News

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Since the 1970s, the AFL-CIO labor union has set April 28 as National Worker’s Memorial Day — a day to honor those who’ve lost their lives while on the job. There were nine work-related deaths in Allegheny County last year, but many more in the U.S.

“In the United States, there’s about 150 people that die every day on count of work-related injuries and illnesses,” said Jack Shea, president of the Allegheny County Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman introduced a bill Tuesday that he said will save the city between $10,000 and $20,000 a year. He said that’s how much it costs to print and mail residential parking permit stickers and renewal notices.

The legislation would call on the Pittsburgh Parking Authority to provide residents the option to renew parking permits online and do away with the sticker system, instead relying on license plate recognition technology.

Buzzword Pgh

PNC announced on Saturday that it will grant $1.5 million to Buzzword Pittsburgh, an organization in Homewood that engages families with young children to develop vocabulary and language practices. Buzzword is one project of the Grow Up Great initiative supported by the Carnegie Science Center, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. Sally McCrady, president and chair of the PNC Foundation, describes PNC's investment and Buzzword Pittsburgh.

Describing the efforts of Buzzword Pittsburgh to connect with children, McCrady explains:

"Fun is the key here, and our partners have just done a fabulous job of working together to create really fun activities that the whole family can be engaged in and really focus and take advantage of kids' natural sense of curiosity." -- Sally McCrady

Also in the program, retired Colonel Stuart Herrington shares stories from Vietnam in a new PBS documentary, Margaret J. Krauss tells the story of South Park and business contributor Rebecca Harris describes the business of medical devices.

Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities must do more to comply with federal laws meant to ensure campus safety, according to a new report from the state auditor general.

The audit finds uneven adherence to Title IX, which bans sex-based discrimination among the 14 universities that make up the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Chancellor Frank Brogan said inconsistent policies the federal law could lead to poor enforcement or even a willingness to skimp on oversight.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Sheila Gold met her best friend Joan Dufore under tragic circumstances: Dufore is the mother of the woman whose liver Gold received after she was diagnosed with liver disease.

Dufore, of Norwalk, Ohio, said her daughter always had an altruistic streak, begging her parents to adopt the orphans she saw on television commercials for the nonprofit Save the Children.

“She always wanted to save people and … I always told her ‘We can’t save the world,’ but she did,” Dufore said. “She saved six people.”

Attorney General Kathleen Kane engaged in a cover-up and lied about her role in an alleged unlawful leak of information from a 2009 investigation, according to a report by the grand jury that recommended she face criminal charges.

"The testimony of Attorney General Kane was not an honest account of the events, and she mischaracterized events to cover up activities undertaken at her direction to unlawfully release documents subject to grand jury secrecy," said the report released Monday, three months after its recommendations were made public.

The state of Pennsylvania has filed a motion in Commonwealth Court that would force UPMC and Highmark to enter into arbitration to settle a dispute that could force some 180,000 Medicare Advantage recipients to look for new doctors or new coverage options.

AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

With a casualty count climbing into the thousands following this weekend’s devastating earthquake in Nepal, some in the Pittsburgh community are looking for ways to provide the country relief.

Updated at 4 p.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has stepped away from its threat to file a First Amendment lawsuit against the Plum Borough School District for trying to restrict students' comments on social media about the investigation into sexual misconduct by at least two teachers. Plum Superintendent Timothy Glasspool clarified the district's position on its website late Monday morning following the threatened suit, as well as a student protest.

At Penn State, Researchers Looking For The Next Big Thing In Infrastructure

Apr 27, 2015
Kate Lao Shaffner / WPSU

On the surface, Dr. Farshad Rajabipour's job might not sound that interesting. He's an associate professor of civil engineering at Penn State. And he studies concrete.

"It's actually a material that's used pretty much everywhere in the world," Rajabipour said. "It's so common that people don't notice it."

If you have ever paid your property taxes and wondered why you were making the check out to the treasurer’s name rather than to the office, you are not alone.  State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Berks) has introduced a bill that would make such a practice illegal.

“This is a very bad practice, it’s a loophole that is ripe for abuse and fraud,” Mackenzie said. “Individuals collect taxes in their name and instead of depositing it into the tax account it makes its way into their individual account.”

Many Pennsylvanians don’t know that they can choose who supplies the natural gas that comes into their homes, and many that have chosen a gas supplier have very little understanding of that relationship, according to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. 

Now the PUC has taken a step toward addressing the later.

The commission has approved a tentative order to require gas bills to set aside space for information about the company that is supplying the gas.

State Senate GOP leaders aren't in Gov. Tom Wolf's inner circle, and they aren't happy about it.

The Senate's top Republican said last week the governor should have consulted his caucus before nominating a state treasurer.

"Who wants to be nominated by the governor that's going to go to the Senate and be voted down because the governor refuses to have a conversation with the Senate?" said Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson). "That's a ridiculous position to take to try to recruit, nominate and confirm qualified people for these positions."

State Rep. Peter Daley (D-Washington) believes he has part of the solution for the $41 billion unfunded state pension crisis in Pennsylvania.

Daley says that if the retirement age for teachers and state workers was lowered it would save the state money by phasing out higher paid teachers, and bring in new lower paid teachers with a 25 percent reduction in pensions.  

The American Council on Germany

The goal of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh has been to promote a better understanding of international affairs. Since 2010 Steve Sokol has been president of the organization. Before he leaves the Steel City to take on a new role as President-Elect of the American Council on Germany, he joins us for an exit interview.

Sokol says that engaging the younger generation in global affairs is not always easy, but not doing so would leave the city at a great disadvantage:

"It's a much bigger argument to be making constantly...that what happens around the world matters to us. I firmly believe that in this increasingly multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual world of the 21st century, even if one doesn't go out into the world, the world is coming to us." -Steven Sokol

Also on today's program, Nafari Vanaski writes her final column for the Tribune-Review, and Pittsburgh's oldest commercial building is in danger of being beyond repair. 

Comcast Corporation on Saturday announced a $25,000 grant for the Sarah Heinz House on the Northside, the home of one of Pittsburgh’s many Boys and Girls Club locations.

Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen made the announcement at the start of the annual Comcast Cares Day.

“Comcast Cares Day is the largest single corporate volunteer day of service in America,” Cohen said. “Last year we had 95,000 volunteers and members of their families working on 800 projects in 35 states and 11 foreign countries.”

Regular vocabulary and comprehension programming will be available to Homewood children and families through a $1.5 million two-year grant from PNC’s Grow Up Great initiative.

The six partners in the initiative – Carnegie Science Center, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy – tested the program this past fall at various Homewood locations. The Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children has worked in Homewood for several years providing opportunities for early education and development. PAEYC’s Early Learning Hub in Homewood was one of the pilot locations for Buzzwords.

Home Care Workers Vote in Favor of Representation

Apr 24, 2015

An executive order from Gov. Tom Wolf to create a representative organization for Pennsylvania’s home care workers lost a key provision Thursday when a Commonwealth Court judge barred the organization from making any written policy agreements with the governor’s office.

The executive order, which Wolf signed Feb. 27, gave home care workers the ability to vote for an organization to represent them in monthly talks with an advisory group in the governor’s office. The order also allowed the representative organization to make formal written agreements with the advisory group, but that portion of the order was blocked by Commonwealth Court President Judge Dan Pellegrini’s injunction.

As of Monday Pennsylvania, will no longer have an asset test for those wanting to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits, which are sometimes referred to as food stamps.

The requirement was put in place by the Corbett administration and Governor Tom Wolf came out against the test early in his campaign. Acting Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Ted Dallas said the state spent roughly $3.5 million a year keeping tract of the requirement.

AP Photo/Marc Levy

Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration is disputing an independent report finding his budget proposal would amount to a net tax increase for Pennsylvanians of all income levels.

John Hanger, a top aide, told reporters Friday that the Independent Fiscal Office is relying on shaky data, and overlooking the potential for economic growth under the governor’s proposed reductions in business taxes.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Started in the 1870s, Arbor Day is the nation’s oldest environmental holiday, and it’s now celebrated around the world. In Pittsburgh, groups of volunteers gathered at West Penn Park in Polish Hill Friday to plant new trees in honor of Arbor Day.

Gov. Tom Wolf has said he just wants to give in-home care workers a voice.

Under a partial injunction issued Thursday, that voice would be somewhat muted.

Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini has ruled that direct care workers can still elect a representative, who can still meet with state officials about things like standards, training, working conditions. But Pellegrini barred the parties from putting any agreement in writing.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

Don’t be fooled by Buffalo Drive just outside South Park; there are no buffalo there. Instead, you’ll find the park’s 11 resident bison on a small turnoff marked “Game Preserve.”

You have your usual suburbs, and then here you got a park with great big animals in it,” said South Park’s naturalist, John Doyle. He and Gregory Hecker care for the herd. 

Brock Fleeger / flickr

Former Pirates pitcher Kent Tekulve was known as a workhorse out of the bullpen during his 16 year Major League Baseball career. He led the majors in games pitched four times, appearing in 90 or more in three different seasons. Tekulve saved three games in the 1979 World Series including the winner, as the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles. But the biggest save of his life came last fall when he received a life-saving heart transplant. Teke, as he is known, joins us to talk about his recovery and return to the airwaves as a member of the Pirates broadcast team.

Kent Tekulve (starting at 28:10) remains humble despite all of his successes:

I never thought of myself as a Hall of Famer. I think I'm just very proud to be able to do what I was able to do and to compete against a whole lot of Hall of Famers and have some success against them while I was playing.

Also in today's show: Pittsburgh design firm MAYA and StoryCorps team up to create a mobile version of the StoryCorps recording and archiving experience, and the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds begin their season, giving the sport of Ultimate Disc a firm foothold in the Pittsburgh area. 

Gov. Tom Wolf said Thursday he would veto a state proposal to eradicate local sick-leave laws in Pennsylvania if it reaches his desk.

The measure, which passed the Republican-controlled state Senate with bipartisan support last week, aims to preempt a Philadelphia law requiring businesses with 10 or more employees to give workers an hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Richard Borean / Tax Foundation

In 2015, Americans as a whole will spend less on food, clothing and housing combined than they will on taxes.

That’s according to the Tax Foundation, which announced Saturday marks Pennsylvania’s Tax Freedom Day.

Economist Kyle Pomerleau said this day shows when Pennsylvania residents have earned enough money to pay their total tax bill for the year.  The nonpartisan organization collects this information for all of the states as well as the U.S. as a whole.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

In the wake of several incidents of violence in Monroeville, including a shooting and 100-plus person fight, municipal leaders and local law enforcement have announced they are working together to stop the violence.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said part of the problem is drugs. When law enforcement cracked down on drug sales in Homewood, he said operations began to move out of the city into areas such as Monroeville.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Spring Gallery Crawl will look a little more like a pub crawl this season.

The Trust has partnered with Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week to bring 11 taste-testing stations to the Cultural District’s quarterly arts festival.

Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week may be ending, but there’s still fun to be had in town this weekend.    

On Friday, Star Wars fans should make their way to the Carnegie Science Center faster than the Millennium Falcon doing the Kessel Run for 21+ SciFri.

For artistically-inclined night owls, Art All Night 18 will take over the Willow Street Warehouse in Lawrenceville Saturday through Sunday (a full 24 hours of free fun!)

On Saturday evening, Ka-Blam! A  Fundraiser for Toonseum will be treating guests to caricature drawings, DJ-spun tunes, refreshments and more while raising funds for Toonseum.  

The Urbanist Release Party & PGH Spring Thing will give guests a preview of food and drink from the newest restaurants in town (hint: The Vandal, The Ballroom, Bread &  Salt, etc.)  

Julie Sokolow

Independent filmmaker and Pittsburgher Julie Sokolow first met David Matthews hanging out in coffee shops and around town. Eventually he found her on Facebook and messaged her, suggesting she make a movie about him.

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