community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
On today's show: Andrea Smith speaks at the Critical Resistance Prison Abolition Conference, United Steel Workers take on Equitable Gas over proposed rate increases, A youth report from the Philadelphia Student Union on the recent incident at Sayre High School, Fed-Up takes us inside the Prison Industrial Complex, plus more in our local and global headlines
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Rustbelt Radio for October 20, 2008
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
Rustbelt Radio is broadcast live from WRCT studios every other Monday at 6 PM on 88.3 FM in Pittsburgh, and the program airs again on WRCT every Tuesday morning at 9AM.
We can also be heard weekly on the following stations:
We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast from our website at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
We turn now to local stories.
On June 30th, 2008, the Equitable Gas Company, which serves 10 counties in Western Pennsylvania, announced they had requested a rate increase to the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission. The increase would affect home and business consumers who receive their natural gas from Equitable.
Equitable Resources states that increased operating costs, like healthcare and gasoline, are forcing the company to raise its rates for the first time since 1997. Additionally, they say 32% of the increase is directly attributable to the cost of the gas company's Universal Service Program. This program provides subsidies that help low income families pay their gas bills and is mandated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Not everyone is happy about the proposed rate increases, which will bring in an additional $51.9 million dollars to the company, and raise consumers’ monthly bills by about 10% each.
The United Steelworkers in Pittsburgh announced on August 29th, that the union had filed a petition to intervene in Equitable Gas Co.'s attempt to raise the price of natural gas for Pennsylvania consumers. They are now attempting to influence the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission from now until the end of March, at which point the PUC will make a decision to either approve or disapprove Equitable’s proposed rate increase.
Two of the groups that the Steelworkers believe will be negatively affected by this increase are retirees and working families who are already struggling to make ends meet. At a press conference held on Tuesday October 14th, retiree Barb Ervin spoke about her opposition to the plan:
John DeFazio, the Director of District 10 for the United Steelworkers was also in attendance at the press conference. He questioned Equitable's need to raise prices for consumers, at a time when the company recorded over $250 million dollars in profit last year, and provided $26 million dollars in compensation increases to their top 5 executives from 2006 to 2007.
Spokesman for Equitable Gas Dave Spigelmyer states there is no relation between the increase in consumer prices and executive compensation.
Equitable cited that appoximately 1/3 of the revenues from the new rate increase would go to assist low-income customers on the Universal Service Plan, which is subsidized by other customers. The number of people who participate in this plan has increased by 35% since last year, which brings into question the ability of Western Pennsylvania consumers to handle another increase in their utility costs. Spigelmyer further explains the plan:
Rustbelt Radio asked Mr DeFazio of the Steelworkers if he thought that most consumers were aware of this proposed increase.
Both the Steelworkers and Equitable Gas are encouraging consumers in Western PA to participate in the public hearings with the Pennsylvania Utilities Commission. Hearings will be held from now until the end of March and notifications of upcoming hearings can be found in your local newspaper.
Fed Up, the local chapter of the Human Rights Coalition brings us this week's report on the prison industrial complex.
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
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You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to news from other independent media sources around the world.
On September 17th, there was an incident at Sayre (SAY-ER) high school in West Philadelphia, in which 50 police officers brutalized Sayre students. Twenty-two students were arrested as a result of this and one student was hospitalized for several days, yet none of the police officers were reprimanded.
The press reported that this "riot" was caused by unruly young people. Meanwhile, public comments on blogs and newspaper websites proceeded to fuel stereotypes of young people, calling students "animals" and "crack babies all grown up."
Sayre students believe that the real root causes included a poor learning environment, isolation of students, lack of community, students' day to day frustration of being in an underfunded school, negative perceptions of neighborhood school students and a tense relationship between students and school police.
The Philadelphia Student Union is a youth-led organization working to demand a high quality education in the Philadelphia public school system. On October 9th, the group held a press conference in front of Sayre high school to bring the truth about this so-called "riot" to light.
This piece was produced by Matt Johnson, a senior at Sayre high school. It originally aired on On Blast, the youth-produced show of the Philadelphia Student Union. You can hear full shows at their podcast at www.onblast.podomatic.com
Radio Rootz brings us this radical history lesson for October 19th:
Free Press brings us this week's Media Minutes:
You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
The 10th annual Critical Resistance conference was held in California from September 26-28th. This gathering brought together thousands of individuals and organizations who are working to abolish the prison industrial complex. Andrea Smith, of INCITE- women of color against violence, and indigenous author and activist spoke at the conference on the history of how prisons became normalized in our societies.
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
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Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WPTS Pittsburgh, WNJR Washington, and WIUP Indiana.
Our hosts this week are [ ] and [ ] with contributions from [ ]. This week's show was produced by Phill Cresswell. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. All of our shows are available for download or podcast on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
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