WESA Local News

Evan Vucci / AP

President Donald Trump is postponing a campaign rally next week in the Pittsburgh area, the early political hotspot of 2018's congressional elections.

7 Guards Charged With Sex Abuse At Pennsylvania Jail

Feb 15, 2018
Marc Levy / AP

Seven prison guards have been charged with sexually abusing inmates in what the Pennsylvania attorney general said Thursday was an effort to stop a "persistent culture of abuse" that has plagued the scandal-ridden lockup for more than a decade.

Current and former guards at Lackawanna County Prison in Scranton abused their positions of power to coerce sex from female inmates, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. The abuse was widely known, he said, broadly hinting at a cover-up.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

Seven Pittsburgh chefs and establishments have been named semifinalists for this year's national James Beard Foundation awards.

Whitfield, the restaurant inside the Ace Hotel in East Liberty, houses semifinalists in two categories: Casey Renee for Outstanding Pastry Chef, and Executive Chef Bethany Zozula for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

On Tuesday, a New York federal judge issued the second ruling to temporarily block the Trump administration from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program on March 5.

Corgi HomePlan / Flickr

As Pennsylvania moves into the latter part of winter, 13,500 households that started the season without a safe source of heat still don’t have one.

Data released Wednesday by Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission shows there are fewer homes without a utility heating service this winter compared to last year. But when money’s tight, many families still turn to heating sources that pose fire risks.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

New insight into a series of fracking-related earthquakes in Eastern Ohio shows that deeper drilling is tied to stronger seismic activity. 

Legal Medical Marijuana Sales Begin At Pennsylvania Facility

Feb 15, 2018
Ryan Kang / AP

The first legal medical marijuana sales under a 2-year-old state law began Thursday at a dispensary in western Pennsylvania, with the first purchase by a woman who lobbied for passage of the law.

A line of about a dozen people greeted employees as they opened the doors of the Cresco Yeltrah dispensary in Butler. Five other dispensaries are expected to start sales in the coming days.

Diana Briggs of Export, Pennsylvania, said the $178 purchase she made should easily be enough to treat her 17-year-old son Ryan for a month.

Matt Rourke / AP

Thursday is deadline day in Pennsylvania's high-stakes gerrymandering case for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and others to submit maps of new congressional district boundaries that they want the state Supreme Court to adopt for this year's election.

Screengrab via Draw the Lines

As Republicans and Democrats in Harrisburg fight bitterly over a state Supreme Court order to redraw Pennsylvania’s congressional maps, one group is taking a longer view.

In a bid to increase awareness about gerrymandering, fledgling organization Draw the Lines is making professional digital mapping tools available to the public.

Keith Srakocic / AP

The March 13 special election to fill the vacant seat in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District south of Pittsburgh is widely viewed as a bellwether for the midterm elections later this year, and that’s due in part to candidate Rick Saccone’s (R-Elizabeth) vocal support for President Donald Trump.

Chad Pizzello / Invision via AP

Black Panther opens Friday, and it’s expected to be a blockbuster, but for many people, the film is more than just another superhero flick.

This Marvel Comics character, created in the 1960s, is often credited as the first mainstream black superhero. The new film adaptation takes place in Wakanda, a fictional high-tech nation that's never been colonized and is led by T’Challa, who doubles as the Black Panther. It boasts an African-American director, Ryan Coogler, and a nearly all-black cast, led by Chadwick Boseman. 

Former CEO Indicted In Mega-Mansion Tax Fraud Scheme

Feb 14, 2018
Keith Srakocic / AP

A former Pennsylvania health services company executive accused of claiming his luxury cars and 39,000-square-foot mansion as business expenses has been charged with tax fraud, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Joseph Nocito Sr. listed the millions of dollars it cost to build a mega-mansion near Pittsburgh he called "Villa Noci," as well as payments for a personal butler and a Jaguar, Maserati and Rolls Royce as corporate business expenses, authorities said.

90.5 WESA

Last month, the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records ordered the City of Pittsburgh to release its bid to become Amazon's second headquarters.

Mayor Bill Peduto said at the time he'd fight the ruling, even if it meant going to court. 

Matt Rourke / AP

Pennsylvania lobbyists are subject to a new law that requires them to file their disclosure reports electronically.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday signed a bill that also increases fines for missing quarterly deadlines for filing disclosure reports.

Officials say about one in five reports were still being filed with paper.

Brian Siewiorek / 90.5 WESA

After 14 years of being designated "financially distressed," on Monday the city of Pittsburgh exited Act 47 state oversight of its finances. State officials hailed the city's return to fiscal good health.

90.5 WESA's Kevin Gavin spoke with Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto about the city's financial future.

Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity. 

Graphic via Sarah Kovash | Photos via AP and NCTC Archives Museum

In honor of Valentine's Day (or Galentine's Day, if you prefer), we've put together a list of inspiring quotes about love -- and life -- from some famous Pittsburghers. 

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Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Two main issues are keeping the Pittsburgh Public Schools district from settling a contract dispute with the union representing its teachers, according to PPS administrators. 

‘LOVE’ Returns: Philly Park Gets Its Sculpture Back

Feb 14, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

"LOVE" returned to Philadelphia on Tuesday, just in time for Valentine's Day.

The famous 1976 Robert Indiana sculpture was brought back to its namesake downtown park on a flatbed truck after making a number of stops at parks and statues along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway before the reinstallation.

School children cheered and those gathered spontaneously sang the fight song for the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles as a forklift placed the sculpture atop a pedestal.

Ed Reiker / Pyrex Brand/AP

A county commissioner from southwestern Pennsylvania is the newest Republican to join the field vying to become the state's next lieutenant governor.

Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan said Tuesday that she'll seek the nomination. The 55-year-old Irey Vaughan has run unsuccessfully for state treasurer and Congress. She's been a county commissioner since 1996.

March 6 is the deadline for candidates to file paperwork for the May 15 primary ballot.

Five Democrats have lined up to contest the re-election bid of Lt. Gov. Mike Stack in the party's primary.

Allegheny County Jail / AP

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if a man is convicted of first-degree murder in a Pittsburgh fire that killed two women and a 4-year-old child last year.

Forty-one-year-old Martell Smith is charged with homicide and arson in the deaths of 58-year-old Sandra Douglas, 21-year-old Shamira Staten and her daughter Chy'enne Manning.

Authorities allege that Smith set the fire Dec. 20 after a bar fight with a relative of theirs. Police allege that he said "Yep, I did it" as he watched the house burn.

Wally Fong / AP

Marty Allen, the baby-faced, bug-eyed comedian with wild black hair who was a staple of TV variety shows, game shows and talk shows for decades, died Monday night. He was 95.

Allen died in Las Vegas of complications from pneumonia with his wife and performing partner of the last three decades Karon Kate Blackwell by his side, Allen's spokeswoman Candi Cazau told The Associated Press.

Mic Smith / AP

President Donald Trump's campaign says he'll hold a rally in Ambridge next week.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Authorities have released the name of a man shot by a Pittsburgh police officer after officials allege he and another officer were fired upon over the weekend.

Allegheny County police said two Pittsburgh officers on foot patrol in the Homewood neighborhood shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday were fired upon by a man who emerged from behind a building. An officer returned fire then and when they found the suspect again.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Tuesday marked the third time a senior Trump administration official dropped into Pittsburgh for 2018's first congressional election.

Ivanka Trump and Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon met Tuesday in Mt. Lebanon with business owners and Republican state lawmakers where she touted tax-cutting legislation her father signed.

Sitting beside her was state Rep. Rick Saccone, the Republican running in March 13's special election to fill the seat left vacant by Republican Tim Murphy's resignation.

Wikimedia Commons

A rehabilitation effort in the commercial corridor of the Hill District is one step closer to opening its doors.

Once a performance hub for artists like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, the New Granada Theater has sat empty on the 2000 block of Centre Avenue for more than a decade. Planning and fundraising are underway for a full rehabilitation of the historic Art Deco-style building built in the 1920s.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

A 2017 report by the Brookings Institution suggested that Pittsburgh as a whole could realize its economic potential more fully by turning Oakland into a central hub for innovation and technology.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Governor Tom Wolf has rejected a Republican-drawn congressional map designed to replace the one the state Supreme Court declared unconstitutional late last month.

The democratic administration says the map is still too partisan—though House and Senate Republicans maintain it follows the court’s order exactly.

Democrats Prepare To Take Turn At Drawing U.S. House Districts

Feb 13, 2018
Chris Knight / AP

Top Democratic state lawmakers said Monday they want to work with Gov. Tom Wolf on a consensus Democratic plan of congressional districts to present to state Supreme Court justices who are poised to impose new boundaries.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody said they hope to meet with Wolf as early as Tuesday to begin cooperation on a map, and have urged Wolf to reject a map given to him on Friday by the GOP-controlled Legislature's top Republicans.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

Two top Democrats are retiring from the state House this year—and have more in common than just their high-ranking positions.

Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers / submitted

The vast majority of members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers who voted Monday authorized the union to call a strike.

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