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Essential Pittsburgh
4:45 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

The Business of Food Banks

Credit Nancy Furbee / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's mission is to feed people in need and mobilize our community to eliminate hunger.

Their vision is for a hunger-free southwestern Pennsylvania. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at food banks in the region.

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Streaming Audio
4:28 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Having Problems With Our Stream?

We have launched a new player for our 90.5 WESA and JazzWorks streams, and some people are having problems with old links and certain players or streaming platforms such as TuneIn.

Update 12/14: TuneIn is now working. We have contacted NPR to work with us on iTunes Radio and have notified them about the NPR App. 

Update 12/15: The NPR App will work if you delete it and install it again.  The reason for that is that the app stores the stream address in its cache - you basically need to reset that by reinstalling it.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:05 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

So What Does It Really Take to Indict a Police Officer?

Local protesters staged a "die-in" on the University of Pittsburgh campus in the wake of the NYC Eric Garner decision
Credit Britt Reints / Flickr

The recent decisions by grand juries not to press charges against white police officers involved in fatalities of unarmed black men in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY has led the headlines in recent weeks. 

These incidents have called into question the difficulty of charging police officers with crimes, even with video evidence, and what alternatives there could be to address police misconduct.

Pitt Law Professor David Harris explains the difficulty of charging officers, and how police departments are changing.

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Dynamic Parking
11:52 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Legislation Calls for Dynamic Parking in Pittsburgh

If legislation up for debate Wednesday goes through, you could see parking meter prices in Pittsburgh fluctuate depending on the time of day.

Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has introduced a bill that would allow for dynamic prices for parking meters in certain neighborhoods starting in 2015.

“It adjusts the price of parking meters based on parking supply and demand,” Rudiak said. “So it will actually change the price based on how close one is parked say to the main street business district or how far.”

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Government & Politics
7:35 am
Tue December 9, 2014

PA's Political Retreat Begins This Week in NYC

If there's anything you need to call your state lawmaker about, try to do it before Thursday.

That's the day marking the start of this year's annual Pennsylvania Society weekend, a four-day-long retreat centered in Manhattan that attracts the commonwealth's political elite.

Reception hosts and the people on their invite lists defend the weekend as a way to see most of the state's movers and shakers in one convenient location.

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Transportation
7:28 am
Tue December 9, 2014

The State of PA's Bridges, Part 2: Rebuilding Them Faster

The concrete piers (walls) on this bridge over the Swatara Creek in Middletown took weeks to harden and strengthen. Under the state's new program, the construction team will be able to put a pre-fabricated pier together in days.
Credit Keystone Crossroads

This is the second story of a three-part series on the state's bridges.

Twenty-three percent of Pennsylvania's bridges are structurally deficient, and many need to be replaced. But between permitting, design, and construction, building a new bridge takes years.

That's why the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is trying to speed things up.

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Essential Pittsburgh
10:20 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Tuesday Rundown: What Does it Really Take to Indict a Police Officer?

The protests happening all over Allegheny County, like this die-in at the August Wilson Center Downtown, and throughout the rest of the country, reflect people's fear, anger and frustration at the recent grand jury decisions not to try white police officers for killing unarmed black citizens.
Credit Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

These topics air Tuesday December 9, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Charging Police Officers with Crimes

The recent decisions by grand juries not to press charges against white police officers involved in fatalities involving black men in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY has led the headlines in recent weeks. These incidents have called into question the difficulty of charging police officers with crimes, even with video evidence, and what alternatives there could be to address police misconduct. Pitt Law Professor David Harris joins us for a discussion on the difficulty involved in charging officers and changing police departments.

Social Media and Big Data

All those clicks, likes, and retweets you do on social media add up to a huge amount of data that can be worth millions to some companies. But according to new research, actually using that data is easier said than done. We’ll address the use of social media and big data with Derek Ruths, assistant professor of Computer Science at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.

Business Segment - Food Banks

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's mission is to feed people in need and mobilize our community to eliminate hunger. Their vision is for a hunger-free southwestern Pennsylvania. This week contributor Rebecca Harris looks at food banks in the region. 

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City Government
9:56 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Body Cameras for Police, Loans for Childcare Facilities Among Budget Amendments

The city of Pittsburgh wants all police officers to be wearing body cameras within two years instead of six.

In the wake of civil unrest after grand jury decisions not to indict police officers in the killings of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York, the Peduto administration will shorten the timeline for implementation of such technology.

Amendments to Mayor Bill Peduto’s 2015 budget proposal that would free up money for the purchases came before City Council on Monday.

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Public Safety
7:45 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Community-Oriented Policing Dominates Discussion at McLay Confirmation Hearing

Acting Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay addresses a news conference after being introduced by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto on Sept. 12, 2014. McLay is the first Pittsburgh chief not to rise from the city’s bureau of police. He was most recently a police captain in Madison, Wis.
Credit AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Update: 12/09/14 11:40am

Pittsburgh City Council confirmed McLay's appointment at its regular meeting Tuesday morning.  McLay will be sworn at by Mayor Bill Peduto at 4:00 this afternoon.

Original Post:

Nearly three months after Cameron McLay became acting chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, City Council on Monday held his confirmation hearing.

The two-hour meeting focused less on McLay’s qualifications for the job and more on his ideas about how to improve the bureau and address the concerns of individual members of City Council.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:26 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Building Neighborhood Bridges to Innovation

Credit Peter Radunzel / Flickr

Pittsburgh native, entrepreneur and Urban Innovation 21 CEO William Generett is an advocate looking to connect the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods to the tech sector. 

He joins us in Studio A for a conversation on how he plans to accomplish this goal.

Essential Pittsburgh
4:48 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Local Perspectives on Celebrity Scandal and Damage Control

Credit Dave / Flickr

Long considered one of America’s most beloved comedians, Bill Cosby is scheduled to perform in Pittsburgh this coming February. However, Cosby has been receiving a lot of negative press lately for allegations of sexual misconduct.

He is the latest in a long line of childhood heroes and lovable icons mired in scandal.

Pop culture contributor Joe Wos shared a brief history of celebrity scandal, from 1920’s silent movie actor Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, to kiddie-show icons Paul Reubens, known by many as Pee-wee Herman and Kevin Clash, who played Elmo on Sesame Street for almost 30 years.

Wos says Reubens is a great example of someone who managed to turn his negative public image around after the scandal broke. He says that’s partially because Reubens’ crime was victimless.

But for celebrities like Cosby, who portray themselves on TV and in real life, as having a higher moral standing, Wos says when those people fall from grace, “I hate to say that there’s some enjoyment in it but there is a sense that he was put in his place. When you set yourself up to lead by example, you better be Mr. Rogers.”

Damage Control

Considering the media’s obsession with the cult of celebrity and scandal, is it any wonder that American TV viewers have become obsessed with the ABC drama “Scandal”? Millions watch Olivia Pope “handle” and “fix” the reputations and images of high profile clients each Thursday night.

But in real life what does it take to repair one’s image after falling from grace?

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Health
4:38 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Confusion Over Healthy PA Could Slow Enrollment, Some Health Care Advocates Say

A handful of health care advocates are worried that confusing messages in the media might prevent thousands of Pennsylvania from getting the free and low-cost health insurance they deserve.

The Corbett administration reached an agreement with the federal government this year to launch the Healthy PA program in lieu expanding Medicaid. Open enrollment in the program has started and coverage will take effect Jan. 1.  However Governor-elect Tom Wolf says he will scrap Healthy PA and opt in to Medicaid expansion.

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Health
3:39 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Partnership at Forbes Hospital Seeks to 'Feed the Future' of Health Care by Training Young Docs

Students from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine talk with LECOM President John Ferretti. Students will be able to do clinical rotations at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville thanks to partnership between LECOM and Allegheny Health Network.
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny Health Network has announced a new academic affiliation, allowing medical students to train at Forbes Hospital in Monroeville.

Students from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) will be able to do their clinical rotations at the hospital. AHN officials said this move is critical to the future of health care in the region.

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Environment & Energy
1:06 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Marcellus Life: How an Elk County Town Is Struggling with Shale Gas Drilling Rules

St. Marys officials walk past high-pressure pipe used for fracking at a Seneca Resources shale gas site in the city.
Credit Natasha Khan / PublicSource

About a dozen St. Marys officials, outfitted with baggy blue jumpsuits, earplugs and white plastic hard hats, recently visited a Seneca Resources well pad on a wooded hilltop to see what fracking is all about.

This part of Pennsylvania, about 120 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Elk County, has been relatively untouched by shale drilling. But people see it coming in two test wells Seneca has there now, with more wells in the future.

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Transportation
7:57 am
Mon December 8, 2014

The State of PA's Bridges, Part 1: How Are They Holding Up?

The bridge on Main Street over East Branch Perkiomen Creek in Sellersville is one of about 6,000 bridges in Pennsylvania that is considered structurally deficient.
Credit Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

This is the first story of our three-part series on the state's bridges.

If you drive in Pennsylvania, you've probably crossed a structurally deficient bridge. Maybe you're driving over one right now.

Pennsylvania has more than 30,000 bridges. Some span rivers, like the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, and others are much smaller, crossing rural creeks and highways. More than 6,000 of these bridges are structurally deficient. (We put together an interactive map of the state's structurally deficient bridges.)

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Election 2015
3:30 am
Mon December 8, 2014

County Controller Wagner To Launch Re-Election Campaign

Despite rumors that she was setting her sights on the County Executive’s office, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner will be officially launching her campaign for a second term at an event Monday night.

“I recognize that when you are running against any incumbent, that’s something that’s difficult,” Wagner said of her decision to not run for what's considered the third most powerful position in the state. “I think things can be done better in the county. It’s probably obvious by my position on some things, but at the same time I enjoy my job.”

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Arts & Culture
3:30 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Conflict Kitchen, Mattress Factory Host First Amendment Panel Discussion

Two Pittsburgh organizations known for their sometimes controversial art installations are teaming up to talk about the First Amendment.

Conflict Kitchen in Schenley Plaza and the Mattress Factory on the North Side are hosting a panel discussion Tuesday on the challenges artists face when creating and presenting work inspired by the relationship between Palestine, Israel and the United States.

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Health
3:30 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Long-Term Care Report Expected in Waning Days of Corbett Administration

A commission tasked with examining the long-term care system in Pennsylvania is prepared to submit its recommendations to Gov. Tom Corbett but not before it has one more meeting.

The Long-Term Care Commission was formed in January of this year and has until Dec. 31 to report to the governor on issues including illness prevention and caregiver support, accessibility, provision of services and quality outcomes and management.

Bonnie Rose, deputy secretary for the Office of Long-Term Living, said the commission will have the report on Corbett’s desk ahead of the deadline.

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Ride-Sharing
3:30 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Insurance for Ride-Sharing Drivers Might Be Hard to Find

Earlier this month the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission gave conditional approval to the ride-sharing service Uber to offer “experimental” service across most of Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, for two years.

One of those conditions is that Uber drivers must be insured for all three stages of the ride-sharing process: turning the app on and making yourself available for hire; transporting the passenger; and, dropping off that customer. 

So Erie Insurance is trying to fill the gap in coverage. 

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Land Bank
3:15 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Community Land Bank Could Come to Pittsburgh

More affordable housing could be coming to Pittsburgh after the Allegheny Land Trust received a $200,000 donation from The Heinz Endowments to test the feasibility of a community land bank.

The community land bank would make housing about 25% cheaper by only selling the house on the property, and not the land. Right now the Trust is focusing on the Larimer neighborhood.

$40,000 dollars will go to researching, and the rest of the money will be used to set up the community land bank.

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:48 am
Mon December 8, 2014

Monday Rundown: Building Bridges to Innovation

Credit Peter Radunzel / Flickr

These topics air Monday December 8, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Building Bridges

Pittsburgh native, entrepreneur and Urban Innovation 21 CEO William Generett is an advocate looking to connect the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods to the tech sector. He joins us in Studio A for a conversation on how he plans to accomplish this goal.

Scandal

Long considered one of America’s most beloved comedians Bill Cosby is scheduled to perform in Pittsburgh this coming February. However, Mr. Cosby has been receiving a lot of negative press lately for allegations of sexual misconduct. Mr. Cosby is the latest in a long line of childhood heroes and lovable icons mired in scandal. Pop culture contributor Joe Wos joins us for a look at the history of scandal.

Damage Control

Each week viewers tune in to the television show Scandal to watch Olivia Pope “handle” and “fix” the reputations and images of high profile clients. However, in real life what does it take to repair one’s image after falling from grace? Saul Markowitz, president of Markowitz Communications navigates us through the intricacies of public relations damage control.

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Higher Education
3:30 am
Sun December 7, 2014

HigherEdJobs' Report Shows Growth in University-level Positions

For the first time in more than a year, good news has surfaced for those aspiring to work in higher education. According to a report conducted by HigherEdJobs, a posting site for university-level positions, higher education jobs increased by 0.2 percent in this latest quarter after four previous quarters of decline.

This modest yet welcomed increase of 3,200 new jobs comes after a year that saw 57,500 jobs cut from higher education, according to data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Essential Pittsburgh
5:53 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Senator Bob Casey Sponsors the ABLE Act to Support People with Disabilities

Credit 401kcalculator.org / Flickr

For the first time since the early 1990’s, major legislation for people with disabilities is poised to be approved by Congress.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also known as the ABLE Act could make it possible for disabled people to live independently and work without fear of losing important benefits. The ABLE Act just passed the House and is now making its way through the Senate.

Bob Casey, a US Senator representing Pennsylvania has been sponsoring the legislation. He joins us along with Jillian Zacks, an estate attorney specializing in special needs planning, and a mother of 2 children on the autism spectrum.

Jillian Zacks recommends the website 21andAble.org for those aiding young adults with disabilities who are transitioning into adulthood.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:43 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Soloists Luca Sbrizzi and Gabrielle Thurlow Prepare for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Nutcracker

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Soloists Luca Sbrizzi and Gabrielle Thurlow
Aimee DiAndrea

Pointe Magazine has included Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre soloists Luca Sbrizzi and Gabrielle Thurlow among its Top 10 Standout Performances of 2014. The dancers, who will be featured in PBT’s production of the holiday classic The Nutcracker, take a moment from their rehearsal to speak with us.

Essential Pittsburgh
5:40 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

How Does a Book Become a Bestseller?

In today's publishing world, what does it take to go from a manuscript to a bestselling author?
Credit m01229 / Flickr

Thousands of people set out to write a book each year and get it published. Many hope to see their book turn into a bestseller.

But even when a writer tries to do everything right, there’s still no guarantee of success. For that reason, Irina Reyn, an Assistant professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the book “What Happened to Anna K?” has developed an undergraduate course focused how a manuscript becomes a book and how a book becomes a bestseller.

She joins us along with Mitch Hoffman, Executive Editor at Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette, to discuss what it takes to get a new book into the hands of readers.

Allegheny County
5:33 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

Wagner Criticizes Health Services at County Jail

“This is the most damning audit in terms of the findings in my tenure,” says Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

The controller is referring to an audit of Corizon, the Tennessee-based firm contracted to manage the infirmary and health care for inmates at the County Jail. Corizon provides health services at other jails and prisons across the country, including Rikers in New York

Wagner said Corizon, which is paid $11 million a year, is failing to provide clinical care to inmates. 

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Environment & Energy
3:51 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

DEP Gives Gas Industry Group $150,000 Grant To Study Drilling

In this Monday, June 25, 2012, file photo, a crew works on a drilling rig at a well site for shale based natural gas in Zelienople, Pa.
Credit AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The state Department of Environmental Protection has awarded a $150,000 non-competitive grant to an industry-backed nonprofit organization. The money was allocated in last year’s state budget specifically for “independent research regarding natural gas drilling.”

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Community
3:31 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

PTI Students Learn While Spreading Holiday Cheer

Students at Pittsburgh Technical Institute have once again volunteered to create an hour-long music and light show this holiday season.

It’s the fourth year in a row that the college’s School of Energy and Electronics Technology has produced the show.

Dave Becker, academic chair for the Smart Building Technology and Electronics Engineering Technology, said students are excited to see people enjoy the fruits of their labor.

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New Aluminum
1:45 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

New ALCOA Aluminum Could Create Better Cars

A new type of aluminum could change the way cars are made, making them lighter stronger and greener.

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa’s Micromill® takes molten metal and turns it into an aluminum coil in 20 minutes; previously the process took 20 days. It creates a product unlike any seen before.

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Government & Politics
9:47 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Spokesman: Private Donors Will Bankroll Wolf Transition

In a break with recent history, Governor-elect Tom Wolf's transition will be paid for by private donations, not tax dollars.

A spokesman said Wolf will not take the $250,000 estimated by the state budget secretary to cover the costs of setting up offices for the changeover.

Instead, private donations will be accepted and disclosed on the Wolf's transition website by inauguration day, January 20. Late donations will be disclosed 30 days after the fact, said spokesman Jeff Sheridan.

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