Jonathan B. Robison

October 15, 2014

VOTE TUESDAY NOV. 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — jon @ 9:15 pm

POLLS OPEN 7 AM TO 8 PM

YOU CAN HELP DEFEAT DARYL METCALFE: See the bottom of this post.

Dear Friend,

No, we didn’t move, die, or give up politics in favor of writing poetry. A partial excuse is Mary’s cancer. She was in a hospital/skilled care facility for a month in the spring. She’s home and on chemotherapy. (More details below.) We’re trying to get our act together, with her medical problems and mine.

This is our political newsletter, focused on Pittsburgh, the county, and the state. We discuss politics, with a look ahead to the Presidential election in 2016, our views on peace, transit and a few other issues. Please note: our new, correct e-mail address, radrobi13@gmail.com.

For our Governor: Tom WOLF

Tom Wolf has about a 15% lead in the polls. The incumbent seems almost irrelevant.

Tom Wolf is still running hard. As we learned watching Bill Moorhead, congressman from 1958 to 1980, a smart politician always runs scared.

Tom Wolf is a former State Revenue Secretary and a businessman. Running a small business, he shared over 20% of the profits with the workers. He’s for fully funding public education. He calls for a severance tax on extraction to ensure that that a fair portion of the profits from natural resources are used to support state programs, like states including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and West Virginia. He works with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (lgbt) communities. He denounces the incumbent’s ’short-sighted decisions’ on health care and on education cuts, which ‘really hurt mothers and their children.

We liked all four candidates in the primary: Allyson Schwartz, John Hanger, Rob McCord, and Kathleen McGinty. Our first choices were Allyson Schwartz and Kathy McGinty, because Pennsylvania is long overdue for a woman governor. All are now supporting Wolf; Ms. McGinty is coordinating the fundraising efforts of the Democratic Party.

Tom Wolf has our support. We are confident he will be a fine governor.

Tom’s running mate for Lieutenant Governor is Mike Stack, a respectable mainstream Democrat. Each party’s candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run on their own. They’re nominated, then they’re yoked together, like president and vice-president.

Hopes for Congress

There should be more people like Mike Doyle in Congress. Doyle is hard working, progressive, feminist, decent and improving on reproductive rights, and unopposed for re-election.

Wherever we live, we can help contribute to support a new majority in the House of Representatives, which will work with President Obama and his successor and which will be sensible.

What can you do? You may not be able to go someplace to help a qualified woman candidate – but your money can travel.

As we said last year, the Tea Party gang do not deserve to be called conservatives. They are not conserving anything. They are nihilists, like the fanatics in Czarist Russia. (’Nihil,’ means ‘nothing’ in Russian.) The nihilists opposed everything the government was doing and expressed their opposition with dynamite. Our country needs a Democrat majority in Congress, and especially more women. There are many good candidates around the country, and two excellent women running in Western Pennsylvania.

One good woman challenging one of the negative members of Congress is New Kensington Democrat Erin McClelland, running against Keith Rothfus in the 12th District north and east of Pittsburgh. McClelland is currently the executive director at Arche Wellness, a holistic center that offers integrative conventional and alternative medicine, designed to meet each individual’s specific needs in areas such as addiction, obesity and mental health. Her father, brother, grandfather and great-grandfather have all been in unions. She has stated, “I’m a huge supporter of labor and what unions do for the working class.”

Her website statement is a good explanation of our need for more women in elected office: “When women are paid 70 cents for every dollar a man makes, that’s not just a women’s issue - it’s an economic issue. When restrictions are placed on women’s health care and yet they pay more for coverage, it’s not just a women’s issue - it’s a civil rights issue. And when a woman faces an impossible choice between her job and her child because her workplace doesn’t offer maternity leave, it’s not just a women’s issue - it’s a family values issue. While our sisters, mothers, and daughters are fighting for equality every day in our homes, doctors’ offices, and workplaces, I’ll make sure they have someone fighting for them on the floor of Congress.”

Another good pro-choice Democratic challenger in Western Pennsylvania is Alanna Hartzok in the 9th District around Altoona and Bedford. She is a mental health professional and writer. She has been active in civic and political issues all her life, active nationally as an advocate with the Henry George Society, working to address wealth inequality, locally based economies, and the need for a fair market economy. She worked across party lines to attain a nearly unanimous PA legislative vote for tax reform, providing a new option for public finance, especially for the 958 boroughs that are home to 2.6 million Pennsylvanians. She is a recipient of the International Earth Day Award and wrote an award-winning book, The Earth Belongs to Everyone. Her opponent ‘inherited’ the seat from his father, the champion backer of new superhighways.

Both women were endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh, a pro-lgbt, pro-choice political organization. Both of us are charter members, active members.

There are other strong, qualified, feminist women candidates for the House and Senate, governor, and state legislatures. But how do we pick and choose among candidates? The solution is EMILY’s List. We recommend a contribution to or through them. EMILY’s List helps viable, pro-choice women Democrats. The group screens candidates for quality and political strength. You can send a check and they will divide the money among the candidates. If you earmark it for a particular candidate, they will simply forward it to that candidate. Please check out the website, EMILY’s List, and see how the group uses your money to help elect more pro-choice Democratic women at all levels. Who is Emily? Emily is not a person – ‘EMILY’ is an acronym – ‘Early Money Is Like Yeast.’ Yeast rises, and so will our candidates.

Is there also hope for the Pennsylvania Legislature?

Some excellent Democrats, like Dan Frankel, in our own district, are running unopposed, as are some who are not excellent. Some Republican legislators are unopposed – too many, in our opinion.

We especially urge support for Lisa Zucco from Butler County, who is running against the infamous Daryl Metcalfe. Please see the more below on this.

Another important challenger in Western Pennsylvania is Lisa Stout-Bashioum, in the 39th District. She is a planner and administrator with Rivers of Steel as well as a school director with the Bentworth School District. To the community, she is known as the daughter of long-time State Senator Barry Stout. She is a strong supporter of public education and unions. Unless she is elected, we will have NO WOMEN among all the Democratic legislators from Allegheny County, which is a disgrace.

If Tom Wolf is elected governor, he will need a better legislature. The mavens say that the Democrats have a good shot at a majority in the State Senate. The PA House will be more difficult, thanks mostly to gerrymandering. The two Lisas will help.

Although a few municipalities around Pittsburgh have various referenda on the ballot, Pittsburgh has none this fall.

Next, a look back on last year, and look ahead to the next Presidential election.

We’re still happy about our new Pittsburgh mayor. Bill Peduto was an easy choice for us in the primary, and was an easier choice last fall. He is liberal, a solid supporter of reproductive rights and the rights of the LGBT communities. He is very bright and very hard working. He has vision and ideas. We hope he will prove a staunch supporter of public transit for everyone, including the poor, the elderly, and persons with disabilities, in every neighborhood, including downtown. We think that Bill Peduto will be one of the best mayors Pittsburgh ever had. Pittsburgh City Council also looks pretty good. In our own district, the 8th Council District seat vacated by Bill Peduto, Dan Gilman has proven progressive, bright, hard working, and involved in the neighborhoods. He was an easy winner after a tough primary, with two excellent opponents – Sam Hens-Greco and our old friend, the redoubtable feminist, Jeanne Clark. In the 4th District, Natalia Rudiak won re-election despite some right-wing Democrats’ maneuvers. I warmly remember Natalia’s grandfather, the late Joe Rudiak, who was a young supporter of the 1919 steel strike and was a true old-time progressive. Back in the 60’s, we had only a few active independent Democrats in the city south of the Mon. Joe certainly would be proud of his granddaughter.

Ready for Hillary to succeed President Obama? YES!

She’s experienced, bright, hard working, and a solid progressive. We’re overdue for a woman president, and we’ll never have a better chance.

No one else has been even mentioned for the Democratic nomination except Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. I might be ready for a president who is a self-described socialist, but most voters wouldn’t agree.

It’s a little amusing to watch the plethora of Republican aspirants, most of them (deservedly) obscure. The various party ‘leaders’ show no signs of a consensus. Their focus on Congress seems to suggest that the major donors have given up on defeating Hillary; they’re concentrating on keeping enough power in Congress to prevent her from governing. That resembles their approach to President Obama.

A few ISSUES, and our views

Peace? Not Yet

Both Saturday peace vigils have terminated – the one at Forbes and Braddock as well as the one in East Liberty. We did not end all war. However, we did succeed in raising public awareness of the wars, of public concern with wars, of continued opposition to wars. I – Jon – am glad I vigiled for more than ten years, and thank all who participated or beeped when they drove past.

We have fewer of our own men and women at risk. Arguably, that’s progress. People are still being killed. We’re sending millions of dollars to various ‘friendly’ drug lords and gun-thugs. (Clearly their support is never bought – only rented.) We can’t ignore the murderous fanatics of ISIS, the so-called ‘Islamic State.’ (Friends who read the Koran in the original say ISIS is not Islamic, and ISIS is not clearly a state.) President Obama’s drones may kill civilians, but so do conventional weapons. On one hand, it’s doubtful whether the military or Obama have a way to peace. On the other hand, the mainstream peace movement doesn’t seem to have a way to peace, either. Eventually we may have to try the radical solution: pacifism, unilateral disarmament, and non-violence.

There must be a better way.

If we’re not happy with what Obama is doing, what do we favor? The U.S. must talk with everybody. Negotiate with everybody. That includes the Islamic State, whatever it is. It certainly includes Iran, which is a state, whose leadership may be vital. Should we trust ISIS, or Iran, or Hamas? Of course not. Diplomacy isn’t based on love and trust. It’s based on finding, articulating, and negotiating mutual self-interests.

Israel? That would require a whole newsletter, a book. Suffice for the moment to say that we support a two-state solution. That’s not a quick solution, not an easy solution, not even a safe solution. However, it seems to be the only solution.

The one-hour vigils for peace on Saturdays were a token of our belief in non-violent solutions. For information on other peace activities click on or call the Thomas Merton Center (412-361-3022).

PUBLIC TRANSIT FUNDING – AT LONG LAST

Finally, after years of sweet reason and hard lobbying, long bus trips to Harrisburg, and fending off attempts to attach anti-union riders, the Pennsylvania Legislature enacted a state transportation bill to provide some money for transit agencies, including the Port Authority of Allegheny County. We had been surviving on minimal funding, thanks largely to leadership by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. With no stable source of funding, we faced another round of service cuts – at least 30 % – and fare increases, and no money for dangerously overdue maintenance for bridge repairs.

As you may know, Jon has been very involved with transportation since he came to Pittsburgh in 1968. He is a charter member of the Allegheny County Transit Council (ACTC), the citizen advisory body of PAT, the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Moreover, Jon is now dependent on public transportation. His MS has affected his vision and he turned in his driver’s license. He is now a ‘captive rider,’ dependent on public transportation.

Major transit cuts would be bad for everyone, and bad for Pittsburgh. Most Oakland routes would not be eliminated, but another major service cut would mean you often couldn’t get on a bus because it was too full. Even if you never set foot in a bus, a service cut would mean more traffic congestion and less parking. Businesses would lose employees and customers, and fewer businesses would locate here. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development knows business needs both buses and bridges and strongly supported transportation funding.

We won that battle, but not the war for adequate public transit.

The struggle continues. Routes were eliminated not because they lacked riders but because PAT lacked money. The last round of transit cuts left significant areas deprived of public transit. These communities are full of moderate and low-income people, ‘captive riders.’ Some people are still walking two miles on roads without sidewalks to get on their bus to work.

PAT says that the state funding is not enough to restore all the routes cut in the series of funding crises. PAT is restoring some service, but it is supposed to use the state money for outstanding debts and deferred maintenance.

Pittsburghers for Public Transit (PPT) decries these ‘transit deserts.’ Nick Coles and Molly Nichols, in their excellent article in the Post-Gazette Oct 5, stated, “Just because the Port Authority cannot serve everyone” who needs transit, it should provide some service. Citizens, especially in Baldwin Borough, have begged and pleaded and submitted massive petitions.

There is money available, including from the ‘Drink Tax.’ About $3 million of it was used to provide the mandated local match for the state money, but there is over $9 million unallocated and available. Moreover, this is a reliable and gradually increasing revenue source (There was an effort to use the ‘Drink Tax’ money for debt service on bonds for general roads and bridges. But this was challenged in Court, and in a strong decision Judge Judith Olson ruled that ‘Drink Tax’ revenues could go only to “providing financial support to the Port Authority of Allegheny County.”)

Pittsburghers for Public Transit is continuing to put pressure on PAT and on County Executive Rich Fitzgerald to restore the routes. As vice-president of the ACTC, I strongly urge that the ACTC support PPT’s campaign.

Pittsburghers for Public Transportation will meet Wednesday Oct 22, at 7 pm, in the Human Services Building, 1 Smithfield St. I hope to see you there.

Meanwhile transit faces a threat from another source. Some unidentified group wants to eliminate most of the bus stops downtown. Even for people who can walk three or four blocks, it would be unpleasant, and discourage transit use. People with mobility limitations, who use walkers or canes, will be denied public transportation. Supposedly buses add to congestion downtown. But every three cars take up as much street space as one bus. Buses are not the problem. They are a major part of the solution.

A downtown circulation plan could benefit everybody. But it should be a pro-transit plan, not an anti-transit plan. We hope that Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and mayor Bill Peduto see the importance of public transit to downtown.

Free Elections?

Some legislators are trying another Voter ID bill. Last time, the federal court found that this was a non-solution to a non-problem, which would accomplish nothing except making voting more difficult for the poor and persons with disabilities.

Another idea, which would add to the difficulties of the poor or disabled, produced laughable results. Voting on the Internet was suggested, even though poor people have less access to computers. Washington, D.C. tried it in a local election, to see if Internet voting could be protected from hackers. It took a few Michigan State students only a few hours to rig the system to play the Michigan Fight Song every time someone voted.

Let’s address the real problems in our election system, and not imaginary ones. The voting machines in Allegheny County are about six years old and due for replacement. Next time let’s choose machines that can produce an auditable paper trail.

Gerrymandering is a national problem. Bizarrely configured districts, like many in Pennsylvania, deprive the voters as well as the candidates of fair, comprehensible elections.

Campaign finance is a disgrace, wasting public officials’ time as well as corrupting their decisions. Spending limits and reporting requirements are easy to evade. We need free TV and radio time for all candidates, at all levels. That’s not a complete solution, but it would give every candidate a fighting chance to communicate their qualifications and their ideas. We give the broadcasters something of immense value – their own frequency. Some broadcasting time, to help maintain our democracy, seems like small compensation.

We’re justly proud of our free elections, although they’re not ‘free’ when you have to raise campaign funds. Let’s make our election system more fair, more open to all.

Should we Reform Immigration Laws?

I, Jon, don’t like laws that kick people out of the country. Governments shouldn’t tell people where to go – people should tell governments where to go. This country was built by immigration, undocumented immigration at that. My mother’s mother, Esther Lipshitz, was legally an unaccompanied minor when she came over from Lithuania about 1903. I wonder if Grandma Essie could get in under today’s laws. We should be mindful of who was really here first. If you can’t name a Native American tribe your ancestors belonged to – maybe you should SHUT UP about ‘undocumented aliens.’

Protecting Our PRIVACY

Maybe the first step in dealing with the complex conflicts about privacy is to recognize two different kinds of privacy: ‘informational privacy’ and what could be called ‘transactional privacy.’ ‘Informational privacy’ is the right to have others, especially the government, not know what you are doing. ‘Transactional privacy’ is the right to do it anyway.

The battle for informational privacy is largely lost. The computers won. The battle for transactional privacy is being won. A big thank you – and our support – goes to the American Civil Liberties Union. If there’s no explicit law against it, and it doesn’t actually injure someone else, increasingly, you have the right to do it.

A Personal Update: Our Medical Report

As you may know, both of us have a serious chronic illness.

Mary’s cancer has been with us for over three years now. She is on her fifth type of chemotherapy at the Hillman Cancer Center. She had a serious reaction to the fourth chemotherapy, which resulted in a month in a skilled nursing facility. The fifth chemo is tolerable though it mostly makes her sleepy – not at this point any nausea or even hair loss. Tough and Courageous? Certainly. What choice does she have? She still goes to some concerts and to church (weekly Mass and Bet Tikvah services), and walked on the Pride March. She no longer serves as judge of elections for the 4th Ward, 12th District.

Jon’s multiple sclerosis (MS) is apparently under control with Tysabri, but there’s no cure – yet. MS has worsened Jon’s close-up vision. On Saturday, Apr. 19, Jon will as usual go on the 5 kilometer MS Walk in his power wheelchair to raise money for research on MS to someday find a cure. You are invited to help. Please join the walk or just send a tax-deductible check, payable to the National MS Society (not to us). You can send it to us, so we can thank you.

PLEASE VOTE

The continued fight over a Voter ID law in Pennsylvania proves again the importance of the vote. This fight shows how much voting matters. THANK the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which leads the legal fight against voter ID schemes – and VOTE,

Please show your state-approved voter identification if you have it, but you have the legal right to vote without it.

Never give up hope – always vote. Despair is the bride of fascism. Please remind your friends and relatives to vote.

Love and Peace,
Jon and Mary

Jonathan and Mary Robison {Labor Donated}

___________________________________________

Friends: HELP ELECT A SANE WOMAN!

Don’t just complain about the lack of strong women candidates in important local races this fall. We can do something that will make a difference.

There’s a contest in the 12th Legislative District that affects everyone. Lisa Zucco from Cranberry Townhip is fighting Stare Representative Daryl Metcalf and his harmful, ultra-conservative agendas.

Her opponent needs no introduction. Every chance he gets, Daryl Metcalfe tries to fight women’s rights, jeopardize workers’ job security and safety, disenfranchise the youth, the elderly, and minority voters, cripple our schools, and block any legislation to end discrimination within Pennsylvania.

Here are some examples of Daryl Metcalfe’s shameful resume:

• He co-sponsored the so-called ‘Women’s Right to Know Act,’ a notorious ultrasound bill meant to violate women’s privacy and undermine their right to choose,

• He co-sponsored an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood,

• He wrote and sponsored or co-sponsored all four Open Workforce Initiative Acts, working to

make Pennsylvania a “Right to Work” state, following the right-wing American Legislative Council (ALEC) and its plans to destroy unions,

• He was the primary sponsor of both the Voter ID law and Marriage Protection Amendment, both of which were ruled unconstitutional by the federal courts,

• Lastly, as senior chair of the State Committee in Harrisburg, Daryl Metcalfe has vowed to never let House Bill 300 reach the floor, even though the incumbent Governor favors the bill. This perpetuates the workplace discrimination against the LGBT communities.

Enough is enough! For fifteen years, Daryl Metcalfe’s extreme rhetoric has reverberated across our country, to our shame.

Lisa Zucco is a strong woman and a daughter of a strong woman, Judge Linda Zucco of Allegheny County. She is fighting our fight, for progress in Pennsylvania and for our country and YOU can help even the odds.

Lisa wants to better our education system. Education is an issue that exemplifies why we need to elect more women. Lisa wants to bring fairness to the workplace and wants to reestablish reason to the Pennsylvania State Legislature, all things her opponent works to destroy.

What you do today can make a difference in this race.
For more information, please visit LisaZuccoForPA.com.
Please invest in a more reasonable, responsible future.
Please send a campaign contribution of $1000, $500, $250, $100 or whatever you can give to
Lisa Zucco for PA, Post Office Box 108, Cranberry Twp. PA 16066

January 3, 2014

We Still Must SAVE OUR BUSES

Filed under: Uncategorized — jon @ 1:37 am

We Still Must SAVE OUR BUSES
Controlled by anti-government nihilists (defined above), the Pennsylvania House of Representatives still has refused to fund transportation.
Led by House Majority Leader Mike Terzai, the House demanded anti-union provisions, primarily minimizing or eliminating ‘Prevailing Wage’ rules that protect construction workers on publicly funded projects. The legislators will go home until the election without approving transportation funding. Maybe there will be a ‘lame duck’ session, and action before the year ends. The Legislature and the Governor are up for election, and they will consequently be reluctant to act on ANY bill to raise revenue. So we may see no action until after the 2014 fall elections.
That is dangerous. PAT has money to run the bus system until next summer, thanks largely to leadership by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Then we’ll be again looking at a disastrous 30 or 40 per cent cut in service. We also will lack money for dangerously overdue bridge repairs.
As you may know, Jon has been very involved with public transportation. He is a charter member of the Allegheny County Transit Council, the citizen advisory body of PAT, the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Moreover, Jon is dependent on public transportation. His MS has affected his vision and he turned in his driver’s license. But a 30 or 40% cut in transit service would be a disaster for him.
Major transit cuts would be bad for everyone, and for Pittsburgh. Most Oakland routes would not be eliminated, but another major service cut would mean you often couldn’t get on a bus because it was too full. Even if you never set foot in a bus, a service cut would mean more traffic congestion and less parking. Businesses would lose employees and customers, and fewer businesses would locate here. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development knows business needs both buses and bridges and is strongly supporting transportation funding.
Meanwhile transit faces a threat from another source. Some unidentified group wants to eliminate most of the bus stops downtown. Even for people who can walk three or four blocks, it would be unpleasant, and discourage transit use. People with mobility limitations, who use walkers or canes, will be denied public transportation. Supposedly buses add to congestion downtown. But every three cars take up as much street space as one bus. Buses are not the problem. They are a major part of the solution.
A downtown circulation plan could benefit everybody. But it should be a pro-transit plan, not an anti-transit plan. We hope that Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgeralnd and incoming mayor Bill Peduto see the importance of public transit to downtown.
Pittsburghers for Public Transportation will hold a public meeting on both problems Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 am, at the United Steelworkers Building, 60 Boulevard of the Allies at Stanwix. It is not clear what we can do now about transportation funding, with the Legislature gone. (We can talk to Rich Fitzgerald and Bill Peduto about transit downtown.)
Will the Legislature act before the buses shut down and the bridges fall down?

May 11, 2013

ROBISON POLITICAL NEWSLETTER NOV. 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — jon @ 3:05 pm

Oct 23 2013
Dear Friend,
Here is our political newsletter, focused on Pittsburgh, the county, and the state. We discuss Judges on p. 1, County Council and the Mayor on p.2, City Council on p.3, School Board on p.4, Next Year’s Elections on p. 5, Save the Buses on p.7, the Peace Vigil and poetry on p.8. We’re late again. We are relying on e-mail – it’s quicker and cheaper. It’s easy to forward to someone else We can insert links. It’s not limited to four pages. We’ll send regular mail to anyone who insists, or who doesn’t have e-mail. We apologize to past bulk mail recipients. You or they can contact us and we’ll send it to them. Please forward this to anyone if you have their e-mail address and think we might not, or otherwise share it. Please send us any names to add, preferably with their e-mail addresses. And please correct us if we’re sending to a work address instead of your home address, or otherwise to a wrong address.
Caution on MY e-mail. The computer created an account address for me! When I send an e-mail, my server often claims I sent from that e-mail address! If anyone replies to that address, I probably won’t see it. So please ignore the gmail account. Use jon@jonrobison.org.
You may wonder where we got your name, I, Jon, just go to meetings and add names that seem friendly or sympathetic. We fancy that our political ideas and research might be useful. Of course, if you want off, just tell us. The newsletter should also be up on our web site.

JUDGES
Other than local fights, the most serious contest this fall is for the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. We warmly recommend a vote for ELEANOR BUSH. We strongly supported her in the Democratic Primary, as did the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh, a pro-lgbt, pro-choice political organization of which we are both active members. She was also endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She is ‘Highly Recommended’ by the Allegheny County Bar Association, which is its top rating.
Ms. Bush is currently with the PA Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network (SWAN); her job is training other, including other attorneys on the rights of children and families. Her goal is to sharing this knowledge and experience. Anyone wishing more information about her can go to her web site, eleanorbushforjudge.
There are four seats open on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas , so you can vote for up to four. Two candidates won both nominations: Mark V. Tranquilli and Paul E. Cozza. Both are qualified and acceptable, and with both nominations, are certain to win. Jennifer Satler won the fourth Democratic Party nomination. P. J. Murray, although a Democrat, won a spot in the ballot as a Republican candidate. He does not seem to be actively campaigning. Judicial candidates may ‘cross-file,’ run in both parties’ primaries. The last time that a Democrat won on the Republican ticket but not his own was Alexander Bicket. He also did not campaign actively and lost. But in 2011, the next judicial election, he had Democratic Party support and won both party nominations. The remaining candidate, Bill Ward, is a genuine Republican.
? We will go back to the top of the ballot, then discuss the candidates in ballot order. We mention the Republican candidate before the Democrat, obviously not out of favoritism, but simple because, when the Governor is Republican, that party’s candidates are listed first.
For Pennsylvania Superior Court, we recommend JACK MCVAY, JR., whom we supported in the Democratic Primary. He has a good record as a judge of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in the Family Division, working especially with juveniles.
The judicial elections raise a question. Does the political party matter? We see legislation passed on party-line votes that will make it harder for the poor and elderly, as well as the young and transient, to vote. We see job discrimination based on sexual orientation. Women and the lgbt communities, as well as racial and ethnic minorities, are still trying to control their own lives. Maybe political parties shouldn’t matter – but they do. Much more could be said on judicial elections and so-called ‘merit selection’ of judges. I. Jon, am a lawyer. But I must observe that ‘merit selection does not get politics out of judicial selection; it just makes the group of decision makers less diverse and much smaller.

Next on the ballot is the County court election, discussed above, with six candidates for four seats.
Then for Allegheny County sheriff, incumbent Bill Mullen has done a fine job. No Republican filed, although there is a candidate on the ballot from the Constitution Party.

COUNTY COUNCIL
The Allegheny County Council seats in districts 1,3,4,8,9, and 12 are up in this election, with contests in four. (Seven of the district seats and the two at-large seats are up in 2915.
In the 1st District, in the North Hills, Republican Tom Baker faces Democrat Daniel A. McClain, Jr. Baker is the Chief Community Affairs Officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, President of Baker Leadership, and is on the North Hills School Board. Dan McClain is Internal Audit manasger at U. S. Steel, treasurer of the Girty’s Run Sewer Authority, and vice Chair of the Ross Twp Democratic Committee. He seems to be a solid liberal Democrat on issues including lgbt rights and has our recommendation The incumbent Matt Drozd, a Republican leader, did not run. Jim Barr is the Constitution Pasty candidate.
In the 3rd District, the G.O.P is running Ed Kress against Democrat Mary E. Gibson of Indianola, a long-time community volunteer and a local Obama leader. Incumbent Jim Burn also did not run; he is chair of the state Democratic Party and past president of the Allegheny County Council.
The incumbent Democrat in the 4th District, Michael J. Finnerty, has no opposition on the ballot. Likewise, in the 12th District, incumbent Jim Ellenbogen, is opposed.
In the 8th District, David Majernik is the Republican hopeful against the current County Council president, Democrat Charles Martoni.
The core of the heavily Democratic Mon Valley, the 9th District, has Republican Kenneth Peoples running against the incumbent, Bob Macey. Macey also seem a solid liberal Democrat and has our recommendation.

MAYOR
The most prominent office on the ballot was largely decided in the Democratic Primary, when City Councilman WILLIAM PEDUTO defeated former Pennsylvania Auditor General and former State Senator Jack Wagner, despite the latter’s substantial financial support from the incumbent mayor, Luke Ravenstahl.
Bill Peduto was an easy choice for us in the primary, and he is an easier choice now. He is liberal, a solid supporter of reproductive rights and the rights of the lgtb communities. He is very bright and very hard-working. He has vision and ideas. Of course, we will have differences; we already will have one if he supports eliminating most bus stops in downtown, despite the hardships for the elderly and persons with disabilities.
The Republican candidate, Josh Wander, sold his house and wandered off, apparently to Israel. Another name on the ballot is Lester F. Ludwig, whose party is ‘Independent’. He is a perennial candidate. Both candidates can be described as harmless. Overall, we expect that Bill Peduto will be one of the best mayors we ever had.

CITY COUNCIL
For Pittsburgh City Council, we will start with our own district, the 8th. We support DAN GILMAN. He is currently chief of staff for the district incumbent, mayoral candidate Bill Peduto, who strongly supported him. Gilman properly used his position to become familiam both with the issues of the district and the people.
The primary election had three outstanding candidates, instead of the frequent bug fight. (Which candidate is the lesser of the two weevils.) In the primary, we backed feminist leader Jeanne Clark. She’s an old friend – in 1989 I, Jon Robison, was on the ballot for City Council in opposition to her and Dan Cohen, the eventual winner that year.
The Republican candidate, Mordecai D. Treblow, is a decent fellow, but not in the same league as either Gilman or the two Democrats he defeated.
The contest in the 4th Council District is significant. We support the incumbent, NATALIA RUDIAK, is a strong independent progressive Democrat. Some organization Democrats in her neighborhood consider her too independent and too liberal. Unable to defeat her in the primary, they are rumored to be backing the Republican in the district, Samuel J. Hurst. I, Jon, have two personal connections with this contest. First, I know Sam Hurst personally; he and I both serve on the Allegheny County Transit Council. I have no quarrel with him personally, but he is in the current mainstream of the Republican Party, and not, in my judgment, able to surmount its irrelevance to the problems of a city. Also, I warmly remember Natalia’s grandfather, the late Joe Rudiak. I came to Pittsburgh in 1968 and started political work. We had some strength in Squirrel Hill, Oakland, and Shadyside. But in the city south of the Mon, the only open, independent. progressive Democrat, was Joe Rudiak, a veteran of the 1919 steel strike. He stood up for his beliefs, with other workers or alone. He certainly would be proud of his granddaughter.
Two City Council districts have no contest. In the West End, in the 2nd District, Democrat incumbent Theresa Smith is unopposed. In the 6th District, centered on the Hill, Democrat incumbent Robert Daniel Lavelle is also unopposed, after winning a tough primary.
In the 7th District, centered on Highland Park and Lawrenceville, there is a special election to fill the unexpired term of Pat Dowd, who resigned. There are five candidates on the ballot.
DEBORAH L. GROSS was chosen as the Democratic Party candidate by a vote of the Democratic Committee from the district, since the schedule precluded a primary. She is a political consultant and adviser to nonprofits, especially on fund-raising. She is the former executive director of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance and also works with the Community Loan Fund of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Inc. Political leaders who are supporting her include mayoral candidate and City Councilman Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and County Controller Chelsa Wagner Her solid support for progressive issues such as reproductive rights and lgbt rights won her the endorsement of the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh and our support.
Next on the ballot is David E. Powell, running as a Libertarian.
After him is Tony Ceoffe, who narrowly lost the Democratic nomination. He is on the ballot as the candidate of the ‘Ceoffe for Council’ party. Ceoffe works for the Pittsburgh Housing Authority. He serves as vice-president of the board of Lawrenceville United and is on the steering committee for Friends of Arsenal Park. He chairs the Sixth Ward Democratic Committee. He is the son of District Judge Anthony M. Ceoffe of Lawrenceville.
Then we have Tom Fallon, who is allied with State Sen Jim Ferlo. He on the ballot with the ‘Friends for Fallon’ party.
Finally, there is James Wudarczyk, whose party is ‘Independent.’

SCHOOL BOARD, ELECTION BOARD, and Others
The next office on the ballot in Pittsburgh is the City of Pittsburgh School Director, or School Board. Five seats are up. All five Democratic nominees are unopposed. Four had cross-filed and won the nomination of both major parties. (School Board candidates, like judges, can cross-file.) The five are Sylvia C. Wilson in District 1, Thomas Sumpter in District 3, Terry Kennedy in District 5, Cynthia Ann Falls in District 7, and Carolyn Klug in District 9.

Your district election board is up this year – the judge of election and two inspectors of election, to serve four-year terms. (The other two board members are appointed, by the judge of election and the minority inspector) Theoretically, there could be a contest for judge of election. Two inspectors from different parties are elected, so a contest after the primary is virtually impossible. Often, no one is on the ballot for one or more of the three positions; often a current board member is willing to continue in office but didn’t bother to circulate a nomination petition. That board member, or someone else, can be written in, but usually nobody bothers.

Municipalities around Pittsburgh have various referenda on the ballot; Pittsburgh has only one, involving mandatory residence for city employees, especially police and fire fighters.
We will be asked whether the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter shall be amended to require that all city employees, including police and fire fighters, live within the city when they are hired and as long as they work for the city. Proponents say it makes sense, especially for police, who have arrest powers. The cop walking the beat should live in the neighborhood, or at least somewhere within the city. Opponents say that rule should be governed by the city’s collective bargaining agreements. We lean to a ‘YES’ vote.
The ballot in Allegheny County, including Pittsburgh, ends with some retention questions. Every judge, after serving ten years, faces a referendum: shall their term be extended for another ten years. In practice , judges are almost never denied retention, unless they are in jail or under indictment. We have referenda on four statewide judges – Max Baer and Ronald D. Castille on the Pennsylania Supreme Court, along with Susan Peikes Gantman and Jack Panella on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. Six judges on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas are also up for retention: Ronald W. Folino, Kathleen R. Mulligan, Lawrence J. O’Toole, Jill E. Rangos, Christine A. Ward, and John A. Zottola. We know of no substantial objection to any to therm. Anyway, they’re all going to win. We feel especially warmly towards Max Baer, ever since we supported him when ran in contested elections, first in Allegheny County then statewide. Similarly, we especially like Kathy Mulligan, Larry O’Toole, and Chris Ward. I, Jon. did an internship under Kathy Mulligan when I was in Law School and she ran the Hill District office of Neighborhood Legal Services. She was wonderful as a lawyer, a mentor, and a person.

One final note on current candidates. As you have noticed, our political newsletter focuses on Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, and statewide offices. But we have an old friend in the bitterly polarized politics of Wilkinsburg, PAMELA MACKLIN. Pam is a longtime officer of state and local chapters of NOW, the National Organization for Women. She is a Democrat candidate for Borough Council from the 2nd Ward of Wilkinsburg, endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh. If you or any friends vote in her part of Wilkinsburg, please support her.

A Look Ahead
For our next Governor -
Allyson Schwartz, John Hanger, Rob McCord , Kathleen McGinty, Jo Ellen Litz, Ed Pawlowski. Jack Wagner, Tom Wolf, or ???
Governor Tom Corbett is increasingly unpopular, deservedly so, in our opinion. But who will be the Democratic candidate in 2014?
At least nine candidates have stepped forward or been mentioned. Others may emerge. We will list candidates, with some background and positions on some issues. Each name is a web link. Control-click on that name should get you their web site.
We will begin with Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, because she is a declared candidate who already has an active campaign and because we personally have been interested in her campaign for months. She is a fighter and a feminist who represents the 13th District, northeast Philadelphia and part of Montgomery County.
Her work for economic justice includes cosponsorship of legislation in Congress to incrase the minimum hourly wage to $10.10, working with SEIU, the Service Employees International Union. She also spoke out about the right of workers to organize free from intimidation or fear and the NLRB violations at UPMC.
She promised that, as Governor, she would support marriage equality bills in Pennsylvania, stating, “People should be able to marry who they love.” She added that she had opposed the ‘Defense of Marriage Act” in 1976 and was very happy when the U.S, Supreme Court ruled that it violated the rights of lesbians and gays.
Accepting the endorsement of Local 400 of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, she said that as Governor, she would reverse Corbett’s cuts in education funding and give teachers tools they need to ensure kids succeed.
Pennsylvania is long overdue for a woman governor.
Allyson and three others seem to us to have serious strengths and a serious claims on the support of serious Democrat progressives and feminists.
John Hanger – a private attorney on governmental and environmental issues, a former Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Secretary and former member of the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
For education, he would restore $1 billion Corbett cut from public schools. He would fund early childhood education and stop funding poor performing charter schools.
For a stronger, fairer economy, he supports unions.
For health care, he would expand Medicaid, create state health care exchanges and increase mental health funding. He would allow medical marijuana. Eventually, he would implement a single-payer system.
To protect basic rights, he would ensure marriage equality for all couples and protect reproductive choice.
Rob McCord - State Treasurer Prior to being elected treasurer, McCord managed more than one billion dollars in assets and raised money for start-up companies that created more than 2,000 jobs in Pennsylvania. As an independent business leader, McCord served as co-founder and Managing Director of Pennsylvania Early Stage Partners — a family of three venture funds that invested in early-stage life-science and information technology firms; and he co-founded the Eastern Technology Fund, a successful provider of funding that served more than 800 innovative companies.
Kathleen McGinty – former State Environmental Protection Secretary, businesswoman and attorney
In 1993 McGinty was asked by the newly elected President of the United States, Bill Clinton, to serve as his Deputy Assistant and then as Chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality — the first woman to head this office that was established in 1969 As head of the Department of Environmental Protection. she required substantial cuts in toxic pollution like mercury and tailpipe emissions, while supporting creative new approaches to clean water that preserved open space and encouraged partnerships between farmers and municipal leaders. Since 2008, Katie has been in the private sector, helping to drive sustainable business development. She is an Operating Partner of Element Partners, a clean technology private equity firm She received the ‘Ansel Adams’ award of the Wilderness Society.
Jo Ellen Litz – Four-term Lebanon County Commissione and head of the Litz Company Commercial Rentals. She saved the Lebanon (Auto) Body Shop and its good paying jobs. As President of the Swatara Watershed Association she worked for 25 years to clean up a source of drinking water.
Max Myers - Minister, Coffee Shop Owner in Minnesota and Army Veteran. He commented on poverty, saying “Since there is no governmental policy or plan to move our fellow Pennsylvanians out of poverty, we must conclude that we are advancing a plan to keep them there. This challenge is both cultural and complex.” He added, “If we really care about one another, it must be resolved.”
Ed Pawlowski - Allentown mayor, urban planner, and minister. He staged the first ever ‘Landlord Hall of Shame,’ targeting slumlords and problem properties. He says that to deal with budget and pension problems, he sat down with public employee unions, including SEIU and the police, and crafted fair and responsible labor concession agreements. He initiated the Old Allentown Neighborhood Redevelopment Project to purchase blighted multi-unit properties and
convert them into single-family homes. The project also includes building new homes downtown.
Jack Wagner - former Pittsburgh City Council president, a three-term state senator, a two-term state auditor general. He has not said whether he will run for governor, but has been mentioned, especially by those who would like to see a conservative Democrat in the race. He ran for mayor against Bill Peduto in this year’s primary and for lieutenant governor in the 2002 primary and for governor in the 2010 primary.
Tom Wolf- former State Revenue Secretary & Businessman. He notes that Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Oklahoma are just a few of the places that use a severance tax on extraction to ensure that that a fair portion of the profits from natural resources are used to fund key priorities. He joins in denouncing Corbett for ’short-sighted decisions’ on health care and on education cuts, which ‘really hurt mothers and their children.’

We should comment on the government shutdown fiasco and the near-miss default disaster. Briefly, the perpetrators do not deserve to be called conservative. They are not conserving anything. They are nihilists, like the fanatics in Czarist Russia. (’Nihil,’ means ‘nothing’ in Russian.) They expressed their opposition to the government with dynamite. The shutdown shows that this country needs more women in office, especially feminist Democrats. .
Fortunately, there are dozens of strong, qualified, feminist women Congressional candidates. Most of us can’t go and volunteer in those districts. We can contribute financially. But how do we pick and choose among a wealth of good candidates? The solution is EMILY’s List. We recommend a contribution to or through them. They – the group - screens candidates for quality and political strength. You can you send a check. If you earmark it for a candidate, they will simply forward it to that candidate. Please check out the website, EMILY’s List, and see how the group distributes your money to help elect more pro-choice Democratic women to all levels of government. Who is Emily? It’s not a person – it’s an acronym – ‘Early Money Is Like Yeast.’ Yeast rises, and so should our candidates.
One good woman challenging one of the negative members of Congress is New Kensington Democrat Erin McClelland, running against Keith Rothfus in the 12th District. McClelland is currently the executive director at Arche Wellness, a holistic center that offers integrative conventional and alternative medicine, designed to meet each individual’s specific needs in areas such as addiction, obesity and mental health. Her father, brother, grandfather and great-grandfather have all been in unions, and stated, “I’m a huge supporter of labor and what unions do for the working class.”

We Still Must SAVE OUR BUSES
Controlled by anti-government nihilists (defined above), the Pennsylvania House of Representatives still has refused to fund transportation.
Led by House Majority Leader Mike Terzai, the House demanded anti-union provisions, primarily minimizing or eliminating ‘Prevailing Wage’ rules that protect construction workers on publicly funded projects. The legislators will go home until the election without approving transportation funding. Maybe there will be a ‘lame duck’ session, and action before the year ends. The Legislature and the Governor are up for election, and they will consequently be reluctant to act on ANY bill to raise revenue. So we may see no action until after the 2014 fall elections.
That is dangerous. PAT has money to run the bus system until next summer, thanks largely to leadership by County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Then we’ll be again looking at a disastrous 30 or 40 per cent cut in service. We also will lack money for dangerously overdue bridge repairs.
As you may know, Jon has been very involved with public transportation. He is a charter member of the Allegheny County Transit Council, the citizen advisory body of PAT, the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Moreover, Jon is dependent on public transportation. His MS has affected his vision and he turned in his driver’s license. But a 30 or 40% cut in transit service would be a disaster for him.
Major transit cuts would be bad for everyone, and for Pittsburgh. Most Oakland routes would not be eliminated, but another major service cut would mean you often couldn’t get on a bus because it was too full. Even if you never set foot in a bus, a service cut would mean more traffic congestion and less parking. Businesses would lose employees and customers, and fewer businesses would locate here. The Allegheny Conference on Community Development knows business needs both buses and bridges and is strongly supporting transportation funding.
Meanwhile transit faces a threat from another source. Some unidentified group wants to eliminate most of the bus stops downtown. Even for people who can walk three or four blocks, it would be unpleasant, and discourage transit use. People with mobility limitations, who use walkers or canes, will be denied public transportation. Supposedly buses add to congestion downtown. But every three cars take up as much street space as one bus. Buses are not the problem. They are a major part of the solution.
A downtown circulation plan could benefit everybody. But it should be a pro-transit plan, not an anti-transit plan. We hope that Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgeralnd and incoming mayor Bill Peduto see the importance of public transit to downtown.
Pittsburghers for Public Transportation will hold a public meeting on both problems Saturday, Oct. 26, 10 am, at the United Steelworkers Building, 60 Boulevard of the Allies at Stanwix. It is not clear what we can do now about transportation funding, with the Legislature gone. (We can talk to Rich Fitzgerald and Bill Peduto about transit downtown.)
Will the Legislature act before the buses shut down and the bridges fall down?

Peace Vigils Every Saturday – Still
The wars go on in the Middle East. Our men and women are coming home from Afghanistasn and Iraq, and that is good. President Obama has managed to get the U>N. To remove chemical weapons in Syria, and that’s good. But we’re still sending troops to a dozen different countries, along with drones. We’re sebding millions of dollars to vatious ‘friendly’ drug lords and gun-thugs. (Clearly their support is never bought – only rented.)
There must be a better way.
Our bedlief in non-violent solutions is expressed in the one-hour vigils for peace on Saturdays. I, Jon, vigil almost every Saturday, usually at noon at Forbes and Braddock in Regent Square. Sometimes I go to the 1 pmEast Liberty vigil at Penn and Highland, which. It is organized by Black Voices for Peace. For information on other peace activities contact the Thomas Merton Center, 412-361-3022 or www.thomasmertoncenter.org.

In previous e-mailed newsletters, I appended a couple of the poems I have written over the years. This is a possibility with the e-mail, which is not constrained by weights and postal rates. Obviously, you can simply delete them. People didn’t object, so here’s more. I invite any reaction or criticism. If you wish to share or use a poem, please do.

Walking Meditation at the Laughing Rivers Retreat
Jonathan Robison Oct. 5, 2013 actually begun on a walking meditation
Look beyond the beautiful La Roche College campus,
beyond the carefully maintained lawn
and the contrasting buildings.
Some are stone, classically elegant.
Some are corrugated and utilitarian.

See across the valley of some stream. A hillside rises
covered with oaks and maples and p
ines,
green, speckled with some red and yellow,
herald of the coming autumn.

The leaves will fall.
The trees will wait patiently
for SunReturn, and later the buds of spring.
The green on the pines will not fall.
The pines will wait patiently for snowfall.
In time the snow will melt.

Are the trees the masters of time or its servant?
The various trees will just stand there,
and maintain their schedules -
arrivals and departures.
What do they know?

OCCUPIED … by Ground Ivy
Jonathan Robison Oct. 11, 2012

Broad Daylight and no one in sight.
Unless you count the cars whizzing past on the road.
This empty zone on the edge of downtown
was incidentally created
when the highway was built to carry traffic
into and out of the city.
The hard-packed fill is flat, but the parcels are too small
to be buildable, and too isolated by the ramps serving the travelers,
who are going someplace in a hurry.

Ground ivy has occupied the land.
A handrail that served some forgotten stairway
protrudes from the ground to remind us
that people lived here.
Now the buried step go nowhere.
Myself, I have no purpose here, no destination.
I’m already there.

OCCUPIED … still
Jonathan Robison July 25, 2013 based the earlier poem
This space seems empty.
The land is now unoccupied, or so it seems.
No land is ownerless. That’s hornbook law.
The title may be tangled, or even contested. But no land is ownerless.

There were people staying here, but they were cleared out.
Who wants to live beneath an overpass?

There were tents, an encampment,
people sleeping, eating, building fires, perhaps having sex.
Vote? Fill out and send in the registration form. Use that address.
The election board most likely will let people vote from that address
if they can receive mail.
We categorize the people there as ‘homeless,’
no permanent address.
Some had been there for months, longer than some lawful tenants
who disappear
at the end of the school term, or when the rent is overdue

The land was cleared, cleaned up, before it was fenced.
Workers picked up an abandoned shoe, dirty underwear.
Nothing remains, not even a crushed beer can. The people are gone,
leaving nothing behind and nothing to remember them by.

This land is still occupied
by ghosts of what the people might have been.
No, not ghosts.
The presence is less substantial than ghosts.
This space is crowded with unimagined regrets.
The land is still occupied by ground ivy

A Personal Update: Our Medical Report
As you may know, both of us have a serious chronic illness.
Mary’s cancer has been with us for over two years now. She is on her third type of chemotherapy at the Hillman Cancer Center, and the tumors are relatively stable. She still seems to have no physical symptoms of the cancer itself and the chemo seems not as bad. She remains active and will be judge of elections for the 12th district for the election on Nov. 5
Jon’s multiple sclerosis (MS) is apparently under control with Tysabri, but there’s no cure – yet. MS has worsened Jon’s close-up vision. On Saturday, Apr. 12, Jon will as usual go on the 5 kilometer MS Walk in his power wheelchair to raise money for research on MS and someday find a cure. You are invited to help. Please join the walk or just send a tax deductible check, payable to the National MS Society (not to us). You can send it to us, so we can thank you.

PLEASE VOTE
The status of the Voter ID law in Pennsylvania is still unclear. This is one more reason to be concerned about who is elected judge. This is one more reason to thank the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which led the legal fight against the Voter ID scheme. This is oned more reason to VOTE. This fight shows how much voting matters.
Please show your state-approved voter identification if you have it, but currently you have the legal right to vote without it.
Never give up hope – always vote. Despair is the bride of fascism. Please remind your friends and relatives to vote.

Love and Peace,
Jon and Mary
Jonathan and Mary Robison {Labor Donated}

MAY 21, 2013
Jonathan and Mary Robison
154 N. Bellefield Ave. #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-683-0237 jon@jonrobison.org www.jonrobison.org
May 9, 2013
Dear Friend,
Better late than never. Here is our political newsletter, the e-mail version, so late that it’s virtually a ten-day-out letter. We just ran out of time for the shorter bulk mailed version. So please forward this to anyone if you have their e-mail address and think we might not, or otherwise share it.
If you’re wondering where I got your name, I, Jon, just go to meetings and add names that seem friendly or sympathetic. Of course, if you want off, just tell me. On the other hand, if you would like to support our political work, you are warmly invited to send a check to the Robison Political Action Committee at the address above.

Jeanne Clark for Pittsburgh City Council
The nicest part of this weird election is in our own 8th City Council district. The three candidates are qualified, hard-working, feminist liberals, and one of them, Jeanne Clark, is outstanding. She is a proven leader and a proven fighter.
My feelings about this race are unavoidably personal. In 1989 I myself ran for City Council in this district. Both Jeanne Clark and I ran. Dan Cohen, the winner, had much more money and strong connections in the Jewish establishment. Neither Jeanne nor I had any criticisms of the other.
Since 1989 Jeanne has added an amazing list of accomplishments and experience locally and nationally. For just one example, we have the Violence Against Woman law nationally. As an officer of the National Organization for Women, Jeanne helped write the legislation and then helped get it passed. For more about her, you can go to her website, www.RunJeanneRun.com. The need for more good feminist women in government is more and more obvious.
Jeanne’s two opponents have noble intentions. Dan Gilman has done a good job as the administrative assistant to Bill Peduto, who is vacating his City Council seat to run for mayor. Sam Hens-Greco has done good political work getting some good candidates elected, notably his wife, Judge Kathryn Hens-Greco. So we have three good candidates on the ballot. If that’s a problem, it’s a problem we should have more often.
Here is a reason to elect Jeanne rather than the other two. All three will try to work with either Bill Peduto or Jack Wagner, whichever one wins the mayoralty. And either of the two, as mayor, will have to give some consideration to the positions of a liberal, feminist council member. But either mayor would be a little more frightened by Jeanne, and more reluctant to go against her positions.
Jeanne Clark on Pittsburgh City Council would be a major step forward

Bill Peduto for Mayor
For Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, the choice is clear: Bill Peduto.
As our 8th District City Council representative since 2001, he has proved himself as very bright, very hardworking, and consistently liberal. In fact, the hardest part of writing this is that he is such an obvious choice. You can call us at 683-0237 if you wish more details. Or check out his website, www.billpeduto.com, which offers literally one hundred ideas.
To mention one example from that website, Bill has ideas on neighborhood redevelopment and jobs. He has been responsible for leading billions of dollars of development in his district and creating hundreds of jobs over the past decade. Now it is time to take this model of community-based development citywide. Bill will work with neighbors, with community groups, and with good developers to make sure that every neighborhood in Pittsburgh grows. He will create the kinds of job training programs that we need to give everyone the opportunity to work in the industries that are the future of Pittsburgh and make a living wage to support themselves and their families.
Clearly, he is a leader, with vision and ideas.
Some say that Bill does not work with others. Look on his website for the list of organizations in which he has been an officer or an active member - nine national organizations, four statewide, and twenty local. He can attract, listen to, and build a team of co-workers with imagination, including ones that don’t always agree with him.
Bill Peduto’s main opposition, Jack Wagner, has major support from people who count on him to maintain the status quo. Wagner claims that he now supports the rights of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered (lgbt) communities, even marriage equality. But as City Council president in 1990, he was one of two among the nine council members who voted against amending the city’s anti-discrimination to protect the lgbt communities from discrimination in employment and housing. Now Wagner is quiet on reproductive rights, but in 1986 he sponsored a City Council resolution endorsing a national rally to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. In 1987 Wagner tried to reverse the decision of Mayor Richard Caliguiri’s Civil Service Commission to hire ten top ranked women firefighters. Attack ads against Bill are sponsored by a group that calls itself People for a Better Pittsburgh which was started with a $20,000 donation from our departing mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the country’s youngest good old boy.
State Rep. Jake Wheatley is also on the ballot for mayor. He is a good legislator and a good man, but not a serious contender. A. J. Richardson is also on the ballot. There is no endorsed Democratic party candidate for Mayor. Incumbent Luke Ravenstahl had received the party endorsement, but after his unexpected withdrawal from the race, the party rules provided no way to select a successor.

Judges
At the top of the voting machine we will choose a nominee for the PA Superior Court. We recommend Jack McVay, Jr., who is now a judge of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in the Family Division, working especially with juveniles.
Next we will nominate four candidates for the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. With a number of well-qualified candidates, we wish to especially recommend three: Eleanor Bush, Barbara Behrend Ernsberger, and Marvin Leibowitz, (You can vote for up to four.) Ms. Bush is an attorney with the PA Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network; her goal is to contribute her knowledge and experience from a legal career focused on children and families. She was endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In Barbara Ernsberger’s 30 years of private practice she has represented individuals in assessment appeals, consumer rights, custody and divorce, guardianships, wills and estates, personal injury, and zoning law. She frequently sued big health insurance and life insurance companies; which displeased some establishment lawyers, especially because she usually won. She is an old friend and political colleague. Marvin is another old friend. He and Jon were officers in Pittsburgh B’nai B’rith. As senior advisor with the Social Security Administration, he received an award for his work to improve the agency’s administrative procedures. As a judge, Marvin Leibowitz would use his experience to review Court of Common Pleas procedures with the goal of improving efficiency and equity.
The Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh, a pro-lgbt, pro-choice political organization of which we are both active members, endorsed these three. The endorsed Democratic candidates are Mark Tranquilli, Jennifer Satler, P. J. Murray, and appointed Judge Paul Cozza.

After the judges come some other contests we would like to mention, although they do not involve our election district.

Natalia Rudiak is the incumbent in the 4th City Council District, is a reliable ally endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club. She faces a tough challenge from a conservative organization Democrat.

Several races this year have more than one good serious contenders. The 8th Council District, discussed above, is surely one. Another is the 6th Council District, centered in the Hill District. Incumbent Dan Lavelle and community activist Sylvia Wilson both have good positions on the issues. Dan’s family started Dwelling House Building and Loan Assn. on Center Avenue, the first financial institution in the Hill.

There will be new faces on the Board of Education for Pittsburgh and Mt. Oliver, due to incumbents who retired. In the 1st District, Sylvia Wilson has the endorsement of numerous unions, the Democratic committeemembers, and the Gertrude Stein Political Club. Her opponent, Lucille Prater-Holliday, also has good positions on the issues.
The choice for School Board is clear in the 5th District including Greenfield, Hazelwood, and part of Squirrel Hill. Terri Kennedy has a solid record of work on education issues and is e4ndorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club.
The 9th School Board District is mostly on the North Side. Both Carolyn Klug and Dave Schuilenburg are good on the issues. Unable to choose between them, the Gertrude Stein Political Club gave both ‘honorable mention’ on its slate card.

We happen to have two old friends in the bitterly polarized politics of Wilkinsburg Pamela Macklin and Denise Edwards. Pam, a longtime NOW officer, is on the primary ballot for Borough Council from the 2nd Ward; Denise, an officer of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) is running for council from the 3r0d Ward. Allied council candidates are Barbara Ervin in Ward 1 and Dennis Briggs in Ward 2.

Special Election in Mt. Lebanon – Dan Miller for State Rep.
In addition to the primary contests, on May 21 we will also have a special election,
for the 42nd Legislative District to elect the successor to Matt Smith, who was elected to the State Senate.
We support the Democrat nominee, Daniel Miller, a township commissioner in Mt. Lebanon. He is also endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club.
A Look Ahead
Allyson Schwartz for Governor
Governor Tom Corbett is increasingly unpopular, deservedly so, in our opinion. But who will be the Democratic candidate in 2014?
A strong candidate has stepped forward – Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, who represents the 13th District, Northeast Philadelphia and part of Montgomery County. A fighter and a feminist, we’ll hear more from her.

SAVE OUR BUSES
We would like to share information about one important and timely issue. As you may know, Jon has been very involved with public transportation. He is a charter member of the Allegheny County Transit Council, the citizen advisory body of PAT, the Port Authority of Allegheny County.
No public transportation can run on the fare box alone. The Pennsylvania Legislature had planned to fund public transit (as well as bridge and road rehabilitation) by putting a toll on Interstate 80. Federal Regulations don’t allow that, and a sudden financial crisis hit public transit systems all over the state. Last year Allegheny County faced a 35% cut in service, affecting buses, trolleys, light rail, and ACCESS.
County Executive Richard Fitzgerald put together a complex one-time-only deal to hold off the crisis until June 30, of this year. Everybody said that a permanent solution to state funding had to be found. Governor Corbett created a Transportation Funding Reform Commission to work out a solution by August, 2012, which it did. But the Governor then did nothing to implement his commission’s recommendation.
After lengthy negotiations, State Senator John Rafferty, R – Montgomery, last week introduced legislation to resolve the transportation funding crisis. Senate Bill 1. He is in the Republican leadership and is chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. His committee quickly approved the bill, by a vote of 13 to 1, and it has been referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. We have been told that the Governor will probably sign it if it passes the Legislature. Major transit supporters are reviewing the bill. We are optimistic that S.B.1 will provide funding adequate to prevent more transit cuts, funding that is permanent, dedicated to public transportation and structured to increase with inflation.
Jon is dependent on public transportation. His MS has affected his vision and he turned in his driver’s license. But a 30 or 40% cut in transit service would be a disaster for him, for everyone, and for Pittsburgh. Most Oakland routes would not be eliminated, but another major service cut would mean you often couldn’t get on a bus because it was too full. Even if you never set foot in a bus, a service cut would mean more traffic congestion and less parking. Businesses would lose employees and customers, and fewer businesses would locate here. That is the big reason why the Allegheny Conference on Community Development is quietly working for adequate transportation funding.
As you may have heard, today, May 9, is Transit Day, and people are asked to wear a button in support of public transit. We hope that you can join us at noon at Market Square for Senator Jay Costa, Senator Randy Vulakovich, and Allegheny County Executive Fitzgerald, music, and celebration. Please pick up some free ‘Transit YES’ buttons to hand out.
There will also be a free, one day trip to Harrisburg to lobby legislators June 4. If you are interested in going, please call Jon at 412-683-0237.
There is more that can be said on this issue, but we’ve probably already told you more than you ever wanted to know.
You can help. We expect Pittsburgh legislators to be solid supporters of funding for public transportation. But we need to talk with others, especially those outside Allegheny County and the Philadelphia area. Do you have any relatives or friends you can call? A legislator from Mercer County might not listen to you. Maybe a friend of yours in that county might, as a favor to you, call their legislator and explain why transit matters.

Peace Vigils Every Saturday – Still
The wars go on in the Middle East. Our men and women are still fighting and dying in Afghanistan, apparently to prop up the current government. Our CIA is still sending literally suitcases full of money to Afghan leader Hamid Karzai apparently for some kind of support from his friendly drug lords and gun-thugs. (Clearly their support is never bought – only rented.)
What can we do? As we have mentioned previously, there are one-hour vigils for peace on Saturdays. I, Jon, vigil almost every Saturday, usually at noon at Forbes and Braddock in Regent Square. Sometimes I go to the East Liberty vigil, 1 pm, at Penn and Highland. It is organized by Black Voices for Peace. For information on other peace activities contact the Thomas Merton Center, 412-361-3022 or www.thomasmertoncenter.org.
Mary and I have two wonderful grandchildren. I want to be able to tell them that we DID something about the wars. Please join me at the vigil some Saturday.

A personal update: our medical report
           As you may know, both of us have a serious chronic illness: not fatal currently and not yet curable.
Jon’s multiple sclerosis (MS) is apparently under control with Tysabri, but there’s no cure – yet.  MS has worsened Jon’s close-up vision.  On Apr. 22, Jon went on the 5 kilometer MS Walk Apr. 21 in his power wheelchair to raise money for research on MS. and someday a cure. You are invited to help by a contribution. Please send a tax deductible check, payable to the National MS Society (not to us). You can send or bring it to us, so we can thank you.
Mary’s cancer has been with us for two years now. She is on her third type of chemotherapy at the Hillman Cancer Center, and the tumors are relatively stable. She still seems to have no physical symptoms of the cancer itself and the chemo seems not as bad. She remains active and will be judge of elections for the 12th district for the election on May 21.

The status of the state’s Voter ID law is still unclear. This is one more reason to be concerned about who is elected judge. It is one more reason to thank the ACLU, which led the legal fight on the Voter ID scheme, and one more reason to be glad for the election of our new Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who stood up for our rights. Please show your state-approved voter identification if you have it, but currently have the legal right to vote without it. Please remind your friends and relatives to vote.

Love and Peace,
Jon and Mary
Jonathan and Mary Robison {Labor Donated}

p.s. – In previous e-mailed newsletters, I appended a couple of the poems I have written over the years. This is a possibility with the e-mail, which is not constrained by weights and postal rates. Obviously, you can simply delete them. People didn’t object, so here’s two more. I invite any reaction or criticism. If you wish to share or use a poem, please do.
Jon

The Ghosts Enjoy Klezmer
Jonathan Robison 1/95, rev. 9/98
pub. 1995 in “Crossing Limits - African American and Jewish Poets”

The ghosts enjoyed the klezmer concert last night.
They always do.
The ghosts come from Vilna, from Cracow, from Lvov,
from ghettos and countless vanished shtetls.

They have grown accustomed to hearing their music
in odd places,
seeing a roomful of people who just sit.
Nobody is dancing.

Some of the melodies are unfamiliar;
some instruments are complicated, and large..
But the freylachs and the bulgars still bring back memories
of happier times.

So they travel across space and time
like smoke, rising through gray stillness
until it reaches the upper winds.
Dispersed, disappearing, and everywhere present.

CLEANSING
Jonathan Robison, at Hiroshima Day, 8/95, rev. 6/00

Someday the land will subside beneath the sea
Hiding the rocks that Hiroshima was built on.
But the shadows printed on stone will remain

Someday the ocean will again cover the land
That once held up the chimneys of Aushwitz
But the ashes will still be there, between layers of mud.

Someday water will again cover
Srbenica and Sarajevo, Rwanda and Cambodia.
But the blood stains will not be washed away

The earth itself will move, in vain.
Our songs are better bandages for our self-inflicted wounds
Than dirt or water.

November 2, 2012

Robison Political Newsletter October, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — jon @ 3:29 am

Jonathan and Mary Robison
154 N. Bellefield Ave. #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-683-0237 jon@jonrobison.org www.jonrobison.org

Testing… Testing…

As the Nov. 6 election looms, it might be good to re-read President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Consider the beginning of his speech: “… a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. We are now … testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” ‘… testing …’
‘Liberty’ and ‘equality’ are not mandates handed down in books or on stone tablets. President Lincoln called them ‘propositions’. Liberty and equality are being tested by events in Lincoln’s era and in ours. Let us share some specifics.
Our fundamental election processes are being distorted by astronomical amounts of money, facilitated by the Supreme Court’s Citizens Union decision. It seems as if we moving from “One person, one vote” to “One dollar, one vote”.
Everyone’s equal right to vote is threatened, in Pennsylvania and other stares, by the voter ID legislation, which will hinder the handicapped, the poor, the elderly, and anybody without a PA drivers’ license. We’re glad the Pennsylvania courts put enforcement on hold until after the Presidential election.
The lesbian and gay communities want equal rights, such as the freedom to marry. People are coming out, and testing whether they have the freedom to be themselves.
Reproductive rights as a liberty issue has spiritual as well as political difficulties. Much has been said on this. We both have thought about the question. (Mary is a pro-choice Catholic.) If you have qualms about a woman’s right to decide, please consider the alternatives. Who should decide? We also remind people that abortion did not begin when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. The President’s policies, especially on health care, probably prevent more abortions than any hostile laws.
The rights of immigrants, people from other lands, are under attack. Remember that this country was built by immigrants, and that until the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882 most were undocumented. Only the Native Americans have good cause to complain about being overrun by foreigners imposing an alien culture, and they know it’s too late.
Entitlement programs are being attacked. These programs ensure that everyone has the essentials of life. That is why they are entitlement programs - because we are all entitled to live decently. The programs being cut are foundation stones of equality in our society.
The attack on unions threatens the existence of the middle class. When the frontier was closed and free land was gone, most folk would have had little wealth and power in our country without unions. Unions created the middle class in America. Before the laws passed when Franklin Roosevelt was President, people had no legal protection if they tried to start a union.
The gap between rich and poor is increasing. This growing inequality is not only unjust and immoral. It is a danger to our country’s stability.
There are other issues, such as environmental protection, consumer protection, prisons, and peace. But fundamentally, this election is a test of liberty and equality in our country.
“We are taking our country back.” So said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 28. Who are ‘we’? ‘We’ is the cohort of white, straight, prosperous, Christian men of European ancestry who historically held the most of the power and control (Just look at Congress.) People like Gov. Christie seem to believe that they have the right to run the country, as if they were somehow the majority. Now they perceive their dominance diminishing. They fear that this election is their last chance to reassert themselves before demographics redistributes power and control permanently. This perception may account for the bitterness in the opposition to President Obama. Our country is more polarized than any industrialized democracy since Germany in the 1920’s.
Have confidence in our country. This is a rich nation, and it belongs to all of us. Our wealth is more than gold or iron or coal. It is the diversity of our people. As our diversity grows, our wealth increases. Let us not be frightened into foolish attempts to repress our differences.
Please help preserve our nation, “… conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” We respectfully request that traditional Republicans and genuine conservatives vote to re-elect President Barack Obama.
Testing … Testing …
Let us go from philosophy to politics. Before we discuss specific candidates, we wish to make an explanation and a couple of apologies.

First we want to APOLOGIZE to anyone distressed that all the candidates we are supporting are Democrats. We never before endorsed the straight Democratic ticket. Our obligation to you is to give you our honest opinion. (Most Democratic leaders have given up telling us to be ‘loyal’ to the party.) We are sorry this issue of our newsletter is so partisan.
We also apologize if you missed the primary newsletter. We simply ran out of time to send the regular mail copies.

What did you do to deserve this addition to your mailbox or e-mail in box?
This is the Robison political newsletter. It is sent free in advance of the primary and general elections to about 2,000 people by e-mail and bulk mail.
How did we get your name? Some people have been on our list for years. Some requested the newsletter. Jon gets some names of presumably sympathetic people at meetings. Frankly, in some cases we’re not sure. That’s especially true of e-mails. You may have just given me a business card at an event with your e-mail. I’m sorry if the e-mail is a nuisance, Of course, if you want off our list, please tell us. Please also contact us with any corrections. We try to keep our list corrected. Please tell us if you prefer that we send this to a different e-mail address.
If you receive this by mail or otherwise, and have an e-mail address we can use, please tell us. This saves us money on postage and printing. E-mail gets you the newsletter a few days earlier. In addition, our bulk mailing is limited to four pages. We can add additional information to an e-mail. Recently we have appended to the e-mail some of the poetry which I, Jon, wrote. You might consider this a plus.
We will be happy to add any names to the list, preferably with their e-mail address. Some people find the newsletter interesting and even useful, especially about races which receive less media coverage. Some of our friends contribute to help support the newsletter, and we are grateful. (If you would like to help with the costs, you are invited to send a check to Robison Political Action Committee, 154 N. Bellefield Ave., #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.)
Please forward or give copies of this to any interested friends. The newsletter also will be up on our website.
Of course, we welcome any comments, criticism, and questions.

Finally we come to the candidates.
For President of the United States and Vice President, Barack OBAMA and Joe BIDEN. We could discuss at length economics, jobs, environmental protection, peace, Congressional gridlock, and other issues. But you have doubtless heard all you want on these problems, and perhaps more.
President Obama and his opponent both want more jobs and a stronger economy. Obama points to progress, despite obstruction from the Republican dominated House, which would not even extend the Violence Against Women Act after it passed the Senate with bi-partisan support on a 68 –to 31 vote. Romney says that he will increase employment without public investment in infrastructure such as roads and bridges, public transportation, and education. He says that he won’t cut social security or health care. He wants to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. He would reduce the debt without cutting the military budget, even though we have enough nuclear weapons to kill every human on earth ten times over. Either he does not want us to know how he would do all this or he himself doesn’t know.

For the U.S. Senate, with some reluctance we support the re-election of Bob CASEY. He is a mainstream Democrat on economic issues and strongly pro-union. He has always been hostile to a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, although he’s not as extreme on that as his father, Governor Casey. His Republican opponent is even more anti-choice and offers Tea Party rhetoric on health care, unions, etc.

For Pennsylvania Attorney General former Lackawanna County prosecutor Kathleen KANE is an easy choice, on the web at www.kathleengkane.com. Kane said the state Attorney General should have stood up against the voter ID law recently mostly suspended by Commonwealth Court until next year. She also criticized the now-shelved proposal that would have mandated an invasive ultrasound before abortions.
For state Auditor General, we support Atty. Eugene DePASQUALE, State Representative from York. He is a solid liberal Democrat and a feminist and a friend of ours, you can click on www.eugene4pa.com. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh and is the grandson the late Pittsburgh City Council President Eugene ‘Jeep’ DePasquale, a traditional old-time Oakland Democrat. We were eventually friendly with ‘Jeep’ although we had some sharp disagreements on social issues and on party loyalty.
For State Treasurer, we support the incumbent, Rob McCORD, a successful businessperson. His website is www.robmccord.com.

For Congress, the 14th is basically the Pittsburgh District. Our own Mike DOYLE has almost nominal opposition. He is a hard worker and a real fighter, especially on economic justice issues. He is good on the rights of the lgbt communities. His position is mixed on abortion, although he solidly supports Planned Parenthood. We think that he is following the path of his predecessor, Bill Coyne, who started out as a typical organization Democrat of Irish heritage, and gracefully evolved into a supporter of every woman’s right to decide. We consider him a friend and are happy to support him. .
In the 12th District, to the north and east of Pittsburgh, reapportionment resulted in a primary contest, and Congressman Mark S. CRITZ defeated another incumbent Democrat, Jason Altmire. Critz is a strong union supporter, good on economic issues. We don’t care for his positions on social issues, particularly reproductive rights. We recommend a vote for him because we need a Democratic, progressive majority in the House of Representatives.
In the 18th Congressional District, Washington County Commissioner Larry MAGGI seems to be a strong underdog challenger. Again, we recommend a vote for him to support a majority in the House to move forward with the constructive programs our country needs.
Turning to the Legislature, there is an interesting race for State Senate we knew nothing about. In the 47th District north of Pittsburgh, Kimberly Pazzanita VILLELLA of Baden, will face Republican incumbent Elder Vogel. This district is most of Beaver and Lawrence Counties, plus Crescent Township in Allegheny County. This is not where we would expect a woman with feminist credentials and a serious campaign. But Kim is the nominee in a district that usually elects Democrats. The Sept. 26 Pittsburgh City Paper noted her endorsement by Planned Parenthood’s political arm and quotes her on abortion. “That issue is an individual choice, although not one I would choose,” she says. “But, no one knows what anybody will do unless you’re put in that situation.” Her interesting website is www.villella4senate.com.
At first the Democrats did not have a nominee in the 37th Senate District in the South Hills when incumbent John Pippy said that he would not seek re-election. Then Rep. Matt SMITH from Mt. Lebanon stepped forward after the primary. He is progressive, pro-choice, and just was endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He has made his district solidly Democratic. His website is www.votemattsmith.com.
In the 43rd District, incumbent Democrat Jay COSTA, Jr., of Forest Hills, is unopposed,. The same is true in the 45th District in the Mon Valley, where Sen. Jim BREWSTER has no opposition on the ballot. Only odd-numbered State Senate districts are up this year; all House districts are up.

In the PA House, there is a contest in the 22nd District, even though that district is apparently being moved to the eastern part of the state in reapportionment. The plan approved by the Legislature was shot down by the state Supreme Court. What will happen eventually is unknown. (We discuss reapportionment below.) The Democratic nominee for that uncertain seat is Erin MOLCHANY, who is progressive, feminist, independent-minded, and bright. She is endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club, a political organization for the rights of the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender communities including reproductive rights. (Mary and Jon are charter members of the GSPC.) Wherever the 22nd district goes politically and geographically, she is a future leader. Our county and our country need more women like her among our political leaders. Her website is http://erinmolchany.com.
One important challenger is David TUSICK, a small businessperson in the 30th District, which includes Fox Chapel, O’Hara and Hampton and parts of Ross and Shaler. He is on the web at www.davidtusick2012.com.
In the 39th District, in the Mon Valley, a well-regarded former legislator, David LEVDANSKY, is attempting a comeback after a narrow defeat in a heavily Democratic district. We support an old friend, a former staff person with the United Steelworkers.
There are eleven State House districts in Allegheny County, as well as two State Senate districts, where no Republican candidate filed. There are three districts where no Democrat filed.
One Democrat and one Republican are running for two offices. That is perfectly legal, although it may seem a little weird. Matt Smith was drafted to be the Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 37th Senate District after becoming the unopposed incumbent in the 42nd House District. And John Maher, unopposed for re-election in the 40th House District, ran for and won the Republican nomination for Pennsylvania Auditor General against Rep.. Eugene DePasquale. Of course, they can’t serve in both. If the win both, they will have to resign from or decline one office, presumably generating a special election.
We now live in the 23rd District, centered around Squirrel Hill. Rep. Dan FRANKEL has no opposition on the ballot. In the forefront of the toughest fights, he is one of the few people in Harrisburg who can be described with a straight face as overqualified for his current position. Our old house, two blocks away, was in the19th Legislative District, centered on the Hill. No opponent filed against Jake WHEATLEY, the hard-working incumbent. In the 24th District, which includes Homewood-Brushton and Wilkinsburg, Ed GAINEY in unopposed this fall after winning a hard race against Incumbent Joe Preston. Both have similar views on social as well as economic issues, but voters wanted somebody new.

There are many exciting candidates around the country, well-qualified, pro-choice Democrats. We would like to mention a few outside our usual geographical focus.
In Erie, in the 3rd Congressional District, Missa EATON is a college teacher. Her website is www.missaeatonforcongress.com. Former Congressman Joe Sestak said that Pennsylvania needs to elect exceptional women like her who will fight for what we need. Kathryn BOOCKVAR from Bucks County in the 8th District is an attorney and a mediator, www.boockvar.com. We supported her when she ran for judge. Outside PA, Tammy BALDWIN, www.tammybaldwin.com, is running for Senator from Wisconsin. She is a fighter and a leader, the first openly gay or lesbian challenger elected to Congress.

CONSIDER THE STATE AND NATION - CONSIDER EMILY’S LIST
Do you want to help increase the number of women in public office, especially pro-choice Democrats? Are you bemused by the number of appealing candidates in your mailbox and e-mail inbox, and the dearth of feminist candidates in the area? We suggest that you consider EMILY’S LIST. Click their website, www.emilyslist.org. Emily’s List encourages and trains pro-choice women Democrats. They build a list of strong candidates. You can contribute directly to a candidate or contribute to Emily’s List and earmark how you money should be distributed among the Emily’s List candidates. Either way, 100 percent of contributions made through EMILY’S LIST go directly to the candidates’ campaigns. Their website has information about their candidates. Which ones should you select? They’re all good; we can’t think of any who was not worthy of support. Are they effective? In existence since 1985, Emily’s List has raised $86,009,668 for pro-choice Democratic women, with many important victories,

SOMETHING YOU CAN DO
One note on something YOU can do for Barack Obama, without waiting for the campaign organization.
The notorious Voter ID bill hasn’t been thrown out entirely, but the Pennsylvania courts have postponed its evil voter suppression until after the Presidential election. Non-drivers, the poor, the elderly, the handicapped, students or people with out-of-state licenses, can vote unhindered.
The American Civil Liberties Union deserves our thanks for winning a battle for free elections. Because of the ACLU as well as the Pennsylvania courts, you can vote this year even if you don’t have a state-approved voter identification. The court decreed your district election board should ask you to show approved ID. But if you don’t have it, the board is must let you vote anyway. It may caution you about the next election.
It’s like Gettysburg. We have won a major battle but the war isn’t over. Now we must turn out the vote. Now it’s up to us.
What can YOU do? Talk with your friends, neighbors, and relatives. Few people are undecided about re-electing President Obama. So this election is likely to be decided by turnout. Talk with your friends, neighbors, and relatives. Tell them: VOTE!

Reapportionment Still Threatens our Election Process
For years, both political parties have used the decennial reapportionment requirement to try to rig elections. Just look at the boundaries of the 38th State Senate District, drawn in an unsuccessful attempt to zap Senator Jim Ferlo. It looks like the product of an acid trip – a bad acid trip. This year the lines drawn by the Legislature were rejected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. But new districts could not be drawn in time for the 2012 primary, so the Court ruled that this year’s legislative elections will have to use the existing boundaries. This has produced some bizarre results. For example, there is a contest in the 22nd House District, although that seat was moved to the eastern part of the state in the reapportionment plan. Apparently, the winner in the 22nd District will serve out her or his two-year term, although running for re-election may be impractical.
The whole process will have to be redone. The new districts will be used in the 2014 election. Let’s do it right. Let’s set up a non-partisan process, as California has done, which will try to objectively weigh the various factors, including compactness, transportation access, media coverage, and the maintenance of minority/majority districts. What will happen? Stay tuned.

NEXT YEAR – WHO WILL BE ELECTED MAYOR?
Looking beyond the November election, it appears the incumbent Pittsburgh Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, will be challenged in the 2013 Democratic primary. City Councilman Bill Peduto, although an unofficial candidate until after this election, has been pre-endorsed by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. City Controller Mike Lamb and City Councilman Patrick Dowd have been mentioned. All three are sharp, progressive, feminists, pro-choice and pro-lgbt rights. We like all three, and think they would be an improvement over perhaps the country’s youngest ‘good old boy.’ They know that they can’t all run. (It would divide the vote.) Jack Wagner, who cannot run for a third term as state Auditor General, is a moderate organization Democrat who has also been mentioned as a possible candidate.

PUBLIC TRANSIT SAVED - at least for this year
We have apparently avoided a disaster for public transportation and Pittsburgh - thanks to the leadership of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, along with PAT Chief Executive Steve Bland and Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents PAT drivers and mechanics.
But this is temporary. We still need dedicated, adequate state funding. There is still a crisis in state transportation funding. The problem is statewide, not just Allegheny County, This includes fixing bridges and maintaining roads, not just maintaining public transit. PennDOT lacks adequate funding for public transportation, including PAT, the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Our state government must act before the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. We need a solution to the statewide transportation funding problem, preferably a permanent solution, before the buses shut down and the bridges fall down,

Peace Vigils Every Saturday – Still
The wars go on in the Middle East. What can we do? As we have mentioned previously, there are one-hour vigils for peace on Saturdays. I, Jon, vigil almost every Saturday, usually at noon at Forbes and Braddock in Regent Square. Somtimes I go to the East Liberty vigil, 1 pm, at Penn and Highland. It is organized by Black Voices for Peace. There are also vigils in the North Side, and in surrounding counties. For more information, contact the Thomas Merton Center, 412-361-3022 or www.thomasmertoncenter.org.
Mary and I have two wonderful grandchildren. I want to be able to tell them that we DID something about the wars. Please join me at the vigil some Saturday.

First Rate Folk Music – Consider Calliope
I, Jon, love folk music and music from different cultures, or ‘World Music.’ So I greatly enjoy the Calliope concerts on Saturdays, at the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland, at 7:30. The series of eight concerts has started and will include Peter Yarrow, formerly of Peter, Paul, and Mary, as well as gospel, acoustic blues, urban bluegrass, and an Irish group. All the performers are good and some are outstanding. Many performers have noted the sound quality at the Carnegie Lecture Hall. For details, call 412-361-1015 or check their website, calliopehouse.org. The next concert is Saturday, Nov. 17, gospel music with the Campbell Brothers. Try it.

MEDICAL REPORT
Both of us have a serious chronic illness: not fatal currently and not curable currently.
Jon’s multiple scleroses (MS) is apparently under control with Tysabri, but there’s no cure – yet. MS is worsening Jon’s close-up vision. Jon expects to go on the 5 kilometer MS Walk in his power wheelchair every year – until we find a cure. So this is a personal appeal. The walk is to raise money for research on MS and a possible cure. The Pittsburgh 2013 MS Walk will be Sunday Apr. 21. 10 am, starting at Point State Park. You can walk with us or just send us a check payable to the National MS Society.
Mary’s cancer is still with us. She was on chemotherapy last summer, and the side effects included exhaustion from low hemoglobin. The CT scan showed modest improvement, even after chemo was stopped in August. She and her doctor agreed that she could hold off on more chemo at least until another CT scan. Then a CT scan showed some growth, so she’s back on chemo. She still seems to have no physical symptoms of the cancer itself and the chemo seems not as bad. So she’s still active, as her energy permits.

Love and Peace, {Labor Donated}
Jon and Mary

==================================================================
p.s. – In previous e-mailed newsletters, I appended a couple of the poems I have written over the years. This is a possibility with the e-mail, which is not constrained by weights and postal rates. Obviously, you can simply delete them. People didn’t object, so here’s a few more. I invite any reaction or criticism. If you wish to share or use a poem, please do.

Jon

Thinking of Uncle Jesse, on Tu B’Shevat
Jonathan Robison 1/1999, then revised
This poem is timely. When I’m depressed about our country’s grim situation, I am encouraged by the memories of Uncle Jesse.

Today is Tu B’Shevat, and I am thinking of Uncle Jesse
Jesse Wallach died on a winter’s day in 1999, at 90.

“Uncle, great uncle, lend me your cane.”
“It’s such a long walk from your lap to my bed.”
As in Armor and Sturtevant’s East African song,
I still need your cane.

Uncle Jesse,
Volunteer in Spain, seconded
to the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, the Canadians in Spain.
After Spain, he volunteered for the Pacific.
He didn’t like the military, or war, but nobody
in this country had any experience with hand-to-hand combat
except the International Brigade veterans.
He didn’t discuss either war.
But when a new book about Spain came out,
he checked it for accuracy.
Lifelong student of politics and history;
lifelong leftist.
He did not lead an easy life, from the banks of the Ebro,
to Pacific islands I never heard him discuss,
to the untimely death of fiery aunt Lucy,
as her piano career was ripening,
to the long last illness of his second wife Clara
But his enjoyed his life on West End Avenue.
We used to call him “Funny Jesse”.
Not because he told jokes or played games with the children,
but because we sensed the gentle humor brought to family gatherings.

Both Lucy and Jesse were excellent cooks,
and they loved to share.
They threw great parties for leftist musicians and artists
visiting this country.
When I started college in Connecticut they said to me,
“Good. Now you can visit us more often.”
Then they gave me a key to their New York City apartment.
“If you want to bring a girl, that’s fine.
Our study is a second bedroom.”

You could always depend on Jesse, on his help.
He was cheerful and steadfast.
I wish I could tell him again
how much he meant to me.

Jesse didn’t talk about the historical significance of all that he did.
But he spoke thoughtfully and as an active witness to history.
Yesterday, I was listening to music from the ballet “Spartacus”
What did Spartacus think of, in his final days and hours,
when he knew that his slave revolt against Rome
faced defeat?
I wish that I could tell Spartacus:
He has outlived his enemies,
outlived the empire that he fought.
And his name is a byword for hope defiant.

We do “the work that we must do,”
even in Spain, even in sickness, even in slavery, even here.
We see the future with our hands.

Tu B’Shevat is the new year of the trees.
Jesse was a Marxist. I am a Jew, a humanist, and try to be a Buddhist.
But this holiday somehow reminds me of him.
We plant apple seeds.
We hope to see green seedlings sprout.
We don’t expect to live long enough
to eat the apples.
As children, we enjoyed fruit from trees that others planted.
As my mother used to say.
“If you can’t pay back,
pay forward.”

We work by faith:
in the earth,
in the seasons,
in the people,
in the future.
And for us it is always Spring.

Oh my comrades,
Oh my kinfolk,
Oh Uncle Jesse,
Thank you.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
In Memory of PFC Barry Winchell (1978-7/5/99)
Jonathan Robison 7/00
This is a chant as well as a poem. It is also timely. PFC Winchell was a victim of the homophobia engendered by this policy, and I hope with this election, that miserable policy will fade into history.

Don’t ask.
Don’t tell.
Don’t you ever, ever yell,
even if they beat you and it hurts like hell.
Don’t ask.
Don’t tell.
Don’t you ever, ever yell,
even if they beat you and it hurts like hell.
Don’t ask.
Don’t tell.
Don’t you ever, ever yell,
even if they beat you and it hurts like hell.

Repeat as often as necessary.

Meditations on Land Form
Jonathan Robison Jan 2010 revised 2/15/11
This is a set of eleven haiku written to accompany a exercise and meditation.
Notes on the syllable count. You may know that traditional Japanese haiku have 17 syllables: 5-7-5. After reading transliterations, I concluded that haiku in English should be shorter. These are 11 syllables: 3-5-3, mostly because in Japanese poetry the punctuation is included in the syllable count. The title should not be used to sneak in extra words. If a haiku needs a title, use the first line.

With each breath
I know I’m breathing
in and out.

Uplifts make
highlands. Erosion
makes valleys.

Look up from
dark streams. Bright peaks say:
“I’m tallest.”

Relentless -
snow, rain, a hard freeze
will triumph.

Mountains can’t
win against water
and the cold.

Gravity
waits. The proud rockface
cracks and falls.

Frail green shoots
and unseen roots split
foundations

Hills become
rock piles. Grass springs up
everywhere.

Water reigns.
Every raindrop goes
its own way.

Water flows
downward, making streams
that carve rock.

Old worn hill,
grass crowned. You know I
once was tall.

“Silver Clouds” at the Warhol Museum
Jonathan Robison ~1996, rev. 11/02

Pillows floating, bouncing
rising in unceasing play.
Playing with children,
almost including us.

Joyous,
healing,
uplifting.

Thank you.
I’d like to thank you individually,
but I don’t even know your names.

April 23, 2012

Robison Political Newsletter

Filed under: Uncategorized — jon @ 3:15 am

Jonathan and Mary Robison
154 N. Bellefield Ave. #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-683-0237 jon@jonrobison.org www.jonrobison.org
April 12, 2012

This is the Robison political newsletter, better late than never. It is sent free, in advance of the primary and general elections to about 2,000 people. If you want off our list, please tell us.l Please also contact us with any corrections. Please tell us if we’re sending this to the wrong e-mail, such as you business e-mail and we should send it to your personal e-mail. If you receive this by mail or otherwise, and have an e-mail address we can use, please tell us. This saves us money on postage and printing. E-mail gets you the newsletter a few days earlier. In addition, our bulk mailing is limited to four pages. We can add additional information to an e-mail, and recently we have appended to the e-mail some of the poetry which I, Jon, wrote. You might consider this a plus.
Of course, we welcome any comments, criticism, and questions. We will be happy to add anyone you suggest to the list. Some people find the newsletter interesting and even useful, especially about races which receive less media coverage,

The big election this year is the presidency. The primary gives us an opportunity to practice maximizing the voter turnout. It seems that we will also have an opportunity to try to help friends and neighbors whose right to vote is threatened by the so-called Voter ID bill. (Please see discussion below,)

That said, what contests are on the ballot in the Democratic primary April 24?
President Barack OBAMA and his Convention delegate candidates are unopposed in the primary. Suffice to say for now that we think Pres, Obama is trying to do a good job despite unrelenting hostility. Later, we will suggest reasons why traditional Republicans, and also genuine conservatives, should vote for Obama. Mitt Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich are twits and losers, as well as anti-women, anti gay and lesbian, anti-union, anti civil liberties, and pro war. We have no preference in the G.O.P. convention. The Republican establishment was lining up behind Romney even before Santorum said he was dropping out of the race. The ideological extremists think that Romney is only pretending to be as crazy as they are on the issues. Regardless, this election is crucial.

Senator Bob Casey has nominal opposition in the primary. He is pretty good on economic issues and strongly pro-union. He has always been hostile to a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, although he’s not as extreme on that as his father, Governor Casey. The five Republican hopefuls do not seem to have good positions on any issue.
There are two candidates for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania Attorney General. Either Patrick MURPHY or Kathleen KANE would be very good.
Patrick Murphy is first on the ballot and has substantial support from Democratic Party leaders,
apparently because if his diligent political work, He is also the choice of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (glbt) leaders because of his outspoken opposition to the notorious ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell;’ that got gays and lesbians discharged from the military. He is also vocal in opposition to Governor Tom Corbett’s mandatory ultrasound examinations, a gross invasion of women’s privacy. He was endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Murphy is endorsed by the PA National Organization for Women (NOW). He stated, “I will continue to partner with PA NOW to defend women’s rights and end discrimination in the workplace.” He is endorsed by Equality PA, a statewide group in support of the rights of the glbt communities, and by the Stonewall Democrats. The Gertrude Stein Political Club (the GSPC) endorsed him, while giving honorable mention to Kathleen Kane because both are solidly pro-glbt and pro-choice. Mary and Jon are charter members of the GSPC, a political organization for glbt rights and feminism;.
The Murphy/Kane primary contest presents a difficult choice – a good problem to have. Murphy may have been more active on our issues, but we certainly need more women in public office.
We personally like State Representative Eugene DePasquale, a solid liberal Democrat and feminist, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
For State Treasurer, incumbent Bob McCord is also unopposed in Democratic primary.
For Congress in the 12th District, to the north and east of Pittsburgh, reapportionment pitted Mark S. Critz against Jason Altmire, two incumbent Democrats. Both are good Democrats on economic and union issues, although Critz has picked up most union endorsements on the grounds that he is more consistent. Both are poor on social issues, particularly reproductive rights.
In the 14th District, our own Mike DOYLE is a hard worker and a real fighter, especially on economic justice issues. His position is mixed on abortion, although he solidly supports Planned Parenthood. We hope that he is following the path of his predecessor, Bill Coyne, who started out as a typical organization Democrat of Irish heritage, and gracefully evolved into a supporter of every woman’s right to decide. His opposition in Democratic primary is Dr. Janis Brooks, an Afro-American and a woman, who promises “to fight for family stability” but doesn’t say how.
In the 18th District, Larry Maggi of Washington County is unopposed in the Primary. He would be an underdog against incumbent Republican Tim Murphy in the fall, assuming that Murphy survives his ‘tea party’ primary challenger.

For the State Senate, only odd numbered districts are up this year, and apportionment has helped give the G.O.P. a virtual lock on the majority.
In the 37th State Senate district, in the South Hills and West Hills, NO DEMOCRAT filed for the nomination for the open seat being vacated by John Pippy. Shame on us. Maybe there will be a write-in candidate, but that is difficult. There is a three-way fight for the Republican nomination.
In the 43rd District, incumbent Democrat Jay Costa, Jr,.of Forest Hills, is unopposed, and no.Republican filed. Ditto in the 45th District, where Sen.. Jim Brewster has no opposition on the ballot. In the 47th District north of Pittsburgh, Kimberly Pazzanita Villela of Baden will face Republican incumbent Elder Vogel in November.
All State Representatives are up. We will discuss only the five seats with a Democratic primary contest and a few others.
In the 20th District centered on the North side, two Democrats filed against incumbent Adam Ravenstahl, the mayor’s brother. David Schuilenberg is a solid liberal and feminist. He was endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club and the Stonewall Democrats. No Republican filed.
The 19th Representative District is centered on the Hill and includes some Oakland election districts, including the 4th Ward, 9th District in which we were Democratic Committeepeople before we moved to the Bristol. No opponent filed against Jake Wheatley, the hard-working incumbent.
There are three Democratic contenders in the 22nd District, even though that district was moved to the eastern part of the state un the reapportionment plan approved by the Legislature but shot down by the state Supreme Court. (Please see discussion on reapportionment.) One, Erin Molchany, is progressive, feminist, independent-minded, and bright, endorsed by the GSPC and the Stonewall Democrats. Wherever the 22nd district goes politically and geographically, she is a future leader. Our county and our country need more women among our political leaders.
We now live in the 23rd District, centered around Squirrel Hill. Rep. Dan Frankel has no opposition on the ballot. In the forefront of the toughest fights, he is one of the few people in Harrisburg who can be described with a straight face as overqualified for his current position. Usually the G.O.P. puts somebody on the ballot against him, not in the hope of winning, but in the vain hope of diminishing his efforts around the state to elect other progressive Democrats.
The 24th District, which includes Homewood-Brushton and Wilkinsburg, has a hot fight. Incumbent Rep. Joe Preston and challenger Ed Gainey have similar views on social as well as economic issues, But many activists in the Democratic Party and in the community think that Joe Preston is no longer as active as he should be. This was a major factor in Gainey’s endorsement by the Democratic Committeepeople in the district as well as by the Stonewall Democrats and the GSPC.
The 28th District in the Wexford area and the 40th District around Upper St. Clair are the
other districts where we have no Democrat filed. The latter is particularly unfortunate because the incumbent, John Maher, is running for re-election and running for state auditor general. Legally, he can run for both. If he were to win both, he would have to decline one. I realize that both of these districts are not really zoned for Democrats. But I think we should contest every seat, on principle. Moreover, just having a candidate on the ballot may reduce the time and money that Republican gives to help in other districts.
There are a dozen State House districts in Allegheny County as well as two State Senate districts where no Republican candidate filed, Perhaps the most interesting in the 42nd District centered around Mt. Lebanon. Matt Smith is the incumbent, a good liberal Democrat. Mt. Lebanon is reasonably prosperous and used to be a Republican stronghold.
There’s a primary fight in the 39th District in the Mon Valley, where David Levdansky, a well-regarded former legislator, is attempting a comeback. We don’t have information about the 45th primary in the West Hills, in which Nick Kotik and Marybeth Taylor are candidates. .

One final note on something YOU can do for Barack Obama, without waiting for the campaign organization. We know that our country is politically polarized – more than any industrial democracy since Germany in the 1920’s. Very few people are undecided about re-electing President Barack Obama.
THEREFORE, this election is likely to be decided by voter registration and turnout. What can YOU do? Simply carry voter registration forms with you at all times. When you talk with anyone who is a likely supporter, ask them whether they are registered to vote at their current residence. If they need to register or change their address, sign them up on the spot. If possible, get back the signed form back from them, and offer to mail it in or deliver it downtown. Any registration forms received will not be effective until after the Primary.
There are three reasons to get back the signed form. First, you can check for mistakes in filling out the form. Even more important, you can be SURE they are registered as soon as registration re-opens after the primary. Good intentions get left on top of the bookcase or the TV set. Moreover, you can note their name. address, and also their phone number if they provide it. This hel[ps go-to-vote follow-up. This is especially important with new voters. Surprisingly, new voters are often non-voters, unless they are reminded.

Pennsylvania’s ‘Voter ID bill’ will deprive Thousands of their Right to Vote
The new Voter ID bill is perhaps the most carefully thought-through law approved by the Pennsylvania Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett in my experience. One of the laws in over a dozen states drafted by the right-wing ‘American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’, it is certain to cause additional delays at the polls and prevent thousands of low-income, elderly and handicapped Pennsylvanians from voting in the Presidential election. It supposedly prevents voter identity theft, a non-existent problem. It erects substantial barriers to voting be people by anyone who lacks a current Pennsylvania driver’s license, including numerous people who are poor, elderly, handicapped, mad students with out-of-state licenses.
The ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, is on the job, and their lawyers have prepared a four page memo, “Frequently Asked Questions about the New Voter ID Bill.” This memo details what you and your friends may have to do to protect their right to vote, even if they don’t have a current Pennsylvania driver’s license. The ACLU is preparing to challenge this bill in court, and is putting together a list of co-plaintiffs who may lose their vote. .The memo is attached to the ACLU web site: http://www.voterid@aclupa.org. You can contact Jon for more information.

Reapportionment still Threatens our Election Process
Both political parties have used the decennial reapportionment to try to rig elections. Just look at the boundaries of the 38th State Senate District, drawn in an unsuccessful attempt to zap Senator Jim Ferlo. It looks like the product of an acid trip – a bad acid trip. But this year the lines drawn by the Republican majorities in the State House and Senate clearly violated state law and were rejected by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. But new districts could not be drawn in time for the 2012 primary, so the Court required that this year’s legislative elections will have to use the existing boundaries. This has produced some bizarre results. Fir example, there will be a primary and a general election for the 22nd House District, although that seat was moved to the eastern part of the state in the reapportionment plan. Apparently, the winner in the 22nd District will serve out her or his two-year term, although running for re-election may be impractical.
The whole apportionment process will have to be redone. But we have time. The new districts, if not invalidated by the courts, will be used in the 2014 election. So this time let’s do it right. Let’s established a non-partisan process, as California has done, which will try to objectively weigh the various factors, including compactness, transportation access, media coverage, and the maintenance of minority/majority districts. What will happen? Stay tuned.

Do You Want to do More than Vote? Consider EMILY’s List
Do you want to do ms little more than vote, to help increase the number of women in public office, especially pro-choice Democrats? Are you bemused by the number of appealing candidates in your mailbox and e-mail inbox, and the dearth of feminist candidates in the area?
We have a suggestion. Consider Emily’s List. You can on click their webste, www.emilyslist.org.
Emily’s List encourages and trains pro-choice women Democrats. They build a list of strong candidates. You can contribute directly to a candidate or contribute to Emily’s List and earmark how you money should be distributed among the Emily’s List candidates. Either way, 100 percent of contributions made through EMILY’s List go directly to the candidates’ campaigns. Their website has information about their candidates. Which ones should you select? They’re all good; we can’t think of any who was not worthy of support. Are they effective? In existence since 1985, Emily’s List has raised $86,009,668 for pro-choice Democratic women, with many important victories,

A 35% CUT IN BUS SERVICE? CALL THE GOVERNOR
People know that there is a crisis in state funding for transportation. The problem is statewide, not just Allegheny County, This is a transportation funding problem, not just for public transit. PennDOT lacks funding to repair and maintain bridges and roads. PAT, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, operates our transit system – the buses, light rail, and inclines. PAT must adopt a balanced budget for its fiscal year, which begins July 1. Without major new state transportation funding, PAT must reduce service 35%. While the cuts aren’t scheduled until September, by law PAT must send out job termination notices in June. A 35% cut in transit service would be a disaster for everyone. This includes automobile drivers who will find traffic worse and parking less available, and includes businesses who need transit for their employees to get to work. Pittsburgh will become on of the nation’s least livable cities,
People agree that we need a permanent solution to the transportation funding problem, statewide, before the buses shut down and the bridges fall down, So Governor Tom Corbett created a Transportation Funding Reform Commission, and told it to recommend a solution by August 1 of 2011. The Commission did its job, on schedule. Necessary legislation has been introduced, by Republican Senator Jake Corman and our own Rep. Dan Frankel. But the Republican leadership in the Legislature will not act without leadership from the Governor. So we should contact Governor Corbett. Call his Pittsburgh office, 412-565-5700, or his office in Harrisburg, 1-717-787-5962. Or write him at Capitol Bldg, Harrisburg, PA 17120. Or e-mail him at Governor@pa.gov.

Next Year – Who Will Be Elected Mayor?
Looking even beyond the November election, there appear to be two strong challengers in the 2013 Democratic primary against the incumbent Pittsburgh Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl: City Councilman Bill Peduto and City Controller Mike Lamb. Both are sharp. progressive, feminists, with solid pro-choice and pro-lgbt rights records. We like both, and in our opinion either would be a substantial improvement over perhaps the country’s youngest ‘good old boy.’ They can’t both run. (It would divide the vote.) They both know this. Incidentally, Common Cause is having a reception honoring Bill Peduto as a “Champion of Good Government” Thursday, May 24, 5:30 to 7, at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 5300 Fifth Av, Tickets are $50 and I, Jon, have agreed to serve on the planning committee for the event.

Peace Vigils Every Saturday – Still
The wars go on in the Middle East. What can we do? As we have mentioned previously, there are one-hour vigils for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan every Saturday. I, Jon, am at a vigil almost every Saturday, usually at noon in Regent Square, at Forbes and Braddock. Some Saturdays I go to the East Liberty vigil, 1 pm, at Penn and Highland (organized by Black Voices for Peace). There are also vigils in the North Side, and in surrounding counties. For more information, contact the Thomas Merton Center, 412-361-3022 or info@thomasmertoncenter.org.
Mary and I have two wonderful grandchildren. We want to be able to tell them that we DID something about the wars. Please join us at the vigil some Saturday.

MS Walk – Again
I expect to go on the 5 kilometer MS Walk in my power wheelchair every year – unless we find a cure. So this is a personal appeal. I - Jon – have Multiple Sclerosis. The walk is to raise money for research on MS and a possible cure. The Pittsburgh 2012 MS Walk will be Sunday Apr. 22. 10 am, starting at Point State Park. You can walk with us or make a check payable to the National MS Society and send it to me.

First Rate Folk Music – Consider Calliope
I, Jon, love folk music and music from different cultures, or ‘World Music.’ So I greatly enjoy the Calliope concerts. They have about eight concerts a year, on Saturdays, at the Carnegie Lecture Hall in Oakland. The current season ends Apr. 14, and included acoustic blues, singer-songwriters, bluegrass, an Irish group and a Ugandan group. All the performers are good and some are outstanding. Many performers have commented on the sound quality at the Carnegie Lecture Hall. The Calliope schedule for next season isn’t set up yet. I suggest that you call 412-361-1015 or check their website, www.calliopehouse.org. Try it,

Mary’s Personal Medical Situation
Mary’s cancer is still with us. The CT scan showed that it was not growing or shrinking, but hasn’t gotten worse. She’s been off the helpful but exhausting chemotherapy since last August. She and her doctor agreed that she could hold off on more chemo at least until another CT scan in July.

. Do you wonder why you got this newsletter? Some people are on our mailing list by request Maybe we were work together on a cause. Or were at a meeting or event. I got your name and address, and I thought you might find this newsletter interesting, and maybe even useful. Frankly, we don’t remember why we put some of the names on our list. If, for any reason, you no longer want our newsletter cluttering up your mailbox, or you inbox, just tell us, by phone, mail, or e-mail. We will immediately remove you from the list.
If any friends don’t receive the e-mail edition, it’s probably because we don’t have a usable e-mail address. We will be happy to add any names to the list, preferably with their e-mail address. Please TELL US if the newsletter is ok, but we should NOT send it to the e-mail address we used. For some people we have TWO e-mail addresses. That’s no problem. But if you have a preference, please tell us. Why do we prefer to send to an e-mail address? Obviously, it saves on printing and postage. It’s quicker. In addition, we can send a longer newsletter, more than four pages.
Some of our friends contribute to help support the newsletter, and we are grateful. If you would like to help with the costs, you are invited to send a check to Robison Political Action Committee, 154 N. Bellefield Av., #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Please forward or give copies of this to any interested friends.

Love and Peace, Labor
Donated
Jon and Mary

==================================================================
p.s. – In previous e-mailed newsletters, I appended a couple of the poems I have written over the years. This is a possibility with the e-mail, which is not constrained by weights and postal rates. Obviously, you can simply delete them. People didn’t object, so here’s a few more. One poem is longer than usual. I invite any reaction or criticism. If you wish to share or use a poem, please do.
Jon

Kirkbride Street War Zone
Jonathan Robison 1977,

Here a house holds.
Curtains in the window unfurled.
paint and a tricycle on the porch
proclaim, “We’re staying.”

Down the street, empty windows
and shattered panes stare at the sky.
The speculator’s plywood standard
is nailed across the door.

Between the houses is a vacant lot,
rubble strewn. Remnants of a foundation
poke through the weeds
like broken teeth.

Back at the first house, at the kitchen table
neighbors sit and talk. They discuss
rents and rats and baseball
and how to defend the block.

Harpers Ferry Ghost Walk
Jonathan Robison Pttsburgh Pa. rev.7/94

I. Jefferson Rock

Climb up the old stone steps in daylight,
past the shattered church ruins.
Climb out on the rocky ledge
above the Shenandoah where it meets the Potomac.
Now we call this high place ‘Jefferson Rock.’

What did Old Tom see?
The steep valleys were mostly still green.
He knew that the river valleys were rich and fair.
Maybe he knew that Mohawks fought Powhatans
over this valuable land.
Maybe he knew that the river tribes
that lived here were slaughtered.

Perhaps he saw rivers of trade through this gap
in the mountain wall. Did he foresee
the rivers of blood?
Later he would write of the “firebell in the night,”
that forewarned of the conflict to come,
that would bring a cleavage that seemed
to follow the river’s line,
and would sunder even his own home state.

II. The Old Arsenal

Armory: where weapons are forged.
Arsenal: where weapons are stored.
Harpers Ferry was both,
And a center of weapons research in its time.
This was once a town of war.

Thousands of rifles were stored here
when John Brown’s band seized the town.
Brown dreamed of another slave revolt
This time they would have guns!

But the rebels were quickly surrounded and trapped,
Captured or killed by the U.S. Marines
led by a colonel named Robert E. Lee.
And Old Brown remarked from the back of the cart
that took him from the Court House to be hung:
“This is a beautiful country.”

III. Blue and Gray

Eighteen months later
War came back for the duration.
War came to this town where munitions were made,
where rivers and railroads met
in the shadow of mountain walls.

No one but War itself
held Harpers Ferry for long.
This town of war could not stand siege.

Battles were fought for the commanding heights.
The stone steps up to St. John’s Church
were slippery with the blood of the wounded,
carried up for refuge and any possible treatment

Since the war trees have grown
in the hollow remnants of the church.
Stone window frames are empty,
like the eye sockets of a skull.

The long dark hills still stretch
voluptuous in the moonlight,
inviting strategies - vain strategies.
This war was too fundamental;
It would not be settled by heroes and battles.

Below Jefferson Rock there are now wooded islands
where cotton mill and musket factory stood.
Armory and arsenal are sites
for industrial archeologists.
Once again we see green valleys
and hazy blue and gray.

IV. High Street

Back down on High Street,
the stone and plaster buildings glow
in the setting December sun.
A cat sits on an old stone stair,
then vanishes into an overgrown foundation.

Now this is a tourist town, quaint,
renting beauty and history.
Shoppes beckon where soldiers were bivouacked.
But behind their facades lurk lessons, and more.
This place was always beautiful.
This town seems peaceful.
But Harpers Ferry has ghosts.

There are ghosts of buildings.
Sometimes their foundations
peep through the grass.
You can see walls and roofs
where houses used to stand.
Sometimes there is only
an emptiness between two buildings.
like a missing tooth.

V. Ghost Walk

On winter weekends there is a tour by candlelight
Let us join the Harpers Ferry Ghost Walk.

“In this house after a party
some officers threw a boyish POW from a window.
At night sometimes he still cries
For his home and his mother.

“In this house across the street
even today things are found smashed.
Paintings are thrown from the walls.
Here a soldier was smothered by his mates.
When he died they tried to hide the body.

“This is called Hog Alley.
Here Dangerfield Newby was eaten by the pigs.
He was a freed slave who joined John Brown
He had tried to buy the freedom
of his wife and youngest child.
When he came up with the money,
the owner doubled the price.
He was shot and captured.
We think he was dead
Before they fed him to the hogs.”

VI. Jefferson Rock

Walk up the stone steps after dark
to Jefferson Rock and the graveyard,
leaving the ghosts in the town.
The wind blows wild,
and the trees’ shadows dance
around the old headstones.
But here, at least, the dead are truly laid to rest,
Some of fever, some in childbirth,
But most in season, most full of years.
Here fathers were buried by their sons,
Not sons buried by fathers.

The storefronts on High Street
are more ghostly in sunlight
then this graveyard under the moon.

There are ghosts in the town below.
Hard deeds linger in stone houses.
Wounded soldiers linger in the courtyards.
The dead leaves, wind-blown, chitter across the stones,
like barracks-room rumors,
like rumors of war.

This is a beautiful country.
More clearly than elsewhere, we see
Ghosts. Not just ghosts, but a specter,
A powerful Presence: War.

And now, for something much lighter

Lament for the Symposium
Jonathan Robison circa 1970?

Alas the symposium, drought stricken low.
Who thinks from solemnities knowledge will flow.
How far will a car without lubricant go?
In a desert will perish whatever you sow.
Where is the cure for this dry status quo?
Wherever seeds in a seminar grow.
Ah, if we knew what the ancients did know?
Friends raise your tankards and solace our woe.

October 26, 2011

Nov. 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — jon @ 2:44 am

This is the Robison political newsletter, e-mail version. It is sent in advance of the primary and general elections to about 2,000 people by e-mail and bulk mail. We apologize this is so late.

The national situation demands comment before the discussion of the upcoming election, which is the usual focus of this newsletter and is a simpler and more pleasant task. We apologize to any readers who find this newsletter harsh and excessively partisan. But we owe you our honest opinions.
The people now dominating the Republican Party, in Pennsylvania as well as nationally, are dedicated to weakening, diminishing, or abolishing everything that aids economic justice. They are hostile to every initiative developed since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president in 1932. This includes Social Security, Medicare, public education, public health, public transportation, environmental protection, civil rights, civil liberties and the United Nations, as well as strong unions.
These policies are not ‘conservative’. The gap between the rich and the poor grows, and the middle class is squeezed. This destabilizes American society. These people act as if government has only two legitimate purposes. Governments should make the rich and powerful more rich and powerful. And governments should make war. Supposedly, rule by the rich and powerful will benefit society as a whole. Consider the manipulations of the political system, and the increasing power of big money. Consider the mandated photo id law, which will reduce the number of poor people who vote. This is plutocracy, not conservatism. This seems to be based on their sincere beliefs, which is frightening.
The core values of our society are under attack. What can we do?
The elections in 2012 will be crucial. Don’t let your friends be hoodwinked by hostility to various groups in our country, such as gays and lesbians, unions, Arabs, immigrants, public employees, Hispanics, and, of course, African-Americans. People should realize that voting with the rich won’t make you rich.
Therefore, we must support the re-election of Barack Obama. Do I have issues with his presidency? Of course, starting with the war in Afghanistan and ignoring single-payer systems in his health care legislation. Sometimes anger directed at friends’ imperfections is necessary. But we mustn’t confuse imperfect friends with enemies, and aid people who want to destroy everything we have built. Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts put it well: “I never supported a candidate who I was 100% satisfied with, except myself, the first time I ran.” The Obama re-election campaign has already started. You have probably already been contacted. More information is on his website, www.barackobama.com Locally, to contact the campaign, you can call 412-638-0979 or e-mail ashimm@ofapa.com.
What else can we do in 2012? We need to elect more Democrats to Congress. In addition to local candidates, we can support candidates elsewhere. Emily’s List, www.emilyslist.org, encourages individual contributions from everywhere for progressive, pro-choice Democratic WOMEN. Emily’s List selects good candidates, publicizes its list, and asks you to give directly candidates you select.

In addition to electoral politics, we can support economic self defense. We should support unions, union organizing efforts, and boycotts of corporations attacking workers’ rights. We should support non-violent protest, such as Occupy Pittsburgh.

We have not forgotten that there is an election this year, on Nov. 8, with Rich Fitzgerald running for county executive, and two perhaps obscure, but important, statewide judicial races..

Two statewide judicial races are first on the voting machine. The importance of these positions which few non-lawyers think about, is seen in the current efforts of the Republican leadership to use the redistricting and other election rules to influence the outcome of next year’s presidential election. You might also note that Commonwealth Court handles zoning appeals. We support
David N. Wecht for Pennsylvania Superior Court.
David Wecht, like his father Dr. Cyril Wecht, is a solid progressive, hard-working, and outspoken.
Kathryn Boockvar for Commonwealth Court
We also support Kathryn Boockvar. Her experience includes years of work for civil rights and voter protection, including her work drafting agreements for same-sex couples giving both many of the legal protections of a marriage. This is the court that hears governmental issues, including zoning appeals. Both Boockvar and Wecht are endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club (the GSPC), to which we both belong.
Mike Marmo and Alexander Bicket for Court of Common Pleas
. There are two candidates running for two seats on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. Mike Marmo is already a judge, sitting by appointment, so he has to run in a contested election. The two both have both parties’ nominations, so their election is assured. Both have solid records and both are endorsed by the GSPC. Both will be good on the county bench.

Rich Fitzgerald for County Executive
The clear choice for Allegheny County Executive is Rich Fitzgerald, even before his opponent promised to eliminate the drink tax even if it worsens the financial problems of PAT.
Rich Fitzgerald is qualified and experienced, as we said in our primary newsletter. He served as president of the Allegheny County Council. He is endorsed by the GSPC, especially because of his solid record on lesbian and gay rights and reproductive rights – the ‘social issues’. Our personal reasons are:
a) Rich is a real Democratic, a stalwart liberal.
b) Rich is a solid supporter of a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, which is important to my wife and me.
c) Rich has been an active leader in support of lesbian and gay rights, which is important to my wife and me. He and Amanda Green Hawkins, a new member of County Council, managed the addition of sexual minorities to the protections of the Allegheny County’s anti-discrimination ordinance.
d) Rich is very bright, which is important to all of us.
Some polls suggest that Rich is an easy winner over a weak opponent. A smart politician always runs scared. In addition, this election is an opportunity to practice our skills at maximizing voter turnout, which will be critical next year. If you want to help on his campaign, you can call his campaign headquarters at 412-241-3489. You can click on his website, www.voterichfitzgerald.com.

Chelsa Wagner for Allegheny County Controller
She is bright, liberal, and independent-minded, coming from an establishment Democrat family. Her husband is a leader in the Afro-American community. She is an emerging leader in the Democratic Party. She has been an important supporter of reproductive rights and lgbt rights as a State Legislature. She is endorsed by the GSPC.
Stephen A. Zappala for Allegheny County District Attorney
Incumbent Steve Zappaala is unopposed.
John K. Weinstein for County Treasurer
John P. DeFazio for County Council At-Large
Labor leader John DeFazio is likely to be an important leader on Council with Rich Fitzgerald as county executive. His opponent, Heather Heidelbaugh, is unopposed for the two-month unexpired term. You can vote for only one, but the top two will be elected, ensuring both major parties a seat on Council.
Most County Council Seats Uncontested
The only contest for Allegheny Country Council is in the 7th District, including Penn Hills and Plum Borough. There, the GSPC is backing the incumbent Democrat, Nicholas W. Futules. For the Fourth Ward, Oakland, former State Rep. William Russell Robinson, is unopposed. One new face is our long-time friend Barbara Daly Danko, endorsed by the GSPC, who is unopposed in the 11th District, which includes Squirrel Hill and Shadyside.
Michael E. Lamb for Pittsburgh City Controller
Mike Lamb is the incumbent, unopposed as well as endorsed by the GSPC. He and City Councilman Bill Peduto, who does not plan to run for re-election to Pittsburgh City Council, are considering candidacy for mayor of the Pittsburgh, the position now occupied by Luke Ravenstahl. Both are bright, qualified liberals with a record of support for lgbt rights and woman’s rights. It would be deadly if they both ran, and we understand that they both know this.
Most City Council Seats Uncontested
Of the five odd-numbered districts of Pittsburgh’s City Council, most of the races were over after the Democratic primary. In the 5th District, which includes Squirrel Hill and Hazelwood, Corey O’Connor has nominal Republican opposition for the seat held by his late father, Mayor Bob O’Connor.

Rosemary Moriarty, an Independent Candidate, for Pittsburgh School Director in District 8
Dr. Moriarty is a Democrat running as an independent, and we want to urge support for her even though we don’t live in her district. Her district covers most of the North Side, but also includes Downtown, most of the Hill, most of Beltzhoover, and Knoxville. She has over 35 years experience in education. Prior to her retirement, she was principal of the Miller School in the Hill. Her opponent, Mark Brentley, is notorious for his isolation on the nine-member Board of Education, generating an 8-1 vote on almost every issue. She will work with everybody to get things done.
On the voting machines, to split your ticket it works better to vote for each candidate individually. Dr. Moriarty decided to run as an independent because the primary field against the incumbent was already crowded. If you know anyone in her district, please encourage them to vote for her. More information is available by clicking on www.voterosemoriarty.com. Anyone who can help her, especially on Election Day, please call her at 412-668-1014 or 412-287-4705. Her e-mail is info@voterosemoriarty.com.
In our own district, incumbent Bill Isler is deservedly unopposed.

Carnegie Library Tax - Yes
There is one referendum question on the ballot in Pittsburgh. It would amend the Pittsburgh City Charter to provide a 0.25 mill tax on real estate which can be used only for maintenance and operation of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. We are not enthusiastic about the process – amending the City Charter to provide funding for libraries. It is a back-door initiative and referendum. But the issue is important, the need is urgent, and the amount is small. For example, someone with a house assessed at $100,000 would pay $25. And, eventually, we maybe we should have initiative and referendum in Pennsylvania, like California.
The ballot also includes retention referenda on 11 state and Allegheny County judges. Retention elections almost always get ‘yes’ votes, and we know of no opposition to any of the judges.

Kim Hoots for Magistrate, Paige Trice for Council in Wilkinsburg
We usually don’t discuss municipal candidates outside Pittsburgh. But we have suggestions on two candidates in the polarized politics of Wilkinsburg. The incumbent magistrate, Kim Hoots, deserves re-election. She has done the duties of her job, and someplace less bitterly divided than Wilkinsburg, would probably be unopposed. We also suggest for Wilkinsburg Borough Council Paige Trice, the incumbent in Ward 1. Both candidates are endorsed by Pennsylvania NOW.

PAT IS STILL IN DANGER
PAT, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, operates our transit system – the buses, light rail, and inclines. With the 15% cut in service last March 27, PAT has enough money to keep on until June 30, the end of PAT’s fiscal year. But then unless major new funding for PAT is found, PAT will need to reduce service by about an additional 30% to balance the budget. I’m retired as president of the Allegheny County Transit Council (ACTC). But I’m still concerned about transit. A 30% cut in transit service would be a disaster for everyone. This includes automobile drivers who will find traffic worse and parking less available, and includes businesses who need transit for their employees to get to work.
People agree that we need a permanent solution to the transportation funding problem, statewide, before the buses shut down and the bridges fall down, So Governor Tom Corbett created a Transportation Funding Reform Commission, and told to recommend a solution by July 1. The Commission did its job, but the Governor has done nothing. The outlook is grim.

Peace Vigils Every Saturday – Still
The wars go on in the Middle East. What can we do? As we have mentioned previously, there are one-hour vigils for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan every Saturday. I, Jon, am at a vigil almost every Saturday, usually at noon in Regent Square, at Forbes and Braddock, or sometimes at 1 pm in East Liberty, at Penn and Highland (organized by Black Voices for Peace). There are also vigils in the North Side, and in surrounding counties. For more information, contact the Thomas Merton Center, 412-361-3022 or info@thomasmertoncenter.org.
Mary and I have two wonderful grandchildren. We want to be able to tell them that we DID something about the wars. Please join us at the vigil some Saturday.

MS Walk – Again
I expect to go on the 5 kilometer walk in my power wheelchair every year – unless we find a cure. So this is a personal appeal. I - Jon – have Multiple Sclerosis. The walk is to raise money for research on MS and a possible cure. The Pittsburgh MS Walk will be Sunday Apr. 22. 10 am, starting at Point State Park. You can walk with us or make a check payable to the National MS Society and send it to me.

More Personal Medical Problems
Mary’s cancer is still with us, but hasn’t gotten worse.. The chemotherapy seems to have helped, but was exhausting. So she and her doctor agreed on a break for a few months. If you are interested in more details, you can call her at 412-683-0237 or 412-578-8493.

What’s a ‘Fair Wage’?
Since the e-mail and website version of the newsletter isn’t constrained by postal limitations, I will add my views on a current issue,
People have always kvetched about other people’s compensation for their work – not just about baseball stars and movie stars, but steelworkers, teachers, bus drivers, and everybody, especially when unions are on strike or threatening a strike. The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ mobilizations have denounced the compensation received by bankers and business executives who get richer while ordinary workers are laid off.
As the encampments spread around the country and around the world, it becomes harder to avoid the underlying question. What is ‘fair compensation.? Nobody wants to ask this question, much less answer it. Intelligence, skills, education, even virtues such as industriousness, arise from environment and heredity. So it largely comes down to choosing your parents wisely. It’s hard to find any moral justification for differences in compensation.
Economic necessity, or at least economic benefit, as a justification for disparities in compensation is questionable. The baseball star and the movie star work hard. But they are doing what they want to do. Likewise the banker or business executive. More than ever, a high tech society needs creative workers. Increasingly, machines can do the grunt work. I suggest that the business person is like an artist or writer. What they want most, and deserve from society, is the freedom and opportunity to do their creative work. With no big paychecks, would the recipients just sit home and watch television? I doubt it.
Premium pay for dangerous work, like fighting fires, seems reasonable. People also should get paid a premium for doing a job that is necessary but inherently obnoxious, such as changing diapers on mentally retarded adults. If people in such a job were paid more then a successful trial lawyer, would we lawyers abandon our briefs and pick up a bed pan? No. We’d be less likely to work 60 hour weeks, and would spend more time at home. This would presumably be beneficial to our families, and society would be none the worse.
Quality work should be recognized. The business executive, the artist, the scientist, should receive recognition and honors, along with the baseball star and movie star.
The question of fair compensation, applied to society as a whole, and not just one person or group, encourages difficult questions about our economic system. Even if we came to the conclusion that the disparities in compensation were unjustified, it is not clear what we should do. How could we make such major changes in the economic system? In a word, slowly. I think that the flamboyant ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement has served society by raising the question.
Our society’s problems need radical solutions. Please note that radicalism is NOT militance. Radicalism tries to get at the root of problems. Militancy is often the OPPOSITE of radicalism. Violence is one of the root problems of our society. The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ participants don’t want to compromise their radical principles. Therefore, they maintain their non-violence.

If you wonder why you got this e-mail, probably we were both at a meeting, I got your address, and I thought you might find this newsletter interesting. If for any reason you want off the list, please just tell me. If any friends don’t receive the e-mail edition, it’s probably because we don’t have a usable e-mail address (‘.edu’ addresses sometimes don’t go through.) We will be happy to add any names to the list, preferably with their e-mail address. Please TELL US if the newsletter is ok, but NOT to the e-mail address we used. Why do we prefer to send to an e-mail address? Obviously, it saves on postage. In addition, we can send a longer newsletter, more than four pages.
Some of our friends contribute to help support the newsletter, and we are grateful. If you would like to help with the costs, you are invited to send a check to Robison Political Action Committee, 154 N. Bellefield Av., #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Please forward or give copies of this to any interested friends.

Love and Peace,
Jon and Mary
Jonathan and Mary Robison

p.s. – In the Primary newsletter, I indulged myself by appending a couple of the poems I have written over the years. This is a benefit – at least to me - of the e-mail, which is not constrained by weights and postal rates. Obviously, you can simply delete them. Nobody objected to the addition, so I’m doing it again. I ask your feedback. Is the poetry an addition to the newsletter? Any responses or reactions will be cherished.
- Jon

Geology, Sociology, and Impermanence
Jonathan Robison 90’s

The Vermont dirt road is not as new as the meditation center
where I began this walk.
The road is not nearly as old
as the stone walls,
half tumbled down and overgrown,
more green than grey.
The road depends on us. It seems permanent
as long as we use it.
The hills are tree-clad again. Briefly,
they were denuded when people came
up the nearby river, with axes and saws,
bringing an appetite for wood,
and land.
Now many have gone away, seeking urban amenities and job opportunities.
The trees are back, while the stream
still chatters all the way down to the river.
It is still cutting rock, removing soil.
The stream is relatively young, younger
than the rocks it plays with. Unlike
the Connecticut that it flows into, it was not around
when the glacier came and conquered.
Rocks are everywhere, large and small. Some
are nearly in situ. Some were brought down
from higher slopes as water turned mountains.
into hills. Some traveled hundreds of miles,
carried by the ice. Then they were left behind as the ice retreated.
They will stay where they are until they are moved
by water, ice, or people.
Once upon a time there were tall mountains here.
Going back farther, the land had been low: silt, sand, and mud,
often covered by seawater.
Rock was formed, layer upon layer.
Then continents collided. Rock layers
were squeezed, pushed upward, torn and crumpled, made into mountain ranges.
Heat and pressure metamorphosed the sedimentary rock.
After the uplifts, came erosion. Streams carried away the fruits of its work.
Briefly, glaciers ruled. Water continued its slow work,
sculpting the rounded hills we love.
Eventually the land will again be silt, sand, and mud.
The polished wood floor in the meditation center seemed solid as we sat.
The ground we walk on certainly seems permanent, at least to us.

Report of the Bus Captain
Jonathan Robison 4/9/95, rev. and retitled 11/02

This is the report of the bus captain in Pittsburgh Bus # 4,
In the Cherry Blossom Festival and Stop the Violence bus tour:
There were thirty three people on this bus bound for Washington, D.C.
Nothing remarkable happened when we boarded at 4 a.m.
The convoy of buses on the Turnpike was the usual line of lights.
Phyllis Wetherby’s face was unchanged.
She has been organizing buses for NOW since I don’t remember when.
since before she retired from U.S. Steel.
The Post House in Breezewood hadn’t changed much.
I’m glad to report that the hills and long valleys going into Maryland
also have not changed.
“This is a beautiful country,” as John Brown remarked long ago.
Many of the buttons are the same.
There are some new T-shirts. One sported women cavorting
around a flag with the caption
“.. and to the republic for witches’ dance..”
The chants always seem the same.
I wish we did more singing.
The signs and the slogans have changed slowly.
Our concerns are now even closer than Cuba.
Viet Nam is in our children’s history books.
Slogans for civil rights, however, are still current.
Our dreams are still deferred.
Abortion Rights we won, but the struggle continues.
The Equal Rights Amendment we lost, but the struggle continues.
Union locals at the rally have their own signs
and recycled Solidarity Day banners.
Union signs were rare in the Sixties,
especially official ones, professionally printed.
Now unions see that they are threatened, and not by kids with long hair.
The Coalition of Labor Union Woman is an important addition.
You could say that the trade union movement is no longer CLUWless.
The lesbian and gay communities used to be invisible, even to us.
Now they bring new signs, new demands, and new constituencies.
One organization has multi-purpose signs that proclaim,
“Hadassah is proud to be here.”
One sign tells us: “We are the leaders
we’ve been waiting for.”
Most of the demonstrators today are as young as ever.
I myself am older. For a major march
I rely on neither overextended public fountains
nor overpriced vendors. I bring a canteen.
I know that no quick solution will be enough
for the mending of our shattered community, for Tikkun Olam.
Now I plant seeds, together with young friends and strangers.
As I dig and plant and water, I often know
that I myself “Will never see
red fruit hanging from the tree.”
So I feel a loss of immediacy in this demonstration.
A change, subtle but profound, and not just in me.
Once we marched for withdrawal of our troops from Viet Nam,
Our demand was simple: “Bring them home!”
We expected success, and quickly.
Once we thought that civil rights could be won
With just a few big demonstrations and a few new laws.
Once the ERA had a deadline imposed by Congress -
We almost made it.
Today we still demand justice now
freedom now, peace now.
But we know our struggle stretches
beyond our own lives.
Forward beyond our sight, forward beyond our imagination,
and also back into the past
into the deeps of time. remembered only
by the stars above and by our songs.
“Stop the Violence Against Women” -
This is the rally slogan in the spring of 1995.
The Clothesline Project fills the middle of the Mall with clotheslines on loan
from cities and suburbs and small towns around the country.
The clotheslines are hung with shirts, each from a victim,
of rape, incest, bigotry, domestic abuse, murder.
There are little shirts, children’s shirts.
The shirts are bright and grim with decorations, slogans,
messages from the owner or her surviving kin:
Re-affirmations of hope and of vengefulness, brief histories.
Many shirts bear a name. They remind us:
“Unto every person there is a name.”
Each name is a word
for a spell of summoning.
The Clothesline is heavy with this power:
potent, like the Quilt and the Wall.
The clotheslines tie together the victims, and display
the interminable sameness among all the variations of violence
which our society neatly categorizes.
As if there were a difference
between beating up a woman because she is a lesbian
and raping a woman because she is “your” wife.
We witness violence.
We learn how power can employ violence.
Our rallying cry is new, our insights are new.
But violence against women, violence itself, is old.
We spoke of the attacks on abortion rights,
yet another variation
on the theme of violence.
The murders at the clinics are new.
But there is nothing new about regulations and repression
for women who would control their own bodies.
Speeches and slogans also address economic violence
Signs decry the “war on the poor”.
One speaker asked whether “Women and children first” had a new meaning.
The targets are plain: school lunches, medical care, Section 8 housing,
public housing, public transportation, and, in the bull’s-eye, AFDC -
Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
The broad sweep of these attacks is new.
Their remorseless speed is startling.
But poverty is not new, poverty and women, poverty and children.
Not even the high school students at this rally hold any illusion
that one victory in Congress or one election victory
would be enough to bring us justice, would free us
to go home, to relax, and just cultivate our gardens.
Therefore:
We do not focus on any short-term goal.
We lack a demand more specific
than “Stop the Violence Against Woman”.
We know that violence has no immediate solution,
especially at this level where economic violence, political violence,
and physical violence are seen as one sickness.
In the Sixties we had peace walks:
San Francisco to New York, Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo.
Measured in miles, the distances were great. But the objectives
seemed nearer and clearer than ours do today.
Now we have intransigent problems, not just intransigent governments.
Now we know that the responsibility of finding solutions
does not rest with those in authority, with experts,
or even with our own leaders, to bring back
from the mountain top or from the national conference.
Finding solutions is our work,
“the work that we must do”:
Our work, individually and collectively.
We must do more than make demands.
We must make programs;
We must remake structures.
We are on our own Long March.
We make the map.
We are the compass.
May our compassion be as inclusive as the meanness that we face.
May the depth and radicalism of our love match the depths of hate.
Phyllis Wetherby titled this spingtime bus trip,
“Cherry Blossom Festival and Stop the Violence Against Women Bus Tour.”.
That was to give us special tour bus parking privileges.
Now our bus will return to Pittsburgh. We are all
In need of Spring, in hope of Spring, bearing Spring.

Road to Washington
Jonathan Robison 1/27/91
By five the buses stretch along the pike.
The road is darker for their string of light.
The barren fields and snowy hills are black.
No sign of sun or spring, no stars are bright.

To Washington against a war again.
We read or talk or snooze; the hours creep,
although the bus rolls swiftly through the night.
My dreams endure the cold and winter deep.

I want to see the dawn. I want to help
the spring green spread across the hilly dark.
Would daybreak come if we stayed home asleep?
At least each turnpike mile we see a mark.

Riverfront Park on Southside
Jonathan Robison, 6/92, Note: the city discovered this gem, and made it an official park, fortunately without major ‘improvements.’

Find the street, a path with pavement.
Then park the car and go on foot.
Walk beneath the maze of trees.
Part the head-high bushes, look.
An uncut lawn slopes gently down,
inviting any shoeless foot.
Ferns and willows guard the shore.
The water seems a simple blue.
Then you notice the other shore.
Industrial cranes and railroad tracks
seem distant, vague, and unrelated.
Green trees hide the rusty mill.
The bridges up and down the river
support the calm. They frame the scene.
They shield us from the angled shapes
that represent the towers of town.
The daily city: receding like a dream
from this older unseen island in the stream.

May 13, 2011

Robison Political Newsletter May 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — jon @ 10:40 pm

Jonathan and Mary Robison
154 N. Bellefield Ave. #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-683-0237 jon@jonrobison.org www.jonrobison.org
May 13, 2011

This is the Robison political newsletter. We’re late in posting it on our website, but we’re adding two important Post-Gazette endorsements - Rich Fitzgerald for Allegheny County Executive and Valerie McDonald Roberts for C Rich was was endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 8, which cited his “experience, depth, and knowledge”. Valerie McDonald Roberts was endorsed by the Post-Gazette because of her experience, especially in Allegheny County government.
Our newsletter is sent in advance of the primary and general elections to about 2,000 people by e-mail and bulk mail. If any friends don’t receive the e-mail edition, it’s probably because we don’t have a correct e-mail address We will be happy to add any names to the list, preferably with their e-mail address. Some of our friends contribute to help support the newsletter, and we are grateful. If you would like to help with the costs, you are invited to send a check to Robison Political Action Committee, 154 N. Bellefield Ave., #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Please forward or give copies of this to any interested friends. The newsletter also will be up on our website.

Rich Fitzgerald for County Executive
The clear choice for Allegheny County Executive is Rich Fitzgerald.
We strongly endorse Rich Fitzgerald in the Democratic Primary May 17. He is qualified, with experience including service as president of the Allegheny County Council. He is endorsed by the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. Rich is also endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club (the GSPC), to which we belong, especially because of his solid record on lesbian and gay rights and reproductive rights – the ‘social issues’. Our personal reasons are:
a) Rich is a real Democratic, not someone who might have been Republican if he were in another county.
b) Rich is a stalwart liberal.
c) Rich is a solid supporter of a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, which is important to my wife and me.
d) Rich has been an active leader in support of lesbian and gay rights, which is important to my wife and me.
e) Rich is very bright, which is important to all of us.
Because of the importance of this race to our community, as well as to our party, we encourage you to help Rich get out the vote.. You can call his campaign headquarters at 412-241-3489. You can click on his website, www.voterichfitzgerald.com.

Valerie McDonald Roberts for Allegheny County Controller
There are two excellent women running for County Controller. Valerie McDonald Roberts is a political veteran who has a track record on lgbt and reproductive rights. Valerie was endorsed by the Post-Gazette because of her experience, especially in Allegheny County government. We lean to Valerie, and she was endorsed by the GSPC because of her years of good work on the social issues and her experience. Chelsa Wagner is endorsed by the Democratic Committee. She has been a liberal voice coming from an establishment Democrat family. She received an honorable mention from the GSPC, which it uses to recognize a second good candidate in a race. If Valerie wins, Chelsa will continue her good work as State Representative. We look forward to her leadership in the future.

David Wecht for Pennsylvania Superior Court
Going back to the beginning of the ballot, for the Pennsylvania Superior Court we endorse David Wecht, who is unopposed in the Democratic Primary.

Barbara Behrend Ernsberger for Commonwealth Court
Again, there are two excellent feminist candidates for the Democratic nomination, Kathryn Boockvar of Doylestown and Barbara Behrend Ernsberger of Pittsburgh for Commonwealth Court. Both have done good work on legal issues related to the government, which is the main focus of the Commonwealth Court. We are voting for our old friend Barbara Ernsberger, who has attracted hostility from some lawyers because she had the nerve not only to represent people in court against insurance companies, but to win on their behalf. Again, Barbara Ernsberger is endorsed by the GSPC, with an honorable mention for Kathryn Boockvar.

For the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Alexander P. Bicket and either Eleanor Bush or Mike Marmo
You can vote for two candidates for the Allegheny County Court, and there are three good possibilities. Alexander Bicket is very highly rated by the Allegheny County Bar Association and solid on lgbt and reproductive rights. Eleanor Bush is a promising political newcomer. Both are endorsed by the GSPC, which considers candidates’ records on the social issues. Alex Bicket and Mike Marmo are endorsed by the County Democratic Committee. Mike Marmo is already a judge, sitting by appointment, so he has to run in a contested election. His election is considered unfinished business by the Democratic Party. He is also a friend of ours who will probably win. Local judge (and school board) candidates can cross-file for both the Democratic and Republican nominations, and these three candidates all did so.

For District Attorney and County Treasurer,
Steve Zappala and John Weinstein
After the County Executive and County Controller come two easy ones. Stephen A. Zappala has no opposition filed from either party for re-election as District Attorney. John K. Weinstein has no primary opposition for re-election as County Treasurer.

For County Council At-Large, John DeFazio
Incumbent John P. DeFazio is unopposed in the primary. There is a Republican candidate for Council At-Large. Although you can vote for only one candidate, two will be elected in November, presumably the Democratic and Republican nominees.
For County Council from District 11, Barbara Daly Danko
The 11th District, which includes Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Hazelwood, Lincoln Place, and Homestead, has the only primary contest for County Council. Barbara Daley Danko is chairperson of the 14th Ward Democratic Committee and was appointed to fill the vacancy created when Rich Fitzgerald, under our County Charter, had to resign in order to run for County Executive. She is an excellent addition to County Council. She is endorsed by the Democratic Party and the GSPC.
There is a dearth of contests in other districts. Nicholas W. Futules in the 7th District, incumbent from Oakmont, will have opposition in November. John F. Palmiere in the 6th District, William Russell Robinson in the 10th District, and Amanda Green Hawkins in the 13th District, as well as the Republican incumbents in the 2nd and 5th Districts, have no opposition whatsoever on the ballot. We note that the Allegheny County Council is taking leadership in working to improve public transportation and obtain adequate, dependable funding for PAT.

For City Controller in the City of Pittsburgh, Michael E. Lamb
Mike Lamb has no opposition filed from either party and is an important Democratic leader.
For City Council District 1, Darlene Harris
For District 1 Pittsburgh City Council on the North Side, we urge support for Darlene Harris. She was endorsed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette because of her hard work for the neighborhoods on the North Side. Like most City Council incumbents, she was targeted by our mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, because of her independence. She is also endorsed by the GSPC, which considers candidates’ records on the ‘social issues’.
For City Council District 3, Bruce Kraus
For District 3 Pittsburgh City Council, we urge support for Bruce Kraus. His district includes the South Side, Knoxville, Allentown, and some of Oakland, Beltzhoover, and Carrick. He is endorsed by the GSPC. He is independent – another target of our mayor, the country’s youngest good old boy. He is courageous – Pittsburgh’s first openly gay City Council member.
For City Council District 5, Chris Zurawsky
We support Chris Zurawsky in Pittsburgh City Council District 5, which is the 14th Ward south of Forbes, the 15th Ward, which includes Greenfield and Hazelwood, and the 31st Ward, which includes Hays and Lincoln Place. He is a past president of the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club, has a Master of Public Policy & Management Degree from Pitt, and is endorsed by the GSPC. He is running on his qualifications and experience, not on having a famous name.
For City Council District 7, Patrick Dowd
We support Patrick Dowd in Pittsburgh City Council District 7, which runs from Polish Hill through Lawrenceville and Morningside to Highland Park, and includes part of Bloomfield. Pat is another incumbent targeted by the mayor’s purge plans. He is also endorsed by the GSPC.
For City Council District 9, Lucille Prater-Holiday
Once again, there are two good women, Lucille Prater-Holiday and Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell, running against the incumbent, Ricky Burgess, in District 9, which runs from Garfield through East Liberty and Lincoln-Larimer to Homewood and Point Breeze. The GSPC endorsed Lucille Prater-Holiday with an honorable mention for Phyllis Copeland-Mitchell, who was endorsed by the Democratic Committee members from her district.

Hugh McGough or Doug Shields for District Magistrate
Most magistrates are unopposed for re-election, such our friend Gene Ricciardi, who works to settle cases. Ricciardi had been a good City Council member before he ran for magistrate in Oakland and South Side. But there is a hot contest with several good candidates in the magisterial district covering Squirrel Hill and Shadyside.
Hugh McGough is cross-filed as a Democratic and Republican candidate and ran in 2008 for Common Pleas judge. He serves as a professional mediator for the U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania. He also served as chairperson of the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission. He is a friend of ours and is a leader in the gay community.
Doug Shields is also good, and did a good job as a member of Pittsburgh City Council before deciding to run for magistrate. Dan Butler, another past judicial candidate, is well respected. The GSPC endorsed Hugh McGough, with an honorable mention for Doug Shields. The Democratic Committee in the district endorsed Hugh McGough.

Wilkinsburg Candidates
We usually don’t discuss municipal candidates outside Pittsburgh. But we have suggestions in some races in the polarized politics of Wilkinsburg. The incumbent magistrate, Kim Hoots, deserves re-election. We also suggest for Wilkinsburg Borough Council Paige Trice, the incumbent in Ward 1, Beverly McCoy, the challenger in Ward 2, who has brought jobs into the community, and incumbent Carl Lewis in Ward 3.

Candidates for School Director in Pittsburgh and Mt. Oliver
In our own District 4, the excellent incumbent, Bill Isler, is unopposed for both the Republican and Democratic nominations. In District 2, the candidates are Dara Ware Allen, Regina B. Holley, and Celina Basant. In District 6, Lisa Jones is running against the well-regarded incumbent, Sherry Hazuda. In District 8, Deloris Lewis, Arita Gilliam Rue, and Lisa Freeman, are running against incumbent Mark A. Brentley, Sr.

SAVE OUR TRANSIT – DESPITE THE CUTS
ON MARCH 27 PAT CUT 15% OF OUR BUS AND TROLLEY SERVICE. We have until June 2012 to get more funds. So we have work to do, NOW.
The Port Authority of Allegheny County - PAT – operates our transit system. It could have used the $47 million in state funds transferred by Gov. Ed Rendell at the end of his term in office to avoid any service cuts until June 30, the end of PAT’s fiscal year. But then unless major new funding for PAT were found, PAT would need a 35% cut in service to balance the budget. No one thought that Governor Corbett and the Republican-controlled State Legislature would act by then. Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents drivers and mechanics, made a last-minute offer of a temporary 13% cut wages to stop the cuts. The PAT Board voted cut service 15% to stretch out the $47 million until June 2012. PAT promised: no more cuts before that deadline.
The cuts have harmed transit riders, neighborhoods, downtown Pittsburgh, employers, property owners, energy conservation, and the environment. People wait longer for a bus and then sometimes get passed up because the bus is full. Some communities have lost all bus service.
How did this happen? To make a long story relatively short, some five years ago, we had a public transportation funding problem. Finally, the PA Legislature passed Act 44, which put a toll on I-80. That was intended to provide dependable, almost adequate funding for our buses and trolleys. The Legislature ignored federal regulations governing putting tolls on existing freeways. The Federal Highway Administration followed the federal regs, and said PA couldn’t toll I-80. Suddenly we don’t have money for public transit, or for fixing roads and bridges.
I’m president of the Allegheny County Transit Council (ACTC). We worked with the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN), unions, environmental groups, and others, to oppose the 15% service cut. Now we are working prevent a 30% cut in service next June. This would be a disaster for everyone, including automobile drivers who will find traffic much worse and parking less available. Next year we must develop a permanent transportation funding solution, statewide. Anybody who wants more of the grim facts, or wants to help is invited to call me, Jon, at 412-682-0237.

MS Walk – Again
Let us make a personal appeal. I - Jon – have Multiple Sclerosis. On April 10, I went on the 5 kilometer route in my power wheelchair, since I can’t walk – to raise money for research on the treatment and someday the cure for MS. More information is available from National MS Society, www.nationalmssociety.org - or from the Allegheny District Chapter, 412-261-6347, 1501 Reedsdale St. #105, Pittsburgh, PA 15233. I should have made calls asking for pledges before the walk. However. you can still check in and support me. Please make a check payable to the National MS Society and send it to me. In addition to the three poems I am appending to our political newsletter, I wrote a personal story-poem, “Making Friends with MS,” which I am posting on my website.

Peace Vigils Every Saturday – Still
The wars go on in the Middle East. What can we do? As we have mentioned previously, there are one-hour vigils for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan every Saturday. I, Jon, am at a vigil almost every Saturday, usually at Noon in Regent Square, at Forbes and Braddock, or sometimes at 1 pm in East Liberty, at Penn and Highland (organized by Black Voices for Peace). There are also vigils in the North Side, and in surrounding counties. For more information, contact the Thomas Merton Center, 412-361-3022 or info@thomasmertoncenter.org.
Mary and I have two wonderful grandchildren. We want to be able to tell them that we DID something about the wars. Please join us at the vigil some Saturday.

Personal Medical Problems
Mary has been diagnosed with cancer. If you are interested in more details, you can call her at 412-683-0237 or 412-578-8493.

Love and Peace,
Jon and Mary
Jonathan and Mary Robison

p.s. – I, Jon, would like to indulge myself by appending a couple of the poems I have written over the years. This is a benefit – at least to me - of the e-mail, which is not constrained by weights and postal rates. Obviously, you can simply delete them. Any responses or reactions will be cherished.

Come, Elijah, Come
Jonathan Robison, in honor of the current Passover season
read at a Pesach seder in 2003, revised 3/14/11

Come, Elijah, come.
The door is open.
Your cup is filled with wine from each person’s glass.
We’re serving dessert at the seder
but there’s still plenty of food.

You can stay with us for awhile
so that you don’t get picked up
with the homeless, with your untrimmed white beard.
Your home - Tishuba – that’s in the Judean hills,
It’s not in what we now call the ‘West Bank’, so you don’t have to register
with Homeland Security.
Sooner or later someone will ask for your papers.

No, Elijah, we’re not ready.
We still spend treasure on weapons while children go hungry.
Our weapons are larger than in your time,
and more expensive.
They can kill people hundreds of miles away.
Our generals still expect us to bow down.
Our princes still take money.
Today they’re given “campaign contributions.”

Prophets are still unpopular.
We’re not ready for the coming of the Messiah.
Maybe in a few centuries - maybe.
We’re not ready.
But more than ever we need you.

CALENDAR
Jonathan Robison
This is a set of twelve short poems, of haiku, written in an 11-syllable form (3-5-3). You may know that the traditional Japanese haiku are 17 syllables (5-7-5), but that includes punctuation. This an attempt to translate the Japanese haiku form.

Snowflakes chalk
the night sky. The wind
erases.

The snow blows
butterfly kisses.
The moon hides.

Undeterred
by pale buds, winter
Marches on.

By the stream
lie soiled white ruins
of winter.

An old fence
wades knee deep in melt.
Spring again.

It’s not snow
on the walk. It’s from
apple trees.

A deep blue
surrounds the rain clouds.
Don’t fall in!

Uniformed
in blue, heat beats down
like a club.

Summer, says
the sky. The breeze says
September.

Gold and red
Jewels adorn a sky
Dressed in blue.

Leafless, cold,
dark and wet. Nothing
left to lose.

Black branches
In the driven snow
Grope and mesh.

Breakfast Served 24 Hours
Jonathan Robison 2000 - revised

“Breakfast Served 24 Hours”
So says the sign in the window.

12:30 am:
Just got off the job and changed, second shift at the plant.
It’s for younger guys, but a man’s gotta work.
On days off I get to see the kids when they’re not asleep.
Two eggs over easy. And decaf, please.
Don’t want to stay awake when I get home and hit the sack.

Half past one:
Just a quick cuppa coffee and a doughnut.
Supposed to be walking the beat.
But it’s cold. Take a break now.
At two the bars close and the street
won’t be so quiet. Maybe a desk job
wouldn’t be so bad after all.

2:30:
Want to hit the loading dock
as soon as it opens. Just a couple more hours
on the road, they unload me, then real sleep in the motel.
Bacon and eggs with home fries, juice and coffee..
The waitress will keep the cup full.

Quarter to seven:
It’s still dark. But I might as well get started
on the paperwork. Look busy,
so no one can tell me all about their date last night,
or all about their kids.
This sure beats fixing my own breakfast at the apartment.
Waffles.
She got the waffle iron.

10 o’clock:
It’s late. I didn’t get much done this morning.
No real reason to spend money on breakfast.
But it’s nice to sit and just talk with someone, face to face,
not on the phone or on the net. Me and Cathy - just girl talk.
I’ve been working at home since the baby got out of diapers.
Cathy’s been working at home since her company downsized.
I can’t sell her my computer graphics,
and there’s nothing I can buy from her.
Guess that’s what they call “networking.”
Orange juice and pancakes for me.
And separate checks, please.
Sometimes you need a fresh start.

Noon:
Coffee?
Oh yeah. You bet.
And two eggs. Scrambled.
What was that place we went to
after Chief’s closed?
and what was her last name?
Ohh, my head.

Almost six:
Gotta do a sound check..
A cup of coffee and a piece of toast for me.
Something in my stomach,
in case some customer wants
to buy the guitarist a drink.
Sunny side up for my buddy.
He’s got a day job.
But whenever I’ve got a gig,
he’ll come and listen, ’til closing.
Then we go home.

Nine o’clock:
Left the house after he went to the bar,
again.
A cheerful neon welcome, checkered tablecloths,
and no “mixed drinks.”An omelet. And another decaf, please.
Fortification,
I’ve got a lot to think through.
Now I’m watching the patterns
that the milk makes in the coffee,
swirling around, not yet dissolved.

We don’t ask questions. Of course,
if you want to talk, hon,
we’ll listen.

Making Friends with MS
Jonathan Robison 12/13/02 revised 2/15/11
A personal poem - unusual for me

I’ve had MS about 25 years
At first it was ‘remitting-relapsing.’
That was a nuisance.
Then it progressed: ‘secondary progressive,’ they call it.

Buddhist teacher Judy Lief wrote a book, “Making Friends with Death”.
I’m making friends with MS.
Might as well. It’s with me enough.
Til death do us part, I expect.

I appreciate what my nerves and muscles can no longer do.
I appreciate what I still can do.
I’m still happily active.
And I think that my activism
makes a small contribution to the happiness of others.
Increased happiness, for myself and others, is still a goal in my life.

I once loved dancing the hora.
I didn’t really know how,
but that didn’t slow me down.
I think about the square dancing, and later contras.
There were family square dances in Grandma Paula’s side yard
I still remember some of the singing calls.
But listening to music – from Bach to the Beatles – is an unalloyed pleasure.
I know songs of struggle and protest in twelve different languages.
I don’t know the languages, but I enjoy singing the songs.
I love it when I get a chance to sing
at demonstrations or on picket lines.
Singing on the line is a source of pleasure as well as power.

Until MS limited my mobility, my favorite kind of political action
was not my electoral politics, with street lists and strategies.
It was the peace walk.
one foot in front of the other,
then repeat.

I don’t really miss driving. I didn’t drive for pleasure.
Now I’ve got a power wheelchair and it goes on the bus.
Mobility! Freedom!
I have a rolling walker that folds up when
my wife or a friend gives me a ride.

I vigil for peace.
I’ve done that since six weeks before we invaded Iraq.
Now almost every Saturday for an hour
I’m part of a small group with signs at a busy street corner.
Passing cars often give a honk to express support.
I’m still putting
one foot in front of the other.
Even when I’m sitting in my wheelchair.

Sometimes passersby express appreciation
when they see me at a vigil or demonstration.
I explain that my wheelchair makes it easier.
I even went on a peace march in my power chair
from home through downtown to North Side.
In a way, I should thank MS for facilitating my political action,.
and also thank Medicare that paid for the power chair.

Because of MS, I don’t read as fast. But I still enjoy a good book.
MS can affect a person’s mental abilities.
I’m ok on that, I think. My memory is a little worse.
I still enjoy the sudoko in the newspaper, the ones it classifies as ‘hard.’
I can no longer smell anything, which diminishes the pleasure of eating.
But I still enjoy a good meal.
And I still bake potato kugel
when one of the groups I belong to has a potluck dinner.
Everyone enjoys that.

About 2003 I found myself “at liberty.”
They didn’t turn me down for jobs
because I was 60, and had MS.
That would have been illegal.
When my unemployment comp was running out.
some friends advised me
to apply for disability.
The federal government terms MS a “listed impairment.”
That makes approval easy.
I certainly have limitations.
But I don’t think of myself as ‘disabled.’

Happily, I’m in no way out of work,
just out of a job.
I’m still busy.
I work to support and strengthen public transportation.
I’m on the board of my neighborhood council.
I still do some politics.
I do some legal work, mostly free advice for friends.
One foot in front of the other.
Everything will come,
including the next bus.

I’m not running anymore. I won’t run again
for Pittsburgh City Council. I can’t even run for a bus.
But I‘m president of the Allegheny County Transit Council,
the citizen advisory body for PAT, which runs the buses and trolleys.
With forty members and eight committees, I have plenty of work.
I can’t canvass door-to-door for the candidates I support.
But each election my wife and I send out a newsletter.

I’m still an activist.
I don’t spend hours looking on the web,
hoping someone has found a cure, a “magic bullet.”
I use my computer for work:
advocacy for transportation and the community, politics, law.

Buddhism teaches: live in each moment
Cousin Peg Espinola’s folksong puts it well:
“Savor the moment, ‘cause moments don’t last.”
Don’t worry about the future.
Don’t think about the future,
except when you’re doing something about it.
Don’t regret the past,
Don’t think about the past,
except when it’s a happy memory
or when you’re learning from it.

MS does me a favor by teaching about death.
Each lost capability is a little death,
like the death of anyone we loved, or even liked,
like a broken friendship.
A day lost to a serious illness is also little death.
These little deaths help us prepare for the big one.

So, what’s my relationship with MS?
Not love, for sure.
Sometimes it’s intimate
in unpleasant ways.
This is no marriage.
I’m not forsaking all others.
The help of my friends is essential to significant work.
MS gives me nice reminders of that.
MS gives me opportunities to appreciate the kindness of strangers
in small mundane things, like helping me put on my overcoat.
MS gives me appreciation of little things I can do,
like bending down to pick up a dropped pen.
Respect? Oh yeah.
Acceptance? Yes, but not resignation.
I help raise money for MS research to make my companion go away,
I go on the local MS Walk in my power chair.
I still push the envelope of what I can do.

I’ll just keep on keeping on,
happy I can still make a difference.
One foot in front of the other.

April 16, 2010

ROBISON POLITICAL NEWSLETTER May 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jon @ 2:38 pm

Jonathan and Mary Robison
154 N. Bellefield Ave. #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-683-0237 jon@jonrobison.org www.jonrobison.org
April 16, 2010

This is the Robison political newsletter, which is sent in advance of the primary and general elections to about 2,000 people by e-mail and bulk mail. If any friends don’t receive the e-mail edition, it’s probably because we don’t have a correct e-mail address (or have an ‘.edu’ address, which gives us a problem). We will be happy to add any names to the list, preferably with their e-mail address. Some of our friends contribute to help support the newsletter, and we are grateful. If you would like to help with the costs, you are invited to send a check to Robison Political Action Committee, 154 N. Bellefield Ave., #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Please forward or give copies of this to any interested friends. The newsletter also will be up on our website.

The Democratic Primary May 18 will feature two good U.S. Senate candidates, an excellent candidate for Governor, and two good candidates for Lieutenant Governor.

Joe SESTAK for Senate
For the U.S. Senate, we prefer Congressman Joe SESTAK over the incumbent, Arlen Specter. Both are pro-choice and supporters of lesbian and gay communities. Sestak is a solid liberal Democrat; Specter has been better since he changed to Democrat. We appreciate that Specter tried to be a moderate-to-liberal Republican. This country was in better shape when we had more of them. Sestak has offered leadership on economic and social issues. On the other hand, Sestak has supported sending more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan, going beyond President Obama’s position. Yes, the Taliban is awful, but our current “allies” in Afghanistan do not deserve our blood and treasure. We should support and fund the various women’s groups.
Sestak enjoys top ratings from progressive organizations ranging from the AFL-CIO to NOW, and endorsements including the Jewish Chronicle. He will gain support as he becomes better known, and we think that he will be a stronger candidate in the fall against an extreme right-wing opponent. For more information or to volunteer, click on www.JoeSestak.com.

Joe HOEFFEL for Governor
For Pennsylvania Governor we warmly endorse Joe HOEFFEL. He describes himself as “socially liberal and fiscally responsible”. This includes support for early childhood education, environmental protection, affordable health care, and the other essential elements of President Obama’s Democratic program. It includes support for ending our state’s legislation that tries to undo Roe v Wade. It includes standing up to the gun lobby. It includes support for full civil rights and marriage equality for the lesbian and gay communities. Joe Hoeffel is a consistent supporter of adequate funding for public transportation. His leading opponent had said during the previous transit funding crisis that he would block funding for the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) until PAT makes “reforms.” This was strange since, as County Executive, he controls PAT.
Joe Hoeffel is, as he says, “the true progressive” in the Governor’s race. That is why we backed him in 2004 when he ran for the U.S. Senate against Arlen Specter, then a Republican. For more information or to volunteer, click on www.JoeHoeffel2010.com.

Jonathan A. SAIDEL for Lieutenant-Governor
For Lieutenant-Governor, there are again two good candidates. We prefer Jonathan A. SAIDEL over Doris A. Smith-Ribner. Both are well qualified and staunchly liberal. We supported Philadelphia Judge Smith-Ribner when she ran for state court; she would have been excellent. We think Jon Saidel is stronger on the state issues which he would work on as lieutenant-governor. We reviewed both candidates’ questionnaires as members of the Gertrude Stein Political Club, the political organization for LGBT rights. The Stein Club came to the same conclusion we did. It endorsed Saidel and gave Smith-Ribner an honorable mention. (The Stein Club also backed Sestak; Joe Hoeffel was an easy choice.)

Congress and the Legislature
For U.S. Congress, our 14th District Representative Mike DOYLE has no opposition in the primary and no strong opposition for the general election. In the South Hills 18th District, Dan Connolly is unopposed for the Democratic nomination against the Republican incumbent Tim Murphy. In the 4th District to the north, Jason Altmire has no opposition in the Democratic primary; he will probably face right-wing Republican Mary Beth Buchanan this Fall.. Altmire decided to vote against President Obama’s health care reform bill, despite all the revisions. A serious independent candidate with a base in the trade union movement is a possibility for the November election.

In our 42nd State Senate District, Sen. Wayne Fontana has done a good job and has no opposition filed for either the primary or the general. In the 38th State Senate District, which adjoins our district, incumbent Jim Ferlo also has no opposition filed for any party, which is remarkable for a long time comrade and fellow community activist.

There is no primary contest for Legislature in our election district, the 12th District of the 4th Ward, which is represented by Dan Frankel, who is knowledgeable, hardworking, and progressive. The G.O.P. did manage to find someone to put on the ballot against him in the general, possibly because he spends so much time and effort helping Democratic candidates in other districts. There is a fight for the Democratic nomination in the adjacent 9th Election District where we formerly lived. (No Republican filed.) Jake Wheatly is the incumbent in the 19th Legislative District, which is mostly the Hill. He is being challenged by Tonya Payne, who was defeated for re-election to the Pittsburgh City Council. Both candidates are good, pro-choice, and supporters of the rights of the LGBT communities. Rep. Wheatley has diligently sent staff to community meetings in Bellefield and Oakland. The Stein Club, after discussion, endorsed Payne because of her work on domestic violence prevention, while giving an honorable mention to Wheatley. Also running is Mark Brentley, Sr., who is a member of the Board of Education and somewhat erratic. Adam Ravenstahl, the mayor’s brother, is a favorite for the 20th District seat vacated by newly-elected Common Pleas Judge Don Walko. This is an “open seat,” with no incumbent running. We wish that there were a progressive woman in the race. In the 22nd District, West End and Mt. Washington, Chelsa Wagner, who has become increasingly progressive, also has no opposition filed from any party. In the 24th District, Homewood-Brushton and Wilkinsburg, incumbent Joe Preston, has two opponents in the primary and is endorsed by the Stein Club. In the 39th District, in the Mon Valley, labor activist incumbent David Levdansky is unopposed in the primary; two Republicans filed for the Fall.

Democratic State Committee
Every State Senate district will elect members of the Democratic State Committee in the primary, men and women members apportioned according to the Democratic strength in the district. The State Committee endorses Democratic candidates in the primary and gives direction to the party. We have several friends, known progressives and feminists, among the candidates. We note Pamela Macklin of the Wilkinsburg Borough Council, and former County Council member Brenda Frazier of Stanton Heights, running for one of the female seats in the 38th State Senate District, along with West Oakland-based political activist Daniel Jimenez, running for one of the male seats in that district. (Five will be elected. including at least two women and at least two men.) Another candidate we know is Robert Vincent Frank of Mt. Washington, president of the South End Active Democrats (SEAD) running for one of the three male seats in the 42nd District. Former Pittsburgh Democratic City Chairperson Barbara Behrend Ernsberger of Shadyside and Barbara Daly Danko from Regent Square, chairperson of the 14th Ward Democratic Committee, are running for the three female seats in the 43rd District. County Council President and liberal leader Rich Fitzgerald and Marvin Leibowitz from the 14th Ward, board member of the Gertrude Stein Political Club, are running for the three male seats in that district. Allegheny County Democratic vice-chair Carmella Mullen of Braddock is running for one of the two female seats in the 45th Senatorial District.

SAVE OUR TRANSIT - AGAIN
Some five years ago, we had a funding crisis for public transportation. Finally, we thought, the PA Legislature solved the problem with Act 44 – dependable, almost adequate funding for our buses and trolleys. Act 44 was to be funded by putting a toll on Interstate 80. Then the Federal Highway Administration denied permission to toll I-80. Suddenly we have don’t have money for public transit, or fixing roads and bridges. PAT has a $25 million hole in its budget. SEPTA in the Philadelphia area is even worse off. As President of the Allegheny County Transit Council, I - Jon – am working with PAT and others to find a strategy to avoid the disaster of major fare increases and cuts in service.

MS Walk – Again
Let us make a personal appeal. I - Jon – have Multiple Sclerosis. We’re still raising money for research on MS. A cure would be nice. I’m doing the 5 kilometer route in my power wheelchair, since I can’t walk. More information is available from National MS Society, www.nationalmssociety.org - or from the Allegheny District Chapter, 412-261-6347, 1501 Reedsdale St. #105, Pittsburgh, PA 15233. The MS Walk is Sunday, Apr. 18, so it will probably be over before you read this. You can still check in and support me. Please make a check payable to the National MS Society and send it to me.

In addition, two of the many fundraising appeals we received in the mail were so compelling that we want to mention them.

We had never heard of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous. It provides modest financial support to more than 1,000 needy non-Jews who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The website is www.jfr.org. It tells 145 tales of daring deeds and amazing successes in 26 countries under Nazi rule.
The other appeal is from Madre. We have known for years of its work for woman’s rights and human rights in Latin America. We just received a letter from them with an initiative in a new and challenging area. They are working with women in Afghanistan, perhaps the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman. They are raising money for an Afghan Women’s Survival Fund. Find out more at www.madre.org/survivalfund.
As we have mentioned previously, there are one-hour vigils for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan every Saturday. I, Jon, am at a vigil almost every Saturday, usually at Noon in Regent Square, at Forbes and Braddock, or sometimes at 1 pm in East Liberty, at Penn and Highland (organized by Black Voices for Peace). There are also vigils in the North Side, and in surrounding counties. For more information, contact the Thomas Merton Center, 412-361-3022.
Mary and I have two wonderful grandchildren. Participation in the vigils will enable us to tell them that we did something about the wars. And now there is something positive to do: support Madre’s Afghan Women’s Survival Fund. Also, please join us at the vigil some Saturday.

Love and Peace,
Jon and Mary

October 12, 2009

Political Newsletter November 2009

Filed under: Politics, Uncategorized — jon @ 3:18 pm

October 12, 2009

This is the Robison political newsletter, which is sent in advance of the primary and general elections to about 2,000 people by e-mail and bulk mail. If any friends don’t receive the e-mail edition, it’s probably because we don’t have a correct e-mail address (or have an ‘.edu’ address, which gives us a problem). We will be happy to add any names to the list, preferably with their e-mail address. Some of our friends contribute to help support the newsletter, and we are grateful. If you would like to help with the costs, you are invited to send a check to Robison Political Action Committee, 154 N. Bellefield Ave., #66, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Please forward or give copies of this to any interested friends. The newsletter also will be up on our website.

Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court – Jack PANELLA
Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh – Franco Dok HARRIS

This fall we have one unusually important candidate, Jack Panella on the Democratic ticket - and one unusually interesting candidate, Franco Dok Harris for Mayor, independent, on the Franco Dok Harris label.

Why is the Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Supreme Court so important? Because this is the year of the Census and redistricting, and this court indirectly controls redistricting of both Legislative and Congressional districts in Pennsylvania. It is expected that Republicans will spend over $20 million to win this election. Jack Panella will support fair redistricting.
Judge Panella was elected to the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2003, having served 12 years as a common pleas judge in Northampton County. He is rated “Highly Recommended” by the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He is pro-choice and a supporter of lesbian and gay rights and is endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club, in which we are active. His community activities include service as a board member of United Cerebral Palsy of Lehigh County and past president of the Boys and Girls Club of Easton.

For Pittsburgh Mayor, we are supporting Franco Dok Harris running as an independent on his own party label. He is a graduate of Princeton and graduated from the joint law-business degree program at the Pitt Law School and CMU’s Tepper School of Business. He is articulate, independent-minded, and progressive. He also is endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club and Planned Parenthood. He is 30 and is the son of Franco Harris, star of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is biracial, like our president – ‘Dok” is short for his mother’s maiden name, Dokmanovich.
The Democratic incumbent is Luke Ravenstahl. His programs are better than his politics. He has been strong on accessibility for persons like me – Jon – who use a power wheelchair to get around. We applaud Ravenstahl for creating an advisory council to work with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. We are told that his Department of City Planning is working creatively with the neighborhoods and neighborhood organizations. We don’t know why Ravenstahl is refusing to proceed with the asphalt recycling paving machine which will save time and money fixing streets and was approved by City Council. And why is Ravenstahl backing Dan Onorato’s bizarre proposal to merge the city into Allegheny County? Does he hope Dan Onorato will succeed Ed Rendell as Governor, and he will run the whole city/county government?
In politics, Luke Ravenstahl is the nation’s youngest “good old boy.” He supports the old guard. He is anti-choice and negative to campaign finance reform. His enormous political treasury both exemplifies and worsens the problem. Big money is a disease in American politics. You or I might give $50 to a candidate we thought good for the public. That’s a contribution. But when a candidate has a $200-a-plate fundraising dinner, and someone buys a table – that’s an investment.

For Superior Court, Robert J. COLVILLE, Kevin Francis MCCARTHY, Anne LAZARUS, and Teresa SARMINA
Going back to the judiciary, the Democrats are all well qualified. Judge Sarmina has eleven years experience on Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia, was previously the senior deputy Pennsylvania attorney general, and is the first Hispanic candidate for state court. Judge Lazarus has 18 years experience on Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Robert Colville has ten years as judge. including work in the Family Division, the Juvenile Section, and on toxic substance issues. Kevin McCarthy has 19 years experience as an assistant district attorney
For Commonwealth Court, Barbara Behrend ERNSBERGER and Linda JUDSON
Commonwealth Court handles workers’ compensation appeals, appeals from government agencies, like zoning boards, and cases related to the government. Both candidates are well-qualified. Establishment ratings and evaluations often are biased against women and consumer advocates. The statewide Democratic candidates are all endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club.
Barbara Ernsberger is a friend and neighbor and a veteran practitioner of the issues that come before that court. Linda Judson’s personal background includes working her way through college as a nurse.
For the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Joe WILLIAMS, Susan Evashavik DiLUCENTE. Don WALKO, Phil IGNELZI, and Arnie KLEIN
DiLucente, Ignelzi, and Klein won both the Democratic and Republican nominations in the spring. (County judge candidates, as well as school board candidates, can cross-file and compete in both primaries.) Judge Joe Williams is an African-American, appointed to a court vacancy by Governor Ed Rendell and confirmed by the State Senate. Don Walko is now a State Representative from the North Side, with experience writing laws rather than citing them in court. The latter two have opposition on the ballot from Democrats who won Republican nominations; no Republicans filed in the primary.
Judicial Retention Referenda
Also on your voting machine are yes/no votes on incumbent judges – two state-wide judges and seven county Common Pleas judges. We know of no effort or any argument for a no vote on any of them.

County Sheriff Bill MULLEN Unopposed
After the judges, we have incumbent Allegheny County Sheriff Bill Mullen, who is unopposed. We know of no objection to his work, and no opposition filed in the primary from any political party.
For County Council, Thomas MICHALOW has the hottest fight
There are seven seats on the Allegheny County Council up this year, but only two contests. It seems that the main contest is in District 1, in the North Hills. We agree with the Gertrude Stein Political Club, which endorsed Thomas Michalow as the challenger to incumbent Matt Drozd. In the 4th District, incumbent Michael Finnerty has opposition; Democratic incumbents James R. Burn, Jr. (3rd District), Charles Martoni (8th District), Bob Macey (9th District), Jim Ellenbogen (12th District), and Amanda Green (13th District) are unopposed. Ms. Green is running for a two-year term, having been appointed to her seat. She is an outstanding new Council member from the 13th District centered around Highland Park. She was the prime sponsor of the Allegheny County Human Relations Ordinance, which bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation as well as other grounds.

For Pittsburgh City Council, two outstanding newcomers, Natalia RUDIAK and Robert Daniel LAVELLE, as well as our own William PEDUTO
For Pittsburgh City Council, we have two new people.
In the 4th District, in the South Hills wards, we have Natalia Rudiak. She is a progressive feminist independent Democrat. Natalia is endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Political Club. Her grandfather, the late Joe Rudiak, was an old friend and an old-time progressive over forty years ago when he was just about the only liberal independent Democrat in the city wards south of the Mon River.
In the 6th City Council District, centered in the Hill, Robert Daniel Lavelle, known as “Dan,” won a tough primary against Tonya Payne, the incumbent. Dan seems to work diligently with all the organizations in his neighborhoods. His grandfather, Robert Lavelle, founded Dwelling House, the Hill’s first financial institution. He is a fine gentleman and a personal friend and is a religious conservative on social issues. This makes Dan’s views on feminist issues more praiseworthy from our perspective.
Both are unopposed this fall, as is Theresa Smith, the incumbent in District 2.
In our own 8th District, Bill Peduto, has opposition, someone unknown to us, one of the few Republicans on the ballot in the county

Pittsburgh School Board – Five Seats and No Contests
For Pittsburgh Board of Education, five districts are up but the Democrats are unopposed. They are Sharene Shealey, who defeated the incumbent in the primary, Thomas Sumpter, Theresa Colaizzi, Jean Fink, and Floyd L. McCrea.

Friends Outside Pittsburgh
Our newsletter doesn’t usually discuss local races outside Pittsburgh, but some friends are running in various municipalities. They include Pamela Macklin, Barbara J. Ervin, and Dennis Briggs, for Wilkinsburg Borough Council. I, Jon, represent Mr. Briggs in legal matters, including a successful election law case. They also include long-time peace activist Marty O’Malley, who has both nominations for mayor of Forest Hills, and Lloyd Cunningham, for Homestead Borough Council. We’re sure we have missed at least one friend.

Joe HOEFFEL for Pennsylvania’s Next Governor,
The 2010 race for Governor of the state has already started, with Ed Rendell term-limited. Candidates include Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and possibly Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, both conservative on social issues. Joe Hoeffel is a Montgomery County Commissioner and a former Congressman. He is progressive, pro-choice, a supporter of lesbian and gay rights and a solid Democrat on economic issues.

AFGHANISTAN and IRAQ
Moving from politics to issues, Afghanistan and Iraq is still nightmares. We may be leaving one, but sending more troops to the other.
People should continue act for peace, with petitions, letters, e-mails, public meetings, and demonstrations. There are now a half-dozen one-hour weekly vigils in this area with signs opposing the war:
I – Jon – vigil almost every Saturday. Sometimes I’m at the noon vigil at Forbes and Braddock Ave. Other Saturdays I’m at the 1 pm vigil at Penn Ave. and Highland in East Liberty, organized by Black Voices for Peace. Will this help? Who knows? At least we can tell our grandchildren that we tried.
Enough! Bring our troops home.

IMPROVE PUBLIC TRANSIT!
As you may know, since the first of July I have been president of the Allegheny County Transit Council, the official advisory committee of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. To me, this means more then advising PAT. it means representing transit riders generally and representing their interests. PAT is completing a major revision of its structure of routes and fares - “Connect ‘09”. We successfully urged that PAT not hide service cuts to save money. If PAT cuts service on a lightly-used route, it should add service elsewhere. This they did. In fact, there will be a small increase in service.
Now we plan to take on the three Simon Properties malls – Ross Park, South Hills Village, and Century III - which are forcing riders to walk 500 feet or more from the bus stop to the stores.
The ACTC is looking for a few more active members. If you would like to help improve public transit, please contact me at 412-683-0237 or jon@jonrobison.org.
MS Walk in April 18, 2010
Let us make a personal appeal. Please participate in the MS Walk, in person or by a contribution.
There will be a Pittsburgh MS Walk Sunday April 18, starting 9 a.m. at Point State Park. There will be a five-kilometer route and a one-kilometer route.
You can also participate in the MS Walk with a contribution. Please make a check payable to the National MS Society (not to us). Please send it to us at 154 N. Bellefield Av. #66, Pittsburgh 15213
I, Jon have MS – multiple sclerosis. I can’t walk any distance, so I will go on the walk, on the five kilometer route, in my power wheelchair. I go on the walk to raise money for research on MS. A half million people have MS. It’s now controllable, but still incurable. The National MS Society for years has been funding research. A cure would be nice. That’s why we walk – or roll. More information is available from the National MS Society, www.nationalmssociety.org - or from the Western Pennsylvania Chapter, 412-261-6347, 1501 Reedsdale St. #105, Pittsburgh, PA 15233.

Please remind your friends to vote Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Love and Peace,
Jon and Mary
Jonathan and Mary Robison
154 N. Bellefield Ave. Apt. 66.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
412-683-0237 jon@jonrobison.org

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July 9, 2009

In Transit

Filed under: Transportation, Uncategorized — jon @ 5:19 pm

In Transit
July 8, 2009
Dear Friend,
I have been elected President of the Allegheny County Transit Council (ACTC) for the coming year. So what?
Well, for me it will be a challenge. For you and for public transportation, we’ll see. Can we can make a difference?
As you probably know, the ACTC a voluntary, unpaid, non-political citizens’ advisory council to the Port Authority of Allegheny County, PAAC or just PAT, was established by the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1986. The ACTC also will provide PAT riders with a voice on transit and on the way PAT provides transit, and try to improve transit in our region.
There is a lot of work to be done. Even if I were young and healthy, and not 66 with MS, there is no way I could do half of what’s needed by myself. That’s where you come in.
Of course we have committees to divvy up the work - eight committees. The ACTC Budget Committee looks at Port Authority finances. The Legislative Committee should do more than help look for money: state, federal, and local funding for transit. Some ACTC committee should deal with SPC and with city and municipal ordinances that affect day to day operations. The work of the Membership, Recruiting, and Training Committee is primarily internal. The ACTC Operations/Customer Service and Quality Committee includes the process of handling complaints, as well as interior cleanliness. Our Physical Planning Committee looks at long-range improvements as well as implementing the Port Authority’s Connect ‘09 plan. The Policy and Environmental Planning Committee will consider transit-oriented development, land use planning, zoning, the hostility of some malls to transit, and how transit can help energy conservation. The ACTC Public Relations/Marketing Committee will look at the image of the Port Authority and public transit. Our Technology Committee considers how - and how well - the Port Authority uses technology, including the website, GPS stop calling, and the new planned “Smart Card” fare boxes. Should ACTC have a web presence? ACTC also has some committees organized by Port Authority garage or division.
If you do not have the time or inclination to be a working member of ACTC, but want to support transit, just sign up as a “Friend of Transit.” No committees, no meetings, we’ll keep in touch by occasional e-mails or you can attend our meetings on the third Wednesday of the month, 6 pm. at 345 Sixth Ave, downtown. Please contact me or Stu Strickland, our vice-president, if you have any questions. We’ll send more information on our committees.
More specifically, we will work for the funds promised to transit under Act 44 and work for our share of the federal funds under the new authorization legislation now before Congress. We hope to work for land use and development that helps transit as well as the environment. We will work with PAT to implement the Connect ‘09 plans in ways that make transit more efficient without stranding riders who have no other choice.
You see how much work there is to do. What are your ideas? Join us if you want to do more than complain about PAT. Join us if you want to help us get better public transit in the Pittsburgh area. Our revised membership is attached, in case you want to forward it to someone else. Send in the membership application.
Speaking personally. my greatest challenge will be saying “No” to worthy requests for help on non-transit issues. I must put aside all my work on the peace issue, except for my presence at the Saturday vigils. noon in Regent Square or 1pm at Penn and Highland. I must put aside work on health care, labor, glbt rights, etc. I’m still Democratic Committeeman but I will be doing much less electoral politics. Priorities are not the issue; the question is where will my help make the most difference? The answer is “Nowhere,” unless I discipline my self and prioritize. So for the next year or two, I’ll be In Transit.
I hope there will be more information, headed “In Transit.”
Love and Peace, Jonathan Robison

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