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

A pair of U.S. senators is hoping their staffs will have more success than the Department of Veterans Affairs has had in its efforts to reduce the backlog the VA faces in processing disability claims.

In some instances it takes more than two years for the government to process those claims.

“We (in Washington) all hope that we are working every day to pay tribute to our veterans and their families,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). “How can we be true to that promise when you have this kind of a backlog.”

The theme of taking action today to combat climate change tomorrow ran rampant through Tuesday’s BlueGreen Alliance roundtable on president Obama’s recently released climate change plan. 

While the event spent very little time talking about the specifics of the president’s plan, it did offer several opinions on making sure climate control efforts also benefit the local economy.

The Red Cross says it needs your blood today.

The Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region services 80 hospitals in 100 counties in six states, including nearly all of southwestern Pennsylvania. Spokeswoman Marianne Spampinato says they are starting to get a dangerously low levels.

Blood donations always drop in the summer, and Spampinato said with the Fourth of July falling in the middle of the week, donations were extremely slow all of last week.

The Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region needs to collect 700 units of blood a day to keep up with demand.

Mary Wilson / 90.5 WESA

The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania to make the state recognize gay couples.

The suit comes two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gay marriage but left state prohibitions intact. Lawyers say this is the first federal case since to be filed challenging a state's gay marriage law.

The Lawrence County woman who lost custody of her child after testing positive for drugs after eating a poppy seed bagel has settled her suit against the county and the hospital where the test was preformed. 

The American Civil Liberties Union took the case of Elizabeth Mort in 2010 and announced the settlement with Jameson Hospital and Lawrence County Children and Youth Services Tuesday. The two entities will pay $143,500 to settle the suit. 

On this day 150 years ago the Battle of Gettysburg began. By the time the three-day battle was over, nearly 8,000 Americans were dead and another 40,000 were wounded or missing. But the battle changed the tide of the Civil War. 

This week, thousands of spectators will gather in Gettysburg to mark the anniversary, as Civil War re-enactors play out some of the key skirmishes that made the three-day battle so memorable. That means Gettysburg Chief Historian Scott Hartwig will be busy.

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh will soon be looking for a new chancellor.  Mark Nordenberg told the University’s Board of Trustees Friday that he will leave the post in the summer of 2014.

Nearly eight months ago, then state Auditor General Jack Wagner issued a long list of recommendations that he thought would provide for more oversight of the operation of Penn State University. Most of those recommendations have not been adopted, but Democrats in the state Senate are pushing to change that.

“We are calling upon our colleagues on the other side of the aisle to have that conversation with us over the course summer and the fall,” said Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).

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.

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