90.5 WESA's Essential Pittsburgh

Essential Pittsburgh airs weekdays from noon to 1 p.m. and is repeated at 8 p.m.
  • Hosted by Paul Guggenheimer

Essential Pittsburgh is a locally produced program from 90.5 WESA dedicated to developing a deep, ongoing exploration of critical issues affecting Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.

Essential Pittsburgh features community leaders and newsmakers in the arts, sciences, technology, business, healthcare, government and education.

  • Call (412) 246-2002 from noon to 1 p.m. weekdays to participate in the discussion.  
  • Tweet your question to @esspgh. 
  • Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.
  • What stories are we missing? Send your thoughts to esspgh@wesa.fm 
Brock Fleeger / flickr

Former Pirates pitcher Kent Tekulve was known as a workhorse out of the bullpen during his 16 year Major League Baseball career. He led the majors in games pitched four times, appearing in 90 or more in three different seasons. Tekulve saved three games in the 1979 World Series including the winner, as the Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles. But the biggest save of his life came last fall when he received a life-saving heart transplant. Teke, as he is known, joins us to talk about his recovery and return to the airwaves as a member of the Pirates broadcast team.

Kent Tekulve (starting at 28:10) remains humble despite all of his successes:

I never thought of myself as a Hall of Famer. I think I'm just very proud to be able to do what I was able to do and to compete against a whole lot of Hall of Famers and have some success against them while I was playing.

Also in today's show: Pittsburgh design firm MAYA and StoryCorps team up to create a mobile version of the StoryCorps recording and archiving experience, and the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds begin their season, giving the sport of Ultimate Disc a firm foothold in the Pittsburgh area. 

Lawrence Jackson / Wikipedia

Mayor Peduto recently announced his support for Natalia Rudiak's call for a Will of Council in regards to an international trade deal that might go straight to Congress without input from state and city representatives. Rudiak, along with other local and national legislators, worries that "fast-tracking" the trade agreement with Asian nations will give multinational corporations new, sweeping offshore profits and limit sovereign governments from regulating environmental quality, land use, food safety and telecommunications. Rudiak joins us to explain her reservations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Asked to discuss critics' concerns regarding the trade deal, Rudiak explains that one of the biggest fears is loss of employment:

"We're talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs being potentially lost. That's what we saw from NAFTA, that's what we saw from CAFTA, that's what we saw from the U.S./Korea trade deal. ... What's scary about this is that we're talking about 21 countries that represent 40% of the country's GDP, so it's sort of like NAFTA on steroids." -- Natalia Rudiak

Also in the program, 1960s pop star and native Pittsburgher Lou Christie looks back on his musical career as he his honored by the Pittsburgh Rock 'n Roll Legends Award, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme warns us to not wait and to start planning for the beach.

theatlantic.com

As part of the EverPower Earth Day Festival today in Market Square, Robert Swan is appearing in Pittsburgh. Swan is the first man ever to walk to both the North and South poles. He is currently an advocate for the protection of Antarctica and renewable energy.

Swan explains how traveling through wilderness changes a person's perception of the world:

"You realize that actually we, the human race, tend to feel that we can dominate the wilderness...dominate our planet. When you have walked the South pole or the North pole you know how small we really are, how insignificant we really are and how our world is a hell of a lot more powerful and if we carry on as we are it'll just spit us out."

Also in the program, Chatham is in the process of building the first campus in the world to be built solely for the study of sustainability, and Joylette Portlock of Communitopia helps us to see the positive side of a historically negative topic: climate change and our evolving environment.

dfbphotos / flickr

Since 2004, the amount of radon present in Pennsylvania air has steadily increased -- an increase that our guest Dr. Joan Casey notes began the same year that the state's first fracking sites became operational. Dr. Casey recently published her findings that quantify PA radon levels, and she joins us to discuss the possible cause of its decade-long spike as well as what PA residents can do to protect themselves from the toxic gas, which is the second leading cause of lung cancer nationwide. 

Asked about the importance of checking radon levels in the home -- especially homes near hydraulic fracturing sites -- Casey explains:

"Radon is colorless, it's odorless, but it's also this carcinogenic gas. And so, it is important for people in Pennsylvania to be checking their indoor radon levels because we know that historically Pennsylvania has had a lot of radon, and there are potentially new pathways opening up due to this industry." -- Dr. Joan Casey

Also in the program, Illah Nourbakhsh and Bea Dias explain how CMU's CREATE Lab has developed an affordable way for families to test the indoor air quality of their homes, Jody Bell describes a lending program for the devices that is being offered by the Squirrel Hill branch of the Carnegie Library, Margaret J. Krauss takes us through the saga of the polio vaccine, and Rebecca Harris breaks down mobile businesses.

Borya / flickr

A conversation with award winning New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast about her graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant” which takes a head on look at issues involved with aging, dying and death. She's speaking in Pittsburgh on Thursday at Temple Rodef Shalom in Oakland to benefit Family Hospice and Palliative Care.

Chast explains her reasoning for sketching her mother as she lay dying-- it jump started her memoir:

"It was something to do. There's nothing really to do when you're sitting at your parents' bed side and you want to be with them but they're in that stage of life where they're not really talking anymore and sleeping most of the time. I wanted to be with her in a deeper way and for me drawing is part of that."

Also in this program, Nancy Spielberg's latest film, Above and Beyond, tells the story of a group of Jewish American pilots flying for Israel in its War of Independence. 

Lollie-Pop / flickr

What’s being described as a major effort to forge a new model of urban growth and development is underway. The P4 international summit has brought experts from around the world to the Steel City and we’ll talk with one of them, Amory Lovins, Co-founder and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute. He’ll talk about what the renewable power revolution means for cities like ours.    Amory Lovins shares some of the benefits of using renewable energy in relation to fossil fuels: 

"Just the routine improvement in both wind and solar power have made them already cheaper than new gas power in almost all of the country."

 Also in this hour Jason and Melora Angst from the Artisan Tattoo parlor speak about their plan to save their shop, and Elaine Labalme shares the best hiking and biking spots in Pittsburgh. 


Scott Davidson / flickr

This week a video was released of an Arizona officer using his police cruiser to intentionally run down a suspect-- the latest event involving a police officer's overt use of force. It comes shortly after the shooting death of Walter Scott, as he was running away, by an officer in South Carolina. Are law enforcement officials using an increasing amount of what is sometimes deadly force? We're posing that question to Pitt Law Professor David Harris.

Harris suggests that while it's unlikely that deadly force on the part of police has actually increased, video footage of it has become more common, and increased accountability has followed:

"I don't know that we have evidence that it's worse. I do think there's a greater awareness, a much greater likelihood that we'll have video proof, and, you know, when you see it, even on only a cellphone camera, it's just different than hearing a report of it afterwards. And that's why I think that this seems to be a kind of watershed moment." -- David Harris

Also in the program, a new book co-edited by Trabian Shorters observes the everyday lives of 40 black men, paining a picture of how black men are "living, leading and succeeding" in modern America.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto makes his monthly visit to the show. He talks about this week's educational summit in Pittsburgh focusing on sustainable urban development and how it will establish Pittsburgh as "the city of the future" as well as the city's new bike share program.  

Peduto says that, after a long period of managing decline, it's time to help the city grow. When looking at sustainability, however, he says we still have to proceed carefully.

"We don't want to put too much salt in the soup. We want to be able to make sure that the growth enhances what we already have... We want to be able to hit standards that exceed world standards, or at least match them, to make Pittsburgh a world leader once again on a global scale."

Also in today's show, Margaret Krauss throws back to opening day 80 years ago, when the Pittsburgh Crawfords were the best name in baseball. President of the Senator John Heinz History Center Andy Masich reveals the contents of John Brashear's time capsule, found beneath the Pittsburgh factory where he worked as a leader in developing scientific tools. 

Essential Pittsburgh: The Local 'Fight for 15'

Apr 14, 2015
pennsylvanianow.org

On Wednesday, April 15th, low-wage workers around the country are going on strike. They’re coming together to demand the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour. We’re previewing the rally taking place here in Pittsburgh with Rev. Richard Freeman, President of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, and fast food worker Ashona Osborne. 

Rev. Freeman explains the rally and the involvement of PIIN by saying:

 "Central to the rally is -- rooted in our moral thought -- that everybody who works 40 hours a week should be able to sustain their families. ... I think the problem is a moral problem. Ergo, that's why the Pennsylvania Inferfaith Impact Network and our congregations are engaged." -- Rev. Richard Freeman

Asked to explain the difficulties of living on the current minimum wage, Osborne explains:

"7.25 is just chump change. I have to decide which bill is more important that week and let the other one slip until my next paycheck. ... That's either: do I pay rent off this paycheck, or do I go food shopping? Do I get my baby clothes or do I pay my light bill? And it shouldn't be like that." -- Ashona Osborne

Also in the program, Robert Morris University professor Brian O'Roark offers his assessment of how the enactment of a $15 minimum wage would impact workers, employers and the economy, and Post-Gazette reporter Len Barcousky describes how, 150 years ago today, the first presidential assassination threw the nation, and its major media outlets, for an unprecedented loop. 

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April 14th marks how far into the year a woman must work in order to earn the same amount of money as a man in the previous year. The Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management will host a “Great Debate,” in which opinion leaders will argue their stances on the event’s theme: how nonprofits are addressing the gender pay gap, and whether or not it should be their priority. Robert Morris Associate Professor Daria C. Crawley and Bayer Center executive director and founder Peggy Morrison Outon join us to discuss how nonprofits take responsibility for wage inequities.

Peggy Morrison explains why there is a pattern of lower salaries among female workers in non-profits:

"One thing in the 70 interviews that I did in our research shows that women will negotiate for salary before they join a non-profit, but once they join the non-profit it becomes their family and they are very reluctant to advocate for themselves. "

Also in today's show, Bob Dvorchak joins us to debrief the recent announcement of Troy Polamalu's retirement, the Pirate's home opener, and a prediction for Penguin's playoff games.

Jon Dawson / flickr

How do residents and visitors perceive the South Side? Pitt students enrolled in Professor Michael Glass’ urban skills seminar spent a semester interviewing people from all parts of the neighborhood. Michael Glass and student Jason Wald join us to reveal the findings of their research. 

Professor Glass says the goal of the study was the capture the different perspectives of South Side's diverse community rather than to call attention to its rowdier, more buzz-worthy elements.

"We don't want to say the nightlife is a bad thing...What we want to be mindful of is that South Side is used not only by those drinkers but also the people living above the bars, living on Sarah and Jane Streets. Trying to figure out a way where those two communities can coexist is really important." - Professor Michael Glass

Also in today's show, Elaine Labalme tells us where to find art hotels in the Pittsburgh area. 

Fox Valley Institute/Flickr

New research within the field of epigenetics may change the way we look at the treatment of mental health issues in children. Dr. Sharna Olfman, a professor of developmental psychology at Point Park University and a practicing psychologist, has published a new book, The Science and Pseudoscience of Children's Mental Health, that aims to de-mystify how mental health issues are introduced within a child's developing brain.

Dr. Olfman believes that the question is no longer confined to internal factors, but instead an integration of children's changing environments with the processes of early brain development and transferrable genetics.   

"We put tens of thousands of chemical toxins into our environment, kids are sitting in front of screens for hours a day…we’ve radically changed the way kids eat…we’ve really changed every facet of their environment." - Dr. Sharna Olfman

Also on the program, a new application out of the Entertainment Technology Center helps children cope with traumatic experiences through gameplay, and the President of the Senator John Heinz History Center Andy Masich commemorates the 150th anniversary of the day the American Civil War came to an end. 

Ryan Stanton/Flickr

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Acts. Reauthored in 2001 and now more widely known as No Child Left Behind, the law will be getting a major rewrite in 2015. NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia covers the changes coming to the most enduring education legislation that Congress has ever passed. 

Eskelsen Garcia says the complaints of parents and teachers have provided a chance to make major changes to the acts.

"We have an opportunity because more and more members of Congress might have an open mind about ending this test-and-punish routine and replacing it with better information."-Lily Eskelsen Garcia

Also today, we explore the idea of technological fluency, and civil rights activist and UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski works to institute minorities in STEM-related careers. 


Essential Pittsburgh: Running Out of Road

Apr 7, 2015
Doug Kerr/Flickr

As spring and summer road construction projects are about to get underway, they could be stopped before they get started. The reason being that the Highway Trust Fund will be broke come the end of May. We’ll address how this can impact southwestern PA with Chris Sandvig, Regional Policy Director of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group.

Asked to explain the Trust Fund and its current status, Sandvig says: 

"Locally, within our Southwestern Pennsylvania region, we receive well over $100 million a year in federal funds that are spent on roads, bridges, mass transit, pedestrian and bicycle facilities. The Highway Trust Fund is where that money comes from.  ... Long story short, we're running out of money." -- Chris Sandvig

Also in the program: Christopher Powell and Dayton Kinney discuss an innovative collaboration between Carnegie Mellon and the Pittsburgh Opera, Margaret J. Krauss reports on a harrowing 1902 prison break that gave us our modern police force and Rebecca Harris explains revitalization planned for the Pittsburgh neighborhood of St. Clair.

Essential Pittsburgh: The Pirates Hit the Field

Apr 6, 2015
Dan Gaken/Flickr

The decision to uphold the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate PA State Attorney General Kathleen Kane is the latest setback in her once rising political career.  We’ll get an update on the current troubles of the beleaguered attorney general with WESA’s capitol reporter Mary Wilson.

Mary Wilson talks about the next steps for Kane and how she plans to proceed :

“Well there is no date that I would circle [on a calendar]… Kane says she is not going to resign. Her attorney and spokesman Lanny Davis says that, ‘She’s not stepping down and she’s not going to give into the fight.’ The line from her office is that she’s under siege by people who feel insulted about her rise to power ...”

Also in this hour, Al Yellon talks about the history and future of AstroTurf in baseball, we talk to George Coury, a 46-year Pirates season ticket holder, and Post-Gazette Sportswriter Bob Dvorchak shares his predictions for the performance of the Pirates this season.


Castrin Austin/Flickr

An event billed as the Pittsburgh Rockin' Reunion will take place this weekend. Joining us for a look at Pittsburghers who made rock ‘n’roll music in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s is Ed Salamon, author of the book "Pittsburgh's Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll."

"All of the elements that created rock 'n roll were present here in Pittsburgh. A lot of musicologists say it's a combination of jazz, of pop, of rhythm and blues. All of those musics existed here in Pittsburgh, and they cross-pollinated in Pittsburgh as in few other places." - Ed Salamon

Also on today's show: Justin Hayward--singer, songwriter, and lead guitarist for the legendary rock group The Moody Blues--remembers a long career of classics, and WYEP's Mike Sauter lays out the steel city's rock 'n roll future: Ringo, Rosanne Cash and none other than The Rolling Stones. 


Becky Wetherington/Flickr

In commemoration of World Autism Awareness Day, Lu Randall, Executive Director at Autism Connection of PA and April Artz,Coordinator for the EmployAble program at the Squirrel Hill Career Development Center, are working to place adults with mental health issues in STEM jobs. The EmployAble program, which provides supportive services along with their job placements, acquired the funds to include services for adults on the autism spectrum in 2014.

Asked about the challenges faced by job seekers on the autism spectrum, Artz explains:

"When people go to apply for a job, there's still a lot of concern on their end about disclosing or talking about it to their employer. And I think in some ways that is justified because there is still a lot of misunderstanding despite the fact [that] this is very prevalent, and this is sort of being a human, we still have a lot of stigma and anxiety around this."

Explaining her outlook on helping the people she works with to seek employment, Randall says: 

"I see my role, in particular, as providing kind of a cross-cultural explanation of a group that's really not well understood. And it's very similar, when we listen to the issues, to any other minority groups in the past or currently who have a hard time being taken seriously, being respected, not having stereotypes put out there that are untrue."

Also in the program, Pitt professor Michael Kenney talks about why some Americans become interested in joining ISIS, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme gives suggestions on where to go for some extra March Madness.

 

Essential Pittsburgh: Re-Drafting 'You and The Police'

Apr 1, 2015
macwagen / flickr

The original version of the pamphlet titled "You and The Police" has been around since the mid-1990s, published after Jonny Gammage's death during a traffic stop. Now, the Pittsburgh police bureau has collaborated with the Black Political Empowerment Project, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Citizen Police Review Board on an updated version of the brochure, which they hope will be distributed in public schools and churches across the city. The handout offers tips on how to handle interactions with the police at traffic stops, within a private home and during an arrest. B-PEP Founder Tim Stevens, ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczak, and Executive Director of the CPRB Beth Pittinger explain the new information and why the city believes the pamphlet's re-introduction is necessary.  Walczak cautioned that, though he thought the brochure is helpful and would minimize negative police interactions, it wouldn't completely solve the problem. 

"There's no silver bullet. No matter how good the brochure is and how wide a distribution you put out, it's not a guarantee that everything is going to be hunky dory. You're going to have misunderstandings. Some employees, like in any business, are not going to follow the rules or do the right thing."- Vic Walczak

Also today, Joe Wos presents the story of the "world's greatest liar" (a Pittsburgh-er, of course) in honor of April Fool's Day. 


Chatham University

Our guest Cokie Roberts has long been familiar to NPR listeners. She offers political commentary during Morning Edition on Mondays and provides analysis for ABC News. This year, Ms. Roberts is being honored as Chatham University’s Elsie Hillman Chair in Women and Politics. On Wednesday she’ll present the lecture An Insider’s View on Washington, D.C.

Asked about how she manages her own political beliefs when reporting on political issues, Roberts explains:

"When you do it as long as I have, you stop, really, having political beliefs. You care about the issues, and you care that people understand the issues, but you see both sides all the time. And you see people who make a lot of sense on one side, and people who don't make any sense on the same side and vice versa. So it's really a question of just trying to explain it." -- Cokie Roberts

Also in the program, Career Consultant Sasha King offers up tips for peer evaluations, Margaret J. Krauss re-lives Pittsburgh's Whiskey Rebellion and business contributor Rebecca Harris preps us for impending holy holidays with the business of Easter. 


Essential Pittsburgh: Celebrating Courageous Women in Journalism

Mar 30, 2015
James McGrath Morris

As Women’s History Month comes to a close we’ll celebrate the achievements of Ethel Payne. The pioneering journalist was the third African American in history given a White House press pass. In his new book Eye on the Struggle, our guest James McGrath Morris chronicles the life of Ethel Payne.

Morris talks about just one of the many legacies left by Ethel Payne:

" One of the legacies of her story is a constant reminder of who has a seat at the table makes an enormous difference. And as each group begins to gain rights-- gay rights, transsexual rights, Hispanic rights--whatever group. If those folks are not at the table, not asking questions of those in power... The groups who are there will fail to ask the questions that are significant for that audience." -- James McGrath Morris

Also in the hour, independent director and presenter at Pittsburgh's first Humanities Festival John Sayles  discusses the past and present of independent cinema. Then, the Director of International Media, Advocacy and Communications at Columbia University Anya Schiffrin visits City of Asylum and recalls a century of global investigative journalism.  


Essential Pittsburgh

Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli produced a book last year that puts the history of AIDS into a vastly new perspective. With comic-book-style graphics and vivid, larger-than-life characters, Second Avenue Caper describes the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in America with the kind of humor and imagination that is seldom associated with such a poignant topic. 

Brabner talks about the heroes in this story in the fight against AIDS :

"The real heroes are my friends who made space in their crowded NY apartment for people who didn’t have the strength to walk up five flights of stairs. My friends who fed, cared, clothed everybody." -- Joyce Brabner

Also in this hour, AIDS researcher Dr. Charles Rinaldo and Alan Jones of the Pittsburgh AIDS Taskforce talk about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Furthermore,  Tom Baxter of Friends of the Riverfront and Carl Knoch of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy talk about their thoughts on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.


Essential Pittsburgh / WESA

Former congressman Joe Sestak is running for the U.S. Senate by walking. He's making a 422-mile trek across the state to better connect with Pennsylvanians. Joe Sestak joins us in Studio A for a talk about his plans to challenge Senator Pat Toomey and why the state's Democratic party doesn't want him to run.

Sestak comments on his opponent Senator Pat Toomey's action regarding Iran and the nuclear weapons issue:

"What I saw is the unrivaled respect that the presidency of the United States has as the foremost instrument to secure our freedoms and our security overseas. To actually have had Senator Toomey sign a letter that says disregard our presidency shows reckless abandon of the responsibilities of a Senator, it shows truly no experience in world affairs and it also shows a disregard for the security of America, placing politics above security." -- Joe Sestak

Also in this hour, a Pittsburgh artist's sketches of servicemen are finding their way back home and Louis Ortiz, star of the documentary "Bronx Obama" and the President's closest doppelganger visits for a screening of the film. 

Tony Webster / Flickr

Controversy continues to surround Governor Wolf’s nominee for State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown. The former Maryland State Police Commissioner has come under fire for wearing the PA State Trooper uniform. He is now under investigation for allegations of misdemeanor theft. We get the latest on the beleaguered nominee with Patriot News Capitol Reporter Christian Alexandersen.

"In a couple different interviews, [Marcus Brown] made the point of using the word honor and showing respect for the people he's going to lead. He said that to lead the organization it would make sense for him to wear the uniform...The retired state troopers have been pretty vocal, especially on social media and online, about their feelings...One retired officer said [Brown's] decision to wear the uniform was to show his power and authority." - Christian Alexandersen

Also in this hour, cities around the globe go dark this Saturday in honor of Earth Hour (including parts of Pittsburgh), we revisit the history of the Fort Pitt Block House, and the Farm to Table Food Conference connects Pittsburghers directly to their local growers. 


Words Without Walls / Chatham University

Words Without Walls is a program at Chatham University teaching creative writing to residents of Pittsburgh-area correctional facilities and drug treatment centers.The instructors are students in Chatham’s MFA program in Creative Writing. Joining us in Studio A to discuss the program and a special book launch taking place this Friday are  MFA Program Director and Author, Sheryl St. Germain and Jonny Blevins, a student and instructor in the program.

Explaining her ambitions for the program, St. Germain says:

"It was not just the idea that we thought we could help people tell their own stories, and that would heal. Obviously that was really important, but it was also important for me as a director to get students from our program working with alternative populations. ... It's a way to get students to interact with members of the community." -- Sheryl St. Germain

Also in the program, Carnegie Mellon professor David Shumway talks about the upcoming Pittsburgh Humanities Festival, and business contributor Rebecca Harris explains the business impact of having a baby.


Essential Pittsburgh: Sree Sreenivasan on Social Media Strategy

Mar 23, 2015
Flickr/muse_web

With the number of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM jobs increasing at three times the rate of other industries, the Carnegie Science Center is encouraging schools and lawmakers to focus on improving the way students learn about STEM fields. We'll talk with Jason Brown, director of science and education at Carnegie Science Center joins us.

In this segment Brown offers a greater understanding of what constitutes as STEM education and STEM professions:

"STEM professionals can be not only the engineers and the scientists, but they can be the surveyors, the construction professionals, the welders… It’s a very wide range because the STEM skills that are required for the job are problem solving skills--it’s not necessarily science content knowledge.” - Jason Brown

Also on today's show we talk about the ins and outs of social media strategy with social media expert Sree Sreenivasan. Later, President-elect of the Allegheny County Medical Society Dr. Larry John tells us how to properly dispose of medicine.


Essential Pittsburgh: A Penn State Fraternity's Facebook Fallout

Mar 20, 2015
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar

Two weeks after the Oklahoma State University fraternity scandal comes another. This time closer to home at Penn State where members of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity are under investigation for a secret Facebook page containing nude photos, drug use and hazing. We get the latest on the investigation from Penn Live reporter Ivey DeJesus.

DeJesus outlined the points of comparison between the Oklahoma State fraternity scandal and the Penn State scandal, many of which revolved around the administrations' responses:

"Oklahoma University President David Boren came out immediately after the Sigma Alpha Epsilon matter broke. He spoke out and was very involved in it. I think people were waiting for [Penn State University President] Eric Barron to do the same." - Ivey DeJesus

Also in today's show, "Silence of the Lambs" director Jonathan Demme comes to town for the CMU International Film Festival, and Pitt Women's Basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio prepares to take her team to the NCAA Tournament.

Essential Pittsburgh: Oil Train Safety with Senator Bob Casey

Mar 19, 2015
Jason Rogers/Wikimedia

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey is pushing legislation that would bring emergency managers and technical experts together to improve training and equipment for emergency responders handling oil train derailments. Recent derailments have caused explosions and fires in recent months. Sen Casey joins us by phone from Washington.

Casey explains that the legislation he is sponsoring -- the Response Act -- would do several things:

"It would examine ... training issues, resource issues, funding levels, access to communication -- all kinds of information and subject areas that [the relevant agencies and technical experts] should review. ... This is particularly important to small communities that don't have the resources, sometimes, that larger communities do."

Also in the program, Pitt law professor David Harris talks about Pittsburgh's selection for a new Justice Department initiative, and travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares her favorite flower shows travel destinations.


Essential Pittsburgh: An Hour with Mayor Bill Peduto

Mar 18, 2015
BillPeduto.com

Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto makes his monthly appearance on the program. He discusses Pittsburgh's participation in a new Justice Department program to improve the relationship between police officers and city residents and his meeting with President Obama during his visit to Washington for the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. The mayor also addresses the topics of body cameras for the Pittsburgh Police force, pothole season and the city's Summer Internship Program.

"Let's be real fair and open about this: incidents are going to occur. Police are dealing with violent people, they're dealing with dysfunction, and they're dealing with situations that don't follow rules. And in those cases there are always going to be times when force is necessary. But how it is used and making sure that it doesn't exceed the escalation is something that we work now to train our officers on." - Mayor Bill Peduto

The mayor speaks at length about the changes to community policing that his administration is instituting.

"When Chief McLay came in, he asked his commanders, 'Send me a list of people that you call when an incident occurs.' And there was no list. So over the course of the first month we started to put together a list of community leaders.'

He answers caller questions about instituting a version of a stop and frisk program (24:05), the city's plans for helping to provide jobs for children in inner city neighborhoods (33:50), plans to revitalize Pittsburgh neighborhoods like Arlington (43:20), and food truck legislation (46:50).

Essential Pittsburgh: A Conversation with Governor Wolf

Mar 16, 2015
Tom Wolf / Flickr

Now that Pennsylvania is transitioning to a full Medicaid expansion, what happens if the Supreme Court decides to unravel Obamacare? And will Gov. Tom Wolf’s death penalty moratorium survive a lawsuit filed by the Philadelphia DA? Hear the answers to those questions in his first Essential Pittsburgh interview since the election.

Regarding his plan for using the sales tax to help the Commonwealth's budget deficit, Wolf explains:

"We simply can't keep doing what we're doing -- that is, consume public goods but not pay for them, and we've been doing that for years and years. It's a bipartisan thing, but we need to finally address that, and be honest about the deficits, and I want to do that. - Gov. Wolf

Also in the program, Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak discusses ongoing efforts by UMPC workers to unionize, Evelyn Roche tells the story of Guinness beer, WESA contributor Margaret J. Krauss gives some history of LGBT culture in Pittsburgh, and business contributor Rebecca Harris talks women in the workplace.

Essential Pittsburgh: The High Cost of Protection From Abuse

Mar 16, 2015
Rae Allen / Flickr

When faced with an abusive partner, many women seek out a restraining order to get protection and regain some control over their lives. But according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh, getting out of an abusive relationship can be quite costly for women who try to obtain restraining orders. Sociologists Melanie Hughes and Lisa Brush address the financial disruption in women’s lives when they petition the courts to leave abusive relationships. 

Lisa discusses the focal points and the results of this study.

"What we really wanted to understand was if we compared women to themselves before and after they went through the process of petitioning ... did they have a boost in their earnings and an increase afterwards in the wake?”

She continues by presenting the other possibility for the results.

“Or was there an economic shock or a stall in their earnings? And in fact we found out that the period right around the time when they’re petitioning is full of all kinds of turmoil and um pretty much everybody experiences a shock and lots of women experience a stall in their earnings.”

Also, in this program we speak with Attorney Lisa A. Borelli Dorn about what it takes to file a protection from abuse order. And what prospects does the RMU men's basketball team have for making it to the Final Four? 

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