News by Professionals 4 Professionals


SWAT team clears scene of incident in Avalon

Updated: Feb 20, 2017 – 11:13 PM

AVALON, Pa. – Police, paramedics and an Allegheny County SWAT team responded Monday evening to an incident in Avalon, investigators told Channel 11 News. The police activity began around 5:45 p.m. in the 700 block of California Avenue. Channel 11’s Catherine Varnum reported that residents were told to stay in their homes. Authorities barred anyone from walking along California Avenue near Avalon Elementary School from just before 6 p.m. until about 9:30 p.m. when the SWAT team cleared out.

Scene is now clear @WPXI[1]

Catherine Varnum (@WPXIVarnum) February 21, 2017[2]

The borough of Avalon s police chief and mayor both declined to provide any details Monday night about what prompted the heavy police response.

Avalon Police refused to give me information about the swat situation. @WPXI[3]

Catherine Varnum (@WPXIVarnum) February 21, 2017[4]

Stay with and watch Channel 11 Morning News, starting at 4:30 a.m., for updates.

2017 Cox Media Group.


  1. ^ @WPXI (
  2. ^ February 21, 2017 (
  3. ^ @WPXI (
  4. ^ February 21, 2017 (

At airport security, signs point to confusion about driver’s licenses

In my recent travels through Las Vegas and Long Beach airports, I have seen a Transportation Security Administration[1] notification that prompts my question. It mentions that in 2018, driver s licenses and state identification cards must comply with federal government standards in order to be used to board an airplane. I am curious if I will have problems for future flights. I recently received my renewed California driver s license. Paul Perez


Answer: The signs Perez writes about have to do with Real ID, an effort to make driver s licenses comply with federal standards. Signs that went up toward the end of 2016, when Obama was still president, said, Starting Jan. 22, 2018, you will need an alternate ID to fly if you have a driver s license or ID issued by any of the following states: Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington.

In small print below, the signs explain that the Real ID act establishes the minimum security standards for state-issued driver s licenses and identification cards and prohibits federal agencies, like the TSA, from accepting licenses and identification cards for certain official purposes, including boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft from states that do not meet these standards. Another sign directs you to TSA s website[2] for more information. You can find that information at How did we get to this point and what does it mean to you? It has been a long and winding road and could change again with the new administration.

The 9/11 Commission, convened after the attacks, addressed perceived weaknesses in identification. Congress in 2005 OK d a law that toughened requirements for driver s licenses. Simple math tells you it has been easier to make the law than to put it in place. Slow forward to 2016 when a series of deadlines (2016, 2018 and 2020) were set up for driver s license compliance.

To see which states are OK, check out the Department of Homeland Security map[3] at, a sort of naughty/nice list that shows which states licenses are OK (23 states and the District of Columbia) and which are not. But click on Missouri, for instance, and it gives you a big red bar that says Not compliant. Then it explains that as of January 2016 (the first Real ID deadline), Missouri licenses could be used for identification to get on a plane but not for entrance to nuclear power plants and federal facilities. By Jan. 22, 2018 (the second deadline), Missouri license holders will need an alternative identification to fly in the U.S. and access federal facilities, the site says.

Which brings us to California, which is painted yellow on the site and has a lot of company, including Oregon, Idaho and Texas. When you click on California, it tells you that our state has an extension and that Californians can continue to use your license to fly in the U.S. and access federal facilities and nuclear power plants. But the Oct. 1, 2020, (third) deadline? Unclear at this point whether California licenses will be OK.

I asked the California Department of Motor Vehicles for an update on where we are. Here is the official statement that was sent:

The DMV strongly supports the goal of ensuring there is one license, one record and one identity for each Californian. We will continue to implement practices to comply with the intent of the law while ensuring privacy protections and minimizing impacts to the over 30 million Californians who already have a driver license or identification card. Uh huh. That s helpful. On the other hand, given some of the uncertainty about implementation under a new set of administrators, the state can t say for sure because it doesn t know what s going to happen. What is certain: Californians are fine for now. We may be fine by the 2020 deadline . We don t know yet and probably won’t be for a while.

I believe in built-in redundancies, as anyone knows who has asked me for a pen and is offered one of a dozen from my purse. I now carry my Global Entry card when I travel. It is among the acceptable forms of ID for airport checkpoints.(You can see the list at And by 2020, it just may be the key to boarding a plane. Have a travel dilemma? Write to [email protected] We regret we cannot answer every inquiry.

[email protected]



  1. ^ Transportation Security Administration (
  2. ^ TSA s website (
  3. ^ Department of Homeland Security map (

Clerkin opens mayoral campaign office in downtown Erie

Clerkin is the fourth Democrat to establish a campaign office downtown.

By Kevin Flowers [email protected]

Democrat Almitra Clerkin’s mayoral campaign office is now open. Clerkin is leasing space at 901 Peach St., and the office opened on Friday, and she is the fourth mayoral candidate to establish a campaign office in downtown Erie. Hours of operation for Clerkin’s headquarters will vary, but they will be posted at Clerk’s website,

According to a news release from Clerkin’s campaign, she hopes that the office will “provide a place for Erie citizens to gather not just to hear her ideas, but to share their concerns about our city s future.”

Clerkin, 53, is executive director of the Erie Playhouse and a first-time candidate for public office. She is one of seven Democrats seeking their party s nomination for mayor in the May 16 municipal primary. Current mayor and fellow Democrat Joe Sinnott, first elected in 2005, cannot run again because of the city s three-term limit, which means that Erie voters this year will elect a different mayor for the first time in 12 years. The job pays $95,000 a year.

The other declared Democratic candidates are Edinboro University of Pennsylvania professor Lisa Austin; Erie County Councilman Jay Breneman; former Erie Bureau of Police Chief Steve Franklin; former City Councilwoman Rubye Jenkins-Husband; current Erie City Councilman Bob E. Merski, and Joe Schember, a former city councilman and retired PNC Bank vice president. Austin’s campaign office at Erie s Masonic Temple, 32 W. Eighth St., opened on Wednesday. Breneman opened a campaign office at 401 State St. in mid-November, and Schember is leasing space at 1301 State St. Schember has said that his office will open sometime this month.

Three Republican candidates retired security guard Al Zimmer, lawyer John Persinger and Jon Whaley, a businessman and former Sinnott aide are seeking their party s nomination for mayor.

Kevin Flowers can be reached at 870-1693 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at

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