Wednesday, September 24
PHILADELPHIA SCHOOLS-CIGARETTE TAX
Senate OKs Philly schools cigarette tax measure
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — After months of delay, a bill to provide crucial revenue for the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District is on its way to Gov. Tom Corbett's desk.
The state Senate joined the House in supporting the measure Tuesday by a 39-11 vote.
Corbett's spokesman says he'll sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.
The legislation stalled in June, even though both the House and Senate supported the tax authorization to provide $83 million a year to the state's largest school district.
House and Senate Republican leaders battled over unrelated provisions that included local hotel taxes and a small-city economic development program, but those were dropped in the final version.
The state already imposes a $1.60-a-pack excise tax on cigarettes.
POLICE BARRACKS SHOOTING
Residents chafe over search for ambush suspect
CANADENSIS, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state troopers are defending themselves against complaints they've unfairly denied residents access to their homes during the manhunt for a suspected killer.
In a statement Tuesday, the police force says it's been "diligent in respecting the rights of the public" while working to keep residents and law enforcement officers safe.
But some people in the village of Canadensis have ended up sleeping in their cars because police cordoned off entire neighborhoods looking for 31-year-old Eric Frein (freen).
Authorities say Frein ambushed the state police barracks in Blooming Grove on Sept 12. He is charged with fatally shooting Cpl. Bryon Dickson and wounding another trooper.
While police search, residents say they've been kept away from their homes for more than 24 hours, leaving elderly relatives unattended and pets unfed.
TEEN KILLED NEAR HOSPITAL
Suspected gunman in teen shooting turns self in
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The suspected gunman in the shooting of a teen girl killed near a Philadelphia hospital during a fight has turned himself in.
Police spokeswoman Tanya Little says 19-year-old Darian Person turned himself in Tuesday night. He faces a murder charge in the death of 15-year-old Aisha Abdur-Rhaman. Police say she was a high school sophomore and innocent bystander.
She's the fourth person to be killed by stray gunfire in the last two months.
Capt. James Clark said two large groups had been feuding and met up Monday afternoon at a busy intersection near Einstein Medical Center.
He says the gathering devolved into a few different fights when the girl was struck.
Police say many of the teens involved in the melee are students at Delaware Valley Charter High School.
2 men, 1 woman face charges in gay couple beating
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Two men and a woman are being charged in the beating of a gay couple during a late-night encounter in Philadelphia.
Prosecutors identify the suspects Tuesday as 24-year-old Philip Williams, 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan and 24-year-old Katherine Knott.
Philadelphia prosecutors say they have approved warrants charging them with conspiracy, aggravated and simple assault, and reckless endangerment.
Defense lawyer Louis Busico, who represents Knott, denied that the dispute was motivated by anti-gay bias.
Williams' attorney did not immediately return a call for comment and Harrigan's attorney is unknown.
The victims say a large group out on the town hurled gay slurs and beat them when the two parties passed on the street on Sept. 11.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams says no one in Philadelphia should be attacked over their sexual orientation.
Steelers spoke to Harrison about domestic violence
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin spoke to James Harrison about the "climate change" around domestic violence before re-signing the veteran linebacker.
Harrison was arrested in 2008 on assault and criminal mischief charges following an altercation with his then-girlfriend. The charges were dropped after Harrison completed anger management classes. He was not suspended by the team.
Tomlin praised Harrison for his growth since the incident and said he does not anticipate "it being an issue" following Harrison's return to the team Tuesday following a brief retirement.
Steelers president Art Rooney II and Giants owner John Mara are overseeing an independent investigation into how the NFL looked into the domestic abuse case against former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.
NATURAL GAS PIPELINES-LEAKS
Paper: Pa. natural gas leaks among worst in nation
(Information in the following story is from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com )
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A newspaper reports Pennsylvania has more than 10,000 miles of dangerously leaky, decades-old natural gas distribution pipes and it could cost $11 billion to replace them all.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday that federal records show Philadelphia has the highest concentration of leaky gas lines in the state. In 2013, Philadelphia Gas Works reported 89 leaks per hundred miles of gas line — eight times the national average.
According to the newspaper's analysis, accidents involving gas distribution lines have killed more than 120 people nationwide, injured more than 500 others and caused more than $775 million in damage since 2004.
Peoples Natural Gas and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania plan to spend more than $1 billion to replace pipe over the next few years.
Pa. ironworkers admit arson at non-union site
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia ironworkers eager to get work at their union hall admit in court they did "nightwork" at non-union job sites, torching buildings and toppling steel beams.
Four of 10 people charged in a federal indictment have pleaded guilty this week, and four more have signed plea agreements.
They face more than a decade in prison unless they get significant breaks for their pleas.
Prosecutors say three of the union members took part in the 2012 arson of a Quaker meetinghouse being built in Philadelphia.
Defense lawyer William Brennan represents 49-year-old James Walsh, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to a lead role in the meetinghouse arson.
Brennan says the indictment shows "you had to do 'nightwork' to be considered for day work."
He calls Walsh a hard-working man trying to support his family.
IMMIGRATION OVERLOAD-SOUTH TEXAS
Texas immigrant center to hold up to 2,400
DILLEY, Texas (AP) — Federal officials say a residential center that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will use to house families apprehended while crossing into the U.S. will hold up to 2,400 people.
Authorities said Tuesday that ICE will operate the facility when it opens in November in Dilley, Texas, about 70 miles southwest of San Antonio. It will house immigrants found traveling across the border with their children.
The South Texas Family Residential Center will be the fourth to open in recent months to house the influx of immigrants. It's meant to expedite the return to their home countries. Other centers have opened east of Dilley in Karnes City; Artesia, New Mexico; and Leesport, Pennsylvania.
Officials say the Dilley center initially will house 480 people but will eventually hold 2,400.
Big donors give more in Pennsylvania governor race
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's candidates for governor are revealing the identities of the donors who gave them nearly $18 million over the summer as the race threatens the state's all-time campaign spending record.
Tuesday was the deadline for filing campaign finance reports for the three-month period ending Sept. 15.
Democratic nominee Tom Wolf raised $9.6 million during that time, while Republican Gov. Tom Corbett raised $8.1 million.
Wolf received nearly $3 million from labor unions and $1 million from Thomas Grumbacher, the chairman of the Bon-Ton department stores chain. Corbett received another $4 million from his biggest donor, the Republican Governors Association.
Total campaign spending has surpassed $60 million, including the losers in May's four-way Democratic Party primary election. The 2002 election approached $70 million in overall spending.
The election is Nov. 4.
MIDTERM ELECTIONS-PENNSYLVANIA ADS
Pa. leads spending on TV ads for state offices
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A new national survey shows Pennsylvania leads the nation in spending on TV ads by candidates for statehouse offices and their allies.
The Washington-based Center for Public Integrity survey released Wednesday shows the $37.8 million spent by the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and Legislature exceeded any other state.
Close behind were Texas at $36.8 million and Florida at $33.7 million.
Pennsylvania's total was inflated by the $10 million that Democrat Tom Wolf put up to jump-start his campaign to unseat Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
The survey looks at commercials placed through Sept. 8 during the two-year election cycle that started in 2013.
So far, Pennsylvania's expenditures have paid for 56,000 ads — each ad was counted every time it aired — at a cost per voter of $3.99.
HALL OF FAME-MO'NE DAVIS
Mo'ne Davis to donate jersey to Hall of Fame
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Mo'ne Davis' performance in the Little League World Series has earned her a place in baseball's Hall of Fame.
The 13-year-old Davis plans to donate the jersey she wore last month when she pitched a two-hit shutout, becoming the first girl to win a game at the LLWS. She will visit the Hall on Thursday with her Little League teammates from Philadelphia's Taney Dragons and the Anderson Monarchs, her longtime travel team.
Mamie "Peanut" Johnson, one of three women to play in the Negro Leagues, also plans to attend.
Davis and her teammates are scheduled to play the Catskill Mountain Cougars under-12 team from Stamford, New York, in an exhibition game Sunday at Doubleday Field.