Essential Pittsburgh
2:15 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Are Local Prosecutors to Blame for Failure to Prosecute Police?

Credit David Harris

The public outcry over the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men, at the hands of white police officers continues to spark protests around the country. 

One of the many legal aspects being called into question in these instances is the role of local prosecutors taking the cases to grand juries. Pitt Law Professor David Harris examines the part that local prosecutors have played in these cases.

Harris says that local prosecutors often have ties to police departments, thus producing a possible conflict of interest. Although sometimes local prosecutors do indeed prosecute police, Harris acknowledges that concerns about impartiality are justifiable.

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:09 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Untold Stories behind Holiday Songs

Credit Pamla J. Eisenberg / Flickr

From “Jingle Bells” to “White Christmas,” many of our most popular holiday songs have interesting stories behind them. Pop culture contributor Joe Wos tells us the stories behind some of our favorite holiday songs.

Wos singles out “Jingle Bells” as possibly the first Christmas pop song. Originally intended as a Thanksgiving song, “Jingle Bells” became a popular drinking song and ultimately became associated with Christmas.

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Essential Pittsburgh
1:59 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Why US Representative Mike Doyle Voted against the Latest Spending Bill

Credit US House of Representatives

Four days ago, Congress put final approval on a long term one-trillion dollar funding bill, the main item on the year's agenda. The measure provides money for nearly the entire government through September 30, 2015.

But the spending bill has plenty of critics, including Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who called it "the worst of government for the rich and powerful.”

Pittsburgh Congressman Mike Doyle voted against the bill and explains that he did so because it contains “egregious provisions,” including a rider that allows banks to make risky investments that are FDIC insured, thus putting taxpayers at risk for private investment. Citigroup actually wrote the terms of the provision, Doyle emphasizes.

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City Government
7:52 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Facing Tough Budget Obligations, Pittsburgh Sees Opportunities in Grant Funding

As Pittsburgh struggles with financial obligations such as increased health care and pension costs, it still wants to pursue initiatives that improve quality of life. That's where grant funding comes in.
Credit AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Leigh Halverson is the deputy chief of staff for economic development in the Peduto administration, and on one wall of her office is a row of pink post it notes, with different dollar amounts written on them.

“$440,000 from the foundations this year to support our Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment,” she says. “$200,000 from the National League of Cities for our Healthy Together campaign … $75,000 for our green and healthy homes initiative.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
12:09 am
Wed December 17, 2014

Wednesday Rundown: Weighing the Power of Local Prosecutors

Credit Emmanuel / Flickr

These topics air Wednesday December 17, 2014 at noon and 8pm on 90.5 WESA. Join the conversation LIVE between 12pm & 1 pm weekdays at 412-246-2002.

Local Prosecutors

The public outcry over the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two unarmed black men, at the hands of white police officers continues to spark protests around the country. One of the many legal aspects being called into question in these instances is the role of local prosecutors taking the cases to grand juries. We’ll examine the part local prosecutors have played in these cases with Pitt Law Professor David Harris.

US Representative Mike Doyle Explains His Vote on the Spending Bill

Four days ago, Congress put final approval on a long term one-trillion dollar funding bill, the main item on the year's agenda. The measure provides money for nearly the entire government through September 30, 2015. But the spending bill has plenty of critics including Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who called it "the worst of government for the rich and powerful.” Pittsburgh Congressman Mike Doyle voted against the bill and he joins us to explain his decision. 

Holiday Songs

From Jingle Bells to White Christmas, pop culture contributor Joe Wos gives us the stories behind some of our favorite holiday songs.

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Essential Pittsburgh
8:10 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

The Story Behind Andy Warhol's 13 Most Wanted

A recreation of Andy Warhol’s “13 Most Wanted Men” banner was installed for the opening of the Warhol Museum's exhibition.
Courtesy of the Warhol Museum Twitter

Fifty years ago, the 1964 World’s Fair opened in Queens, New York. The organizers commissioned work from Andy Warhol, to be displayed on the facade of the New York State Pavilion, one of the fair’s main venues. 

According to Jessica Beck, assistant curator at The Warhol Museum, the NY World's Fair was all about “Peace through understanding, and man’s place in this changing and shrinking world.” 

She says it was meant to be a family-friendly attraction. 

But at that time, Andy Warhol was still experimenting with pop art, and growing in notoriety. For his commissioned work, Warhol created “Thirteen Most Wanted Men,” a mural composed of 22 head-and-shoulder mug shots taken from a booklet created by the New York City Police Department with images of the most wanted criminals of 1962. The painting, unsurprisingly, caused a scandal. 

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Essential Pittsburgh
7:29 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Pittsburgh Maintains Low Unemployment, But Blue Collar Jobs Still Struggle

Construction workers standing below the PNC Tower being erected in Downtown Pittsburgh
Credit Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh continues to have lower levels of unemployment than most similarly sized cities such as: Indianapolis, Kansas City and Cleveland. 

The Steel City weathered the economic crisis of 2008 better than just about any of these cities and its low unemployment and housing prices have drawn residents back to the area. But will this trend continue?

Mark Price, a labor economist with the left-leaning Keystone Research Center in Harrisburg, discusses Pittsburgh’s prospects going forward. In particular, he explains that economic recovery has not yet affected those in blue collar jobs. 

“Two sectors that are going to be important for Pittsburgh, two sectors that have not performed well at all for obvious reasons would be manufacturing and construction… that reflects the deepness and the nature of the recession.”

Overall, however, Price does feel good about the economy going forward.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:56 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Are You A PANK Or A PUNK? What These Demographics Mean for Business

"What more can we say?"- Essential Pittsburgh Assistant Producer and resident PANK, Heather McClain
Credit Sarahnaut / Flickr

In today’s competitive marketplace, companies are always looking for the next overlooked demographic to exploit. Some past examples include Young Upward Professionals (Yuppies) and couples known as DINKs (double income no kids).

The next overlooked demographic to get its own nickname are PANKs, which stands for: Professional Aunts, No Kids. 

Business contributor Rebecca Harris explains the PANK concept and their effect on the marketplace.

She says this group consists of child-loving women who do not have children of their own, and no, they're not spinsters

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Public Safety
5:19 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Police to Test Electronic Gunshot-Detection System in Homewood

Pittsburgh police plan to test an electronic gunshot-detection system later this month in a three square mile area stretching from the East Hills to East Liberty.

Councilman Ricky Burgess, who represents the neighborhoods, said there are three reasons for installing the ShotSpotter system, which can pinpoint the location and direction of shots fired.

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Business
2:59 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Southwest Airlines Ground Crew Union Protests at Pittsburgh International Airport

Members of Transport Workers Union of America’s Local 555 picketed Southwest Airlines at the Pittsburgh International Airport Tuesday, distributing flyers and holding signs as part of a larger protest involving 15 airports.

The union of grounds crew workers including ramp, operations and freight agents is in mediation with Southwest Airlines since the contract became amendable in June 2011. Under the Railway Labor Act, airline labor agreements do not expire, rather, they become amendable. Until the amendments are agreed upon, the previous contract is upheld.

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