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View Article  City Council to close during G-20; what about the average Joes?

I'm getting tired of learning how the privileged and elite and laptop fortified employees of Downtown are preparing for a few days without their Starbucks fix.

City council offices to close during G-20
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

City Council will adjust its calendar for the G-20 summit, President Doug Shields announced in a press release today.

During the week of the G-20, City Council will move both its Tuesday legislative meeting and its Wednesday standing committee meeting forward by one day, and City Council offices will be closed Sept. 23, 24 and 25 in anticipation of transportation difficulties.

"The magnitude and nature of the G-20 event and its security requirements will make it very difficult to maneuver the streets and public buildings of Downtown Pittsburgh," said Mr. Shields in the press release.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09230/991665-100.stm#ixzz0OaCC8VDS

What about the rest of City employees?  The ones making $24,000/year who need to conserve their PTO for their kids sicks days?  What about the non-unionized service employees?  What about the people who live Downtown (and not just in the penthouses)?

Yes, yes, I know.  The City has little information.  I saw a press conference snippet of Joanna Doven practically shaking her finger admonishing people to reschedule their medical appointments.  She fails to explain how the small business optometrist is going to weather the enforced closure of his practice for a few days.  Who pays the "inconvenienced" staff salaries? 


View Article  Franco "Dok" Harris chimes in on City's stalling tactics on G-20 dissent

Protests on the Northside between the stadiums makes a weird sort of sense, even though I know there is no way on earth on I will be able to leave my home tucked a mile away from that locale.  I've been told from friends that they were able to listen to the entire Stones concert at the stadium from outside the Convention Center. 

What are your thoughts?

Mayoral Candidate Franco ?Dok? Harris calls on the mayor and city council to guarantee basic constitutional rights to both Pittsburghers and visitors alike during next month?s G20. This can be done without interfering with security, and must be done to make sure that all voices are heard.

?The world will be looking at Pittsburgh in September, and we can?t rely on the old politics of NO and limit participation in this historic event. We have to find a way to accommodate peaceful protesters from here at home and from around the world,? said the candidate.

This is in response to the refusal to grant permits to protesters, including State Senator Jim Ferlo, to use Point State Park or any venue near to the summit. Senator Ferlo?s has been an eloquent and outspoken advocate for this issue.

?Just because we face certain restrictions set by the federal government doesn?t mean we should throw up our hands and give up. If we don?t do the right thing and provide a good venue for peaceful protests, we risk escalating the anger and frustration of participants which can lead to violence and property destruction. Not only is it the right thing to do, it?s the smart thing to do.?

Harris agrees with Sen. Ferlo that the city needs to take leadership here and would like to see permits granted for large scale protests in areas accessible to downtown but out of the security perimeter, such as the space between the stadiums on the Northside, or the large surface lots in the Strip district. There are also some suitable spots on the Southside. ?The Northside space is a particularly strong candidate as it is within view of the convention center and downtown but should meet security standards and has few local businesses to be impacted by the activity,? offered Harris. ?The key thing we need is for the city to be proactive in finding solutions that work.?


View Article  Thomas Merton Center convences emergency meeting for G-20 dissenters

Received this via email:

TMC logoThomas Merton Center
August 17, 2009
Emergency Civil Liberties Meeting
 - Be There!!!
We tried to keep our G20 protests peaceful. 
We applied for permits to create a framework  for the many  protesters from other areas to fit in peacefully and avoid chaos.
Our permits were denied. Does that force us to act without a permit?  Where do we go from here? 
We have freedom of speech and won't give that up. 
Once our rights are taken, we will never get them back.

Organizers of several planned actions are calling a meeting
Tuesday, August 18, 7pm
at the
 East Liberty Presbyterian Church
116 N. Highland @ Penn Avenue
Room 244, 2nd Floor
to discuss and decide on a unified plan. 
(The room does have air conditioning.)

Please spread the word and send out to your e mail lists. 
Our first amendment rights are in jeopardy!!
Thanks, and see you there.
Francine Porter

According to KDKA's 4 PM broadcast, the City plans to house 1800 police officers in Point Park (not to worry -- they are using air conditioned tents -- go Green Pittsburgh) so there just plum ain't room for any civil liberties to squeeze in there.  Well, I paraphrased. In the same report, State Senator Jim Ferlo indicated he is meeting with civil rights attornies, including the ACLU, to discuss his options and might be in federal court by Friday. 

It is the responsibility of the City to figure this out.  Sure, they need to house the police officers, but they also need to ensure that the civil liberties of City residents are not trampled. This is the hard work of governing that Luke Ravenstahl avoids at all cost (like leveraging public money for the benefit of the public).  Get the brain trust out and figure it out, folks. Stop the hysteria and lead the City effectively.  Take responsibility for your actions instead of screeching about the possible actions of other people.


View Article  Photos from Pgh Kiss In

Uploaded the photos from today's Kiss In at the Westin Hotel in Pittsburgh.  About a dozen folks shows up, but unfortunately, I was the only local attendee. I kissed Jeff from Harrisburg!  :-)  He was drawn to my Steel City Stonewall shirt ...

Here's the link to the photos ... http://www.pghlesbian.com/blog/PghKissIn

View Article  G-20, Gee Whiz ... RUN!

Is the Post-Gazette going to shut down during the G-20? 

Anyway, the State can commit $6.3 million to a two day summit in Pittsburgh and not a penny of it extends to protecting civil liberties.  No wonder your elected officials don't care that your programs and services are about to run out of the money ...

I am appalled that the City is denying all these permits for peaceful demonstrations.  Jim Ferlo, Code Pink and others planning PEACEFUL expressions of their positions?  Before the Summit! Well, they have to do so somewhere near McKeesport. 

Two things afoot from the lesbians' perspectives.

First, defacto Free Speech Zone.  That just feels so right with Southwestern PA democracy.  We like unions that rehire thugs, drug addicts and defend the 2nd Amendment, but disparage living wages and health insurance.  Herding people who disagree with us behind a fence faraway to create illusion that everyone loves Luke? That's our kind of progressive democracy. Give us Wal-Marts that don't slide down hills and we are relatively satisfied.

Second, this is a great way to turn the baby-eating-anarchist hysteria into a self-fulfilling prophecy .... Deny folks lawful expressions of dissent, deny safe opportunities for peaceful expression and you throw fuel on a fire called anarchy.  Or just pissed off citizens who won't kowtow to the Ravenstahl Administration dismissal of the First Amendment and decide to express themselves lawfully. 

Best of all, the media continues to deftly evade discussing actual G-20 dissent issues by lasering in on the tactics of expression.  It is pretty darn close to a perfect storm that guarantees sexy headlines without worrying about that pesky analysis.  Sigh. 

I am looking for the PG to do a thoughtful story on the people who don't have a choice about going Downtown.  The folks without cushy work from home options or extra PTO to use or PTO at all.  The working class folks.  The service industry folks who need to turn down those beds and empty the trash at the hotels for the 2,000 guest journalists, but aren't allowed to speak out for fair wages and the right to unionize for their sisters and brothers around the world. 

I don't want to see someone's business vandalized by any means, but I also have genuine fear that this approach to the G-20 guarantees that outcome.  Why can't the City work with a reputable person like Jim Ferlo to find a solution so a respected progressive leader can organize a peaceful outlet for people who have real issues?

Did the Post-Gazette ask if anyone received a permit? 

To be fair, the G-20 Resistance isn't the easiest alliance from which to get information.  The website is http://resistg20.org/#    I've tried contacting them to get more details to no avail.  The website isn't updated regularly.  I am planning to sit down with Code Pink and get some insight into their plans. 

So who is really being served by all these protective measures?  $6.8 million could keep a lot of kids in state subsidized daycare so their parents can keep working. 

View Article  The Warhol Party: lanyard envy and tote bags

You know I've been helping with this little shindig at the Warhol, known as the "Unofficial" Official After Party for NetRoots which I in turn dubbed the "Gay Immaculate Reception" when I learned Mr. Franco Harris was planning to attend.

The party began at 9:30.  We arrived about 9:45 and the place was holdin 150 or so folks.  I was asked to drive someone back over to the Convention Center who was able to get the "Voice of God" to announce that the party was extended to 1 AM at the end of the Clinton speech.  By the time I was parked back at the Warhol and had reclaimed my drink from Ledcat, the hordes descended.  Orange lanyards could have stretched for miles as hundreds of people showed up over the ensuing few hours.  They estimated 650-700 people (or 18,000) showed up. 

It was packed. You couldn't move.  I had lanyard envy.  I also learned that I am even more horrible with the name/face recognition skill that I previously believed.  Michelangelo Signorile was introduced to me and I acted like a doofus welcoming him Pittsburgh as if I had no clue who he was.  I also ran up to Pam Spaulding and asked her if she got my tweet as if my tweet would stand out to her.  She was very gracious.  I can only chalk it up to post-visitation/hours with my extended family stress. 

Do you have intrafamily politics about funeral flowers?  I mean is that normal? 

Anyway, I had a great time at the party.  Ledcat hung out with Miranda from Dykes on Bikes for awhile and I ran around to see who I could spot among the guests.  Mitch from the Pittsburgh Gay & Lesbian Film Society was there.  Gary McKillop from the GLCC was there.  Several board members from Steel City Stonewall Democrats came. Local blogger Kira was there.  Maria from 2 Political Junkies stopped by and had a chance to go on camera with Pridecast.


Another ally stopped by and chatted with the cameras.


I did make a new friend.  Gave me a good ice breaker with the family.  Plus, everyone loved the pink shirt.


ps: any excess NetRoots tote bags? We can use them to help local families at their food banks.

View Article  Saying Good-Bye to Grandma

She was not pleased when I came out as a lesbian, until she realized I was getting an award (40 Under 40) and would be wearing a skirt to receive it.  She came around and embraced Ledcat like another one of her grandkids.  Same gifts every holiday. She even remembered her as her dementia increased, a sure sign of a bond. 

Not many people reach 38 and still have a living grandparent (my oldest cousin is 52).  I was pretty darn lucky.  I was also lucky that a lot of her personality shone through even into her last year.  She still smiled and enjoyed retro television.  And ice cream.  Ah, how she loved her ice cream.

There's some strange little "coincidences" popping up here.  She died the same month as her husband, albeit 8 years later.  The night of my grandfather's funeral, I went to an Indigo Girls concert (where I finally cried).  The night of her funeral, I'll be at the Decembrists. Same funeral home, same arrangements.  New sense of finality.  All four of my grandparents have passed which leaves me feeling somewhat adrift from my past.  She's left me hundreds of photos to sort through and almost every letter she's received, including all of my grandfather's letters from WWII. 

She took care of me when my mother was hospitalized while I was a child.  She sent me Calvin & Hobbes comic strips every week for the 4 years of college and 2 years of grad school.  She baked a date and nut pudding every holiday.  She took me to Kaufmann's.  She was annoyed with me when I discovered that our family was not Irish Catholic, but in fact German Catholic and Irish Protestant.  But she still trusted me with her final wishes which made yesterday's visit to the funeral home relatively painless.  I just had to pick out a prayer card and a guest book.  She took care of everything else including her obituary.

I was pretty good until I went to Macy's to purchase her funeral outfit.  She's been wearing casual clothing for two years so there was nothing dressy enough for her final outfit.  I found this awesome print jacket combo and began to sob in the middle of the store when I realized it was the last outfit I would buy for her.  I've been shopping for her over the past 6 years.  I know she would like it, but it was really tough when the sales clerk told me I'd get a lifetime of use out of it. 

I certainly had a lifetime of love from my Grandma.  She was a fierce little woman who made some very human choices over her lifetime and leaves behind a lot of stories and memories. 

This is a sad time, but not tragic.  A 93 year old woman being able to stay at home (thanks PDA Waiver program) her final year and passing in her sleep just an hour after a tender exchange with her daughter in law is pretty much a good way to pass. 

God Speed, Grandma.

View Article  PRIDEcast, Net Roots and Lesbians

This afternoon I was a guest on the local podcast, PRIDEcast, sponsored by OUTonline.  It was a lot of fun even though I was struggling with a cold.  I had a brief flirtation with a radio career so I was fine with the banter although anxious about the camera.  We chatted about a wide range of topics -- the homophobia of Julia Child, the latest video of Shakira, LGBT v GLBT, lesbian bars, sexism, my blog, etc.  I'll post a link when its up online. 

I've never seen a Shakira video.  I made allusions to Duran Duran and talked about the symbolism of her being caged.  I'm not sure if that was he was looking for, but I had fun.  Plus, Ledcat swung by to pick me up just before the skies opened up for our daily shower.

NetRoots Nation is here which means the LGBT Blogging Initiative is in town.  Tonight was a casual Happy Hour.  Tomorrow will be the "unofficial" official welcome reception at the Andy Warhol, sponsored by the Lambda Foundation and the Initiative.  Due to the last minute scheduling of President Clinton to speak that same evening, our party has been pushed back to 9:30 PM. Come on down and be part of the big queer hello to the NetRoots Bloggers and check out the latest Warhol exhibits. 

Saturday is the National Kiss In. 

Meanwhile on the local front, no word from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office on the LGBT Advisory Committee he announced in December 2008. 

How embarrassing. 

View Article  Pittsburgh Kiss In

A Kiss In here in Pittsburgh?

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
And when two lovers woo
They still say, "I love you"
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by

Recently, a few folks have not perceived a kiss as just a kiss when it comes to same-sex couples.  So, here's what is going on ...

8/15/09: 2PM

After nationwide incidents in which gay and lesbian couples were harassed or detained by for the simple act of kissing in a public place, we need to make a strong statement to everyone everywhere: kissing is not a bad thing, nor has it ever been. It's not vulgar or inappropriate. It's a sign of affection that is as old as time itself -- a beautiful thing that we share with our loved ones every single day.

At 2pm, bring your husband/wife/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend/friend to the public space in front of Westin portico/driveway on 10th between Liberty Ave and Penn Ave (1000 Penn Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15222) as we participate in this national event.

Here's the FB Group.  If you aren't on FB, try here contact@goodasyou.org

Here's the link to the map of the location.  http://tinyurl.com/pghkissin

It is kind of a neat idea and I have a romantic side that finds this very appealing. 

Would you feel comfortable being part of a public kiss event?

View Article  Diane Gramley a little behind the curve on spreadin' the lies

Talk about delayed reactions.  On July 1, Allegheny County Council passed the Countywide Non-Discrimination Ordinance.  On August 11, the American Family Association of PA prez Diane Gramley's ridiculous screech was printed in the Post-Gazette. 

Not even worth quoting.  She's completely on to our hidden agenda to forcibly convert the Boy Scouts and send men in dresses into ladies' restrooms across the County.  Damn.  I thought all the talk about not being fired and finding decent housing would distract her.  Ah well ... she's too canny for the likes of us.

How about sending your own letter to the PG, thanking the County Council?

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