Thursday, May 9, 2013

Debating Points: It's Peduto's time, and sad to say it's not Wagner's.


Toughness and savvy under pressure. Community involvement. Sound transportation priorities. Efficiency and collaboration. Independence.

From recent WTAE television and KDKA radio mayoral debates, five exchanges stand out confirming everything we've begun to demonstrate about what to expect under four more years of Wagnerstahl-style machine governance, and how the future with a newer, broader coalition is a lot brighter and open to possibilities.

Bear with me because the full debates aren't online (yet), but if anyone disputes my account let's have at it.
 
1. Jack Wagner, when required to compliment Bill Peduto, allowed that the latter is "very creative" and that he liked "the financial piece."

I am not sure to what "financial piece" Wagner is referring, but if it was the "midnight" pension solution to the state takeover threat of 2010, that was a generous compliment indeed. Talk about a Mayor being stubborn, sweating out Councilors with deadline pressure, and being unwilling to participate or communicate. Talk about other Council members covering for the Mayor, and assailing Bill Peduto for all manner of supposed treasons. Talk about working with his colleagues and being a part of bringing all his fellow Councilors together in the end. Talk about the ability to negotiate with the state through the crucial last minute and beyond, as Finance Chair. And talk about protecting public assets, keeping taxes down and employees on the job delivering services.

Meanwhile, Burgess, Lavelle and Smith -- Wagner and Ravenstahl allies, all -- were urging us to cave in to the mayor's parking privatization strategy, likely to have burdened us with problems.

The entire episode encapsulates Peduto's own argument for himself.

2. Bill Peduto spoke out about community benefits agreements, and Jack Wagner said, "That's exactly what we did with the TIF at PNC."

Andy Starnes, P-G
I don't mean to denigrate the use of tax increment financing for PNC and what PNC Bank has done and is doing in general. But that's not a new hockey arena, or a casino, or an amphitheater and hotel, or a shopping center and a hotel, and it's hardly a matter of neighborhoods Downtown.

The mere idea of the conversations Pittsburgh has been having about reforming and improving development policy seems like something Wagner might need to catch up on. He doesn't need to love community benefits agreements like the progressive left, but he will need to have the vocabulary and a respect for the concept.

3. Jack Wagner said that traffic and delays at the Squirrel Hill tunnel is "something that's holding back the region," and that he would like to pursue avenues to "do something about that."

Hmm. Lots of transportation needs. I hate rush-hour traffic as well, and when combined with a tunnel, throw in some construction... buddy, you might as well be driving in a major city.

What might Mr. Wagner have in mind to solve Squirrel Hill tunnel crisis holding back the region?

Might it be the Mon-Fayette Expressway? Read all about it. Interestingly it provides a link to James Dodaro, not to mention by inference the heavy building trades.

Pittsburgh faces major decisions on how to spend its precious federal and state transportation money. I feel about the MFX roughly the same way I feel on high-speed Maglev and the way Indiana Jones feels regarding a lot of ancient idols: "It belongs in a museum!"


4. Peduto wants to work with the County to consolidate the RAD parks and maybe even "merge" the parks system. Wagner came out totally against that, suggesting it's a giveaway to the County (and to  Fitzgerald!) to let somebody else get their hands on (spending) those sweet, sweet RAD dollars.

The idea that joint management over top of joint purchasing and joint service provisions could save us significantly, and even enhance service, hasn't seemed to register with Jack Wagner. Mine! Ours! Our money to play with! To each our own!

5. Wagner disagreed with Peduto on the need to conduct a national search for a new Police Chief, calling it specifically  a "waste of time" and a "distraction."

WPXI
Make of that what you will.

The idea of casting a very wide net for such an important position and looking for a special kind of person, who has succeeded in really tackling non-unique challenges relating to both professional management and community policing, sounds a lot more comforting.

In these debates, Peduto is demonstrating that though alas, he may not be our savior -- he could micromanage the many policy initiatives he feels so passionately about, or he could occasionally feud with any Mayor's inevitable rivals, missing out on optimal collaboration -- he would be a lot more independent, collaborative, cutting-edge and grassroots-oriented than what Pittsburgh's been getting.

And Wagner might as well be wearing a sash that reads, "What we've been getting."

43 comments:

  1. Bram ---- the one thing that has me (finally) leaning towards Billy P. is the fact that he has promised a thorough search for a police chief.

    I have been on this site for weeks arguing against the perceived Ravenstahl-Wagner link; but, if Wagner cannot see the need for an outside consideration, he is indeed not up to this job.

    You have me thinking.

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  2. Guy Costa was passing out a letter to public works employees while on the job saying Bill would look internally too for the Chief. Both ways Peduto?!

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    1. RE: National Search. I don't know about any letters but, seeing as how Pittsburgh is part of the nation, yes, it makes sense that candidates from the 'Burgh would be included in it. It just means that the search is not limited to Pittsburghers only. Let the best person (in the nation which includes our city) win...

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  3. Parks. Ha.

    Both are failing greatly on that topic.

    We don't have a director of BBI, nor is there a director of Citiparks now. Only acting. And, that person is from accounting.

    Bill Peduto talked about parks at the event on the South Side with two mentions of the trees along East Carson Street.

    Jack Wagner said he'd fix the bent rims on the basketball courts -- and they're still not fixed.

    i think A.J. Richardson crushed them all in the radio debate on KDKA today.

    The KDKA moderator failed when he advanced that done deal mentality and said nothing about the general election.

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    1. If you really think AJ Richardson "crushed them all" today then you must not have been paying attention. Really? Mopeds? "Project X?" Are you serious?

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  4. I just watched network TV for the first time in months. The ads that Wagner's friends are running are really as bad as I have seen. I'm afraid to stay up and see what they run after midnight.

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  5. I've been resisting the Jack = more of the same message up to now and I'm not a Peduto fanboy but if Jack really believes that there's simply no way that we could find a better police chief by looking beyond our borders then I can't vote for him. That is ridiculous and it is everything that is wrong and has been wrong with the painfully insular Pittsburgh city government that has gotten us to this point with an indicted police chief and a probably-soon-to-be-indicted mayor. If Peduto is the only candidate who is willing to take off the blinders and say you know what maybe we could benefit from some fresh eyes and a different perspective then I'll be voting for him. Jack has really disappointed me in this race. I thought he was far enough outside of the system to offer something different but the closer I've looked at him and the more I've talked with his campaign staff the more disillusioned I've become. So I guess I'm voting for Peduto. And I hope he can really deliver something different. God knows we need it.

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  6. Eleven days out and this informed voter still has not made a decision on the Mayor's race. Yes there are clear differences among the candidates, but do I want to call any of them Mayor? Might just write in Pittsburgh's own "Profile in Courage" Paul O'Neill. Any other suggestions?

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    1. Suggest getting out to one or more of the various debates, and really listening, even submitting a question or two. In fact, when you do get out to these events, you get to talk with judicial candidates, too. They go specifically to talk with voters who are interested in learning about the candidates.

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  7. With Wagner touting his experience in finance, not getting the basics of CBAs is not a point in his favor.

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  8. With Wagner touting his ability to clean up government, having an enormous backlog of audits left undone when he left the State Auditor General's office does not reassure me that he would wield a vigorous or efficient broom.

    "Benign" neglect is the most generous interpretation of Wagner's decisions to allow antiquated procedures and technology to so long delay accountability processes.

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  9. Don't fool yourself. It doesn't matter how well intentioned Peduto is. Local elections are about organization, not issues. The Wagner campaign is more organized than Peduto. If issues mattered, Ravenstahl would not have survived an election. Look at the numbers. There are far too many voters in constituency groups than there are people who are not. The people in those groups reliably go to the polls and they're loyal to Wagner. That's the calculus. Wagner wins.

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    1. This is the first I've heard that Wagner's "operation" (ground game?) is formidable.

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    3. "Constituency groups"? Was I supposed to join a group to figure out for whom to vote?

      What if one of my groups wants to vote one way and the other wants to vote the other?

      And these groups have gotten loyal to Wagner within the last two months? Based on what?

      I listened to a candidate forum the other day presented by the Design Center, and with questions from architects, designers, engineers, etc., the pattern of the candidates' responses seemed to repeat. Peduto, Wagner, Wheatley (alphabetical order) spoke of future, past, and what ought to be, respectively. Almost every question, almost every topic.

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    4. Wagner signs in Greenfield just went up two days ago. That doesn't seem very fast for a few blocks from Lamb's office.

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    5. Shorter Anon 2:33: "ALL IS WELL!"

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  10. "If issues mattered, Ravenstahl would not have survived an election."

    Yes, that is so true. The active voting bloc that scared Peduto off once and was making this a laugher until Luke quit was, essentially, an anti-Peduto bloc, and was so for a number of years. How many of these people will gravitate to him now? How many new active voters can Peduto muster, where he and others have failed in the recent past? One PGH pol truism is that GOP voters and candidates are inconsequential, another is that voter participation in primary elections is pitifully, painfully low. Peduto needs to change that to win, and if he does, it will be a remarkable accomplishment.

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    1. The "anti-Peduto" voting block was always just a "pro-Ravenatahl" voting block or a "Bad half of O'Connor's splintered coalition" voting block, manufacturing and disseminating "anti-Peduto" messages. How do you think those messages are holding up, in hindsight, among what was once that block? And you still implicitly resist any suggestion that the full flowering of the Electronic Age has changed anything in regards to "issues"... good luck.

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    2. Interesting as well, Anons 2:33 and 2:37, that you both in your desperate rallying / spin attempts describe wholly conceptual math using historical "blocs" of individuals, speculate about behavior under changed circumstances, and appeal to hearth wisdom to hold it all together.

      Everybody is actually polling this election all the time. If you wanted to sell good news for Wagner, you should just say so. Let's all relax and not cause any more collateral damage.

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  11. Joe Brimmeier gave money to Peduto. Are you ready to clean up government corruption? LOL!

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  12. Mark Aloe as a big contributor to Peduto? Google that guy. Laughable how people pretend Bill is a reformer. Hey Bram, how much did you donate to Bill?

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    1. My four-figure contribution was made in memory of the long work of Comet Senior Political Analyst Morton Reichbaum,1932 - 2013. I can only imagine the pithy one-liners he'd use to capture the City's story today.

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    2. Oh. One fewer thinking person...

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    3. Full disclosure, flybylight. I don't know who he would have supported in this race, post-Harper, post-swiftboat ads, and he had nothing against Bill Peduto. But Morton credited Luke with "changing the face of this city". He was really happy to see Pgh coming back with education and technology. A thinking person to be sure, but 80. Never once touched the Internet of his own accord. Got most of his local news from television, read the paper mostly for business and sports. Only thing he had against Luke was how he was *constantly* giving medals and awards to police officers, every time he turns on that station.

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  13. Mopeds on busways. Sure. He didn't mention segways.

    Yes, I guess I should not have posted above that AJ Crushed them ALL. Rather he crushed a few of his answers. I stand corrected.

    The best music to my ears from Peduto came at the end of the KDKA radio debate was about his NO vote for a TIF for a corporate development with PNC. He hit Jack Wagner hard on that point in the closing.

    I'd be very worried if Wagner is going to be so PRO TIF and Taxbreak for some.

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  14. Four figure, huh? How much was it Bram? How about some transparency and disclosure.

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    1. You already know. And you knew already I liked Bill too, so now I guess that confirms it to everybody for whom that was unclear. Since I've never fracked up the City nor harmed anybody that I can recall, I assume Bill's not too upset to be indelibly "linked" to me in this manner. CONNECT THE DOTS.

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    2. Is that all you gave, or is there more? So just so we are clear, since no one has fracked up the City, are others that gave thousands of dollars and never hurt anyone equally as noble as you? Please confirm $4,000 is all you donated, or disclose more. That is a lot of money Mr. reichbaum. are you trying to buy influence?

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    3. There was a $25 donation made a couple months earlier, but when I saw the Swift Boat ad I got really upset. That's it. And I already have all the influence I can handle, I just think the City needs a mayor more beholden to these guys than to these guys. If a Peduto administration gives away public resources on the cheap to his friends, mismanages major departments and culminates in a series of indictments, I will accept full accountability for misguiding people.

      Would that the FOP and the heavy building trades would do the same.

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    4. So if someone else saw Peduto vote against the PNC TIF and got really upset it is ok for them to donate to Jack, right? Or, if someone saw Bill vote against the demo of the Civic Arena but then tell the Pens in private he would have been there for them had his vote been necessary, and that person got upset and donated to Jack, that would be ok? Or, if someone realizes that all of his "100 ideas" would cost taxpayers billions of dollars if he actually pushed them through and then donated to Jack, that would be ok? Or, if someone is concerned that Peduto took $50k from mister "resignation letter" and "king fracker" Fitz and got concerned and donated to Jack, that would be ok, right?

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    5. With Jack's campaign running to perpetuate rule by the self-centered and venal Iron Triangle of building trades, developers and public safety unions - forwarding no new ideas while expressing little familiarity with already common ones - and having demonstrated zero aptitude for modernizing government as Auditor General, no, it's not really "okay" to support Jack if you're asking my honest opinion. Assuming you're not one of the aforementioned, if you had that big a problem with Peduto you should supported Lamb or found a candidate about something besides the status quo.

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    6. Actually, I did support Lamb and there are a lot of us who are now supporting Jack because we know how petty Bill is. We also know is the most two-faced politician out there. He will also be the most vengeful. He has been telling all the "downtown" crowd for years he is their guy, but only went against them when he didn't become mayor against lil Lukey. He was before the NS Stage AE before he was against it. He is like that with a lot of things. PNC TIF. Tax abatement for developers. The list goes on. Seriously, if he wins he will have a lot of people in his sights and the tyrant Fitz will rule. Get ready for a rocky ride Pittsburgh. Then when investment flees (with people fast behind it), I wonder who everyone will blame? That is Bill's game - blame.

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  15. Jack Wagner's new mailer uses Darlene Harris' official City photo. Did the campaign pay the City to use it? Is her nasty and uncalled-for quote an official City action? Does she insult on working hours?

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    1. I'm still wondering about those Halloween crackers with her name plastered on them, purchased by the City and approved by the Finance Department for some reason. Had I gobbled the peanut butter crackers mislabeled as cheddar cheese (did she buy rejects?) the City would be facing a nice lawsuit for my hospital bills.

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    2. Kinda like all those City employees that are on FB all day during working hours.

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  16. Tangential comment:

    I don't know what Wagner is referring to (which, of course, is completely his fault), but there are in fact smart things we could do to improve eastern corridor traffic and transportation beside the MFE (which at this point I consider dead, and certainly a successful development of the ALMONO site will put the final nail in the coffin).

    Probably the best single major transit project we could do in the entire region would be to extend the East Busway to Monroeville. It wouldn't be all that expensive and would provide a high-capacity for commuters to Downtown, Oakland, and the East End.

    Another thing we should be thinking about doing (although this is going to be a heavy lift politically for quite a while) is congestion pricing on the currently-congested bridge/tunnel routes, including the Squirrel Hill tunnel.

    And in fact you could combine these ideas and use at least some of the proceeds from congestion pricing on the Squirrel Hill tunnel to finance extending the East Busway. But you probably shouldn't pitch it that way since we should be extending the East Busway even if congestion pricing remains politically untenable.

    Anyway, I doubt any mayoral candidate in the near future is going to come out in favor of congestion pricing, and extending the East Busway is really outside of their jurisdiction. But I didn't want to leave untouched the impression that the MFE is the only conceivable means of addressing the Squirrel Hill Tunnel issue.

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    1. I can't speak about the other tunnels and highway congestion, but the Squirrel Hill Tunnel situation would be greatly improved if PennDOT went back to closing the Squirrel Hill entrance to the Parkway East during afternoon rush hour (4:00-6:00). They did this when I was a kid, and it helped minimize the "flow-in" traffic that has to merge left.

      There is already difficulty with the "flow-off" traffic, especially with those who wait until the last minute to get out of or into the "exit only" lane. With all that weaving, eliminating one diagonal serves well.

      (I live in Greenfield close to that entrance, and it is okay with most of us neighbors, because so many of those folks are just cutting through Schenley Park and using us as a funnel point.

      Used to be, though, that traffic going to the Waterfront was nonexistent, and that exit only saw traffic going home to Homestead and neighboring communities. Now there is a dinnertime rush to the movies and dinner added in.

      They tried to sell us on the MFE to solve this, but we were not that stupid. Hazelwood is our neighbor, and of course we would defend it, but beyond that there was no way that expressway was going to cut into that tunnel traffic in any significant way.

      If one is in the through traffic - if one gets into the left lane and sticks in it through the tunnel - it's actually not that bad. I spent four or five years (around a decade ago) white-knuckling it to get to our kid in daycare in Wilkins Twp. before 6:00, after leaving work at 5:00. It was a rare day when we didn't make it.

      No, that Tunnel is definitely not a priority, and is an easy modification if it is. Everything else mentioned here is more important.

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  17. The best single major transit we could do in the entire region is to allow bikes along the busways.

    Bikes through the Wabash Tunnel too. Bike through Mt. Washington's light rail tunnel. Bikes out to Oakland via Strip District. Bikes on Forbes Ave. bus lane. Easy.

    Bikes from Carnegie along the bike lane to West Carson Street.

    I'm okay with bikes along a divide on the HOV lane to Perry Ave exit too.

    Of course this transit needs to be sensible and safe with drivers and riders being properly educated and making yields as necessary and prudent. Of course that access can be terminated for unsafe behaviors too.

    Then after that occurs, the next major best transit move for the region is to put light rail onto the EAST BUSWAY instead of buses.

    A minor upgrade of OCTOPUS cards would be swell too, then we'd be able to prove what suburban routes need on-demand van services to a hub rather than big buses in the fringes.

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    1. Adding a lot of bike routes wouldn't count as a major transit project in terms of expenditures, which is a good thing (lots of bang for the buck).

      Light rail on the East Busway would not have nearly the same impact on ridership as extending the East Busway to Monroeville, and generally doesn't really make sense given the main strength of the East Busway is that it can serve as a collector for many different routes with sections off the Busway--the actual route of the East Busway itself is not ideal.

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  18. I wish for more talk about the Peduto NO vote for the PNC TIF.

    That could be a wedge issue.

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    1. Why? What more do you need to hear?

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