Thursday, May 18, 2017

Pittsburgh policing expert David Harris celebrates 50 episodes of Criminal (In)Justice podcast

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 1:19 PM

  • Photo courtesty of Criminal (In)Justice
  • David Harris
Over the last several years, interest in complex policing stories has mushroomed. The Black Lives Matter movement, as well as immigrant-justice groups, have capitalized and propelled these stories, frustrated in how criminal-justice matters were too often swept under the rug.

University of Pittsburgh professor and well-known policing expert David Harris knows this all too well. For decades, he has been a go-to source for many media outlets (including Pittsburgh City Paper) for criminal-justice stories. He has even testified before the U.S. Congress on the subject.

And with all his available knowledge and expertise, Harris wanted to bring it directly to the the public. So last year, Harris started the Criminal (In)Justice podcast with help from former and current WESA staff members Josh Raulerson and Megan Harris. The first episode aired in March 2016, and this weeks marks the 50th episode.

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Elimination of Pittsburgh advocacy group staffer’s job shocks arts community

Posted By on Thu, May 18, 2017 at 11:42 AM

Local artists and arts leaders expressed surprise and dismay over word this week that the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council is eliminating the job of Deputy Director Tiffany Wilhelm.

Tiffany Wilhelm
  • Tiffany Wilhelm
Wilhelm has worked for GPAC for nearly a decade and is widely admired for her commitment to arts advocacy, especially on issues of equity and inclusion.

“I’m truly shocked,” says Celeste Smith, CEO of 1Hood Media, an arts-and-social-justice group. “I truly just can’t see how [cutting Wilhem’s job] is a good idea.”

“It’s painful,” says Kathryn Spitz, executive director of Film Pittsburgh, which organizes several local film festivals.

“I know that she put in just so much work into her advocacy work,” says comics artist Marcel Walker. “She’s a remarkable person. … This is a loss.”

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bike-advocacy group encourages Pittsburghers to ride bikes to work on Friday

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 4:58 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Bike Pittsburgh
Cyclists in and around the city must feel a little vindicated. In a Pittsburgh mayoral race in which candidates blamed bike lanes (which account for a minuscule fraction of the city budget) for the city’s lead-water-pipe problems, public-safety issues, and a shortage of affordable housing, the one candidate who was pro-bike-lane, Mayor Bill Peduto, emerged victorious, with about 69 percent of the vote.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Is Pittsburgh's economy growing for everyone?

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 12:16 PM

Dowtown Pittsburgh
  • Dowtown Pittsburgh
In April, Philadelphia Magazine profiled Pittsburgh and contemplated if and how Pittsburgh could surpass Philly as Pennsylvania's No. 1 city. The article had all the elite economic buzzwords, like “innovation” and “tech,” and made many substantial points about Pittsburgh’s prowess in the field of robotics and driverless cars. However, the story never mentioned words like “equal,” “equitable” or “inclusion.”

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New fried-chicken restaurant planned for Pittsburgh's East Liberty draws backlash, owner apologizes to those offended

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 6:07 PM

When Tara Coleman heard about a new "'90s hip-hop themed fried chicken" restaurant opening in East Liberty, she thought it was a joke.

"Once I saw it was in fact real, it was more insulting than anything else," says Coleman, a Bloomfield resident who works at a boutique in East Liberty. "It's insulting to me as a person of color. I don't understand why it's being marketed this way. It's rather stereotypical to pair fried chicken and hip hop."

An article announcing the new restaurant called "the Coop" appeared on the website Good Food Pittsburgh over the weekend. The project is being launched by the owners of Muddy Waters Oyster Bar in East Liberty. According to the article, the owners are also planning to open a Hawaiian poke themed restaurant called the Big Kahuna.

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Friday, May 5, 2017

Final Weekend for World-Premiere Run of Josh Gibson Opera

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Pittsburgh Opera's first-ever world premiere is The Summer King, and the title, with its mythic connotations, is apt for the opera's subject matter, the life and times of Pittsburgh-based Negro Leagues giant Josh Gibson.

Alfred Walker and Denyce Graves in "The Summer King" - PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVID BACHMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photo courtesy of David Bachman Photography
  • Alfred Walker and Denyce Graves in "The Summer King"
The opera's tragedy lies mostly in forces beyond Gibson's control — especially Major League Baseball's vile "gentleman's agreement" that barred African Americans for decades.

If Gibson's on-field exploits were legendary, his private life was little documented, but the opera's composer and co-librettist, Daniel Sonenberg, has credibly fleshed him out. The Gibson of Summer King is a regular fellow, if possessed of prodigious athletic talent, who never got over his first wife's death during childbirth, and who doesn't seem to want the hassle of trying to break Major League Baseball's color barrier — even as he longs for the chance to showcase his abilities on a bigger stage.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

A local bartender is 'Tipping the Scales' for social justice

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 2:22 PM


On Fri., May 5, Muddy Waters Oyster Bar bartender Lissa Brennan (an occasional contributor to CP) will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo by giving back to the community, one shift at a time. Brennan’s initiative, TIP the Scales, invites service-industry workers to donate their tips from a chosen shift to a cause they feel passionately about. For Cinco de Mayo, participants are asked to donate to an organization that supports undocumented immigrants and refugees.

“It started because people who work in the service industry love to give their money away whenever possible,” says Brennan, laughing. In the past, Brennan has donated her tips from shifts, but with the incoming of the new presidential administration, she was inspired to tell friends that she would donate her tips from her inauguration day shift to Planned Parenthood.

“I said that I was doing it, and someone else said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m doing this with my tips too,’” says Brennan. The effort snowballed through a Facebook page and word of mouth, and Brennan and her friends “decided to try to get as many people collectively involved but independently."

“It’s not through another organization," says Brennan. “It’s just a bunch of people working in the service industry deciding to give to the organization of their choice.” The result of first TIP the Scales was around $25,000 of self-reported donations, mostly from Pittsburgh service-industry workers, as well as participants in Austin; Philadelphia; Baltimore; Portland, Ore.; Chicago; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Miami; Seattle; and London, England, as well as some towns in the Caribbean.

Brennan emphasizes that while she is convening this effort, participants are donating to these organizations on their own. She doesn’t collect receipts or money and says it’s something that is “completely independent and flexible.” “If someone wants to donate all their tips for the night, or a specified percentage, or donate $10 because that’s what they can spare, then they can do that,” she says. Participants are also encouraged to pick an organization they value, although Brennan will suggest organizations if asked. Service workers are also invited to pick symbolic shifts, if they aren’t scheduled on Cinco de Mayo.

Brennan will be donating all of her tips from her Cinco de Mayo shift to Immigrant Services and Connections. She’ll also be making a matching donation of her own on top of her earnings. She’s also clear about why this cause is important to her. “Part of the reason that I chose this particular date and type of recipient is because the service industry and anything involving food in general in the United States depends on undocumented workers ... whether it is people working in kitchens or picking tomatoes,” she says “I don’t think there’s a person in the service industry anywhere in the United States who hasn’t worked with an undocumented worker, whether they knew it or not.”

ISAC is a Pittsburgh organization that seeks to connect “refugees and immigrants to services” like food, housing, transportation, child care and employment opportunities. It’s funded by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and is a six-agency partnership with Jewish Family & Children’s Service, Casa San Jose (a program of the Sisters of St. Joseph), Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, Latino Family Center of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit, Northern Area Multi-Service Center, and South Hills Interfaith Movement.

Brennan hopes to make TIP the Scales an ongoing initiative. To get involved and stay up to date as a patron or member of the service industry, visit the Facebook page. And on Cinco de Mayo, ask your favorite bartender if they’re are involved, or just go see Brennan behind the bar at Muddy Waters, in East Liberty, and grab a drink for justice.

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Fans cheer on the Pens as they beat the Washington Capitals in Round 2, Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 11:20 AM

A Pittsburgh Penguins fan stands next to a fan of the Washington Capitals outside PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. - CP PHOTOS BY JORDAN MILLER
  • CP photos by Jordan Miller
  • A Pittsburgh Penguins fan stands next to a fan of the Washington Capitals outside PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hockey fans in Pittsburgh cheered on their team outside PPG Paints Arena last night as the Pittsburgh Penguins triumphed over the Washington Capitals with a 3-2 win in Round 2, Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Our photo intern Jordan Miller was on the scene, capturing fans decked out in black-and-gold as they watched the game on the "Big Screen" outside the arena. Check out our favorite photos from the night below, then head over to our Facebook page to see even more!


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Uber expands Pittsburgh offerings to include new UberEATS delivery service

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 9:10 AM

  • CP Photo by Kim Lyons
It’s a little weird (and ominous) to type the phrase “Uber EATS Pittsburgh,” but don’t be alarmed. The ride hailing behemoth has not actually devoured the Steel City (yet). UberEATS is the name of its on-demand restaurant delivery service, which is launching in Pittsburgh today.

During a kickoff event Wednesday at Franktuary in Lawrenceville, Uber EATS general manager for Pennsylvania (it launched in Philadelphia a year ago) Casey Verkamp explained why and how the would-be driverless car company has entered the food delivery business.

“Our mission is to make eating, well, effortless for anyone, anytime,” Verkamp said (anyone with the app, at least). The goal is to have food to customers (or “Eaters” as Verkamp kept referring to them) within 35 minutes. While she was giving her presentation, the tablet indicating Franktuary was getting a new Uber EATS order started ringing, a bit of unplanned demonstration of how the system will work.

About 100 Pittsburgh restaurants, including Franktuary, Mad Mex, Square Cafe, Slice on Broadway and Il Pizzaiolo are already on the Uber EATS app, with more to be added, Verkamp said.

UberEATS started in Los Angeles in 2014 as a pilot, and was part of the main Uber app, with a standalone app released in 2015.

Here’s how it works: Open the app (or go to the website) choose your location to see the restaurants delivering in your area (you can filter by price, delivery time, cuisine and dietary restrictions), and place your order. The order goes to the restaurant, and when it’s close to being ready for pickup, a nearby driver is alerted. You get an alert when your food is ready and when it’s en route, and the entire transaction takes place (including payment) in the app.

Like its ride hailing Uber X app, there’s no mechanism for customers to tip drivers (unless they have cash when the driver drops off). And for now, no, you can’t get your pizza delivered by a driverless Uber. But Verkamp says EATS gives people with two-door cars the chance to become “driver-partners” (to drive passengers, you have to have a four-door).

But some of the features that are part of the original Uber experience are also part of Uber EATS. For instance, if you order your food during a time of high demand, such as during bad weather, your delivery may be subject to “dynamic pricing.” Yes, that is Uber-speak for surge pricing, which raises prices based on demand. So if you’re craving a burrito during a heavy rainstorm, you’ll probably pay a bit more.

In addition to streamlining the food delivery process, Uber EATS touts its Restaurant Manager software as a plus for restaurants. It provides data about delivery times and feedback from customers that the company says restaurants can use to tweak their delivery offerings.

Megan Lindsey, owner of Franktuary, said they are working on making sure the menu works for Uber EATS’ quick delivery turnaround. This has meant streamlining things a bit, especially for items in limited supply, and for some dishes that are more eat-in friendly.

“We send out our poutine on fries right now pretty closely to how we serve them at the restaurants, which has gotten some mixed reviews,” she said. The app gives restaurants the ability to make changes on the fly and consult directly with customers, which is an added bonus, she said.

Some other delivery services they’ve contracted with don’t allow any direct contact between customer and restaurant, which can pose problems. “We think if someone trusts us enough to let us prepare their food, then surely they want to hear from us, to tell them something like ‘hey this has an allergen, it looks like you may be avoiding based on the rest of your order.’”

Uber has struggled with some serious public relations problems of late, including questions about its company culture. The company’s once-warm reception from Pittsburgh officials, which paved the way for testing of its driverless vehicle technology, has cooled somewhat in recent months. Mayor Bill Peduto told the Wall Street Journal last month that he wanted Uber to sign a memorandum of understanding that would ensure better working conditions for drivers and more service options for the region’s senior citizens. He’s also complained about what he saw as a lack of support from the company for Pittsburgh’s application for a federal Smart Cities transportation grant funds, money that ultimately went to Columbus.

Uber never releases metrics about performance, so it’s not entirely clear how its EATS platform measures up to competitors like GrubHub and Postmates (which launched in Pittsburgh in 2015). But it will be available 24 hours a day 7 days a week in Pittsburgh, one of about 80 cities where the service is offered.
This map represents the local area covered by UberEATS
  • This map represents the local area covered by UberEATS

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Gallery/Community-Center Project in Braddock Seeks Funding

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 1:42 PM

A project meant to strengthen the role of marginalized Braddock residents in their community’s redevelopment is seeking $20,000 via an Indiegogo campaign that has just weeks to go.

Isaac Bunn
  • Isaac Bunn
The Visual Landscape Gallery Boutique, an art gallery and a community-resource center, is an initiative of the Braddock Inclusion Project. The nonprofit BIP is run by Isaac Bunn, a Braddock native and activist whose collaborators and supporters include famed photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier and acclaimed filmmaker Tony Buba.

Bunn says the gallery would feature the work of Frazier — a Braddock native who in 2015 won a coveted MacArthur “genius grant” for her work documenting her hometown and its people — and clothing designer Chiaka Zulu, an artist who has spent most of his life homeless. Bunn also foresees the building housing programming including classes in entrepreneurship, parenting and more.

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