In case you missed it: This week’s best reads from Pa. cities

    Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths

    Groundhog Club handler John Griffiths

    Punxsutawney Phil says six more weeks of winter. And other, less essential news. 

     The Trump Tracker, week two

    It’s been another busy week for President Donald Trump. 

    Last Friday, Trump issued a series of executive orders intending to temporarily limit the number of refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority nations the United States would accept. The order led to confusion, as well as massive protests around the country. 

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    In Pennsylvania, crowds at Pittsburgh International Airport wanted refugees to know “Yinz are welcome here.” Youse guys were also welcome at Philadelphia International Airport, and State College residents gathered to say “We Are” supporting refugees as well. There were similar protests in Erie and Lancaster.  

    Pennsylvania’s legislators had mixed reviews, while Governor Tom Wolf condemned the order.

    In Philly, a Syrian family on their way to Allentown were sent back to Syria. They are now suing the Department of Homeland Security and President Trump himself. 

    A Burmese family was luckier — they were among the final refugees allowed through Philadelphia International Airport before the order took effect. 

    Trump also made a pick for the Supreme Court justice: Neil Gorsuch. It was nearly Thomas Hardiman, a Pittsburgh-area judge, who reportedly made it all the way to Altoona before hearing he wasn’t the nominee. 

    The Toomey Tracker

    Where is Pat Toomey? Constituents report having a hard time getting face-time with Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senator. So they’re resorting to other methods: Toomey receives more faxes than any other member of Congress and a group called Tuesdays with Toomey meets at his Philadelphia office every Tuesday to protest. 

    The current issue: Toomey’s vote on the confirmation of Trump’s education nominee Betsy DeVos. Toomey’s offices have been flooded with calls asking him to vote no, but the Senator has reaffirmed his plan to support her nomination. 

    There’s also been a lot of push back on Toomey’s support of stripping federal funds from sanctuary cities. Trump issued an executive order on the matter last week, which Toomey called a “welcome first step.” He plans to continue on with his legislation that would remove Congressional-controlled funds from sanctuary cities. 

    Pennsylvania’s pressing problems

    Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, there are ongoing problems that need attention as well. 

    Our water systems got a D- from the American Society of Civil Engineers, which isn’t exactly the report card worth bragging about. One hundred thousand Pittsburgh residents were under a “flush and boil” order for part of this week to make sure their water was potable. And the EPA has decided that Pennsylvania lacks the resources to enforce safe water standards

    Governor Wolf, in an effort to cut back the budget deficit, is consolidating four state health agencies. He’s also tried to close two prisons (but only closed one.) And he is closing two homes for people with mental and developmental disabilities, which has some family members of residents concerned. 

    Also, our bridges aren’t doing so hot. And, to top it all off, our most famous rodent-resident, Punxsutawney Phil, raised ire when he said there would be six more weeks of winter. 

    Tough times in the Keystone State. 


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