Pennsylvania Watchdog

Pittsburgh City Council ponders shutting down speech of its own members

By   /  October 26, 2016  /  Free Speech, Pennsylvania, Transparency  /  No Comments

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A proposed Pittsburgh City Council rule change could infringe on First Amendment rights, Trib Live Reports. Council President Bruce Kraus introduced the legislation, which would fine council members $500 for speaking publicly about private “executive sessions.”  He argued that council members are in violation of attorney-client privilege when they reveal information from private meetings with […]

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School district asks for tax hikes while turning a profit selling sushi to students

By   /  October 24, 2016  /  Budget and Spending, Education, News, Pennsylvania, Taxes  /  No Comments

SOMETHING'S FISHY: The Lower Merion School District spent almost $48,000 last year on sushi for school lunches. The district says it makes a profit from student purchases. The district has been in hot water for building up large reserve funds while requesting property tax hikes above the Act 1 cap.

As Lower Merion School District asked to hike property taxes by 4.4 percent last school year, invoices reveal it spent $47,918 on sushi for high school lunches.

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Pennsylvania health insurance premiums soar

By   /  October 21, 2016  /  Health Care, Pennsylvania  /  No Comments


The 2017 numbers are out, and it doesn’t look good for Pennsylvania residents who purchased their insurance through the federal health care exchange. Health insurance plans sold on Pennsylvania’s Affordable Care Act online marketplace could see rate increases up to 55 percent, according to a Pennsylvania Insurance Department announcement.  Individual plans will increase an average […]

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Pensions overshadow Erie School District’s financial mess

By   /  October 21, 2016  /  Budget and Spending, Education, News, Pennsylvania  /  No Comments

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“Pension costs have grown more in dollar terms and much more in percentage terms than have charter costs,” James Paul, a senior analyst at the Commonwealth Foundation, told “What’s more, charters are the result of parents selecting the best option for their children, while pension costs are deferred salaries to current and former teachers.”

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Pennsylvania professors on the picket lines

By   /  October 20, 2016  /  Education, Labor, Pennsylvania  /  No Comments

Old Main on the campus of Shippensburg University, one of the 14 state colleges that could see a strike by a faculty union.

Faculty members from 14 Pennsylvania public universities and colleges hit the picket lines Wednesday after negotiations on a new contract fell apart. It is the first strike in the history of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. An estimated 110,000 students are affected. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties represents the striking […]

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Ridesharing roulette: Philadelphia commuters still dealing with the dinosaur

By   /  October 19, 2016  /  News, Pennsylvania, Regulations, Transportation  /  No Comments

Taxicab companies see ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft as a serious threat that government should eliminate.

Evolve or die. Or, in the case of Philadelphia taxis, evolve a little to stave off death, while trying to kill competitors with regulation. “Ridesharing’s rise has been as unexpected and tumultuous as the dinosaurs’ demise,” Michael Farren, a research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, wrote in a commentary for the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Like the dinosaurs, taxis […]

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