HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania auditor general’s office says a $45 million project to upgrade emergency radio communications system in Pennsylvania is on time and within the budget. But the report issued Thursday also says the purchasing process has encountered some glitches, including errors in the bidding process and inadequate documentation about the qualifications of people involving in awarding the contract.
The statewide radio project, known as PA STARNet, began with a $179 million expenditure in 1996 that developed into a massive boondoggle, eventually costing the state more than $850 million. Its poor reception, software problems, short battery life and reliability shortcomings led to the current upgrade project that auditors reviewed.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Pennsylvania watchdog agency tasked with monitoring state misconduct and waste has found itself at the center of a nearly $160,000 gaffe. Spotlight PA reports that the state inspector generals office purchased pistols, ammunition, and other related equipment, following a law passed in 2017 that expanded the office’s powers to allow it to issue subpoenas and search warrants.
But after the purchase was completed, officials discovered the law didn’t empower investigators to carry a firearm. The items are now being held in a “guarded, secure facility,” and the office is working to “return or repurpose the firearms.”
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Students at three Pennsylvania schools have been told to stay home amid ongoing concerns over lead and asbestos contamination. Crews in the Scranton School District are conducting air quality tests and making emergency repairs Thursday, one day after Gov. Tom Wolf unveiled a $1.1 billion plan to help Pennsylvania’s public schools remediate lead and asbestos.
School districts statewide have been grappling with how to address environmental hazards in aging school buildings. Officials in the Scranton district knew about problems with lead as early as 2016. State police are investigating what officials did to address tainted water.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia, otherwise known as the City of Brotherly Love, has changed its nickname in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. The city’s honorary nickname will be the City of Sisterly Love until the end of 2020. Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore-Richardson introduced the ceremonial name change in a resolution Thursday.
The change is part of a joint effort with Visit Philadelphia, which is planning to celebrate sisterhood throughout the year. The 19th Amendment granted women the right to vote. It was passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920.
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WASHINGTON DC (AP) – President Donald Trump is serving up counterprogramming to his impeachment trial by promoting his new trade deal and rallying supporters in two Midwestern states he views as crucial to his reelection. Trump addressed workers at a manufacturing plant in Michigan on Thursday to celebrate the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that he signed into law a day earlier. But he couldn’t hide his anger over the impeachment trial, complaining it was overshadowing the new trade deal. From Michigan, he flew to Iowa for a big campaign rally in Des Moines ahead of Monday’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
MIAMI Fla. (AP) – Jennifer Lopez and Shakira said their Super Bowl halftime show will pay homage to Latino culture, promising a joint performance that has an empowering message and also one that will remember NBA icon Kobe Bryant. Lopez and Shakira on Thursday held a press conference before Sunday’s big game in Miami, telling media they worked hard to put together an eye-popping, high-energy 12-minute performance before San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – While other sports teams using Native American nicknames and imagery have faced decades of protests and boycotts, the Kansas City Chiefs have largely slid under the radar. Until now. The Chiefs will appear in their first Super Bowl in 50 years when they play the San Francisco 49ers Sunday. What is traditionally the largest TV audience of the year will watch as Kansas City fans break into the “war chant” and mimic tomahawk chop. Although many defend the display as a fun fan tradition, others view it as offensive and racist to Native Americans.
SEATTLE (AP) – Face masks are in short supply in parts of the world as people try to stop the spread of a new virus from China. Health officials recommend strap-on medical masks for people being evaluated for the new virus, their household members and caregivers. Masks can block large droplets from sneezes and coughs, and that’s how viruses spread from person to person. They also can stop people from touching their own mouths and noses, another way to stop germs. Experts say the best way to avoid getting sick from any virus is washing hands with soap and water.
MONT BELVIEU, Texas (AP) — A black Texas teenager who was told his dreadlocks violate his high school’s dress code is gaining the support of some celebrities as well as $20,000 for college. Eighteen-year-old DeAndre Arnold appeared on an episode of “The Ellen Show” that aired Wednesday. On the show, host Ellen DeGeneres and singer Alicia Keys presented the teen with a check to go toward his college tuition. Arnold says he was barred from Barbers Hill High School because the school said he’s violating its dress code. The school says it allows dreadlocks but that it has rules about the length of male students’ hair..
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