The Women & Girls Foundation will host an issue briefing next week, called "Reproductive Health Care for Underserved Populations: Innovative Programming for Incarcerated Women and Minors."
A panel of experts will address efforts to improve reproductive health care for incarcerated women and the rights of minors to access confidential healthcare. Attendees will learn how partnerships, strategic thinking and a modest budget have led to changes across the state. There will also be discussion of reform efforts locally and state-wide to improve conditions for women's reproductive healthcare in jails, as detailed in the ACLU's report, Reproductive Health Locked Up.
The discussion will take place at 9 a.m. Wed., May 29, at Calvary Episcopal Church, 315 Shady Avenue, Shadyside. The event is free, but registration is required. You can register for the event here.
Nancy Patton Mills, the chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, didn't mince words. City Councilor Darlene Harris cannot serve as a Democratic ward chair now that she's registered as an independent.
"I'll be speaking with her, probably tomorrow," Patton Mills says. "I'll ask if she'd like to send a letter resigning from the chairmanship." If Harris doesn't comply, "I'll just send her a letter and remove her."
Patton Mills cited a provision in the party rules asserting that "Any ... party officer who shall register as a member of any other political party shall cease to be a member of the County Committee or a party officer and his or her office shall be declared vacant."
The Post-Gazette, which first reported Harris' switch this morning, notes that Harris' move come on April 22 -- the last day she could switch her registration in time to run as an independent in the November election. There has been speculation that Harris may be pondering a challenge to Bill Peduto, who won the party's nomination for mayor in this week's primary, though Harris hasn't revealed her plans. She has until August 1 to file papers for a mayoral bid.
Patton Mills says that, while she heard rumors of Harris' switch yesterday -- and while "we kind of thought she might do it" -- she didn't have confirmation until today's P-G report. "I also have some questions about her acting as a ward chair since April 22," Patton Mills says.
Harris is chair of the city's 26th Ward committee, in the North Side. Patton Mills says that when a ward chair is removed, the ward's committeefolk would then be convened to select a new chair until 2014, when the party reorganizes itself after the spring primary. Should Harris re-register as a Democrat, the new ward chair could reappoint her to fill a suitable vacancy. Otherwise, Harris would have to run for a committee slot in the 2014 primary.
But that assumes Harris does not actually run for mayor. Jim Burn, who chairs the Democratic Party's statewide committee, says that under party rules, a committeeperson who supports anyone other than a Democrat in the general election can be barred from a committee post for two years. Patton Mills was unaware of that provision -- "This hasn't happened since I've been ward chair; it's a little new to me" -- but said that when it comes to either removing or reinstating Harris, "I will follow the bylaws. We go by the rules."
Post by Olivia Lammel
Models will strut down the runway in outfits designed by students at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, getups assembled entirely from home-renovation items found at the Greater Pittsburgh Habitat ReStore. Above is a photo from last year's show, courtesy of Habitat.
Habitat families will also hit the runway decked out in collections from the Waterfront Macy’s store. Local celebs appearing include 96.1 KISS FM’s Tall Cathy, who will emcee the show, and dancers from the Lifetime show Dance Moms, who will perform.
General admission tickets are $25 and include access to the silent auction and complimentary crudités.
VIP tickets are $100. VIPs will be seated along the runway and can attend a pre-show cocktail party in a lounge with a cityscape view and live music. VIPs also receive free drink tickets, a selection of hors d'oeuvres and goodie bags stuffed with chocolates, gift cards and giveaways.
All tickets will be entered in a raffle to win two round-trip JetBlue tickets. Proceeds will go to the Veterans Build program, which aims to provide housing, volunteer and employment opportunities to U.S. veterans, military service members and their families.
Sort of a funny piece of business in this Post-Gazette story about Bill Peduto's win in this week's mayoral primary:
One of Mr. Peduto's critics, city council President Darlene Harris, switched her registration from Democratic to independent a month before the primary. Beyond confirming her changed partisan status, however, Mrs. Harris would not elaborate on the switch...
She confirmed Wednesday that she temporarily changed her registration from Democrat to independent to keep her options open. She declined to say what those options might be.
Harris, of course, was a mayoral candidate herself for about 17 minutes. She dropped out to back Peduto's main rival, Jack Wagner, and in fact appeared in anti-Peduto ads to back up claims that Peduto is divisive.
Talk of a Harris candidacy might seem premature, if not sort of crazy. But SOME of us journos are experiencing withdrawal symptoms now that this mayoral race is over. So don't spoil this for me.
And there is a bit of precedent, anyway. The legendary Richard Caligiuri won as an independent back in 1977, running against Tom Foerster. And the circumstances there may be instructive: Caligiuri was at the time serving as interim mayor: He'd been city council president and then succeeded Pete Flaherty after Flaherty took a job in the Carter Administration. Harris, as city council president, would be similarly positioned if Mayor Luke Ravenstahl were to step down ... and I've already heard some suspicions -- not from anyone in a position to know -- that such a move might be in the works. (ADDED: And of course, given the swirl of ethics allegations involving the Ravenstahl administration, there's always a chance that he may not have a choice about leaving.)
In any case, the news that Harris, a ward chair in her North Side neighborhood, has dropped her Democratic registration has already prompted one Democrat to demand she be removed. Matt Hogue, a committeeman with a long history of opposing Wagner, has formally asked that Harris be stripped of her party post, in accordance with party bylaws. (Those require removal of party officers who "register as a member of any other political party"; it doesn't specifically address the case of people who register as independents, and thus have no party affiliation at all. I have calls in to Nancy Patton Mills on this matter, but I'd be surprised if the rules would be any different.)
A Harris candidacy would, presumably, seek to champion the cause of old-guard Democrats who opposed Peduto. But backing her could be risky: Jim Burn, who heads the Democratic Party's state apparatus, says any other committeefolk who support her may lose their party position.
"As far as the party's concerned, it's over," says Burn. "[Peduto] is the nominee. And everyone is expected to step up for him."
Of course, it's not unheard of for party officials to back candidates who aren't endorsed by party elders during primary season. For example, after City Controller Michael Lamb won the party's endorsement, state Rep. Ed Gainey had to step down as the chair of the city committee in order to publicly support Peduto. "In the primary, it's been a gray area," says Burn, with party officials allowed to take a leave of absence and later return.
But once the Democratic voters have had their say, Burn adds, "There is no such option in the fall. The party's bylaws are unequivocal: If you support anyone other than the Democratic nominee, you are removed, and you can't be reinstated for two years."
Incidentally: Democrats will be electing their committeepeople again in 2014. And back in 2006, the Peduto-friendly group Progress Pittsburgh ran a slate of some 50 people to become committeefolk. About half of them succeeded, mostly by seeking to fill vacant slots. A couple dozen committee folk don't have much of an impact in a party apparatus that numbers in the hundreds. But in light of Peduto's win, the progressives are riding high right now. If members of the Democratic old guard put their committee status at hazard between now and then, well ... there's always a risk that a year from now, they may not be members of the Democratic old guard any longer.
A funny thing happened last week during our cover shoot with Sheraden resident and mayoral candidate AJ Richardson — he lost his tattoos.
Our photographer Heather Mull shot this week’s cover in the studio of fellow photographer Jason Snyder. Mull’s photo appears on the cover and in the top, right picture. But Snyder used a photography process known as Wet Plate Collodion photography which creates an image known as a tintype.
We’ve all seen the giant antique cameras in movies where the 1800’s-era photographer sticks his head under a cover and takes the picture. Well, that’s the process that Snyder used in the above left photo of Richardson, knowing that the tattoos wouldn’t show up in the print because, as Snyder says, “the UV light just bounces off of the outer layer of skin.”
Richardson, who was a great sport for posing for this week's cover photo in the first place, tells CP he was amazed to see the photo and, since a lot has been made about his numerous facial tattoos, thought folks would be interested to see what a tat-less AJ Richardson looks like. We agree.
In days to come, pundits and politicos will be doing all kinds of analysis of yesterday's mayoral primary, looking for big-picture trends and story lines in Bill Peduto's triumph over Jack Wagner. But if you want to start getting a feel for how this race played out, you can do so by starting small -- looking at results in just two city wards, the 14th and the 19th.
These are two of the city's biggest, most vote-heavy, wards. And they represent two poles of the city's electorate, or at least the white portions of it.
The 14th ward, which is centered on Squirrel Hill, is Peduto Country, a bastion of college-educated liberalism. The 19th, which includes working-class Beechview and its environs, is the Wagner family's stomping grounds. (Jack Wagner lives in Beechview, and his brother Pete chairs the Democratic Party's 19th ward committee.) Given that turnout was so low yesterday -- in the mid-20s countywide -- this election was always going to turn on who did the best job of rallying their base, starting with the voters in their own backyards.
So how did the candidates do? Not surprisingly, they each won their own homeground. But Wagner's performance was much less impressive.
According to my sleep-deprived calculations, based on unofficial election returns, in Ward 19 Wagner beat Peduto by roughly 2,900 to 1,750; he got roughly one-and-a-half votes for every vote Peduto got. But in Ward 14, Peduto's home turf, Peduto beat Wagner by 5,700 to 1,400, give or take. That's more than four votes for every one Wagner got.
Yesterday's municipal primary was a big night for Pittsburgh -- the election not just of a new mayor, but of a new governing coalition -- even if the number of people paying attention was small.
City Councilor Bill Peduto won the primary, which will almost certainly make him the city's next mayor -- a post he has sought for the better part of a decade. Peduto won the race with 23,597 votes, according to an unofficial vote tally last night. Trailing Peduto's 52 percent share of the vote was former state Auditor General Jack Wagner (18,060 votes, or just under 40 percent of all ballots cast), and state Rep. Jake Wheatley, with 3,499 votes or 7.7 percent of the vote. AJ Richardson rounded out the Democratic field with 294 votes.
All told, only about 45,500 ballots were cast in the race, in an election where Democratic turnout countywide was just 23 percent. Despite(or because of) all the TV and radio ads, all the debates and candidate forums, all the money thrown around ... roughly the same number of people turned out for this year's race as showed up back in 2009, when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl faced only token opposition.
But the small number of votes mask what is a significant win not just for Peduto, but for the movement he has been heading up for the better part of the decade. Peduto's close council ally in district 4, Natalia Rudiak, beat challenger Johnny Lee by a 52.3-47.6 margin. And Peduto's own chief of staff, Dan Gilman, won a three-person race to fill the seat Peduto is vacating, city council district 8.
The win, as we suggested here yesterday, is the result of years of planning and coalition-building by Peduto, who has assiduously built a network of support while honing a sophisticated political team.
"It's huge; it's epic," said state Rep. Erin Molchany, a Peduto ally on hand for last night's boisterous victory celebration at the South Side headquarters of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. Molchany, who was elected last year with the help of his own campaign team, said, "When you look at Natalia's win, Bill winning -- I think the possibilities are endless. I was looking out over the crowd tonight, and every subset of Pittsburgh was here: young and old, black and white. It was amazing."
Miranda Bauer likes Sandcastle and all. She just found that when she bought a membership there for herself, her husband and her young daughter, she wasn’t getting her money’s worth. Likewise with other local attractions — she just couldn’t visit them often enough.
So this past weekend, Bauer launched PittsburghPass, a bulk-rate-discounted admission to five local hotspots.
For $83.99, PittsburghPass offers one person admission to Kennywood, Sandcastle, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Carnegie Science Center and The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.
Each pass costs $83.99 regardless of age — though the price is slightly less than a kid’s admission prices to all five. (Kids under 2 get free admission at all the venues.) Total savings can be up to about $30 per person.
The passes — up to 1,000 will be sold — are on offer until June 12, and are good throughout the 2013 season for each venue, says Bauer.
Bauer, of Baldwin, is a former corporate marketing manager who’s now a stay-at-home mom. She says PittsburghPass is “a product I really wanted to see.”
“You can kind of get a little taste of everything,” she adds.
A Science Center spokesperson said that PittsburghPass was created through a deal similar to that which attractions offer area hotels for bulk ticket purchases.
Learn more at www.pittsburghpass.com.
Today is, obviously, a potentially historic day, pivotal for the future of our region. It's the day that Pittsburgh's men and women, workers and retirees, students and citizens of all kinds, go to the polls and ask themselves the question at the heart of our republic:
"Who the fuck are these judicial candidates?"
But there's a mayoral race too, as you may have heard. Later today, around the time the polls close, we'll be having updates and analysis all through Wednesday morning: A good place to follow the action might be my Twitter account, where I'll be posting updated incoming returns and who is getting drunk at the election-night parties. (Which, by the way: both the Wagner and Peduto campaigns are holding events on the South Side ... a few blocks away from each other. Add in the ever-present possibility that Luke Ravenstahl may drop in out the Rowdy Buck or some such, and it's a recipe for a vibrant bar scene. can't wait!)
In the meantime, to tide us over while the voters are busy having their say, a few thoughts about the campaign season that brought us to this point.
A former city traffic officer accused of insurance fraud, reckless endangerment and related charges in a 2010 road rage case was acquitted this afternoon in a non-jury trial.
Common Pleas Judge Jill E. Rangos granted Garrett John Brown's motion for insufficient evidence in the case that stemmed from an encounter — first recounted in this City Paper story — with donut deliverymen Matt Mazzie and Blaine Johnston in the early morning of Nov. 18, 2010.
As they testified in court today, Johnston and Mazzie contend that they crossed paths with Brown around 4 a.m., when Brown began chasing them after they turned in front of his truck off Fifth Avenue and onto Morewood Avenue. Both men testified that Brown was far enough away that the turn was safe, and that they heard screeching brakes after they passed through the intersection. Brown, they alleged, chased them down, and confronted them at multiple stoplights — without identifying himself as an officer. At one point, they say, he threw coins at the window while pulled up alongside them; during another confrontation he allegedly punched the side of the van and reached for Johnston's arm. Later, they testified, he ran them off the road; as Brown left his own vehicle, they said, they drove off to Children's Hospital in Lawrenceville, their next delivery stop, where police arrived after Mazzie dialed 9-1-1.
"Some psycho just tried to run us off the road," Mazzie can be heard telling a dispatcher in the recording, which was played in the courtroom today.
Although he did not testify today, according to a police report taken that night, Brown told police that he was sitting at a red light when Johnston rear-ended his truck. Brown, who was off-duty at the time of the incident, told police officers at Children's he had pulled up to the van to exchange information, but Johnston fled. In a recording of Brown's own 9-1-1 call, which was also played in court, Brown tells a dispatcher he was rear-ended by a U-Haul truck which left.
Erie Insurance paid Brown approximately $2,100 for damages to his truck and $445 for a rental car, but questioned Brown's version of events after hearing other accounts of the crash. They hired their own investigator and concluded Brown's version wasn't consistent with his statement, according to a complaint against Brown. Brown was later charged with lying to investigators and on his claim when he said he was rear-ended.
Rangos heard nearly three hours of testimony from Mazzie and Johnston, as well as from Erie Insurance adjustor Gloria Vish and city police Sgt. William Kunz. In the afternoon, the prosecution withdrew its expert witness, William Simcox Sr., after Rangos and defense attorney William H. Difenderfer questioned his credentials for accident reconstruction. Simcox, a supervisor for accident-investigation company Unified Investigators, primarily deals with fire and mechanical investigations.
Much of the debate in the courtroom hinged on discrepancies between the witnesses' accounts.
Johnston estimated that he and Mazzie were traveling at 45 miles per hour. Johnston said he couldn't remember with which part of the truck Brown struck them, but said the two vehicles ended up parallel, facing the same direction. Johnston said that as Brown got out of his truck, he saw Brown reach behind his back, near his waistline — and that Johnston threw the van in reverse at Mazzie's prodding. In the process, he testified, his van ripped off Brown's bumper.
"I was fearful of my life," Johnston said. "This was getting out of control."
Mazzie, who estimated the vehicles' speed at only 25 mph, acknowledged telling Johnston to leave. But he testified that he didn't see Brown reach behind his back. "He looked agitated," Mazzie said.
Rangos ruled that between the 9-1-1 calls and inconsistencies in witness statements, there were too many conflicting accounts about what happened that night to uphold the charges. "The witnesses were unclear on how the accident occurred," she said. While Brown may have engaged in "bad behavior," she added, "I don't see that rising to reckless endangerment." While "it's pretty clear Mr. Brown did not answer truthfully [on the insurance company's questionnaire] that words had been exchanged between the parties," she said, there was insufficient evidence to indicate he had committed insurance fraud.
"I'm just not seeing how the Commonwealth can meet [the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt] when we've got three different versions of how an accident happens — a fourth from the defendant," Rangos said. "This isn't a civil case ... I need beyond a reasonable doubt at this point."
Brown and his attorney left immediately following the trial — we've contacted Difenderfer for comment and will update this post if we hear back. Nicholas Radoycis Jr., the prosecutor, declined comment after the verdict. Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen Zappala, said prosecutors have no option to re-file charges. "We believed that we had the evidence to try and case and the judge ruled otherwise," he said in an e-mail.
Brown, a 10-year veteran of the police force, was fired from the bureau on Feb. 16, 2011. Johnston faced charges from leaving the scene of an accident from the case, which were later dismissed because Brown failed to appear at the preliminary hearings.
Both Mazzie and Johnston declined comment after the trial.
Mrs. Harris may not have broken voting rules, but she definitely wore her Wagner regalia…
According to county records, Harris did NOT vote in the primary.
According to county records, Harris did NOT vote this Tuesday.