News

Minor Parties Get Win In PA Ballot-Access Lawsuit

Jul 24, 2015

A federal court is throwing out provisions in Pennsylvania law that minor political parties say make it unconstitutionally difficult for their candidates to get onto ballots.

The ruling released Friday by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel targets the financial penalties that judges can impose on candidates for office who lose a challenge to their nomination papers, but he's also striking down the state's higher signature requirement for the nomination papers of minor party candidates.

The Port Authority’s plan to charge for new and replacement ConnectCards has been put on hold.

The board’s planning and stakeholder relations committee postponed its consideration of the proposal at the July 16 meeting, leaving no resolution for the board to consider on Friday.

“The committee anticipates continued discussion on this topic and will determine whether this should appear on the agenda in the upcoming months,” committee chair John Tague said.

CMOA Collects Works By Edward Hopper

Jul 24, 2015
Patrons Art Fund / Carnegie Museum of Art

Opening this weekend at the CMOA is a new exhibit of works by famed American artist Edward Hopper. The exhibit will feature all 17 works by Hopper in the museum’s collection. Event curator Akemi May joined us for a preview.

Songwriter Randy Newman Embraces The Orchestral Sound

Jul 24, 2015
Danny Moloshok/Invision / AP Images

When you think of the greatest American songwriters, who comes to mind? George Gershwin? Cole Porter? Bob Dylan? Many would put Randy Newman with that group. Newman is one of the most prolific songwriters the U.S. has ever produced. His many honors include six Grammy Awards, three Emmy Awards and two Academy Awards for his work as a film composer. And he's a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Newman is appearing at Heinz Hall on July 30 as part of the Pittsburgh Symphony's Thursday Night Icons Series and he joined us to talk about his career and latest projects.

The Americans with Disabilities Act marks its 25th anniversary this month, and a Pennsylvania lawmaker says a bill of rights for those with disabilities is “long overdue.”

Legislation filed by State Rep. Thomas Murt (R-Montgomery, Philadelphia) would institute a bill of rights, promising people with disabilities the necessary support to live as independently and actively within their communities as possible, including making their own decisions on living arrangements and other support services.

A Shadyside church building’s future is the focus of a free block party from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.

The 109-year-old Albright United Methodist Church building has seen better days and is in need of repairs that the congregation can’t afford, according to lifelong member Abass Kamara.

The congregation, who moved out in November 2013 due to heating problems, water damage and the need for plaster repairs in the sanctuary, must decide whether to sell the building or demolish it, he said.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

This week, game designers, developers and educators gathered at Carnegie Mellon University for the Serious Play Conference, where the focus was on "serious” gaming, or games used for training and teaching.

Pittsburgh-based game designer Jesse Schell, CEO of Schell Games, demonstrated his company’s award-winning game "Water Bears."

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

  From the highest elevations of Mt. Washington — about 1,200 feet — you can take in the whole sweep of the river valleys, each about twice as wide as the rivers running through them, said Charlie Jones, lecturer in the University of Pittsburgh’s department of geology and planetary science.  

“So then the question is why is the valley wider than the river? And the answer is: the ice ages,” he said. 

CCAC North Library / flickr

 

  In 2013, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the expected influx of members of the military in classrooms under the GI Bill. Our guests experienced that transition first hand. Dwight Boddorf, Marine veteran and director of veterans services at the Community College of Allegheny County, joined fellow former Marine Theo Collins, executive producer of the documentary Project 22, in the studio to address how colleges and universities are accommodating veterans.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Thursday said goodbye and good luck to his chief of staff for the past six months and turned to his legislative liaison, Mary Isenhour, to step in as his top aide.

Katie McGinty resigned Wednesday and is expected to launch a bid for U.S. Senate in 2016 after being courted intensively by national Democrats. She would not confirm Thursday that she intends to run.

Destination Dining From Maine To Austin

Jul 23, 2015
vxla / flickr

One of the travel highlights for many is the chance to indulge in local cuisine. From Maine lobster to Tex-Mex in Austin there’s no reason why your diet shouldn’t take a vacation. This week, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, begins a two-week focus on destination dining.

Erie Legislator Offers Budget Compromise Proposal

Jul 23, 2015
Sean Wiley / Facebook Page

While it appears that Governor Wolf and Republican legislators in Harrisburg are entrenched in their positions on the budget with no end to the impasse in sight, there are some legislators offering up compromise proposals. We talk with one of them; State Senator Sean Wiley of Erie.

How The Budget Impasse Is Impacting Local Service Agencies

Jul 23, 2015
David Flores / flickr

With the state budget stalemate no closer to being resolved, the Conference of Allegheny Providers (CAP) and several Westmoreland County agency representatives are highlighting the local impacts, and in some cases the dire consequences, of a lengthy impasse on social service agencies and the people they serve. Former state legislator Allen Kukovich and Stephen Christian-Michaels, President and CEO of Family Services of Western Pennsylvania  join us in studio.

Namast'ay Outdoors: Social Club July 24

Jul 23, 2015

With the weather warming, the rain reducing and summer in full swing, many events are moving outside this weekend!

Pennsylvania’s new pipeline task force convened Wednesday for the first time as it tries to create best practices for the construction of gas pipelines over the next decade.

“We are in the midst of a wave of energy development that is unlike any other in the state’s history,” said John Quigley, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection and chair of the 48-member task force.

AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, File

Katie McGinty, chief of staff to Gov. Tom Wolf, is stepping down, reportedly to prepare for an announcement of her candidacy for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Wolf's spokesman said McGinty submitted her resignation Wednesday, first reported by the National Journal. She has been considering a U.S. Senate run for the past few weeks.

McGinty's departure comes as Wolf is still trying to hammer out a budget agreement with a GOP-controlled Legislature. But a feud with Senate Republicans has smoldered for months since she took a shot at their proposal to change public pension benefits in May.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

Disc golfers from all over the world will flock to Pittsburgh to compete in the Professional Disc Golf Association World Championships during the first week in August. Disc golf is similar to traditional golf, only it uses Frisbee-like discs and metal baskets. 90.5 WESA brings you this profile of Pittsburgh’s own three-time disc golf world champion.

East McKeesport's former public works director was convicted in a human trafficking sting on Tuesday.

Joseph Clemenic Jr., 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child after an FBI probe revealed he paid an underage girl to come to his home to have sex in April, according to court documents. He is scheduled to be sentenced in November and could spend up to nine years in prison.

Pennsylvania schools represent a growing chunk of the school districts with the most desperate finances in the country, according to one credit rating agency.

Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the credit of eight Pennsylvania school districts since March, and it says the worst of those aren’t like to recover soon.

Pittsburgh City Council voted on Wednesday to hold the Paid Sick Days Act for one week so the bill can be amended and council can hold a public hearing July 30.

Councilman Corey O’Connor of Squirrel Hill agreed to amend his own bill. In it's original form, the bill required businesses with 15 or more employees allow workers to accrue up to 72 hours of paid sick leave per year, and those with less than 15 employees up to 40 hours of leave. An employee would have to work 30 hours to earn one hour of sick leave.

Reporting On 'American Coyotes' Along The U.S.-Mexican Border

Jul 22, 2015
Justin Merriman / Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

  People who enter the country illegally have a great impact on the American labor force. But that same American labor is helping to smuggle migrants cross the U.S.–Mexico border. These smugglers, known as “coyotes,” are the focus of a week-long series in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman joined Essential Pittsburgh to discuss their work. 

The Challenges Of Being A Startup In Pittsburgh

Jul 22, 2015
Apps for Europe / flickr

Despite a report released last week by the Kauffman Foundation ranking Pittsburgh low for startup ecosystems, Thrill Mill President, CEO and Co-Founder Bobby Zappala said “not all is lost” for entrepreneurs. Zappala joined Essential Pittsburgh as a Tech Startup Contributor. He also runs Thrill Mill, an independent organization that serves as an incubator/accelerator for startup companies in Pittsburgh.  For this segment, he looked at challenges of being a new business and discussed some startups coming out of their infancy and the challenges they're facing now.

Every 10 years a fight explodes in Harrisburg over how to redraw state House, Senate and U.S. Congressional districts, with Republican and Democratic lawmakers wrangling over what often becomes a map full of oddly shaped districts drawn in an effort to keep one party or the other in power. 

State Rep. Ted Harhai (D-Westmoreland) wants to end the fight by creating a new independent panel to redraw the districts following the decennial U.S. census.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Months-long wait times between appointments, rampant Legionnaire’s contamination, controversy over data manipulation and other problems plaguing Pittsburgh’s veteran’s affairs office were an unfortunate norm nationwide, the department head said Tuesday.

Pittsburgh's Continual Apartment Growth

Jul 21, 2015
Perry Quan / flickr

    

From Bakery Square to downtown, Pittsburgh is experiencing a surge in apartment development and rental. This week business contributor Rebecca Harris looks at at the contributing factors behind the growth in apartment construction in the Pittsburgh.

Using Title IX To Engage Students In Deeper Discussions

Jul 21, 2015
teenlife / flickr

Higher education institutions are using Title IX as a jumping off point to have discussions with students about issues of harassment, stalking, dating violence and domestic abuse. Libby Rosemeyer, assistant director of Tittle IX compliance at Point Park University helps listeners understand the relevancy of the law and its impact on the Pittsburgh community as a whole.

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

President Barack Obama on Tuesday called the Legionella-related deaths of six veterans at a Pittsburgh VA hospital a “tragedy.”

“Whenever there are any missteps, there is no excuse,” Obama told thousands of veterans at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

A new study out of the University of Pittsburgh found that people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in later childhood have weaker brain connectivity in midlife compared to those who were diagnosed at early ages.

“This effect got stronger as the participants got older,” said John Ryan, assistant professor of psychiatry at UPMC and lead author of the study published this month in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Pennsylvania Could Explore Citizen Redistricting

Jul 21, 2015
Gettysburg National Military Park

 Federal law mandates that legislative districts be revised every ten years to reflect new census data. In the past, legislators in Pennsylvania, as with other states, have been known to redraw the lines of a congressional district in a way that benefits the majority party. Our guest, state Rep. Ted Harhai (D-Monessen) introduced a bill that would create a citizens commission to handle redistricting and ensure that they don't unnecessarily divide municipalities. 

Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Gov. Tom Wolf said he would be "willing to have conversations" about compromises on the 5 percent severance tax on natural gas he's proposed to balance the state budget.

"I'm willing to have conversations," Wold told reporters while touring Big Beaver Elementary School in Darlington on Monday. "I want a better Pennsylvania. If I'm convinced we can have a better Pennsylvania with something better than what I've proposed, then I'm all ears."

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