Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #11: changing the “expected norm”

For people who may not read the news everyday, but would still like to know what's going on.

Moonrise on Sycamore Island. Photo by Brian Conway.

We’re back. But the news never stops. (Unless maybe there’s a printers strike.)  Here’s some Pittsburgh news you may have missed:

Union Calls for PG Boycott. After seeing their healthcare cut, printers and other production workers on strike from the Post-Gazette since last Thursday have called for subscribers to cancel their subscriptions, and urged advertisers to pull their ads as well. PG journalists have expressed solidarity with their striking colleagues through a byline strike. As Poynter points out, the National Labor Relations Board has issued multiple rulings against PG owners, Block Communications, recently, including a determination last month that two employees were wrongfully laid off

ALCOSAN’s inadequate tunnel. The county sewer authority’s $2 billion infrastructure project won’t prevent sewage overflows. That’s according to a new report this week from PennEnvironment, which states that 2.7 billion gallons of raw sewage will enter local creeks and rivers annually even after construction of ALCOSAN’s deepwater tunnels, scheduled for completion by 2036.

What’s cracking in Beaver? Despite telling the public early over one month ago that its enormous plastics plant would open pretty much any day now, Shell still hasn’t announced the start of operations. Its Facebook page still describes “a manufacturing facility currently being constructed” in Beaver County, PA. But that doesn’t mean work hasn’t begun. Last week, Anya Litvak reported on black smoke belching from the facility, noting Shell “opted for a more atmospheric shot” when discussing the incident on social media.

ICYMI: The Pittsburgh Independent reports: Shell Oil gaslights over public health concerns: “We don’t have an impact”

RELATED: Reid Frazier reports that Shell Pipeline and a contractor it hired have agreed to pay $670 thousand in fines for leaks from its Falcon pipeline, which supplies fracked natural gas to the new plant.

ALSO RELATED: Pittsburgh and the Mon Valley had some of the worst air quality in the country this week. 

More ACJ Agitation.  Last week, PINJ broke the news that one of Allegheny County Jail’s two physicians had their medical license “suspended, revoked or denied in at least eight different states,” prompting a suspension from Allegheny Health Network. A few days later, protesters called for the warden to be fired over this and other “dangerous conditions.” This comes the same week that an outside firm hired by the county began an evaluation of inmate deaths at ACJ. And on Tuesday, a federal jury awarded a fired jail guard $1.2 million after reporting “racist comments and text messages from a member of Jail Warden Orlando Harper’s senior command staff.”

Penn State Hesitates. According to interviews and internal documents reviewed by Spotlight PA, Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi “raised doubts about whether Penn State would financially support” a future Center for Racial Justice, which was pledged by the university after racial justice protests in 2020.

More Pittsburgh media discontentment.  Earlier this month, longtime Soul Show host, Mike Sauter, was abruptly let go by 91.3 WYEP, “Pittsburgh’s source for Adult Alternative Music, and for musical discovery.” Sauter is now calling for listeners and members to push back against perceived inequities at the station. As Lisa Cunningham notes, “the official end of The Soul Show came the day after at least 24 staff members at Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting, including WYEP employees, filed a petition to unionize.” 

RELATED: Tuesday, WYEP hired local singer-songwriter INEZ as an on-air host.

Skydog rides again. The Allman Brothers January 1971 set at the Syria Mosque gets a rerelease on vinyl this month. Scott Mervis reports that the well-loved performance at the former Oakland concert hall, recorded the same year as Duane Allman’s untimely death, is already widely bootlegged and available on the internet. 

Pitt students protest assaults. About 100 Pitt students demonstrated at the Cathedral of Learning Friday, site of an alleged sexual assault last week. The Pitt News reports that this is the third sexual assault crime alert issued by campus police this academic year. 

Hybrid chestnuts attempt a return. The New York Times reports on efforts to replant hybrid American chestnut trees on former coal mine terrain throughout Appalachia and Western PA. It’s an attempt to bring back the once-prolific hardwood that was decimated by blight in the eastern United States over a century ago. 

Major sex ed update. Last month, Pittsburgh Public Schools updated their decade old sex education policy, and abstinence is no longer the “expected norm,” reported Sarah Schneider. 

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He is a 2x 2023 Western PA Press Club Golden Quill award winner, in feature and business reporting. And a 3x finalist in the investigative reporting category.

He is a 2018 first prize winner in environmental reporting from the Keystone Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for reporting on lead in Pittsburgh’s drinking water.

In 2022 and 2021, he was awarded a grant from The Gumshoe Group to support his investigative reporting.