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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 8:04 p.m.

• In January, the Mt. Lebanon Board of Commissioners, dominated by Democrats who continue to dither over the culling of the South Hills community's exploding deer population, will form a Deer Advisory Board to further study the issue. The seven-member board will be composed of seven deer. ...

• In February, in a desperate attempt to save some semblance of their old powerful selves, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will merge. Turnpike rest stops will be remodeled to include drive-thru “E-ZSwig” wine stores. Transponders embedded in bottle necks will allow purchases to be charged automatically to E-ZPass accounts. ...

• In March, a federal grand jury will indict officials of the new Pennsylvania Wine & Turnpike Authority for improprieties associated with the no-bid contract for the E-ZSwig program. Grand jury testimony will reveal that “officials” of the company formed to manufacture the transponder-outfitted bottle necks consist solely of the pets of high-ranking PW&TA officials. ...

• In April, there will be a surprise entrant into the Democrats' May primary for Pittsburgh mayor. Upset at the prospect of another Luke Ravenstahl term — or Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald becoming the de facto mayor through Bill Peduto's puppet candidacy — state Sen. Jim Ferlo will enter the race. Democrats will nominate Mr. Ferlo, rejecting incompetence and autocracy, respectively. ...

• In May, the Pittsburgh Pirates will clinch their 21st-straight losing season — after 56 games. ...

• In June, thwarted in court in their attempt to force the public to pay for a Heinz Field expansion, whose cost could be covered by expansion-generated revenues in two months (versus the years for which they would prefer to further encumber taxpayers), the Pittsburgh Steelers threaten to move. ...

• In July, finding no takers (Clairton says it already has a real football team), the Rooneys bury the hatchet with Pittsburgh parking magnate Merrill Stabile and forge an agreement that allows parking on the Heinz Field turf during the offseason. The Steelers pay their own expansion costs. ...

• In August, the U.S. Green Building Council grants LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification to Heinz Field for having the world's largest permeable-surface parking lot. ...

• In September, Bob Nutting trades himself to Major League Baseball for a principal owner and team to be named later. ...

• In October, the Justice Department seizes the Pennsylvania Legislature under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. ....

• In November, Mark DeSantis, running as an independent, becomes Pittsburgh's new mayor. ...

• And in December 2013, after the conviction of 437 top officials in the E-ZSwig scandal, the Pennsylvania Wine & Turnpike Authority is dismantled; liquor and turnpike functions are privatized.

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or

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