On today's program: A Pittsburgh leader is coordinating a national strategy for family caregivers; Allegheny County is seeing a Hepatitis A outbreak; a Duquesne University forum digs into the mind of a serial killer; and city council wants some control over how a potential new tax is spent.
Pittsburgher Selected to Serve on National Family Caregiver Council
(00:00 — 12:22)
A Pittsburgher is heading up a national committee created by the federal RAISE Family Caregivers Act to advise the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on policymaking strategy for family caregivers. Nancy Murray, president of the Arc of Greater Pittsburgh —an affiliate of ACHIEVA, will identify actions that federal, state and local governments can take to support caregivers. The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh is an affiliate of ACHIEVA, one of the largest advocacy and disability service organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Murray says all of the federal members of the committee are themselves caregivers.
"This is more than just a job," she says. "They know what this does to families and they are just as passionate as we are in making sure that the solutions that we offer are doable."
She says the committee's personal connection to the issue is what will hold lawmakers accountable as the strategy is rolled out. Murray is the parent of two adult children with disabilities and was also recently appointed by Governor Wolf to his Council on Reform to improve the support and protection of vulnerable Pennsylvanians. The committee's recommendations will be delivered by mid-2022.
Hepatitis A is on the rise in Allegheny County
(13:50 — 17:40)
Allegheny County has seen 22 cases of Hepatitis A since January 2018, the highest number in over a decade. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver disease that causes inflammation. The Allegheny County Health Department says that, historically, there hasn’t been much local transmission of hepatitis A. But that’s changing. 90.5 WESA's Sarah Boden says officials plan to keep the disease at bay through the vaccination of vulnerable populations. The Hepatitis A vaccine is a two-shot regimen that provides nearly 100 percent immunity.
The mind of a serial killer: evil genius or just evil?
(17:50 — 33:42)
Less than 1% of all murders committed in a given year are at the hands of a serial killer, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Despite the numbers, serial murder remains a phenomenon in popular culture and American media. The facts about serial killers, their motives and their victims is the focus of the 18th annual symposium by the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University taking place through Friday.
Joining The Confluence to talk about the conference and some misconceptions about serial killers are:
- Jerry Clark, chair of the criminal justice program at Gannon University and former FBI agent who led the investigation into Erie’s “pizza bomber” case; and
- Katherine Ramsland, author of "Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader," and director of the M.A. in Criminal Justice program at DeSales University.
The myth that all serial killers are geniuses is one Katherine Ramsland hopes to dispell. The majority of serial killers have an average intelligence, according to Ramsland. She also blames the film and television industry for a misconception that many serial killers wish to be caught.
"Of the thousands of serial killers we know, about a dozen have turned themselves in," she says. "Most don't want to get caught, they want to keep doing what makes them feel good."
Councilors voice concerns about proposed parks property tax
(33:46 — 38:59)
Members of Pittsburgh City Council met this week to discuss a ballot measure that would raise $10 million a year for the city’s 165 parks. 90.5 WESA's Chris Potter says the hike would raise taxes by about $50 for every $100,000 in assessed property value, but some city councilors oppose raising taxes further. The Parks Conservancy says if the measure passes, they would make up a $400 million capital backlog and prioritize small neighborhood parks. In a meeting Wednesday, councilors voiced concerns over campaign finances and regulations for how the additional revenue would be spent if the ballot measure is approved.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.