State AG 'beauty contest' finalist
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane probably would like being noticed more for her legal acumen than for her physical allure.
But we'd be remiss if we didn't note that Kane soon could claim the title of the nation's best-looking female state attorney general.
Kane and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi are vying for the distinction in a ConservativeHQ.com poll to determine the nation's prettiest state prosecutor. Last month, the pair distanced themselves from six other semifinalists, including Lori Swanson of Minnesota and Kamala Harris of California.
The poll began after President Obama remarked that Harris is by far the nation's best-looking female state attorney general.
“It's not ConservativeHQ that brought these girls' stunning appearance to the national stage,” said ConservativeHQ's Richard Viguerie. “However, we are the only outlet giving the public a chance to have (its) say, too — and have fun with it in the process.”
Being residents of the Keystone State, we're admittedly biased. But if someone were about to place our freedom in jeopardy in the form of an 85-page grand jury presentment alleging criminal misconduct, we'd want it to be someone who looks like Kane.
COUNCIL CLASHING OVER NEXT MAYOR. Pittsburgh's mayoral race appears to be causing more friction than usual among City Council members.
Backers of Councilman Bill Peduto (including Peduto himself) are clashing frequently with supporters of former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, his main rival for the Democrat mayoral nomination. One recent blow-up over a domestic violence bill being pushed by Councilman Ricky Burgess resulted in Peduto walking out of council chambers.
Council members Burgess, Darlene Harris and R. Daniel Lavelle are Wagner supporters, whilePatrick Dowd is Peduto's most ardent backer on council. Expect more political theatrics during the campaign's final full week before the May 21 primary.
NO NEED TO GO POSTAL.Greg Melvin didn't appear relieved on Tuesday when his wife, former state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin, escaped a jail sentence.
Instead, he complained angrily that she won't be permitted to bring Giant Eagle circulars and Miles Kimball catalogues in from her mailbox. Melvin was ordered to serve three years of house arrest as part of her sentence for her public-corruption conviction and is allowed to leave her Marshall home only to go to church and to perform court-ordered volunteer soup-kitchen work.
Speaking to reporters, Greg Melvin lashed out at the sentence imposed by Allegheny County Judge Lester Nauhaus.
Notorious pedophile “Jerry Sandusky was allowed to go to the mailbox. (The judge) is saying by not allowing (Joan Orie Melvin) to go to the mailbox that (she's) more dangerous than Jerry Sandusky?” he seethed. “Are you kidding me? Are you serious?”
Considering that the former justice could have been sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, we believe those last two questions should be posed to her husband.
SAYING THANKS TO NO-GO JOE? It wouldn't surprise us to see state liquor store employees flood Downtown's Rivers Club on Thursday.
State Senate Majority Leader Joe Scarnati is holding a fundraiser there, and they probably want to show their appreciation for the Jefferson County Republican dragging his feet on privatization of state-owned liquor stores. The House has approved a measure that would get the state out of the wine and spirits business, but that legislation has received a tepid response in the Senate and from Scarnati.
Tickets to Scarnati's soiree are $1,000 per person, but that shouldn't faze state-store workers who belong to a union that has vowed to spend $1 million on an anti-privatization ad campaign. They're aware there's no better way to express gratitude to politicians than by writing them checks.
NO FAN. Westmoreland County judicial hopeful Harry Smail Jr. pretty much dissed Family Court Judge Chris Feliciani's drug-court program at a recent judicial candidates forum.
Feliciani's pilot program, which is just 2 years old, aims to reunite formerly drug-addicted parents with their children and has been applauded in practically every corner.
Its focus is on rehabilitating drug users to be acceptable parents. The program includes intensive, weekly supervision, with the goal of returning children to their parents permanently, instead of their cases languishing for years in the court system before ending with parental rights being relinquished.
Lawyers Meagan Bilik DeFazio and William “Bill” McCabe, who are vying with Smail for the seat on the Common Pleas bench left vacant by Senior Judge John Driscoll's retirement, lauded the program for its ingenuity and lofty goals. But Smail countered that the money for it might be better spent on other foster-parenting programs.
“It's my understanding there's a low-yield success rate,” Smail told the crowd at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
Random drug tests are administered to program participants, who receive rewards for success and sanctions for failures.
Grant money from the Westmoreland County Foundation and the Westmoreland Bar Association has been used to fund the rewards. While the program graduated just three people this spring, officials noted it remains in its infancy.
Since the program's inception last year, 18 people have enrolled. Most did not complete it.
HOMESICK NO MORE. Former PennDOT spokesman James B. Struzzi II is happy to be back in Indiana County.
Struzzi, a native of Harrison City, Westmoreland County, left PennDOT to become the new president of the Indiana County Chamber of Commerce.
He served as community relations coordinator for PennDOT District 10 in Indiana from 1996 until 2006, when he was promoted to the District 11 office in Bridgeville. But since then, he, his wife, Christina, and their four children became homesick for Indiana and moved back about a year ago, “creating an extensively grueling daily commute,” he said.
So, Struzzi ditched the commute for his new job back in Indiana.
NO FREE PASS. First-term U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, will not be getting a free pass for re-election next year.
Democrat Erin McClelland, 38, of Lower Burrell is already speaking to Democrat groups throughout the 12th Congressional District, which spans Beaver, Allegheny, Westmoreland and Cambria counties, according to her Facebook page.
McClelland has more than 17 years of experience in the behavioral health field. She was collaborative manager of Pittsburgh's Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions, where she was trained by the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative under the direction of Paul O'Neill, former Treasury secretary and Alcoa CEO. In 2006, she conceived and developed Arche Wellness, the first Department of Health-licensed orthomolecular addiction treatment program in Pennsylvania.
Larry Stiles, a Johnstown Republican and Marine Corps veteran, plans to oppose the incumbent congressman in the 2014 GOP primary.
— compiled by Tribune-Review staff