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If Hackers Hit Pittsburgh, Peduto Says The City Won't Pay

Rachel Gobep
90.5 WESA
Mayor Bill Peduto said from his office Tuesday, May 21, 2019, that he would not pay ransom if hackers ever targeted Pittsburgh.

On today’s program: How to prevent infectious diseases; a breakdown of yesterday’s primary election results; Mayor Bill Peduto on cybersecurity, postponing gun control ordinances and legalizing recreational marijuana; and an old amusement park near Lake Erie searches for its place in the 21st Century.

Credit Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of infection prevention for UPMC, suggests respiratory etiquette like hand-washing to limit the spread of infectious disease.

Graham Snyder spends a lot of time thinking about controlling infectious diseases 
(00:00 – 10:43)

This week, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health declared a Hepatitis A outbreak, and the rate measles in the U.S. soared to a 25-year high of 880 cases.

Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of infection prevention for UPMC, says hospitals spend a lot of time carefully considering how to deal with potential problems, from higher rates of measles to annual waves of influenza.

Snyder says the public has two good defenses: vaccinations and good respiratory etiquette, like covering coughs and sneezes and hand washing.

Winners, losers, surprises and lingering questions from the PA primary
(11:01 – 16:50)

Allegheny County voters chose nominees for city and county councils, school boards, the district attorney's office, judgeships and more. 90.5 WESA’s Chris Potter reports several well-established Democratic candidates were toppled by progressive challengers, which he says could be a sign of a younger, more engaged electorate.

Protecting Pittsburgh from cyber attacks in the wake of Baltimore's infrastructure attack
(17:45 – 31:07)

City officials across the nation are re-evaluating cyber security protocols after a breach in Baltimore shut down its servers two weeks ago. Hackers are demanding a nearly $100,000 ransom payment, which officials there have declined to pay. Mayor Bill Peduto says a similar event in Pittsburgh would cripple departments like city planning and limit others like public safety. Still, he says, he wouldn't pay either.

"I'm confident that we have a system that's adequate, but we're dealing with hackers that are much more technical than what we are able to keep up with," Peduto says.

The attack in Baltimore is one of more than 20 made on municipalities this year, and cybersecurity experts say it likely will take months to fully recover.

Peduto also addressed his support for legalizing recreational marijuana and why he paused on enforcing the city's recent gun control laws pending multiple legal challenges. 

Wooden coasters and iconic kiddie rides keep nostalgia alive at Conneaut Lake Park
(31:10 – 39:17)

Conneaut Lake Park is a small amusement park just south of Erie and home to old-fashioned rides with names like the Devil’s Den and Tumblebug. It’s small, nostalgic and full of memories for those who went there during its heyday. Now, 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Kovash reports, the park is settling into its place in the 21st Century.

90.5 WESA's Julia Zenkevich and Julia Maruca 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.

Kiley Koscinski is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She previously produced The Confluence and Morning Edition. Before coming to WESA, she worked as an assignment desk editor and producer at 1020 AM KDKA. She can be reached at
Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago.
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