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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Heads Up: Morning headlines for Sept. 20

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 8:54 AM

Story of the day: For the past few years, Pittsburghers have been able to console ourselves with the knowledge that we were weathering the economic storm better than anyone else. Seems like for some of us, that may be changing. New Census Bureau numbers out this morning show that the poverty rate in Allegheny County rose last year from 12.0 to 13.6 percent. That's twice the percentage-point increase seen by the nation as a whole, though the county's poverty rate is still lower than the nationwide average of 15.0 percent.

As Penn State football-related scandals go, this is small beer. But some are wondering whether Dave Freed, the Republican candidate for attorney general, is playing fast and loose with a fundraising tailgating event outside this weekend's game. Penn State prohibits politicking on its grounds ... but Freed's campaign say it's not really a fundraiser even though the invite includes a request for a "suggested contribution" of $500 per couple. And isn't that what tailgating is all about? Gearing up for the game, and hanging out with friends? Friends who hit you up for $500 first?

Even Mitt Romney acknowledged that his remarks about the "47 percent" were inelegant ... but a lack of class has never troubled state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Jerkwadistan). Metcalfe went on KDKA Radio yesterday to explain that people having trouble obtaining Voter ID -- a law which began as one of his pet projects -- were just lazy: "As Mitt Romney said, 47% of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors' hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that." Just so we're clear: That 47 percent -- which represents the number of people who don't pay federal income tax -- includes senior citizens who worked all their lives and now live on Social Security benefits. It includes veterans (who may experience hardships of their own as a result of voter ID) and students, as well as working families who pay other state, local, and federal taxes, but don't earn enough to pay income tax. But if they don't take time off work to get voter IDs, I guess, they're just plain lazy.

Are Pittsburgh firms taking advantage of overseas tax havens? A Tribune-Review story today isn't really saying. But it notes that 30 area firms have subsidiaries in countries whose lax tax laws have made them appealing for those seeking to reduce corporate tax burdens. The companies deny any tax-dodging intent. And it totally makes sense for AK Steel to have holdings in Vanuata, a small island in the South Pacific!

And finally ... those county air-quality rules that were supposed to be voted on yesterday? Hope you weren't holding your breath: They've been delayed until November.

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