republican votes until the ballots are opened and counted. In any case, the absentee ballots won't be enough to give a clear lead to either candidate. The state will most likely initiate an automatic recount which could take another two weeks.

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