Public Source

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

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 to take an in-depth look at the stories important to the Pittsburgh region.

Darron Cummings / 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. 

This week our panel of journalists discuss the presidential election results and the resignation of Police Chief Cameron McLay. We'll also check in with reporters in Harrisburg for a conversation on  how the commonwealth's election results will impact the House and Senate.

Joshua Franzos / The Heinz Endowments

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.

We’ll discuss the faculty strike at Pennsylvania’s 14 state universities. Also, we’ll discover what ideas were suggested to improve the quality of life for Pittsburghers at the P4 Conference. From a White House-driven police initiative to the release of a crime report we’ll take a look at police issues.

President Obama Brings New Frontiers To Pittsburgh

Oct 14, 2016
University of Pittsburgh

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. This week we look at the New Frontier's Conference at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, job growth and state Senate hearings on charter schools.

Paul L. Dineen / flickr

In a recent article for our content partner Public Source reporter Eric Holmberg addresses Pennsylvania’s reporting of open data. It appears the Commonwealth is one of 25 states that doesn’t provide an open data website. We’ll discuss what’s being done to make the state more forthcoming with information and analyze how helpful the site could really become. 

Enthusiam Varies On Whether Police Should Stop Deadly Overdoses

May 16, 2016
Natasha Khan / PublicSource

Should police stop deadly overdoses? In his latest article for our content partner Public Source Jeffrey Benzing reports on the varying degrees of interest among police departments in taking on a duty some feel would be better handled by paramedics.

Daniel Lobo / flickr

Only 15 percent of Pennsylvania mothers breastfeed their babies up to six month without supplement, according to a recent CDC study. Despite the health benefits of breastfeeding, many mothers receive conflicting messages, especially after they have their first child. In her article “Barriers to Breastfeeding,” PublicSource reporter Andrea Frazier looks at why breastfeeding rates in the Pittsburgh region have been unusually low and what health professionals are doing to increase awareness. We’ll also hear from Ellen Rubin of La Leche League, a local organization helping women successfully breastfeed their children through education and outreach.

Shane Simmons / flickr

Described by City Controller Michael Lamb as a "runaway train," Pittsburgh is experiencing a problem paying overtime, holiday and other premium costs to public safety personnel.  Public Source reporter Eric Holmberg’s investigation of the matter found that existing workers earn nearly $30 million in additional funds to their salaries each year, but are burdened by under staffing and increased workloads. Holmberg shares his thoughts the issue and its contributing factors.

Ryan Loew / Public Source

From 2010 through 2015, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police investigated 311 homicides. Only 163 of those have been cleared with an arrest or other explanation for the death. This week WESA, working with our content partner Public Source has begun airing the multi-part series, The Aftermath of Murder, on unsolved African American homicides in Pittsburgh. Joining us to discuss the series are WESA reporter Megan Harris and Public Source reporter Jeffrey Benzing. 

Dissolving Small Town Police Forces

Jan 19, 2016
David Holt / flickr

Wilkinsburg is one of several small towns considering the dissolution of their police department for financial reasons. It’s a trend among some small towns that dates back over 10 years. 

Christine Manganas of WESA’s content partner PublicSource joined Essential Pittsburgh in studio to talk about the issue with Ohio Township Police Chief Norbert Micklos, whose police force covers seven neighboring boroughs.

Connecting Pittsburgh's Urban Landscape

Jan 5, 2016
David Brossard / flickr

More bike lanes, benches and signs guiding residents and visitors to the next Downtown location are just some of the changes that could be in store for Pittsburgh. But if space annexed by one mode of transportation will be missed by the others, what tensions could be created? PublicSource reporter Eric Holmberg has explored this question and joins us to look at how people's use of public spaces and major streets is evolving in the Steel City.                   

Technology And The Millennial Brain

Nov 30, 2015
Allan Ajifo / flickr

Recent studies show the average millennial (those born between 1980 and 2000) spends 18 hours a day consuming media, with the majority online or on their mobile device.  According to the PEW Research Center, 90% of millennials use social media.  As technology continues to become more prevalent in the lives of young people, just how much is brain development influenced?

Elaina Zachos, Public Source reporter and author of “Technology is Changing the Millennial Brain,” says that the areas of the brain most affected by technology are the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum.  These areas control personality, cognitive function and communication skills. 

Grading Restaurants By Health Code Compliance

Oct 8, 2015
Omar Chatriwala / flickr

Facilities that serve food throughout Allegheny County must be inspected by a health official each year in order to continue serving customers.  Proof of this inspection can be found hanging in the restaurant in the form of an "approved-to-operate" green sticker.  Some officials don't believe this is enough evidence that the facility is truly abiding by the health code.  Public Source reporter Eric Holmberg and 90.5 WESA reporter and All Things Considered host Larkin Page-Jacobs have explored a proposed restaurant grading system that would categorize businesses with an A, B, or C, based on their health code compliance. They'll take us through what the system could mean for consumers, health officials and business owners.

Larkin Page-Jacobs / 90.5 WESA

One burger joint in Pittsburgh has repeatedly kept raw hamburger meat, lettuce and coleslaw at temperatures that allow bacteria to flourish. A chain restaurant’s worst violations in the past three years were a missing floor tile and a dirty floor drain.

Both restaurants have maintained their approved-to-operate green stickers from the Allegheny County Health Department, but one would’ve earned a ‘C’ and the other an ‘A’ if the county’s attempts to institute a restaurant grading system had passed.

Investigating State Police Misconduct

Oct 1, 2015
David Holt / flickr

From 2009 to 2014 internal investigations uncovered more than 1,000 allegations of misconduct among the PA State Police. While reforms have been made the State Police remain vague on any type of punishments that have been administered. Reporter Jeffrey Benzing, of our content partner Public Source, joins us to discuss the results of his investigation into this issue.

Connor Mulvaney / PublicSource

 

  WESA’s content partner Public Source has been running a series of articles on the number of drug uses and overdoses in Pennsylvania.  The latest story explores the stigma professionals in the workplace face when confronting addiction.  Joining us to discuss the issue are Public Source reporter Jeffrey Benzing and Jason Snyder, executive director of the Consumer Health Coalition.

glindsay65 / flickr

The manhunt continues for two escaped prisoners in the northeastern section of New York State. One of the men was serving a life sentence while the other, 25 years to life. The escapees present a danger to the public. However, what happens when prisoners serving a life sentence are diagnosed with a terminal illness? While they may not be a threat to the public should they be released? Public Source reporter Jeffrey Benzing looked at the issue of compassionate release and joins us in studio to address the topic. (starts at 11:56)

Benzing discusses the factors judges take into consideration when determining whether an inmate should qualify for compassionate release:

"The judge has the discretion to look at the threat to public safety. If there’s a risk for escape or someone committing some other awful heinous crime, that’s certainly something the judge considers. They hear testimony from the prosecutor. … They also can hear from the victim. It’s ultimately up to the judge to decide, but each of these parties is able to object if they wish to." –Jeffrey Benzing

Also, State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown removes his name after losing the Senate confirmation vote. WESA Celebrates tells the story of the day the South Fork Dam Broke, and a CMU grad travels to Vietnam to remove mines and bombs that still make the Quang Tri Province dangerous long after war's end.

The city provides Pittsburgh residents with the opportunity to apply for housing vouchers that can place them with attentive landlords, safe structures and affordable rent. However, when landlords become hesitant to accept the vouchers, or standards for housing become overwhelming, are the vouchers being utilized to their fullest value? David Weber, Chief Operations Officer at the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, joins us to explain the voucher program's successes and shortcomings.

Weber explains several hurdles needed to be cleared for the housing vouchers to be successful:

"There are three obstacles: one is a unit that will pass the physical inspection... the second is a landlord who's willing to participate in the program because there are some additional administrative things the landlord, as well as the tenant, have to do, and the third is finding a unit where the rent is within the standard that HUD sets that we're allowed to pay for a unit." - David Weber


Nursing Home Overtime May Impact Quality of Care

Feb 5, 2015
:23: / Flickr

 WESA content partner Public Source is reporting a problem in the nursing-home industry. Experts say frequent overtime is common and it has the potential to compromise the quality of care, leaving fatigued caregivers in situations that could have serious consequences.

We talk with guest Halle Stockton, a reporter for Public Source, Dennis Biondo, Director of County-owned Kane Regional Centers and Joe Angelelli, a gerontologist and assistant professor at Robert Morris University.

Stockton explains that her story emerged from a right-to-know request, which revealed that the Kane Regional Centers have the highest amount of overtime payouts and employees in the county. Some health care providers, Stockton found, work an average of 80 hours a week for 50 weeks or more.