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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

On the “Watch List”:

The Port Authority. The trial balloon is that ACE Rich Fitzgerald wants Joe Brimmeier to serve as interim (or is it permanent) head of Allegheny County's mass-transit agency. Which, given Mr. Brimmeier's significant baggage — think Pennsylvania Turnpike debt, nepotism and investigations — means all trolleys and buses will need to be outfitted with trailers to carry it all should he be chosen. Of course, Brimmeier will hire family members to be his porters.

• Joan Orie Melvin. The public corruption trial of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice continues in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. And, sadly, it has pretty much become a ho-hum affair. Perhaps that's because so many high-ranking Keystone State government officials have been put on trial before her (and most of them have been convicted). Should Mrs. Melvin join the proverbial gallery of public rogues, the new state slogan — “State of Corruption” — should be carved in stone in the state Capitol.

• Shell's cracker plant. Gov. Tom Corbett says $1 billion in tax breaks for Shell's proposed petrochemical plant in Beaver County will ensure that Pennsylvania's natural gas boom will be sustained. Silly us, we thought markets determine such things. Given the basic demand and supply curve and currently depressed prices, it's becoming more evident that these publicly underwritten incentives are designed to protect Shell from the vagaries of the marketplace. And that disrespects taxpayers.

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