As 2012 draws to a close, Radio PA is looking back at the top 10 Pennsylvania stories of the year as voted on by the news staff and other members of the statewide media. In this installment, we reveal stories 4 through 2, beginning with what was arguably the biggest political fight of the year.
Click the audio players to hear Radio PA’s recap of each story.
#4 – Voter ID 2012Top10-4FINAL
The biggest political battle in Pennsylvania this year was played out in the courts rather than at the ballot box. 2012 may be forever known as the year of the Voter ID. It began when Republican lawmakers passed a bill requiring voters to show a valid form of photo ID when they vote. Governor Tom Corbett, a strong supporter of the measure, signed it into law prior to the primary election last spring. That election would be used as a “soft rollout” for the law with the intention that it would be in full effect in November. Court challenges led to an atmosphere of confusion for voters as the case went all the way to the PA Supreme Court. The justices sent the case back to Commonwealth Court where a final decision was made to allow the state to ask for the IDs, but with no obligation by the voters to show it. The law is set to be in full effect for the off-year elections in 2013, but additional court challenges are already in the works and a cloud of uncertainty continues to hang over the Voter ID law. Voter ID comes in as Radio PA’s #4 story of 2012.
#3 – The Penn State Sanctions 2012Top10-3FINAL
In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State University, many knew that the NCAA was lying in wait. Shortly after Sandusky’s conviction and the release of the Freeh Report which detailed the actions and inactions of PSU administrators, the NCAA dropped the hammer. The sanctions were among the harshest ever handed out, including a $60 million fine; 4-year bowl ban; the loss of scholarships; mandatory oversight; and the vacating of all football wins dating back to 1998. It’s that last sanction that had many scratching their heads due to the fact that the Penn State situation, as horrific as it was, had nothing to do with the on-field conduct of the team. Instead, the vacating of wins was seen as a slap at former Head Coach Joe Paterno, whose name was subsequently erased from the record books. Despite the intense media scrutiny and the defection of runningback Silas Redd and placekicker Anthony Fera, the Penn State football team came together to produce an unexpected 8-4 record under 1st-year Head Coach Bill O’Brien, who was named Big 10 Coach of the Year. The Penn State sanctions, and a group of extraordinary young men who played under them, rank as Radio PA’s #3 story of 2012.
#2 – The Death of Joe Paterno 2012Top10-2FINAL
Like Arlen Specter, Joe Paterno’s passing in January of this year marked the loss of an iconic Pennsylvanian. Despite the turmoil of his final months, Paterno is forever etched into the soul of this Commonwealth. His victories and his failings will always be a part of the Pennsylvania landscape, even after the removal of the statue erected in his honor at Beaver Stadium. In life, Paterno joked that he was fearful of leaving the game, afraid he would suffer the same fate as legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant, who passed away less than a month after retiring. Paterno’s death came just over 2 months after his dismissal as head coach in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The scandal has forever tainted the Paterno years at Penn State and the legacy of a man who donated millions to his school and community during his 6 decades at Penn State University, but thousands still lined up on a cold January day in State College to stroll past the coach’s closed casket and pay final respects. The death of Joseph Vincent Paterno is Radio PA’s #2 Pennsylvania story of 2012.
Coming soon….Radio PA’s #1 story of 2012.