City of Pittsburgh

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh and several organizations are teaming up to get a clearer picture of the region’s commuting habits.

The “Make My Trip Count” survey aims to get a comprehensive look at how people get to work or school or any destination – be it by bike, bus, rail, foot or car.

Pittsburgh's Zone 4 police are warning homeowners in Shadyside, Squirrel Hill and Point Breeze to be alert for thieves attempting to steal copper downspouts like those affixed to drainage gutters.

Commander Daniel Herrmann said he's collected more than 25  theft reports since June.

Following the release of recommendations from Gov. Tom Wolf’s Task Force on Municipal Pensions, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said that while the recommendations do not contain every pension change he’d like to see, it’s an important start.

“We wanted to see some movement on a hybrid model, defined benefit plan, and perhaps reform state Act 205 which gives funding to cities with distressed pension plans like Pittsburgh,” said Peduto’s spokesman Tim McNulty, “but, it was an important first step.”

Flickr user Ronald Woan

Mayor Bill Peduto said he receives weekly requests from American cities and abroad asking him to visit and tell the Steel City’s story of resilience.

He couldn’t possibly visit them all, so it’s convenient that 25 municipal, non-profit and business leaders from across the country are coming to Pittsburgh this week for the Innovative + Inclusive City workshop.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The American Civil Liberties Union and the City of Pittsburgh have reached an agreement on "cutting-edge" improvements to police hiring methods, including strengthening minority hiring procedures. The settlement agreement stems from a federal class action lawsuit filed by the ACLU in August 2012 on behalf of minority applicants who scored high in Pittsburgh Police testing but were passed over for job offers. We'll speak with Ellen Doyle, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.

Doyle says that previously, the city of Pittsburgh was being forced to diversify its ranks by hiring an African American and a woman for every four hires, as outlined in a Supreme Court order. She explains that this is no longer the case:

"The city was reporting for a number of years that [the police force] was disproportionately white in terms of the population of the city. But the difference between what happened with the prior federal lawsuit and what happened now is that the Supreme Court has seriously reduced the use of any race-conscious remedy." -Ellen Doyle 

Also on the program, after rioting and chaos in Ferguson and Baltimore, how should police departments adapt? How can departments encourage minorities to join the police force?

In an effort to bring down energy usage and cost, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is planning to upgrade the lighting at five of its parking garages: one at the Pittsburgh Technology Center and four at Southside Works.

The URA and Green Building alliance will allocate $1 million for an upgrade to LED lights. That's after an engineering study showed it would be beneficial.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The city of Pittsburgh along with the Heinz Endowments has announced P4: People, Planet, Place and Performance — a framework for a model of redevelopment of city spaces.

It will consider the four “Ps” when looking at future development and will connect resources and initiatives already working in the city.

The city of Pittsburgh is looking for interns, and unlike in years past, all prospective interns must apply through the Department of Personnel and Civil Service Commission.

“It was not a centralized process or program at all," said Todd Siegel, director of the city's Department of Personnel and Civil Service Commission. "Each individual department should they have had a need for interns whether they be paid or unpaid went about securing their interns on their own.”

If they were paid, the personnel department was involved to process the paperwork.

Ken / Flickr

The City of Pittsburgh has been granted a stay in the National Rifle Association’s lawsuit against a firearm ordinance. That means, the city’s “lost or stolen” ordinance is allowed to stand as the lawsuit proceeds, though the NRA had requested it be halted during the case.

With the help of Code for America fellows and a consultant from the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing, or NIGP, the city is set to review the policies that govern how the city purchases everything from software to road salt to architectural services.

According to Pittsburgh Budget Director Sam Ashbaugh, the current protocol is murky.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

The City of Pittsburgh is taking big steps toward financial transparency.

Officials Wednesday unveiled Fiscal Focus Pittsburgh, a web project that tracks the city’s revenues and expenditures over the last three years, including the 2015 estimated budget.

For now, the 15-foot buffer zone outside of Pittsburgh’s downtown Planned Parenthood location will remain in place.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh has delayed ruling on a lawsuit challenging the city ordinance that requires protesters and other abortion opponents to stay outside a painted yellow line marking the zone. The lawsuit contends this violates the Constitution.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Mayor Bill Peduto said that for too long the city has had a "Kennywood approach" to pensions — with ups and downs and warnings and signals about their viability and effect on city budget.

In an effort to ensure the pension plans for police, firefighters and municipal employees do not become a financial liability, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has launched an audit of those plans. Peduto joined the auditor general for the announcement, saying it’s time to dig deep into Pittsburgh’s numbers.

The second of two public hearings on Pittsburgh’s 2015 capital budget is scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Morningside Senior Center.

“It’s a good way for the mayor and his administration to get out in the community and hear what’s on people’s minds about what they want to see in the capital budget,” said Sam Ashbaugh, Budget Director for Mayor Bill Peduto.

Peduto will submit his 2015 capital budget to City Council on Nov. 10. Ashbaugh said city departments submitted $70 million in funding requests for $30 million in funding, which is why public feedback is important.

Even in 2014, fulfilling a request for service made to the city of Pittsburgh’s 311 Response Center involves data entry and paper printouts. But all that is about to change.

The city’s 311 Response Center system, which allows citizens to request that potholes be filled, buildings be inspected, or streetlight bulbs be changed, is slated to get a major upgrade.

Pittsburgh has been chosen as one of seven cities nationwide to house Code for America fellows, who will spend a year delving into a city issue and developing applications to tackle it. The issue the city has chosen to take on is procurement.

“Procurement refers to all the money the city spends on everything,” said Laura Meixell, analytics and strategy manager for the city, “from services and dealing with properties that we own to thinking about the contracts that we have, to the technology and the goods that we purchase as a city.”

The aura of tension around Pennsylvania’s largest employer is slowly dissipating, as the city of Pittsburgh announced Friday that it is dropping its lawsuit against UPMC.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and other city officials announced the construction of three protected bike lanes in the city. The lanes will be built from Schenley Plaza to Anderson Playground in Schenley Park, along Saline Street between Greenfield Avenue and Swinburne Street (Panther Hollow Trail) in Greenfield, and on Penn Avenue from 11th Street to Stanwix Avenue Downtown.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

There’s good news and bad news.

That was the message from city of Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb Wednesday, as his office released its 2013 Popular Annual Financial Report. Lamb called the report the “layman’s version” of the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which was released early this year.

The good news, said Lamb, is that the difference between the city’s liabilities and its assets shrunk by $4.1 million in 2013, to $423.8 million. In 2007, the gap was close to $600 million.

Though he’s in Denmark for the week, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has issued an executive order which is meant to help city finance managers better keep track of where and how money is being spent.

“Effective immediately, and until further notice, all explanatory departmental expenditures, those are expenditures under $2,000, other than those that are done pursuant to an approved contract, must be pre-approved by OMB,” said Kevin Acklin, the mayor’s chief of staff.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Following the weekend’s Luke Bryan concert at Heinz Field, the Internet has been abuzz with pictures and videos of people tailgating, people falling in the road drunk and garbage the crowds left behind — not unlike the aftermath of last year’s Kenny Chesney concert.

On Monday, the message from Mayor Bill Peduto's office was that the trashing of Pittsburgh needs to stop.

At a meeting this week of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner urged the city of Pittsburgh to implement a joint financial management system that she said is already-built and ready to go. Wagner said by not utilizing the payroll module, the city is taking a financial hit.

“There’s already a cost to past delays, we’re incurring a cost presently because of present delays and will continue to in the future if there are future delays,” she said.

Mayor Bill Peduto has appointed a 21-member task force which will take a look at public education in Pittsburgh.

The group includes elected officials, education leaders and others.

“We’re bringing together everybody,” said Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty, “unions, foundations, city council people, school board members and probably the coolest thing, three high school students who are going to be full voting members in this task force’s recommendations.”

The city of Pittsburgh could see as much as 4 inches of snow Monday night, according to the National Weather Service, and city officials are worried salt supplies won’t keep up.

The city is expected to receive a 500-ton shipment of rock salt Monday and Tuesday from its supplier, American Rock Salt. This morning, the city had less than 100 tons of salt.

Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa said the city uses between 800 and 1,000 tons of rock salt for every inch of snow on the roads.

The state board that oversees the city of Pittsburgh’s finances has given its approval to changes made to the proposed city budget by Mayor Bill Peduto.

The Peduto administration had until the end of March to present final changes to the budget but has done so early.

What was once one of the most polluted cities in the nation now has 49 Energy Star certified commercial facilities. 

It was announced Thursday that the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star rating, meaning the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities in terms of energy efficiency nationwide.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said sustainability is something Allegheny County has been focused on for some time.