Eleanor Klibanoff

Keystone Crossroads Reporter

Eleanor Klibanoff is WPSU's reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide reporting collaboration that covers the problems and solutions facing Pennsylvania's cities. Most recently, Eleanor was a Kroc Fellow at NPR in DC. She worked on the global health blog and Weekend Edition, reported for the National desk and spent three months at member station KCUR in Kansas City. Before that, she covered abortion politics in Nicaragua and El Salvador, two of the seven countries in the world that completely ban the procedure. She's written for Atlanta Magazine, The Nicaragua Dispatch and Radio Free Europe. 

Eleanor lived outside Philadelphia until the age of 11, when she moved to Atlanta. She graduated from the George Washington University with a degree in Political Communication. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP File Photo

 

This week, former Penn State University president Graham Spanier is in court for his role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. This trial is one of the final chapters in a legal saga that has stretched since Sandusky was arrested in 2011. 

But outside the courtroom, the effects of Sandusky's actions are still being felt statewide.

Jon Elswick / AP Photo

 

On Thursday morning, President Donald Trump released his "skinny budget," an outline of his proposed federal funding allocations. As promised, it was skinny in every sense of the word — Trump hopes to scale federal funding way back, cutting programs and positions across the board. 

 

You're invited to join Keystone Crossroads at the second annual Urban Ideas Worth Stealing conference. We'll discuss revitalization of our state's cities and towns in sessions on topics including:

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

Over a decade ago, Hazleton tried to stem the tide of immigrants flooding the city by prohibiting residents from employing, housing or selling anything to unauthorized immigrants. The ban never went into effect and was eventually struck down by the courts, costing the city $1.4 million in legal settlement fees. And it didn't stop Latino immigrants from settling in Hazleton: the city is now over 50 percent Latino. 

Keith Srakocic / AP File Photo

 

Pennsylvania's Democratic Governor Tom Wolf gave the Trump administration a tip of the hat at the National Governors Assocation meeting in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.

"I think the adminstration's focus on infrastructure is important because we have a lot of catching up to do," said Wolf at a panel discussion with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. "By some estimates $4 trillion nationally."

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

When Scranton entered distressed status, Bill Clinton was running for president — for the first time. Kris Kross just started to wear their jeans backwards, and Barcelona was hosting the Summer Olympics. This reporter wouldn't be born for another three months.

Now, 25 years later, it's time for Scranton to get out.  

Expiration date: Dec. 2017

On the day before President Trump's inauguration, the outgoing Obama administration passed a last-minute directive banning the use of lead ammunition and fishing sinkers on federal land.

Recently, the deteriorating health of a bald eagle showed the effects of lead poisoning. Obama's regulation is intended to protect wildlife from exactly that.

But hunters are hoping Trump will soon overturn it.

Last week, an officer from the Pennsylvania Game Commission brought a bald eagle to the Carbon County Environmental Education Center in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

  

Brian Davis is well-known around campus, and not just because the Penn State junior is always wearing a suit. He’s triple majoring and double minoring, is actively involved in organizations across campus and has the ear of the University’s president.

 

But that’s not where his story begins.

 

Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo

 

Albert Boscov led the largest family-owned chain of department stores in the country, Boscov's, for nearly six decades. He announced that he had late-stage pancreatic cancer on Feb. 1. On Friday evening, he passed away at his Reading home, surrounded by his wife, Eunice, and their three daughters. 

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

 

 

Walk around the offices of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, and you'll find plans to do good behind every door. There's a food bank, a land bank, a work skills class, and programs to assist with affordable housing.

Executive Director Alan Jennings pokes his head into an empty classroom packed with chairs.

"This is a community room where we hold, in this case, home ownership seminars," said Jennings. "We have some 75-plus people who will be here tomorrow, learning how to become first time home buyers."

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

 

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on immigration. The first called for a "large physical barrier" between Mexico and the United States. The other announces plans to remove federal funding from sanctuary cities. 

Sanctuary cities are places that do not cooperate with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in the apprehension and detainment of people in the country illegally. 

collage of pictures of Trump supporters
Lindsay Lazarski, Jessica Kourkounis, Margaret Krauss / Keystone Crossroads

Keystone Crossroads will be checking in with Trump voters from around the state throughout his presidency. This is the first installment in an occasional series called "I Voted Trump," telling the story of the next four years through the eyes of the new president's supporters.

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

By 10 am on Saturday morning, the ballroom at the 1863 Inn in Gettysburg was standing-room only. More than 300 people crowded in, paper numbers in hand, hoping to take home their own slice of history.

 

"With lot number one, we’re going to get the auction started here," Darren Dickensheets called the room to order before rolling on with his auctioneer's call. "President George Washington,  life-size wax figure, name plaque, six foot two [inches] tall."

 

Ian Willms / Keystone Crossroads

 

 

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

At Monday night's State College Borough Council meeting, council members voted unanimously to make State College a sanctuary city. Sanctuary cities are places that do not cooperate with federal immigration authorities in the pursuit and detainment of people who may be in the country illegally. 

As councilman Jesse Barlow explained it, State College "will not voluntarily assist in any effort by the federal government to apprehend, detain or deport community members." 

Lindsay Lazarski and AP

 

If you've been spending time with family this holiday season, you may have come face-to-face with a truth Pennsylvania cities know all too well: it's hard to escape a nickname. Everyone knows Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love and Pittsburgh is the Steel City, which makes sense. The state itself is nicknamed after a keystone, the center, wedge-shaped stone in an arch that connects and supports both sides. It earned that nickname because it was in the center of the 13 colonies and was so key to the creation of the United States.

Photo Courtesy Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency

 

Across the United States generally, and Pennsylvania cities specifically, there's a constant, gnawing issue that worries elected leaders, social service agencies and the poor alike. There's not enough affordable housing and it often feels like there never will be. 

But there would be a lot less affordable housing available if it weren't for the creation of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program in 1986. LIHTC was created during the last major tax reform effort undertaken in this country under President Ronald Reagan. 

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP file photo

 

During the 2016 presidential primaries, candidate Senator Bernie Sanders proposed an ambitious plan to make state colleges and universities tuition-free. On the campaign trail, the Democrat from Vermont spoke about how increased access to higher education would improve the nation's workforce. 

The idea didn't gain much political support (though it was very popular amongst his supporters). The consensus seemed to be that free college tuition was a good idea, but the chance of actually getting it funded would be next to impossible. 

Lindsay Lazarski / Keystone Crossroads

Lewistown, Pennsylvania is a small town, smack dab in the middle of the state. You might not know it to look at the town today, but in the 1800s, it played a major role in the creation of the Pennsylvania Railroad. 

The Pennsylvania Railroad was once the largest rail company in the country by both traffic and revenue, but even railroad empires need to start somewhere. When the company first started building tracks west from Harrisburg in 1846, Lewistown was one of the first stops.

Once the largest U.S. rail company, the Pennsylvania Railroad ceased operations nearly half a century ago. But volunteers are researching and protecting that history at the station in Lewiston, Pa.

Eleanor Klibanoff is a reporter for Keystone Crossroads, a statewide public media initiative reporting on the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities.

AP Photo

 

The last eight years were pretty good for the relationship between Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania's major cities. President Obama made visits to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the Democratic leadership in both cities worked closely with his administration. Sure, there's always room for more funding and more cooperation, but their progressive policies met little resistance from the Commander in Chief. 

Courtesy of Stockton Williams, ULI

 

The traditional narrative goes like this: After World War II, upper and middle class white families fled the inner cities for the suburbs. They were chasing the "American Dream" of white picket fences, two car garages and shopping centers you could drive to. The children of those Baby Boomers grew up, fought back and now, are moving back to the cities.

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

The holiday season came a little early this year for community development organizations that got a piece of $7 billion in tax credits allocated by the Department of the Treasury last week. The New Market Tax Credits program helps low-income or economically distressed cities attract investors in commercial projects. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

Lewistown, Pennsylvania, sits halfway between State College and Harrisburg, nestled in the Seven Mountains. To get to Lewistown, you can drive in on Route 322, a twisty, turny, two-lane highway, where the speed limit for trucks is 20 miles per hour. 

Or, you can take Amtrak and enjoy old-timey Lewistown Station, the first building built by the Pennsylvania Railroad, back in 1849. Today, it's a one-room waiting area staffed by volunteers who sell sodas out of a mini-fridge and Pennsylvania Railroad memorabilia off the walls. 

Mel Evans / AP Photo

 

If last week's election taught us anything, it's that polling and predictions don't always match up to the final outcome. By 2020, we may have resorted to reading signs in tea leaves or the stars to guess who the next president will be. 

Or, should we just watch Luzerne County?

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

Linda Straub never thought she'd be so invested in a presidential election that she would attend a watch party on election night. But there she was, at Zach's Sports Bar in Altoona with the Blair County Republicans, cheering Donald Trump as he took Iowa.

"This is the first time ... I'm 54 years old and this is the first time that I feel that I'm actually electing my president," said Straub, from her spot on the bar's covered patio. "He is my president."

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

 

Over the course of the last year, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his running mate Mike Pence have made a number of stops in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Most of the supporters waiting in line outside the Lackawanna College Student Union on Monday afternoon knew the routine. 

AP Photo / Matt Rourke

 

Don't let last weekend's 70 degree weather fool you. Winter is coming, and quickly. Soon, it will be time to turn on the heater. But for many Pennsylvanians, that might be a luxury they can't afford. 

Eleanor Klibanoff / WPSU

On Friday, about 50 volunteers gathered in downtown State College. They were calling prospective Hillary Clinton voters, encouraging them to get out and vote on or before Election Day. The were joined by a special guest — Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota.

Before he was a senator, Franken was a comedian on Saturday Night Live. Speaking to the crowd Friday night, Franken proved he could still crack a joke.

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