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Rick Santorum takes a turn for the unborm child

| Sunday, May 11, 2003

Anyone think Sen. Rick Santorum was looking for a little cover last week by co-sponsoring the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act"?

The bill, which would make it illegal to kill or harm a fetus, was inspired by the much-publicized death of Laci Peterson , a Modesto, Calif., woman who was eight months pregnant when she disappeared last December. Her body, and that of her son, were discovered last month in San Francisco Bay.

The timing of the bill, which would make it a separate crime to kill or injure an unborn child during the commission of another crime, was a bit curious. Especially because

Santorum has been reeling recently from perceived anti-homosexual remarks he made in an interview with The Associated Press.

Co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate was Republican Mike DeWine of Ohio. Republican U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart of Bradford Woods introduced it in the House.

STAR-SPANGLED, MINUS TWO. It's been a while since Glassport Borough replaced the aging flag adorning its council chambers. But that's about to change after one eagle-eyed councilman recently noticed the flag just didn't look quite right.

It's two stars short.

The flag flying in council chambers hasn't been changed in the more than four decades since the 49th and 50th states joined the union, The Associated Press reported last week.

Council members recently were looking around the chambers, discussing ways to spruce it up, when Councilor James Foster pulled out the flag. "I immediately said, 'Hey, this is a few stars short,'" Foster said.

The 48-star flag -- which dates to 1912 -- was replaced with the 49-star flag in 1959, with the addition of Alaska to the United States. A year later, the 50-star flag became official following the addition of Hawaii.

U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Swissvale is donating a new flag to the borough. There is no truth to the rumor that when it arrives, council will pass a resolution formally acknowledging Alaskan and Hawaiian statehood.

CORBETT A SURE BET. For anyone thinking former state Attorney General Tom Corbett is merely toying with the idea of running for the office he once held back in the mid-1990s, guess again.

Corbett, of Shaler, has lured David Girard-diCarlo to his campaign. He's an attorney with the Philadelphia law firm of Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley, and was a prominent fund-raiser and adviser to former governor and current Homeland Security head honcho Tom Ridge.

Girard-diCarlo's involvement signals Corbett is indeed serious about running for the office Ridge appointed him to in 1995 to fill the unexpired term of the incarcerated Ernie Preate. As a condition of his appointment, Corbett promised Ridge he wouldn't seek a full term in 1996 -- but he never said anything about not doing so in 2004.

SHADES OF THE BLUE KNIGHT. Pittsburgh Police Chief Robert McNeilly hasn't taken it on the chin like this since former Officer Jeffrey Cooperstein used to excoriate him on the anonymous "Blue Knight" Internet site.

McNeilly is being compared to former Iraq information minister Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf on a parody making the rounds in city police stations. The Iraqi information minister caused much mirth during the recent war by vehemently lying to the point of denying an American presence in Baghdad even as U.S. tanks rumbled by just yards away.

The paper circulating in police zones features a picture of the information minister with the caption: "Baghdad Bob McNeilly says 'There is no morale problem on the police department ... it is all lies and illusions concocted by the infidels! We will roast their stomachs in hell and throw our shoes at their children!'"

Not exactly flattering, eh• The implication seems to be McNeilly is ignoring departmental morale and has about the same regard for the truth as good ol' al-Sahhaf.

Wonder if the chief is having Cooperstein flashbacks.

BAD KARMA. Besides being fed heaping helpings of heartbreak and frustration for more than a decade, Pittsburgh Pirates season ticket holders have not had much to cheer about. They finally got a well-deserved break last week: first dibs on tickets for The Boss.

Owner Kevin McClatchey is bringing in Bruce Springsteen for the first concert ever at PNC Park on Aug. 6. He offered a pre-sale of concert tickets to Pirate season ticket subscribers before they went on sale to the public Saturday. Hopefully, the team's bad fortune won't carry over to the concert venue.

We can see it now ... rain through August and Springsteen leaves his guitar on the plane.

EVERYONE MAKES MISTAKES. Our favorite correction last week came from the Philadelphia Daily News, which offered this mea culpa: "The Byko Birthday Book yesterday mistakenly resurrected Johnny Unitas . He remains dead and did not celebrate his 70th birthday."

Hey, nobody's perfect.

NO SUMMER FUN . Westmoreland Health System officials are trying to cut expenses so they can reduce a deficit. Two areas they picked to save money have upset employees. Employees will no longer receive holiday turkeys. Nor will they be able to attend a hospital picnic at Idlewild Park in Ligonier.

According to a memo -- provided anonymously to the Trib -- sent to employees under the signatures of acting Chief Executive Officer David Gallatin and Dr. Scott Mason , the hospital's consultant, the two perks are history.

"While these two activities have been identified as cost reduction opportunities, we will continue to recognize and value our staff through other meaningful employee activities," they wrote in the memo that came after the health system cut 24 jobs.

The anonymous sender noted that, in all the discussions about saving money, Gallatin and Mason did not recommend eliminating positions of any of the 11 vice presidents who still are employed.

HOPE IT WORKS THIS TIME. Roland Martino, a candidate for the Democrat nomination for Westmoreland County Recorder of Deeds, is touting the endorsement of former Recorder of Deeds Jeanne Griffith in his campaign to oust incumbent Tom Murphy.

Don't know if that'll help.

When Murphy ran to succeed Griffith when she retired three years ago, she endorsed somebody else for her old job. Murphy still won.

NO BIG DEAL . A poll taken by Republican candidate Joe Hardy has Democrat incumbent Sean Cavanagh trailing three others in the race for commissioner posts in Fayette County, with fellow incumbent Ron Nehls finishing last. However, both Cavanagh and Nehls, who are running campaigns independent of one another, said ultimately the poll will not matter.

"The only poll that matters is the vote taken at the polls on May 20. When the dust clears, I'll still be standing there," Cavanagh said. He said he has spent nearly $100,000 during the primary season and plans to exceed that sum in the next few weeks. "It's all or nothing," he said.

Nehls said he ran his own poll much earlier that showed him finishing second among the incumbents. None of the challengers was included. He challenged the 5 percent support predicted for him in Hardy's poll.

"I'll bet my next year's salary that I don't finish that low," he said.

Cavanagh continued his assault against former Sen. J. William Lincoln, fixing him with the moniker "Back-room Bill" for a position Lincoln recently took during a televised debate. Lincoln said he's for studying whether to eliminate access to television cameras and whether to limit public comment as a way of defusing the circus atmosphere that sometimes suffuses commissioners' meetings.

"That comment did him in. People now know he's not the people's candidate. He's the candidate for big business. We're talking about open government here. It's just shows you he's out of touch," Cavanagh said.

Lincoln said he's always been for open government.

"There's nothing in my record that is against open government," Lincoln said.

PARTY LOYAL . Aliquippa Mayor James Mansueti says he has no idea where the PoliticsPA Web site got the information that he signed his name on a petition supporting the exoneration of Lyndon LaRouche.

"It's mind-boggling to me. Not even did I not sign it, I don't even know what he did to get exonerated," Mansueti said.

Despite what the anonymous, bipartisan political Web site suggests, Mansueti said he's been a "staunch Democrat" his whole life.

-- compiled by Tribune-Review staff

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