Monday, October 1, 2007

"Live" Blogging that North Side Meeting

8:00 - "You've seen me facilitate community meetings, and all I can say is, I'm glad I'm not doing this one." You stay classy, Mark Fatla.

7:30 - So that must have been the trouble! Somebody got upset that they didn't get a handout!

6:30 - Next week -- that's Tuesday (tomorrow!) at 6:30 at the New Hazlett Theater -- there's a session to talk about "all the social and economic issues." That all for one meeting, folks. Tick tock, tick tock.

6:10 - Composed Woman: "Excuse me. There's an organization Pittsburgh United that has been working to -- come work through the community and come out -- why do you want to tell us when we're gonna meet to talk about this for? You didn't even --{inaudible due to applause}"

5:55 - Composed Woman: "You're talking about this like this is something you guys have been doing --{inaudible due to...}


5:25 - Emotional Woman sort of starts to exit, but continues yelling as she walks backwards.

5:20 - Emotional Woman: "We don't know them! Who are these people? We don't know them! I've been in this community all my life. All my life. I've paid taxes, I'm a homeowner. And you don't come up in here."


5:00 - A solid minute of mostly inaudible hollering from the crowd. Jennifer Watson from the Mayor's office tries to calm the waters, but Composed Woman kind of shuts her down.

4:15 - Emotional Woman: "Our kids are lying on their back because of the crack dealers! The drug dealers! Now you {inaudible} about a casino! Where was Ravenstahl when our kids were being shot down in the streets? He didn't call no community meeting! You ought to be ashamed!"

3:46 - Suddenly: "CBA! CBA! CBA!" Maybe a fifth of the crowd is chanting.

3:20 - Jennifer Watson: "If we're going to have a discussion here, we need to have a discussion." As schoolmarmish as you can possibly get.

3:10 - Discerning Woman: "... weren't in on the plans. The community had a right to be in at the table from the very beginning. And to bring the design process to my community is a little too late. We want to be in at the very beginning. We want a seat at the table, with the planners. We don't want to talk about the design after the fact."

2:40 - Mark Falta "wholeheartedly agrees ..." with something, but can't get a word in yet. The crowd is now demanding "Where's the Mayor?"

2:07 - Fatla: "I do not want to end this. I want to have this dialogue. She wants to shut this down, I do not want to do that." (Response: "WHO IS SHE?")

1:57 - Fatla: "I encourage you to attend Pittsburgh United's meetings. I encourage you to attend the Mayor's meetings. I encourage you to attend Planning Commission meetings. I stand here to encourage everyone to have every opportunity to participate in every community --{inaudible}. I want your voices..."

1:30 - Awesome Man: "You should have encouraged us before you got three million dollars!"

1:25 - Fatla: "And we -- we want to talk next week about how we do spend, how we spend that three million."

1:15 - Fatla: "Let me talk to you about how this came out. There's a lot been said about the agreement that exists between the [North Side Leadership] Conference and the casino. And rather than rely on what folks say or what Mark says up here, or what the newspapers say, you have it tonight." (Brandishes a copy)

0:45 - Fatla: "We also know that this agreement is not perfect. We never claimed that this was perfect. We also never claimed to be the exclusive organization to negotiate for neighborhoods." (booing, objections) "We never claimed that."

0:25 - Fatla: "We encourage you to participate. We encourage Pittsburgh United. What we do have is, we have a base. The casino has made certain promises to North Side neighborhoods. And you have the right in this paper in front of you. And that's the base."

0:08 - Somebody: "Where's our voice?"

0:04 - Fatla: "And I'm asking to have that voice as much as I can."

(h/t Agent Ska, who indicates a Part 2 is on the way)


  1. I guess I’m a little confused by some of these recent news stories. So the Mayor brings in a development czar with a mandate to encourage private development by streamlining the public approval process for any new proposed development. At the same time, however, community groups are encouraged to “negotiate” deals with the private developers that do want to do business in the city. Combined these actions send the message that the city will neither provide a strong oversight role on behalf of the city’s residents, nor will they protect the city’s investors from unreasonable development costs or delays.

    The development czar advocates a position of impartiality and “justice”. However, his actions (bending the rules for what could be construed as favorable treatment) and those of the Mayor (hiring his wife for a key public position, the firing of a key political rival) give the impression of anything but impartiality. Moving the czar from a policy position in the Mayor’s office to the URA, with its more limited oversight and more limited tools (basically subsidies), seems to indicate that neither reformed policy nor firm oversight are priorities.

    Not that I’m any fan of gambling in the city, but did the Northside Leadership Conference represent in their negotiations with the casino developer that they did not have exclusive permission to negotiate on the community’s behalf, and that not only was their negotiating position limited, but that they would actively encourage other organizations claiming to represent the community to gain additional concessions? And why is Pittsburgh United promoting a single voice in the Hill District, and multiple voices on the Northside?

    Is this the beginning of some great unraveling?

  2. All that yelling by the first lady was annoying. Not the place to do that.

    She was screaming at the very top of her lungs at that man. Isn't there a better way to get your point across?

    She said the kids are dying because they don't have any jobs or oppurtunity. Hmmmm Nothing like blaming others for your own problems. That type of yelling and screaming won't get anything done.

    Why don't these "kids" get jobs at the new casino? Why don't they get off of Federal Street and find some work or go enroll at a local university for courses?

  3. Hmmmm Nothing like blaming others for your own problems.

    It's sort of like how the mayor blamed his staff for the postcard "mixup". You know, the meeting he was supposed to be at while he watched a ballgame. Just who stood up and took responsibility for that?

    Not the mayor.

  4. Matt,

    As to the yelling, of course I agree, but I can only imagine that folks in these neighborhoods don't feel they get a chance to provide "input" to their city gov very often -- and when they do, it's because the city needs to build something in their backyard. As far as the sense of alienation goes, take what you describe in the West End under Murphy and multiply that by several hundred thousand.

    As to isn't it "their own fault" -- that is a more complicated issue. Although we have populations that are caught up in negative cultural spirals that are partially their own doing -- that is still all of Pittsburgh's problem.

    There surely must be pro-active interventions that the city has been neglecting to attempt -- and there surely are willing and able partners in those communities ready to collaborate, if we take the time to help organize them. But calling it "their problem" isn't helping anybody.