Identity & Justice

The identity and justice desk explores how the makeup of the Pittsburgh community is changing, and digs into issues of diversity and equity.

Google's traveling "Good to Know Roadshow" program presented at an assembly Monday at Pittsburgh Obama Academy to teach middle school students about the importance of using the Internet safely.

Google spokeswoman Jamie Hill said it was their first time making the presentation in Pennsylvania. Google has an office at Bakery Square in the Larimer section of Pittsburgh. Hill said research shows 93 percent of teenagers are using the Internet.

Pittsburgh Nonprofits Ready to Take Seat at Main Table

Nov 18, 2013

Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bill Peduto says he wants to give nonprofits a seat at the main table in his administration. 

He made the comments Monday before about 500 Pittsburgh area nonprofit organizations gathered for the annual Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership meeting. 

Allegheny County District Judge James A. Motznik is calling on Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala to investigate two issues relating to incidents at Pittsburgh Brashear High School.

One of the incidents, an assault and robbery at the school, is believed to be related to this week’s shooting of three students outside of the school. Motznik said he believes a new policy in place is preventing school police officers from issuing citations as they would have in the past.

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

Update: 7:39 a.m. Thursday

Pittsburgh police have charged a 16-year-old student with shooting three others outside a high school, allegedly in retaliation for a drug-related robbery inside the school last month.

None of the students wounded minutes after Brashear High School dismissed classes Wednesday has life-threatening injuries. Police say two were grazed by bullets, while one was shot in the arm and foot. Police say a fourth was targeted but not hurt.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said in a news conference Tuesday that the Monroeville police officer who struck and killed a pedestrian in early October will likely not be charged with a crime.

According to the DA’s office, Michael Barnes, 49, was struck by a police car driven by Sgt. Edward Lewkowicz at around 7:23 p.m. on Oct. 3. Zappala said Barnes was crossing Monroeville Boulevard, a four-lane road under the jurisdiction of Allegheny County.

The turkey hasn’t yet been served, but an iconic sign of Christmas will start popping up outside of stores and other locations – the Salvation Army’s red kettles.

“The goal for Western Pennsylvania is $2.7 million and the goal for Allegheny County is $687,500,” said Major Mark Mackneer, general secretary of Salvation Army in Western Pennsylvania.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Thousands of people converged on downtown Pittsburgh Monday for the annual Veterans Day parade. Many of them were watching, and even more were marching.

Dozens of high school bands provided entertainment while veterans from every generation marched down the length of Smithfield Street.

Onlookers greeted the vets with cheers and applause, shouting “Thank you!”

Paul Kennedy, western vice commander for the Pennsylvania American Legion, lives in the North Hills and said it was great to see so many people come out for the parade.

The city of Pittsburgh will hold its 94th annual Veterans Day parade on Monday.

Tony Filardi of Overbrook served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and has been the chair of the Veterans Day parade committee since 1990.

Filardi said the parade is an important tradition that pays tribute both to veterans and to active duty military.

“It’s to honor all the veterans who served in the service and also the military people who are serving currently,” Filardi said. “After all, without them, our nation would not be free, because freedom is not free.”

Brother's Brother Rushes Help to Philippines

Nov 8, 2013

A local foundation known for rushing medical aid to developing nations in the wake of natural disasters is asking for help in its effort to offer short- and long-term assistance to the Philippines. 

Brother’s Brother Foundation is working with the Philippine American Medical Society of Western Pennsylvania to move medical supplies to areas impacted by Typhoon Yolanda.   

Brother’s Brother is asking for cash donations to move the supplies.

Pittsburgh’s most iconic — and speediest — deliveryman, Mr. McFeely, helped kick off the 14th annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive Thursday.

McFeely, played by David Newell, brought his puppet friends, Don Quixote, King Friday and Daniel Striped Tiger, to teach the 72 students from Crescent Early Childhood Centers and the Children’s Museum Pre-K Headstart Programs the value of sharing by donating sweaters.

To kick off its 20th anniversary celebration as the National Aviary on Pittsburgh’s North Side, the facility is opening a new permanent exhibit Friday entitled “Canary’s Call.”

The display showcases four signature bird species including the rainbow lorikeet, Guam rail, rhinoceros hornbill and the canary, as well as one of the world’s largest fruit bats, the 2.5 pound Malayan flying fox.

According to Patricia O’Neill, director of education at the National Aviary, “Canary’s Call” shows how birds can be indicators of environmental change.

Thousands of people came downtown to see the Knit the Bridge project and the Rubber Duck earlier this year. Civic and corporate leaders hope thousands will also come to Light Up Night and will visit Holiday Market.

Light Up Night consists of big trees getting decorated throughout downtown, live music, other festive activities such as ice skating at PPG Place and, you guessed it, fireworks.

Jeremy Waldrup, who runs the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said he expects more people than ever before to be a part of this years festivities.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Community Builders held a ceremonial groundbreaking Monday at the site of the new East Liberty Place South development.

The building will feature 52 units of mixed-income housing, as well as 11,000 square feet of commercial space. Thirteen of the one- and two-bedroom apartments will be priced at market value, with a tenant income cap of $55,000-75,000, depending on family size.

Six of the apartments are geared toward very low-income residents, including people with physical disabilities who live off disability benefits.

John Loo / Flickr

Starting Monday November 4th, applications will be accepted for winter heating assistance through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP.) An estimated 1.5 million Pennsylvania households are eligible for LIHEAP grants.

Halloween, the scariest night of the year, is always filled with plenty of things that go bump in the night, but there is one thing trick-or-treaters shouldn’t have to be afraid of - a speeding car.

The Polish Hill Civic Association (PHCA) is launching a project to help protect trick-or-treaters this Thursday night in that Pittsburgh community. Drivers going through the historic neighborhood will be met by volunteers at intersections, holding signs and giving out treats to safe drivers.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has joined top prosecutors in San Francisco and New York in a nationwide initiative to thwart smartphone thefts by rendering the devices useless after a robbery.

The “Secure Our Smartphones” initiative was introduced in Pennsylvania by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman this week. It’s a collaboration among attorneys general and municipal leaders asking cell phone manufacturers to develop a “kill switch” for stolen phones.

Teresa Heinz Kerry says family members weren't fully aware of a controversial decision by the Heinz Endowments to partner with major energy companies on natural gas drilling standards, even though the organization approved two pilot grants for the project last year.

The Heinz Endowments, with assets of $1.4 billion, is the 49th largest foundation in the United States. Heinz Kerry is chair of the Endowments, and she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that she was never involved with the Center for Sustainable Shale Development.

A state lawmaker is proposing legislation that would help taxpayers know more about what they’re paying their teachers.  

State Representative Fred Keller (R - Snyder) is introducing a bill that would require a two-week period of “openness” before school boards could approve any proposed collective bargaining agreements with teachers.

The board would be required to post the proposed contract details to its publicly accessible website, as well as in a local newspaper of general circulation at least two weeks before the agreement is put to a vote.

Preventing Homicides Through Early Intervention

Oct 24, 2013
Matt Niemi / Flickr

Each year, the city of Pittsburgh sees more than 100 homicides.

A new study by the University of Pittsburgh suggests that 30% of last year’s homicides could have been prevented by early intervention.

Richard Garland, M.S.W., visiting instructor in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences and Steven Albert, Ph.D., chairman of the department, co-authored the study and say most of the criminal activity was a result of peer violence, not gang-related violence.

East End Charity Set to Open $15.6 Million Facility

Oct 24, 2013

For 43 years the East End Cooperative Ministry has been providing services to less fortunate members of the community.  Currently, clients are shuttled among as many as 14 locations to get all the services they need, but as of November 4th everything will be under one roof.

That roof is over what was once a gas station and a pair of parking lots on Penn Circle in East Liberty, and it will be covering a platinum level LEED certified building.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Former city police Chief Nathan Harper has pleaded guilty to federal charges that he conspired to steal police funds deposited into unauthorized credit union accounts and willfully failed to file income tax returns.

The guilty plea was entered Friday in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon and is the latest incident in a remarkable fall from grace for Harper who joined the city's police force in 1977 and rose through the ranks before being appointed chief in 2006 by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Harper, who is 60-years-old, will be sentenced Feb. 25.

Child Protection Legislation Passed by PA Senate

Oct 17, 2013

A legislative package aimed at deterring child abuse in Pennsylvania is a big step closer to becoming law.

Two weeks after approving six child protection bills, the state Senate has unanimously passed another five measures to strengthen current law. 

These bills would:

The 114-year-old Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s West End branch is turning a new page with a series of renovations.

Spokeswoman Suzanne Thinnes said the renovations will include the branch’s first air conditioning system and elevator.

“By having air conditioning throughout the entire library, it really will bring people in during all aspects of the year to come in and be able to enjoy library services,” Thinnes said.

Al Condeluci: A CLASS Act

Oct 15, 2013
Community Living and Support Services

For many people, college is their first taste of independent living.

For more than 40 years, Al Condeluci, CEO and executive director of CLASS, the organization once known as United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), has made it his mission, to see that people with disabilities enjoy the freedom of living on their own.

This year he's being honored by the UCP as a community hero for all of his work.

wyliepoon / flickr

Cities are comprised of neighborhoods varying in their socio-economic status, especially Pittsburgh. Each year a city magazine is sure to devote an issue to ranking neighborhoods. However, neighborhoods, like cities, can see their fortunes rise and fall. Case in point, the South Hills neighborhoods of Allentown and Beltzhoover.

Transitioning to a New Generation of Playgrounds

Oct 14, 2013
Alexandra Kanik / PublicSource

Narrow slides and flimsy swings are what most people think of when they hear the word playground. But based on a 2010 court ruling, those trademarks of the past are changing. The US Department of Justice made access to play areas a civil right under the Americans with Disabilities Act and new standards took effect last year.

Public Source Reporter Halle Stockton reports that the playgrounds that are required to make these changes are new or majorly reformed playgrounds that began modifications after March 15.

But many playgrounds have already altered their equipment to fit the needs of all children. Some of these changes include a smooth ground surface that's usually rubberized to prevent injuries. You'll also find play structures with ramps along with wide pathways so that children on wheelchairs or a cane can maneuver throughout. The swings also have “rollercoaster seats” to provide back support for children with low muscle tone.

Nearly one in 10 high school students reported being physically injured by their significant other in 2012.

That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it’s something Pittsburgh’s Prime Stage Theatre wants to end.

The educational theater group is bringing its touring Teen Dating Awareness Program to CCAC’s Boyce Campus Tuesday as part of the YWCA’s Week Without Violence.

Started nearly 20 years ago, the week-long effort looks to educate the community on the dangers of violence through a series of education programs.

Playgrounds Unwelcoming to Disabled Children

Oct 11, 2013
Alexandra Kanik / PublicSource

Missy Buss, a 9-year-old who can’t walk or talk, endures a 45-minute drive to the closest swing that will accommodate a wheelchair -- a treat that relaxes her shoulders and coaxes a smile.

Her mom, Wendy Grossman, thinks there would be more friends around the house if a playground near their Tarentum home allowed Missy to play alongside others.

Cheryl Dennis of Squirrel Hill talks about “the coolest” playground in the Pittsburgh area, but it’s a place she can’t take her son, Spencer, to play with his sisters because he has balance and coordination problems.

About one in three Allegheny County Jail inmates who don't receive job training while incarcerated wind up back in the lockup within 12 months. But that rate is cut in half if they participate in the Jail Collaborative's education program.

Now 100 inmates, men and women, will receive technical training toward careers in the energy industry in hopes of further reducing that rate of recidivism.

They call it the silent or invisible killer: It’s odorless and colorless, and it takes more than 150 American lives each year.

Faulty heating systems are a leading cause of non-fire related carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States. Before you turn on your furnace this winter, take some time to make sure you can heat your home safely.

Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Ed Mann says carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t always happen all at once.

Pages