Tuesday: The Center is Dragged, the Politics Changed.

If you are interested in the Civic Arena site and reduced-rent housing and opportunities, then UPDATE: Councilor Lavelle introduced a new initiative and a meeting was held on Tuesday resulting in a unanimous, affirmative recommendation to Council from the Planning Commission.

Meanwhile under the spotlights, Pittsburgh’s 2015 budget passed Council with flying colors, 8-1, and we’ll return to Harris momentarily.

Our City of Champions fixed the Great 2013 Tax Cut to where its framers mathematically intended had reassessments been finalized. We compensated for suddenly increased but prudent pension funding. We have data-driven parking policy poised to strike this year, and we have “truth in budgeting” in as much as disclosing a slight .2% deficit pending resolution of how exactly to bring residential landlords into the group effort at excellence. Finally, the Peduto administration brought permitting, licensing and routine building inspections into the fold of priorities.

We still have no buy-in from the “big four Nonprofits”, disappointingly.  Continue reading

Transforming What? The Hill District story remains old-school.

Pittsburgh took the head off of a diverse, blighted but thriving neighborhood near Downtown, and built an arena with a retractable dome, and lots of surface parking lots. Yet despite assurances of follow-up investment, we saw the broader neighborhood descend into deeper disinvestment, isolation, segregation, poverty and breakdown.

50 years later, Pittsburgh demolished the arena. Now thanks to public money it will be the new home of US Steel as well as other businesses and offices, some retail and entertainment, and apartments or condominiums — by and large sold at surging local market rates.

It will be a new planned community catering to the affluent. employing many, and with some vague promises to poor and minority Pittsburghers for future access to the fruits of that opportunity — vague, non-binding, and through yet-to-be-determined processes separate from the one before us at “today’s meeting,” whichever one that happens to be.

If it’s a nexus of anything, it’s the same old business as usual.

What are we transforming?   Continue reading

November: Only the Dawn of Reason in Politics

We join our City of Champions already in progress:

Today I am announcing a major new initiative that will provide clear pathways for economic development across the city, from small residential projects to skyscraper construction.

It will create inter-agency cooperation among the Department of City Planning, Zoning, the URA, the Housing Authority, and what used to be called the Bureau of Building Inspection. BBI will be turned into a new Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections and be tasked with streamlining the city’s building permitting processes, proactively enforcing property maintenance codes, and ensuring the highest levels of building safety and performance. (Mayor Peduto, State of the City 2014)

But then, as quick as lightening: Continue reading

6 Opportunities to be Righteous Jews by Embracing a “Conflict Kitchen”

The most recent conflict demonstrated at Schenley Plaza in the Oakland corridor of Pittsburgh seems to be passing without serious incident — and for that, we should rejoice.

I don’t want to get caught up in the weeds of a geopolitically complex military entanglement. But can we all agree that wildcat threats of mortal violence in reprisal for academic speech are bad?

Such mishegas is mishegas. But in our own speech and politics, we should be mindful of danger in our capacity to be “led astray by our own heart and our own eyes”. That is why Jews are given to weaving blue fringes on our garments: it is to implore us to remember the Lord’s commandments.

Of the 613 “mitzvot” enumerated in the Torah Continue reading