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View Article  Call to Action on Marriage Equality

Now is the time, according to Thomas C. Waters, for you to have a significant impact on the attempt to move the "Marriage Protection" amendment out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Check out his blog for details.

Two quick side notes of interest.

Senator Barry Stout's seat is up for grabs as he retires.  Stout voted to move the marriage amendment out of committee in 2008.  One strong contender for the seat is House Rep Tim Solobay who was one of a very few Western PA Democrats to vote AGAINST a similar amendment in 2006 (the House did not vote on this issue in 2008). I have a list of his district so now is also a chance to identify and elect an ally to reclaim a Senate seat from those who believe we should add discrimination to the PA Constitution.

One of cosponsors of this bill is a Western PA Democrat, Senator Kasunic from the Fayette/Westmoreland/Washington county area. Now is a good time to follow the link to see if you have friends or family in that neck of the woods.  Now is a good time to make those real time phone calls (as opposed to email) so he knows what his constituents think about him being front and center in promoting discrimination.

View Article  More Information about the 46th Senate race

This is a link with some basic details. http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=272104

I think this might be a race to watch if Bracken and Maggi give good primary challenges.  Bracken looks good on MH funding which is near and dear to my heart. 

The Wheatley/Payne race will certainly be interesting, but from an LGBT perspective both are good on our particular issues.  From a "what the heck is going on in Pittsburgh politics" perspective -- it will be quite a ride.

Back here in the Northside, Ravenstahl (#Chet4Pgh) is an unknown entity.  He's running on his brother's coattails and Luke has done nothing to be proactive on LGBT issues; he's all reactivity.  I don't know anything about Keller and I can say that Tuinstra has been proactive in seeking out the LGBT Steel City questionnaire. 

Very early feedback. But nice to have some races to watch.  I hope they all return the questionnaire's for transparency sake. 

View Article  Why you should pay attention to Barry Stout's seat

State Senator Barry Stout in the 46th District has announced that he will not seek reelection.  His distric includes:

Allegheny County
Townships:
Forward
Boroughs: Elizabeth, McDonald (Allegheny County Portion) and West Elizabeth

Beaver CountyTownships: Greene, Hanover, Independence and Raccoon
Boroughs: Frankfort Springs and Hookstown

Greene County Cities: All
Townships: All
Boroughs: All

Washington County Cities: Monongahela and Washington
Townships: Amwell, Blaine, Buffalo, Canton, Carroll, Cecil, Chartiers, Cross Creek, Donegal, East Bethlehem, East Finley, Fallowfield, Hanover, Hopewell, Independence, Jefferson, Morris, Mount Pleasant, North Bethlehem, North Franklin, North Strabane, Nottingham, Robinson, Smith, Somerset, South Franklin, South Strabane, Union, West Bethlehem, West Finley and West Pike Run
Boroughs: Beallsville, Bentleyville, Burgettstown, Canonsburg, Centerville, Claysville, Cokeburg, Deemston, Donora, East Washington, Ellsworth, Finleyville, Green Hills, Houston, Long Branch, Marianna, McDonald, Midway, New Eagle, North Charleroi, Twilight, West Alexander, West Brownsville and West Middletown

Why should this register?  After all, his district barely abuts Allegheny County. 

Exactly!

In 2008, Barry Stout - Democrat voted for the "Marriage Protection" amendment to be voted out of committee.

As I said in 2008, "Yikes!"

Here's an election we should watch.  The Senate may vote on the marriage amendment again as well as hate crimes legislation.  There's always the potential for anti-discrimination legislation to reach the Senate.  Someday.

State Rep Tim Solobay has thrown his hat into the ring.  Solobay was one of the few Democratic House members who voted NO on the marriage amendment in 2006.  He has a Facebook page (you know how that pleases me).  He identifies as a "moderate blue dog democrat." So that's an interesting mix. 

According to the Post-Gazette, two Washington County commissioners, J. Bracken Burns and Larry Maggi, also may seek the Democratic nomination in the May 18 primary.  I don't know much about Burns or Maggi.  Anyone?

Word is still out and then there's the question of who replaces Solobay.  These rural SW Pennsylvania districts are really important to our community and I urge you to identify folks you know in Stout's district and ask them to pay attention.  I'm fairly certain the Steel City Stonewall Democrats will be sending a questionnaire to Solobay, Burns and Maggi since part of the district is Allegheny County.  Keep your eye out for it.

sdf

 

View Article  Endorsement for Hoeffel

Did I mention that Democracy for Pittsburgh has endorsed Joe Hoeffel?

It is very interesting to read their rules for voting.  You have to have been to two DFP meetups or attended two events since February 2009 (within the last year).  I think that's a very reasonable way to avoid the endorsement vote being packed by "sudden" members.  Endorsement requires 70% vote and vote counts are not released.

From casual conversation with members of various "clubs who endorse" my undesrstanding is that vote packing is a longstanding tradition.  Sad to say.  I'm not in favor of people being able to walk in off the street, pay cash and cast an endorsement vote. I think it is ripe for fraud and damages the credibility of the club/organization. Attending an event or two over the course of 12 months is not an arduous burden to meet for voting privileges.  It is incumbent on the organization to avoid the appearance of impropriety (along with actual impropriety) and DFP seems to have a threshhold that's reasonable. 

 

View Article  GLCC Wellness event for men

Ledcat and I attended the women's version of this event last spring. It was quite nice.  Come out to support the partnership between the GLCC and Adagio Health. 

Let the stress melt away:

Relaxation and Wellness

night for MEN

Mini spa night featuring:

chair massages

hot wax hand treatments

guided meditation, facials,

hand massages

manicures

 blood pressure monitoring

 cancer screenings

hemoglobin checks

 BMI, STD testing

 

Refreshments provided

 

Sponsored by Adagio Health, Inc

and the GLCC

 

Gay and Lesbian Community Center

of Pittsburgh

210 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

 

When:   Tuesday March 23, 2010

                        4:00-7:00 PM.

 

Who:    Gay and Bisexual Men

 

Why:  Because healthy living is relaxing

 

RSVP required

call Kat  412-304-8181

March 23rd will be Men's Wellness night

April 6 will be Women's Wellness night

May 4th will be Trans Wellness night

 

sdf

View Article  Sally Kalson - Good Families, Good Laws

Great piece from Sally on the need for good laws to help families of all types step up when crisis happens.

sdf

 

View Article  When In-Laws Agree: Joe Hoeffel

My mother-in-law is a Democrat with liberal leanings.  My father is a Catholic Republican with small government leanings.  My cousin is well, I don't know, but a proponent of education, decent roads and elected officials paying attention to small towns. 

In the past 24 hours, I've had conversations with all three about my reasons for supporting Joe Hoeffel.  And to my surprise, all three were willing to listen. 

For MIL and my Dad, it was all about the Marcellus Shale.  MIL owns farm land and Dad has worked on wastewater emissions for coke plants (steel mills) for two decades.  They both care about the environment and they both have witnessed firsthand the devastation that unchecked corporate greed can wreck on our planet. They both agree that drilling the Shale will overload the municipal water treatments of small communities and that the gas companies should have to basically clean up their mess.  My Dad would prefer if the companies would be forced to do it themselves, but he recognizes the improbability of  that option so he agrees that taxes to fund the clean up are fair and just.  The both want their grandchildren to grow up with a cleaner environment and believe that dedicating this tax to environmental preservation is something they support.

My Dad thinks the County tax assessment is ridiculous and my cousin agrees. She wants more detail on education and she is beyond angry that PennDOT ignored small towns outside of Allegheny County while getting all this glory about their stellar road clearing inside the County. 

None of them think Onorato has been doing a heck of a job, Danny.  And all three are giving a second look at the "Socially Progressive, Fiscally Responsible Candidate" from the East, Joe Hoeffel.

You can have an impact if you talk with your families about this race.  The numbers are amazingly close considering the size of the Onorato war chest.  Folks like my family members have not been impressed with Onorato's ability to deliver to struggling communities in this region so they don't buy the argument that electing a Western PA Democrat will be good for us.  They don't buy it.

View Article  Virginia Says Academic Institutions Can't Ban Discimination

You just need to read this for yourself ...from the AP.

Wow.  This could get interesting.  Surely there are much more worthy issues for the State Attorney General to worry about than academic institutions creating inclusive environments.  Is he going to poke into the anti-discrimination practices of all private contractors receiving state funding? 

Yet another reason for you and your family to get involved/pay attention to LGBT politics. 

sdf

View Article  Queer Culture Conference at Pitt in April

Thought this is something interesting worth noting ....The conference is April 1-3 at the University of Pittsburgh.  Just one of those things you might not realize takes place in Pittsburgh (unless you subscribe to the Queer Events list).

Sexuality Studies and LGBT
Activism in Latin America

The Sixth International Latin American Cultural Studies Conference, to be held at the University of Pittsburgh the first three days of April 2010, will gather a number of people who have been key to activism and academic work on LGBT issues in Latin America. Many of them have organized events in their countries on issues of sexual minorities and LGBT issues; many have published anthologies of queer writing and sexuality studies within their national contexts. Many of our participants have worked intensely at a national as well as at an international context, often at personal risk and in the midst of complex political situations.

Their many publications have broadened and deepened our knowledge of sexual cultures throughout Latin America. Events in Caracas, Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, Montevideo, La Paz and other important cities have helped give LGBT communities a public presence, while fostering academic work on LGBT issues. This event, which will include presentations, panel discussions and readings of creative work, will bring their (and others?) experience at the local and national levels to Pittsburgh.

 

sdf

View Article  Are you wondering what the heck the marcellus shale is? Joe Hoeffel explains it all ...

The Marcellus Shale and Responsible Development
http://joehoeffel2010.com/environment/marcellus-shale

The extraction of Marcellus Shale natural gas represents an entirely new economy for Pennsylvania. It has the potential to create thousands of jobs, drive local economies, and build revenue for the commonwealth. Drilling in the Marcellus Shale also opens up new environmental concerns with extremely serious consequences for all Pennsylvanians.

Joe Hoeffel will fight for responsible gas drilling with strong environmental regulations. Currently, the gas companies are exempt from many federal water safety restrictions. Joe will keep Pennsylvania safe while allowing us to prosper from this resource for decades to come.


DRILLING DEEP FOR NATURAL GAS

Pennsylvania sits above a treasure trove of natural gas: a layer of rock called the Marcellus Shale a mile underneath two-thirds of the commonwealth. The Marcellus Shale contains what may be the largest natural gas reserve in the United States.

To drill a Marcellus Shale well, millions of gallons of water (taken from a local stream, river, or lake) are forced down into the shale to fracture it and allow the gas contained within to come to the surface: this is called hydraulic fracturing. To aid the process, dozens of chemicals (including arsenic, benzene, and pesticides) are added to the water. Most of the water returns to the surface as industrial wastewater. Each well produces millions of gallons of chemical-laced wastewater.

In 2008 and 2009, over 1,000 wells were drilled and began operation in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale. Over 2,000 drilling permits were issued by the end of 2009. The Department of Environmental Protection estimates another 5,200 drilling permits will be issued in 2010.


OUR DRINKING WATER IS AT STAKE

The natural gas industry is not currently responsible for treating this wastewater: since 2005 it has been exempt from the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Pennsylvania has wastewater treatment regulations, enforced by the Department of Environmental Protection, but Pennsylvania's regulations don't cover most of the chemicals in Marcellus Shale wastewater.

The drinking water supply of the entire commonwealth is at risk of contamination.

With no requirement to treat the wastewater, the natural gas industry can simply deliver it to municipal water treatment facilities. The industry is allowed to create a mess and isn't held responsible for cleaning it up. That's something Pennsylvania allowed the coal industry to get away with for decades, and we're still suffering the consequences. We can't let that happen again.

Municipal facilities aren't equipped to remove the chemicals in industrial wastewater. Municipalities will be hard-pressed to afford expensive new treatment plants capable of adequate treatment.


REGULATIONS TO PROTECT OUR WATER

Pennsylvania needs stronger wastewater treatment regulations which establish limits on the amount of total dissolved solids and toxic chemicals, to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act standards.

Joe Hoeffel will continue to call upon the DEP to strengthen its regulations to adequately protect the drinking water of our commonwealth. He has already delivered testimony to the DEP at a hearing in Allentown and spoken at a forum on natural gas drilling chaired by State Representative Vitali.

Joe is working with environmental organizations and advisors from universities to understand the science of water safety. He's also visiting communities around the commonwealth to learn about the effects of drilling from local residents.


A SEVERANCE TAX TO MEET OUR NEEDS

Pennsylvania must require natural gas companies to pay a severance tax on the gas they mine. Pennsylvania is the only major natural-gas-producing state without a severance tax. The silver lining is that we can learn from other states and create a fair tax with maximum benefits.

The industry is extraordinarily profitable and Pennsylvania's natural gas supply is enormous. Pennsylvania must stand firm and enact a tax that will meet the costs the industry places on the state. Joe Hoeffel will make sure Pennsylvania gets a fair deal from the natural gas companies.

Joe will seek a severance tax which will double the projected revenue from Governor Rendell's currently proposed tax to provide Pennsylvania with $300 million in its first year.

The tax has to be used wisely. A severance tax won't last forever: once the gas is gone, the tax revenue ends. Pennsylvania must devote some of the severance tax money to protecting the towns experiencing a boom economy during the gas rush from experiencing a bust economy later.

Joe Hoeffel will dedicate portions of the severance tax to fund:

  • DEP's inspection and enforcement operations;
  • new wastewater treatment facilities;
  • the renewal of Growing Greener;
  • communities affected by drilling in their efforts to meet the infrastructure and housing costs the industry has brought them; and
  • our community colleges, expanding programs and educational sites to build a strong, adaptable workforce throughout the state.

Bolstering our community colleges will help prepare Pennsylvanians for thousands of skilled jobs today in the natural gas industry and environmental protection. Community colleges will also prepare our workforce for jobs in green energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, technology, health care, and other fields which will long outlast the Marcellus Shale natural gas.

Joe Hoeffel will make sure Pennsylvanians are prepared to take the jobs the industry creates.


A MORATORIUM ON NEW PERMITS

The Department of Environmental Protection has estimated the number of Marcellus Shale permits issued will triple in 2010. The DEP is already overwhelmed and unable to meet its current obligations. Our regulations are not adequately protecting our drinking water, and we lack the facilities and funding to provide this treatment. It's time to slow down and do things in the right order.

Joe Hoeffel supports a moratorium on issuing new drilling permits until the new wastewater regulations are in place and enforceable.

Joe also supports a moratorium on the leasing of additional state lands for drilling until a comprehensive study of all state land is performed to prioritize which land is most critical to protect.


WHAT LIES AHEAD, IF WE DON'T ACT

Already, we have seen disasters which have resulted from a lack of careful management, oversight, and protection. Leasing mineral rights and receiving royalty payments is extremely attractive to many landowners, but once drilling begins, the picture often changes.

A Washington County resident tested his water a year before the drillers came and again after they drilled three wells on his property. He discovered arsenic at 2,600 times acceptable levels, benzene at 44 times above limits, and naphthalene five times the federal standard.

He now says, "I don't want to live here any more. I'm afraid of the chemicals."1

In the Susquehanna County town of Dimock, tests have showed drinking water now contains high quantities of aluminum, iron, and methane.

Methane from natural gas drilling leaked into groundwater caused a drinking water well to explode and another well to catch fire; wells were found to contain so much toxic gas that residents were told to open windows for ventilation when bathing.

"The smell and rotten taste, you couldn't take a shower in it because the smell stayed on your skin, you couldn't wash clothes in it," said one Dimock resident of the town's water.

Another Dimock resident has contemplated selling her house and moving. "How would you advertise it?" she asks. "'Beautiful house in the country. Bring your own water.'" 2


WHAT LIES AHEAD, IF WE ACT WISELY

Pennsylvania can benefit tremendously from the natural gas reserves of the Marcellus Shale with careful planning.

With environmental regulations that protect our water statewide, a severance tax which allows our towns to adapt to their new industry, and a plan in place to protect our state land, Pennsylvania can take pride in its natural gas industry. Landowners, towns, and the commonwealth will prosper. Many Pennsylvanians will be employed working on gas wells and in treatment facilities. And most importantly, Pennsylvania will be prepared for the day the drilling ends. If we prepare, the boom won't turn into a bust.

Joe Hoeffel will fight for the crucial policies which will maximize the benefits to Pennsylvania from our Marcellus Shale resources without compromising the safety and beauty of the commonwealth.


1. "Pennsylvania lawsuit says drilling polluted water." Environmental Compliance Monitor. n.d. Web. March 4, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/y89xkup

2. "Environmental concerns rise in northeastern Pennsylvania as natural gas drilling spreads." Voice of America. January 2, 2010. Web. March 4, 2010. http://tinyurl.com/ycp9ulo

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