Rich Fitzgerald

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Katharine Eagan Kelleman began her new job Tuesday as the CEO of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. She takes over at a time when the transit agency has a lot on its plate, everything from a proposal to build a Bus Rapid Transit link between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland and beyond, to devising a cashless fare enforcement system that doesn’t profile certain riders.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is halfway through his second term in office. 90.5 WESA's Kevin Gavin sat down with Fitzgerald to discuss his goals for the county in 2018.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

KEVIN GAVIN: Let's start with what you think were the major developments during 2017 before we start talking about the new year. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Redevelopment of the 24 acres on which sits the now closed SCI Pittsburgh has not been put on hold while other developments proceed, according to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

“That’s just one parcel among many that are very valuable and very desirable in this region,” Fitzgerald said.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Wednesday is the first day of the open enrollment period for Americans to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for 2018.

About 40,000 Allegheny County residents were enrolled in marketplace plans through the exchanges last year, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

“It has been a tremendous benefit,” said Fitzgerald. “Not just for their physical health and their health security, but also on their financial security, families and where they live.”

Elaine Thompson / AP Images

It was Sept. 7. A quick glance at the morning’s headlines revealed President Donald Trump had made a debt ceiling deal with Democratic leaders.

Richard Drew / AP

The city of Pittsburgh will officially throw its hat into the ring Wednesday as a contender for Amazon's second North American headquarters, along with what could be as many as 200 other cities.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto says the relationship between cities across the country and the presidential office has changed drastically since Donald Trump was inaugurated, citing infrequent check-ins compared to the Obama administration.

"The Obama administration, all the way down to each of the departments in the White House, reached out on a weekly basis and we worked with them very closely," Peduto said. "With this administration, they obviously have chosen to go a different route."

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald presented his 2018 budget proposal to County Council on Tuesday, totaling $905.7 million, a 2.8 percent growth from the year before.

Allegheny County Airport Authority

The Pittsburgh International Airport is about to have a major makeover. Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis said the Pittsburgh region is "a growing, tech-focused economy" and its airport should better reflect that. The renovations are expected to cost $1.1 billion

Ted S. Warren / AP

An announcement last week by online retail giant Amazon that it was looking for a second North American headquarters has caused a stir in Pittsburgh and other cities across the country. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto immediately tweeted the city would pursue Amazon.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Pittsburgh plans to compete for the new site of AmazonHQ2, a second headquarters location announced by the Seattle-based company early Thursday.

Evan Vucci / AP

Pittsburgh government and faith leaders invited the public to events this weekend "to come together during a trying time," Mayor Bill Peduto said Wednesday.

The events are a reaction to violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., last Saturday when white supremacist groups rallied over the removal of a Confederate statue and fought with counter protesters, including Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car slammed into the crowd.

Kathleen J. Davis

Construction began Friday morning on Braddock Civic Plaza, a community space to be located on the former site of UPMC Braddock Hospital, which closed in 2010.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf has warned that Republican efforts to cap Medicaid funding would cost the state billions of dollars, and that might impact senior citizens in nursing homes.

Susan Walsh / AP

Somerset County Commission Chair Gerald Walker said when he got a call from the White House saying he and all the other county commissioners in the state would be invited to a July 13 meeting at the White House, he thought it might be a joke.

“You have to wonder if that’s the real deal when you just get a phone call like that out of the blue,” Walker said.

When the printed invitation arrived in the mail a few days later, he knew it was real.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Council is expected to vote Wednesday evening on a proposed mandate for blood lead testing for all children between nine and twelve months of age, and again at age 2.

Carlos Osorio / AP, File

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald reintroduced legislation Tuesday that would make lead tests mandatory for children under 2 years old in Allegheny County.

The legislation was unanimously approved by the Allegheny County Board of Health in May. However, Allegheny County Council members failed to act on it. 

David Goldman / AP

Pittsburgh's primary is set, but election season is just getting underway. Politcal reporters Kevin Zwick of the Greensburg Tribune-Review and Chris Potter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have more.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

  Among the supporters at Mayor Bill Peduto’s primary election night victory party was Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

“We've had a good relationship for a long time,” Fitzgerald said.  “We talk all the time … we have a very similar outlook in how we try to govern.”

Fitzgerald has been county executive since January 2012, two years longer than Peduto has been mayor, and he's looking forward to continuing to work together. 

“It works better for the region when that happens,” Fitzgerald said.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

The three men who have held the seat of Allegheny County Executive are throwing their support behind a proposal to allow municipalities in the county to disincorporate and turn over operations to county officials.

A study out of the Institute of Politics at the University of Pittsburgh outlines a path for municipalities in Allegheny County to disincorporate that begins with local elected officials approving a referendum on disincorporation. If the voters approve, it would then be sent to the county council to accept the plan. 

Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County could become the first in the state to require all children to be tested for high lead levels in their blood.

The county Board of Health on Wednesday unanimously recommended the proposal, which would require two tests, around ages 1 and 2. The regulation must be approved by the county council and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. It would take effect next January.

Director Karen Hacker said she believes testing is necessary, because most homes in the county were built before lead was banned in paint.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, China is the fourth largest international trading partner for the Pittsburgh region, behind Canada, Mexico and Japan.

Matt Rourke / AP

Outpourings of grief and sympathy are flooding in to Pittsburgh from around the world, marking the death of NFL icon, Dan Rooney.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

  Plans are moving forward on the construction of a bus rapid transit system, or BRT, between the city’s two largest employment centers: Downtown and Oakland.

Developers proposed four route options based on analysis and public input. 

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Clairton Mayor Rich Lattanzi can recall a time when the city’s credit was so poor, they couldn’t purchase Easter candy. Lattanzi said the story is a good example of how far the town has come from its nearly 30 years in Act 47 financial distressed status. 

Friday, he announced the community had received $3.3 million in state tax credits and corporate grants.

“There were times when the cupboards were bare,” Lattanzi said. “And the city of Clairton just kept clawing and clawing.”

Richard Vogel / AP

Nearly 600 counties and municipalities across the nation have enacted restrictions on e-cigarettes and other forms of vaping in existing smoke-free public venues, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Affordable housing, more efficient transportation and park improvements are what Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he’ll focus on in 2017.

But the New Year also brings a measure of uncertainty for the county executive.

Fitzgerald said he’s still waiting to see what happens with a new presidential administration in office.

“We don’t live in a vacuum here in Pittsburgh and in Allegheny County,” he said.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A report released by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics is calling for judges in Allegheny County to rely less on bail to keep tabs on suspects awaiting trial on non-violent charges.

Paul Guggenheimer / 90.5 WESA

The results of last week’s election left many political leaders stunned and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was no exception. Not only was Fitzgerald disappointed to see Hillary Clinton lose after strongly supporting her campaign, he was surprised to see Pennsylvania go into the win column for a Republican for the first time since 1988.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Steelers legends, city and union leaders and working man rock icon Donnie Iris flanked Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as she addressed scores of supporters in the Great Hall at Heinz Field on Friday.

"I have a lot of ideas; I could keep you here until the game starts on Sunday," Clinton said.

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