J. Dale Shoemaker is a reporter for PublicSource concentrating on city government and data analysis. He is a 2016 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a former PublicSource intern.
Prior to joining the team here, he covered local and breaking news in Bethlehem and Allentown, Pa., as an intern for The Morning Call.
Originally from Duncansville, Pa., he also covered environmental news as an intern for The Allegheny Front and was the managing editor of The Pitt News, Pitt’s daily and independent student newspaper. While writing for The Pitt News, he earned a Student Keystone Press Award for his profile of Ophelia Ferguson, a popular cashier on campus. And in May 2015, he was awarded a Heinz Endowment Grant to pursue his internship at The Allegheny Front.
Pittsburgh city employees bungled police software projects, inefficiently managed federal funds and questionably favored a software contractor, according to an internal report obtained by PublicSource.
About two dozen activists, public officials and onlookers gathered in front of the Peoples Natural Gas headquarters on the North Side Wednesday morning to oppose the company’s efforts to, as they say, "privatize the city’s water infrastructure." Holding signs, attendees engaged in a call-and-response with Rev. Vincent Kolb, a member of the Pittsburgh United’s Our Water Campaign and a minister at the Sixth Presbyterian Church. “Do we want to see our water become a commodity?” Kolb asked as the protesters stood behind him. “No!” the crowd responded. During the event, a few officials gave short speeches and the Our Water Campaign launched a petition drive to gather support for keeping PWSA’s assets public.
New information has emerged about an aggressive push by Peoples Natural Gas to take control of parts of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s infrastructure, a deal the company hopes it can strike by promising to fix some of PWSA’s problems.
Details of Peoples offer — which to activists and public officials who have heard the company’s pitch in recent meetings looked like an offer to privatize parts of the city’s water system — indicate that the company is offering to leverage its capital and expertise to solve Pittsburgh’s water woes. Led by Morgan O’Brien, the company’s CEO and president, and Kevin Acklin, a Peoples executive and former chief of staff for Mayor Bill Peduto, Peoples has been pitching its idea to city council members, PWSA officials and local activists. O’Brien has also courted Peduto, as the Post-Gazette reported in February. Acklin wrote in an email Tuesday that he wasn’t present at the meeting with the mayor or the meetings with city council members as his presence would violate city ethics rules. He said those meetings were conducted by O’Brien and other Peoples staff.
Rosato-Barone indicates that an internal investigation she initiated through the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations (OMI) into Souroth Chatterji was wider in scope. Besides Chatterji, it targeted former Chief Cameron McLay and key police personnel, including former Assistant Chief Larry Scirotto. These individuals were all involved in the McLay administration’s scrutiny of software projects involving Rosato-Barone and Plum-based B-Three Solutions.
Even though several details have not been decided, Pittsburgh City Council voted on Tuesday to pass a bill that creates another measure of oversight on how the city handles requests for proposals [RFPs].
It was the first direct action related to Pittsburgh’s bid to Amazon, and organizers said it was the beginning of a broader campaign to push local leaders to make the city’s process of economic development more equitable and transparent.
At times, government may seem like a black hole with little transparency on how your tax dollars are being spent. That’s why shedding light on how the state of Pennsylvania spends your money is a top priority of ours. As we have been since 2014, PublicSource requested and is publishing data on the salaries that state government employees earned in 2017. All told, those figures account for several billion dollars of taxpayer money. Our data includes the agency an employee works for, when they were hired, their annual salary and the overtime they earned.
While you may be spending a third of your budget on housing or paying off debt, Allegheny County spends about a third of its budget on employee salaries. In 2017, 35 percent of the county’s operating budget went to paychecks. That line item, however, did not include health insurance or other benefits workers receive. PublicSource publishes data on the employee salaries from Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania each year because we think residents should see how their tax dollars are spent. We've been reporting on salaries since 2014.