If you are interested in the Civic Arena site and reduced-rent housing and opportunities, then UPDATE: Councilor Lavelle introduced a new initiative and a meeting was held on Tuesday resulting in a unanimous, affirmative recommendation to Council from the Planning Commission.
Meanwhile under the spotlights, Pittsburgh’s 2015 budget passed Council with flying colors, 8-1, and we’ll return to Harris momentarily.
Our City of Champions fixed the Great 2013 Tax Cut to where its framers mathematically intended had reassessments been finalized. We compensated for suddenly increased but prudent pension funding. We have data-driven parking policy poised to strike this year, and we have “truth in budgeting” in as much as disclosing a slight .2% deficit pending resolution of how exactly to bring residential landlords into the group effort at excellence. Finally, the Peduto administration brought permitting, licensing and routine building inspections into the fold of priorities.
We still have no buy-in from the “big four Nonprofits”, disappointingly. We know this matter historically to be difficult and well-nigh intractable. Hopefully, UPMC’s retreat in now accepting Highmark insurance reimbursements just as federal open enrollment was closing is an admission that sometimes its bluster in public negotiations is not to be taken seriously. Maybe Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and Highmark should caucus separately, because with UPMC, it’s always so dramatic.
Back to budget politics, Councilwoman Darlene Harris summed up her no vote as first and foremost, not approving of the move of buildings inspections out of Public Safety, and further some vague allusions regarding the Fire Bureau, and how these and more seem to typify “everything” moving away from “blue-collar” and towards “white-collar” workers.
Politically, this strikes a lot of the right notes if Harris wants to hold onto her base coalition. Council President Pro-Tem Theresa Kail-Smith had abstained through the preliminary round, and it was not a coincidence — this was a hard vote for some.
But as a matter of policy, the active presence of all Mayor Peduto’s new, or young, or highly educated, or from-outside professionals is something Pittsburgh will just have to tolerate as it modernizes and gets better. The real challenge will be getting the older guards and the newer guards to work in a United Guard.
The dynamic parking conversation really exhibited the emergence of the coming realignments of Pittsburgh City Council.
Sooner or later, someone is going to ask the state Auditor General DePasquale to look at the Airport and Sports & Exhibition authorities, and he will say, “No thanks, for event tickets and some things I’m too preoccupied and will to defer to the local processes.” County Controller Chelsa Wagner will then ask, “Well, then can I do it now? It’s a service.” Nobody is impressed that the SEA secured an internal review, nobody thinks ACE Rich Fitzgerald can’t green-light the audits, and nobody is scared about learning who receives Steelers tickets by organization. As well as political operatives. And maybe plus-ones. Oh my word, are we are considering revealing the identities of years’ worth of plus-ones? Great Caesar’s Ghost! We may need to consult some independent ethics experts for guidance.
Speaking of the utility of independency and expertise: Councilman Ricky Burgess is proposing that Pittsburgh stop accepting surplus military hardware. It seems like an important discussion, perhaps one that the citizens’ review board should be rigorously involved in. Safety and efficiency are dear priorities along with prudence. Oh, and congratulations to the new brass! Be brave, hold true to your convictions.
In the wider world, there is torture, and there are wounded veterans of war. Here at home as well as everywhere, black lives matter and black and brown womens’ lives matter, and many wonder what we should do as majority cultures and an oft-legitimized occupation to act on our recognition of our ongoing cycles of misery and mistrust. The Forks of the Ohio are working on it, along with others.