Wednesday, January 9, 2013
As one tax subsidy dies, another is born ... The good folks at the Buncher Company, whose plan to remake a riverfront parcel alongside the Strip District has been controversial, are now dropping their request for a $50 million tax subsidy. City councilor Patrick Dowd, who had been holding up the request because of concerns about the project and how the money would be spent, boasts that he has "called [Buncher's] bluff." Though this would also seem to mean the city has less leverage to ensure the project is done well. At the same time, there are calls for an even larger tax subsidy — of between $80 and $90 million — for a long-idled development on the site of the old Hazelwood coke works. And this subsidy just might actually make sense.
Just how weak an incumbent is Gov. Tom Corbett? He polls lower than Rick Santorum among women.
Those crazy jokesters at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission have been spending outrageous sums on travel expenses, alleges outgoing state Auditor General Jack Wagner. $300-per-night hotels! Three-digit restaurant bills! And a lack of documentation about how the money was actually spent! Regarding one nearly $500 meal, the audit says, "We would hope it represented a meal for a large group of people conducting turnpike business and involving no alcohol." to which, I think, the proper response is, "C'mon — did you think we were running this joint sober?"
OMG, a transgender person showed her face in public, can you stand it? At least, that appears to be what the Tribune-Review's headline writer thought was the most important development — "Transgender woman takes stand in trial" — in the trial of the man accused of killing a Penn Hills police officer. This despite the fact that the actual story (like the coverage in the Post-Gazette) clearly puts the emphasis on the accused's efforts to fabricate an alibi for himself. But hey, if you can attract some eyeballs by playing up a salacious, if not terribly relevant, detail about one of the witnesses ... why bother calling attention to actual incriminating details and such?
Speaking of stories with somewhat dubious frames, conservative news site PA Independent reports that Pennsylvania "overpaid" unemployment benefits to the tune of nearly $700 million — nearly twice the previous year's total. Sounds terrible. But turns out this has mostly to do with the fact that the state has imposed new, more stringent work-search requirements — recipients are supposed to apply for two jobs a week — that didn't exist before. But since the state hasn't yet figured out yet how to enforce the requirement, it's giving a de facto "grace period" to recipients.
Oh, and you probably heard this already — or maybe you didn't — but 2012 was apparently the hottest year in the recorded history of the continental U.S. — a full degree hotter than the previous 1998 record. But don't worry: I'm sure that this weekend, Post-Gazette columnist Jack Kelly will have a well-reasoned, thoroughly reported story proving that thermometers are a plot by liberal moonbats.