Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #6: climbing up those stairs

For people who might not read the news every day, but would still like to know what’s going on.

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Catch up on some Pittsburgh news you may have missed as June slouched into July.

A major Oakland development is one step closer. Mark Belko reports on city council’s 8-1 vote to approve zoning changes in Oakland, which allows Walnut Capital’s 13-acre Oakland Crossings development to proceed. The first construction phase, scheduled to begin around year’s end, includes a grocery store and a 12-story, 426-unit apartment building, 10% of which qualify for affordable housing vouchers. Related: Two major Oakland community groups were opposed to the plan, and several members of the Oakland Planning and Development Board resigned.

Law enforcement pushed to reign in district judge Mik Pappas. J.T. O’Toole reports that internal emails, procured by right-to-know request, reveal “some local law enforcement professionals unhappy with the reform-minded Pappas — a critic of cash bail and racial disparities in the justice system — lobbied the DA and courts for action against him.”  Said Pappas:  “One of the greatest dangers in the criminal legal system is the use of criminal process to go after, so to speak, people you disagree with in terms of politics.”

Climbing up those stairs (a deal with DOMI). For Atlas Obscura, Rossilynne Culgan profiles Laura Zurowski, who climbed all 739 of Pittsburgh’s public staircases.

Cable cars in Pittsburgh? The newly-rebranded Pittsburgh Regional Transit received a $594,000 grant that will go toward the study of a new transit corridor connecting the Strip District, Hill District, Oakland, Hazelwood and Carrick/Overbrook.

Volunteer court watchers needed. Jordana Rosenfeld writes that the Abolitionist Law Center put out a call for people to attend local legal proceedings, to increase transparency and accountability of the judicial system.

Some workers got paid… Wigle Whiskey was ordered to pay nearly $39,000 in back wages to 41 employees unlawfully made to pool tips with managers. 

…while others still wait. Jamie Wiggan reports that 11 former Sheridan Broadcasting workers still haven’t received nearly $200,000 owed to them, after they were “abruptly terminated in 2017 without their final paychecks or the severance payouts spelled out in their union contracts”

Did the FBI steal 9 tons of Civil War gold? That’s what The Atlantic asks, picking up on the saga of father-and-son treasure hunters quite possibly ripped off by the Feds, first discussed in LWPNT #4.

All about that paper, boy. Gazette 2.0 lovingly profiles Chris, the independent publication’s one and only paperboy. “At first I did it for the money,” said the 17-year-old. Same, Chris. Same.

Voices

Tereneh Idia digs into what it means to be a Pittsburgh artist, after being told she was not a “real Pittsburgh artist.”

David Rotenstein criticizes “inept city planners and a conflicted and culturally and historically incompetent Historic Review Commission,” after his experience as a paid consultant working to have the notorious Tito-Mecca-Zizza house in Uptown declared a historic landmark. In fact, he felt so strongly that he wrote about it again.

Liam O’Connell takes a look at Squirrel Hill’s car-free Pocusset Street, as Pittsburgh reimagines its crumbling infrastructure.

Taylor Fowler profiles painter Rob Donoughe, of 90 Pittsburgh Neighborhoods fame, who looks back on some 25 years in Lawrenceville, and ahead toward an uncertain future as the building that houses his studio is up for sale.