Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #21: traffic stops and curfew calls

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

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photo by brian conway.

Cops resume traffic stops. Despite a 2021 ordinance that keeps city cops from pulling drivers over for things “like an expired registration sticker or a poorly secured license plate,” Pittsburgh Police have resumed traffic stops for minor traffic violations. 

The news was first reported by WPXI’s Rick Earle. The policy change was was prompted by a new state law regarding obstructed license plates, but legal experts expressed doubt whether or not the law actually has any bearing on the Pittsburgh ordinance.

In explaining the change, police chief Stangrecki said “I thought it was imperative that I send out some strong messaging to the officers that are still here on this police force that you can do your job, you can enforce the law.” Kiley Koscinski reports for WESA.

DEP rips oil & gas. In a “blistering critique,” the PA Department of Environmental Protection said the oil and gas industry’s noncompliance with environmental regulations is so pervasive “as to be the rule rather than the exception.” Laura Legere reports for the Union Progress, and later discusses the “scathing report” with Kara Holsopple of Allegheny Front.

Council Prez calls for curfew. City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith intends to introduce legislation Wednesday to enforce a curfew for Pittsburgh juveniles. She is also calling a 24-hour juvenile curfew and resource center. Her support echoes comments made by DA Stephen Zappala, discussed in LWPNT #18. Julia Felton reports for the Trib. MORE: TKS tells the Pittsburgh City Paper’s Jordana Rosenfeld she’s open to including language in the legislation that will limit police involvement at any potential drop-off curfew center.

Reporter sacked for abuse reporting. In a story that is attracting national attention, West Virginia Public Broadcasting fired part-time reporter Amelia Ferrell Knisely for reporting on allegations of abuse against thousands with disabilities within the state’s foster and psychiatric care system. Steven Allen Adams reports for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel. NEW: On Tuesday, a judge ruled that a federal lawsuit against West Virginia’s DHHR may proceed, further validating claims made in the original reporting.

Timeline: Parkersburg News and Sentinel

Gainey’s affordable housing boost. The Gainey administration and Urban Redevelopment Authority intend to issue a bond to fund affordable housing in Pittsburgh, although it remains to be seen how much will be raised or how the money will be directed. Margaret J. Krauss reports for WESA

Land Bank scales back. After seeing $3 million of its intended $10 million budget redirected to a new food justice fund, Pittsburgh’s long-awaited Land Bank, originally intended to buy and then sell more than 650 properties over a four-year span, will now clear about 390. Julia Felton reports for the Tribune-Review.

Special elections scheduled. February 7 is the day for the special election to fill vacancies in PA’s 32nd, 34th and 35th legislative districts. The vacancy in 32 came after Anthony DeLuca died last October; 34 and 35 are vacant after Summer Lee was elected to the US House and Austin Davis was elected lt. governor, respectively. Stephen Caruso of Spotlight PA and Carter Walker of Votebeat have the story. RELATED: Steve Mellon catches up with the newly-elected Lee, and Rep. Chris DeLuzio for the Pittsburgh Union Progress.

UPMC pharma fallout. As discussed in LWPNT #19, UPMC culled upwards of 70% of non-corporate pharmacies from its roster of in-network drug stores. Now, independent pharmacies, like Hilltop Pharmacy in Allentown, and hundreds more are left wondering what comes next. Sarah Boden and An-Li Herring dive deep into the issue for WESA.

Return of the Cutch. Beloved center fielder Andrew McCutchen will return to the Pittsburgh Pirates on a one-year deal, after stints with the Phillies, Giants, Yankees and Brewers. Cutch last played with the Pirates in 2017. The Associated Press has the story.

Tom runs city streets. It took 16 years, but a guy named Tom ran every street in Pittsburgh. Watch the saga on his YouTube channel.

Note: In solidarity with striking Newspaper Guild workers, the Pittsburgh Independent will not share news from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Follow striking workers’ news coverage at the Pittsburgh Union Progress.