Just Sayin’ …Hill House’s Cheryl Hall-Russell is gone (Ulish Carter's Column May 3, 2017)


I was shocked when I read that Cheryl Hall-Russell was fired by the Hill House Association last week in the New Pittsburgh Courier (April 26).
According to the Courier story, William Generett, a former board member, said on Facebook he was angry that “one of Pittsburgh’s most important social service and economic development organizations is on the verge of collapsing and FEW people seem to care.”
It was not that nobody cared. It was the best kept secret that the Hill House was even in trouble. Why didn’t the board or powers to be inform the community that they were having problems? People can’t help if they don’t know. A press conference would have been professional.
I thought Hall-Russell was doing a great job. They brought in a new charter school as well as some other key community service programs, which I thought would have made the late Jim Henry proud. I worked very closely with Henry when he took over at the Hill House during the 1970s. This was his pride and joy and he would be crushed if it failed after all his many years of work making it a pillar of the Hill District.
Even though board chair Clyde Pickett was not clear on what the problems were, he did confirm that Hall-Russell was one of the three executives cut. It sounds like a money problem, not a program problem. What I am saying is that an organization can have great programs, but if they don’t have the money to support those programs, something has to go.
There’s going to be a lot more of this happening in the Black and low-income communities with the new administration in D.C. making large cuts to social programs to give tax breaks to the rich and corporations. The communities are going to have to dig deeper into their empty pockets to keep these social programs funded.
The first 100 days of President Trump’s administration have come to an end, and no major bills or programs have been passed.
The health care bill was a flop, costing more than the Affordable Care Act. President Trump says he has another health care bill coming that is better than the ACA. That remains to be seen.
One intelligent sister had this to say about the Health Care Act. “Cut the excessive profits of the insurance companies, prescription drug companies, as well as doctors and hospitals, then health care will be very affordable.”
The “wall” between Mexico and the U.S. that Mexico was supposed to pay for…Nothing has happened. Congress is not likely to pass anything with that kind of price tag on it.
The President has asked for a cut in estate taxes as well as taxes for the rich and corporations. He says  this will lead to more money for the people who create jobs. That sounds logical, but what happened when President Bush cut taxes for the rich and corporations? The country went into a tailspin because the rich didn’t reinvest that extra money into their businesses, while the low and middle income had less money to spend because they were taxed which led to the recession.
President Trump has asked for more money for the military. He says he’s rebuilding the military. The U.S. military is already the strongest in the world; they need more money like the Mellons. What they need is some of the money they are receiving redirected toward health and mental health care during and after the soldiers leave active duty.
Once again, the Republicans are not concerned with the deficit with a Republican president in office, but that’s all they talked about when a Democratic president was in office. The deficit is important no matter which party holds the presidential seat and must be considered when a budget is proposed.
Hopefully, the Republicans and Democrats will find something beneficial to the masses that they can work on together and pass. Something has to be done to put people first, not the Party.
Back to the Hill District. Some groups headed by Carl Redwood and Marimba Milliones blocked the purchase of 220 properties by the Urban Redevelopment Authority recently.
I have mixed feelings about this. What kind of plans did the city have for this property? And what are the group’s plans to do with it? Hopefully, this property will not sit undeveloped for years like so many do in the Black community because the city doesn’t have the will and the community groups have good intentions, but not  the money.
(Ulish Carter is the former managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.) 
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