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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Heads Up: Morning headlines for April 3

Posted By on Wed, Apr 3, 2013 at 8:35 AM

It could cost as much as $120,000 to figure out how former Police Chief Nate Harper redirected $70,000 in city funds, says the Tribune-Review. "If they'd like to give me $90,000, I'm sure I could put it to good use," says City Council President Darlene Harris. Which sounds like exactly the kind of mindset that got us into this mess, doesn't it? (Just kidding, Ms. Harris: I know what you mean.) I guess it's sort of ironic that rooting out the alleged crimes here costs more than the alleged crimes themselves, but what are you gonna do? Insist that city employees in the future take more of our money?

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is ending his practice of demanding resignation letters from appointees, after criticism of a heavy-handed approach that Fitzgerald first articulated in our pages nearly three months ago. Give Fitzgerald credit for knowing when to back off ... and in a way, give him credit for being so upfront about what he was doing. There are plenty of other, more subtle, ways to undermine board independence ... and honestly, I can't think of a single high-profile case where an appointee bucked the will of the person who appointed him, letters or no.

Over the weekend, local professor (and very occasional City Paper contributor) Kathy Newman wrote a Post-Gazette op-ed about why she was refusing to let her kid take the PSSA assessment test. (The reason, in a nutshell: The seemingly ever-expanding testing regime distorts the whole purpose of education.) That piece drew a response from Gov. Tom Corbett's education department, but despite their efforts, it has "gone viral," earning more than 33,000 Facebook likes, over 400 comments, and plaudits from all the way over in Philadelphia. Perhaps a wave is gathering?

Could an expansion of the light-rail system maybe, possibly, take place sometime in the indeterminate future? Signs point to "perhaps".

A Pew Survey shows some ambivalence about natural-gas drilling, at least when you look on the national scale ... opinions diverge sharply based on party affiliation and proximity to the drilling jobs. (Stories like this one probably don't help the industry's cause.) The poll's most depressing finding: Despite years of increasing temperatures -- and a growing consensus that global warming is taking place -- fewer Americans now feel like it's a serious problem. We're gonna get what we deserve, folks.

And if you're looking for something to do tonight, you might want to pick up tickets to a mayoral debate sponsored by WPTS-FM, Pitt's radio station. I hope to be there myself, so agoraphobes and people with more active social lives can follow the action on my Twitter account.

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