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A hundred days in office, Mayor Ed Gainey on violence, young people, campaign promises

Biden visit Pittsburgh mayor Ed Gainey
Andrew Harnik
/
AP
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey arrives to speak at Carnegie Mellon University at Mill 19 in Pittsburgh, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022.

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Mayor Ed Gainey on efforts to increase public safety, and his intention create ‘a city for all’
(0:00 - 13:47)

Early Sunday morning, a shooting left two teenagers dead and several wounded in the North Side. This is one of a series of violent incidents that communities across the city have experienced.

Mayor Ed Gainey has been in office for 100 days so far, and says he plans to schedule a meeting with public safety and community leaders to introduce his “All In,” citywide approach to public safety.

“You have to actually see it from a safety side as well as a public health side,” says Gainey. “This is something that for our children that we really have to deal with because what happens Sunday is tragic and I couldn't imagine losing a child.”

In the interview, we also speak with Gainey about fulfilling a campaign promise to get UPMC to “pay their fair share,” expanding inclusionary zoning in the city, and his optimism in the efforts to create a city that serves all.

A survivor of Merrill’s Marauders is receiving the Congressional Gold Medal
(13:49 - 22:30)

In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued a call for volunteers to complete a dangerous mission. Approximately 3,000 soldiers agreed, and in February 1944, they began a nearly 1,000-mile trek through the Burmese jungle.

Their assignment was to navigate Japanese-occupied Burma to cut off communications and supply lines, capture a Japanese held airfield and open an Allied supply route between India and China.

RussellHamler-Baldwin-Merrills-Marauders.jpg
Kevin Gavin
/
90.5 WESA
Russell “Huck” Hamler, 97, received the Bronze Start (top) and Purple Heart (bottom) for his efforts as a member of the unit known as Merrill's Marauders during World War II.

After five months and a successful mission, only 130 were still fit for duty. The others were killed, wounded or were seriously ill from malaria, typhus, or dysentery. The unit, dubbed “Merrill’s Marauders” after their commander, Brigadier General Frank Merrill, has now been awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

There are five members of that unit alive today, and one of them is 97-year-old Russell “Huck” Hamler, who lives with his son Jeffrey in their Baldwin Township home.

RussellHamler-Baldwin-Merrills-Marauders-oldphoto.jpg
Kevin Gavin
/
90.5 WESA
Hamler volunteered to join the unit that is now known as Merrill's Marauders while stationed in Puerto Rico during World War II.

Hamler volunteered for the mission while stationed in Puerto Rico. He was told very little before being sent to India for training.

“We all had to do the job,” says Hamler. “You just go through life and you do what you have to do to live. And that's what I did.”

Hamler will receive his Congressional Gold Medal Sunday at the Baldwin Township Community Building.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.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.

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
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Laura Tsutsui is a producer for The Confluence, WESA's morning news show. Previously, she reported on the San Joaquin Valley with the NPR affiliate station in her hometown of Fresno, California. She can be reached at ltsutsui@wesa.fm.
Boen Wang is a writer, audio producer, and MFA candidate in creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh. His written work appeared in The Sunday Long Read, The Fourth River, Inheritance, and elsewhere; his audio work won the “Best New Artist” award at the 2020 Third Coast International Audio Festival, was selected as one of The Bello Collective’s “100 Outstanding Podcasts of 2020,” and was shortlisted for the 2021 HearSay Audio Festival Prize. Visit his website at boen.cool.
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