Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #24: special election edition

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

Wintery Ferry on the Ohio. Photo © K. Gerard Painter Jr. via Pittsburgh Media Partnership.

Toxic tanker chemicals burn. Residents in and around East Palestine, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border, were ordered to “leave immediately or face the possibility of death” as vinyl chloride and other toxic chemicals were purposely burned off following a train derailment. The NTSB will investigate the crash. The Associated Press reports. RELATED: WESA’s Oliver Morrison asks, what if this had happened in Pittsburgh?

Gainey triples Downtown cops. County police and others will greatly bolster the city’s police presence Downtown, which will include a new “Downtown public safety center.” Kiley Koscinski reports for WESA. RELATED: Mayor Gainey will join the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, BOMA Pittsburgh and others for a town hall meeting Thursday morning. While the event is at capacity, it can be livestreamed with an RSVP.

Special election today! Control of the PA House rests with the outcome of Tuesday’s special elections in the 32nd, 34th and 35th PA Legislative Districts. All registered voters in those specific districts may vote, including independents. Get more information at the county special elections page. Ryan Deto previews the races for the Trib. UPDATE: Democrats won all three seats, taking the majority in the Pennsylvania House.

Lee breaks ‘concrete ceiling Rep. Summer Lee, Pennsylvania’s first Black congresswoman, and her supporters discuss the obstacles she overcame to reach her position, the challenges ahead, and her goal to be “unapologetic in fighting for marginalized people.” Julia Terruso reports for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Groups sue Shell’s cracker. The Environmental Integrity Project and Clean Air Council filed intention to sue over “dozens of air pollution violations” at Shell’s plastics plant in Beaver County. Reid Frazier reports for Allegheny Front. RELATED: In December, the DEP issued a notice of violation after the plant exceeded its annual emissions cap in just a few months time, reported Allegheny Front.

County race flush with cash. The race to replace Rich Fitzgerald as Allegheny County executive is heating up. And with no restrictions on how much money PACs can give to Allegheny County elections, it’s shaping up to be a costly one. Charlie Wolfson and the City Paper’s Jamie Wiggan dig into the latest campaign disclosure forms.

Inmate cause of death revealed. An intellectually disabled man was released from Allegheny County Jail just hours before his death in August, and it’s not the first time something like that has happened. Said one employee: “It angers me that they release them, it makes it look like it didn’t happen under [ACJ’s] care, but it is happening under their care.” Brittany Hailer reports for PINJ. RELATED: Lawyers are demanding an immediate intervention in treatment for an incarcerated man with a sickle cell disease. Jordana Rosenfeld reports for Pittsburgh City Paper.

State sets PFAS limits. One month ahead of an expected move by the EPA to propose restrictions for PFAS in drinking water, Pennsylvania’s DEP set limits on two of the “forever chemicals.” Susan Phillips reports for StateImpact.

No bus to Millvale. With most of Pittsburgh focused on the 4-month closure of Oakland’s Charles Anderson Bridge, another recent inspection revealed deterioration on Millvale’s Grant Avenue Bridge. Inspectors greatly reduced the bridge’s weight limit, meaning that most of the riverfront borough is now without bus service. Ed Blazina reports for the Union Progress.

Life in the Day. UK magazine Pellicle profiles Day Bracey, one-half of the Drinking Partners podcast and founder of Barrel and Flow Festival – “America’s Most Progressive Beer Festival”. Words by Owen Gabbey.

Pirates block international play. New Pirates first baseman Ji-Man Choi feels “devastated” after being left off of Korea’s World Baseball Classic roster, after the Pirates filed a medical objection. Kevin Gorman reports for the Trib.

The Assembly spans centuries. Pitt’s new medical research center, “The Assembly,” is housed inside a century-old Model T assembly plant. Anthony Paletta explores the space for Metropolis.

Weird Paul weds. Who should appear in the coveted NY Times’ wedding section but Pittsburgh outsider musician/ OG vlogger “Weird” Paul Petroskey, partner Niffer Desmond, and their “very Gen X love story” and kazoo-filled wedding ceremony. Here’s Paul singing about peanut butter:

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.

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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.