Friday, April 29, 2011

Joanna Russ, Writer & Feminist Icon, Died This Morning

She was 74 and had recently had some strokes.

She had a big influence on me, mostly from one story "When It Changed"

Win two FREE tickets to hear Victoria Kennedy speak

Adagio Health is celebrating 40 years of providing health care with a festive celebration on Thursday, May 19, 2011 at Rodef Shalom.

Reception at 5:30
Keynote presentation and Q&A with Victoria Kennedy begins at 6:30

They've asked us to raffle two tickets to our Society readers.

If you are interested, leave a comment and be sure to leave your email address!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pennsylvania Needs a Responsible Budget

Corbett’s budget plan cuts one billion dollars from all public schools and universities. No school is safe. All local wage and property taxes will rise. Join us in Harrisburg on May 3 to stand up for your family. All are welcome. Free buses are available.

Read More . . . .

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mourn for the Dead. Fight for the Living.

Join us on Workers Memorial Day.
Each year, dangerous conditions kill thousands of workers on the job. The AFL-CIO observes April 28 as a day to “mourn for the dead, fight for the living.” Labor unions and workers in nearly 100 countries observe the day. Join us at an event in your town.
Read More . . . .

Friday, April 22, 2011

Let’s Criminalize Poverty

I love recessions. They’re just so darned entertaining. First, politicians try to deflect attention away from their fiscal failures by turning Americans against each other. Then the great American middle class gets an education.
Read more . . .

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Remember Before You Vote

Remember Before You Vote

Laurie D. T. Mann

Many politicians make it clear they don't care who dies,

so long as the wealthy and corporations pay less in taxes.

They don't care when people die from lack of medical care.

They don't care when women die from backroom abortions.

They don't care when soldiers die in pointless wars.

They don't care when citizens die in war,

or industrial hazard,

or from a failure to plan well,

or from poor infrastructure,

or from a lack of education,

or from bad water, food or air.

They don't care when the harassed die from murder or suicide.

Don't elect the ignorant who make it perfectly clear they don't care about

"Government of the people

by the people

for the people."

It's still your choice.

Vote smart!

Darlene Harris for City Council

When I met Darlene Harris I was fairly confident I would like her. I knew she loved animals, stood up to the Mayor when necessary and had a Northside brashness to her that I've come to appreciate.

What I didn't expect was how much she seemed to like me. She was very interested in blogs, asking me several questions and the confessing that she secretly enjoyed the anonymous blogs about Pgh politics. I told her I had zero anonymity, but had been kissed by at least 4 City Councilman. That part didn't impress her that much, but hey -- I'm not privy to anything more juicy (that I can share).

Darlene Harris combines what I imagine is old school Northside politics with a skillful capacity to evolve with the times (hence the blog appreciation) because it was was best for Pittsburgh. Our conversation flitted from pensions plans to soap operas, from Animal Care Control to the real smoke filled eras of days gone by.

Let me assure you, Darlene lives and breathes the Northside. She has no patience for the term North Shore and told me that even though I lived in Manchester (another district), I was a neighbor. I tried to test her by asking her to name all of her neighborhoods in reverse alphabetical order. She gave me a look over the top of her glasses and asked for a minute to think.

What she can do is regularly attend community meetings throughout the district. When candidate night rolls around, Darlene was more of a fixture than a guest. She believes this is the essential way to build a relationship with the district - keeping people engaged and she makes no bones about using a mother's style to meet her district needs.The same is true of her Council presidency - she strives for engagement and compromise. Then she laughs heartily when admitting it hasn't always worked out that way.

Born and raised in Troy Hill, Darlene made the big move to Spring Hill and has been there ever since. She became involved in the community when neighbors filled up a dumpster she had rented while she slept. She called the local community group and asked them to replace the dumpster since the community had filled it. It worked and a life of community advocacy began. She moved up the ranks from volunteer to leader and eventually found herself President of the Pittsburgh Public School Board. From there, it was just a few steps away to Pittsburgh City Council.

She has a strong interest in public safety. She admits she almost applied to be a police officer, but was distracted. During her tenure on City Council, she has had cameras installed in each of her neighborhoods, been vocal about the need for people to report crime to the police if they want to see something done and called for more police on the force. She actually abstained on the City's personnel budget because it defunded police positions. She is adamant that more police visibility deters crime.

She is equally adamant that the suburbanites are not pulling their weight when it comes to public safety and other public services. $52 is not enough, she shakes her head as she enumerates the variety of services people received while expecting 300,000+ folks to financially support it. She was philosophical about getting that changed, instead tearing into another long time debate - taxing non-profits. She spit out the statistics faster than I could write, sat back with her arms folded matter of factly and said "the City lives off wage taxes and property taxes, you do the math."

Her campaign manager handed her a sheef of papers and she cagily offered to name the neighborhoods in reverse alphabetical order. I was saved from an unPresidential point of order when both of her cell phones rangs at the same time. She was experienced juggling competing call and I was enthralled watching her negotiate a work related issue with plans for some activity with her family. Those on the other ends of the calls seem nonplussed by the crosstalk. I was really impressed when she continued to sip coffee throughout the calls.

We talked about diversity in public safety and she said it very bluntly -- people have to apply, the issue is not about hiring it is about recruitment. Darlene also regularly calls members of the media who punt and locate crimes in "the Northside" instead of pinpointing a specific neighborhood. She had a point when she said that didn't happen so much in the East End or the West End. She had neighborhood specific maps of the Northside printed up for distribution to the media. Education.

This also fits with her belief that each neighborhood in the Northside is unique. Her headquarters on East Ohio Street gave rise discussioin of revitalization. She envisions a Northside with plenty of green spaces and many new businesses. She also puts her money where her mouth is ... when the City is selling off a property, she consults with the neighborhood so they don't inadvertently create an absentee landlord situation.

Darlene's philosophy is pretty fundamental "Get Involved In Your Community" After all these years, it really does boil down to the dumpster mentality. Your rely on your community and you need to give back.

Someone recently asked me why I liked Darlene for City Council. I think it comes down to just our general conversation. I liked her self-confidence, her laying it on the line with me, her respect for community. I respect her leadership in a man's world and the example she sets for girls and younger women.

And I'm fairly certain she's memorized that list of neighborhoods, in reverse alphabetical order. Just because she can.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Rally for Equal Pay Today!

Via the Women and Girls Foundation:

When the Women and Girls Foundation first began efforts to raise awareness of the wage gap and remedy this issue in Southwest PA, women were making less than 70 cents for every dollar a man was making. Since then, WGF has worked with city and county leaders throughout the region to pass wage equity legislation and to support the issue of fair pay for women. Now, in 2011, women are making 75 cents to a man's dollar. We have made change happen in our region, but there is still significant work to be done in Southwest PA and throughout the state to close the gap for women in Pennsylvania.

Equal Pay Day is commemorated annually, when groups organize nationally to raise awareness of the gender wage gap throughout the country. This day, each April, symbolizes how long it takes for women to catch up to men's wages from the previous year. While men earn their wages in 365 days, on average it takes women 483 days. Nationally, women make an average of 80 cents for every dollar a man makes and in Pennsylvania, women make 75 cents per dollar.

Hundreds of women and men have attended previous Equal Pay Day rallies. This year WGF is partnering with local organizations to bring you Equal Pay Day activities in Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties!

See listings below to learn more about the activities being planned for your community, and plan to join us as we rally for Equal Pay in Southwest Pennsylvania.

Allegheny County
Partner: YWCA Greater Pittsburgh Center for Race and Gender Equity

Tuesday, April 12 from 12:00 to 1:00pm Market Square Park, Downtown Pittsburgh

Rally Featuring local corporate, nonprofit and business leaders, and representitives from the Allegheny County Regional Change Agents

Equal Pay Bake Sale* (hosted by the Allegheny County Regional Change Agents) Baked goods will be available for purchase. To help illustrate the wage gap, men will be charged $1 per item, and women will be charged 75 cents

A Second Equal Pay Bake Sale* will be held at Alderdice High School (hosted by the Allegheny County Regional Change Agents)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Public Demonstrations Do Bring Change

Most Americans have a baffling fear of demonstrations, but they’re completely safe. No significant social, economic, or political change has happened anywhere in the world without protest and demonstration. History is made by those who show up. Join us!

Nominations: Women "Greening" Pittsburgh and 40 Under 40 2011

Two honors you should take note of ...

    • The Women & Girls Foundation of SW PA has selected "Women Greening Pittsburgh" as the theme for their annual recognition of prominent women in a local industry. Nominations are due by April 22, 2011 and the ceremony is scheduled for November.

      On November 19th, the Women and Girls Foundation will celebrate outstanding women and girls in Southwestern Pennsylvania engaged in environmentally conscious innovation. This gala will honor women who through their actions, words and work are leading the way in green energy, green policy, green technology and green innovation in our region. We invite you to nominate a woman or girl in Southwest Pennsylvania who is engaged in leading the way in green energy, green policy, green technology, and green innovation in our region. Please help us recognize and celebrate the achievements of accomplished women and girls in our region by nominating someone you admire in your community, company or organization.
      Nomination information is available here.

    • It is also time to honor Pittsburgh's 40 Under 40, a collaboration of Pittsburgh Magazine and PUMP. 40 Under 40 looks for individuals with a unique personal story and significant communnity contributions The winners and honors are also bestowed in November. Noominations are due June 3, 2011. Nomination forms here.

    This is where I usually insert the story of how my 40 under 40 honor in 2004 eventually led me to blogging. That seems less and less relevant as the years march on, but I genuinely appreciate the recognition especially as it gave a little exposure to the LGBTQ community.

    An on a note to tie this up, I received my 40 under 40 award the same year as Women & Girls Foundation CEO, Heather Arnet. :-)

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Fundraiser for Lucille Prater-Holliday for Pittsburgh City Council

    Find out more/RSVP here. .


    Yay Doyle, OMG GOP WTF???

    So, my little blog caused a bit of a stir yesterday! If you called Congressman Mike Doyle’s after reading yesterday’s post, or wandered over here after his response, then you know that Rep. Doyle in fact OPPOSES HR-3 and HR 358. In fact, he opposed them from the start, no pausing, no pondering, no prevarication.

    He writes (about HR-358) “You will be happy to know that when this legislation was considered before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which I am a Member, I was vocal with my strong opposition, and voted against it. Despite that, H.R. 358 passed out of the Committee by a vote of 14 to 9, and will next be considered before the entire House of Representatives.”

    According to the Congressman’s office, an intern got his facts wrong, and thus learned a valuable lesson on three very, very important words: “I don’t know.” I hope they weren’t too mad at the young man. I am encouraged that anyone still wants to go into politics these days.

    Also, I spoke with Doyle’s office and they were very nice. They could have been jerks (even though I DID do my due diligence) human nature is often to lead with anger and indignation.

    So it’s all good, right??

    Wait…what did I see this morning? In the swirl of getting myself and the kids out the door on time I could swear I heard CNN say that the Budget deal to avoid a government shutdown hinges on….funding for Planned Parenthood.



    Oi. Vey.

    And according to this blog (and you know Blogs are the most reliable source for information right?) only Harry Reed and John Boehner can come together strike a deal and avoid a shut down. (Actually lots of outlets are reporting that it is the issue of funding for Planned Parenthood holding things up.)

    We are doomed.

    Just kidding. Actually we are


    Go read the rest of this post and TAKE ACTION!!!

    Thursday, April 7, 2011

    WGF & PA Treasurer McCord announce new policy initiatives to increase gender equity

    From the Women and Girls Foundation --

    On Tuesday, April 6, 2011 the Women and Girls Foundation hosted a press conference with PA Treasurer Rob McCord to stress the importance of increasing gender diversity on corporate boards. Five companies on Pittsburgh's "Top 50 in Business" were honored for their leadership on this topic and the Treasurer made an important announcement about Treasury’s efforts to engage in Institutional Advocacy around this topic.

    At the press conference, Treasurer McCord presented proclamations honoring HFF, Allegheny Valley Bancorp, Alcoa, First Commonwealth, and PNC Financial Services. Each corporation is a publicly traded company included among Pittsburgh’s “Top 50” that have at least three or more women currently serving on their board of directors. The Pennsylvania Treasury has partnered with The Women and Girls Foundation to research best practices by other state Treasurers to improve portfolio performance and the board diversity of companies in which they invest. Treasurer McCord explained that the Pennsylvania Treasury, as an institutional investor, is encouraging increased corporate board diversity. Under the department’s amended proxy guidelines, the State Treasury will:
    Manually vote on corporate board nominee slates via a formalized proxy voting system.
    Correspond with company CEOs, board chairs, and nominating committees that fail to include women directors on corporate board nominee slates.
    Maintain an open dialogue with corporate leadership and board nominating committees to include representation of women and minorities;
    Sponsor, submit, and support shareholder resolutions that seek a greater representation of women on corporate boards;
    Encourage amending board nominating committee charters to ensure that female candidates are routinely sought in board searches; and
    Encourage other state treasurers and colleagues to join Pennsylvania in taking these actions.
    ”We are thrilled by today’s announcement by the Treasurer,” said Heather Arnet, WGF CEO. “Through identifying board diversity as a priority within Treasury proxy guidelines, the Treasurer is making real impact on this issue at the systemic level.”

    Video of the press conference here ...

    Beware the Politics of Distraction

    For 30 years, those on the political right have focused more on scaring you than informing you. Now they’re blaming their bad economic decisions on labor unions and public employees. They don’t believe any of this stuff. They want you to believe it.

    Aaaaaaa! OMG Doyle WTF??

    UPDATE: Congressman Doyle posted a clarifying response (he opposes HR-3 and HR-358 on the original blog.

    Spurred on by something that showed up in my Facebook stream, I called my Congressman, Rep. Mike Doyle to ask about his stance on HR-3 and HR-358. The nice young man who answered the phone told me that Rep. Doyle has yet to take a position on these bills….



    HR-358 is the bill that would allow hospitals to let a woman die rather than performing a life saving abortion. So the scenario is this…a woman, most likely pregnant by choice and excited to become a mother suffers some monstrous, unimaginable injury or illness or complication. The only way to save her life is to terminate the pregnancy. A devastating and horrible choice for an expectant mother to make. This bill would let a hospital choose (note that the hospital and doctors seem to have a choice in this matter) to refuse to perform this LEGAL and NECESSARY medical procedure and allow the mother to die.

    And Doyle doesn’t have a position on this yet????

    SHAME. ON. YOU. Congressman Doyle.

    Along with all the other anti-woman, infantalizing, misogynistic provisions in these bills (including the redefinition of rape)….I totally forgot where I was going with this sentence. My vision is blurring in a haze of outrage…oh, along with all these other provisions this is some of the worst and most damaging legislation for women and their families we’ve seen in a long time. I cannot support anyone who votes for these bills. Ever. I understand we all make compromises, and I have voted for anti-choice legislators before because they are the best choice overall, but these bills aren’t just anti choice, they will result in the deaths of women. These bills, if they become law, will condemn women to die from cancer, botched back alley abortions, and whatever you call it when a hospital watches a woman die (I call that murder.)

    Please call Rep. Doyle now and urge him to “take a position” AGAINST these bills. If he wont, I can suggest a few other positions he take, starting with retired.


    Read more at Einstein's Desk...

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011


    The GOP attack on Americans began in Wisconsin nearly two months ago. More than 20 states have joined the assault. On Monday, nearly 1,000 people marched through downtown Pittsburgh in solidarity with the national “We Are One” campaign. Join us.
    Read More . . . .

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    I like you in spite of you ...

    Crossposted from Pgh Lesbian Correspondents

    Dear Virginia
    by Sue on Sun 03 Apr 2011 07:07 PM EDT

    A few days ago, Ginny Montanez came out as a Republican on her very popular blog, That's Church.

    But this Sunday while reading an article about the Port Authority service cuts that went into effect today, I was first shocked to see the 67J was cut, because I assumed that was a pretty profitable and popular route. But I was the most shocked that transit union president Patrick McMahon said this to the media:

    “Dan Onorato — union buster,” Mr. McMahon said. “That’s the label you will have whatever else you do in your life. You stink. You’re a Republican.”

    The very day I outed myself as Virginia Montanez instead of PittGirl, Chad Hermann at the Radical Middle latched on to this letter to the editor I wrote when George Bush was re-elected, wondering how my readers were going to like me knowing I was a Republican. This resulted in some uproar from readers who were shocked I ever voted for a “war criminal.” Yes. WAR CRIMINAL. I voted for him because as you already know ME LOVE KILLING! GRRRRR.

    Nearly 170 comments followed, many of which were very supportive of Ginny. What struck me? How many people were willing to "accept" her Republican lifestyle because she isn't like the rest of them. They liked her in spite of party affiliation.

    Say what? Now I do not know Ginny personally, even though we brushed elbows at a fundraiser last summer. I don't always agree with her and I have admittedly cast an envious glance or two at her comment sections.

    But here's what I do know. When I asked her to help me raise funds to provide holiday gifts to families experiencing homelessness and/or living with mental illness, she did it. She simply said "How can I help?"with no concern that holiday gifts for 44 year old mentally ill men living in a shelter is not content for a very sexy blog post. It is just real. She helped and there was absolutely no question from her about the worth or value of the cause. She just helped.

    Here's what else I know. Republicans are good people. A very dear friend of mine is a conservative Christian fundamentalist. I don't love him in spite of these facts. I love him because he lives the real values, not the hyped-up media portrayed values. I love him because we can agree that people need affordable housing and just disagree on how to create it. I love him because when I called him at 11 PM with an emergency, he was there by 8 AM the next morning and again the next day and the next. He isn't a stereotype to me and he isn't an exception. He reads me something, we argue and then we go have lunch. It is all good. I don't have enough fingers to count the ways he lived up to his values while the rest of us were talking about it.

    My Dad is a Catholic Republican who loves George Bush and Rick Santorum. I try to talk with him about issues, but he has none of that talk. He is just glad I ended up with a lawyer, albeit a female, and treats her exactly like he treats my sister-in-law.

    My point is that I love my friend and I love my Dad for who they are, not in spite of it. That's what I expect from them, right? No "lifestyle" comments, no "Sue and her friend" comments. My friend actually asks me a lot of questions and thinks my trust in the federal government is more perilous than my sexual orientation.

    I write a political blog and I have taken swings at Republicans and probably did the very thing I'm railing about.

    When I saw the piece in the Post-Gazette about Ginny, I just stopped what I was doing. She wants good public transportation, so do I. It sure seems like we can write a big list of "things Sue and Ginny agree about" if we tried.

    If you told me you liked me in spite of the fact that I'm a lesbian or because I'm not like "those" lesbians, I would take a deep breath and smile while sweetly asking you to explain and just watch you dig yourself in deeper and deeper to show what an unbelievable homophobe you really are. I might punch you, but Ledcat frowns on potential lawsuits.

    I like Ginny because she thinks 44 year old men living with mental illness in a shelter deserve a holiday gift just like kids and you and lesbians and George Bush. I think George Bush deserves a holiday gift. Seriously. But remember I'm the lesbian who wants to be an evangelical (remind me to tell you that I might actually be able to pull that off).

    Ginny doesn't need me to defend her. But I will say that I learned a lesson about my broad strokes. There is a difference between Republican parties, strategies, tactics, plans and belief systems AND people who are Republican.

    One thing I admire about Western PA Republicans is their willingness to be honest. There are a lot of Republicans in Democrat clothing and I find that abhorrent and self-serving the highest degree. But I also find it abhorrent to deny women reproductive healthcare. That's where it gets tough to sort out motives and beliefs and so forth.

    It is a murky path we tread, but let's try to be a little more genuine. I have Republican friends, people I love and admire and appreciate. I have to work harder to remind myself that I am swooping them up into stereotypes. Perhaps that's inevitable when you blog politically, but it doesn't feel very good.

    Frankly, if I had lunch with Ginny, I'd probably be more concerned about her pigeon-hating than her opinions on unions. I like pigeons. And unions.

    And I like Ginny for putting this out there. Good conversations require self-disclosures, both lofty and otherwise.

    Biography: Need to Know - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    How a Federal Government Shutdown Affects You

    News reports have been chattering about a possible government shutdown since September. The demodupes and republithugs have been posturing and saber-rattling and making a lot of noise, but none of them bother to explain what that means for the public.
    Read More . . . .