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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

George Mitchell on Brokering Peace in Northern Ireland

U.S. Special Envoy and former Senator George Mitchell in Tel Aviv, Israel
Credit Matty Stern / Wikipedia--U.S. State Department

Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell has spent his career facilitating peace in conflict-ridden areas of the world, especially Northern Ireland. Mitchell's work with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 brought new stability between Ireland, the UK and Northern Ireland's political parties. Mitchell will be honored this week by La Roche College for his dedication to peace and justice.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Bringing Belfast Northern Ireland to Pittsburgh

Dan Rooney meeting with teens from Pittsburgh and Northern Ireland in the Press Room of Heinz Field
Credit Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Earlier this week a group of Amizade and Youth Work exchange students from the Belfast, Northern Ireland Parish of Holy Cross gathered with Pittsburgh area students for a special talk with Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney. Mr. Rooney is back running the Steelers after spending the past four years serving as the United States Ambassador to Ireland. He sat down and talked with us about how his experiences as a team owner informed his approach to diplomacy, and why it’s important to bring together differing groups. We also spoke with the students from Ireland and Pittsburgh about how they were inspired by their day-long interaction with a different culture.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

The New Girl in Town Discovers Columbus, OH

The night skyline of Columbus, Ohio
Credit John Mueller / Wikipedia

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme paraphrases the title of a Philip Roth novella and says, "Hello, Columbus." Just a short drive away, she'll tell us what the intrepid traveler can discover in Columbus, Ohio, the capital city of the Buckeye State.

Find out more about the places Elaine has visited in Columbus:

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Juvenile Justice
5:36 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Ruling Offers Juvenile Killers Possibility for Parole

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last June that juveniles cannot be sentenced to mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole is now having repercussions in Pennsylvania.  

The high court ruling meant the commonwealth had to determine what to do with the approximately 400 juveniles tried in adult proceedings who fell into that category.

Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed out the sentence for Qu'eed Batts, of Northampton County, who was 14 when he fatally shot a man. The state's top court ordered that Batts be re-sentenced.

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Medical Technology
5:20 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

UPMC Officer Discusses Disparities Created by New Medical Tech

Some patients prefer a certain type of doctor. Others don’t understand how to find their medical information via the internet.

Advances in medical technology, specifically in how medical information is given to patients, create a new medical disparity, especially for the elderly, according to Candi Castleberry-Singleton, the chief inclusion and diversity officer at UPMC.

Castleberry-Singleton, who spoke at the University of Pittsburgh today, doesn’t see new technology as a problem, but as an opportunity to be proactive. 

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Police Slush Fund Scandal
4:59 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Pittsburgh Council on Track to Reform Police Detail Fee that Led to Slush Fund

Pittsburgh Finance Director Scott Kunka (left) and Deputy Police Chief Paul Donaldson (right) answer City Council's questions on reforms to an administrative fee for off-duty police details.
Credit Noah Brode/90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to legislation that would divert an administrative fee for off-duty police details into a special trust fund, cleaning up a process that led to the February slush fund scandal and the ouster of Police Chief Nathan Harper.

Under a bill from Council President Darlene Harris, the city would finally codify a fee to companies that hire Pittsburgh police officers for special event duties.

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Education
4:52 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Student-Designed Exhibit Explores Journey of Immigrants in US

Participants pick a "dream card" then go through a simulation of experiences an undocumented immigrant may have.
Credit La Roche College

Graphic design students at La Roche College have taken the immigrant experience and turned it into a hands-on exhibition.

“Their intent was that their colleagues, students, peers would experience this simulation and have an experience similar to what someone would have who was coming from the southern border country,” said Sister Michele Bisbey, professor of religious studies at La Roche.

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Music
3:39 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Boy Choir Reborn in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh will soon have a new choral group.

The Pittsburgh Boy Choir will be the first multi-genre boy choir for the city since at least 1998. Artistic director Todd Alexander said the group will perform many types of music.

“Most of the choral music that has been composed is in the tradition of the church," he said. "But there are many secular pieces and many popular pieces that have been written more recently, and we will be touching on all of those genres."

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Jobs
12:40 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Bureau of Labor Statistics Seeks More Specific Job Descriptions

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics wants to make sure employees are performing duties they're capable of doing.

In an effort to help the Social Security Administration's clients with disability claims, the bureau is testing an hour-long telephone survey that questions employers about the employee job descriptions.

The new Occupational Requirements Survey will include questions about physical demands and environmental conditions of jobs.

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Health
12:03 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Corbett Meets With Sebelius: No Decision Made on Medicaid Expansion

Gov. Tom Corbett met with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday night to discuss, among other things, potential Medicaid expansion in the state. 

Expanding Medicaid, the federal-state medical assistance program, would cover thousands more people in Pennsylvania. Part of the Affordable Care Act, governors have the option to decide if they will expand coverage in their states.

Corbett has said he won't because he doesn't think the state can sustain the costs of the program over time. 

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Pittsburgh
10:32 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Pittsburgh Mayoral Underdog A.J. Richardson Arrested for DUI

A.J. Richardson
Credit 90.5 WESA

A self-described community activist running an underdog campaign for Pittsburgh mayor may be an even longer shot now that he's been charged with drunken driving.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first reported the arrest early Wednesday of 36-year-old Abdula Jamal Richardson. A woman hung up the phone when The Associated Press called a number listed for Richardson on a campaign-related website. An email message came back as undeliverable.

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Allegheny County
6:34 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Allegheny Co. Council Reverses Review Board's Changes to Property Assessment Appeals

The Allegheny County Council voted on Tuesday night to nix a few controversial changes that a county governing board had made to the property assessment appeals process.

The Board of Property Assessment and Review (BPAR) had changed its regulations in mid-March to allow only attorneys to represent property owners appealing reassessments, rather than certified appraisers, realtors and other professionals.

Real estate professionals came out in force Tuesday to denounce the BPAR revisions.

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Behavioral Health
6:27 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Community Forums Examine Mental Health, Early Intervention in PA and Beyond

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the focus has turned, in part, to the mental health system throughout the country.

The conversation brought Congressman Tim Murphy to southwestern Pennsylvania for a pair of community forums on the topic. Dr. Abigail Schlesinger is the Medical Director of Developmental and Behavioral Services for Children’s Hospital and was a panel member.

Schlesinger said such forums are essential in keeping the dialogue on mental health going.

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Economy
5:08 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Pennsylvania Tax Revenues Down in March

Though Pennsylvania collected $4.2 billion in revenues in March, that number was $69.4 million, or 1.6 percent, below what was projected.

Despite last month's shortfall, the PA Department of Revenue says that from July through March collections totaled $20.3 billion, which is $35.5 million, or 0.2 percent, above estimate.

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Pittsburgh
4:59 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Pittsburgh Job Growth Slowed Last Year, Group Says

Hospitals, financial services and the Marcellus Shale industry in southwestern Pennsylvania are expanding employment, but the rest of the area’s economy has slowed hiring, according to Pittsburgh TODAY.

Douglas Heuck, Program Director for Pittsburgh TODAY, a nonprofit that provides statistical information on Pittsburgh life, said Pittsburgh’s job growth from February 2012 to February 2013 was 0.18 percent.

He said Pittsburgh was once third in job growth in their rankings of 15 cities, but last year’s numbers dropped it to last.

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Economy
4:02 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Report: Pittsburgh Region Sustained Five Consecutive Years of Economic Growth

Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, outlines the region's economic successes of 2012.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh region was one of three U.S. metro areas to be deemed fully recovered from the 2008 recession by the Brookings Institution in late 2012.

A report released Tuesday shows the region has sustained five years of economic growth, including 2012, which was a benchmark year for employment.  

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Health Care
3:39 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Pittsburgh May Conduct Review of Employee Health Care Costs, Eligibility of Dependents

As Pittsburgh continues to grapple with hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded health care liability for current and former city employees, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration has introduced a bill that would hire a private firm to investigate the eligibility of employees' and retirees' dependents.

The proposed $55,000 contract with HMS Employer Solutions of Texas would allow the company "to conduct an eligibility audit of all employee and retiree dependents enrolled in the City's healthcare program."

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Health Care
3:25 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

SEIU, Lawmakers Sue Corbett Administration Over Planned Health Care Cuts

Updated: 5:38 p.m.

The Service Employees International Union Healthcare (SEIU) Pennsylvania, along with two Democratic state senators and three state representatives filed a lawsuit against the Corbett administration over its plan to close 26 state health centers and eliminate 73 Department of Health positions.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:57 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

The Black Middle Class Experience in Pittsburgh: A Public Dialogue

Representives from The Urban League, Pittsburgh City Council and UPMC weigh in on Pittsburgh's African American Middle Class
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

On Wednesday, March 20th 90.5 WESA’s daily public affairs program Essential Pittsburgh hosted a Public Forum on the Black Middle Class in Pittsburgh. Inspired by a Pittsburgh Quarterly article by journalist Ben Schmitt, the forum addressed the history and current experiences of the Black middle class in Pittsburgh. Listen to our broadcast of the forum and leave a message at 412-256-8783 letting us know what you think!

Taking part in the discussion: journalist Ben Schmitt, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Esther Bush, Pittsburgh City Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle and Candi Castleberry-Singleton, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer (CIDO) at UPMC

Pennsylvania
12:25 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Schwartz Run for Pa. Governor Appears More Certain

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz appears close to formally announcing a run Pennsylvania governor in 2014.

A fellow Democrat, Sen. Daylin Leach, said Tuesday he's running for the Philadelphia-area congressional seat that Schwartz has occupied since 2005.

A Schwartz political spokeswoman isn't definitively saying what the fifth-term congresswoman is up to. Schwartz has said she plans to run for governor, and Leach says he's convinced she will.

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Speaking Volumes
9:00 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Speaking Volumes on Essential Pittsburgh: Betsy O'Neill

Betsy O'Neill gives us her take on Melville
Credit Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

North Sider Betsy O'Neill admits, "In a previous life, I probably lived in the 19th century."

90.5 WESA Morning Edition host, Josh Raulerson interviews Betsy in her present incarnation about the summer she spent immersed in Melvilliana.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Taking Care of Business with Rebecca Harris

Rebecca Harris is the Director of the Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University
Credit Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

Last week our business contributor Rebecca Harris gave us a look at some of the fastest growing occupations. This week she talks about job opportunities for women and growth areas for entrepreneurs. Did you know 2013 is expected to be the Year of the Woman Entrepreneur?

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Michael Lamb Dropping Out of the Race: What Happens to the Dem's Endorsement?

City Controller Michael Lamb withdraws from the Pittsburgh mayoral race and endorses Jack Wagner.
Credit Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb withdrew from the city's mayoral race Monday and endorsed former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner.

So what does that mean for Lamb's Democratic Party endorsement? Does it fall by the way-side?  Does this mean committee-people are free to publicly back anyone they wish? Pittsburgh City Paper Editor, Chris Potter gives us the details of Lamb's announcement.

Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Focus Brasil Focusing on Pittsburgh

With Brazil's growing economy, should Portuguese be offered as a second language course in Middle and High School?
Credit Giselle Varga / Flickr

Focus Brasil takes place all over the world, promoting Brazilian music, movies, culture and the Portuguese language. It's become an annual forum for the most distinguished Brazilian leaders to address issues of interest to Brazilians abroad. This year Pittsburgh joins the ranks of cities like Ft. Lauderdale, London and Tokyo in hosting Focus Brasil Seminars. But with a focus on Pittsburgh's Universities called U-Circuit.

We’ll talk with Karen Goldman, Assistant Director of Outreach at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Latin American Studies, Ron Alvarado Chairman of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Brazilian Jazz vocalist, Kenia Ashby a local coordinator of Focus Brasil, about the importance of Portuguese in the global economy and why Pittsburgh has what's considered one of the best centers for Latin American Studies, yet Latin Americans are underrepresented in the Steel City.

Mayoral Race
4:42 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Out Like a Lamb: City Controller Exits Pittsburgh Mayoral Race

City Controller Michael Lamb withdraws from the Pittsburgh mayoral race at his campaign HQ in Greenfield, choosing to support Jack Wagner instead.
Credit Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb withdrew from the city's mayoral race Monday, instead opting to endorse former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner.

With five Democrats vying for the party's nomination before today's announcement, Lamb cited the need for clarity in a race that has been "muddied" since the March withdrawal of incumbent mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

"I don't want the conversation for our next leader to be generalities," said Lamb. "We need a real dialog to ensure we get the best possible candidate for the job."

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