Does Your Newer Car Have a Spare?

If you’re buying a new vehicle, you might want to look in the trunk.    As car markers look to reduce vehicle weight to help improve fuel economy, some are looking at the spare tire.

AAA says 13% of all new vehicles sold in the first half of 2011 had no spare at all. Half of last year’s models had a temporary spare, also known as a donut tire, and 7% had run flat tires.

Jenny Robinson of AAA Mid-Atlantic says   vehicle owners may not be aware of the trend until they have a flat.  She says they already see a lot of tire service calls and that number could increase with more people driving cars that do not have a spare.

Robinson says if your car doesn’t have a spare, make sure you have an alternative like an emergency sealant and inflation kit or run flat tires.   She says you need to know what’s going to be practical for your needs.  The run flat tire allows a car to be driven to a safe location when the tire becomes flat.  The sealant also has limitations, and does eventually lose its effectiveness and should be replaced periodically.

Whistle-blower Website Focuses on Appalachian Region

Inspired by Wikileaks, a group of freelance journalists and computer scientists has developed a website known as Honest Appalachia.  “We hope to allow whistle-blowers to anonymously and securely upload documents to our site, which we will then vet for authenticity,” says co-founder Jim Tobias. 

It’s risky being a whistle-blower, according to Tobias. “So we felt that this resource would take that risk and replace it with a secure website that will enable whistle-blowers to more confidently blow the whistle on what they see as corruption.” 

The launch of Honest Appalachia prompted discussion on the most recent edition of Ask the Governor.  For his part, Governor Tom Corbett says he doesn’t trust anonymous sources.  “You can say anything you want when you’re anonymous.  If you say something, stand behind it.” 

Tobias disagrees.  He says anonymous whistle-blowing can be critically important to democracy.  “Arguably the most important, crucial case of whistle-blowing in US history was done by an anonymous source, which was when Deep Throat leaked information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein that enabled them to uncover the Watergate scandal.”   

Per its name, Honest Appalachia covers a seven state region that includes Pennsylvania.  Tobias says they’re already following a few leads, but are moving slowly because of their commitment to journalistic integrity.  “We really don’t want to put anything out there that isn’t true.”

RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 01.27.12

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Gov. Taps Task Force to Reduce Prison Costs

The new Justice Reinvestment Initiative panel will be tasked with helping to reduce the crime rate, decrease recidivism and lower corrections costs.  Corrections Secretary John Wetzel says the goals are all connected.  “We know with better outcomes we have less people coming back.  With less people coming back, that means they’re not screwing up when they’re out.  We’ll continue to focus on improving public safety by delivering better outcomes, and – by the way – we’re going to save money doing that.” 

Secretary Wetzel will lead the new task force alongside Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Chair Mark Zimmer. 

The group convened for the first time at the Governor’s Residence this week.  “Education, corrections and welfare take up about 95% of the budget pie,” Governor Tom Corbett told them.  Governor Corbett will deliver his second budget address on February 7th.

Governor Tom Corbett

Corbett addresses the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in the Governor's Residence.

Between 2000 and 2010, Pennsylvania’s prison population grew by 40% to more than 51,000 inmates.  Over that same time period, Department of Corrections spending increased by 76% to $1.9-billion.

A Final Goodbye…

He was more than a coach.  Former players spanning six decades were represented at “A Memorial for Joe” on Thursday afternoon.  They spoke of Joe Paterno the man, the educator, the role model.   1982 national championship quarterback Todd Blackledge called JoePa the most extraordinary person he’s ever known.  1970s receiver Jimmy Cefalo added that Paterno’s legacy won’t be defined by the 409 wins, five undefeated seasons or two national championships.  He says Paterno’s legacy will be the Grand Experiment.  “What was the idea?  That we wouldn’t just be athletes, but we would be student athletes.  And we can say now, 46-years later, that the Grand Experiment was a great success.” 

Paterno’s mid-season ouster, amid the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, did not go unnoticed during the two hour service at the Bryce Jordan Center.   “Whatever the details of that investigation are, this much is clear to me: if there’s a villain in this tragedy, it lies in that investigation, not in Joe Paterno’s response to it,” Nike Chairman Phil Knight said defiantly.  Those words brought a near 60-second standing ovation from some 12,000 fans. 

It was an emotional afternoon for many; especially the family.  Paterno’s son Jay spoke last.  “My father used to quote Tennessee Williams who said, ‘I knew no one was immortal but I thought I was the exception.’ Well dad, through this legacy and the legacy of so many you have touched, you are the exception.” 

Joe Paterno died on Sunday following a bout with lung cancer.  He was 85. 

"Today we are going to show you how much we love you" ~ Kenny Jackson


Comparing Presidents in Reelection Years

In many respects, President Barack Obama is polling about the same in the Keystone State as George W. Bush did in his reelection year.  For instance, this week’s Franklin & Marshall College Poll finds that 29% of PA voters approve of the way President Obama is handling the economy.  Eight years ago, poll found that 30% of PA voters approved of the way President Bush was handling the economy. 

Terry Madonna

Terry Madonna

President Obama has a 45% personal favorable rating in this week’s F&M Pennsylvania Poll.  In 2004, the poll pegged Bush’s personal favorable rating at 46%.  “It’s not as though President Bush, at this point eight years ago, was the odds on favorite to win our state,” says Franklin & Marshall College Poll Director Terry Madonna. 

It seems Pennsylvania will once again be a key battleground state.  “His indicators right now would tell us that it would be very close,” Madonna says of President Obama’s chances in Pennsylvania. 

One key difference when comparing the two presidents is that Bush and Kerry were essentially tied in Pennsylvania at this point in 2004.  But, according to Madonna’s latest poll, Obama would easily stamp out Republican rivals Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum.  “The nomination struggle is still underway in the Republican primary.  They’re slinging around a lot of mud… and that at the moment seems to be working in the president’s favor.” 

President Bush won reelection in 2004, but barely lost Pennsylvania to John Kerry by 2.5%.  The last time Pennsylvania swung Republican was with George H.W. Bush in 1988.

“A Memorial for Joe”

    Thousands of mourners and fans will pack into the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State today to say their final goodbyes to Joe Paterno, who passed away Sunday at age 85.

    “A Memorial for Joe” is scheduled to begin at 2:00pm. More than 10,000 free tickets for the event were snatched up in just minutes Tuesday morning when they were made available online.

Beaver stadium flags

Flags at Beaver Stadium are flying at half-staff this week.

   Paterno spent 61 years at Penn State, the last 46 as Head Coach. For most of the past half-century he embodied the Penn State football program and the university itself. While the word “icon” is often overused, it certainly applies to Joe Paterno.

    His tenure as Head Coach came to an end on November 9th when the Penn State Board of Trustees fired Paterno in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal. Days later, the coach was diagnosed with what was at that time described as a “treatable” form of lung cancer, but complications took his life this past Sunday.

    Tens of thousands of fans paid respects to the closed casket during visitations on Tuesday and Wednesday. Paterno was laid to rest on Wednesday following a private family funeral service.

Harrisburg's skyline

Rendell calls on Corbett to Reverse Proposed Asset Test for Food Stamps

Former Governor Ed Rendell has hand delivered a letter to the office of Governor Corbett, asking him to cancel plans to renew an asset test for food stamp recipientsAt a news conference on Wednesday, Rendell says the test that would   eliminate people from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program based on their personal assets is unnecessary, since there’s already federally mandated means testing.

The Rendell administration ended asset testing in 2008.  The former governor says returning to the practice would not produce any savings and would hurt thousands of households.  Rendell says there’s no need for this test to get rid of fraud, waste and abuse, because Pennsylvania has one of the best accuracy rates of any state in the union.

Rendell says there wouldn’t be any savings, because the state would have to notify SNAP recipients of the change in policy and retrain all of the county assistance office staff. He says there’s also the economic impact, the loss of federal food stamp money that Pennsylvanians would no longer have to spend in grocery stores.

Rendell says he’s known Tom Corbett for a long time and believes him to be a good, decent man who cares about Pennsylvanians. He’s asking the Governor in good faith to take a look at the policy and reconsider.

Representative Michael Gerber (D-Montgomery) says families would  be forced to make tough decisions if this asset test is reinstated.  He calls it pennywise and pound foolish because any scarce savings would be far outweighed by any economic harm that it will do.

Kendall Hanna, of the Central PA Food Bank, says the asset test would make it nearly impossible for many people who have been recently laid off to obtain any help through the food stamp program.  He says a family would be penalized for saving money for medical emergencies or to repair their car to get to work.

Hanna says the asset test would drive thousands and thousands of people to food pantries and churches already stressed by a 40% increase in the number of people seeking food assistance just in the last four years.

Kevin Harley, spokesman for Governor Tom Corbett, says the number of people in Pennsylvania receiving food stamps nearly doubled while Governor Rendell was in office. He disputed claims the asset test would lead to more administrative costs.  He says when people would come in for renewals; they’d sit down with a caseworker who’d go over their assets.  

Harley says the Corbett administration wants to make sure that the people who truly need to receive food stamps can get them. He says the administration is still working on setting asset limits.

Harley also responded to concerns the state would lose millions in federal food stamp money due to the change.  He says that’s  saying Pennsylvania needs to generate more food stamps to have a poverty industry.  He says the Corbett administration is trying to create an economic environment where the private sector can grow and create more jobs, so that more people won’t need food stamps.