Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Beechview: forming a new group to pick up from the mess we're in now.

Beechview groups working to join together Diven said the redevelopment of Beechview is in its infancy, but that 'it is my belief that in four or five years, you will see Beechview be transformed from a pass-through community to a destination neighborhood.'

Playing well with others is great. But, what we have brewing in Beechview is a new group of pigs getting ready to find a new feed source.

Michael Diven is going to try to get elected by going around from neighborhood to neighborhood. Going around is great -- but going around with WAM (walking around money) isn't great.

These areas are depressed neighborhoods in terms of the physical decay and neglect from public attention. These areas have been in a steep decline while Diven was the state rep and while Diven was in City Council. The mayor didn't help either.

Beechview should look at what the BIDs are doing and think again. BIDs are "Business Improvement Districts." There are two types of BIDs. There is a lot of slight of hand too. Be on your guard.

Taxes in the downtown area just increased, again, because of the improvement districts sur-charge for the property owners. The values of the properties are in decline. So, the five year organization needs to raise rates so it can get the money it wants to operate.

The BIDs come so as to increase property values, but they don't.

Most of all, if you really wanted to play well with others, you'd not make a new umbrella organization. Rather, one would pull the plug on a couple of the organization and roll them together.

Diven needs to buy votes and new 501(c)(3) oranizations are going to spring up around here like wildfire. In the end, nothing good is going to happen except a few nonprofit types are going to have jobs. Rather than city union jobs, these are nonprofit jobs where the accountability is slim.

So, do you want a nonprofit that is formed to "fix up the streets?" Think again. How about if the city did its job and fixed up the streets? But, the city is broke as its leaders gave all the money away and didn't watch the incomes. We built stadiums and convention centers -- and didn't take care of what we have.

A nonprofit shoudn't help with building facades. A building is a piece of property. The owner should take care of the property. I don't want nonprofit groups doing real estate speculation. I don't want to worry about facades when we have kids who can't read. We need nonprofit groups to take care of the elderly, the sick, the mentally ill and the spiritual elements of life. Not bricks, not mortar, not peeling paint.

Nonprofits are at their worst when it comes to hardware solutions and good when it comes to the software elements.

If Broadway wants to be more attractive -- then the people around the area need to get rid of the wrongheaded politicians who caused the area to slide into dispair. The mayor (and I imagine Diven too) cheered when Pittsburgh got its distressed status from the state. The uncertainty caused the ones in power to deflect the poor results from the past.

This is how Bloomfield and Brookline came together," she said. "Why can't we do this in Beechview?

If Beechview holds Bloomfield and Brookline up as the gold standard -- then we are in serious trouble. Bloomfield and Brookline are also under Act 47 and with distressed status. They too are short police officers. Beechview might be jelious because no roads are going to be repaved in Beechview. But, no roads are being paved in any area that isn't in poverty. Only four miles of new roads are to be repaved in 2005. We're broke. We all are broke.

Today's Beechview can't live with the same formula that the Bloomfield and Brooklines operated with in the past. The well is dry. The money is gone. The rules are different. The old ways of pork and no accountability is behind us.

The best way to fix our mess is not to do more of the same. The best way to get new teamwork is to not form another new organization and go begging for new money. Let's end the shell game. Let's end the begging.

Things like MAP Pittsburgh have taken a decade to complete and it still isn't done. And, it isn't open to inspection, review and input from the people in the city.

Four years ago the mayor repaved a lot of streets, because it was an election year. Then some of those streets got new sewer lines -- after the new blacktop was applied. That is the type of miss-managment Pittsburgh has had to suffer with for the past decade. Diven and O'Connor were part of the problems.

To fix Beechview -- and the rest of the city -- let's come to understand the deed transfer tax. Then let's take it away. Then let's take apart the URA. The URA takes from one and gives to another. All in all, those programs hurt our chances of prosperity.

Beechview can and should be a destination neighborhood. We need to have more than a fresh coat of paint. Real tough love is needed. We need to get to the roots of the problems. WAM is exactly the wrong way to proceed.

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