PolitiCrap | BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Posted By on Tue, Jul 3, 2018 at 12:53 PM

When people take to the streets for several consecutive days, politicians tend to respond. The shooting death of Antwon Rose Jr., killed by East Pittsburgh officer Michael Rosfeld on June 19, has generated several protests over the past couple of weeks.

Now, one of Pittsburgh’s state senators is responding.

State Sen. Jay Costa (D-Forest Hills) will introduced a package of legislation aimed at improving police training at municipal police departments across the state.

“In the wake of tragic officer-involved shootings across the commonwealth, and the nation, I am developing and will be introducing legislation to address these situations,” said Costa in a press release. “I believe it is important that the General Assembly develop and enact legislation that provides improved training for police to know when to use force, particularly deadly force.”

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 10:48 AM

According to a March Gallup poll, Americans worry about health care more than any other issue. The poll found that 55 percent of Americans worry about the availability and affordability of healthcare, and only 23 percent worry about it a little or not at all.

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County officials seem to understand this. Last week, both Pittsburgh City Council and Allegheny County Council passed resolutions asking federal and state officials to take steps to pass a universal, single-payer health-care system.

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Trump administration is separating migrant parents from their children at the U.S.-Mexico border, drawing criticism from some area representatives.

Posted By on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 at 5:21 PM

click to enlarge Where Southwestern Pa.’s delegation stand on Trump’s family-separation immigration policy
CP photo by Luke Thor Travis
Alex Esquivel-Hernandez was separated from his father, Martin Esquivel-Hernandez, who was deported in 2017.
Thousands of migrant families are currently being intentionally separated at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Trump administration has indicated this policy was created to deter immigrants trying to enter the U.S. illegally. (Data shows the opposite has occurred).

The White House has also attempted to claim the policy doesn’t exist, and President Trump even tweeted that Democrats, who are in the minority in U.S. Congress, are to blame for these policies. The policy was created by the Trump administration last year.

And while Trump could easily end the policy himself, Congress could also pass a law that would force Trump to veto legislation that would end the policy. With that in mind, City Paper wanted run down where Southwestern Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation stood on the issue.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills)

Doyle is opposed to the family-separating policy and called it “abhorrent” in a statement, adding that families with children should be treated better.

“I strongly oppose the Trump Administration’s policy of separating children from their parents,” said Doyle. “I’m outraged that the Administration would adopt this policy, and I’m angry that the Administration is trying to mislead the public about why so many children are being separated from their parents now. It’s Trump’s policy – and his policy alone – that’s separating children from their parents.”

Doyle is a cosponsor on House Res. 927, which condemns the family-separation policy and calls for keeping immigrant and asylum-seeking families together. The resolution has about 150 cosponsors, all of whom are Democrats. Doyle spokesperson Matt Dinkel also says Doyle is cosponsoring the Keep Families Together Act in the U.S. House, which will be introduced on June 19. A Senate version of this bill was introduced earlier this month by Sen. Diane Feinstein of California.

Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mount Lebanon)

Lamb also condemns the family-separation policy. He says it’s “cruel, and it doesn’t make us any safer.”

“We can enforce the law without breaking up families and forcing kids to live in detention camps and tent cities,” said Lamb in a statement. “We are a country that respects and abides by the rule of law, and we are a country that treats human beings with dignity and compassion.”

Lamb has not cosponsored H.R. 927. However, he is calling on Congress to take “bipartisan action” to end the policy.

Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley)

Rothfus has been silent on Trump’s family-separation policy. His office didn’t respond to request for comment on this story.

However, he has been supportive of Trump’s efforts to construct a wall along U.S.-Mexico border and supported the president’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), claiming that President Barack Obama overstepped his authority when creating DACA.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Scranton)

Casey has been extremely vocal in his opposition for Trump’s family-separation policy. He has publicly called out Trump, secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and asked them to end the policy.

“[Trump] and [Nielsen] are not telling you the truth,” tweeted Casey in response to news of the Trump administration claiming the policy is not their doing. “There is no law requiring the Administration to rip migrant children away from their parents; it is a morally abhorrent policy choice they make every day.”

Casey cosponsored the Keep Families Together Act, a bill in the U.S. Senate that would end broad-based family-separation tactics at the border. All 47 Democratic senators, and two independent senators, have cosponsored the bill, meaning it only needs support of two Republicans in order to clear the senate.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh)

Toomey said in an interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio show he doesn’t think Trump should fully reverse the policy, but added “it’s just not the right thing to be doing.” But, he also believes some of the reports about immigrants are exaggerated.

“First, I think the instance of the, you know, the heart-wrenching separation of a small child from the mother is, has been, the frequency’s been exaggerated significantly,” said Toomey.

Toomey didn’t offer many specifics on how he would like the family-separation policy to be altered. He admitted to some naiveté on the subject, but did repeatedly endorse the use and growth of family detention centers.

“But at the end of the day, if we had family detention centers, and we had the law that permitted the use of family detention centers, then this problem would be enormously diminished,” said Toomey.

Pennsylvania is home to a family-detention center in Berks County.

Steve Kelly, a spokesperson for Toomey, told the Philly Voice that Toomey will “look forward” to reviewing the Keep Families Together Act, as well as some other Republican-sponsored legislation.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Posted By on Tue, May 22, 2018 at 2:33 PM

Sen. Toomey bill repeals Obama-era anti-discrimination regulation in auto industry
CP photo by Ryan Deto
Pat Toomey
It’s been a chaotic year and a half with the Trump administration in the White House and Republicans in control of U.S. Congress. But one area where both Trump and Republicans have been organized and effective is in rolling back financial regulations created in the wake of the Great Recession.

Since 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has seen several regulations stripped by Congress, including a repeal championed by U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley).

Now, a law co-written by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh) has eliminated another CFPB guidance; one that was created to ensure racial minorities aren't taken advantage of by the auto-lending industry. On May 21, President Donald Trump signed into law the repeal of that informal rule. With the guidance gone, consumers in Allegheny County and the entire U.S. shouldn’t expect the CFPB to tackle car companies and auto lenders that upcharge based on race.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Posted By on Thu, May 17, 2018 at 4:25 PM

Anyone who knows Braddock Mayor and current lieutenant-governor nominee John Fetterman knows that he’s no fan of President Donald Trump. During the 2016 campaign, Fetterman had many pointed criticisms of Trump and regularly used a beloved Western Pennsylvania word to describe Trump: jagoff. In fact, Fetterman even made t-shirts calling Trump a “jagoff.”

For those who don’t know, "jagoff" is a regional term used to describe “a stupid, irritating, or contemptible person,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Pittsburgh Dad says it. It’s basically a tame way to call someone a jerk.

But apparently the Pennsylvania Republican Party thinks it’s too profane to print. A May 16 tweet from the official Pennsylvania Republican Party account shows a picture of Fetterman next to a shirt that reads “Trump is a [censored space]." The text above the picture reads “The Pennsylvania Primary Election determined John Fetterman as the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor; Fetterman is endorsed by Bernie Sanders and his rise included selling t-shirts with profanity-laced attacks on President Trump!”

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

Posted By on Thu, May 10, 2018 at 12:26 PM

click to enlarge State Rep. Dom Costa, campaigning as ‘progressive’ Democrat, also wants to get on the Republican ballot
Image courtesy of Pittsburgh Democratic Socialists of America
Dom Costa mailer sent to Republican voters
Sometime last week, state Rep. Dom Costa (D-Stanton Heights) sent out a mailer to some Democratic voters asking for their support. In the mailer, Costa is described as “a Democrat who has the courage to stand up for our progressive Pittsburgh values.” The mailer then details Costa’s support for guaranteed health insurance for children, protecting funding for public schools and fighting for safer working conditions. (It fails to mention, however, Costa’s not-so-progressive support of anti-immigrant bills, pro-gun legislation and pro-life stances.)

But Costa isn’t just trying to convince progressive voters in Pennsylvania state House District 21 to vote for him, he is also courting Republican voters. A copy of a mailer obtained by the Pittsburgh’s Democratic Socialists of America, and shared with City Paper, shows that Costa is asking Republican voters to write in his name on the ballot. If Costa were to receive 300 Republican write-in votes, his name would appear on the November general election ballot, even if he lost the primary election vote to Democratic challenger Sara Innamorato.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 5:06 PM

click to enlarge State Rep. candidate Aerion Abney says weak political will is hindering affordable housing at former Civic Arena site
Photo courtesy of Aerion Abney
Aerion Abney
On May 1, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported how the Pittsburgh Penguins failed to acquire robust affordable-housing tax credits to help create ambitious affordable-housing plans for the proposed redevelopment of the former Civic Arena site in the Lower Hill District.

The development has long been proposed and community groups have wanted the large-scale development to follow the master plan created by the Hill District Consensus Group. This plan asked that the development set aside 30 percent of its units to be affordable for people at and below 50 percent of the area median income. A deal brokered in November 2017 didn’t meet those guidelines, but the Penguins did agree to have 20 percent of the units be affordable for people at or below 60 percent of the area median income.

However, with the failure in acquiring the tax credits, the Penguins are now indicating the November 2017 affordable-housing requirements may be in jeopardy. The P-G reports the Penguins organization and its developer, McCormack Baron, “are looking to revert back to the deal originally negotiated with Hill leaders — 20 percent of the units affordable to households earning 60 to 80 percent.” The Penguins failed to received the 9 percent tax credits, but can still apply for 4 percent tax credits.

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Monday, May 7, 2018

Posted By on Mon, May 7, 2018 at 6:28 PM

click to enlarge State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe’s pro-gun rally attracted support of group with white-supremacist origins
Photo courtesy of Sean Kitchen
American Guard Members attending Daryl Metcalfe’s pro-gun rally on April 30
Gun owners run the gamut in America. According to a 2017 Pew Research report, white people have the highest percentage of gun owners at 36 percent, but black citizens aren’t far behind with a 24 percent gun-ownership rate. Republican-leaning Americans are more likely to own guns (44 percent of them do); 20 percent of Democratic-leaning Americans also own guns.

But state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry) may be learning that if you come out extremely pro-gun in today’s America, you may be inviting some pretty extreme individuals to celebrate with you. On April 30, Metcalfe hosted a pro-gun rally at the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg titled “Rally to Protect Your Right to Keep and Bear Arms.”

Rally-goers filled the Capitol rotunda to listen to speakers like Metcalfe, state Rep. Eli Evankovich (R-Murrysville) and NRA news host Cam Edwards. Republican gubernatorial candidate and Richland resident Paul Mango was also in attendance. But the rally was also attended by members of the American Guard, which the Anti-Defamation League has labeled a white supremacy group.

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 4:33 PM

He's Number 1!: Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey is the most hated U.S. Senator on Twitter
CP photo by Ryan Deto
Pat Toomey
Tweets are gauged by how far they spread and what reactions they receive. A good tweet is typically retweeted far and wide, and also receives thousands of likes, or faves. A bad tweet is one that receives more replies than likes. This phenomenon is called being "ratioed" and it has become generally accepted on Twitter that being ratioed means the tweet is a poor take on an issue.

“The lengthier the [Twitter] conversation, the surer it is that someone royally messed up,” wrote Luke O’Neil on Esquire Magainze’s website in April 2017.

And new data from progressive analytics firm Data For Progress shows that the U.S. Senator with the worst ratio and highest percentage of ratioed tweets is none other than Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Lehigh). Data for Progress calculated every U.S. senator’s Twitter ratio by dividing all senators’ tweets by the number of replies they received from Dec. 25, 2016 to April 18, 2018.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Posted By on Wed, May 2, 2018 at 5:52 PM

State Rep. candidate Sara Innamorato says state Rep. Dom Costa is 'hiding' in failing to attend candidate forum
CP Photo by Aaron Warnick
Sara Innamorato speaks at City Paper's candidate forum on April 12
On May 2, the League of Women Voters of Greater Pittsburgh canceled its planned candidate forum for the the race for the Pennsylvania House District 21 between Democratic challenger Sara Innamorato of Lawrenceville and state Rep. Dom Costa (D-Stanton Heights).

There were five proposed dates for the forum and Innamorato was wiling to alllow Costa to choose based on his schedule. But, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Costa said he couldn’t make it to any of the five proposed times.

And with the announced cancellation, the Innamorato campaign is calling out Costa and says he is “hiding" from voters.

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