On today's program: A recap of the key takeaways for Pennsylvania voters after the first presidential debate; the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance has unveiled a new brand to market the area to businesses and individuals; and a local nonprofit is working to make sure Pittsburgh’s Latino community counts in the 2020 census.
Battle for Pennsylvania continues in first presidential debate
(0:00 — 5:05)
Pennsylvania is once again at the center of the presidential election. Donald Trump is trying to hold onto the state, which he flipped in 2016, and Joe Biden is trying to win it back for the Democrats.
The main message of last night’s first presidential debate was not only for voters in Pennsylvania, but for voters across the country, says Chris Potter, the editor of WESA’s government and accountability team.
“We have a president who, when asked to disavow, to denounce white supremacist movements in this country not only chose not to do so, but actually arguably encouraged them to continue tactics of intimidation and violence,” he says. “This is not a usual thing I expected to say after a debate, but this was not a usual debate and these are not normal times. President Trump also said—gave us all reason to believe that should the election results not go his way, he might not accept them as legitimate results.”
President Trump mentioned Pennsylvania directly, questioning the actions of Governor Tom Wolf and saying “Pennsylvania is like a prison.” He also referenced the nine military ballots that were accidentally discarded at the Luzerne County elections office.
The battle for Pennsylvania will continue in the coming weeks. Biden will tour Pittsburgh, Greensburg, and Westmoreland County by train today.
Pittsburgh Regional Alliance launches “Pittsburgh Region. Next is Now” rebranding of the Pittsburgh region
(5:08 — 13:20)
The Pittsburgh region has been without a brand to call its own for some time. The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance seeks to remedy that with the launch of the new brand, Next is Now, which will market the Pittsburgh area to businesses and individuals.
“What has somewhat been baggage on our message over the last decade is we didn’t grow as rapid as other regions post 2008, 9, 10,” says PRA president Mark Thomas. “This gives us a chance to reset that message.”
Despite an economic downturn and high unemployment in the region and across the state, Thomas says now is the right time to debut “Pittsburgh Region. Next is Now.”
“If anything, the cards have been somewhat shuffled for what regions are well positioned to thrive,” he says.
The 2020 census count will continue through the end of October
(13:24 — 18:41)
A federal judge in California prohibited the Trump administration from ending the 2020 census count on September 30—one month ahead of the original schedule.
Opponents of the early Census deadline assumed the count would continue through October 31, as planned. However a recent announcement from the Secretary of Commerce announced via Twitter a target date of October 5 to conclude 2020 self-response and field data collection operations. The Confluence reached out to the Commerce Department to find out what it means by a “target date” and has not received clarification.
If the earlier September deadline had been held up in court, it could have impacted the accurate count of immigrants in the Pittsburgh region and across the state “tremendously,” says Monica Ruiz, the executive director of Casa San Jose. The organization is working with Keystone Counts to target often undercounted communities, including immigrants and people of color.
Ensuring immigrants and other members of the community have accurate information and feel comfortable and safe filling out the census is key to their participation, Ruiz says.
“So, really just making sure that we’re communicating with the community, giving them accurate information, letting them know that this information is not going to be shared with any other government agency, and showing them the importance of having this done.”
According to the 2010 census, 3.1 percent of the Pittsburgh population identified as Hispanic or Latino. Ruiz estimates this number has doubled in the last ten years, but an undercount could result in less funding and less representation in the U.S. House than would be required with an updated census count.
“If we’re not accurately representing the number of folks in these different categories, then we’re going to be kind of in the same situation for the next ten years,” says Ruiz.
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.