Category: Business 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.”
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:04
Category: Business Written by Courier Newsroom
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:02
Category: Business 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
Category: Business 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
Category: Business Written by James Clingman
(NNPA)—As George Benson sang in Moody’s Mood, “There I go, there I go, there I go…” making up words again. I couldn’t resist this one in light of our penchant to choose sides when it comes to economics versus politics. It seems we cannot understand, nor act upon, the fact that by combining the two disciplines and leveraging the resulting power from such a sensible strategy we could build a stronger base and finally put an end to being ignored and taken for granted.
So I made up this word in an effort to indoctrinate us, to condition us, to program us, or whatever you want to call it, so that Black people can stop being sacrificial lambs led to the political and economic slaughter.
We do not have to choose between the two, but as I always say, if I had to choose I would definitely take economics over politics. Why? Isn’t it obvious that while politics runs most of our lives (because we have no real economic base) it certainly does not run the lives of those who are economically empowered?
Whatever Wall Street wants Wall Street gets. The stock market hits record highs; but Black people are sinking lower in net worth and income. Black people are too busy watching the Wives of … or Scandal, or all of those BET Award shows to recognize the subordinated consumer-oriented role we are playing in the economy. Like sister Sweet Brown said about the fire on YouTube, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
As the war machine cranks up once again, the moneychangers are rubbing their greedy hands together in anticipation of another windfall from supplying the tools of war, the food for the troops, the equipment, the uniforms, and all the accoutrements necessary to dispose of those pesky Koreans, Syrians, and Iranians.
This is the country of the Golden Rule—He who has the gold makes the rules. Blacks aren’t making any rules; we are just playing by them, and being used as grist for profit mill. Sadly, some of us are so entrenched in the political shenanigans in Washington, so enamored by the celebrity of our president and those with whom he socializes, that we either ignore the weightier things in life or simply refuse to listen, even though we know that the road we are on leads to destruction.
Just watch the dueling news channels, MSNBC and Fox, and you will get a steady dose of Obama love and Obama hate. He can hardly do any wrong on MSNBC and can seldom, if ever, do anything right on Fox. I often wonder if these newscasters have a life outside of the bashing they do of each other’s political parties. Even sadder is the fact that Black people, who have little or no skin in the game, take sides and start fighting one another over emotional rhetoric centered on who likes or dislikes the POTUS and his policies.
It makes little sense for us to spend 90 percent of our capital and time on 10 percent of our problem, as Khalid Al-Mansour suggested in his book, Betrayal by any Other Name. When it comes to choosing instead of combining and leveraging, Al-Mansour says, “Blacks feel helpless because they hear so many conflicting voices and so much empty rhetoric. It’s easy to throw up one’s hands, get drunk, and have another baby. The African-American has been hearing about the problem and the solution since he can remember and yet, his condition always continues to disintegrate.”
We get a daily dose of political rhetoric and hardly ever take any economic medicine; it’s no wonder that many Black people see no way out of our economic/political dilemma. We have chosen political rhetoric over practical tried-and-true economic initiatives to free us from psychological bondage—a prescription that has not and does not work.
The political hacks are doing what they do because they get paid to do it, not because they necessarily believe in everything they promote. Our problem is allowing these jokers to dominate our thinking and our actions, as though what they say, or who they support, or what ideology they promote will move Black people to a position of real power rather than mere influence. And if that happens at all, whatever influence we attain will have to be channeled through them, because they are the political gatekeepers.
As Malcolm said, “…you are chumps…” when it comes to politics; and I say we are pawns when it comes to economics. However, if we combine politics with economics and not be led around by the ears by so-called leaders who only care about themselves, their political connections, and the money they make from selling us down the road, we will be much better off than we are now.
So, turn off the television and start reading more, start learning more for yourself, and start initiating and participating in efforts, where you live, to combine and leverage your collective economic and political clout—a winning strategy for sure. In other words, start practicing “Blackopoliticonomics.”
(Jim Clingman, founder of the Greater Cincinnati African American Chamber of Commerce, is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati and can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.)
Last Updated on Friday, 19 April 2013 05:59
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