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Government & Politics
12:33 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Wolf's Team to Release Fiscal Analysis Findings

Gov.-elect Tom Wolf says his transition team's examination of the state's fiscal situation didn't turn up any surprises, merely confirming the presence of a roughly $2 billion deficit for the fiscal year beginning in July.

Key findings from the group's report are expected to be released Friday.

"We have a mess. I knew that going in," Wolf told reporters Thursday before heading into a tour of the Pennsylvania Farm Show. "The mess is as big as I feared it was, so I have a lot of work to do — we all do."

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Government & Politics
12:28 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

Purchase Is First Step to URA Reviving Shadyside Armory

The City of Pittsburgh, through the Urban Redevelopment Authority, approved plans Thursday to purchase the Alfred E. Hunt Armory in Shadyside from the state.

The 102-year-old historic landmark will be purchased by the URA without having to go through a bidding process, according to Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman.

“That allows us to have better local control over the future redevelopment plans, whereas the state just requires selling to the highest bidder,” he said.

But Gilman said the city doesn’t want to own the property for long.

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Robotics
8:07 am
Fri January 16, 2015

For the Girls of Steel, Building Robots Is a Team Sport

Girls of Steel members Isabella Salvi, 17, (left) and Kyra Halbert-Elliot, 14, work on a robot with team mentor Tom Pope.
Ryan Loew 90.5 WESA

At a lab in Carnegie Mellon University's Field Robotics Center, dozens of goggle-clad teenage girls are drilling, hammering and writing code.

They’re the Girls of Steel, and the goal is to build the mind and body of a robot in the next few weeks. Then the girls — and their robot — will enter robotics competitions.

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Technology
8:03 am
Fri January 16, 2015

City Unveils Snow Plow Tracker Website

December was “pretty quiet,” but January is proving to be a “little more complicated” in treating Pittsburgh’s streets, said city Public Works Director Mike Gable.

“Every event is a different coordination of how many people you need and what we need to do and when you need to start, he said. "I’ve been very happy with what our crews have performed up to this date.”

So when the next snowfall hits, do you want to know when your city street might be salted and plowed?

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Community
3:30 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Acceptance into PA’s Main Street Program Expected to Aid in Wilkinsburg's Revitalization

Wilkinsburg is a community in transition, and now it’s getting help to implement change.

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) has announced that the borough has been accepted into the Main Street program.

The state operated Main Street program helps communities revitalize their central business districts and residential neighborhoods.

“It will give us more access to funding from the state for projects, such as façade grants or other planning grants that we need to continue working on,” said Tracey Evans, WCDC executive director.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:17 am
Fri January 16, 2015

Friday Rundown: Equality, Access and Solidarity

Credit Mark Grapengater / flickr

These topics air Friday January 16, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Wheelchair Standards

There are 70 million wheelchair users worldwide. Our guests Dr. Rory Cooper and Dr. Jon Pearlman are helping to create new standards for the wheelchair bound. The doctors are co-directors of Pitt’s Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, and this month they’re launching the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals. They’ll join us to discuss how their work will impact wheelchair users around the world.

Increasing Accessibility

For the second year in a row the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts called the Art Works grant. The support provided by the NEA is helping to fund an Increasing Accessibility initiative for the arts. This initiative is designed to serve specific portions of the city‘s population. Here to tell us more about this initiative is Anne Mulgrave, manager of grants and accessibility for the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

Ending White Silence

Throughout the last 6 months of demonstrations and protests of police violence, activists all over the world have adopted the phrase, “Black Lives Matter.” In addition to that message, you may have seen the phrases, “I resolve to challenge racism” and “End White Silence.” In many cases, the people holding up signs with those phrases have been white. Recognizing that discussions of race and racism can be different when people of color are not present, WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh is a local group focused on promoting anti-racist action, and knowledge. Members such as etta cetera and Rose Lynd who identify as white, look at ways to challenge racism in their communities, among family and friends, even within themselves. They join us to discuss the ongoing work of WHAT’S UP?! Pittsburgh and the many ways they confront racial injustice. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:41 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

PA Rep. Dave Reed Seeks to Transcend Party Politics

Credit PA State Rep. Dave Reed / Facebook

State Representative David Reed first entered politics as a registered Democrat. Last week he was sworn as the leader of the Pennsylvania House GOP. The Indiana County native shares his vision for the future of the commonwealth and talks about how he plans to work with a new, Democratic governor.

Looking back on his background, Reed explains that he came from a rural portion of Indiana County where political differences aren’t just black and white.

In this area, he explains, the dominant culture is social conservatism -- regardless of party affiliation -- and so the distinctions between Republicans and Democrats can be blurry.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:33 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Harrisburg is Just the First PA Municipality to Face Lawsuits from the NRA

Credit Ken / Flickr

Harrisburg was the first city to face a challenge to its gun laws under a new Pennsylvania law targeting gun measures.

It comes from a gun rights group representing a state police corporal. City officials have been bracing for lawsuits in the wake of Governor Corbett's signing of legislation that allows gun owner groups to challenge local ordinances. 

And now, Pittsburgh faces a lawsuit on its own that has emerged from the National Rifle Association. Patriot News editorial page editor John Micek offers his analysis of the issue.

According to Micek, the community "lost and stolen" ordinances have been challenged by gun-rights advocates in part because they feel the Commonwealth should avoid a “patchwork” approach to gun legislation, wherein gun ordinances vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction -- even neighboring ones.

But at the same time, Micek says that the state supreme court has, in some cases, argued that municipalities should have the right to specify their own gun ordinances.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:18 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Managing Wildlife at the Pittsburgh International Airport

Credit Pit Airport / Flickr

 

Earlier this week, the WESA newsroom reported on the capture of a short-eared owl near the runway of the Pittsburgh International Airport. The medium sized owl is considered threatened in the state of Pennsylvania.

So special care needed to be taken to retrieve, tag, and relocate the bird. We talked with Bob Mulvihill, an ornithologist with the National Aviary and Bobby Hromack, a wildlife specialist for the airport and biologist with the USDA, on the issue.

Mulvihill discusses why the owl is considered threatened by Pennsylvania but not federally:

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Arts & Culture
4:40 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

Carnegie Science Center to Offer Free Admission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

What do the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and the Carnegie Science Center have in common? The answer is Conservation Day.

Back for a fifth year, this environmentally-themed celebration offers free admission, parking, Omnimax film and a live theater show to all science center visitors on Monday, Jan. 19 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“Martin Luther King Day is a great time to focus on community,” Co-Director of the Carnegie Science Center Ann Metzger said.

She also said the day is a break for the Pittsburgh region midway through January.

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Public Safety
2:56 pm
Thu January 15, 2015

With Pittsburgh Homicides Spiking in 2014, Police Ask for Community Help

Thelma Glenn whose sister, Kimberly Waller, was the last homicide victim in Pittsburgh in 2014. She is urging community cooperation with police in solving cases such as her sister's. Police Chief Cameron McLay and Assistant Chief Maurita Bryant also pictured.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Citywide, there were 71 homicides in Pittsburgh in 2014, well above the 10-year average of 55. The last time the number was in the 70s was 2008, when there were 74 homicides.

“This is a public health emergency,” said Chief of Pittsburgh Police Cameron McLay. “It’s having a disparate impact on our underprivileged and our communities of color.”

Twenty-six of the 2014 homicide cases have been cleared by arrest. There are 28 active investigations, eight cases with strong suspects and six pending grand jury or district attorney review.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:36 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Thursday Rundown: From Dem to GOP, Will PA See More Bipartisanship in the House?

Majority Leader Dave Reed (R-Indiana) took the oath of office on Tuesday, January 6. The ceremony marks the start of the 199th Session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Reed, who is now in his seventh term, was elected by his fellow House Republicans as Majority Leader in November 2014.
Credit State Rep. Dave Reed / Facebook

These topics air Thursday January 15, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Follow the Leader

State Representative David Reed first entered politics as a registered Democrat. Last week he was sworn as the leader of the Pennsylvania House GOP. The Indiana County native joins us to discuss his vision for the future of the commonwealth and how he plans to work with a Democratic governor.

Harrisburg Sued Under New State Gun Law

Harrisburg was the first city to face a challenge to its gun laws under a new Pennsylvania law targeting gun measures. It comes from a gun rights group representing a state police corporal. City officials have been bracing for lawsuits in the wake of Governor Corbett's signing of legislation that allows gun owner groups to challenge local ordinances. Patriot News editorial page editor John Micek joins us to discuss the issue.

Airport Wildlife

Earlier this week, the WESA newsroom reported on the capture of a short-eared owl near the runway of the Pittsburgh International Airport. The medium sized owl is considered threatened in the state of Pennsylvania. So special care needed to be taken to retrieve, tag, and relocate the bird. Bob Mulvihill, an ornithologist with the National Aviary joins us to talk about this process. And we’ll talk with Bobby Hromack, a wildlife specialist for the airport and biologist with the USDA, about what goes into the management of wildlife around an airport runway. 

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Government & Politics
4:45 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Report: PA’s Taxes Among the Most Regressive

A new report finds Pennsylvania remains on a list of the “Terrible 10” — states with the most regressive tax policies.

The non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy finds that the poorest residents pay nearly three times what the wealthy pay in taxes as a share of income. Middle-income earners pay twice as much as the richest residents.

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Education
4:37 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Fiscal Data Added to Online Profiles of School Districts

Pennsylvanians can now check out the broad strokes of their school districts’ finances using a state website.

The Department of Education’s PA School Performance site now displays things like school districts’ general fund balances, tuition rates paid to charter schools, and average teacher salaries.

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Government & Politics
4:17 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

City Council Delays Landlord Registry Bill

Pittsburgh City Council again delayed action on a bill Wednesday that would create a rental property registry.

“We did hold the bill for two more weeks while we continue to collaborate and work through some of the issues of the bill,” City Council President Bruce Kraus said.

As it stands, the bill requires landlords to submit all available forms of contact information, allowing the city to keep a close eye on problem properties. Owners could face a $500 penalty if they fail to submit their name, address, phone number and email address.

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Public Safety
4:15 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Pittsburgh Police Chief Sends Memo Silencing Officers

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is once again coming under fire from rank and file officers, this time it is over an official memo rather than a social media gaffe.

McLay sent a memo to every officer outlining a new policy that all information about police activities must be moved up the chain of command before being released to the public. Officers that leak information could be disciplined.

“A lot of the rules that are already in place in police bureaus around the country have just been protocols within the city of Pittsburgh,” said Mayor Bill Peduto.

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Pennsylvania
3:39 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

State Pledges to Plant Red Maple Trees at Flight 93 Memorial

The state will fund the purchase, delivery and planting of 450 red maple trees at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Gov. Tom Corbett announced Wednesday.

The “Red Sunset” maples will be planted next spring along the Memorial Groves walkway from the visitor center to the memorial plaza at the crash site.

“This planting at Flight 93 provides an opportunity to engage the public in the hopeful act of planting a tree at the site of a national tragedy,” Corbett said in a statement.

The state’s TreeVitalize program is contributing $160,000 to the project.

Essential Pittsburgh
2:02 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Mayor Peduto Pledges to Stand Against NRA Lawsuit

Credit Heather McClain / 90.5WESA

The new year brings new headlines, including a lawsuit filed today by the National Rifle Association against the City of Pittsburgh. 

Sparked by the passing of Act 192, which allows for suits to be brought against municipalities for passing gun ordinances that are more restrictive than state law, the NRA has brought suits against Pittsburgh and other municipalities, including Philadelphia and Lancaster.

Mayor Bill Peduto joined us in Studio A to discuss the suit. He then went on to discuss other issues including recent events surrounding Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar and new Police Chief Cameron McLay.

For more on the announcement of the NRA lawsuit, follow 90.5 WESA's coverage.

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Public Safety
12:55 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

NRA Sues Pittsburgh Over Stolen Gun Law

Credit AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Saying that Pittsburgh and several other cities in the state have “openly defied” state law in passing gun ordinances that are more restrictive than state laws, the National Rifle Association has sued Pittsburgh. 

The move comes one day after Houston-based U.S. Law Shield sued Harrisburg for its firearm laws.

The Second Amendment groups are taking action a week after a new state law went into effect giving such organizations standing to file such suits.

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Environment & Energy
10:26 am
Wed January 14, 2015

White House Moves to Create Methane Limits for Gas Drilling

The Obama administration laid out designs Wednesday to issue the first regulations to cut down on methane emissions from new natural gas wells, aiming to curb the discharge of a potent greenhouse gas by roughly half.

The White House set a new target for the U.S. to cut methane emissions by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2025, compared to 2012 levels. To meet that goal, the Environmental Protection Agency will issue a proposal affecting oil and gas production, while the Interior Department will also update its standards for drilling to reduce leakage from wells on public lands.

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Community
7:54 am
Wed January 14, 2015

March Protesting Police Brutality Set for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A march is scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day protesting the recent acts of police brutality in the U.S., as well as incidents of racism and intolerance abroad. The march will begin in Oakland at 6 p.m. and end at the City County building.

Other marches will be taking place across the country at the same time.

One of the organizers is Michael David Battle, who is the founding director of Garden of Peace Project, a nonprofit that works with the LGBTQIA community. He said they expect 1,000 people to show up.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:28 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Wednesday Rundown: A New Year and New Headlines with Mayor Peduto

Credit Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Wednesday January 14, 2015 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Peduto in the Public Eye

It’s a new year, with a few new headlines for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. He returns to studio A for his monthly live conversation. We’ll talk public safety, being in the public eye on Undercover Boss and the O’Reilly Factor, and his take on the public school task force.

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Animals
4:57 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Pittsburgh Airport Transfers Endangered Owls to Natural Habitat

The endangered short-eared owl is about the size of a crow.
Credit Pittsburgh International Airport flickr

Pittsburgh International Airport has booked three short-eared owls a one-way ticket to their natural habitat.

The medium-sized owls, which measure 13 to 17 inches tall, were spotted on the edges of the airport’s property at the beginning of this month, and the airport’s wildlife management team, along with environmental regulatory agencies, have relocated them to a safer habitat — safer for them and potentially safer for the aircrafts.

While the short-eared owl is not considered endangered or threatened at the federal level, it is in Pennsylvania. 

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Community
4:09 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Report Shows Racial Disparities Persisting in Pittsburgh Region

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald (foreground) listen as University of Pittsburgh Social Work Dean Larry Davis discusses racial disparities in the city and county. Davis is flanked by Center for Race and Social Problems coordinator Sara Berg (left) and associate director Ralph Bangs.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

“We try to be useful.”

That’s what University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work Dean Larry Davis told a group assembled to hear details of a new report on racial disparity from the Center on Race and Social Problems. Davis said he hopes the data coming out of the report will be used to craft policies and programs to reduce racial disparities in education, economics, health care and other areas.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:10 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Pittsburgh’s Resilience Recognized

Credit Shane Henderson / Flickr

Pittsburgh, Chicago, Dallas and Boston are a few of the 35 cities selected to be part of the Rockefeller Award’s resilient cities challenge.

Business contributor Rebecca Harris joins us this week to tell us about this honor and what it means for the Steel City.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:08 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Ukraine at a Crossroads

Kyiv, capitol city of Ukraine
Credit Trey Ratcliff / Flickr

University of Pittsburgh professor and Ukraine native Tim Mylovanov has recently returned from an eventful holiday trip to his home country. He offers his take on the situation there and talks about his efforts to help create positive change in Ukraine amid economic challenges and conflicts with Russia.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:51 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Internet-enabled Toothbrushes and Other Highlights of the Consumer Electronics Show

Credit Becky Stern / Flickr

The International Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas, is history for another year. Our pop culture contributor Joe Wos was one of the many people in attendance and had a front-row seat to see the next big gadgets that could be changing our lives.

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Government & Politics
2:30 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Controller: Audit Shows Misuse, Fraud and Lack of Oversight for County-Owned Vehicles

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner outlines highlights of an audit of the 700-vehicle county fleet. The full audit will be released after being seen by the county executive's office.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is releasing an analysis of county-owned vehicles that she said reveals a number of issues including misuse, fraud, lack of oversight and major gaps in usage data.

In a summary of the audit, released Tuesday, Wagner said it took about a month for the county to give her office the number of vehicles in the fleet. She said that needs to be fixed.

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Public Safety
1:50 pm
Tue January 13, 2015

Harrisburg Sued Under New Law Targeting Local Gun Measures

Pennsylvania's capital city is facing a lawsuit believed to be the first filed under a new state law designed to give gun owners and gun rights groups a better chance at dismantling municipal firearms ordinances.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Dauphin County court named as defendants the city of Harrisburg and various city officials.

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Government & Politics
10:41 am
Tue January 13, 2015

Education, Spending Roles Finally Being Cast

The pieces are starting to fall into place for one of the hottest parts of state government for the incoming administration.

The state House and Senate GOP leaders have named the chairs of their education committees. Lawmakers expect the panels to see a lot of action in the coming legislative session, since Gov.-elect Tom Wolf has underlined education funding as his top priority upon entering office.

In the House, the education chairman is Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York), who said he hopes to work on a new funding formula for schools.

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