September 27, 2007

I don't see what all the fuss is about

Both Bram and the Burgher have provided excellent coverage of the "Luke to Boston Scandal" so there's no need for me to include the various media links, but I would like to discuss whether these kinds of personal snafus will really pay off in the end for DeSantis.

Though many folks are losing support for Mayor Ravenstahl, I am still unconvinced as to whether this will add any points to the DeSantis column. Don't get me wrong, MD is playing his cards quite well so far, but he's still lacking the "man of the people" interaction that would push him over the edge.

My feeling is that many of those who decide not to vote for Luke will likely just not vote at all, hoping that the right fit emerges by the 2009 election. In this case, Luke will still win, albeit by a small majority, and be given at least two more years to prove he can learn from his mistakes.

Going back to DeSantis, he is showing the first steps towards becoming a populist with his Walt Davis anecdote, but he still seems too wonkish and not enough drinkin' buddy. Furthermore, his intent on selling off city-owned property will likely disrupt the community planning process put forth by CDC's all over the city, and his start-up support plan sounds like a home run for outsiders but does little for many of those of whom he is asking for votes. His policies comprehensive, but he must convince people to vote for him compared to just not voting for Luke.

For Luke, stop going anywhere outside the city limits until the election is over. And just tell the truth. You went to Boston to learn about mixed income housing strategies and how they might apply to Pittsburgh. You missed a meeting because your overbooked and didn't catch the error, but you'll have another meeting in the North Side where you will be sitting front and center to listen to every single comment until all voices have been heard. Don't run from criticism, fight back with actions and counter-successes.

September 14, 2007

Downtown Dan

A little-recognized article flew through the PG yesterday about the conversion of the Century Building into new prix fix condos.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato said Downtown will be "the place for the next decade or two where activity" will be growing. He said the county is committed to making sure the Golden Triangle, as the hub of the region, continues to move forward.

"We're on a roll. You can easily fall off that roll if you don't pay attention to what we have here and the assets that we have. So Downtown Pittsburgh's going to remain a focus for the next several years for all of us involved here," he said.

I'm interested in what's between the lines for Donorato here. Part of the reason why the city is in such peril is because of the lack of county focus on development within the city limits - could this be a shift towards redeveloping Pittsburgh?

Don't get me wrong - I understand downtown by no means equals the city, but that doesn't mean the city couldn't use a little tlc from big buddy Dan. Understandably, his sights are set elsewhere, but the City and the Mayor could benefit from some county attention.

Focusing on redeveloping the parts of this city which are barely held together by boarded up windows and crumbling roads seems a better investment than promoting suburban development. Growth in the "greater Pittsburgh area" is ultimately dependent upon the health 0f the city - a strong Pittsburgh will do more for Allegheny County than growth corridors isolating the urban core.

September 10, 2007

And we're back

Sorry for going missing folks, you never know what's going to happen in the turbulent life of the intern.

I've come to the conclusion that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is one of the best things to ever happen to this city.

Bear with me on this one, it has merit.

I've said in the past that I've doubted his experience (who hasn't), that I've been disturbed by his antics (fore!), and that I've been perplexed by his ethics (snicker). While these attributes prevent me from thinking him the best man for the job, his actions have brought more attention to city government and necessitated a attitude of watch-doggedness sorely lacking.

Everywhere I go, from Grant Street to Penn Circle to Brownsville Road, people know Luke's name and have an opinion. Perhaps the city has lost enough population that everyone's voice actually has a chance to be heard these days, but I'm thinking that there finally might be enough competition to challenge the hand-me-down politics that have guided our gradual decline.

I don't attribute Ravenstahl as the inspiration, but I think the attention he brings to local politics is promoting a feeling of publilc investment. People seem to once again have hope - hope that things are changing, hope that elected officials are listening, and hope that all this attention will necessitate intelligent decisions that promote the right kind of growth (and reduction) that this city needs so desperately.

Now whether or not this feeling will translate into easy victory for Luke is anyone's guess, but I'm of the mindset that a healthy challenge to the young incumbent (gasp) is good for everyone. DeSantis might even win on a fluke, and really shake things up. The takeaway is that this upcoming election, attention sponsored in part by Luke Ravenstahl, Mayor, will be the telltale indicator of this city's health. If things go as planned, and neither candidate bombs, a score of 35% or higher for DeSantis would mean that this city may actually turn the corner and correct some of its problems. If not, then my thoughts on hope, change, and intelligent decision making will go the way of the 30-40 year old demographic.