August 13, 2007

Robin Hood Rendell steals laptops from weed n’ seed, gives to classrooms for the future

At least that’s my theory in response to this article in Today’s PG from Rich Lord.

While others may be at odds on the severity of last week’s storm, I think everyone can agree that misplacing 55k worth of computer equipment isn’t beneficial when trying to procure dough from the Feds.

As staff swirled, Washington expressed concerns. A six-page November letter to Mr.Ravenstahl from a Justice Department accountant indicated that Pittsburgh hadn't kept track of time staff spent on Weed and Seed, had failed at "monitoring of equipment and inventory procedures" and had used $31,145 that wasn't authorized on TV ads, computers and other expenses."

The administration has submitted revised budgets and new procedures, but hasn't heard from the Justice Department on whether its reply was adequate.

From February through April of this year, there was no full-time city staff dedicated to Weed and Seed. Ms. Buchanan shifted Mr. McLean into the program full time to try to hold it together. "You don't even want to know what people in the neighborhoods say" about the program's status, said Mr. Chatman, now working on Erie's Weed and Seed effort but living part time in Pittsburgh. Community leaders tell him communication has suffered. "It's kind of hard to talk when there's a revolving door."

The real loser in this isn’t as much the Mayor, who can plead “transition”, but the communities who already face an uphill battle in convincing residents that this program is good for their neighborhood.

Recent successful dialogue by community leaders in Sheraden and the West End neighborhoods and by community leaders in coordination with the Coro Center in the hilltop communities have demonstrated that the locals really do have a vested interest in repairing these once - thriving neighborhoods now rife with abandoned properties and crime.

When a community is finally able to turn the corner on popular support, the city should be right there and prepared to respond. Delays only reinforce the downward spiral sentiment that has these citizens so frustrated in the first place.

1 comment:

Bram Reichbaum said...

My thoughts on this -- Murphy was never that popular, and we all know Ravenstahl had particular objections to him. My guess is that when Luke took the reigns, certain departments were subject to DeBathification -- especially those departments that coordinated closely with residents to solve neighborhood problems (*cough* and foster neighborhood political support).