Pittsburgh City Council

Pittsburgh City Council
3:46 pm
Tue October 1, 2013

All City Departments May Soon Accept Credit Cards

This winter, you may finally be able to pay for your ice skating at Schenley Skating Rink or your indoor swim at Oliver Bath House with a credit card.

Pittsburgh City Council passed a resolution Tuesday recommending that all city departments begin accepting credit and debit cards.

“Most governments have already come around to using debit cards and credit cards, but the city (of Pittsburgh) hasn’t,” said City Council President Darlene Harris. “This will bring the city into the 21st century.”

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Essential Pittsburgh
2:49 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Seldom Used Parking Ordinance Causes Confusion in Squirrel Hill

How is it possible to get a ticket for parking in ones own driveway?
Credit Nothlit / Flickr

After living in his Squirrel Hill home for 18 years, Dr. Jeff Freedman was surprised to receive a letter from the Bureau of Building Inspection asking him to acquire a Certificate of Occupancy.

When he visited the specified location said to provide the certificate, he was told the document was unattainable. Thanks to a 1958 ordinance in Squirrel Hill, many residents are finding parking tickets on vehicles parked in their own driveways.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:05 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Discussing Municipal Bans on Fracking

Lynn Anderson, left, and Susie Beiersdorfer oppose fracking in Youngstown, Ohio
Credit Natasha Khan / PublicSource

In 2010, Pittsburgh was the first municipality in the nation to institute a ban on hydraulic fracturing. Many others have followed suit, including the boroughs of Baldwin, West Homestead and Wilkinsburg, as well as State College, PA.

Now citizens in Youngstown, Ohio are looking at the structure of Pittsburgh’s fracking ban in shaping a their own ordinances. PublicSource reporter Natasha Khan recently wrote about the ongoing debates in Youngstown as it pertains to jobs and environmental concerns.

Opponents of the Youngstown ban say it’s unconstitutional for a municipality to regulate beyond state and federal law. Similar objections have also been raised in Pennsylvania.

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Pittsburgh City Council
4:50 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Bill to Create Registry of Abandoned Properties in Pittsburgh Advances

A bill to create a registry of abandoned properties in the city of Pittsburgh received preliminary approval in City Council Wednesday and is expected to receive final approval next week.

Councilman Daniel Lavelle introduced the legislation in July and said there are more than 400 foreclosed, bank-owned properties in the city.

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Pittsburgh City Council
2:50 pm
Wed September 18, 2013

Councilman: Pedestrian Flags Could Make Busy Intersections Safer

If you’ve visited Austin, Salt Lake City, or Seattle lately, you may have noticed bins of brightly colored flags near busy intersections. They’re meant to help pedestrians cross the street more safely, especially at night or in bad weather, when visibility is low.

Now, City Councilman Corey O’Connor wants to bring the idea to Pittsburgh.

“A pedestrian could grab a flag, put it out in front of them as they’re walking, and it’s just another way to alert drivers that you’re attempting to cross the street,” he said.

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Essential Pittsburgh
4:12 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Mayor's Right-Hand Man Testifies Before Grand Jury

Credit Noah Brode/90.5 WESA

Last week Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s Chief of Staff, Yarone Zober spent more than an hour and half behind closed doors testifying before a grand jury. 

The news follows reports that former Pittsburgh Chief of Police, Nate Harper will plead guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion for diverting funds from unauthorized accounts.  Many believe the federal investigation aims to look into all elements of Mayor Ravenstahl’s personal life.

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City Government
2:51 pm
Mon August 5, 2013

All But One Pittsburgh Council Member Gives Approval for $230M Larimer Project

Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval for a $230 million redevelopment project in Larimer, which focuses primarily on East Liberty Boulevard and Larimer Avenue. District 4 Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak cast the lone "no" vote.

Rudiak, who represents Carrick, Bon Air, Brookline, Beechview and Overbrook, said she had reservations about the process, partly because she’s only known about the project for 3 weeks. 

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Public Safety
1:16 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Approaches Parking from a Safety Angle

District 2 Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith said she might propose forming a task force to tackle city parking issues from a safety perspective. 

In some neighborhoods, like Mount Washington, Smith said parked cars can impede public safety vehicles such as ambulances or fire trucks.

“We had some issues in my district and other districts where public safety vehicles could not access roads in the time frame in which they would like to have access, and so we want to address parking as it relates to public safety,” Smith said. 

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City Government
3:11 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Pittsburgh to Require Some City Contractors to Offer Domestic Partnership Benefits

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed legislation Tuesday that requires contractors who enter into a contract of $250,000 or more with the city to offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits to its employees.

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police residency
4:59 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Public Has Say On Requiring Police to Live in City

A dozen speakers came out today to express their opinions about whether city police should be required to live inside the City of Pittsburgh - with a unanimous “yes.”

The public hearing was held on Councilman Ricky Burgess’s proposal to put the police residency issue on the November 5 ballot.

Those who testified all argued the same point - how could the police properly protect them when they don’t even know them.

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City Government
6:51 am
Thu July 18, 2013

Red Light Cameras Have Their Day in Council

Red light cameras, like the ones shown here in Boston, could be on their way to Pittsburgh.
Credit Flickr user compujeramey

State Rep. Paul Costa grew up where the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Point Breeze and Squirrel Hill come together, and he knows to be careful when passing through the intersection of Forbes and Dallas avenues on the way to visit his mother.

“They run red lights there often,” Costa said.  “You wait for that light to turn green for a couple of seconds before you decided to proceed.”

That intersection and several others are on the list of intersections in Pittsburgh that could soon host red light cameras if legislation under consideration in City Council passes.

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Essential Pittsburgh
6:29 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Expanding Domestic Partner Benefits in Pittsburgh

Bruce Kraus is Pittsburgh City Council member for District 3
Credit City Council District 3 Office

For Pittsburgh city councilman Bruce Kraus, the reason he introduced the Equal Benefits Ordinance to council can be summed up in one word: equality.

“It’s the right thing to do,” says Kraus of the ordinance, which will require private companies contracted with the city for jobs of more than $250,000 to extend benefits to domestic partners, including those of the same sex. “It sends a message of inclusiveness,” he adds.

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City Council
3:00 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Same-Sex Benefits Bill Ready for Debate in Pittsburgh Council

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus believes Pittsburgh has a track record of being progressive when it comes gay rights, and he is about to put his theory to the test. 

Council is set to debate legislation Wednesday that would force all companies doing $250,000 or more worth of business with the city to offer same-sex benefits to its employees.

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City Government
4:07 pm
Mon June 17, 2013

City Councilman Dowd to Resign, Take Helm of New Education Nonprofit

Patrick Dowd
Credit Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd announced Monday that he will be stepping down from his elected office to become the first executive director of “Allies for Children.”

Having served 5 ½ years on council, Dowd will resign next month. A special election for his replacement is expected in November.

Dowd, a former educator and member of the Pittsburgh Board of Education (2003-07), said “Allies for Children” is an opportunity to return to his love of educating children.

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Essential Pittsburgh
3:32 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Pittsburgh's Citizen Police Review Board

This year the city will get a new mayor who will appoint a new police chief. However, will the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board have a say in the selection of the new chief? City council recently passed a bill giving the board a chance to review proposed amendments to policies. 

Guest: Beth Pittinger, Executive Director of the Citizen Police Review Board

Essential Pittsburgh
9:08 pm
Thu May 30, 2013

Restore or Demolish? What To Do About Pittsburgh's Vacant Properties?

Should vacant buildings in Homewood be renovated or demolished? How about other Pittsburgh neighborhoods with blight? Tim Stevens, CEO and chairman of the Black Political Empowerment Project, has called for many of the buildings to be refurbished by workers enrolled in training programs rather than continuing with demolition.  They're now gathering community input on what to do with vacant buildings. C. Matthew Hawkins, adjunct faculty member in the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, recently wrote about the idea of a moratorium in Homewood and the Hill District.

What do you think of the potential moratorium on demolition in poor communities requested of Pittsburgh city council?

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Essential Pittsburgh
9:05 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

The Results Are In: Analysis of the Pittsburgh Primary Races

Signs outside a polling place in the neighborhood of Beechview
Credit Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

The polls opened at 7am Tuesday for the Pittsburgh Democratic Primary election.  Turnout at most voting places was light, despite a hotly contested mayoral race and contested city council positions.

At the end of the night, City Councilman Bill Peduto accepted the democratic nomination for Mayor, incumbent City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak kept her place in Pittsburgh's southern neighborhoods, Daniel Lavelle kept his city council seat in district 6, and Bill Peduto's former council seat went to his former Chief of Staff, Dan Gilman.

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:23 am
Mon May 20, 2013

City Council News With Noah

WESA reporter covers Pittsburgh City Council and County Council
Credit 90.5 WESA / 90.5 WESA

Legislation to change the powers of the Citizen Police Review Board is up for a final vote on Thursday.  Currently, the CPRB reviews new police policies after they are implemented, but the new legislation would alter this system resulting in the board reviewing  policies before they take effect. Sponsoring Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, who originally wanted to publish an abridged version of the police rule book until it was found to be against state law, says he's hoping to use the CPRB as the "eyes and ears" of the public regarding police policies.

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Property Taxes
9:46 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Pittsburgh Councilman Proposes Property Tax Relief Program for 2015

A map of the concentrations of roughly 20,000 homeowners who would be eligible for a 2015 property tax relief program. Red and yellow areas are the least dense. Blue areas are the most dense.
Credit Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council will consider new legislation from Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess that would lay the groundwork for a 2015 property tax relief program for city residents who've both owned their homes for more than ten years and paid higher tax bills following the 2012 property reassessment.

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Organized Labor
5:07 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Food Workers at Rivers Casino Garner Pittsburgh Council Support for Union

The month-old unionization effort of food service employees at the Rivers Casino was boosted with a bit of political clout on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh City Council passed a resolution in support of the proposed union, which could band together some 800 workers at the North Shore gambling house.

The union would include waiters, banquet servers, floor workers and others spread out across the casino's five internal restaurants. The labor group Unite Here! would administer the union. A spokesman said the group has no experience organizing casino dealers or security guards.

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Public Safety
2:21 pm
Tue May 14, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Overhauls Police Training for Domestic Violence Response

Pittsburgh City Council has given unanimous passage to a set of bills that will revamp the way city police officers are trained to respond to domestic violence incidents.

All nine City Council members agreed to adopt the Maryland Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment Program, a step-by-step questionnaire process used by responding officers to determine the victim's risk of physical abuse. The officer would then be required to call the hotline for the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh and ask the victim to speak with the operator.

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Essential Pittsburgh
11:55 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Pittsburgh City Council This Week

Noah Brode is the City Council reporter for 90.5 WESA
Credit 90.5 WESA / 90.5 WESA

    

Last week, Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to Councilman Ricky Burgess's bills to reform the police bureau's domestic violence response policies.  One bill pays for training under the "Maryland Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment Program," and the second bill changes the city code to reflect the new policies. A final vote comes Tuesday.

When receiving a 911 call regarding domestic violence, responders must ask the callers a series of questions to determine the risk of imminent harm to the victim. Afterward, the officers must offer to call a women's shelter to help the victim.

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Public Safety
4:26 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

Despite Opposition, Pittsburgh Council Passes Homewood Gunshot Detection System

Though called a "reactionary solution" and a "distraction" by its detractors, legislation to install a $1.15 million gunshot detection system in the violent neighborhood of Homewood passed Pittsburgh City Council on Tuesday.

Each of the three bills passed 7-2, with Councilman Patrick Dowd and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak the only members to vote against them.

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Public Safety
7:42 am
Thu April 25, 2013

Pittsburgh Police Ready to Welcome 4 New Dogs

A police dog on duty during the Pittsburgh G-20 Summit of 2009.
Credit Nigel Parry/Flickr

Although $7,000 may sound expensive for a German Shepherd puppy, it's not too bad of a price if you ask Pittsburgh Police Sergeant Chris Micknowski.

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Public Safety
3:42 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Pittsburgh Council Approves Gunshot Detection System for Homewood

Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to three bills that would pay $1.15 million to set up and operate a system to detect any gunfire in Homewood and report it to police.

The two companies that would be hired to install the pilot program told council that the technology provides a wealth of data to police and aids in capturing and prosecuting criminals, all using a tandem of rooftop microphones and streetlight-mounted cameras.

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