Mark Nootbaar

Special Reporter

Mark Nootbaar is a native of Illinois but moved to Pittsburgh more than 16 years ago to become the Assistant News Director at National Public Radio Charter Member Station WDUQ. As assistant News Director, Mark served as WDUQ’s lead reporter and morning assignment editor. After WDUQ was sold in 2011, Mark moved with the frequency to the new station to become the Senior News Editor. In 2016 he returned to his reporting roots as Special Reporter and in that context oversees such reporting projects as 90.5 WESA Celebrates, Tech Reports, and more.

Mark has also worked in Illinois and Texas. He lives in the North Hills with his lovely wife and daughter.

 

Ways to Connect

Comparing this phase of his campaign to the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” Pittsburgh City Councilman and Democratic Mayoral Candidate Bill Peduto is rolling out a different education-related policy initiative every day this week.

The move is part of his 100 Days/100 Policies effort.

“If we lack quality public education in this city it does not mater what type of city government we have, people will not chose to live here,” Peduto said. “If we enhance public education in the city then we have the critical building block to do a whole lot more within city government.”

The company that collects the trash from businesses at the Pittsburgh International Airport is overbilling its users according to an Allegheny County Controller’s audit released Thursday.

Controller Chelsa Wagner said Allied Waste Service of Pittsburgh incorrectly billed tenants from December 2007 through August 2012 resulting in extra charges of about $195,000.

Wagner’s office launched the audit after a customer complained to the Airport Authority, which then passed the complaint to the county’s fiscal watchdog.

State administrators, health care providers and researchers gathered in Pittsburgh Thursday to work on building a comprehensive plan to do battle with cancer in Pennsylvania. 

The five-year plan is required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Director Nancy Davidson said the plan is being built with the center’s input. 

Davidson said the group is using the standards put forward by the CDC to set the tone, but she stressed that it is Pennsylvania’s plan, not the CDC’s plan.

Mark Nootbar / 90.5 WESA

When the NCAA brings a National championship event to town it tries to make a splash, and the Frozen Four is no exception.

“It’s cool event. I’ve been to five of them and it’s unlike any sporting event I’ve ever seen,” said Robert Morris University Associate Athletic Director Marty Galosi, whose school put in the bid to bring the event to CONSOL Energy Center.

The Frozen Four is hockey’s version of basketball’s Final Four, and just like that annual event, the athletic contests themselves are just the beginning of what fans travel hundreds of miles to see.

On Monday night, the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four wrapped up in Atlanta with fans leaving behind an estimated $70 million dollar economic impact.

This week, Pittsburgh is hosting the NCAA men’s ice hockey final four, and while it won’t bring in $70 million, it is being seen as a boon for the local economy.

Six years ago Robert Morris University Senior Associate Athletic Director Marty Galosi decided he wanted to host the tournament, known as the Frozen Four, so he put in a bid and started to lobby.

Copyright Sarah Lucas; courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

More than 100 years ago, Andrew Carnegie launched an art museum by charging the curator of the first Carnegie International to find the “old masters of tomorrow.” 

Last week the three curators of the 2013 Carnegie International released the names of 35 artists and groups of artists from 19 countries they think live up to that challenge.

As Gov. Tom Corbett continues to look for an avenue that can be used to revive a scuttled plan to lease the state’s lottery to an outside vender, state Sen. Rob Teplitz is looking to put controls in place that he thinks will keep politics out of the operation.

The Democrat from Dauphin County has introduced legislation that, among other things, would place any private lottery operator under restraints similar to those placed on casino operators. 

Mark Nootbar / 90.5 WESA

A newly formed group hoping to improve the political clout of Pittsburgh’s black community is calling out the four remaining Democratic mayoral candidates to respond to what it is calling a “Black Agenda.”

The Pittsburgh Black Political Convention was formed this year and will send to each candidate its “Black Agenda” later this week. The candidates will then be asked not only for a written response, but also to appear for what will amount to an oral test before a community gathering in the Hill District on April 19.

Updated: 5:38 p.m.

The Service Employees International Union Healthcare (SEIU) Pennsylvania, along with two Democratic state senators and three state representatives filed a lawsuit against the Corbett administration over its plan to close 26 state health centers and eliminate 73 Department of Health positions.

An institute formed in 1913 to help support basic chemistry research in Pittsburgh has been given Historic Landmark Status by the American Chemical Society. The Mellon Institute, which was eventually absorbed into Carnegie Mellon University, was recognized in a small ceremony Thursday for the work that went on inside its walls between the two great wars.

A newcomer to the Pennsylvania Legislature is trying to gather a group of fellow members who would at least partially define themselves as “reformers.” 

Sen. Rob Teplitz (D-Dauphin County) has joined forces with Rep. Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster County) to create what they are calling the House-Senate Government Reform Caucus.

Allegheny County has an additional $13 million to spend on trying to combat homelessness in the region.  The funds come from a U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care grant. 

The county can use the funds to support housing and service programs including safe havens, transitional housing and permanent housing for persons with disabilities. Most of the money will be used to continue programs already being offered by the county, said Allegheny County Homeless Programs Administrator Chuck Keenan.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are asking schools at all levels to help them understand how they are preparing for an emergency like the one seen at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. 

Senate members decided to explore the topic after a hearing last month on school safety raised more questions about emergency planning in child care centers, buses and colleges than it answered.

South Side Chamber of Commerce

It’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Pittsburgh, and that means thousands of area residents will be headed downtown for the parade. Thousands will also make their way to the South Side for a bit of celebrating. 

The revelry usually leads to near-gridlock conditions on East Carson Street, but the city hopes a new shuttle bus will help relieve the pressure.

Three buses will run from noon to 4 a.m. along Carson Street every 15 minutes between the Southside works and the city’s Second Avenue lot at the 10th Street Bridge. 

A former secretary and bookkeeper at Holy Sepulcher School in Butler has been formally arraigned today on theft of funds charges. Officials at the Diocese of Pittsburgh said forensic audits found that as much as $250,000 was taken from the school by Lynn Tomlinson over a six-year period.

“With the assistance of diocesan auditors, we undertook a thorough financial investigation. Major diversions of school tuition, receipts and scrip purchases were revealed,” wrote Father Gizler, pastor of Holy Sepulcher, in a letter sent Thursday to parishioners and school parents. 

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

There are now seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Pittsburgh Mayor.

Joining Bill Peduto and Michael Lamb, who have been running for months, are State Senator Jim Ferlo, State Representative Jake Wheatley, City Council President Darlene Harris, Community Activist A.J. Richardson and former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner. 

Wagner filed his nominating petitions two-and-a-half hours before Tuesday’s deadline.

CCAC North Library

The Community College of Allegheny County has approved a three percent raise for about 330 faculty union members.  The deal with Local 2067 of the American Federation of Teachers is for one year only.

The trustees of the school unanimously approved the plan on Thursday night. The deal comes with a price tag of $650,000 in the 2013-14 school year.

CCAC spokesman David Hoovler said annual salaries across the bargaining unit average $65,000.

The Pillow Project

It began nearly ten years ago as “an evolving experiment for improvisational free jazz movement, performance-happenings and new ideas in dance,” and The Pillow Project has never wandered far from its roots. 

Pearlann Porter heads the group that sees the word “jazz” as a verb. The group gathers the second Saturday of every month at “The Space Upstairs” in Pittsburgh's East End to perform.  Project members call the studio in a repurposed warehouse a “4,000 square foot canvas where audiences and artists interact.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With a grand goal of restoring the Allegheny County Courthouse but few details and even less funding, an effort to rehabilitate the 125 year old building was launched Wednesday by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.  The executive has named a committee chock full of current and former elected officials to spearhead the effort.

Russ Lyod / 90.5 WESA

By mid morning Wednesday, the snow had moved out of the Pittsburgh region and most of the city’s streets were treated.  Pittsburgh Public Works crews used 62 trucks overnight and into the morning to clear the blanket of heavy wet snow.   

Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski reminded city residents to be careful when they start to clean their cars, sidewalks and drive ways and asks that home owners not just to drop the snow anywhere.

Pittsburgh City Council will hold a post-agenda meeting and public hearing Wednesday, March 6 to discuss what qualities should be sought in the next Pittsburgh Chief of Police.

The hearing was arranged at the request of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) in conjunction with several supporting organizations to address relations between the community and the police, said Tim Stevens, chairman and CEO of B-PEP. 

Kim Tyo-Dickerson/Flickr

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is hoping a special focus on the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week will bring more worshipers into the church.  The diocese is making sure all 203 of its parishes are open for confession Wednesday night from 6:00 to 9:00.

The diocese is marking the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops-sponsored “The Light is on for You” campaign aimed at calling Catholics to the Sacrament of Confession.

The 2,700 boxes of documents amassed by U.S. Senator Arlen Specter over his 30-year career in the Senate are coming to Pittsburgh to be archived. The papers currently reside at Philadelphia University but the school has reached an agreement with the University of Pittsburgh to take on the collection.

Philadelphia University has never worked with such a large collection so it began looking for a partner after Specter handed over the documents.

With Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s announcement that he is withdrawing from the campaign, the race for the mayor’s office has, for now, become a two-man contest but neither candidate believes their tactics over the next three months will change much.

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb, who along with Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto, is running for the mayor’s office.

After days of rumors and at least 24 hours of nearly constant media scrutiny, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has scheduled a news conference for 11:00 Friday morning.  The Mayor is expected to outline his plans for the future and will most likely be questioned about his plans for the upcoming election and the remaining 10 months of his first full term in office.

Unified Judicial System of PA

The conviction of suspended Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin on campaign corruption charges is being used as a springboard by an activist group looking to end partisan elections for judges.  Melvin was found guilty of misusing state-paid staff to help run her campaign for the state’s highest court.

“You realize there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we are choosing judges, “said Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts Executive Director Lynn Marks.  “After all this could only happen in a system where we elect judges.”

The ongoing investigation into possible business and spending malfeasance in the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has uncovered the existence of an account at a local credit union that might have been used to hide spending from public scrutiny.  Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb has sent a request to the Mayor’s office asking for receipts supporting all transaction involving the account.

Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to say how he'll respond now that Attorney General Kathleen Kane has rejected his effort to hire a British firm to manage the $3.5 billion Pennsylvania Lottery.

Corbett has said he'd reveal his next move Friday, before the bid by London-based Camelot Global Services expires. Camelot hasn't commented about its plans, either.

Former Allegheny County Health Department Director Bruce Dixon died early Wednesday morning according to the County Medical Examiner’s office.  The death is listed as being related to a blood infection from a sudden inflammation of his gallbladder, which caused him to be hospitalized on Tuesday.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Veterans and veterans’ advocates gathered Wednesday night to hash out some of the issues facing GI’s as they return from combat zones and try to assimilate back into stateside life. The discussion repeatedly returned to finding and keeping a job.

The jobs just haven’t been there for the last few years, said Pennsylvania Careerlink Mon Valley office Veterans’ Representative John Bittner. But it’s getting better.

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