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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Heads Up: Morning headlines for Nov. 27

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 7:05 AM

As noted here yesterday, city councilor Bill Peduto is gearing up for a formal announcement that he'll be running for mayor next year. Not to be outdone -- or, more to the point, not to allow Peduto's effort to preemptively clear the field to succeed -- city controller Michael Lamb has also confirmed long-held expectations of his own candidacy. At this point, the only question mark out there hangs over state Auditor General Jack Wagner. (By the way, keep your eye on this page this morning: We'll soon have an interview with another candidate running for municipal office next spring.)

But when it comes to jumping into the fray early, no one locally can compare to John Hanger, former Secretary of Environmental Protection under Ed Rendell: He has announced that he will be challenging Gov. Tom Corbett in the 2014 election. We'll have more on Hanger's candidacy -- which could bring environmental issues to the fore, though not necessarily in the way die-hard opponents of natural-gas drilling would want -- later today. For now, we'll say only that his early entry gives him time to answer the most critical question his campaign will face from most voters: "John who?"

Five prison guards fired from their jobs at SCI-Pittsburgh after inmates accused them of sexual abuse are now suing the state, alleging wrongful termination.

Gov. Tom Corbett's administration has released a report on the state's unfunded pension liability, which it reckons at $41 billion -- enough to cost every household in the state $8,000 if nothing is done about it. How bad is the problem? The report's first page uses three metaphors to describe it: The pension problem is the keystone in an arch; no, it's a tapeworm; OK wait it's Pac-Man. In any case, it's bad, all right? Actually, if you haven't been following the issue -- which is clearly going to be A Thing next year -- this report is a good primer. And it's only 19 pages! The report is light on solutions, only briefly mentioning such ideas as increasing the retirement age and upping employee contributions. But it's clear on one point, at least: "Governor Corbett took a pledge upon being elected to not raise taxes," and accordingly, "Tax increases, particularly in a difficult economy that is already straining many Pennsylvania families and business, should be off the table." Got that?

You know how I hate to sound cynical, but ... if it weren't for the fact that the Pittsburgh-based 911th Airlift Wing has been under threat of closure for the past seven years, what would US Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Suburbia) do for headlines?

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