Expanding Access To The Ballot Box, 100 Years After The 19th Amendment

Jun 5, 2019

On today’s program: City officials want public input on autonomous vehicles; Yuengling celebrates nearly two centuries employing generations of Pottsville families; the National Council of Jewish Women is talking about how to get more voters to the polls; and after a gag order was lifted, details of a fracking settlement have been made public. 

City officials want to hear what Pittsburgh thinks about autonomous vehicles
(0:00 – 12:30)

Pittsburghers shouldn’t expect to see fully autonomous vehicles on the streets tomorrow, according to Karina Ricks, director of the city's Department of Mobility, but the technology, its “promise and perils” are already here and growing fast.

Officials hope to encourage conversation between companies, residents and policymakers using recently acquired grant money. Mayor Bill Peduto previously asked Ricks to help draft autonomous testing guidelines ,which so far, she says they've all been OK with. Companies currently testing in Pittsburgh include Argo AI, Carnegie Mellon University, Aptiv, Aurora Innovation and Uber.

The city has no ability to enforce these unofficial rules of the road.

For 190 years, Yuengling has brewed a legacy of longevity and lager 
(13:35 – 17:51)

The Yuengling brewery in Pottsville is the oldest in the country, and it's still controlled by the family that founded it five generations ago. WHYY’s Ximena Conde reports that it’s not just the bosses who have a storied history with the company; officials claim that 10% of Yuengling employees go back at least two generations. 

The National Council of Jewish Women talk about how to increase voter turnout
(17:56 – 33:00)

One hundred years after Congress passed the 19th amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote, transportation and mobility issues, inconvenient voting hours, restrictive primaries, ID laws and more still prevent some Americans from getting to the polls.

The National Council of Jewish Women's Pittsburgh chapter is hosting a ticketed panel discussion Thursday in Squirrel Hill to talk about voter suppression tactics and how individuals can get more engaged in the electoral process. Cristina Ruggiero, executive director of NCJW Pittsburgh, and Tessa Provins, assistant professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh, join The Confluence to discuss the state of voting in Pennsylvania, modernizing voting machines, and the 2020 census.

Court document reveals companies paid Washington Co. families $3 million
(33:04 – 39:11)

Range Resources and other defendants agreed to pay $3 million to settle a lawsuit in 2018 with three Washington County families who alleged the natural gas drilling company contaminated their properties and made them sick, according to a court document obtained by The Allegheny Front and StateImpact Pennsylvania.

Reid Frazier, who also reports for WESA, found the Aug. 31 document doesn't say how much each of the eight individual plaintiffs were to receive, or how much Range and 10 other co-defendants in the case were to pay out. A judge initially placed a gag order barring Frazier from reporting on the document, but lifted it Tuesday

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich, Julia Maruca, and Hannah Gaskill contributed to this program.

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.