Category: Metro Written by Christian Morrow - Courier Staff Writer
A MEETING OF THE MINDS—Addison Terrace developer Keith B. Key listens to Community Empowerment Association Founder Rashad Byrdsong’s thoughts on Black contractor inclusion.
When the Addison Terrace Public Housing Project was dedicated in 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt was there to commemorate it as Pittsburgh’s first public housing community.
Though none of the speakers at the April 22 groundbreaking for the $28-million first phase of the community’s redevelopment were there 73 years ago, many had a history with Addison.
Pittsburgh Housing Authority Chief Community Affairs Officer Michelle Jackson, who served as mistress of ceremonies for the groundbreaking, said her PhD stood for Pittsburgh’s Hill District and told of sneaking over to Addison to visit her boyfriend. Those she introduced conveyed similar remembrances as they praised the project. Keith B. Key, the developer for the joint Housing Authority and Urban Redevelopment Authority project, grew up in the Hill.
“I was born and raised over on Summers Drive, and there are probably only about 10 of us left,” he said. “I’m pleased to be a part of this. A lot of good will comes from this.”
City Councilman and housing authority Board Chair Rev. Ricky Burgess called the project visionary and was pleased to see it is being done on a grand scale. The first phase will provide 186 units of market rate and subsidized housing. Another 206 units will go up in phase two, and the third phase comprised of 140 units will go off-site and connect the hilltop community to Centre Avenue. The projected budget for the entire redevelopment is $160 million.
“Though Keith is a master at building buildings, this is about building lives. We are going to transform this community,” Burgess said. “Now I grew up in Homewood, but my ‘summer vacation’ was to spend two weeks here in Addison with my aunt. I even dated a girl from Elmore Square, and I can tell you from experience—good things come from the Hill.”
City Councilman and URA board member R. Daniel Lavelle, whose family has been an institution in the Hill for three generations, also praised the project for the way it compliments developments like the SHOP ‘n SAVE.
“It’s a little chilly today, but the sun is shining and it’s a great day in the Hill because we are going to reconnect this community to Centre Avenue,” he said. “This is a shining example of what can happen when you invest in people.”
Howard Slaughter, policy committee chair for the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, said he was pleased the agency could provide $28 million in tax credits for the first phase of the project, and joked that while he only visited the Hill while growing up, he did have a PhD.
Both County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and housing authority Executive Director Caster D. Binion lauded the project for how it will contribute jobs to the Hill District.
As to that, Key said he was scheduled to meet later in the day with representatives from the city’s Equal Opportunity Review Commission and the African American Chamber of Commerce about minority contracting participation.
“We’ll have another meeting with contractors the week of May 13 and bids will go out the following week,” he said. “Also we’re going to have someone counting the number of minority workers actually on site every day, and we’ll publish a monthly news letter on the project that will include those numbers because hiring minority contractors is great, but not if they don’t use minority workers.”
Community Empowerment Association Founder and contractor Rashad Byrdsong said this project will help employ Blacks across the city.
“The difference between this and projects like Bakery Square 2 is that here you have the developer, the general contractor, the politicians and the community groups working together from the beginning,” he said. “That’s what you need.”
If all goes as scheduled, Key said the first residents will begin occupying the new units in the fall of 2014.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2013 10:25
Category: Metro Written by Associated Press
MONROEVILLE, Pa. (AP) — Local and federal law enforcement officials are continuing to investigate after 46 pounds of cocaine worth about $10.5 million was seized and three men were arrested in searches that began with surveillance of a suburban Pittsburgh hotel.
Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April 2013 09:58
Category: Metro Written by Courier Newsroom
APRIL 25—The Fund for Advancement of Minorities through Education will host the 15th Annual FAME Luncheon from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Duquesne Club, 325 6th Ave., Downtown. The event will honor the anniversary of the minority scholarship program and will honor the 68 scholars and nine graduating seniors. Gregory Dell’Omo, Phd, president of Robert Morris will be the keynote speaker. Registration is requested. For more information, call 412-363-5553 or visit www.famefund.org.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 11:45
Category: Metro Written by Christian Morrow - Courier Staff Writer
JACK WAGNER MAKING HIS POINT (Photo by J.L. Martello)
Former state Auditor General Jack Wagner says his 27 years in politics makes him “hands down” the most qualified candidate in the race to become Pittsburgh’s next mayor.
That’s what he’s said at every candidate’s forum to date, and what he told the New Pittsburgh Courier editorial board during an April 17 interview.
“Twenty-six percent of the population has twice the unemployment rate and that needs to be addressed,” he said. “It will take leadership to get there and I’m dramatically better, in terms of what I bring to the table.”
Wagner spent 10 years on Pittsburgh Council and followed that with a 10-year stint as state senator before serving another seven years as auditor general from 2005 to 2012.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 10:17
Category: Metro Written by Rebecca Nuttall - Courier Staff Writer
On April 15, the American Civil Liberties Union filled an amended lawsuit against the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police with five individuals who previously applied for the police force. The lawsuit claims the bureau’s hiring practices favor Whites over African-American candidates and that these practices account for the paltry numbers of minorities on the force.
“We’ve added three more plaintiffs and we’ve updated hiring data,” said Vic Walczak, legal director of ACLU of Pennsylvania. “So there’s been two classes since we filed the lawsuit and they are marginally better but still a very long way from a better system.”
The lawsuit alleges a longstanding pattern and practice of racial discrimination in the screening and hiring for entry-level police officer positions.
Since 2001, the city has hired only 17 Black officers out of 440 total, representing less than 4 percent of new hires. Less than 16 percent of the total police force is made up of African-Americans, despite the fact they make up 26 to 29 percent of the city’s population.
“We haven’t pointed a finger and said here’s a person in a white hood, but they’re clearly playing games,” Walczak said.
According to the lawsuit, discrimination happens at every level of the hiring process from the very beginning when applicants take the Law Enforcement Aptitude Battery test, which 13.8 percent of Blacks fail and only 2.8 percent of Whites fail. Throughout the following phases of the hiring process, the lawsuit claims certain applicants are given preferential treatment because of their existing relationships with current officers.
In order to end the discrimination the lawsuit says the city could hire an outside company to do oral examinations and that candidates should remain anonymous to avoid bias. They also believe all interviews should be videotaped.
In Philadelphia in the 1970s and ‘90s there were similar lawsuit filed against the bureau of police for discriminatory hiring practices. The two suits specifically related to the hiring of African-Americans resulted in consent decrees.
As a result of the lawsuit, the percentage of African-Americans on Philadelphia’s police force increased from 12 percent to 35 percent.
The ACLU filed the original Pittsburgh lawsuit in August and Walczak says the organization isn’t even at the discovery stage yet.
“There’s a saying, the wheels of justice grind slowly,” he said.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 09:54
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