Port Authority's 9-member board of directors today bid farewell in its final meeting, as a new board will be appointed next month per new state law.
But the break will be short for current members John Tague and Thomas Donatelli, whose appointments were submitted to county council by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald this afternoon.
As we noted in this week's issue, Fitzgerald has six picks on the new, 11-person panel whose structure was approved by Gov. Tom Corbett July 18.
Two of Fitzgerald's picks have to be from a pool of nominees submitted by civic groups: the Allegheny Conference, Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and the Committee for Accessible Transportation. Donatelli and Tague are the picks from the list.
Fitzgerald says he's still evaluating the rest of his appointments, but says riders should not be worried about having a new board.
"We're going to continue to improve the system ... the rail system, the bus system, it's going to continue to get better," he told City Paper last week. "With this new board in place, and in time with a new CEO, all of those things will make the system more progressive, more user-friendly, more customer-friendly and more reliable. That's our goal."
Fitzgerald has four appointments remaining. The rest of the board will include one appointee each from the governor, and from the Democratic and Republican caucuses in both the state House and Senate.
Senate Democrats last week appointed State Sen. Jim Brewster (D-McKeesport) to the board. Appointments are due by mid-September.
The new board will be tasked with hiring a CEO, a process outgoing chairman Jeff Letwin said this morning had been suspended on account of the restructuring.
The storytelling series makes the jump to a bigger venue with an engaging night of local and visiting talent including David "Mr. McFeely" Newell and Shadow Lounge founder Justin Strong. More in Program Notes.
The past few summers, the Moth Mainstage program filled the 500-seat New Hazlett Theater. But in this, its fifthl appearance, the annual show made the big leap to the Byham with seemingly little trouble, selling all but a handful of the Downtown venue’s 1,300 seats.
As usual, the Mainstage show matched local and visiting talent. Chicago-based teller Shannon Cason told a riveting story of how a bank-manager job he had as a young man collided with his gambling problem. And New Yorker Trisha Coburn offered a dazzlingly detailed account of how a 1960s-era charm school changed her life as a small-town Alabama girl on welfare.
Local performers included Kelly Flanagan Dee, who produces Pittsburgh’s monthly Moth StorySLAM, at the Rex Theater, and who told of trying to relate to sketchy South Side neighbors as a younger woman.
Two other Pittsburgh-based tellers were among the evening’s biggest hits. Justin Strong, who founded the recently shuttered East Liberty cultural landmark the Shadow Lounge, told how the venue came to be — it was the next step from the parties he held in his off-campus house as a Pitt student — and its precarious early days, long before anybody was bothering to gentrify 'Sliberty.
The story included a tibdbit Strong later confirmed he’d never mentioned publicly before: how, in 2002, with the Lounge about to lose its lease, neighboring East Liberty Presbyterian Church stepped in with cash assistance and other behind-the-scenes help. The Lounge lasted another 11 years.
The evening’s closer, and the only national celebrity on the bill, was David Newell. The actor better known as speedy-deliveryman Mr. McFeely, on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, told how he got into acting — a charming anecdote about seeing his first play at age 8, a production of Harvey starring Joe E. Brown, at Downtown’s old Nixon Theater. (This was in the mid-1940s, shortly before the grand old theater was demolished.)
Newell’s story, a heartwarming tribute to Fred Rogers and his long-running show, included an anecdote set in 1982, in NBC headquarters, in New York. (Rogers was there to guest on Letterman — with Julie Andrews and Andy Kaufman!) At the encouragement of an NBC staffer, Newell accompanied Rogers to the dressing room of Eddie Murphy, whose spoof “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood” was then a recurring skit on Saturday Night Live. (The summit ended in a hug.) Cute stuff.
The upcoming Thrival Festival at Bakery Square 2 had already announced performances by Scottish indie faves Frightened Rabbit and producer/musician RJD2 in addition to locals Formula 412; yesterday, the festival organizers confirmed De La Soul as the final act to be announced for the festival.
The festival, which takes place Sat., Sep. 7, is sponsored by Thrill Mill, the East Liberty startup working space, and PNC Bank. It's designed to be part music festival, part innovation spectacular, allowing local startups to show off their talents for investors and the public.
General admission tickets are $20 and available here; there's also a $100 VIP package. Bakery Square 2 is the annex of the Bakery Square development, on the site where Reizenstein Middle School stood until recently.
Radio host Bev Smith says, “It’s time for black women to unite.” She wants to see the African-American community take up the fights against racism, sexism and homophobia. To that end, Smith has organized next week's four-day A Challenge to African American Women conference.
On The Bev Smith Show, Pittsburgh-based Smith tells listeners across the country to “stand up, be counted and get involved.” Starting Aug. 28, women from across the country will gather at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown to discuss matters of health, education, employment and spirituality in the African-American community.
The goal is to create a working community plan to present at the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference in September.
You couldn't have missed the Bridge itself — the Andy Warhol Bridge, that is, covered in colorful hand-knitted panels — but you might use a reminder about the big party there.
The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh and other sponsors of the big volunteer yarn-bomb host a shindig Sunday from 3-7 p.m. The community art party includes food, live music and, of course, arts-and-crafts activities for the family.
Here's a CP slideshow. The knitwork will adorn the bridge until Sept. 6.
The party is free. It's on the yarn-covered bridge. And that's about all you need to know. But if you do have questions, try email@example.com.
The state Department of Transportation today announced weight restrictions for about 1,000 structurally deficient bridges across the state.
The restrictions are a result of state lawmakers failing to pass a transportation-funding bill earlier this summer, and are something PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch has threatened would be an outcome of inaction.
The weight reductions, PennDOT said in a press release, will slow down bridge "deterioration and preserve safety while funding for their repairs remains uncertain." A number of state- and locally owned bridges in Allegheny County, including the Liberty Bridge, will receive the restrictions — which begin Aug. 29.
“For months I’ve been explaining to Pennsylvanians and to lawmakers that there are very real consequences to not enacting a transportation funding plan,” Schoch said in a press release. “Without additional revenues anticipated in the future, I have to make the safe and responsible decision to reduce how much weight is crossing these deteriorating bridges.”
Schoch went on to say that even if the legislature passes a transportation package in the fall, weight restrictions could be removed, at the earliest, within two years, when there would be funding for repairs.
“We have a serious funding need and the legislature still has not acted to pass a comprehensive transportation plan," Shoch said. "I have to look ahead to the future and preserve these bridges because, without action, we will not have money to invest in them for a long time.”
More information on bridge weight restrictions as well as a comprehensive list can be found here.
Local and visiting artists perform tomorrow at the Union Project to mark the 70th birthday of Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, who has spent most of the past 30 years in solitary confinement in prison in Pennsylvania.
Performers include Pittsburgh-based spoken-word artist Vanessa German; Yumi Kurosawa, master of the Japanese stringed instrument called the koto; acclaimed New York City-based hip-hop vocalist spiritchild, of Zulu Nation and Mental Notes; and New York-based saxophonist and composer Benjamin Barson, whose performance credits include Lincoln Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Other speakers include Joyce Wagner, of Iraq Veterans Against the War; Bret Grote of the Pittsburgh-based Abolitionist Law Center; Shandre Delaney, of the Human Rights Coalition; and Nazura Asaseyeduru of the National Black United Front.
The event, and an Aug. 24 concert in New York, are sponsored by social-justice group Scientific Soul Sessions and meant to spotlight not only to Shoatz’ case but also to the practice of solitary confinement, which human-rights activists call cruel. (More about that here.)
Shoatz is serving a life sentence for the 1970 murder of a Philadelphia policeman. His advocates contend that Shoatz — a former Black Panther and founding member of the Black Unity Party — has spent so much time in solitary because of his prisoner-rights work. He is currently in solitary at SCI Mahanoy, in Schuykill County.
In May, a suit was filed to get Shoatz out of solitary. Groups involved in the suit include such nationally recognized organizations as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild and Solitary Watch.
Pittsburgh’s Black August B’Earthday Celebration Honoring Russell Maroon Shoatz takes place 7-9 p.m. Fri., Aug. 23. Tickets are $10 ($15 at the door) and are available here.
The Union Project is at 801 N. Negley Ave., in Highland Park.
Riders of the Port Authority P1 East Busway-All Stops route are now able to track real-time locations of the bus as part of a pilot program launched today.
Real-time arrival information for the P1 is only available online, but the authority will install electronic countdown signs at various stops along the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway next month.
The P1 route, according to the agency, will be used to test and demonstrate the new system. It's expected to expand the service to additional routes in early 2014 and have most of the bus system covered by 2015.
"The request that I get most often when we talk about bus service is for real-time information so that people can plan for when their bus is arriving," Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said in a press release announcing the pilot. "We've wanted to see this for a very long time and I'm excited that we're taking that first step forward and am really looking forward to seeing the full system operational for all riders in Allegheny County."
For questions or assistance, contact Port Authority Customer Service at 412-442-2000 (TTY 412-231-7007).