Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Photographs from Day 2 at the Republican National Convention

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 10:42 AM

Aaron Petan's photographs from Day 2 at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. 
   
PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON PETAN
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pittsburgh City Paper's Republican National Convention Live Blog: Day 2

Posted By , , and on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 10:20 PM

12:30 a.m.:

Day 2 is a wrap. Watch our highlight video below:



10:19 p.m.:


10:15 p.m.:


10:06 p.m.: 
9:29 p.m.
9:15 p.m.

Now that the delegates' votes have been counted, with Republican nominee Donald Trump hitting the magic number of 1,725, the RNC has moved on to its primary mission, attacking Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton.

Several Trump supporters, including Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, criticized Clinton's foreign policy experience as secretary of state.

"If we can't trust her to tell the truth, how can we possibly trust her to lead America," said Sen. Ron Johnson. "America needs strong leadership, someone who will strengthen our borders and defeat ISIS."

9:12 p.m.


Political activist Van Jones just summed up the speakers we've heard at the RNC to this point. He said this convention was about "angers not answers," and the only goal was to attack Hillary Clinton. On a night there were supposed to be thoughts on the U.S. economy it appears to be just another anti-Hillary evening. 


8:55 p.m.
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY GABBY FELLOWS
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows

From Gabby Fellows:
Folks are walking around inside the highest-trafficked areas outside of the Republican National Convention donned with safety-pinned red and white patches.

They call themselves the RNC Street Medics. They're a team of volunteers devoted to providing primary and secondary first aid to anyone participating in or listening to the protests in the high-stress areas of downtown Cleveland.

"We get all of our medical supplies through money we've raised or donations," a member of the street team told CP. "If we can't buy needed supplies or get someone to give them to us, we all pitch in and purchase them ourselves."

So far, the street team hasn't had to provide serious treatments to rally-goers.

"We just want to do what we can to help those gathered in Cleveland for this cause."



8:40 p.m.



8:37 p.m.

8:34 p.m.
Two twitter reactions to Trump receiving the Republican nomination:



8:19 p.m.


PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY GABBY FELLOWS
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows
As Donald Trump prepares to address the delegates who have named him the Republican Presidential nominee, CP's Gabby Fellows is reporting that the scene outside the convention is more sedate, but the police presence is still quite large. But the protesters' message has largely remained the same.

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY GABBY FELLOWS
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows
7:10 p.m.

Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. just announced New York's 89 delegate votes for his father, putting the Republican candidate over the threshold of votes needed to win the nomination.

"I've been able to watch, as a small fly on the wall, all my father has done in creating this movement. Because it's not a campaign anymore, it's a movement, speaking to real Americans," Trump, Jr., said.

6:30 p.m. 


Republican delegates are taking a role call vote to finalize Trump's nomination.

6:00 p.m.

The third session of the RNC got off to an unusual start this evening when Harmeet Dhillon, a self described Sikh American, delivered a Sikh prayer in Punjabi and English. The Republican convention and party have been criticized for a lack of diversity and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, especially, isn't known for embracing diversity. 

But it didn't take long for the convention to return to form. Minutes later, when U.S. Senate. Jeffrey Sessions (R-Ala.) Took the stage to nominate Trump, he took the opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama for statements he made in response to the recent deaths of several police. Characterizing Obama's call for improved community-police relations as political correctedness, Sessions said the country needs a leader willing to tell the truth. 

"The American voters heard his message and rewarded him with a huge victory in our primaries," Sessions said.
                                                                                               —Rebecca Addison
5:50 p.m.
From Gabby Fellows:

Police officers, state highway patrolmen and bomb squads have all been spotted at this year's Republican National convention. Almost always, they are seen in groups of four or more.

“A lot of us cops are from out of state, but we stay in groups mostly because it's been policy to do so for this week,” one officer told CP.

“That way, if one of us gets hurt, there will be someone from our troop to witness it”, another said.

Both officers that spoke are not pictured in this photo.

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY GABY FELLOWS
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gaby Fellows

5:09 p.m.

A select group of merchants was allowed into the Freedom Marketplace inside the authorized zone, but luckily Rebecca Addison was able to find this:



5:02 p.m. 
From Reporter Ryan Deto:

City Paper spoke with Jose Sigfredo Landaverde, an immigrant activist from Chicago who walked 360 miles to Cleveland to protest Donald Trump. It took him 27 days and he slept in 
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ryan Deto
campsite and churches to reach the Republican National Convention.

"Trump is trying to separate communities," said Landaverde. "He is terrorizing immigrants with his speech."

Landaverde is also a priest and he said that there is "evil" in Trump's message. He is also critical of Trump's, and many other Republican politician's, attach on Sanctuary Cities (municipalities that don't communicate with immigration officers).

Landaverde said Sanctuary Cities are important because they show we are welcoming and they "provide open doors" to immigrants who feel constantly under threat.

4:39 p.m.

Our CP team is reporting that police have "pretty much taken over Public Square." Ashley Murray reports that Stevedor Crawford, of Columbus, Ohio, held a green toy gun and protested in Cleveland's Public Square, "Tamir Rice was murdered by a P-I-G, was a K-I-D, had a T-O-Y." He told City Paper that he came here, along with for kids, who also protested with him. "I came down here to let it be known that politics is never more important than a 12-year-old boy's life."
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY GABBY FELLOWS
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows

4:18 p.m.
Billy Ludt was just at Public Square where he witnessed right wing talker Alex Jones get escorted out of the square by police after a "physical conflict." It's unclear exactly what happened and this cell phone video won't provide a much clearer picture, but the audio paints a picture. Video by Billy Ludt.


3:48 p.m.
CP reporters and photographers in Cleveland say Public Square seems to be the assembly point for protesters and others wishing to speak their mind and assemble for marches, protests, etc. These photos are coming in from CP's intern duo Gabby Fellows and Billy Ludt. More police are beginning to assemble as are everyday citizens exercising their right to carry weapons in public. Also, everyone's favorite crazies from the Westboro Baptist Church are scheduled to be in town this evening. I think I'm really starting to feel America get great again! #sarcasmcrossing.
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY BILLY LUDT
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Billy Ludt
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY GABBY FELLOWS
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows

3:37 p.m.
Not all vendors are shut out of the restricted convention area. Rebecca Addison is talking with vendors lucky enough to get beyond the fences.


3:19 p.m.
Ashley Murray reports that a small anti-Muslim protest is currently preceding down Euclid Avenue near the convention site. However, unlike other protests, that have gone on, This group is enjoying two columns of bicycle officers flanking them on either side. Murray attempted to interview the protesters and was prevented by officers. She identified herself as a reporter and showed her RNC-
issued credentials but was still told by officers, "I don't care."

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY ASHLEY MURRAY
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ashley Murray
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY ASHLEY MURRAY
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ashley Murray
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY ASHLEY MURRAY
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ashley Murray

3:07 p.m.
Reporter Ryan Deto spoke to some locals who say Clevelanders have been excluded from the excitement surrounding Republican National Convention. 
Uber Driver Lisa Rand - PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Uber Driver Lisa Rand
By Ryan Deto

Cleveland, Ohio might feel like the center of the political and cultural universe right now, but many local residents and business say they aren’t experiencing any of the positive side effects. The Republican National Convention, where presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will likely accept his party’s nomination, has received international attention and has people talking about Cleveland with the same excitement as when the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA championship in June.

RNC officials estimated that the Trump-sized event could have 50,000 attendees and bring in $400 million in economic impact to the city, however most of that appears to be centralized in the designated, partly-fenced-off area surrounding the Quicken Loans Arena, in Downtown Cleveland.

Lisa Rand, a driver with the ride-hailing company Uber, has been driving passengers to the convention and says the expressways heading into Downtown Cleveland were mostly empty during rush hour on July 18 and July 19. “It is kind of a ghost town here,” she said.

Because security efforts have been so extensive, many locals have felt pushed out of the nightlife district in Downtown’s Playhouse Square, according to Rand. “As I try to enter Downtown, the main attractions and where everything should be and where people should be out partying is [fenced off],” said Rand. “You don't really get to be a part of this, especially if you are from Cleveland.”

More than two miles of roads have been closed for the convention, cutting off more than a square mile of Downtown to those without an access pass who want to enjoy the Downtown attractions, including theaters, bars, clubs and restaurants.

In fact, many people City Paper spoke to said many Clevelanders have left town in attempt to avoid the chaos of the convention. “A lot of my coworkers are saying they are going out of town,” said Desmond Harrison, who lives in the east side of Cleveland.

Harrison bought $3,000 worth of unlicensed Trump merchandise in hopes of capitalizing on the popularity of the convention. But his booth, which was licensed by the City of Cleveland, was placed on the outskirts of the action, four blocks from the Quicken Loans and surrounded by eight-foot-high black chain link fence.

“It has been slow, not what I expected,” said Harrison. He thinks there is a bit of fear factor because the scene surrounding his booth looks like a “police state,” he said as 20 police officers in riot gear rode bicycles past him, in formation.

But not all areas to sell merchandise are so guarded. Many other vendors were located closer to the action on East 4th Street, a block from the arena entrance and next to temporary headquarters of many national media outlets. Some of these vendors were from as far away as York, Penn. and North Carolina. One vendor, who said he is a regular at events like these and asked not to be named, said he has spoken to other vendors who traveled from California, Georgia and Alabama. When asked if he had met any vendors from Cleveland, he said he had not.

CP reached out to the Cleveland city officials for comment on the vendor application process, but have not received a response.

And it is not just those looking to capitalize on the extra business the RNC brings who feel left out, Downtown brick and mortar shops say they are also losing business, too. Matt Schelkman, an employee at Phoenix Coffee, which is located less than half a mile from Quicken Loans, says the coffee shop has been very slow because many of their regular customers, employees of neighboring banks and finance institution, have decided to work from home during the convention.

“Not a lot of people know about us because we are a local coffee shop,” says Schelkman. “It’s unusual for a national event to not have a spotlight on local businesses.”

Schelkman expects things to improve and for people to loosen up and explore more of Downtown as the convention rolls on.

2:21 p.m.

Multimedia Editor Ashley Murray talks to a local vendor trying to make some profit off of the Republican National Convention:
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY ASHLEY MURRAY
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ashley Murray

Vendors try to make a buck off Trump merch

By Ashley Murray
From rhinestone Republican elephants wearing signature Trump hair, to knock-off “Make U.S.A. Great Again” visors (because Trump’s got a trademark on it), everyone’s trying to make a buck.



2 p.m.

The Melania Trump plagiarism scandal train keeps on chugging along. Trump aide Paul Manafort went a little bat-shit crazy this morning over allegations that the speech was copied from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. He called the notion "absurd" and said Melania used "use words that are common words." He even blamed Hillary Clinton. he said in the Wall Street Journal: “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down.” I think we all need to calm down over this. In fact, in order to help bring peace, I've written a song of hope:

"When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Yeah, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be."


1:46 p.m.
Shit's about to get real in Cleveland...literally... Apparently the highly contagious disease that can cause vomiting and a whole lot of diarrhea is making it's way through the California Delegation. In case you've forgotten, here's what happened the last time a high-profile Republican was feeling queasy in public.



1:12 p.m.

Nevermind.
1:07 p.m.
There are reports of shots fired near the RNC

12:46 p.m.

From News Editor Rebecca Addison, the story of a Kurdish man's journey t the RNC:

Kani Xulam came to the Republican National Convention to raise awareness about the plight of his native Kurdistan, whose people he says are being terrorized by Islamic extremist gro
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY REBECCA ADDISON
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Rebecca Addison
up ISIS

"The message I have is that Kurds and Americans have a common foe and that foe is ISIS," Xulam said outside of the RNC secured perimeter earlier today, holding a sign that read "Free Hugs."

Throughout Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign, he's painted all Muslim people with the same broad brush, blaming Muslim-majority countries for the acts of ISIS and calling for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants to the United States.

But Xulam told City Paper Trump's characterization is unfair. He says the United States has more in common with Muslim countries like Kurdistan than differences. And he worries about the future of the U.S. if Trump is elected. Instead of being divided he said the world should band together to develop solutions for fighting ISIS.

"What we have here is democracy in action. These delegates were elected and they in turn will possibly elect the next president," Xulam said. "It is important for your own self preservation that you help us defeat these bastards ISIS."
                                                                                                      — Rebecca Addison

12:36 p.m.
Cleveland: Open to Trump's of all walks of life. Here is Donald Trump impersonator Eric Jackman, who along with his twin brother, Michael, run a podcast called Jackman Radio. In fairness, this could be Michael.
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY BILLY LUDT
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Billy Ludt
12:30 p.m.
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY GABBY FELLOWS
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows

12:16 p.m.:
Want to leave the RNC with a souvenir that says, "Hi, I'm Donald Trump and I want to take over the world with a fleet of flag-toting giant Eagles" ? Then CP's RNC correspondent Gabby Fellows has the item for you.

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY GABBY FELLOWS
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows


11:45a.m.: 

11:30 a.m.:
Anti-war protesters confront Controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in downtown Cleveland.

11:15 a.m.:
THank God, RIck's here

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Pittsburgh City Paper: A roundup from around the Web of Day 1 of the Republican National Convention

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 9:54 AM

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan

We have reporters and photographers in Cleveland starting today both inside the Quicken Arena and outside. They'll start filing reports today, although photographer CP photographer Aaron Petan did file some images from the event's first day.  

The Los Angeles Times reported that the first day of the RNC was a fairly peaceful one with only 
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan
two arrests and one was for an outstanding warrant. Petan did catch this image of a woman being detained by police, but it's unclear if this is one of the arrests on the Cleveland PD's tally sheet.


While this Washington Post columnist was deeply in love with Melania Trump's night one speech, others, including other journalists at the same newspaper, remarked how much they liked it the first time they heard it — from Michelle Obama in 2008. 


Earlier this morning, Donald Trump's campaign, apparently deciding not to let the truth start screwing things up now, denied that Melania Trump plagiarized any part of Obama's speech calling the claims "just really absurd," according to CNN. 


"To think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd," Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort told CNN's Chris Cuomo on New Day


Who are we to pass judgment on this issue. Oh yeah, we're the media! But don't take our word for it, give it a look for yourself from CNN:


PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan


Politico is calling the convention's first day "disastrous," citing poor scheduling and an attempt to portray this country as a "dark and dystopian portrait of an America in decline" without any signs of "signs of outreach across the aisle or to independents. For most of the night, the convention lineup felt and sounded more like a Tea Party rally on the statehouse steps — with little-known speakers delivering hardline speeches — than a traditional national convention."

And it's kind of hard to say they're too wrong. The day started out with anti-Trump Republicans causing a commotion on the convention floor.
USA Today says there weren't as many protests on the first day as organizers and police thought they would be on the first day, but that doesn't mean it wasn't interesting. A group of armed men calling themselves the West Ohio Minutemen walked through downtown openly carrying rifles and pistols, as is supported by Ohio law, despite Cleveland PD's best attempts to keep it from happening.

"To be honest, we did not expect this kind of media attention," said minuteman Bryon Hennon, 37, a contractor from, Lima, Ohio, who was carrying a loaded 9 mm carbine. "There's a lot of demonization going around about people carrying guns and guns in general, and not everybody who open carries ... has an evil agenda. You don't have to be afraid. It's part of our society. It's always going to be part of our society."


Finally as we move into Day 2, there's no telling what the day holds. We will be running a live blog throughout the day from events around the city of Cleveland. So, while we wait for chaos, please enjoy this adorable photo of baby bunnies living in my garden.

PHOTO BY CHARLIE DEITCH
  • Photo by Charlie Deitch

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CP's photo coverage from Day 1 at #RNCatCLE

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 9:37 AM

Photographs by Aaron Petan.
Slideshow
RNC - Day 1
RNC - Day 1 RNC - Day 1 RNC - Day 1 RNC - Day 1 RNC - Day 1 RNC - Day 1 RNC - Day 1 RNC - Day 1

RNC - Day 1

Photos by Aaron Petan

Click to View 25 slides


Monday, July 18, 2016

Pittsburgh City Paper: Scenes from Day 1 of the Republican National Convention

Posted By and on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 7:24 PM

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan
City Paper's full news team won't be on the ground in Cleveland until tomorrow, but freelance photographer and Cleveland resident Aaron Petan has been out capturing the scene all day and will be working for us all week. We'll have more tomorrow and will update this blogh if anything breaks tonight, but here are some photos of a march downtown today. Petan witnessed, as you'll see by the photo below, one arrest. Follow this spot all week as we'll be live blogging throughout the day and evening starting tomorrow.
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan

PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan
PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan





























PITTSBURGH CITY PAPER PHOTO BY AARON PETAN
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Aaron Petan

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Steely Dan brings tour to First Niagara Pavilion

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 3:52 PM

Steely Dan brought their The Dan Who Knew Too Much tour to First Niagara Pavilion on Sunday night, with a crowd-pleasing set of hits. Check out our photos from the show below.

Slideshow
Steely Dan
Steely Dan Steely Dan Steely Dan Steely Dan Steely Dan Steely Dan Steely Dan Steely Dan

Steely Dan

Photos by Luke Thor Travis

Click to View 30 slides


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Pittsburgh officials asking for input on 'Complete Streets' and bike-lane plans

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 3:41 PM

An example of Complete Streets design - IMAGE COURTESY OF PITTSBURGH DEPARTMENT OF CITY PLANNING
  • Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning
  • An example of Complete Streets design
"Complete Streets" should be coming to Pittsburgh soon, and the city is asking for input. The idea, which brings equity to roadways by ensuring cars, pedestrians, cyclists and public transit riders have equal access to streets, will be the first of its kind in the region says Kristin Saunders, the city's bike and pedestrian coordinator.

“We want to build a city that accommodates people walking, taking public transit, biking, and people driving,” Saunders said to a crowd of 50 at the South Side Market House on July 7. “Our streets should be great public spaces.”

She presented a draft of the city’s Complete Streets policy during the public meeting, and laid out how the city plans to redesign streets to accommodate all users. She said roadways could receive complete streets designs in three ways: by creating new roadways, during street pavings and utility replacements, and through large-scale capital improvement projects. She says this helps to limit costs, since pavings and replacements were scheduled anyway and grants are a separate source of funding from the city’s capital budget.

Advocates of Complete Streets designs say they can ease congestion, spur economic development, make neighborhoods more appealing to pedestrians and cyclists and improve public safety.

In fact, one Pittsburgh road will be seeing some equitable road design in the near future. Broadway Avenue in Beechview will be redesigned with friendlier sidewalks, improved light-rail stations and, possibly, Pittsburgh’s first bike lanes shielded by parked cars thanks to a $600,000 state grant awarded to the neighborhood.

“This is such fantastic news for Beechview,” said Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak in a statement. “The neighborhood is poised for renewal with young families buying homes and developers taking on major renovations. Now, our public infrastructure can be more accessible and attractive.”

However, there will be some exceptions, and Eric Boerer of bike-advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh asked at the meeting who would decide what streets are excluded from complete streets design. Saunders said an advisory committee will make those choices and decisions on the committee’s size and makeup, which are not final. She did hint that they will involve members of city government and advocacy groups, however.

But for those who wish to ensure their voices are heard, comments can be given here. Respondents can also send letters to the Department of City Planning offices at 200 Ross St., Fourth Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.The public comment period closes on July 25.

A meeting is also being held tonight (July 18) to receive public input for Pittsburgh's new citywide bike plan at the 1319 Allegheny Ave., North Side from 6-8 p.m. Two more bike-plan public meetings will be held in the next two weeks at various locations around Pittsburgh. Check the city planning department’s calendar for details.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Pittsburgh entrepreneur starts first Pokemon ride-hailing application

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 5:39 PM

VIPGo creator Tom Larkin - PHOTO BY BILLY LUDT
  • Photo by Billy Ludt
  • VIPGo creator Tom Larkin

When local Tom Larkin posted on Facebook early Monday saying he would drive people around so they could play Pokemon Go, he didn’t think anybody would take him up on the offer.

“I was more or less joking,” says Larkin. “I didn’t think anyone would hit me up, but they did.”

After his inbox was flooded with messages for rides, he said he had two options: flourish or flounder. In the past several days, Larkin’s Facebook post has turned from an idea into a functioning Pokemon Go ride-hailing service called VIPGo.

The service is part of a Pittsburgh-based ride-hailing application called RideVIP. Clients can open the RideVIP application and queue up a driver for a Pokemon Go outing.

Larkin's Internet virality skyrocketed when news aggregator NowThis posted a video about Larkin’s ride-hailing idea. It garnered more than 6 million views in a matter of three days on Facebook.

“Now everyone knows who I am,” says Larkin. “I get called the ‘Pokemon Guy’ at the gas station.”

Pokemon Go is Nintendo’s second first-party title to appear on a mobile platform in the last year. The game uses a smartphone’s GPS with predesignated, real-world locations known as “Pokestops” or gyms. Players are required to physically visit these places to catch Pokemon, progress and grow levels.

Thursday evening, Larkin and his team set off from RideVIP’s headquarters in the North Hills to Mount Washington to pick up Jess, Lucci and Antania Hawkins. Antania Hawkins suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that subjects her to daily seizures, leaving her wheelchair-bound. Larkin took the family around Mount Washington to catch some Pokemon, free of charge.

“The thought came from the fact that this game is so awesome, and there’s people that can’t play it and that sucks,” says Larkin. “I wanted to solve that, and that’s just kind of how my mind works. When I see a problem, I try to think of the most inventive solution for it. With this — there was a story that just came out today saying that Pokemon Go sections off mobility-challenged people, or people that are unable to get out of the house. I just want to prove that it’s not. We offer an alternative or a way to get out and play the game.”

“The first time I did this, I thought my inbox went crazy,” Larkin continues. But now he’s receiving higher volumes of messages from mobility-challenged people hoping to ride with VIPGo to play some Pokemon.

He says he'll continue to offer the opportunity to play Pokemon Go to individuals with varying abilities.

Since everything is moving so quickly, logistics are still being ironed out on VIPGo’s end. But Larkin has experience working with startups and says he has assisted in starting over 60 companies. VIPGo has received $27,000 in investments in under a week.

VIPGo drivers will be given an itinerary listing “hot spots” where players have reported a high volume of Pokemon, as well as Pokestops and gym locations. They are required to be versed in the game, and for VIPGo driving trainee Matt Vaughan, that won’t be a problem.

“I was immediately texting Tom to see if and when this was going to start,” says Vaughan. “It’s a very intriguing situation that they’ve put themselves in. As a friend of theirs and as an Uber driver, I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to support this and try my best to keep things moving.’”

Larkin says he aims to make VIPGo available nationwide eventually.

“I have to stick with this for a while,” says Larkin. “I’m the face of this.”


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What you need to know about Pittsburgh news this week

Posted By on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 3:39 PM

What's happening in Pittsburgh news:

CP PHOTO BY AARON WARNICK
  • CP photo by Aaron Warnick
1. Bernie Sanders' endorsement of Hillary Clinton this week brought the two camps of local delegates together on Pittsburgh's South Side Wednesday night. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who ran in (and lost) Pennsylvania's Democratic U.S. Senate primary, and who had endorsed Sen. Sanders, is now throwing his support to Clinton. “There’s far too much at stake to have hurt feelings,” he told the crowd.

————————————

CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
2. The Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, a coalition of faith leaders, convened this week to discuss the issue of racism in policing. The meeting was spurred by the killings of Alton Sterling, in Louisiana, and Philando Castile, in Minnesota. “If our police are the best trained in the world, but we fail to deal with basic racism and the adversity of people of color ... our black people are arrested, locked up, and the worst possible outcome, killed,” said the Rev. Rodney Lyde, president of the organization. PIIN will hold a community meeting on July 21, at 7 p.m., at the St. James AME Church in Larimer.

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CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
3. Steelers greats Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward endorsed two new Kraft-Heinz pickle flavors ahead of this weekend's Picklesburgh festival being held on the Rachel Carson Bridge (Ninth Street Bridge). The flavors: Spicy Garlic and Sweet and Spicy. Taste for yourself at the festival where both flavors will be available to try.

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hpvvaccine.jpg
4. The Allegheny County Board of Health decided this week not to move forward with mandating the HPV vaccine for kids entering the seventh grade. Since a June 22 public forum on the idea, the board has received 1,100 comments — 641 in support, 510 in opposition — making it one of the most-commented-on issues the board's ever discussed. Parents who say their kids have suffered injuries and illness after receiving vaccines came out in force against the idea, while board member Dr. Donald Burke, who's spent his life developing vaccines, said "I've watched them work over the years." 

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CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
5. Immigrants are economically punching above their weight in Allegheny County, said officials at a press conference earlier this week. “A resurgence in our economy that is being fueled by people coming from other countries,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told attendees. According to figures presented, immigrants in Allegheny County contributed $217 million in state and local taxes in 2014 and had a spending power of $1.8 billion that year.

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This week on Sound Bite:

Sound Bite takes flight with the YMCA garden program and Neighborhood Nestwatch Pittsburgh to learn about urban bird populations. To hear more of our food-for-your-ears podcasts, visit our Sound Bite page.


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CP PHOTO BY DAVE DICELLO
  • CP photo by Dave DiCello

Hot off the presses (and in digital):

Our writers take you around the city in our 2016 City Guide, offering personal advice from where to find homemade ice cream and honey wine, buy used vinyl, get an edgy tattoo or check out punk shows. As CP editor Charlie Deitch writes in his intro to the guide, "When you see these recommendations, know that these are places we ourselves go — places we take our friends and family to."

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This week in City Paper history:

CP FILE PHOTO BY LAUREN DALEY
  • CP file photo by Lauren Daley

On May 4, 2011, frequent Pittsburgh City Council critic Yvonne F. Brown surprised everyone in council chambers when she hauled a cat out of her bag and presented it to Councilor Bruce Kraus. While Brown wasn’t much of a fan of Kraus (still isn’t, in fact) as a representative, she knew he was a cat-lover because he once asked Brown, “Why do you hate cats and dogs?” But when a neighbor could no longer keep the cat, Brown brought it to Kraus. Brown told city council: “This is to build a bridge between [Kraus] and me. … I don’t know how good of a council person he is, but he has a heart.” Read more to find out what happened to the cat, and to learn more about what happened this week in CP history.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers greats Bettis and Ward in town to promote Picklesburgh

Posted By on Thu, Jul 14, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Jerome Bettis sampling a pickle chip - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Jerome Bettis sampling a pickle chip
The friendly rivalry between Pittsburgh Steelers legends Jerome Bettis and Hines Ward goes well beyond the football field. In fact, it even extends to pickles.

The two gridiron heroes were at Heinz Field July 13 to promote the 2nd annual Picklesburgh event, that will shut down the Rachel Carson Bridge June 15 and 16 to celebrate all things pickle. Kraft-Heinz, the food giant best known for its ketchup condiments, announced two new pickle flavors today: Spicy Garlic and Sweet and Spicy, which will be available to sample at the pickle party. It has been over 50 years since Kraft-Heinz have introduced new pickle flavors.

Bettis, who was championing the Sweet and Spicy flavor, and Ward, who was supporting the Spicy Garlic flavor, couldn’t help jesting whose would become more popular.

“I am gonna love this competition, there is nothing like beating my mentor,” said Ward. 
Hines Ward jokes with his former teammate about whose pickles people will like best - PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Hines Ward jokes with his former teammate about whose pickles people will like best

The two praised the flavors of their pickles, and then proceeded to joke about each other's hair. “Ward is the only hairless diva in the world,” said Bettis. Plenty of pickle puns were also uttered, but City Paper will spare you the minor annoyance.

The two even engaged in an impromptu pickle-juice chug of their respective jars, emulating Picklesburgh’s most popular event. (Ward came out the victor.)

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto was on hand as well to showcase how quickly Picklesburgh has risen in popularity. “There is something so quintessential Pittsburgh about pickles on a bridge,” said Peduto.

Picklesburgh will be held on the Rachel Carson Bridge (Ninth Street Bridge) for extended hours this year, from noon to 10 p.m. on both Fri., June 15, and Sat., June 16. More than 40 food vendors will be on hand, and live music and pickling demonstrations are part of the entertainment.

“Last year, the number-one suggestion we heard was more pickles with more variety,” said Jeremy Waldrup, of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in a press release. “This year we really worked with our vendors to up their pickle provisions, and I don’t think they’ve let us down.”

Ward wrapped up the theme of the event nicely, when he said it was not about the Most Valuable Player, but instead about the Most Valuable Pickle.

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