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 steady pressure from recruitment through lifelong learning:
“Upon the arrival of new Police Chief Cameron McLay, the city will complete an evaluation of its training procedures, so that we can learn from [the Pridefest] incident and adopt and implement best practices in handling similar situations in the future,” Sanchez-Ridge said. (WTAE)
That strategy is proactive rather than reactive. It goads the police as an institution to desire to do their jobs a little differently, since civilizations and governments have already ceded to them so much authority to manage their own mission of service and protection.
Public Safety Director Bucar’s immediate determination to address perceptions and symbolism through uniform further reflects that emphasis on elevation.
If that sounds like weak sauce, consider the reaction of some others:
A. Don’t know how much folks here know about Madison, WI, but if it were a bit more CONSERVATIVE it could become known as the “Berkeley of the Midwest”. ‘Course since Peduto’s wettest dream is to turn Pittsburgh into the “Berkeley of the East”…
B. C’mon, waddya expect from peduto….the east end whackos have finally taken over the city completely….mayor, council, county exec, county council….in ten years they will have exactly what they want…Chicago east…….. (Commentary at Trib)
Are these voices on to something? Is City leadership pulling off a cultural shift powerful enough to alienate or threaten a more traditional establishment?
The bike lane offensive provides some support.
The new protected bike lanes, drawing the conference, endorsing this Better Bikeways plan, a new Bike/Ped Coordinator architect, bike lanes on bridges, bikes at the Airport, public art bike racks — it’s safe to say the administration is going “all in” on two wheels.
Well-designed bike lanes can actually improve vehicular traffic flow. Cyclists are sharing such data because motorists in some cities are more likely to be acquainted with stables and blacksmiths for horse commuters, than protected lanes for adult cycling.
Are the City’s new protected bike lanes well-designed? There is some grumbling. How much of it is valid? It is not uncommon for the roll-out of new software to come with a few bugs. But the first rounds of adjustments had better work.
Mayor Peduto said that he “honestly doesn’t know” about City Council’s oversight role in determining traffic patterns, and the public processes that went into protected bike lane decisions thus far. He mentioned in an adjacent breath that his Department of Public Works will eventually work off of “a protected bike lane schedule, just like the paving schedule.”
On the executive “use of force” spectrum between draconian autocracy and parliamentary talk show hosting, this one falls closer to the former. It is interesting to reflect on for what, whom and when politicians pull out these guns.
Do you imagine the Peduto administration with all its cycling cattle prods is likely to put very many more police officers on bikes? Will cops who take heartily to pedaling a beat see their prospects improve? And what are best practices for bicycle patrols?
Back to our political shift. Essayists like to list examples in threes. My third will likely be the Produce Terminal Redevelopment in the Strip District.
Do you think Rubino will be the chosen developer for exclusive negotiations? I have a hunch it will be Rubino, with its crazy wild innovation-market exposition hodgepodge, never mind the easy lure of more expensive housing. That would drive The Man crazy!
The energies of a traditionally cramped Downtown swelling out towards the Strip District are the same that have precipitated Mayor’s announcement of “Transformational Plans” for the Hill District.
The Hill of course is a lot more complicated. There is a lot of history with which to reckon, and a lot of parties holding the keys to collaboration. Can you imagine trying to manage the recreation of such a traumatized neighborhood under the glare of a red hot Golden Triangle?
Somewhere out there, beneath the DoubleTree sign, some part of the Expressway ditch could be spanned with a park in time. Somewhere dahn there, near 7th and Liberty, some day we might look east and be lured straight up Wylie.
But even if that connective tissue is mechanically and fiscally viable, will it make any practical sense? The first thing a sojourner from Downtown would encounter over a land bridge is what is now a parking lot where the Arena used to be.
Plans have been circulated by the Penguins, but rarely remain in circulation. The Comet questions whether the hockey team’s designs will accentuate what we all hope to be a dazzling east-west corridor, or clash. And will the architecture resemble the SouthSide Works, the North Shore and XFINITY Live! Philadelphia, or will it be something more akin to a real life human city with skin cells a pulse?
Now that there is a strategy, Peduto and co. are giving the Penguins another extension on their development rights. Well and good, but one of these years on general principle we ought to claw back a parcel if they fail to satisfy a deadline. Just to prove that we are serious in our negotiating processes, and to experiment.
The Hill District Consensus Group appears ill-disposed towards the launch of the new strategy. The Hill CDC has been reserved, although they will be hosting a public meeting with updates on Tuesday. Councilman Daniel Lavelle is on board.
The Comet knows of no link to the signed agreement. We surmise that officials might have staged the ceremony in part as an attempt to score the federal TIGER grant, though it’s clear the strategy did change.
As city planners struggle to foster a socially equitable Lower and Greater Hill, some residents will get frustrated with the compromises. Political leaders will feel that as more urgency to address priorities for Black Pittsburgh such as police brutality and early childhood education — which now, it turns out, includes Pre-Natal care. A taste of the parking action or the inspired allocation of tax increment proceeds would help certain neighborhoods, too.
A coalition is manifesting among new, young and educated Pittsburghers who seek livability and efficiency; enterprising and ambitious Pittsburghers who appreciate it when friction and larger obstacles to growth dissolve; and poor and minority Pittsburghers who have long been ill-served but are still eager to engage the system when it demonstrates conviction. This is the Triforce after which our Mayor is running errands across land and sea. Activating it can overcome a lot of adversity.
Right now Peduto needs the Red Candle, and some Rupees. There is a meeting with State financial overseers next week. Onlookers will be reminded that not everybody gets impressed just because yinzers are optimistic and getting along tolerably well.