Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Disability Rights Activists React To Trump Presidency In Philadelphia

Nov 9, 2016
Kimberly Paynter / WHYY

When North Carolina was called for Donald Trump, a crying Dynah Haubert left the Sheraton ballroom.

She and other activists were among the crowds of Pennsylvania Democrats watching election results come in — until they could take no more.

It was back in July that Haubert experienced her first purposeful involvement in politics on the stage at the Democratic National Convention. "It's always been up to us. I felt that finally it's not just us shouting into the wind," she said.

AP

 

Pennsylvanians have voted to raise the mandatory retirement age for judges.

The constitutional amendment approved Tuesday will let judges remain on the bench until the end of the year in which they turn 75. That's five years longer than currently allowed.

Passage of the ballot measure means Republican Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor won't have to retire next month, and Democratic Justice Max Baer won't have to step down at the end of next year.

Translation Help At The Polls: What's Required And How It Works

Nov 8, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

There are requirements at polling places, but help doesn't reach everyone who needs it.

Elections have been hectic for Cesar Liriano for most of the nine years he's lived in the city of Lebanon. Presidential elections are craziest, but he's busy during the lower-turnout local and gubernatorials, too.

"Normally, I get up at 5 o'clock every day, doesn't matter elections or not," Liriano says. "I go down as soon to the polls as soon as they open, I go and vote with my wife, and then I get prepared to be running from one poll to the other."

martinak15 / Flickr

For thousands of left-leaning men and women last week, Election Night was the culmination of a political nightmare they’d assumed would be over. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Among the gauntlet of campaign workers looking to sway voters before casting their ballots at Northmont United Presbyterian Church in McCandless Tuesday will be Mary Lou English and her glass jars of soup.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County is on track to see a record number of fatal drug overdoses involving fentanyl in 2016. According to the Medical Examiner’s office, 114 overdose victims have been found to have the highly potent opioid in their systems, just eight shy of last year’s all-time record.

The prevalence of fentanyl among overdose victims has skyrocketed over the last three years. In all of 2013, just eight fatal overdoses involved fentanyl.

90.5 WESA

It’s a season of change. Soon, we’ll know who our next president is and which party will control the Senate. Change is also coming to 90.5 WESA. Morning Edition host Josh Raulerson is leaving for a new job in nonprofit communications.

His last day is Tuesday.

“It’s been my honor, it’s been my pleasure to be with you in the morning,” he said.

Dad Who Got Video Of Lifeless Son Charged With Endangerment

Nov 4, 2016
Allegheny County Police

A Pennsylvania man was arrested on child endangerment charges because he didn't call 911 after the mother of his two children threatened to kill them and sent him videos of his son's lifeless body during two hours' worth of angry text messages, police said.

Andre Price Jr., 23, of McKeesport, was jailed without bond early Friday on two counts — one each for 17-month-old Andre III, and a 2-year-old daughter, Angel.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay announced his resignation from the Pittsburgh Police Department on Friday. 

Mayor Bill Peduto called a news conference to address escalating rumors.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Five new Pennsylvania laws are now in place to address the state's opioid addiction and abuse problem, including limits on how much can be prescribed in an emergency room or issued to children .

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Sage Arnold, 13, is not a big fan of this year’s election.

“When I was little I watched one of the debates between Obama and Mitt Romney,” he said. “I couldn’t really understand a lot of it, but it sounded really civilized and mature.”

Duquesne School of Law / Facebook

Starting in November, Duquesne University law students will travel to eight of Pittsburgh’s public housing complexes to help residents expunge juvenile convictions that put them at risk of eviction.  

In Pennsylvania, a person’s entire juvenile record becomes public if they are convicted of a felony as a minor – between the ages of 14 and 18. Duquesne School of Law assistant professor Tiffany Sizemore-Thompson said that is the most common reason a record becomes public. And once it’s open, every part of the record is public.

Logan Ingalls / Flickr

Everyone has that one Halloween they remember -- sleeping with one eye open after a terrifying movie, gorging yourself on trick-or-treating loot and that one embarrassing childhood costume you just can't get over. Here are some tales from the WESA and WYEP offices of Halloweens past. 

How an unexplained recording can make you internet famous

Brian Siewiorek – WYEP Production Director

In a previous life, Brian worked as a reporter.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Everyone has that one Halloween they remember -- sleeping with one eye open after a terrifying movie, gorging yourself on trick-or-treating loot and that one embarrassing childhood costume you just can't get over. Here are some tales from the WESA and WYEP offices of Halloweens past. 

When your dad's inability to use tools is the scariest thing about Halloween

Megan Harris -- WESA Digital Editor/Producer

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

Holding her newly minted citizenship certificate and voter registration application, Sumebha Gupta grinned.

“I just wanted to give my vote to be counted,” she said. 

Gupta is one of 39 people who became a United States citizen this month, many of whom cited the upcoming presidential election as their major motivation. 

“I feel excited," said Omar Coker, originally form Sierra Leone. He said registering to vote was "definitely a must."

WhiteHouse.gov

According to the Department of Justice, around 70 million Americans have criminal records which hinder their chances of finding jobs. Monday, the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County signed the White House’s Fair Chance Business Pledge to help those who have done their time get a second chance.

Ex-Attorney General Gets 10 To 23 Months In Jail For Perjury

Oct 24, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane was sentenced Monday to 10 to 23 months in jail for illegally disclosing details from a grand jury investigation to embarrass a rival and lying about it under oath.

Kathleen Kane To Receive Sentence Monday

Oct 24, 2016
Bill Fraser / Bucks County Courier Times/AP

 

Supporters of Democrat Kathleen Kane once hoped the ambitious lawyer might reach the U.S. Senate.

But the one-term Pennsylvania attorney general instead will learn Monday whether she's going to jail in a perjury and obstruction case that stemmed from a political feud.

The case is being heard in Montgomery County, where former President Bill Clinton stumped for her in 2012.

Kane's lawyers say she has been punished enough after losing her career, law license and reputation. They will ask for probation or house arrest so she can raise her teenage sons.

Traisaun Leake / Hazelwood Youth Media Justice

If a student misbehaves in a Pittsburgh Public School, the administrators are bound by a disciplinary code. But which reactions are punitive? Which are restorative? And what's more likely to help the student and his or her classroom culture?

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The ballroom in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center where the P4 Conference is taking place this week is lit more like nightclub than a conference center. Bright green and blue lights shoot up the walls, a sharp contrast in the dimly lit room. A rapper takes the stage, spitting acapella rhymes that simultaneously praise and critique the city he loves. In the back of the room, an artist turns his words and the rest of the day’s speeches into comic strip-like panels.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

 

The City of Pittsburgh has roughly 13,000 city-owned vacant lots available for purchase. But how to start the process of buying that property can be complicated. Here’s a simple, step-by-step look at how to buy one. (You can also scroll down to the flow-chart below.)

 

Hometown Pride Still Alive In A Declining Steel Town

Oct 17, 2016
Jessica Kourkounis / for Keystone Crossroads

On this episode of Grapple, you’ll hear reflections from a steel town in the Pittsburgh region. Back in the 1950s, the city of Clairton was booming with about 20,000 residents. But today there are far fewer people living there and fewer job opportunities than before. You’ll hear from someone who used to work at the mill and also from someone who had to leave Clairton to find work elsewhere. Lastly, you’ll hear about the first settler of Clairton and how the family he was part of was woven into Clairton’s history.

Gwen's Girls / Facebook

In Pittsburgh, African American girls are three times more likely to be suspended than white girls and 11 times more likely to be referred the juvenile justice system.  The statistics come from a new "State of the Girls" report by the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work in partnership with Gwen's Girls, a nonprofit that helps young disadvantaged girls throughout the city. 

rob zand / flickr

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has filed suit against Veolia Water North America-Northeast LLC, which managed the authority for three-and-a-half trouble-filled years.

“They botched the procurement and implementation of a new automatic water meter reading system. They failed to properly bill PWSA customers. And they mishandled the change in chemical related to lead corrosion control at the water treatment plant,” said PWSA Board of Directors Chairman Alex W. Thomson.

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership / YouTube

 

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and other groups are trying to scare pedestrians straight off their cellphones.

The new "Look Alive" safety campaign features actors dressed as the Grim Reaper and zombies who will tell people to look up from their cellphones if they're seen walking and texting. A special computer program will also be used to flash safety messages to cellphone users who are on certain web browsers while they walk.

Google Maps

 

Usually, inadequate representation lawsuits go like this: your lawyer does a bad job defending your case, you're found guilty, and then you seek a new trial on the grounds of insufficient counsel. It's a single response to a single instance of misrepresentation. 

But what if a public defender system is so chronically underfunded and understaffed that criminal defendants know going into their case that they won't be able to get a proper defense? Must they wait, individually, for their case to be tried and then hope for some sort of relief? 

Megan Harris / WESA

In the fields and forests of Pennsylvania’s Elk County, love triangles, unrequited advances and fevered courtships have a unique soundtrack.

Netflix

Good news if you like your cup of coffee with a serving of snark from your favorite grumpy diner owner. Two Pittsburgh cafes are turning into Luke’s Diner of Gilmore Girls fame on Wednesday.

Early-rising Gilmore Girls fans can nab a free cup of coffee starting at 7 a.m. at Big Dog Coffee in the South Side and Bookshelf Café in Morningside, in addition to coffee shops and cafes across the country.

1971 Pirates Reflect On Historic All-Black Lineup

Oct 3, 2016
Gene J. Puskar / AP

The 2016 Major League Baseball season has reached the playoff stage and for the first time in four years, the Pirates will not be part of it. But, at this time 45 years ago, the Pirates were on their way to winning the World Series with a diverse group of players that made history in a way that rivaled Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Amongst some pretty worn-down storefronts in Sharpsburg, seven miles from downtown Pittsburgh, Memories Sportsman and Taxidermy Shop has operated since 1990.

In the musty, cluttered space, owner Sam Stelitano, 65, sells new firearms and collectable ones, like original Smith and Wesson’s and Civil War muskets. But look above the rifle-lined counters, and you see his real passion.

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