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ACE Says Transit Will Be A Key Issue In His Final Term

Megan Harris
90.5 WESA
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald stands outside the WESA studios on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019.


On today's program: Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald outlines his goals for a final term; Pennsylvania communities raise a glass to the state’s beer industry; and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project is hosting one of the “Exonerated Five” in Pittsburgh tonight to honor the wrongfully convicted. 

Rich Fitzgerald’s final term to focus on transportation & workforce development
(00:00 — 11:57) 

A week after winning an unprecedented third term as Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald is outlining his plan for his priorities for his final four years in the post.

“What I want to accomplish, that we haven’t accomplished, is that the economic gains are equally spread out across the region. We know that some city neighborhoods and suburban communities are doing extremely well [and] some have been left behind,” he says, pointing to Mon and Allegheny river valleys.

Fitzgerald says he wants to see the county improve its transportation options and better connect would-be workers to available jobs, as well as a more skilled workforce overall.

“We have a lot of employers looking almost desperately for talent and for people to fill those (skilled) jobs. We’re probably going to have to bring in more people,” Fitzgerald says, referring to non-native Pittsburghers. “We’ve got to get more young people moving here.”

He says the recent appointment of U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb to serve on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is a good sign for the region’s chances at federal infrastructure investment.

Fitzgerald’s new term runs through 2023, but his name has been floated as a possible candidate for governor in 2022. He says he wants to serve out his final four years in Allegheny County: “You won’t see my name on the 2022 ballot.” 

Craft breweries pour dollars into Pennsylvania’s economy
(13:17 — 17:47) 

Pennsylvania’s craft brewing industry is responsible for creating more than 10,000 jobs and generating $2.2 billion in wages and benefits annually, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. 

Some communities have used Pennsylvania’s beer industry as a marketing strategy for tourism, like Butler County, which launched its own "beer circuit" that entices visitors to fill up their “passport to hoppiness.” As 90.5 WESA’s Maria Scapellato reports, once the card is full, beer lovers can claim a commemorative prize from the county.

PA Innocence Project marks 10 years
(17:52 — 39:00) 

 Since opening in 2009, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project has exonerated 16 individuals wrongfully convicted of crimes and brought four others home from prison to continue fighting their charges. The group is marking its 10th year with a talk tonight featuring Yusef Salaam. 

Salaam is a criminal justice advocate, poet and speaker, but he’s more often recognized as one of the “Central Park Five,” later known as “The Exonerated Five.” He was 15 when he was rounded up and ultimately wrongfully convicted with other black boys in a highly publicized rape and beating case in Central Park in 1989.

When determining what his life after exoneration would look like, Salaam says it was important to him to lend his experience and enduring sense of hope to others in similar situations.

PA Innocence Project managing attorney Elizabeth DeRosa says Salaam’s story isn’t as unique as many assume. The Pittsburgh arm, which opened in 2016 through Duquesne University, works to provide a legal and emotional support system for others. She says her office works with students and others to fight the system from the outside.

Salaam is scheduled to speak at a ticketed event at the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC Union Trust Building on Wednesday.

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 covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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. kgavin@wesa.fm
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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