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Radio PA’s Top 10 Pennsylvania Stories of 2012 – Part 4

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 the #1 story of the year, one which has dominated headlines dating back to last year.

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

 

#1 – The Trial and Conviction of Jerry Sandusky   2012Top10-1FINAL
It was the trial of the century so far in June as Gerald Sandusky walked into a Centre County courtroom. The trial would last just over a week; the jury would need just a couple of days; and just like that, Sandusky was headed to prison, convicted on 45 of 48 counts related to the sexual abuse of young boys. In October, Sandusky received a 30-60 year prison term, a virtual life sentence for the 68-year old serial pedophile. Sandusky maintains his innocence, but he did not testify at his trial in Bellefonte last summer. Instead, we heard from Sandusky on the eve of his sentencing, as he released a rambling audio statement from jail. The conviction brought to an end one of the saddest chapters in Pennsylvania history, one that saw the once proud Penn State program humiliated and shattered at least 15 young lives. The next chapter will pick up in 2013 as several civil lawsuits are pending, along with an expected Sandusky appeal. The trial and conviction of former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky is Radio PA’s #1 story of 2012.

 

Radio PA’s Top 10 Pennsylvania Stories of 2012 – Part 3

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.

 

 

Radio PA’s Top 10 Pennsylvania Stories of 2012 – Part 2

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 7 through 5, beginning with a groundbreaking election victory.

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

#7 – Kathleen Kane & the Democrats   2012Top10-7FINAL
Pennsylvania had never elected a woman as state Attorney General. Pennsylvania had never elected a Democrat as state Attorney General. In one night, Kathleen Kane shattered both of those barriers. Kane’s victory on November 6th was part of a Democrat Party sweep of Pennsylvania’s row offices, as Treasurer Rob McCord won re-election and State Representative Eugene DePasquale was selected the next Pennsylvania Auditor General. Political analyst Terry Madonna of F&M College in Lancaster says the victories have provided the Democrats with a “deep bench” for future statewide elections. Kane says she hopes her victory can show young women throughout the Keystone State that anything is possible. During her campaign, Kane repeatedly said she plans to investigate Governor Tom Corbett’s role in the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky (Corbett was the Attorney General who launched the Sandusky case and opponents of the governor have been critical about the timing and handling of the probe). The stage is now set for a contentious relationship between Tom Corbett and his former office in 2013 and beyond, and Kathleen Kane’s groundbreaking election win is Radio PA’s #7 Pennsylvania story of 2012.

#6 – “Superstorm” Sandy   2012Top10-6FINAL
The convergence of multiple weather systems in late October brought back memories of 1991’s “Perfect Storm,” but forecasters went with a different term to describe this one as the term “Superstorm” entered the media lexicon. The main component of this dangerous mix was Hurricane Sandy. As it approached the Mid-Atlantic region, emergency declarations were declared and states braced for the worst. In Pennsylvania, there were more than a dozen deaths associated with the storm, but the Commonwealth avoided widespread flooding and other major damage as Superstorm Sandy weakened immediately after coming ashore. New Jersey and New York were not so fortunate, as the storm surge wiped out entire communities. Power was out in parts of Pennsylvania for more than a week, with over 1.2 million customers out at the height of the storm. Parts of New York and New Jersey were out even longer as utilities tried to rebuild the damaged power grid. “Superstorm” Sandy blows in as Radio PA’s # 6 Pennsylvania story of 2012.

#5 – The Death of Arlen Specter   2012Top10-5FINAL
The Warren Commission’s “Single Bullet Theory,” the Clarence Thomas & Robert Bork SCOTUS confirmation hearings, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton…name a major story of the past 50 years and odds are you’ll find Arlen Specter’s name associated with it. The longtime Pennsylvania U.S. Senator died on October 14th of this year after a third round with cancer. Specter was PA’s longest-serving Senator, having served from 1981-2010. His defeat in the 2010 primary election came about one year after his controversial switch to the Democrat party, but the Kansas native was always a political lightning rod, sometimes voting counter to his own Republican party’s interests during his 30-year career in Washington. The moderate used his farewell speech in 2010 to chastise his former GOP brethren, who he claimed were engaging in “sophisticated cannibalism” by targeting fellow Republicans who don’t vote with the party 100% of the time. Specter was 82 years old when he passed away, but he leaves a fiercely independent legacy in a time when political parties are drafting further away from the political center. The death of Arlen Specter checks in as Radio PA’s #5 Pennsylvania story of 2012.

 

Check back soon for stories #4, #3 and #2…

 

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.