Photo courtesy of Scott Roller/Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Teenie Harris photos displayed along the fence by the park's half basketball court
Among Pittsburgh's neighborhood parks, there won't be one with a better view (to name just one amenity) than the brand-new August Wilson Park. The extensively renovated former Cliffside Park, with its spectacular view of the Allegheny River and the North Side, opens with a community celebration this Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Scott Roller/Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
The view north from August Wilson Park (North Side visible in the background)
The park is named, of course, for Wilson, the two-time Pulitzer-winning playwright who grew up literally right around the corner. And in fact, that building on Bedford Street, now known as the August Wilson house is itself under renovation, and for the month is the venue for a production of Wilson's Seven Guitars.
The new park, which is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, includes a multi-age playground, a half basketball court, a performance space and more.
Special features include installations honoring the work of Wilson himself and banners with photos by famed Pittsburgh-based photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris. (Featured quotes from Wilson's plays include this one, from Ma Rainey's Black Bottom: "You don't sing to feel better. You sing 'cause that's a way of understanding life.")
Photo courtesy of Scott Roller/Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
Quotes from August Wilson plays adorn a wall in his namesake park.
Partners on the park's renovation included Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, the city's Parks and Recreation and Public Works departments, Hill House Association and the Daisy Wilson Artist Community (which is renovating the Wilson House), all with input from the community, according to a Parks Conservancy press release.
Saturday's events run from 2-4 p.m. and include a ribbon-cutting, "a festive all-ages procession along the park's winding entry path," music, activities for kids, and treats from Hill District food vendors.
August Wilson Park is located at 1801 Cliff St., a block off Bedford.
Springdale resident Marti Blake, who lives across the street from the Cheswick Generating Station, shows photos of coal dust on her patio.
On Monday night, about 100 people crammed into a small, stuffy room at the Allegheny County Health Department's air-quality offices, in Lawrenceville, to testify on a proposed permit for the Cheswick coal-fired power plant, which sits along the Allegheny River in Springdale.
Plant employees and union members pleaded with the health department to recognize that the permit would hurt the power plant economically, while residents living near or upwind of the facility urged the department to recognize pollution's cost on human health.
"We do not oppose reasonable regulations," said Kenn Bradley, a worker with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 29, in his public testimony. "We all want clean air, but the plant workers are very concerned that the proposed Title V permit from the county would increase operating costs and ... puts the Cheswick power station at an economic disadvantage with respect to taxpayer-subsidized renewables and other power plants outside of the county."
CP photo by Ashley Murray
Kenn Bradley, union worker at the Cheswick Generating Station, testified at the Allegheny County Health Department hearing.
The proposed permit tightens the amount of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOX), particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) and sulfuric-acid mist that the plant's owner, GenOn, can emit. Comparing the plant’s former permit to the new draft, health-department deputy director Jim Thompson says the amount of allowable SO2 would decrease by 59 percent; allowable NOX by 48 percent; PM2.5 by 25 percent; and sulfuric-acid mist by 80 percent. The permit would also require the plant to run its pollution-reducing equipment most of the time.
The plant has not been running at full capacity, and its emissions levels have been below its current allowable limits. But Thompson says that if the plant ran at the same rate as it did in 2014, NOX emissions should be reduced by about 70 percent.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, SO2, sulfuric-acid mist and NOX released into the atmosphere cause acid rain and form ozone (which forms smog). Exposure to SO2 can also affect the respiratory system, causing asthmatic symptoms. Also, the EPA says, “numerous scientific studies connect particle pollution exposure to a variety of health issues” including reduced lung function, asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death in those with lung or heart disease. These pollutants can travel in the wind for long distances, affecting surrounding areas, even in other states.
That's why several residents testified in support of the new permit.
"How many of us need clean air to breathe, to live? We have a responsibility. We are showing our responsibility and saying, 'Please do your best for us,'" Dianne Peterson, who lives roughly ten miles from the plant, said to health-department staff present at the hearing. "Because when you get sick, what wouldn’t you do to get your health back? It’s your kid, your body, your spouse, your asthma, your cancer. It’s all of our responsibilities, and we’re handing it to you and saying, ‘Please take it to the most stringent level you can to protect all of us.’”
A resident who lives across the street from the plant, Marti Blake, waved around photographs of black dust that builds up on her patio. "I'm consistently cleaning coal particles."
While several comments took an emotional tone about the economy and health, local air-quality watchdog Group Against Smog and Pollution, which has previously worked on regulations for Cheswick, read a statement — and submitted written comments — regarding whether the health department is consistently following the EPA's SO2-measurement rules.
"The Rule expressly requires that 'the air agency [emphasis in original] shall conduct the modeling analysis' if it chooses to use air dispersion modeling to characterize peak 1-hour concentrations of SO2 in areas effected by emissions from a source that is subject to the Rule," GASP executive director Rachel Filippini read from her written statement. (CP obtained a copy after the hearing.) "Section V.A.1.u [of the permit] would violate the Rule by allowing the Plant’s operator to conduct the air dispersion modeling. To comply ... ACHD, the air agency with jurisdiction over the Plant, must be the one to conduct air dispersion modeling pursuant to the Rule."
In its written statement, emailed to CP after the hearing, power company NRG — which recently acquired GenOn — contends that its already doing environmentally responsible work because it installed pollution-reducing equipment.
"GenOn, now a subsidiary of NRG, has spent more than $400 million on emissions control equipment at the Cheswick plant since 2003, and has dramatically improved the plant’s environmental footprint," said a written statement emailed by David Gaier, NRG spokesperson. "The plant is, and has been in compliance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations including all statewide standards established by PA DEP. We look forward to continue working with the ACHD to arrive at a permit that is fair, environmentally responsible, and keeps the station on an equal footing with other generators across the state."
According to the health department's press officer, Melissa Wade, the public record of the hearing will be available on the department's website within a few days.
Michael Griffin defines death-defying. As a two-time World Magic Award-winner and escape artist, the Pittsburgh local has survived a hanging while on the back of a horse and, in a separate stunt, while being submerged in the ocean trapped in Harry Houdini’s original underwater box. Griffin has been featured on Masters of Illusion, America's Got Talent and Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
On Aug. 12, at 7:30 p.m., Griffin will perform his latest interactive show, 50 Shades of Great, at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont. The program is filled with mind experiments, dangerous stunts and audience participation.
As a special challenge, if 200 tickets or more are sold by Aug. 10, Griffin will be handcuffed and attached with 30 pounds of chains to a cement block and dropped into the Allegheny River at noon on Aug. 11. The location has yet to be specified.
Tickets for 50 Shades of Great range from $17 to $25 for VIP front table seating.
The Oaks Theater is at 310 Allegheny River Blvd., in Oakmont.
By Billy Ludt
on Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 4:07 PM
CP photo by Billy Ludt
Event organizers yelled to passers by, asking if they'd like something to eat from off the grill.
On the first Tuesday in August of every year, residents from across the nation gather for communal outdoor events to establish stronger relationships between communities and their police force.
This year, in recognition of National Night Out, Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods organized individual community outdoor events and Spring Garden’s, at Catalano Parklet, was particularly bumping.
From 5 to 8 p.m., Spring Garden neighbors gathered at Catalano Park for an evening of hot dogs, grilled vegetables, entertainment and community awareness. Local dance troupe Get Down Gang provided entertainment for neighbors, performing break dance routines.
“I think it brings communities together,” says Allegheny County Executive RichFitzgerald. “I think anytime in a neighborhood when you know your neighbors, it’s a healthy thing. It breaks down barriers. There are people with different religions, backgrounds, sexualities.
“These events improve quality of life. Sometimes people get to talk about what they want to do with their neighborhood. Those kinds of neighborhood solutions come up.”
Fitzgerald visited eight neighborhoods Tuesday evening, and said he recognized a commonality among the crowds: they were multigenerational. Night Out events were held at churches, community centers, parks and playgrounds. Organizers often bring in social service agencies and outreach groups to talk about public safety, drug addiction and childcare.
“The neighborhoods are safer when they’re together,” says Spring Garden block watch chair Denise Pierce. “Safer Together is the theme that the city of Pittsburgh public safety department uses, and we find with some of our blighted neighborhoods here — [that's] right where a lot of crime was going around.”
Police officers from the jurisdiction stopped by the Spring Garden parklet throughout the evening. Larry Crawford, police community relations officer, spoke to the crowd briefly, introducing himself to neighbors. There were appearances from Fitzgerald and District 1 Pittsburgh City Councilor Darlene Harris as well.
“We had everybody here. It probably scared people away,” says Raphael Walton with a laugh. Walton and Pierce co-organized Spring Garden’s Night Out event.
“The event was our most successful in terms of the entertainment,” says Pierce. “We were given a budget. We were able to pay [the performers] $200. We were never able to do that before. So in terms of this as an event, and givingmultiple things, that dancing really set it apart from any of our other times. It was pretty much a nice summer night, with a little entertainment and good food.”
Wayne Younger, minister at Cityview Church, spoke at the event and praised community gatherings and his neighborhood.
“I just think it’s an important thing whenever the community is gathering, just to be a part of it and to care for neighborhood unity,” says Younger. “To basically get out with the neighbors and find out what moves them."
“I basically gave thanks to the folks who organized the event and talked about what I see as the unique things about our neighborhood,” he says. “It’s a racially diverse neighborhood. People who have means and people who don’t have access live right next door to each other. I also talked with them just about the fact that when we do things like this event and come together across all our different lines, we humanize each other.”
A new documentary short about one of Pittsburgh's most notable artists highlights a free evening with Buba at the museum.
In "No Place but Home," local filmmakers Ryan Loew and Matthew Newton let Buba tell the story of his four-decade career in his own words.
The eight-minute film covers a career largely defined by Buba's work illuminating his hometown of Braddock, the formerly booming Mon Valley mill town that, by the time Buba started making films, in the 1970s, had fallen on hard times.
Buba's work — including possibly his magnum opus, the feature-length "Rust Bowl fantasy" Lightning Over Braddock (1988) — has earned him international acclaim, and honors including, in 2012, a five-day retrospective at New York City's prestigious Anthology Film Archives.
Image courtesy of Braddock Films
Tony Buba (right) on the set of 1988's "Lightning Over Braddock"
Tomorrow's "No Place but Home" screening is followed by a selection of Buba's own signature shorts, including: "Betty's Corner Cafe" (1976), about a neighborhood bar and its characters; "Washing Walls With Mrs. G" (1980), his warmhearted and hilarious portrait of his grandmother; "Mill Hunk Herald" (1981), about the legendary workers' newspaper; "Fade Out" (1998), a film that lyrically suggests the town's fate at the hands of the planned Mon Valley Expressway; and 2007's "Ode to a Steeltown." There's also a never-before-seen short, followed by a Q&A with Buba.
The evening, co-sponsored by WESA 90.5 FM, is part of the Carnegie's Double Exposure series, which features artists, curators and others discussing the legacy of the avant-garde film and video of the 1960s-80s.
The event runs 6-8 p.m. Admission is free.
The Carnegie is located at 4400 Forbes Ave., in Oakland.
By Ryan Deto
on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 3:31 PM
Photo by Ryan Deto
Rachel Reilly Carroll outside the Penn-Mathilda apartments, a new affordable-housing complex.
Rachel Reilly Carroll’s first trip to Pittsburgh wasn’t filled with trips up and down the Duquesne Incline or taking in a Steelers game at Heinz Field. Her tour of the Steel City instead took her by some of the locales that highlight Pittsburgh’s affordable-house struggles. She visited the new affordable apartments for veterans on the Bloomfield-Garfield border. She even walked past the recently demolished Penn Plaza building in East Liberty; witnessing the cranes clear away space for the future Whole Foods Market, a development that was announced last week.
“It was deeply poetic watching the cranes among the ruins of the building,” said Carroll. “Penn Plaza is a vignette for what is happening in cities now, all across the country.”
It’s stories like Penn Plaza that drew Carroll to visit Pittsburgh, as part of the Millennial Trains Project, which sponsors young representatives, with contributions from national affordable-housing group Make Room, to visit American cities by train and discuss how issues like affordable housing, inequality and transit access are affecting communities.
“This is an opportunity for millennials to explore the country by train, and speak about the issues that people are interested in,” said Carroll.
And the issues that are important to Carroll are affordable housing and public transportation, which she says are inextricably linked. Carroll explains that when transit investment comes to a neighborhood, the nearby property values rise, thus pushing out the low-income residents that rely most heavily on public transportation. Pittsburghers see this happening in East Liberty near the busway stop, but Carroll says this is common in many American cities.
“In Albuquerque, they are building a new [Bus Rapid Transit] line, and the mayor there says that nearby values have already gone up by 12 percent,” said Carroll.
She is visiting Albuquerque as part of her train tour, as well as Chicago, Kansas City and Los Angeles, to meet with local leaders and discuss affordable-housing successes and failures.
Carroll is also an elected commissioner for southwest Washington, D.C., which is also experiencing affordable-housing problems. “My neighborhood in D.C. is changing quickly,” said Carroll. “Over the next few years, we will see $5 billion in private investment.” In response, Carroll advocated for a build-first policy that would make sure affordable housing is replaced before old units are demolished, allowing low-income residents to stay in the neighborhood. She said the Washington, D.C. housing authority and mayor recently OKed a build-first policy.
It’s these proactive policies that Carroll will be advocating for on her five-city tour. “Once those [property] values go up, it’s so difficult to put in affordable housing — it’s too expensive,” said Carroll. “We have to do it at the start. It has to be backed in.”
While she applauds some of the recent steps to address affordable housing in Pittsburgh, Carroll said that setting strict rules now will be important if and when Pittsburgh receives a population influx from bigger-city residents looking to Pittsburgh as a cheaper option.
Carroll said that although the affordable-housing crisis hasn’t quite grabbed the attention of national politicians, the goal of her trip is to “raise awareness by bringing the conversation of the rental-housing crisis to the national forefront.”
She also hopes to inspire communities to take on their affordable-housing problems themselves.
“The political will comes from the voters,” said Carroll. “Voters have to demand it. The priority has to come from the community.”
Pittsburghers may have a chance to do just that. A petition drive led by labor-coalition Pittsburgh United has garnered more than the 8,000 signatures necessary to place a ballot initiative to fund a $10 million affordable-housing trust fund this November. The initiative calls for a raise in the city’s realty-transfer tax. City officials are looking into alternate ways to raise money for the fund.
OpenStreets, which closes a few miles of streets to motorized traffic for a few Sunday hours, was previously confined to Downtown and the Strip District, mostly along Penn Avenue. But yesterday, the route took the Clemente Bridge to the North Side, wound through West Park, then crossed the Ohio on the West End Bridge for a terminus in the West End's business district.
And Bike Pittsburgh's preliminary estimate is that 17,500 to 20,000 folks took advantage of the car-free streets. Most were on bicycles, but there were also pedestrians and at least one troop of determined unicyclists.
Three "activity hubs," one in each neighborhood, included exercise classes and more for a festival atmosphere. Members of Squonk Opera paraded, playing music on the giant tricycles they used in their new show Cycle Sonic; at one point, Squonk jammed with ambulatory members of the percussion group Timbeleza, marching past Gus & Yia Yia's water-ice cart. Celebrities spotted included that shameless scenester Rick Sebak.
Still, the highlight for many was a chance to cross the West End Bridge in in the lanes usually reserved for an endless procession of cars (and endless traffic jams). Organizers had set up a photo stop for people to insert themselves into the bridge's iconic perspective on the Point and the Downtown skyline.
Yesterday's Open Streets was the last of three for this summer. Look for it to return next May, route TBD.
Iyad Burnat, who heads a group that protests restrictions on the rights of Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank, gives two talks here next week. His visit is organized by the Pittsburgh BDS Coalition, part of an international movement that argues for boycotting, divesting from and sanctioning Israel to protest its treatment of Palestinians.
Burnat's Bil'in Popular Committee, formed in 2005, has been joined by Israeli and international peace activists in "weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the Israeli separation wall and the encroachment of illegal settlements," according a Facebook page for Burnat's Pittsburgh appearances.
The demonstrators "have maintained a commitment to nonviolent resistance in the face of armed military opposition." The demonstrations were documented in Five Broken Cameras, the Oscar-nominated 2013 documentary by Emad Burnat, who is Iyad Burnat's brother.
Iyad Burnat was imprisoned for two years by the Israeli military, at age 17, and has since been arrested and imprisoned several times.
House and techno music certainly haven’t lost their roots in the technology age. While many DJs use digital software to generate their sounds, some still prefer the analog tones of a true synthesizer, one with dozens of cables and hard circuitry. Think Bruno Martelli in the '80s hit Fame. And SoundCloud’s top synthwave, techno and house musicians prove there is a lot of uncharted territory waiting to be explored in electronic music.
Antenes at work
Pittsburgh Modular Synthesizer, a developer of cutting-edge electronic instruments, and Lateral present an evening of synth music at Lawrenceville nightspot Cattivo. “A Night of Live Electronic Exploration and Hardware Investigation” kicks off with a chance to try out the instruments first-hand. Experts will be available to guide attendees through the Open Synth Playground and create a beat or two.
Next, Brooklyn-based artist Antenes will give a live demonstration on newly built synth equipment before performing her own techno tunes to close out the night.
DJ Paul Fleetwood, out of Denver, will also be on hand to pump up the club for a two-hour set of his deep techno mixes.
“A Night of Live Electronic Exploration” will take place July 30 from 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Early events are free; ticketing, at $10, begins at 10 p.m. with DJ Paul Fleetwood’s set.
On the floor of the DNC today, City Paper talked to local government officials in the Pennsylvania delegation about their favorite parts of the convention thus far.
"The Bernie Sanders and Mayor Bloomberg endorsements were so unexpected," says Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. "I especially liked when Bloomberg was talking about how Donald Trump has been a con-man. That's important for people to know because now [Trump is] messing with the faith and credit of the United States economy."
"There's a stark contrast between this convention and the RNC last week in terms of inclusion, diversity, positive spirit and the declaration that this is already a great nation," says Pittsburgh City Councilor Bruce Kraus.
9:45 p.m. From City Paper staff
The most powerful speech of the night so far came from Khizr Khan, a Muslim-American who's son died while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Khan's passionate attack to Donald Trump got a resounding standing ovation from the crowd.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf knows a thing our two about business. Before he was elected in 2014, he served as CEO of Wolf Organization Inc., a building materials company.
And at the DNC he used his business background as a jumping-off point to question GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's business ethics.
"One of the keys to our success was that we recognized that in business, you are only as good as the people you have in your company, and thus, you had to treat everyone like they mattered. Because, the truth is, they do. Now, I understand that not all business people see it this way. When we contracted with a vendor, we paid them," Wolf said.
"Donald Trump? He stiffed hundreds of small businesses, from plumbers to painters, ruining their companies as he sought to enrich himself."
Wolf spoke during the "Stronger Together: An Economy That Works For All" portion of the final night of the DNC. The segment also included speakers advocating for gender equality in the workplace.
"At our company, like at many others across the country, we treated our female employees with respect. When they had kids, we celebrated them, and gave them paid leave," said Wolf. "Donald Trump said that pregnant workers are an 'inconvenience,' so it’s no surprise that he has put forward no plan for paid family leave."
Updated 7:55 p.m.
From Multimedia Editor Ashley Murray
Delegates for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are attracting attention tonight by wearing neon green t-shirts that glow in the dark when the convention lights dim with its signature Democratic blue hue.
"We're supposed to be glowing in the light, like Bernie Sanders. He was glowing in the light," says North Carolina delegate Stephanie Glosen, who plans to vote for Hillary Clinton despite her passion for Sanders' ideas. "We're not stopping the movement just because Hillary got the nomination."
Pa. delegate Susan Hall, of Scranton, says she is wearing it "to show solidarity with Bernie." Fellow Pa. delegate Dui Anthony, of Shenandoah, offered a sharper opinion on why he was dressed in neon green.
"I consider the nomination of Hillary Clinton an abomination to the party," Anthony says. "She has moved this party from the principles of FDR further and further to the right."
Speaking to delegates from several states, City Paper had a difficult time pinning down the source of the glowing shirts. Anthony says they are "union made" and that he got them "online"; New York delegate Virginia Ramos Rios says her delegation received them from the Colorado delegates. (Yesterday, CP reported how some Sanders supporters were wearing "Bernie" merchandise made in Honduras, Haiti and Nicaragua.)
According to a Facebook comment on the article The Hill posted tonight on the t-shirts, Sanders delegate Lauren Tenney wrote the shirts are union made and delegates paid "11 bucks" for them.
Delegates from Washington state — who took the t-shirts to the next level by painting "#DNCLeaks" on them — said they heard about the shirts from a Facebook campaign that had been organized weeks ago. They estimated that 700 people were wearing the shirts. (CP hasn't done an independent count.)
"We came up with adding the hashtag 'DNC leaks' to them because it's like the elephant in the room that nobody's addressing while they try to tell us it's our responsibility to get Hillary Clinton elected," says Washington delegate Dorothy Gasque.
Gasque and fellow Washington delegates for Sanders, including Joshua Trupin, told CP that the DNC was trying to counteract their t-shirt protest by filling their seats, and other state's seats, and not allowing them back onto the floor. The DNC says that allegation is "totally incorrect."
"They've [the DNC] just bee marginalizing us even as they won the [primary]," Gasque says. "So we decided to make this one last statement before we leave."
7:05 p.m. From News Editor Rebecca Addison
The DNC showcasing yet another well-known, and well-loved celebrity. This time it's singer-songwriter Carole King.
Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Katie McGinty
Democratic Pennsylvania U.S. senate candidate Katie McGinty took the stage at the DNC this evening where she played to her Irish Catholic roots.
"I was raised here in Philadelphia, the 9th of 10 kids, in a big, loud, Irish family," McGinty said. "You see, we learned to love our God and our country, and we learned that success isn't a product of pedigree. No, if you want to succeed, you have to give it your all and give back."
McGinty took the opportunity to criticized both GOP candidate Donald Trump and her GOP senate opponent Sen. Pat Toomey, who she said are focused on scapegoating and fear mongering instead of solutions.
"Just blame the Mexicans. Blame the Muslims. Blame the government. Build a wall. For goodness sake, the Donald even blamed the Pope. My dear mother, God rest her soul, would be turning over in her grave," McGinty said. "And you know what these guys also say: 'Hand it all over to Wall Street.' Pat Toomey made his millions on Wall Street, and he's still selling us the same old trickle-down that benefits only the rich."
McGinty, who has been attacking Toomey throughout her campaign, upped her passionate criticism of Toomey this week, calling the Pennsylvania Senator an “asshole” during a minimum-wage campaign speech in Philadelphia on Monday. She later apologized for the remark.
6:05 p.m. From News Editor Rebecca Addison
Another breakthrough at the DNC.
4:57 p.m. From Multimedia Editor Ashley Murray So what does Bill Peduto do all day at the DNC?
Photo by Ashley Murray
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto (third from left) at the DNC
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is attending the Democratic National Convention this week as a Pa. delegate in support of Hillary Clinton. But what exactly does he do all day? And why does he feel his time spent here is worth it? City Paper examines:
According to his public schedule yesterday, Mayor Peduto ate breakfast with the Pa. Democratic party delegation around 8 a.m.; spoke on Politico's economy caucus panel around noon alongside Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, and Sen. Mark Warner, a Dem from Virginia; at 2 p.m., Peduto headed to the African American Museum of Art for a presentation featuring representatives John Lewis and Keith Ellison. At 2:30 p.m. the public schedule listed Peduto as being at "A Conversation with Uber" along with former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and Uber executive Rachel Holt. From there, he was scheduled to go to what sounded like a riveting municipal officials reception. But whatever the 3 p.m. reception lacked, perhaps the 4 p.m. Google pre-party in the Victory Beer Garden, or the 6 p.m. QVC Women in Retail reception at the Constitution Center, made up for it.
While City Paper couldn't follow Peduto all day, we did cover his panel discussion at the fancy Politico media center, where free coffee (even chewable coffee gummies) and snacks abounded.
Peduto, Dingell and Warner followed a panel that featured Neera Tanden, president for the Center of American Progress and who served in both Clinton and Obama administrations, and none other than economist Larry Summers — yes, that Larry Summers of the Department of Treasury and Harvard University (and, if you've read Lean In, Cheryl Sandberg's mentor).
Ok, so a tough act to follow, but Peduto did his usual selling of the 'burgh, calling it the "overnight success that took 30 years" and a city that "builds bridges not walls."
Peduto was asked about the Trans Pacific Partnership, how Hillary Clinton should distinguish herself from President Obama and how Clinton can lock down the Western Pa. vote.
"It's a very different dynamic than it was 20 years ago. Western Pa. has become red outside of Pittsburgh. And Pittsburgh, and Allegheny County, has become more progressive, so you're starting to see within the core area a new type of Democrat that's emerged other than the blue-collar, socially conservative Democrat that had been throughout Western Pa.," Peduto said from the stage. "Statewide, [Pa.] is trending Republican. On the other side of the state, you have progressive Republicans. It's a very weird dynamic that's been [developing] over the past decade. It's been the swing for Pennsylvania ... That being said, we have to get a plurality out of the city that then transcends through Allegheny County to offset any of the losses happening in the outlying counties in Western Pennsylvania."
CP had a chance to talk to Peduto one-on-one and ask why it's so important for him to be here and why it matters to Pittsburgh's local government who ends up in the White House. Peduto's response: the city uses federal money for pilot programs, and he wants to keep that partnership. He says money that the Obama administration has provided, "bypassing Congress," had gone to piloting things from autonomous cars and the My Brother's Keeper initiative, aimed to help young men of color.
"One of the reasons we really hit the ground running in the first two and half years of our administration is the partnership that we have with the White House," Peduto says. "We are in contact with them every week."
Last night looked to be a big deal, with the Pennsylvania Democratic Party celebration at the National Museum of Jewish History, where state officials like U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Gov. Tom Wolf and former Gov. Ed Rendell will get their party on. However, leaving the security perimeter was such a shitshow last night (CP reporters Rebecca Addison and Ashley Murray didn't get home until 3 a.m., with the road blocked to taxis and the subway shut down) that it's unclear if Peduto made it to the party. The mayor's office didn't reply to CP's request for confirmation this afternoon.
From Rebecca Addison
While the main event of the DNC — Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech tonight — is hours away, First Lady Michelle Obama has won the contest for the best speech thus far, especially in the eyes of Pittsburghers.
"We came into this thing pretty divided and I think that changed after Michelle Obama," said Pa. delegate Michael Lamb, Pittsburgh's city controller.
That sentiment was also shared by Kimberly Ellis, a Pittsburgh-based writer and entertainer, attending the convention as a spectator. But Ellis also said a highlight for her has been the social justice movement momentum that has been generated during the election.
"I want to emphasize I really like the movement and energy inside and outside of the convention," Ellis says. "Bernie Sanders and the Black Lives Matter activists, they are helping to reshape our democracy beyond the election. We still have work to do and voting for Hillary Clinton is just one step."
Pittsburgh delegate Valerie Mcdonald Roberts, chief urban affairs officer for the city, says that in addition to First Lady Obama's speech, and the formal nomination of Clinton — the country's first female nominee — she was also impressed with Sanders.
"Looking at the strength of Bernie Sanders amidst his many supporters who didn't want him to do it, was inspiring," Roberts says. "His strength was a highlight. Finally we're going to have unity."
From Rebecca Addison
"F U 2016." It's what a lot of people are likely feeling several months into this seemingly endless election cycle. But it's also the campaign slogan for Frank Underwood, the U.S. president in the Netflix original series House of Cards.
Earlier today, Philadelphia-native Einass Mustafa was handing out t-shirts with the "FU '16" slogan outside of the DNC as part of a marketing campaign for the show.
"I think it's pretty comical because it's like a subliminal message," Mustafa says. "They're promoting their show by being controversial."
When Pittsburgh City Paper interviewed Mustafa as she and two others handed out the shirts, several people mistook them for an actual election campaign and asked if she was running for office.
"We've gotten a lot of people who are like 'are they running for president,'" Mustafa says. "A lot of people are uninformed in a lot of different ways in this country."
From Ashley Murray
Apparently the RNC delegates do not have a monopoly on those stereotypical Texas delegates in cowboy hats. Last night on the convention floor, a few DNC revelers proudly sported the Texas cowboy-cowgirl hat. (Only, this one was bedazzled.)
From Rebecca Addison
Photograph by Rebecca Addison
Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans
Last week, Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans was ejected from the Quicken Loans Arena for disrupting the Republican National Convention. During former presidential candidate Ben Carson's speech, she held a sign that read “No Racism No Hatred," before she was surrounded by a swarm of Republicans who covered her with American flags.
"In Cleveland people felt like they had the right physically touch me," she told Pittsburgh City Paper today at a Code Pink rally outside of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. "They were really rough. They tried to strangle me with my scarf."
Code Pink is an anti-war group that has been vocal on issues like drones, torture at Guantanamo Bay and conflicts in Israel and Iraq.
"Our mission is to end war and bring those funds home to our communities," says Evans. "We also have a campaign to demilitarize our communities."
Evans says Code Pink disrupts congress in Washington DC daily. Code Pink activists were present everyday of the RNC and have been present at every DNC evening session thus far.
"It's been completely different here than it was in Cleveland," Evans says. "At the DNC we've basically been escorted out after 10 minutes, and security hasn't been as rough with us. One man even thanked us."
And Code Pink activists aren't the only ones protesting on the DNC floor.
"Last night, the entire Oregon delegation disrupted by chanting 'No More War'," says Evans. "[The arena] just turned the lights out on them."
From Ashley Murray
It was hard to miss Gretchen Baer's "Hillsuit" while in line for coffee this morning at the Old City Coffee kiosk in the Reading Terminal Market.
To say Baer, an artist from the border town of Bisbee, Ariz., loves Hillary Clinton is an understatement.
"This is a hand-painted Hillary jacket and suit. I've made a lot of them," Baer says. "I've traveled around the country in my Hill car. a painted art car covered in Hillary imagery, all sorts of gems and jewels and buttons and so forth. I traveled around in 2008 as well this year all over the country."
Baer says Clinton has inspired her work.
"I'm kind of an activist painter. One thing I do is I have a group called the border bedazzlers, and we paint with kids on the Mexican border," Baer says. "We're painting the world's longest kids mural. We've painted a mile so far with the Mexican kids on the Mexican side, It's actually inspired by Hillary, I love the kind of work she does, where she reaches out and tries to make other people's lives better."
From Rebecca Addison
Robin Hood and his Merry Men have invaded the DNC. Or at least that's what you'd think after seeing the number of delegates wearing Robin Hood's trademark green hat.
The hats are actually a show of support for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Last year, the former presidential candidate proposed the Robin Hood tax bill, a tax on Wall Street financial transactions that would pay for free tuition at public colleges and universities in the United States. The Robin Hood bill would also cut interest rates on existing student loans.
"We wear the hats because they go along with Bernie's philosophy of more fair wealth distribution," says Minnesota delegate Delia Jurek.
On day four of the convention, Jurek was visiting Philadelphia's famous Reading Terminal market. She said she was happy to have the opportunity to come to the convention to represent the many Bernie supporters back home in Minnesota.
"Bernie didn't get the nomination but he did what he set out to do," Jurek says. " He started a revolution."
From Editor Charlie Deitch
Even though we are in the final leg of the political convention season, it's just the start of what is surely to be a long, grueling and painful finish to the General Election in November. So, let's review the DNC's third day as we get ready for Hillary Clinton to take center stage to
Photo by Rebecca Addison
night to officially accept the party's nomination.
While tonight belongs to Hillary Clinton, Wednesday night belonged to Barack Obama. Say what you will, the man can give a speech and raly a crowd. Here's the full transcript of the speech, thanks to Newsweek, but here are some highlights and there were many:
"I’m here to tell you that, yes, we’ve still got more work to do. More work to do for every American still in need of a good job or a raise, paid leave or a decent retirement; for every child who needs a sturdier ladder out of poverty or a world-class education; for everyone who has not yet felt the progress of these past seven and a half years....
"And that work involves a big choice this November. I think it's fair to say, this is not your typical election. It’s not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right. This is a more fundamental choice—about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.
"Look, we Democrats have always had plenty of differences with the Republican Party, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s precisely this contest of idea that pushes our country forward. But what we heard in Cleveland last week wasn’t particularly Republican—and it sure wasn’t conservative. What we heard was a deeply pessimistic vision of a country where we turn against each other, and turn away from the rest of the world. There were no serious solutions to pressing problems—just the fanning of resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate.
"...And then there’s Donald Trump. (Audience boos) Don't boo—vote. You know, the Donald is not really a plans guy. He’s not really a facts guy, either. He calls himself a business guy, which is true, but I have to say, I know plenty of businessmen and women who’ve achieved remarkable success without leaving a trail of lawsuits, and unpaid workers, and people feeling like they got cheated. Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice? If so, you should vote for him. But if you’re someone who’s truly concerned about paying your bills, if you're really concerned about pocketbook issues and seeing the economy grow, and creating more opportunity for everybody, then the choice isn’t even close."
"Ronald Reagan called America “a shining city on a hill.” Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix. It doesn’t matter to him that illegal immigration and the crime rate are as low as they’ve been in decades—because he’s not actually offering any real solutions to those issues. He’s just offering slogans, and he’s offering fear. He’s betting that if he scares enough people, he might score just enough votes to win this election.
"And that's another bet that Donald Trump will lose. And the reason he'll lose it is because he’s selling the American people short. We're not a fragile people. We're not a frightful people. Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way. We don’t look to be ruled. Our power comes from those immortal declarations first put to paper right here in Philadelphia all those years ago: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that We the People, can form a more perfect union. That's who we are. That’s our birthright—the capacity to shape our own destiny."
From the "I'm with her, but he's not with me" department, I got a text last night from our Web Producer Alex Gordon calling my attention to this tweet:
We were both confused because we had no male reporters there yesterday and even if we did, he wouldn't be wearing a CP t-shirt at a political convention. Sure we're the paper that recently brought you the "Shit List," but we do like to show a little more decorum than showing up at an event in our t-shirt. (Full disclosure, I am currently wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates shirt with a hole in the shoulder, but I don't plan on being seen by Hillary Clinton today.) I assured the commenters that whoever it was, he was not affiliated with our organization. We give out free t-shirts all the time.
Later, though I saw this tweet from our News Editor Rebecca Addison:
Now, I haven't found the video in question and I'm not sure if Jacob was the person they were talking about, but there's probably a fairly good chance it was. Jacob doesn't work for us, but we're glad he decided to go and check out the convention and that he's wearing our t-shirt. I'm not sure what the camera-crasher was up to, but at a political convention, could it really have been that strange?