Daily Archive: March 11, 2011

Metro

Incumbents lose party endorsement

In the past Pittsburgh incumbent city council members have won the Democratic Party endorsements even while under indictment. So when four incumbents lose the endorsement battle, it turns heads. Three of the four, Bruce Kraus, Patrick Dowd and Council President Darlene Harris have battled against various parts of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s agenda. The fourth, Rev. Ricky Burgess, a Ravenstahl supporter, narrowly lost to challenger Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell. ED GAINEY Additionally, councilman Doug Shields, who opted not to battle the son of his former boss and late Mayor Bob O’Connor in a District 5 re-election bid, lost the endorsement for a district justice seat to Hugh McGough. Corey O’Connor easily won the council endorsement. Even though Ravenstahl said he supports Burgess over the endorsed Copeland–Mitchell, and the endorsed challengers to Dowd, Kraus and Harris, it does not mean committee members are doing his bidding.

Metro

Block grant cuts could hurt needy

The 2012 federal budget proposed by President Barack Obama on Feb. 14 calls for a 7.5 percent cut in funding for the federal Community Development Block Grant program which funds local community development activities such as affordable housing, anti-poverty programs and infrastructure development. If approved the budget would take away approximately $300 million in CDBG funding from city governments. Locally Pittsburgh’s CDBG funding is being used to fund organizations like the Center for Victims of Violent Crime and programs like the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program. It is also used by the Urban Redevelopment Authority for a number of neighborhood business and economic development projects.

Metro

A+ Schools strives for better voter turnout

In 2007, only 20 percent of registered voters took part in the Pittsburgh Public School District school board election. In an effort to change these dismal numbers, A+ Schools, a independent, non-profit community organization focused on improving public education, is launching a campaign to increase voter education and turnout. SALA UDIN, board chair A+Schools. (Photos by J.L. Martello) “We have done voter education in past elections, but never to this extent. This is a pretty extensive effort on our part,” said Carey Harris, executive director of A+ Schools. “There’s a lot at stake right now. We have a new superintendant. We have new leadership. We care about our kids. We care about how our tax dollars are being invested.” Through their campaign, A+ hopes to increase voter turnout by 26 percent, which would bring an additional 6,000 voters to the polls.

Metro

Terrell Johnson retrial delayed

When Terrell Johnson was convicted in 1995 for the murder of Verna Robinson one year earlier, the only witness against him was a woman named Evelyn McBryde who had a number of other charges against her dismissed in exchange for her testimony. In 2003, Kenneth Robinson, no relation to the victim, came forward and said he was smoking crack with McBryde blocks away from the Hazelwood Street where she said she saw Johnson shoot Robinson. That, and the lack of physical evidence tying Johnson to the shooting, was enough for Common Pleas Judge Lawrence O’Toole to grant a new trial in 2008.

Metro

Ida B. Wells Barnett led anti-lynching campaign

The end of the nineteenth century has been called one of the lowest points of the Negro’s existence in the United States by some. The Supreme Court had emasculated Charles Sumner’s 1875 Civil Rights Act and had approved “separate but equal” facilities. Southern states were expanding Jim Crow laws and disfranchising Negroes. Anti-Negro activities included a large number of lynchings, about two every week, and newspapers’ articles which hopefully predicted that the Negro race would eventually disappear. One of the most striking women in our history, Ida B. Wells, came to the force at that time. A Memphis teacher who became a leader of the anti-lynching crusade, she reported the shocking truths about lynching in her newspaper, Free Speech. Her life was threatened and she wore a brace of pistols for protection. IDA B. WELLS BARNETT

Metro

‘Remember the Ladies’

“Remember the Ladies.” That is what Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John, then a delegate to the Continental Congress, as the Founding Fathers met in Philadelphia to form a new nation in March of 1776. John Adams was the country’s first vice president, and second president. “Be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power in the hands of the Husbands. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies,” Abigail Adams warned, “we are determined to foment a Rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.”

National

White House status of American women report

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The White House released a new report entitled “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being,” a statistical portrait showing how women are faring in the United States today and how their lives have changed over time. This is the first comprehensive federal report on women since 1963, when the Commission on the Status of Women, established by President Kennedy and chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, produced a report on the conditions of women. PRESIDENT BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA Women in America focuses on five critical areas: people, families and income; education; employment; health; and crime and violence. The Administration will be honoring Women’s History Month throughout March, and will highlight a different section of the report every week. “The Obama Administration has been focused on addressing the challenges faced by women and girls from day one because we know that the success of women and girls is vital to winning the future,” said Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett. “Today’s report not only serves as a look back on American women’s lives, but serves as a guidepost to help us move forward.”

Metro

Bethune—educator, activist

Mary McLeod Bethune overcame tremendous obstacles to rise to prominence. Bethune once a field hand, became a college president and Spingarn Medal winner. Born in 1875, she was the 17th child of former slaves who had become sharecroppers in South Carolina. An education was hard to come by, but Mary walked the five miles to school and devoted many hours to study. Once she graduated from school she went to college, where she became a teacher. MARY McLEOD BETHUNE

Metro

Speak Out: Will marches and protests in Wisconsin spread to Pa?

The newly elected Republican governor of Wisconsin wants to eliminate or limit union wages in government jobs, which includes teachers. There have been mass protests as a result. Pennsylvania has a new GOP governor who thinks the same. So we asked Pittsburghers what they thought and this is what you said: “I think it will happen because I think any time someone’s employment and livelihood is attacked, they will retaliate against that.” Sandor TurnerDowntownUnemployed

National

NYC crowd rallies against hearing on U.S. Muslims

by Karen MathhewsAssociated Press Writer NEW YORK (AP)—Some 300 people gathered in Times Square on Sunday to speak out against a planned congressional hearing on Muslim terrorism, criticizing it as xenophobic and saying that singling out Muslims, rather than extremists, is unfair. Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and the imam who had led an effort to build an Islamic center near the World Trade Center site were among those who addressed the crowd. “Our real enemy is not Islam or Muslims,” said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. “The enemy is extremism and radicalism and radical ideology.” “TODAY, I AM A MUSLIM, TOO”—Entertainment promoter Russell Simmons addresses the “Today, I Am A Muslim, Too” rally to protest against a planned congressional hearing on the role of Muslims in homegrown terrorism, March 6, in New York.