Noah Brode



5:53 am
Tue April 16, 2013

3 New Spray Parks Set to Spout in Pittsburgh This Summer

Pittsburgh leaders are following up on the success of two miniature water parks, known as "spray parks," by building more of the facilities to open in three city neighborhoods this summer.

After the Act 47 state financial oversight team found that the city was spending too much money on swimming pools in 2004, Pittsburgh was forced to close 13 pools. One of those reopened a few years later thanks to a nonprofit organization, but the others remained unused for years.

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Mayoral Race
2:25 pm
Mon April 15, 2013

Wagner Proclaims Support for Highmark's Acquisition of West Penn Allegheny

Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Jack Wagner announces his support of a proposed merger between Highmark and West Penn Allegheny Health System.
Credit Noah Brode/90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Jack Wagner announced Monday that he has sent a letter to Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Consedine that urges him to approve the proposed "affiliation" between Highmark, Inc. and the West Penn Allegheny Health System (WPAHS).

At a corner of Federal Street in view of Allegheny General Hospital on the North Side, Wagner said the long-awaited acquisition of WPAHS by Highmark would ultimately attract new businesses to Pittsburgh by lowering employer healthcare costs.

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Health Insurance
8:44 am
Sun April 14, 2013

New Highmark Insurance Plan Channels Patients to Specific Hospitals

A new insurance plan from Highmark allows employers to nudge their employees toward particular hospitals when they need risky surgeries.

Employers using the "Blue Distinction" program can give incentives, such as waived deductibles and co-pays, to employees who choose hospitals that have proven track records for certain surgeries.

The company can also choose to increase co-pays or even “carve out” coverage for any other hospital when the specialty surgery is needed, according to Highmark Vice President of Regional Sales Eric Hays.

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Community Events
9:29 am
Sat April 13, 2013

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch

Each weekend, 90.5 WESA Weekend Edition host Noah Brode previews some interesting events going on in the Pittsburgh Area.

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4:33 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Urges Congressional Action on Immigration Reform

Pittsburgh City Council voted Wednesday to issue a resolution that urges Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package.

Authored by Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, the Will of Council document demands an easier process for foreigners to become U.S. citizens.

"There is no reasonable system for people to become citizens of this country," Rudiak said. "That's why we have 11 million people living in the shadows. If we actually had a reasonable pathway to citizenship, people would be doing that."

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Pittsburgh City Council
2:54 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Pittsburgh on Track to Audit City Employees' Healthcare Dependents

Seeking to trim the fat off of the city's corpulent healthcare liability, Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that would launch an audit of the validity of all dependents enrolled in the city's health insurance plan.

At its committee meeting Wednesday, Council approved the $55,000 contract with a private firm in an 8-1 vote, the only "nay" coming from Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess.

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Urban Redevelopment Authority
3:30 am
Wed April 10, 2013

City Agency to Apply for State Grants for Major Developments in Downtown, East Liberty

The Gardens at Market Square project is slated to receive an RACP grant.
Credit Rachel R. Grozanick / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is working to snag $9.25 million in state grants for two major new projects in Downtown and the East End, as well as for two smaller developments in Oakland and the West End.

On Tuesday, the URA submitted to city council legislation that would allow the agency to apply for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's budget office. The Corbett administration has already confirmed that the grants will be awarded if the enabling legislation passes council.

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U.S. Supreme Court
9:25 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas Visits Duquesne University

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at Duquesne University Tuesday afternoon on topics ranging from his childhood in segregated Georgia to his 22-year tenure on the nation's highest court.

Thomas is the only black justice to serve on the Supreme Court after Thurgood Marshall. Thomas filled Marshall's vacated position on the bench.

Born in Pin Point, Ga. in 1948, Thomas said he grew up in a poor black community, but he was pushed toward academic success by his grandfather and the nuns at his Catholic school.

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Pittsburgh City Council
11:30 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Bill Would Repeal Mayor's Special Expense Fund

Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor introduced a bill Tuesday to repeal a 1995 law that set up a special "imprest fund" from which the mayor could withdraw up to $10,000 at a time for travel expenses.

O'Connor said he is not suggesting that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl or any other city leader used the fund illegitimately. Rather, he said his legislation simply requires the mayor to file for travel expenses via the same process used by all other city employees.

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Shuman Juvenile Detention Center
3:42 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Allegheny Co. Awaits Ruling on Shuman Center License After Responding to State Investigation

Allegheny County has reported to the state government on the reforms it has implemented at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center following a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) investigation into the alleged physical abuse of a child inmate in January.

Now the county must wait at least a few days for the DPW to rule on the status of the Shuman Center's license as a juvenile detention facility.

The license could be downgraded to a provisional status or the inmates could even be transferred, according to DPW spokeswoman Donna Morgan.

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7:27 am
Sun April 7, 2013

Pittsburgh Council to Consider Increase to Liquor License Transfer Fee

Citing the high number of establishments that subvert the city's higher liquor license fees by simply transferring licenses in from other municipalities, Pittsburgh City Council members said they're crafting legislation to substantially increase the city's license transfer fee.

At its Wednesday meeting, Council ordered a post agenda meeting to discuss the issue with experts. If passed, such legislation might either stem Pittsburgh's rising number of liquor licenses by discouraging transfers or serve to help fill the city's coffers.

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9:44 am
Sat April 6, 2013

90.5 WESA Weekend Watch 4/20 & 4/21

90.5 WESA's Weekend Edition host Noah Brode takes a closer look at some interesting events going on in the Pittsburgh area this weekend:

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Pittsburgh City Council
3:30 am
Thu April 4, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Approves $7.2M for New Vehicles, Police Cars

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approved a $7.2 million bill to purchase new police vehicles and other additions to the city fleet, setting up the legislation for a final vote next week.

For the Bureau of Police, the list includes 31 new patrol cars, 12 new police motorcycles, nine unmarked cars and four K-9 vehicles.

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Police Slush Fund Scandal
4:59 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Pittsburgh Council on Track to Reform Police Detail Fee that Led to Slush Fund

Pittsburgh Finance Director Scott Kunka (left) and Deputy Police Chief Paul Donaldson (right) answer City Council's questions on reforms to an administrative fee for off-duty police details.
Credit Noah Brode/90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to legislation that would divert an administrative fee for off-duty police details into a special trust fund, cleaning up a process that led to the February slush fund scandal and the ouster of Police Chief Nathan Harper.

Under a bill from Council President Darlene Harris, the city would finally codify a fee to companies that hire Pittsburgh police officers for special event duties.

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Allegheny County
6:34 am
Wed April 3, 2013

Allegheny Co. Council Reverses Review Board's Changes to Property Assessment Appeals

The Allegheny County Council voted on Tuesday night to nix a few controversial changes that a county governing board had made to the property assessment appeals process.

The Board of Property Assessment and Review (BPAR) had changed its regulations in mid-March to allow only attorneys to represent property owners appealing reassessments, rather than certified appraisers, realtors and other professionals.

Real estate professionals came out in force Tuesday to denounce the BPAR revisions.

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Health Care
3:39 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Pittsburgh May Conduct Review of Employee Health Care Costs, Eligibility of Dependents

As Pittsburgh continues to grapple with hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded health care liability for current and former city employees, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration has introduced a bill that would hire a private firm to investigate the eligibility of employees' and retirees' dependents.

The proposed $55,000 contract with HMS Employer Solutions of Texas would allow the company "to conduct an eligibility audit of all employee and retiree dependents enrolled in the City's healthcare program."

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Mayoral Race
4:42 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Out Like a Lamb: City Controller Exits Pittsburgh Mayoral Race

City Controller Michael Lamb withdraws from the Pittsburgh mayoral race at his campaign HQ in Greenfield, choosing to support Jack Wagner instead.
Credit Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb withdrew from the city's mayoral race Monday, instead opting to endorse former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner.

With five Democrats vying for the party's nomination before today's announcement, Lamb cited the need for clarity in a race that has been "muddied" since the March withdrawal of incumbent mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

"I don't want the conversation for our next leader to be generalities," said Lamb. "We need a real dialog to ensure we get the best possible candidate for the job."

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Heart Disease
3:30 am
Mon April 1, 2013

Take a Walk to Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease, Stroke

Wednesday is National Walking Day, and organizers in Pittsburgh are hoping to get people in the good habit of taking a daily constitutional as warmer spring weather begins in the region.

Sandy McCurdy, board member of the American Heart Association, said walking is the easiest way to reduce one's risk for heart disease and stroke — two diseases that account for a combined 870,000 deaths in the United States each year.

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10:08 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Plans for Bike Share Program Advance in Pittsburgh Council

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to legislation that sets up an account for a bike-share program in the city slated for 2014, although no city funds would be used for the $3 million initiative.

The committee vote Wednesday advanced two bills regarding "Pittsburgh Bike Share" to a full Council vote on Tuesday, where final approval is expected.

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Carnegie Mellon University
4:56 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

CMU Students Create Device to Process Payments from Fingerprints

People may soon be able to charge purchases to their personal accounts with the tips of their fingers, thanks to a new invention from four students at Carnegie Mellon University.

Brian Groudan, Kelly Lau-Kee, Umang Patel and Christian Reyes came together in their senior year to create PayTango, a new technology that identifies a person's fingerprint for use as a human debit card.

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Mayoral Race
1:23 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Ferlo, Four Unions Endorse Wagner for Mayor

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (right) watches as Darrin Kelly of the firefighters union endorses Jack Wagner for mayor. Ferlo also endorsed Wagner.
Credit Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Citing his long record of public service, a local state senator and four labor unions endorsed former Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner for the Pittsburgh mayoral race.

On the steps of the City-County Building on Grant Street Wednesday morning, State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Allegheny) announced his support for Wagner. Ferlo had filed nominating papers for the mayoral race but withdrew less than a week later.

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1:14 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Bill Would Promote 'Camouflaged' Cell Phone Towers in Pittsburgh

Some examples of cell phone towers hidden within other structures.
Credit Pittsburgh City Council District 7

The Pittsburgh Planning Commission is reviewing legislation that would create incentives for communications companies to conceal cell phone towers and antennas within regular urban structures.

A Pittsburgh resident originally proposed the idea to District 7 Councilman Patrick Dowd, who introduced the measure to Council on Tuesday.

District 7 communications manager Nathaniel Hanson said the legislation would encourage companies to hide their new antennas within the most workaday buildings and objects.

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Marcellus Shale
3:52 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Federal Study: Shale Development Fragmenting Allegheny County Forests

Credit The National Map, U.S. Geological Survey

A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) delineates how the construction of new roads and pipelines for Marcellus Shale natural gas development and other energy industries can mince up local forests, leading to smaller ecosystems and limiting wildlife.

Using aerial imagery, USGS researchers found that developers laid 140 miles of new roads and eight miles of new pipelines for the sake of 647 Marcellus Shale gas wells drilled in Allegheny County from 2004 to 2010.

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12:29 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Slight Uptick to PA Deer Harvest Last Hunting Season

Hunters killed roughly 343,110 deer in Pennsylvania during the 2012-2013 season, according to the state's Game Commission, a yearly increase of about 2 percent.

That includes roughly 133,860 antlered deer and 209,250 antlerless deer, both increases over the previous season.

Joe Neville, director of information and education for the Game Commission, said the numbers are on track with his agency's annual goal of harvesting about one-third of the state's population of roughly one million deer.

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Light Rail
4:00 am
Mon March 25, 2013

The North Shore Connector, One Year Later

A Port Authority "T" train pulls up to a stop near Heinz Field, one of the premier rail destinations of the North Shore Connector.
Credit Noah Brode/90.5 WESA

90.5 WESA's Noah Brode reports on the prospects for local light rail at the one-year anniversary of the North Shore Connector.

It was one year ago today that the North Shore Connector light rail line began taking passengers under the Allegheny River.

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