Chris Potter

Government & Accountability Editor

Nearly three decades after leaving home for college, Chris Potter now lives four miles from the house he grew up in -- a testament either to the charm of the South Hills or to a simple lack of ambition. In the intervening years, Potter held a variety of jobs, including asbestos abatement engineer and ice-cream truck driver. He has also worked for a number of local media outlets, only some of which then went out of business. After serving as the editor of Pittsburgh City Paper for a decade, he covered politics and government at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has won some awards during the course of his quarter-century journalistic career, but then even a blind squirrel sometimes digs up an acorn.

And yes, that is his real hair.

He can be reached at 412-930-8006 or at cpotter@wesa.fm.

Former Vice President Joe Biden addressed an online convention given by Pennsylvania’s AFL-CIO Tuesday, mixing praise for union workers and criticism of President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus.

90.5 WESA

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied a request to order the wholesale release of prisoners held by jails in Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. But in a partial win for prison-reform advocates, the Court ordered county judges and officials to do what they could to minimize the threat of the coronavirus behind bars.

UPMC

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine says it has developed a promising potential vaccine against the virus driving the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Heather Kass, the state House candidate whose campaign has been a lightning rod for local Democrats this spring, has survived a challenge to her nominating petitions. But not by much.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Authorities on Friday released the name of the man who was shot and killed in an exchange of gunfire that left a Pittsburgh police detective wounded.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Echoing a nationwide rollout of support for Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald on Monday unveiled a coalition of southwestern Pennsylvania county officials who are endorsing the former vice president.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto wants to see a larger board at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority – and he’s creating a new nomination committee to help him fill vacancies on it.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Heather Kass, whose endorsement by the Allegheny County Democratic Committee has generated more than a week of controversy, is now facing a challenge to the legitimacy of her election petitions. If that lawsuit is successful, Kass could be taken out of the race to replace retiring state Rep. Harry Readshaw, leaving a smaller field in the 36th state House district — and a festering wound within the local party.

Courtesy of Friends of Austin Davis

Allegheny County’s top Democratic Party official reversed herself on Monday by calling for a review of, and potential changes to, the party’s bylaws. But turmoil in party leadership continued, as party vice-chair Austin Davis resigned effectively immediately.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Calls are mounting for Allegheny County Democratic Committee chair Eileen Kelly to step down from her post, in the wake of a Wednesday press conference many saw as a disaster. Those urging her to step aside include the Allegheny-Fayette County Labor Council, which is headed by her nephew. Meanwhile, the supervisor of her day job, Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb, has joined those calling for an overhaul of the committee’s bylaws.

Courtesy of Bethany Hallam's campaign.

In a wide-ranging and sometimes contentious half-hour press conference, Allegheny County Democratic Committee chairwoman Eileen Kelly pushed back on criticism of the local party and called for unity in a presidential election year — while settling some scores of her own.

Summer Lee for PA

When Democratic Party leaders endorse a candidate running in the spring primary, they hope doing so will help unify the party. On Sunday, the Allegheny County Democratic Committee may have done so by accident: From the state level on down, just about every Democrat not on the committee is denouncing one of its choices. 

Mel Evans / AP

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee gathered for its annual endorsement meeting on the South Side Sunday – and for a handful of young, progressive, female candidates in closely-watched races, the outcome wasn’t pretty.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has reached a plea deal with Michigan prosecutors, resolving a nearly year-long court case stemming from an altercation with police at a Detroit hotel last year. Wagner pleaded no-contest to a misdemeanor offense Thursday morning, while authorities dropped a felony offense of resisting police. But a dispute over the terms of Wagner’s sentence suggests that, despite the settlement, the dust has yet to settle.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

A spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto says the administration will be sending a communication to City Councilor Deb Gross, notifying her that she has indeed been replaced by fellow Councilor Erika Strassburger on the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Board.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

A challenger in what will likely be among the most closely-watched Democratic primaries in western Pennsylvania has amassed a considerable war chest in his bid to topple state Rep. Summer Lee. And building-trades unions are already playing a notable role in the Monongahela Valley-based terrain of state House District 34.   

Ariel Worthy / 90.5 WESA

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto got City Council’s approval to remove City Councilor Deb Gross from the board of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, replacing her with fellow Councilor Erika Strassburger.

Courtesy of Nick Pisciottano for State Representative

The phrases “Monongahela Valley” and “new political blood” are not often found in the same sentence. But if Nick Pisciottano has his way, Democrats will see a generational shift in leadership after the surprise retirement announcement of state Rep. Bill Kortz earlier this month.

Rob Mercuri Campaign

Rob Mercuri is a relative newcomer to politics, but he can already claim a leg up on many more seasoned politicos: While insiders and journalists spent much of their week trying to figure out what state House Speaker Mike Turzai was planning to announce this Thursday, Mercuri already knew Turzai would not run for office again.

A day after Turzai said he was stepping down, in fact, Mercuri announced his campaign for Turzai’s House seat – with Turzai’s endorsement.

Chris Potter / 90.5 WESA

Speaker of the state House Mike Turzai, a key figure in western Pennsylvania Republican politics for the past two decades, announced Thursday that he will not run for re-election this year and hopes to find work in the private sector. 

Mel Evans / AP

Pennsylvania’s primary doesn’t take place until late April, but the election cycle is officially underway in Allegheny County: Yesterday marked the deadline for announcing an interest in seeking the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. There were few surprises on the list of candidates vying for the approval of party insiders. But there were some notable omissions — and, as always, some criticism that endorsement filing fees themselves are anti-democratic.

Delta Foundation via Facebook

Gary Van Horn stepped down as president of the Delta Foundation Monday, as he faces criminal charges filed last month. But Pittsburgh may not have heard the last of him, thanks to the LGBT advocacy group’s bylaws.

Delta Foundation via Facebook

Gary Van Horn, the longtime head of the city’s highest-profile LGBT organization, resigned this Monday, says Delta Foundation interim board president Jim Sheppard. 

Pennsylvania State House

State Rep. Harry Readshaw, who has represented portions of Pittsburgh and nearby suburbs for a quarter-century, announced that this year would be his last in Harrisburg. And already there are hopefuls seeking to replace him. 

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania Congressman Conor Lamb joined two other Democratic officials with military backgrounds in endorsing Joe Biden Sunday afternoon, formalizing a commitment that has long been obvious.

Courtesey of Bill Brittain

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a member of the politically notable Costa family has drawn a progressive challenger in a Democratic primary. But state Sen. Jay Costa is hoping the family resemblance ends there.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald was sworn in to a new term shortly after noon Thursday, a formal event at Soldiers and Sailors Hall attended by some of the region’s leading elected officials. But by the end of a County Council meeting that evening, there were already signs that his third term will be different from the previous two.

Allegheny County

Republican Committee of Allegheny County Chair Sam DeMarco has a New Year’s resolution for his party in 2020: Put up some local candidates for a change.

90.5 WESA

Darlene Harris isn’t going quietly: Less than a month before the Pittsburgh City Councilor is set to step down, she has filed a lawsuit against the city’s Ethics Hearing Board and Mayor Bill Peduto – the latest maneuver in her years-long defiance of the city’s campaign-finance rules.

State Rep. Summer Lee, whose 2018 campaign has helped inspire progressive Democrats across western Pennsylvania, has drawn a primary challenger from a self-described moderate who emphasizes his pragmatism.  

Pages