Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday: Our Commonwealth, Our Streets, Our History

Major League (1989)
by Bram Reichbaum

Our State Legislature (R-Fox News) did not pass a sorely needed transportation bill, did not liberalize liquor sales or distribution, and did not tackle state pensions this season. And it certainly did not take part in Obamacare Medicaid expansion, thank you very much. But it did pass a structurally balanced budget on time and without raising taxes for the third year in a row, just like Mayor Ravenstahl used to do.

Corbett commemorated the occasion of those failures and that adequacy by taking credit for some modest job growth. The boasts are being questioned.

We know that liquor privatization became "tied to" paying for roads, bridges and public transit. As in: some Democrats would have caved in and voted for liberalizing liquor sales and distribution in some GOP fashion -- if the transportation bill was of commensurate seriousness.

And so we learned that having "roads and bridges" tied to public transit is also crucially, subtly important. A third rail, if you will. And high voltage - it can evidently short out a neighborhood.

Civic transportation is a sizable government expense that is executed in this world - and in this very nation - to magnificent economic and other social results. Yet that does not deter many in the Legislature who see only intrinsically corrupt and fundamentally bloated transportation authorities, which entail organized labor forces (gracious!) with which to contend. So they would really like to toss out the bathwater, baby or no.

Fortunately and so far, their attempt to kill urban public transit by attrition is taking place in what is essentially a Blue-minded state. Although you would not know that to look at its Legislature, thanks to the unpopularity of Governor Ed Rendell (D-Philadelphia) by the end of his terms, some Bonusgate razzle dazzle from Attorney General Corbett, and routine gerrymandering.


The evidently questionable detention of two Black men standing outside of a community meeting leads the Post-Gazette to voice mainstream concerns about instances of seemingly arbitrary and capricious policing, out of line with what many find acceptable even appreciating the challenges of the job. Out-front City and Bureau leadership on this aggravation is naturally at ebb tide.

Homewood Nation has been chronicling this latest thread intimately and doggedly.

See also Homewood Nation's stirring musings on incorporating new land-bank powers optimally as part of a strategic, "overall" muni-regional development plan that can transcend both community-group wish lists and brute imperialism.


Allegheny County rechristened the Comet publisher's go-to bridge, the Fighting 16th, after hometown hero historian David McCullough. Regional historian and local columnist-of-record Brian O'Neill summons us to aid a worthy project: brainstorming what is both "right" and "wrong" with Pittsburgh. I am a fan of high-low poker, so my answer is "small town sensibilities."


  1. Can we seriously wait another six month for real leadership in the Police to step forward and start setting things straight?

    The money scandal was bad enough; but, this treatment of citizens trying hard to make life better for everyone is worse in my opinion. The money scandal spoke to the action of a few people while the treatment of citizens speaks to the culture within the police. It is easy to weed out a few bad apples; but, is extremely difficult to change a culture.

    The culture will not change until there is an entire change of the senior leadership and a change to the arbitration system.

  2. Next up: The Tom Murphy Bike and Pedestrian Bridge, adjacent to the Hot Metal Bridge on the South Side.

    And for future consideration, let's rename the Larimer Avenue Bridge for award winning author and Point Breeze native Annie Dillard, the Lincoln Avenue Bridge for award winning author and Homewood native John Edgar Wideman, and the Rankin Bridge for Braddock native and "Out of This Furnace" author Thomas Bell. As the bridge capital of the world, the possibilities are endless!

  3. Anon 9.45: funny you should mention how so many things are "waiting for Peduto". You may see something on tht topic in this space later today.

    Anon 11.21: don't mean to be freaky but you may be my missing SoulMate. I am so in favor of the Tom Murphy Bridge, I've written about that before. I like the other suggestions.

    And further, and only mildly facetiously, I'd like to rename that flooding parking lot as the Mon Whorf, in honor of linguist Benjamin Whorf who explained that you can't think about something unless you have language that can describe it.

    < / gush >

  4. Need to name a bridge, without revealing its location, the Luke Ravenstahl Bridge. Dedication has to occur in the early morning hours. Must have pedestrian sidewalk attached to be named Bodyguard Path.

  5. When this stuff happens next year who will you blame?

    1. That's the $64,000 question. But what "stuff" are you talking about?