Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday: All Good News, Really, in Retrospect!


Now our leaders are outright competing to save the libraries:

Next week, [Doug Shields] will introduce legislation to shift $600,000 from the city's fuel account, which is flush because of lower-than-expected fuel prices. The second payment would be part of the 2010 budget, which council can amend after it gets it from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl early next month. (P-G, Rich Lord)

It is only a two-year stopgap, but thus far it doesn't sound very much like the Library trustees are enthused about having received the breathing room. Because now there are costly repairs and upgrades that need to take place at those particular branches. You know, the ones that had been slated for shuttering due solely to low rates of use. It's weird.

Anyway, Shields' move comes on the heels of this:

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he is willing to increase the city's contribution to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to help keep branches open.

"I don't anticipate the city will be able to do the whole $1.2 million," he said, citing the Carnegie Library's one-year deficit. "But we'll be pushing to locate funding for the four facilities and the library as a whole." (Trib, Bill Zlatos)

That represented the completion of a 179° shift over the course of a two week period in the Mayor's position, but a very welcome one. I've said it before: if it weren't for elections, democracy totally wouldn't be worthwhile.

##

The Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime is back in the center ring for the moment.

David M. Kennedy, heralded 13 months ago as a solution to a surge in shootings across the city, was back in Pittsburgh yesterday preparing the way for an experienced team to "jump start" a long-awaited anti-violence plan here. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Good.

"It may have taken longer than what we anticipated, but we've got to get it right," said Mr. Huss. Implementation of the program was slowed by drawn-out contract talks with Pitt, and the need to shift funding after money initially slated for PIRC was spent on other public safety needs. (ibid)

Okay. One can only hope this initiative has consistently received as much of the administration's energies as, say, clearing the path for exciting development projects. It seems like that is what gets the administration up in the morning.

Mr. Kennedy said such a meeting could occur in Pittsburgh "within several months." (ibid)

What's a several? Is it fair to say five? Okay, let's say the beginning of April. We need to keep on keeping track if only for due diligence's sake. Sooner or later it's only natural to wonder whether either the priorities have changed somewhere along the narrative, or maybe we learned things we didn't anticipate about the Kennedy model, or else possibly we encountered resistance from one of the many centers of authority which have a role in this. All these things would be excellent to know.

##

Speaking of things returning to the forefront:

A new commuter train serving Lawrenceville, Oakland and Hazelwood could be built for $80.9 million and draw new development to those neighborhoods, according to a report presented Wednesday to the Pittsburgh City Council. (Trib, Matthew Santoni)

Newsflash: this thing might actually happen!!

I heard there was a URA pep rally in Lawrenceville yesterday evening, concerning plans being crafted by experts from on high for "Allegheny Riverfront" development -- and this little choo-choo actually was mentioned as a selling point. Despite the fact that it is Bill Peduto's baby. So the takeaway for the day might be to start buying up properties in Hazelwood, y'all.

12 comments:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pittsburgh_Mayor_2007.PNG

    Four more inevitable years?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hope Luke doesn't give a dime to the Library. Honestly, when is the last time any of you on here have been to the Library? Don't lie. Hardly anyone goes to the Library and system is too large.

    Why are the bloggers criticizing the Library for paying an outrageous salary to Barbara Mistick, which includes a Duq. Club membership? If this were Luke or any other organization you would be screaming bloody murder.

    The fact of the matter is the most people with a brain will be angry is the City gives them one more dime. They have mismanaged an oversized organization and we don't need anymore wasteful spending in this City.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, maybe I'm in the minority, but I go to my neighborhood library all the time.

    They have a nice website that allows you to reserve any book, cd or movie you want from any library in the Carnegie system. When it arrives, you receive notification via e-mail and as soon as you walk in they have it ready for you at the front desk.

    I would much rather see public money go to the library than one of Verbanic's cronies.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am in that minority also, as I have used my local city library more in the last 5 years, than the ten years prior. I routinely order books through inter library loan and they arrive at my local branch within a couple of days.

    ReplyDelete
  5. More people go to the libraries in a year than the TOTAL attendance at Pirates & Steelers games.

    I've had a library card for almost 2 decades & it's enabled me to read an incredible number of books & to learn things along the way.

    I hope the people of Pittsburgh will call their council members & ask them to vote for this short term funding. There are hundreds of library supporters talking with elected officials and the CLP staff & board members. People in the neighborhoods are using their libraries more than ever during this economic downturn.

    Hopefully the politicians holding the purse strings & the library's management will get together and agree to short term funding, keeping all the branches open and working, in earnest, towards creating a dependable funding stream.

    This is not a political issue, nor is it a photo opp.

    In case anyone forgot, PNC Park & Heinz Field get $13 million/yr. from RAD. In comparison, the library gets only slightly more for service it gives year round, at 19 branches.

    I haven't had a chance to go back & check stories on how/why the RAD was created in the 1990s, but I'm pretty sure its goal was to fund the library, the stadiums were added later.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Where does that anger come from, Anonymous 8:18? Next you'll be pissing on school crossing guards because, hell, there are fewer Pittsburgh Public School students every year, and they don't vote or pay taxes! Who needs 'em?

    For the record, I go to my local public libraries about twice a week. Same with my wife and two kids.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Tacitus: I think we're going to see a very different map this election. Acklin is going to well in the East End neighborhoods, as DeSantis did, and also surprisingly well in the southern neighborhoods, where he has family and spent a fair amount of his youth. Meanwhile Harris is going to take a big share of the African-American communities, despite Hop Kendricks endorsement of Acklin. Won't be surprised if Luke wins though, due to the split opposition, but with less than 50 percent of vote.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The library system is a great asset. However, the people who have managed it in the past years are not. Plenty of serious mistakes have been made by upper management.

    I would love to see heads roll -- then the library system can be saved.

    Those who are not good stewards should not be rewarded for their serious screw ups.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My position is basically almost always Libertarian so I think libraries should be supported by an independent non profit.

    However, even I see some value in funding the libraries for a few years and setting a deadline for their becoming independent of government funds.

    People need to realise, the city is structuraly bankrupt and cannot make good on all the promises it's made. It can't even show a clean set of books and disclose it's obligations.

    The myth that by putting all the eggs in the government basket we can get away from making hard choices is false, instead, by trying to hide and evade our problems we risk having a fiscal meltdown in which most of our eggs are broken.

    Yes, most likely a non profit will have to close a branch or two.

    Ironically, the money already raised for IMHO misguided "Pittsburgh Promise" would have gone a long way to creating a private library endowment.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great to see some optimism from Bram. I was also happy to see a news blip about PIRC, more library funding options, and the commuter rail study. Sweet stuff. It's too bad the last mayoral debate was wasted muddling through the same issues instead of discussing any of these important issues (at least according to the run-down in the P-G.)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Why would the City (taxpayers) give the Library ANY money unless they can show 1) they are sustainable, 2) they won't waste money on Barbara Mistick and 3) they won't waste millions building new libraries? Think people. This is outrageous. So we give them millions of dollars and they shutter five libraries three years from now. What have we accomplished? Why not give the buildings to the neighborhoods and let them raise funds to keep them open and independent of Carnegie system. I bet they would do better.

    ReplyDelete