Saturday, November 8, 2008

Countdown to the Conference!


Alright, folks, you ready?

Purchase your plane ticket here (they're still cheap right now):
http://www.blackworldtravelandtours.com

Register and get Hotel Information here:
http://www.stateoftheblackworld.org

Check Us Out on Facebook Here (See Our Video Trailer!):
http://www.facebook.com/pages/State-of-the-Black-World/30181455055?ref=ts

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pa(l)infully Funny

Wow. Build the Hill was great last weekend! Thanks everybody! There were three days of activities but some of the reporters were particularly interested in the unsung heroes and sheroes in the Community. Here's one article. Odd sort of twist, eh? Will follow up soon.

In the meantime, I get to get some laughs in, as the economy tanks:

Here's the latest Tina Fey impression of Sarah Palin.
It's a parody of the latest interview Palin did with Katie Couric.

This is so funny, it's sad.

I'll be doing mine this Thursday at the Obama Fundraiser.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Build the Hill This Weekend!


Hey Folks,

Last weekend, I opened for The Last Poets. Love them, love them, love them and excellent job, Kente Arts Alliance!
I also unveiled my Sarah Palin character and that's about the only time she'll be a hit in my world.

This weekend . . . Build the Hill! September 26-28, 2008!

We had the Kickoff in May and now it's time for the Conference, itself!

http://www.buildthehill.org (not hyperlinking so you can memorize it and tell everybody else)

I'm so excited! We have a lot of registrants and have exceeded our expected numbers! We have lots of volunteers!

A youth talent showcase on Friday . . . at Margaret Milliones University Prep School, 3117 Centre Ave. at Ewart St.

On Saturday, same place, the Conference filled with a Recognition Breakfast (get up!) information, activities and fun for adults and youth, alike (youth have their own track), and then later that night (8:30pm), an OUTDOOR film screening of Chris Ivey's "East of Liberty Chapter 2: The Fear of Us" at Ozanam Basketball Court, 1833 Wylie Avenue at Sweeney Way.

On Sunday, at the Legacy Apartments (2121 Centre Ave), we have the Crown Contest and Bake-Off, where we get to see who's the biggest and the baddest baker and hat-wearer in the Hill.

Y'all better be lucky I'm not allowed to enter because my banana pudding is lethal! However, one of our contestants has written in, "I bake a mean chocolate mousse cake". Yummy! We'll discuss issues, record oral narratives of the Hill from Seniors and then wrap up the Conference.

Check the website for all of the details, speakers, etc. It's going to be quite lovely.

We are out of space for vendors!

We are almost out of space for registrants!

If you're bringing kids, PLEASE register for yourself and them here: http://www.buildthehill.org

Any questions? Call our toll-free number and someone will get back to you: 1-877-277-9066

Check out the flyers! See you there!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Will Sarah Palin Be the Grandmother of a Black Child?

Okay, I don't know how valid any of these rumors are; but this person is speaking on camera, in the first person and telling his story. According to this video, a young Black man is claiming to be the father of Bristol Palin's child and wants to be a part of the child's life and is being told to "stay away" because he's Black and because of Palin's career.

If any part of this is true, John McCain and Sarah Palin will need to look for alternative employment this November.

Click here to watch the video.

Let me know what you think.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Favorite Bully

Long before the Wu Tang Clan, there was Sho' Nuff from "The Last Dragon"

R.I.P. Julius Carey.

"Who's the Master?"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pat Ford Blows the Whistle As He Resigns

Honestly, this letter of resignation speaks for itself.

All I want to know, Mr. Ford is:

1. What happened the day the planning commission passed the plans for the Arena?

2. What happened the day the August Wilson home was supposed to go up for its Historic Designation (the first time)?

3. What else was being said when no one else was around?

Thanks.


Text of Pat Ford's letter of resignation as URA executive director

Wednesday, August 27, 2008
27 August 2008

Mr. Yarone Zober, Chairman
Board of Directors
Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh
200 Ross Street, 12th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-2069

RE: Letter of Resignation Patrick B. Ford, Executive Director
Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

Dear Mr. Zober,

I am resigning from my position as Executive Director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (No. 6 of contract) effective the end date of my contract term. Per the term of my contract, I expect to be compensated for the remainder of 2008 (No. 3 of contract).

When I returned to work for the late Mayor Bob O'Connor, I believed that great things were about to happen in this City. I hoped for those same things when I was promoted by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. Unfortunately, I have not seen that to be the case.

To this day, my wife and I are being persecuted with no support from the administration I served, for no real reason whatsoever. Although I was cleared nearly two weeks ago by the State Ethics Commission, no discussion has occurred in regard to my future. Today, I want to set the record straight that I do not support the actions of what I believe to be a failed administration and no longer desire to return to a position where I will again be forced to serve as a scapegoat for the inappropriate affairs and activities of others.

Over the past two years I have told myself that I was a "good soldier," and that I did what was asked of me by the Mayor I served. I believed that by working together we could have a positive impact on this City, embracing all that it has to offer. But that vision never materialized, and as I have always said, "Where there is no vision, people perish." I have no desire to perish along with Luke Ravenstahl's Pittsburgh.

It is clear to me that as long as I continue to fight to have my name restored by this administration, I will only be further tarnished by this culture of deception and corruption. I have stood by recently and watched as you personally retaliated against those who tried to support me, and I cannot allow others to be penalized for not understanding that, when it comes to Pat Ford, honesty is not appreciated.

I have worked for 20 years as a city planner, zoning official and planning consultant, and I, as I have said from the beginning, want to get back to work. However, it has become clear to me that I will not be able to continue my career in this town, and I hereby tender my resignation. I will contact Rob Stephany to make arrangements to remove all personal items from my office.

Sincerely,
Patrick B. Ford

CC: Luke Ravenstahl
Don Kortlantdt

First published on August 27, 2008 at 10:36 am

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's Been a Long Time . . .

I shouldn't've left you
without a dope beat to step to
--- Eric B & Rakim

First up:

I'm getting ready to pack up and be "gone fishing". Can't wait.
This was a long year full of extensive drama (of all kinds) and your girl is bringing the curtain down in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

Speaking of, "The Color Purple" left town on Sunday and I'm sad. What a wonderful production. If you missed it, you missed one of the best musicals in the last century. Seriously. The production, the original music, the actors, the dancing, the set / scenery, costumes and most importantly---the story---are unmatched, especially with Oprah Winfrey's financial support. Thank you Alice, Thank you Oprah!

The cast of "Dr. Goddess Goes to Jail" performed at the "Purple" Celebration (a local celebration of black arts in honor of the musical) presented by the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation. It was great. We did a 24 minute medley of our show and folks were cracking up and so we were. We had to mix it up a little and keep it fresh. Every performer was wonderful. Every one.

The Langston Hughes Poetry Society is having another event performing Slave Narratives on Thursday, June 19 (Juneteenth). It's going to be good. I really like this group of folks. Go Lewis, Go Dessie, Go Jonathan!

Learning 2 Unlearn's Mic Melter's Series (with Nathan James as host) is coming back on Thursday, June 19th, too. Dr. Goddess won the first poetry slam and please let me tell you that I needed the cash prize ;-)

The African American Council of the Arts Awards are being held on June 27th and my friend, Lamman Rucker (Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? Meet the Browns) is the celebrity guest. So proud of you, Lamman. Sorry I'll miss it. I'm gone fishing . . .

Folks are organizing to Save Schenley High School --- a most worthy cause. I support it but I just can't shoulder another one right now. Spread the wealth . . .

And finally, another most worthy cause is saving Free Speech Radio. Anyone who has ever worked with Rustbelt Radio, Andalusia Knoll or any progressive, grassroots media can appreciate their struggle. Let's donate something.

And on that note, I'm gone fishing.

Holla back at your girl a bit later. A Sista needs a vacation. Divas need love, too! :-)

Monday, May 19, 2008

East of Liberty II: The Fear of Us, Bakery Square

Today is May 19, Brother Malcolm X's birthday. If that means something to you, great. If not, perhaps it should but I'm not forcing it on you.

Let's talk about the power of art, caring and sharing. The first time I saw Chris Ivey's "East of Liberty: Part One", I cried. I then showed it here on the Hill and some folks came out but not enough. Now, "East of Liberty: Part Two" is out and I've not seen it yet because I had schedule conflicts with each screening. I'll probably cry again when I see this new chapter because I'm sensitive. I realize this might be hard for some to believe, especially if you've only seen my angry or righteous indignation side; but the truth of the matter is that most artists are extremely sensitive at all times and when you see injustice and inhumanity so close and personal, it causes a very human reaction--empathy, sorrow, despair, rage.

So, imagine my glee when Chris Ivey, the Documentarian / Hyperboymedia put an excerpt called "Bakery Square" on YouTube for us all to watch.

I have some great advice for the folks in East Liberty / the East End if they are seeking a Community Benefits Agreement or any type of proper reinvestment. You know where to find me.

Thank you, Chris, and let me know your thoughts, folks.

Happy Birthday, Brother Malcolm. I'm so sorry we don't appreciate you enough but my elders didn't even when you were alive, so I'm not surprised.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The One Hill CBA

So, this Saturday, the One Hill CBA Coalition is going to vote on Saturday to pass the tentative CBA Agreement "up or down". Despite reports that Chair, Carl Redwood, is quoted as saying that "the majority" of the members must vote in order for it to pass, the reality (confirmed last Monday and the Monday prior) is that only twenty (20) of the 98 supposed members of One Hill need to vote in order to meet "quorum" and only a majority (as opposed to the consensus touted by Tom Hoffman at the beginning of this situation) is required to pass.

So, at bare minimum, only eleven (11) people need to vote "yes" in order to pass the One Hill CBA. It's so sad, it's amusing, especially considering that the negotiation team is nine (9) persons and the strategy team is a total of twelve (12) persons, which includes the negotiation team. So, quite frankly, the strategy team can vote the entire CBA "up" with very little effort (or approval) from the community.

Unfortunately, I'm not confident that many of the organizational representatives or their members really know what's in the CBA and what they're voting for. There were over 50 persons in attendance two weeks ago; but there was so much confusion over what was actually in the CBA (including the most recent inclusion of the value / reinvestment amount of the 28-acre site) that some of the members asked for another week to ask questions, get answers, etc. And, unfortunately, it seems the next meeting (this past Monday) was not advertised because approximately 15 persons (total) showed up. Evan Frazier was well-meaning in attempting to answer the questions posed but he did not know many of the answers and it was clear that any revisions offered from the week prior either weren't considered or just weren't taken seriously---and certainly not included.

Carl Redwood announced that the CBA will not be changed at all this week and that members needed to vote the present CBA up or down. I later found out after the meeting that the CBA is still being worked upon every single day and that the Pens have even attempted to provide a further clause. This sort of back-and-forth between the lawyers was presented as the reason for which the detailed CBA was not passed out three (3) weeks ago.

It's pretty amazing how this is all going down.

In its present form, I would not vote for the CBA and here's why:

1. The last-minute inclusion of the 28-acre site WITHOUT proper reinvestment is a sham, plain and simple. Sure, there is job inclusion and work on the Masterplan but the Pens are trying to get away with not providing ONE DIME of reinvestment based on the 28-acre site.

2. The Neighborhood Partnership Program that is proposed offers $500,00 per year for six years with a POSSIBILITY to renew for another six years, which is not enough.

The problem? The Pens aren't paying one dime into this fund either. They are going to help "in good faith" find corporate partners. Gimme a break. (For the record, the NPP was suggested by Jake Wheatley as a START 1.5 years ago).

3. The Pens spent a year and a half telling everyone within an eye or ear's reach that the Arena is not built with public subsidy, therefore they should not have to provide reinvestment relative to the CBA. Now, they have allowed for language regarding the 28-acre site but with little to no PROPER reinvestment (i.e. not one dime based on the huge amount of public subsidy and profit to come from this site). For those who might have forgotten the gargantuan amount of public subsidy the Pens received, click here. This is unacceptable.

4. The City and the County robbed the Hill District community of Don Barden's $350 million dollars of spurred development in the Lower Hill with a focus upon sweeping that development up through the Centre Ave. corridor and above Crawford Street. They chose to give it to the Pens but are not forcing them to provide PROPER reinvestment for the arena and the 28-acre site.

5. The BEST part of the CBA has the LEAST amount of proper investment --- the One Hill First Source Hiring Center (patterned after the Milwaukee Big Step Program), which is set to be funded at $90,000 per year for two (2) years, subject to the availability of funds and with the hope that the Falk and Heinz Foundations will supplement this gap. But this is not their responsibility, the funding should come from the PENS.

The Hill Faith and Justice Alliance has been repeatedly maligned in this process because we insist on much more and, you know, a novel idea that---we live, work and play here.

And now for the amazing One Hill double standard:

1. In April 2007, the Hill Faith and Justice alliance demanded, among other things, $10 million dollars in reinvestment funds for development.

Now, One Hill's negotiating for $3 million dollars in reinvestment funds for development with the possibility of $3 million more if the NPP program is renewed for another six years. Add the $1 million for the grocery store and we're at $7 million total.

We were considered elitist, extortionists, greedy, crazy, the whole nine.

2. We were kicked out of One Hill, supposedly, for negotiating separately for the CBA when we are the ones who secured a commitment for the CBA to begin with. The truth is, we were kicked out because of the agreement between three entities because we were considered too radical and demanding too much---supposedly without the community. This was entirely untrue, it was all about control but at the end of the day, preventing the history from ever being known to One Hill members, as a whole, in addition to relentless attacks from various parties inside of the organization only served to maintain the division, no matter how many times we reached out. Carl's response: "just join One Hill", which is hilarious.

Hypocritical much?

I could go on but I'll have to get into it later. Just thinking about this makes me sleepy and I have set new limits of what I can tolerate for myself.

All that I ask at this point is that Ron Porter not be allowed to return to the Hill House Association Board to help advise or otherwise manage monies flowing through the Hill House Association after he "temporarily resigned" from the Board to take a Senior Consultant position with the Pittsburgh Penguins to negotiate a substandard CBA and talk smack on the community the entire time.

Shady much?

See ya.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Darnit, Rev. Wright! You Done Wrong!

Alright, see, this is just so frustrating in a way because:

1. Rev. Wright's speech at the NAACP Awards was SUPERB, outstanding, factually accurate, inspirational, even entertaining. His discussion of America and "difference" not being "deficient" was just wonderful. He wasn't Barack. He wasn't Michael Dyson or Cornel West. He wasn't Snoop Dogg. But he was wonderful.

2. I missed the interview he did with Bill Moyer and only caught a snippet of it; but even then, it was okay.

3. I caught only a part of his speech at the National Press Club but even that speech was very good. (I was giving finals, forgive me)

4. I only heard about the disaster of the Q & A but when I saw the recap, my heart sunk a bit. See, that was all about ego. I defended Wright's need to come out and give his speech and stand up for himself, Black liberation theology, the Black Church and even set the record straight about a few things. He did that very well and on every occasion --- until that Q & A.

Wright is a public intellectual, not just a preacher. He has a responsibility, especially in this country, when we can name the Black public intellectuals we see on TV on one hand (a testament about America in and of itself). And, unfortunately, there is no reason why you should be throwing up Que (Psi Phi) signs, dancing at the mic, suggesting you should be Vice President and undercutting Barack Obama's chances.

It's sad but I felt that Rev. Wright doing this was a bit vindictive and also rested in ego-mongering. And, please, I live in the Hill District, I get enough of that b.s. every day or at least every Monday.

It's just hurtful and Wright did not just hurt Obama, he hurt all of us who are out here in the public, he hurt all Black radicals and progressives, he hurt all ministers and he most certainly hurt the everyday people who are still riding for Barack.

I am still riding for Barack . . . BUT:

Barack needs not to listen to his campaign managers all the time. What his campaign managers should have done was to bring out the Black intellectuals AND all progressive intellectuals who could accurately verify much of what Wright said in his previous speeches.

Yes. Unfortunately, Wright's antics have overshadowed the fact that 99% of what he has said in his speeches is entirely accurate. Even Thomas Jefferson thought that America was, literally, God-damned. Harriet Beecher Stowe, an avid abolitionist, feared that if America did not repent for 'Her' original sin (slavery), America would be God-damned. Heck, even Pat Buchanan feels that liberal tolerance of homosexuality and abortion makes America God-damned. If we added up all the Americans (of any ethnicity) who believed that America was God-damned, we might find we outnumber the terrorists who believe the same---albeit for different reasons.

So, this is why I say that the public intellectuals should have stepped up. Let the media see what Howard Zinn has to say. Let Tim Rice speak up. Check out Michigan State University's Race Conferences and pick ANY of those folks. Personally, I can contextualize and provide greater understanding for Wright's commentary with my eyes closed, including the accusation that the U.S. Government invented AIDS---because I was an Africana Studies major and I'm a scholar of American Studies. And in these kinds of ignorant newsmaking and viewership, I cannot overstate the need for an intellectual conversation about what has been happening and why race is still a problem in America.

As far-fetched as the AIDS in America theory sounds and as ridiculous as it seems, there are real and factual reasons why even this paranoia is perfectly valid---especially if you're Black. I'm not saying Barack needs to validate that. But Rev. Wright is not crazy for believing it, although he might be irresponsibile for putting that theory out there without providing the factual information to back it up. Besides, this is not just a Black theory. This theory has been touted and put forth by The Strecker Memorandum and many others, including many doctors who live outside of the United States.

And let's not act like spreading disease as a form of biological and chemical warfare is somehow inexplicable. Smallpox in Indian blankets, anyone? Tuskegee Syphilis experiment, anyone? Agent Orange, anyone?

I mean, come on . . .

Anyway, my point is that if Rev. Wright had been properly supported in the mainstream, he might not have felt the need to lash out and defend himself---and then act a fool.

I'm embarrassed and sad that he chose to do that and I know it must be painful for all involved.

In the end, people are not thinking about Rev. Wright. People are worried about their gas, worried about their rent, worried about losing their homes and worried about their jobs. If the media wants to focus on Rev. Wright, fine. But the more responsible thing to do is focus on the candidates, themselves, their ideas and how they plan to change this country.

For me, Barack Obama is still the change I can believe in.

And I am 100% committed to making Michelle Obama my first lady.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Election Results in the Burgh

Okay, good people. Let's look at the FACTS:

In sum, lots of new registered voters voted. A ton of Democrats voted. Hillary won PA but Barack is still in the lead. Barack got more delegates from the Burgh and Jake made it rain.

STATISTICS REPORT-EL45 PAGE 001 VOTES PERCENT

PRECINCTS COUNTED (OF 1321) . . . . 1,321 100.00
REGISTERED VOTERS - TOTAL . . . . . 913,628
REGISTERED VOTERS - DEMOCRATIC . . . 567,516 62.12
REGISTERED VOTERS - REPUBLICAN . . . 250,427 27.41
REGISTERED VOTERS - REFORM. . . . . 178.02
BALLOTS CAST - TOTAL. . . . . . . . . 377,631
BALLOTS CAST - DEMOCRATIC . . . . . 317,023 83.95
BALLOTS CAST - REPUBLICAN . . . . . 60,513 16.02
BALLOTS CAST - REFORM . . . . . . 95.03
VOTER TURNOUT - TOTAL . . . . . . 41.33 (this is still low, for shame, America!) VOTER TURNOUT - DEMOCRATIC. . . . . 55.86
VOTER TURNOUT - REPUBLICAN. . . . . 24.16
VOTER TURNOUT - REFORM . . . . . . 53.37

********** (DEMOCRATIC) **********
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (WITH 1321 OF 1321 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
BARACK OBAMA . . . . . . . . . 141,596 45.34
(Congratulations on closing that gap, Barack!)

HILLARY CLINTON . . . . . . . . 169,073 54.14
(Nice try, Hillary, just don't cheat!)
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 1,600 .51

ATTORNEY GENERAL (WITH 1321 OF 1321 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
JOHN M. MORGANELLI . . . . . . . 212,416 99.41
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 1,265 .59

AUDITOR GENERAL (WITH 1321 OF 1321 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
JACK WAGNER. . . . . . . . . . 254,773 99.73
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 690 .27

STATE TREASURER (WITH 1321 OF 1321 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
JOHN F. CORDISCO . . . . . . . . 55,570 23.27
ROBERT MCCORD . . . . . . . . . 106,608 44.65
DENNIS MORRISON-WESLEY . . . . . . 15,987 6.70
(Sorry, Dennis!)
JENNIFER L. MANN . . . . . . . . 59,973 25.12
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 646 .27

REPRESENTATIVE IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY 19TH DISTRICT
(WITH 80 OF 80 PRECINCTS COUNTED)

DEIDRA L. WASHINGTON. . . . . . . 3,482 27.17
(Sorry, Deidra, they lied to you Sistagirl!)

JAKE WHEATLEY . . . . . . . . . 9,312 72.66
(Congratulations on a smashing victory, Jake!)
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 22 .17

DELEGATE TO THE NATIONAL CONVENTION 14TH DISTRICT
VOTE FOR NOT MORE THAN 7
(WITH 739 OF 739 PRECINCTS COUNTED)
NO CANDIDATE FILED . . . . . . . 0

DAN FRANKEL (M) . . . . . . . . 72,344 7.50
JAMES SHEPPARD (M) . . . . . . . 67,122 6.96
CLIFFORD B. LEVINE (M) . . . . . . 74,491 7.72
TONYA D. PAYNE (F) . . . . . . . 67,489 7.00
(Hillary Clinton supporter---just shameful)
ROBERT C. HAMPSHIRE (M). . . . . . 71,533 7.42
BETSY MAGLEY (F) . . . . . . . . 70,405 7.30
DOUGLAS A. SHIELDS (M) . . . . . . 74,182 7.69
KAREN ROLLINS-FITCH (F). . . . . . 71,405 7.40
(go head, Karen! You got more than our councilwoman!)
GARY A. VAN HORN, JR. (M). . . . . 64,612 6.70
SYLVIA C. WILSON (F). . . . . . . 64,771 6.72
HEATHER ARNET (F). . . . . . . . 66,782 6.93
(sorry, Heather, next time support Michelle Obama)
SUSAN GOLOMB (F) . . . . . . . . 73,285 7.60
ETHAN SMITH (M) . . . . . . . . 56,477 5.86
JOSEPH PRESTON, JR. (M) . . . . . 68,844 7.14
WRITE-IN. . . . . . . . . . . 563 .06

And, by the way, folks. I will not soon forget these statements from this article:

But Deidra Washington, his challenger in Tuesday's Democratic primary, contends
Mr. Wheatley, 36, is out of touch with the concerns of people in the 19th District.

Well, 72% say Wheatley IS in touch.

Ms. Washington, a former site manager for the Pittsburgh Housing Authority, is also a Democratic committee member since 2002. She lost the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee to Mr. Wheatley by three votes in February, 55-52.

Such a showing for a first-timer, Ms. Washington said, gave her hope
that the district is ready to change leadership after three terms under Mr.
Wheatley.



The problem here, good people, is that the Democratic Committee's votes (and Tonya Payne's de facto candidacy via Ms. Washington) demonstrates that the Democratic Committee representatives are "out of touch" with the wants and needs of the District.

And it's a shame because Ms. Washington is probably a good person who got caught up in all of the negativity and mayhem Tonya was swirling around her. The reason for the division in the Hill District within the last two years is mostly due to Payne's poor leadership, petty politics, grudge-holding and a fanciful imagination. Certainly, there was division beforehand but she exacerbated and exaggerrated it.

My recommendation is that the Democratic Committee (along with everyone else) re-thinks its analysis and, for just a fleeting moment, consider that Tonya Payne's lies, manipulation and traitorous behavior to her community are coming to a swift end.

Jake Wheatley is "The Peoples' Rep" and "the people" have voted in overwhelming numbers to support him.

And next year, Tonya will receive a very Payneful reminder about whom "the people" DO NOT support --- her. Goodbye, Tonya!

And anyone else who still can't see the forest for the trees.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Three Great Historic Moments

So much happening, so little time to blog about it. But:

1. The great Aime Cesaire (Negritude) has passed away. R.I.P., Mr. Cesaire.

2. Jake Wheatley is going to be re-elected State Representative. I'm claiming it.

3. Baracky the Vote - absolutely hilarious.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Haikus for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

Oh yes, yet another corrective video of the "God-damned America Speech" for you to watch from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I must say, as an Historian, his facts were correct and he was en pointe. Go 'head Rev!

And this is great because just the other day, I published the haikus I wrote for Hillary and Barack.

Here are some of the crowd favorites:

Hillary Clinton
Reverend Jeremiah
Is all Wright with me

Hillary Clinton
We know you're qualified
It's just . . . you're too sly

Hillary Clinton
Michelle is a woman, too
Welcome, First Lady!

Hillary Clinton
Where were you the day Bill dissed
Our Sister Souljah?

Hillary Clinton,
My daughter asks that I vote
Barack Obama

***
Barack Obama
For once, in this here lifetime
I vote my full heart

Barack Obama
Whether you heard it or not
Reverend was Wright

Barack Obama
The audacity to hope
is borne of the slave

Barack Obama
Remember, your hopefulness
Came from Black Mammy

Barack Obama
The movement for human rights
is far from over

Barack Obama
We dressed up as African
to get served, back then

Barack Obama
America's hopefulness
is all She has left

Barack Obama
We want Michelle, Our Sweet Belle
as the First Lady

Barack Obama
The Hip Hop Generation
Is Standing Up Now!

Okay, people, write your own Haikus.
It's a japanese style of poetry

Five syllables the first line
Seven syllables the second
Back to five syllables for the third.

Write your own and send them back to Dr. Goddess!

Word!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

He's All Wright With Me

An Open Letter from Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the New York Times

March 11, 2007
Jodi Kantor
The New York Times
9 West 43rd Street
New York, New York
10036-3959

Dear Jodi:

Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a “Spiritual Biography” of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met. For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run.

I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed something other than what he believed. I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose Christianity was not just “in word only.”

I talked about Barack being a person who lived his faith and did not argue his faith. I talked about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed. Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?,” that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it “in his hand.” Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.

As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy. I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation’s first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.

Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama’s “Spiritual Biography.” Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of “Hannity and Colmes” is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years. The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or “spin” because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.

Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party’s national “blog.” The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior. Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana. Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!

Sincerely and respectfully yours,
Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
Senior Pastor
Trinity United Church of Christ

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fox News Has No Shame Miseducating the Public


I always love it when The Simpsons, produced at Fox Studios, makes fun of Fox News. They can't help themselves. And with this type of shoddy reporting---purposefully misquoting people, taking things out of context---they deserve it.


Meet the (White) Man Who Inspired Rev. Wright’s Controversial Sermon

Long story short, Rev. Wright was quoting Ed Peck, a (30 year career veteran) US Ambassador to Iraq who had long ago warned against the war in Iraq and also highlighted that there was no relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Fox News interviewed him and, of course, he’s apparently not ever been invited back.

Hence, one of Fox News' most egregious examples of purposeful misrepresentation is this one, over Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity Church, of whom I've grown quite fond during these last few days since I've been back home. So, thank you, Fox News, for introducing me to a pastor of the old school. I love the Black Liberation Theologians and Preachers. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one. Min. Malcolm X was one. Rev. Joseph Lowery is one. And there are so many others, including those who stood up in the Historic Hill District to prevent a casino from being placed in our neighborhood and who demand proper and full reinvestment to our community via a Community Benefits Agreement.


See for yourself and be healed from right wing race-mongering:



And THANK YOU to the Trinity Church member who provided a competing and clarifying narrative for us. Please share with everyone at Trinity that we are rooting for you over here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!


This Wednesday, March 26, 2008, hear Rev. Jeremiah Wright's speech that is now known as the "God-damned America" speech. The accurate title is "Confusing God and Government" but who cares about the facts, right?:


Ebony Spectrum- Black Talk Radio-WRCT FM 88.3 (<-- click for webcast)
Host: Rick Adams, Co-Host Producer: Kevin Amos
Every Wednesday 6-7 PM EST/DST


Word.
"God Bless America . . . and nobody else!" (Chris Rock, "Head of State")

Friday, March 21, 2008

Coming Back to America's B.S.

I just want to say, when I was in Dubai, I was constantly surrounded by human beings from:

India
the Philippines
Egypt
England
Nigeria
Pakistan
China
Iraq
Britain
Ghana
Omman
Austria
Jordan
Australia
Saudi Arabia
Afghanistan
South Africa
and the United States

and while there, met people from all of the aforementioned places plus:

Holland
Spain
Croatia
Trinidad

and the list can go on.

Then, of course, I have to come back to the United States that STILL cannot get over Black and White and has yet to accept that reality for African Americans is different than reality for persons who classify themselves as White Americans.

They love Barack Obama in multicultural Dubai. And I love Barack Obama in supposedly multicultural America. Now, I've not seen all of Rev. Wright's commentary but I am already angry about the coverage. So, I was very happy to receive this information in an email---Trinity Church defending itself and providing necessary competing narratives on what it's like to be Black in the USA:



Click here to see all videos IN CONTEXT.

New column coming . . .

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Goodbai, Pittsburgh!


So, I'm on my way to Dubai. See ya in a few. I'll try to blog or something while I'm gone.
For the dude who wrote all of those anonymous responses to my post: You're welcome to post here and I probably won't censor you; but don't be comin' up in my blog cursing everybody out. In fact, don't curse at all or I will reject your postings from now on. And, don't try to spam the blog to make yourself sound like you're more than one person. I let all of your posts go through this time. Next time, they won't. For the record, no matter what you think of anyone else, I would vote for Carl Redwood for City Council as well, especially over Tonya Payne.
Word.


Now, Goodbai!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

From Da Burgh to Dubai!

Folks,

I've been very busy and don't always have time to update my blog. I'm also headed to Dubai for a conference on Women as Global Leaders, so please don't be astonished when I return even more determined and pointed in my criticism than before. Here's an update before I leave and it's a bit of a scathing one at that:

Let's see, we had a very good public hearing at City Council on Monday regarding the Community Benefits Agreement. The Pittsburgh Comet gave a quick update and shared links. I had to give a ten minute presentation on the historical context of "how we got here" and what I choose to call the "tale of two cities" (with an obvious Dickens reference). I hope it went well, folks seemed to appreciate it. But more importantly (and sadly), there was a woman there who was 98 years old and another one at 81 years old who was listing all the properties he'd owned in the past (and some in the present). Endearing and lovely, yes. But it's always so easy to smile at beautiful, elderly people. However, I didn't find it all that endearing because I, for one, do not want to be 98 years old and having to come down to a community meeting over something that should be so basic. This isn't 1958, this is 2008. And I find it rather disgusting, it's not cute at all. They should be sitting around telling us stories about how to better our lives, not having to hustle down to City Council to give testimony to how grand the city's failures have been.

In addition, I am so sick of my City Council representative, Tonya Payne, I wish it were 2009 already so we could vote her up and OUT. It's not about what she did to my brother regarding the Wilson home. And it's not even about anything personal. And Sala Udin has nothing to do with this as far as *I* am concerned. Folks forget a very basic and simple idea --- I DID NOT and DO NOT know Tonya Payne before this whole thing started. And by whole thing I mean a rich, white corporation attempting to put a casino in my poor, black neighborhood and a rich, white corporation taking money from the taxpayers in this blue-collar city and then trying not to reinvest with anything substantial in my poor, black neighborhood and/or to dictate how their "reinvestment" will be spent, when the neighbors have come together over the last TWO years to *further* determine what we need and want in the here and now.

It's not a grocery store, goddammit! Our children are DYING. Get it? Dying!

I told Pgh United this from the very beginning. We shared this within One Hill. We told them not to let anyone market this bullcrap to us from the start. Of course a grocery store is an easy win and another way to GET MONEY from people in the neighborhood.

And so, I am sick of everybody at this point. And I am most sick of my City Council representative, Tonya Payne, because she has wasted our entire community's time for the last two years. If we had someone really fighting for us, really going to bat for us AND (this is key, so pay attention) in the positions that she has been in (Planning and Zoning, the URA, close association with Mayor Ravenstahl and David Morehouse of the Penguins), we would not have to waste one moment of our time having to protest. We would be able to simply shake hands with the Mayor, shake hands with the Pens, shake hands with Dan Onorato and applaud our collective vision and masterplan for reinvestment.

But no. We are people who have the least amount of time to be dealing with this foolishness, we have the least amount of resources to do it and the most amount to lose. We should be focused on the positive energy of development and not have to run and protest and put out fires and stop the steamroll at every term. And to know there is someone in place who could really be an asset to our neighborhood and not just an ass, is incredibly disheartening, annoying and disappointing. THAT is why I am angry and I have every right to be. And you should be too!

And not only that, I am upset because I consider it entirely disrespectful to have the majority of speakers at a public hearing reflective of YOUR district and when it is time to say anything (I mean, anything) to them, you shake your head and purse your lips into a 'no comment' and then the moment Council President Doug Shields says "move to adjourn", you yell out "SECOND!"

I then walk outside (I'm kinda rushing now because I've been there since 10:00am, it's 12:30pm and I have a class at 1:00pm) and the moment I walk out of the chamber doors, I hear Tonya Payne talking to Jeremy Boren of the Trib saying, "I don't know why people are saying the Pens aren't at the table. If you asked them, they would say they never left the table." Now, I heard this with my own ears. Why this didn't make it in the papers is beyond me.

But I find it sickening that you have nothing to say to someone who is 98 years old. I find it repulsive that you can't even muster up a "thank you all for coming to speak out", especially when no one said anything negative about her (and I had ten minutes to do so if I had wanted to) or anything of the sort. This is why I made a comment to Jeremy and then Tonya interrupted me saying I don't know what she does. Precisely, Tonya. Precisely.

And I know this is bigger than someone the likes of Tonya Payne. And I am not blaming her for coming up with these rude and callous ideas regarding our neighborhood. There is no doubt that we will be having a different kind of convo with David Morehouse, Ron Burkle and some others. And, certainly, I haven't forgotten about Ron Porter's shady behind, talking about "the mentality of entitlement is a tough one to crack." Negro, are you crazy? I mean, really, ARE. YOU. CRAZY??? He should be asked to permanently leave the Hill House Association Board immediately. And I am 100% serious about that. From betraying the community on the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force to this---enough is enough!

But for now, for Tonya Payne, who was elected by the people and on a platform of change, I am saying that she has a part to play, she is in a prime position to play it well (not bent over) and I do not feel she is even remotely protecting us and is only protecting her next election interests. But that is already a wrap, so she might as well do what she must to leave an important legacy and contribute something tangible during this one-time-only period as our rep.

Shame on you, Tonya Payne. Just shame on you for everything you have done and NOT done. People elected you because they believed you might make a difference. And all you have done was to make things worse.

Tonya Payne does not deserve to be our representative. And I am calling on all of the people who remotely thought putting her in office was a good idea to please get your ballots ready to put her OUT.

As for all of the rest of you that are too afraid to say anything to or about Tonya (or the Mayor or County Exec or the Pens or anyone else), please remember that "fear and God do not occupy th same space". If you care so much and claim to be working on our behalf, when the hell are you going to say something publicly and do something about it?

When will it be convenient for you to do ANYTHING at all?

Be happy I'm going to Dubai.

But I'll be back!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

August Wilson Historic Designation



Folks,

We've been very busy over here in the Historic Hill District.

And speaking of history, today at 1:00pm, City County Building, Downtown Pittsburgh

YOU can weigh in on what I wrote in my Revelations Column:

1. The Historic designation of August Wilson's birth home by City Council

2. The legislation offered by Rev. Ricky Burgess to correct the shadiness caused by a legislator/council member seeking to stop AW's historic designation.

3. The call for a full investigation on who and/or what pulled the legislation of the AW historic home designation and sought to pocket veto (bury it), thereby not allowing the home to come up for designation for five more years.

It's a shame. But we want to Hold Them To It!

If you can't make it, PLEASE CALL or EMAIL the City Clerk and register your thoughts:

Contact Info: City Clerk's Office
510 City - County Building
414 Grant St.Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(412) 255-2138

In addition, August Wilson's "Radio Golf" will finally be staged at the Public Theater, October 2 - November 2, 2008. Save the Dates!


By the way, I'd like for you to read what Pittsburghers have been talking about relative to the Hill, the AW home, etc. Let's start with my column:

Dr. Judy says: What an on the spot article. Last year I noticed an official Pittsburgh Website that listed all the famous people and under authors John Wideman was not listed. I emailed them to chide them and never received an email back. We need to celebrate all of our geniuses.

TKO says: Dr. Goddess is being coy, what she and her brother really want (as usual) is $$$$. There is already a nice monument to August Wilson downtown.

(Would someone mind sharing with TKO why preserving August Wilson's home might be remotely important; and would someone also share why having a center named for Wilson downtown is an honor but not quite the same as renovating his childhood home? Sheesh . . .)

And be sure to Read the Racism on Craig's List!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Yes, We Can



There's alot going on these days. And often times I'm too busy to blog.

But I find that most of what I care about at this time are the girls in my show, the students in my classes, continuing to share August Wilson with the world, reaffirming the dignity and humanity of the people in my neighborhood---the Historic Hill District, re-electing State Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr., and, oh yes, making Barack Obama the President of the United States of (North) America.

The slogan for my One Woman Show has been "Meet Dr. Goddess. Become a Believer" since the beginning (2004) because everybody has to believe in something, someone, someplace, some entity that gives our lives meaning.

Today, I believe in eight girls, in particular.
Today, I believe in my students.
Today, I believe in August Wilson's gift to the world.
Today, I believe in my neighborhood, the Historic Hill District.
Today, I believe in Jake Wheatley, Jr.
Today, I believe in Barack Obama.
Today, I believe in Michelle Obama.
Today, I believe in something, someone, someplace and some entity.

And today, I believe that I can make a difference.

And that you can too---if you believe.

Yes, we can.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Thoughts Exactly! Barack the Vote!



Once again, Barack Obama shows he's the better man for the job with clear thinking, proper analysis and more conviction. Bush is a liar, a joke, a national shame and an international disgrace. I felt icky just watching him stumble through his speech tonight and it's just said because the American people deserve better leadership. Do what's right. Barack the vote!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008



The 10th Annual Black and White
Summit Against Racism
The Power of One:
A Commitment to Individual and Collective Action
Saturday, January 26
Be There or Be . . . Uninformed, Uninvolved, Unconcerned...
Is that enough pressure for you? ;-)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Duquesne University presents Dr. Goddess Goes to Jail, a Spoken Word, Musical Comedy (unfortunately) Based on a True Story




Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Duquesne University Student Union Ballroom
1000 Locust Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
(Park in the Forbes Garage)
Free and Open to the Public!
Contact: 412-396-1117

Click here for directions, parking and map information!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Too Funny

I feel so guilty for laughing at this but between the family coming out of the door that fast, the Mama falling and the editing, I cannot breathe.



I'm glad she didn't get hurt, as I am relieved of all guilt.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

We Lost the Battle, We'll Win the War

Yesterday, we had a very interesting City Planning Commission Hearing, at the end of which the Commission voted to approve the Pittsburgh Penguins' plan for the new arena in the front yard of our Historic Hill District neighborhood.

Just before the hearing began, at about 1:30pm, Mayor Ravenstahl, Councilwoman Tonya Payne, One Hill CBA Chair Carl Redwood and One Hill Lead negotiator Evan Frazier had press conference talking about how negotiations were going. It was hilarious, for so many reasons (hint: watch Tonya Payne). See for yourself.

Many persons came out to support our cause, all across the City of Pittsburgh and we appreciate that. The overwhelming majority of persons who came out wore red or put on red ribbons to signify Hill unity (full and shared representation), the right for us to speak out and be heard and the message that "We Won't Repeat the Defeat!"

We stood outside in the hallway and then a policeman came out and announced that the hearing on the Hill would begin shortly and that only the persons who signed up to speak at the last hearing would be able to speak this time because this was a continuance, not a hearing---and that the list contained only seven people. Lots of grumbling, I challenged that and the policeman told me to speak to the Chairwoman inside, which is where I immediately went when I got in the room. Unfortunately, a number of our supporters left before ever entering into the room to challenge that miscarriage of justice.

I told Chairwoman Wrenna Watson that many of us had not signed up and that I had not received my full time as the head of an organization last time. She insisted that I did receive my full time and I was not buzzed at 3 minutes. The timer lady (what would she be called, btw?) said that I was not buzzed at 3 minutes, either. Of course, I checked when I got home and I was buzzed at 3 minutes and 28 seconds. I'm going to follow up on that because . . . "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!"

More importantly (and seriously), our hero of the day was Momar Milliones, a member of the Hill Faith and Justice Alliance (the coalition of which I am a part) and one of the original persons who stood up on that bitterly cold day in January to make sure the Pens did not steamroll our entire community (including our elected officials). Momar patiently waited for his turn (as he was one of the original seven supposedly permitted to speak), immediately asked for his time not to begin and made a calm, rational but determined plea for the public, the PEOPLE to be able to speak.

The most profound moment of his speech is when he said there are rare opportunities for the average citizen to participate in a process such as this, the process was flawed from the initial sign up and that the Commissioners should do the right thing and allow the citizens to be heard.

The Commissioners voted and all Pittsburgh citizens were permitted to speak, including Sal Williams, who spoke in support of the Pens (and the 50 surface parking lots, vacant lots and abandoned buildings he owns, mostly on Fifth Avenue). Interestingly, I've learned that former Councilman, Sala Udin, tried to prevent the continued development of surface lots in Uptown and the Hill as early as the year 2000. Very interesting.

"Yo, Sal, how come you ain't got no brothers up on the wall?"

No, I never got my minutes back but I did sit there and patiently listen to everyone's comments and took pictures of all of them.

The City Planning Commission was disappointing not necessarily because they voted "yes" but because they seemed to violate or otherwise go against their own criteria---even outside of the CBA. Some of them had not seen the updated plans for the parking garage. Some of them did not understand the logistics of what they might be passing. Others felt burdened by all of the supposed amendments that would have to happen in the future---but passed the plan anyway despite their own criteria for approval (why, Commissioner Mistick?) Here is a classic example :

Commission member Barbara K. Mistick said she wasn't satisfied with the amount of parking that will be available.


The Penguins plan to build a 500-space garage that could be expanded later to 780 spaces, but the 2,400 spaces available at the 16,900-seat Mellon Arena eventually will disappear once the land is developed, she said.


"Do the math. Now you've got 18,000 seats and you're giving up 2,400 parking spaces," Mistick said.


Despite her misgivings, Mistick voted in favor of the plan along with E. Paul Dick, Monte Rabner, Todd E. Reidbord and Mary Lou Simon. Voting against were Chairwoman Wrenna L. Watson, Barbara Ernsberger and Lynne Garfinkel.


And still others, like Todd Reidbord, for example, left the hearing right in the middle of testimonies to go watch the Pittsburgh Panthers play basketball, skipped tons of important information that could have changed his vote and then return to pass the Pens' arena plan.

We also discovered that the City Planning Commission can sort of guess what the social impact of a particular development might be---even something as large as this---without a social impact study.

So, with all that said and done, we lost the battle but we will win this war.

Do not fear, friends. Nobody was really surprised by yesterday's vote.

In the meantime, an excellent review of Mindy Fullilove's "Root Shock" appears here at Null Space. This will be good for all of the people that don't understand the root causes of friction, division, crime, struggling infrastructure of organizations and problems with development in urban, African American communities like the Historic Hill District.

Get your read on.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Speak Out Today! Wear Red!


We need you today and wearing something red. Red means "We Won't REpeat the Defeat!" Meaning, the defeat of 50 years ago where broken promises were never kept and repeated displacement, lack of investment and benign neglect has been the order of the day in the Historic Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

City Planning Commission Hearing
200 Ross Street, Downtown Pgh

Come at 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm.
After school.
After work.
As you are.

So, give us three minutes and we will change the course of history forever. Whether we stop the City Planning Commission vote or not today, you need to come and show your support. Show the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, the State of Pennsylvania and this entire nation that you care about one of the world's most famous neighborhoods and most importantly, that you care about poor and working-class people who are standing up to Big Businesses that get loads of corporate welfare but don't want to give much of anything back to the community. Show that you care about people who refuse to be "built upon" and gentrified, thereby making it displacement #3 and #4. We live here. We work here. We play here. All we ask is that by showing up, wearing red and speaking out, you support our cause of proper reinvestment, FULL representation of the Hill (including but not limited to One Hill) and self-determination.

If you need a ride from the Hill, there will be buses running from Grace Memorial Church (Upper Hill), Wesley Center AME Zion Church (Middle Hill) and the Hill House (Lower Hill). Call 412-621-9612. Spread the word.

"We Won't Repeat the Defeat!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Blast from the Past: Coming Full Circle

First, a reminder:

I'll see you on Monday, January 14, 2pm onwards (feel free to come after work, we will still be there), City Planning Commission Meeting, 200 Ross Street, Downtown Pittsburgh. We need you for three minutes. We're on a filibuster to stop the vote at City Planning until the Pens address our questions and there is a signed Community Benefits Agreement---legally binding contract---that is mutually agreeable.

History is extremely important
So, what you can do to come full circle on the One Hill Community Benefits Agreement / Hill District Reinvestment Plan is to read Bram's blog, since he's like the first outsider to really bring it home (we've been here, waiting...) and then read below to come full circle. Be sure to pay attention to the names on the press release and this will all sink in for you---with one exception:

Councilwoman Tonya Payne. She gives verbal support to One Hill---yes. Her people passed out flyers a few months ago---yes. But has she (or her people) done anything substantive to really support One Hill? No. Why? Because she was doing her master's bidding by playing with hockey sticks for the Pittsburgh Penguins and working for a Mayor's election, after which he promptly kicked her in the teeth. Very sad. That's way too much shucking, jiving and buckdancing (and I like to dance) to not get anything in return. This is why you should stand with the community. The power will always, always, be with the people.

After you see these names, just understand that largely because she felt threatened by people she thinks will run against her and because of her angst towards anything related to her former boss and our former City Councilman, Sala Udin, Payne worked hard to help Carl Redwood and company form One Hill and then flooded the organization with her friends, family members and democratic committee persons to totally exclude or heavily minimize the influence of anyone who put the development rights, Don Barden, funding for community development, or any ask she considered too strenuous, etc. on the table---i.e. Jake Wheatley, the Hill CDC, Raise Your Hand! No Games, the activist ministers, etc . Why? Because her Master, David Morehouse, told her so. And her overseer, Mayor Ravenstahl, told her so.

We want to let Tonya Payne know that slavery is over. We are beginning the campaign to Free Tonya Payne.

To wit, the blast from the past:

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kimberly C. Ellis, ryhnogames@gmail.com


Hill District Community Demands Representation in Negotiating Development Rights for the Lower Hill District, To Hold Press Conference on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 2:30pm, Mellon Arena


For years, the Greater Hill District Community has worked to develop an inclusive, decision-making process with City officials and other elected representatives in an effort to shape its future. Of paramount importance in this struggle is the need to confront the dismissive attitude towards the Hill District community and its indigenous leadership of private citizens, faith-based institutions, service and development entities.


As residents, stakeholders, leaders and institutional representatives, our collective mission is to preserve, protect and develop the Historic Hill District. This is evidenced by our recent sustained and collective battle to protect the community from the encroachment of a casino placed within and in the front yard of our neighborhood. Thus, the Hill District Community demands representation in negotiating development rights for the Lower Hill District, which are currently being negotiated solely by government officials and the Pittsburgh Penguins Sports Franchise, with no representation from the Hill District community. The Penguins share a unique and recently contentious place in history with the City of Pittsburgh and are now seeking to rectify it. Similarly, the Hill District Community also shares a unique and contentious history with the City of Pittsburgh. As such, we are at a pivotal period in our neighborhood and the City's history and are seeking to forge a new path with a much brighter future.


Therefore, with our collective mission in mind, the concerned citizens who live, work and play in the Hill District would like to make exceptionally clear the following:


  1. The Greater Hill District Community is bound by Bigelow Boulevard, the Boulevard of the Allies, Forbes Avenue and Sixth Avenue. This area encapsulates the Upper Hill (Schenley Heights / Sugartop, the Herron Avenue Business Corridor), the Middle Hill (Oak Hill, Whiteside Road and the Centre Avenue Business Corridor) and the Lower Hill (Reed & Roberts, Crawford Square, Bedford Dwellings, Uptown and the Mellon Arena / Melody Tent associated lots and sites).
  2. Throughout the entirety of its history in the Lower Hill District, the Pittsburgh Penguins have not served as partners in any substantial manner and are not entitled to development rights to the land in the Lower Hill.
  3. Further, as a multimillion dollar sports team that has been given concessions by the City of Pittsburgh in accordance with Plan B, the Penguins will receive a new arena and a reduced contribution to this arena from the initially stated $4 million dollars annual contribution to $2 million.
  4. As residents and citizens of the City of Pittsburgh, we expect our elected officials, especially our Mayor and County Executive, to represent Hill District taxpayers, voters and stakeholders in the protection and proper representation in any decision-making process that reflects our past while shaping our present and future.
  5. Therefore, we demand a seat at any decision-making table with regard to the Greater Hill District Community.
  6. We demand equity in any plan for the Greater Hill District no matter who or what entity obtains development rights and we demand a formal agreement be determined in writing with any and all entities involved.
  7. Hill District residents and stakeholders will hold a press conference on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 2:30pm at the Mellon Arena site; and invite all of our elected officials who are in the critical, decision-making roles in this process to ensure that community voices are heard.


It is unconscionable and entirely unacceptable for City representatives and other elected officials to continue a process of engagement with the Pittsburgh Penguins or any other entity that seeks to develop within and in the front yard of the Greater Hill District community without taking into account the concerns of the citizens who live, work and play here twenty four hours a day.


At this point in our history and upon the cusp of change, it is important to come to the table to address the wrongs of our collective past, engage the needs of our present and move forward into a brighter future for the Greater Hill District Community and the City of Pittsburgh, as a whole.


Signed,


Terri Baltimore, Hill House Association

Larry Demarzo, House of the Crossroads

Kimberly C. Ellis, Ph.D., Hill District Resident, Raise Your Hand! No Games Movement

Rev. Glenn G. Grayson, Pastor, Wesley Center AME Church

Emma T. Lucas-Darby, Ph.D., Hill Community Development Corporation

Marimba Milliones, Hill Community Development Corporation

Momar Milliones, Lifelong Hill District Resident

Rev. Johnnie Monroe, Pastor, Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church

Carl Redwood, Hill District Consensus Group

Rev. Tom Smith, Pastor, Monumental Baptist Church

State Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr., 19th Legislative District

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Black Genius

I'm not sure if many of you are aware that I am married (self-selectively so) to The Boondocks creator, Aaron McGruder. We were joined in solitary matrimony no less than seven years ago and I have remained faithful to my sweetie. He's a genius, we have great conversation and he makes me laugh, constantly, with his sick, twisted and brilliant sense of humor. He is also fearlessly, irreverently and lovingly critical of American and/or Black culture and I love him for it. Witness his genius below as he criticizes cable television's Black Entertainment Television (BET) or what some of us call Black Enslavement Television (BET):



Thank you. Comments?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

We Won't Repeat the Defeat!: Speaking Truth To and About Power

Greetings folks,


Three important announcements where we request your attendance/participation:


1. One Hill CBA Coalition meeting Monday, January 07, 2008, Hill House Kaufmann Auditorium, 1835 Centre Ave, 6:00pm


2. City Planning Commission Hearing, January 14, 2008, 200 Ross Street, Downtown Pittsburgh, 2:00pm – Come prepared to support and to speak on our behalf for three minutes!


3. Watch our speeches from the last Planning Commission Meeting on Dec. 11, 2007:


“We Won’t Repeat the Defeat!: Historic Hill vs. Big Business”


Part I: Don Carter, Planning Consultant, Pittsburgh Penguins


Part II: Carmen Pace, George Moses, Tim Stevens


Part III: Evan Frazier, Sheila Petite, Carl Redwood


Part IV: Terri Baltimore, Rev. Foster, Bomani Howze


Part V: Marimba Milliones and Kimberly Ellis


Part VI: Rev. Glenn Grayson, Rev. Thomas Smith, Eugene Taylor


Part VII: Brenda Tate and Minister Jasiri X


A Bit of History

As many of you may know, the Historic Hill District community is in the middle of a revolution for the 21st Century. The two major issues that have swung our neighborhood into action centered around the gaming applications for the State of Pennsylvania and the three gaming applicants for the City of Pittsburgh’s sole slots license---one of whom sought to place their casino right at our front door (and the only applicant seeking to place their casino in our neighborhood). This would not have occurred without the local nods that collaborated in thinking this would be a good idea. Due to the success of State Representative Jake Wheatley and the Hill District Gaming Task Force in informing the community and the Raise Your Hand! No Casino on the Hill Campaign (including the activist Hill ministers) in mobilizing the community to take a stand against the Isle of Capri Casino Company and the “Pittsburgh First” (Hill District Last) organization, we successfully defeated their plans on December 20, 2006, when the Category II slots license was granted to another competitor---Don Barden’s Majestic Star Casino, to be placed on the North Shore.


Today, our major point of contention is with some of the same group of persons who sought to place this casino at our front door but were granted huge public subsidy and public lands to build their new arena, also at our front door. A new arena, of course, is a totally different development from a casino, which could be much easily supported, however, the responsibility of a large, multimillion dollar corporation such as the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team (with a billion dollar owner-Ron Burkle), coupled with gargantuan public subsidy demands that we insist on proper reinvestment to the low income, working-class community that must host this arena---the Historic Hill.


Thus, in 2006, the Hill District Gaming Task Force insisted on a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in its Ten Point Key-Reinvestment Proposal given to each gaming applicant. In January 2007, a small group of individuals representing Hill residents, organizations and clergy stood in icy cold weather at the present Civic Arena to demand a seat at the table and prevent the Pittsburgh Pens from signing a lease with the City and County with little or no regard for Hill residents whose neighborhood hosts the arena. In April 2007, many of these same persons issued a term sheet with a list of demands for reinvestment (based on the points of the 2006 Hill District Gaming Task Force), followed by the creation of the One Hill CBA Coalition (with the support of City Councilor Tonya Payne), which started a community process to develop planks, asks and a “Blueprint for a Livable Hill” document that shaped negotiations for the CBA.


Unfortunately, because neither the City, County nor Pittsburgh Penguins had produced or signed a CBA or a plan of reinvestment with the Hill District community, we all had to come together at the City Planning Commission Hearing on December 11, 2007 to request that the Commission vote “No” on passing the Pens’ plan for the arena until they responded to further community concerns around planning and signed a legally binding contract for proper reinvestment.


The videos listed above capture that hearing and Part I of our testimony. We have yet to sign a CBA or gain proper reinvestment for our community, so we ask that you support our cause by writing letters, making phone calls, hitting the streets and coming to the January 14th meeting, in particular.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Barack the Vote!

Barack won the Iowa primary!!!

Just understand . . . Black man wins in one of the whitest states in the U.S.

No, race should not matter but it does. So, Iowans proved that they are willing to look past the artificial and embrace visionary change for the U.S. Good for them! Good for us!

Barack Says:

"You came together as Democrats, Republicans and independents to stand up and say that we are one nation, we are one people and our time for change has come."

Why Barack?
Intelligent
Grassroots activist and organizer for decades
Humanist
Senator
Good father
Good husband
Servant of the people
The Audacity to Hope!

Barack Says:

"You've got to have hope if you are a black man named Obama running for the presidency of the United States of America."

Oh yes! And for those who think he's too young, just know that he is the same age that Bill Clinton was when he was first elected President of the United States of America.

"Obama Shows Blacks Can Win"

"Obama Wins Iowa on 'Change' Issue"

Thank you, Oprah! You really put your money where your mind is!
Thank you, Michelle, you are going to be the Best. First. Lady. Ever!




Barack for President!

Barack the Vote!

City, County and Pens Propose No C, No B, and No A for Historic Hill District

So, here's the PG article. And here's the Trib. Update: Here's the latest from the PG. I will go through every statement here to show the problems with this proposal.

Officials unveil plans for Hill District
Thursday, January 03, 2008
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl offered representatives of Hill District groups a seven-part community benefits agreement today that included new services, plans and facilities, but not a direct transfer of dollars from a new arena to neighborhood development efforts.

Once again, any discussion of shared revenue, shared prosperity, reinvestment and funding to indigenous Hill District organizations is described as "a direct transfer of dollars", one step above "cash payments".

Reaction from Hill groups was mixed, with the One Hill CBA Coalition issuing a statement that it was "pleased" that neighborhood concerns including a grocery store and job training center would be met, but adding that "vital planks have been expressly ignored."

Many of the vital planks are ignored and it's very disrespectful to the community. And there is no mention of a "job training center" in this proposal. CareerLinks referrals do not a "job training center" make.

The package is a result of "many meetings and discussions" and represents "significant benefit to the community," according to the cover letter accompanying the proposal.

I'm sorry but I have to disagree that there is any level of significance here. I see very little that is concrete in this process, very little guarantee of anything substantive for the community and much of it is also not what the community believes to be what it needs for self-determination. Newsflash: we do know what we need but have so often had little resources to do the types of things that would be holistically impactful. True, there have been "many meetings and discussions". And I think that's why this proposal is so sad---because it looks like the first step of something real and it's considered the last.

The package includes a master plan for Hill development, funded by the city and county.

This is necessary for all parties involved, anyway. In addition, the Pens are not adding one dime to the Masterplan for the rest of the Hill. The city, county and the Pens would be absolute fools not to do a Masterplan for the best location in the city, especially with Downtown's burgeoning development. Yes, this was a demand of ours but let's just keep perspective. We also specifically asked that the Pens pay for the Masterplan. And why not?

Officials will go to the neighborhood to detail social services and recreational and training opportunities available to residents, and to identify any gaps in the available services.

So, they want to give us a presentation to tell us what we already have in our community. And, they want to take two years to make an assessment of it all. First, there is already a list of the services in our community and, second, we can tell you how well they're all going because they're not all going well---hence, the need for proper reinvestment and a Community Benefits Agreement. I think the fullness of the insult has set in now.

The city and county will set up and operate a "resource center" to connect people to services and jobs, including those related to the arena project.

Ah, the "Hill District Resource Center". It sounds big!, exciting!, effective!, yes? The proposal states that this Center will be "in a central, easily accessible and visible location". Oh, yes!

What Rich Lord did not mention (and pardon me for laughing but you have to read the proposal to really believe it) is that there is to be ONE (1) staff person to refer the entire Hill District community to "appropriate existing human services, employment training, assessment and preparation programs, job opportunities and economic development funding programs. This center will be maintained for two years and then its effectiveness will be reassessed and reviewed".

Well, I can tell you now that this will not be effective in any real or substantial manner. Way too much work for one person in a very needy community, way too much stress, way too many phone calls, way too much paper work. This person will eventually break down and become ineffective. Then, when they ask for more help and resources to make the program (a Hill District organization) more effective, they will be told they're asking for "handouts" and "cash payments' and that the city and county will conduct a two year assessment to look at its effectiveness and gaps in the process.

In other words---this is insane.

Both governments and the Penguins would "support the establishment of a viable grocery store in the Hill District and . . . use good faith efforts to cause that to occur," in the words of the proposal.

Right. The "in good faith" effort is quite similar to the "concept" of a grocery store, which ultimately means "much later". And, folks, it's not that the community will not eventually get a grocery store. It's just that when it comes, it will be to make sure that it serves the people who live on the new developments on the 28-acre site and then Hill residents will be considered as part of a total population to make it extraordinarily profitable. In the meantime, we can continue to subsidize other communities and big business that don't give anything back.

Similarly, they pledge their support for a new YMCA in the 2100 block of Centre Avenue, and offer to help win state money toward its development.

Yes, that's right. The YMCA that is not even a member of One Hill, the one organization that is nationwide, already in the middle of a capital campaign and, you guessed it---not what the community asked for. The community asked for a recreation center that would be for the elderly and youth---like the Kingsley Center in East Liberty. Maybe, just maybe, the YMCA could come close to that but it still means that the community cannot control the kinds of programs, services and recreation, not necessarily shaped or defined by an overarching, national organization with its own agenda and priorities.

And, again, we must note the Mayor's revelation that he will be asking for a "handout" (he calls it funding) from the state.

There is no reference to direct funding for development groups in the Hill District or sharing of arena revenues, which some neighborhood leaders have sought. It isn't clear whether the mayor and executive believe they need community leaders to sign off on the proposal to make it official.

Laughable. I don't know if this is Lord's assessment or the officials' but in order to have a deal all parties must sign off. Any indication otherwise is just more paternalism, more racism, more of the same.

Just so everyone is clear, the Hill District community has explored what we need and want for at *least* the last two years---all of 2006 and all of 2007. The planks from the One Hill CBA Coalition from 2007 and the other group of clergy, residents and organizations is based on the terms from 2006 (outlined in the ten point key reinvestment plan of the Hill District Gaming Task Force). The cost of implementing or maintaining those programs and organizations is what makes up the community fund. As Mr. Eugene Taylor, a Hill community member, says in his statement to the City Planning Commission, "we are not asking for a handout. We just want our fair share".

One Hill's statement said that the city, county and Penguins have "drawn a line in the sand calling the [development] fund a 'hand out' and misrepresenting the concept of community control. One Hill is willing to negotiate on this plank, but it is a crucial part of the blueprint. . . .

Well, there is no doubt that any continued references to "handouts" and "cash payments" is just downright ignorant and a purposeful shaping of racist, classist perceptions designed to harm the Hill District community (further). It's also a subtle warning for anyone else in poor, working-class and/or communities of color who are thinking of CBAs and/or gaining proper reinvestment from development projects with public subsidy.

"Without some agreement on a Community Improvement Fund with some form of Hill District community control, there will be no agreement," One Hill's statement says.

Good for One Hill because the folks in my coalition didn't plan on settling, either. The motto is supposed to be "no one settles until we all settle", so it's good to see One Hill following its stated platform without capitulating to the weaker elements among the group that probably think this proposal is an honor instead of an insult.

The letter is addressed to Hill House Association Executive Director Evan Frazier, who was not immediately available, and Monumental Baptist Church Rev. Thomas Smith, who had not seen it yet.

Yes. And that is for "joint sign-off" folks, for the One Hill CBA Coalition and the Hill clergy, residents and organizations of which I am a part (including State Rep. Jake Wheatley). I support One Hill too, it's just that the political corruption and capitulation to the ridiculousness of Tonya Payne and her people drove us out of the process and the organization. C'est La Vie. We still live here and we are the ones who launched this cause on January 28, 2007 when we stopped the city, county and Pens from steamrolling us, so we weren't going anywhere and weren't going to stop fighting for what's right, anyway.

Maybe now we can all be on the same page. Because the fact that it was shared with the media even before the actual community representatives is just more of what I will call mayoral games. I don't know how much Onorato's office was in on that one.

In any event, stay tuned and also show up at City Planning on January 14, 2008, 200 Ross Street, 2:00pm to stand up and speak the truth about power (cuz speaking to them doesn't work the way one might desire).

Next up: my special focus on what the Pens have to offer.

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