Monthly Archives: July 2014

Ceasefire with UPMC might not be atrocious

the usual

the usual

I wish we were not accepting UPMC’s rhetoric voguish rhetoric* about how challenging their tax-exempt status is like “holding a gun to their heads”.

We all pay taxes. Dunkin’ Donuts pays taxes. Dollar Bank pays taxes. Going to court to ensure that a profitable enterprise pays the taxes that they owe is nothing like robbing someone at gunpoint, it is like instructing them to “make their bed” or “put some pants on already.”

Be that as it may, it took Pittsburgh one full year, and Lord knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, only to see the case get tossed out at the first technicality. We might appeal the decision, but legal appeals are not quite like picking up dice and throwing them a second time. The judge had a sound enough rationale, it would almost certainly be further waste.

We could file new challenges against each of UPMC’s hospitals. Aah, that’d be sweet!  Continue reading

Fix tha’ Police: Reform as a long-term priority (pt. 2)

A hundred or so Northsiders filed into a church basement last Thursday to take part in the 5th of six community forums designed to gather input on selecting a new Chief of Police.

The cherubim and seraphim of Mayor Peduto’s office were on hand to welcome us at the door. Upon signing in and receiving a name tag, one of them informed me, “You’ll be at Table One!”

Assigned seating?

The meeting process was led by Consultants for a Dope Democracy the Program for Deliberative Democracy, housed at CMU. Sometimes when it comes to community development, a group like Michael Baker Corp. fills such a role, but this seemed like something new.

After introductions, each table would engage in “small-group deliberations” among themselves, culminating in Continue reading

Fix tha’ Police: Reform as a long-term priority

We ask members of the Pittsburgh Bureau of the Police to do a lot of hard and dangerous things, and we often commend them for how they do it.

Still, other frictions continue to heighten and converge, bringing demands for better police management.

Last week, we heard confirmations that the Police have flatly refused to implement the PIRC, the City’s program to address group-related homicide which is based on a data-gathering and community engagement strategy shown to produce notable effect in other cities.

Councilman Ricky Burgess described the intensity Continue reading

City Land Bank’s Interim board grappling w/ issues

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 2.44.31 PMThe Interim board of the City of Pittsburgh’s new Land Bank held their fourth meeting on Thursday July 17.

For the fourth occasion, despite the tidal waves of attention land banking merited during debate, only three or four spectators were in attendance. Even most officials in City Hall seemed unaware of the off-peak deliberations in Council chambers.

The Interim board is charged with devising proposed policies and procedures for the City Land Bank, and submitting them to Council for approval.

Each Council member appointed one member to that board, resulting in the following cast of characters: Continue reading

Tom Corbett: Tortoise-like candidacy Hard to Watch

In this election for Governor, Democratic challenger Tom Wolf bounded out to as huge an early lead as imaginable. If a Tortoise and the Hare fable is what it takes to make this look like a “race” against incumbent Republican Tom Corbett, we had better use it.

Otherwise, it’s all too grim and terrible.

Basic education services under Tom Corbett have been slashed with predictable sharpness, all without any apparent plan to address the losses.

The budget has not recovered in Pennsylvania anywhere near to the extent that it has in other states.

And the Governor thinks keeping us away from Medicaid will cure what ails us.

He loves to imply Continue reading

Anti-Fitz Activists gain Traction with Ethics angle

There seems to be little point in arguing over fracking, let alone blogging about it.

As the Comet watched Allegheny County Council’s vote to approve natural gas drilling at Deer Lakes Park, cultural differences seemed front and center. This week we learned about how had it further confirmed that psychological and physiological factors determine political beliefs more than either facts or commentary. And as though to drive that point home, we discovered the art of rolling coal.

If half of us are confident in our beliefs that Continue reading

Diversity in the City Workforce: A Thorny Question

Naturally enough, some Pittsburghers have been trying to determine whether or not the new mayor’s otherwise successful government diversity agenda has been inclusive of openly LGBTQ persons — and with little success.

Given both the candidate and the administration’s pride in backing LGBTQ rights and all the crowing about government diversity, it’s a fair question.

It’s also a darn tricky one.

The first difficulty is in the timing of when to ask it and to expect a useful answer. When is the new administration fully assembled enough to do so? That’s been the precise trouble in gauging whether or not there has yet been enough progress in the police bureau. In that instance Continue reading


Developing, Budgeting and Liaising: ‘DAT SYNC (pt. 3 Finale) -> Moving Onward!

This huge news made a huge splash!

A Pittsburgh police officer has been selected to be a liaison to the public safety director, a temporary position for which there is not yet a job description.

Officer Michelle Auge, 38, began her first day in the position working at the bureau’s North Side headquarters. (P-G, Liz Navratil)

Call me crazy; it seems like liaising for the Public Safety Director, the Police Bureau and the community is a pretty thorough job description. Also, a daunting one.

If portfolio details and performance standards do not emerge after a while, maybe we should stroke our chins. In the meanwhile, people seem to like the employee and think the move makes sense.

Why not try to get in sync with what’s necessary, when it’s a priority? It is often demonstrated how this maneuver can reap real dividends and open new opportunities.

MORAL OF THE TRILOGY: Does this mean we should relax and say everything in Pittsburghtown is okay? No, but when we experience those healthy anxieties, we should worry about thornier, more fundamental issues like the Land Banking, or managing cultural shifts, or the state of our transit vision.

Let us all investigate such matters. Pittsburgh deserves we prioritize efficiency. And so occasionally, that means rowing with common purpose.

Go US!

Developing, Budgeting and Liaising: ‘DAT SYNC (pt. 2) Where dit go?

In the Land of Checks and Balances…

Mr. Lamb provided reporters with an invoice for a $17,384 high-definition projector, speaker system, Blu-ray player and accessories for the Parks and Recreation Department’s conference room. (P-G, Robert Zullo)

Very good. This, together with the coffee machine squelched by the Trib, gives us our $10,000 toilet seats story.

A Controller ought to come out with this material every month, as new stuff comes in. Continue reading