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PRESS RELEASE -- Green Party demands PWSA remains public and accountable to voters

posted Jul 18, 2018, 2:19 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 18, 2018
Pittsburgh, PA
Contact: Tim Jones, Chair, info@alleghenycountygreens.org


The Green Party of Allegheny County (GPOAC) strongly opposed proposals for privatization, including so-called “public-private partnerships,” at a Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) public hearing held today. GPOAC members warned that any privately-owned, for-profit business runs antithetical to our human right to water as guaranteed by the Pennsylvania constitution Article I Section 27.

GPOAC members additionally rejected Mayor Bill Peduto’s “blue ribbon” panel recommendation for a restructured, “self-perpetuating” board. A “politically independent” PWSA as suggested by the panel is one further removed from public accountability and oversight. PWSA board members should, like other public positions, be directly accountable to the voters they serve.

GPOAC members demanded that PWSA remain a public utility accountable to the residents of the city. A publicly-owned, democratically-run PWSA with proper funding and support from city council is necessary to address issues and rebuild community trust. The PWSA decision-making process should be opened up to include more members of the community in important water decisions that affect their lives, in keeping with the Green Party value of grassroots democracy. Both privatization and the “blue ribbon” panel proposals cut out democracy and public accountability and increase the odds of corruption.

Jay Walker, Green Party candidate for state representative for the 23rd district, spoke from prepared remarks at the hearing. “PWSA must remain publicly owned, publicly managed, and directly accountable to voters by means of city council as it is now,” Walker said.

Mayor Peduto had originally called for the “blue ribbon” panel in 2017 to investigate ways of reorganizing the PWSA amid concerns of growing debt and several public relations incidents. Peoples’ Gas, a San Francisco-based private company, has since started a marketing campaign in favor of a private takeover of PWSA. As shown in many examples nationwide, including Pittsburgh’s own history with the French company Veolia, water privatization leads to higher costs, inaccurate billing, and unsafe water, and most fundamentally, violates public ownership and right to water for life.

PRESS RELEASE -- Green Party of Allegheny County demands Pittsburgh City Council require more community investment from UPMC

posted Jul 17, 2018, 4:46 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 17, 2018
Pittsburgh, PA
Contact: Tim Jones, Chair, info@alleghenycountygreens.org


UPMC has avoided paying it’s fair share of taxes for years and it is time for the residents of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County region to require a community benefits agreement from UPMC, the Green Party of Allegheny County (GPOAC) demanded today at a Pittsburgh City Council public hearing regarding UPMC’s plans to expand its footprint in the region.

Members of the GPOAC joined One Pennsylvania, Hospital Workers Rising, Pittsburgh United, PIIN, Thomas Merton Center, and Sierra Club in demanding UPMC do more for our community. City Council members were urged to require a strong community benefits agreement with UPMC before considering UPMC’s expansion plans in the region.

Allegheny County today has some of the highest asthma and lung disease rates in the nation, and was recently given an “F” rating by the American Lung Association for poor air quality [1]. UPMC should take its healthcare role seriously by committing significant resources to end air pollution in the region. UPMC must support local wind farm projects and switch all of its facilities to renewable energy sources, which would clean our air, improve our health, and bring local, green jobs to the region.

Additionally, as the largest employer in the state [2], UPMC must take responsibility in fighting poverty. UPMC must commit to paying a living wage of at least $15 per hour to all workers, starting immediately, and financially support affordable housing initiatives for residents affected by expansion of UPMC facilities. UPMC must also recognize workers’ rights and end any and all resistance to unionization efforts.

GPOAC recognizes healthcare as a human right and supports the establishment of a comprehensive, guaranteed, single-payer healthcare system in Pennsylvania to protect that right. We expect UPMC to provide comprehensive healthcare for all residents, including by expanding addiction treatment and mental health services at Mercy Hospital and throughout the region, and ensuring all residents regardless of insurance provider can receive affordable treatment at any UPMC facility.

As a non-profit, UPMC receives large tax breaks despite increasingly operating like a for-profit insurance giant. In 2011-2012, UPMC made nearly $1 billion in profits, which prompted past Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to sue UPMC for its non-profit status [3]. The lawsuit was dropped in 2014 under current Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration with the explanation that it would help negotiations between UPMC and the city for voluntary payments from non-profits [4]. Since then, UPMC has continued to grow its profitable business as the city budget struggles with infrastructure problems, poverty, and school funding.

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[1] https://www.ehn.org/pittsburgh-air-quality-is-getting-worse-2561249417.html

[2] http://www.upmc.com/about/facts/pages/default.aspx

[3] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nonprofit-hospital-makes-billions-should-it-get-a-tax-break/

[4] https://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6524239-74/upmc-nonprofits-peduto

PRESS RELEASE -- Green Party of Allegheny County joins push for Clean Air at Courthouse rally

posted Jul 13, 2018, 10:50 AM by Garret Wassermann   [ updated Jul 13, 2018, 11:48 AM ]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 13, 2018
Pittsburgh, PA
Contact: Tim Jones, info@alleghenycountygreens.org


Today, members of the Green Party of Allegheny County (GPOAC) joined PennEnvironment, GASP, the Breathe Project, and other members of the Breathe Collaborative at a downtown Pittsburgh rally called Fridays with Fitzgerald. The intent of these gatherings in the courtyard of Allegheny County Courthouse is to gain the attention of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald about the very poor quality of our air and its detrimental impact on the health of our residents and our region.

With the recent statistics that Allegheny County now ranks in the top 2 per cent of counties in the U.S. for cancer risk from air pollution, GPOAC wants to encourage leaders such as Mr. Fitzgerald, who supports the air and water polluting industry of fracking, to reverse course and act now to protect our rights to clean air and pure water guaranteed under PA Constitution Article 1 Section 27.

GPOAC calls for the County Executive to crack down on local polluters and end his support for the cracker plant in nearby Beaver County and the Falcon pipeline that will feed it. The Green Party emphasis will be to present facts on how local government decisions directly contribute to either improving or detracting from the health of our region.

Jay Walker, a Green County candidate for District 23 for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, explains his sense of urgency, “Climate change is real and anything short of confronting it directly is foolish. We need to rapidly shift our economy from being powered by fossil fuels to alternative energy while also massively reducing our energy use.”

Garret Wassermann, Green Party Candidate for District 45 and vice-chair of GPOAC, expressed support for a recent Clean Air Council and Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) lawsuit against the Allegheny County Health Department for diverting Clean Air Funds meant for enforcement into building renovation projects. “Our real need is to crack down on fossil fuel polluters such as the Clairton Coke works who repeatedly get cited by the Allegheny Health Department for their infractions, yet fail to remedy their polluting business practices.” he said. “The Allegheny County Board of Health is appointed by the County Executive, so I expect Mr. Fitzgerald to speak out against this misuse of funds and call for greater clean air enforcement from the board he has appointed.”

Candidates Wassermann and Walker hope that the Fridays with Fitzgerald rallies will impress upon our government officials how unacceptable the decline in air quality and the alarming increase of pollution generated illnesses is for our city life. As representative of the GPOAC at the rallies, Wassermann and Walker both hope to make clear that Allegheny County’s successful future - that government officials profess to aspire to - will be undermined by these growing concerns if not addressed.

Unwrapping 11,000 complaints about air pollution in Allegheny County
Above: Petitioners unwrap a printed list of over 11,000 complaints about air pollution to the Allegheny County Health Department as they demand County Executive Fitzgerald to take action to protect our air. The petition was long enough to encircle the courtyard twice.

PRESS RELEASE - City & County Single Payer Resolutions

posted Jun 20, 2018, 9:11 AM by Green Party of Allegheny County


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 19th, 2018
Contact: Tim Jones, Chair, info@alleghenycountygreens.org

Green Party of Allegheny County (GPOAC) calls for immediate action and legislative votes for single payer healthcare at both the state and federal levels, after the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County both pass resolutions in favor of a single payer healthcare system and recognizing healthcare as a human right.

On June 19th, 2018, thanks to the efforts of Corey O'Connor in the Pittsburgh city council and Anita Prizio in the Allegheny County council, both city and county councils have passed resolutions in support of a single payer, "Medicare for All" healthcare system. The county council adopted the measure by a vote of 10-4 [1], while the city council adopted the measure unanimously with a vote of 9-0 [2]. GPOAC applauds both resolutions and calls for state and federal elected officials to take the resolutions seriously as evidence that Pennsylvanians are ready for a single payer healthcare system that guarantees comprehensive healthcare to all.

Jay Walker, GPOAC candidate for state representative in the 23rd district, was present at the county council meeting, attending in favor of the resolution along with several other GPOAC members. "I am very happy to see these resolutions in support of common sense health care policy. Our legislators in Harrisburg and Washington should listen to our local elected officials by working to move these bills forward." Walker said.

GPOAC previously endorsed HR 676 as the blueprint for a national single payer system. The bill would guarantee Medicare coverage to all Americans, and expand Medicare to include additional services such as dental, vision, and cheaper prescription drugs. A similar bill, HB 1688, has been introduced in the Pennsylvania general assembly that would create a statewide single payer system with similar expanded services. Both bills represent clear alternatives to the for-profit health insurance model that has proved to be a disaster. A 2013 economic policy memo by Dr. Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts Department of Economics concluded that a Pennsylvania single payer system would result in drastic administrative cost decreases that would fully offset the increased costs of covering more people, while lowering the individual costs to most residents and businesses by utilizing a progressive income tax. [3] A large list of economic studies in favor of single payer healthcare, both at the state and federal level, is provided at [4]. The Green Party of Pennsylvania and the Green Party of the United States have both supported a single payer healthcare system as part of the party platform since 2000. [5]

"The rest of the world has some form of single payer system, it is time we joined them by guaranteeing comprehensive healthcare as a human right" said Garret Wassermann, GPOAC vice-chair and candidate for state representative in the 45th district. "It is not a lack of financial resources that prevents single payer healthcare from happening, it is a lack of political will. We spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year on corporate tax breaks and war, it is time that we shift our priorities."

Both Green candidates, Walker and Wassermann, have pledged to sponsor and support single payer legislation if elected. Neither of their Democratic opponents in the general election, Dan Frankel and Anita Astorino Kulik, respectively, have to-date sponsored HB 1688 according to general assembly records. [6] [7] Statewide, Green Party of Pennsylvania candidates Paul Glover for governor and Neal Gale for US senator also have both declared support for single payer healthcare.

GPOAC calls on all elected officials, regardless of political party, to work quickly to provide guaranteed, comprehensive healthcare to all Pennsylvanians. GPOAC calls for all single payer supporters to call, email, and write letters to elected officials demanding a single payer healthcare system that works for us instead of insurance companies.

GPofPA Announces 2018 Candidates

posted Mar 29, 2018, 4:16 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

The Green Party of Pennsylvania recently held its spring convention and nominated 6 candidates for office statewide, including 2 in Allegheny County: Jay Walker (state representative, 23rd district) and Garret Wassermann (state representative, 45th district).

See the state party's press release at: https://www.gpofpa.org/green_party_of_pennsylvania_announces_six_candidates_for_2018_state_and_national_election

GPOAC will be meeting for its next monthly general assembly meeting on Tuesday April 3rd at 7pm at the Panera Bread on Blvd of the Allies in Pittsburgh and kicking-off the campaigns for Garret and Jay. Both will need volunteers to help collect signatures to get on this ballot this November! If interested in volunteering, we hope to see you at the next general assembly, or if you can't make it, please Contact Us.

RSVP for GPofPA March Convention Mar 17-18th

posted Feb 18, 2018, 4:40 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

Mark you calendars for the next Green Party of Pennsylvania statewide convention, on the weekend of Mar 17-18th in Scranton, PA.

The event consists of organizing events on Saturday and party business (including nominations of statewide candidates) on Sunday. The Saturday events are expected to focus on discussions and activities on how to run a successful campaign for political office, so if you've been thinking of running for office this year or next, this is a great chance to learn more and get advice from our past Green candidates.

If you'd like to attend, please RSVP: http://www.gpofpa.org/gpofpa_march_2018_convention

RSVP for Organizer Conference 2/28 at 8pm!

posted Feb 18, 2018, 4:19 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

Interested in volunteering and organizing Greens in your community? Thinking about running for office? Join the @GreenPartyofPA #GreenWave committee conference online or by phone from your own home on 2/28 at 8pm to learn more about how we can help you get more active! RSVP here: http://www.gpofpa.org/organize_201802 

GPOAC Endorses SayNo2EQT

posted Feb 8, 2018, 4:36 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

The Green Party of Allegheny County endorses the SayNo2EQT campaign. We support efforts to call out EQT the disastrous effect its activity is having on our #environment. See the flyer below for more information how to join. We encourage local Greens to look for opportunities to support future actions and events!


General Assembly - 2/6/2018

posted Feb 8, 2018, 4:32 PM by Green Party of Allegheny County

We hope to see you at our next General Assembly meeting on Tuesday February 6th 2018 at 7pm at the Panera Bread on Blvd of the Allies. Members voted at the end of last year to move the date/location of meetings to the first Tuesday of each month for the rest of 2018, so mark your calendars!

We will be electing our executive committee, as well as for delegates to the state party and national party committees, and discussing further ways to grow the party.

General Assembly 1/2/2018

posted Jan 1, 2018, 7:49 AM by Green Party of Allegheny County

We hope to see you at our next General Assembly meeting on Tuesday January 2nd 2018 at 7pm at the Panera Bread on Blvd of the Allies. Members voted at the end of last year to move the date/location of meetings to the first Tuesday of each month for the rest of 2018, so mark your calendars!

We will be taking nominations for executive committee positions, as well as for delegates to the state party and national party committees. Elections for GPOAC officers will be held in February.

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