Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday: The Final 6th

The attention-grabber today is a long and complex article in the Post-Gazette about parts of the North Side trending toward greater criminal violence.

"We understand these most recent shootings are part of a kind of turf battle that pits law-abiding citizens of all colors, ages, social classes and family types against criminals who seek to push us out and regain turf lost from improving conditions in the neighborhood," Greg Spicer, president of the board of the directors of the Central Northside Neighborhood Council, wrote in a letter to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl last week.

"Their efforts must be met with all the means at the disposal of city government ... or all of the gains made here on the Northside in recent years will be lost." (P-G, Diana Nelson Jones)


This week, Act 47 is high on everybody's to-do list. Necessarily so. The City's financial blueprint for the next five years, due to be completed a week from Tuesday, will have a multitude of direct impacts on the City's public safety capacities, long- and short-term.

I would expect however that by early July, the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime (PIRC) would be almost ready to take out of the oven. With headlines like these, it would at least time to start opening that oven and poking its contents with a toothpick.


Easy to label former Allegheny County chief executive Jim Roddey a nay-sayer with headlines that sound like the one in this article, but read within:

For example, he said, the city of Pittsburgh spends some $4.5 million a year to maintain its 2,000 acres of park land. Allegheny County, which has 12,000 acres of park land, could take on the city's 2,000 acres and still operate the joint park system for about $3 million.

The consolidation of parks and public works departments, he said, would be the first step in the merging of other government operations like records storage, telecommunications, vehicle fleet and information technology, among others. (P-G, Karamagi Rujumba)

Equal time:

"[Mr. Onorato's] record speaks for itself," Mr. Evanto said.

Functional consolidation of services is already under way, he said, citing the county's merger of five 911 centers; joint purchasing of commodities, electricity, and the county's takeover of fingerprinting services for the city. (P-G, ibid)

Extremely minor note: enthusiasts of Comet eschatology might be amused to learn that we almost identified the Mortal Kombat fighter Liu Kang as representing Jim Roddey in the video we embedded in our last Act 47 post.


This column keeps growing on me every time I read it. If there's a category out there called "Best G-20 column", this one just barely qualifies as an entrant and then I think goes on to win it.

Lawrence took on the unions, patronage and his own party's leadership.

Mellon handled the Pennsylvania Railroad, other recalcitrant industrial giants and Republican state leaders.

Mellon found the cash and Lawrence gambled his political career. Because of this powerful duo, Pittsburgh was transformed by smoke control, flood control, the Golden Triangle, new zoning laws, the redevelopment authority and the parking authority, new parks, new housing, new highways, new public facilities and a regional planning strategy. (Trib, Joseph Sabino Mistick)

Quite aside from Mistick's larger point -- which is so good it's more than a little painful -- the above reads to me like a shout-out in favor of the Parking Authority.

Pittsburgh's strategy for dealing with its looming pensions crisis -- given what seem to be reliable reports of Harrisburg's utter disinterest and even disdain for our plight -- is shaping up to be "lease the parking garages or bust!!!"

If there is a stand to be made in favor of maintaining public control over our parking facilities (and perhaps jacking the rates like good little environmentalist progressives who are destitute) then it better be made soon, and it better come with a workable alternative.

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