I've been tickled all day with the news of the election yesterday and the arrival of Theresa Smith to city council. Then I read this, rather late, article in the P-G and the joy turns to all out elation!
Wiser words have never been said, in all my days, by a member of Pittsburgh's City Council.
New councilwoman: West communities should help themselves
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Incoming Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Theresa Smith said today that she's not going to try to legislate away the problems of the western neighborhoods.
"I think there's enough legislation on the books already," she said. "It's enforcement that we need."
The Westwood resident said she'd also like to bring unity to a district that's traditionally divided because of very different communities like Fairywood, Sheraden, Banksville and Mt. Washington. She wants to create a small business advisory council and hold a series of town hall meetings.
Ms. Smith, 49, plans to reach inside and outside of government for help with what she views as the district's biggest problem.
"I know there are a lot of vacant properties throughout the district," she said. The solution is "trying to restore some of the homes. Some of the homes you can't restore will be demolished."
She's also talking with the Service Employees International Union, which plans to represent workers at the casino going up just across the Ohio River from her district, about marketing homes in its neighborhoods to those employees.
"The problem is, we're always depending on government to do everything," she said. "We have to take some responsibility for what's going on in our community."
Ms. Smith campaigned in yesterday's special election with the Democratic nomination, nearly doubled the vote total of runner-up Georgia Blotzer and goes into the May Democratic primary as the front-runner in what could be a crowded field.
May turnout is likely to be much higher than the 10.4 percent figure for the special election.
"I actually feel more comfortable with more people coming out to vote," Ms. Smith said.
She expects to be inaugurated around Feb. 17 to serve the rest of the year to fulfill the term previously held by Dan Deasy, now a state representative.
I was going to offer to be a volunteer speech writer for her. But instead, I might want to just open up a new blog and fan club for her existing press agent.
Meanwhile in city council today, they were talking about a new set of laws to impose on building owners about student housing and dormatoies. What ever that is.
In other parts of city council's chamber, Darleen Haris was seen with an ice pack on her elbow due to over-use from yesterday's parade and Terrible Towel waving. (That's a joke.)
I did talk a bit with Councilman Dowd before the meeting about parks. He had been the chair of the Citiparks / Urban Recreation Committee. I'd love to get him to talk at length about how we need to move in the city in terms of recreation.
Dr. Dowd and I don't seem to agree on much in that realm as he doesn't want schools to do anything with afterschool and athletics. I think that would be fine, however, the schools are where we already invested plenty of capital in terms of gyms, pools, locker-rooms, auditoriums, and fields. So, when we have schools lock those to community use, we've got nothing at all. At least when there is a fledging sports program, the kids get some crumbs of time in those facilities with guidance.
I think that school sports are important so as to get the parents and community involved in fun, healthy boosterism and participation as an easy stepping stone to more leveraged help in the academic process in the following steps.