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Teresa's enviro image tarnished

| Saturday, June 22, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Robert Vagt
Robert Vagt

Say it ain't so! Teresa Heinz'stree-hugger reputation is taking a hit.

The Heinz Endowments, the charity chaired by the Fox Chapel ketchup maven, was taken to task recently in a report by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI), a liberal nonprofit group focused on corporate and government accountability.

The PIA didn't like the Heinz Endowments providing funding for the Center for Sustainable Shale Development. The liberal organization also criticized Robert Vagt , the charity's president, for not fully disclosing his ties to the oil and gas industry and for his board membership at Kinder Morgan Inc., the nation's largest operator of natural gas pipelines.

We're shocked. Is the woman chairing the Heinz Endowments the same lady who co-authored the 2007 tome “This Moment on Earth: Today's New Environmentalists and Their Vision for the Future” along with hubby John Kerry, former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, now secretary of State?

At the Heinz Endowments, tree-hugging appears to be taking a backseat to hypocrisy these days.

CANTOR BOOSTS ROTHFUS' WAR CHEST.Keith Rothfus apparently believes the best way to defend his congressional seat is to go on the financial offensive.

Rothfus, the first-term Republican U.S. House member from Sewickley, isn't up for re-election until next year. But he held a fundraiser on Friday at the Duquesne Club, Downtown, where attendance likely was bolstered by the presence of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Rothfus might have been inspired to fill his campaign coffers early by reports that former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, might attempt to win back his old seat in 2014. Rothfus defeated Critz last year.

SLIPPERY MIDNIGHT OIL. If Kevin Acklin actually becomes Bill Peduto'schief of staff or top adviser or top shoveler of the cluckety-cluck from the muckety-mucks should Mr. Peduto win Pittsburgh's mayoral election in November, count on a lot of middle-of-the night decisions. How's that?

You might recall that it was Mr. Acklin, once the supposed great hope of Republicans in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, who renounced his GOP affiliation in a late-night email a few years back. Talk about not having the courage of your fleeing, er, convictions. He first became an independent, ran for mayor, lost, and now is a registered Democrat and Democrat committeeman.

Acklin is the same fella who couldn't defeat a sitting Allegheny County councilman accused of bilking an elderly woman's estate. His powers of persuasion appear to be lacking.

FERLO'S FUTURE IN PAST COUNCIL JOB? Don't be surprised if state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, decides he's had enough of Harrisburg and tries to regain his former Pittsburgh City Council seat.

Redistricting has made Ferlo's re-election far from certain, as he now shares the turf of Sen. Randy Vulakovich, R-Shaler, in a district dominated by suburban GOP voters. With Patrick Dowd'simpending departure from Pittsburgh City Council to head a children's advocacy group, Ferlo might decide he has a better chance of remaining in elected office by trying to regain his old council seat.

Others mentioned as possible candidates to replace Dowd include Len Bodack Jr., who held the Pittsburgh City Council seat before Dowd, and city Housing Authority employee Tony Ceoffe.

SANTORUM'S SUMMER SWEATER VEST PLANS. Someone please tell Rick Santorum that the next Iowa caucuses are about 30 months away.

Despite his failed presidential candidacy last year, the former U.S. senator of Pennsylvania will visit the Hawkeye State in August to lay the groundwork for another run for the White House in 2016. National Review Online reported that he'll head a fundraising dinner for the Lyon County GOP and attend the state fair in Des Moines.

Will he wear one of his signature sweater vests while touring the fair's swine barn amid the Midwest's summertime heat and humidity?

“It'll probably be too warm to wear (one),” he said. “But I'll have it ready in my suitcase.”

EARFUL OVER AN EYEFUL. Not every Westmoreland County resident is appalled that Sheriff John Held permitted deputies to use a portion of their $450 annual uniform allowances to buy $112 Oakley sunglasses.

Dr. Myhanh Dang, an optometrist who lives in the county but practices in Pittsburgh, took one of Held's biggest critics, Democrat Commissioner Ted Kopas, to task for his scolding of the first-term sheriff.

“As a resident of Westmoreland County, I just wanted you to know how one of your constituents feel. I think it is excessive and unfounded that you would be quoted as saying buying $112 sunglasses is ‘abusive,'” Dang wrote to the minority commissioner.

“It is unfortunate that so many, such as yourself, view sunglasses as a cosmetic accessory. Sunglasses are actually preventative healthcare. Ultraviolet light exposure promotes macular degeneration and cataract formation,” he noted in a pointed back-and-forth with Kopas, which both parties to the exchange shared with reporters.

Kopas did not back away from the controversy, replying: “My issue is not with the brand. ... I honestly could care less, and I admittedly know little about designer eyewear. My concern is getting the best value, and some simple research reveals that our deputies can get the protection they need and deserve for far less public money. That's the crux of my objection.”

NEW DIGS. Part-time Ligonier resident Kevin S. McClatchy, former majority owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, left the Ligonier Valley for a brief respite in South Florida this month.

McClatchy christened the Miami Herald Media Co.'s new $50 million Doral headquarters on June 12.

He is the non-executive chairman of the board for Sacramento, Calif.-based McClatchy Co., which owns both the Miami Herald and the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald.

The new, two-story, 160,000-square-foot headquarters is home to both newspapers. A separate, 119,000-square-foot printing plant was built next door on six purchased acres.

The total investment was $50 million.

The headquarters was formerly in downtown Miami.

— compiled by Tribune-Review staff

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