News

News

Court Throws Out Bargaining Rights For Home Care Workers

17 hours ago
Orlin Wagner / AP

A Pennsylvania court is putting an end to a program established by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf that the judges said improperly granted union rights to home care workers who look after elderly and disabled people.

 

Commonwealth Court ruled 4-to-1 Thursday in favor of plaintiffs who challenged an executive order Wolf issued in February 2015.

Six Dioceses Now Under Investigation In PA

18 hours ago
Chris Dunn / York Daily Record

  State Rep. Mark Rozzi, who has said he was abused by a priest in 1984, said a grand jury investigation into clergy sex abuse can finally help victims understand how priests abused children in other parishes.

"It allows us to start getting answers we have been searching for our whole life," Rozzi, of Berks County, said Friday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg has received a grand jury subpoena from the state attorney general's office, and Rozzi said he was asked to testify about child sex abuse in front of a grand jury in August.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Pennsylvania has extended a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in state forests and parks for five years.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a new five-year forest management plan spells out an oil and gas management policy that supports the public lands drilling moratorium ordered by Gov. Tom Wolf.

The 234-page plan released last week by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources also addresses climate change impacts for the first time.

State Department of Corrections

A federal judge is directing the state Corrections Department to end an inmate's stay in solitary confinement after 36 years.

U.S. Middle District Judge Christopher Conner has ruled any concerns 64-year-old convicted murderer Arthur Johnson might escape are outweighed by arguments he should be housed with the general population.

Johnson made several escape attempts after being convicted of the 1970 murder of a man in Philadelphia, but officials describe him as being a model prisoner for the past 25 years.

Clarion.edu

A university in northwestern Pennsylvania is allowing students and workers to use nicknames on some campus records, including student identification cards and emails, in an effort to better allow them to express their identities.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Clarion University says it's the first of the state's 14 state-owned universities to implement such a policy. It became effective this fall.

istock

 

A Philadelphia woman has pleaded guilty to plotting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.

Keonna Thomas, 32, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

Defense attorney Kathleen Gaughan said her client has accepted responsibility and "looks forward to putting this behind her and being a mother to her two young children."

Thomas, who was arrested in April at a public housing development in north Philadelphia, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 17.

Matt Rourke / AP

 

Pennsylvania's auditor general says the largest online charter school in the state paid millions of taxpayer dollars to entities tied to the school's founder.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale on Thursday released the findings of a performance audit of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School in Midland, Beaver County.

Evan Vucci / AP

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program .

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Topics for this week include a discussion of the Marcellus Shale Insight conference which took place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. We'll try to discover what issues are on the agenda for state lawmakers as they return to Harrisburg. Looking ahead we'll discover what Pittsburgh-related items are on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

 

In May, the Pittsburgh Foundation pulled the plug early on its Day of Giving, when a server crashed.

Foundation officials are hoping a do-over from 8 a.m. to midnight on Wednesday won’t result in any technical difficulties.  

During the original drive, Texas-based Kimbia’s servers were overloaded while facilitating various fundraising events for 54 community foundations across the country, including locally.

Point State Park at the Ohio
Jim Orsini / Flickr

Smokestacks and glowing furnaces, emblems of heavy industry, once dotted Pittsburgh’s river banks. In recent years, though, projects backed by public-private investment have turned to making the Steel City’s riversides havens for recreation and leisure.

Now, some redevelopment boosters hope a new tax credit will encourage financiers to invest more in waterfronts throughout Pennsylvania.  

Joseph B. Fay Co.

Nearly 55,000 commuters must continue to find detours around the closed Liberty Bridge, after PennDOT officials announced they would delay its re-opening indefinitely. The agency said on the recommendation of engineering experts, additional safety measures will be included in the construction project.

Joseph B. Fay Co.

The Confluence – where the news comes together is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program .

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist, and host, Kevin Gavin. They’ll go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Topics scheduled for this week's discussion include the myriad transportation issues facing the city. Plans to help immigrants in Pittsburgh thrive and the virtual dead heat in the U.S. Senate race between Democrat Katie McGinty and Republican Pat Toomey.

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.

Is Pittsburgh’s Land Bank Operational? City Says Yes. Residents Disagree.

Sep 15, 2016
Natasha Khan / PublicSource

  Six Garfield residents pore over neighborhood maps inside a cramped office. They’re debating what properties and lots they could claim to expand a community park.

They are members of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation [BGC], and the properties they want to acquire are either tax-delinquent or vacant lots surrounding Fort Pitt Playground.

With an expanded “Garfield Park,” the community can reclaim forgotten homes and lots and put them to productive use, all while returning them to the tax roll.

Bayer's Monsanto Creates Global Chemical And Agriculture Giant

Sep 14, 2016
Markus Schreiber / AP

The U.S. seedmaker Monsanto agreed to a $57 billion buyout offer from Germany's Bayer in a deal that would create a global agricultural and chemical giant.

The deal comes with record harvest driving crop prices to painfully low levels for farmers.

It was the third time in four months that Bayer returned with a richer offer to sell the acquisition to Monsanto, and hopefully, its shareholders.

Including debt, the deal is valued at $66 billion. If approved, Monsanto will continue to be based in St. Louis.

Natasha Khan / PublicSource

Through the dated kitchen and a hallway with a gaping hole, past the stacks of dusty Bibles and art history books, a grand staircase snakes through the old mansion. Cracked vases are strewn at the foot of the landing — at one time, the homeowner was a collector.

Point State Park join Pittsburgh 2030 District
Christopher Ayers / 90.5 WESA

Point State Park is one of the city’s greenest spots -- to the eye, at least. With its grass-covered path leading to the convergence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, forming the Ohio, it’s about as close to nature as one can get in the heart of Downtown. 

Point Park University (L), The Incline (R)

 

Tuesday marks the official launch of two new media ventures in Pittsburgh.

MAD DADS Pittsburgh

This year marks a decade since a group of local men began a chapter of the national faith-based organization MAD DADS in the Pittsburgh region.

MAD DADS stands for Men Against Destruction, Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder and in the last 10 years, membership has grown from about a dozen members to nearly 60.

Membership is key to MAD DADS’ signature program, street patrol. It consists of members going out into neighborhoods to offer a positive social presence. They aim to address drugs, gangs and violence through conversation.

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.

How Allegheny County Is Trying To Move On From The Legacy Of Blight

Sep 13, 2016
Connor Mulvaney / PublicSource

 

When Lena Andrews moved from Friendship to East Liberty, she was enamored with her new neighborhood’s array of restaurants and shops, easy access to transit and its diversity. The lack of parks and gardens puzzled her, though.

At the time, trash covered the corner of East Liberty Boulevard and Mellon Street: empty cans, bottles, fast-food paper bags. When the city mowers would cut the grass, they would mow right over the garbage, crushing it into the earth.

The litter sent the wrong message.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

An estimated 20 percent of Pennsylvanians don’t have access to computers or internet, but a new initiative is aiming to close the “digital divide.”

Rec2Tech brings tech opportunities into neighborhoods through afterschool programs.

The city, Sprout Fund and other partners are pairing learning organizations with some of the city’s recreation centers to provide more digital learning opportunities for youth. Rec2Tech launched Monday.  

Igor Spasic / Flickr

A nearly 40 percent increase in the number of reported cases of child abuse in Pennsylvania is straining the resources of county district attorneys' offices, with one prosecutor saying her staff is overwhelmed by the surging workload.

Prosecutors say they support a 2014 legislative overhaul of the state's child abuse law, which, among other things, expanded the definition of child abuse and made more adults legally responsible for reporting suspected cases of it.

But they're having trouble keeping up with the resulting surge in abuse claims.

Keith Srakocic / AP

  Changes are in store for Pennsylvania hunters taking to the state's 1.5 million acres of game lands this season, including new and canceled programs offered by the state Game Commission.

During the 2015-16 season, 937,000 hunters purchased licenses or mentored permits in Pennsylvania, a slight decrease from the previous year.

Game Commission statistics show that more than 10 percent of that number was from female purchasers, with 96,555 licenses or mentored permits bought by women or girls.

A tight budget has the Game Commission monitoring its spending.

National Parks Service

It’s been 15 years since United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Pa. on Sept. 11. And the site which now houses the crash’s memorial has changed considerably.

15 Years Later, How To Teach And Talk About 9/11

Sep 9, 2016
National Park Service

90.5 WESA’s weekly news program The Confluence assembles reporters, editors and bloggers who join veteran journalist and host, Kevin Gavin.

City of Asylum

Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum started in 2004 with a mission of providing a voice and temporary home for one exiled, politically oppressed writer at a time. But that mission grew as its first resident Huang Xiang went out into the neighborhood, and painted his poetry on the outside of the house.

With the renovation of the former Masonic temple on Pittsburgh’s North Side nearly complete, City of Asylum will soon have a new permanent home with Alphabet City.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

90.5 WESA’s weekly news program The Confluence – where the news comes together – debuts Friday.

Each week reporters, editors and bloggers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to go behind the headlines taking an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region. 

Virginia Alvino / WESA

The City of Pittsburgh honored the life and career of former Mayor Bob O’Connor on Thursday, the ten-year anniversary of his death.

Mayor Bill Peduto organized the memorial on the front steps of the City-County Building, bringing together friends, family and colleagues of the late mayor. Some guests wore original t-shirts and buttons from O’Connor’s campaign.

Peduto said he met O’Connor 25 years ago, early in his own career.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Advocates from Lawrenceville-based advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh said a fatal accident this week between a motorist and cyclist could have been prevented.

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