Rich joined PublicSource in 2020. He reported for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from 2005 through early 2020, leading projects on child poverty, the opioid epidemic, communities with concentrations of people accessing mental health services, and the federal use of confidential informants. He has covered the federal court and city government beats, and was part of a team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting, for reporting on the Tree of Life massacre. Rich has also worked for the Pittsburgh City Paper and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He wrote a 2004 book about the subprime mortgage industry, called "American Nightmare: Predatory Lending and the Foreclosure of the American Dream." His first journalistic foray was a column on the challenge of finding vegetarian food in Pittsburgh restaurants, published in 1994. Rich graduated from George Washington University, and he and his family can often be found on Western Pennsylvania bike trails.
A statewide moratorium on new eviction filings for non-payment of rent, which was instituted in March in response to the pandemic, runs through July 10. Its impending end, amid continued economic uncertainty, has some advocates bracing to head off a potential flood of evictions. Evictions filed in Allegheny County prior to the moratorium — like one filed against Devyn for failure to pay rent in February — were frozen on March 16 but allowed to resume on June 2.
Develop PGH Bulletins will update you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please bookmark, check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, tips or story ideas. 06/30/2020: Drive to demolish — or save — Froggy’s building goes into overtime
The Downtown building that once housed Froggy’s bar can’t be saved, experts hired by the would-be redeveloper of the site told the City Planning Commission. After hearing hours of testimony from consultants for developer the Troiani Group, the commission put off deciding on the proposed demolition until July 14, at the earliest, so foes of the wrecking ball can be heard. Two weeks ago, several commissioners urged the development team to seek ways to preserve a cluster of squat structures on First Avenue and Market Street, including 104 and 106 Market, in the Firstside Historic District.
Residents said they heard secondhand, on Thursday night, that they would be booted from the building. Around 9 a.m. on Friday, water service stopped. Around 10, Penn Hills police, sheriff’s deputies and other county officials arrived, along with Jason Greenwald, who said he was a representative of the new owners, BDCTC LLC.
The Allegheny County Black Activist/Organizer Collective demanded a dozen changes in policing policy, budgeting and staffing on Monday, June 15. The City of Pittsburgh's interactions with its roughly 900 police officers are governed by an arbitration decision handed down in January. That 30-page decision — which modifies past contracts and decisions — came after a year of evidentiary hearings, pitting the city against the Fraternal Order of Police [FOP]. While much of the contract deals with wages and benefits, it includes planks that govern procedures when an officer is the subject of a complaint, or is suspected of misconduct or criminal activity. The arbitration decision states:
Police can't be compelled to testify before the independent Citizen Police Review Board.
A coalition of 11 groups and two elected officials on Monday demanded a dozen changes to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County police policies, budgets and staffing. They say top officials have not done enough to consult with Black communities, before or during weeks of marches and rallies since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
As protesters locally and globally cry out against police use of force, Pittsburgh and its police union are in the midst of a legal and contractual tussle over how officers are questioned after they hurt or kill members of the public.
On the day that George Floyd was being put to rest in his hometown of Houston, Texas, and 11 days into an intensified anti-racism movement throughout the Pittsburgh area, the Pittsburgh City Council introduced several bills to reform public safety and policing.
The number of cases would rapidly build from the current 479 cases to some 3,000 active cases by mid-autumn, according to an analysis by Carnegie Mellon University's Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment [CREATE] Lab.
It will take more than a mayor and a county executive to get the Pittsburgh region’s economy off the floor. It will take the work of 99 people on 16 development-related boards and commissions, and among them is 29-year-old Brooklyn native Lindsay Powell. "This pandemic is obviously incredibly frightening,” said Powell, now a Bloomfield resident and member of the Urban Redevelopment Authority board. “But I think it also presents government with a chance to be more innovative as we move forward with rebuilding." Her seat on the URA’s five-member governing panel is one of 102 posts on 16 boards and commissions that PublicSource has examined in recent months.
Pittsburgh’s highest-profile development effort suddenly recovered Thursday after a week on life support, as the Urban Redevelopment Authority board voted 4-1 to approve the Penguins’ chosen development team and conceptual plan for a key piece of the Lower Hill District. The approval means the Penguins can continue working with developer Buccini/Pollin Group to design and build a 26-story tower anchored by First National Bank at the corner of Washington Place and Bedford Avenue. And Penguins’ Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kevin Acklin — who a week ago distributed a biting statement announcing the cessation of development operations — told the board that the project now has “the full commitment of our team.”
While the vote revives the project, it comes with considerable hand-wringing — and three conditions:
The development team and the bank have to continue to work toward providing $11 million — financed with part of the development’s future parking and property taxes — immediately upon closing the deal, for use on redevelopment and affordable housing throughout the Hill District. The development team has to make its "best efforts" to negotiate a community impact plan consistent with prior commitments they have made to the neighborhood. Future URA votes on the Lower Hill redevelopment effort will be contingent on documented compliance with a 2014 Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan signed by representatives of the Penguins, City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and Hill District leaders.