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Nominee for city's mobility and infrastructure department says safety, accessibility are top goals

Patrick Doyle
90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

The Gainey administration’s pick to lead the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure is already at work as acting director
(0:00 - 7:47)

Last week, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey announced nominations of those he wants to lead various city departments.

Several of these nominees have already been serving as acting director, including Kim Lucas at the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure (DOMI). Lucas joined DOMI in 2019 as the assistant director for Planning, Policy and Permitting in the Peduto administration.

Lucas says both she and Gainey consider safety their largest priority, followed closely by accessibility.

“We want to make sure that if you are only going a mile or a half a mile from your origin location, that you can comfortably take that trip by walking or biking, and that the reason that you're not choosing to walk or bike isn't because we don't have a good sidewalk or a safe connection for you. It's some other reason,” says Lucas.

She adds that the launch of MovePGH a year ago has confirmed that there’s an appetite for multi-modal transit in the city.

“We have between 1,000 and 1,500 Spin scooters on the streets of Pittsburgh today, and...there have been almost a half a million trips,” says Lucas.

Gwen’s Girls celebrates 20 years of service
(7:50 - 14:22)

The Pittsburgh nonprofit Gwen’s Girls is celebrating 20 years of serving the region. The organization has established after school and summer programs to teach girls leadership and job skills, and immerse them in community service.

The organization is named for the late Gwen Elliott, the first Black female police commander in the city of Pittsburgh.

“I think that the mission, the work that we're doing today is actually what my mother envisioned,” says Kathi Elliott, Gwen’s daughter and CEO of Gwen’s Girls. “We have, you know, shifted the narrative from focusing on just, how do we identify the needs of one particular girl and provide all the support around her… But really now focusing on, what are some of the systemic issues that are impacting that girl?”

Elliott also responded to the news that the Gainey administration has decided to not participate in a guaranteed basic income program, proposed by then-Mayor Bill Peduto.

“Not only am I confident that they will come up with another program, but it'll be something that is sustainable,” says Elliott. “I've been fortunate to be a part of the transition team, and I believe Mayor Gainey and his team will definitely come forward with a lot of different policy changes and programs that will impact all residents of the city of Pittsburgh.”

To celebrate its 20 year anniversary, Gwen’s Girls is holding a gala event May 12 to honor the legacy of Gwen Elliott, and ten other city leaders.

A documentary film looks at the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue, and people who came together after
(14:27 - 22:30)

The mass shooting that took the lives of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue October 27, 2018 scarred the community and the Pittsburgh region, and both have been healing ever since.

That day, the hate that led to that horrific attack, and how the community has moved on is the subject of the new documentary “Repairing the World: Stories from the Tree of Life.” It premiers today as part of the JFilm Festival.

The documentary includes video from that day and the immediate aftermath, from vigils to interviews with the sister who lost two brothers in the shooting, and thoughts from religious leaders of different faiths and student organizers of vigils.

“We're trying to show a portrait of a community that is this had experienced incredible trauma, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history,” says Patrice O’Neill, the film’s director. “Very quickly, we realized that Pittsburgh was opening a story about what a community can do in the aftermath of an attack. And that's what we followed for the past for the next three years.”

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. 

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