Issue #2: What This Means for the Rest Of Us

In the words of Kevin Acklin (or whoever is putting words in his mouth) yesterday:

When you look at the decisions this administration has made in the last three years — closing down city planning, firing Ron Graziano and almost totally gutting BBI, moving all of the city’s economic development policy into the URA — there’s a clear move toward crafting policies that are favorable to corporate developers. And John Verbanac is driving that move. (YouTube)

That fact is demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt. You can use buzz words like “streamlining” and “vibrancy”, or you can talk about “moving in the right direction”, but the policy has always been about making boatloads of money for a very few individuals.

Now we all know how it came to be.

People on Brookline Boulevard have been waiting two decades for redevelopment. Pittsburghers on the North Side have been screaming at the top of their lungs for a meeting with the Mayor. People in Beechview have been waiting for years for action and development in their business district. People all across the city have been waiting for months for leadership on our library issues. None of these people get their questions answered. But John Verbanac makes one call, or sends one email, and he gets instant access to, and influence over, everything that’s happening in the Mayor’s office. This administration is focused on personal and corporate favoritism, and it’s hurting our neighborhoods as a result. (ibid)

That is why our Mayor’s extreme reliance on investor / developer / political consultant John Verbanac, or if you prefer the few Verbanacs of the world — legal though it might conceivably be — is very very bad news for Pittsburgh. Every day, they’re moving the city in harmful, heartless, irresponsible directions. And they know it.

That’s why they try so hard to cover their tracks.

12 thoughts on “Issue #2: What This Means for the Rest Of Us

  1. Anonymous

    Professor Joe,

    One last blast from past….Monsignor Rice. Journalist.

    Used to go to Church if for no other reason than to read , Rice. Lost a step or two when I sat in pew…would stumble upon his words.

    Never thought it was he that got old, but us instead.

    Time to grill a steak, will cross examine…


    PS: In representation of Alpark Terrace Residents (City's oldest Mobile Home Community)

  2. Tacitus

    The bigger question to come out of all of this is: will it matter? Or more directly, will it matter to those whom vote in November?

    Of course it does to the politically conscious, but what about the majority of voters? Are we to see another landslide for LukeR because of apathy and local politics; or will the voting mass be bold enough to take the city in a new and better direction?

    Also, I'd like to recognize Mr. Reichbaum for his superb commentary through this whole race thus far. Keep up the good work.

  3. Giles Howard

    I just wanted to say that you're doing better work on the mayoral election than the PG and Trib combined.
    The Verbanac question gets to the heart of Ravenstahl's Administration and illustrates exactly how little say Pittsburghers have in it and how much power business interests exercise over it. It should be a bigger issue in this city but I fear that it won't gain enough traction in the days before the election.

  4. Anonymous

    Not sure what analogy you made in the deleted comment, however, mine was, if you are taunting someone by accusing them of “failing to connect the dots” does that not incline someone to step up their efforts to do so?

  5. Anonymous

    As someone close to the real estate development community, I am pretty sure Summa Development never has developed anything. They have no website. A good indicator that Verbanac is a front for other interests in the development world.

  6. deegazette

    It is most unfortunate that many get their education on how government works by tracking broken promises. Brookline Blouevard and the 51/88 intersection are examples of broken promises.

  7. Bram Reichbaum

    Anon 9:42 – That's kind of interesting. The Summa website just says “Check back in a couple of weeks” – same as it did a year ago or more when I last thought to check.

    I'd be very interested to know whether any of the Rivers Casino investors who came on after Barden took on too much water are tied to Verbanac. I never trusted how the City applied the breaks to that one development time and again.

  8. Anonymous

    So what does it take to “connect the dots”?? JV conducts the interview to hire Ford into the O'Connor administration. Ford writes a report supporting the Forest City Casino Deal and when Luke becomes Mayor he backs away from his support of the IOC deal and allows the Ford report to stand as the city's only formal position on where the casino should go. This is good old fashioned influence pedaling. Verbanac's influence rarely results in a direct benefit to him. What is more likely is a virtually undetectable “commission” from some contractor who happened to get city business. What JV wants and needs is exactly the kind of media coverage he got last week. He is extremely influential with Luke. Now more people know it and will pay for that kind of influence. It is too bad the local media has dismissed this. They have gone after other stories with far less evidence.


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