News

Via: WYEP.org

The Three Rivers Arts Festival has announced its headliners, giving Pittsburghers something to look forward to later this spring.

This year’s theme for the 10-day festival, June 5-14, is UNSEEN/UNHEARD and it focuses on musicians new to the festival, emerging artists, or with new music to debut.

You take the good with the bad.

That’s what officials at the Allegheny County Health Department said about the sixth annual County Health Rankings released last week.

According to the report, the county improved from 40th to 34th in health outcomes, but fell from 15th to 19th in health factors, which include measurements of health behaviors, social and economic factors and physical environments.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget increases spending for education, among other things, but with a looming deficit, that means finding new revenue sources.

Wolf has proposed reducing the types of industries who are currently tax-exempt, among them – the arts. Under the proposal, admissions to the performing arts, museums and historical sites would be taxed at 6.6 percent. While they haven’t taken an official stance on the proposal, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) said there are some questions.

Art Store's Prices Reflect Gender Wage Gap

Apr 1, 2015
Courtesy Photo/ Elana Schlenker

Gentlemen, beware: the owner of a new Pittsburgh art store will be charging you extra.

Elana Schlenker wants her pop-up store “76<100” to raise awareness about the fact that, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median earnings of a female full-time worker in Pennsylvania is 76 cents to every dollar earned by a man. To make her point,  Schlenker will charge men full price for the artwork she sells, while women will receive a 24 percent discount.

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A county prosecutor says she'll review evidence and other material from an investigation that prompted a grand jury to recommend that Pennsylvania's attorney general be charged with perjury and other offenses.

Mary Wilson / WITF

For weeks, GOP lawmakers have been braying at Gov. Tom Wolf's budget proposal to reduce property taxes, saying it doesn't go far enough.

Farmers are also cottoning to that idea.

"We wouldn't support the proposal in its current state," said Mark O'Neill, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Every Wednesday, at a former Catholic school building in Brookline, more than 100 children gather for “People are Always Learning Something” or PALS, enrichment – a weekly co-op. The families there homeschool their children, and pretty much everyone said they’d been asked by one or more people how their children socialize if they are homeschooled.

Flickr User, Creative Commons

With many people hoping for an end to the chilly weather, one group of Pennsylvanians is eager for the cold snaps to continue.

Pennsylvanian maple camps usually produce more than 100,000 gallons of maple syrup each year, with 146,000 gallons bottled in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Essential Pittsburgh: Re-Drafting 'You and The Police'

Apr 1, 2015
macwagen / flickr

The original version of the pamphlet titled "You and The Police" has been around since the mid-1990s, published after Jonny Gammage's death during a traffic stop. Now, the Pittsburgh police bureau has collaborated with the Black Political Empowerment Project, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Citizen Police Review Board on an updated version of the brochure, which they hope will be distributed in public schools and churches across the city. The handout offers tips on how to handle interactions with the police at traffic stops, within a private home and during an arrest. B-PEP Founder Tim Stevens, ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak, and Executive Director of the CPRB Beth Pittinger explain the new information and why the city believes the pamphlet's re-introduction is necessary.  Walczak cautioned that, though he thought the brochure is helpful and would minimize negative police interactions, it wouldn't completely solve the problem. 

"There's no silver bullet. No matter how good the brochure is and how wide a distribution you put out, it's not a guarantee that everything is going to be hunky dory. You're going to have misunderstandings. Some employees, like in any business, are not going to follow the rules or do the right thing."- Vic Walczak

Also today, Joe Wos presents the story of the "world's greatest liar" (a Pittsburgh-er, of course) in honor of April Fool's Day. 


Gov. Tom Wolf is earning a reputation as a social-media savvy executive.

Wolf took to Facebook to answer questions sent in from around the state and selected by his staff. He answered about a dozen of them during the live, video-taped exchange.

Topics ranged ranging from Wolf’s budget proposal and plans for tax increases and accompanying tax relief, to his desire to raise the state’s minimum wage and sign legislation protecting Pennsylvanians from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

 The “Fight for $15” will take to the streets of Pittsburgh April 15th.

A small group of fast food workers and Pittsburgh organization heads gathered Tuesday in front of the Northside McDonalds to announce plans to strike for an increased minimum wage.

Lolene Germany, a worker at KFC, said the strike will call for fair treatment in the workplace as well as fair wages.

“We wanted to let people know that if you support what we’re doing and you feel like you’re being disrespected at work, wherever you work – at a healthcare, fast food, retail – just come out and fight with us,” Germany said. “And let them know that you’re going to get your respect and you’re going get what you deserve.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Just two years ago, your options for getting a ride in Pittsburgh were pretty much limited to public transportation, taxis, or for those in higher income brackets, executive car services and limousines.

But when ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft rode into town in with their slick mobile apps, quick response times and, in the case of Lyft, their hot pink mustaches, a sea change that had already taken hold in cities such as San Francisco and New York began closing in on the Steel City.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The city of Pittsburgh along with the Heinz Endowments has announced P4: People, Planet, Place and Performance — a framework for a model of redevelopment of city spaces.

It will consider the four “Ps” when looking at future development and will connect resources and initiatives already working in the city.

Eye On The Inside: Do Cameras In Nursing Homes Protect Or Intrude?

Mar 31, 2015
Debbie McGee / PublicSource

As suddenly as he lost his ability to speak last fall, Stuart Sanderson’s connection to the world outside his Philadelphia nursing-home room was severed because of anxiety over a simple webcam.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

The oldest park in Pittsburgh is getting a facelift. A section of Allegheny Commons around a popular Northside fountain will be rebuilt this summer.

The Allegheny Commons Initiative is a volunteer group, that up until recently was handling most park matters. The group wanted to undergo a multimillion dollar project that would restore the park to its heyday, but was met with some funding challenges.

So the Initiative partnered with Northside Leadership Conference, and with the Pittsburgh Park Conservancy.

Josh Raulerson / 90.5 WESA

For many, the mention of "homeschooling" conjures negative stereotypes about the people who practice it: Homeschool families are religious fundamentalists who shun secular society, or libertarian ideologues who reject the whole idea of public education on principle.

Chatham University

Our guest Cokie Roberts has long been familiar to NPR listeners. She offers political commentary during Morning Edition on Mondays and provides analysis for ABC News. This year, Ms. Roberts is being honored as Chatham University’s Elsie Hillman Chair in Women and Politics. On Wednesday she’ll present the lecture An Insider’s View on Washington, D.C.

Asked about how she manages her own political beliefs when reporting on political issues, Roberts explains:

"When you do it as long as I have, you stop, really, having political beliefs. You care about the issues, and you care that people understand the issues, but you see both sides all the time. And you see people who make a lot of sense on one side, and people who don't make any sense on the same side and vice versa. So it's really a question of just trying to explain it." -- Cokie Roberts

Also in the program, Career Consultant Sasha King offers up tips for peer evaluations, Margaret J. Krauss re-lives Pittsburgh's Whiskey Rebellion and business contributor Rebecca Harris preps us for impending holy holidays with the business of Easter. 


State environmental officials have granted a request to give the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County more time to include more "green" solutions to the region's sewer system problems.

The antiquated sewers overflow during heavy rains because storm drains are tied to sewers in a way no longer permitted under environmental laws.

The department said Monday that it will provide an 18-month extension to a March 30 deadline for a plan to fix the problem.

Area educators gathered Monday to discuss best practices in promoting student achievement in public education at the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s first Learning Together conference.

The day-long conference featured 50 round-table discussions and sessions showcasing what regional educators do to increase achievement in schools.

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit is one of 29 units in Pennsylvania. It provides specialized education services to the 42 suburban Allegheny county school districts.

Flickr user Joseph A

There are currently 19 cities and boroughs in Pennsylvania designated as “distressed” municipalities under Act 47, including Pittsburgh, Braddock, Rankin, Duquesne and Clairton in Allegheny County.

A State House bill meant to help those municipalities identify ways to make their operations more efficient may end up not doing that at all.

Courtesy Photo/ ADI

Pennsylvania Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) is finalizing a bill that would ban "exotic animals" from circus performances in Pennsylvania.

The bill follows an announcement by Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus that “The Greatest Show on Earth” will phase out use of elephants by 2018. Leach said this was a step in the right direction, but his bill goes further.

Submitted

Beatrice Dias has asthma, and her three-year-old has had his own respiratory issues, so she installed a personal air monitoring device known as a Speck to see if the air in her home was contributing to their health problems.

“It was as simple as turning on the hood vent above the stove and realizing, ‘wait, the air quality is getting worse, what am I doing wrong? This was supposed to be good for it,’” she said. “But then I followed the trajectory of the air and realized the hood vent was just venting the air up as opposed out of the house.”

Revelations like this is why the Community Robotics Education and Technology Empowerment (CREATE) Lab began selling Speck Monday.  The air quality monitor detects fine particulates in a room by using a fan to create a vacuum that sucks the matter into the sensor.

A recent survey by Erie Insurance found that drivers are doing everything from playing the guitar to public displays of affection while driving.

The survey asked about 1,900 people what kind of distractions they found other drivers doing, and what behaviors they were engaging in themselves.

Pittsburgh City Council will take a final vote Tuesday to approve a $500,000 state grant to renovate Knoxville Library.

The Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Award would help cover the costs of adding a second public meeting space and a new teen area to the library, as well as structural updates to comply with ADA accessibility mandates.

According to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Assistant Director of Neighborhood Libraries Mary Monaghan, the Knoxville branch was built in the 1960s and hasn’t been renovated since.

Essential Pittsburgh: Celebrating Courageous Women in Journalism

Mar 30, 2015
James McGrath Morris

As Women’s History Month comes to a close we’ll celebrate the achievements of Ethel Payne. The pioneering journalist was the third African American in history given a White House press pass. In his new book Eye on the Struggle, our guest James McGrath Morris chronicles the life of Ethel Payne.

Morris talks about just one of the many legacies left by Ethel Payne:

" One of the legacies of her story is a constant reminder of who has a seat at the table makes an enormous difference. And as each group begins to gain rights-- gay rights, transsexual rights, Hispanic rights--whatever group. If those folks are not at the table, not asking questions of those in power... The groups who are there will fail to ask the questions that are significant for that audience." -- James McGrath Morris

Also in the hour, independent director and presenter at Pittsburgh's first Humanities Festival John Sayles  discusses the past and present of independent cinema. Then, the Director of International Media, Advocacy and Communications at Columbia University Anya Schiffrin visits City of Asylum and recalls a century of global investigative journalism.  


Task Force Would Increase Prostate Cancer Awareness

Mar 29, 2015

One in six Pennsylvania men will suffer from prostate cancer in his lifetime. One in 30 dies from the disease, more than the national average, according to the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition.

Legislation has been introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate to create the Prostate Cancer Task Force through the Department of Health.

Seven participants in the 18-member task force will be healthcare professionals with experience treating prostate cancer, according to the text of the bill.

Saturday is the national opening day for trails, and even though the Three Rivers Heritage Trail stays open year round, the Friends of the Riverfront will be out planting trees to get the trail ready for heavy traffic.

The opening day also corresponds with the release of a survey conducted by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to evaluate users and economic impact. It found that the Three Rivers Trail has one of the greatest numbers of yearly visits and has among the highest economic impact of the trails surveyed by Rails-to-Trails. The group, which advocates for turning old train rails into trails, has done about 14 economic impact and user surveys, mostly in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Christopher Lancaster / Flickr

The Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN)  announced on Thursday the creation of a subcommittee tasked with developing a Customer Assistance Program, similar to those available for electricity and natural gas utilities.

Two unrelated missing persons cases were solved when the bodies of the men each surfaced separately downstream in a river in West Virginia in recent days — with the death of one of the Pittsburgh men now being treated as a homicide, police said.

The cases of Andre Gray, 34, and Paul Kochu, 22, aren't related, except by the coincidence that their bodies each surfaced in the Ohio River in recent days, likely because of the spring thaw, city police Cmdr. RaShall Brackney said at a Thursday night news conference. Bodies can remain submerged for weeks or months when rivers are icy or the water is near freezing, but rise to the surface as temperatures warm.

In Kentucky, A Prairie Made By Coal

Mar 27, 2015
Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Patrick Angel pulls his pickup truck off a small road in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, and points to a long ridge covered with dried, brown grass.

“If you didn’t know where you were, you'd think you were standing in a prairie land in South Dakota or Wyoming, because it’s all grass,” says Angel, a forester with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).

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