Friday, December 21, 2007

Hill CBA: Alliances, Minions, and Imps

We have a correction and an explanation to make regarding our latest post on the Hill District.

The major constituent elements of the Hill District coalition are the One Hill CBA Coalition, the Hill District Ministers, and the Hill CDC.

There are many other organizations, and the relations amongst them are confusing. But those three units are the important independent units.

Both Marimba Milliones of the Hill CDC and Dr. Kimberly Ellis AKA Dr. Goddess of the Minister's group contacted the Comet to assure us that they are very closely allied with one another.

It would have been more correct to highlight just two constituent elements of the Hill District coalition: the One Hill CBA Coalition, which includes the Tonya Payne apparatus and Pittsburgh United, and the Hill District Ministers, which includes the Hill CDC and Raise Your Hand No Games.

This would explain why Mayor Ravenstahl said (wishfully), "I don't even know if the two groups are going to agree."

We suspect that One Hill is closer to accepting the terms of the CBA proposal as put forth by the Penguins and Ravenstahl than are the Ministers. See below.

Some organizations and individuals are actually a part of both groups. Both factions claim to be larger, and more representative of the Hill. We know that some in the Ministers' group have had their voting privileges formally revoked by One Hill, for having "negotiated" on the outside.

We would be happy to receive a briefing.


Another example of an individual is Dr. Kimberly Ellis, AKA Dr. Goddess, AKA The Ministers' Imp.

Where on earth did we get that?

On Dec. 12, 2007, at exactly 1:10 PM, Dr. Ellis wrote an exhaustively long e-mail to the Hill District CBA distribution list. The subject was, Get Rid of Divisive Elements, so Ujima Can Continue. Ujima is defined as "collective work and responsibility."

Another good title would have been, The Case Against Tonya Payne as an Elected Official.

It starts off slowly, but grows into the Declaration of Independence -- only much more dramatic and specific. Here are some selections:

[EXCISED 12/23 -- Not blog-worthy]


In case those of you who attend One Hill meetings haven't noticed, every time there is any talk of confronting the Pens as developers or the Mayor about the CBA, Tonya and her people fight against it.

She offers many specific, dated incidents as evidence. Contact her at to request your own copy and make your own inquiries.

I have not trusted Tonya Payne because she almost sold the Hill District 'down the river' with her Isle of Capri / Pittsburgh First shenanigans during the slots license application process. BUT, I was willing to give her a chance---and I did---and she knows this. After she stabbed us and our entire community in the back (again!), she lost any amount of faith or trust I had to give to her.

And in conclusion:

If there is still anyone left in One Hill, Pittsburgh United and/or throughout the community who wants to continue to allow her and her minions to do the Pens' dirty work by continuing to try to foment division between those of us who have always stood with you and them, then be my guest---but we aren't going anywhere.

The epic e-mail generated its share of angry responses, including this from somebody who shall remain nameless:

I would rather be Councilwoman Tonya Payne's minion, than the ministers' Imp.


  1. So basically it's:

    The Ministers & the CDC
    Tonya (and her minions)

    What are the objectives of each group?

  2. I wouldn't categorize all of One Hill as Tonya's minions. My understanding is that she controls two out of four positions on the Executive Committee outright. The election of Bomani Howze as Vice Chair was considered a major coup against her ... although he frequently finds himself in the minority.

    You'd have to ask each group about their objectives. We know the Ministers are in favor of a development fund(s) for specified hill district community initiatives. Not sure whether or not One Hill is prioritizing this at all.

  3. I think it's important to note that just because there are two groups, doesn't mean that one is all about killing children and raping puppies and the other is all about sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns.

    The politics of the Hill are incredibly (almost irreducibly) complex and defy a bipolar characterization. There is a long history of personal alliances, vendettas, and power struggles at work here, which are being masked by the arena controversy.

  4. I'm not sure what you mean by power struggles being "masked" by the Arena controversy. If anything, the controversy seems to be unmasking them slowly. Which, in our opinion, is a good thing, sunlight being a disinfectant.

    I would also suggest that although the "vendettas" add some complexity, that does not make the Hill "irreducibly" or "hopelessly" complex. The ambitions and desires at work on the Hill are commonplace everywhere else on Earth. We are just unfamiliar with those of the Hill, due in part to its isolation, due in part to a sense of shame on their part -- for not wanting to appear divided in the eyes of white people...

    ... who clearly don't have it together themselves.

  5. OK, maybe not *hopelessly* complex, but pretty damned complex for those of us that have to navigate the twisted warrens of the interpersonal relationships in the Hill.

    And by "masking" I meant that the arena situation makes it looks like there are only two groups, when in reality there are many, many more. Hopefully the arena will "unmask" those groups that have less than the good of the Hill at heart.

  6. Agreed, O.

    It would be nice if somebody would help broker an agreement between the "two groups", to the extent that the Hill has organized itself into two groups.

    You would think this would be a good role for the County Executive.

    He was the one who sounded the most positive tones coming out of a meeting with the Ministers and Luke, talking about a Master Plan all of a sudden, and welcoming the idea of negotiating with "two or three" groups if need be.

    He was also the one who appeared OnQ right alongside Milliones and the Rev. Johnny Monroe, talking about how they are justified in seeking "a piece of the action" for their district -- just like Onorato wanted benefits for his North Side district during stadium development deals. He also sounded like he "got it" on need to "actually get this right this time."

  7. The Ministers "Group" is 9 ministers. They don't represent the Hill District community. They don't even represent the members of their church on this issue. They don't want community input or direction.

    The "ministers" are a thinly veiled cover for the Hill CDC Board.

    The Hill CDC is a small board of individuals. Some of these individuals are among the 9 ministers. They don't represent the Hill District community. They don't want community input or direction.

    The One Hill Coalition represents the Hill District Community precisely because of the process of how One Hill was developed. More than 100 organizations from the Hill are members of One Hill. One Hill has held weekly public meetings since April 2007. The negotiating points of One Hill were developed and selected by the community over many meetings from April to August 2007.