When introduced by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald as the new head of the public defender’s office for the county, Elliot Howsie, the first African-American to hold the office, said he is “passionate about criminal defense,” and will make the choices needed to turn the office around. “I am aware that there are a number of problems to be addressed,” he said. “I look forward to working with the employees to make sure that clients are treated with respect and receive the defense they are entitled to.” TAKING CHARGE—Elliot Howsie takes questions after Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald names him to head the public defender’s office. He is the first African-American to hold the post. (Photo by J.L. Martello.) Though he has never managed this many people, Howsie said he has the willingness to manage the 80-attorney office that handles roughly 25,000 cases per year. Even though 80-plus attorneys are employed by the office technically only the head is titled public defender.
Daily Archive: March 7, 2012
While February is a month to celebrate the achievements and heritage of African-Americans, it is beginning to be overshadowed by the Black on Black violence. With only two months into 2012, we are already on track to having a deadlier year than the last. This time last year there were only 13 homicides. Now there are 15, and while that may only be two more, those are still more lives that did not have to be lost. For instance, young Donovan McKee, an 11-year-old boy who was beat to death with various objects because his mother’s boyfriend felt he needed to “discipline” the young boy. His discipline has left a mother with one less son, a family without a brother and taken away yet another young person’s future. And for what? Nothing could have been worth his life.
For the last decade, it seemed every two years the Port Authority of Allegheny County would announce it had to shut down unless it received more funds from the state. And at public hearings riders and their employers would chastise the authority. But at the public hearing held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center Feb. 29, the public and the authority were on the same page—chastising the state legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett for failing to fund public transportation in the face of a 35 percent reduction in service and another fare increase. INDEPENDENT MINDED—From left: Three Rivers Center For Independent Living Advocate Lester Bennet and clients Zetta Murphy and Cloerinda Ford, applaud a speaker’s call for Harrisburg to save PAT service. (Photo by J.L. Martello.) Lester Barnett, of East Liberty, uses PAT buses to get to the Three Rivers Center for Independent Living in Wilkinsburg where he trains wheelchair-bound people like himself and those with other disabilities to lead more self-reliant lives.
As Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities face a cut in state funding of approximately $240 million, one Republican senator has jumped to the forefront to challenge the cuts to higher education in Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget proposal. “My reaction has been that I think higher education has done more than its fair share to balance the state budget so my goal is to see what I can do to see they don’t get any more cuts like they did last year,” said Pennsylvania State Senator Jake Corman, R-Centre County. “Last year they took a 20 percent reduction and they were flat funded for a decade. They’ve already done with less for a long time now and to cut them further really erodes at their public mission.” JAKE CORMAN
In January, the Ivy Charitable Endowment, a nonprofit affiliate of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority’s Pittsburgh chapter, received a $50,000 grant to benefit their mentoring program. Now, they are already predicting the positive effects the Heinz Endowment grant will have on Pearl Academy, their initiative aimed at middle school girls. “Pearl Academy models the connection between academics and leadership by challenging students to collaboratively organize community service projects throughout the school year,” said Headmistress Yarra Howze, member of AKA. Established in October 2009, the Pearl Academy initiative focuses on the areas of academic achievement, life skills, leadership development and service learning. With the infusion of the Heinz Grant, ICE hopes to be able mentor participants from sixth grade through high school.
Project Prom Shop MARCH 7—Allegheny County Department of Human Services will host a Project Prom Shop from 4-8 p.m. at Century III Mall, 3075 Clairton Rd., West Mifflin. The shop will make available free prom dresses to eligible high school girls who cannot afford the cost of a prom gown. The shop will be open through March 10. For more information, call 412-350-3428.
The Pittsburgh Human Relations Commission is investigating claims of racial discrimination made by event promoter William Marshall against Station Square owner Forest City Enterprises and tenant Cadillac Ranch Group for halting them from conducting events that cater to a largely African-American audience. In his complaint, Marshall states that in October, he and fight promoter Rayco Saunders had to move a scheduled boxing match after Forest City would not allow the event to take place at its Carson Street Live location. They further claim, “Forest City has entered into verbal agreement with all Lessee of Station Square property not to do, promote, nor have events that will attract African-Americans.”
Week of March 8-13 March 8 1977—Henry L. Marsh III is elected the first Black mayor of Richmond, Va. Before becoming mayor of the capital of the old confederacy, Marsh had made a name for himself confronting the city’s White power structure as a civil rights attorney. He also served in the state senate. 1993—Jazz great Billy Eckstine dies at 78 in Pittsburgh, Pa. Eckstine came to fame in the 1940s and 1950s as a singer and bandleader who worked with some of the greatest names of the era including Louis Armstrong and Lena Horne. He was one of the greatest influences upon modern Jazz and B-bop. Among his best known ballads were “Everything I Have Is Yours,” “Blue Moon,” “Caravan,” and “That Old Black Magic.” JOSEPH CINQUE
WASHINGTON (AP)— More than 70 percent of students involved in school-related arrests or cases referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or African-American, according to an Education Department report that raises questions about whether students of all races are disciplined evenhandedly in America’s schools. Black students are more than three times as likely as their White peers to be suspended or expelled, according to an early snapshot of the report released to reporters. The findings come from a national collection of civil rights data from 2009-10 of more than 72,000 schools serving 85 percent of the nation.
(NNPA)—Several faith leaders involved in the NAACP’s Religious Roundtable released a letter that speaks out against Evangelical leader Rev. Franklin Graham after his recent comments on a television news show that questioned President Obama’s Christian faith. Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham and current CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Feb. 21. REV. FRANKLIN GRAHAM (AP PHOTO/FILE) After being asked whether he believes Obama is a Christian, Graham responded,” I cannot answer that question for anybody,” adding, “Islam sees him as a son of Islam because his father was a Muslim, his grandfather was a Muslim, great grandfather was a Muslim and so under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a Muslim.”