All the Pittsburgh news you missed this week (May 3-9)

New police chief, a school board candidate's anti-trans record, and new polling in the County Executive race

click to enlarge All the Pittsburgh news you missed this week (May 3-9)
CP Illustration: Lucy Chen, Original photo: Fox Rothschild

EDUCATION: Bathroom policies

Parents in Pine-Richland, along with area LGBTQ advocates, are raising concerns about a school board candidate who, in 2016, pushed the Pine-Richland School District to enact a ban on transgender students using bathrooms matching their gender. Seven years later, Mike Weithorn, a parent who transferred his child to Catholic school after the episode, is now running for a seat on the board as a Republican.

Although the policy was short-lived (the district rescinded it in a settlement for a federal lawsuit filed by three trans high school students and their parents in 2017), district parents tell Pittsburgh City Paper the safety and inclusion of trans students in Pine-Richland remains a big concern for them.

“We already have board members that have posted and said horribly transphobic things. We don’t need any more,” Nila Griffin says. “My daughter deserves to be fairly treated and represented like all children. The focus should be on education, not where my daughter is going to the bathroom.”

click to enlarge All the Pittsburgh news you missed this week (May 3-9)
CP Illustration: Lucy Chen

POLITICS: Innamorato leads

Polling released last week shows progressive standard bearer Sara Innamorato pulling ahead in the contested Allegheny County executive race.

One poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and commissioned by Pittsburgh Works Together, found Innamorato with 32% support among likely voters in the six-way Democratic primary contest. Behind her, John Weinstein and Michael Lamb each came in with a 20% share. Another survey released by her campaign on Friday painted a similar picture, showing Innamorato with 29% and Weinstein and Lamb respectively with 22% and 20%.

Innamorato, a state representative for Pennsylvania’s 21st district, arguably entered the race as an underdog to Lamb and Weinstein, who have respectively held city- and county-wide positions for more than a decade. Polling released earlier in the race showed her with just 17% of support from likely voters. Since then, Weinstein, once seen as the frontrunner, has endured critical media coverage, including unconfirmed allegations of dealmaking and an FBI investigation into his conduct as an ALCOSAN board member. Immediately after the release of the latest polling, Weinstein went on the attack, sending out text message blasts characterising Innamorato as “divisive” and “extreme.”

POLICE: New chief

Pittsburgh native Larry Sciotto has been named as the city’s new police chief nearly a year after the departure of his predecessor, Scott Schubert.

During a press conference May 3, Mayor Ed Gainey said Sciotto “rose to the top” during a “robust” search process that leaned heavily on community input.

“His deep ties to the city, inside knowledge of the bureau, and his outside perspective make him the right choice to be chief of police,” Gainey said.

Sciotto, who began his career in Pittsburgh, most recently served as police chief in Fort Lauderdale, where he was terminated for initiatives to hire diverse candidates. He defended against the accusations of “reverse discrimination” during the conference, stating he was simply fulfilling a mandate set for him during his hiring.

Sciotto was one of three finalists considered for the post. Others included former Pittsburgh officer Jason Lando and Ryan Lee, a former chief at Boise, Ohio who resigned after allegedly breaking a colleague’s neck during a demonstration.