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Who’s afraid of Jane Orie?

Democrats in Harrisburg are said to be concerned that Republican state Sen. Jane Orie, of McCandless, is going to come out smelling like a rose after ripping the solution to Pittsburgh’s budget crisis out of Democratic Mayor Tom Murphy’s hands.

Orie has been working on alternative legislation to solve the city’s budget woes after a bill introduced by Democratic state Rep. Jay Costa , of Forest Hills, that incorporated much of the Murphy agenda — virtually a total state bailout — went nowhere.

Though there are still pitfalls, some Democrats are saying privately that Orie appears close to an alternative plan that would pass muster in the General Assembly. No way they want a Republican legislator getting all the credit for rescuing the city from the fiscal miscues of a Democratic mayor.

SALA SAGA CONTINUES. We’re deeply hurt. Pittsburgh City Councilman Sala Udin is no fan of the Trib.

Udin told the Pittsburgh City Paper newsweekly last week that the Pittsburgh Courier, the city’s storied African-American weekly newspaper, “ought to be ashamed of (itself).” Why• For recently entering into a publishing partnership with the Trib.

Mr. Udin, what did the Trib ever do to you to deserve such a slap• What did we do, other than to periodically pester you for the past five years over a 3,500-mile, three-week road trip you took in 1998 in a city-owned vehicle. The trip in which you have yet to produce a shred of evidence you were conducting city business. The trip you continue to evade answering questions about.

Mr. Udin, you have displayed a willingness to talk about the Trib. Care to display a willingness to talk to the newspaper and offer a full accounting of your whereabouts back in 1998?

If you answer no, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

WHAT A BUNCH OF CUT-UPS. The people at PennDOT seem to have learned a lesson from a blistering study in February by state Auditor General Robert Casey Jr.

Casey’s review uncovered more than $250,000 in questionable spending by the transportation agency — including $510 on a single pair of 34-inch ceremonial scissors with polished aluminum blades and stained oak handles. Presumably, this baby was used for one of PennDOT’s numerous ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

We guarantee this expensive pair of scissors will not be on display Tuesday, when PennDOT officially celebrates the completion of the decade-long Fort Pitt Bridge and tunnel project.

How do we know• From this line in the agency’s invitation to the festivities: “Participate in this historic event by bringing your own pair of scissors to cut a portion of the ceremonial ribbon.”

Good thinking, guys.

GETTING POT LUCKY. Planners of the party held last week to celebrate the grand opening of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center were no doubt disappointed at the bash’s sparse turnout. But the area’s homeless probably didn’t mind.

The Light of Life Mission on the North Side, which serves up to 300 meals a day to those without a permanent address, was the recipient of leftover lasagna, rolls, macaroni and cheese, pastries and other items from the convention center gala. Additional leftover food was donated to the Three Rivers Food Bank, while flowers from the party reportedly were donated to a number of shelters and nursing homes in the area.

PLAUDITS FOR PEDUTO. The Democratic Leadership Council, a national centrist Democratic group, recently named Pittsburgh City Councilman William Peduto its “New Democrat of the Week.”

Peduto was being recognized for promoting innovative solutions to Pittsburgh’s financial woes, according to the group. The city faces a projected $40 million deficit this year, with continuing deficits predicted in future years.

HOLD THE KRAUT. Westmoreland County Commissioners Tom Balya and Tom Ceraso are taking fund raising to a new level for a county election.

They’re holding a $500-a-head reception tomorrow at Pittsburgh’s classy Duquesne Club.

Westmoreland County fund raisers usually are held in local restaurants or clubs where supporters and party faithful can rub elbows with candidates in a casual setting over a few brews while eating hotdogs, kielbasi and sauerkraut.

“We have our share of those,” Balya said.

The event is sponsored by John Berbanac , a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum and now a consultant to the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission. Balya and Ceraso are commission members. Balya has been chairman and is vice chair of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.

Many of those who shell out the $500 won’t be able to vote for either candidate because they aren’t Westmoreland residents.

“People recognize Westmoreland County’s role in the region, and we’re the second-largest county,” Balya said. “We’re happy to have their support.”

Ceraso said the fund raiser is being held at the club because the SPC is meeting Monday in Pittsburgh. He knows it won’t be as informal as most campaign events.

“I’m going to wear a tie,” Ceraso said with a laugh.

PAY UP. Dr. Cyril Wecht, Allegheny County’s world-renowned coroner, was more than a little miffed when he received a parking ticket from a Greensburg meter maid while testifying in August in the murder trial of Dr. Karl Long.

Wecht initially fired off a one-page critical missive to the city police department, pointing out that he couldn’t feed the meter because he was delayed in testifying and that the meter maid apparently did not notice an Allegheny County placard on his car.

The city responded to the good doctor by reminding him that the meter maid was only doing her job when she wrote the ticket.

Wecht relented and paid the $6 parking ticket about a week ago. The ticket increased from $3 to $6 when Wecht did not pay the fine the first day.

Greensburg officials won’t release the letter Wecht sent, nor the city’s reply. Chief Walter “Wally” Lyons said the city’s position is that the letters are personal correspondence, not public documents.

THEY’LL BE BACK. There they were, standing side by side at a political gathering in Washington, D.C. — Arnold Schwarzenegger and Terry Marolt.

Marolt met the actor-turned-pol, who is running for governor of California, recently in the nation’s capital. The Terminator posed for a picture with Marolt and suggested Marolt use his phrase, “I’ll be back” for his campaign to regain his seat as Westmoreland County commissioner.

Marolt served more than 13 years as commissioner before deciding not to seek re-election.

Now Marolt has mounted a comeback. He and Gene Porterfield are the GOP nominees running against incumbent Democrats Balya and Ceraso. Democrat-turned-Independent Jim Gebicki also will be on the ballot.

DO-SI-DO. U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy knows how to draw a crowd.

During Hempfield Community Days at Hempfield Park, Murphy spent time square-dancing as folks snapped photos. He also played guitar.

The freshman congressman, who lives in Allegheny County, represents the 18th District, which includes Hempfield Township.

GETTING DRILLED. Salem Township officials are concerned about a gas company’s plans to drill wells on land that will become a community park.

T.W. Phillips plans to drill wells on the Seanor Farm Park along Route 22, according to township officials.

The heirs to the Seanor estate sold the land to the township for a park but retained the mineral rights. They receive royalties from wells.

Former Supervisor Carmella Salvatore said she thought the agreement gave the estate the rights to existing gas wells only. Supervisor Ed Gieselman said he also thought the agreement gave future royalties to the township, which could use the money to help pay for development. He wants Solicitor Gary Falatovich to review the agreement.

Falatovich said his understanding is that there is no limit on the number of gas wells that can be drilled.

“I don’t think we have a legal leg to stand on,” he said.

Chairman Anders Johnson said he received a letter Sept. 4 from the company saying it plans to drill “one or more” wells on the property. The agreement the company has with the Seanor heirs gives the company access to the land.

The Ed of Sandwich



Talk about an Ed-ible meal.

The Wawa convenience store chain is resurrecting a sandwich named for Gov. Ed Rendell , the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported last week. The Rendelli, which sells for $3.39, features roasted chicken tenders and lettuce, adorned with a spicy Buffalo bleu-cheese sauce on focaccia bread.

Proceeds from the sandwich sale will go to the Teacher Education and Compensation Helps scholarship program, which recognizes people pursuing degrees in early childhood education.

The new sandwich is different from the Rendelli Wawa introduced back in 1999 — a 1,290-calorie bonanza of ham, provolone, pepperoni, lettuce, tomatoes, sweet peppers and oregano. Nutritional information for the new sandwich was unavailable, but as Rendell press secretary Kate Phillips noted, “I don’t think anyone’s going to be losing weight on the Rendelli.”

The Spot, a popular Harrisburg restaurant, also offers a sandwich bearing the governor’s name. The Rendell is a 51/4-ounce sirloin burger marinated in Greek dressing and loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions, sweet peppers and melted Swiss cheese — all served on a pretzel roll.

If Rendell is asked which sandwich he prefers, Phillips said he will play the diplomat.

“He would never choose a favorite,” she said.


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