It’s June already? Here’s what you may have missed in Pittsburgh this past week:
- Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert will retire, effective July 1. The nearly 30-year police bureau veteran became chief in 2017. Charlie Wolfson reports the announcement comes one week after Gainey’s transition committee released a report on public safety that “explicitly called for change atop the Bureau of Police” and one day after the release of a new, first of its kind joint audit of the police bureau by the city controller’s office and the Citizen Police Review Board. The audit [.pdf], mandated by a 2020 voter referendum, highlighted racial disparities in use of force cases as well as in cannabis possession charges.
- In all, the audit made 23 suggestions, including many community policing recommendations, developing an appropriate manpower standard, and more. Gainey said a search for a new police chief will be informed by a new report on the bureau’s needs, which will take about six months to develop.
- In Four Mile Run, Barb Warwick announced her campaign for City Council District 5. The Independent was on hand as Warwick, a Run resident since 2014, announced her candidacy to a crowd of some 50 supporters. Warwick’s civic engagement began in earnest with her opposition to the Mon-Oakland Connector, a privately-operated shuttle the Peduto administration intended to run between Oakland’s universities and Hazelwood Green. In her remarks, Warwick said she was told by politicians the connector was a “done deal.” She and her neighbors fought anyway, for six years, and the Gainey administration cancelled the shuttle in February. Now, she’s taking that same insurgent spirit to her campaign: District 5 Councilman Corey O’Connor could be appointed to serve as Allegheny County Controller soon, but Warwick isn’t waiting around to declare her intention for the Council seat, which is up for election next year regardless of what happens with O’Connor.
- The curious case of missing Civil War-era gold keeps getting stranger. In 2018, a father-and-son treasure hunting team believed they nearly located a long-missing cache of Union gold to a location in Elk County, some 130 miles north of Pittsburgh. The FBI came in, took over the site, obtained a warrant for the gold and after a few days said they didn’t find anything, despite resident reports of overnight jackhammering when the dig site was closed and other suspicious behavior, like excavating the site in secret.
- Now, the AP reports on newly released geophysical testing data which “hinted at an underground object with a mass of up to 9 tons and a density consistent with gold.” One former Justice Department lawyer working for the treasure hunters says if the government can’t clear up discrepancies, it’s because their story was “created as a cover-up.”
- Speaking of curious cases, Rich Lord digs into what happened to an East Liberty resident who had their home appraised twice. Shirley Salmon-Davis, a Black woman, stripped her house of any African decor prior to the second appraisal, and had a white person greet the appraiser at the door. You’ll never guess which of the two appraisals came back $36,000 higher.
- A train struck a dump truck and derailed in Harmar Friday night. No one was injured, but “plastic pellets” and “petroleum distillates” spilled into Guys Run Creek, which flows into the Allegheny River. On Tuesday, the EPA declared 3,000 gallons of petroleum had spilled into the creek.
- A U.S. Army AI unit is setting up in East Liberty. GovTech reports the unnamed unit, “believed to be affiliated with the Army’s Artificial Intelligence Integration Center,” will take over 13,000 square feet of space from Carnegie Mellon in Bakery Square. Previously, the unit had been operating out of the National Robotics Engineering Center, or NREC, in Lawrenceville. RELATED, from 2018: Carnegie Mellon is helping to shape the future of warfare. What do we really know about it?
- Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland counties are all at high covid-19 risk level. At this level, the CDC recommends people wear a mask indoors in public places and on public transportation.
- The Pittsburgh Art Commission unanimously rejected a heart sculpture by actress Jane Seymour for Grandview Ave. in Mt. Washington. Bill O’Driscoll reports that “the proposed piece replicates an ‘open hearts’ design from the ‘Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’ actor’s jewelry line.”
- Last and least of all, a federal judge dismissed UPMC’s lawsuit against SEIU Healthcare for some $288 thousand owed to a nurses’ pension fund. Kris Mamula reports the issue “is whether payments to the nurses’ pension plan begin the first day of work,” as the SEIU argues, or after new nurses finish a probationary period. UPMC McKeesport’s four-count lawsuit was dismissed because they “lacked legal standing in the matter.” The healthcare leviathan has until June 6 to file an amended lawsuit.
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.