by Chris Potter
Our top story, of course, is President Obama's inauguration -- which gave conservatives a sad, and in which Obama delivered the kind of unapologetic progressive speech we lefties have been hoping to hear for years. A forthright stand on gay rights! Actual (brief) mention of climate change! I don't know where to begin.
If you're a customer of Highmark -- and hey, who isn't? -- you've probably been asking yourself all these years, "Where does the money from all these premiums end up?" Well, part of it is being spent ensuring that bondholders don't get screwed over by West Penn Allegheny Health System. Feel better? The Post-Gazette's Bill Toland offers some useful background on the financial concerns behind Highmark's acquisition of West Penn. You'll learn why West Penn's debtholders are getting a better deal than one might expect (short answer: because Highmark can afford to pay them) ... and why debt isn't West Penn's biggest problem.
Sounds like everything is coming up roses in the Hill District!
The state legislature appears ready to move on a bill that would allow people convicted of animal cruelty to be charged for the cost of caring for their animals. Similar laws, which offset the expenses incurred by the Humane Society and other groups, are on the books in 25 other states.
In other "about damn time" news, as of Thursday, it will be illegal to just throw away electronic trash like old TVs and computers. Of course, you've probably been taking that stuff to Construction Junction anyway, but here's a list of other places that will collect the stuff too.
Via Keystone Politics I stumbled across this nifty mapping tool. You can see a color-coded map of the Pittsburgh region -- or anywhere else, really -- to see how incomes are distributed across local communities. No huge surprises here -- the Mon Valley is struggling? Squirrel Hill is prosperous? You don't say! -- but fun to tool around with.