Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pittsburgh Voters Will Consider Ballot Measures That Could Affect Police And Jails

A ballot measure could give Pittsburgh residents a chance to prohibit "no-knock warrants" and require police to announce their presence and wait 15 seconds before entering a private residence.

On today’s program: Pittsburgh residents will have a chance to vote on whether to ban “no-knock warrants” from police, and the use of solitary confinement in jails; a local Bloomfield bookstore says it was used as a “bargaining chip” for a developer in the Strip District; and ahead of summer, two camp organizers are making plans to hold in-person and hybrid programs.

‘No-knock warrants’ and solitary confinement to be considered on the ballot
(0:00 — 07:16)

Pittsburgh voters will vote on two local ballot referenda to consider during the May 18 primary: one would prohibit “no-knock warrants” and the other would prohibit solitary confinement in jails.

A no-knock warrant is where police are allowed to enter a residence without announcing themselves. The measure would require police to knock, announce their presence, and wait 15 seconds before entering a residence.

“It’s really a safety measure, we’re talking about public safety,” says Brandi Fisher, president and CEO of the Alliance for Police Accountability, and a driving force behind the ballot question.

Fisher says the death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., who was killed when police were serving a no-knock warrant at her home, inspired this measure.

“I know Pittsburgh Police say they do not do this practice right now, but we know that not to be true by talking to people in the community,” says Fisher.

She adds it makes a difference to enact these policies by a publicly supported measure, rather than a city ordinance.

“If it’s passed by referendum, it would have to be passed by referendum again to retract it,” says Fisher. “People need to know that they have the power to make the decisions to govern their lives.”

White Whale Bookstore says it was used as bargaining chip by Strip District developer
(7:25 — 11:55)

Local bookstore lovers are upset after the developers of the Produce Terminal in the Strip District were accused of leading on Bloomfield’s White Whale Bookstore.

White Whale’s owners claim they planned to open a second location at the Terminal at the developers invitation.

White Whale owners Adlai and Jill Yeomans first shared their experience on social media.

“They said they were repeatedly approached by representatives from McCaffery interests,” explains WESA reporter Kiley Koscinski. “They eventually agreed to talks and they started exploring this opportunity last fall.”

After submitting a letter of intent, the Yeomans say they heard nothing back from the developer, until they were told McCafferey was making plans to accommodate a different bookstore, the New York-based chain, Posman books.

Dan McCaffery, CEO of the development company, told Koscinski his company was in talks with Posman books for several years regarding a space at the terminal, and they ultimately brought McCaffery a signed lease when the developer was in talks with White Whale.

“White Whale said they felt like a bargaining chip to get McCaffery a better deal with Posman, but McCaffery says Posman returned to the table with signed documents, so there’s a dispute there, I suppose,” says Koscinski.

Some summer camps are resuming this year
(12:01 — 18:00)

Summer is on our heels in the Pittsburgh area, meaning kids won’t have school, virtual or hybrid, to occupy them during the day.

This year, some summer camps will be opening their doors again.

Girls Rock! Pittsburgh, a female empowerment and music making summer program, is creating a hybrid program.

“Typically we would have workshops in person, we’re going to virtual workshops this year,” says Michele Charmello with Girls Rock! Pittsburgh. “We will be having some half day in-person instruction with instruments.”

The Carnegie Science Center is coordinating multiple in-person camps this year.

“Last year we were able to proceed with in-person camps,” says Julie Bowman, manager of camps and public experiences at the center. “It worked so well that we decided to increase our number of camps this year, but also keep those safety precautions in place.”

Bowman says running camps during the pandemic has required extra planning and tracking of campers to ensure social distancing.

Charmello says Girls Rock started their summer planning by asking volunteers and campers if they would even be comfortable with in-person camps. Many responded that they would support in-person camp, Girls Rock began to seek outdoor spaces to gather.

Charmello says vaccinations have especially made volunteers more “ready, willing, and able” to return to the camp.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Recent Episodes Of The Confluence