Trumka, Strassburger, Deitch, Krupp, Frank, Parham

Richard Trumka, 72: A native of Eighty Four, Pa., Trumka was the president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States. He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a coal miner, working shifts in both college and law school. At the age of 33, he successfully ran …

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Survey: Businesses Can’t Find Workers

Southwestern Pennsylvania businesses are navigating a rough patch in their recovery from the disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, with many delaying plans for returning to normal operations and most reporting trouble finding workers to fill open positions, a regional survey suggests. The findings reflect problems reported across the U.S. as the Delta variant of …

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Building Health Systems and Addressing Climate Change and Diversity

Q: With 18 years at the CDC and 40 years in public health, you’re particularly well qualified to analyze how the CDC has done during the pandemic. How would you judge its performance overall, and what specific strengths and weakness have been brought to light? A: Rather than critique the CDC, I’ll attempt to approach …

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The Best-laid Plans…

I’d collapsed into a chair beside the desk of the woman named Eth. Eth had her elbow on her desk and was resting her head on her hand. She was drinking coffee sideways so as not to have to move her head too much. Previously in this series: “My Big Moment” “If you don’t mind,” I …

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Brothers & Keepers?

Editor’s note: Between 1984 and 2019, attorney Mark Schwartz represented convicted felon Robert Wideman, ultimately securing a commutation of his sentence in 2019. This is his account of what transpired in the 35 years he dealt with Wideman and his famous older brother, the author of “Brothers and Keepers.” Over the past 40 years, I’ve …

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Franklin, Cosetti, Mann, Robinson, Hillebrand, Eide

Don Franklin, 82: A renowned Baroque musicologist, Franklin was professor of music, emeritus, at the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as chair twice from 1970 until his retirement in 2009. A Willmar, Minn. native, he was the youngest trumpet player to play taps at the Willmar Cemetery and was a gifted pianist who earned …

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What’s that Otherworldly Sound in the Wee Hours?

The medical residents were gathered in the library of the house on Pembroke Place in Shadyside for their monthly journal club when a knock came at the home’s entrance. After a brief exchange, there was a strange request: “Doctors,” said the convening surgeon, “we’re needed next door. There is an unusual intruder.” It seems an …

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The Last Liberal Republican: An Insider’s Perspective on Nixon’s Surprising Social Policy

“The Last Liberal Republican” is a memoir of my decade in politics, especially the first three years in Richard Nixon’s White House. As special assistant to the president, I worked with him on his universal health insurance proposal, his overhaul of the Food Stamp program and, most significantly, his Family Assistance Plan (FAP), to place …

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My Big Moment

As I mentioned earlier, the Republican convention was being held that year in Miami Beach and it was being run by Gerald Ford, then Speaker of the House. Previously in this series: “Lugar for Veep” Ford had the nifty idea of having a woman give the keynote address. It turned out that in the history of …

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A Trashy Ordeal

Last year, I rode my bike on back roads near our farm. I prefer swimming, but our YMCA was closed, so I dusted off my 30-year-old red Cannondale and set out in a beautiful valley between two ridges of the Allegheny Mountains. My favorite ride was a seven-mile loop with steep hills and as I …

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Wertz, Wilde, Zappala, Rosenberg, Rangos, Blasier

Ricki Wertz, 86: From 1959 to 1969, Wertz hosted the popular children’s show ”Ricki and Copper” on WTAE. Her co-host was a retriever mix who came from a shelter and was Wertz’s own pet, a wedding gift from her husband. She went on to host “Junior High Quiz” on WTAE for the next 20 years …

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The Glacial Landscape of French Creek’s West Branch

Prehistoric continental glaciers sculpted the broad valleys and rounded hills of the northwest corner of Pennsylvania. And much of this region — Erie, Crawford, Mercer and Lawrence counties — is within the watershed of French Creek, a major tributary of the Allegheny River. French Creek is known for its abundance of freshwater mussels and fish, …

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Lugar for Veep?

I’ll close out my series on Richard Lugar with a three-part episode I’ll call  “Veep.” Previously in this series: “The Hug that Rocked Indianapolis: Richard Lugar, Part VII” Richard Lugar wasn’t just the Mayor of Indianapolis and he wasn’t just running for the U.S. Senate – he was also being mooted as President Nixon’s running mate. …

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The Global Supply Chain is Collapsing

Over the past 18 months, I’m betting there isn’t a single person who hasn’t been affected by supply chain issues. From toilet paper to home appliances to semiconductor chips, it has become obvious that the global supply chain we have blindly depended on for so long is collapsing. Today we’re experiencing a period of massive …

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Reforming Education on the Fly

It was against the backdrop of war and pandemic that public education in America underwent radical innovation during the early decades of the 20th century. While the nation endured World War I and the Spanish flu, public education was quietly reshaped by a surge in public school enrollment and a wave of reform. It was …

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Roberto Clemente

50 Years Ago, Clemente Proved His Greatness

In the spring of 1955, at the same time that I was trying out for my high school baseball team and dreaming of becoming a big league ballplayer, the Pirates were breaking in a flashy rookie outfielder from Puerto Rico. By all accounts, Roberto Clemente was a natural.  Pittsburgh sportswriters described his arm as a …

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On a Pedestal, Fall 2021

Jeffrey Romoff After nearly 50 years at the university of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Jeffrey Romoff can look back at what he has created with a sense of accomplishment that few, if any, people in Pittsburgh during that period can match. He is the visionary leader who, along with the man who hired him 48 years …

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nashville scene

The Hug that Rocked Indianapolis

Fortunately, most of my experiences in Dick Lugar’s office weren’t as creepy as the episode of “Drinking the Kool-Aid” or as alarming as “See No Evil.” There was, for example, the one I’ll call — Hello, Dolly! Previously in this series: “Lie Down with Dogs…: Richard Lugard Part VI” When Lugar was first elected Mayor of …

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Corning Museum of Glass

A Trip to Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

With fall approaching, who isn’t itching to hit the road? No matter your age or interests, Corning, N.Y. and the Southern Finger Lakes region might provide the perfect escape. Much of the 4 1/2-hour drive goes through beautiful tree-filled valleys that will be exploding with autumn color. Charming, walkable Corning sits along the Chemung River …

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Office work

Local Unemployment On A Holding Pattern

Southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy held steady in August with the unemployment rate and labor force reaching a plateau, according to the latest Pennsylvania Department of Labor data.   Unemployment in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area remained at 6.2 percent in August 2021—the same percentage of workers unemployed in the region in July. Although the rate failed …

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Roberto Clemente in Retrospect

The last time Roberto Clemente stepped up to home plate was on a field on Puerto Rico’s west coast where he was teaching boys to play baseball. Locals had coaxed him into taking a swing, and he obliged, hitting the ball out of the park. It’s not surprising that one of the world’s greatest athletes …

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Policeman profile photo

Lie Down with Dogs…

“On my honor, I will never betray my integrity, my character, or the public trust.” –Indianapolis Police Dept. Oath Previously in this series: “You Meet the Strangest People…: Richard Lugar, Part V” Only a day or two after the episode of Drinking the Kool-Aid, there was the episode I’ll call:  See No Evil  Late in the afternoon a guy …

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