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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City Government
4:34 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Pittsburgh's Municipal Bond Rating Continues to Improve

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.”

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State Budget
3:24 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Pennsylvania Lottery Looks to Expand Into Keno Games

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.

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Early Childhood Education
12:20 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

Corbett Proposes an Additional $10 Million for PA's Pre-K Program

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.

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State Pensions
8:01 am
Tue February 4, 2014

PA Auditor General to Governor: Fully Fund Pensions, Cut Corporate Tax Breaks

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.

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Labor
4:02 pm
Mon February 3, 2014

Rep. Mike Doyle Joins Workers Rallying Against UPMC

On Monday, U.S. Representative Mike Doyle condemned UPMC for alleged labor violations.
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.

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Community
7:31 am
Mon February 3, 2014

New Home for the Wholey's Smiling Fish Still Up in the Air

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.

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Community
12:36 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

Congressman Rothfus to Hold Women's Conference in Pittsburgh

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.

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City in Transition
2:18 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

City Council Grills New Peduto Appointees for Legal and Tech Teams

Debra Lam (L) is Peduto's choice for Chief Innovation & Performance Officer, while Lourdes Sanchez Ridges (R) is his choice for City Solicitor.
Credit 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.

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Government & Politics
5:46 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Bill in PA House Would Make It Illegal for Cities to Set Minimum Wage, Require Sick Leave

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.

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Health
12:17 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Allegheny Co. Trying to Prevent Further Heroin Overdoses After Rash of Deaths

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.

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Pittsburgh Public Schools
4:12 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

PA Auditor General to Scrutinize Pittsburgh Public Schools

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.”

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Transportation
2:55 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

City Plans to Phase Out 50-Year-Old Traffic Signals in Downtown Pittsburgh

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.

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Arts & Culture
9:39 pm
Sat January 25, 2014

CMU School of Music Wants You to Tweet During Sunday's Performance

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.

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City Government
5:47 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Concerns About Land Bank Legislation Aired in City Council

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.

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City In Transition
5:15 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Peduto's Severance Incentive Plan for City Employees Moves Toward Final Council Vote

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.”

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Health
3:30 am
Wed January 22, 2014

American Lung Association Gives PA Poor Grades for Tobacco Prevention

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.

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Environment & Energy
3:31 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Hanger Calls on Corbett to Beef Up Regulation of Trains Carrying Bakken Crude Oil

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.

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Science & Technology
11:50 am
Sun January 19, 2014

Area Middle School Students Imagine the Future of Transporation

Eight graders Warren Sipe, Zoya Domashnev, and Katarina Mico from St. Bede School will represent the Pittsburgh region at the Future City National Finals in Washington, D.C. in February.
Credit 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.

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City Government
4:33 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

In a Preliminary Vote, City Council Denies Historic Status to Produce Terminal

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.”

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City In Transition
2:00 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Peduto's Early Retirement Plan for City Employees No Longer Tied to Pensions

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. 

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Health
4:07 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

PA Health Insurance Enrollment Numbers Outpace National Average, But Young People Still Missing

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.

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City Government
12:38 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

With Peduto's Support, Rudiak Introduces Open Data Bill in Council

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.

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Education
3:34 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

PA Dems Disparage Corbett's Record on Higher Education Funding

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.

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Environment
3:47 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Local Nonprofit Provides Aid to West Virginians Affected by Chemical Spill

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.

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Health
5:41 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

New Grading System for Restaurant Safety in the Works in Allegheny County

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.

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Marcellus Shale
5:14 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Allegheny County Health Department Celebrates Fracking Regulatory Victory

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.

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Community
1:26 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

PWSA Gearing Up for Weather-Induced Water Main Breaks

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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Transportation
1:09 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

AAA Sees Spike in Calls During Deep Freeze

AAA East Central, which serves Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and New York, said they have already fielded nearly three times as many requests for assistance as they would on a typical winter day.

Bevi Powell, senior vice president for AAA East Central, said between midnight and 9 a.m. on Tuesday, the motor club federation has already serviced 1,650 requests for roadside assistance, and that most of those calls have been due to dead batteries.

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City Government
4:01 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Bruce Kraus Elected President of Pittsburgh City Council

Council President Bruce Kraus addresses the crowd in Council chambers.
Credit Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Bruce Kraus said he couldn’t get the old song “It May Be Winter Outside (But In My Heart It’s Spring)” out of his head this morning, as he prepared for the vote that would confirm him as president of the 138th Pittsburgh City Council on Monday.

“It may be the coldest day that the city has seen in the last 10 to 20 years, but in our hearts it is spring, because we are experiencing a true and genuine rebirth,” Kraus said.

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City Government
3:54 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

City Council to Hold Meeting on Illegal Dirt Bike and ATV Riding

It is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania to ride dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, on city streets.

But Carrick resident Donna Williams said that hasn’t stopped a group of teenagers from tearing down Kirk Avenue on their dirt bikes and ATVs.

Williams said the young men also have made a habit of riding their vehicles in Birmingham Cemetery.

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