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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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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.

Thursday, May 15, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Lance: To the Government-Transportation Complex. Despite no compelling need, the commonwealth is moving forward with the next phase of the Southern Expressway, a half-billion-dollar boondoggle from Route 22-30 in Allegheny County to Interstate 79 at the Allegheny-Washington County border. Data from the first phase of the toll road — known as the Findlay Connector — show actual usage is two-thirds less than projections. What a waste.

Laurel: To Bill Peduto. Pittsburgh's mayor says the financially struggling city too often in the past has looked at its problem “through the lens of politics instead of looking at it through the lens of reality.” It's a telling statement. And it's a welcome statement if it means officials will, finally, fully right-size city operations. For there remain many efficiencies that the city has yet to implement. Right-sizing the Bureau of Fire would be a good thing to tackle next.

Lance: To Pittsburgh's overseers. The city is facing a $60 million shortfall. But despite all manner of edicts and pronouncements from two oversight boards, the root problem of “structural deficits” continues to haunt Pittsburgh. Mr. Peduto has blamed the “smoke and mirrors” of the previous Ravenstahl administration for masking the problem. He's right. But the oversight boards cannot be held blameless given that “structural deficits” have been the rule rather than the exception for decades.

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