Features & Special Reports

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Criminal defense lawyer Giuseppe Rosselli was confused when his client, George Allen, didn’t show up for a court date in late July. They had texted about the hearing moments earlier.

Courtesy of Mercuri and Skopov campaigns

For the last 20 years, the North Hills suburbs were represented in the state House by conservative champion Mike Turzai. Now that the former House speaker has resigned, there’s a chance for a major shift in representation for a district where demographics are already changing.


An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

With negotiations over a new coronavirus relief package stalled in Congress, extra money for food assistance is among the items hanging in the balance. And in tens of thousands of local households, the impasse compounds the fear of going hungry.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

For years, the Democratic Party has struggled to retain support from Catholic voters in southwestern Pennsylvania, and it will likely be hard for Democrats to reverse that trend in November – even with a ticket led by a Catholic presidential nominee.  


Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Gun sales and gun violence have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, but the issue has been largely absent from the 2020 campaign. For WESA’s Split Ticket series, we’re following four Western Pennsylvania voters for a year, asking them about the issues that could sway their decision at the ballot box.

This month, they weighed in on firearms. But while they shared common ground on some changes to gun laws, the gun debate is still divisive.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Recent revelations that the U.S. Postal Service will likely struggle to deliver mail-in ballots in time for Election Day has worried voters, campaigns and election officials across the U.S. But the stakes feel particularly high in battleground states like Pennsylvania -- and with less than three months until November, election officials are trying to address mail delivery problems and voter fears.


An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

Sitting in a grassy lot along Braddock’s main avenue, Jona Reyes dreams of restoring the energy that she says once coursed through the neighborhood. Since steel’s decline more than 30 years ago, the Mon Valley community has suffered from chronic disinvestment.

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

This month, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping green energy plan. It marks a strong contrast from President Donald Trump, who has long championed fossil fuels.


Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Despite a pandemic, high voter turnout, and a new election law, Allegheny County finished tallying votes in the June primary before most counties in the state. Now, the people behind that process are looking at what went right -- and what needs to be changed ahead of November.


Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

As protests against police brutality sweep across the country, polling suggests most Americans support law-enforcement reform. In our year-long Split Ticket series, we’ve been asking four voters about the issues that could sway their decision at the ballot box. This month, the many reported acts of police brutality – and the President’s response to them – have deepened one voter’s commitment to be heard in November.

Charles R. Martin Photographs / University of Pittsburgh


Lenore Williams was living in Homewood when civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. 

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Reopening the economy has become a polarizing issue, and how elected leaders handle the task could sway voters’ decisions at the ballot box in November. For our Split Ticket series, we asked four western Pennsylvania voters about how they view reopening strategies.

Photos courtesy of the candidates / 90.5 WESA

Republican Mike Turzai represented the 28th state house District for nearly two decades before announcing his plans to retire at the end of this year. None of the three Republicans vying for his North Hills seat would have the same legislative clout as Turzai, the outgoing Speaker of the House. But they still believe they can help guide the state through the coronavirus pandemic.

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

During the first few months of this year, the 2020 presidential race dominated the country’s attention – until the coronavirus arrived. 

Dickinson campaign/AP

In the run-up to the 2020 election, Democrats struggled to pick the national face of the party: a more moderate candidate in Joe Biden or a more radical choice in Bernie Sanders. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf has issued stay-at-home orders across Pennsylvania as the coronavirus spreads. The directives are meant to save lives, but for victims of domestic violence, being stuck at home with their abusers can be extremely dangerous.


Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

Four days after the Braddock Carnegie Library temporarily closed because of the coronavirus, executive director Vicki Vargo, who was working from home, stopped by to pick up the mail and a few other things. Outside the landmark building’s front door stood a library regular.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

A new election law in Pennsylvania allows registered voters to cast their ballots by mail. It’s meant to make voting more accessible, which is why some organizers have been planning for months to use it to boost turnout. And as the coronavirus spreads, there may be unintended benefits of voting by mail.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Coronavirus has now spread to more than 100 countries, representing two-thirds of the world’s population. In Pittsburgh, large events are being canceled; college classes are moving online; and everyone’s taking extra long to wash their hands.

Helping explain the headlines this week from the WESA newsroom:

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Propel McKeesport elementary teacher Timesha Cohen said she is uncomfortable talking about race in her classroom. But, she said she knows it’s vital for her students.

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Polling shows that health care is a top concern for voters across the country, and voters in Western Pennsylvania are no exception. The voters in our Split Ticket series are divided on how to address the issue. Two people want to expand government health care – and while the other two don’t, they have each turned to public services for help.

Courtesy Evolve EA

Two massive stone arches tower over Washington Boulevard in Pittsburgh’s Homewood and Larimer neighborhoods. The intersecting structures over Silver Lake Drive appear out of place along this curving, concrete road.

AP

When President Trump ran for office four years ago, he said the government could save hundreds of billions of dollars on drug costs -- if it was allowed to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies.

Dolores Ochoa / AP

Legislation to decriminalize marijuana under federal law has gotten some traction in Congress, with a U.S. House committee passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement, or MORE, Act in November. But the bill, introduced by New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, is not expected to become law.

David Eggert / AP

Like most people, Brett Stanford likes to unwind after work. Often he smokes cannabis, sometimes while watching the PBS period-drama “Downton Abbey.”

Scotland Is Turning Pennsylvania Shale Gas Into Plastic. But What Happens To It Next?

Dec 18, 2019
Reid Frazier / The Allegheny Front

It’s a windy day on the Firth of Forth, a wide river estuary in central Scotland, and Jasper Hamlet is jabbing at the sand on Ferrycraigs Beach with a stick. He peels back layers of sand, dried seaweed, and sticks, and finds what he’s looking for: plastic pellets called “nurdles.” 

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

Nancy Black has a host of health problems, including arthritis, fibromyalgia and asthma, and she used to have to take opioids every 12 hours for her pain. However, in 2018 she decided to stop taking her medication, which included OxyContin, and to use medical marijuana instead. 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Pro-impeachment rallies are scheduled for Tuesday evening across Southwestern Pennsylvania – just hours before a US House vote on impeaching President Trump will take place on Wednesday. The effort will offer a response to anti-impeachment messages broadcast by Republican groups in recent months.

An-Li Herring / 90.5 WESA

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day,” Pittsburgh attorney Catia Kossovsky said with a laugh.

The day was January 4, 2018. And then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had announced he would let prosecutors crack down on the medical marijuana industry, undoing Obama-era guidelines that generally left states to enforce their own marijuana laws.

Jared Murphy and Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The path to presidential victory runs directly through Pennsylvania. The state holds 20 electoral votes and Donald Trump’s 2016 win was decided by less than 50,000 votes, or less than one percentage point. Polls show it will be a close race again in 2020. Over the next year, WESA is following four voters at the center of this election about the big issues that will sway their decisions at the ballot box.

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