Baxter Parklet.

Pittsburgh’s parks tax that prioritized equity likely won’t be collected this year, despite equity protests and a rise in park use

The political context of the parks tax has changed considerably since March. The original debate over the tax centered around what it meant to spend the money equitably. Since then, Black Lives Matter protests across Pittsburgh have put the issue of equity front-and-center, drawing attention — and often support —  from council.

UPMC's logo atop the U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown, as seen from Webster Avenue in the Hill District. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

UPMC could captain nursing home COVID response under bill it helped to write

Update (7/14/20): UPMC will lead the charge to test all southwestern Pennsylvania care home residents and employees for COVID-19, and to strengthen the facilities' ability to fight the virus, the state Department of Human Services announced. The department announced that UPMC will also join the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in working with facilities in the state's northwest. Efforts in other regions of the state will be led by Thomas Jefferson University with the University of Pennsylvania (southeast), Geisinger Clinic and Lehigh Valley Hospital (northeast), Pennsylvania State University (southcentral) and Geisinger Clinic (northcentral). UPMC has applied to lead a $52.5 million state-funded effort to harden nursing homes and similar facilities — from Pittsburgh to Erie — against COVID-19. A decision from the state Department of Human Services on the contract is expected this week.

What did Allegheny County spend on salaries and overtime in 2019? Explore the data.

After five years of increases, overtime costs for Allegheny County dropped roughly 2% in 2019. Spending dropped from $30.1 million in 2018 to $29.5 million last year.

Overtime costs, however, have increased during the pandemic. The county spent about $700,000 more in overtime from March through May this year, compared to the same period in 2019, according to Allegheny County Budget and Finance Department Director Mary Soroka.

A sign pointing voters to the mail-in ballot drop-off box in the lobby of the Allegheny County Office Building. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Allegheny County voters identify 5 issues to address before November presidential election

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd, a brand new statewide mail-in voting system and a last-minute deadline extension, the Pennsylvania primary election on June 2 faced unprecedented challenges. Some voters felt confident with their experience voting by mail, while others worried if their vote would be counted. For some in-person voters, the process didn't differ much from normal; others were frustrated over changes in polling locations and worried about a lack of social distancing. Anrica Caldwell of Penn Hills called mail-in voting “easy, safe and a convenient way to continue to exercise your right to vote.”

Ethan Boyle of the Strip District also said he voted by mail without any issues. “I think the process went smoothly,” he said.

Ballot scanning machines set up in preparation for the June 2 primary election in Allegheny County. (Photo by Jay Manning/PublicSource)

Gov. Wolf extends vote-by-mail deadline in Allegheny, five other counties through June 9

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday evening, the night before the primary election, that he is extending the vote-by-mail deadline by a week for six counties, including Allegheny County. The new deadline for ballots to be received in those counties is 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 9, per an executive order. But ballots must still be postmarked by Tuesday, June 2, according to the press release. “I can’t do anything about the election day, but I am extending the time to actually get votes in,” he said. “So if you vote, and your vote gets in by next Tuesday… it’ll count.”

The previous deadline to receive mail-in ballots was 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 2.The announcement came as a surprise to many, including local officials: Allegheny County spokesperson Amie Downs was not aware of the extension when PublicSource contacted her Monday evening to confirm.