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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Advocates say Amazon HQ2 would not fit with Pittsburgh’s vision of equitable development

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 3:38 PM

Protesters gathered outside the p4 conference on April 26 - CP PHOTO BYT RYAN DETO
  • CP photo byt Ryan Deto
  • Protesters gathered outside the p4 conference on April 26
April 26 is the second day of the annual p4 conference at the David L. Lawrence convention center in Downtown Pittsburgh. The conference brings together regional and national leaders to discuss strategies on how to achieve equitable development in cities like Pittsburgh. Attendees at this year’s conference include Julian Castro, a Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, and Nikki Fortunato Bas, the director of the nationwide economic-justice organization Partnership for Working Families.

But as leaders discussed and shared ideas on how best to build inclusive and equitable cities, about 30 housing and transit advocates gathered outside the conference earlier today to claim that some of the city's leaders, like Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto are acting hypocritically. Laura Wiens, head of transit advocacy group Pittsburghers for Public Transit, said Peduto’s failure to release Pittsburgh’s bid for Amazon second headquarters, also called HQ2, flies in the face of the values held up by p4. She also called on Peduto to make Pittsburgh's bid to Amazon public.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Faith groups protest PNC and want bank to divest funds from nuclear weapon manufacturers

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 1:43 PM

Anti-nuclear weapons protesters outside of PNC Tower on April 24 - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Anti-nuclear weapons protesters outside of PNC Tower on April 24
Paul Dordal is worried. The Pittsburgh resident and organizer with the Western Pennsylvania chapter of Veterans for Peace is concerned about the growing threat of nuclear war. During the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump spoke often about nuclear weapons and, at times, encouraged the idea of a nuclear-arms race between foreign countries. Now that Trump is president and feuds appear to be escalating with enemy nations like North Korea, Dordal and a group of protesters are taking action.

But not against Trump; they are going straight to the source. On April 24, a group of 15 people gathered outside the PNC Tower in Downtown Pittsburgh and called for PNC Bank to stop providing funds to nuclear-weapons manufacturers. According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, PNC has loaned about $1.2 billion to eight nuclear-arms manufacturers since 2013.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Both U.S. Reps Conor Lamb and Keith Rothfus voted to weaken a Wall Street regulation

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 1:55 PM

Conor Lamb (left) and Keith Rothfus (right)
  • Conor Lamb (left) and Keith Rothfus (right)
After U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) won a special election in March to fill a seat vacated by former Congressman Tim Murphy, it set up a battle of incumbents for the newly drawn Pennsylvania 17th U.S. Congressional District, which encompasses all of Beaver County and suburban sections of Allegheny County.

Lamb and U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) will square off in November. The candidates differ on many topics, including starkly different views on organized labor and the government’s role in providing health care.

But in one area, they appear to be on the same page. On April 13, both Lamb and Rothfus voted to alter the Volcker Rule in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. This rule was established after the financial crisis of 2008, and prohibits banks from making risky investments with customers’ money. The bill that cleared the U.S. House, the Volcker Rule Regulation Harmonization Act, would exempt banks with less than $10 billion in assets from the Volcker Rule. The bill passed by a vote of 300-104, and still needs to go through the U.S. Senate and be signed by President Donald Trump before it becomes law.

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Two Southwestern Pennsylvania Republicans will see thousands in extra income thanks to tax-cut bill loophole

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Mike Kelly (left) and Keith Rothfus
  • Mike Kelly (left) and Keith Rothfus
Since the late 2000s, many congressional Republicans have been critical of the country’s rising national debt. By the early 2010s, a cavalcade of Republican candidates swept into the U.S. House on the message of “fiscal responsibility,” including local U.S. Reps like Mike Kelly (R-Butler) and Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley).

But those budget-deficit concerns appeared to be thrown out the window when representatives like Kelly and Rothfus and voted for the big tax-cut bill last year. According to a recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the national budget deficit will be $1.85 trillion higher over the next 10 years than previously projected thanks to the tax-cut bill.

And on top of that, analysis of the tax cuts show that benefits will disproportionately go to the country's wealthiest citizens, and won’t lead to much improvement for low- to middle-income earners. But that doesn’t mean the Congressional Republicans who backed the tax bill will see many negative effects in their personal finances. In fact, a new study shows that U.S. Reps like Kelly and Rothfus will personally reap thousands of dollars in benefits every year thanks to the tax cuts.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Pittsburgh residents and advocates want city leaders to make sure Amazon would bring equitable development

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 1:48 PM

Equitable-development advocates at a press conference in Downtown PIttsburgh - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Equitable-development advocates at a press conference in Downtown PIttsburgh
The tech giant Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, and residents there know all too well the combative relationship Amazon has had with local officials. Geekwire, a tech-news website based in Seattle, set up shop in Pittsburgh for several weeks to report on Pittsburgh’s emerging tech scene. In a January story discussing Amazon’s potential in Pittsburgh with Mayor Bill Peduto, Geekwire noted that “Until recently, the company and the city of Seattle had largely stopped communicating, making it much more difficult to work together to address the Seattle region’s massive traffic problems, housing affordability crisis, and growing socioeconomic disparity.”

Earlier today, a group of about 15 Pittsburgh residents and housing and transit advocates held a press conference at the City-County Building Downtown. They called on city officials to take steps to ensure the Seattle dynamic doesn't play out in Pittsburgh, if the city were to land Amazon’s second headquarters.

A sign at the press conference read out five goals advocates wanted to see advanced: Accountability and transparency, quality local jobs, affordable housing, equitable transit, and community investment.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Environmentalists say Allegheny County’s air quality is a repellent to companies like Amazon

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 5:15 PM

An attendee a March 20 environmental rally outside the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • An attendee a March 20 environmental rally outside the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh region has the 8th worst air quality of any region in the U.S., according to the American Lung Association. Of regions that are outside of California, with its fast population growth and geography that encourages the buildup of ozone, the Pittsburgh region has the worst air quality in the U.S.

On March 20, a group of environmental advocates and grassroots groups gathered in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse in Downtown Pittsburgh to point out the region’s poor air-quality. About 50 people braved the snow and called on local elected officials to do more to ensure that Allegheny County has cleaner air. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Allegheny County, in 2016, recorded a weighted annual average of particular matter at a rate of 12.8. This is the 10th highest for any county in the U.S. and the highest east of the Mississippi.

Zachary Barber of statewide environmental group, PennEnvironment, says that the region has made significant progress since the heyday of steel production, but he believes the county needs to do better.

“Despite all of the progress we have made, people in the region still can’t breath clean air,” said Barber to the crowd. “No reason in America’s most livable city should people have to put themselves at risk when going outside.”


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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Pennsylvania Democrats criticize the new tax cuts for overwhelmingly benefiting the wealthy

Posted By on Wed, Feb 28, 2018 at 3:57 PM

Bob Casey at an event in Pittsburgh - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Bob Casey at an event in Pittsburgh
Political ads for the upcoming March 13 special election between former U.S. assistant Attorney Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon) and state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) have taken up the new tax cuts as a central issue. The National Republican Congressional Committee has put out attack ads stating that Lamb is aligned with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who called the tax cuts “crumbs” for middle-class families. (Lamb has said the tax cuts are a “betrayal” to the middle class, but stated in January that he doesn’t support Pelosi.)

Since the bill's passage in December, headlines about the tax cuts have focused on some large corporations that have doled out $1,000 bonuses to workers and others that have slightly increased workers' wages. Also, according to nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, households making $60,000 a year will have their after-tax income inch up about 1.5 percent after 2018, but those will tax savings will tick down by 2025 and be eliminated in 2027.

And some Pennsylvania Democrats are starting to point out who they believe are the real winners of the tax-cut bill: the wealthy.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Pittsburgh black elected officials say black-business community needs entrepreneurial reform

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 3:26 PM

From left to right: Ed Gainey, Daniel Lavelle, DeWitt Walton, Ricky Burgess and Jake Wheatley - PHOTO COURTESY OF PITTSBURGH BLACK ELECTED OFFICIALS COALITION
  • Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition
  • From left to right: Ed Gainey, Daniel Lavelle, DeWitt Walton, Ricky Burgess and Jake Wheatley
According to a 2017 report from the National Urban League, Pittsburgh ranks 65th in black-white income inequality for large metro communities. Within the city, predominantly black neighborhoods lack thriving business districts and other basic services found in other neighborhoods.

The Pittsburgh Black Elected Officials Coalition (PBEOC) is hoping to change that. Since its establishment two years ago, the PBEOC has embarked on collecting recommendations from the community, and throughout the process, an overwhelming majority of constituents called for business and organizational development reform as a top priority.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

In North Fayette, President Donald Trump touts tax cuts in speech on the economy

Posted By on Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 5:04 PM

CP PHOTOS BY CHARLIE DEITCH
  • CP photos by Charlie Deitch
On Jan. 18, President Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of about 200 invited guests at H&K Equipment in North Fayette Township, extolling the benefits of the recently passed tax-cut bill. The president claimed that many of the recent announcements by corporations about employee bonuses and expansions were due to the tax-cut bill.

“Because of tax cuts, Apple just announced a $350 billion expansion,” said Trump of the California-based tech giant. “Apple is gonna build plants, they are going to build a big campus. … The center of America’s resurgence is the tax cuts. ”

Trump also said that his tax-cut bill was having positive effects on H&K Equipment, an equipment-supply company to area manufacturers. "The signs of America's comeback can be seen at H&K,” said Trump. “They will be making a $2.7 million capital investment."

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Study shows Pennsylvania's tax structure benefits wealthy rather than lower-income workers

Posted By on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 at 5:36 PM

STOCK IMAGE
  • Stock image
The Republicans in the U.S. House and Pennsylvania House appear to have a similar goal: Raise taxes on low- and middle-income individuals, so that wealthy people and corporations avoid paying more in taxes.

The U.S. House recently passed a tax-reform plan with only Republican votes, including U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley), U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler) and all other Republican representatives from Pennsylvania. The bill would offer a tax reprieve to low- and middle-income individuals initially, but those cuts would expire; by 2027, some low- and middle-income individuals would eventually be paying more in taxes, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The ultra-wealthy (those making $5 million and up) and corporations, however, would be paying significantly less indefinitely. Politicians like Rothfus justify this bill saying expanded economic growth from tax cuts will lead to better wages for workers.

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