State government comes down to vandalism

Take a break from state property taxes, the state smoking ban proposal and Philadelphia exemption for a moment and enjoy some good old vandalism.

HARRISBURG — The phone and power lines were cut in the district office of state Rep. Jim Marshall, R-Beaver, just before 4 a.m. today.

“Somebody had to know what they were doing,” said Gina Kane, the manager of Marshall’s office at 1612 7th Ave in Beaver Falls. “Everything was cut except for the main power line, which would have electrocuted them pretty good.”

Kane found the office’s electrical box on the ground near the rear employee entrance when she arrived at 8:20 this morning. It was confirmed by the office’s phone service provider that service was cut at 3:47 a.m., Kane said.

Nothing was taken and police found no evidence of forced entry, she said.

By 10:30 power was returned and by noon all office activities had resumed.

Police noted a string of burglary attempts over the past two weeks in the area and the office’s alarm could have scared those involved, Kane said.

“But they didn’t even try to get in here.”

Read it on Pittsburgh Live. Photo courtesy of Ironic Sans.

Number of Views:1551

Statewide smoking ban passes conference committee

I covered a Pennsylvania House-Senate conference committee hearing on a statewide smoking ban this morning for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

HARRISBURG — A House-Senate conference committee today approved a statewide smoking ban, but a member of the panel blasted the agreement, saying it amounted to telling Allegheny County to “go to hell.”

The agreement must be approved by the full House and Senate. It carves out a partial exemption for casinos and some bars.”

Read the rest on Pittsburgh Live.

It marks a laborious, 10-month joint effort to find compromise between a state Senate and more restrictive state House bill. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, made note of the long process.

This has probably been the longest [conference committee] in the history of the commonwealth.”

Hear Greenleaf speak on a statewide ban last month.

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Tribune Review: Property tax elimination seems doubtful

MY FIRST CLIP appears in this morning’s Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

HARRISBURG — One Republican lawmaker wants to eliminate school property taxes by broadening sales taxes across Pennsylvania, but at least one Democratic leader says the bill doesn’t have a chance.

“I don’t want to see someone lose their life defending their home against a government official,” said state Rep. Sam Rohrer, R-Berks County, who sponsored the legislation.

Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, said the Legislature’s packed agenda before the June 30 budget deadline will doom Rohrer’s bill.

Read the rest at Pittsburgh Live.

Photo source.

Number of Views:1540

Property taxes abolished, probably not

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Rep. Sam Rohrer, R-Berks, is making a second attempt since January to eliminate property taxes in the commonwealth.

I covered a rally he held in the rotunda of the State Capitol this morning and wrote a brief and filed a story for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the first paper for which I am writing during this post-graduate internship.

The story runs tomorrow on this House Bill 1275, which was largely crafted with the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition.

It doesn’t seem like anything will come of the bill… again, as suggested by a Reading Eagle story last week and by a quote I got today from West Oak Lane’s own Dwight Evans, D-Phila.

It’s not going to happen. We just don’t have the time: bottom line.”

Here’s Rohrer talking about Pennsylvania taxes last month.

Cartoon courtesy of the Indianapolis Star.

Number of Views:1710

Welcome to Harrisburg

Well, I’ve made the move from Philadelphia to Harrisburg.

That has been rough, but I can’t get Internet access yet in my new digs, so bear with these technical difficulties and a light posting week.

Tomorrow I start my new job covering the statehouse with the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents’ Association – so I hope to reform this into the adventures of a professional journalist. Terrifying.

Number of Views:2267

Last day in 3333 North Park Avenue

Today I turn over my keys to 3333 North Park Avenue in the Lower Tioga neighborhood of North Philadelphia near Temple Hospital to my landlord. I have spent better than 18 months living there. It has become the first place I could ever really call home outside of my parents’ watch. Indulge me in some photos.

I’m moving to Harrisburg, Pa. this weekend for a post-graduate internship.

Number of Views:1674

Finally, a women's soccer franchise in Philly

Looks like Philadelphia will take another swing at a women’s soccer franchise, as part of another attempt at a successful women’s soccer league.

This from the Philadelphia Business Journal:

Women’s Professional Soccer, a new league set to begin play next year, signed a letter of intent Tuesday to add an expansion franchise in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia team will begin play in 2010, joining seven teams set to begin play next year in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

The region hasn’t yet opened it’s men’s soccer franchise in Chester and already more are swooning. Does this seem like a wise decision to anyone else?

Photo courtesy.

Number of Views:6099

Indiana Jones IV

TONIGHT I SAW “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in the Pearl Theater at Avenue North.

I thought Harrison Ford was fairly solid – despite concerns over his age – and the film was surely pretty entertaining for the fourth enstallment of any series.

The movie made $127 million its first weekend, tops in U.S. box offices, but, as Inquirer film critic Steven Rea wrote, it doesn’t have the feel of a classic. I enjoyed it mostly because of my adoration for the previous three, but this fell short, despite Ford’s solid performance. Still, if you liked the others, you have to watch this one, which is why it’ll continue to make money.

Picture courtesy of the The Somewhat Manly Nerd.

Number of Views:3423

UWire 100: I'm on it


The 14-year-old college journalism association spent the past few months compiling their inaugural list of what they’re calling the UWire 100 – the 100 top, most promising college journalists in the country. It’s a first go of it, so it is surely not comprehensive, but an honor nonetheless. See the list here.

It also seems strange to be called a top college journalist even though I graduated on Thursday.

Here’s my page.

I am also happy to report that my good friend and fellow Temple alumnus Sean Blanda made the list. See his page here.

Check out coverage of the list by CBS News here, by CNN here, by Editor and Publisher here, by the Chronicle of Higher Education here, and by Gawker here.

Also, one of the other young journalists with whom I will be working this summer in Harrisburg made the list, David Spett of Northeastern Northwestern’s celebrated Medill School of Journalism.

Number of Views:2709