Liz Reid

Health & Science Reporter

Liz Reid's initials spell EAR, and she’s just enough of a mystic to believe that working with sound is her destiny. Liz came to 90.5 WESA 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 sing and play guitar, ride her bike, camp with her partner and puppy, and watch science and nature documentaries.

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Climate change activist Bill McKibben has been spending considerable time in Pittsburgh recently, first for the Power Shift 2013 conference in October, and on Monday to receive an award from the Thomas Merton Center.

The Thomas Merton Center bills itself as “Pittsburgh’s peace and social justice center,” and along with McKibben, they are launching a campaign to pressure the City of Pittsburgh and other regional institutions to divest from the fossil fuel industry.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Community Builders held a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday at the site of the new East Liberty Place South development.

The building will feature 52 units of mixed-income housing, as well as 11,000 square feet of commercial space. Thirteen of the one- and two-bedroom apartments will be priced at market value, with a tenant income cap of $55,000-75,000, depending on family size.

Six of the apartments are geared toward very low-income residents, including people with physical disabilities who live off disability benefits.

pittsburghpa.gov

The race for the District 7 Pittsburgh City Council seat looks to be wide open heading into the election Tuesday.  Five candidates are vying for the spot vacated by Patrick Dowd in July.  Politically, the candidates are as diverse as the district.

A Democrat, a Libertarian, and a handful of independents all want to represent District 7, which runs from the Strip District to Highland Park and includes Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, Polish Hill, Friendship, Morningside, and Stanton Heights.  

Strip District Redevelopment

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is once again facing the ire of some of its employees, but this time it has nothing to do with alleged union-busting tactics at the healthcare giant.

About 50 people gathered Wednesday outside the Steel Building where UPMC has its corporate offices to protest the outsourcing of the medical transcription department to a Massachusetts company called Nuance.

A new survey by the University of Pittsburgh and PittsburghTODAY found that 65 percent of the region’s citizens view air quality as either a minor problem, or not a problem at all.

This is despite continually low air quality rankings by the American Lung Association.

Doug Heuck, Director of PittsburghTODAY, said many people mistakenly think that because they can’t see the air pollution, it’s not there.

More than twenty years after the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) became law, a new report finds that about 1 in 20 Pennsylvania children is still uninsured.

According to the second annual State of Children’s Healthcare in Pennsylvania report by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children, or PPC, nearly 148,000 children in the state lack health insurance.

Self-described Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Hanger has released his policy agenda for women, which includes initiatives to expand healthcare, close the wage gap, legalize same-sex marriage, and protect women from domestic and sexual violence.

Claudia Alvarez / Photo courtesy of the Society for Contemporary Craft

A group of toddlers stands with their hands in the air; another toddler points a gun straight at them.

This is the first thing visitors to the new Contemporary Craft exhibition ENOUGH Violence: Artists Speak Out will see.

The scene is part of a ceramic sculpture series by Claudia Alvarez, who is one of fourteen artists included in the exhibition.

A bill that would require all public school buildings in Pennsylvania to display the national motto, “In God we trust,” passed in the House Education committee Wednesday morning.

Republican Rick Saccone, who represents parts of Allegheny and Washington counties, is the bill’s sponsor. He said the bill is meant to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the U.S. mint printing the motto on our nation’s currency.

Saccone called the tale of how the motto got onto the currency “a Pennsylvania story.”

Tensions ran high Tuesday as members of Pittsburgh City Council met to wrestle with the issue of community-police relations.

Up for discussion were three bills sponsored by Councilman Ricky Burgess, one of which would authorize the city to spend up to $150,000 on a police-community partnership program called Unleashing Respect Project, or URP.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Ken and Deb Zuroski, along with their three kids, Tristan, 18, Haley, 15, and Ian, 7, aren’t a very serious bunch overall. On a recent afternoon, there was a lot of good-natured teasing going on around the dining room table of their Squirrel Hill home.

According Rob Nelson, guest lecturer at Duquesne University’s annual History Forum and director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond, the last great historical atlas was published in 1932. It was called "The Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States," and it included a series of maps that illustrated how the nation changed over time.

City of Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb released Tuesday a performance audit of the secondary employment procedures utilized by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.

The audit is just one part of a larger bureau-wide audit. Lamb said he wanted to release this portion early due the ongoing changes and public interest in secondary employment procedures.

The report takes a hard look at Cost Recovery Fees, or CRFs, which until recently, were not codified in city law.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

If you walked through Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh during your lunch hour on Tuesday, you maybe have received a free sweet treat.

Staff from Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Greater Pittsburgh, or BVRS, were there to celebrate White Cane Awareness Day. They brought with them 5,000 chocolate covered pretzel rods, painted to look like the signature red-tipped white canes carried by the visually impaired.

Erika Arbogast is the President of BVRS, and she said passing out free food is a great way to get people interested and to raise awareness.

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith is calling for a moratorium on school closures in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district until the end of the 2014-15 school year.

She has introduced a resolution in council that would recommend the PPS Board of Directors halt any school closings.

At a rally in front of council chambers Monday morning, Kail-Smith invited parents, students, teachers, and community organizers to express their concern over a possible fourth round of school closures since the early 2000s.

Chatham University will host a ribbon cutting for its brand new zero-emissions Eden Hall campus in the North Hills on Thursday.

“It’ll be a living-learning laboratory for sustainability, but it will also be a branch campus for the university in the North Hills, where we teach our full array of academic subjects,” said university President Esther Barazzone.

The campus will be fully self-sustaining, treating its own wastewater and producing energy through a variety of methods, with the greatest portion of the energy coming from solar panels on the roof of every building.

They call it the silent or invisible killer: It’s odorless and colorless, and it takes more than 150 American lives each year.

Faulty heating systems are a leading cause of non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States. Before you turn on your furnace this winter, take some time to make sure you can heat your home safely.

Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Ed Mann says carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t always happen all at once.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald presented his 2014 budget to the County Council Tuesday evening.

Fitzgerald was visibly proud of the fact that Allegheny County will not be increasing property taxes in the county for the 12th time in 13 years.

He said the stabilized millage has contributed to the region’s success over the past few years.

Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said in a news conference Tuesday that workers at UPMC are fighting the same fight many of their grandparents and great-grandparents fought many years ago.

“We should take a page from history," she said. "We shouldn’t have to wait for decades and fight those same battles over and over. We need to stand up now, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Rudiak was joined by City Council President Darlene Harris and Councilman Bruce Kraus as she condemned the latest labor violations that the National Labor Relations Board claims UPMC has committed.

A new study released Monday shows Pennsylvania has the 14th highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the nation.

Albert Lang, communications manager at the Trust for America’s Health, said this is the first time the organization has aggregated such data.

They were motivated to do so after compiling related data on accident and injury deaths, which includes drug overdoses.

Winter can be an especially difficult time for low-income families, when the cost of heating a home can skyrocket.

For the last 30 years, Dollar Energy Fund has been providing grants to people who are struggling to pay their utility bills during the coldest months.

Jody Robertson, director of communications for Dollar Energy Fund, said the nonprofit has helped keep the heat on in over 362,000 homes in nine states, doling out more than $103 million to needy families.

Pennsylvania oil and gas industry representatives gathered in Pittsburgh Wednesday to lament, rather than celebrate, the recent anniversary of the proposal of a very controversial project.

“Sept. 19 marked the fifth anniversary of the initial application that was submitted to the State Department for the Keystone XL pipeline project,” said Stephanie Catarino Wissman, executive director of the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania. “This certainly is not an anniversary of celebration; it is an anniversary of delay.”

From the grocery store to the high school football game, you’re likely to start seeing pink everywhere this month.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and local nonprofits are ramping up their efforts to raise public consciousness about the disease.

Kathy Purcell, chief executive officer of Susan G. Komen Pittsburgh, said people will sometimes ask her if there’s just a little too much pink.

The Special Events Office at the Pittsburgh Police Department will officially no longer schedule secondary employment of officers, nor will it handle payment for such employment.

Pittsburgh City Council passed a bill Tuesday that will outsource both duties to the North Carolina-based company Cover Your Assets.

The change comes after allegations that some officers received preferential treatment from the other officers who scheduled the moonlighting gigs.

This winter, you may finally be able to pay for your ice skating at Schenley Skating Rink or your indoor swim at Oliver Bath House with a credit card.

Pittsburgh City Council passed a resolution Tuesday recommending that all city departments begin accepting credit and debit cards.

“Most governments have already come around to using debit cards and credit cards, but the city (of Pittsburgh) hasn’t,” said City Council President Darlene Harris. “This will bring the city into the 21st century.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The municipality of Mt. Lebanon announced a new initiative to fight prescription drug abuse on Wednesday.

The program is called Stop Addiction for Everyone, or SAFE, and includes a poster campaign, a PSA, and the installation of a new prescription drug drop box at the Public Safety Center on Washington Road.

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Republican mayoral candidate Josh Wander says Pittsburgh needs someone to come from the outside to fix the problems the city faces.

“We need somebody from the outside that’s going to come in and is going to transform the system there,” Wander said. “Somebody who’s been in politics for a decade is not the right person to do that. Somebody who’s a part of the party that’s been in power for almost a century is not the person to do that.”

Wander, 42, comes from way outside that system. In fact, he’s currently not even in Pittsburgh.

Renee Piechocki, director of the Office of Public Art at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, says the idea for the new website Pittsburgh Art Places has been percolating since the organization first published the Pittsburgh Art in Public Places Downtown Walking Tour guide in 2006.

Much attention has been given to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent announcement of tough restrictions on emissions from new coal- and gas-fired power plants, but Republican Congressman Keith Rothfus (PA-12) has his sights set on another, earlier EPA rule.

On Thursday, Rothfus introduced new legislation that would exempt certain types of coal-fired power plants from EPA standards passed last December.

The free beer from PortaBeer should be enough to draw a crowd out to the premiere installment of Smorgasburgh, but it’s the food that will take center stage.

Urbanist editor Michael McAllister and local startup investor Kit Mueller are launching Pittsburgh’s first pop-up all food (and beer) flea market on Saturday.

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