Mark Nootbaar

Senior News Editor

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 where he is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the 90.5 WESA newsroom. Mark has also worked in Illinois and Texas. He lives in the North Hills with his lovely wife and daughter.

 

Ways To Connect

Mayor Bill Peduto announced Wednesday that he has chosen FBI Special Agent Stephen A. Bucar as the city's new public safety director.

Bucar is currently assigned to the Washington, D.C. FBI office as a Supervisory Special Agent Section Chief in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division. Peduto points out that Bucar has experience overseeing the analysis of information associated with domestic and international terrorism at both the federal level and for New York City.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is defending his use of campaign ads that focus on his would-be Democratic opponents, despite the fact that the primary has not yet been held.  

“If you look at the (Democratic) debates that have been going on and you look at the ads that are going on, they are running ads against me,” said Corbett, who calls his ads education pieces.

PennDOT wants to know what you think should be done to the Parkway East to reduce congestion and lower the number of accidents seen each year.

“We’re only going to look at things that would be something we can afford,” said PennDOT Dist. 11 Executive Dan Cessna. 

Ideas such as removing the Squirrel Hill Tunnel or completely reconfigure the highway will not be considered.

“These are affordable changes that could be done at the interchanges, to the networks of the traffic signal systems, other modifications to the lanes,” Cessna said.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is hoping a newly formed working group will be able to turn the tide of heroin overdose deaths in the Commonwealth. 

Corbett is calling for the working group, which will be chaired by Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis, to put a report on his desk by September.

“Yes I know that’s an aggressive time frame and I know that’s across the summer,” Corbett said.  “We don’t have the time to wait.”

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

A cache of works by Andy Warhol has been unlocked from its digital jail and is about to seen by a wider audience for the first time. 

A multi-national team of computer scientists, art experts and museum employees “unlocked” the images from floppy disks created by technology that was cutting edge in 1980s but has long since gone defunct. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says it found “no pollutants that would indicate a potential health concern for local residents or emergency responders” as a result of the Greene County Chevron well fire incident.

It took crews brought in by the company two weeks to cap the fire that broke out Feb. 11 in Dunkard Township. The fire claimed the life of one employee.

DEP spokesman John Poister said the department used temporary air monitoring devices to look at the levels of 57 different toxic air pollutants.

Car charging stations are popping up like spring flowers this Earth Day. 

The Pennsylvania Turnpike officially unveiled its charging stations Monday and Pittsburgh International Airport followed suit Tuesday. 

The chargers on the Turnpike were installed this year at a pair of service plazas; Bowmansville Service Plaza in Lancaster County located eastbound at milepost 290 and King of Prussia in Montgomery County, located westbound at milepost 328. 

It took the cooperation of two government agencies and a private corporation to get the stations installed.

When the Boston Marathon steps off Monday morning there will be nearly 39,000 men and women ready to take to the 26-mile course. Several of them are from the Pittsburgh area, and some of them have memories of being part of the race last year that was halted after a pair of bombs detonated near the finish line. 

The fight over placing a nonconventional gas well about a half-mile from five Mars Area School District schools has moved out of the district’s boardroom and into the boardrooms of a pair of local townships.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Being “pro-recess” earned businessman and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf the biggest laugh of the night, but it was PA Treasurer Rob McCord, who is also running in the May 20 primary, who picked up the widest applause when he stepped to the microphone in Tuesday’s debate and simply said, “I’d kill ‘em” to the question of what each candidate would do with the high-stakes Keystone Exams.

While a proposal to create a land bank in the city of Pittsburgh is getting bogged down by controversy, a similar plan that would include 40 municipalities in the Mon Valley and eastern reaches of Allegheny County is hurtling ahead without much dissention.

The Twin Rivers, Turtle Creek Valley and Steel Valley Councils of Governments began the process of creating a land bank program shortly after Gov. Tom Corbett signed enabling legislation in December of 2012. 

A small army of Larimer residents and city officials went on the offensive Thursday in an effort to convince the federal government that Pittsburgh is worthy of a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“I want to win this,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who met with a small group of HUD officials early Thursday before turning the effort over to his representatives. 

“It would not only bring $30 million into Pittsburgh but (the redevelopment of Larimer) would become a national model of sustainable housing development,” Peduto said.

UPMC Website

When the National Diabetes Education Program gathers for its annual meeting this summer it will install a Pittsburgher in its top elected position.  University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute Executive Director Linda Siminerio was elected as chair earlier this year.

The federally-funded program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Siminerio refers to the nation’s struggle with type II diabetes as an epidemic but warns that it is already a pandemic in other parts of the world.

When the temperatures dropped across North America this winter, many Pennsylvanian’s saw their electricity bill skyrocket because they had contracts with their electric supplier that allowed for variable rates. Now a state senator hopes her legislation will help to protect consumers from unexpected spikes in the future.

Sen. Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton County) introduced legislation Wednesday that would among other things shorten the time it takes to switch from one rate plan to another. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

With the thanks of Pittsburgh’s mayor, Gov. Tom Corbett Thursday announced that the city would remain under the controls of Act 47. 

Pittsburgh entered into distressed-city status 10 years ago, and the Ravenstahl administration had argued in 2012 that enough progress had been made to release the city from its bonds.

“While Pittsburgh continues to take considerable steps in its efforts in stabilizing the city’s financial position, many conditions that originally led to the distressed determination have not been alleviated,” Corbett said.

John Hanger has withdrawn as a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Governor. The former Secretary of the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection made the decision official Thursday morning. 

The region’s real estate market in February tumbled compared to the same time in 2013, but many who keep track of the market say a lot of that dip had to do with the weather.

“Look at what we experienced last year in early spring, great weather, everybody was out and about,” said Barbara Kohl, West Penn Multi-List Chief Operating Officer. “This year it was total devastation, freezing rain, sleet, tons of snow. It’s really tough to get people motivated and moving to go out to open houses, and even look at homes, when the weather is so bad.”

The three Pittsburgh police officers accused of violating Jordan Miles’ civil rights will be back in an federal courtroom Monday, and the lawyer representing Miles says the jury could hear some new evidence.

A jury in August of 2012 found that the actions of officers Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak did not rise to the level of malicious prosecution as had been alleged in the civil trial, however that same jury remained deadlocked on the allegation that the men falsely arrested Miles and used excessive force while doing so.

On average, a veteran in the Pittsburgh areas has to wait one day shy of a year between the time they apply for disability benefits and the day they are approved.

Though the backlog has been shrinking, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says it is not falling fast enough, and in an effort to fix the situation, he and bipartisan group of six senators have introduced legislation aimed at fixing the system.

The Veterans Administration deems a claim to be backlogged after it has been in the system for more than 125 days. By its own admission, there are nearly 400,000 cases on that list.

Update 12:07 p.m.

Hundreds of protesters organized by the Service Employees International Union have left the area outside the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's offices downtown, after Mayor Bill Peduto issued a statement asking them to "disband" and "return home."

Peduto's statement indicates he's cutting short a Washington, D.C. trip to return to Pittsburgh Tuesday and hopes to "resolve these conflicts."

Updated: 10:35 a.m.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's office says his hernia surgery went well and he's resumed his role and powers as governor.

Corbett returned to Pittsburgh to have the outpatient surgery performed at Allegheny General Hospital so he could recover in his Shaler home. 

Corbett was under general anesthesia from 7:10 a.m. to 8:35 a.m. Spokesperson Jay Pagni said the governor "was in great spirits" as he left the hospital.

Corbett will remain in Shaler through the weekend and return to work in Harrisburg Monday.

Courtesy of PNC

The glass skin is starting to be installed on Pittsburgh’s newest skyscraper, and Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Group says it will help make the building more energy efficient in the long run and is helping to grow the local economy in the short term.

The so-called "curtain wall" is actually two layers of glass held in place by steel and recycled wood in a manner that creates what might be best described as a massive storm window.

Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday officially began seeking federal approval for his plan to bring billions of federal Medicaid expansion dollars to Pennsylvania to cover a half-million working poor residents through private health plans, although advocates for the poor and uninsured called it bureaucratic and punitive.

A Pittsburgh man serving three life terms for setting a fire that killed three Pittsburgh firefighters is set to get a new trial.

Allegheny County Judge Joseph Williams on Wednesday ruled 36-year-old Gregory Brown Jr. deserved the new trial because prosecutors didn't reveal that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms paid one witness a $5,000 reward.

That witness testified he wasn't promised any money for his testimony, which Williams said could have been used to impeach his credibility had Brown's defense known about the reward.

A former president of Carnegie Mellon University is bringing his clout and his ability to raise money to a relatively new institute on campus designed to explore the intersection of energy use, production and policy.

Starting July 1, CMU President Emeritus and University Professor Jared Cohon will add to his business card the title of Scott Energy Institute Director.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

If you walk down any street these days you are likely to hear a Pittsburgher proclaiming, “I am so ready for this winter to be over.”  Snowfall and low temperature records have been set throughout the northeast and Pittsburgh has been averaging well below normal when it comes to thermometer readings and well above when it comes to snow.

All that has led to higher-than-normal insurance claims and Pennsylvania’s largest homeowner’s and auto insurance provider, State Farm, has been feeling the pinch. 

Marina Weis / 90.5 WESA

UPDATE: 1:19 p.m.

When Pittsburgh City Council gathered Tuesday it offered a wide range of opinions on how the Public Works Department handled the most recent storm.  Councilwoman Darlene Harris came down on the critical side.

“This morning on the way to work, I came down what you would call an emergency route, to find a bus sideways on the street, cars stuck everywhere sideways, with a salt truck sitting there with only sand on it,” said Harris.

Current and would-be politicians will be downloading ballot petition forms starting Tuesday as they prepare to run in the May primary. 

Candidates and their supporters can begin collecting signatures next week and then have a little less than a month to get the required number, which changes depending on the office being sought.  At least six candidates have said they plan to run in the Democratic primary for governor.

A 26-year-old political newcomer is hoping to swing the 3rd Congressional District in Pennsylvania back into the Democratic column.

Dan LaVallee officially announced his campaign Friday with a Youtube posting and then began a tour of the northern portion of the district that stretches from Cranberry to Erie.

“To me it’s about getting to everyone in our area figuring what we can do to move forward,” said LaValle.

Gov. Tom Corbett plans to ask lawmakers for a $10 million increase for early education grants in his budget address next week.

The proposal would amount to a 16 percent increase in funding for the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts program.

"Our Pre-K Counts programs consistently deliver high-quality pre-k education," Corbett said. "We’re not talking just babysitting, we’re talking care, we’re talking about teaching, we’re talking about nurturing."

Estimates show more than a one billion dollar deficit going into the fiscal year beginning in July.

Pages