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.
Eight women and one man sit on Pittsburgh’s City Planning Commission. Mayor Bill Peduto would like to adjust that ratio. “I would love to have Pittsburgh be the first city in America to have a planning commission that is 100% women,” the mayor said, in an interview this month. Asked whether men might look askance at that goal, he reasoned that a powerful, all-female board would send a signal that the city was addressing a historical imbalance. “All we have to do is look at the past five decades, when it was all men, [or] there may have been one woman appointed” to the commission.
Women hold nearly half of the seats on major boards and commissions that make many decisions in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and Black residents hold more than one in every four, PublicSource has found as part of the year-long Board Explorer project. Both figures represent steps toward greater diversity in the region’s power structure. In 2005, women occupied fewer than ⅓ of seats on county and city boards, according to a study done then by Carnegie Mellon University students in partnership with the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania. Black residents held 23% of the seats for which the race of the member was known in 2005, but now hold 28%. Presented with PublicSource’s findings, diversity advocates were united in one sentiment: Progress is no cause for complacency.
Beth Cadman was passing out literature for a Democrat on Tuesday, but voting for the Republican at the top of the ticket. “I just like the man and I think he has been very good with his decisions,” Cadman, an unemployed preschool aide, said of President Donald Trump. “He’s nobody’s puppet, and he’s doing it all on his own.”
She voiced her support for Trump while handing out cards for state Sen. Jim Brewster, a Democrat, to voters entering the Glassport Borough Building. The lifelong Glassport resident was not at all surprised that many of her neighbors in the traditionally Democratic town were darkening the Republican’s oval in the race for president. “I think it’s an old mill town, and [Trump] is for helping the people in the mills,” Cadman said.
Update (11/4/20): The Pittsburgh region’s first Count Every Vote action, in front of the City-County Building, Downtown, drew around 60 demonstrators who urged patience with the ongoing tallying of mail-in ballots amid continued threats to the process. A coalition of unions, community groups and faith-based organizations gathered around 4 p.m. on the Grant Street sidewalk as news broke that President Donald Trump’s campaign was asking for a temporary halt to ballot counting in Pennsylvania, and intervening in a court case regarding the state’s ability to count votes received after Tuesday. “It makes our message even more important, frankly,” said Sam Williamson, district leader of the Service Employees International Union 32BJ. “This will be the first time in America’s history when any party tried to intervene and tried to take millions of votes away from voters after they were legally cast. … It’s disgusting, it’s anti-democratic, but it’s what our president is about.”
Develop PGH Bulletins updates you on the Pittsburgh region's economy, including close coverage of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, City Planning Commission and other important agencies. Please check back frequently, sign up for the Develop PGH newsletter and email email@example.com with questions, tips or story ideas. 10/27/20: Talks on the Hill lead to approval of tech plan
Citing last-minute negotiations between a developer and the Hill Community Development Corp., the City Planning Commission approved the conversion of an abandoned industrial laundry facility into tech and office space. The Uptown Tech project, on Jumonville Street and the Boulevard of the Allies, didn’t get a vote from the commission four weeks ago, after the Hill CDC complained that developer Westrise Capital had not addressed community concerns. This time, attorney Robert Lampl, representing Westrise, said minority- and women-owned business participation in the building conversion would amount to 27% to 42% of the project.
Tarentum, Oakdale and Glassport are among the Allegheny County towns that voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016. With all eyes on the battleground state of Pennsylvania, families are divided, and there's anxiety in the Main Street air.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and his hand-picked task force released 16 recommendations for reforming policing on Monday, as the mayor pledged to consider them all and to start implementing data-related measures promptly. The report of Peduto’s Pittsburgh Community Task Force on Police Reform
comes nearly five months after the death of George Floyd, under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, set off a summer of protests and reignited concern with police use of force, especially against Black people. 10 big problems with policing, and approaches to addressing themThe mayor called the 47-page report “a baseline” for improving policing in the city. “We’re at a very historic moment in this country,” Peduto said at a press conference in the City-County Building. “And there has never been a time like this, since the late 1960s, in order to address systemic racism, and in all the different areas that we can see it, whether it’s through education, or access to healthcare, or housing, or whether it is in police brutality.”
The report’s recommendations:
Gather and analyze more data on routine policing actions, to better understand “disparate outcomes” in which race seems to be a factor in law enforcement.
From the surging center of the Strip District to the crumbling flank of Downtown’s Firstside Historic District, it’s 2.1 miles by car. But those places seemed like different cities this week. In the Strip on Monday, Mayor Bill Peduto joined developer Jack Benoff in a sunny parking lot next to an active construction site for the groundbreaking of the Forte Condos project. Though nary a brick has been laid, half of the planned 50 market-rate homes are already sold, Peduto said. “Even during COVID, we’re staying busy.
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. 9/29/20: Planners delay Uptown rehab project, citing Hill group’s concerns
A proposal to convert an abandoned industrial laundry facility in Uptown into technology space failed to win the Pittsburgh City Planning Commission’s approval, after the Hill Community Development Corporation [CDC] said that the developers did not detail plans to use minority- and women-owned businesses. The commission said that developer Westrise Capital can come back before it Oct. 13, and encouraged negotiation between that firm and the Hill CDC.