News

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

 

There are two county-wide uniformed public safety forces in Allegheny County, the county police department and county sheriff’s deputies. 

While most of their efforts are separate, there are a few spots of overlap.

“So that raises the question, does Allegheny County need two police departments?” said Allegheny County Government Reform Commission member Jim Nowalk,

A report by the commission, released Tuesday, includes a call for the formation of a taskforce to review the possibility of a merger.

Rebekah Zook / 90.5 WESA

Deanna Blincow has been working with the Orphan Care Ministry since its conception in 2007, and serving as its director since 2012.

Within this time frame, she has witnessed at least 25 families she knows personally go through the intense process of adopting a child, and has counseled countless others.

“My husband and I adopted two children out of an orphanage in Russia, so we did an international adoption about 17 years ago. That’s really what started it for us,” Blincow said.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The state has an entire agency dedicated, at least in part, to the men and women who have served in the military.

The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs boasts 22,000 military and civilian personnel. It manages veterans homes and administers a variety of veteran benefits and outreach initiatives.

But for Joe Peters, Republican candidate for state attorney general, “it’s simply not enough.”

Tim Lambert / WITF

Pennsylvania is facing a $2.9 million deficit in the fund that supports its oversight of oil and gas wells in the next fiscal year, according to a projection from Governor Tom Wolf’s budget office.

David Brossard / flickr

A team of nine volunteers in Allegheny County, over the last year, has been reviewing every aspect of county government. This review, required by law, must be done every ten years. WESA’s Mark Nootbaar is reporting on the series of recommendations released by the commission and joins us to discuss the government review commission.

Early Dyslexia Identification Essential For Student Success

Mar 31, 2016
Sam Greenhalgh / flickr

20 percent of school-aged children in the United State are impacted by dyslexia or similar language-based disorders. Because it’s an invisible disability, dyslexia is difficult to diagnose, especially in young children. New research suggests early detection could be key in ensuring these students receive the services they need to succeed. We’ll ask Pittsburgh Region Chair Christine Seppi and board member Daphne Uliana of the Pennsylvania Branch of the International Dyslexia Association about new pilot programs and legislature moving through the Commonwealth. The annual conference is being held next week.

Third and fourth grade students with dyslexia are invited to enroll at Provident Charter School in Troy Hill, which opens this fall. 

General Michael Hayden On Counterterrorism Techniques

Mar 31, 2016
William B. Plowman / AP Images

How far should a country go “in the name of national security?” For retired Air Force 4 Star General Michael Hayden, it’s all about the circumstance.

In his new book “Playing to the Edge,” Hayden addresses both the good and bad accounts of enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation.

Mark Nootbar / 90.5 WESA

When the Allegheny County Home Rule Charter Commission was formed in 1997, the members decided it was time to move away from having three full-time commissioners running the county, and instead it was time to have a single full-time executive and a 15-member county council. 

“I think right now, we have a citizens council and I don’t want to make it a career thing, like a state legislature or Pittsburgh City Council,” said Allegheny County Council Member Charles Martoni who was also a member of the first council in 2000. “I think it works pretty well the way it is.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Members and allies of the transgender community are gathering in Pittsburgh on Thursday to raise awareness about transgender issues.

Events celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility are taking place across the state, including the Steel City at 6 p.m. at the Persad Center in Lawrenceville.

Members of the local transgender community are planning to share their personal stories and how they’ve been affected by discrimination.

Kim McAninch

  A non-traditional business model is helping to bring together a local artist and a wide range of prospective clients.

Marie Silver lives in San Diego but was able to discover and connect with an artist from Pittsburgh through an app on her phone. Kim McAninch lives and works Downtown and loves the freedom and flexibility that her online presence affords her.

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

It's a great day, better than a Steelers game.

That's the message Braddock Mayor and U.S. senatorial candidate John Fetterman shared with scores of fans and supporters flocking to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center early Thursday for Bernie Sanders' first Pittsburgh campaign stop.

When The Fracking Boom Goes Bust

Mar 30, 2016
Reid Frazier / Allegheny Front

    

At Jerry Lee’s Emporium in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, there was a sign on the front door, handwritten in marker: “Store closing for good.”

Jerry Lee Edwards opened the store in 2014. He came from southern West Virginia to sell clothes to workers in Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry. 

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of teachers, parents and alumni attended a Penn Hills School District board meeting Tuesday night, to protest a decision to furlough more than 40 teachers.

The district will also cut more than 20 elective courses including arts, law and math courses. 

The school board voted 7-2 in favor of the plan. The changes go into effect at the end of this school year.

Superintendent Nancy Hines said the district has been fighting for its life and faces a possible state takeover. Last year, Penn Hills had to borrow $20 million and anticipates a deficit this year.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

For 13 years, Allegheny County has had a five-member accountability, conduct and ethics commission, and in that time it has never launched an investigation of its own. Not because its members have been remise in their duties, but because the commission does not have that power. 

That would change if the Allegheny County Government Review Commission had anything to say about it.

Guster / Facebook

It was love at first tweet.

At the request of the band, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto joined 91.3 WYEP's Brian Siewiorek on Wednesday to announce the headlining act for this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Guster will take the stage Friday, June 10. 

The band, which hails from Boston, Mass. requested an introduction by the mayor after Guster played a short acoustic set in front of dumpster on the North Side earlier this year.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With 23 recommendations and more than 60 pages of explanations and supporting documents, the residents of Allegheny County have a lot to deal with now that the Government Review Commission has released its report.

“The whole idea of self government is to improve as much as we possibly can on a daily, weekly, yearly basis. So, I think our commission can be very helpful and be a guide to (Allegheny County) council and the (County) executive,” Mark Forester, the Allegheny County Government Review Commission chair said.

Understanding Islam: Voices From Pittsburgh

Mar 30, 2016
World Affairs Council

Islam is practiced by1.6 billion people around the world and is often misunderstood by many non-Muslims. On this special edition of Essential Pittsburgh, we present a discussion on the beliefs and practices of Islam held before a live audience at the Community Broadcast Center in cooperation with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. Our special guests include Safdar Khwaja, President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Wasi Mohammed, Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh.

Canadian2006 / Wikimedia Commons

An adult homicide charge has been filed against a 14-year-old Mount Pleasant boy after he allegedly shot and killed his 13-year-old friend while playing with a handgun in a neighbor’s house.

A Westmoreland County judge will now have to decide whether to decertify the case, which would send it to juvenile court for a maximum possible sentence of seven years, when the boy would turn 21.

Monroeville attorney Patrick Thomassey, who has represented juveniles facing adult charges, said the limitations of juvenile courts' jurisdictions in Pennsylvania make that a tough choice.

Wikimedia Commons

Drug-related deaths are usually ruled accidental.

But one Pennsylvania coroner said he's ruling some overdoses homicides. Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling said he’s not the first in Pennsylvania to interpret toxicology reports in that way and that it's legal. 

Drug-related deaths are on the rise in Pennsylvania - the state saw more than 2,700 in 2014. That's an increase of 13 percent from the year before. Among all overdoses, heroin is the most frequently identified drug. 

Melinda Roeder / 90.5 WESA

A Pittsburgh-based company is finding new ways to use eye-tracking technology to help children with disabilities learn language skills at a younger age by playing digital games. Now the video gaming industry is taking notice.

Tobii Dynavox has been making devices to help nonverbal patients communicate with the help of computer-assisted voice technology. Many of their customers are stroke survivors and adults with degenerative diseases like ALS, in which sufferers lose muscle control. But the company is now looking to expand their devices to young children, and even toddlers.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

From police body cameras to consent decrees to excessive use of force, almost every legal question you can imagine is covered in University of Pittsburgh law professor David Harris’ new podcast, Criminal (In)Justice. Inspired by heightened public interest in law enforcement and the legal system, Harris says he’s using the podcast to have in-depth conversation about issues pertinent to listeners.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

  For Pennsylvania lawmakers, the problem of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan has served as a rallying cry, a teachable moment and, now, a political cudgel.

This month, House and Senate members were determined not to waste Michigan’s crisis, invoking it to propel their own efforts to minimize lead exposure from old house paint and water pipes. But as some touted legislation, one House Republican criticized the governor’s office for not springing into action in the same way.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Minimum starting salaries for entry-level positions at UPMC will jump from $11.73 an hour to $15 by 2021, officials announced Tuesday.

The Man Who Watches U.S. Government Spending In Afghanistan

Mar 29, 2016
Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction will deliver "An Existential Threat: U.S. Oversight of and Responses to Corruption in Afghanistan" tomorrow on the University of Pittsburgh campus. He joins us to discuss his presentation which will focus on how to train future generations of America's foreign policy professionals to deal with complex problems in insecure environments.

Kamran Jebreili / AP

 

Vice President Joe Biden will be in Pittsburgh next week to address campus sexual assault.

Biden's speech at the University of Pittsburgh on Tuesday will be the first in a multi-city tour as part of the White House's "It's On Us" campaign.

Listen Live:

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The financial oversight authority created by the state legislature now has a full five-member board. For several months, the board was down to two members.

The city is currently suing the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority for withholding gambling tax revenue when, the city said, the board had open seats and no legal right to withhold the money. For months, the board was down to two members until Gov. Tom Wolf, Sen. Jay Costa and Rep. Frank Dermody appointed members in the last month.

Felipe Dana / AP

  Post updated March 29 at 5 p.m. 

The aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the Zika virus is present in Pennsylvania, and there are now 11 confirmed cases of people who became infected with the virus while traveling abroad.

And Allegheny County officials announced Tuesday afternoon the first confirmed case of Zika locally, contracted by a man who had visited "an affected area." 

But public health officials keep saying the risk of contracting the disease is slim to none. Have you ever wondered why?

Ben Allen / WITF

 

The opioid addiction crisis in Pennsylvania isn't just impacting adults, it's taking a toll on babies in the wombs of mothers who use prescription pain killers, heroin or Fentanyl.

WITF reporter Ben Allen recently reported on the issue for NPR and he spoke with WESA's Larkin Page-Jacobs about what he learned while working on the story. Allen said he visited a hospital in Harrisburg where they treat infants born addicted to opioids.

Porter Prize Recipient Presents The Case For Vaccinations

Mar 29, 2016
Partha Sahana / flickr

Awarded in recognition of an individual’s exceptional performance in health promotion and disease prevention, the Porter Prize is a prestigious honor. The recipient of this year’s award is our guest Dr. Paul Offit, a physician, educator, virologist and author.  He is also the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  

David Goldman / AP

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are organizing in Pennsylvania as some Republican Party leaders are shifting their support in the contested primary.

Pennsylvania's April 26th primary is four weeks away, and voter registration is now closed with just over 4 million Democrats and more than 3 million Republicans.

State figures show that Democrats raked in more new voters in 2016, but more voters switched their registration to Republican. Both are down slightly from surges in 2008.

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