Ohio swears in first African-American county treasurer
Written by Courier Newsroom
MARK A. PARKS JR.
Cleveland, OH (BlackNews.com) -- In an unprecedented move, Ohio swore in its first African-American County Treasurer. Mark A. Parks Jr. took the oath of office on March 27th, 2013, from Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald before a group of 11 council members and community supporters.
"Mark continually demonstrates his value to county government with his wide ranging experience and effective management in a variety of areas. His experience, professionalism and knowledge in financial management are a true asset for Cuyahoga County and its citizens. He is one of our very best," said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald.
Parks served as the interim Cuyahoga County Treasurer since mid-December, 2012. His appointment began one month prior to him taking the oath. He is the first African-American county Treasurer in any county in Ohio. His responsibilities include managing the billion dollar investment portfolio for Cuyahoga County, collecting its property taxes and distributing funds to municipalities.
Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge said that it is outstanding that Cuyahoga County is leading the state in diversity and inclusion. "Mr. Parks is well-qualified and will do a great job. I hope it will set the stage for the country to follow the lead of Cuyahoga County," continued Fudge.
For more than two years, Parks was the Council President for Orange Village and has served as Chairman of the finance committee for more than six years. He also served as the Director of special projects. He counted among his duties: assisting the Chief Fiscal Officer and serving as Controller for the fiscal office.
"Of course it's satisfying to make history," offered Parks, "but even more satisfying is knowing that County Executive FitzGerald made his decision solely on me being the best qualified for the position. I am really looking forward to making the Cuyahoga County Treasurer's Office a model for all others to emulate."
Parks received the Dr. David C. Sweet, Distinguished Elected Official award in 2010 from the Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University for his commitment to regionalism.
"Mark has the training, experience, and drive to get the job done as the County Treasurer," said Cuyahoga County Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, Sharon Cole. "Now that he has been appointed, he will simply continue the great work he has been doing for the residents of Cuyahoga County."
A Certified Public Accountant, Parks received a BA in Accounting from Baldwin-Wallace University and a Masters in Business Administration from The University of Phoenix. He is a member of the regional advisory committee for Ohio Auditor David Yost, the endowment fund committee of Lander Circle Kiwanis, the Cuyahoga County Transition Committee, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Shaw High School Alumni Association.
He has served on several boards including Continue Life, Inc., the National Black MBA Association and Community United Headstart.
"I am excited about the opportunity for him," said Congresswoman Fudge about Parks' appointment. "I know he will be excellent. It is well deserved."
Parks and wife Connie have two sons, Mark III., and Charles.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 21:31
Fitzgerald talks transit and jobs at Chamber Breakfast
Written by Christian Morrow - Courier Staff Writer
As always, when Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald speaks at the African American Chamber of Commerce PowerBreakfast, it’s a command performance.
But his April 19 appearance was even more so. Not only were all the county government department heads present, but so were Fitzgerald’s parents, as was former Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Director Kathleen McGinty, who recently announced her candidacy for governor.
Fitzgerald almost immediately spoke of shoring up the Port Authority of Allegheny County, noting his part in helping to avoid a 33 percent service cut last year. But he wants to do more.
“U-Haul just released its report that said more people are moving to Pittsburgh than any other destination in the country right now, so I’d like to see us get to where rather than just maintaining service, we can expand again,” he said.
He said the residents of the Hill District, Uptown, and Oakland should have the same rapid transit options that commuters from the South Hills have with the T, especially given plans to revitalize that corridor with business, retail and housing development. But there’s a catch—cost.
“That tunnel under the river was the last of the 80-percent federally-funded transit deals. If you want light rail in the Hill, you’ll have to wait 15 years because that’s how long it will take us to raise the $1.5 billion that would be our share,” he said.
“But Bus Rapid Transit is basically rail on wheels; dedicated lanes, timetables, stations. It could be done for a tenth the cost, in less than four years. The Rockefeller Foundation just recommended four cities for BRT, Pittsburgh was one of them.”
Fitzgerald praised the growth in the city and surrounding areas, praising the development in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, East Liberty, Larimer and Bloomfield. He also noted companies upgrading facilities and expanding to meet new orders created by Marcellus Shale development, like Dura bond, a pipe company in Duquesne and US Steel with the $750 million upgrade to its Clairton Coke Works.
“Workforce development is key to getting our people especially those in the African-American community ready for these jobs,” he said. “We have Alex Johnson over at CCAC working on that.”
Fitzgerald also said since he has become county executive, more African-Americans are being included.
“With African-Americans historically underrepresented on authorities and boards, 26 percent of my appointees are African-Americans and 17 percent of county employees are African-Americans,” he said.
He summed up by saying he would be holding a forum with Black Political Empowerment Project founder Tim Stevens at Duquesne University on May 13 focusing on compelling private corporations to adopt a “Rooney Rule” when interviewing for top executive positions.
Chamber President and CEO Doris Carson Williams thanked Fitzgerald and his parents for coming and reminded members that the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement executives still needs volunteers to help with its National Conference, which is coming to Pittsburgh in August.
“And our annual meeting and luncheon is May 1 at the Omni William Penn hotel,” she said. “And our mayoral candidates forum is the following day right here at the Rivers Club. We’ll open at 4 p.m. and begin at 4:30. All the candidates have confirmed.”
(Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:04
Internet sales tax: What you need to know
Written by Courier Newsroom
by Chris Isidore
Many online purchases could soon be more expensive, if a long-debated Internet sales tax law advances through Congress.
The law would allow 45 states and the District of Columbia to demand that online retailers collect sales tax on purchases.
Estimates are that consumers would be spending between $12 billion to $23 billion more a year due to the increased tax collection.
Here’s what you need to know about the current law on online purchase and what would happen under the legislation:
When is an Internet retailer required to collect sales tax under current law?
Essentially states can only demand that online retailers that have a physical presence in their states—such as a store, a warehouse or a factory—collect sales taxes on purchases by residents of that state. Technically people who buy goods online tax free are supposed to make sales tax payments on those purchases to their home state. But estimates are that only about 1 percent of buyers comply with those widely unenforced laws.
Who would pay sales tax under the proposed legislation?
Sellers with more than $1 million a year in sales would be responsible for collecting the tax from buyers in the 45 states plus D.C. that currently charge sales tax. Even if an online retailer provides “tax-free” purchases as a way of attracting customers, the way many now offer free shipping, it would be responsible for paying the sales taxes to the various states.
That would likely raise the cost of the item charged consumers.
How much in taxes will be paid?
This is tough to say. The most widely quoted study shows that there would be $12 billion in taxes, but that study is from 2009 and online purchases have risen significantly since then. Some estimates are that tax collection could be nearly double that amount. The highest statewide sales tax is the 7.5 percent rate in California, but local sales taxes raise the rate to about 10 percent in some locations.
Who is supporting the legislation?
The National Retail Federation is one of the most active voices in support of the proposal, as it is concerned its brick- and-mortar members are losing sales to online competitors. Amazon.com, the largest online retailer, is also backing the bill. It is expanding the number of warehouses nationwide, so most Americans already pay sales tax on their Amazon purchases. So Amazon doesn’t want a competitive disadvantage with other online retailers that have a smaller geographic footprint.
Who is opposing the proposal?
Many online retailers are opposed, saying it would create an administrative nightmare to comply with the law, and that higher taxes would hurt their sales. On Sunday, eBay CEO John Donahoe sent an e-mail message to millions of users asking them to contact members of Congress. The e-mails went to eBay members who simply buy online in addition to its millions of sellers. Donahoe advocates a threshold of $10 million in annual sales or 50 employees before an online retailer would have to start collecting sales taxes.
What is the status of the legislation?
The legislation has strong bipartisan support, with the lead sponsors in both houses being Republicans. But it has never been able to get out of committee for a vote on the floor of either chamber before now. Democrat Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has kept the legislation from advancing. Baucus is from Montana, one of the five states without a sales tax.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has taken the unusual step of bypassing the Finance panel, and scheduled a procedural vote on the measure in the Senate later Monday. The legislation could be in its final form later this week, though a vote might not come until after the coming recess.
Passage in the House is less certain, but the measure does have bipartisan support there as well. Norton Francis, senior research associate of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Institute, said that even members of the House Republican leadership support the plan.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2013 12:59
Business Calendar 4-24-13
Written by Courier Newsroom
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:02
Tuning in: Twitter launches music app
Written by Associated Press
NEW TWITTER APP--This image taken from an iPhone shows the new Twitter music app. (AP Photo/Twitter)
by Ryan Nakashima
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Twitter has launched a service that lets people find music they like and tweet songs from iTunes, Spotify and Rdio.
Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 16:14
Digital Daily Signup
Sign up now for the New Pittsburgh Courier Digital Daily newsletter!
- This Week In Black History (1)
- That intelligence agencies monitor our calls and Internet usage shouldn’t come as a surprise (1)
- Central Baptist Church hosts 'Spring Hat Sensation' at LeMont (2)
- Pitt hosts national summit tackling poverty research cuts (2)
- Last Dance: AVA Bar & Lounge in East Liberty closing (5)