Fix tha’ Police: Reform as a long-term priority (pt. 2)

A hundred or so Northsiders filed into a church basement last Thursday to take part in the 5th of six community forums designed to gather input on selecting a new Chief of Police.

The cherubim and seraphim of Mayor Peduto’s office were on hand to welcome us at the door. Upon signing in and receiving a name tag, one of them informed me, “You’ll be at Table One!”

Assigned seating?

The meeting process was led by Consultants for a Dope Democracy the Program for Deliberative Democracy, housed at CMU. Sometimes when it comes to community development, a group like Michael Baker Corp. fills such a role, but this seemed like something new.

After introductions, each table would engage in “small-group deliberations” among themselves, culminating in Continue reading

Fix tha’ Police: Reform as a long-term priority

We ask members of the Pittsburgh Bureau of the Police to do a lot of hard and dangerous things, and we often commend them for how they do it.

Still, other frictions continue to heighten and converge, bringing demands for better police management.

Last week, we heard confirmations that the Police have flatly refused to implement the PIRC, the City’s program to address group-related homicide which is based on a data-gathering and community engagement strategy shown to produce notable effect in other cities.

Councilman Ricky Burgess described the intensity Continue reading

City Land Bank’s Interim board grappling w/ issues

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 2.44.31 PMThe Interim board of the City of Pittsburgh’s new Land Bank held their fourth meeting on Thursday July 17.

For the fourth occasion, despite the tidal waves of attention land banking merited during debate, only three or four spectators were in attendance. Even most officials in City Hall seemed unaware of the off-peak deliberations in Council chambers.

The Interim board is charged with devising proposed policies and procedures for the City Land Bank, and submitting them to Council for approval.

Each Council member appointed one member to that board, resulting in the following cast of characters: Continue reading

Tom Corbett: Tortoise-like candidacy Hard to Watch

In this election for Governor, Democratic challenger Tom Wolf bounded out to as huge an early lead as imaginable. If a Tortoise and the Hare fable is what it takes to make this look like a “race” against incumbent Republican Tom Corbett, we had better use it.

Otherwise, it’s all too grim and terrible.

Basic education services under Tom Corbett have been slashed with predictable sharpness, all without any apparent plan to address the losses.

The budget has not recovered in Pennsylvania anywhere near to the extent that it has in other states.

And the Governor thinks keeping us away from Medicaid will cure what ails us.

He loves to imply Continue reading

Anti-Fitz Activists gain Traction with Ethics angle

There seems to be little point in arguing over fracking, let alone blogging about it.

As the Comet watched Allegheny County Council’s vote to approve natural gas drilling at Deer Lakes Park, cultural differences seemed front and center. This week we learned about how had it further confirmed that psychological and physiological factors determine political beliefs more than either facts or commentary. And as though to drive that point home, we discovered the art of rolling coal.

If half of us are confident in our beliefs that Continue reading

Diversity in the City Workforce: A Thorny Question

Naturally enough, some Pittsburghers have been trying to determine whether or not the new mayor’s otherwise successful government diversity agenda has been inclusive of openly LGBTQ persons — and with little success.

Given both the candidate and the administration’s pride in backing LGBTQ rights and all the crowing about government diversity, it’s a fair question.

It’s also a darn tricky one.

The first difficulty is in the timing of when to ask it and to expect a useful answer. When is the new administration fully assembled enough to do so? That’s been the precise trouble in gauging whether or not there has yet been enough progress in the police bureau. In that instance Continue reading