Pittsburgh City Council

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.

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.

Pittsburgh City Council This Week

May 13, 2013
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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.

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.

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.

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.

City Council Update with WESA’s Noah Brode

Apr 22, 2013
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  Happening now in the city council, a “Responsible Hospitality Initiative” spearheaded by Councilman Bruce Kraus would see off-duty police officers patrolling the South Side bar corridor on weekend nights. Also, a mayoral endorsement for State Rep. Jake Wheatley from the newly-founded Pittsburgh Black Political Convention. WESA’s Noah Brode brings us up to speed on these issues as well as possible changes to valet parking in the city.

A bill making its way through Pittsburgh City Council would allow the Bureau of Police to build a software system for filing digital versions of daily activity reports.

Each officer currently writes his or her daily reports by hand, which costs time and makes research difficult, according to John Warren, executive assistant to acting Pittsburgh police chief Regina McDonald.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to give preliminary approval to a bill that would terminate a $10,000 "imprest fund" used by the mayor at his own discretion primarily for travel expenses.

Though he didn't suggest that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has improperly used the 18-year-old fund, sponsoring Councilman Corey O'Connor said he thinks the mayor should go through the same process of reimbursement for travel expenses that's followed by all city employees.

City Council News with Noah Brode

Apr 15, 2013
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  We check in with WESA reporter Noah Brode for a look at Pittsburgh City Council. This week the council will be taking a final vote on legislation that would launch an audit of the healthcare eligibility of city employees' and retirees' dependents. Also a preliminary vote on a bill that would eliminate the "mayoral imprest fund." A bank account that can hold up to $10,000 at a time for the mayor's as-needed travel expenses. New funding for the Urban Redevelopment Authority is being allocated. And several bills to change Bureau of Police policies are still in the works.

Pittsburgh City Council voted Wednesday to issue a resolution that urges Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package.

Authored by Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, the Will of Council document demands an easier process for foreigners to become U.S. citizens.

"There is no reasonable system for people to become citizens of this country," Rudiak said. "That's why we have 11 million people living in the shadows. If we actually had a reasonable pathway to citizenship, people would be doing that."

Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor introduced a bill Tuesday to repeal a 1995 law that set up a special "imprest fund" from which the mayor could withdraw up to $10,000 at a time for travel expenses.

O'Connor said he is not suggesting that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl or any other city leader used the fund illegitimately. Rather, he said his legislation simply requires the mayor to file for travel expenses via the same process used by all other city employees.

City Council Update with Noah Brode

Apr 8, 2013
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  Happy Monday! 90.5 WESA reporter, Noah Brode gives us our weekly update on Pittsburgh City Council.  More in the ongoing discussions of police fees for secondary detail work, funding for new police vehicles, and healthcare eligibility for dependents of city employees have all been major topics of discussion.  Noah also gives us reaction to County Council's decision last week to allow only lawyers to represent citizens in property reassessment appeals cases.

Citing the high number of establishments that subvert the city's higher liquor license fees by simply transferring licenses in from other municipalities, Pittsburgh City Council members said they're crafting legislation to substantially increase the city's license transfer fee.

At its Wednesday meeting, Council ordered a post agenda meeting to discuss the issue with experts. If passed, such legislation might either stem Pittsburgh's rising number of liquor licenses by discouraging transfers or serve to help fill the city's coffers.

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approved a $7.2 million bill to purchase new police vehicles and other additions to the city fleet, setting up the legislation for a final vote next week.

For the Bureau of Police, the list includes 31 new patrol cars, 12 new police motorcycles, nine unmarked cars and four K-9 vehicles.

City Council News with Noah Brode

Apr 1, 2013
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  90.5 WESA City Council reporter, Noah Brode talks about some interesting bills regarding police that will be up for discussion this Wednesday. A continuation of the discussion of bank accounts for secondary officer detail, policies for off duty officers and restarting discussion of a new domestic violence policy for Pittsburgh police. 

Pittsburgh City Council has given preliminary approval to legislation that sets up an account for a bike-share program in the city slated for 2014, although no city funds would be used for the $3 million initiative.

The committee vote Wednesday advanced two bills regarding "Pittsburgh Bike Share" to a full Council vote on Tuesday, where final approval is expected.

Pittsburgh City Council District 7

The Pittsburgh Planning Commission is reviewing legislation that would create incentives for communications companies to conceal cell phone towers and antennas within regular urban structures.

A Pittsburgh resident originally proposed the idea to District 7 Councilman Patrick Dowd, who introduced the measure to Council on Tuesday.

District 7 communications manager Nathaniel Hanson said the legislation would encourage companies to hide their new antennas within the most workaday buildings and objects.

City Council Update with Noah Brode

Mar 25, 2013
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  90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode gives us a weekly update on funding approval for Pittsburgh's Bike Share program. And we'll discuss plans for the first steps in the redevelopment of the Civic Arena.

Two bills up for full votes in the state legislature would prevent municipalities from challenging the tax-exempt statuses of nonprofit organizations by transferring that power to the General Assembly.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh City Council passed a resolution condemning Senate Bill 4 and its counterpart, House Bill 724. The former is up for a Senate vote on Wednesday.

Because the bill would change the state constitution, it would need to pass in two consecutive legislative sessions and be approved by a voter referendum.

Pittsburgh City Council News with Noah

Mar 16, 2013
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  90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode gives us a weekly look at Pittsburgh City Council. We talk about how council members hope to clean up police accounts and improve police staffing and promotions.

As the FBI continues its investigation of the Pittsburgh Police Bureau's handling of finances, the City Council is exploring whether there should be an overhaul of cash management policies citywide.

The FBI is looking into the depositing of checks meant for the police bureau into an unauthorized account at the Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union.  Federal agents took records from the credit union and police finance and special events offices.

Pittsburgh City Council postponed voting on two bills sponsored by Councilwomen Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris that would create a "Secondary Employment Trust Fund" as a depository for money earned by police from off-duty jobs as well as create a flat reimbursement for that work.  The reimbursement would be taken out of the trust fund account.  

City Council News This Week

Mar 11, 2013


   90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode gives us a look at this week's city council agenda which focuses on police bureau business. We'll talk about police administrative financing policies, minimum staffing requirements and new gunshot detection hardware.

Jeffrey Inscho / Flickr

Pittsburghers will have three more chances to buy hot dogs, T-Shirts and other paraphernalia after City Council gives final approval to three new vendor sites on Tuesday.

Council gave preliminary approval to the necessary legislation on Wednesday, and if approved next week, the three new vending sites will be advertised in local newspapers.

Although Pittsburgh City Council voted on Wednesday to fund a police education program at the Community College of Allegheny County, at least one Council Member raised questions about the necessity of a rule that requires all Pittsburgh police officers to have 60 college credits before joining the force - particularly for military members.

Noah Brode / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh has spent roughly $4 million since 2010 to merge its financial management system with Allegheny County's, and City Council on Wednesday approved $150,000 additional dollars for its new electronic database. Final approval is expected next Tuesday.

Pittsburgh Innovation Performance Manager Chuck Half said when it's implemented, the "JD Edwards" financial system from the software company Oracle, will save Pittsburgh money every time the city cuts a check to a city employee, a vendor, or a pensioner.


Last week Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced that he will not run for re-election. Councilman and mayoral candidate Bill Peduto joins us to talk about how he would like to build on Ravenstahl's legacy, what changes need to be made, and how to move the city forward.

City Council Outlook March 4th, 2013

Mar 1, 2013
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  90.5 WESA reporter Noah Brode gives us the week's outlook for City Council and talks about reaction to Mayor Ravenstahl's announcement that he won't run for reelection.

ART/DESIGNPGH Updates Council

Feb 27, 2013
Tim Camerato / 90.5 WESA

Officials working with ARTPGH and DESIGNPGH presented City Council Tuesday with an update on their progress in creating guidelines to how city officials and artists can best plan urban art projects.

Maggie Connor, a Principal at Urban Design Associates and DESIGNPGH consultant, said to create their “urban design manual” they’ve made two management committees, had 13 public meetings, and put together a survey for the public. She said they’ve received a total of 2,500 comments.