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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A relatively small city expenditure of $167 led to a fervent critique of Mayor Bill Peduto by City Councilwoman Darlene Harris Wednesday morning.

In its committee meeting, City Council received a list of invoices to be paid this week, as it does in every weekly committee meeting. For the most part, these invoices are paid without incident.

But a charge for unpaid parking tickets attributed to the Ravenstahl administration caught the eye of City Councilman Dan Gilman.

Keith Srakocic / The Associated Press

Pittsburgh Deputy Police Chief Paul Donaldson said he doesn’t know if a protective vest would have saved the life of the late K-9 Officer Rocco, but the bureau is planning to purchase newer, more practical protective gear for the 24 K-9 officers currently on the force.

The $26,273 price tag of the vests will be covered by donations from the general public in the wake of Rocco’s death, funneled through the Pittsburgh Foundation, the Black n Gold Girls and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Students at Duquesne Elementary School in the Mon Valley spent Tuesday running, jumping and playing, all in the name of health.

“It was really exciting to be going through the school, going through the play area, the gym, seeing the Move-a-thon, seeing the kids doing yoga, and relay races and the dancing and the nutrition, having meals with fruits and vegetables,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who joined the kids for a couple of yoga poses during Tuesday’s event.

In the state of Pennsylvania, it’s technically legal for employers to refuse pregnant workers accommodations like a place to sit, access to water and more frequent breaks.

State lawmakers in March attempted to change that by introducing a bill to require such accommodations, but that bill has languished in the Senate Labor and Industry committee ever since.

Now, city of Pittsburgh lawmakers are moving to codify such protections for pregnant city workers.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

“We’ve been through a lot.”

That’s how Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto began Monday’s press conference, where he unveiled his 2015 budget proposal, as well as a five year plan to solve the city’s financial problems.

The theme of the morning was “truth in budgeting,” something Peduto and budget director Sam Ashbaugh said had been missing from previous administrations’ approach to revenue and spending.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Mike Caplan and Terese Caldararo are walking through the rows of their garden, pointing out the different fruits, vegetables and herbs they planted this spring.

“We’ve got 25 tomato plants: Cherokee tomato, German Johnson’s, Rutgers. You name it we got it,” Caplan says. “And up front we’ve got peppers, bell peppers, and a lot of banana peppers."

“Different kinds of squash and zucchini: acorn squash, summer squash. We grew lettuce here. We had cilantro, we had parsley and rosemary,” Caldararo adds.

Flickr user dfirecop

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said Tuesday she is concerned that the county does not know how many vehicles it has and how many of those go home with employees each night.

In a letter sent to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Manager William McKain Monday evening, Wagner reiterated a request for complete information about county vehicles and their usage for a pending audit.

Flickr user Stephen Grebinski

If you work in one of Pittsburgh’s East End neighborhoods, there’s about a 50-50 chance that you work in health care or social assistance industries.

But chances are, if you work in the East End, you don’t actually live there. And if you live there, you probably don’t work there.

Courtesy Allegheny County Department of Human Services

According to 2010 census data, 7.5 percent of Penn Hills residents live below the federal poverty line. That’s about a third of the rate in Pittsburgh, and a little more than half of the rate in Pennsylvania as a whole.

In McKees Rocks, on the other hand, more than a quarter of residents live below the poverty line.

Based on that data, one might conclude that county services like summer food programs and job training should be concentrated in and around McKees Rocks and not in Penn Hills.

Flickr user Kevin Dooley

Despite an impassioned speech from Republican Allegheny County Councilwoman Sue Means, an initiative to place the words “In God We Trust” above the Bill of Rights in Council Chambers failed Tuesday night.

Six members of Council voted for the bill, while eight voted against it. A bill needs eight affirmative votes to pass.

Tucked away in Allegheny County’s administrative code is a rule saying that all bills introduced in County Council must be voted upon within 90 days.

In contrast, the rules of Allegheny County Council state that bills can only be pulled from committee and put on the council’s agenda for a final vote if they get a two-thirds affirmative majority in committee within 60 days of being introduced.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Imagine for a moment that the Steelers had lost to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. As difficult as that would have been for die-hard fans, most would have accepted the outcome without questioning the integrity of the game.

That was the analogy Rev. Jesse Jackson used during a news conference with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald Monday morning.

With nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths and more than 3,700 cases in West Africa in the last eight months, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Ebola virus spreads rapidly from one human host to another.

But Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician at UPMC specializing in emerging pathogens, said that is not the case.

“Right now Ebola is not a human pathogen,” said Adalja. “Humans are dead-end hosts. It can’t really spread very well between humans, other than through exposure to their blood or bodily fluids.”

Flickr user Allie_Caulfield

When Michael Rubino envisions the future of the Strip District, he sees a grand marketplace at the site of the old Pennsylvania Fruit Auction and Sales building, with a farmer’s market, restaurants, business incubators, Amish craftspeople and closeout vendors.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman said it’s been nearly a decade since he first drafted legislation for then-Councilman Bill Peduto that would allow the city to auction off unneeded assets online.

That idea is finally seeing the light of day as a similar bill received preliminary approval in council’s committee meeting Wednesday. A final vote is scheduled for next week.

Grants Officer Brandon Forbes was on hand to answer questions from City Council about the plan, which would end the practice of selling old vehicles and other large assets once a year at an auction.

Flickr user Mike Licht

The Allegheny County Health Department wants you to help set its priorities as it attempts to become the healthiest county in the nation.

That’s according to department director Dr. Karen Hacker, who said the county is now moving into the second phase of its community health assessment process. The first phase was an online comment period, which Hacker said garnered more than 1,000 responses.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department Tuesday announced it has received and publicly posted the final transition plan for consumers affected by the separation of Highmark and UPMC at the end of 2014.

“We’re excited, because now we can bring clarity to the transition plan, we can help members make choices they need to make, and we think it’s an important part of the roadmap for us as we move forward,” said Deborah Rice Johnson, president of Highmark Health Plan.

Flickr user el Neato

Exactly one month after McCandless Town Council approved a plan to construct a 150,000 square foot Walmart Super Center off McKnight Road, a group of 15 residents has filed an appeal to that decision with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

The appeal, filed Thursday, seeks to overturn the development’s approval on the grounds that the public was not able to review the plan before Town Council took a vote, according to attorney Dwight Ferguson.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A recent decision by the International Trade Commission regarding South Korean steel tubes may have an effect here in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The ITC voted recently to impose duties on steel pipes and tubes from South Korea and five other countries, which were found to be “dumping” their products into the U.S. market.

“Dumping” refers to the practice of selling a product in another country for less than it is sold in the country where it is manufactured. It also includes the practice of selling a product for less than it cost to make.

Screenshot from Tom Wolf for Governor video

Little more than a week after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett was uninvited from this year’s Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Labor Council has announced that his opponent Tom Wolf will lead the parade.

The council said Saturday that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Tom Wolf’s Jeep, which has been featured in TV ads from both Wolf and Corbett, will also be included in the event.

There are 2.4 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs available for every unemployed person in Pennsylvania with STEM skills, according to the national science education advocacy group Change the Equation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education reported that in 2013, low-income students in Pennsylvania scored about 9 percent lower on standardized math tests, and 20 percent lower on standardized science tests.

Westminster College in Lawrence County, about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh, has just announced a new program that aims to address both of these issues.

IQ STEM includes an undergraduate scholarship component and a professional development component, both of which focus on four high needs school districts in the region surrounding Westminster: Sharon City School District and Farrell Area School District in Mercer County, and Union Area School District and New Castle Area School District in Lawrence County.

High needs schools are defined by the Higher Education Act of 1965 and by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as schools with high teacher turnover rates, a high percentage of out-of-field or uncertified teachers, a high number of unfilled teaching positions and/or a large percentage of students whose families fall below the poverty line.

Flickr user CaptPiper

When Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh first arrived on campus last summer, he knew he wanted to do something big — something that would bring together departments and research centers from across campus, build on existing scholarship, generate new knowledge and have an impact on the global stage.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

“Energy independence.”

“Shale revolution.”

These were the buzzwords used Monday morning as officials gathered for a ceremony marking the start of natural gas drilling activity near Pittsburgh International Airport.

The mood was festive — complete with music, appetizers, goodie bags and air conditioned portable restrooms — as Gov. Tom Corbett and Consol Energy President and CEO Nick DeIuliis prepared to take the podium.

A small coal waste fire has been burning underground near the Pittsburgh International Airport for several years, but it’s about to be extinguished for good.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday announced plans to put out the fire and reclaim the abandoned mine underneath airport property.

“We’re going to dig up all the waste coal and put out the smoldering area, eliminate that, and then regrade the area and plant it,” said DEP spokesman John Poister.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The he said, she said debate over state education funding and the controversy surrounding former Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ron Tomalis made its way to Pittsburgh Wednesday morning.

Former gubernatorial hopeful Katie McGinty spoke in the Allegheny County Courthouse gallery, criticizing Gov. Tom Corbett and stumping for Democratic nominee Tom Wolf.

McGinty is chairwoman of the Campaign for a Fresh Start, a new organization working in tandem with Wolf’s campaign for governor and the campaigns of Democratic legislative nominees statewide.

Flickr user roy.luck

Three changes to Allegheny County’s regulations on air pollution will be introduced in County Council Tuesday evening.

According to Jim Thompson, deputy director for environmental health at the Allegheny County Health Department, the most significant proposed change would increase the fees paid by “major sources” of air pollution.

“Prior to this year, large sources were paying $57.50/ton of pollutant emitted,” Thompson said. “Starting this year, it will be $85/ton.”

Chris Squier / 90.5 WESA

Educators are increasingly concerned about kids losing knowledge during the summer. As part of our Life of Learning Initiative, we look at a program that not only helps middle and high schoolers learn during the summer, but also allows them to show off their new skills to colleges and future employers.

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Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb said Wednesday that he didn’t find any evidence of nepotism at the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority in his latest performance audit, but the perception of such favoritism is hurting the organization.

“There’s this continuing perception that everything at ALCOSAN is pay-to-play, whether it’s contracting, personnel hiring, any of these issues,” Lamb said. “We wanted to get in and make sure these procedures are in place, because we know ALCOSAN is going to grow over the next 20 years.”

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Heinz Field’s new executive chef John DiMartini has only been on staff for three months, but he’s ready to roll out 10 new house-made menu items in time for the Pittsburgh Steelers pre-season home opener Saturday.

Available to all fans in the concession areas is the Emperor Burger, named for late Steelers head coach Chuck Noll: a beef patty with shaved kielbasa, onion bacon kraut and Heinz Field Secret Sauce on a brioche bun. Also new to concession stands this season are 8-inch personal cheese and pepperoni pizzas from Fox’s Pizza Den, based in Murrysville.

John Cheng / USA Gymnastics

Gymnastics is always one of the most popular Olympic sports, and Pittsburghers will soon have the opportunity to get a sneak peak at some of top medal contenders for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.

USA Gymnastics will hold its P&G Gymnastics Championships Aug. 21-24 at the CONSOL Energy Center.

Leslie King, vice president of communications for USA Gymnastics, said athletes will compete not only for the title of national champion, but also for a spot on the team that will go to the World Championships in Nanning, China in October.

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