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School Bomb, Shooting Threats Are Up Since El Paso & Dayton

Richard Vogel

On today's program: Bomb and shooting threats are up in schools nationwide, even in Pittsburgh; the Clean Air Council is taking the Clairton Coke Works to court; and a new program helps prepare African American leaders for future corporate success.

Pittsburgh isn't immune to a nationwide jump in school threats
(0:00 — 12:55)

FBI Pittsburgh special agent in charge Bob Jones says threats of violence like bombs or mass shootings are up 33% nationwide since gunmen attacked in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Most of these threats are posted online, he says, and often turn out to be fake, but school districts can't take that chance.

Jones says Pittsburgh-area schools are no exception. The FBI encourages parents to talk to their kids about their behavior on social media, especially the potential consequences of posting threats or messages that could be perceived as threats. 

“I just think it’s an education process with these young folks… we have to try to make sure they understand the ramifications of their actions,” Jones says. “I don’t want to put any young person in jail, but that may be what it takes to ensure that everybody understands the seriousness of these potential threats.” 

Clean Air Council sues for access to pollution reports
 (17:53 — 22:08)

The Clean Air Council and the Environmental Integrity Project are suing Clairton Coke Works over alleged improper reporting of pollutants after a December fire compromised controls for more than three months. The groups claim that although the company reported flare-ups of sulfur dioxide during the crisis, they also should have disclosed releases of other hazardous air pollutants like benzene and hydrogen sulfide.

The Allegheny Front's Reid Fraizer reports for StateImpact Pennsylvania about reaction to the lawsuit, which comes alongside a separate suit filed by the Allegheny County Health Department over emissions during the outage. 

Pittsburgh's C-suite isn't representative of its workforce
(22:09 — 38:56) 

African Americans are underrepresented at executive levels of leadership in companies and organizations around the country. A new local program through The Advanced Leadership Initiative wants to help, offering seven months of training, mentorship and networking that many people of color say isn't available through traditional channels. 

Robert Young, the initiative's managing director, joins three recent Executive Leadership Academy graduates, who report African American professionals face less room for error, implicit bias and everyday microaggressions in the workplace. Those perspectives include:

  • Taafoi Kamara, administrative director for the UPMC Aging Institute;
  • Marlon Ferguson, executive director of Veterans Place on Washington Blvd; and
  • Mashekia Jones-Slack, vice president of quality and safety for Allegheny Health Network.

Applications are currently open for the next cohort. The program begins in January 2020.

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.

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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