Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday's Thoughts on Our Precious Region: Little China Girl

In an enchantingly wrought prequel to the MGM classic, Oz the Great and Powerful is shown to have been a carnival magician and a small-time rogue in 1880's Kansas, who, upon escaping a circus in a hot-air balloon, gets caught up in another one of those dang tornadoes.

Oscar "Oz" Diggs, played by James Franco who we should really all give a chance despite everything, lands smack in the middle of the chaos and intrigue of total cosmic warfare, where he comes to rely on his prestidigitation skills. Fortunately he has a good heart. Witches tend to have a thing for him, anyway, and SPOILER ALERT: he makes solid choices.

The Pittsburgh Penguins can do no wrong. Establishing a true and harmonious marriage of Sidney Crosby to Evgeni Malkin amongst the team, line mates included, is all that is standing between this team and the very pinnacle of impervious hockey -- given a consistency of passionate, well-practiced team wide effort.

They released Debo. It seems cool.

The Allegheny County Jail is breeding variously nightmarish headlines, and that may be no surprise because across Pennsylvania, jails are breeding nightmarish headlines. Surely we can do something about this. Perhaps the right honourable Allegheny County Executive can set aside an intensive week to get to know things well and truly intimately over at the jail dahn there on 2nd Ave. Nothing precipitous should be implied to follow -- no rash decisions anyway, heaven fore fend!

Nick Tubach
Yet perhaps ACE Fitzgerald could apply a heaping helping of concern to the issue, suggest some priorities, gather a public table. If Fitz wants to get fancy, I'm sure the Alliance for Police Accountability, the Black Political Empowerment Project (or B-PEP), the Allegheny County District Attorney and the "new" US Attorney as well as others would be happy to contribute their broader perspectives on the pregnancy of the issue.

The logistics of oversight alone -- chaos. Uncharted?

Getting around in Pittsburgh will never be the same, now that amateurish yahoos can grab a public bicycle and piddle around.

"Bike-share programs like this are critically important to attract and retain the talent that we have here," Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. "To have that cool, young, vibrant, hip city that young investors want requires projects like this." (P-G, Moriah Balingit)

There will be at least 50 "solar-powered stations" for point-to-point travel. There are obviously a lot of unanswered questions. Will there be a public bike-share station near the corner of Rt. 28 / East Ohio St. and 16th St., or won't there be? How and for what purpose is Walnut Capital harnessing the power of the sun? And finally, will Ravenstahl capitalize on this momentum and do another Mayor by mentioning traffic calming as part of what is becoming his very broad, deep commitment to road-sharing culture?

Rescue Me (Lance Mannion)
The South Side Intoxication District bliztes are moving forward, though it is hard to say whether or not the Pittsburgh Sociable City Plan is also. There is some verbiage about "code compliance" with respect to "bar inspections" that deals with the "occupancy code," and some other qualified verbiage regarding "loitering." I'm sure the Dept. of Public Safety and the Police Bureau is under a world of stress right now, especially with respect to how security at commercial hot spots is maintained.

That's why I have this genius idea. Can't municipal firefighters get active in enforcing occupancy and "fire" codes and safety violations? What do you think is better for business -- a bunch of jaded, stern-looking police officers filing in the doors like it's prohibition, or a bevy of fire men and women concerned with caring for your safety? The loudest drunks on Carson Street will be manning the doors to help them get proper head counts, "to do their duty!"

If we need more recruits, we'll get more hired. Pittsburgh will be rolling in increased dinner and entertainment receipts and expanded and higher-paying job diversity once young and older adults get also to partake of the South Side again.

Controller Michael Lamb earned the Democratic party committee endorsement, and Councilman Bill Peduto earned that of the Steelworkers. State Rep. Jake Wheatley has checked in to the race, as has Michael Larkin, who funnily enough works for the ACJ.

That's it for today. Remember: if you don't have swift service, you can't have any transit. How can you have any transit if you don't have swift service?

A/V EXPERIENCE: David Bowie - China Girl (Live); We're off to see the wizard...; Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall (live)


  1. Getting around in Pittsburgh will never be the same, now that amateurish yahoos can grab a public bicycle and piddle around.

    Bram. Bram, Bram, Bram, Bram, Bram, Bram, Bram, Bram. When you're trying to be over-the-top-silly-facetious, you've got to make it more evident, puh-lease.

    As if getting around in Pittsburgh for most of us is a treasured experience now?

    As if people who don't use cars are eligible for denigrating labels (amateurish yahoos) but those four-wheel-operators have been doing so well in recent years?

    As if moving between work, home, culture and social events is piddling around, while having to move your business out of SouthShore because you can't imagine not parking your car outside of your job is a sign of strategic foresight?

    I almost wonder if you're not prepping your April Fool's column, or if some StuxN'at virus hasn't hijacked your password (still using yinzer123?)

  2. Vannevar - Hello, my name is Bram, and I'm a driver. I haven't biked the city streets since I was 12. I'm expressing my road rage in what I hope is a healthy way, stimulating a discussion about a rapidly evolving and strategically efficient civic program that I'm never going to like until I get on a bike again for a while.

    Coming around into the driveway at high speed, I tore my chin and neck up into turkey's wattle when I was a kid, 30 stitches, and I never really hopped back on a bike much. That's why the E. Ohio St. station is so crucial.

  3. Bram! we have got to go ride. coffee, pastry!

  4. The last two times I've tried, riding a bike gave me a migraine. I walked well over five miles today, some for giving reports and some because .08 is so easy to hit, but won't try a bike again for many years.

  5. Vannevar, I've decided to get brave and try again. Pittsburgh streets scare the (seven words that Carlin himself could not have written on Bram's blog) but I'm going to plot out what seem to be safer, easier streets and use the trails.

    So glad you've joined PPT as our biker dude! Yay! And I'm gonna join Bike Pgh.

  6. Wow. I thought everybody who reads (and writes) this blog bikes. Guess I'll have to do it for yunz. On Sunday I piddled around South Oakland and scouted out the parklet along Lawn St., above the 2nd Ave. Tech. Ctr. (check it aht!). Saturday I toured Beechwood Blvd. and hung out in Calvary Cemetery for the sunset. And I bike to work almost everyday. You haven't really seen the city until you see it on a bike. Too many nooks and crannies that aren't easily accessible on foot or behind the wheel.

  7. @Mysterious Greenfield Guy

    Hey, thanks for the suggestions of a few good bike trips. Yeah, I'm definitely seeing so much more of the city now that I'm walking to bus stops and I'm looking forward to getting back on a two wheels to add a new dimension or two or three.

    Was very glad to see Bram's links to the bikeshare program, all part of what is defined nationally as a "Complete Streets" approach:

    "Instituting a Complete Streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities."

    And thought I would share Bike Pgh executive director Scott Bricker's "real quick hit guide to an ideal Complete Sreets policy:

    • Includes a vision for how and why the community wants to complete its streets

    • Specifies that ‘all users’ includes pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit passengers of all ages and abilities, as well as trucks, buses and automobiles.

    • Encourages street connectivity and aims to create a comprehensive, integrated, connected network for all modes.

    • Is understood by all agencies to cover all roads.

    • Applies to both new and retrofit projects, including design, planning, maintenance, and operations, for the entire right of way.

    • Makes any exceptions specific and sets a clear procedure that requires high-level approval.

    • Directs the use of the latest and best design criteria and guidelines while recognizing the need for flexibility in balancing user needs.

    • Directs that complete streets solutions will complement the context of the community.

    • Establishes performance standards with measurable outcomes.

    • Includes specific next steps for implementation of the policy.

  8. You just managed to blog while mentioning some of my favorite things: Jail studies,David Bowie's "Little China Girl", "The Wizard of Oz" and the word "verbiage"! I'm now hooked to your blog for life!

  9. Atty gen Kane announces criminal charges against various turnpike officials including Joe Brimmeier, Fitty's main man for Port Authority CEO. Now, lots of us knew of the grand jury investigation, so are we to believe that Fitzgerald, like Ravenstahl, believed joe innocent until proven guilty? Should Fitzgerald toss Joe B off the board..oh yeah certainly.

  10. Yes, Fitzgerald very properly asserts the "innocent until guilty" foundation of our criminal justice system. But I would argue that there was enough evidence to suggest high caution before attempting to appoint Brimmeier as interim CEO of an Authority that currently needs very strong leadership for coalition building on both local and state levels.

  11. Hmmm, well, I speak as a turnip that fell off the truck here in Pittsburgh not that long ago and who has rookie-mistaked all over 'da Burgh (yes, Bram, I well remember your response to that cutesy linguistic mangling of the name of your hometown, a resounding "ew," but case in point.)

    If a rookie wants to make fewer mistakes as regards their impacts on the community, they listen hard, consult widely, show respect for varied viewpoints, pursue due diligence research, and consider long and hard before throwing major weight around. And yeah, then thoughtfully use the weight they were elected to wield, with the full knowledge that clout always carries some cost in terms of community involvement and convinced consensus. Yes, even the most wisely used, legitimate clout might well do some real damage here and there, as well as some real good, since even the wisest veteran is not omniscient. Yes, political Jainism can result in paralysis.

    But after Brimmeier, there are many who hope to see some significant changes in deliberation and consultation processes, based on increased awareness of the damages already done to public confidence, most especially within community development and advocacy groups. As someone deeply appreciative of Fitzgerald's support for public transit, I believe that rational worries were raised about Fitzgerald's true priorities and respect for democratic processes in light of what seemed a poorly considered choice for such a diplomatically sensitive position during the transit funding fight crunch in Harrisburg.

  12. Are you guys seriously that blind to Ftiz's true colors? Seriously, what will it take? I just want to know so that I can point it out when it happens. He doesn't care about anything other than power and money and old school politics. Things like transit are just a means to and end. Throw a few bones in an effort to consolidate control and had over power and money to old machine politicos. But, say a few progressive things in the meantime so that the followers, well, follow. Can't wait until he gets a hand in the Mayors office.

  13. Anon @ 228... I concur Fitzgerald saw in Brimmeier someone who could do for the Port Authority what he did at the Turnpike and that was turn vendors dollars into political donations for his own use. Fitzgerald merely became Brimmeiers new Bob Mellow and the entity to be milked was the Port authority and its vendors. And pedutos encouraging greater city/county cooperation. Sorta like when he put his name on the line for Mike Veon