News

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The city has towed nearly 50 cars in the past two weekends since it started full-fledged enforcement of parking restrictions on Carson Street's new public safety lane.

The public safety lane restricts parking along a six-block stretch of Carson Street, between 12th and 17th streets, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Additionally, metered parking on the South Side has been extended until midnight.

Gubernatorial Candidate Wagner Grabs Opposition Researcher's Camera

May 4, 2017
Marc Levy / AP

A Republican legislator who is running for Pennsylvania governor grabbed a camera away from a man who works for a liberal opposition research group, and police are investigating.

State Sen. Scott Wagner said Wednesday he "assisted in removing" the camera because the man had no business filming him during a speech at a private country club the day before.

Washington-based American Bridge 21st Century, the man's employer, said the camera was returned but not the memory card. The group says on its website its goal is to hold Republicans accountable.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Health Wednesday shows the backlog of untested rape kits is shrinking, but is still far from gone.

The report found there are 3,217 rape kits in the state waiting to be processed. Of those, 1,214 were more than a year old, which the state defines as backlogged.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Caretakers at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium’s International Conservation Center in Somerset County are preparing for a new calf. 

A 23-year-old African elephant named Seeni is getting close to her due date, estimated for this summer. Seeni is somewhat new to the area though, so caregivers are trying to ensure they bond with her so she can bond with the calf.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Dr. Trina Peduzzi has been working with babies as a community pediatrician for the last 16 years and has taken care of hundreds of children with lead poisoning.

“Most parents who get the phone call from me are completely unaware that their child was exposed to lead,” she said. “If we do not look for this problem we will not find it.”

The Allegheny County Board of Health on Wednesday approved a regulation requiring children in Allegheny County to be tested for lead in their blood.

The Many Ways To Find 90.5 WESA Journalism

May 4, 2017
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

You know you can listen to WESA’s local reporting and NPR’s national coverage on the radio at 90.5 FM. But there are also many places to find our journalism in the digital world—you can livestream us when you’re away from the radio, follow our reporters on social media and dig into NPR’s smartphone apps.

Urged On By Trump, Barletta Eyes U.S. Senate Run Against Casey

May 4, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

President Donald Trump is encouraging Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a prominent crusader against illegal immigration, to challenge Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in next year's election, a Barletta campaign consultant said Wednesday.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County could become the first in the state to require all children to be tested for high lead levels in their blood.

The county Board of Health on Wednesday unanimously recommended the proposal, which would require two tests, around ages 1 and 2. The regulation must be approved by the county council and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. It would take effect next January.

Director Karen Hacker said she believes testing is necessary, because most homes in the county were built before lead was banned in paint.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Uber is launching its food delivery service in Pittsburgh starting Thursday.

UberEATS general manager Casey Verkamp said the service will be faster, more reliable and more convenient than other delivery services, such as Postmates and Grubhub.

“We don’t think anyone else has cracked, to date, that problem so we’re really excited to be doing that, in Pittsburgh especially,” Verkamp said Wednesday at Franktuary in Lawrenceville.

Franktuary is one of the more than 100 Pittsburgh-area restaurants that had partnered with the app at its launch this week.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

How Pittsburghers get from one place to the next can be a controversial topic. As the city continues to develop, mayoral candidates are considering strategies big and small to make local transit infrastructure work for everyone, including cyclists.

Screengrab / Woodland Hills Surveillance Video

More Woodland Hills High School students have come forward alleging abuse by a school principal and a school resource officer.

Four students are claiming abuse over the past two years, according to Pittsburgh Attorney Todd Hollis, who represents three of the students.

A 2015 surveillance video shows a student thrown to the ground by armed school resource officer Steve Shaulis, who works for the Churchill Police Department. The school’s principal, Kevin Murray, assisted Shaulis in holding the student down. The student was then Tasered.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Members of Pittsburgh’s art world want to connect with community and encourage them participate in causes they care about.

That idea of community engagement was a main focus for local artists, advocates, attorneys and funders taking part in the Future Tense conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Tuesday. The conference was organized by the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

Flickr user Nick Normal

Pittsburgh City Councilmen Daniel Lavelle and Ricky Burgess on Tuesday introduced bills to finance the city’s affordable housing trust fund.

One of the bills proposes a 1 percentage point increase in the total realty transfer tax buyers would pay. But that increase, from 4 to 5 percent, wouldn’t go directly to the fund.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Pennsylvania is on track to have medical cannabis on dispensary shelves come next April, according to Gov. Tom Wolf.

However, the legally permissible forms of medical marijuana might be more varied than originally thought.

The law, as passed, allows medical cannabis in pills, oils, topical treatments and liquids. 

“There is no THC in (those) forms of the marijuana,” Wolf said. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the part the creates a high.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

While waiting for his bus downtown, Melvin Dawson said he doesn’t dislike Mayor Bill Peduto.

“He’s OK,” he said. “But I think they messed up when they let that police chief go."

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Water parks are becoming more and more popular across the country.  But not everyone can play.

“Water has really never been a part of the special needs community,” said Morgan’s Wonderland General Manager Ron Morander.

Flickr user A.

Hospital policies that restrict how pharmaceutical companies may market their drugs to doctors change physician prescribing behavior, according to a new study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study, a joint effort of Carnegie Mellon University and six other higher education institutions, showed that when such policies were in place, marketed drugs were prescribed 8.7 percent less often while non-marketed drugs were prescribed about 6 percent more often.

George Widman / AP

At least four Pennsylvania cities are urging state Senators to reject a bill that would prevent municipalities from banning plastic shopping bags or imposing fees to curb their use.

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, York and Erie say that single-use plastic shopping bags are environmentally damaging, and increase waste-disposal costs for cities around the Commonwealth. They also argue that the bill, HB1071, would infringe on cities’ rights to run their own affairs.

Pennsylvania Sees Biggest Shortfall Since Recession

May 2, 2017
Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania is heading into the 2017 budget season with its biggest revenue shortfall since the recession.

The state Department of Revenue is reporting that it has a shortfall in excess of $1 billion, now 10 months into the fiscal year. That's more than 4 percent, a bigger margin than at any point since 2010.

It leaves budget makers with an even bigger budget gap than expected with just nine weeks left in the fiscal year.

The Department of Revenue attributes April's poor tax collections, in part, to the U.S. economy recording its slowest quarter in three years.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh public safety officials are trying to determine why a rain-activated gate failed to automatically stop traffic from entering a low-lying roadway where four people died in an August 2011 flash flood.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation installed the $450,000 system in 2012, but it's now operated and maintained by the city. The system uses rain sensors that can trigger three swinging-arm gates and several lighted caution signals meant to keep motorists off Washington Boulevard.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Utility companies were working to restore power to hundreds of people still without electricity a day after severe storms swept through Pennsylvania, downing trees, power lines and possibly spawning several small tornadoes.

The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh says investigators will be heading to Butler, Clarion and Forest counties to determine whether tornadoes touched down Monday afternoon.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh’s median home price is up more than 9 percent since this time last year, according to Zillow. It also estimated the city's median monthly rent is more than $1,300 -- a jump from 2016. As the city’s real estate market and apartment rates boom, some lower earners haven’t been able to keep up.

Mike Groll / AP

A state House panel is considering a plan to help fill significant budget gaps that have been left open for gambling revenue.

The Gaming Committee held a public hearing Monday on a longstanding proposal to legalize video gambling terminals in bars and other businesses.

The bill being discussed is House Bill 1010, which would allow up to 35,000 terminals in bars, social clubs, and other such businesses.

Proponents say it could earn $100 million in its first year, and $500 million annually once it’s fully implemented.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Demonstrators on the City-County Building’s steps downtown Monday called for legislation recognizing Pittsburgh as a sanctuary city. It was part of several May Day events in the city, which traditionally call for workers’ rights.

Miles Gehm / Flickr

A large portion of western Pennsylvania, including the Pittsburgh region, is under a tornado watch until Monday evening.

The watch also covers counties in West Virginia and Ohio, and is expected to remain in effect until 7 p.m.

Yo Ho Ho! Pennsylvania Aims To Smash US Embargo On Cuban Rum

May 1, 2017
Ramon Espinosa / AP

Pennsylvania's Cuban rum run got its start in a chance meeting last fall in the parking lot in front of the state Capitol.

"'You know, we have rum,'" a visiting Cuban government liaison told state Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, who was walking to his car when he was introduced to her as the senator whose committee oversees how alcohol is sold in Pennsylvania. "And I'm like, 'Yeah, we should buy some.'"

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

After school, many Hazelwood kids migrate to the library. Some stick to computers and scroll through the internet, some huddle in a corner to read books and a pair of 12-year-olds play chess.

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Socialists, immigration advocates and others are planning May Day demonstrations across the state.

Organizers including Make the Road Action in PA say hundreds of immigrants will protest Trump Administration immigration policies at Pennsylvania's capitol.

Similar groups are planning two marches in Pittsburgh, including one starting at the City-County Building's steps at 2 p.m.

Dave Martin / AP

A man has been cited for disorderly conduct after police say he "freaked out" when he saw a Confederate flag displayed in a Pennsylvania hotel window as part of a Civil War-themed wedding.

The (Easton) Express-Times says police charged the man with making the disturbance at the Hotel Bethlehem on Saturday. His name wasn't immediately released.

Police Chief Mark DiLuzio says the man was cited for "freaking out, screaming and yelling" and creating a "very aggressive and disorderly scene."

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 fm WESA

On May 16th, Allegheny County primary voters will choose their party’s nominees to run for Allegheny County Council. Democrats, who have a two-to-one registration majority in the county, are expected to retain their majority during the general election this November. That leaves Republicans and some critics frustrated.

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