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Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Turnpike charges; more Corbett gifts; public pensions

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 13, 2013 12:34 PM

Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, March 14:


Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced charges Wednesday against eight men, including a former state senator and several Pennsylvania Turnpike officials, in an alleged "pay-to-play" scheme connected to the Turnpike.  Among those accused are former Senate Democratic Leader Robert Mellow of Lackawanna County, former Turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier, and former Turnpike Commission chairman Mitch Rubin.

According to Kane, a grand jury found that companies seeking contracts on the Turnpike were expected to make political contributions and provide gifts and perks to the accused, including entertainment, dinners, trips, and sporting events. 

Kane said those chared were "using the turnpike to line their pockets and influence elections."

witf State Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson will lay out the case on Thursday's Radio Smart Talk.

Gov. Tom Corbett.jpg

Also, StateImpact Pennsylvania reporter Marie Cusick joins us to discuss her findings that Gov. Tom Corbett and his wife received gifts totalling more than $15,000 from an influential Philadelphia law firm.

Finally, Pennsylvania is facing a $41 billion shortfall to pay the pensions of retired state government and school employees.  Gov. Corbett has proposed a plan that would not affect those already retired, but move current and future workers into a 401K type contribution plan.

Diane Oakley, Executive Director of the National Institute on Retirement Security (NIRS) will appear on the show.

Diane Oakley.jpg

Diane Oakley, Executive Director of NIRS

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-03-14 08:33

    Manuel, Carlisle

    I was shocked when I was discussing with my adult children, that they did not know what a pension is.

    Can you guest explain what a pension is and how it is different than other retirement plan?

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-03-14 08:34

    Email from Becki:

    Thank you for devoting time to this issue.

    There are numerous studies examining whether or not drug company "gifts" to doctors has any influence on prescribing behavior, and despite doctors' claims that gifts have "no influence" on their habits, the evidence shows otherwise.
    No one can prove the Governor's behavior changed, but human nature being what it is, I can't imagine that he WASN'T influenced at some level. He can use all the legal arguments he wants, but "perception is reality".

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-03-14 08:48

    Email from Tim, Harrisburg:

    I think it is pathetic that you are trying to drum up drama relative to the governor's gift-taking. I will be the first to admit don't like the guy much, but he is following the law. For you to constantly add "but..." when you mention he is within the law speaks poorly of you. Name a governor who has not accepted gifts. Try coming up with an actual topic from which listeners can benefit.

  • John Orris img 2013-03-14 08:54

    I believe the uncertainty of 401K plans has led to people not retiring and providing opening for younger people.

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