Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #34: “Thank God it’s over”

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

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For the first time since 1892, McKees Rocks is without a newspaper.

Pittsburgh election guide guide: It’s the guide to end all Western PA election guides, just in time for Tuesday, when county voters elect a new executive, district attorney, several councilmembers, Supreme and Superior Court judges, and more. Francesca Dabecco for City Cast PGH. RELATED: The Washington Post calls the county executive race between Innamorato and Rockey a national bellwether. [paywall].

Frick’s Islamic art flip-flop: Last Sunday, news broke that The Frick Museum would delay the November 4 opening of an Islamic art exhibit due to violence in the Gaza Strip. Internal emails revealed that museum director Elizabeth Barker said the event could be viewed as “insensitively superficial.” Ryan Deto of TribLive. Now, after the decision was criticized by both local Jewish and Muslim groups, among others, the Frick says the exhibition, “Treasured Ornament,” will be rescheduled for August: “We will work earnestly to repair our relationships with the Muslim community.” Deto of TribLive and Bill O’Driscoll of 90.5 WESA.

AGH Nurses’ big payday: Some 1200 nurses represented by SEIU, who had voted to authorize a strike last month, approved a new, three-year contract that boosts pay by an average 23%. Sarah Boden for 90.5 WESA. RELATED: Prior to the deal, nurses asserted they would seek “fundamental changes” in how hospitals approached nursing. Steve Mellon for Pittsburgh Union Progress.

Farewell Gazette 2.0: For the first time since 1892, McKees Rocks is without a newspaper. Gazette 2.0 was mourned at a Dia de los Muertos themed wake Thursday. Publisher Sonja Reis says “you don’t know what you’re missing ‘till it’s gone.” Former reporter, Jamie Wiggan, bids farewell to the paper that gave him his start. Says regular contributor Caitlin Spitzer: “Thank God it’s over.”

CMU organizing ramps up: Over 500 graduate students (and hundreds more) signed a petition that called for one-time inflation payments to be extended to all Carnegie Mellon staff and faculty, with meetings scheduled in the weeks ahead to discuss broad organizing efforts at the university. Emma Folts of PublicSource.

DA’s office racial bias? In Allegheny County, “Black people have been prosecuted by the DA’s office at 5.8 times the rate of white people,” according to a systemic evaluation of over 105,000 case records between 2013 and 2023. According to the article, published five days before the election, District Attorney Zappala’s office did not respond to multiple attempts for comment. Sean Campbell for Black Pittsburgh in partnership with the Garrison Project.

What has changed since Tree of Life?  Other than grant funding to boost security at nonprofits that serve vulnerable groups, “little” has been accomplished by the PA Legislature in the five years since the horrific antisemitic mass shooting in Squirrel Hill. Stephen Caruso of SpotlightPA.

Donora Smog turns 75:  On October 26, 1948, a temperature inversion in the Monongahela river valley town of Donora, Washington County, trapped poisonous emissions from local steel and zinc works, killing 21 and sickening thousands. It’s lasting legacy is “willful ignorance” writes Roman Hladio, who drove to Donora for NEXTpittsburgh.  RELATED, from April, Allegheny Front also interviews author Andy McPhee about his new book about the disaster and lessons for today.

Point Park’s Downtown vision: Point Park plans a 30% increase in enrollment over the next decade, and also hopes to acquire additional facilities to boost mixed-generational housing. The moves are part of its Pioneer Vision 2030 campaign.  Bill Schackner for TribLive.  MORE: Some Point Park students aren’t happy that photos taken of them in class ended up being used in Instagram ads. Erin Yudt and Cassandra Harris for the Point Park Globe. 

Another Downtown homeless purge:  Pittsburgh will remove tents along First Avenue where unhoused people have been living sometime the second week of November.  Kiley Koscinski of 90.5 WESA.

Book bans on the ballot: Challenges on library books are popping up throughout Western PA, though not as frequently as elsewhere. Upcoming school board elections may prove consequential. Colin Williams for Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

Cap-and-trade showdown:  The Commonwealth Court ruled that former governor Tom Wolf’s move to join the regional greenhouse gas initiative, a cap and trade program for carbon emissions, “was an overstep in executive power.” The decision will almost certainly be appealed, setting up a showdown in the Supreme Court. Governor Shapiro has yet to take a stance on RGGI. Kate Huangpu for Spotlight PA

The Beehive buzzes still: Author David Rullo wrote about beloved weirdo coffee haunt The Beehive and the scenes it nourished in his new book, Gen X Pittsburgh: The Beehive and the ’90s SceneHellon Fallon of Pittsburgh Union Progress

Pittsburgh’s “Himalayan highway”: Take a ride along Route 51 and its Nepalese/Bhutanese businesses and restaurants alike with Colin Williams for Pittsburgh City PaperRELATED: For “Righteous among the Neighbors,” a program that honors non-Jewish Pittsburghers who have stood up against antisemitism, a profile of Khana Timsina, director of the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh. 

RIP Line Dance King: Pittsburgh icon Roland Ford, “who inspired thousands of people to be healthy and fit,” died last month at 75. Rob Taylor Jr. for the New Pittsburgh Courier.

PIT to RKV: Direct flights between Pittsburgh and Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, return this spring. Virginia Linn for Pittsburgh Magazine

Publisher’s Note: In solidarity with striking Newspaper Guild workers, the Pittsburgh Independent does not include coverage from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in its news roundups.

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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.