Feb. 3-7 Explained: PWSA Board Shakeup, Parks Tax & The 2016 Wilkinsburg Shooting Trial

Feb 7, 2020

This week, musical chairs on the board of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. Some city councilors unknowingly approved the mayor's move to swap out one of their colleagues for another. And, the latest on the trial for the man accused of killing five people, including a pregnant woman, at a 2016 barbecue in Wilkinsburg. Finally, city council discusses how to implement the recently approved parks tax.

Helping explain the headlines this week from the WESA newsroom:

  • Chris Potter, government and accountability editor
  • An-Li Herring, reporter covering county government and criminal justice
  • Ariel Worthy, reporter covering city council and the Mayor Bill Peduto administration

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 Councilor Erika Strassburger.

But the transition happened so quickly that Gross herself says she didn't realize it was taking place at all — even though she participated by phone in the meeting where Strassburger's appointment was confirmed.

Pittsburgh City Councilors Anthony Coghill and Deb Gross backed off from some of the requirements they sought to impose on spending from a parks tax voters approved last year

An amended proposal they offered Wednesday morning dropped a requirement that money from the tax be shared equally among council's 9 districts. Instead, the new version requires "equitable funding for parks," which backers of the tax have said was the goal all along. 

The trial got underway Monday in the case involving a 2016 mass shooting in Wilkinsburg, with attorneys for defendant Cheron Shelton arguing that he “played no role” in the attack.

"In other news"

Pittsburgh Explainer is hosted by Liz Reid and produced by Katie Blackley. New episodes come out every Friday. Subscribe on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher and Spotify.