Senator Jim Ferlo was the only local politician to question how and what benefits G-20 brings to Pittsburgh. There is no question that a number of persons echo the same sentiment, but they whisper the question. In my estimation Ferlo has always been a stand- up guy that we could always count on so this week’s column is a salute to a true champion of the people.
I went to Ferlo’s Butler Street office hopeful that he would be available and he was. The first question that was asked, “In what part of Pittsburgh were you born?” He replied, “I was born in upstate New York.” I had forgotten he was not a native Pittsburgher.
The second question was, “What molded you, what or who inspired you and what drives Jim Ferlo?” He pondered for a moment and said, “The earliest and perhaps the biggest motivator was the fact that I born in an Italian family and there were 10 brothers and sisters, and there was never enough of anything.” Jim went on to clarify his statement by saying there were never enough shoes and clothes. Electricity and gas were off frequently because there was generally a shortage of money, so it was an early permanent lesson in life about the haves and have nots.
Even prior to his involvement in politics Jim was consumed with activism when it came to helping the unheard and ignored voices throughout America. He was an active participant in every movement, Viet Nam war, welfare rights, homelessness, free speech, racism, drugs and alcohol, unfair sentencing and the inequities in politics and employment.
When I asked who inspired him, he said, “There were a number of people, but two who come to mind instantly are Alma Speed Fox and Thelma Lovette.”
He could not have picked two finer people. As we continued to talk I asked him how would he like people to perceive him, and he thought for a moment and said, “I never thought about it.” He then said, “I want people to understand and recognize that Jim Ferlo, the citizen and politician, has a sense of caring, concern and the commitment to action to eradicate those detrimental and devastating issues that would deny and inhibit the people from sharing in the true American Dream. We the people are entitled to the right to a decent job, quality education and housing, opportunity to provide for our families, adequate affordable health care.”
The last question I had an opportunity to ask was where have the voices of opposition such as yours gone to?
He smiled and said, “I do what I believe is right and just and I am answerable to the voters in the 37th Senatorial District, so outside interests can’t scare me or intimidate me.”
His last words were, “Tragically, too many have allowed themselves to become enslaved with those who provide grant money, and we must never forget ‘those who pay the piper call the tune.’”
Senator Jim Ferlo has been a staunch supporter of the Kingsley Association, won’t you make a financial contribution for our youths?