Thursday, December 18, 2008

Federal Money: We've Totally Got This

The Burgher is doing just fine.

My take:

Yesterday, for instance, the Port of Pittsburgh Commission outlined $580 million in lock and dam projects it could promptly start with some federal funds. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Excellent. Do this. In fact, don't do anything to get in its way. These strike me as the kind of jobs that need to be stimulated right now.

Michael Kenney, executive director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, said his list alone is $680 million. He said it's "very important" that the authority take advantage of the stimulus program, because it has to fix aging pipes and comply with a consent decree requiring reductions in the flow of sewage into the rivers. "It'll be infrastructure needs I won't have to pass on to ratepayers." (ibid.)

This one might be a slightly harder sell to the Obama administration -- there could be a perception that municipal government ought to clean up its own mess or something. But it's legitimately a massive, worker-intensive infrastructure project that is absolutely "very important".

And let's not forget:

As part of that new culture, Ravenstahl said an "energy audit" of the City-County Building is being done to evaluate how much it is wasting in utilities and find ways to make it more environmentally friendly. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

Lost amid the comedy of miscommunication and ambitious fantasy in the sustainability piece was the reality that Mayor Ravenstahl put himself squarely out there in his intentions to upgrade 414 Grant Street.

Now, it is true for example that this energy audit needs to be conducted and completed, and then its results incorporated into a renovation plan, this plan itself likely needing to be put out for bid. Yet what I see now is a raft of three proposals that are perfectly up Obama's ally. They are (or can soon be made) shovel-ready or crowbar-ready, and can serve as trust-building exercises with Obama's government before we go tilting at wind turbines and other projects down the road.

We can bemoan the lack of fully prepared major projects if we desire -- and we can loudly bemoan some of the reasons for this, though our years of financial receivership probably have something to do with it.

Or we can put our best foot forward, pursue those needed river and sewer improvements that constitute no-brainers, and position ourselves adroitly for the second round of Obama money -- the round for projects that can only have been envisioned after the reality of Obama's presidency took over. The "Great Works" phase, if you will.

MORE: P-G, Trib


  1. Email from a reader: "The water and sewer authority is chicken feed. If we're going for Fed bailout money, why not have them pay for all the county's sewer upgrades? Hell, they mandated it in the first place, now they can pay."

  2. Did someone figure out the identity of theburgher?

  3. I don't know. That's not my impression.

  4. I got a grant from the federal government for $12,000 in financial aid, see how you can get one also at