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.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County won't start tabulating its last 35,000 ballots until tomorrow, including up to 29,000 from voters who originally got the wrong ballot. And although beginning that work Friday has been the plan for nearly a month now – a plan backed up by a federal court order – the brief hiatus in counting somehow managed to throw an already contentious election into even deeper chaos.

Matt Slocum / AP

Donald Trump’s campaign and Allegheny County Republicans challenged the eligibility of some 237 applications for mail-in ballots on Friday, barely meeting a 5 p.m. deadline for such a filing.

Trump campaign livestream

Trailing in a state he probably must win in order to be re-elected, Trump announced at a Saturday rally that he’d signed an order to ban efforts that ban fracking for natural gas. It's unclear how effective such an order would be, however, and voters may never find out: Democratic nominee Joe Biden has disavowed wanting to impose a ban, and would likely not be able to do so in any event.

Iovino and Robinson campaigns

The race in state Senate District 37 wasn’t always so contentious. This past summer, Republican Devlin Robinson got some positive press after his campaign found and returned the wallet of his rival, Democratic state Senator Pam Iovino. But at this point, it’s a miracle someone hasn’t been mugged.

Pennsylvania House, DelRosso campaign

Sitting in the late-summer sun at an outdoor restaurant in his hometown of Oakmont, Frank Dermody doesn't look like he has much to worry about. He’s been a state House member for nearly 30 years, and he’s led House Democrats for almost a decade. But if he wants to add to that legacy — and join a potential Democratic majority in the House next year — he'll first have to beat Republican Carrie DelRosso in the election next week.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential bid got a boost in western Pennsylvania from a one-time rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, this weekend. Sanders, a democratic socialist and political independent, espouses more ambitious policies on issues like the environment and healthcare, but said he and Biden have the same immediate goal: defeating the man Sanders called  “the most dangerous president in the modern history of this country,” as well as a “pathological liar.” 

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

Coming off a Tuesday night presidential debate that went off the rails, Democratic nominee Joe Biden visited Pittsburgh by train Wednesday afternoon, lashing President Donald Trump with a populist critique.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

This morning will mark a bid by Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to reaffirm its focus on economic messages, targeting some of the voting blocs – namely union workers and people of color – that are key to Democrats hopes in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania.

Trump campaign livestream

President Donald Trump characterized himself as a law-and-order president in a characteristically disordered campaign speech in Latrobe Thursday evening – a visit that likely heralds a busy fall election season in western Pennsylvania.

Summer Lee for PA

Local unions, particularly those tied to fracking and heavy industry, spurned state Rep. Summer Lee this spring, backing Democratic challenger Chris Roland in the June primary. And even after Lee easily won re-election in her Mon Valley district — even after a local union council lined up behind her — some in the labor movement are apparently having a hard time letting go.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

A new poll of Pennsylvania voters shows former Vice President Joe Biden with a strong lead over President Donald Trump — but the voters themselves may not quite believe it.

Keith Srakocic / AP

Pittsburgh will not be hosting its annual Labor Day parade this year, as one of the nation’s largest union gatherings – and a political touchstone in a crucial Election Year – joins the long list of events canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A half-dozen people involved in a June 1 East Liberty protest have filed a federal lawsuit against city of Pittsburgh officials, alleging that police violated their civil rights and “escalat[ed] a peaceful protest into a scene of pandemonium, panic, violence and bloodshed.”

Keith Srakocic / AP

Less than a year after producing a harrowing report on the health crisis facing black women in Pittsburgh, the city’s Gender Equity Commission has offered some solutions – with a focus on crises in policing and health care that have dominated headlines.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

At a Friday-morning appearance outside a Washington County bakery, Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey and local Congressman Guy Reschenthaler hailed the state’s economic re-opening while complaining that much of the state’s shutdown had never really been necessary in the first place. And while they denounced the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, they showed little enthusiasm for protesters' calls to reform policing in its wake.

Lucy Perkins / 90.5 WESA

The votes are in – most of them, anyway – and in Allegheny County, there were at least two big groups of winners on Election Day: female candidates, and the elections workers themselves.

Matt Rourke / AP

Allegheny County elections officials spent Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday morning churning through hundreds of thousands of ballots for the primary election. Election officials called it a night around 2:30 a.m., having tallied more than 263,000 ballots, with more to go.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Given that Pennsylvania’s 2020 primary is taking place amid a global pandemic and nationwide unrest over policing, voting has preceded quietly in Allegheny County since the polls opened at 7 a.m. With two hours left to go before polls closed at 8 p.m., there were few problems to report -- although lines at some polling places were getting longer as the workday ended. An Allegheny County Judge, in fact, agreed to keep the polls open at the Penn Hills Libary on Stotler Road until 9 p.m., owing to concerns about access to the site. 

 

Bill O'Driscoll / 90.5 WESA

It began as a march, one of dozens across the United States, to protest the death of a black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. Thousands marched through Downtown Pittsburgh and the Lower Hill District, and even as they chanted “no justice, no peace,” the police kept their distance.

That changed after about two hours, as police cars were burned, buildings vandalized, and police used tear gas and horses to disperse crowds. Shortly after 7:30 p.m., public safety officials had declared a curfew to go into effect from 8:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday. 

Niven Sabherwal / 90.5 WESA

Democratic state House candidate Heather Kass withdrew a request for an injunction against her own political party this morning, but will continue to seek damages in a dispute over access to party voter information.

Heather Kass’ bid for the state legislature continues to roil western Pennsylvania Democratic politics, as Kass herself has now sued the Allegheny County Democratic Committee and the state Democratic Party for allegedly failing to provide her with access to voter information and other benefits that Democrats endorsed by the party enjoy.

Mel Evans / AP

Allegheny County plans to conduct the June 2 primary with just one-eighth of the polling places it usually offers to voters, with just one voting center for each of the 129 municipalities other than Pittsburgh.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Democrats in Congress passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill Friday, but without the support of western Pennsylvania’s Conor Lamb, one of just 14 House Democrats to oppose the bill.

Matt Nemeth / 90.5 WESA

Public swimming pools in the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Parks will remain closed this summer, an announcement government officials made just as coronavirus restrictions were eased by the state. Fourth of July festivities and other big draws to the city are also cancelled.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County's efforts to encourage mail-in voting for the June 2nd primary may be almost too successful: A state database has apparently sent out duplicate ballots as it struggles to keep up with demand – although the county says no matter how many ballots come in the mail, no one will get more than a single vote.

Matt Rourke / AP

State health authorities revised Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 death toll upwards by more than 200 people Thursday – the latest in a series of efforts to bring the count in line with local totals. But other key metrics showed that both the state and Allegheny County are wrestling down the virus’ spread.

Matt Rourke / AP

Both Allegheny County and the state of Pennsylvania reported a spike in deaths related to COVID-19 on Wednesday – and separately, Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration pledged to track the disease’ impact on the state’s LGBT community.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Both Allegheny County and the state as a whole posted only modest numbers of new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Mark Scolforo / AP

Late Friday, the Wolf Administration released a list of 6,123 Pennsylvania companies that were granted waivers from a state shutdown order closing all non-life-sustaining businesses. The late-day disclosure came amid mounting calls for transparency about the program, though it seems unlikely to silence them.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

The day after Gov. Tom Wolf announced plans to ease some coronavirus restrictions in Allegheny and nearby counties, Allegheny reported 31 new cases of the disease. In all, the county has tracked 1,486 cases of COVID-19 since March. Saturday’s total is on the high side for recent days, but still comfortably below the roughly 43-cases-per-day average needed to meet a state target for being placed in “yellow” status.  

Pages