WESA Local News

Church Abuse Report, 2 Years In The Works, May Soon Be Released

Aug 13, 2018
Andrew Rush / AP

A damning report into allegations of decades of child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members and efforts to cover it up in six of Pennsylvania's Roman Catholic dioceses is expected to be released in the coming days.

The public disclosure of the findings, the result of an almost two-year grand jury investigation, has been delayed while some of the people named in the report have launched legal challenges, arguing the report is inaccurate and releasing it in its current form would violate their constitutional rights to their reputations and to due process of law.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

As person after person stepped through the door of Peace, Love and Zen – a wellness center  in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood last week, they joined the awkward circle people make when they expect to be members of an audience. They were lit by the gentle glow of the wellness center’s Himalayan salt lamps, set into cubbies near the ceiling.

Jakob Lazzaro / 90.5 WESA

Josh McIntyre moved to Pittsburgh two years ago after growing up in Latrobe, Pa. Standing in a back aisle of the North Side’s Giant Eagle on Cedar Avenue during a quiet evening, he said the store is the sole option in the neighborhood.

Erie's Mushroom Kingdom: Exotic Mushrooms Abound

Aug 11, 2018
Tory Talbot / AP

Pennsylvania is far and away the largest producer of mushrooms in the U.S., mostly the white "button" variety, grown on 68 farms mostly in the Philadelphia region. That's been true for generations.

Now, for many reasons — Americans' widening interest for food grown and produced locally, a focus on low-carb diets, and encouragement of farmers by the USDA to monetize their forests — exotic mushrooms are sprouting up in this neck of the woods.

Schizoform / flickr

State wildlife officers have seized three king cobras among the more than 300 reptiles kept in a New York home.

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

The union representing Giant Eagle workers has ratified a new three-year contract with the regional grocer.

Jason Eppink / flickr

Pennsylvania plans to restore general assistance cash payments this fall for poor or disabled Pennsylvanians following a state Supreme Court decision.

How You Recycle Plastic Is About To Change

Aug 10, 2018
Courtesy of Waste Managment

The global market for recycling has changed dramatically over the last year. And it’s already trickling down to what happens curbside.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

A state agency has said it’s willing to let Pennsylvania’s capitol keep its uncommonly high taxes through 2020—the latest development in a battle between the city and state over how it’ll pay its bills after losing its “distressed municipality” status.

The city, however, is hoping it gets to keep its special taxing authority permanently.

The new tax option comes in the latest version of Harrisburg’s Act 47 exit plan, delivered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

Cliff Owen / AP

Ordinarily, you wouldn’t expect the chair of the Democratic National Committee to be so excited after seeing his party lose a closely watched special election. 

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

After a year of campaigning and months of legislative debate, it’s likely too late for state lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment overhauling Pennsylvania’s redistricting process before the next map-redrawing gets underway in 2021.

So now, reform advocates are exploring alternative options.

Critics of the map-drawing methods for congressional and state legislative districts have spent months insisting state lawmakers have too much power over the process—and saying that leads to political gerrymandering and incumbent protection.  

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

When the power goes out, calls to local utility companies come flooding in from people like Joan Petrillo, manager of Martindale’s Natural Market in Springfield near Philadelphia.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will begin a performance audit this month of transportation contracts and costs in the Pittsburgh Public School District.

The last audit of the district from his office was released in 2015 and did not cover transportation.

PPS has a dozen transportation contracts, something he said could be justified, but is concerning.

“One of the things we’re going to see is would it make sense to have only one vendor or potentially do it in-house,” he said. “Or to see maybe if that could be paired down.”

Jim Stauffer / Flickr

The Allegheny County Health Department will spray select areas with pesticide Thursday evening, following recent samples of mosquitos that tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The Long Road To Becoming PA's First Black-Owned Brewery

Aug 9, 2018
Lisa Wardle / WITF

This weekend, Pittsburgh is slated to host the first festival of black craft beer brewers from around the country. Among their ranks will be Harris Family Brewery--believed to be Pennsylvania's first African-American-owned craft brewery.

The brewery started gaining attention this year after securing space for a brewpub in Harrisburg's Allison Hill neighborhood, though the road to this point has been long.

Instead Of Tax Cuts, GOP Candidates Motivate With Anxiety

Aug 9, 2018
Kristi Boyd / Office of Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

There's a border crisis in Pennsylvania. The radical left is surging in New Jersey. And Nancy Pelosi is a threat to New York.

Republican candidates in the nation's premier midterm battlegrounds have embraced a central message in their fight to maintain the House majority this fall — and it has little to do with the surging economy or the sweeping tax cuts that the GOP celebrated as a once-in-a-generation achievement just eight months ago.

Gov. Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Wolf administration is touting a new approach to coordinating with schools on the district level around the state.

UPMC

The community benefits agreement finalized with UPMC Mercy last week is very different from the Lower Hill agreement struck with the Pittsburgh Penguins, said city Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, who was party to both negotiations.

Photo by Jeff Zoet / Courtesy of Day Bracey

To tell how the nation’s first black beer festival came to be held in Pittsburgh, you might start with a beer. 

Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

U.S. Senator Bob Casey was in suburban Pittsburgh Wednesday morning to advocate for protecting health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Casey was joined by health care providers and patients with pre-existing conditions at the Squirrel Hill Health Center in Brentwood, Pa.

Julio Cortez / AP

 

The release of a long-awaited grand jury report on sexual abuse by Pennsylvania’s Catholic clergy has been delayed once again.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

The Pennsylvania Republican Party wants an investigation into a promotion by Fayette County Democrats at the recent county fair to get people to register as Democrats or change party affiliation.

The GOP says the offer of Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia and a one-night stay at a western Pennsylvania resort violated the state Elections Code .

Getty Images

Editor's note on Aug. 8, 2018: This piece has been substantially updated from a version published in 2014.

A solemn little boy with a bowl haircut is telling Mr. Rogers that his pet got hit by a car. More precisely, he's confiding this to Daniel Striped Tiger, the hand puppet that, Rogers' wife, Joanne, says, "pretty much was Fred."

Official: Pennsylvania 'Clearly Behind' In Pollution Goals

Aug 8, 2018
Brian Witte / AP

A senior environmental official in Pennsylvania said Tuesday that his state is "clearly behind" in reaching goals of cutting pollution that flows downstream into the Chesapeake Bay by 2025, weeks after heavy rains brought a stunning amount of debris into Maryland.

Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, made the comment at a meeting in Baltimore of officials from six states in the bay watershed. Maryland officials last week had blasted Pennsylvania and other upstream states, accusing them of not doing more to stop pollution flow.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Many thought lead in drinking water was a problem of the past — until the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, a few years back.

And then a U.S. Government Accountability Office survey polled school districts across the country on testing for lead in drinking water in 2017. Fewer than half of those surveyed did testing; of those that did, more than a third found elevated levels.

Penn State Linebacker Wants To Be A Crime-Stopper

Aug 8, 2018
Jay LaPrete / AP

Koa Farmer's taste in television steers in a very clear direction.

"I liked 'Law and Order.' I liked 'CSI.' I liked 'Bones.' 'Criminal Minds' was a good one," the Penn State linebacker said. "And continuing to college following, 'How to Get Away with Murder,' 'Breaking Bad.' I'm just really into that kind of stuff. Into the competitive field of getting criminals. The whole critical thinking part of how agents handle certain situations or conflicts."

Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Pennsylvania’s junior U.S. senator is going toe to toe with President Donald Trump on tariffs.

Republican Pat Toomey, a staunch free trade advocate, held a roundtable discussion in Harrisburg on Tuesday to hear a range of business owners and advocates speak on how the President’s recent spate of tariffs and ensuing trade wars have impacted them.

tengrrl / Flickr

The suicide rate among survivors of head and neck cancers is more than four times higher than suicide among the general U.S. population; male survivors of these cancers are six times more likely than females to commit suicide.

Courtesy of Idia'Dega

If you’re trying to save the planet from home, you’re more likely to look at your thermostat than your wardrobe. But Tereneh Idia says the latter counts, too.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

In an effort to shift his U.S. Senate campaign into a higher gear, Congressman Lou Barletta is in Pittsburgh Tuesday and Wednesday, with a bus sojourn his campaign calls the “Red, White and Lou” tour. And as he sought to raise his profile just three months from the election, he answered questions from 90.5 WESA about the campaign, Donald Trump's economic policies, and his ties to a controversial Trump ally.

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