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View Article  Tuesday ... stuff!

Random things you might find interesting ...

From Change.org, Gay-Friendly Google and Political Ambiguity.

Politics, like all relationships, can get complicated. On one hand, a venerated ally like Google can be the most gay-friendly entity on earth. One another, there?s a lot of back room deals going on. It?s best to keep an eye on Washington, not just for the sake of transparency, but because it proves that sometimes, in this imperfect world, even the best of us have to work with our opponents

Chris Potter has some shaming words for the local media about Big Ben.

Fundie head explosion?

 

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View Article  We need more LGBTQ and allies to run for office

And here's a chance to learn the "how to's"

 

The Coro Center for Civic Leadership is currently seeking applicants to participate in this 12-week fall 2010 program, Running for Public Office, which works to strengthen citizen participation in public elections, and also to increase the diversity and level of preparation of candidates running for office in Greater Pittsburgh.

 

As standing for election is an important form of civic engagement and one of the highest forms of public service, the goal of RPO is to recruit, select, engage and prepare highly motivated individuals to lead successful electoral campaigns in Greater Pittsburgh. The course is open to prospective candidates and campaign staff who are committed to continued engagement in the political process.


All applications must be submitted to Coro Pittsburgh by Thursday, August 5, 2010.  To apply or to nominate a candidate, please visit the RPO application and nomination page or call 412.258.2676.  More information about Coro Pittsburgh can be found by visiting www.pittsburgh.coro.org .

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View Article  Journey and GLEE
View Article  The end of an era: the closure of A Pleasant Present

The rumor is true.  A Pleasant Present, the wonderful gift and pride shop in Squirrel Hill, is closing its doors after 16 years in business. 

I stopped by yesterday to chat with owner Michael Ferraro. He explained they will continue the close out sale (40% off!) through mid-July and close their doors forever.  Ferraro is very matter of fact about his decision, but has many fond memories of his 16 years. 

A Pleasant Present has been a real community hub.  From Pride merchandise to LGBT flyers, Michael has been a part of almost every single LGBT group, event and activity in the past decade.  He sold tickets to events, distributed flyers and has been a true champion of progressive political values in his own kitschy way with all sorts of delightful bumper stickers, magnets and paraphenalia.  He always had a smile, a bit of news and something new to show me.

I've purchased dozens of gift baskets, lots of presents for children, scores of cards and all sorts of unique items I'll never find agan. I'll miss that, but ... most of all, I will miss Michael.  His joy, his service to the community and his kind heart are the real presents.

Rest assured, he will remain in Pittsburgh and will be making his signature gourmet gift baskets.  I asked about the rainbow flag that flies proudly on Murray Avenue. It would be a great item to display in the GLCC, perhaps framed and labeled.  That flag has been a beacon for many an lgbt person in the region.

View Article  Politicians at Pride

What a tough year for Joe Sestak and Dan Onorato. Philly and Pittsburgh Pride are on the same days.  Onorato made the good call to attend Pittsburgh's event, but Sestak is in Philly. 

 

Sestak is sending a surrogate to Pgh, but I think it might speak volumes as to whom he sends.  As I said earlier in the year, I truly think his failure to attend the Steel City Stonewall endorsement event cost him the endorsement. Of course, it could be the decision to endorse Specter that impelled him to stick with Philly.  Who knows?

I spoke with Bill Peduto last night and he confirmed he's attending (he was out of the country last year).  I think there were years when Bill was the only politician who attended.  How far we've come ...

 

View Article  Happy Pride

Right now, thousands of lgbtq folks are on their way down to Liberty Avenue for the biggest celebration of the year ...

I hope you have a wonderful day! :-)

View Article  More pinkwashing of Onorato

You know I love the man called Potter. His awesomeness is exceeded only by his 27 Facebook fans.  ;-)

Still, he recently gave some pinkwashing props to the Onorato campaign that made me sigh. 

From Slagheap:

In other news, you may have already known this-- word went out a couple days ago -- but county executive Dan Onorato will be speaking at the PrideFest opening ceremonies on June 13. I'm guessing he's got a little ways to go before he's as comfortable touring gay bars as, say, Ed Rendell. But combined with steps being taken by the county to provide domestic partner benefits, it's progress.

This is simply not true.  Whomever is sharing this "word" is grossly misleading the masses ... Onorato spoke at Pride LAST YEAR.  Not a decade ago.  Here's the photo:

Why is it news that he's coming AGAIN to his hometown Pridefest?

Could it be that his campaign might want him at this event to get the very critical support of Philly progressives?

The problem is the pinkwashers aren't content to just put him out there as the best choice.  They have to build this entire fairyland where he's the great hope for homosexuals, when we all know the best we can hope for is that he won't do anything too awful.  It makes me want to vomit that he gets credit for a commission saying domestic partner benefits are a good thing.  It really makes me want to vomit that good journalists like Chris Potter rarely if ever mention the fact that Onorato's failure to act on this for six+ years caused City employees of the 911 Center to lose benefits. To be fair, that falls on the shoulders of Mayor Murphy and City Council, too. 

But for crying out loud ... we are supposed to turn cartwheels and clap our hands with glee because our Chief Executive comes to Pridefest again?  Girl, please.

Speaking of which, Luke didn't show last year and sent the City HRC Chair in his stead.  Anyone taking bets that he'll blow it off again until he's up for election?

Yes, my standards for progress are higher than Chris Potter's, but it isn't his family's health insurance in the balance, is it? 

View Article  File this under: Ravensburgh bullshit

Oh, for God's sake ...

The state Ethics Commission and the city Ethics Hearing Board will not review Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's nomination of his brother to the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority board, despite requests sent by local officials.

Mayor Ravenstahl nominated his brother, newly elected state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, to the Alcosan board on May 19, the day after his brother won the special election to the 20th District state House seat, which includes the North Side.

My employer won't let me hire my brother to work for me or have any role in the organization over which I have influence.  This just ILLUSTRATES the very influence Peduto and Shields are worried about Lukey having over the ALCOSAN board.

<shakes head>

 

View Article  The impact of HUD's anti-discrimination rules on Pittsburgh and Allegheny County

OK, folks, so finally we see some payoff from the Allegheny County Anti-Discrimination ordinance in practical terms.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued new rules requiring grant recipients to comply with local anti-discrimination laws.

Traditionally, HUD requires all applicants for competitive grant funding to comply with all applicable federal fair housing and civil rights requirements including those expressed in Fair Housing Act; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now HUD will further stipulate that applicants and their sub-recipients must comply with state or local laws proscribing housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It is estimated there are approximately 20 states and the District of Columbia that have laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation discrimination. In addition, 12 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

HUD?s General Section will not consider an applicant?s submission if they fail to meet minimum thresholds which will now include being able to demonstrate that they have not been charged with a systemic violation of state or local law proscribing discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

This means all local HUD grant recipients will be forced to comply with the City and County ordinances that protect these classes.  I once sat on a HUD revew committee and several of the applicants were faith based organizatons so it will be fascinating to watch the various loopholes shake themselves out in light of this far-reaching federal mandate. 

It also adds some teeth to local Section 8 voucher recipients who might encounter, shall we say, resistance, from landlords who don't want to move a gay family into their property (they aren't supposed to have a choice to reject applicants, but let's be serious). 

This is like a federal matching grant in its awesome implications.  None of these grant recipients can sidestep the local law by playing the federal Fair Housing Act card. Inspiring news for local fair housing advocates who have worked tirelessly to build these (and other protections) into local ordinances, place by place while the Fair Housing Act itself is what needs to change.  HUD can't change legislation, but this powerful move sends positive signs about future directions when the Act comes up for reauthorization.

My hat is off once again to Allegheny County Council for paving the way to ensure fair housing for economically vulnerable folks in the County. 

One last fact. Some HUD grant recipients play ball in multiple counties.  The easiest thing to implement will be program wide non-discrimination rather than cherry picking locations that don't have these expansive protections.  We'll see what happens ...

 

View Article  American Eagle takes a page from BP ...

... and not in a good way.

We've all heard about the ridiculous/offensive/hateful decision of BP to spend millions ($50 I believe) on a PR campaign, $50 million that would clean up a lot of dying birds and sealife.  Or lost compensate people for lost income.  You get the point.

Here in Pittsburgh, we have a mini-version of corporate bullshit that values public relations over the welfare of human beings, namely their employees. American Eagle, thy name is corporate meanie.

AE was the corporate sponsor for a childcare center on the Southside to the tune of $200 K.  Imagine how wonderful it would be for a corporation with lots of below-living-wage employees to have access to quality childcare! 

Then imagine a 90 day notice saying it is closing! My friends on Facebook have been frantic to find a substitute. But still, this cost cutting move saves jobs, right?

What a slap in the face this little tidbit must be ...

American Eagle Outfitters announced Thursday it won the right to name a new North Shore entertainment complex and the venue's Ohio-based developer said apartments and condos could be its next project.

Construction on the $12 million indoor-outdoor complex dubbed Stage AE began in April. It's expected to be completed in the fall with enough outdoor seating for up to 5,500 people and indoor seating for 2,400 people.

<snip>

State taxpayers will chip in $2.5 million to build the entertainment complex, or about 21 percent of the overall construction cost. The Steelers declined to discuss the terms of American Eagle's contribution.

"I can't disclose those to you. We made an agreement with all of our parties not to do that," said Mark Hart, the Steelers' director of business.

An American Eagle spokeswoman also declined to disclose how much the company paid the Steelers for the naming rights. She said the multi-year agreement is the first time the company paid for naming rights.

So naming rights = good PR. Closure of daycare = unessential PR?  Even if enrollment of AE employees has been declining, how does that justify 90 days notice? Clearly, some AE bureacrat didn't even have the compassion to allow the parents enough time to find decent substitutes. 

Or they just don't care. Screw working class parents and their Target outfits.  There's money to be made from folks who have disposable income for concerts, not diapers.  Imagine when they roll out the Black and Gold bedazzled AE baseball caps? 

I wonder if the "state taxpayers" realize the costs of daycare closures. Inevitably, people are going to leave the workforce because they can't find childcare. I'm sure productivity is almost zero for the harried parents. And what about the actual AE employees who have just been completely bitch slapped by heartless overlords that were lured to the Southside Works with public money in the first place?

Maybe they'll get to stand outside the new concert venue and listen to the music?

 I wonder if this new "NorthShore" complex is going to employ Northside residents? 

Major suckitude failure, American Eagle. You are the worst company in Pittsburgh right now.

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