Monday, February 18, 2008

Rich Lord: "I Called Pat Ford!"

Last week an intensifying struggle over how development is done in Pittsburgh went to the courts.

Next week, it may go to City Council. (P-G, Rich Lord)


The battlegrounds are a mammoth casino garage, a glass-clad arena and a glowing billboard -- examples of progress to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Urban Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Pat Ford, and of broken process to a growing chorus in the design community.

Welcome to the End of Act II.

The Comet's only major quarrel with this article is its reliance on "design" as the central thread. "Design" is an imperfect construct for the situation. This is really a matter of control -- over land, resources and processes.

We only worry that "design" will give some Pittsburghers the cooties.

"We've got attorneys driving the vision of the city of Pittsburgh, and we've got to take it back," [Ford] said Friday.

If we had attorneys coming at us from all sides like a troop of angry gorillas, we also would be making the Bush 2000 argument about taking the issue away from lawyers! What's next, unelected activist judges in black robes?

Those attorneys represent city residents. The administration should have been playing by the rules.

"We should be focused on leadership, collaboration and process. We should not rely on 3 inches of rules to tell us how to be vibrant."

You think there are too many rules? Tell us which ones to omit. We'll vote on it. We will also decide what qualifies as VIBRANT.

The development process is likely to change even more. The URA, which now reaches into the planning process more than ever, is considering "significant organizational changes proposed by Pat Ford to further his vision," according to an e-mail by its Deputy Director to Councilman Patrick Dowd, who wrote probing the authority's budget status.

Oh, it is that you have a plan! The Pittsburgh Patriot Act! The mayor must be empowered to act swiftly and decisively as Developer in Chief!

"People are just using the judicial process to question the outcome that they do not like," Mr. Ford said. "We happen to like it."

We think people are using the judicial process to ensure they are accorded equal protection under the law.

To court, then. Several times. This won't hurt a bit.

You realize this is our city, right?

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