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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Heads Up: Morning headlines for March 20

Posted By on Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 8:35 AM

In today's installment of copwatch ... a couple stories touch on the police bureau's "reckoning period" policy, in which prior disciplinary issues have a sort of statute of limitations, after which they can no longer be considered when setting punishment for later infractions. It may complicate the city's attempt to address concerns about Detective Frank Rende, whose behavior toward St. Patrick's Day revelers has apparently drawn the attention of the FBI. While Rende admits a lapse or two in his career, he says his record is otherwise spotless ... and it's not clear that a decade-old incident (in which he had a sexual encounter with a woman who called police to her home) can be used against him now. Meanwhile, in a federal courtroom yesterday, former police chief Robert McNeilly groused that the reckoning policy made it hard to gauge the disciplinary problems of a cop like Bradley Walker, whose employment by the city in spite of dozens of citizen complaints has become the subject of a lawsuit. In the latter case, Walker's supervisors noted that while there were multiple instances in which complaints against him were upheld, he also got multiple Officer of the Month citations.

... And here's another guy who claims to have been mistreated by police on St. Patrick's Day. But fear not, my friends: an internal investigation is underway!

Will Mayor Luke Ravenstahl challenge the tax-exempt status of UPMC? Looks like it. Could it be that Ravenstahl meant it when he said that not running for re-election would free him up to take on some issues he might not address otherwise? Stay tuned.

Good luck with that: Undocumented students -- generally the kids of immigrants who came to the United States illegally -- want Harrisburg lawmakers to grant them in-state tuition at state universities, rather than charging them out-of-state rates. There's opposition from the Republican-controlled state House -- though He Who Shall Not Be Named (R-Cranberry) does not appear in this story. But there appears to be at least some bipartisan support for the measure, and similar legislation exists even in Texas.

A California group releases a report that says Gov. Tom Corbett is the nation's best-paid governor ... but that's only on paper. Corbett, like Ed Rendell before him, has declined cost-of-living adjustments the law enables him to take, so he's actually only the sixth-best paid governor in the country. Still, the salary hasn't dissuaded others from casting an eye at his job: Rendell's former environmental secretary, Kathy McGinty, is said to be considering a bid. With already-declared John Hanger in the race, that's potentially two former environmental chiefs in the field.

There is going to be, like, a hundred bajillion dollars invested in Downtown, thanks to a new wave of development that will include a Downtown apartment building with a rooftop pool. Finally!

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