Friday, June 14, 2019
POLITICS & POLICY
Captured by Mayor Peduto’s assistant James Hill, a photo of the mayor holding the reins of a horse, with Councilwoman Darlene Harris in the saddle, entertained Twitter users this week, the Trib’s Bob Bauder reports. When asked if she’d seen the tweets, Harris told Bauder, “I don’t care what they put up [online]. I just want a copy of the picture.” Staffers had wanted Peduto to get on the horse, she added. But “he would not get on that horse for nothing.”
As was expected due to Pittsburgh’s December 2017 law regulating treatment of “wild and exotic animals,” the Shriners Circus will not be coming to town this year, the PG’s Ashley Murray reports.
Mayor Peduto presented Elmo with a special proclamation today recognizing the 50th anniversary of “Sesame Street.”
A self-described “moderate Republican” and Trump supporter named Don Nevills has filed paperwork to seek the GOP nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle in the 18th congressional district, PoliticsPA’s John Cole reports.
Legislation introduced by State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh — and which has garnered support from some Democrats — would “mandate all building contractors run new hires through the federal E-Verify system,” effectively targeting undocumented workers, and “in the midst of a presidency where attacks on immigration are commonplace,” the Capital-Star’s Stephen Caruso reports. While some construction trade unions have backed the measure, others have opposed it, like SEIU, which through lobbying was able to strip from the bill “language that would have notified ICE.” Gov. Tom Wolf said that he is “still undecided” on the legislation. “I’m still trying to figure out [whether] this is the appropriate way to go.”
For PA Post, Ed Mahon caught up with State Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, who’s planning to introduce legislation that would strike certain exceptions from Pennsylvnia’s indoor smoking ban, creating “a more complete statewide ban as a way of leveling the playing field” for establishments, like Veterans of Foreign War posts, who “are worried that if they ban smoking … they’ll lose business” to other venues that allow it.
ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH
In opening public comment on three projects “all in various stages of controversy,” the PUC “is wondering if it’s time … to change” how the state oversees and regulates gas pipelines, which have repeatedly shown themselves to be subject to environmentally hazardous spills, and pipeline companies, which have not been required to “comply with certain construction and financial reporting requirements,” the PG’s Anya Litvak reports.
The Biz Times’s editor-in-chief Jennifer Beahm looks at how other cities have “scored big” in landing massive corporate projects, like Amazon’s HQ2, and expresses hope in the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference, in bringing more “big wins.” Royal Dutch Shell’s ethane cracker plant — which environmental and public health experts have warned over and over again is a dangerous and dire development — was “certainly … a big one,” but it’s “just that,” Beahm writes, seemingly crestfallen. Only one “win.”
Several Millvale businesses are participating in the borough’s Sustainable Packaging Initiative, switching out plastic and Styrofoam in favor of “compostable or reusable” materials for straws, cups, and take-out containers, the Trib’s Erica Cebzanov reports.
UPMC Health Plan this week announced “a series of new initiatives aimed at better serving LGBTQ” customers of its health insurance, NEXTpittsburgh’s Bill O’Toole reports.
DEVELOPMENT & PLANNING
Officials are breaking ground at the Crosstown Boulevard cap park that will create “a green oasis” and infrastructure connectivity linking Downtown and the Lower Hill District, the PG’s Mark Belko reports. The cap park is “the first tangible piece of construction” related to the former Civic Arena site. “What we’re going to begin doing [today] is finally righting those wrongs of 50 or 60 years ago,” said Pittsburgh Councilman Dan Lavelle.
The URA yesterday approved allocated Housing Opportunity Fund money to be used for affordable home renovations in Lawrenceville, Oakland, and the Hill District, the PG’s Molly McCafferty reports. The projects in Lawrenceville and Oakland are part of those neighborhoods’ nascent community land trusts.
Residents have begun moving back into newly renovated apartments that are part of the first phase of Sandstone Quarry, a “mixed-income development” giving new life to the Allegheny Dwellings public housing complex in Fineview, the PG’s Kate Giammarise reports. “I never thought in a million years it would look like this,” Allegheny Dwellings Tenant Council president Cheryl Gainey said at yesterday’s celebration of the project.
Citing height and scale, parking, and “the context of the surrounding neighborhood,” three Oakland residents have filed an appeal to the Zoning Board to reverse its decision approving Walnut Capital’s plans to construct a new 10-story office building at Fifth and Halket, the Biz Times’s Tim Schooley reports.
TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE
Amtrak service through Pennsylvania is expected to take a hit in 2022, when the Turnpike’s $450 million allocation to PennDOT drops to $50 million, per Act 44, the Trib’s Joe Napsha reports.
BUSINESS, LABOR & TECH
Lawrenceville-based self-driving tech company Edge Case Research has raised $7 million in investment funding, the Trib’s Tom Davidson reports, which it’ll use to continue developing its “Hologram” simulation software that detects bugs in autonomous vehicle technology. As the PG’s Courtney Linder reports, the name of the company — Edge Case — refers to those “edge cases” in autonomous tech machine learning when algorithms “do not work as expected,” like when confronted with unexpected “changes in lighting, road conditions, or being approached [by] an oddly shaped vehicle.”
EDUCATION & NONPROFITS
Trustees of the Community College of Allegheny County have raised tuition and fees for full-time, in-county students, the Trib’s Deb Erdley reports.
The Mount Washington Carnegie Library will close tomorrow to undergo its $4.1 million renovation and expansion, with a completion target of “sometime in 2020,” the PG’s Christian Snyder reports.
The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s latest annual campaign has raised 1 percent more than the year prior, at $37.2 million, the PG’s Joyce Gannon reports. The United Way’s funds are used for programs that, over the past year, “assisted about 480,000 individuals in the [five-county] region including at-risk children, seniors, the poor, and people with disabilities.”
Yesterday, officials gathered for an event hosted by Southwest PA Says No More, an initiative formed by regional foundations and nonprofits focused on preventing violence against women, the PG’s Molly McCafferty reports.
The Andy Warhol Museum will hold a seven-week “School of Drag” workshop this summer in which drag performers will teach teenage students about the art form’s “historical and cultural roots as well as [directing] students in the creation of their own” performance personas, WESA’s Hannah Gaskill reports.
FOOD & DRINK
The successful 412 Food Rescue “UglyCSA” program is expanding to provide access to fresh produce downtown, joining with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to offer CSA pick-ups at the boutique PG&H, NEXTpittsburgh’s Melissa Rayworth reports.
A Cranberry wine and spirits store is reopening today with the PLCB’s first designated “tasting room,” the PG’s Bob Batz Jr. reports. The new model of “Taste & Learn Centers” will be rolled out in select “premium stores.”
Lawrenceville bar, performance venue, and eatery Spirit is expanding its menu and creating a rooftop vegetable garden, NEXTpittsburgh’s Kristy Locklin reports.
Pittsburgh Magazine’s Hal B. Klein reviews Masala House in Shadyside, which he praises for its role in “[pushing] … Indian cuisine in Pittsburgh a few steps forward.” Said a friend dining with Klein, “I would get everything with goat and lamb. They really know how to cook them here.”
The PG’s Linda Wilson Fuoco reports from last weekend’s 10th annual Pittsburgh Chicks in the Hood Urban Chicken Coop Tour.
ART, CULTURE & HISTORY
Today, Flag Day, is a big deal for the Pittsburgh-based National Flag Foundation, which is hosting a flag event at the United Steelworkers Building downtown, the Trib’s JoAnne Klimovich Harrop reports. By next year, the National Flag Foundation hopes to be able to open the doors to its new “education center” with “virtual and historical exhibits focusing on the flag” at the Koppers Building.
On June 22, Bellevue will again undergo its transformation into “Wizardvue,” a community event based around the book and movie series “Harry Potter,” as organized by Bellevue mayor Emily Marburger and the Friends of the Bayne Library, the Trib’s Patrick Varine reports.
Pittsburgh Magazine’s Ryan Rydzewski explores the Pittsburgh region’s role in the history of American spaceflight.
PUBLIC SAFETY & POLICING
The area’s latest bear sighting is in South Fayette Township, where a small black bear was seen “roaming and eating bird seed” in suburban neighborhoods yesterday, the Trib’s Madasyn Czebiniak reports.
The herd of cattle that’s been loose in Westmoreland County since April is still at large, and animal control crews “have been trying to track and corral [them] over the past few weeks with no luck,” the Trib’s Patrick Varine reports.
Two teenagers were killed by lightning in Mammoth Park in Kecksburg, Westmoreland County yesterday afternoon, the Trib’s Joe Napsha and Jeff Himler report. A county coroner said that lightning hit on a spit of land jutting into the park’s lake, where the two had been fishing.
The former chief of the East Franklin Volunteer Fire Department and former Applewold Borough councilman Mark Alan Feeney on Wednesday was convicted on charges related to the sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy in 2016, the Trib’s Tom Davidson reports. Next month begins the case against David John Croyle, for charges of sexual assault of the same minor. Croyle was also an Armstrong County official, serving as vice president of the Kittanning City Council, pastor of the Family Life Church, and publisher and editor of the Kittanning Paper.
An 82-year-old Squirrel Hill man has been arrested on “two counts of corruption of a minor” and detectives believe that there may be more victims, KDKA’s Paul Martino reports.
FBI and local cops arrested 30 Western Pennsylvanians this week on charges of trafficking heroin, cocaine, crack, and marijuana, the Trib’s Madasyn Czebiniak reports. Federal agents said that three suspects are still at large.
A man was taken to Allegheny General in critical condition after crashing his vehicle into a fence and utility pole in Spring Garden around 2:40 this morning, the PG reports.
The PG’s Shelly Bradbury spoke with Marlisa Smith, whose 20-year-old son was shot and killed at a party in the Upper Hill earlier this week, and who was the second of her children to lose their lives to gun violence.
DISPATCHES FROM PITTSBURGH CRAIGSLIST
⇒ Schenley Park: “I can teach you how to fly a stunt kite !! It’s super fun!!!! I need someone as well to tend to the lines and start kite by throwing it in the air.”
⇒ South Park: “Tractor Brush Hog Guy. I rode by you today...you gave me directions...the last time I drove by you I stopped and told you something. What color was my car? Where did I need help going? What did I say to you? I doubt you will see this, but I thought I'd try.”