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Mark Schneider

Shocking news today about the biking death of developer/civic leader Mark Schneider of Point Breeze, who chaired Pittsburgh's sports authority through the building of PNC Park/Heinz Field/Convention Center and guided two major redevelopment projects (Washington's Landing/Summerset at Frick Park) that helped redefine Pittsburgh on a national stage.

Mark, who was 55, was one of the good guys. The last time I saw him he was giving his time to another worthy effort, the still-unfunded World War II monument on the North Shore, and talking about his plans for bringing back an industrial zone in gritty Manchester. Here's Annie Seibert's obituary, with comment from former Mayor Tom Murphy, county exec Rich Fitzgerald, Steelers CEO Art Rooney II, former SEA director Steve Leeper and others.

UPDATE 2:15pm, From Mayor Luke Ravenstahl:

"I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Mark Schneider. My deepest condolences go out to his family. Mark was a true visionary who saw opportunity and vitality in urban areas that were once undesirable. His vision and leadership led to the creation of some of Pittsburgh's most amazing and successful developments. Mark was dedicated to his family, generous with his time and committed to his community. He will be missed."

Mitt Romney and his allies are outspending Barack Obama's forces in advertising in every battleground state except Pennsylvania, a new National Journal study shows today. The bulk of TV spending by both camps is next door in Ohio and in Florida and Virginia -- Romney hasn't advertised in the state at all (including that ad the camp released a couple weeks back on ) though Karl Rove's SuperPAC has.

The story links to a very cool interactive graphic (below) that is worth going to and exploring further.


Republican Tom Smith will start running his first TV ad of the general election campaign for U.S. Senate next week. It starts by tying incumbent Bob Casey to the nation's unemployment woes but is largely a biographical spot on Smith living the American Dream by building his own coal company.

The spot comes as the latest PPP poll shows the race tightening, with Casey still enjoying a 10-point (46-36%) lead over Smith, but down from the 16-point lead the Dem had in may.

During a press conference in Downtown Pittsburgh today, Gov. Tom Corbett lashed out at the Obama administration over its probe of Pennsylvania's Voter ID bill, without addressing questions the Department of Justice raised in a Monday letter to the state's top election official.

On Monday Assistant U.S. Attorney Gen. Thomas Perez sent Carol Aichele -- who oversees Pa elections as head of the Department of State -- a letter seeking information on the state's new voter ID law concerning its compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, covering discrimination by race, color or minority status. Asked about the probe -- which included questions about previous, and since undermined, statements by the governor that 99% of the state's registered voters had ID -- Mr. Corbett denied receiving the letter and said the Obama administration was manipulating the media.

"If it reached my desk they would have told me it reached my desk. The Department of Justice in Washington is again doing things -- and this administration again doing things -- through PR rather than the way I remember the Department of Justice doing things when I was part of it," the former U.S. Attorney in Pittsburgh said.

Asked if the letter rather went to Aichele, he said "the last I heard my Secretary of State had not seen the letter yet. Let's put it this way -- it made it to you in the media before it made it to us. I have a problem with that."

The governor's comments came the same day that the AFL-CIO released new data -- compiled by the same Department of State -- saying there are some 1.6 million registered voters statewide who either don't have a PennDOT ID or whose ID will be expired as of November 2011, rendering it unacceptable for voting this fall. That would knock out more than 40 percent of voters in Philadelphia and 20 percent in fellow Democratic stronghold Allegheny County.

Officials at the state cautioned that many in that total could have re-validated their IDs in the weeks since the latest dataset was produced, and it would not account for those with mispelled names or carrying other valid IDs such as passports, military, nursing home or state university cards with expiration dates.

The state has issued letters to the 758,000 registered voters absent from the PennDOT rolls and will mail all registered households with VoterID info in the fall. While questioning whether all 1.6 million on the AFL-CIO list were without acceptable ID, Department of State spokesman Ron Ruman said "from our standpoint whether the number is one voter or 100,000 or 1 million we're going to let everyone know the law exists. That’s what our position has been from day one."

The county/statewide breakdown of the state data by the AFL-CIO is below:

From the main site:

An Allegheny County judge today found in favor of a number of court administrators who had sought to have subpoenas issued by suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin quashed.

Justice Melvin requested the records from the Superior and Supreme courts for her preliminary hearing on nine counts that she misused her court staff to run election campaigns for the high court. It is scheduled for Monday.

Judge Jeffrey A. Manning wrote in his nine-page opinion that much of the evidence being sought would be used to impeach witnesses' credibility, which isn't relevant in a preliminary hearing.

"It is clear from the broad and reaching scope of the request for production for documents attached to the subpoenas issued to Justice [Max] Baer and the administrative employees that the defendant is seeking impeachment evidence," he wrote. "The subpoenas represent the proverbial 'fishing expedition' where the defendant hopes to locate, in this large volume of material, some evidence that might be helpful in presenting a defense to the charges."

Judge Manning also quashed a subpoena to Judge Kevin Sasinoski, whose wife was Justice Melvin's chief law clerk on the Superior Court and who is a key witness against her. Lisa Sasinoski later went on to work for Justice Baer, who defeated Justice Melvin for the Supreme Court in 2003.

As part of his opinion, Judge Manning also refused to recuse himself from the matter.

"The defendant has pointed to no facts that would suggest that this court is not capable of addressing the matter pending before it in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Canons of Judicial Conduct," he wrote.

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