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

Keith Srakocic / AP

During his final state of the union address, Pres. Barack Obama once again called for support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. But Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who usually lines up politically with the president, said it is a bad idea.

Dickelbers / Wikipedia

 

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is celebrating a ruling by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which overturned an arbitrator’s decision to allow Pittsburgh police officers to live outside the city.

http://www.johnmorganelli.com

With a crowded field of candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Attorney General, John Morganelli is hoping his experience as a Northampton County District Attorney will set him apart from the others.

“The office is in crisis,” Morganelli said. “I believe strongly that whoever the next attorney general is, that that person necessarily must be an experienced prosecutor.”

With 24 years in office, Morganelli is the longest serving DA in the state. He has also served on several statewide committees including the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

jackforag.com

Jack Stollsteimer is happy to tell you about his middle class roots.

Born the son of an immigrant mother who spent time in a Nazi labor camp and a father who served in the military and eventually drove a bus, Stollsteimer worked his way through college and law school. Now, he's casting his eyes on the state’s top law enforcement job.

fawcettforag.com

In the late 1980s, Pittsburgh-based attorney Dave Fawcett represented a land developer that believed coal company Massy Energy conspired to bankrupt the smaller company. The fight took more than 15 years and included a trip to the U.S Supreme Court before it was finally finished. 

As one of four Democrats seeking candidacy for office, Fawcett said it's that kind of experience that has prepared him for the office of Pennsylvania Attorney General.

Linus Bohman / flickr

The U.S. economy is finishing 2015 on an upswing, according to Pittsburgh-based PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman and he thinks that will continue into 2016.

“Wages had been stalled at around 2- to 2.25-percent [growth]. We saw a little bit of an uptick in the later half of this year, and we think we will see a little faster, bigger gain in 2016,” Hoffman said.  “Maybe where wages rise … closer to 3 percent.”

401(K) 2012 / flickr

After a rough start in 2015, the nation's economy is set to end the year in a fairly strong position, PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman said.

“But it clearly was a mixed picture,” Hoffman said. “If you were in manufacturing, the global economy grew more slowly, the dollar was strong. If you were in energy, it was a bad year for you."

90.5 WESA

All three Pennsylvania row offices will be up for election in 2016.

Usually candidates vying for attorney general, auditor general and treasurer have a hard time getting attention; most voters are focused on the presidential race. 

http://www.raffertyforag.com

The field is crowded in the race for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Attorney General with four declared candidates and at least one more expected to add his name, but on the Republican side, it has become a very lonely race. 

State Sen. John Rafferty is the lone candidate since state Rep. Todd Stephens dropped out earlier this month. Stephens said it was clear from early endorsements that Rafferty would take the primary in April.

Rafferty said he considered a run for the office four years ago but declined. This year he couldn't resist.

YouTube

The Pittsburgh Citizens Police Review Board has opened an inquiry into the behavior of a Pittsburgh Police officer trying to control the crowd outside the Wood Street T Station on Wednesday.

amateur photography by michel / flickr

The Pennsylvania Senate has passed a bill that would require children to ride in cars facing backwards up to the age of 2 and the sponsor of the bill said he thinks it will get quick approval from the House.

“Rear facing is safer because, when there is, God forbid, a crash it distributes the impact of the crash more evenly and there are multiple studies out there that show that rear facing can save lives and reduce injury,” said State Sen. Michael Schlossberg (D- Lehigh) who sponsored HB 1551 which would change the state’s vehicle code.

Save Money / flickr

The Federal Reserve is poised to do something it has not done in more than a decade — raise interest rates.

Despite the occasion, Aaron Leaman, chief investment officer with Pittsburgh-based Signature Financial Planning, is not recommending any rash changes. 

“This is not something that is a make or break thing for any average investor,” said Leaman. “If you are a long-term investor, looking to secure your retirement or fund your child’s education… one decision made by the fed on one day in December is not going to make or break your portfolio in either direction.”

Phil Pavely / Trib Total Media

More than a century ago, the fight between George Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, and Thomas Edison in West Orange New Jersey, over whose power system was better, ended with Westinghouse and alternating current as a clear winner. But research at the University of Pittsburgh has rekindled that fight.

Allie_Caulfield / Flickr

Allegheny County can no longer hold individuals based on solely on their suspected illegal immigration status, according to a settlement reached Wednesday with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The governing boards of two of the region’s public radio stations, 90.5 WESA and 91.3 WYEP, are merging into a single 501(c) 3.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pittsburgh City Council will get to take its shot at the 2016 operating and capital budgets as proposed by Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday.

“I think there are some things that council is going to move around,” said council Finance and Law Committee Chair Natalia Rudiak. “Of course it’s a matter of where are we going to add, and… where are we going to take away.”

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

  Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald had no problem winning a second, four-year term in Tuesday’s election.

www.arnet4statesenate.com / www.guyforpa.com

State Sen. Matt Smith's surprise announcement in May that he would leave office in June to become the head of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce has resulted in this week’s special election pitting Democrat Heather Arnet against Republican Guy Reschenthaler.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

A report commissioned by one of the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority Board members found a lack of proper internal controls and a deeper investigation is needed into the governance systems that allowed a former executive director to extort contractors for his personal gain.

“We cannot keep running this as it is,” said JRA board member Mark Pasquerilla following the release Tuesday of his report produced by the law firm of K&L Gates. “As Johnstown moves into the new century and tries to get things done, we have to represent a progressive attitude on governance.”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Nestled firmly in a bill passed last week by the Pennsylvania Senate is a long list of reporting requirements that, if passed by the House and signed by the governor, would force the University of Pittsburgh and the three other state-related universities to disclose data ranging from minutes of meetings to ratios of course credits awarded to various types of students.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

McCandless residents will be tasked Monday with deciding whether to level three large retail buildings at the far, northern end of McKnight Road to revert the 27-acre slab of asphalt and concrete back into a wetland preserve.

Andrew Duthie / flickr

The jack-o-lanterns have not yet found their way to the compost pile, but the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is already thinking about getting its snow plows on the road. This year, managers and the public will be better able to keep tabs on those trucks.

Point Park University / Submitted

Point Park University is set to turn a vacant downtown hot dog shop into what it is calling a state-of-the-art learning center where students will merge their energy, talent and ambition.

The Center for Media Innovation will fill the building on the northwest corner of Wood Street and Third Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh and will feature a ground-floor multimedia studio with floor-to-ceiling windows reminiscent of New York City’s Times Square.  

KT King / flickr

A pair of Republican state representatives want to force teachers’ union representatives to also hold positions that put them in contact with students every day. The move is an effort to end what they are calling “ghost teachers.”

State Representative Jim Christiana (R- Beaver) is upset that there are three individuals that are getting all of the benefits of being an active teacher in the Pittsburgh Public School district that report to the union office every day rather than to a school building.

When Pittsburgh's Bill Peduto joined the mayors of 17 other cities in signing a letter to President Barack Obama last month that offers to harbor more Syrian refugees in the United States, he defended that welcome as "just the right thing to do."

City of Pittsburgh Council District 9

Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess is rolling out a few more details on his plan to preserve and expand affordable housing in the city’s East End.

“You have to rebuild schools, make the community safe, rebuild housing and rebuild social service entities all at the same time in the parts of the community on the edge, next to strength,” Burgess said.

Kara Holsopple / The Allegheny Front

Mary Beth Thakar is so passionate about getting the word out about Lyme disease, she wrote a song about it. Well, she re-wrote the lyrics to the tune “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly.”

The first verse goes like this: I know an old lady who was bit by a tick...or some kind of bug...maybe a tick. She might get sick.

Thakar was just diagnosed with Lyme this year, but she thinks she might have become infected about five years ago.

daveynin / flickr

While he was in Bellagio, Italy last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed on to a pledge to commit at least 10 percent of the city’s operating and capital budgets to making Pittsburgh a more resilient city, a move that Pittsburgh Chief Resilience officer Grant Ervin said is extremely timely.

“Look, for example, at some of the challenges that are being faced right now in South Carolina,” said Ervin, referring to the massive flooding that has displaced hundreds of residents.  “How do you clean up quickly and then how do you become a stronger city following the event?”

Upupa4me / flickr

A problem that has cost thousands of Pennsylvanians hundreds, if not thousands, of dollar has the state investigating.

Insurance holders think they have found an in-network provider for a specific procedure, but a physician, specialist or contractor who is out-of-network is actually helping to provide the care. The result is a bill that the patient thought would be $50 dollars, turns into a bill for much more.

It’s called surprise balance billing.

Turnpike's 75th Celebrated By State Museum

Oct 2, 2015
Pennsylvania Turnpike

Seventy-five years ago this week the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened from Carlisle to Irwin at a cost of one cent per mile and the rates have been increasing ever since. 

“The bargain rate that was established for a round-trip between Carlisle and Irwin was $2.25,” said Curtis Miner, Senior Curator of History, State Museum of Pennsylvania. A one-way trip from Carlisle to Irwin would cost $19.40 cash and $13.78 with an EZ pass.

To mark the anniversary Turnpike officials organized a vintage car cruise and the state museum of Pennsylvania has mounted and exhibit chronicling the roadway that would be widely duplicated not long after its opening.

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