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Government & Politics
10:29 am
Mon March 11, 2013

Policy Group Tells State to Evaluate Subsidizing AMTRAK

The future of Amtrak service in Western Pennsylvania lies with the state legislature, but there is no shortage of groups that want to give their input.
Credit Bruce Fingerhood

A local public policy group is asking the commonwealth to ask some hard questions before subsidizing AMTRAK's ride from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg on a train called The Pennsylvanian

The passenger rail train service has lost some federal funds, and is now looking to Pennsylvania for $5.7 million.

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Government & Politics
10:17 am
Mon March 11, 2013

PA Lawmaker Wants to Draw Game Developers to the State, Proposes Video Game Tax Credit

The video gaming industry is huge and growing, moving beyond what people think of as traditional video games. PA lawmaker wants to encourage growth in that sector in the commonwealth.
Credit Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s film tax credit program is lauded by state and local officials as a success, and one state lawmaker wants to implement a similar tax credit program for another entertainment industry – video games.

State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) has introduced the Video Game Tax Production Credit bill aimed at attracting game developers to the state. He said the video gaming industry is huge and growing.  

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Speaking Volumes
3:11 am
Mon March 11, 2013

CCAC Pres. Alex Johnson reads Harry Potter, Carson McCullers

Alex Johnson
Credit Josh Raulerson/90.5 WESA

It may not be Hogwarts, but CCAC president and Potter fan Alex Johnson is passionate about his school. 

He recommends:

Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach

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State Health Centers
7:54 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Corbett Proposal: Close State Health Centers, Save Millions

As part of Governor Tom Corbett’s proposed 2013-2014 budget, about half of the state’s sixty health centers will be shuttering, consolidating or morphing. Lay-offs of personnel are also part of the proposal; which state officials say is an effort to modernize Pennsylvania’s public health services and save money.

Michael Wolf, Acting Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health says this move would be a way to deliver services to people who can’t get to the health centers.

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Transportation Funding
7:54 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Sen. Brewster Wants $$$s for SW PA Transportation Projects

90.5 WESA's Emily Farah talks to State Senator Jim Brewster about Corbett's transportation funding package.

A Pittsburgh area state lawmaker is demanding funding for mass transit and completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway be included in the Corbett administration's transportation package.

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Commit to Complete
7:53 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

CCAC Program Aims to Turn Credits into Credentials

90.5 WESA's Emily Farah talks to CCAC about a White House initiative that hopes to have 5 million more college graduates in 2020 than there were in 2010.

Monday marks the kick-off of a Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) initiative that highlights the benefits of earning college degree over college credits.  The Commit to Complete program is part of a larger challenge stemming from the White House and several national organizations including the American Association of Community Colleges and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

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State Liquor Stores
7:53 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Ferlo: Modernize, Don't Privatize Liquor Sales in PA

Just a day after the House Republican leader introduced another attempt to privatize liquor stores in Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh area lawmaker has unveiled legislation to modernize, but not eliminate, the state store system in the commonwealth.

"If we want to preserve and protect a great system that needs to improve, we really should be focusing in on various modernization efforts," said State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny).

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State Owned Universities
4:24 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

State System Teachers Approve Contract

Faculty at West Chester University and 13 other Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Schools have agreed to a new contract.
Credit Kyle Wagaman / Flickr

Unionized faculty members at Pennsylvania's 14 state-owned universities have overwhelmingly endorsed a new four-year contract.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) said Friday that 95 percent of the faculty members who voted supported the pact.

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Bullying
2:45 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Senator Casey Takes on Bullying, Applauds Efforts of Pittsburgh Mifflin K-8 School

Senator Bob Casey talks to a sixth grade class at Pittsburgh Mifflin preK-8 School about efforts to stop and prevent bullying in schools across the country.
Credit Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

US Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) used a sixth grade classroom as a backdrop to talk about bullying. Students, teachers and parents at Pittsburgh Mifflin preK-8 School have implemented an aggressive anti-bullying campaign, and Casey said he’s like to see such efforts at all schools. To that end, he has introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act. A bill that will tackle bullying.

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Education & Learning
2:13 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

Duquesne University Focuses on Africa

Duquesne University's Center for African Studies is hosting events from March 12-14 which will explore student and faculty connections to Africa.  All events begin at 4:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public.  On Tuesday, March 12, in the Pappert Lecture Hall at the campus' Bayer Learning Center, Emory University professor Dr. Dianne Diakite will speak on "Mother Symbol and Africana Women's Religious Practices of Peacebuilding."  Responses from different perspectives will be offered by law professor Dr. Susan C. Hascall and English professor Dr. Emad Mirmotahari.

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CCAC
10:02 am
Fri March 8, 2013

CCAC Teachers get a Raise

Teachers at the Community College of Allegheny County will be getting a few more dollars next year as they send their students to the CCAC North Library.
Credit CCAC North Library

The Community College of Allegheny County has approved a three percent raise for about 330 faculty union members.  The deal with Local 2067 of the American Federation of Teachers is for one year only.

The trustees of the school unanimously approved the plan on Thursday night. The deal comes with a price tag of $650,000 in the 2013-14 school year.

CCAC spokesman David Hoovler said annual salaries across the bargaining unit average $65,000.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:57 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Patrick Dowd: What's Next for the City?

City Councilman Patrick Dowd discusses police force improvements council members would like to see in the wake of former Chief Harper's resignation.
Credit Patrick Dowd / Facebook

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd discusses police force improvements council members would like to see and what Mayor Ravenstahl's decision not to run for reelection means for the city.

Medicaid
9:57 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Medicaid Debate in PA Could be Shifting

As state lawmakers wrap up three weeks of budget hearings in Harrisburg, the issue of a possible Medicaid expansion has come up framed as a matter of dollars and cents. But the possible political ramifications also loom over the issue.

Democrats have been hammering the governor on the issue of a Medicaid expansion. They support it and, in recent weeks, it looks like Corbett could be swayed. He is expected to meet with federal authorities to go over what an expansion could mean for Pennsylvania.

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Government & Politics
9:25 am
Fri March 8, 2013

Interpretation of Tobacco Settlement Ruling Begins in PA

The fate of a program receiving money from the state’s tobacco settlement is unknown, as are the Corbett administration’s next steps on how to allocate the special funding.

A judge deemed unconstitutional two state laws that diverted tobacco settlement money away from adultBasic, the commonwealth’s bygone health insurance program for adults. It was shut down in 2011 after Governor Corbett said it was no longer affordable.

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Local Goodness: Maple Syrup Season is Here

Grades of maple syrup can range from light to dark coloring, which dictates the strength of the maple flavor.
Credit Wikipedia

When one thinks of pure maple syrup, Vermont often comes to mind. However, Pennsylvania's maple season is also highly anticipated for those with a sweet tooth. Our local food contributor Rhonda Schuldt shares some maple syrup cooking tips and talks about the abundance of local festivals.

Celebrate Maple Season at a local festival:

March 16 & 17 - 10th Annual NW Pennsylvania Maple Association Taste & Tour Weekend in the Erie area 

March 16, 17, 20-24 - 66th Annual PA Maple Festival in Somerset, PA 

April 6 & 7 - The Beaver County Maple Syrup Festival at Brady's Run Park in Beaver, PA

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:00 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Medicaid Expansion & Women in PA

When it comes to Medicaid Expansion, what's the potential impact on lower-income women?
Credit Ben Ostrowsky / Flickr

As more Republican governor's adopt the Medicaid Expansion, Governor Corbett is under more pressure to adopt the program. We'll discuss the impact of the Medicaid Expansion program on Pennsylvania women and low-income families with Judy Waxman, Vice President for Health Policy and Reproductive Rights for the National Women's Law Center.

Pittsburgh Politics
4:33 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Michael Lamb will get Allegheny County Democratic Committee Endorsement – by Default

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee meets this weekend for its endorsement meeting. Before Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced he was leavening the race for reelection, he was on the endorsement ballot along with City Controller Michael Lamb. Lamb now remains the only name on the ballot.

“I understand that there are several other people running in the primary, but for the actual endorsement of the party, there will only be one,” said Committee Chair Nancy Patton Mills.

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Art From the Ground Up
4:29 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

The Pillow Project "Experiments" in The East End

The improvisational, free jazz movement, performance group know as The Pillow Project performs the second Saturday of each month in the East End.
Credit The Pillow Project

It began nearly ten years ago as “an evolving experiment for improvisational free jazz movement, performance-happenings and new ideas in dance,” and The Pillow Project has never wandered far from its roots. 

Pearlann Porter heads the group that sees the word “jazz” as a verb. The group gathers the second Saturday of every month at “The Space Upstairs” in Pittsburgh's East End to perform.  Project members call the studio in a repurposed warehouse a “4,000 square foot canvas where audiences and artists interact.”

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Arts & Culture
4:14 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Thomas Merton Center to Hold Forum on Abuse of Women in the Military

Lieutenant Elle Helmer in front of the Vietnam War Memorial, from "The Invisible War"
Credit Cinedigm / Documrama Films

On Friday, March 8, in observance of International Women’s Day, the Thomas Merton Center will screen The Invisible War, a documentary about abuse of women in the American military.

The Academy Award-nominated film addresses sexual assault against women in the armed forces. According to the military’s official statistics, 20 percent of women have experienced sexual assault. An estimated 80 percent of those cases go unreported.

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Economy & Business
12:32 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Hot Dogs Here! 3 More Pittsburgh Vendor Sites Approved

A Strip District vendor sells Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirts on the roadside.
Credit Jeffrey Inscho / Flickr

Pittsburghers will have three more chances to buy hot dogs, T-Shirts and other paraphernalia after City Council gives final approval to three new vendor sites on Tuesday.

Council gave preliminary approval to the necessary legislation on Wednesday, and if approved next week, the three new vending sites will be advertised in local newspapers.

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Public Safety
12:27 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Votes to Fund CCAC Police Training Program

Although Pittsburgh City Council voted on Wednesday to fund a police education program at the Community College of Allegheny County, at least one Council Member raised questions about the necessity of a rule that requires all Pittsburgh police officers to have 60 college credits before joining the force - particularly for military members.

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Liquor Privatization
12:11 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Ferlo: Modernize, Don't Privatize Liquor Sales in PA

State Senator Jim Ferlo favors modernization over privatization of Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board and state stores.
Credit Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Just a day after the House Republican leader introduced another attempt to privatize liquor stores in Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh area lawmaker has unveiled legislation to modernize, but not eliminate, the state store system in the commonwealth.

"If we want to preserve and protect a great system that needs to improve, we really should be focusing in on various modernization efforts," said State Senator Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny).

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Medicaid Expansion
10:53 am
Thu March 7, 2013

No Medicaid Expansion Until PA Governor Meets with Feds

Talks on a possible Medicaid expansion on Pennsylvania appear to depend on a meeting that is not yet on the governor’s schedule.  In the meantime, state lawmakers are bickering over dueling cost estimates and whether to trust a federal funding formula for Medicaid expansion.

Governor Tom Corbett said one of the reasons he is choosing to not expand Medicaid “at this time” is because he’s unsure about relying on the federal government to foot the bill, now and in the future.

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Government & Politics
9:27 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

PA Senators Heap Praise on New DPW Chief

A state Senate hearing offered lawmakers a chance to heap anticipatory praise on the state Department of Public Welfare's brand-new chief.

The chairman of the state Senate Appropriations Committee had to ask the audience to refrain from applause - not a common request during budget hearings.

Nevertheless, lawmakers on the panel found other ways to gush. One called acting secretary Bev Mackereth tremendous. Another said she's a breath of fresh air.

Not Democratic state Senator Larry Farnese of Philadelphia.

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Government & Politics
9:25 pm
Wed March 6, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Approves More Money for New Financial System

Pittsburgh Council Members listen as Ravenstahl administration officials brief them on the city's switch to a new electronic financial system.
Credit Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has spent roughly $4 million since 2010 to merge its financial management system with Allegheny County's, and City Council on Wednesday approved $150,000 additional dollars for its new electronic database. Final approval is expected next Tuesday.

Pittsburgh Innovation Performance Manager Chuck Half said when it's implemented, the "JD Edwards" financial system from the software company Oracle, will save Pittsburgh money every time the city cuts a check to a city employee, a vendor, or a pensioner.

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