Radio PA’s Top 10 Pennsylvania Stories of 2012 – Part 1

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 10 through 8, beginning with one of many political fights in 2012…one that began with the governor’s budget address on February 7th.

Click the audio players to hear Radio PA’s recap of each story.

#10 – The Battle for Higher Ed Funding   2012Top10-10FINAL
A year after cutting state funding to higher education, Governor Tom Corbett came back for more. In this round of proposed cuts, the governor slated reductions of 20% for the 14 state-owned universities and 30% for Penn State, Temple and PITT. Only Lincoln University, which takes a small amount of state funding by comparison, was left unaffected. The plan drew immediate fire from education advocates and state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. During state budget hearings, the schools pleaded their cases, saying harsh cuts in state funding would could result in tuition increases and a reduction in curricula. Students themselves rallied in Harrisburg and higher education was a key component of the budget talks in May and June. In the end, state funding for the schools would remain level but Governor Corbett’s message was clear: if we don’t have it, we won’t spend it. The battle for higher education funding is Radio PA’s #10 Pennsylvania story of 2012.


#9 – The Redistricting Mess   2012Top10-9FINAL
The state constitution calls for the redrawing of state legislative districts every 10 years, based on numbers from the U.S. Census. the original intent of the law was to consistently reflect population shifts and other changes, but redistricting has instead become a political tool designed to make life as difficult as possible for the political party unfortunate enough to be in the minority the year following the Census. This year, that’s the Democratic party and the Dems cried foul over the Republican-dominated maps drawn up by a five-member reapportionment panel that leaned to the GOP side of the aisle. Questions were raised about the enormous number of municipal and county splits in the state House and Senate district maps. Critics also accused the panel of dragging its feet in an attempt to invent a false sense of urgency when the maps were finally released late in 2011. One Pennsylvania citizen, Amanda Holt of Allentown, drew up her own maps using what she called strict constitutional guidelines. Holt’s map was among the exhibits when the case went to the state Supreme Court and observers say it showed the justices that a better map could be crafted. As such, the high court through out the controversial maps and told the reapportionment panel to try again. Meanwhile, the 2012 elections would be based on maps drawn up in 2001. A new set of district maps were approved but the courts have yet to give final approval. Gerrymandering and the redistricting controversy is Radio PA’s #9 Pennsylvania story of 2012.


#8 – The Arrest of Graham Spanier   2012Top10-8FINAL
He avoided charges in the first round of indictments handed down by prosecutors, but the law came knocking on Graham Spanier’s door November 1st of this year, just days shy of the one-year anniversary of the arrest of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on charges of molesting young boys. Spanier, the former Penn State President who was fired the same night as Joe Paterno, was charged with failure to report suspected child abuse, endangering the welfare of children, conspiracy, perjury and obstruction…the same charges levied against former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Vice-President for Administration Gary Schultz. State Attorney General Linda Kelly said that the three men were part of a “conspiracy of silence” that allowed Sandusky to continue preying on young boys. Spanier, Curley and Schultz are expected to go to trial in 2013 and Graham Spanier’s November arrest is Radio PA’s #8 Pennsylvania story of 2012.


Coming soon…stories 7 through 5.


PSU President Gets Pay Raise

After one year on the job, Penn State President Rodney Erickson is getting a 16% pay increase, which brings his annual salary to $600,000 dollars.  The pay raise is performance-based, and outgoing Trustees chair Karen Peetz says he’s done a tremendous job leading Penn State through a difficult year. 

“It is imperative that we have a strong, effective leader to ensure our future excellence,” Peetz said in a written statement.  “Rod Erickson is that leader.  His salary is in line with competitors and we are pleased to support his presidency.” 

Erickson plans to retire in June 2014, and a nationwide search for his replacement is about to get underway.  Peetz will be stepping down from her leadership post, to focus on her new position, but will remain a member of the board. 

Even with Erickson’s raise, he’s earning far less than his predecessor, and he will not be receiving any of the deferred compensation.

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 11.02.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul sum up the impact of “Superstorm” Sandy and bring you details on the indictment of former Penn State University President Graham Spanier. Matt will also bring you an interview with incumbent state Treasurer Rob McCord after last week profiling his Republican challenger.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Former Penn State President Graham Spanier Charged

Graham Spanier, who served as Penn State University’s president from 1995 through 2001, is the latest big name to face criminal charges in the ongoing Jerry Sandusky child sex case. Sandusky, the former assistant football coach, is in state prison serving a 30-60 year sentence for the molestation of young boys. He was convicted on 45 counts over the summer and was transferred to the state prison in Greene County this week.

Two other university officials, former Athletic Director Tim Curley and former Senior Vice-President for Finance and Business Gary Schultz, were charged perjury and failure to report the alleged abuse shortly after the Sandusky story broke. Curley is currently on paid leave, while Schultz retired in 2009. Both are awaiting trial in January.

Spanier was fired the same night as the late Head Coach Joe Paterno, and it has been widely speculated that the former president would face criminal charges himself after the release of the Freeh Report last summer. That report included a series of notes and emails dating back to 1998 showing that Spanier was informed of the Sandusky allegations. The Freeh Report findings listed Spanier as one of four people (along with Curley, Schultz and Paterno) who failed to protect children from a sexual predator, and the report stated that Spanier had failed in his role as university president.

Perhaps the most incriminating entry from the Freeh Report quotes Spanier in a written exchange with Curley in 2001. The two had just decided to deviate from a previously agreed-to plan to notify state officials about an alleged encounter between Sandusky and a young boy in the Lasch Hall showers, an incident infamously witnessed by then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary. Instead of reporting the incident to the Department of Public Welfare and the chair of Sandusky’s Second Mile charity, Spanier and Curley decide to approach Sandusky himself and urge him to seek professional help. Spanier writes in a February 2001 email: “The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and then we become vulnerable for not having reported it.”

Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced the charges against Spanier Monday from the Media Center at the state capitol.  According to court documents, Spanier faces eight counts, including three charges for conspiracy, 2 for endangering the welfare of children, and one count each for perjury, obstruction and failure to report suspected child abuse.

Additional charges were also filed against Curley and Schultz on Thursday. In addition to the previous charges, each will now also be charged with conspiracy, obstruction and endangering the welfare of children.

The announcement comes just 4 days shy of the first anniversary of Sandusky’s arrest on child rape charges and 8 days from the anniversary of the firings of Spanier and Paterno on November 9th, 2011.