Sunday, April 03, 2005

Lamb details development plan

Lamb details development plan
Sunday, April 03, 2005 - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

County Prothonotary Michael Lamb, a candidate for mayor of Pittsburgh in next month's primary, yesterday said the city can reboot itself economically if established businesses are supported, new ones developed and housing stock replenished.

Lamb said a $50 million blight-relief fund, as well as community development block grants and other economic development funds could be used to pay for such efforts.

He said women-owned businesses must be encouraged because area women are among the best educated in the state, make up 60 percent of the local workforce and are the least likely to leave Pittsburgh.

The use of the word, reboot, is interesting. To reboot gives us areas to ponder -- like the crash or frozen climate we must be in now.

Use Linux -- rather than Windows (or M$ WinDoze) -- and rebooting is so common. The open-source world provides Linux, and stability.

If established businesses are supported -- then the reboot will work. But, we've already been supporting established businesses. To some, that's called corporate welfare. We've been down that route. We supported the Pirates, the Steelers, PNC, Heinz, US Airways. We've given them what they wanted for years.

If those efforts can be paid for by the spending from the other piles of money -- then the reboot works. Blight grants!

Lamb's star credential as a reformer, however, was his role as campaign manager of the 1998 movement to adopt the county's new home-rule charter form of government led by a chief executive and a 15-member county council.

While Lamb has lofty goals, voters will want a more concrete plan before Election Day, said Jerry Shuster, who teaches political communications at Robert Morris University and the University of Pittsburgh. "He's got to get off the ideal focus and get more specific in terms of programs that are directly related to the needs of the constituency, such as street repair," Shuster said.

Lamb contends that he's laying out a platform of what voters can expect of him through a series of position papers, including his views on consolidation of services, transportation, education and other topics.

"You'll always know where I stand on an issue," he said. "You may disagree with it, but you'll know where I am.

Objection 1: The important role of ombudsman is missing from our county's charter. It was in there, and it got lost in the get-along. The reform continues.

Objection 2: Lamb didn't see anything wrong with Fontana's lack of resignation from County Council when he was a candidate. Lamb was asked to stand with me in the call to reform -- and he didn't.

Objection 3: Lamb spoke to a group on the South Side a few months ago. I was there. When the question of the Mon-Valley Toll Road was raised, Mr. Lamb, the "you'll know where I stand on an issue" candidate, said nothing. His statement of the voters always knowing where he stands on the issues is thin, at best.

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