Daily Archive: September 23, 2011


North Siders angry with proposed school closings

One month after the Pittsburgh Public School District announced a proposal for a new realignment plan, they have begun hosting a series of public forums throughout the city. At the second meeting in the North Side Sept. 15, area residents echoed their neighbors in the West End when they spoke in opposition to the district’s plan that would see the closure of seven schools and seven school buildings. JEANNINE FRENCH (Photo by Rossano P. Stewart) “One of the main concerns I have is with safety. These schools are closing down and these kids aren’t getting the education they need,” said Maria Haley, a mother with children in the district. “As a taxpayer, I wouldn’t mind paying more money.” Under the district’s proposal, schools slated for closure include Oliver High School, Langley High School, Northview K-8, Murray K-8, Fort Pitt PreK-5, Schaeffer K-8 and Stevens K-8. The majority of participants in the forum held at King PreK-8 were unhappy with the proposed closure of Oliver and Northview.


Street Corner Preacher Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire publishes new book

Along with fighter, coach, preacher, teacher and dog lover, Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire has added a new title: author. In late June, Stoudemire, who is best known for his anti-drug, anti-violence street ministry, published his first book: “The Street Ministry Experience.” “It covers pretty much everything I’ve done going back to the mid-1990s,” he said. “The feedback from readers has been positive, and my publisher wants another one, which I hope to get out by the end of the year.” REV. SHELDON STOUDEMIRE Stoudemire said chapters in the book range from dealing with the media and grieving family, to personal interactions on the street and the nature of urban crime. It also includes some of those interactions he counts as successes.


County Executive candidates spar in debate

Perhaps the most unintentionally amusing of the League of Women Voters/ Black Political Empowerment Project Candidates forum came when both Democrat Rich Fitzgerald and Republican D. Raja called each other liars in response to a question on integrity. The forum, held Sept. 15 and broadcast live on PCNC TV, covered lots of familiar ground, and while both men staked their claims on property taxes, funding the Port Authority and the poured drink tax, unemployment and the economy dominated the questions submitted by the audience to moderator Vince Simms. D. RAJA AND RICH FITZGERALD


Vacant Pittsburgh school buildings see new life

When the 2011-2012 school year began late last month, Hill District residents might have been surprised to see the doors of the Robert Lee Vann Elementary School building open once again. Over the summer, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh purchased the school after it was closed by the Pittsburgh Public School District more than one year ago in June 2010. The Vann building was one of two sales and one lease agreement finalized by the PPS in 2011. Over the past five years, 10 schools have been sold in an effort to decrease financial strain from district spending on vacant buildings, $1,890,878 in total custodial and utility costs. MARK BRENTLEY “We all know that a building left empty and unused deteriorates so it’s loses value over time. Most neighborhoods would prefer that we get a building in use in some sort of way. Empty buildings can cause problems in neighborhoods,” said PPS Superintendant Linda Lane. “In the district as we try to address some of our financial problems, this is one of the things we’re looking at.”


Forbes names Perry richest man in show biz

(NNPA)—Move over Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio: producer and actor Tyler Perry is the richest man in entertainment, according to Forbes magazine. The 42-year-old Perry, creator of the popular “Madea” franchise and the TBS shows “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns,” recently topped the magazine’s list of Entertainment’s Highest Paid Men. Perry, whose films rarely find an audience outside the US, recently helmed an adaptation of stage play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” which starred Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton and Janet Jackson. TYLER PERRY Forbes wrote, “Thanks to five movies he has cranked out over the past two years and two TV series, Perry earned $130 million between May 2010 and May 2011, which ranks him as the highest-earning man in entertainment for that time period.”


There is a silver lining in Obama poll numbers

We are reminded almost daily that President Obama’s favorable poll numbers are at an all-time low. While that is unmistakably true, that’s only half of the picture. Let’s first take a look at the numbers. A Gallup poll pegged Obama’s August monthly approval rating at 41 percent, the lowest of his administration. However, Gallup found that Congressional job approval was only 15 percent at the beginning of September, up two percentage points from the record-tying low of 13 percent in August. Stated another way, 84 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Congress was handling its job in August, a figure that has fallen only slightly to 82 percent so far this month.


Black is beautiful all over the world

There was a time when I was very young that people would intimidate me because of the color of my skin. My mother would put me on a Greyhound bus in Los Angeles and send me to Shreveport, Louisiana to bond with my grandparents and other relatives. Once that bus got to El Paso, Texas the driver would announce “From here on out we will observe segregation rules. Coloreds must sit in the back of the bus. When we come to rest stops you must use restrooms and cafeterias designated as colored.”


Discouraging news on child poverty

(NNPA)—Thirteen-year-old Brittanie Potter and her 12-year-old sister Sydney held a bake sale and garage sale at their Marion, Ohio home this summer with a simple goal in mind: raising money for their school clothes and supplies. Their father’s unemployment insurance ended earlier this year, their mother is still recovering from an accident last fall that broke her leg so badly she needed several surgeries and now gets around in a wheelchair, and their family has virtually no income. Brittanie worries: “I hear them talking about bills and it makes me upset. I just think we’re going to be okay…but sometimes, I don’t think we’re going to be okay.”


Public Theater opens with Greek tragedy ‘Electra’

Public Theater Opens with Greek Tragedy “Electra” New York actress Shinnerrie Jackson is ecstatic about being a part of Pittsburgh Public Theater’s season-opening production of the poignant family saga, “Electra.” “I had never done Greek theater before and I wanted to try out and be a part of it. I wanted to move into something different. It is a great challenge and a great opportunity. I had heard about the Pittsburgh Public Theater and Ted Pappas and I really wanted to do something at the theater,” Jackson said. SHINNERRIE JACKSON


Commodores endure with hits, devoted fans

by Rita Charleston (NNPA)—One of the reasons the Commodores have lasted so long is because they understand that they are in a “business” and know how to work together. That’s according to William King, one of the founders of the original group who, along with Walter Orange and J.D. Nicholas, form the current group. “Everybody has to deal with ego problems and the desire to get their own way,” says King. “But we push aside any ego problems and arrive at any decision that needs to be made democratically.