Friday, July 24, 2009

Yarone Zober on Development and CBA's

Lots to discuss, will have to wait but feel free to start without me. Might need to plug in some speakers and crank it in the meanwhile.


  1. Who elected this guy?

  2. Bram, I love the deer-in-the-headlight look that Zober gives you when he realizes that you are asking him a question.

  3. How many unnecessarily and demonstrably dumb statements can one guy cram into a 10-minute gaggle? I just may parse this one over at my place.

  4. unbelievable.

    Northside United and SEIU are a crowd of legitimate yinzers-- WHO LIVE IN CITY NEIGHBORHOODS! What is he talking about they're from DC.

  5. The developers are not keen to it. (YZ)

  6. While Mr. Zober makes some good arguments on the developers behalf. I find it difficult to believe that a hotel chain would choose Millvale (or some other suburban location) over the North Shore.

    Everybody knows that real estate investment is all about location. One one hand you have Millvale with Mr. Smalls (a great music venue BTW),a couple of small bars, a few restaurants, a fantastic bakery, and an inconvenient drive to the regions attractions.

    On the other you have the North Shore with the Steelers, the Casino, the Science Center, the Pirates, The Warhol, bars, restaurants, access to the "T" combined with a short walk to the cultural district, the convention center and everything else downtown Pittsburgh has to offer. If a developer wants to claim that they will build their establishment elsewhere, I'd call their bluff. Simply put, they are not going to get away with charging the same rates in a surburban location.

    Mr. Zober's argument reminds me of the Penguins when they said that they were going to move to Kansas City. It was never going to happen. It was a tactic used to get they wanted from the taxpayers with little in return. It appears that history is going to repeat itself on Pittsburgh's North Shore.

  7. If I hadn't already gotten in a question and a follow-up, I would have asked in response to his answer that we're "free to debate" whether revenues should go to community benefits like police as opposed to fire, I'd have asked whether the money isn't just as likely to go toward things like:

    1) A $100 million surplus for the purposes of demonstrating budget strength to the electorate...

    2) Debt service and significant fees to pay for financial products like bonds and swaps purchased perhaps unwisely...

    3) Various legal and civil settlements, past and future...

    4) Still further subsidies and price-cuts for further large-scale developers and developments...

    5) "The latest technology" for everything which may not actually provide residents with as much benefit as, say, efficient window insulation.

    In other words, this gets to whether or not it makes sense to negotiate for some sorts of guaranteed development-tied improvements ON THE FRONT END instead of hoping and praying that eventually, job salaries and the fruits of our tax revenue trickle down to increasingly distressed constituents.

  8. North Side united is funded and directed by the SEIU in Washington, that is a fact. That is where the funding comes from and strategic direction. Whether or not you agree with what they want, it is not an organic organization. Please take note that North Side United does not represent one single community group on the North Side, nor do any of them support their agenda. How is anyone at fault that takes a piece of pavement and creates hundreds jobs? They may not be the best jobs in the world, but without that development, that property doesn't employ anyone and produces very little taxes.

  9. Anon 8:58- SEIU in Washington gets its money from dues payers, right?

    There are SEIU unions in Pittsburgh. In fact I think we are well represented. UFCW has also has had a hand in recently, and I believe some machinists or another at least. It is important to get good value for both one's union dues and one's taxes.

    SEIU stands for "Service Employees International Union", so man, here you are not just dividing Pittsburgh against those DC types. You are dividing Pittsburgh against THE WORLD.

  10. Anon 8:58
    Northside United, a campaign of Pittsburgh UNITED, is funded primarily by local and national foundations including the Ford Foundation, the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments.

    Say what you want, but there are plenty of long-time Northside residents and community leaders who are very involved in Northside United because they believe in the goal of a CBA.

  11. Pittsburgh / Northside United is funded by the foundations mentions (including our very own Heinz Endowments) and the SEIU.

    The agenda is strictly union -- they want union jobs.

    Nothing wrong with that, but don't masquerade as a grass roots community organization.

    When the foundation grants dry up, they will be gone.

    Wonder if Bobby Vagt at the Heinz Endowments is pleased with what his Foundation's money has bought.

    Perhaps Bram should ask him. :)

  12. Absolutely. I also need to catch up with Ronnell Guy about the Hill CBA.

    I am not up for an elite agenda conning or cloaking themselves around a bunch of neighborhood residents. I don't believe this is the case to any extreme aspect. If Northside United was recommending better window insulation for stable-enough inhabited units in the slums as part of its CBA, I am thinking the grassroots aspect of the coalition is doing just fine.

  13. Why does Zober -- The Mayor's Chief of Staff -- not know where the Mayor is?

    How is it democracy to say "if they (the people) disagree with the Mayor, disagree with my opinion then we will just have to agree to disagree?"

    Who is this guy? The man behind the Ravenstahl curtain? Did somebody elect him?


  14. Anon 9:15am:

    You're looking at the actual mayor in that video. Luke is a marionette and little more.

    These guys aren't interested in democracy. They're interested in power. And in lining their pockets.

  15. I have got to agree. Luke is the puppet and Yarone is the actual Mayor.
    Luke doesn't have the intelligence to run this city without Yarone telling him what to say or do.
    As to where Luke was. He was probably hiding in his office because Yarone didn't have the time to tell Luke what Luke should say.

  16. My sense is that YZ is an unusually powerful Chief of Staff (even given that he's also chair of the URA) and that he's accorded an awful lot of respect in shaping both policy and operations -- but I wouldn't say it's accurate or productive to suggest that LR is therefore an empty suit. It is true the MSM hasn't profiled Zober in quite some time.

  17. May not always agree with Zober but in my book, he is 100% correct here. The special interest groups have driven away or stopped more investment in this city than one could imagine.

  18. Better window insulation?

    That seems like an odd request. Why would they ask for that as part of a CBA? And why would a developer insulate just the homes of those on the north side? I'm sure there are many Pittsburgh residents who could use new insulation in their homes. That sounds like a handout to a select few.

    I thought the CBA was all about creating opportunities so that an individual could go out EARN a living wage and, if they choose to, use their salary to insulate their home.

  19. 12:17 - I doubt you know what a CBA is all about - I'm not sure anybody does yet. In regards to window insulation for inhabited residential units that are surviving on poverty wages, I agree that maybe should not be settled with the developer.

    Things like that should most naturally be settled with Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which is the body that distributes most of Pittsburgh's share of state tax dollars -- a hugely significant and determinative sum. Just spitballing here: I think if just 0.5% of all monies that pass through the URA went into projects as through CBA's and other process-oriented CBD's (community benefits for developments) that'd make a lot of people happy. There are innovative non-profits popping up in Pittsburgh seeking to administrate such work. We should be encouraging their efforts to a reasonable degree.

    "The select few", you say. Lots of people are hurting. We are in a recession. We are in a dense urban environment. The city is still shrinking. I notice in the video there was a contention that Pittsburgh is "growing" but in fact population-wise we very definitely continue to shrink. Also, it is premature for the city administration to take credit for good things happening at the Garden Theater and Federal North, though now I'm sure now something will be rushed through.

  20. Anon 12:03 - Everything is a special interest group if you don't feel you're a part of it. Those particular investors which Pittsburghers have allegedly been driving away might considered special interests by many others. This is why developers *should* maybe negotiate CBA's -- it demonstrates to all that they understand and that they care. Favoring CBA's as city policy and having city leadership constructively lead those negotations might help Pittsburgh attract higher caliber partners.

  21. Oh Em Gee! I cant wait to see how this all shakes out. It seems as though there is a segment of our local community that would like to reevaluate the social contract in a very direct and vocal manner. Sweet!

    Yes, CBA's are bad for the paradigm of top-down development. To hell with the community; we know what's best for you and for Pittsburgh - because you elected us to make these decisions for you.

    We only want your input at the voting booth. Meeting minutes of public hearings are printed on tissue paper...

    Or in other words, Yarone and his administration sees Pittsburgh as a semi-hot girlfriend with low self-esteem. He slaps her around and calls her a whore, but she'll never leave him because she "will never find anyone better" and "nobody else would ever love her the way he does." They bring Frank Kass and pals to build a vomitorium for out-of-towners to frequent: we should be so lucky.

    // I'm still waiting on that Tesla Factory.

    Big ups to Doug "the prez" Shields for gettin' his irish up over verizon's subcontracting practices.

  22. There is nothing here about providing free insulation or other handouts to people who live near a development.

    A CBA is about creating opportunities. e.g. The "Rooney Rule"

  23. I am not real sure why this administration is failing to admit that protests are going to continue whether or not they (this admin) believe these are "real" Pittsburghers. What? real Pittsburghers at odds with this administration, oh how could that be, they elected me, well at least a small percentage elected LR, they got YZ, MH, with the package.

    Very arrogant thinking on their part, will be interesting to watch in the coming months, what real outside protesters look like. Can you say wake up call?

  24. Tom Cox had plenty of power with the Tom Murphy administration, much like YZ. Nothing new there.

    The URA is not a place to 'natrually settle' anything -- unless it is Smoke and FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). That's what they want. That's what they'll get -- as long as the URA is allowed to linger on the landscape.

    It boils down to accountability. Who elected this guy? Well, that is an accountability Q. We can't really make the URA accountable -- so it should be nuked. At the least, allow for RETENTION VOTES of all Authority Board Memebers until it is nuked.

  25. An annotation of your fine work, as promised.

    For limited time only, Infinonyvision features three themed videos . . . can anyone decipher the theme?

  26. I suspect the "insulation" being requested involves acoustic protection. The problems created by operation of Heinz Field should generate pessimism regarding neighbor-friendly operation of an open-air concert venue by the same crew.

  27. Let's remember that Yarone was made acting mayor when O'Connor was ill. Someone put him in the executive branch at that time.

  28. Can some answer the question who put YZ in the executive branch?

  29. Anon 10:26

    Answer: Destiny.

    And, destiny is fickle.

  30. Reportedly it was O'Connor, rather dramatically via teleconference. Urban legend has it Dennis Regan had a hand heavily involved.

  31. Oh and then other urban legend identifies Ferlo as the determinative operator.

  32. But if you want the real answer that's relevant to today, well then obviously, Luke Ravenstahl.