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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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Smart Talk Friday is a fast-paced program featuring thoughtful and engaging conversations about the politics, policy and people who are shaping Pennsylvania’s future. Host Scott LaMar and WITF Capitol Bureau Chief Mary Wilson invite your multimedia interaction before, during and after the program.


Hosts: Scott LaMar and Mary Wilson

Smart Talk Friday: Independent probe of legislative sting? Flood insurance update; Native plants and sustainable landscapes

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Mar 20, 2014 2:42 PM

What to look for on Smart Talk Friday:

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There were two significant developments this week that won't enhance Pennsylvania's reputation as a good, honest, or transparent government state.

The Pennsylvania Ethics Commission found that three former Liquor Control Board members accepted thousands of dollars worth of gifts that includes visits to golf resorts and tickets to sporting events.

The trio are paying a total of more than $23,000 in restitution.

In a normal week that would be a huge story but it probably takes second place to Attorney General Kathleen Kane deciding not to pursue criminal charges against four state lawmakers who allegedly accepted from $1,500 to $7,600 in cash from an undercover informant.  Kane defended her decision that was divulged in the Philadelphia Inquirer saying the operation was flawed.  She indicated informant wasn't credible and that the sting targeted only African-American legislators.

The government watchdog group Committee of 70 is calling for an independent investigation of the whole operation.  Ellen Kaplan, the group's vice president and policy director joins us on the program to explain what they're looking for.

Also, we'll get an update on flood insurance premiums that skyrocketed last fall and a primer on using Pennsylvania native plants to create sustainable landscapes.

Jim Enders of Enders Insurance in Harrisburg appears to discuss flood insurance changes and Dr. Donald Leopold, author of the book Native Plants of the Northeast tells us about sustainable landscapes.  Dr. Leopold will make a presentation on the same topic Saturday at 2 p.m. at York's St. Matthews Evangelical Lutheran Church, 839 West Market Street.

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Comments: 6

  • Bob Nunn img 2014-03-21 08:17

    This isn't surprising, one set of rules the rich and powerful and another set to the common folk.

  • Lisa img 2014-03-21 08:56

    You should also plant natives to feed the insects that feed the birds and other animals. Recommend reading "Bringing Nature Home" by Dr. Doug Tallamy. Some natives feed more insects than others so pick selectively if you are limited in space. Have not yet read Dr. Leopold's book, but plan to. Could you bring him back so that there is more time to hear what he has to say?

  • tellthetruth img 2014-03-21 09:11

    Regarding the report about Kathleen Kane... I find it interesting that WITF would not report the purpose of the bribes to the Philly lawmakers. They were being paid to vote "NO" on the voter ID law. As democrats, this law could cost them future votes as many illegals currently vote for them. Failing to report this part of the story is a disservice to listeners as it prevents them from making an informed decision on the issue. This subtle bias in reporting is yet another reason I will NEVER consider public broadcasting a credible source for news.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-03-21 09:27

    Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer story reported only one of the legislators was offered money for a vote against the Voter ID law. All four lawmakers named in the story voted against it as did every Democrat in the House. It is a complicated story with many details to report. Our program today focused on a call for the appointment of an independent investigator. There is no bias in support or opposition to any aspect of the story. If further investigations show votes against Voter ID was an important part of the case, it will be reported. However, we may never know since the case is not being pursued.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-03-21 11:15

    Tom writes:
    Live in flood zone A here in Harrisburg, mine went up 20%, now close to $2000 a year which is divided monthly and goes on top of your mortgage. BTW only covers immovable objects in your basement, NOT carpoet, etc.
    I called the show last year, my opinion is make it optional and make it like health care now, if you elect NOT to take flood insurance you get taxed based on an actuary history of flood damage to your area, for example our flood damage here overall isn't as bad as people who live along the coast lines.

  • Scott LaMar img 2014-03-21 13:53

    Mike writes:
    This program is encouraging people to live where it's not safe for people to live! It should end!

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