Police contention with City Hall reveals Soft spots

As residents protested “police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a generation” yesterday on the City’s front porch, upstairs a two-hour debate erupted in Council Chambers over whether to stay the course with Pittsburgh’s group-related homicide crime plan.

Councilor Theresa Kail-Smith of the west end accurately pointed out that the dramatic decrease in the homicide rate promised by proponents never materialized — and if anything is worsening. She also questioned whether City funding of the social service components of the crime strategy are an efficient use of taxpayer resources.

Councilor Dan Gilman, of Peduto’s old eastern district, noted that the mid-year stopgap funding measure was forwarded by a fellow Councilor (Daniel Lavelle of the Hill and Manchester, absent for the discussion) rather than the Mayor’s office — and not seemingly as part of any comprehensive or reformed strategy from new Public Safety leadership.

Councilor Natalia Rudiak Continue reading

Fax D.A. Zappala; Drop the charges against Ford

Telephone: 412-350-4400 or 4404. Facsimile:  (412) 350-3311

Here is the story. These facts are not much in dispute.

A kid was stopped by police as he was driving. Police suspected the guy was somebody else of a similar name and description — an alleged bad actor. Despite presenting three forms of identification, and after extended officer huddling and teleconferencing, he remained under suspicion.  At length, and contrary to police policy, an officer entered the young man’s vehicle. A confusing scuffle ensued, the car moved forward, the kid (Leon, his name is Leon Ford) was shot in the spine, Continue reading

Notes on the millage readjustment, or Taxes that is.

Once more:

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday proposed a 0.5-mill real estate tax increase to help cover a shortfall in the $505.9 million budget he plans for 2015. (Trib, Bob Bauder)

1) Allegheny County just underwent a once-in-a-decade property reassessment.

2) Due to generally rising property values, in 2013 tax rates were cut, so that by law the City’s and all other local governments’ total take would stay about the same.

3) The Ravenstahl administration said it was inclined to “err on the side of taxpayers.”  That’s a solid policy, given what we all knew at the time.

4) Once-in-a-decade property reassessments led to once-in-a-decade assessment appeals, Continue reading

Policing, Cycling and Rebuilding: Your Latest Guide to ‘Burgh Drama

Pittsburgh is pulling a lot together slowly, questing for one key item after another. As those pieces assemble it could unlock a lot of potential.

Police Chief McLay drops into Pittsburgh with a background in community relations suggesting reform. But his approach to leading the Bureau sounds laid-back:

Asked whom he will keep and who will go, [McLay] believes it will become clear whom to keep as he tries to make changes in the bureau.

“I’m not worried about rooting out bad apples. They will make themselves evident,” he said, adding that he has a theory that the good people in the bureau will unite to change it while others will become loners. (P-G, Liz Navratil)

The Peduto administration is foreshadowing Continue reading

Apple should take serious look at Hill District

Hey, Apple. I herd you like office space. And Pittsburgh.

And that you Think Different.

Pittsburgh may be getting a bigger bite of Apple. The technology giant, the maker of iPhones, iPads, iPods and Mac computers, is looking to expand its presence in the city and has been searching for 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of office space. (P-G, Belko and Todd)

That’s not new. You like brains. That’s nothing different.

But y’know… you like to look at “other alternatives.”   Continue reading