Politics | BLOGH: City Paper's Blog |


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
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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Friday, November 10, 2017

Johnstown progressives are sick of national media painting them solely as Trump Country

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 1:20 PM

View of Downtown Johnstown from across the Stone Bridge. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PHIL BALKO
  • Photo courtesy of Phil Balko
  • View of Downtown Johnstown from across the Stone Bridge.
On Nov. 8, Politico published a story many in the Pittsburgh region have seen too many times. Reporter Michael Kruse traveled to Johnstown, in Cambria County, to talk to the same people he interviewed for a  story published prior to Donald Trump being elected president. The reporting investigated whether Trump voters had soured on the president, and Kruse sought their input on the ongoing political and cultural wars nationwide. Like many dispatches from the Rust Belt by national publications, the story painted Johnstown as a no-hope town, overrun by drugs and blight, and still in love with Trump.

Since its publication, the Politico story has spread widely on social media, thanks to the explosive final quote in which a white, elderly Trump voter says NFL players are “Niggers for life.”

But progressives in Johnstown aren’t happy. Indivisible Johnstown, a progressive group that has held candidate forums for 2018 Democratic congressional candidates, responded on Facebook: “We are OUTRAGED that this POLITICO reporter and EVERY reporter who comes to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is only looking to tell a story of American Carnage. … Many, many citizens here are not misogynistic, racists like the Neanderthals in this article. They are working hard to make a difference.”

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Last day to register to vote in the 2017 general election is Oct. 10

Posted By on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 3:49 PM

  • Image courtesy of Allegheny County
Pittsburgh's recent election headlines have been swamped by the not-quite-announced, but upcoming special election for U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy's (R-Upper St. Clair) vacated seat. Murphy, a pro-life champion, was caught having an affair and then allegedly asked his mistress to get an abortion. He will resign Oct. 21, after what has been a controversial and hypocrisy-filled year.

But there are still other important upcoming political races before that special election goes down, and today, Oct. 10, is the last day to register to vote on Nov. 7. Pennsylvania citizens can register online at register.votespa.com.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Allegheny County is increasing its bus riders and cyclists, but five area state reps voted to reduce transit and bike funds

Posted By on Sat, Sep 16, 2017 at 12:48 PM

West Mifflin residents celebrate the 55 bus extension, but proposed cuts could ax the route. - PHOTO COURTESY OF CHANDANA CHERUKUPALLI
  • Photo courtesy of Chandana Cherukupalli
  • West Mifflin residents celebrate the 55 bus extension, but proposed cuts could ax the route.
The U.S. Census just released its 2016 estimates for commuters in Allegheny County, and the number of Pittsburghers biking and using public transit is growing. Compared to 2015, people who commute to work via public transit grew 0.8 percent, and by bicycle by 0.2 percent. (In the city of Pittsburgh, bike commuters increased by 0.9 percent).

Allegheny County is actually bucking national and statewide trends, in terms of public-transit use. The U.S. as a whole decreased its share of public-transit users by 0.1 percent from 2015 to 2016, as did the state of Pennsylvania.

But six five state representatives from Allegheny County just voted for a House budget bill that proposes $50 million in cuts to public-transit funds, as well as cutting $50 million in multi-modal funds, which are used to build non-car infrastructure, including bike lanes. The representatives —
John Maher (R-Upper St. Clair), Jason Ortitay (R-South Fayette), Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth), Hal English (R-Allison Park), Mark Mustio (R-North Fayette) and Speaker Mike Turzai (R-Marshall) — all voted for the bill, and were the only Allegheny County representatives to do so. The bill passed by two votes. The only Allegheny County Republican to vote against the proposed budget was Eli Evankovich (R-Murrysville); Hal English (R-Allison Park) was marked "excused" from the vote.

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Friday, August 18, 2017

Pittsburgh area white supremacist apparently resurfaces in Mount Lebanon in wake of Charlottesville

Posted By on Fri, Aug 18, 2017 at 5:51 PM

South Hills resident Hardy Lloyd has more than a decade of involvement with white-supremacist organizations and a history of violence. In the past, he has posted online an admiration for Adolf Hitler. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he bragged online about killing a woman, after a jury acquitted him of said murder.

And Lloyd seems to be back in Pittsburgh’s public sphere, apparently prompted by last week’s violence in Charlottesville, Va. On Aug. 14, just two days after the tragic events that unfolded in Charlottesville, a man who appears to be Lloyd was spotted and videotaped walking through the crowd of protesters that meets weekly in front of U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy’s (R-Upper St. Clair) office in Mount Lebanon. A participant in the protest, Mike Weis, sent the video to the Pittsburgh City Paper.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

In response to Trump’s immigration orders, more than 700 Pittsburghers protest between Jan. 28-29

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 6:03 PM

Hundreds of protesters fill Schenley Plaza to protest Trump's immigration and refugee orders - CP PHOTO BY RYAN DETO
  • CP photo by Ryan Deto
  • Hundreds of protesters fill Schenley Plaza to protest Trump's immigration and refugee orders
As quickly as President Donald Trump radically changes U.S. policies through executive orders, Pittsburghers seem to just as quickly organize mass protests in defiance of them.

Just three days after Trump signed executive orders to increase immigration enforcement, propose a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and reintroduce controversial immigration policies, more than 400 Pittsburghers rallied and marched in Oakland to protests the orders.

A day before the Jan. 28 march, Trump also signed an order banning internationals from mostly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days and banning Syrians indefinitely. His order also halted all refugee resettlement to the U.S. for 120 days. Protesters in Oakland decried all of the orders and another 300 some protesters filled the Pittsburgh International Airport on Jan. 29 to continue to decry Trump’s travel ban and refugee stay.

“We might have been born somewhere else, but we are Pittsburgh residents,” said Monica Ruiz of Latino and immigrant-rights group Casa San José at the Oakland rally. “We make Pittsburgh great.”

Duquesne University student Aishah Muhammad joined her Muslim family members in attending the protest on Jan. 28. Her parents are from Pakistan, and while that country was not on the list of Trump’s travel ban, she said she wanted to express solidarity and amplify the voices of PIttsburgh’s immigrant Muslims.

“[The orders are] ridiculous,” said Muhammad. “They are not fair. We need to keep protesting. We need Trump to hear us. There are kids in Syria who are going to die because of this Muslim ban.”

Katrina Finn, a Pittsburgh resident and health-care worker, also attended the Oakland rally and said it the constant flow of immigrants is what makes this country what it is. Finn is not an immigrant, nor a Muslim, but said it was important for people like here to also stand up to Trump’s policies.

“Most people may not feel an immediate impact,” said Finn. “But it's important to act before there is a big impact that would severely hurt the country.”

Public officials also reacted quickly to Trump’s executive orders. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and City Councilor Dan Gilman joined the rally of hundreds at the Pittsburgh airport. Gilman has recently introduced a slew of city bills aimed at protecting immigrants’ rights and Peduto has vowed to legally challenge the federal government, if Pittsburgh's immigration policies bring it under attack.

Led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, 17 attorneys general joined together in a statement to denounce the travel ban: “As the chief legal officers for over 131 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump's unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful Executive Order and will work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution.” Shapiro and Iowa AG Thomas John Miller were the only attorneys general among the 17 from states where Trump won on Election Day.

But some elected officials were not as critical of the orders. Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey, in typical endorse/not endorse fashion, said Trump’s order was initially flawed, but now is in favor of the travel ban order since Trump’s administration clarified that the ban does not apply to green-card holders.

U.S. Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) also endorsed the order saying in a statement: “President Trump is keeping his campaign promise to keep America safe and secure.” Rothfus also addressed Trump’s naysayers and requested that they read the full orders to be more informed.

This is where City Paper actually agrees with Rothfus. You can read the Border Control order, the Immigration in the Interior order, and the travel ban order at www.whitehouse.gov.

CP recommends the section about how undocumented immigrants can now be detained for merely "committing" a chargeable criminal offense; the part authorizing the “immediate construction” of a wall along U.S. Mexico border without mentioning a funding source; and the section mentioning the four-month suspension of all refugees to determine “additional procedures” to ensure refugees don’t “pose a threat to security,” even though the U.S. already has a very long and thorough refugee-vetting process.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Report reveals Trump’s infrastructure priorities; two Pittsburgh-area projects make list

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 2:56 PM

  • Photo courtesy of wikicommons
  • Charleroi Lock and Dam
Okay infrastructure nerds, don’t get too excited. A report obtained by the Kansas City Star and McClatchyDC reveals President Donald Trump’s top 50 infrastructure project priorities, totaling $137.5 billion.

Pittsburgh-area projects are listed at 45 and 46 on the list and come with a $2.6 billion price-tag. But sorry to those North Hills residents, who voted for Trump in troves, you are not getting that light-rail line to Pittsburgh you have always wanted. In fact, the two Pittsburgh projects are more of the necessary, but boring variety.

Priority number 45 is a much-needed upgrade to the locks and dams on the Ohio River in Emsworth, Moon, and Beaver County. According to the report, these facilities are the “oldest and smallest lock chambers” on the Ohio River. And priority number 46, is also a lock and dam upgrade, this one on the Monongahela River in Charleroi. Not the sexiest of projects.

However, combing through the list shows Trump does have an inkling for supporting some pretty exciting infrastructure plans. A proposed high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston is on the list at number 13. Also some green infrastructure plans make the list, including a wind farm in Wyoming and a storm water reduction plan in Cleveland.

And while Pittsburgh's plans are comparatively dull, both of the lock-and-dam projects would surely be a boon to the economies of these river towns (they could provide up to 2,600 jobs,according to the report). But even though Trump campaigned on providing $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, that doesn’t mean any of the projects are close to a reality.

Any large infrastructure bill would need to get U.S. Congressional approval before going through, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) stated after Trump’selection victory that a big infrastructure plan was not a big priority to Congressional Republicans, who control both the House and Senate.

Regardless, Pittsburgh is in need of an infrastructure boost. According to a 2011 Transportation for America report, Pittsburgh has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the country at 30.4 percent. Oddly, number 6 on Trump's priority list is a project to address 15 of Philadelphia's structurally deficient bridges. Classic, Philly, always getting all the Pennsylvania attention.

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Bernie Sanders stumps for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty in Pittsburgh speech at CMU

Posted By on Sat, Sep 17, 2016 at 8:47 AM

Young Pittsburgh voters, meet Katie McGinty. Polls have shown that young people are the least familiar age group with the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, but when the Millennial-adored Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke at the Wiegand gym on the Carnegie Mellon University campus today, about 400 college-aged people were in attendance to hear McGinty speak.

"I need you to deliver some big victories in 53 days," said McGinty to the crowd. "Can I count on you?"

McGinty spoke about her support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and how that contrasts with her opponent Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who said he would like to see it dismantled. "We should not defund the financial watchdog, we should dethrone Pat Toomey," she said.

Attention in the crowd seem to wane a bit during McGinty's speech, but picked back up again when McGinty spoke about dignity in the workforce. "People don't want much, maybe a vacation at the beach once a year, and people deserve that," said McGinty. "They deserve dignity and we should go to bat for them."

But the biggest cheers occurred when Sanders took the stage. "The control of the U.S. Senate and our progressive agenda may rest on the result of this vote," said Sanders. "We need to vote for Katie McGinty."

Sanders outlined a similar agenda to what he had laid out during his campaign for president, including raising the minimum wage, advocating for women's rights, and focusing on the environment. (However fracking was not mentioned, which Sanders opposes and McGinty supports, with regulation.)

Sanders also encouraged the young people in the crowd to get involved in the political system. "Many are throwing up their hands towards the political system, but my suggestion is to get involved," said Sanders. "We are talking about the future of the United States of America."

Toomey derided the McGinty-Sanders collaboration, and said McGintry was moving too far left with the alliance. "Bernie Sanders is an honest-to-goodness, self-described socialist and today, Katie McGinty is showing support for Sanders’ brand of far-left extremism that includes abolishing the CIA, supporting Fidel Castro’s communism, and raising taxes by $15 trillion," said Toomey in a press release.

But Democrats may have had the last laugh with a joke only young people familiar with the online dating site Tinder would get. "When Pat Toomey sees a big Wall Street bank, he swipes right," said Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, who introduced McGinty, to a big laugh from the crowd.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Photo recap of Day 3 at the RNC

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 6:27 AM

Aaron Petan's photographs from Day 2 at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. 
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan
  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

  • Photograph by Aaron Petan

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Pittsburgh City Paper's Republican National Convention Live Blog: Day 2

Posted By , , and on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 10:20 PM

12:30 a.m.:

Day 2 is a wrap. Watch our highlight video below:

10:19 p.m.:

10:15 p.m.:

10:06 p.m.: 
9:29 p.m.
9:15 p.m.

Now that the delegates' votes have been counted, with Republican nominee Donald Trump hitting the magic number of 1,725, the RNC has moved on to its primary mission, attacking Trump's opponent Hillary Clinton.

Several Trump supporters, including Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, criticized Clinton's foreign policy experience as secretary of state.

"If we can't trust her to tell the truth, how can we possibly trust her to lead America," said Sen. Ron Johnson. "America needs strong leadership, someone who will strengthen our borders and defeat ISIS."

9:12 p.m.

Political activist Van Jones just summed up the speakers we've heard at the RNC to this point. He said this convention was about "angers not answers," and the only goal was to attack Hillary Clinton. On a night there were supposed to be thoughts on the U.S. economy it appears to be just another anti-Hillary evening. 

8:55 p.m.
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows

From Gabby Fellows:
Folks are walking around inside the highest-trafficked areas outside of the Republican National Convention donned with safety-pinned red and white patches.

They call themselves the RNC Street Medics. They're a team of volunteers devoted to providing primary and secondary first aid to anyone participating in or listening to the protests in the high-stress areas of downtown Cleveland.

"We get all of our medical supplies through money we've raised or donations," a member of the street team told CP. "If we can't buy needed supplies or get someone to give them to us, we all pitch in and purchase them ourselves."

So far, the street team hasn't had to provide serious treatments to rally-goers.

"We just want to do what we can to help those gathered in Cleveland for this cause."

8:40 p.m.

8:37 p.m.

8:34 p.m.
Two twitter reactions to Trump receiving the Republican nomination:

8:19 p.m.

  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows
As Donald Trump prepares to address the delegates who have named him the Republican Presidential nominee, CP's Gabby Fellows is reporting that the scene outside the convention is more sedate, but the police presence is still quite large. But the protesters' message has largely remained the same.

  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows
7:10 p.m.

Donald Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. just announced New York's 89 delegate votes for his father, putting the Republican candidate over the threshold of votes needed to win the nomination.

"I've been able to watch, as a small fly on the wall, all my father has done in creating this movement. Because it's not a campaign anymore, it's a movement, speaking to real Americans," Trump, Jr., said.

6:30 p.m. 

Republican delegates are taking a role call vote to finalize Trump's nomination.

6:00 p.m.

The third session of the RNC got off to an unusual start this evening when Harmeet Dhillon, a self described Sikh American, delivered a Sikh prayer in Punjabi and English. The Republican convention and party have been criticized for a lack of diversity and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, especially, isn't known for embracing diversity. 

But it didn't take long for the convention to return to form. Minutes later, when U.S. Senate. Jeffrey Sessions (R-Ala.) Took the stage to nominate Trump, he took the opportunity to criticize President Barack Obama for statements he made in response to the recent deaths of several police. Characterizing Obama's call for improved community-police relations as political correctedness, Sessions said the country needs a leader willing to tell the truth. 

"The American voters heard his message and rewarded him with a huge victory in our primaries," Sessions said.
                                                                                               —Rebecca Addison
5:50 p.m.
From Gabby Fellows:

Police officers, state highway patrolmen and bomb squads have all been spotted at this year's Republican National convention. Almost always, they are seen in groups of four or more.

“A lot of us cops are from out of state, but we stay in groups mostly because it's been policy to do so for this week,” one officer told CP.

“That way, if one of us gets hurt, there will be someone from our troop to witness it”, another said.

Both officers that spoke are not pictured in this photo.

  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gaby Fellows

5:09 p.m.

A select group of merchants was allowed into the Freedom Marketplace inside the authorized zone, but luckily Rebecca Addison was able to find this:

5:02 p.m. 
From Reporter Ryan Deto:

City Paper spoke with Jose Sigfredo Landaverde, an immigrant activist from Chicago who walked 360 miles to Cleveland to protest Donald Trump. It took him 27 days and he slept in 
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ryan Deto
campsite and churches to reach the Republican National Convention.

"Trump is trying to separate communities," said Landaverde. "He is terrorizing immigrants with his speech."

Landaverde is also a priest and he said that there is "evil" in Trump's message. He is also critical of Trump's, and many other Republican politician's, attach on Sanctuary Cities (municipalities that don't communicate with immigration officers).

Landaverde said Sanctuary Cities are important because they show we are welcoming and they "provide open doors" to immigrants who feel constantly under threat.

4:39 p.m.

Our CP team is reporting that police have "pretty much taken over Public Square." Ashley Murray reports that Stevedor Crawford, of Columbus, Ohio, held a green toy gun and protested in Cleveland's Public Square, "Tamir Rice was murdered by a P-I-G, was a K-I-D, had a T-O-Y." He told City Paper that he came here, along with for kids, who also protested with him. "I came down here to let it be known that politics is never more important than a 12-year-old boy's life."
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows

4:18 p.m.
Billy Ludt was just at Public Square where he witnessed right wing talker Alex Jones get escorted out of the square by police after a "physical conflict." It's unclear exactly what happened and this cell phone video won't provide a much clearer picture, but the audio paints a picture. Video by Billy Ludt.

3:48 p.m.
CP reporters and photographers in Cleveland say Public Square seems to be the assembly point for protesters and others wishing to speak their mind and assemble for marches, protests, etc. These photos are coming in from CP's intern duo Gabby Fellows and Billy Ludt. More police are beginning to assemble as are everyday citizens exercising their right to carry weapons in public. Also, everyone's favorite crazies from the Westboro Baptist Church are scheduled to be in town this evening. I think I'm really starting to feel America get great again! #sarcasmcrossing.
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Billy Ludt
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows

3:37 p.m.
Not all vendors are shut out of the restricted convention area. Rebecca Addison is talking with vendors lucky enough to get beyond the fences.

3:19 p.m.
Ashley Murray reports that a small anti-Muslim protest is currently preceding down Euclid Avenue near the convention site. However, unlike other protests, that have gone on, This group is enjoying two columns of bicycle officers flanking them on either side. Murray attempted to interview the protesters and was prevented by officers. She identified herself as a reporter and showed her RNC-
issued credentials but was still told by officers, "I don't care."

  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ashley Murray
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ashley Murray
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ashley Murray

3:07 p.m.
Reporter Ryan Deto spoke to some locals who say Clevelanders have been excluded from the excitement surrounding Republican National Convention. 
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ryan Deto
  • Uber Driver Lisa Rand
By Ryan Deto

Cleveland, Ohio might feel like the center of the political and cultural universe right now, but many local residents and business say they aren’t experiencing any of the positive side effects. The Republican National Convention, where presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will likely accept his party’s nomination, has received international attention and has people talking about Cleveland with the same excitement as when the Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA championship in June.

RNC officials estimated that the Trump-sized event could have 50,000 attendees and bring in $400 million in economic impact to the city, however most of that appears to be centralized in the designated, partly-fenced-off area surrounding the Quicken Loans Arena, in Downtown Cleveland.

Lisa Rand, a driver with the ride-hailing company Uber, has been driving passengers to the convention and says the expressways heading into Downtown Cleveland were mostly empty during rush hour on July 18 and July 19. “It is kind of a ghost town here,” she said.

Because security efforts have been so extensive, many locals have felt pushed out of the nightlife district in Downtown’s Playhouse Square, according to Rand. “As I try to enter Downtown, the main attractions and where everything should be and where people should be out partying is [fenced off],” said Rand. “You don't really get to be a part of this, especially if you are from Cleveland.”

More than two miles of roads have been closed for the convention, cutting off more than a square mile of Downtown to those without an access pass who want to enjoy the Downtown attractions, including theaters, bars, clubs and restaurants.

In fact, many people City Paper spoke to said many Clevelanders have left town in attempt to avoid the chaos of the convention. “A lot of my coworkers are saying they are going out of town,” said Desmond Harrison, who lives in the east side of Cleveland.

Harrison bought $3,000 worth of unlicensed Trump merchandise in hopes of capitalizing on the popularity of the convention. But his booth, which was licensed by the City of Cleveland, was placed on the outskirts of the action, four blocks from the Quicken Loans and surrounded by eight-foot-high black chain link fence.

“It has been slow, not what I expected,” said Harrison. He thinks there is a bit of fear factor because the scene surrounding his booth looks like a “police state,” he said as 20 police officers in riot gear rode bicycles past him, in formation.

But not all areas to sell merchandise are so guarded. Many other vendors were located closer to the action on East 4th Street, a block from the arena entrance and next to temporary headquarters of many national media outlets. Some of these vendors were from as far away as York, Penn. and North Carolina. One vendor, who said he is a regular at events like these and asked not to be named, said he has spoken to other vendors who traveled from California, Georgia and Alabama. When asked if he had met any vendors from Cleveland, he said he had not.

CP reached out to the Cleveland city officials for comment on the vendor application process, but have not received a response.

And it is not just those looking to capitalize on the extra business the RNC brings who feel left out, Downtown brick and mortar shops say they are also losing business, too. Matt Schelkman, an employee at Phoenix Coffee, which is located less than half a mile from Quicken Loans, says the coffee shop has been very slow because many of their regular customers, employees of neighboring banks and finance institution, have decided to work from home during the convention.

“Not a lot of people know about us because we are a local coffee shop,” says Schelkman. “It’s unusual for a national event to not have a spotlight on local businesses.”

Schelkman expects things to improve and for people to loosen up and explore more of Downtown as the convention rolls on.

2:21 p.m.

Multimedia Editor Ashley Murray talks to a local vendor trying to make some profit off of the Republican National Convention:
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Ashley Murray

Vendors try to make a buck off Trump merch

By Ashley Murray
From rhinestone Republican elephants wearing signature Trump hair, to knock-off “Make U.S.A. Great Again” visors (because Trump’s got a trademark on it), everyone’s trying to make a buck.

2 p.m.

The Melania Trump plagiarism scandal train keeps on chugging along. Trump aide Paul Manafort went a little bat-shit crazy this morning over allegations that the speech was copied from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech. He called the notion "absurd" and said Melania used "use words that are common words." He even blamed Hillary Clinton. he said in the Wall Street Journal: “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down.” I think we all need to calm down over this. In fact, in order to help bring peace, I've written a song of hope:

"When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Yeah, let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be."

1:46 p.m.
Shit's about to get real in Cleveland...literally... Apparently the highly contagious disease that can cause vomiting and a whole lot of diarrhea is making it's way through the California Delegation. In case you've forgotten, here's what happened the last time a high-profile Republican was feeling queasy in public.

1:12 p.m.

1:07 p.m.
There are reports of shots fired near the RNC

12:46 p.m.

From News Editor Rebecca Addison, the story of a Kurdish man's journey t the RNC:

Kani Xulam came to the Republican National Convention to raise awareness about the plight of his native Kurdistan, whose people he says are being terrorized by Islamic extremist gro
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Rebecca Addison

"The message I have is that Kurds and Americans have a common foe and that foe is ISIS," Xulam said outside of the RNC secured perimeter earlier today, holding a sign that read "Free Hugs."

Throughout Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign, he's painted all Muslim people with the same broad brush, blaming Muslim-majority countries for the acts of ISIS and calling for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants to the United States.

But Xulam told City Paper Trump's characterization is unfair. He says the United States has more in common with Muslim countries like Kurdistan than differences. And he worries about the future of the U.S. if Trump is elected. Instead of being divided he said the world should band together to develop solutions for fighting ISIS.

"What we have here is democracy in action. These delegates were elected and they in turn will possibly elect the next president," Xulam said. "It is important for your own self preservation that you help us defeat these bastards ISIS."
                                                                                                      — Rebecca Addison

12:36 p.m.
Cleveland: Open to Trump's of all walks of life. Here is Donald Trump impersonator Eric Jackman, who along with his twin brother, Michael, run a podcast called Jackman Radio. In fairness, this could be Michael.
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Billy Ludt
12:30 p.m.
  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows

12:16 p.m.:
Want to leave the RNC with a souvenir that says, "Hi, I'm Donald Trump and I want to take over the world with a fleet of flag-toting giant Eagles" ? Then CP's RNC correspondent Gabby Fellows has the item for you.

  • Pittsburgh City Paper Photo by Gabby Fellows


11:30 a.m.:
Anti-war protesters confront Controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in downtown Cleveland.

11:15 a.m.:
THank God, RIck's here

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