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

As the budget battle comes to a boil in Harrisburg, the fight over Medicaid expansion is heating up right along side it.  

Lawmakers for the most part are split along party lines with Republicans supporting Gov. Tom Corbett’s decision to not opt into the federal government’s offer, while Democrats are calling for the state to expand the program as soon as possible.

The longest study of the link between obesity among Type 2 diabetes patients and cardiovascular disease recently wrapped up, and it found that among the 5,145 participants, losing weight did not improve their chances of having hospital stays due to things like chest pain and heart attacks. 

However, researchers warn there is much more to the study once you start to dig a little deeper.

An education funding advocacy group says it has polling data that shows Pennsylvanians place public education high on their priority list and would not mind paying higher income or sales taxes to better support school.

Public Citizens for Children and Youth and the left-leaning Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center commissioned the Lake Researcher Partners poll.

The poll found that 56 percent of all respondents have a favorable opinion of public schools, and 48 percent said they were very concerned about funding for the schools.

Highmark Inc. and its recently formed healthcare arm Allegheny Health Network are hoping Carnegie Mellon University will be able to dive into the systems’ terabytes of patient care and payment data to find industry changing breakthroughs. 

CMU’s Allen Russell will head the Disruptive Healthcare Technology Institute. He believes the healthcare industry, as a whole, has been resistant to what he calls “disruptive change,” like what the mobile phone did for communications or the personal computer did for mainframe computing.

Roy Engelbrecht

The oldest man-made structure in Pittsburgh is looking pretty good, according to a local architecture firm hired to assess the Block House in Point State Park.

The building will celebrate its 250th year in 2014, and its owners are hoping to spruce it up a bit before blowing up the balloons and cutting the cake.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

If you find yourself sitting in traffic on the Liberty Bridge every day you might be losing $56 a week thanks to that congestion. 

The national transportation spending advocacy group TRIP (The Road Information Program) released its report of the most costly congestion in Pittsburgh this week and found that in total, Pittsburghers are losing $1 billion a year thanks to poor road conditions and design. 

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Discrimination, school funding and teen pregnancy grabbed the attention of high school students from around the world who gathered for a World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh-sponsored video conference Wednesday.

According to the latest numbers from the Federal Trade Commission, 26 percent of all securities fraud is perpetrated against seniors, but seniors only represent 14 percent of the nation’s population.

Calling it an “overreach” of the state’s power and a “new frontier,” three female members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are blasting recently passed legislation that would prohibit insurance companies from offering policies that cover abortion services in the soon-to-be-launched Pennsylvania health exchange. 

Reps. Erin Molchany (D-Allegheny), Madeline Dean (D-Montgomery) and Mary Jo Daley (D-Montgomery) said the solution might lie in the next election cycle.

Courtesy Detre Library & Archives, Senator John Heinz History Center

When you ask most Americans why children get a break from school in the summer you usually get one of two answers. 

Warren Sullivan of Hermitage provided the most popular answer while visiting Pittsburgh last month: “I think it was agriculture wasn’t it? I mean, it’s probably the season … a few generations ago anyway.”

Allegheny County is hoping to fight blight by offering as much as a $3,000 discount to anyone looking to take ownership and improve abandon properties.

The Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program usually charges individuals or entities that want to acquire the properties the assessed value of the parcel plus about $3,000 in fees. Between now and July 15 the county will waive between $1,600 and all of the fees.

An asthmatic child in Latin American village gasps for air, struggling to breath. The mother has gotten her son to a medical clinic where she knows the life saving medicine is stored, but she has to endure an agonizing wait as another child gets treatment from the only nebulizer machine in the district.

In the meantime, thousands of the machines that aspirate the liquid medication for inhalation sit on shelves in southwestern Pennsylvania, gathering dust never to be used again. 

The United Way of Allegheny County filled a ballroom in a downtown hotel Wednesday with supporters and then announced it exceeded its 2012 fundraising goal. The total from the campaign hit $33,211,190, which is 2.7 percent more than last year’s total.

“Our record over the last five years prior to this year is that our community, the Pittsburgh community, has out raised the rest of the nation,” said local United Way President Bob Nelkin. “During that period of time we went up 12.7 percent. The rest of the big United Ways in the nation were down 4.4 percent.”

Mark Nootbar / 90.5 WESA

The latest report from a Washington D.C.-based pro-transportation investment think tank finds the average Pittsburgh driver is losing $1,418 a year due to the poor conditions of the region’s transportation infrastructure and mass transit systems. 

The Road Information Program (TRIP) Policy and Research Director Frank Moretti said that comes in the form of gas and time wasted sitting in traffic congestion, accidents due at least in part to poor road conditions and design, and fuel inefficiency and undue wear and tear on vehicles due to bad road conditions.

A new study out of the University of Pittsburgh may have found a way to treat asthma in patients that were not responding well to any other form of treatment.

“This is perhaps the most remarkable efficacy study in asthma in the last 20 years,” said the study’s senior author and University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute Director, Sally Wenzel.

The study used the injectable drug dupilumab, which blocks part of the immune system. For 12 weeks, 100 patients were randomized to either take the drug or a placebo.

A researcher at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh is hoping to slow the progression of Type 2 diabetes by treating children before they get sick. The hospital will serve as one of six sites in a study that looks to be more proactive in the treatment of the illness.

“Give them medications to see if we can rest the pancreas and preserve the beta cell function and prevent the progression to full-blown or severe diabetes,” said principal investigator and University of Pittsburgh Pediatric Endocrinologist Silva Arslanian. 

Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Bill Peduto gathered reporters Wednesday just hours after Democratic voters chose him over three other candidates in Tuesday’s primary, and already he is looking at how the structure of the city will change.

As he prepares for a general election that is all but assured to go his way, Peduto said he plans to start looking at every aspect of the city’s operations.

There will be a slew of new faces on the Pittsburgh Public School Board come January despite every incumbent board member on Tuesday’s ballot claiming victory.

It was the odd number districts that were up for election this year and of the five incumbents that could have run for reelection, only one did.  In District 3, incumbent Thomas Sumpter ran unopposed and thus was assured re-election. 

A Pittsburgh-based charity better known for working in Third World countries is lending a hand in Oklahoma in the wake of Monday's devastating tornado.

“Because of the magnitude, Brother’s Brother really felt a need to respond,” said Liam Carstens, Brother’s Brother Foundation Vice President for Medical Programs.  

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The polls are open in Pennsylvania, and so far there have been no reports of voting abnormalities in southwestern Pennsylvania. Turnout at most voting places has been light.

Officials expect to see about 20 percent of registered voters across the state cast a ballot. That number is expected to be a bit higher in Pittsburgh where a hotly contested mayoral race could boost the numbers.  

A federal grand jury has indicted a former Pittsburgh-area priest on a charge of possessing child pornography.

The one-count indictment against David Dzermejko of Braddock for “possession of material depicting the sexual exploitation of a minor” was unsealed Friday.

The indictment alleges that “on or about January 11, 2013, Dzermejko possessed visual depictions, namely, still images in computer graphics files, the production of which involved the use of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”

BillPeduto.com

Elected Positions Held: District 8 Pittsburgh City Councilman, 2002-Present

Other Occupations of Note: Chief of staff to former City Councilman Dan Cohen.

Education: BA Penn State University, MA University of Pittsburgh

Top Issues:
Economic Development: Peduto plans to take the model of community-based development to all city neighborhoods by landing state and federal grant support, modernizing zoning laws and improving transit.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, and while everyone wants to keep riders safe, how to best do that is still up for debate in the commonwealth.

When Gov. Tom Corbett declared May Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month he encouraged riders to head to the PennDOT-sponsored website livefreeridealive.com to get tips on how to stay safe while riding. Along with tips such as wearing sturdy shoes and checking tire pressure, it also recommends that riders wear a helmet.

The average hospital in Pennsylvania made money in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, but not as much as they did the year before and not enough to make the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) confident about the future.

The PHC4 released its annual study Wednesday, which found the 171 General Acute Care hospitals in the state realized on average a 5.82 percent operating margin in 2011-2012. That was down from 7.04 percent the year before but above the industry benchmark of 4 percent for a healthy hospital.

One of Pittsburgh’s most popular film festivals opened this weekend and continues through Sunday with the goal of not only entertaining viewers, but also opening the door to a better understanding of Asian cultures.  

The Silk Screen Film Festival defines Asia as stretching from Israel to Japan. Executive Director Harish Saluja said the goal of the organization and all of its events throughout the year is to build cultural bridges between Pittsburgh and that region of the world.

The gap between the front runners in the Pittsburgh Democratic mayoral primary has widened beyond the margin of error in the latest poll, but it is still far less than the percentage of those who are still undecided.

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto leads former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner 39 percent to 32 percent with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percent in the latest Keystone Analytics poll.   

Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor is hoping that a two-year concentrated effort on organ donation education will help to swell the rolls of organ and tissue donors in the state. The focus of the campaign is that it takes just 30 seconds to register to become an organ donor. 

“In the time it takes you to tie your shoes, you can change your life,” said Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.  “You can become a hero and become an organ donor. It takes a half minute ... so do it.”

US Airways mechanics could be voting soon to trade in their old union for new representation.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has fielded the needed papers with the National Mediation Board requesting an election. The union says it has collected 2,800 signatures from the 4,500 US Airways mechanics who are currently represented by the International Association of Machinists.

Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has been sentenced to three years house arrest and two years of probation for misusing her Superior Court staff to aid in her campaign efforts.
 
Melvin, 57, was found guilty of using the staff in her failed campaign in 2003 and then again during her successful campaign in 2009.
 
Allegheny County Judge Lester Nauhaus said he does not believe Melvin is an evil person, but he said her "arrogance is stunning."

With as many as 30,000 visitors and runners making their way to downtown Pittsburgh Sunday for the marathon, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is hoping to put an “extra shine” on the Golden Triangle.

“This is something we do every Saturday but it is an extra special weekend,” said Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) CEO Jeremy Waldrup who is hoping to see about 50 volunteers show up at the group’s Liberty Avenue office Saturday at 10:00a.m.

The volunteers will be out spiffing up the streets and green spaces for about four hours according to Waldrup.

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