Yearly Archives: 2014

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    tom wolf 2The Associated Press has announced that Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is filling key positions in his office with more people with connections to his successful campaign and to ex-Gov. Ed Rendell.
    Mary Isenhour, will be his legislative secretary and John Hanger, a former fellow cabinet member under Rendell, will be Wolf’s policy and planning secretary when he succeeds Republican Tom Corbett on Jan. 20.
    Isenhour , held top positions in the state Democratic Party while Rendell was governor, serving as executive director from 2007 to 2010 and directing Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign in Pennsylvania. She has run a political consultancy since 2010 with former Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney.
    Hanger was a member of the Public Utility Commission and founder of the Harrisburg-based environmental advocacy group, PennFuture, before becoming Rendell’s environmental protection secretary in 2008, staying until Rendell left office in 2011.
    Hanger also ran for governor as a Democrat, but dropped out in March amid difficulty raising money, two months before Wolf won a four-way primary. He has been in private law practice since 2011.
    Wolf served in Rendell’s cabinet as revenue secretary for nearly two years, leaving in 2008.
    Wolf also named Obra Kernodle IV to be his public liaison. Kernodle was a deputy campaign manager for Wolf. Kernodle also has served in Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration and worked on President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign in Pennsylvania as the southeast political director.
    The only other person named to serve in Wolf’s office thus far is Katie McGinty, another former Rendell cabinet member and candidate for governor.
    McGinty will serve as Wolf’s chief of staff. She was Rendell’s environmental protection secretary from 2003 to 2008, preceding Hanger, and ran for governor against Wolf in the Democratic primary, finishing fourth.
    In the fall campaign, she led Campaign for a Fresh Start, a political action committee that actively supported Wolf and other Democrats in the recent election.
    –AP reports

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    farm show 2
    Agriculture Secretary George Greig invites Pennsylvanians to celebrate agriculture during the 99th Pennsylvania Farm Show, Jan. 10-17 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.
    The eight-day show features 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibitors.
    “Pennsylvania is home to a diverse agriculture industry, and the Farm Show reflects that in its variety of displays, competitions and activities,” said Greig. “Join us for the 99th edition of a Pennsylvania tradition. It’s a celebration of the best that is made and grown right here, available for you to watch and to sample for free.”
    The unveiling of the 1,000-pound butter sculpture is Thursday, Jan. 8, at 11 a.m.
    The PA Preferred™ Farm Show Reception at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 9, features Pennsylvania-produced foods and beverages. Tickets for the reception are $35. Preregister online by Dec. 19 at www.farmshow.state.pa.us.
    The 2015 Farm Show will feature many new attractions, including:
    • Fill a Glass with Hope – Donate money to help get fresh milk to Pennsylvanians in need through the Pennsylvania Dairymen’s Association Fill a Glass with Hope project. Funds benefit the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank’s milk distribution program, the first of its kind in the nation. Donations will be accepted at the Weis Markets Booth and the Food Court all week long.
    • New High-tech Woodmobile – The new Pennsylvania Hardwoods Development Council Woodmobile adds a new look, touchscreen technology and more videos to the interior, offering more ways to learn about Pennsylvania’s nation-leading hardwoods industry.
    • Celebrity Chef – Aaron McCargo Jr., winner of The Next Food Network Star and star of “Big Daddy’s House,” will grace the PA Preferred™ Culinary Connection stage Sunday, Jan. 11, at noon and 2 p.m. Aaron whips up mouth-watering recipes inspired by many years of culinary experience with his fun-loving family.
    • Food Court Healthier, Expands Options, Size – New items include fried pickles, grilled cheeseburgers, soft pretzels and pork nachos. A switch by many vendors to using High Oleic Soybean Oil will make for healthier Food Court staples and improve kitchen performance.
    • Lumberjacks, Lumberjills Demonstrate Logging Events – Watch an exhibition of lumberjacking events like axe throwing; crosscut sawing; springboard, standing and underhand chops; and the hot saw by the Pennsylvania Professional Lumberjack Organization. They’ll demonstrate multiple wood harvesting techniques and horse-drawn logging on Sunday, Jan. 11, at 6 p.m. in the Large Arena. Horse-drawn logging demonstrations will also be held through the week.
    • Family Ag Olympics – Have fun competing while learning about agriculture through ten stations in the new Farm Show Ag Olympics Saturday, Jan. 10, at 4 p.m. in the Equine Arena.
    Returning show highlights include:
    • Celebrity Cow Milking Contest – Always a crowd-pleaser, the contest on Friday, Jan. 16, at 2:30 p.m. features Agriculture Secretary George Greig competing with local media personalities and state legislators.
    • Great Grape Stomp – Two barefoot celebrity teams compete for top vintner honors in relay style to stomp the largest amount of juice from 30 pounds of grapes on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 5:30 p.m. Audience members can vote for their favorite team and enter to win prizes.
    • Celebrity Draft Horse Team Driving – Celebrity teams compete in a draft horse team driving competition Tuesday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m.
    • “Today’s Agriculture” – An exhibit in a full-size barn displays modern production practices used to efficiently and safely produce our food supply. This year, learn how soybeans become soybean oil that is used in the PA Preferred Food Court.
    • “Parade of Agriculture” – During Opening Ceremonies Saturday, Jan. 10, at 10:30 a.m. representatives from each area of the Farm Show along with state commodity representatives parade through the Large Arena.
    • Farm Show Detectives – Young visitors can investigate Pennsylvania agriculture by visiting learning stations around the complex that offer hands-on lessons and activities. New this year are stops for exploring everyday ways agriculture touches our lives with Penn State, learning the parts of a tractor alongside a tractor amusement ride and discovering the importance of keeping dogs safe with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.
    • Rabbit Hopping Competition – Celebrity guides will lead trained rabbits in a competition of speed and agility as the animals hop obstacles, similar to equine jumping, at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 11, in the Small Arena. Vote for the winning rabbit and you will be entered to win a prize.
    • Dairy Oxen Demonstration – Learn how settlers used dairy steers to build the nation during a dairy oxen demonstration on Tuesday, Jan. 12, from 8-10 a.m.
    The Pennsylvania Farm Show runs Jan. 10-16 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Jan. 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and parking is $10 in Farm Show lots. The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center is easily accessible from nearby Interstate 81.
    For more information, visit www.farmshow.state.pa.us.

     

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    alan c. walkerDepartment of Community and Economic Development (DCED) Secretary C. Alan Walker today issued the following statement in response to the release of the Auditor General’s Special Performance Audit which evaluated funding awarded to businesses from five DCED programs from a prior administration, between 2007 and 2010.
    The five DCED programs included in the review were the: Customized Job Training (CJT); Opportunity Grant Program (OGP); Infrastructure Development Program (IDP); PA Industrial Development Authority (PIDA); and Small Business First (SBF). In 2011, the Corbett administration consolidated the CJT, OGP and IDP programs into the Pennsylvania First program. Additionally, the SBF program will be consolidated under PIDA per Act 161 of 2014.
    “The Auditor General’s report, which evaluates grants awarded prior to the Corbett administration, provides constructive recommendations; however, the report also contains a number of generalized statements rather than facts consistent with a typical audit.
    “The audit asserts that only 56 percent of businesses awarded assistance met projections when in fact our monitoring and compliance office provided data showing that businesses actually created or retained 133,329 jobs of the 137,749 pledged to be created or retained. These figures establish that the programs in question resulted in businesses meeting 96.7 percent of projections during a time period considered by many to be the second largest economic downturn in United States history.
    “DCED will continue strengthening its efforts to support private sector job growth and ensuring transparency and accountability in the expenditure of public funds.”
    A complete copy of DCED’s comprehensive response to the Auditor General’s Special Performance Audit can be found at www.newPA.com/auditresponse

     

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    Dec. 2014 DCEDThe Department of Community and Economic Development needs to improve oversight and transparency of some job creation programs that doled out hundreds of millions of taxpayer funds, according to a report released Wednesday by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
    The 61-page audit report, which focused on about $213 million awarded through five programs from 2007 through 2010, found that 44 percent of the businesses that received the grants or loans did not meet their job creation commitments.
    Projects that failed to meet goals were not a wasted investment, DePasquale said, adding the department should learn from those efforts and work to improve the loan and grant process.
    In some cases, some businesses were granted extensions to try and meet the goal, some hit economic hardships and didn’t create any jobs, and some didn’t quite meet the goal, according to DePasquale’s office.
    The department considers a business that pledged 100 jobs and created only 98 jobs a “sound investment” during one of the worst economic downturns, said DCED spokesman Steve Kratz. Those businesses would still end up in the 44 percent category, according to DePasquale.
    DCED pointed out, as did DePasquale, that the other 56 percent appeared to pull more weight because the total number of jobs created or retained (133,329) met 96.7 percent of projections and was only about 4,000 short of the total promised (137,749).
    DePasquale said his auditors weren’t concerned about the total number.
    “DCED makes a calculation by aggregating the job number, not looking at the statistic overall,” DePasquale said. “Our point is, regardless of which point you want to use, 44 percent didn’t meet their number. We should be looking at why that happened and what needs to be done to fix it.”
    DePasquale said DCED should set overall performance goals for each of its job creation programs, continue to impose penalties against businesses to recoup funds, require businesses to provide actual payroll records to verify jobs created/retained, and monitor and verify job creation numbers for all businesses awarded loans after they are paid off.
    The five programs reviewed were Customizing Job Training (CJT), Opportunity Grant Program (OGP), Infrastructure Development Program (IDP), Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) and Small Business First (SBP) program. CJT, OGP, IDP were merged under Pennsylvania First by Gov. Tom Corbett in 2011, partly because of the multiple contracts a single business could hold and voluminous paperwork they would have to fill out, Kratz said. SBP is consolidated along with other programs into PIDA, because of a recent law.
    The audit also looked at DCED’s monitoring efforts during Gov. Tom Corbett’s term. DePasquale credited DCED for making improvements in monitoring businesses and in assessing and collecting penalties from businesses that fail to meet commitments since the department’s last audit in 2007.
    However, annual budget cuts to DCED during Corbett’s term probably contributed to some of the monitoring and accountability problems his auditors uncovered, he said. The department shifted staff around to cover jobs lost through attrition and retirements, Kratz said.
    “In general, Office of Auditor General and DCED have the same goals in mind, and that’s transparency and accountability in the expenditure of these funds,” Kratz said.
    DCED and DePasquale were also at odds on a few points in the audit. In its official response to the audit, DCED said the report “is peppered throughout with general comments that seem more like opinion than fact, incongruous in an audit and, in many cases, are not supported by facts.”
    Auditors “strenuously disagreed” and said DCED provided no basis for the comment.
    DePasquale said 44 percent of the 600 businesses which received a total of about $213 million from 2007 through 2010 failed to create or retain the number of jobs promised when they obtained a grant or loan from DCED. Kratz said the department wouldn’t call them 600 “businesses” but 600 “contracts” since a single business could hold multiple contracts with the five job creation programs audited by DePasquale.
    A footnote in the audit report acknowledges this, and auditors said the term was used for the ease of reporting.
    Another problem identified by DePasquale is what he said was DCED’s failure to independently verify through payroll records the job-created/retained number submitted by businesses. Kratz said DCED obtains signed affidavits from company officials about their reported job numbers, which the department believes is satisfactory.
    Kratz said DCED has not had to pursue legal action against any company over false employment statements.
    –Kevin Zwick, Capitolwire

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    MC  Kathleen KaneAttorney General Kathleen G. Kane has realigned her executive office to strengthen her commitment to public safety by continuing to prosecute drug dealers and child predators, protect consumers, seniors and veterans from fraud, and expose public corruption.
    Blake Rutherford has been appointed Chief of Staff, effective December 15. Rutherford, 36, formerly served as Vice President of McLarty Companies, led by former White House Chief of Staff Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty. Prior to joining McLarty Companies, Rutherford was Chief of Staff to the Attorney General of Arkansas. During his tenure in Arkansas, the office established a Cyber Crimes Unit to fight Internet predators, and developed a wide-ranging Consumer Protection initiative and website intended to protect consumers against scams and fraud. From 2006 to 2010, Rutherford served as Director of Public Communications at Stone Ward, a full-service advertising and public relations firm. Prior to that, he was an attorney serving in private practice with the firm of Wright, Lindsey & Jennings LLP. Rutherford is a graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Arkansas School of Law. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Jessica Dean, who is the evening news co-anchor of CBS Philly.
    “We are excited about adding Blake to our team. He has demonstrated his commitment to public service, and he brings extensive experience that will benefit this office and the Commonwealth in the coming year and beyond,” said Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane.
    In addition, Attorney General Kane recently appointed Mike Stefan as her Legislative Director and hired Cathryn Hinesley as an Assistant Press Secretary to provide media relations and speech writing.
    Renee Martin, who has been Acting Communications Director for several months, will return to her duties as Education and Outreach Director in January. This section of the office is staffed with agents across the state who work to educate Pennsylvanians of all ages about the myriad of services available to them through the Office of Attorney General. Attorney General Kane has selected a permanent Communications Director and more information about the new director will be announced when the employment process is completed.
    Chief Operating Officer David Tyler has accepted a position outside the agency. His last day with the Office of Attorney General is December 12. During his tenure, Tyler provided critical assistance in passage of legislation that expanded the state’s prescription monitoring program; modernized operational processes and practices throughout the agency, saving more than $7 million; and created a robust Legislative Affairs office that will continue to serve all Pennsylvanians.
    “We thank David for his service and wish him the best of luck in his new position. We look forward to our continued working relationship,” she said.

     

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    By Rep. Mike Hanna

    rep. mike hanna 2Perhaps you’ve seen the legal advertising in newspapers for proposed amendments to Pennsylvania’s constitution. Among them is a proposal to change how public charities’ tax-exempt status is determined.

    The proposed change won’t be on the Nov. 4 ballot. It still faces another round of approval in the state House and Senate but ostensibly could be before voters as soon as next year.

    The fate of the amendment could determine who pays property taxes and who doesn’t.

    I believe the amendment would harm property taxpayers because it would sabotage municipalities’ ability to question whether some “charities” are actually acting as charities.

    Property tax exemptions should be distributed about as easily as manhole covers are tossed about. If not, more of the tax burden falls on homeowners, who already are shouldering an unfair load of the unfair tax.

    In some communities, nonprofits consume two-thirds of the properties, and their tax-exempt status makes it impossible for local governments to levy fair taxes to pay for police and fire protection, schools and infrastructure.

    Any proposal to tinker with our constitution should be viewed warily. However, the public charities amendment is advancing without even a single public hearing.

    Both the process and the policy are suspect. The amendment, I believe, would uphold an unfair system where large health-care organizations with multi-millions of dollars in revenue are judged by the same standards as the local boys’ and girls’ club.

    The dispute has been brewing for a long time.

    The state constitution permits the legislature to exempt “institutions of purely public charity” from tax. However, the framers of the constitution neither defined “institutions of purely public charity” nor granted the General Assembly the authority to define public charities, leaving it to state courts under separation-of-powers principles.

    These issues set up the turf war between the courts and the legislature that’s been whip-sawing back and forth, leaving battered taxpayers and communities in its wake.

    Fast forward to1985 when the state Supreme Court established a five-part test for nonprofits to qualify as a public charity and receive property tax exemptions. Under the court’s “HUP Test” — Hospital Utilization Project v. Commonwealth — nonprofits must:

    • Advance a charitable purpose;
    • Operate free from the private profit motive;
    • Donate a substantial portion of their service;
    • Benefit a substantial class of citizens who are the legitimate subject of charity; and
    • Relieve the government of some of its burden.

    While the HUP Test was not implemented perfectly, the legislature compounded the problems in 1997 with passage of Act 55, the Purely Public Charities Act.

    Act 55 imposed too-easily-met exemption standards and hamstrung local governments’ abilities to challenge an organization’s standing as a purely public charity.

    But the fuse in the latest round of the turf war was lit by a 2012 state Supreme Court ruling that denied tax-exempt status to a religious camp in Pike County. The court ruled that the legislature could pass laws to more clearly define what a charity is, but that it could not pass laws creating a broader definition than outlined in the HUP test.

    The legislature responded with all the subtlety of a train wreck, ramming through the proposed constitutional amendment – with no public hearings and little public debate. It would give the legislature ultimate and overly broad authority to determine which institutions are public charities and eligible for tax-exempt status.

    As I said, the amendment question – as well as proposed amendments regarding abolishing Philadelphia Traffic Court and increasing the mandatory retirement age for judges — is not on the Nov. 4 ballot. All three proposed amendments would have to be approved by the legislature elected Nov. 4 before they could be placed on a ballot.

    Although next month’s election could change the dynamics, I will urge that the charities amendment be defeated if and when it reappears before the legislature next session –and for its defeat if and when appears before voters.

    President John F. Kennedy said government is an art and a precious obligation. It also requires balance. In a complicated and important issue like this, reason and compromise are needed.
    Lobbing a constitutional amendment grenade into the separation of powers turf war is hardly the answer, and property taxpayers stand to lose from this nuclear option.

    Rep. Hanna is Democratic whip of the Pa. House Democratic Caucus.

     

     

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    gotshallThe House this week voted to concur in Senate amendments to legislation sponsored by Rep. Robert Godshall (R-Montgomery) to reauthorize the Responsible Utility Customer Protection Act, which was set to expire at the end of this year.

    The act (known as Chapter 14 of the Public Utility Code) was established in 2004 to govern gas, electric and water company procedures related to service termination and reconnection, as well as establishing terms for payment arrangements issued by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to customers who fall behind on their utility bills. It protects responsible bill-paying customers from rate increases attributable to other customers who, despite the means to do so, choose not to pay their bills. It also provides commonsense tools for utilities to improve collections and reduce uncollectible accounts.

    “Chapter 14 ensures all customers will have access to utility services, that low-income customers continue to receive payment assistance and that all utility ratepayers will be protected from rate increases caused by the bad debt of those who can pay their bills, but choose not to. House Bill 939 makes reasonable, responsible amendments to ensure the customer protection goals, established in the original law, continue to be met,” Godshall said.

    The Senate amended House Bill 939 to add provisions relating to Friday service terminations and security deposits and to establish a new sunset date for the law of Dec. 31, 2024. The House unanimously concurred in Senate amendments, and the bill has been delivered to the governor for his signature.

     

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    dog and catLegislation that would make it a crime to willfully and maliciously kill dogs and cats for human consumption won approval in the state Senate last week and is scheduled to come back to the House for a concurrence vote today. The House gave this legislation its unanimous endorsement earlier in this legislative session.

    House Bill 1750, sponsored by Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny/Washington), would close a loophole in the law that fails to protect domesticated animals from being slaughtered and eaten. Maher’s legislation would prohibit the processing, sale and serving of dog and cat meat for human consumption and impose strict penalties on those who violate the law.

    “As repulsive and unfathomable as it is to imagine that anyone would subject family pets to such a horrific end, we know it is happening and there are no laws to prevent it,” said Maher. “House Bill 1750 would effectively shut down back alley slaughterhouses and keep Fido and Frisky off the dinner menu. This law would make clear to anyone who would prey on our beloved pets, that they will pay a heavy price for doing so.”

    Violations would result in a misdemeanor carrying a fine of $1,000 to $10,000 and/or up to five years imprisonment. Subsequent violations would result in a felony of the third degree, carrying a fine of $2,500 to $15,000 and/or up to seven years in prison.

    “People who abuse or neglect animals face tough penalties under the state’s animal cruelty statutes, but there is nothing on the books to specifically prohibit the slaughter and consumption of domesticated animals. That makes absolutely no sense. Our laws must extend the same protections to dogs and cats,” said Maher.

    On Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation with amendment and returned the measure to the House on concurrence. In the waning hours of this legislative session, the fate of these animals rests with the House, which has already given the bill its unanimous approval. A positive vote on concurrence will send the bill to the governor to be signed into law.

    Media contact: Donna Pinkham, 717-260-6452

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    corbett press clubGovernor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, will address the Pennsylvania Press Club on Monday, October 27, 2014. The luncheon begins at noon and will be held at the Hilton Harrisburg & Towers.
    Since his inauguration as Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on January 18th, 2011, Tom Corbett has been fighting for the people of Pennsylvania.
    By reducing spending for the first time in 40 years, cutting government waste and fraud, balancing state budgets without borrowing more or raising taxes on the middle class and opening up the Marcellus Shale for responsible exploration and development, Pennsylvania was able to close a $4.2 billion budget deficit, invest unprecedented funding in public education, create over 180,000 new private sector jobs and is on the verge of unchartered economic prosperity.
    Tom Corbett has dedicated much of his life to serving others. After graduating from college, Tom spent a year as a civics and history teacher at Pine Grove Area High School in Schuylkill County. A few years after graduating from law school, Tom was hired by the Reagan administration as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, focusing on organized crime and drug enforcement. He was also one of the first members of President Reagan’s National Drug Task Force. In 1989, following several years of private law practice, he was appointed as the United States Attorney for Western Pennsylvania by President George H.W. Bush.
    Tom Corbett offered his legal expertise as an advisor to Tom Ridge, a U.S. Congressman at the time, who would become Governor and appoint Tom to fill an interim role as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General from 1995 to 1997. Tom returned to the private sector and eventually opened his own firm. A champion for public safety and criminal justice, Tom Corbett was elected the 46th Attorney General of Pennsylvania in 2004. He was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2008 with over three million votes, more than any Republican candidate in Pennsylvania’s history.
    Answering Pennsylvanians call for change and reform in Harrisburg, Tom announced his candidacy in September of 2009 and was elected as Pennsylvania’s 46th Governor in November of 2010.
    A lifelong Pennsylvanian, Tom was born in Philadelphia and raised in Shaler Township outside of Pittsburgh, where he attended high school. He obtained his undergraduate degree from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania and his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. Tom also served his country and Commonwealth for 13 years as a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division, before retiring as a Captain in 1984.
    Tom Corbett and Susan Manbeck of Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, were married in 1972. They continue to reside in Shaler Township in the same home Tom grew up in and have been blessed with two children, Tom and Katherine, and a grandson, Liam. They also enjoy the company of their two Airedales, Harry and Penny — short for Harrisburg and Pennsylvania. The dogs were named by Pennsylvania’s children in a statewide contest.
    The luncheons for the year 2014 are underwritten by the following: 2T Tiboni Tucker Associates, AFSCME Council 13, AFT Pennsylvania, APSCUF, Bravo Group, Broadband Cable Association of PA, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC, Cancervotes, Capital Associates, Capital Blue Cross, Ceisler Media & Advocacy, Columbia Gas of PA and MD, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, Gmerek Government Relations, Hudak & Company, Integrity Bank, McKonly and Asbury LLP, McNees Wallace & Nurick, LLC, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, Pennsylvania Business Council, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association, PSEA, Quantum Communications, Tierney Communications, United Way of Pennsylvania, and WPX Energy.
    The Pennsylvania Press Club Series is sponsored by the Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, Pennsylvania Cable Network, Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association and the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society.
    The public is invited to attend. Cost is $30 per person and must be paid in advance. Reservations can be made by contacting (717) 939-1400 or info@papressclub.org. For more information visit our website at www.papressclub.org.

     

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    email pornGov. Tom Corbett says a review of State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan’s state-email account “indicates that he did not participate in opening, originating, forwarding or replying to any message” the Office of Attorney General said contained sexually explicit and pornographic material.

    Noonan received hundreds of emails that were passed between several former top aides to then-Attorney General Corbett from 2008 to 2012.

    “He got everything, but sent nothing,” said OAG spokeswoman Renee Martin of Noonan.

    The Office of Attorney General initially said it would not release the information contained in emails after several Pennsylvania media outlets filed Right-To-Know requests. However, a day later Kane’s office allowed reporters to review pictures and videos that her office says were part of a series of hundreds of explicit emails sent by several men who worked under Corbett.

    The releasing of information has been done largely piecemeal, leading to charges of bias. Kane is the first Democrat to hold the office since it became an elected position in 1980. The eight men – only a portion of a larger group of individuals, some of which are reportedly current OAG employees, to have received or sent such emails – named by Kane’s office were hired under past Republican administrations.

    “I call upon the Attorney General to release to the public, in a complete and unbiased manner, all of the information on all individuals associated with this issue. Such action is in the best interest of the public and will serve to regain trust in those who work in public service,” Corbett said.

    Noonan is currently heading up one of the largest manhunts in state police history as local, state and federal law enforcement officials scour the northern Monroe and southern Pike counties for Eric Frein, the prime suspect in the ambush of two state police officers two weeks ago. One officer died.

    “It is important that Commissioner Noonan remain focused on the critical public safety mission he is leading in the manhunt for Eric Frein and that there is no disruption in the work underway in this case,” Corbett said in the statement.

    On Oct. 2, Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Christopher Abruzzo resigned after the governor’s office reviewed emails containing text – some sexually explicit. OAG said he received 46 emails and sent eight.

    In a resignation letter, Abruzzo said he had “no recollection” of sending emails, but took full responsibility for his actions in 2009.

    During that same examination of emails, Corbett’s office reviewed emails sent by DEP Deputy General Counsel Glenn Parno, AG Corbett’s former chief deputy attorney general for environmental crimes. The governor also accepted his resignation on Oct. 2. OAG said he received 178 and sent 10.

    Corbett’s office reviewed information about Abruzzo, Parno and Noonan but is expecting to review more in the very near future. Randy Feathers, a former investigator in Corbett’s OAG who now sits on the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, also was named by Kane’s OAG as having sent hundreds of explicit emails.

    Corbett has said he was unaware that close aides were sending explicit emails on state email accounts. He denounced the activity, which, while not illegal, is prohibited by an OAG policy instituted by Corbett when he was attorney general.

    “As I have said, I do not condone or tolerate comments or behavior degrading to individuals, written or otherwise. This type of activity does not belong in the workplace and I find it inexcusable,” he said in a statement.

    Martin said OAG will release another batch of email for Feathers, Patrick Blessington, a former OAG staffer now prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, Rick Sheetz, a former executive attorney general who now works for the Lancaster District Attorney, and former Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley.

    –Kevin Zwick, Capitolwire