Elaine Labalme

Chris Knight / AP Images

Shortly after a $30 billion budget was approved in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, Governor Tom Wolf vetoed the entire plan.  He’s the first governor in 40 years to turn down an entire budget proposal.The governor tells us why he decided to veto the plan and what he’d like to see change about the next proposal. Wolf says he speaks on behalf of the compromises needed to be made from both sides to get the next budget proposal underway: 

"The job now is to bring those two points together because whether we like it or not Pennsylvanians voted for divided government and we both have to agree in the end... to come to a place that we can all agree will make Pennsylvania better. We all know we need a budget, we all know we're gonna have to agree and we're gonna have to do that as quickly as we possibly can." - Governor Tom Wolf

 

Also in the program, as The Salvation Army turns 150 years old, discover how the charity has evolved over the years and how they'll be celebrating their anniversary. WESA Celebrates reports a lesser-known story of the Homestead strike, the possibility of larger fireworks being legal in our state will be addressed and our travel contributor shares her favorite 4th of July weekend getaways.

Office of State Senator Matt Smith

Last month Senator Matt Smith announced he would be leaving the PA State Senate. He departs Harrisburg to take over as head of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. Will his experience with the state legislature help in his new job?  He joins us for another in our series of exit interviews.

Smith indicates what he will miss most as a Pennsylvania State Legislator, specifically mentioning the relationships he has built with his colleagues and staff members: 

"The work that my staff has done for me over the last eight and a half years has enabled me to achieve the legislative success that I have been able to have in a bipartisan way. Really those relationships are always what’s tough when you move from one chapter of your life to the next chapter." -Matt Smith

Also, the Community Leadership Course for Veterans has won an award for utilizing the skills of Pittsburgh veterans to better the city. Elaine Labalme covers National Parks. 

Flickr user jrgcastro

After stating last month that it would not accept Highmark Medicare patients due to Highmark's cancer treatment "mark-ups," UPMC has been ordered by Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pelligrini to continue to see the 182,000 seniors they currently serve through Highmark. UPMC has already vowed to appeal the court order under a scheduled arbitration to resolve the differences between the two providers. Pittsburgh Business Times health care reporter Kris Mamula joins us in studio. (starts at 15:13) 

Mamula explains Pelligrini's ambitious hopes for the on-going dispute between UPMC and Highmark: 

"He wants all of the contractual issues between Highmark and UPMC resolved by September 30th, which is an ambitious deadline given everything that has happened. ... He wants those things that divide them to be resolved." -Kris Mamula

Also, Acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown fielded questions from state Senators at his nomination hearing. Emily Prevetti has the details. And we'll preview this year's Three Rivers Arts Festival with director Veronica Corpuz, and finally, Elaine Labalme has special travel plans to help celebrate dad. 

Gage Skidmore / flickr

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum has launched a second run for the White House. The 57-year-old Republican finished second to Mitt Romney for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. But this time around, there is some doubt about his ability to place in the top 10 of national polls, a prerequisite for participating in the first Republican presidential debate in August. We'll discuss Santorum's prospects with political commentator Joe Sabino Mistick, associate professor of law at Duquesne University.

Mistick explains how Santorum's populistic approach to the GOP presidential nomination could benefit his place in the polls:

"I think his opening up of this other tack, this blue collar families and blue collar worker...it could bear some fruit... He might get some traction and that's enough to knock over a lot of furniture over on the Republican side, and perhaps place himself in a position to make a deal." - Joe Sabino Mistick

Also in the program, Open Streets Pittsburgh takes away traffic on three and a half miles of city pavement, WESA Celebrates 16,000 years of regional inhabitants in McKees Rocks and Elaine Labalme explains why summer camp isn't just for the kids.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

 One of the most contentious political races is taking place between Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and her predecessor, Mark Patrick Flaherty. As election day nears we’ll hear from the candidates who recently spoke with WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar. (Starts at 8:08)

Flaherty, who has previously served as county controller, explains why he wants to return to the office:

"The [county controller's] office is in a state of crisis and chaos...unfortunately, they've thrown too much politics into a very professional process-- the auditing process. When the controller's office can't do its job anymore, you need somebody to come in and point the office back in the right direction and fix it." -Mark Patrick Flaherty

When asked why her experience as controller has been extensive enough to be elected over Flaherty, her predecessor, Wagner points out her budget as it compares to Flaherty's:

"I've done more with less. When you look at my spending, I am still spending less than my opponent and predecessor did four years ago. You're not going to find that anywhere else in county government."- Chelsa Wagner

We start the hour with updates from the Philadelphia Amtrak train derailment. Also on the program, Facebook enters into a controversial deal with the country's major news corporations to directly host their content, and Elaine Labalme preps us for summer travel.

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.


AP Photo/Chris Tilley

Topics on today's Essential Pittsburgh include the West Virginia train derailment, and ski resorts near and far  

Oil Train Safety   

An oil tanker derailment and fire in West Virginia is raising questions about the apparent failure of safer tank cars to prevent an explosion. 

Dave Mistich, Digital Editor/Coordinator for West Virginia Public Broadcasting offers an update on how residents have been effected by the derailment,

The New Girl's Favorite Places to Visit in Phoenix, Arizona

Jan 29, 2015
Ted Eytan / Flickr

 

This year’s Super Bowl will be played in Phoenix. If you can’t make it to the big game travel contributor Elaine Labalme still recommends a visit to the Valley of the Sun.

She tells us her food and travel recommendations for Arizona’s capital city:

Leigh Kelsey / Flickr

Congratulations, you just made it through the biggest eating holiday of the year!

With the fridge full of leftovers, the last thing you probably want to talk about is food, right? Well, travel contributor Elaine Labalme, is here to talk about some food destinations in the region worth visiting.

Savannah: A Belle of Southern Charm

Jul 10, 2014
Dizzy Girl / Flickr

It’s the oldest city in Georgia and was once the state capital: Savannah. The city draws a number of tourists who come to look at its architecture and historic sites. One recent visitor to the city was travel contributor Elaine Labalme.

The charms and southern comfort found in Savannah make it a great place to visit for a summer trip. Labalme gives us her fabulous five lists of things to see, do and most importantly, where to eat in the city of Savannah.

A Summer Staple: 5 Outdoor Concert Venues to Visit

Jun 26, 2014
Heather Harvey / Flickr

One of the many joys of summer is listening to music at an outdoor venue. Whether you enjoy opera, jazz, rock or classical it somehow seems more enjoyable outdoors.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme, suggests some famous performance spaces where you can enjoy an outdoor concert.

The Best Regional Beaches... Where to Get Away

Jun 12, 2014
Bruce Stockwell / Flickr

Grab the sunscreen, your favorite book and anything else you might need for fun in the sun.

This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests regional beaches to visit from the Jersey Shore to Virginia.

Here’s her fabulous list of beaches to visit this summer.

Three State Parks You Need to Visit this Summer

Jun 5, 2014
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors this summer, you can’t go wrong visiting one of the Commonwealth’s many state parks. From Erie to Scranton and all points in between, our guide to some of Pennsylvania’s state parks is travel contributor Elaine Labalme.

State parks can be found in 61 of Pennsylvania's 66 counties. Cherry Springs, Ricketts Glen, and Pine Grove Furnace are among Labalme's favorites.  

Three Out of State Amusement Parks You Need to Visit

May 15, 2014
Craig Lloyd / flickr

People chase their endless summer in different ways. Some visit ballparks, others beaches. A dedicated group of fun seekers visit amusement parks in search of the perfect roller coaster thrill ride.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme, suggested three out of state coasters to visit in the next few months.

Take A Trip: Four Things To Do In Nashville, Tenn.

Apr 24, 2014
Timothy Wildey / flickr

Nine hours away from the Steel City is the Music City — Nashville, Tennessee. But there’s more to the city than country music. This week, contributor Elaine Labalme told us how to the get the most out of a visit to Nashville.

Spring Break With The New Girl

Apr 17, 2014
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / flickr

A little madness in the spring is wholesome …even for the King, wrote Emily Dickinson. What better way to quell the madness caused by Spring fever than with a getaway? Travel contributor Elaine Labalme joined us this week with suggestions for Spring Break excursions.

After Checking out Pop Up Canada, Pop on Up to Niagara Falls

Apr 10, 2014
Helen Zhang / flickr

With the celebration of Canada taking place this week in the Steel City, Niagara Falls offers something for visitors on both the American and Canadian sides. 

Long regarded as a honeymoon destination, Niagara Falls is close enough for a long weekend getaway. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme offered suggestions for a trip to the falls.

4 Spring Festivals Worth Traveling To

Mar 27, 2014
Mark Peters / flickr

It’s officially spring, even if the weather may want to tell us otherwise. We’re going to remain optimistic and look forward to sunny and warm days spent outdoors.

This week travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggested spring festivals you might enjoy.

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

If asked to identify a giant in American architecture, the name Frank Lloyd Wright may be the first person who comes to mind. This region has the good fortune to be within driving distance to one of his most famous buildings, the iconic Falling Water.

This week, travel contributor Elaine Labalme offered suggestions for Wright designed buildings, not far from Pittsburgh. Wright has more than 500 completed structures across the United States, and these are just a few of his designs.

Artotem / flickr

Last week we ventured to Florida to get an early look at Major League Baseball spring training in the Grapefruit League. This week, we venture west to see the players in action in the Cactus League.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme  says spring training is the time to see a lot of teams in the cactus league that you wouldn’t ordinarily see. Check out a list of her recommendations:

Blue Star Art & Cowboy Dance Halls in San Antonio

Feb 27, 2014
Delaney Hall / flickr

Home to the Alamo and the River Walk, San Antonio, Texas combines a rich history and distinct architecture to create a modern and exciting cultural experience.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares her favorites about the southern city and insists that visitors to the Lone Star State must visit San Antonio. 

Part 2 of the New Girl's Presidential Homes Tour

Feb 13, 2014
http://www.flickr.com/photos/awj68/8538842288/

Last week travel contributor Elaine Labalme recommended some presidential homes worth visiting. However, with forty-four U.S. presidents to choose from, there are more residences worth visiting.

Here are a few more presidential homes to add to your list of trips to take!

Take a Road Trip and Tour of Presidential Homes

Feb 6, 2014
http://www.flickr.com/photos/chuck_taylor/5287916645/

Ohio and Virginia are both nicknamed the home of presidents. From Mount Vernon to Monticello presidential homes are great places to visit and learn about history. 

With President’s Day a little over a week away, travel contributor Elaine Labalme gives some suggestions of presidential residences you might like to visit.

Escape the Cold and Visit These Florida Beaches

Jan 30, 2014
http://www.flickr.com/photos/iwaswired/4320569453/in/photostream/

Cole Porter’s lyric said it best when he advised listeners to, “Get out of Town.”

It wouldn’t be surprising if people heeded that advice in light of the recent cold snap. Where better to escape than a nice warm beach?

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme offers up some of her favorite low-key escapes.

Regional Museums: From Toothpick Ships to Grace Kelley Exhibits

Jan 23, 2014
Jon / flickr

Combat the polar vortex and set your sights toward some fantastic regional museums.

Spend a day or a weekend and catch Elaine Labalme's fab five traveling and permanent exhibits, just a short drive away. 

Quebec City Embodies the Picturesque Winter

Jan 16, 2014
Michael McDonough / flickr

Our intrepid travel contributor Elaine Labalme continues her trek through the great white north.

This week she talks about Quebec City, capital of the province, where the old buildings reflect classic architecture and vibrant culture.  “It’s very welcoming and it’s a great respite for a few days,” says Labalme.

Terrifically Cosmopolitan Montreal

Jan 9, 2014
Daryl Mitchell / flickr

Combining the best of old-world charm and modern sophistication, travel contributor Elaine Labalme finds Canada’s second largest city, Montreal to be “terrifically cosmopolitan.”

She suggests her favorite spots for food, arts and rest in this northern city.

Vermont B & B's Offer Charming Stays

Dec 19, 2013
Paul Kentish / flickr

From historic Bennington, to Burlington on the shores of Lake Champlain there’s a lot to see and do in Vermont.

One of the best ways to enjoy the Green Mountain State is a cozy stay at a bed and breakfast. Travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests some of her favorites.

“If anyone has mastered the art of B & B, it’s Vermonters,” says Labalme.

Cross Country Skiing in the Region

Dec 12, 2013
E01 / flickr

While the song "Moonlight in Vermont" mentions ski trails down a mountainside, cross country skiing is an enjoyable and healthy way to enjoy the winter landscape.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme suggests the best spots for cross country skiing around the region.

“If you can walk, if you can run, you can cross country ski,” she said. 

Museums in Washington D.C. Have More to See This Fall

Dec 5, 2013
Noclip / wikipedia

With summer heat a distant memory, plenty of free museums and not a lot of travel time required – it’s a great time to visit our nation’s capital.

Travel contributor Elaine Labalme shares some of her favorite spots in Washington D.C. 

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