UPDATE: The ICA anticlimacticly approves Pittsburgh’s 2015 budget, concluding all major City Hall drama before Christmas. You see? You may now return to regularly scheduled troublemaking.
Bill Isler is leaving the School Board. For years it seemed, Bill Isler was the old white man at the end of the table reminding everybody of budgets, debt service and property tax rates. He was also informed, concerned and cordial enough to be a valuable resource.
Mark Brentley might be departing as well. For years it seemed, Mark Brentley was the frustrated black man at the center of the table reminding everybody of disparities, duties and equity. A wide-open race for that School Board seat might be very inspirational and productive, but then again so might a School Board with Brentley’s senior leadership.
Our public School District is plagued by daunting challenges in funding, in labor-managmement relations, and in public confidence. If you are looking for worthwhile avenues towards getting involved in your community, the School Board probably needs your help worse than anybody else. Or A+ Schools. Or GPS Pittsburgh, if they’re still around?
Everybody’s desperate for the inspiration to break through these political impasses.
It’s hard to congratulate the Mayor on these as “accomplishments” yet, because we only see headlines about money coming in. The universe of nonprofit resources must be prioritized strategically and pursued actively, and then administered efficiently — not primarily to feather anyone’s nests or provide material for a brochure. Right now, it’s good to know the City has the capacity to inspire.
Then again, our new Regional Data Center does sound particularly lovely. It might be timely to begin assembling accessible data on housing costs by area, together with the real economic demand for affordability and livability. It will be good to have sound science.
And finally, here is something you don’t see every day: one union upbraiding another!?
United Steelworkers Local 3657, which represents the staff of Steelworkers local unions, adopted a sweeping statement of intentions “to push for transformative change in the criminal justice system and an end to police violence.”
The membership says that in addition to action by state, Federal and local officials, “It’s time for unions representing police officers to stop their campaigns of victim blaming, withdraw their aggressive defense of indefensible acts, and to embrace transformative changes in their police departments to address issues of systemic and structural racism in the criminal justice system.”
We support those unions in engaging in their contractual role of ensuring that officers are only disciplined with just cause. But we believe that the work of fairly representing officers who are accused of serious offenses belongs in the grievance and arbitration process outlined in the collective bargaining agreements and not in the public discourse.
We further believe that the police officers’ unions can adequately represent the interests of their members while at the same time hearing the hurt and outrage of the communities that they are sworn to serve. We believe that police officers’ unions around the country can play an important role in rebuilding trust between communities of color and police forces. (USW 3657)
The Comet is not confident about regulating collective 1st Amendment rights, especially in an atmosphere in which others are using theirs’ against one. But this is a fine conversation starter, from top to bottom.