On today's show... Is PNC really your friendly neighborhood bank if a computer glitch can take your home? Allegheny County public transit faces devastating cuts in funding; Coverage of Pittsburgh's 6th annual Dyke-Trans March; and, Pennsylvanians are fighting back against the impacts of shale gas drilling; a mobile home community in Lycoming County fights eviction, and people in Butler speak out against Act 13.
Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
Is PNC really your friendly neighborhood bank if a computer glitch can take your home?
Allegheny County public transit faces devastating cuts in funding
Coverage of Pittsburgh's 6th annual Dyke-Trans March
and, Pennsylvanians are fighting back against the impacts of shale gas drilling; a mobile home community in Lycoming County fights eviction, and people in Butler speak out against Act 13.
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:
WSDR 99.1 FM in Pittsburgh
WIUP 90.1 FM in Indiana
WNJR 91.7 FM in Washington
WLRI 93 FM in eastern Pennsylvania
and FRSC 101.1 FM in Santa Cruz, California
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.
This Story was Produced by Don Carpenter With Nigel Parry
[9:00 ] Transit Rally
On June 30th the Pennsylvania General Assembly will go into summer recess with no solution to the public transportation funding crisis as of yet. On June 8th, Pittsburghers for Public Transit, joined by Pittsburgh's transit workers and riders, marched and rallied to demand Governor Corbett make a decision against bus cuts. They demanded a dedicated source of funding. Protestors also demanded that corporations and non-profits like UPMC be fairly taxed for the sake of supporting public services.
Molly Nichols, an organizer with Pittsburghers for Public Transit, explains the current crisis Allegheny County's transportation is facing:
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Nichols warns against privatization of transportation services, as it prevents neither the increase of fares nor the cutting of routes.
Another speaker at the rally demands for jobs to be saved, not cut, in an already unstable economy.
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Rustbelt radio spoke to local transit users attending the rally about their grievances as the cuts approach.
As the rally came to close, a group of activists set an example of the impending congestion the roadways face as public transportation is jeopardized. Several sat in the intersection at Fifth Avenue and Wood street, outside of the office of Gov. Corbett, and refused to leave.
Eleven protestors were taken to Allegheny County Jail and one, whose use of a wheel chair made it difficult to arrest him, was issued a summons to court. They were charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction of a roadway, and failure to disperse
Prior to the rally, a civil disobedience statement was written that states: [quote]
We will not accept the damages done to our communities, neighbors, and basic human rights. We will not consent to serve the interests of the 1% and corporations who do not pay their fair share for the services that benefit them. We must disobey a government which knowingly damages its citizens. We disobey the law and accept the consequences today to highlight the corruption of our political system. We uphold a greater ethical imperative to stand with the 99% and true democracy. [end quote]
A hearing for those arrested has been scheduled for August 8th. To stay updated as the transportation crisis unfolds visit pittsburghersforpublictransit.org
This story was produced by Emily Laychak, with interviews and audio recorded by Lizzie Anderson.
[ 7:30 ] Dyke Trans March
June 16th saw Pittsburgh’s 6th annual Dyke Trans march romp through Bloomfield, dolled up in costume, waving banners and playing music.
Leading up to the march, a call to action read [quote]
Though our worldwide community is large, our community here in Pittsburgh is small and we need to stick together. We're family! And we're all in it for the same goal: equality. So lets put our differences aside and march! Don’t let anybody represent you. We need to represent ourselves. In the society we live in today, visibility is so important. Especially with the upcoming election. With the possibility of someone being elected who doesn’t believe we should have equal rights. With the possibility of someone being elected that could quickly take away the few rights we do have that we are forced to defend on a daily basis. If you’re out and proud, every day is a dyke/trans march. If you’re not that’s ok, maybe dyke/trans march is the time for you to feel safe as yourself. We want to be safe living our everyday lives. We want to be accepted as an important part of the community. Because as humans we care about the same thing as other non-gay humans. The advancement of our society as humans all sharing the same earth. Equal rights, clean water and food for all! We want our love to be recognized as true love. Queer rights are human rights. These struggles are everyday struggles. And it’s so important to have that strong connection with your fellow queers in a political and constructive setting where we can grow together. And work to create the world that we’d like to live in some day. And to create a world that our children can live in and not be ridiculed for the identity they choose. A world where kids won't feel so afraid or unloved that they commit suicide. A world without fear, hate, or oppression. Let's build our world together! It takes all of us! [end quote]
Before the march began, Vanessa German spoke encouraging words to the gathering of participants.
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The march that wound down Liberty Avenue and around to Friendship park, ended in a potluck picnic where Rustbelt Radio spoke to several organizers: Lauren Jurysta, Eva Stulc, Sena Hockenberry, Margo VanHoy, and Libby Fern.
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This story was produced by Emily Laychak.
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You're listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.
[8:50] Act 13 Protest in Butler, PA
Brian Ellis is the Pennsylvania State House Representative who sponsored Act 13, the legislation passed in February of 2012 to regulate Marcellus shale gas drilling. On May 19th, a group gathered in his office in Butler to protest this legislation, and the ongoing difficulties of families in his district whose well water has been contaminated by drilling. They brought with them jugs of the contaminated water, and they wore hazmat suits.
The Woodlands is a community in Conoquenessing Township, Butler County, where many residents’ well water became polluted in January of 2011, shortly after Marcellus drilling began nearby. Rex Energy is the company operating the wells. Several residents have suffered serious health problems. Rex Energy provided them with water buffalos temporarily, but it stopped after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection concluded that gas drilling did not cause the contamination. However, local activists found problems with the DEP’s investigation. According to Diane Sipe, (quote) The DEP found some toluene the first time it tested one of the water wells, then came back to retest that well and didn't screen for toluene, We don't trust them.(endquote)
Even as Woodlands residents were beginning to organize and speak out about what had happened to them, Brian Ellis was shepherding Act 13 through the Pennsylvania legislature. Act 13 includes provisions such as changing the required distance between well pads and homes or water wells from 200 to 500 feet. It created an “impact fee” that the industry must pay. It also prohibited local county and municipal governments from creating bans or regulations on fracking, and specified that they can’t use zoning to keep fracking out of parks, schools, or sensitive natural areas.
Ellis’s office promised to get a one-time donation of water for the Woodlands’ residents from Walmart. But, nine weeks later, the Walmart water still had not arrived. The group of protesters, including many from Ellis’s district and others from around the region, expressed their dissatisfaction to Ellis’s office staffers:
The office staffers got Ellis on the phone from Harrisburg for a conference call, and protesters raised the issue of Act 13’s ban on local regulation:
After interrupting a few more times, Ellis let Diane explain:
The protesters and Ellis clearly disagreed about whether Act 13 did anything to protect against harms from drilling, and protesters brought evidence that Ellis seemed unaware of:
According to the DEP’s oil and gas website, oil and gas operators have amassed over 20,000 violations in the last decade, 4000 of which are from Marcellus drilling. In 2010, before the well water contamination occurred at the Woodlands, Rex Energy received violations for casing problems, discharge into streams, and failure to properly store, transport, process, or dispose of a residual waste.
After the protest, the Walmart water did arrive for Woodlands residents, but their water supply continues to be met in large part through community deliveries, and no long-term solution is on the horizon.
The protesters hope their action spurs others to join in demanding real protections for their communities. This report was produced by Jessica McPherson, who, in the Indymedia spirit of disclosure, was also a participant in the protest.
[11:00] Riverdale Eviction Blockade
This report was produced by Jessica McPherson and Ben Fiorillo. You can visit the website saveriverdale.com for updates and more information.
Calendar of Events
And now we present the Indymedia Calendar of Events:
Each Wednesday, the Human Rights Coalition answers letters from people incarcerated in Pennsylvannia state prisons, and sends resources and support through the mail. HRC meets on Wednesdays, from 7pm-10pm, at the Thomas Merton Center on 5129 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh Filmmakers is hosting an Open House event on Wednesday, June 20th from 5:30-7:30 pm. The public and all prospective students will receive guided tours of Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ educational facilities and exhibition spaces. Everyone has the opportunity to meet the instructors and the education staff and to see classes in session. For more information, visit pfm.pittsburgharts.org
A "Stop the Bus Cuts" event, flyering for Public Transit with Occupy Pittsburgh, will take place on Friday, June 22nd, from Noon until 5 pm inside the Wood Street Station.
Team Tour De Frack and regional allies will be bike touring the city of Pittsburgh for a day of fun and networking on Saturday, June 23rd, from 10am – 2pm. Tour De Frack will depart and end at the Millvale Riverfront. Our ride will include the PNC Park, Point State Park, the Hot Metal Bridge, The South Side (with a stop for lunch), Station Square, and the Rachel Carson Bridge. You can see a map of the tentative route at tourdefrack.com,
The Center for Post Natural History is pleased to host an exhibit entitled "The Cold Coast Archive: Future Artifacts from the "Svalbard Global Seed Vault" through August 15th, 2012. Built to withstand catastrophe, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened on a Norwegian island in 2008 and currently archives seeds from nearly every nation on Earth. The exhibit examines the meaning and function of the world's largest and most well-protected collection of agricultural diversity. Open Sundays, 12-6pm. For more information, visit www.postnatural.org
[ Outro Music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rustbelt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WSDR Pittsburgh, WIUP Indiana, WNJR Washington, WLRI LanChester, and FRSC Santa Cruz.
Our hosts this week are Emily Laychak and Nigel Parry with contributions from Don Carpenter, Nigel Parry, Emily Laychak, Jessica McPherson, Ben Fiorillo, and Lizzie Anderson]. This week's show was directed by Jessica McPherson and produced by Juan Ogusto Lafontaine. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. Become our fan on Facebook to receive updates on our latest episode, and follow us on Twitter @pghimc. All of our shows are available 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 bi-weekly review of news from the grassroots.