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

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.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Just moments after the Pennsylvania Insurance Department gave its approval to the deal, Highmark Inc. finalized its partnership with a long list of healthcare providers, including the West Penn Allegheny Health System, Jefferson Regional Medical Center and a group of West Penn physicians that will be known as the Allegheny Clinic.

The deal was more than two years in the making, and Highmark Board Chairman Bob Baum said it shows all of those involved have the will and the determination to build the new integrated delivery system, dubbed the Allegheny Health Network.

The deal to merge Highmark and the West Penn Allegheny Health System has cleared another hurdle, but with a few warnings.

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department has given approval to the transactional filing that would bring together the nonprofit organizations and create an "integrated delivery network."

It's that time of year again when artists of all skill and experience levels descend on an empty warehouse in Lawrenceville to celebrate what has become one of the largest art events in the region. 

Art All Night will hold its 16th annual event starting at 4 p.m. Saturday at 4001 Willow St. in Lawrenceville.

Anyone can submit a work from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Saturday. The art will then be put on display in the non-juried event. Artists will be asked if they want to offer their works for sale.

Tom Prigg / The Allegheny Front

A protest by a group know best for its pacifist views disrupted a PNC shareholder meeting in Pittsburgh Tuesday to the point that the company’s chairman and CEO had to shut down the gathering. 

For three years the Earth Quaker Action Team has been protesting the financial institution’s involvement in the practice of collecting coal through a process known as mountaintop removal.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Walking through a grove of cherry trees, petals gently riding to the ground on a spring breeze, might sound like something out of a romance novel, but it's actually happening right now in North Park in Allegheny County.

Just like the Japanese government did in Washington D.C. decades ago, a local group has given a gift of cherry trees to Pittsburgh. 

Pittsburgh police responded to a report that a box labeled "pressure cooker" with a Massachusetts return address was delivered to a city office building — only to find it really was a pressure cooker, ordered by an employee.

Police Lt. Shirley Sloan said the police response Wednesday was born out of an abundance of caution in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

"It was really tense there for a while," Sloan said.

The FBI has said Monday's blasts were caused by homemade bombs crafted using pressure cookers.

Pittsburgher Karen Harr finished the Boston Marathon Monday well before the explosions that killed three and injured more than 170 people.

She could have been back at the hospitality suite in the hotel where she was staying, but a decision to head back to the medical tent to get a dose of asthma medicine put her just yards away from the blast.

Harr wasn't hurt, but she said the experience will not prompt her to hang up her running shoes. 

Marathon organizers across the country are examining how they can better prepare their races for an incident like the one seen this week in Boston, but much of the ground work for such a discussion was already laid in Pittsburgh following a scare at the 2010 race. 

Not long after the Pittsburgh race started that year, an abandoned microwave oven was found near the finish line, and organizers and police had to spring into action.

Among those at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday when the bombs exploded was Pittsburgher John Adamczak. Adamczak has volunteered at the finish line for 20 years and leads a team of other Pittsburghers to the event each year.

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. 

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