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Monday, February 27, 2017

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 4:07 PM

Photo courtesy of Ryan Michael White
This week’s MP3 Monday is “Eating Ass” by wwoman (probably best to avoid Googling song + artist at work, learned the hard way). For fans of minimalist electronic music, synth-y R&B, good music. wwoman will be performing at the Crafted Sounds cassette release show at the Bushnel on March 18 (read about that release here). Stream or download "Eating Ass" below.

wwoman: Eating Ass

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

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Posted By on Sat, Feb 25, 2017 at 9:21 AM

CP photos by John Hamilton

Pittsburghers protested Donald Trump's recent action against the protection of trans rights at a "RISE UP for Trans Equality!" protest and rally last night in Downtown Pittsburgh. City Paper photo intern John Hamilton was there to document the scene outside the Pittsburgh City-County Building.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 5:22 PM

click to enlarge Pastor Vincent Kolb at PWSA board meeting - CP PHOTO BY REBECCA ADDISON
CP photo by Rebecca Addison
Pastor Vincent Kolb at PWSA board meeting
At the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority board meeting earlier today, there wasn't an empty seat in the house. While many were there to simply witness the board proceedings in light of recent high-profile incidents, including reports of high lead levels, nearly a dozen called on the board to improve the city's water quality.

Among them were members of the Our Water Campaign, a newly formed coalition made up of local organizations Pittsburgh United, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, Sierra Club, Nine Mile Run Watershed, New Voices Pittsburgh, Thomas Merton Center and One Pennsylvania.

"There is no one in this room who wants you to succeed and thrive more than we do," said Tom Hoffman of the Sierra Club. "As leaders of [PWSA], you speak for us and are accountable to us."

One of the major topics of concern expressed by several speakers was the flush-and-boil advisory issued by PWSA earlier this month due to possible water contamination. The advisory impacted 100,000 Pittsburgh residents.

"During the advisory, I was forced to spend extra funds to ensure that I had clean water for my family," said activist Glen Grayson. "Though I was able to buy water, I thought about the seniors and other people on fixed income who really weren't able to buy water."

Another area of concern are high lead levels that have been reported in Pittsburgh homes. Several speakers called on PWSA to supply every single home with water filters

"I can not longer continue to pay my rate, along with paying for extra water and a water filter," Grayson said. "That's an example of something that should be done now. We shouldn't have to send a letter to get one. Just like we don't have to ask for a bill, we shouldn't have to ask for filters."

PWSA is currently being investigated by several governmental bodies, and last week Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released his own report on the authority. Issues at the authority have prompted some to consider privatization, a step adamantly opposed by many of today's speakers.

"We oppose privatization," said Kim Dinh, a member of the Our Water Campaign. "We need to expand public control, not expand private control. Privatization will also increase prices, thus affecting low-income communities. Clean water is a human right, not something that is marketable."

But today's speakers weren't placing all of the blame on PWSA. According to a December press release, PWSA has over $750 million in debt, and in 2016, the authority spent $54 million paying the principal and interest on this debt. Pastor Vincent Kolb, who spoke at the meeting on behalf of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, said half of PWSA payments from customers go toward paying off the authority's debt instead of improving the water system.

"This is not just a PWSA management problem. This is a Wall Street problem, and Wall Street got a free pass," Kolb said. "Like other cities and authorities around this country, we in the Our Water Campaign are going to demand that banks that sold us a bill of goods do what is right — restructure and forgive the oppressive debt that is keeping us from having the authority we deserve."

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Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 4:26 PM

Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Jazz might not be front-and-center in the landscape of contemporary music, but vocalist Gregory Porter is helping to bring it there. The 45-year-old Sacramento native has been entrancing a new generation of jazz lovers since his 2010 debut, Water. It’s not often you see so many generations under one roof for a concert, but that was the case at Porter’s show at the August Wilson Center this week. Porter has almost a Mr. Rogers quality about him in the way he conveys lessons about morality through art, simplicity and art. In his signature tawny, brown-colored suit and his black Kangol Summer Spitfire hat, Porter’s appeal and charm were undeniable on Wednesday night.

Porter’s musical education began at church, which is evident in the way he connects with the crowd and in his impeccable vocal delivery (which earned him two Grammy wins for Best Jazz Vocal Album, most recently in 2017 for Take Me to the Alley). Porter performed that album’s title track with a solemn demeanor; empathetically waxing about the people living in the “alley” and how we treat them. In “On My Way To Harlem,” from 2012’s Be Good, Porter reflects on that neighborhood’s rich history and the changes its endured, channeling names like Duke Ellington, Marvin Gaye and Langston Hughes.

Speaking of legends, Porter brought up the recent death of Al Jarreau, though he admitted he didn’t feel confident enough to pay tribute with a cover. Instead, his band’s bassist played a passionate and hypnotizing medley celebrating Jarreau’s legacy, which transitioned into “Musical Genocide.”

A personal favorite of mine is a song called “No Love Dying” from 2013’s Liquid Spirit, a beautifully composed piece lightly colored with stray piano notes and fluttering syncopation. Of course, it wasn’t all ballads and love songs: the lively and upbeat “Liquid Spirit” energized the crowd with hand claps and foot stomps, peppered with Porter’s encouragement to “sing that song” and “go ‘head.” Porter closed out the set with “Free,” a horn-heavy blues piece about hard work and sacrifice. He ends the song with a “thank you” to the audience for allowing him to be himself, and to be free.

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Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Photo by Renee Rosensteel
What do you do when you can't get your United States Senator to answer your calls, your questions or hold a town-hall meeting? If you're the Sierra Club you project the largest missing person flier ever on a downtown building.

Our Renee Rosensteel was on the scene last night and filed this video report:

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Posted By on Fri, Feb 24, 2017 at 12:28 PM

Every Wednesday (in this case, a Friday), we make a Spotify playlist containing tracks from artists mentioned in the current music section. Listen in the bathtub while reading the music stories in this week's paper for a fully immersive experience. This week's playlist has lots of "punk rock" in it, so be careful who you play it for.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 3:00 PM

This week, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police released two security-camera videos showing parts of an incident that led to the arrest of Steelers position coach Joey Porter last month. The footage shows two different angles of Porter attempting to enter an establishment in the South Side where he was allegedly denied entry by a bouncer.
click to enlarge Joey Porter - CP FILE PHOTO
CP File Photo
Joey Porter
The police have not released footage taken by a body camera worn by officer Paul Abel who confronted Porter while he was working an off-duty assignment in the South Side. And police spokesperson Sonya Toler says they will not be releasing the footage because the bureau's "policy, which is currently still in draft form, prohibits the release of body worn camera footage."  But some Pittsburghers hoped the footage would shed light on the incident.

"Body camera footage has a lot of different purposes," says University of Pittsburgh professor David Harris. "One is to help the public understand what happened, but it is also meant to serve as evidence in an ongoing investigation. Because it can be evidence in an investigation, there might be reasons a police agency may want to keep that footage out of the public eye. The difficulty of course is for several years now, law enforcement organizations have adopted body cameras with the idea these would be public accountability tools and that's what has members of the public upset when the footage isn't released."

While Harris said he couldn't speak specifically about the body camera footage in the Porter incident, he said he hopes law enforcement organizations educate the public about the purpose of body cameras.

"I do think it's really important for the police to thoroughly educate the public on what to expect regarding body camera footage because right now it seems like there's a mismatch," Harris says. "And that mismatch can lead to misunderstanding."

In a statement announcing the release of the security footage Acting Chief Scott Schubert reiterated his support for Abel.

“In order to clear the air regarding conflicting reports in the media surrounding the circumstances that led to the arrest of Mr. Porter, I reviewed video available from several vantage points, including the arresting officer’s body-worn camera. I have concluded that the officer’s account of the incident is accurate and our officer conducted himself in the professional manner that is to be expected. Once the altercation began, the officer turned on his body-worn camera as soon as he was safely able. I support the actions of Officer Paul Able in this arrest,” Schubert said.

But a lot of coverage of the event, including City Paper's, didn't comment on whether or not the arrest was proper. Most coverage discussed why it was proper for the media to bring up Porter's history of legal run-ins, but not Officer Abel's. Abel's past includes criminal charges for alleged improper conduct while on the job.

On Tuesday, before the footage was release, Porter plead guilty to disorderly conduct and agreed to pay a $300 fine. He was originally also charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, resisting arrest, public drunkenness and defiant trespass.

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Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 1:54 PM

The last time I tried to grow a plant, I failed. I thought I had everything I needed — soil, water, sunlight, but the few sprouts I managed withered pretty quickly. I found out later that I had essentially drowned the little things. Whoops.

Courtesy of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
But you can start things off right by attending A Celebration of Seeds: 5th Annual Seed and Plant Swap, this Saturday at the Carnegie Library in Oakland. If you’re a newcomer to gardening, start with the Seed Starting Workshop, at 11:30 a.m. This is where you’ll learn not to drown your plants. You’ll also get to talk to gardening experts who can help you fine-tune your ideas about an indoor or backyard garden.

At 12:30 p.m., learn how and why to save your own seeds for your next crop at the Seed Saving Workshop. At 1:30 p.m., they’ll have Seed Stories, where you can swap garden tales and best practices with other green-thumbed types. Bringing extra commercial or saved seeds (open-pollinated, non-GMO, non-hybrid seed) for swapping is encouraged.

All day long there’ll be plenty of hands-on activities for the kids to get in the gardening spirit, too. And the library will have a collection of free and fresh seeds to start you off with. In a couple of months you’ll be growing your own veggies or herbs and shaving money off your trips to Giant Eagle.

Held in collaboration with Grow Pittsburgh and Phipps Conservatory, the free event takes place Sat., Feb. 25, from 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. at CLP-Main, 4400 Forbes Ave., in Oakland.

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Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 12:59 PM

Photo courtesy of Matt Dayak
In Bed by Ten, the popular dance party for people who don't stay out late, returns tomorrow Fri., Feb. 24, with an event benefiting the Western Pennsylvania Fund for Choice.

The WPFC is the abortion fund at the Allegheny Reproductive Health Center, an independent clinic that opened in 1975 and that annually serves more than 4,000 people from the tri-state area. The WPFC helps ensure that people can get health care regardless of their ability to pay.

In Bed by Ten runs 6-9 p.m. at Lawrenceville's Spirit.

The suggested cover of $5 benefits the Western Pennsylvania Fund for Choice.

Spirit is located at 242 51st St.

For more information, see here or here.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 5:17 PM

CP photo by Rebecca Addison
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego was a 1990s children's game show which tasked kids with tracking down the eponymous criminal mastermind. The show and educational computer game series of the same name taught kids about geography.

Today, supporters of Planned Parenthood engaged in a similar search in Pennsylvania. But instead of pursuing Carmen, this search party was for a similarly villianized missing person, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).

The local action was one of more than 300 events happening across the country during recess week, a time when legislators return to their districts. Planned Parenthood says that defunding their organization would block millions across the country and more than 90,000 Pennsylvanians from access to basic health care services such as cancer screenings, birth control and other exams.

"We are expecting a lot of the Planned Parenthood attacks to pick up in March," said Planned Parenthood organizer Liz Klie. "Recess is a time when representatives are supposed to hear from their constituents and we want Toomey to know that defunding Planned Parenthood will hurt his constituents."

In Pennsylvania, daylong actions were also held in Harrisburg, Allentown and Philadelphia. Patients and Planned Parenthood supporter entered Toomey's offices every 30 minutes throughout the day to request a meeting with Sen. Toomey. In Pittsburgh, Klie says staffers were sometimes hostile.

"We have been told to 'just give up; Sen. Toomey won the election; just get over it.' But we're not going to give up as long as health care is under attack," Klie said. "They're making decisions in Washington that affect us. This is supposed to a time for them to check in with their constituents."

Toomey's apparent unwillingness to meet with constituents isn't a new development. For months, hundreds of his constituents have been making weekly visits to the senator's office for "Tuesdays with Toomey".
CP photo by Rebecca Addison
The group was there this week talking about the first amendment. They said that since Toomey wouldn't hold a town hall meeting to meet with those he representatives, they'd hold one of their own. (Toomey held a town hall via telephone last week after giving the public just 90 minutes' notice).

Outside Toomey's Station Square office, they set up a mock podium and cardboard cut out of the senator. There they issued questions about President Donald Trump's Muslim ban, freedom of the press, immigration and workers rights.

"We decided to show Pat Toomey how easy it is to hold a town hall," said Jennifer McDowell, co-chair of the local Tuesdays with Toomey. "Look at all these friendly patriotic people here who just want to be heard."

On hand to answer the questions meant for Toomey were a group of legal experts who explained that a number of the actions being carried out by the federal government were not constitutional.

"The [Muslim ban] is a clear example of something that violates the first amendment because it favor one religion and harms another and that is why it's unconstitutional," said Melissa Harkes.

The fate of the weekly "Tuesdays with Toomey" is currently unclear in light of information that Toomey's office could be relocating to a building Downtown.

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