The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 12, 2013

State News in Brief | Corbett expected to resubmit lottery deal


Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett plans to ask Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office to reverse its rejection of a contract with a British firm to manage the $3.5 billion Pennsylvania Lottery, a top lawmaker said Tuesday.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said administration officials told him Monday that they are making changes in the contract with London-based Camelot Global Services that Kane rejected last month over concerns that parts of it contravene the state constitution or violate state law.

The changes are in preparation to resubmit it for her approval, Scarnati said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery, declined comment except to say that certain changes to the contract would not trigger the need for a new round of bidding. The spokeswoman, Elizabeth Brassell, said the Corbett administration would say more later this week, once it announces its next steps.

The administration has a Saturday deadline to appeal Kane’s decision in court.

Zogby: Pension reform must account for future

HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget chief says any meaningful changes to Pennsylvania’s public pension plans must include at least some reductions in future benefits for current workers.

Budget Secretary Charles Zogby made the comment Tuesday during a briefing on Corbett’s wide-ranging pension reform plan. It would cut future benefits for current state and school employees, divert new hires into a 401(k)-style plan and slow the increase in taxpayers’ contributions to the state’s two major public retirement funds.

Zogby says savings from future benefits are crucial to the long-range success of the governor’s proposals to rein in an unfunded liability that now stands at $41 billion.

Critics say those proposals are on shaky legal ground and unlikely to withstand a court challenge.

Retiree disarms alleged gunman

IMPERIAL – A retired steelworker in poor health still had enough gumption to subdue and disarm a man who shot three people, one fatally, at an Allegheny County bar, authorities said.

Jerry Maroni, 60, of North Fayette Township, was courageous in his efforts to stop the suspect, 25-year-old David Mazzocco, at the Fort Pitt Inn early Monday, county police Lt. Andrew Schurman said.

“Obviously, it could have been a lot worse,” Schurman said, had Maroni not attacked Mazzocco and subdued him with the help of another patron, Juan Rodriguez.

Schurman said Mazzocco became upset while texting his girlfriend and began shooting about 12:45 a.m. Mazzocco shot James Adams, 29, of Imperial, in the head, killing him, and wounded another person in the neck before Maroni – who was shot in the arm – subdued the suspect.

“He was ready to kill everybody,” Maroni said told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I just snapped ... and I ran toward him.”

Maroni said one gunshot went over his head and another grazed his cheek before he was shot as he tackled Mazzocco.

Pa. led nation in dam removal in 2012

PITTSBURGH – Pennsylvania removed more dams from waterways last year than any other state, according to a report issued Tuesday.

Thirteen of the 65 dams removed nationwide in 2012 were in Pennsylvania, according to American Rivers, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to protect rivers and restore their natural flow.

In the report, American Rivers President Bob Irvin said “communities nationwide are removing outdated dams because they recognize that a healthy, free-flowing river is a tremendous asset.”

The group noted that dam removal can help alleviate local flooding and benefit aquatic life and fish populations.

Bill toughening puppy lemon law passes Senate

HARRISBURG – A bill designed to help more puppy buyers get their money back after buying a sick or diseased dog is on its way to the state House of Representatives.

A bill passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday to strengthen Pennsylvania’s 1997 Puppy Lemon Law in several ways.

Under the bill, the buyer could seek reimbursement for the treatment of incurable conditions, such as hip dysplasia.

Currently buyers may only get their money back for the treatment of curable conditions.

It also would extend the period during which a vet could identify a congenital condition to help the puppy buyer get reimbursed. That would go from 30 to 90 days.

Also, the period for a veterinarian to certify an illness would be extended from 10 to 14 days.

Ex-Pgh. police chief to disband business

PITTSBURGH – A security consulting company formed by former police Chief Nate Harper and four underlings is disbanding, according to the attorney for one of them, a city police commander.

The five set up the company after the city police received positive feedback from security they coordinated during the Group of 20 economic summit and related protests in September 2009, said attorney Patrick Thomassey, who represents Cmdr. Erie Holmes.

“None of it involved public time. It was all on their own time,” Thomassey said.

Holmes was involved in Diversified Public Safety Consultants with Harper and three other police employees. Harper has previously said the company was never operational, but was instead set up as something he would work on when he retired. That was before the 60-year-old chief was forced to resign last month by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

The district attorney’s office has issued cease-and-desist letters to four other security or law-enforcement firms owned by city police officers until it can be determined whether the officers need private detective licenses to operate them.

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