Keystone Crossroads

Looking At Addiction As A Health Crisis

Dec 3, 2016
Jessica Kourkounis / Keystone Crossroads

For the past 20 years, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks, has been a vocal advocate for drug and alcohol rehabilitation in Pennsylvania. And he’s been pushing the public and lawmakers to stop looking at addiction as a crime.

“Addiction has to be looked at like a disease and it is, like other diseases, highly treatable, and treatment works,” he said.

Why The Debate Over Drones All Goes Back To Avian Suicide

Nov 29, 2016
Matt Rourke / AP

 

The Federal Aviation Administration is due to release rules for drone operation over populated areas in a couple weeks. Interest is high in many sectors, including local government.

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

 

Going back to school is starting to look a lot different. 

Ninety-six percent of students at Pennsylvania College of Technology entertain job offers in their final semester. It's an enviable statistic, one that the college is very proud of, said Tracy Brundage, vice president of workforce development and continuing education. 

“Our tagline is ‘degrees that work,’” she said.

But employer interest isn't limited to graduates of the Penn State affiliate's two- and four-year degree programs.  

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

Theresa Cygrymus looked around the hall at Prince of Peace Parish, a Catholic Church on Pittsburgh’s South Side, and shook her head.

“It’s already nine o’clock, usually we have stuff cooking already," she said. 

Cygrymus knows the drill. At 78, she’s been volunteering for the church all her life. On a Saturday in late October, Cygrymus and a church group called The Christian Mothers were preparing to churn out hundreds of dozens of pierogis to sell. All the money they make supports the church and its outreach.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 Last week, about 20 people waited anxiously for the walk signal at the busy intersection outside Target in East Liberty. When the light changed, they danced into the crosswalk. As James Brown sang “Get on the Good Foot,” they spun, they shimmied, they high-fived.

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."

Dividing Lines: How PA's Elections Really Are Rigged

Nov 6, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / Keystone Crossroads

In the months leading up to the 2016 election, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly made claims that the election is rigged. In a way, he’s right. Only the rigging happens long before anyone casts a ballot on Election Day and in most places it’s completely legal.

Gerrymandering is the age-old practice that’s made many teenagers’ eyes glaze over in high school civics class. In case you need a refresher, it’s the process of drawing election districts to give one political party — Republican or Democrat — an advantage over the other. 

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

School district enrollment levels have dramatically shifted in Pennsylvania over the past 25 years.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

In 2014, three roommates in New Paltz, New York discovered that their $20 thrift store couch wasn’t lumpy with age, but envelopes stuffed with cash. More specifically, the life savings of a widow whose husband wanted to be sure she was taken care of when he was gone. 

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Some people go out for dinner and a movie.

But for Heather Huff and her fiancé, Friday nights are for paying the bills.

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.

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? 

PA Towns Fear Financial Devastation After Top Court Decision Cutting Casino Tax Revenue

Oct 10, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

Last month, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dealt a bad hand to communities that host casinos.

Municipalities including Chester City, Bensalem Township and Erie County stand to lose millions in revenue after part of the state's gambling code was declared unconstitutional on Wednesday.

Mount Airy, LLC, a small casino in Mount Pocono, sued the state Department of Revenue, arguing that the gambling code's "local share assessment" provision unfairly burdened some casinos.

PennDOT

 

When a construction fire damaged Pittsburgh's Liberty Bridge last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation closed it for 24 days to do repairs.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

 

You know the old adage "Never judge a city by (just) its bond"? Or "Forgive and forget: bonds have histories, too"? No? How about that bumper sticker: "Reductive is as reductive does"?

OK, none of those are real.

Joshua Franzos / Pittsburgh Foundation

 

A foundation in Pittsburgh will dedicate 60 to 70 percent of its grant making to address poverty and disparity in the region. 

Depending on the news outlet, Pittsburgh is a lot of things: it’s Steel City or the Paris of Appalachia; it’s the new Brooklyn; it’s the best place to eat, it’s the most underrated American city. 

But for many, the debate about whether or not Pittsburgh merits all this chatter is immaterial: 30 percent of people in the region live at or near poverty.

Mahanoy City: The End Of Coal Country

Sep 21, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

On episode 01 of Grapple, we explore how Mahanoy City transformed from a vibrant coal town into a distressed community struggling with job loss, low home values, blight, and fire. 

 

Keystone Crossroads launches its first podcast Sept. 21.

Grapple will give voice to people living and working in distressed communities both big and small.

Preservationists Praise State Tax Credit Program, But Hope For More

Sep 20, 2016
Ron Larson / Ace Hotel

 

Dozens of historic buildings in Pennsylvania — from an 1815 tavern in Erie to a Frank Furness church in Philly to an early 20th century YMCA in Pittsburgh — have been saved thanks to a tax credit program established by the commonwealth in 2012.

PHOTOS: Re-Imagining Abandoned Train Line To Rail Park

Sep 16, 2016
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

At the Reading Viaduct, it's hard to imagine that this shaded and quiet section of Philadelphia was once a part of a bustling thoroughfare to transport goods and people into Center City. 

When the viaduct was built more than 125 years ago, Philadelphia was know as the workshop of the world — a mismatch of small industries and small businesses— from hat makers to textiles manufacturers to meat markets. At the time, Philadelphia's City Hall was under construction and considered one of the tallest buildings in the world.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A dumpster parked curbside, piled high with construction debris or outdated building guts, is not an uncommon city sight. But a certain dumpster just off one of Pittsburgh’s main business corridors is different. For starters, it’s painted bright yellow.

“We love the yellow,” says Phoebe Downey, project manager for Envision Downtown, a public-private partnership between the mayor’s office and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

State Starts Deciding On More Than $1B In Delayed Redevelopment Assistance Requests

Sep 12, 2016
Emily Previti / WITF

 

Nearly 400 agencies are waiting to hear from a long-standing, occasionally controversial grant program months past when they’d normally get word.

State officials have funneled more than $5 billion through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program since its inception in 1986. 

Keith Srakocic / AP

 

In Pennsylvania, seven out of 10 workers don't have a college degree. That's a demographic that has been particularly hard hit by unemployment and wage declines since the 1980s. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

By 2050, 70 percent of the world's population will be living in cities, according to a United Nations estimate. Mayors could be more influential than ever.

That's why it's important to start training city leaders now, says Jorrit de Jong, faculty director for the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative

Can A Computer Algorithm Be Trusted To Help Relieve Philly's Overcrowded Jails?

Sep 2, 2016
Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Of the roughly 7,400 people sitting in Philadelphia's jails right now, more than half of them aren't there because they've been found guilty of a crime.

They've been accused of one and are waiting for trial. Many of them just can't afford to pay bail.

That's what happened to Joshua Glenn.

When he was 16 years old, Glenn was arrested for allegedly shooting another guy in the arm — a crime he says he didn't commit.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

A developer wants to build an ice cream factory on a stretch of vacant lots in your city. The city is eager to have the ice cream companies and woos them with tax abatements and other public subsidies.

"Jobs!" the city council cries. "An increased tax base!"

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

 

On Wednesday, a court will decide whether a referendum to change Pittsburgh's home rule charter will remain on the November ballot. The city argues the proposed amendment unduly hampers city government.

Brad Larrison / NewsWorks

 

Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections. But this election season, analysts say it's possible that the state will swing Republican. 

Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

 

On a Friday night in Altoona, the Blair County Convention Center was packed to the rafters with supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. There was an overflow room downstairs and a crowd waiting outside that couldn't get in. Trump discussed everything from ISIS to Supreme Court justices. 

Emma Lee / WHYY

 

With its new student-weighted school funding formula, Pennsylvania took a big step forward this year to begin to correct decades of inequities.

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