Pittsburgh City Council

Darlene Harris / Facebook

A Pittsburgh city councilwoman who's running for mayor is defending Facebook pictures of herself riding a circus elephant and a camel, saying she just wanted to "see how they're taken care of."

Democrat Darlene Harris posted a picture of herself atop the Shrine Circus elephant and another riding the camel. The circus was at PPG Paints Arena over the weekend.

Harris, who's running against Mayor Bill Peduto in the primary, rejected critics' claims that circus animals are abused, saying, "Those animals are taken care of better than some people take care of people."

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

City leaders considered ideas to restructure the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority in a half-day discussion at the City-County Building on Friday.

Mayor Bill Peduto and his appointed Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel interviewed candidates competing to help evaluate the debt-ridden authority, which has been under more intense scrutiny lately for lead and other contaminants in some city water lines.

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

After eight years on Pittsburgh City Council, Natalia Rudiak said she is “a bit burned out.”

“I'm looking forward to really spending some time on some self-care and spending some time with my family,” she said.

Kevin Gavin/Sarah Kovash/Pittsburgh City Council

Incumbent Mayor Bill Peduto will face two opponents in the May party primary.

Officials with the Allegheny County Board of Elections confirmed Tuesday that North Side Councilwoman Darlene Harris and former Peduto supporter Rev. John Welch both filed petitions ahead of the 5 p.m. deadline.

Katie Meyer / WITF

Pennsylvania gets a failing grade for its efforts to protect children from high levels of lead in the water at their schools, according to a report released two weeks ago from Public Interest Research Groups, a national federation of left-leaning, independent nonprofits.

It advises—among other things—that schools install water filters as soon as possible while working on longer-term solutions.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross is leading a fundraising effort to buy lead-filtering water pitchers for families with young children.

She said the city could provide a countertop pitcher to each of Pittsburgh's estimated 25,000 households with a child under age 6 for less than $1 million. She said she hopes private foundations and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will be able to allocate funding within a month.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak says she's planning to introduce legislation Tuesday to create a task force charged with finding funding for children otherwise unable to attend preschool.

Citing a 2016 Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers report, Rudiak said 1,500 Pittsburgh children do not have access to full-day preschool deemed "high quality" by the Pennsylvania Keystone STARS initiative. The standards evaluate programs for staff qualifications, curriculum, facility environment and community and family involvement, among other things. 

Margaret Sun / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will take a final vote on Tuesday that would amend the city's existing noise ordinance to end late-night construction on private property.

Under current law, construction is restricted in residential zones from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The amendment would limit all private development to hours between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday will debate a heavily amended version of Theresa Kail-Smith’s Bike Lane Advisory Board legislation.

Last week, Kail-Smith asked that her legislation to be held for a week to allow council members to review the changes.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

A package of bills in Pittsburgh City Council intended to help immigrants and refugees living in the city drew its first opposition during debate Wednesday.

Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said since Councilman Dan Gilman introduced the suite of six bills last week, her office has gotten calls both for and against the measures.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Gilman is not calling Pittsburgh a sanctuary city.

He referred to the term as a "buzzword" and said legislation he introduced to council Tuesday will impact families in a more profound way. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Unrest over the lack of development on the 28-acre site that once included the Civic Arena has found its way to Pittsburgh City Council.

Council members will vote this week on a bill requesting the involvement of the city solicitor. The bill was introduced by Councilman Daniel Lavelle who represents the neighborhoods closest to the site.

City of Pittsburgh

This is the first in a three-part web series looking ahead to 2017 with members of Pittsburgh City Council.

Pittsburgh's nine Democratic City Council members will soon find themselves governing in an era where Republicans control not only the state legislature, but both houses of Congress and the presidency. 

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

The celebration in Pittsburgh City Council chambers Tuesday over the creation of a Housing Opportunity Fund was short-lived. Even before the final vote was taken, the focus turned to finding a revenue stream to support the fund.

“We have now created a box with a bow and wrapping paper but there is no gift in it,” Councilman Ricky Burgess said.  “We are now telling low- and moderate-income people in Pittsburgh that they count. The question is will we actually mean it?”

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval to a 2017 budget Tuesday that’s balanced by $10 million in casino revenues.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to the creation of a “Housing Opportunity Fund,” but didn’t create a revenue stream for it.

Noah Brode / 90.5 FM WESA

On Monday, the Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to a budget amendment that would pull $285,000 out of the city’s paving fund and spend it on community service efforts.

Pittsburgh’s 2016 budget allocated $75,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and another $74,000 for the Pittsburgh Community Services hunger program, but those lines were zeroed out in the 2017 budget proposal submitted by the mayor’s office.

ShotSpotter

Pittsburgh City Council has given tentative approval to a contract that would extend the city’s gunfire detection program for a fifth year. 

Leslie Chatfield / flickr

Pittsburgh could become the first municipality in the state to ban conversion therapy for minors who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. City Council introduced legislation Tuesday that would prevent parents and guardians from forcing youth to undergo the practice.   

Virginia Alvino Young / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto presented his proposed 2017 budget to City Council on Monday. The $539 million plan includes income from Rivers Casino.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

 

Pittsburgh City Council has voted to approve a measure that will let it censure or fine members up to $500 for discussing "secret" executive session meetings.

Pennsylvania's Open Meetings Law lets municipal bodies meet secretly to discuss litigation, labor negotiations, personnel matters, criminal investigations or the purchase or lease of property. But the law doesn't require those matters to be discussed privately, nor does it ban elected officials from speaking about them.

Paul Sableman / flickr

In the year since surplus items were made available online, Pittsburgh has made $433,361.52 on item ranging from hats to dump trucks, nearly doubling previous years’ earnings.

The revenue is another example of how technology can improve city government, according to Councilman Dan Gilman, who proposed online auctioning in 2014.

Mark Moz / Flickr

Rent abatement, housing renovations and new affordable housing construction projects could be on the agenda if City Council approves a tax increase worth an estimated $10 million.

Margaret J. Krauss / Keystone Crossroads

 

"Are you registered to vote?" Dave Tessitor asked a man as he walked past the library in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

"Yes," the man said, not stopping.

Tessitor fell in step. "We're collecting signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot," he said, walking up the street with the man. He only turned back several blocks later, the cargo pocket of his shorts one pamphlet lighter. He shrugged and smiled. And then a young couple came out of the library. "Excuse me, are you registered to vote?"

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Two proposed trust funds would allow real estate developers to pay the city of Pittsburgh to build green spaces and stormwater management infrastructure if they’re not able to include those elements on the sites of new projects in Downtown or North Shore.

Pittsburgh City Council approved the creation of an Open Space Trust Fund and a Stormwater Management Trust Fund in two unanimous preliminary votes Wednesday.

Tianming Chen / Flickr

Sixteen student conservationists will work as rangers in city parks this summer if Pittsburgh City Council votes to accept a $700,000 grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation today.

Pittsburgh Parks Director Jim Griffin said members of the Student Conservation Association have volunteered at city parks for years, but now they could get paid for their work.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council is set to give final approval Tuesday to a $125,000 settlement in the Jordan Miles case, potentially ending a six-year legal battle between the city and the young black man who accused three white city police officers of attacking him in 2010.

There’s been no public discussion of the deal reached between Miles’ attorney, Joel Sansone, and the city Law Department; City Council held a closed-door executive session on the matter before unanimously approving the deal in a committee vote last Wednesday.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council members heard testimony from local residents Tuesday on a bill that would ban the use of exotic animals in performances within city limits.

Ron Gongaware, 57, of White Oak is a member of the local Syria Shriners group based in Cheswick. He said the legislation would effectively end his organization’s Shrine Circus, which has been raising money locally for free children’s hospital services since about 1950. 

“And that circus is our biggest fundraiser we have, so the ban of those exotic animals would be a tragedy for us,” Gongaware said.

Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

At a hearing Thursday, the Affordable Housing Task Force presented its recommendations to protect low-income housing options in Pittsburgh to City Council members.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County’s Hispanic population has increased in recent years, while the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the overall population has decreased

Pittsburgh city councilors and leaders in the local Latino community celebrated that growth Tuesday, as the city recognized Latino Day.

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