Monday: Weighing and Accounting

BREAKING: Judge tentatively approves sale of the Wilson Center facility to the hotel developer for about $9 million. Ten-day and 60-day due diligence clocks start ticking; these ought to expose any stalking horses.

The five-block long, 85-year old Produce Terminal in the Strip District now might evolve into the Colossal Marketplace, the Next Cork Factory, or the Mashup with Portals, or it might still get one-third demolished on its Downtown end.

We bet that Buncher Co. borrows from the best of the new ideas, and modifies their own plan accordingly. Wouldn’t you?

Community-police relations will be the topic of a meeting convening tomorrow, Wednesday, May 28 at 6:00 PM at 616 North Highland, organized by Helen at Busses are Bridges. The panel takes advantage of this interlude between hiring a Public Safety Director and hiring a new Chief. Participants will include Beth Pittinger, Tim Stevens, Sheldon Williams, Brandi Fischer and John Welch. All are welcome.

If you haven’t read the Ta-Nehisi Coates manifesto arguing in favor of a public and official accounting of what racial reparations would look like in the United States, then you are still in for a wonderful surprise! If you like reading, you’ll love this post.

Did you see that Mayor Peduto issued an apology to City workers for words in the press that might have been “perceived as a personal attack”?  His apology included, perhaps archly, a transcript of an interview conducted with the Trib. That Trib article which resulted from the interview contains an allusion to “mediocrity at best” which does not appear that transcript, but the Trib later asserted that bit was relayed in separate interview. “Mediocrity at best” seemed to this blogger to be the only sour, bad note anyway. Aside from that, Peduto apologized by way of reinforcing all his statements, while underscoring their context.

The apology was accepted heartily enough by the Firefighters anyway. Not sure what tripped a wire. An oddly civil overture for the Battle of the Unions to open with, though. “Let’s not all go crazy pants, right away!”

20 thoughts on “Monday: Weighing and Accounting

  1. Morgan

    By Bob Bauder

    Published: Thursday, May 15, 2014, 11:15 p.m.

    Pittsburgh’s new public safety director will have free rein to change a police bureau culture that Mayor Bill Peduto described as “mediocrity at best and corruption at worst.”

    This was the unsettling quote.

    Reply
    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Exactly. “Mediocrity at best” could be taken as offensive, without a lot of context. “Corrupt at worst” shouldn’t be very unsettling at all. We saw the worst: conspirators pled guilty to corruption charges. So there’s that. I also wonder why it took so long for the Brass to even begin to attempt to clean up secondary overtime detail scheduling… was the pre-Mayor O’Connor, in-house system not obviously problematic?

      Reply
      1. Morgan

        Well there really was no context. The accusation of mediocrity didn’t come from the interview provided. As far as corruption, Nate went down for his own scheme, and no police officer plead guilty to conspiracy. I’m not defending anyone, but the comments without context paint a large group of people as something they are not.

      2. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        Point taken. These are tough conversations to hold, but they relate to public negotiations. Glad we’re all struggling to get better at them. I think it must be when some start pontificating on a “few bad apples” theory, and exceptional promotions even in the abstract, that’s when others get sensitive about “personal” attacks. And aggravation multiplies.

  2. Morgan

    Thick skin is a must, but when a bully pulpit is used for negotiations, sensitivity will rise. Aggravation multiplies further when you are underpaid, understaffed, publicly vilified as a group, and told that when you win something you legally bargained for you are greedy. As far as your examples,The mayor has been in charge 5 months, non civil service promotions can be fired.

    Reply
    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      Well firing absolutely aggravates. I’d professionalize all those considerations out to the Public Safety Director once he’s well-ensconced, and meanwhile come up with dog whistles when being asked about reform. “Locking in the highest and best institutional practices in the US”. Politicians and police officers are both prone to getting publicly vilified as groups. By and large, most people take broad group assessments with a grain of salt. Seems like the spark of this flare-up was inadvertently personal.

      Are Pgh police really “underpaid”? How does one establish that? One could point at higher salaries in certain suburban departments, and still say, “That is even further in excess, and would be even less sustainable at the scope of a major city.” So looking at Kansas City, Cleveland, St. Louis, the usual suspects, and maybe include cost of living: are Pittsburgh officers underpaid?

      Reply
      1. Morgan

        In review, you’d pass the buck, talk around previous remarks, and try to find commonality with the offended party.

        As far as proving one is underpaid, I’m no expert.

  3. Anonymous

    On the AWC, there is absolutely a way to save the center and everyone in the inner circles knows it. If it gets sold, it is because the Mayor and ACE have no objection to the sale. In fact, behind closed doors they are cheering it on.

    Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Personal knowledge. And it isn’t that hard to test my claim. Just watch things unfold. Wonder why the foundations withdrew their original bid? Why not just let it be rejected?

      2. Anonymous

        Just keep watching Helen. Soon a “deal” will be announced whereby the AWC is given use of theater and portions of the first floor and the hotel will go through. Teh Mayor and ACE will claim victory in a negotiating a good settlement and hotel will get built. Keep watching.

    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      I’ll be interested to see if 380 Partners’ nine million gold pans out, and if the community effort rallies with its bid at all.

      For that, I believe only RAD money should be on the table. It’s what it’s there for, though we shouldn’t stretch it. Let’s say RAD money comprising a third of a reasonable community/foundation bid gap rally, if only for Dollar Bank’s sake.

      I’m skeptical whether behind closed doors Mayor and ACE are cheering the Conservator on… we’ll get to find out once Mayor decides whether to rattle the Zoning Board saber or not. How would the City be compelled to grant 380 Partners any variances or special exceptions outside of stated policy as expressed through deed covenants, URA board minutes and… where will hotel guests park? The facility suggests public garages and lots. If 380 Partners prevail in court but pick a bum architect or planner or haven’t thought this out, the AWC might have the option of taking six years to build strength, provide cultural benefits Downtown and prepare itself… before moving elsewhere or assimilating with 380. Dollar Bank would still get paid up-front, though.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Rattle the zoning board sabre? Are you kidding me? That is illegal. Are you actually now advocating that the mayor threaten people he disagrees with by interfering in a legal process? Is that what progressive politics has fallen to these days?

      2. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

        Illegal? Do we have to grant every request for a variance or special exception? I never thought so… why then do we have a zoning board, and not simply a flow chart on a wall? The ZBA makes decisions all the time, and so does the Planning Commission and Council.

      3. Brian Tucker-Hill

        It would in fact be illegal if zoning and planning decisions were made on the basis of preferring that some other entity own a property, rather than the actual merits of the proposed development plans and other neutral factors. In practice, it can often be difficult to prove that zoning and planning bodies are doing that, but it doesn’t make it any less illegal when it happens.

  4. Anonymous

    Yes the ZBA and PC make decisions all the time. But it is illegal for the Mayor to interfere in that process. YOu know, to say “give this guy a variance” or worse “don’t give this guy a variance.” That is highly illegal and i hope the authorities are watching out for this practice.

    Reply
    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      There are already enough established and expressed policies and covenants for professionally-minded ZBA and PC officials to weigh. The URA will certainly have a case to make regarding the deed.

      Reply
      1. Brian Tucker-Hill

        Zoning and planning bodies are not supposed to be free-form policy makers. There are certain sorts of factors they can lawfully consider, and others they can not (even if there is arguably merit to those considerations from a general policy standpoint).

        Nor, for that matter, is the URA. In this case, I believe the URA is explicitly subject to a duty of good faith and fair dealing with respect to the exercise of their approvals under the deeds, and so could potentially be sued if they considered improper factors.

        Again, though, in practice it may be difficult to catch many such abuses–although may be less so when you are making related threats in public.

  5. Anonymous

    What exactly is “the community effort” being referenced here? What of the community that hopes parties like Dollar Bank can do credible business in the city without having to eat losses because of horrific management? Virtually everyone in the region is on board with the cultural mission of the AWC – I see no reason why a completely failed management effort should be tolerated for another minute. Sweep those jokers out of the way and get a board together that can actually do that cultural mission credit. That mission is not killed by sharing a space with a hotel. Heck, expand the mission to multiple locations in the city – broaden the mission…just don’t use it to justify more waste and managerial incompetence – and please don’t suggest that people who want to steer things back on the right financial track are greedy or deaf to the mission!

    Reply
    1. Bram Reichbaumbramr101 Post author

      I think the failed management effort ought to be swept aside too (or well, most of them) and replaced with a (mostly) new board. I’m growing a bit surprised we haven’t seen that yet, and with great fanfare for a new, credible start. Sure would make it a lot easier for me to cheerlead for retaining the facility for its intended purpose.

      Reply

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