News

Katie Meyer

Pennsylvania's Senate Democrats are calling for reforms to the commonwealth's long-standing system of using property taxes to pay for public schools.

It's an initiative that's renewed nearly every session. But now, the group is calling for a special legislative session.

School property tax collections this fiscal year are in the range of $14 billion.

The system has long been criticized for allowing the state's wealthiest school systems to collect far more tax money than their lower-income peers.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

It was a busy day of protest in Pittsburgh.

In support of the rights of immigrants, more than 100 people linked arms and marched into a South Side intersection on Saturday, blocking traffic for 15 minutes. 

Melanya_Velazquez / Flickr

Singer-rapper Lauryn Hill has apologized for making fans wait more than three hours for her show to start in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Hill says on Facebook that "factors out of our control" caused her to take the stage at 11:20 p.m. for a Heinz Hall show advertised as starting at 8 p.m.

She says snow in New York caused some band and crew members to be stuck at LaGuardia Airport and arrive late in Pittsburgh. In hindsight, she says, the performance should have been canceled and rescheduled.

David J. Phillip / AP

Though the Pittsburgh Steelers didn't make it to this year's Super Bowl, Heinz is offering its employees a dollop of joy to look forward to this weekend. It's giving workers a day off on the Monday following the Super Bowl. 

 

Citizen Complaints Over Drilling Have Soared During The Gas Boom

Feb 3, 2017
Matt Rourke / AP

For the first time, the public can view a comprehensive record of citizen complaints about oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania. The investigative website Public Herald has scanned and published more than 9,000 complaints made by residents over 12 years to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection about conventional and unconventional drilling, or fracking.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

This week's topics include a discussion about the water issues that required roughly 100,000 city residents to boil their tap water before drinking. We'll get the details on an investigation into mold on linens supplied to UPMC. Also, our Harrisburg reporters will discuss the consolidation of state health agencies and preview Gov. Tom Wolf's state budget address. 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Feb. 3, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. 

Protesters plan to demonstrate outside of Uber’s Pittsburgh offices in the Strip District Saturday. This will mark the third weekend in a row that local residents have gathered for a protest related to the Trump administration.

AP Photo

At U.S. Senator Pat Toomey's various offices in Pennsylvania and Washington, the phones have been ringing off the hook for days.

Constituents are calling in droves, filling voice mailboxes with pleas for the Republican not to confirm President Donald Trump's cabinet appointees--particularly education secretary pick Betsy DeVos.

But the newly reelected Toomey seems to have his mind made up.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Feb. 2, 2017 at 3:37 p.m. 

Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority officials lifted the flush and boil water advisory for the city’s central and eastern neighborhoods Thursday.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

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Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Men and women from six countries met at the Hotel Monaco in downtown Pittsburgh this week charged with making one very big decision, one that will affect millions of consumers – how they think and how they shop. They gathered to pick PPG Paints' color of the year.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

A lone Pittsburgh Tribune-Review vending machine, on the corner of Broad Street and Highland Avenue in East Liberty, is one of the few remnants of Pittsburgh's once-thriving print newspaper industry.

“We’re trying to get them all picked up but there may be a few out there we’ll have to get later,” said Alan Bowlby, distribution manager for Trib Total Media.

AP Photo

A proposal to extend the statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases is on a fast-track through the state Senate.

It's the exact same measure as a bill that died in the House last session, and for that reason, it's likely to see the same resistance when it reaches the House this time around.

The bill--sponsored by Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati--would eliminate time limits on childhood sexual abuse victims filing lawsuits against their abusers.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The precautionary boil order in effect for about half of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers will most likely remain in place through the end of the week.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Less than a week before he presents his 2017-18 budget, Gov. Tom Wolf is revealing few hints about his spending plan other than it will be streamlined and won't include any “broad-based tax increases."

Wolf hasn't said if the new budget will be less, the same or more than the current $31.5 billion one.

“You’ll have to wait and see,” Wolf said. “I think this has to be living within our means and not fudging the numbers. Not smoke and mirrors, not making stuff up.”

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

On a snowy afternoon in the Hill District, Shafon Willis and her two kids waited for the 83 bus. Winter, 3, couldn’t seem to hold onto one of her pink gloves, which kept falling to the ground.

The Willis family rides the bus about three times a day to get to daycare and Shafon’s job on the South Side. She said she’s not a big fan of some of the recent changes to the bus system in Allegheny County. A new rule that went into effect Jan. 1 requires riders to enter in the front of the bus and exit from the back of the bus.  

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

*UPDATED: Feb. 1, 2017 at 12:20 p.m. 

Approximately 100,000 Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority customers are under a flush and boil order.

The authority said the order for the central and eastern neighborhoods is “precautionary.”  

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

In 24 hours, an all-female team of hackers called “Codebusters” created an app allowing people to manage their family finances and health needs all in one place.

They were the winning team at PNC’s second annual employee hack-a-thon.

“Really, when we walked into the door it was kind of a sprint and everything came together a couple of hours towards the end of yesterday and here we are today,” said Codebuster team member Becca Smith. “And now I know some women who want to sleep.”

PA General Assembly

Local activists are putting pressure on Representative Dom Costa (D-Allegheny) to remove his name as co-sponsor of a bill that would cut off state funding from “sanctuary campuses” in Pennsylvania.

Costa was listed as the sole Democratic co-sponsor, which Anita Boehm, executive director of his Harrisburg office, said was a mistake.

Cliff Owen / AP

President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he will announce a nominee to the Supreme Court Tuesday evening at 8 p.m.

Among those names on the short list is Pittsburgher Thomas Hardiman, 51, a federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Hardiman was appointed to the post in 2007 by President George W. Bush.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf will ask lawmakers for another $10 million to help save the lives of people overdosing on heroin or prescription drugs.

The Wolf administration said Tuesday that the Democratic governor wants the money to help law enforcement agencies and first responders buy the overdose antidote naloxone.

Grants would be available through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Wolf will make the request in the budget proposal he submits to the Legislature next week for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Emmaline Thompson, 9, danced around the dining room table with her 3-year-old sister and the family’s pitbull as her mom prepared dinner. Her mom, Rebecca Maclean, gathered the kids and made them sit at the table to watch as Emmaline opened a letter from the Pittsburgh Public School District.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Roughly ten months after receiving recommendations from the Government Review Commission, Allegheny County council members have been slow to make changes.

The review commission, made of up of nine people, meets every 10 years as stipulated by the Allegheny County Home Rule Charter, for a top-to-bottom review of government operations. It met in 2015 and had a year to review county operations.  

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Pittsburgh workers’ groups delivered petitions to Republican U.S. Senator Pat Toomey Monday, asking him to oppose the nomination of President Trump’s nominee for labor secretary.

Last week, Andy Puzder’s confirmation hearing was delayed for the third time, while he completes the required ethics paperwork.

Merging 4 Agencies Seen As Way To Cut Red Tape, Not Programs

Jan 30, 2017
Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Gov. Tom Wolf's administration says consolidating four state public health agencies into a single department will improve efficiency, eliminate red tape and keep benefits programs intact. But it's not giving a projection on how much money it could save and a spokesman says any layoffs will be minimal since the administration's already pared back employee complements.

The Wolf administration made its first public comments on the plan Monday. The administration notified agency employees Friday, but gave no details.

Thousands Protest Trump Immigration Orders At Philly Airport

Jan 30, 2017
Paige Pfleger / WHYY

An estimated 5,000 protesters filled the sidewalks and roadways outside of Philadelphia International Airport Sunday to denounce President Donald Trump's executive actions restricting entry into the country. It was the second straight night demonstrators gathered at the airport demanding that Trump lift his ban on immigration into the United States from several Muslim-majority countries.

Chanting "no hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here," the droves of protesters assembled peacefully down a long stretch of road outside Terminal B. 

Rick Knief / Citi

Redevelopment in Pittburgh's East Liberty neighborhood has magnified issues of accessibility and affordability in housing.

Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

Walk around the offices of the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, and you'll find plans to do good behind every door. There's a food bank, a land bank, a work skills class, and programs to assist with affordable housing.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

President Donald Trump spent more than a year of his campaign promising to build a wall along the Mexican border to stop the flow of Hispanic immigrants from coming into the U.S.

Rosamaria Cristello, site director of the Latino Family Center in Hazelwood, says that rhetoric -- now from the White House, not a lone candidate -- is breeding fear among Pittsburgh’s growing Latino community.

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