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View Article  Why the disdain on civil disobedience KDKA and Commander Rashelle Brackney?

Yesterday, members of Northside United engaged in acts of civil disobedience to bring attention to their struggle for community benefits from the mega-development on the "Northshore."  Protestors blocked a building entrance.  The media showed up and I was appalled at their condescending treatment of this exercise in their civil rights.

Here's the video from KDKA http://kdka.com/video/?id=60191@kdka.dayport.com

John Shumway of KDKA was just unbelievably patronizing.  Feminist dyke rant move on.   It takes a lot of freaking gaul for a white man whose path to a career in broadcast journalism was a foregone conclusion from the moment of his freaking conception to stand in MY neighborhood and speak down about a group of community activists engaging in a time proven civil rights tactic to bring attention to the plight of low-income urban residents who didn't have that privileges of birth that Mr. Shumway enjoys. 

This is the same station that tracks down the limo driver from Michael Jackson's last tour stop in Pittsburgh (1988?  1998?) for the local angle on MJ's death.  This is the same man who will shove his microphone into the faces of grieving family members and shell shocked neighbors to meet his yinzer exploitation quota for the evening, but he can't use his professional skills to cover a story about poverty, community activisim and corporate greed?  Are you freaking kidding me, Shumway?  You might want to thumb through the wikipedia entry on civil disobedience to get a little refresher on the long history of non violent actions to respond to injustice perpetrated by the man.  But you are in fact someone who benefits from the man's systems so why would you need to do your homework? 

I was also disappointed with the barely disguised scorn and laughter of Zone 1 Commander Rashelle Brackney.  Command Brackney must have forgotten that repeated acts of civil disobedience by African-Americans and women throughout the 20th Century paved the way for her ascent to power in the City police force.  I get that she is unable to condone breaking the law, but she could have acted like a leader in the Northside instead of a condescending public official.  Let us not forget that she was dragged away from the very important work of ticketing cars in the Mexican War Streets that are parked the wrong direction. I used to be a fan of Commander Brackney, but the day she failed to call someone out for describing as "nuts and fruits" the children in our neighborhoods she lost my support.  I guess she's willing to go to bat for certain children, but not those with mental illness and those who are gay. 

It is dismaying that as corruption in our City government continues to come to light, public safety officials and the fourth estate turn a blind eye to residents trying to accomplish something good for their community.  They aren't running around Pittsburgh dressed up like costume characters.  They aren't raving about conspiracies.  They are trying to build a better lives for their families. 

A critical analysis of the effectiveness of the campaign would be fine, even deeming it ineffective.  Commander Brackney could have said nothing.  KDKA producers could have smacked Shumway in the head (figuratively) and sent him back to the editing room to put together a decent story. 

Instead, we have another example of systemic support for corporate America at the cost of hard-working Americans who just want a shot at improving their lives. 

View Article  Equality Advocates Board Resigns - Huh?

I caught this tonight on Twitter via the Philadelphia Gay News:

Nearly all of the board members of LGBT legal organization Equality Advocates Pennsylvania have resigned within the past two weeks.

Ten of the 13 members stepped down in a move that Lynn Zeitlin, executive director of the group, said was part of a wider restructuring effort.

The former board members include president Virginia Gutierez, vice president Trudi Sippola, treasurer Margaret Klaw, secretary Stephen Scardina and members Jodi Bromberg, Charles Ellis, Linda Aline Hawkins, Doug Metcalfe, Cody Poerio and Steven Sokoll.

None of the members PGN reached was willing to comment on the reason for their resignations, although Sippola said she felt it was ?a good time for there to be some fresh energy on the board to take Equality Advocates into the next phase of its development.?

Metcalfe, the former board spokesperson who served on the body for seven years, said that ?there are certainly some things that have happened in the organization that brought me to the decision that I needed to resign.?

This is disturbing as our attention turns statewide for the battle to pass HB 300 (and not get derailed by marriage windmills).  EA is supposed to be the go to group.  I'll admit that I was a little taken aback when I met Lynn Zeitlin.  I asked her if she was coming to Pittsburgh for the NetRoots Nation Conference in August and she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.  Even when I explained, she just told me she had to head back to Philly and walked away.  I was stunned. 

Now I'm really concerned.  I have had my differences with EA after information I shared on a confidential conference call was leaked to a donor who excorciated me for a perceived criticism.  That was the end of my supporting role as a blogger for either group (still waiting on apology - hi guys).  The lack of organizing presence in Western Pennsylvania has been damaging, but it did allow for some new grassroots shoots to emerge from the chaff. 

So ... be honest with me ... can you name any statewide advocacy groups?  The ACLU doesn't count.  No?  Then go read my tweets about the most recent Steel City Stonewall Board meeting and get involved.  Organizations break down when people stop paying attention.  When they stop caring.

View Article  Civil Disobedience: Bringing the Northside to the Northshore

From Pittsburgh United

Media Contact:  Jennifer England


Northside Mothers demand Corporate Neighbors help stop the violence

Thursday July 16th 11:00

Del Monte Building

Northside mothers and community members will gather on the ?Northshore? tomorrow morning to demand that corporate neighbors take more responsibility for what?s happening in their back yards.

?Our kids are dying, while millionaires get subsidies to build projects that profit millionaires? said Angel Gober, a Northside mother and activist.  ?We want development on the Northsore to provide good-paying jobs with benefits for our families so our young people have hope.  That?s why all this killing is happening, our young people have no hope.?

The group will ?bring the Northside to the Northshore? and build a memorial by the Del Monte building.  ?There are memorials to victims of violence in many Northside neighborhoods. Since commuters and Northshore visitors do not pass through our neighborhoods, we are bringing the despair and pain of the Northside mothers and families to the developers doorsteps.  They need to understand that by ignoring community needs they are directly contributing to the problems plaguing their Northside neighbors? said Gober.

The Delmonte building is managed by Continental Real Estate who pay their building service workers poverty wages with no health benefits.  Northside United wants to ensure that doesn?t happen in new development, especially after the Stadium Authority gave them land at 1/10th the market price and the planning commission approved the master plan over the unanimous objections of the community.

Northside United has been trying to get the developer to sit down and talk with community members for two years. Northside United is a coalition of more than 60 Northside community groups, churches, social service agencies, Northsiders of all ages, labor unions, environmental groups and allies from around the city, working together to win Community Benefits Agreements (CBA?s) with the corporate developers who are building projects on the Northshore.

View Article  Steel City Stonewall Meeting Tonight

Tonight is the night to get involved.

Steel City Stonewall Monthly Meeting

Thursday, July 16, 2009

7 - 9 PM

Crazy Mocha Lawrenceville

This is your opportunity to be at the table with decision makers who discuss politics impacting our community.  If you can take the time to analyze Bruno's impact on gay culture, you should make time to talk about the County Council race in District 1.  Seriously.

See you there.

View Article  Is Onorato Exaggerating or Lying?

Why can't Dan Onorato be content to exaggerate his role in passing this legislation?  He jumped on board the anti-discrimination bandwagon months after the wagon was rolling and clearly missed the opportunity to be a leader on this issue.  Still, he's not one to miss the opportunity to *claim* he was a leader. 

But, I do take issue with his factual inaccuracies. 

Taking a Strong Stand Against Discrimination

Last week in Allegheny County, Dan signed the region?s strongest anti-discrimination ban into law ? sending a clear message that discrimination against anybody is wrong, always.

The new law bans discrimination on the basis of gender, race, mental or physical disability, religion, ethnicity, national origin, age, educational status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

All of our citizens need to know that they are fully protected when it comes to employment, housing and public accommodations. This law doesn?t infringe on anyone?s religious rights, but it does make sure that everyone feels welcome to work here, raise a family here and be part of our community. 

We already covered the hair splitting about taking a strong stand.   There are two factual errors.

First, this is not the region's strongest ban.  The City ban is stronger.  The County ban is weakened by the Philadelphia Amendment which the City of Brotherly Love is trying to drop.  Definitely not strong and could be very embarrassing for Danny's progressive makeover for the Eastern Dems. 

Second, this ordinance does not say that discrimination is always wrong or that citizens are fully protected.  It does say that you can discriminate in the name of Jesus if that's what he whispers in your ear to do.  You can potentially collect a few public dollars while doing so.  People are not fully protected or even pretty much protected.  The loophole isn't just about ensuring the Lutheran church doesn't have a fey organist, but also covers charitable organizations and fraternal organizations.  So no gay Elks for you, my friends.  Would that be a Gelk?  Elkay? 

My point is that Onorato should take credit for getting on board and signing the legislation. I'm sure he worked behind the scenes to help secure the 8 votes once he publicly supported the ordinance.  

What he still hasn't done is provide domestic partner benefits to County employees.  That's the tragic lining to this silver cloud.  In one short summer, he could bring the County up to the City of Pittsburgh standard of diversity and inclusiveness. 


Dan Onorato: Democrat

Dear Friends,

As Dan Onorato continues to prepare Southwest Pennsylvania to host this

fall?s G-20 Economic summit and lay the groundwork to run for Governor,

I wanted to give you a quick update from the campaign trail:

Building Strength in Southeast Pennsylvania

Today, we picked up a major boost in the Philadelphia suburbs when

Senators Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) and Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery)

said that Dan Onorato should be Pennsylvania?s next Governor.

Sen. Dinniman said that: ?In this recession, it is absolutely critical that

 our next Governor understands how to create the 21st Century jobs that

 will make us leaders in the new economy.  That?s why I?m backing

Dan Onorato.?

And Sen. Leach said that: ?Even if it means challenging members of his own

political party, when Dan sees corruption or government inefficiency,

he will get in peoples? faces and demand change.  That?s exactly what we

need in Harrisburg.?

Both Senators also said that Dan would be the strongest

Democrat to take on the Republican nominee. 

 Read more about these key endorsements

Taking a Strong Stand Against Discrimination

Last week in Allegheny County, Dan signed the region?s

strongest anti-discrimination ban into law ? sending a

clear message that discrimination against anybody is wrong, always.

The new law bans discrimination on the basis of gender, race,

mental or physical disability, religion, ethnicity, national origin,

age, educational status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

All of our citizens need to know that they are fully protected when it

comes to employment, housing and public accommodations.

This law doesn?t infringe on anyone?s religious rights, but it does

make sure that everyone feels welcome to work here, raise a

family here and be part of our community. 

Expanding Our Fundraising Lead

Thanks to your help, when it comes to raising the resources

needed to win statewide, Dan continues to outpace his potential

opponents. In fact, Dan has raised more than all of his potential

Democratic and Republican opponents ? combined.

Check out this recent article:

 ?Onorato far outpacing Wagner in the money game.?

But we know this race will soon be targeted by the national

Republicans, so your help now is critical. Please help us expand

our grassroots base and make a contribution today ? every little bit helps.

Thank you for your continued support.

Kevin Kinross
Campaign Manager
Friends of Dan Onorato

Contribute Volunteer
Paid for by Friends of Dan Onorato

View Article  Western Pennsylvania Diversity Initiative

I had never heard of this project until the article in today's Business section of the Post-Gazette (see, it does pay to read the whole paper).

They have hired their first director, Dina Clark, who has a background with the Anti-Defamation League.  The groups mission and vision:

The Western Pennsylvania Diversity Initiative (WPDI) is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to facilitating diversity by providing educational, networking, and other resources for employers and employees. It was founded in 2005 as an outgrowth of the Community Outreach Taskforce of the Bar Association.

The mission of WPDI is to promote regional economic growth by providing resources to employers in the Pittsburgh region to attract, hire, and retain employees from a variety of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

The vision of WPDI is to:

  1. Create a vibrant community of organizations and individuals who value diversity.
  2. Provide a forum to develop and disseminate resources that communicate the importance of diversity to our region and its employees.
  3. Measure and publicize Western Pennsylvania?s successes in attracting, developing, and retaining employees of diverse backgrounds.

I don't see any reference to LGBT initiatives on their website, but I wrote to the organization asking about that.  They do mention the community, but I think the information is very dated. I don't need to recount the research demonstrating that a LGBT welcoming and affirming region (and businesses) are central to economic growth, particularly with attracting and retaining educated talent. 

Ms. Clark comments that the initiative transcends race:

When discussing diversity, she often makes the word part of a phrase, "diversity and inclusion," that helps to take the discussion beyond usual boundaries.

"People hear 'diversity,' and they think race relations," she said. "We're beyond that. This is about everybody.

"Diversity is not just black and white. It's size, age, socioeconomic backgrounds, abilities, religion, gender, sexual orientation. It's all of those things ... all of those things that really impact the quality of life for people. It goes beyond what's traditionally been addressed." Warming to her subject, she added, "It also shouldn't be about your victimization is greater than mine."

That sounds promising.  It would be wonderful for the Initiative to include domestic partner benefits and non-discrimination clauses to its list of "to do" things when working with local corporations (and the County of Allegheny). 

Do you recognize any of these names as community members:

WPDI Leadership

WPDI Board of Directors

    • Marla Bradford ? Duquesne University
    • Dina Clark ? Anti-Defamation League
    • Kent Clifton ? AXA Advisors
    • F. David Coleman ? US Steel
    • Kelly Glass ? The Hill Group
    • Lakshmi Gopi ? Highmark
    • Aaron Graham ? WPCW/KDKA-TV
    • Linda Guest ? Glaxo Smith Kline
    • Nancy Heilman ? Cohen, Grigsby
    • Tonya Johnson
    • Dean Julian ? Winchester Thurston School
    • Dan Krauth ? Zimmer Kunz
    • Stephen Quick ? Perkins, Eastman
    • Luis Rico-Guiterrez ? Carnegie Mellon University
    • Stephen Spolar ? The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    • Dr. Terry Starz ? UPMC and ACMS
    • JW Wallace

I'd hope that including a well-informed LGBT leader would help them maintain current information and a the status quo on diversity initiatives to promote LGBT acceptance and inclusion.  They have a conference coming up in October.


View Article  Bruno?

There sure has been a lot of fuss about Bruno.  Many, many LGBT folks are up in arms about the tasteless portrayal of a gay man on the prowl for fame. 

Ledcat and I saw the movie on Friday night and laughed quite a bit.  Some of it was just gross, but laughing at the stereotypes that are embedded "within" the gay community was somewhat therapeutic.  I get that some kids are apt to see the movie and wield the content as more ammunication in their gay bashing, but I just can't bring myself to begrudge SBC what other movie makers strive for all the time. 

Plus, I was on the receiving end of gay bashing based on the critically acclaimed Brokeback Mountain.  It happens.  We soldier on and an occasional laugh at our own expense helps some of us.

The best part about the knicker knots are the accusations that if you laugh at the movie, you are a racist self-loathing homophobe.  There's also the repeating theme that Americans are too dumb to catch the satirical element of the film.  That's nice. 

On a positive note, we have a valid criminal complaint against the guy who gay bashed us.  He should be receiving a citation for intimidation and harassment.  If we end up in the magistrate's office, anyone want to come and take a stand against bigotry? 

View Article  Support one of Pittsburgh's Most Important LGBT owned businesses










* 30% OFF




A Pleasant Present
2301 Murray Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA  15217
This is the opportunity to say thank you to Michael who sells tickets to just about every LGBT event in town without making a cent. It is sad to me that people will stop in to drop $30 on tickets and not buy even a single card.  He can't stay in business to sell those tickets if you won't shop there.  It is very simple economics.  There is so much wonderful stuff there.  We bought our nephew's baptism gift, tons of anniversary presents and even more tons of gift baskets to be sent all over the country. 
So take your next gift budget in to A Pleasant Present and ask Michael to help you find something unique that won't break your bank.  He can do it. 
View Article  Racism at Philly Pool

Less than 24 hours after the "official" signing of the Allegheny County Human Relations Ordinance comes word that a Philadelphia private swim club won't let a summer camp filled with children of color swim at their pool.  From CNN:

The Creative Steps Day Care children -- ages kindergarten through seventh grade -- went to the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, on June 29.

The day center's director, Alethea Wright, had contracted to use the club once a week. During their first visit, some children said they heard club members asking why African-American children were there.

One of the boys told the Philadelphia Inquirer that a woman at the club said she feared the children "might do something" to her child.

Days later, the day care center's $1,950 check was returned without explanation, Wright said.

The families are utilizing Pennsylvania's Human Relations Commission to investigate wrongdoing.  So here is a concrete, albeit completely demoralizing, example of how this body makes a difference. 

The stepfather of one of the children was filing a complaint against the club with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the panel's chairman, Stephen Glassman, said Thursday. VideoWatch one of the children say what he heard at the swim club ?

The commission is investigating the allegations, spokeswoman Shannon Powers said, and will attempt to resolve the conflict out of court.

"Protests and public outcry won't do much to help these families, but the Human Relations Commission can determine the facts and hold people accountable for any illegal acts of discrimination," State NAACP President J. Whyatt Mondesire, who serves as a commission member, said in a press release.

The camp is allegely not returning media phone contacts.  They took their website down and put up this statement:

The Valley Club is deeply troubled by the recent allegations of racism which are completely untrue.

We had originally agreed to invite the camps to use our facility, knowing full well that the children from the camps were from multi-ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately, we quickly learned that we underestimated the capacity of our facilities and realized that we could not accommodate the number of children from these camps. All funds were returned to the camps and we will re-evaluate the issue at a later date to determine whether it can be feasible in the future.

Our Valley Club deplores discrimination in any form, as is evidenced by our multi-ethnic and diverse membership. Whatever comments may or may not have been made by an individual member is an opinion not shared by The Valley Club Board.

I was horrified watching Ms. Wright and her 11 year old son on the CBS Early Show describing their experience.  This young boy was talking about the comments grown white adults made about him and his friends -- they might steal, they might hurt other children, they didn't want "them" there, etc -- and was so stoic.  Kudos to his mother and the community for teaching him resiliency and advocacy by fighting back against injustice.

But how sad that in the summer of 2009, Pennsylvania children still have to deal with struggles to integrate swimming pools. 

Swimming pools!

This is an example of why Allegheny County did the right thing last week.  It is 2009 and Pennsylvania has a long way to go until we don't need legal protections for minority groups. 

View Article  Sue and Ledcat Review the County Non-Discriminationi Ordinance Celebration

Just random thoughts after attending what was supposed to be the signing ceremony for the Alleghen County Human Relations Commission ordinance.  Somehow it got signed two days ago.  So what we had instead was a lot of build up to Dan Onorato pretending to swish a pen around on paper. 

I would ask for a refund on the refreshments.

Sue:  Franco Harris was there!  It took me three tries until I found someone who knew who Franco Harris is.  They knew Dok Harris, who was also there, but not Franco.  What is wrong with these transplants? (I'm talking to you Kris Rust!)

Ledcat:  An eclectic mixture of people.  Very diverse across race, gender, etc.  There was young and old, male and female and white and black.

Sue:  I don't think Dan Onorato said the word gay.  He talked about evolving from being a good Catholic boy to someone who understands that you have to stand up and say no to discrimination, but I think he like the other good Catholic boy in town did it without uttering the word.  That is impressive in a weird, quasi-progressive way to win the Gubernatorial race kind of way.

Ledcat:  Amanda Green was her usual glowing self.  She exuded intelligence and humility by sharing praise and recognition.  I believe she will use her great political instincts and intelligence to go as far as she wants to take her political career.   

Sue:  Senator Casey sent a staff person who is running one of his offices and handling LGBT affairs.  City Councilman Bruce Kraus came.  County Council candidate Tom Michalow also came.  Independent candidates for Mayor Kevin Acklin and Dok Harris were there.  We saw Dok at Nicky's Thai Kitchen later and I overheard him (yes, I eavesdrop - are you shocked?) make a comment about how much discrimination gays and lesbians face in a very sincere way. 

Ledcat:  I liked Kris Rust's speech. He is humble and quick to share credit which shows good character.  His confidence in himself and his place in the world exudes leadership.  Tom Sokolowski's speech was very entertaining. (Tom descibed Pittsburgh as Paris in Appalachia). 

Sue:  I'm still confused as to why a local foundation would spend a ton of money to print up personalized name tags in color and all for a very fancy shin dig while the Chief Executive signs the legislation two days ahead of time.  Talk about a major bitch slap ... how do you accidentally sign the most significant civil rights legislation of your Administration into law two days early?  I hope the clerk in charge of signatures doesn't move to Harrisburg with Dan.

Ledcat:  I'll let Sue have the last word.

Sue:  Thank you, honey.  The event was nice and the moment was one to savor (minus the actual signing, see above).  I was very humbled by a conversation I had with Councilperson Bob Macey and realize that sometimes we have to go back to our original places to do some of our civil rights work.  I'm glad we had a chance to celebrate in  style.

Ledcat:  I didn't say you could have the last word. I said I didn't have anything else to add. 

Sue:  Well, I do.  I wish Dan Onorato would have promised to provide domestic partner benefits for County employees.  It would certainly end my angst over further talks of City-County mergers and prove that he's willing to actually invest in our families  Now that would have been classy. 

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