March 22, 2011 |

Tony Norman and the commissioner

Dr. Cyril Wecht will be the next guest of the monthly forum discussion of "Tony Norman vs." on Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at the Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community in South Side. 

Dr. Wecht is the former county commissioner, coroner, and medical examiner for Allegheny County, whose high-profile career has included investigations into the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, the deaths of Elvis Presley and Vincent Foster, the O.J. Simpson case, the JonBenet Ramsey case, and the Branch Davidian fire in Waco, TX.

Mr. Norman and Dr. Wecht will discuss his career as well as Allegheny County politics.

"Tony Norman vs." is a monthly forum discussion in which Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman engages with various leaders and thinkers in the community on a number of topics important to the city of Pittsburgh. 

Jim Walker, pastor of Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community, helped to organize this event because, "Political and social discussions are an important part of building up our community together. Unfortunately, politics these days are becoming so divisive and polarizing that people either go off the deep end during political disagreements or they decide not to engage at all. Cable news, for example, can be just shouting heads. We either shout back or change the channel. With this problem in mind, we thought that there needs to be place where everyone can come to the table and dialogue with civility."

The comic book-style poster is meant to be a funny, ‘tongue in cheek' way of emphasizing the power of rational discussions.

Last month, Pittsburgh City Council member Bruce Kraus came to the table.  While the conversation eventually ranged into a number of major issues - Marcellus Shale, Pittsburgh economics, the challenges of the nightlife economy in the South Side – Mr. Norman got things going by asking Mr. Kraus about himself and his entry into the world of politics, which gave the entire conversation a personal vibe.  

Eventually, the conversation shifted to the audience members, who asked the councilman some challenging questions about UPMC's role in the Pittsburgh community, his views on the current mayor, and alcohol-related crime in South Side.  In response to a question about the drunk-driving death of sevem-year old Lexa Cleland on East Carson Street, Mr. Kraus passionately connected the tragedy of drunk driving to the Responsible Hospitality Institute.  He urged the audience to call Mayor Luke Ravenstahl with their response to his decision not to sign legislation about an RHI initiative in Pittsburgh. 

Audio of their forum is available at http://www.hotmetalbridge.com/2011/03/audio-of-tony-norman-vs-bruce-kraus.html. 

The Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community is at the corner of 27th and Jane Streets in the South Side.  Parking is available on-site.  The church can be reached at 412-481-4010, via email to hotmetal@hotmetalbridge.com, or on the web at www.hotmetalbridge.com.

Hot Metal is a union church between the United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) denominations. 

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