Sunday, May 6, 2007

Journalists Roundtable

James O'Toole, Rich Lord, and Chris Potter all appeared for the full hour on the PCN weekly panel discussion Journalists Roundtable.

We watched it mostly out of dread that they might claim political bloggers are ruining journalism, not to mention America. So we were relieved that this was the only mention:

Q: How do you know what issues people care about, if there isn't much of an election?

Potter: That's a really deep question. (Giggles.) I just read the blogs.

So we expect more City Paper features on 1980's hair-metal bands and space-opera cartoons.

O'Toole explained the juxtaposition of our Most Livable title, and our population decline, by describing an "urban space that's not stretched," and "infrastructure built for a much larger city," and it just cold clicked! From a Hobbesian perspective, what could be more "livable" that a place with abundant resources, but scarce competition? Welcome to Eden!

To combat both our population and diversity issues, Lord called upon our civic leaders (seriously, we think) to market our city as a "destination of choice for illegal immigrants." Wonderful, we thought, but we could do even better. Why stop at Mexicans, when we could also cater to Sudanese, or even Americans displaced by Katrina? What happened to City of Asylum?

To illustrate the political impossibility of that proposition, Potter related a story of the last small immigration scandal in our region, in which union protesters anxiously wondered "Who knows what kind of diseases are coming in?" He said something about Pittsburgh still having "some cultural work to do."

On other matters, O'Toole slammed Onorato's base-year property tax assessments as good politics, but bad policy. Potter advocated the resurrection of 19th-century Henry George ideology on property taxes. (Potter was, in fact, shrooming balls the whole show. At one point, he accidentally reconciled with his family.)

All were extremely pessimistic about Harrisburg coming to the Port Authority's rescue, and all agreed that nobody from around here seems to know (yet) about the state's own looming budget crisis.

All bemoaned Mayor Ravenstahl's lack of necessity to commit himself to campaign promises; Lord even suggested that Luke himself would have preferred a proper fight. No one defended Peduto's decision to drop out, to put it mildly.

Somebody dropped the stat that in the coming primary, the average voter will actually be 64 years of age, and even that voter will only turn out at an 18% clip. We believe it, but we're still curious about the sourcing.

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