State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Links: Fumo sues from behind bars, people line up for IDs, P-N goes to 3 papers a week

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Aug 29, 2012 12:51 PM

A former state senator is reaching through the prison cell bars to file a lawsuit.  Vince Fumo is serving time in a Kentucky jail for corruption, conspiracy, and theft.  Now he’s suing a couple old associates of his for using money from his political action committee for their own personal benefit.  That story, and a clip-worthy headline (“In prison, Fumo sues PAC men”) from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In other words, Fumo's accusing them of what he's doing federal prison time for - engaging in a scheme to take money (in Fumo's case, from taxpayers) for personal use and benefit.

On Monday, the state’s new voter ID cards were available in only two PennDOT licensing centers – Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.  But in Rohrerstown Tuesday, the cards seemed to be in higher demand, reports the Intelligencer Journal:

By noon at the Rohrerstown Road center, the line for ID photos snaked to the center's entrance.

Jerry Tenny, the South Central District Manager, said he couldn't say how many customers in the line were present for voting cards.  Tenny noted that the end of summer often creates a rush of customers.

However, Minty Patel, an administrative officer, said several customers had applied for the voting cards by midmorning.

Former Sen. Arlen Specter confirmed yesterday he faces another battle with cancer, reports the AP:

The 82-year-old Specter issued a brief statement through his Philadelphia office. A family spokesman reached by The Associated Press declined to comment on the type of cancer or confirm news reports that he had been hospitalized.

Specter, who was Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator, has overcome two bouts with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system, since 2005. He also has survived a brain tumor and cardiac arrest after bypass surgery.

Much has been said and written, by now, about the Patriot-News announcement to scale back to printing three days a week.  I know many are heartened by the statement from the publisher, that the new entity will have the same number of reporters and photographers.  But one cautionary tale comes from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Advance Publications tried a similar thing with the Ann Arbor News three years ago, writes the American Journalism Review:

Charles R. Eisendrath, director of the Knight-Wallace Fellows in journalism at the University of Michigan, says that although the News "was never the New York Times" and had been on the decline for some time, it was an adequate, serviceable local daily. But AnnArbor.com, he says, has proven to be an insufficient substitute and has had "a terrible effect" on the city.

"If you pay people a third of what they were paid before, and you have a third as many of them, the results aren't exactly rocket science," Eisendrath says. More specifically, he says, the result has been anemic coverage. "If this is the model for the future of traditional news organizations, they need to begin calling themselves something else. Not news organizations."

A newsroom colleague alerted me to this case of, no kidding, smokestack lightning in York County:

The old Foust distillery smokestack -- a landmark in the Glen Rock area -- will come down Tuesday after it was struck twice by lightning during a storm last week.

The 125-foot tower had a hole blown in it, and a crack runs all the way down to the ground, Springfield Township supervisor Tom Wolfe said. It's a safety concern.

"It's going to have to come down," he said.

At least they’ll know what song to play during demolition.   

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