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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 4:48 PM

click to enlarge Katie McGinty speaks inside the Allegheny County Courthouse - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
CP Photo by Ryan Deto
Katie McGinty speaks inside the Allegheny County Courthouse
At a press conference on Aug. 31 at the Allegheny County Courthouse, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty laid out a plan to help bring manufacturing back to the Keystone State.

“It is a bunch of bull to say that ‘manufacturing is just a part of our past.’ It is part of our future,” she said to a crowd of about 20 supporters.

McGinty says Pennsylvania has lost more than 120,000 jobs to China in the past few years, which only compounds the loss of manufacturing jobs most towns in the state have suffered over the last few decades. Her plan opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and supports the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, that provides assistance to workers who lost jobs due to international trade deals. She also said if elected she would stop tax breaks for companies shifting their workforce overseas, invest in clean energy and infrastructure, and support small-business manufacturing and workforce development.

She rejected the idea that international goods, particularly from China, are what the country should support and said the U.S. can compete with those international markets.

“Manufacturing is not about cheap labor, it’s about skilled labor, technology and speed to market,” said McGinty. “If a product has to travel on a boat from China, we already have them beat.”

She called out Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) ties to the domestic and international finance fields. (Toomey was an investment banker before getting into politics and worked for a Hong Kong financial firm in 1991.) She hinted that these ties show his loyalty to Wall Street and to China's finance industry (although Hong Kong wasn't part of China and was ruled by the United Kingdom when Toomey was there.)

Braddock mayor and former McGinty primary opponent John Fetterman, who has been campaigning in support of McGinty, was also critical of Toomey. He pointed to Toomey’s book The Road to Prosperity and was critical of its support of free trade.

“You may have heard that Pat Toomey actually wrote a book on free trade,” said Fetterman. “And you can actually buy it on Amazon. Copies of it used are selling for a penny, so I don’t recommend paying full price. And that just speaks to the bankrupt ideas; no one is buying it on Amazon and we aren’t buying it here in the Mon Valley.”

Ted Kwong, spokesperson for the Toomey campaign, issued this response to Pittsburgh City Paper on McGinty and Fetterman’s claims.

"Even John Fetterman has called out Katie McGinty's fraudulent rhetoric on trade, and her historic middle-class tax hikes would have slammed Pennsylvania families and killed jobs," wrote Kwong. "Pat Toomey has consistently fought against bad trade practices like steel dumping and currency manipulation while working across the aisle to open new markets for Pennsylvania manufacturers and farmers."

The latest poll out of Monmouth University gives McGinty a 45 percent to 41 percent lead over Toomey. 

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Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 1:23 PM

Every Wednesday, we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists mentioned in the current music section. Grab a paper and listen along!


Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 at 12:47 PM

By Warner Brothers/Tandem Production (eBay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When word came earlier this week that actor Gene Wilder had died, folks took to social media to declare their affection for such classic Wilder films as Blazing Saddles, The Producers, Young Frankenstein, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

This holiday weekend, fans can honor Wilder's comic genius at the Hollywood Theater, in Dormont, which is screening Blazing Saddles, the 1974 Mel Brooks's cowboy caper, and 1971's adaptation of Roald Dahl's delightfully weird and nasty kids' book, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Blazing Saddles screens: 9:30 p.m. Fri., Sept. 2; 4:30 p.m. Sun., Sept. 4; 9:30 p.m. Tue., Sept. 6; and 7 p.m. Wed., Sept. 7.

Willy Wonka screens: 7 p.m. Sat., Sept. 3; 2 p.m. Sun., Sept. 4; and 4 and 7 p.m. Mon,. Sept. 5.

UPDATE: Two other area theaters are running Wilder films in tribute.

Regent Square, in Edgewood, is showing Willy Wonka, at 8 p.m., Sun., Sept. 4, and The Producers, at 8 p.m. Sun., Sept. 11.

Row House Cinema, in Lawrenceville, has two screenings of Blazing Saddles on Sun., Sept. 11, at noon and 8 p.m.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2016 at 12:44 PM

If you've never been able to get tickets to this beer-themed festival, here's your big chance. 

Most years, tickets sell out immediately. But as of yesterday, a couple hundred tickets remained for the 10th annual event's first session, which starts at noon Sat., Sept. 10.

Organizers of this festival of local craft beers and restaurants figure that the reason tickets remain is, well, everything else that’s happening here that weekend, from a plethora of arts events to the Pitt-Penn State game.

The Big Pour is a fundraiser for Construction Junction, Pittsburgh’s nonprofit outlet for used building supplies.

Besides beer and food, the Big Pour offers live music and art, a home-brewing demo, and more, all in Construction Junction’s warehouse home.

Tickets remain only for the noon-3 p.m. session; the 5-9 p.m. session is indeed sold out.

click to enlarge A crowd at the 2015 Big Pour - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BIG POUR
Photo courtesy of the Big Pour
A crowd at the 2015 Big Pour
Tickets start at $80 ($35 for designated drivers) and are available here.

Construction Junction is located at 214 N. Lexington St., in Point Breeze. 

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 2:16 PM

This week’s song comes from Same, an indie-rock four-piece which releases its debut record, Weird As Hell, at The Shop in Bloomfield on Thu., Sept. 1. Stream or download the catchy, wistful and very '90s track, “Blurry Legs," below. 


To download, right-click here and select "save as."

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 2:45 PM

What's happening in Pittsburgh and around the region:

Video by Ashley Murray

1. Bocce is how the last week in Pittsburgh ended and this week began (if you consider Sunday the first day of the week). Bloomfield's Little Italy Days took over Liberty Avenue, and a two-day double-elimination bocce tournament ensued on Cedarville Street, just off the main drag. The Italian pride shone and wine flowed. Read about it on City Paper's new sports page.


Photo courtesy of Gail Manker
2. The final performances of August Wilson's Seven Guitars, staged in the backyard of Wilson's original Hill District house by Pittsburgh Playwrights, are this weekend. "Seeing Seven Guitars performed in the very Hill District backyard in which it was set should give anyone chills, but also a sense of an artistic birthright restored," writes CP's arts editor Bill O'Driscoll.


Photo courtesy of Gail Manker
3. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and his Democratic challenger Katie McGinty both picked up endorsements from gun-control advocacy groups this week. Toomey received one from the PAC Americans for Responsible Solutions, and McGinty from CeaseFirePa. Americans for Responsible Solutions was started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who in 2011 was shot in the head during a mass shooting in Tuscon in which six people were killed. The PAC's executive director Peter Ambler cited Toomey's sponsorship on a (failed) 2013 background-check bill that was in reaction to the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre as a reason for their endorsement. Meanwhile McGinty maintains that Toomey has done little on gun-reform since.


4. Allegheny County Council
is proposing changes to the county's minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprise rules (MWDBE), which guarantee a certain percentage — 13 percent for minority-owned businesses and 2 percent for those owned by women  — of county contracts to businesses owned by the aforementioned. The new rules would exclude companies that bring in more than roughly $56 million per year. Some have taken issue with the change, including Councilor Sue Means (R-Bethel Park), who says the vote is happening too hastily, and Maggie Hardy Magerko, owner of 84 Lumber (which brought in $2.5 billion in revenue in 2014), whose legal counsel says the rules changes would exclude the construction giant.


On our podcast:

CP photo by Lindsey Thompson
Using City Paper's Alex Gordon's sports commentary on local rivalries as a jumping-off point, editor Charlie Deitch and staff writer Ryan Deto got behind the mics to discuss the "biggest" sports rivalries in all of sports, and came to the conclusion that, well, the local ones are kind of weak.


From the pages of our print edition:

Photo courtesy of Jay Zukerkorn
This week in City Paper's arts section, contributor Natalie Spanner reviews the exhibit Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe at The Frick Art & Historical Center in Pittsburgh. The show includes six thematic sections of high heels: Revival and Reinterpretation, Rising in the East, Glamor and Fetish, Architecture, Metamorphosis, and Spacewalk. But if you want to see it, do it soon, as the show closes on Sept. 4. "Killer Heels honestly offers something for everyone, whether you wear sneakers, flats or Audrey Hepburn stilettos," Spanner writes. Read the full review and watch our video on the exhibit.

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Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 12:51 PM

We’ve all seen the incredibly popular hashtags on Twitter, hand-made posters and billboards this political season: #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary. When critics of either nominee post something on social media, these two phrases almost always accompany them. For the most part, they make sense. Voters are making a statement against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ever becoming president.

And given the popularity of these hashtags, they have morphed and been applied to other races on the political ladder, including Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race. Tweets criticizing the campaign of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) sometimes have an attached “#NeverToomey” hashtag.

But, Toomey is an incumbent and has been one of the state’s senators for about six years; “never” doesn't really apply. And this phenomenon is not unique to Toomey; #NeverRubio, #NeverAyotte and even #NeverMcCain have been used to reference races involving incumbent senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). (McCain’s hashtag is the oddest, given he has served as Arizona’s senator for almost 20 years and rose to national prominence when he ran for president in 2008.) Maybe it should be #NeverAgain or #Foolmeonceshameonyoufoolmetwiceshameonme.

Even so, these “never” hashtags seem to be growing in popularity among senate races. There have been more than a dozen uses of #NeverToomey and more than 100 uses of #NeverMcCain this month on Twitter. But why, given that these hashtags are logically inaccurate?

A study from the Pew Research Center hints at a possible answer: Social media is the most effective online tool to inform potential voters. According to the study, 24 percent of adults look at social media to find out new information on the campaigns of Clinton and Trump. Only 10 and 9 percent look to campaign websites and emails, respectively.

The “never” hashtags for senate races involving incumbents also overwhelmingly apply to Republicans. Among battleground states, the only incumbent Democrat facing re-election is Michael Bennet of Colorado. As of Aug. 26, there have only been three instances of #NeverBennet on Twitter compared to the thousands that have been applied to Republican incumbent senators in battleground states.

Another Pew study offers a possible explanation for this partisan disparity. During this year’s primary elections, millennial voters in the Democratic party found news about candidates via social media 74 percent of the time. For their young Republican counterparts, it was only 50 percent of the time.

For the Pennsylvania senate race, #NeverToomey has been used about 50 times on Twitter, compared to #NeverMcGinty only twice, for Toomey’s Democratic opponent Katie McGinty.

And the strategy may be working. According to, a couple of senate races have shifted in favor of the Democrats, including Pennsylvania's. And the report currently indicates Democrats will regain the seats necessary to gain a majority in the Senate come 2017.

Regardless, applying logic to the #Never movement may be a fool’s game. The hashtag #NeverObama has thousands of appearances on Twitter and Facebook. The 22nd Amendment of the Constitution bars President Barack Obama from running for president again. Obama could potentially run for a U.S. House or Senate seat, but a president hasn’t successfully done this since Andrew Johnson became a Tennessee senator is 1874 (15 years after Johnson’s impeachment, oddly).

So congratulations to the Obama haters, come Jan. 20, 2017,  #NeverObama will become a reality. 

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Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 at 12:45 PM

Over the last couple days, we've been flooded emails from readers demanding to know why we didn't post a Listen Up! Spotify playlist this past Wednesday. (LOL, just kidding, no one noticed.) In any case, file this week's entry under "better late than never." What better time than Friday to check out some of the great artists featured in this week's paper?

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Posted By on Thu, Aug 25, 2016 at 3:03 PM

click to enlarge Allegheny County seal - IMAGE COURTESY COUNTY.ALLEGHENY.PA.US
Image courtesy
Allegheny County seal
Allegheny County is altering its minority-, women- and disadvantaged-owned business enterprise rules, and at least one major Western Pennsylvania woman-owned business isn’t happy about it. The rules were established in 1981 to ensure minorities, women and other economically hampered groups receive more county contracts than they had historically received. Changes to the bill are currently being considered by Allegheny County Council, after being positively recommended in committee.

Cheri Bomar, corporate counsel for 84 Lumber, spoke in opposition to the changes at this week's council meeting, specially pointing to eligibility requirements in the “Small Business Concerns” section. Under these guidelines, only companies that have averaged gross receipts (money received before subtracting costs) of up to $56.42 million are eligible for inclusion into the program.

“We believe there should not be a cap,” Bomar says. “These programs are about inclusion, and this business and others should not be excluded.”

Bomar also says 84 Lumber has a commitment to helping disadvantaged people through its workforce-development programs, which provide construction-job training to minorities and other economically disadvantaged groups.

84 Lumber has been owned and run by Maggie Hardy Magerko since 1992 (Magerko is the daughter of founder Joe Hardy). The home- and commercial-construction giant, based in the Washington County town of Eighty Four, owns and operates more than 250 stores, including four in Allegheny County. The company brought in around $2.5 billion in revenue last year.

Certification in the MWDBE program means that qualified companies are factored into allocated percentages of county contracts. The county will make a “good faith effort” to give at least 13 percent of contracts to minority business owners, and 2 percent to women-owned and “socially and economic disadvantaged” businesses.

But Ruth Byrd-Smith, county director of the Department of Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, says the changes aren’t instituting a cap, they are merely updating the bill to ensure the county is adhering to updated forms of its own government and to federal small-business guidelines.

“Recognizing that it was out of date, this legislation was proposed by the MWDBE Advisory Committee to update its provisions,” Byrd-Smith wrote in an email to Pittsburgh City Paper. “Included in those updates are changing things like references to County Commissioner to County Executive, [and] properly defining MWDBE with contemporary terms and terminology. … There is no proposed cap in the legislation. When certain federal or state dollars are being used for a project, we must follow federal or state regulations.”

Byrd-Smith points to language in the bill defining “socially and economically disadvantaged” businesses to emphasize the companies that the bill is targeted toward.

But Allegheny County Councilor Sue Means (R-Bethel Park), who spoke about the legislation at the meeting, was more upset at the process by which the MWDBE bill came to committee. Means said the last time council attempted to alter MWDBE legislation, a public hearing was held. Means claimed the legislation was being pushed through too fast and said she would want to see another hearing.

“There are problems if the legislature writes a bill that affects certain people and those people are not notified,” said Means, who notified companies in her district that might be affected.

Councilor Michael Finnerty (D-Scott Township) disagreed with Means, however, and claimed she was “grandstanding” and unnecessarily criticizing council. “I think we have transparency. I don’t think a council person should call out council like this,” said Finnerty.

Byrd-Ruth acknowledged the first public hearing (after which the bill stalled in committee and did not receive a vote) and said that language in the bill hasn’t been changed since. “The bill proposes the exact process that the MWDBE Department has been using and will continue to use,” she wrote.

Council President John DeFazio (D-Shaler) postponed the vote until next week because the economic development and housing committee chair, DeWitt Walton (D-Hill District), was not present at the Aug. 23 meeting. Council will reconvene at 5 p.m. in the Gold Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse on Aug. 30, and the bill could be put to vote then. 

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 5:22 PM

click to enlarge A Psyduck found near Three Rivers Heritage Trail in the Strip District. - NIANTIC
A Psyduck found near Three Rivers Heritage Trail in the Strip District.
Bike advocates know the best way to get around a city is by pedaling. And local bike-advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh figures it can use pedal power to catch as many Pokémon as possible. 

As part of the ten-day BikeFest, the group hosts tonight's Pokémon Go midnight ride, in hopes of getting Pokémon players to explore different parts of the city by bike.

The game uses your smartphone’s GPS to place you on a map and indicate where nearby Pokémon sites are. When a Pokémon is near, your camera activates for an augmented-reality battle sequence. You look around with your phone until the Pokemon comes on screen, and then you toss a Pokéball toward it and attempt to catch it.

The request for a Pokémon event came from the community, says Mike Carroll, of Bike Pittsburgh. 

"With BikeFest, it is a collaboration of what the community wants to do," says Carroll. "This was a community-led initiative. We are in the business of saying yes."

Due to stories about some Poké-goers being hit by vehicles, and other injuries, Carroll says safety will be the top priority on the ride. Lights are required, and anyone riding phone in hand will be asked to leave the ride. Bike Pittsburgh encourages people to purchase handlebar mounts or make a functional DIY mount. Keeping phones in pockets while riding is also encouraged.

And once safety is taken care of, riders can enjoy the many monuments and historical markers that typically stand as Pokémon gyms and Pokéstops.

"Pokémon Go really helps to explore the city as it is, and being on a bike gets you even farther," says Carroll. "Riding really increases the range. They've got stations everywhere. Hopefully it will strike some interest in the history of our city."

Bike Pittsburgh is asking riders to meet at Friendship Park, in Bloomfield, tonight (Aug. 24) at 11:45 p.m. The ride will commence 30 minutes later. Pokémon-hunting should last about two hours, and everyone ends the night at Ritter's Diner, in Bloomfield. 

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