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  1. anon

    Bram, P4 is a ruse. Zoning is (or should be) objective. All of the articles about non-profit power really do merge into the concept of P4. P4 is a subjective way for rich, powerful and connected people to use a confusing set of principles to justify whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it. While not P4, and more zoning, see below:


    Just think about this. Lots of people spent a lot of time with consultants and community input coming up with standards for development in the new SS IPOD and then, BAM! Just like that the standards and consulting reports and community input are thrown out. Why? Because the developer and development are allies of the current administration.

    P4 will be even worse. It will be a subject way for political and powerful people to support projects from people they like and squash those from people they don’t. The entire objective of zoning and public subsidy should be to eliminate subjectivity and the political hand at play. Isn’t that what Peduto supporters fought for over a long time? Or was it all a ruse just to gain power and then use the same tactics? When will good people stand up to this type of corruption?

  2. anon

    Wondering what Bram thinks about PennPlaza deal. I’m going to skip over the part about Peduto being a total sellout, i.e., only thing the developer gave up was a $1 million for the park. Nothing else is new. But my bigger issue public process. Will this go back through planning commission? If it doesn’t, then is this really a public approval? there was a public process and that process denied this development. Does the city get to just take this out of the public’s hands and make a decision by fiat?

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram R

      I don’t know what to think of the merits of the deal, as I don’t understand them. I do think it’s notable that of the four “neighborhood groups” the city negotiated with, only the Enright Park group was actually involved in objecting to the closure of Penn Plaza and its transformation into Whole Foods… the rest are CDC’s. The rabble-rousing groups seem to have been boxed out as too ideological. EDIT: This is sort of wrong, those CDC’s were involved in litigation against LG Realty. But they’re not primarily about housing affordability and advocacy, or they’re not “pressure groups,” to borrow the political lingo.

      Sorry I haven’t been mustering posts. Cynicism is a very tough place to blog from, and this is an obscenely cynical time for politics. I also second-guess whether anybody is interested in opinions like mine anymore. Hopefully soon I’ll be in a more optimistic space.

      1. anon

        You can help with the cynicism but blogging. I say that because much of the cynicism and probably election of Trumpster is that average people don’t trust anyone. Why? Because they see every day politicians and talking heads change their opinions or remain silent depending on who is doing the doing. It is all so team based anymore that regular people see through the bs. Obama threatens to destroy North Korea; silence. Trump threatens to destroy North Korea, people go crazy. Obama uses executive orders, people go crazy. Trump uses executive orders; silence there are very few independent thinkers out there anymore.

      2. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

        Does it help though? Luke isn’t history because of anyone investigating or parsing and explaining what he did or didn’t do in office. He’s history because of whatever personal dirt his bodyguards threatened to blab about. If you want to make political change, my advice is to hire private investigators and computer hackers and embarrass whoever you don’t appreciate. Or hire… someone. Over 8 years of blogging I think my ROI was about 5 drinks. That’s not sustainable given the sheer amount of work involved and abuse absorbed to do it well.

        All the information is out there. Regular people can see the BS just fine. They just expect nothing better and they just want their side’s BS to win — “their side” usually being whichever figurehead sort of looks or talks a bit like themselves. Hell, I supported Joe Biden because I relate to his jokes and gaffes, and Bernie Sanders in part because he reminds me of my dad and Larry David. I know how it works.

  3. anon

    Bram, seriously, we need some good blogging and press right now. the major local press is totally neutered. For example – take UPMC. How is it that only a few years ago UPMC was the enemy. the community fought expansion in virtually every neighborhood and the community was generally seen as justified. UPMC was the behemoth that used improper tactics, bought off politicians and steamrolled employees and communities. Now, not a peep and the mayor is “gushing?” What changed so quickly?

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

      Who is “we”? Is “we” Peduto’s political rivals who want to see him called out on his own evident hypocrisy and flip-flops, so they can get in office and do the exact same thing? Or is “we” the ideologues with infinitesimal constituencies who will drag Peduto over the coals until all the rich people and business owners are wearing concrete boots at the bottom of the Mon, making them impossible to rely on as allies or negotiating partners? Are “we” the folks who called me a sellout 4 seconds after the election for saying I’d like to be able to take a ride in an Uber, even if I don’t want Uber to take over the whole city? Or are “we” the people who find themselves enmeshed with some nonprofit or advocacy group tethered to a foundation, who take every critique related to their org as a personal attack on their integrity? Help me out here.

      You’re right, it’s all team-based. Right now 60% of the Democratic party is defending pay-to-play as AOK, including 100% of the people who are adept enough at life to have earned a commercial platform somewhere. I don’t know what’s supposed to be done if people are like that.

      We don’t need the robots to drive us; we need the robots to govern us. Until then, the majority of people and the political consensus wants to see the value of their investments in the city rise, and to collect their paychecks from dead robber barons. That can happen without anyone staying up all night cutting and pasting and bleeding into a well.

  4. anon

    “We” are none of the above. We are the regular people, rich, poor, but mostly in between, who just live their daily lives. We generally aren’t a part of any particular group, except the group of people who care most about our families and jobs. We just want fairness, as much as we can get it. We can clearly see what is happening, but don’t know how to stop. Our only choice will be to eventually just move out of the City, like generations before us did because of the same crap. WE don’t want to have to choose sides in every argument. We just want to be able to say we like this or don’t like that without being labelled in any particular camp. We know the camps exist, but the “We” that matters most are the people that generally aren’t in any camp. We generally can’t be found at community meetings or Grant Street. Not because we don’t care, far from it, but we have jobs (sometimes two) and kids and life and everything that comes with it. We are the people our elected officials are supposed to represent but generally don’t because we don’t engage in pressure politics. We have no one to stand up for us.

  5. anon

    When we look at Hays Park, BRT, Pens Development, etc. – does “public process” under Peduto simply mean we will hold meetings and then do exactly what we want to do anyway? Because it seems that way.

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

      Clearly the meetings aren’t to gather community input (held as they now are sometimes mere days before a decision is announced, and with the most crucial outcomes tightly proscribed) nor for the community to share their input openly (contained as they are in quiet silos, table by table.)

      They’re to go on record in front of the media that they have in fact held a community meeting… with the mayor’s message being the one reporters hear, residents’ messages being ones they don’t, and nothing unexpected occurring.

      1. anon

        Alas, the media is dead around here. I don’t blame Peduto, he is doing what any politician would do. I blame us and i blame the media.

  6. anon

    Your “east shore” stuff is spot on, but deserves more attention. Why is it that we so often forget that this stuff is all very simple. Follow the money. That is all you have to do – follow the money. Who is getting it and who isn’t? Affordable housing versus development. Environmentalism versus industry. Name a battleground and it is all about following the money.

    In the development and social justice arena follow the money. When mass scale affordable housing and related issues come to the forefront, who is making all the money? Is it the same people that make money off other government initiatives under a different brand? I submit as Exhibit No. 1 the Walnut Capital affordable housing project in East Liberty.

    There will be lots of money flowing into the East Shore concept. A lot of it will flow to architects and consulting companies. They will generally be the same ones you see in different arenas in Pgh. It will flow to a few developers. Again, they will be the same people you can find around town. A couple elite law firms will do the advising and legal work. Perhaps a couple PR firms will get in on the mix. And then they will all make donations to the politicians that ran the process and helped get it all done. And in the end, will the “community” or the ‘people” really have gained much? Will they really have gained much power? Or is it one more example of money and process being used to keep the “people” in line (actually the back of the line) while the same old group of wealthy people line their pockets in the name of empowerment?

  7. anon

    Acklin resigning to back to private sector? Yeah right. Everyone knows exactly why he resigned. Question is how long the Mayor and others will cover it up. Eventually it will come out and the longer they hold out the more people will be able to say “why did you keep that quiet?” In today’s day and age – disgusting.

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

      I’ve yet to hear any Acklin theories that come with any degree of specificity, or that were attributable, consistent, etc. Except for some grousing that by retaining his URA seat, he’ll get to keep his power cake and eat a high private sector salary, too.

      If that changes, it will change.

      1. anon

        So where is he going? No one leaves these posts without a job lined up. If this was really about more money, why wasn’t a job announced? Seems a little abrupt. It will come out and the longer everyone keeps covering the harder all those doing the covering will fall.

      2. anon

        And so are you praising or criticizing that? I’m confused. I wonder if Peoples Gas has been pushing to privatize and take control of PWSA and whether he was pushing for that during is tenure with the City?

      3. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

        Aargh. People’s Gas? Well, I guess that makes a little more sense than UPMC, even if the latter would match the Indianapolis model better.

        It’s hard for me to sanction the idea that anybody, in the world, ever, can be worth that sort of money. But it’d be weird to tell people in gov’t jobs that they have to stay in gov’t jobs for the rest of their lives, and I wouldn’t turn down that kind of money personally and try not to be hypocritical. If the Peduto admin wants Peoples to take a chunk of responsibility over PWSA, then this Acklin move will be an unnecessary political complication. But it makes no sense to burn that bridge until we come to it.

        Though the idea of Acklin being People’s friend in Pittsburgh, and Ravenstahl being People’s friend in mainly suburban Allegheny County, is funny. Somebody should write a scene for that play.

  8. alice

    The idea of going into public service for a short stint for the purpose of making connections, doing some favors, and then cashing it in for a big salary is something we should all be against. Taking a government job “forever” is very different from 3 and half years. True public servants spend a career in public service and then “maybe” finish their career with a few years of a nice salary in the private sector.
    Plus, it is well known that this move was made in part because of metoopgh getting all to close to improper behavior in the office.

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

      Acklin was on board for one full term. Matter of opinion how upsetting that is, or how it affects the price of Iron at Heinz Field. It wouldn’t bother me personally unless, for example, he parlayed his perch at the URA into acquiring the backing to run for a judicial seat or something. Or if he handed Peoples Gas our water treatment plant obviously.

      I will allow that since my previous comment, I’ve heard my first specific though completely unverified rumor, and that unverified 3rd-hand rumor was not in the #metoo ballpark, merely the adjoining neighborhood.

      1. mike

        If we are having the conversation about which neighborhood we are in, then we are having the wrong conversation. It is all about power and using power to get things. Generally speaking, do you find it odd for a public servant to leave his/her family and the moment they get into a position of power? Would you then find it disturbing when said public servant uses the excuse of “being with family” when they leave?

      2. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

        In a word? No. Most especially, if I know nothing about said family. But since it now looks like the cat’s being eased out of the bag, I guess we can go take a spin down memory lane.

        Happy 2018, everybody! We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet.

  9. sonja

    Looks like Fitz and Trump have a lot in common. The backlash against Fitzdeto strong arm tactics and smear and attack anyone who questions them is beginning. Power to the people!

    1. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

      You know, “sonja” (if that is your real name, LOL) there’s a lot to be said for fighting the power of Fitzgerald and Peduto aka “Fitzduto,” as appropriate. For even as iron sharpens iron, the people are in need good sharp iron.

      But I’m unaware of any strong arming and smearing. And Trump-like? Them’s fighting words. Perhaps if you could elaborate…

      1. Sonja

        I’ll play your game and call the “Fitzduto.” Strong arm? Let’s see. One – all the wealthy and powerful have lined up behind Erika. Doesn’t seem very progressive at a base level. She crushed it on early fundraising. Fitzduto early learning on developers helped bigly. Then, despite winning the nomination of the 14th ward, traditionally the defender of all things progressive, Fitzduto quickly circled wagons and now all the sudden the party is bad and independent candidate is good. Next, there is already a whisper campaign that Sonja isn’t from Pittsburgh. Hmmm, what could that mean? What is that meant to mean? There is also a whisper campaign that she is part of the Chelsea resistance. Maybe true, maybe not, but the narrative is clear – get on that team and Fitzduto will come after you. Tell me this, why in the world would any liberal minded person in the 14th ward not want to support a working mom who started a company that paid living wages and full health care and supports sustainable practices and smarter development? Why? What else could elected officials and voters/donors want? Could it be merely wanting power over policy?

      2. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

        Fitzduto clearly supports Erika, and it’s no secret Chelsa supports Sonja. I’m not sure if “the Chelsa resistance” means anything more than that? That Bill & Fitz’s donors are lining up behind Erika isn’t evidence of “strong arming” to me. If anyone claims they were threatened, or if someone who supports Sonja gets screwed out of an opportunity in some way, that’d be strong-arming.

        Sonja’s without a doubt the populist in the race… and probably at least a bit more progressive given it’s easier to be progressive as an outsider. As far as the 14WIDC goes (I’m a member, though I wasn’t involved in their endorsement) I bet it had more to do with Sonja’s independence. Erika might be as progressive as all get-out, but there’s no reason yet to believe that would manifest if it ever meant disagreeing with this mayor’s office.

      3. Sonja

        Gilman sent out an email to 800 people requesting support for Erika. He is the Mayor’s chief of staff. Can we at least now agree that there has been “strong arming?” How many of those 800 have city business? Is it a similar list to the people Kevin Acklin called in the past? I thought that practice was going to end? Did Gilman do it on City time or his “lunch break?”

      4. Bram ReichbaumBram Reichbaum Post author

        I’d be interested in learning to whom those alleged 800 Gilman emails were sent.

        If they were all sent to past Gilman for Council donors, not so bad. Or to political allies, party members, still not really so bad.

        If they were sent to employees or vendors: not my favorite behaviors.

      5. sonja

        “not my favorite behavior” – translation – I’ll pretend to be slightly annoyed but give it a pass. But had it been a politician not on the Peduto team i would be outraged. Got it.

        I doubt there are many employees in District 8 so we can presume it was a combination of Gilman for Council supporters and vendors/people with city business. Probably a big overlap. One thing Bill has been really good a doing is giving away all the plums of government to wealthy E. End supporters.

  10. anon

    This entire concept that someone is qualified for city council is moronic. You can’t be “qualified” or not qualified for an elected council position. It just shows how insane our local political guardians are that they get to choose who is qualified and who isn’t for these positions. Further, the 8th district is showing how it is probably the most hypocritical district in the City right now. all the Erika supporters champion that she “will get things done” for them. She will get their “constituent services” (read complaints) addressed faster and better than others because she is on the team of Peduto and knows him better. How cynical and selfish can a voting public get? Her supporters quite literally talk about almost nothing else. They call Sonja “idealistic.” What does that even mean? And when did 8th district all the sudden starting being honest about what they really want? Seems like they really want someone who will get them the most services out of city government above all other districts and they want someone who will get their zoning requests approved (since most developers live in this district) around the city and get them the most power. They could care less about social and idealistic objectives until this election is over and those ideals will need to be dug back up to throw in the face of some other political enemy.

  11. anon

    I find the E. Liberty sign issue rather interesting. Picker took the sign down because people of color complained. She thought that was the right thing to do and avoid being labelled a racist. Then, when other people of color complained because the sign was removed, she agreed to put it back up. Her reasoning was that she got more emails on that side of the argument. This is what society and politics has become. People don’t even know which way to turn and in the end we simply resort to who sends more emails.

  12. anon

    Can someone finally call Peduto the biggest hypocrite to ever sit as Mayor? Walnut Capital – make big donations and get the City to unilaterally overturn zoning decisions. PWSA – hire chief of staff who has major Meetoo problems and privatize water, despite Peduto railing against parking when on council. Sell assets to cultural trust. Hand out development projects to donors. Are you freaking kidding me? Is everyone in on it?

  13. Save our Water

    Bram – on your comment about Peoples Gas getting a seat on PWSA board. Why all the sudden are you so convinced the private sector will do better? What about charter schools? But more importantly, why are we discussing Peoples Gas? Why are we not discussing one of the thousands of other utility players out in the market? Answer – because Peoples spent months recruiting the chief of staff and secretly lobbying our government to buy the system. And they had help from someone in government along the way. So the reason Peoples keeps coming up in the discussion is because Peoples and someone in government selected them, in secret, to be the savior. This should in the eyes of any good progressive disqualify them. Bring on someone else to the board or the proverbial table.

  14. fairman

    moral of the story in E Lib development. If you donate enough to the mayor your projects will sail through. If not, you get jacked up and picketed.

  15. anon

    What crap bram on your biased comment. Affordable does not mean that which is rental and can be completely covered by a voucher. That is fake news and you know it.

    Affordable means: that can be afforded; believed to be within one’s financial means.

    Thus, if one can buy a house in one’s financial means, it is affordable. Plain and simple. Anything else is fake news. Many vouchers pay for rent that is HIGHER than the monthly mortgage payment on many houses. Fake news has taken over your twitter feed. But let me guess, Peoples Gas taking over our water system is not privatization?


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