Liz Reid

Weekend Host and General Assignment 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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AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Pennsylvania legislators are again trying to reduce the size of the state House of Representatives and Senate, with a pair of bills that would be the first steps toward amending the state constitution.

House Bill 153 proposed to reduce the House of Representatives from 203 members to 153, while House Bill 384 would shrink the Senate from 50 to 37 seats.

Antoinette Palmieri / Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority

More than four years after the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s water line service protection program was scrapped, Pittsburgh City Council took the first step last week to create a new program.

This time, said Councilman Dan Gilman, homeowners will have to actively opt-in to the program, rather than opting out.

Flickr user daveynin

A group of state senators is hoping toughen traffic laws around cell phone use.

Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin) earlier this year introduced a bill to make using a cell phone while driving a secondary offense.

“There would be no violation of this law, if it were to pass, unless the person was convicted of another traffic offense,” Teplitz said.

As the Penn Hills School District seeks an $18 million bond to cover operational costs, state Rep. Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny) is asking state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale to get the bottom of the district’s fiscal woes.

DeLuca is calling for a full audit of the district’s budget after last week’s announcement that the district would seek court approval for the bond in order to meet debt service, payroll and retirement fund obligations.

Courtesy The Mr. Roboto Project

The Mr. Roboto Project, a cooperatively run, alcohol-free all ages music and arts venue in Garfield, prides itself on being a “safer space.”

According to the Roboto website, “racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or any other types of oppressive language are considered inappropriate and are not tolerated. Roboto is meant to be a safe, respectful, welcoming space for everyone.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The advanced manufacturing sector led the 10-county Pittsburgh region in the number of investment deals last year, according to the yearly Business Investment Scorecard from the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the marketing affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development (ACCD).

PRA CEO Dennis Yablonsky said it was a “typical, solid year” for Pittsburgh, with $2.3 billion in capital investment and more than 10,000 jobs created. He said 70 percent of investment deals funded the expansion of existing companies.

Pittsburgh’s South Side often gets a bad reputation as merely a drinking destination for rowdy college kids, but residents say the historic neighborhood’s more wholesome aspects often get overlooked.

That’s according to a presentation made to City Council Tuesday afternoon by students from the University of Pittsburgh’s Urban Studies program.

Flickr user bbyrnes59

Transportation advocates in Pittsburgh and more than 100 other American cities are joining forces to call attention to the fast-approaching expiration of surface transportation funding from the federal government.

Thursday is being billed as Stand Up for Transportation Day. Chris Sandvig, regional policy director from the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, said most people don’t realize that funding is about to dry up.

Flickr user Mike Myers

While University of Pittsburgh students criticize a lack of campus wide initiatives during the institution’s “Year of Sustainability,” the Katz Graduate School of Business is gearing up to host a water conservation panel on Tuesday.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council is poised to approve a $100,000 funding request for the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center in the Hill District, but the expenditure is not without its detractors.

In last week’s committee meeting, Councilwoman Darlene Harris expressed concern over the city’s decision to fund upgrades to the building’s heating, ventilation and cooling system, despite the fact that she voted in favor of a companion bill setting aside the money in December.

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Eleven-year-old gymnast Danielle Norris is practicing a roundoff back tuck dismount for her balance beam routine. She has a meet coming up soon, and later this month she's competing in the state championship. Danielle’s mom, Karen Norris, says she practices about 22 hours a week.

“When Danielle was first invited to join the team and they told us the amount of hours that were involved, we were a little taken aback by that,” Norris said. “That was fourth grade.”

Flickr user Joseph Wingenfeld

The Port Authority of Allegheny County has been studying the prospect of running a rapid bus line through Uptown from Oakland to downtown for several years now, and though the project is still several more years from becoming a reality, city planners are bracing for a wave of development along the Fifth Avenue and Forbes Avenue corridors.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Just two years ago, your options for getting a ride in Pittsburgh were pretty much limited to public transportation, taxis, or for those in higher income brackets, executive car services and limousines.

But when ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft rode into town in with their slick mobile apps, quick response times and, in the case of Lyft, their hot pink mustaches, a sea change that had already taken hold in cities such as San Francisco and New York began closing in on the Steel City.

Flickr user Joseph A

There are currently 19 cities and boroughs in Pennsylvania designated as “distressed” municipalities under Act 47, including Pittsburgh, Braddock, Rankin, Duquesne and Clairton in Allegheny County.

A State House bill meant to help those municipalities identify ways to make their operations more efficient may end up not doing that at all.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Alcosan rates are set to increase 11 percent in 2016 and again in 2017, and activists with the Clean Rivers Campaign and Action United are calling on the sanitary authority to implement a Customer Assistance Program, or CAP, to help low-income rate payers.

Activists held a rally in Market Square Monday afternoon, handing out fliers alerting passers-by to “skyrocketing sewer rates.”

Courtesy Dianne Shenk

It’s been several years since Hazelwood’s last grocery store, Dimperio’s, closed. According to Chatham University food studies graduate Dianne Shenk, the neighborhood now officially qualifies as a food desert.

Flickr user kaffeeeinstein

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay has said the city’s officers must “be willing to change” in order to improve morale, increase community trust and be more responsive to meet the needs of citizens.

As part of that effort, officers will attend a behavioral science-based leadership training program from the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Flickr user Robert Bratton

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Stephen Bucar is advocating that police officers in Zone 5, which includes the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, be trained in animal behavior so they can properly respond to incidents involving dangerous animals.

The proposed agreement would also include training for zoo employees on the use of live firearms and tranquilizer guns.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner on Tuesday announced she has filed legal action against four county authorities that she said are refusing to allow her office to conduct performance audits.

Wagner is seeking to audit the Allegheny County Airport Authority, the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (SEA), the Allegheny County Port Authority, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN).

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

University of Pittsburgh chancellor Patrick Gallagher calls the volume of healthcare data in the United States “staggering.”

“(It is) fast approaching a zettabyte,” Gallagher said, referencing the equivalent of one trillion gigabytes. “Even the terminology doesn’t make sense to many of us.”

Gallagher made the comments Monday at a joint news conference with Carnegie Mellon University and UPMC. The three institutions have announced a multi-million dollar collaborative initiative to harness vast amounts of health care data to “revolutionize healthcare and wellness.”

Flickr user Joseph A

“A child's zip code should never determine her destiny; but today, the community she grows up in impacts her odds of graduating high school, her health outcomes, and her lifetime economic opportunities.”

So reads the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development’s web page on its Promise Zone program, which aims to counteract the effects of poverty.

Flickr user DrivingtheNortheast

Pittsburgh’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade and celebration is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday. We’ve put together a list of what you need to know to make the most of the day.

Flickr user Alex Proimos

The Wolf administration has announced its timeline for the transition to a traditional Medicaid expansion.

Beginning in April, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will transfer individuals enrolled in the General Assistance and Select Plan programs from the private coverage option (PCO) to the new Adult benefit package, dubbed HealthChoices.

Flickr user Kara Newhouse

Sunoco’s pipeline division has withdrawn its request that its Mariner East I pipeline be designated as a public utility, a development environmental groups are hailing as a victory.

The pipeline runs just south of Pittsburgh from the MarkWest Energy Partners processing and fractionation complex in Houston Pa. to an existing Sunoco pipeline in Delmont Pa..

Environmental groups say Sunoco was seeking to have the pipeline designated as a public utility by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in order to obtain eminent domain authority.

Courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art

The Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History will once again open up their doors to all, with free admission Thursday evenings throughout March.

Spokesperson Leigh Kish said the free evenings are courtesy of the Jack Buncher Foundation.

“(The museums are) a big part of the community and we want everyone from the community to come in, knowing full well that price might be a barrier, or admission might (make it) difficult to bring a family,” Kish said.

Flickr user joseph a

Total construction starts in the seven-county Pittsburgh metropolitan region for January 2015 were down 47 percent from January 2014, according to construction industry analysis firm Dodge Data & Analytics.

Total building fell from $171.9 million in January 2014 to $90.7 million in January 2015. Residential construction dropped 37 percent from $115 million to $72.1 million, while non-residential building starts slid 68 percent from $56.9 million to $18.5 million.

But Richard Branch, Senior Economist at Dodge, said such a narrow comparison can be misleading.

Flickr user Mary Helen Cochran Library

The Pittsburgh Department of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections has a nice little chunk of change—a bit more than $300,000—set aside for storage of records.

But the catch is the work must be done on microfilm.

The Microfilm Permit Plans Trust Fund was set up in 1986 with strict parameters about how the money could be spent, and nearly thirty years later, the city has finally decided it’s time to broaden those parameters.

Samm Hodges

The city of Pittsburgh’s Office of Municipal Investigations is looking into the use of force against an African American man wanted on two warrants after a police chase on Wednesday.

Devon Davis, 23, of the North Side was apprehended by police, who said he “sustained injuries to both legs as a result of the vehicle crash” after a car he was driving collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Wood St. and Ft. Pitt Blvd.

But at least one witness to the subsequent foot chase and arrest said Davis did not appear to be injured when he was running from police.

City of Pittsburgh

Businesses in the West End neighborhood of Pittsburgh are paying for flood insurance they might not really need anymore.

That’s according to Patrick Hassett, Assistant Director of Public Works, who said work begun by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2000 has largely stamped out the threat of flooding from Sawmill Run.

“We dredged and put in retaining walls along the stream bed to better contain the flooding waters, and PennDOT came in and made highway improvements that elevated some of the bridges to reduce the obstructions,” Hassett said.

Flickr user Peter Radunzel

The Pittsburgh Penguins and development firm Clayco are just six months away from the proposed groundbreaking for a 28 acre mixed use development in the Lower Hill. City Council on Tuesday approved a unique approach to tax abatement, which has been vital to getting the Hill community on board with the plan.

It’s been more than half a century since eight thousand Pittsburgh residents were displaced from their homes in the lower hill district, when 95 acres of a thriving, mostly African American community were razed to make way for the Civic Arena.

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