AP PA Headlines 5/31/19
HARRISBURG (AP) – The Pennsylvania Game Commission failed to make sure that energy companies paid what they owed in royalties from oil and gas production on state hunting lands, according to an audit released Thursday. The commission relied on the drillers’ own data and didn’t confirm their royalty calculations were accurate or that they actually paid the money, state auditors found. The game commission, which manages state-owned hunting lands, permits drillers to extract natural gas from the vast Marcellus Shale formation in exchange for royalties, which rose from $9.3 million in 2015 to $19.2 million in 2017. About 133,700 acres of game lands are under lease.
“Essentially, the commission is relying on gas and oil companies to say how much money they owe,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said in a statement. “I find the lack of fiscal controls to be particularly troubling at a time when oil and gas royalty revenues doubled.” The commission acknowledged it failed to adequately track royalties, attributing the problem to a lack of staff but said it has improved its accounting practices. DePasquale’s audit also faulted the agency for sitting on a huge and growing pile of cash — it totaled nearly $73 million in 2018 — and failing to take those reserves into account when developing an annual budget. Auditors said the commission should consider its “full financial position” when making a budget or considering an increase in hunting license fees.
The audit, which covered fiscal years 2014-2017, looked at the commission’s overall fiscal management and made a total of 40 recommendations. The game commission said in a statement that it has either already implemented the auditor general’s recommendations or is in the process if doing so. “To do our best for Pennsylvania’s wildlife and citizens, we must work as efficiently and effectively as possible,” said the commission’s executive director, Bryan Burhans. “Nearly all the recommendations offered by the auditor general’s office will further improve the game commission’s operations.”
In assessing how the game commission was managing its oil and gas windfall, state auditors looked at royalty payments from 18 of the 66 energy companies that extracted gas from state game lands. Auditors found the commission did not charge interest on delinquent payments nor did agency staff force gas companies to submit annual production reports that “could have provided an extra layer of accountability,” DePasquale said.
The agency also let royalty checks sit around. In one case, agency staff waited 63 days to deposit a check.
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — The former manager of a Penn State fraternity where a pledge fell during a night of hazing and drinking and later died has been convicted of hindering apprehension but acquitted of evidence tampering and obstruction. The Centre Daily Times reported a jury deliberated about five hours before issuing the verdict Thursday against 22-year-old Braxton Becker, of Niskayuna, New York.
It was the first criminal trial to result from the February 2017 death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey. Piazza consumed a large quantity of alcohol the night of a pledge bid acceptance ceremony at the Beta Theta Pi house. His death led to passage of a stricter state anti-hazing law. Becker was accused of deleting security camera footage to thwart investigators. His lawyer declined to comment.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania prosecutors want an appeals court to overturn a judge’s decision to throw out the misdemeanor child endangerment conviction of former Penn State President Graham Spanier.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday a notice of appeal was filed with the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A federal magistrate judge on April 30 gave prosecutors three months to retry Spanier under a version of the law in place in 2001.
That’s when Spanier was involved in responding to a complaint about Jerry Sandusky showering with a boy. Sandusky was convicted of child molestation in 2012. Spanier’s defense attorney Sam Silver declined comment. The judge ruled one day before the 70-year-old Spanier had been due to begin serving a minimum sentence of two months, followed by two months of house arrest.
MANHEIM, Pa. (AP) — Police say a man found in the trunk of a car that arrived for sale at a Pennsylvania auto auction is wanted in New York. LNP newspaper reported 25-year-old Leon Parks, of New York City, is wanted for parole violations and weapons charges. Workers processing the vehicle at the Manheim Auto Auction facility found him inside. The facility is about 90 miles (130 kilometers) west of Philadelphia.
Darren Leeds told LNP he opened the trunk of the Dodge Challenger Hellcat from the New York City area to photograph it, “and there was a guy in there.” Leeds says he ran to get water for the man, who he says wasn’t moving much. Police say they used fingerprints to identify Parks, who was treated at a hospital before being taken to jail to await extradition.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
WATERTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — A fourth-grade teacher in a northern New York school district has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of having white students bid on black classmates during a mock slave auction. The mother of one of the black students tells WWNY the incident happened Tuesday at North Elementary School in the Watertown City School District.
A statement from the school district said the teacher had been placed on leave during a district investigation launched after parents complained she had “exercised poor judgment in teaching a recent lesson.”
A fifth-grade teacher at a private school in Westchester County was fired in March after parents complained she held mock “slave auctions.” The Chapel School in Bronxville agreed to hire a diversity officer after the state attorney general’s office investigated.
OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Eight spellers were better than the dictionary. They were better than anything the Scripps National Spelling Bee could throw at them. And they all ended up with a hand on the trophy. In the most extraordinary ending in the 94-year history of the competition, the bee ended in an eight-way tie on Thursday night. The eight co-champions spelled the final 47 words correctly, going through five consecutive perfect rounds.
Each will get the full winner’s prize of $50,000 in cash. They are: Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Christopher Serrao and Rohan Raja.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ One by one, Hollywood studios are starting to say they may reevaluate working in Georgia if the state’s abortion law goes into effect. WarnerMedia says the company will reconsider Georgia as home to new productions should the law go into effect. Disney has made a similar statement. The first to weigh in was Netflix, which says it will revisit its relationship with Georgia if the law is enacted. Many studios and producers do projects in Georgia because it offers generous tax breaks for entertainment projects.
NEW YORK (AP) _ John McCain’s daughter is going after President Donald Trump again _ this time, for what’s being reported as another post-death snub of her dad. Meghan McCain is weighing in on reports a battleship named after the late Arizona senator was tucked out of sight as Trump visited Japan _ by orders of the White House.
Trump denies ordering having the vessel disappear during his visit. But McCain says the fact that someone thought they needed to do so for Trump’s sake is troubling. Speaking today on “The View,” she says Trump has created a culture that is “fearful to show” her late father’s name.
WASHINGTON (AP) — You can delete a tweet, but once it goes out _ thanks to screenshots _ it never really disappears from cyberspace. That reality may end up haunting President Donald Trump with a message he sent his Twitter followers early this morning _ a tweet that muddies the waters over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. In the tweet, Trump says he, “had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”
That appears to be an acknowledgement of something he and his followers have long denied: that Russia played an active role in helping him win the White House. However later, Trump insisted Russia didn’t help him at all. Russia’s clandestine role in the election has resurfaced after special counsel Robert Mueller yesterday publicly disputed claims made by the Trump administration that the two-year probe of the case exonerates the president.
SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle man took exception to a car-share vehicle that was parked without permission at his duplex. So he built a fence around it. Dan Smith says he doesn’t know who parked the car2go Mercedes May 17, but it wasn’t one of his tenants. He contacted Share Now, the company that operates car2go, and gave them two hours to move the vehicle. A few hours after that, he erected the barricade, preventing other customers from using it. He wants the company to pay $65 a day in storage fees, $300 for the fence and up to $500 for “harassment fees.”
In a written statement, Share Now suggested that might amount to extortion. Spokesman Tim Krebs told The Associated Press on Thursday that the company is seeking help from the police. “We will not allow anyone acting with ulterior motives, including anyone attempting to extort our business by holding our property illegally, to prevent us from providing transportation to the citizens of Seattle,” the company’s statement said. “We would like to avoid taking legal action and hope for a quick resolution.”
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
PA Sports, Scores & Skeds
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Dakota Hudson tossed six effective innings, Jedd Gyorko hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-3. Marcell Ozuna, Matt Wieters and Matt Carpenter also went deep for the Cardinals, who avoided their first sweep against Philadelphia since 2006. The Phillies play on 1070AM WKOK, while our normal programming continues at WKOK.com. The Phils start a series with the Dodgers tonight.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Moustakas homered twice among his four hits and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-5. Yasmani Grandal also homered and had four hits to help the Brewers win for the third time in four games. Chase Anderson gave up two runs and six hits with five strikeouts in five innings.
Here are the scores from yesterday’s sports events:
Final Tampa Bay 14 Minnesota 3
Final Kansas City 4 Texas 2
Final Chi White Sox 10 Cleveland 4
Final L-A Angels 9 Seattle 3
Boston at N-Y Yankees 7:05 p.m., postponed
Final St. Louis 5 Philadelphia 3
Final San Francisco 3 Miami 1
Final Colorado 11 Arizona 10, 10 Innings
Final Milwaukee 11 Pittsburgh 5
Final L-A Dodgers 2 N-Y Mets 0
NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS
Final Toronto 118 Golden State 109
TODAY’S SPORTS SCHEDULE
San Francisco at Baltimore 7:05 p.m.
Detroit at Atlanta 7:20 p.m.
Toronto at Colorado 8:40 p.m.
Boston at N-Y Yankees 7:05 p.m.
Minnesota at Tampa Bay 7:10 p.m.
Kansas City at Texas 8:05 p.m.
Cleveland at Chi White Sox 8:10 p.m.
Houston at Oakland 10:07 p.m.
L-A Angels at Seattle 10:10 p.m.
Milwaukee at Pittsburgh 7:05 p.m.
Washington at Cincinnati 7:10 p.m.
Chi Cubs at St. Louis 8:15 p.m.
N-Y Mets at Arizona 9:40 p.m.
Miami at San Diego 10:10 p.m.
Philadelphia at L-A Dodgers 10:10 p.m.
WOMEN’S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION PLAYOFFS
Seattle at Atlanta 7:30 p.m.
Las Vegas at Phoenix 10:00 p.m.
Connecticut at L.A. Sparks 10:30 p.m.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Toronto at Vancouver 10:00 p.m.
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved