Last week’s Pittsburgh news, today #1: parachuting into Pittsburgh

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

Photo by Brian Conway.
  • The Associated Press reported Thursday on a biased algorithm used by child welfare officials in Allegheny County. According to an AP review of Carnegie Mellon University data, the algorithm had a “pattern of flagging a disproportionate number of Black children for a ‘mandatory’ neglect investigation, when compared with white children.” The article reports that social workers disagreed with the risk scores about one-third of the time. 
  • Do you work in healthcare? Do you often think about quitting? Odds are, you probably do. According to a new survey, 93% of over 2,000 hospital workers interviewed by the University of Pittsburgh thought about quitting their job in the past month. Of the 129 who left the profession, the most common reasons why were staffing shortages and mental/emotional burnout.
  • In related news, last week, nurses who were planning a vote for an informational picket at Butler Memorial Hospital signed a new, 3-year contract that includes wage increases, benefit enhancements, and enforceable staffing grids. 
  • Speaking of salaries, for PublicSource, Oliver Morrison takes a deep dive into Pittsburgh Public Schools’ teacher compensation, which reveals substantial “gender and racial wage gaps among the workforce.”
  • How did PENNDOT respond to the Fern Hollow Bridge collapse? By removing bridge safety data from public view. WESA reports that PENNDOT removed the informaton because “it is not meant to be public and presents a terrorism risk, showcasing which bridges are easier targets.” The Post-Gazette, which has been in the lead on the issue, has since published the bridge data online. Since the initial report, State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), called for the Wolf Administration to make the data public.
  • For the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, Brittany Hailer reports that another man died at the Allegheny County Jail Thursday, the third of 2022 and fourteenth since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the stories of the first thirteen.
  • The Allegheny Conference on Community Development released a new report on Western PA’s energy future. According to WESA, the plan laid out by the task force “is not as aggressive as the target set by world leaders at international climate talks.” The article quotes Hilary Mercer, energy task force co-chair and senior vice president of Shell Polymers, as saying the Conference’s strategy of limiting global warming to 2 degrees C, as opposed to the Cop26 goal of 1.5 C, is because the former “basically will be unrealistic in the short run.”
  • Finally, Geekwire has parachuted back into Pittsburgh, this time to tell us that we’re “probably better off” without Amazon’s HQ2. Regarding their first months here in 2018, the author writes “As a group, we developed a deep affection for Pittsburgh, and a newfound appreciation for just how fortunate we are to get to cover the tech industry and community in the Seattle area.” 😒

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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.