Sunday Politics: Jump Ball

Joe Mistick is in this for as long as you, buddy.

Harris is being punished by Ravenstahl because she showed true political leadership and opposed “The Great Bamboozle of 2011” — Ravenstahl’s harebrained scheme to sell the city’s parking facilities to some Chicago investors. (Trib, Joseph Sabino Mistick)

In my educated opinion, Pittsburgh eventually (kind of soon) is going to have to at least partially privatize at least most of those parking assets, to meet the pension obligations. That’s not ideology and politics — that’s math and law. Harris does need to be judged for example for refusing to explore the second proposition from Mr. Lazowsky when it was floated.

(As a side bar, as fast as practicable this year we’re going to have to jack up the parking rates anyway, just to get by but WHOA okay everybody, okay, everybody just put their guns down, there’s no reason for anybody on a ballot to push for that to occur until after the election…)

Anyway. As an East Allegheny dweller myself, I happen to be set up to enjoy the fruits of the CBA with the Majestic Shooting Star casino that Councilor Harris helped to pick / prune along with the NSLC and others. That, and a love for all creatures great and small and a willingness to work with anybody, will be something a Pallus message needs to overcome.


Raja, the Mt. Lebanon commissioner, said he’s building a network from Republican Party chair people and at least two elected state legislators. The 45-year-old brings his experience as a successful entrepreneur and a commitment to spend some of his personal fortune on the race. (Trib, Wereschagin and Boren)

Okay, I’ll be the first to publish it. I watch Outsourced. We had the G-20, and talked enough about how important that was. Maybe there is an advantage, BIZNASS-WISE, to having someone a little more worldly in the top job — not to mention someone whose background lies in a crackerjack global networking nation-state like India? Allegheny County could be parlaying with a chip-maker from Singapore, and that chip-maker would be like, “Ooh, they’re being led by a Raja, these people must be players after all!”

“The reality of the political assessment of this race is: God forbid if you get elected because it’s going to be hard to get re-elected,” said Keith Schmidt, a Downtown-based public affairs consultant. “There’s a lot of hard choices before the next county executive.” (ibid)

I mean, if it’s going to be so awful.

In the meanwhile, let’s all start asking all of these the county-wide candidates, what kinds of services they’ll look to slash, and what if any revenues streams they would create or adjust. That’s all there is to it, cutting services and/or fiddling upward with taxes. We know all five candidates have all sorts of ideas for supercharged growth and brilliant efficiency, but really (I mean really). You’ve got to see that kind of thing first to believe in it.

48 thoughts on “Sunday Politics: Jump Ball

  1. MH

    a Pallus message needs to overcome.

    It's probably only me who keeps getting that name confused with the loser at Stalingrad. It isn't even spelled the same.

  2. MH

    That's good.

    But, on the parking, I'm fine with higher rates. Or at least, I'm fine with it compared to all the other taxes they could raise.

  3. Anonymous

    Darlene had nothing to do with the Casino agreement. It isn't even in her district. Don't let her peddle that untruth. Ask anyone inside the NSLC.

  4. Bram Reichbaum

    I hadn't noticed her “peddling” it recently, but some of those benefits are definitely in her district, and I'm pretty sure both Harris and Payne were involved around the time. I thought I recalled her at one point talking about her role in the NSLC agreement tangentially in a discussion mostly concerning Northside United.

  5. Anonymous

    Mistek has some real balls. Sophie and Mistek cut taxes in Pittsburgh and that has helped fuel the problems we have with our pension.

    Also, for Mikstek to claim that Ravenstahl 'packed' the Dem committee with city employees is just pure spin. I would love for Mistek to actually find a committee person in Darlene's district that didn't work for the city before Ravenstahl became mayor or has been appointed since.

    The Northside Leadership Conference made that deal all on their own. They don’t play well with politicians unless they are asking for something.

  6. MH

    Pittsburgh has squandered millions since Masloff was mayor, but that's apparently water under the bridge. Even if it was 22 years ago, giving the taxpayer a break if the real crime?

  7. Mark Rauterkus

    There is much more to do in government today than manage the cash streams inward and outward.

    Being free is, well, sorta cheap.

    Running an election, with voting machines that might not count, is of a prudent position — or NOT.

    Launching an open style of decision making, management of power to neighborhoods and even playing well with our kids are all activities (software kinda realm) that cost very little to accomplish — yet would lead to considerable changes to our political culture here.

  8. Bram Reichbaum

    MH asked – “Even if it was 22 years ago, is giving the taxpayer a break the real crime?” It was if it was “buying votes with money you know you don't have.” Of course back in those days I was more worried about memorizing my Haftorah.

  9. MH

    In those days I was still ten years from my first visit to Pittsburgh. My point is that I'm fairly certain that if Murphy had more money, it would have been given to a sports team or a department store.

  10. MH

    I'm just saying that once you get past 20 years, you have to at least establish the connection a bit better. At a certain point, you are implicitly making counterfactual history.

  11. rich10e

    then add a bus…according to the PPG census 2010 only 10.14% of the people in the County use PAT to get work and only 19% of city dwellers.

  12. MH

    I'm not allowed to order the buses around. Also, that 19% is one of the highest rates in the U.S.

    If you ask me, PAT should stop wasting effort on the long suburban routes and focus on the shorter runs in the city. I suppose that is what they are doing, but slowly.

  13. rich10e

    well according to the PPG census data..the farther from the CBD, the less likely they use public transportation…in some northern Allegheny county communities only 4% of the pop. uses PAT…heaviest use seems McKeesport,Duquesne, East Pgh, into town….if you could order the buses, what would you do??

  14. MH

    McKeesport and Duquesne are on the 61c route and East Pittsburgh on the 61a. The PA has been moving in the right direction on those routes, if it keeps up with its plans. You need more buses running on Forbes from Squirrel Hill to Oakland while capacity from Oakland to downtown or from where ever into Squirrel Hill isn't nearly as bad.

    All the 61s run from Forbes and Murray to 5th and Atwood. All of them are beyond capacity for that section at rush hour. I would probably run a rush hour bus that just circulated that area. As a general rule, I don't see why every bus route has to run for 10 or 15 miles.

    I'd also have everybody pay getting on the bus and everybody who isn't sitting in the handicapped/old people seats exit through the rear door. That wouldn't cost a dime and would stop the huge crush at the front of every bus. It would make the outbound commute a bit harder to load, but once the aisle gets packed, you can't get to the front door to exit.

    Lastly, I'd charge more for the longer trips to reduce the subsidy.

  15. Bram Reichbaum


    Fatla & co. make a strong argument that it is a CBA. It's a benefits agreement with a community group, that much is indisputable. As to how inclusive / participatory was the community group and its negotiating process, that is something I'm starting to believe will be a contentious issue amongst ALL cba's until the end of days. Now that what's done is done, it may be more profitable for the CBA movement to dub the casino's concessions to the NSLC a CBA with a cautionary tale chaser about proactive organizing in urban areas.

    MH & Rich10e – It'd be nice if our public transportation policy was integrated with our automotive e.g. parking transportation policy. I think the Grant Street Transportation Center was supposed to eventually spark such synergies. I do think to the extent that public transit is a priority, automotive conveniences are candidates for curtailment for the sake of efficiency (unless you think we need an “everything & the kitchen sink” transporation policy, in which case, boy that's a lot of energies directed toward transportation!)

  16. rachel

    1) they didn't call it a cba before there was a cba campaign a year after they got their agreement

    2) it's a completely different kind of agreement than the One Hill CBA, for example. (they got discrete benefits (3 years only) for one organization (nslc))

    I thought you understood the cba concept. I'm just asking you to be intellectually honest.

    as to whether the “cba movemnet” should claim it– what would be the point? it's the opposite of the model the “movement” is trying to advance.

    ps, it's not just about how inclusive it is, it's about the actual benefits gained.

  17. Bram Reichbaum

    You make some fair points Rachel, but “intellectually honest”? See things from the other aspect. What they call it and when they call it that only has so much of an effect on what a thing is. The One Hill CBA coalition was an umbrella group made up of different community orgs rather like the NSLC itself, except the NSLC of course did not have as many KINDS of different groups such as ACDC precincts for example. It was a different kind of CBA than the Pgh United model fwiw. By the way when they renovate teh decrepit train overpass near my home that will accrue to the benefit of many persons and interests not just the NSLC, not to mention the Federal St. development aids and the housing project in Manchester.

  18. Bram Reichbaum

    From Wikipedia:

    “A Community Benefits Agreement (“CBA”) in the USA is a contract signed by community groups and a real estate developer that requires the developer to provide specific amenities and/or mitigations to the local community or neighborhood. In exchange, the community groups agree to publicly support the project, or at least not oppose it. Often, negotiating a CBA relies heavily upon the formation of a multi-issue, broad based community coalition including community, environmental, faith-based and labor organizations.”

    I don't read “often” as 'by necessity'. The words “broad based community coalition” could also be bandied back and forth.

  19. Chris Z.

    Good suggestions MH. I've been talking up the Sq. Hill/Oakland circulator bus idea on the city council campaign trail. I'd also like to try to get Pitt and CMU to start running rush hour shuttles for their students.

  20. rich10e

    It seems the more I look at PAT, the more I see a gov't entitlement program. I don't think it can be called a public service because it serves a very small subset of the public.It seems that the poorer the neighborhood, the more they depend on public transport.So operating from that premise, maybe PAT can change the way they charge.Let the more affluent communities on the fringes like Cranberry get a Lenzer or someone who is willing to create a market.Cutting back on the long routes will save fuel costs. Make monthly passes more affordable for the daily user, raise the daily fare for random riders.

  21. MH

    Something like 20% of Pittsburgh uses transit, which isn't a small subset by the standard of any transit program or most government programs. If it loses the middle class riders, it loses most of its ability to get funds (to the extent that it has this ability). But, I do agree that some of the longer runs need to either go private or have a much higher fare or get a subsidy from the suburb they serve. Westmoreland runs it's own buses to Oakland and Downtown. Butler could do the same if it wanted to.

  22. Mark Rauterkus

    Wouldn't it be nice if the Pitt and CMU buses, as well as those that ferry folks for UPMC, could pick up riders beyond employees?

    Then, perhaps, a subcontractor could operate some routes.

    The “management of power to neighborhood” could mean showing up for a series of candidate debates, for example. It might also mean working on position papers with diverse individuals and groups.

  23. Bram Reichbaum

    I feel like I should revise and extend my remarks. When I say something is a CBA, I'm not saying it's a good CBA. I wouldn't think a one-time $3 million from a CASINO to any singular entity or umbrella entity is entirely sufficient to help balance out the economic equation around major gov't sponsored development. But it is an A between a developer and a C that provides B, and it fits well enough within the model that if we want people to start expecting CBA's to occur with development (and we are not REMOTELY there) it wouldn't hurt to point to it as an example of something that needs to happen, and preferably happen even better.

    I also think the most subversive thing Pgh United could possibly do is organize legions of folks with legions of progressive interests to join the North Side Leadership Conference. It'll pay off in small ways every week and huge ways every year.

  24. MH

    I also think the most subversive thing Pgh United could possibly do is organize legions of folks with legions of progressive interests to join the North Side Leadership Conference.

    Sure, but only because painting “MFONE” everywhere has been done.

  25. Anonymous

    Has anyone heard about a possible CBA with UPMC if the vaccine plant in Hazelwood goes through? Would UPMC ever agree to one?

  26. MH

    I'm thinking UPMC would be more likely to get a break to bring that facility to Hazelwood. Unless vaccine plants actually leak virus bits or something.

  27. MH

    Can I complain about the bus thing again? To my mind, when the union waits until 48 hours before cuts are to come into place to offer concessions, they aren't trying to prevent they cuts. They're just going for PR or they are incapable of being behaving collectively (rather a problem for a 'union').

    I have the same thoughts about the legislature's attempt to blame Congress for not going along with their hair-brained toll thing, but even they gave more than 48 hours to adjust.

  28. Mark Rauterkus

    I helped to push UPMC into a CBA, long before there was such a name of CBA, on its UPMC South Side development. So, UPMC could agree to a CBA. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    When I was at the table and pitching a fit, it was the lame nonprofit bosses that were happy for a crumb off of the table that got in the way.

  29. MH

    I think UPMC would point out the difference between a casino and a high tech manufacturing facility in terms of what it brings to the neighborhood. Unless the viruses can get away, it doesn't sound like there are many negatives for Hazelwood.

  30. Bram Reichbaum

    MH – There's opportunity cost. Connected to that there is also the idea of what explicit ties to the local cultural ecosystem might mean down-a road. We're trying to back a total paradigm shift here. Of course yes, medical facility vs. casino should mean something within that.

  31. MH

    I'm guessing that if you tried to say “opportunity costs” at a meeting with UPMC officials about Hazelwood, they would only be able to refrain from laughing because working for a large corporation forces you to learn not to laugh when people don't make sense. I suppose I could be wrong, but I did google and the only positive I learned is that Wiz Khalifa has a house there.


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