Allegheny County Controller

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

The environmental engineer who worked to expose the Flint lead crisis in 2014 said Pittsburgh’s drinking water lead levels are higher than the Michigan city, but he’s encouraged by downward trends.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said she will investigate the county health department’s methodology for determining the cause of elevated lead levels in children.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

No agency is independently testing or verifying the quality of Pittsburgh’s drinking water, according to an audit released Monday by Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

 

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner wants an overhaul of the county’s ethics and disclosure process.

In an independent report over a two-year time period, Wagner said her office found multiple deficiencies in the county’s ethics code, which was enacted in 2001.

LV Lights / Flickr

In Allegheny County, 22 hotels owe more than $790,000 in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest.

The County Controller, working with the Treasurer’s office, conducted an audit uncovering the unpaid taxes.

Controller Chelsa Wagner said her office has an agreement with the Treasurer’s office, which collects the taxes, to take charge of more difficult audits such as this one.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

  County Controller Chelsa Wagner might appeal a decision Friday that prohibits her from auditing the performance of most county authorities.

Wagner may conduct performance audits of entities subject to county jurisdiction, including the jail and county police and health departments, but can’t assess its Airport Authority, Sanitary Authority, Port Authority and the city-county Sports Exhibition Authority, Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James said Friday.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner credited her campaign team for her victory over challenger Mark Patrick Flaherty Tuesday night.

Supporters gathered at Young Brothers Bar in Brighton Heights, welcoming the incumbent with cheers shortly after Flaherty, himself a former controller, called to concede the primary.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Since 1999, every four years the voters of Allegheny County cast ballots for the four row offices. Those races are usually overshadowed by the race for the county executive.

But this year there is only one candidate for the county’s top slot, and the fight for county controller started early, intensified quickly and shows no signs of stopping.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

 One of the most contentious political races is taking place between Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and her predecessor, Mark Patrick Flaherty. As election day nears we’ll hear from the candidates who recently spoke with WESA Senior News Editor Mark Nootbaar. (Starts at 8:08)

Flaherty, who has previously served as county controller, explains why he wants to return to the office:

"The [county controller's] office is in a state of crisis and chaos...unfortunately, they've thrown too much politics into a very professional process-- the auditing process. When the controller's office can't do its job anymore, you need somebody to come in and point the office back in the right direction and fix it." -Mark Patrick Flaherty

When asked why her experience as controller has been extensive enough to be elected over Flaherty, her predecessor, Wagner points out her budget as it compares to Flaherty's:

"I've done more with less. When you look at my spending, I am still spending less than my opponent and predecessor did four years ago. You're not going to find that anywhere else in county government."- Chelsa Wagner

We start the hour with updates from the Philadelphia Amtrak train derailment. Also on the program, Facebook enters into a controversial deal with the country's major news corporations to directly host their content, and Elaine Labalme preps us for summer travel.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner announced that her office will fully examine the property assessment appeals process. A previous audit has already looked at the actual property assessment processes.

“And now, since most of the appeals are wrapped up, we’ll be looking at the appeals process,” said Wagner. “We’ll be analyzing at lots of data, but with this, we also want the involvement of the public.”

What her office is looking for are the personal experiences of those who went through the appeals process.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

To mark National Equal Pay Day, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner called on the county to ensure women are paid equally to men for the same jobs.

“Nationally we know that women are compensated 77 cents on the dollar for every dollar a man makes, and that’s for the same work” said Wagner. “In the Pittsburgh area, it’s even worse where you have women compensated 74 cents for every dollar a man makes.”

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner will pursue enforcement of three subpoenas against county officials who did not attend a meeting Monday morning that would have officially begun an audit of the county Police Department.

About 35 Allegheny County constables attended the first of three mandatory training sessions Thursday designed to teach the officers how to properly process their payments.

An audit by County Controller Chelsa Wagner’s office last year found some constables received payments from the courts and the county for the same job. There were 33 duplicates between January 2012 and June 2013, totaling $1,618.02.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner Wednesday threatened to take four county agencies to court for refusing to comply with her requests and delaying audits launched by her office.

Wagner wants to examine the contracting processes used by the Allegheny County Airport Authority, Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (Alcosan), as well as the distribution of free tickets by the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority (SEA).

The Allegheny County Controller is hoping a little preventative legislative action could stave off a scandal like the one involving lewd emails sent among members of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office and at least one State Supreme Court Justice. 

The measure being promoted by Controller Chelsa Wagner would create a zero-tolerance policy for any “misuse” of the county email system.

“When you look at the scandals that have really rocked Pennsylvania … I think there is a clear need,” Wagner said.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is releasing an analysis of count-owned vehicles that she said reveals a number of issues including misuse, fraud, lack of oversight and major gaps in usage data.

In a summary of the audit, released Tuesday, Wagner said it took about a month for the county to give her office the number of vehicles in the fleet. She said that needs to be fixed.

The Allegheny County jail houses about 2,700 inmates, many of whom by one person's estimation are not being provided with efficient health care.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner Monday released the audit of Corizon Prison Health Management Inc., which she claims yielded some “damning” findings.

She said this not only impacts the health of the inmates and prison employees but also the larger community.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Former Allegheny County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty has announced his candidacy for the post currently held by Democrat Chelsa Wagner. Flaherty, who held the post from 2004 to 2011, will seek the Democratic nomination.

“I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to getting back and helping people and meeting a lot of people out there on the campaign trail and seeing what ideas and what suggestions they might have to improve efficiencies of county and all governments in Allegheny County,” said Flaherty.

An audit of the retail operations at the Pittsburgh International Airport found that, overall, the prices are similar to what you’d find in non-airport retailers. Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said the airport must adhere to a “street pricing” policy that dates back to when the facility opened and offered some of the only shopping in the area.

“Each year it’s typical that we find a number of items that are overpriced at the airport,” said Wagner, “this year’s included a Harley Davidson jacket, a pair of headphones and a few other items.”

In reaction to charges that he might have misused a county-owned vehicle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has written a $42,737.52 check to cover all of the mileage he has put on his take home car since assuming office.

Last week County Controller Chelsa Wagner publicly questioned Fitzgerald’s use of the car citing several instances where he used the vehicle to get to and from what she labeled as political events. Wagner specifically questioned 19,556 miles, which she equated to $13,125 by applying the federal mileage reimbursement rate.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is accusing County Executive Rich Fitzgerald of mishandling thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds by using his county-owned vehicle for personal purposes.

At a news conference Thursday, Wagner said she sent Fitzgerald a letter instructing him to send her staff accurate documentation so they can determine how much he must reimburse the county. She said his office would have to determine how they would reimburse the funds.

It’s reasonable to expect that, when calling 911, the person on the other end of the line is alert, well rested, and not overworked.

But Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said she’s concerned that the county’s 9-1-1 center employees are racking up too much overtime, leading to escalated costs and risks to public safety.

A recent audit from Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has found that complex procedures and internal deficiencies in the Department of Human Services (DHS) could lead to problems in the facilitation of mental health services in the county.

“I think this audit shows that there are a number of breaks in the process and those breaks could result in residents in need falling through the cracks if they’re not receiving that help that they need in that most critical hour,” Wagner said.