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A new class of civic leaders will influence the next decade or more of Western Pennsylvania

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA

On today’s episode of The Confluence: 

Leadership transitions in local government could have a lasting impact on the region
(0:00 - 8:53)

Leaders for the region’s public offices have seen significant turnover in the last few years: Former Mayor Bill Peduto was unseated by Ed Gainey; U.S. Senator Pat Toomey retired and was succeeded by John Fetterman; and the next Allegheny County Executive will soon be chosen by voters, as Rich Fitzgerald is term-limited.

“Traditionally in this region, leaders have stuck around for a long time, including in politics. But on the other side of that coin, you know, change has really accelerated in the last few years for a number of reasons,” says Charlie Wolfson, PublicSource’s enterprise reporter, focusing on local government.

Wolfson says the change has been spurred by a number of factors, from the social justice protests in 2020 to the pandemic.

Across private and public leadership, leaders that have left their positions have averaged a tenure of 15 years on the job.

Annual Christmas Bird Count by the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania tallied a staggering number of crows
(9:08 - 16:25)

This past December, volunteers from all over the region participated in a longstanding annual tradition: Documenting both the number of and type of birds they observed for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania's 123rd annual Christmas Bird Count.

This year, a total of 39,997 birds were counted by volunteers, including 75 species.

“The way that we collect the data, first off, it's a 15 mile circle that includes Pittsburgh… We're sending people out and gathering information on all of these birds, as many as we can find,” says Brian Shema, operations director for the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania. “When you add that to the data set, you know, we are able to start drawing conclusions on how ranges of birds might change or perhaps how populations are changing locally.”

Shema says of the birds counted, about 20,000 were crows recorded over Duquesne University, but it’s not terribly surprising because Pittsburgh is a “regional area for crows to roost.”

New report says drillers ignored state law
(16:40 - 22:30)

Pennsylvania could get hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government in the next decade to clean up thousands of oil and gas wells left behind by conventional drillers.

Last year, the legislature passed a law to govern that money. But former Gov. Tom Wolf says the law could lead to more problems.

He let the measure become law without signing it, and in response, ordered a review of how well drillers are following the state’s rules to protect health and the environment.

StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Rachel McDevitt reports the analysis is now out, and it shows most drillers are ignoring regulations.

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.

Christopher started listening to public radio shortly after he picked up the keys to that '98 Chevy Cavalier back in 2004. He no longer has that car (it's kind of a funny story), but he still listens to — and now has a hand in creating — public radio programming everyday.
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