For Part 1, see HERE. Image cap h/t Trib.
4. Replace Todd Reidbord on the City Planning Commission.
As one-half of the dynamic duo that is Walnut Capital, a firm that has long held a reputation for being aggressive, Todd Reidbord is the foremost developer in the City of Pittsburgh. He sits on the Planning Commission -- the commission with the power to green-light, yellow-light or red-light everything from stadiums and casinos to city streets and walkways to restaurants and hotels.
Although the Zoning Code is the ultimate arbiter in some instances, established case law and past recognized precedents are also extremely important to shaping new policy. Mr. Reidbord, through Walnut Capital, has a vested interest in setting precedents that advance the rights of corporate interests, and stifle the objections of individuals. In fact, he has a demonstrated interest.
I've seen Todd Reidbord at the Pittsburgh Planning Commission many, many times. He likes to speak up. He's not a big one for not moving development forward. He's not even a big one for wasting time discussing it. Only thing he ever spoke up against, it seemed, was PITG Gaming.
On occasion, Walnut Capital itself has business before the city, and at those times Reidbord properly recuses himself from adjudication. On these occasions, he will humbly approach the table from the opposite side, clad usually in jeans, propping an easel up on his lap, pitching exciting development projects to the City.
As such, he is sculpting Pittsburgh's future to a considerable and to a richly deserved degree. We are not banishing him from decent society. If free-market ideology or if the Mayor's position need defending at any time on the board itself, certainly there are board members capable of defending it who are not so conspicuously engaged.
Let the gesture stand as an example: no major conflicts of interest and no excessive politics on Boards, Authorities and Commissions!
5. Demonstrate Clarity and Achievement in regards to No-Bid Contracts and the Governance of the Authorities.
We are given to understand that Mayor Ravenstahl very recently has issued an executive order forbidding all no-bid contracts in the City -- and "strongly encouraging" that city Authorities do the same.
Back in October, in the wake of a minor scandal, Mayor Ravenstahl also announced the formation of a special panel to study city and authority contracting procedures. This panel would be comprised of a few civic titans, as well as council members Ricky Burgess and Patrick Dowd.
The panel was instructed to make some recommendations in June.
First off -- totally understandable if Luke would now like to replace possible mayoral challenger Patrick Dowd on that in-house panel. Not a problem.
Next -- was his more recent executive order so sweeping and definitive that it obviates the need for the panel altogether? Probably not -- though it'd be worth looking at -- so the panel should really begin the process of exploring recommendations sooner rather than later. Let's start now, and let's open it up to the degree that we can.
Finally, on the vague-sounding issue of Authority board governance: the Parking Authority remains without a Council member, which violates the Home Rule Charter and is not good for accountability.
The Stadium Authority and the Sports and Exhibition Authority both derive their Councilmatic representation from the same member (Darlene Harris, whom we love dearly), which also unfortunately violates the Charter, and also is not good for accountability.
It is unfortunate that some members of council insist on maintaining fundamentally uncooperative relations with Our Mayor. However, Pittsburghers as a whole are very fortunate that the city Charter affords them direct and meaningful representation on the Authorities, these hulking "instrumentalities of the Commonwealth".
6. Do Right by the Hill District: Stake Out a Position!
From what we are given to understand, there is a process. There is a Master Plan on the way, care of a board comprised of four One Hill coalition representatives and five political appointees, in accordance with what was arranged in a community benefits agreement (CBA) document.
There is a "drop dead" date approaching slowly at which time the Penguins can move forward with their very own plan if nothing acceptable arises from the CBA board. There is a lot of pressure to come up with something the Penguins will sign off on. The feeling among some is, don't be too demanding!
I don't want to jump ahead of the process -- but I'm not the Mayor. A Mayor gets to clear his throat and make his feelings known. Heck, the Mayor gets to establish ground rules and try drawing some lines in the sand.
At the very least, he ought to crack the whip and make sure things get done right.
Perhaps the semblance of a real street grid ought to be restored with Downtown. Perhaps a significant proportion of the development should be zoned for what we call "mixed use". Perhaps a portion of the old Mellon Arena should be adapted for reuse.
Perhaps the Crawford Grill needs to be a part of this. Perhaps there should be some green space. Perhaps the URA should let loose its budgetary floodgates towards an even further variety of home-grown Hill District initiatives as redevelopment and reinvestment move forward. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
Yes, the Penguins have been awarded development rights to that land, bar none. This means they should carve it up however they want, and zone it to yield the very maximum profit?
Let's say the most profitable use turns out to be a slaughterhouse. You know -- hog processing. I'm going to say we stand against that.
We should figure out something about what this part of Pittsburgh needs to be. Part of that needs to be profitability -- but part of that also must be the establishing of healthy flow between two important Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
At least come out in favor of that.
So there you have it. Take me, I'm yours.
1. Recommend a Conditional Use permit for Club Pittsburgh.
2. Green up the City-County Building
3. Tighten up proposed Ethics legislation
4. Ask for Todd Reidbord's resignation
5. End no-bid contracts and improve the situation at the authorities.
6. Do right by the Hill District.