Friday, December 31, 2004

Buffalo is kicking our tail and I don't care!

If they want to jump off a bridge -- let em. I'm not going to follow in haste. This type of pressure doesn't work for me. Community connections take time.

If there's a merger race, Buffalo leads it: "The Republican county executive succeeded this year in forming a high-powered, 11-member committee that is scheduled to deliver a detailed city-county merger proposal in mid-January.

Another item that doesn't work for me -- nor for the region -- is the notion of a "high powered 11-member committee" that has been hand picked. We have these over lords. Un-inspired outcomes.

On the other hand, let's bring on the discussions. Let's let it all hang out and really give the conversation the respect it needs.

So, what do you have to say about the merger idea I floated in a 100-plus plan on May 1 for parks and recreation? http://DSL.CLOH.Org/v1

The PG has not given that one heartbeat of ink. I'm sure dozens of people there have read it. John Craig did too. But, they fumbled the ball in terms of the community conversation. Rather, they want an 11-member committee. They also endorsed Tom Murphy over and over again.

All this "METROVISIONS" stuff needs to look in our own backyard.

If the talk to come is about mergers in the midwest -- I bet they miss the part about Illinois and its PARK DISTRICT models. There isn't a need there to merge as they have a different set up from the get go.

And as for Cleveland -- why follow that mess? Cleveland was the envy of Pittsburgh. But when the Presidental tickets went to debate there the news was that Cleveland was the worst city in North America.

There is no ARMS RACE among the cities. What we need to do is make a "NEW NORTH." Their suffering is not our gain, unless you are talking about the NFL. But, life isn't about the NFL. That's a football game. That isn't how life works.

Rather, Cleveland needs to worry about Pittsburgh in terms of us building an under-river pair of tunnels to the North Side -- and burning millions of federal funds for no real benefits. They can help us save us from ourselves. And, we in turn could help them do the same. Financial folly here hurts them.

As for Pittsburgh's merger issues, look no further than the mayor. He is the road block. He could merge 911 services after years and years of efforts. To the rest of the world, it is a no-brianer. It makes sense to merge 911 services with the county but it was nearly impossible to do with Murphy at the helm. There is no way he can do anything with EMS or any other issue where real creativiity and problem solving is needed.

Pittsburgh can't heal itself with Murphy in the mayor's office. So, for now, it is time to wait or eject him. We don't need more damage with new solutions.

Murphy's best idea for the next merger solution is to give the ball to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy so they can take over a parking lot between the library buildings in Oakland to make a gateway to the park and a merry-go-round. Take away parking and income and give us something that's not needed or desired. No thanks.

Murphy's merger plan blueprint is called playing chicken. He starves and punishes into nothingness. The when the value evaporates, he gives it away. Look how he merged the Crossing Guards. That is no merger at all.

Meanwhile, what is even worse is the merger and metro plans of Bill Peduto. Murphy has taken apart the city by neglect. Others are out to destroy city life by design.

Think again.

What we need to do is pull ourselves up into a realm of functional positions of strength. We need to get our house in order. We need to engage in democracy and it is going to be an open, messy age of discussions. But we need to protect and increase the benefits and value of our assets -- not diminish them. And, after we get back onto our feet then we have some standing for merger talks.

As it is now, I'd not want to merge the city into the county. Understand, I'm in both a citizen of the city and the county. The dead weight of the city to hit the county is too much. I want the county to function for the long haul. If the county comes to take over the city, that task would tip the county to its death. Today, the county can't absorb the city. But, when the city gets its health back, and that can occur, then we can be partners in those merger talks. Then we can do it well and for the benefit of all parties.

The city needs to pull its own weight. After the city is functional again, then mergers are going to make sense.

Finally, this is why my solution in the position paper is so splendid. I don't call for a merger of Citiparks into the County Parks & Rec Department. No. That would be a wrongheaded solution. Rather, make a new Pittsburgh Park District. This would be a new entity. This takes the Citiparks plus the Coutny Parks and Rec plus the Pgh Public Schools for AFTERSCHOOL time and gives a new teamwork approach with new volunteers and new democracy. That new entity would be a benefit to all and not be a burden to one.

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