Friday, August 31, 2007

Arena Benefits Issue Moving [CORRECTED]

"We're going to work to a consensus for one community benefits agreement that will cover the whole Hill District," [Dan Onorato spokesperson] Mr. Evanto said.

Mr. Ravenstahl said he believes the city has been doing a good job of getting community input about the new arena.

Emphasis ours. Ladies and gentlemen, that is a contrast. The Mayor has not yet uttered the three magic words publicly.

This lies within a P-G Ann Belser article of yesterday, and it aligns perfectly with the rhetorical support we have heard for months from the County Executive.

Mr. Onorato, Mr. Ravenstahl, Ms. Conturo and the One Hill negotiating team are scheduled to meet again next Thursday.

Things should start moving fast. Carl Redwood and the rest of One Hill would prefer to wrap this up in a gentlemanly manner, before it goes to City Planning.


The New Pittsburgh Courier and its own battle cat, Christian Morrow, issue a provocative headline: One Hill or One Hot Mess?

It plays up divisions between a supposed Sala Udin camp and a Tonya Payne camp, and also among forces outside the coalition. It runs some pretty discouraging quotes.

County Councilman Bill Robinson said the coalition itself is too inclusive.

"Who is 'One Hill'? People who live in the Hill, work in the Hill or walk through the Hill -- who qualifies?" he asked. "One Hill is going to have to structure itself a little tighter to get things done. With 100 groups, it could implode internally and lose focus entirely."

Aside from being tactically daft -- Robinson represents the Hill District, which would very much like to display unity -- his statement is confusing because the process was extremely transparent.

The community was heavily leafletted and doorknocked, and all forms of stakeholders were welcomed. Priorities were discussed and voted upon at open meetings, and the negotiating team was elected by popular vote. (See CORRECTION below).

For the moment, maybe we should give Robinson benefit of doubt. Kimberly Ellis AKA Dr. Goddess was also quoted in the piece:

"It's totally corrupt and disgusting," Ellis wrote.

We contacted Ellis about this. She says that although she does not rescind her comments of the time, they were in reference to a very specific stage of the process. It was a very old quote, she explains, concerning an issue she is contented to move past.

She insists that her more recent comments to the Comet are more reflective of the situation today.


Redwood acknowledged there inter-group squabbling and that there is an entirely separate group purporting to represent the Hill District, but said the negotiating team has specific goals it is charged to pursue.

"We're close to being in the same book, but that's to be expected," he said. "That kind of dynamic actually moves things forward. Trying to outdo each other -- it's a healthy competition."

It is probably accurate to report that the level of negotiating ambition among the various players correlates closely with the depth of their previous involvement with the Penguins organization.

However, there is such wide and sharp acknowledgement that a fair C.B.A. must occur, and that rending the coalition would be so predictably depressing, that everyone is staying on board.

There are even some indications that the "nine renegade ministers" are not so estranged from the One Hill pack as yesterday's P-G piece might have indicated, although this remains unconfirmed.


CORRECTION / UPDATE: We received this clarification on process from a rep with Pittsburgh United:

The negotiating team was in deed elected. But the way the process worked was that the group submitted nominations to the exec committee and they put together a slate from that. The membership voted on the slate and approved it 49 for, 9 against, 3 abstain.

Upon approval, this "slate" became the nine-member negotiation team. Recall the executive committee was also elected by the membership. The Comet regrets the error.


  1. Commenting on my own post. Because someone has to.

    Robinson: "Who is 'One Hill'? People who live in the Hill, work in the Hill or walk through the Hill -- who qualifies?"

    Who in blazes WALKS THROUGH THE HILL who doesn't live in the Hill or work in the Hill? And if they do either of those two things, why on earth shouldn't they qualify?

  2. "In an e-mail to the New Pittsburgh Courier she noted under coalition membership rules “no elected official can vote.” Yet the accompanying membership list—in addition to Payne’s aide Pace—includes the entire 4th Ward Democratic Committee, six district representatives of the 5th Ward Democratic Committee, and the 1st Ward Democratic Committeewoman."

    That statement from the Courier article is wrong about the 4th ward.There may be a few committee members from districts 3,4,6 involved,but not the entire committee.

  3. Nice data. Also, there is the question of how "elected official" ought to have been defined.

    These kinds of things continue; not all of them go down quite like this one.

  4. Hello all,

    When One Hill began we had several individuals who are community residents who were very active in the group, but had no say in the direction of the body. Thus, it was proposed that resident organizations be formed to give members a say in what was happening in their neighborhood.

    One Hill’s membership criteria provides for community residents to have a vote through place by based groups with at least ten members. So, some members of the democratic committee organized residents groups based on their ward and district. Thus, no rules are being broken by having the democratic committee people or democratic ward organizations as members of One Hill.

    Bonnie Young Laing
    (former One Hill organizer)