Pittsburgh City Planning Commission members LaShawn Burton-Faulk (top left), Becky Mingo, Christine Mondor and Rachel O'Neill, from screenshots taken from the commission's virtual meeting on Nov. 10, 2020. (Photo illustration by Natasha Vicens/PublicSource)

Mayor: Pittsburgh’s board tilt toward diversity is no accident

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.

Left to right: Alberto Benzaquen, of Pittsburgh's Commission on Human Relations; Cori Frazer of the City-County Task Force on Disabilities; and Morgan Overton of the Gender Equity Commission are helping to diversify the region's power structure in ways that weren't even envisioned 15 years ago. (Photos by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

All on board? Powerful Pittsburgh-area panels are more diverse, but progress is uneven

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.

Pittsburgh controller says the city must collect the parks tax but needs to add more internal controls before it does

As the Pittsburgh City Council is nearing a vote on whether to start collecting a parks tax that voters approved by referendum last year, City Controller Michael Lamb said the city has no choice but to start collecting the tax. "At this point, I think council has got to move forward with this and I think they are legally required to move forward with this," Lamb said. "I don't think there is too much wiggle room in getting out of it given the wording of the referendum." PublicSource reported last month that at least two city councilors preferred not to collect the tax at all. But Lamb said at a press conference Thursday that his understanding is that the council will vote to start collecting the tax in 2021.

The caption of an arbitration decision handed down on Jan. 9, 2020, which governs relations between the city of Pittsburgh and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Pittsburgh’s contract with its police has a lot to say about officer discipline. Here are the highlights.

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.