On today's program: Allegheny County Rich Fitzgerald has proposed a new department for children initiatives; a new report showcases problems with policing and ways to address them; and voters discuss the reliability of election results.
Children Initiatives department could address some concerns raised by rejected ballot proposal
(00:00 — 5:39)
Voters in Allegheny County rejected a ballot proposal in 2018 that would have raised property taxes to provide funding for early childhood learning, after-school and nutritious meal initiatives. In the preliminary 2021 budget released this month, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald proposed creating a new department for children initiatives to address some of the concerns contained in the ballot proposal.
“There’s a shortage of pre-K spots for three and four-year-olds in Allegheny County; there is also a shortage of after-school programs,” says WESA Reporter Kate Giammarise, who has been covering the story. The new county department would address these shortages and other primary needs in children’s programming.
After the ballot measure failed, Fitzgerald convened a working group to investigate how the county could support children’s programs. A report from the group released last year “was very clear that not investing in these areas does have long-term consequences for children,” says Giammarise.
Fitzgerald is calling for $400,000 in the first year to hire essential staff, establish partnerships with providers and advocates, and form a community advisory committee.
Giammarise says, “the funding mechanism going forward, beyond the first year, is unclear.”
New report details problems with policing in Pittsburgh and possible solutions
(5:46 — 13:05)
Since the death of George Floyd in May, all eyes have turned to examine the state of policing in America. Questions about funding, responsibilities, training and use of force culminated in a fierce debate of how policing should change.
PublicSource reporters Rich Lord and Juliette Rihl detailed 10 problems with policing and possible solutions. They say advocates for police reform often question why the mayor or police chief doesn’t fire officers for misconduct. The answer lies in part with the police union’s contract.
“In Pittsburgh, the city and the Fraternal Order of Police have really never been able to, in recent years, come to contract agreements with each other. So the terms by which police are employed in Pittsburgh end up being decided by panels of arbitrators,” says Lord. “The state law that governs this, which is Act 111, allows arbitrators to make decisions regarding police discipline.”
The Community Task Force on Police Reform released their own report about the state of policing in Pittsburgh earlier this week. According to Lord and Rihl, there is “a lot of overlap” between their reporting and the task force’s findings, noting that both found racial disparities and a lack of data about police behavior.
“I’m also interested to see what types of concrete steps the city will be able to take, and this task force will be able to take in encouraging change at the state level,” says Rihl. “They could be in for a battle with that.”
How do voters feel about the reliability of election results?
(13:12 — 17:48)
Election Day is in just two weeks. But concerns about slow mail delivery, voter suppression, and baseless claims of fraud have voters on both sides wondering if the results can be trusted. As part of the Split Ticket series, 90.5 WESA’s Lucy Perkins talked with western Pennsylvania voters about how they’re feeling.
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.