Helping the economically fragile / Pain and politics in America


What to look for on Smart Talk, Monday, August 19, 2019:

A strong economy is characterized by steady growth, low unemployment and little inflation.

Everyone benefits during a strong economy, right?

Not everyone, according to top economic leaders. The trickle down of current economic prosperity has not reached all Americans. There are plenty who fall into the category of “Economically Fragile People” – individuals who, while employed, may not enjoy access to life’s basic necessities.

A local business leader believes that recruiting and retaining these individuals is critical for any organization to succeed.

In fact, she says there is a clear economic benefit for employers who care about the quality of life of the economically fragile and establish policies to reinforce this.

Appearing on Smart Talk is Teresa D. Miller, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and author Sharon Ryan, CEO of Dasher Services, Inc. Ryan co-wrote a book with Cynthia Tolsma called, The Talent Pool: How to Find and Keep Dedicated People While Making a Lasting Impact. David Black of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber also appears on the program to discuss the benefit their approach yields for employers.

Untitled design - 2019-08-19T092426.180.png

Sharon Ryan and David Black

Secretary Miller.png

Secretary Teresa Miller

Also, the American dream is the ideal that opportunity is available to every American and prosperity and success are achieved through hard work.

Sociologist and author Jennifer Silva believes the dream’s promise is “withering away.” That addiction, joblessness and family dysfunction are the reason.

Jennifer Silva joins Smart Talk to discuss her book We’re Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America, and how race and class are colliding in rural America.

Untitled design - 2019-08-19T094655.182.png

Jennifer Silva

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children/The Violence Project

kids bash.jpg

Children focus on a learning activity at the WITF “Back to School Bash” event on August 11, 2019, at the Clipper Magazine Stadium, Lancaster, Pa. Photo by Joanne Cassaro. A Ready, Set, Explore educational event is scheduled for Saturday, August 17, 2019, in Harrisburg, Pa. RSVP to “Explore the Magic of Learning with Princess Presto.”

What to look for on Smart Talk, Thursday, August 15, 2019:

The needs of each child are unique and vary based on factors like home life, household income and education level.

Programs across the state are working to identify and address the unique needs of Pennsylvania’s kids.

Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a statewide, independent, non-partisan and non-profit organization. It works to advocate for the health, education and well-being of children in the commonwealth.

For example, PPC encouraged state legislators to make kids a top priority in their latest budget. Governor Wolf signed the 2019-20 budget into law on June 28 and it includes increases for early learning, K-12 educations and health care programs that benefit children.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss their advocacy and programs serving PA kids is Kari King, president and CEO of PPC.

Untitled design - 2019-08-15T090450.002.png

Kari King

Also, mass shooters from the past 50 years all have four commonalities. That’s according to The Violence Project — a think tank that has assembled comprehensive research on mass shootings in America. The project is partially funded by the National Institute of Justice and includes a thorough database of more than 150 mass shootings dating back to 1966.

What shooters have in common are they all experienced childhood trauma, had an identifible crisis point before the shooting, studied the actions of other shooters and had a means to carry out their plans.

Researchers examine not only the background of the shooter but every aspect of their personal history, relationships, the community, and the social climate where the events occurred. Their findings are then disseminated and evaluated for policies and prevention strategies.

Appearing on Thursday’s Smart Talk to talk about what the data shows about mass shooters is Dr. Jillian Peterson, PhD, co-founder of The Violence Project and a psychologist and professor of criminology at Hamline University in Minnesota.

Smart Talk road trip to the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival

The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival takes the stage this weekend in beautiful Adams County. The festival is well-known among music lovers for presenting top-notch Bluegrass music and as a place featuring entertainment for the entire family.

Smart Talk broadcasts from the Granite Hill Camping resort for a look at Pennsylvania’s long legacy of musical storytelling and Bluegrass tradition. There is also a discussion and preview of the new Ken Burns Country Music series.

In the series, PBS filmmaker Ken Burns explores the history of a uniquely American Art form: country music. From its deep and tangled roots in ballads, blues and hymns performed in small settings, to its worldwide popularity, Burns highlights how country music evolved over the course of the 20th century, as it eventually emerged to become “America’s music.” Burn’s series premieres on WITF TV September 15 at 8pm.

Stryker Combat Team Iraq anniversary and Stop blaming mental illness for mass shootings

Pennsylvania’s 28th Infantry Division of the National Guard has a long and storied past. The Division battle lineage dates to military campaigns during the Civil War and to the present-day conflict in Iraq.

The “Iron Division” was also the first, and only, National Guard unit to field the Stryker Combat Vehicle as part of the Army’s reorganization in the early 2000’s.

Ten years ago, the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. WITF went along with a journalist embedded in the unit to file reports from the field.

Appearing on Smart Talk is former WITF journalist Scott Detrow to reflect on the anniversary and experience. Detrow is currently a political correspondent for NPR. He covers the 2020 presidential campaign and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast.

Retired Col. Marc Ferraro, Former 56th Stryker Brigade Commander, and Maj. Lois Mendoza, Commander 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team are also in the studio to share their perspective on the historic deployment.

Also, the recent mass shootings in Ohio and Texas have renewed calls for greater attention on individuals with mental illnesses. Some Pennsylvania lawmakers say that any new gun control efforts must include an investment in mental health treatment and screening.

Mental health professionals, however, say that people with mental illness are being unfairly cast as the perpetrators. They point out that a history of violence and substance abuse are much more accurate predictors of future violence than a mental health diagnosis.

Joining Smart Talk to discuss the issue are Transforming Health reporter Brett Sholtis and Dr. John “Jack” Rozel, MD, Medical Director, Resolve Crisis Services and President, American Association for Emergency Psychiatry.

For more on mental health screening plus a deeper look at the changing tide of healthcare–check out WITF’s Transforming Health. A partnership of WITF, WellSpan Health and Capital Blue Cross.

Franklin & Marshall poll gauges voter satisfaction

The most recent Franklin and Marshall College poll finds that Pennsylvania voters are generally satisfied with how things are going in the state, and their personal lives.

Keystone voters also agree on several key issues; overhaul the state tax framework and get rid of the current property tax system. They also agree on how and who should pay for community police coverage.

Contrast this with how the electorate feels about the direction of the country and there is a little less optimism. The sentiment is split along party lines.

There are a few surprises in the poll results, as well. Like, the approval ratings for President Trump and which Democratic candidates top the survey.

Franklin and Marshall College political analyst and pollster Dr. G. Terry Madonna appears on Monday’s Smart Talk to discuss the poll results and provide perspective.

Election coverage on WITF is supported by the law firm of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Americans are going broke getting an education


What to look for on Smart Talk Friday, August 9, 2019:

College student debt in the U.S. has been labeled a crisis, as the amount of outstanding loan balances exceed $1.5 trillion.

Solving the crisis, however, is not so simple.

A few of the presidential candidates advocate for the cancellation of all student debt and free college for everyone. Others offer a more measured approach that target specific demographics.

The one thing they all agree on is that something needs to be done to lift the crushing weight of financial burden from the backs of a generation of Americans.

Pennsylvania college graduates have an average of debt when they leave school of more than $36,000 — the highest in the country. More than two-thirds — 67% — of students leaving Pennsylvania schools have student debt. That’s the fifth highest total in the nation.

How can student debt be managed? Why is a college education so expensive and are Americans getting their money’s worth?

Appearing on Friday’s Smart Talk to put the issues into perspective are Dr. Eric Barron, the President of Penn State University, Dr. John Sygielski, President of Harrisburg Area Community College, Kim Kenawell-Hoffecker, Avantra Family Wealth and Rory McPhillips, 2017 Drexel University graduate.

college debt.png

Dr. John Sygielski and Kim Kenawell-Hoffecker

Bullying in the Age of Smart Phones and Bras Across the Bridge


What to look for on Smart Talk Thursday, August 8, 2019:

Bullying, like many things, is increasingly more complicated in the digital era. It used to be that kids could find respite from bullying behavior at home or once school let out.

Now, because of social media and pervasive smart phone use, there is often no rest from the harassment.

Cyber bullying can range from posting mean or hurtful images to online threats. There are even extreme examples of encouraging suicide and violence.

What can be done to safeguard kids from bullying in the era of smart phones?

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly mandated the creation of an anonymous reporting system to give students a way to report signs of classmates who may be at risk of hurting themselves or others. This system is called Safe2Say Something and it has garnered more than 23,000 tips since it began in January.

Appearing on Smart Talk to talk about research findings on this topic is Deputy National Editor Beth Dalbey.

Also, five years ago, the Feel Your Boobies Foundation came up with a unique idea to create maximum visual impact in their mission to promote breast health.

The Bras Across the Bridge event in Harrisburg is a fundraiser to promote both college and minority outreach. The fifth annual event is Saturday, August 10.

Joining Smart Talk is Leigh Hurst, Founder and Executive Director of the Feel Your Boobies Foundation to talk about the event and the organizations efforts to reach young women.

What advancements are being made in HIV treatments?/Proposed law on Amish horses

HIV vaccine 600 x 340.jpg

What to look for on Smart Talk Wednesday, August 7, 2019:

More than one million Americans are living with the HIV virus. Thirty-six thousand of them are Pennsylvanians. There are about a thousand new HIV diagnoses every year in Pennsylvania.

Not everyone who contracts the HIV virus develops AIDS and AIDS is no longer always fatal as it once was.

That’s due to the treatments developed over the years through research.

That research has progressed to the point where there’s the potential for HIV virus to be eliminated from the body completely. In other words — a cure.

However, one out of seven people living with HIV don’t know they are infected with the HIV virus. That’s why testing is important so those people can be treated.

On Wednesday’s Smart Talk, we discuss advancements in HIV treatment and HIV awareness with our guests Patricia Fonzi, President and CEO at the Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania and Dr. Adam Lake, a family physician at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health.

Also, a proposed ordinance that would require horses to wear a device to collect manure and rubber horseshoes when pulling the buggies of Old Order Amish has been been put on hold for the time being in Washington Township, Lycoming County. Township supervisers say they had gotten complaints about manure on roads presenting a health hazard and that normal metal horseshoes damaged roads.

The attorney representing the Amish — Clifford Rieders — appears on Wednesday’s Smart Talk.

Untitled design - 2019-08-07T090924.338.png

Dr. Adam Lake and Patricia Fonzi

After weekend shootings: Gun restrictions-what works?/Hate crimes in PA

Many Americans and lawmakers are demanding that something be done to prevent mass shootings like the ones in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend. Thirty-one people died in those two incidents and dozens of others were wounded and injured.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf released a statement saying he supports the U.S. Congress to vote and pass legislation that would require universal background checks on all commercial firearm purchases. The bill was approved by the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives earlier this year but hasn’t been voted on in the Republican majority Senate. Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey blames Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for holding up the vote.

Wolf also said he would like to see a ban on assault-style weapons and more attention paid to white nationalists.

The alleged shooter in El Paso reportedly said he wanted to shoot Latinos.

On Tuesday’s Smart Talk, we’re joined by Dr. Cassandra Crifasi, PhD, with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and Chad Lassiter, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Senator Bob Casey and Online Casino Gambling Launches in PA

Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey joins Smart Talk to share his thoughts on the two mass shootings that took place in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend. Casey is calling for the Senate to be called back into session to, at the very least, address proposed legislation that would require universal background checks on all commercial gun purchases.
Also, people across the state can now gamble online from home.

Pennsylvania began offering online casino-style gambling on July 15 after months of product testing by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Parx Casino outside Philadelphia and Penn National’s Hollywood Casino near Hershey launched their online gambling sites in July as part of a three-day test monitored by state regulators.

Online gambling may reach audiences that don’t typically visit casinos. Online gaming is similar to video games that younger generations are accustomed to using at home, so it may attract a new audience.

Pennsylvania joins only three other states in legalizing online casino gambling: Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware.

Other states with online gambling have seen increased overall gambling revenue, but the majority of that revenue still comes from brick-and-mortar casinos.

Pennsylvania is already second in the country for commercial casino revenue, behind Nevada, at $3.2 billion last year, according to the American Gaming Association.

This gambling expansion raises concerns, however. How will gambling addicts be affected by online casinos? Who will benefit from the revenue? How will brick-and-mortar casino businesses be affected?

Joining Smart Talk to discuss how online gambling will affect Pennsylvania’s casino industry are Eric Raskin, managing editor of USBets, Brett Smiley, sports better and editor of SportsHandle, and Doug Harbach, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

If you or someone you know is experiencing problematic gambling, call the PA Gambling Addiction 24-hour hotline at 1-800-GAMBLER. You can also search online for a gambling addiction participating provider, text or chat with CCGP’s 24-hour chatline, or request voluntary self exclusion from gaming activities.