Deanna Garcia

General Assignment Reporter

Deanna fell in love with public radio in 2001, when she landed her first job at an NPR station: KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, NM, where she also attended college. After graduating with a degree in journalism and mass communications, she spent a summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern at NPR's Morning Edition. Following that, she was a reporter/All Things Considered Host at WXXI in Rochester, NY. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Deanna was the local All Things Considered host for KUNC in northern Colorado. In her spare time, Deanna enjoys watching movies and TV shows on DVD (the Golden Girls and Little House on the Prairie are among her favorites), bicycling, yard work, and reading.

 

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Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council got an earful at a public hearing Thursday on paid sick days legislation. The measure was put on hold by council last week to allow for amendments and a public hearing. 

The most visible attendees were pro-sick days legislation, though several came to represent the other side.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Latino Family Center is in a new Hazelwood space this month, their third since the unit first opened in 2009.

“It’s affordable to live here, and they have services like the Latino Family Center that can at least give them a sense of community and they know they have advocates in us and even if they’re trying to access something and can’t,” site director Rosamaria Cristello said. “They’ll come to us. They have that support.”

Better Bikeways Plan / BikePgh

Pittsburgh may not yet be a mecca for bicyclists and walkers, but local officials are trying to change that and make area roadways accessible for a mixture of transportation options. Efforts are not going unnoticed.

TransitCenter, a group that advocates for public transit and comprehensive transportation policies, released a report this week profiling Pittsburgh among six innovative U.S. cities for transportation policy planning. 

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

More than 50 pro-life advocates held signs and balloons outside Planned Parenthood on Liberty Avenue urging state lawmakers to investigate the organization and federal lawmakers to take action as part of a national “Women Betrayed” rally that marched on 50 cities Tuesday.

“We are out here to call for a defunding of Planned Parenthood,” said Amee Murphy, rally captain and executive director of Life Matters Journal. “The organization takes over 300,000 of unborn children every year and takes over $500 million of taxpayer funding every year, $7 million of which comes from Pennsylvania taxpayers.”

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) has been rated “outstanding” by the National Cancer Institute and has been designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Each five years we have to go through a process of self-assessment and an evaluation by outside colleagues and we’re really please this year we were labeled as ‘outstanding’ among the most elite, and of course we’re extremely excited about the funding that this brings to help to support our important research and care missions,” said Dr. Nancy E. Davidson, director of UPCI and UPMC Cancer Center.

Current and former workers in the nuclear weapons industry are eligible for compensation due to illnesses caused by their job, but some may not know how to go about getting that compensation.

The U.S. Department of Labor is hoping to help by deploying its traveling resource center around the country. Wednesday it will make a stop in southwestern Pennsylvania outlining benefits available under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.

When someone is victimized in a crime, the court can order the offender to pay the victim restitution. But according to the Office of Pennsylvania Courts, many victims never receive that restitution.

“Only 12 percent of mandated restitution is dispersed to the victims, only 12 percent which is ridiculous because these people are owed their money. A lot of people just evade; they try to avoid their restitution and this is two more bills aimed at trying to collect it for victims,” said Senator Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton County).

The next 15 years of continued technological advances and planned investment in American energy infrastructure will create some 1.5 million new energy jobs, according to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who was in Pittsburgh on Friday to launch a partnership aimed at filling some of those positions with local veterans.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Promise stewards announced Tuesday they plan to drop the scholarship's maximum four-year award from $40,000 to $30,000 beginning with the class of 2017.

City Council is slated on Wednesday to consider Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak's plain language resolution, which aims to do away with forms and other documents filled with legalese that may be hard for some people to understand.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

The Indoor Tanning Regulation Act turned one year old this month, but compliance has been slow. There are an estimated 150,000 tanning facilities in the state, and so far about 178 have registered under the act.

But advocates aren’t too worried at this point.

Rebecca Devereaux / 90.5 WESA

The world’s largest convention for furries, those fascinated with anthropomorphics, returns to Pittsburgh this weekend joining thousands of attendees Downtown in custom fursuits, ears, tails and everything in between.

“We’re expecting a little over 6,000 this year,” said Samuel Conway, convention chair and chief executive of Anthrocon Inc. “It’s had fairly steady and fairly sharp growth ever since we started.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh is on target to meet revenue expectations and possibly end with a surplus, according to City Controller Michael Lamb.

Lamb, who gave a mid-year update at the City County Building on Tuesday, said Pittsburgh made progress on its long-term debt through December despite having borrowed money in 2014. But, he said, city officials could do more.

Flickr user Carlos

As many Americans ready their grills and fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July, others are celebrating another American tradition: the barbershop quartet. Pittsburgh is the site of the week-long Barbershop Harmony Society International Convention running through Saturday.

It’s no longer four guys in boater hats and stripes, though those groups are still around – barbershop is a whole movement, encompassing many different kinds of groups from one or two men or women to 150 and more. Dallas-Based Vocal Majority is one of the big ones with 150 volunteer members.

Following the release of recommendations from Gov. Tom Wolf’s Task Force on Municipal Pensions, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said that while the recommendations do not contain every pension change he’d like to see, it’s an important start.

“We wanted to see some movement on a hybrid model, defined benefit plan, and perhaps reform state Act 205 which gives funding to cities with distressed pension plans like Pittsburgh,” said Peduto’s spokesman Tim McNulty, “but, it was an important first step.”

Google Maps

Designing roads in an area that comes to a point, rather than a square grid, is an infrastructure challenge unique to the Golden Triangle that burdens city planners with a bustling intersection joining Stanwix Street, Liberty Avenue, Penn Avenue and Forbes Avenue.

Environmental permits issued to Royal Dutch Shell could pave the way for construction of the proposed Appalachia ethane cracker in Beaver County, the Department of Environmental Protection said Monday. 

While the American West grapples with drought, lack of water isn’t much of a concern in Pennsylvania.

Still, it’s a natural resource that is finite. A bill in Harrisburg aims to promote the use of treated coal mine water rather than fresh water for natural gas development.

“It’s going to recycle the treated water that comes from a coal mine, which would typically be pumped right back into a mine to hold it,” said the bill’s sponsor Sen. Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington/Greene). “It would also really reduce the use of fresh water in the fracking process.”

When Gov. Tom Wolf took office earlier this year, one of his first items of business was implementing a gift ban. That set a ban on gifts to all political appointees and state workers. But lawmakers didn’t fall under that umbrella.

A bill (HB43) has been introduced in Harrisburg that would ban large gifts to elected officials in part to help restore public trust.

Allegheny County has announced a new medical collaboration for jail medical services, following the announcement of a parting of ways with former provider Corizon.

The private health care provider had come under fire after the death of four inmates in custody and complaints about working conditions from employees. Allegheny County announced it would not renew the contract with Corizon when it expires in August.

Starting in September, Allegheny Health Network will be the provider of health care services at Allegheny County Jail.

State Sen. Shirley Kitchen (D-Philadelphia) has introduced two separate bills to ban the sale of powdered alcohol in Pennsylvania.

“It’s odorless and it’s a powder so it can be manipulated and even the best-trained lawmen would not be able to detect this,” said Kitchen, who held a roundtable discussion about the product at Temple University in Philadelphia.

"Palcohol" can be dissolved into water and other liquid. Lawmakers, education officials, community members and others expressed concern over potential retail in Pennsylvania at Kitchen's meeting last week.

After nearly a year of study and work from water suppliers, state officials, environmental groups and others, a plan has been announced to protect drinking water from its source – the rivers.

The River Alert Information Network (RAIN) announced the Lower Allegheny Regional Partnership and the Lower Monongahela Regional Partnership. It’s a consortium of water suppliers which, in addition to protection, will employ an early-warning spill detection system.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Iggy Azalea canceled her headlining act at Pittsburgh Pride on Sunday.

The rapper wrote on Twitter, "This has been a difficult decision... however I feel my participation at this point would only serve to further distract from the true purpose of the event."

The Pennsylvania House will take up a bill that makes some changes to the Child Protective Services Law. That is the law crafted after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

“This is the bill that clarifies the existing statute requiring employees and adult volunteers who work directly with children to obtain criminal background check clearances and child abuse clearances,” said Rep. Katharine Watson (R-Bucks), the bill’s sponsor. “The legislation further delineates who is and who is not subject to those requirements.”

City Council members gave preliminary approval to updated cooperative police services agreement between city officers and University of Pittsburgh Police.

“Departments that overlap have to have agreements in place so they can share information and act in their partner’s jurisdictions,” said Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar. “The University of Pittsburgh sits in the city and quite often there are issues where our police officers are responding to an incident in the city but within the campus.”

Pittsburgh City Council approved an agreement with the city and Department of Public Safety aimed at mentoring parents of young children. “Promised Beginnings” is part of the larger Safer Together Pittsburgh initiative to improve public safety.

“It helps facilitate existing resources that are already out there by the county or private providers, bringing those resources together (and) targeting the parents of preschool children,” said Public Safety Director Stephan Bucar.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Up until Tuesday, Uber drivers were only allowed to drop off passengers at the airport, but they were not allowed to do pickups. As of late Tuesday afternoon, that will no longer be the case.

The Allegheny County Airport Authority announced a new policy which allows transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber, Lyft and Yellow Z to legally operate on airport property. TNCs connect passengers and drivers through apps.

School districts in seven western Pennsylvania counties are getting a share of $530,000 in Allegheny Intermediate Unit grants for programs that blend science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM.

OpenStreetsPGH.org

Sunday morning, 3.5 miles of roadway will be closed to vehicular traffic in Downtown and beyond for OpenStreetsPGH. The pedestrian festival is meant to get people outside and into the city.

The Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has announced that current state Sen. Matt Smith (D-Allegheny) will be its next president. Before being elected to the Senate, Smith served three terms in the state House of Representatives.

He said the work before him as head of the Chamber won’t be much different than what he’s used to.

“Workforce development, education issues, economic development and community-based issues as well as transportation infrastructure issues that we’ve worked on over the last couple of years at the state level,” said Smith.

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