Liz Reid

Editor

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a General Assignment Reporter and Weekend Host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition Producer, Health & Science Reporter and currently as an Editor. Liz came to Pittsburgh from KRPS public radio in Southeast Kansas, where she was a Feature Producer and the local host of All Things Considered. Previously, Liz interned and freelanced at KQED public radio in San Francisco. She has an MA in Broadcast & Electronic Communication Arts from San Francisco State University, where she also taught audio production classes. She’s done stints working in academia and the music industry, but she’s happiest in a public radio setting. When Liz is not reporting and hosting at 90.5 WESA, she likes to play baseball, cook, read and go camping.

Ways to Connect

James Myers / SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania

Registered nurses at UPMC Altoona stepped off the job for a one-day strike on Tuesday.

Tammy Morgan, a nurse in the Behavioral Health Inpatient Unit, said many of the hospital’s 750 nurses are on the picket line today.

“We don’t know exactly how many, but there’s hundreds of people out there,” Morgan said. “We have lots of community people going by honking. We have other people in the community standing with us. Everybody’s riled up, chanting, marching up and down the sidewalks.”

City Council dug into the nitty gritty of Mayor Bill Peduto’s personnel restructuring plan in their committee meeting Wednesday.

Matt Barron, Peduto’s policy advisor, was on hand to explain the changes and answer questions from council. Not every change went over well, but the mayor’s plan to add a second grants officer to the Department of Finance was receive with enthusiasm. Barron said this position would be specifically charged with seeking out new grants for which the city could apply.

Councilman Ricky Burgess has spent the last few months hammering away at his fellow legislators with regard to the Pittsburgh Summer Youth Employment Program.

A decade ago, the city of Pittsburgh’s municipal bonds were a risky investment.

That’s a far cry from where the city is today, says Scott Kunka, director of finance for the city of Pittsburgh.

“Back in 2004, the city was essentially in junk bond grade, non-investment, and that was the year the city declared distressed status for Act 47,” said Kunka. “We’ve made about 12 to 13 increases in our credit rating over the last seven years, so it’s been a slow but steady rise.”

Gov. Tom Corbett didn’t talk about gambling in his budget address Tuesday, but his proposed budget includes $20 million in new revenue from the expansion of the Pennsylvania Lottery into Keno games.

Elizabeth Brassell, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Lottery and Department of Revenue, said the introduction of Keno could be achieved through regulatory, rather than legislative means.

Gov. Tom Corbett Tuesday announced an additional $10 million in funding for Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts.

“Every child in this state should be, ready to learn, ready to grow, ready to succeed, and my budget sets an agenda in that spirit,” Corbett said.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said at a news conference Monday that he’ll soon begin an audit of the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development.

DePasquale said he’s looking for subsidies and tax breaks for corporations that don’t positively impact middle class job growth. He said the state should eliminate such subsidies and tax credits before touching “one dime” of public employee pension funds.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle joined UPMC workers and community activists for a rally outside the federal building in downtown Pittsburgh Monday.

Doyle told the assembled crowd of about 75 people that he recently had the honor of accompanying President Barack Obama on his trip to Pittsburgh last week, and that the two discussed the president’s comments during his State of the Union address.

“One of the things he said that really stuck with me is … 'No one in this country should be working full time and living in poverty,’” said Doyle.

The 100-foot-long Wholey’s fish is one step closer to getting a new home.

Jim Wholey, president of Wholey’s, held a press conference with Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald over the weekend to announce the top five choices for a new location.

In December, Wholey had asked the community to help decide where the fish should go. Wholey said a few thousand fans of the fish voted via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and in person.

Pennsylvania Congressman Keith Rothfus will be in Pittsburgh Saturday hosting a “Women’s Conference on Work, Home, and Life.”

Rothfus said the conference, which will be held at the Community College of Allegheny County, North Campus, is a good way for him to get to know his constituents.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto’s nominees to head the city’s legal and tech teams came before City Council Wednesday.

The mayor has tapped Lourdes Sanchez Ridge to be the next city solicitor, while Debra Lam is his choice for the newly created chief innovation and performance officer position. As part of that position, Lam would also be in charge of City Information Services, but she said it’s not primarily a technology position.

It’s not uncommon for individual municipalities to set a minimum wage that is higher than the state- and federally-mandated rate. As of Jan. 1, San Franciscans are making at least $10.55 an hour, compared to the California minimum wage of $8.

Now, state representative Seth Grove (R-York) wants to make that kind of municipal legislation illegal in Pennsylvania.

Health officials are warning that an extremely dangerous brand of heroin is making the rounds in Pittsburgh and surrounding counties.

Twenty-two people have died in the past week in western Pennsylvania from a suspected overdose of a mix of heroin and the powerful narcotic fentanyl, according to Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner says they’ve found “stamp bags” labeled with the words “Theraflu,” “Bud Ice” and “Income Tax” at the scenes of the overdoses.

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale was in Pittsburgh with Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday to announce an upcoming audit of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

DePasquale said the audit is part of a larger statewide effort based on a new three-tiered system that ranks schools based on financial risk.

“We are starting our first wave of high risk audits, and Pittsburgh is our first high risk audit for the Western part of the state,” DePasquale said. “That’s not just because of the size of the city, but simply the financial challenges that the city school district is facing.”

The Pittsburgh Department of Public Works will soon be outfitting 11 downtown intersections with brand new traffic lights, poles, wires and pedestrian signals.

Legislation to approve the upgrades is up for a final vote in City Council on Tuesday.

DPW Deputy Director Patrick Hasset said the new signals will also be connected via fiber optic cables to the DPW’s control room in City Hall, where they’ll be able to control the signals remotely. Currently, the department can remotely control about 130 the city’s more than 600 signals.

It seems like social media is starting to touch every part of our lives, and now that includes the concert hall too.

The Carnegie Mellon University School of Music is experimenting with what they’re calling “Tweet Seats” this Sunday. They’re asking some concert-goers not to turn their cell phones off during the Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra’s performance of pieces by Ravel, Mozart, and Beethoven, with guest conductor Ian Hobson.

Pittsburgh City Council had their first opportunity to discuss Deb Gross’s proposed land bank legislation as a group on Wednesday. The bill was first introduced on Jan. 14.

Mayor Bill Peduto’s plan to incentivize some city employees to voluntarily leave their positions is at last moving forward in City Council.

“This has been a really great collaborative effort between council and the administration,” said Council Budget Director Bill Urbanic. “We were allowed to work very closely together to come up with the proper changes and clarify exact what the intent was.”

A new report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association gives Pennsylvania lackluster grades with regard to anti-smoking laws and programs.

The State of Tobacco Control 2014 report gives the Keystone state an “F” for funding of tobacco prevention and control programs, a “C” for smokefree air, a “C” for tobacco taxation, and an “F” for cessation coverage by insurance companies.

In the early hours of Monday morning, a train traveling from Chicago derailed over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Six of the seven derailed cars carried crude oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, a substance that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said is more dangerous than other types of crude oil.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Students from three dozen middle schools across the region gathered at Carnegie Music Hall Saturday for Pittsburgh’s 15th annual Future City competition.

Coordinated by the Carnegie Science Center, the competition challenges students to imagine and build the cities of the future.

Linda Ortenzo, director of STEM programs at the science center, said getting to the actual competition is a semester-long process.

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross’s controversial bill to designate the Strip District’s Fruit Auction & Sales Building as a historic structure was voted down in a committee meeting today.

Ahead of the vote, Gross made her case for the building one final time.

“It really makes the Strip District, the Strip District. It’s a defining location,” said Gross. “If you’re talking about where to meet, where to park, where to go. When you picture the Strip District in your mind, you see this building in your mind’s eye.”

Mayor Bill Peduto’s early retirement plan for city employees was once again brought before City Council on Wednesday, but with one major change.

“This program has nothing to do with pensions,” Peduto’s Chief of Staff, Kevin Acklin, told the legislative body. “It’s a separate benefit that we would propose to make available to these employees if they so elect, or if their service is terminated.”

The change comes after rumblings that tying early retirement to pensions might not be allowed under Act 47 oversight or by the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System. 

The United States Department of Health and Human Services released Monday the latest enrollment data for state and federal health insurance marketplaces.

Nationally, nearly 2.2 million people have signed up for private health insurance plans through the marketplace, with almost 1.8 million people signing up in December alone.

For Pennsylvania, that shakes out out to about 81,000 people who have purchased health insurance through the federal marketplace since its troubled launch in October.

With the support of Mayor Bill Peduto, City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak has introduced legislation to establish a comprehensive open data ordinance for the city of Pittsburgh.

If the bill passes, Pittsburgh would join New York City, San Francisco and more than a dozen other cities that have embraced public data sharing.

Rudiak said in a news conference Tuesday that the ordinance would go above and beyond the current Right to Know law, which requires that government agencies provide information to the public upon request.

As Governor Tom Corbett gears up for the release of his 2014-15 budget proposal next month, Pennsylvania Democrats are disparaging cuts to higher education over the course of his tenure.

Total state spending on state-related higher education institutions dropped by 18% in 2011-12, and funding has remained flat since then.

About 300,000 residents in West Virginia are still without water for a fourth day, and one local organization is lending a helping hand to make sure residents have water to drink, cook with and bathe in.

Brother’s Brother Foundation is a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that provides disaster relief across the globe, and right here at home.

If you want to know how your neighborhood sandwich shop or your favorite sushi restaurant fared on its last health department inspection, you can find that information online, but those reports can often be full of jargon and difficult to interpret.

Now, the Allegheny County Health Department is working to make that information easier to digest by implementing a four-tiered grading system for restaurant inspections.

Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the county health department, said they’re still figuring out how that grading process would work.

The Allegheny County Health Department is celebrating a legislative victory that will allow them to more effectively monitor air and water pollution.

In December, County Council passed a law that requires companies performing hydraulic fracturing within the county to notify the Health Department as each phase of the process begins.

Crews at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority are gearing up for a busy week as the deep freeze sets in and is followed by a quick thaw.

“Any extreme change in temperature causes the ground to shift, and when that occurs, the lines break,” said PWSA spokeswoman Melissa Rubin. “We have an old system, we have a lot of pipe that’s 80 years old, a hundred years old. Some of them are old cast iron pipes, and they break when the ground shifts.”

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