Archives for June 2018

Officer Charged With Homicide in East Pittsburgh

A white police officer was charged with criminal homicide for shooting to death an unarmed black teenager who fled a traffic stop after being pulled over on suspicion of involvement in a drive-by shooting. The charge against East Pittsburgh Officer Michael Rosfeld is outlined in court documents. The 30-year-old Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, resident turned himself in this morning, according to his attorney. He has been arraigned and faces a July 6 hearing. Rosfeld is charged in the June 19 death of 17-year-old Antwon Rose Jr. Authorities have said Rose and another teen arrested this week fled after being pulled over on suspicion they were involved in a drive-by shooting. Rose was shot three times, leading to daily protests around Pittsburgh. Rosfeld has been on administrative leave since the shooting occurred.

PA College Savings for Newborns

Pennsylvania is starting a program proposed by state Treasurer Joe Torsella to provide college savings accounts for newborns, beginning with a $100 grant.
Torsella said Monday the program will be open to any child starting next year who is a Pennsylvania resident at birth or adopted by a Pennsylvania family. Parents will be notified about the account set up for them. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the program into law Friday. It’s projected at a $14 million annual cost for an average of 140,000 births per year and Torsella says it can be financed by donations and surpluses in Pennsylvania’s existing college savings program. The Treasury Department will invest the money and income it earns can be spent on a range of post-high-school education needs until the child reaches age 29.

Jury Selection in State Trooper Shooting

Jury selection began today in the trial of a man accused of opening fire on two state troopers in eastern Pennsylvania last fall, critically wounding one of them. Daniel Clary, 22, faces charges including attempted murder of a police officer and aggravated assault in the roadside shooting Nov. 7 on Route 33 in Plainfield Township. Thirteen-year veteran Cpl. Seth Kelly was shot while helping another trooper make an arrest. He may have saved his own life by applying a tourniquet on his wounded leg before paramedics arrived, officials said.

PA Budget Vote

A final vote is approaching for the main appropriations bill in a $32.7 billion spending package for Pennsylvania’s approaching fiscal year. Today’s scheduled Senate vote comes three days after first details of the no-new-taxes package were unveiled. The bill passed the House overwhelmingly Wednesday and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf supports it after negotiating with Republican majority leaders. The package boosts spending through the state’s main operating account by $700 million, or 2 percent. The increase goes largely to schools, social services, pensions and prisons. However, critics say it masks the true spending increase by sending roughly $900 million in Medicaid costs off-budget.

PA High Court Puts Hold on Roman Catholic Priest Cases

Pennsylvania’s highest court on Wednesday held up the release of a grand jury report into the handling of sexual abuse claims involving six Roman Catholic dioceses and local officials, days before it was expected to be made public. The two-paragraph order did not explain the reasons but said nothing in the court file except the new order is available for public inspection.

PA Spending Package Up for Vote

Key elements of a $32.7 billion spending package for Pennsylvania’s approaching fiscal year are heading toward a state House vote. The no-new-taxes spending package unveiled just a day earlier is scheduled for a House vote today after Republican majority leaders negotiated it behind closed doors with Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. It still requires Senate approval. The package increases spending through the state’s main operating account by 2 percent over the current year’s enacted budget of $32 billion. The increase goes largely to public schools, social services, pensions and prisons. It also creates a $60 million off-budget grant program for school safety spurred by February’s school shooting in Florida.

PA State Troopers Body Cam Program

The Pennsylvania State Police says troopers are now wearing body cameras in a pilot program that’s to last through the end of 2018. Acting Commissioner Robert Evanchick said today that patrol troopers in Troop B in Uniontown, Troop J in Avondale and Troop T in Somerset are trained and wearing the cameras on duty.
Evanchick says the program will help the department ensure it is prepared for wider use of the cameras. The Pennsylvania State Police received a $52,000 federal grant to buy about 30 of the cameras. The department is using them under an interim policy that it is making public.

FORMER PA GOV DIAGNOSED WITH PARKINSON’S

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said today that he was diagnosed 3½ years ago with Parkinson’s disease. The 74-year-old Rendell made the announcement at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, with officials from the University of Pennsylvania, as part of a public service message to urge people who suspect they have symptoms to get diagnosed and get treatment early.
Rendell said treatment at the hospital, including medication, has stopped the progression of the symptoms and that he continues to keep a busy schedule, including working out six days a week.

PA Pipeline Work Resumes

Pennsylvania utility regulators voted Thursday to let a pipeline resume transporting liquid fuels in the Philadelphia suburbs, reversing an administrative law judge’s order, but they also upheld a halt to construction of two other, related pipelines.
The Public Utility Commission voted 3-2 to allow Sunoco Pipeline LLC to resume use of the Mariner East 1 pipeline, with the chairman saying there was no new credible evidence to think it can’t be operated safely.

PA Jobless Rate

Pennsylvania saw its biggest one-month drop in the unemployment rate in four years and a new post-recession low, although payrolls remained relatively flat. The state Department of Labor and Industry said today that Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.5 percent in May. The national rate is 3.8 percent. A survey of households found Pennsylvania’s civilian labor force contracted again, this time by 14,000, falling further below its 2012 record high as employment crept up and unemployment dropped. Today’s figures are preliminary and could change.