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Profile Information

Name: Kathy Hinsman
Gender: Female
Hometown: Pittsburgh PA
Home country: USA
Current location: Pittsburgh
Member since: Sat Feb 18, 2017, 02:16 PM
Number of posts: 29,272

Journal Archives

A Pa. town seeks to pause consolidation with its scandal ridden neighbor city

Spotlight PA link: https://www.spotlightpa.org/statecollege/2023/06/dubois-sandy-township-pa-consolidation-suplizio-corruption/

STATE COLLEGE — In an unusual legal filing, Sandy Township seeks to pause its voter-approved consolidation with the City of DuBois as a result of corruption allegations against the city’s suspended manager and alarming financial oversight issues.

The consolidation, a rarity in Pennsylvania’s patchwork of more than 2,500 municipalities, was approved by DuBois and Sandy Township voters in a 2021 referendum — by a razor-thin margin of 1% among township electors — after three failed attempts in previous decades.

Now, Sandy Township officials argue in a new court filing that the sweeping fraud allegations against Herm Suplizio, one of DuBois’ most politically connected government officials, and mounting questions about city oversight and ongoing investigations necessitate an intervention.

“Given the unique and extraordinary circumstances presented here, including serious criminal malfeasance, absent a permanent injunction the township will suffer substantial financial losses and harm,” officials wrote in the complaint, filed in Clearfield County Court of Common Pleas.

- more at link -

It's a smart move for Sandy Township to call a halt to this merger, at least until a full investigation is done. Maybe call it off altogether.

It's primary election day in [mostly blue] New Jersey

Philadelphia Inquirer link: https://www.inquirer.com/politics/new-jersey/new-jersey-primary-election-legislature-20230606.html

On the same day Chris Christie is set to launch his 2024 presidential campaign, it’s election day back home for the former New Jersey governor. Polls in New Jersey are open until 8 p.m. for the state’s primaries, which will decide the Democratic and Republican nominations in the Legislature’s 40 districts.

Thanks to redistricting, 27 sitting lawmakers are on the move, because of retirement or the desire to jump from the Assembly to the state Senate. But most of the races remain uncontested.

One of the few contested primaries is in the 3rd Legislative District in South Jersey, where incumbent Republican Sen. Ed Durr — a truck driver who upset former state Senate President Steve Sweeney in 2021 — is being challenged by GOP Assemblywoman Beth Sawyer. In northern New Jersey, incumbent Democratic senators Dick Codey and Nia Gill are facing off in the 27th Legislative District. Redistricting left Gill’s hometown of Montclair inside the district currently held by Codey, who is being backed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

Voters won’t get to weigh in on governor until 2025, when Murphy’s second term ends. So far, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop is the only candidate to announce a campaign for the Democratic nomination in what will almost certainly be a crowded primary field. Democrats hold a 25-15 majority in the state Senate and a 46-34 majority in the Assembly.

- short article, no more at link -

Pa. House Democrats passed a budget with more spending than Shapiro proposed

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette link: https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-state/2023/06/05/pa-house-democrats-pass-expanded-budget-bill/stories/202306050088

The Democrat-controlled state House Monday evening passed a bill for proposed state budget spending in 2023-24 that is well over $1 billion more than what Gov. Josh Shapiro outlined in his budget address, triggering immediate and harsh criticism from Republicans.

The party-line 102-101 vote in the chamber where Democrats have a one-seat majority came in the first House voting in June, which traditionally is the busiest month in Harrisburg as lawmakers and the governor attempt to pass a budget by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. It came about three months after Mr. Shapiro unveiled his $44.4 billion proposed spending plan. The bill now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate for consideration, but lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said changes are likely as negotiations begin.

Top Democrats said more money could be spent because of unexpected increases in revenue that had occurred after Mr. Shapiro’s budget proposal was prepared. Republicans said they only learned Monday morning of Democrats’ plans to propose a larger spending increase. After the bill cleared a Democrat-controlled committee early in the afternoon, House Republican leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, described the package as being created with a “complete lack of transparency” and — because of its proposed drawdown on state reserves over a period of years — is likely to “bankrupt Pennsylvania.”

Among the major spending items that were not in Mr. Shapiro’s budget is a dedicated stream of $225 million in so-called “Level Up” funding for the state’s most financially strapped school districts. Democratic Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that all told, the Democrats’ new proposal will boost education spending by $1.7 billion beyond the current year.

- more at link -

Thank you House Dems for supporting Governor Shapiro's budget objectives. There's still a lot of yadda-yadda going on, so the budget bill is a long way from completion.

Pa. budget 2023: Your guide to what's on the table, what comes next, and how to follow along

Spotlight PA link: https://www.spotlightpa.org/news/2023/06/pa-budget-guide-legislature-josh-shapiro-how-to-follow/

HARRISBURG — June is budget negotiation month in Pennsylvania, when state lawmakers decide how to direct billions of tax dollars and make big policy choices on everything from energy to education to health care. The average Pennsylvanian likely doesn’t have time to prowl the halls of the Capitol in Harrisburg to keep up with the latest developments, which is why Spotlight PA has compiled this guide.

Below, you’ll learn what Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro has proposed, what comes next in the process, and how to follow along.

What’s on the table?

In his March budget address, Shapiro proposed a $44.4 billion spending plan. It calls for $1 billion in new education spending (including state funding directly to school districts as well as money for building repairs and mental health services), ending transfers of gas tax money to the State Police, and the commonwealth’s first-ever investment into public defenders.

Legislators in both major parties have greeted it with cautious optimism as a fine starting point, even if their priorities are in opposite directions.

- more at link -

There's great info here and Spotlight PA plans to follow Gov. Shapiro's budget process through the month of June.

Get to know Kristen Welker, the Philly native replacing Chuck Todd on NBC's 'Meet the Press'

Philly Inquirer link: https://www.inquirer.com/entertainment/tv/nbc-kristen-welker-meet-the-press-chuck-todd-20230605.html

NBC’s flagship politics show Meet the Press will soon have some Philly flavor.

Kristen Welker, NBC’s chief White House correspondent and a one-time NBC10 news anchor, will replace Chuck Todd as the famed Sunday roundtable’s moderator in September.

“I’ve watched too many friends and family let work consume them before it was too late,” Todd told viewers at the end of Sunday’s Meet the Press. “I promised my family I wouldn’t do that.”

It’s another step up the NBC News ladder for Welker, 46, who began covering the White House for NBC in 2011. She has reported on three administrators, cohosted NBC’s weekend edition of the Today show, and drew rave reviews for performance during a 2020 presidential debate between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with her from essentially her first day and let me just say she’s the right person in the right moment,” Todd said of Welker. “This is exactly how I always hoped this would end, that I’d be passing the baton to her.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Kristen Welker, the new moderator of Meet the Press:

- more at link-

Woohoo! Philly girl makes good, and we all get to cheer for her. Congratulations Kristen Welker!

Thousands gather around the city for Pittsburgh's 50th year of celebrating Pride month

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette link: https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2023/06/03/pittsburgh-s-50th-year-pride-march-parade-month/stories/202306030076

About 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and 11th Street in the Strip District, hundreds of people gathered, waving Pride flags and wearing Pride apparel, preparing for a parade celebrating the 50th year of Pride Pittsburgh. Conversely, a half-century ago, about 50 people marched from Market Square, Downtown, to Schenley Park in Oakland the first time Pride was observed in Pittsburgh. By the time they got to the park, the crowd had grown to about 100, according to news reports at the time.

When Saturday’s parade started at noon, thousands of people — including U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, Lt. Gov. Austin Davis and state Rep. Sara Innamorato, the Democratic nominee for Allegheny County executive — were among those in attendance,

They walked from Liberty Avenue and 11th Street, before turning onto Seventh Street and heading over the Andy Warhol Bridge and headed through Allegheny Center on the North Side before ending at the festival located in Allegheny Commons Park West. Once there, they were greeted by thousands more, who were enjoying food, live music, and buying various household goods and other items for sale throughout the park.

Along the route, music blared and thousands more lined the sidewalks, cheering for those marching. Two of the marchers were Adam and Erica Goldstein, 22-year-old twins who spoke of the historical significance of Pittsburgh’s 50 years of recognizing Pride.

- more at link -

The Democratic Party is a big tent, and it doesn't cost us anything to show solidarity with Americans who are unfairly discriminated against.

Deepfaking it: America's 2024 election collides with AI boom (Reuters)

Reuters link: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/deepfaking-it-americas-2024-election-collides-with-ai-boom-2023-05-30/

"I actually like Ron DeSantis a lot," Hillary Clinton reveals in a surprise online endorsement video. "He's just the kind of guy this country needs, and I really mean that."

Joe Biden finally lets the mask slip, unleashing a cruel rant at a transgender person. "You will never be a real woman," the president snarls. Welcome to America's 2024 presidential race, where reality is up for grabs.

The Clinton and Biden deepfakes - realistic yet fabricated videos created by AI algorithms trained on copious online footage - are among thousands surfacing on social media, blurring fact and fiction in the polarized world of U.S. politics.

While such synthetic media has been around for several years, it's been turbocharged over the past year by of a slew of new "generative AI" tools such as Midjourney that make it cheap and easy to create convincing deepfakes, according to Reuters interviews with about two dozen specialists in fields including AI, online misinformation and political activism.

- more at link -

Deepfaking is already happening NOW and it will be an epidemic by next year.

We'll all need to be very careful about what we post here on DU.

Why Fetterman voted no on on the debt ceiling bill. He was one of just four Democrats to oppose it.

Inquirer link: https://www.inquirer.com/politics/pennsylvania/john-fetterman-debt-limit-bill-voted-no-senate-snap-20230602.html

Pennsylvania’s two Democratic senators split their support for a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, which passed the Senate late Thursday. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it, ending a months-long congressional slog to avoid national default with days to spare.

Sen. Bob Casey voted for the bill to suspend the debt ceiling, which passed 63-36. Freshman Sen. John Fetterman joined four fellow Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) in opposing the bill.

The compromise package negotiated between Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy left both Democrats and Republicans displeased on certain points but able to move on from a volatile issue that risked upending the U.S. and global economy until 2025 after the next presidential election.

Fetterman said his vote came down to new work requirements on older Americans receiving food aid, a part of the bill added to sweeten the deal for Republicans pushing for more government spending cuts. Currently, the law requires most able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 49 without dependents to work or attend training programs in order to receive assistance. The bill phases in a higher work age cutoff of 54.

- more at link -

I'm certain that Sen. Fetterman and the other progressives would have voted for the bill if Chuck Schumer NEEDED their votes. But the Majority Leader already knew he had enough yes-votes without the progressives, so they were allowed their protest-no votes. This is how good leaders can work with the party and get the essential legislation passed. Nancy Pelosi allowed the same protest-no votes whenever she knew she had enough yes-votes to pass the bills without them.

A DuBois official was arrested on corruption charges. Then nearly $100K in cash arrived at city hall

Spotlight PA link: https://www.spotlightpa.org/statecollege/2023/05/pa-dubois-herm-suplizio-toni-cherry-cash-city-hall/

DUBOIS — On an otherwise routine Tuesday in early May, DuBois’ solicitor showed up at City Hall with $93,920 in cash tucked inside a cardboard box and packaged in a gift bag.

The solicitor, Toni Cherry, pulled DuBois’ Interim City Manager Chris Nasuti and Police Chief Blaine Clark out of a meeting. According to Nasuti, she handed the gift bag to the two men and told them that the cash — in bills of $20s, $50s, and $100s — belonged to the city. She advised them to deposit the money and did not explain why or how it came into her possession.

“Of course, it was a surprise,” Nasuti told Spotlight PA. He said he and Clark immediately put the cash into a new bank account isolated from other city funds, and alerted the state attorney general’s office. The mysterious origin and handling of the bag full of cash is now at the center of yet another storm in a community already reeling from a distressing corruption scandal.

Earlier this year, one of DuBois’ most politically connected government officials, former City Manager Herm Suplizio, was arrested. Suplizio is accused by the state attorney general’s office of stealing more than $600,000 in taxpayer money over nearly a decade, charges that raise troubling questions about how such a large-scale theft could play out in a city of about 7,400 without anyone noticing.

- more at link -

I hope Spotlight is staying on top of this story.

Wildfire burning through 3,100 acres of N.J. Pinelands

Philly Inquirer link: https://www.inquirer.com/news/new-jersey/new-jersey-wildfire-pinelands-bass-river-state-forest-20230601.html

A wildfire racing through Bass River State Forest in New Jersey’s Pinelands region has burned 3,100 acres as of Thursday afternoon.

The New Jersey Forest Fire Service said it is working to contain the fire burning in the area of Allen Road in Ocean County. So far, firefighters have contained 15% of the blaze, which began Wednesday night. Multiple roads are closed and the Timberline Campground has been evacuated. Six homes are threatened and local fire companies are also responding.

The Batona Trail, a 53-mile path through the pine barrens, is closed as it crosses through Bass River State Forest. Although the risk of fire is listed as moderate Thursday, it is prime wildfire season and May was unusually dry. It marks the second major wildfire this year.

- more at link -

This is scary and dangerous. Please stay safe everyone! We have been unusually dry this spring in Western PA also. Normally May and June are nothing but rain, sometimes right up to the Fourth of July weekend. But there have been very few rainy days lately.

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