Tuesday, January 5, 2010

After Council's Reshuffling, All Hands On Deck!

The practical wake of Pittsburgh City Council's reorganization bears watching -- and, for the principals, shaping.

The most important overnight development, as always: The City of Pittsburgh is one day closer to the point at which it will be forced to (try to) fund long-term obligations with current revenues.

If council is to address the city's insolvency and broader dysfunction effectively, it will require a coalition (a crew of six, at least) that works as a team (rather than as individuals advancing personal interests), focusing primarily on broad issues (rather than on paving and similar street-level concerns) on behalf of the entire city (rather than for particular neighborhoods).

Every member of council can contribute to progress.

Darlene Harris, holding the ship's wheel, is pivotal. She could help by steering council away from the shortsightedness, stubbornness and compartmentalization that led foundations to withhold funding when she was leading the school board. I believe her better, wiser angels are up to the task.

Bill Peduto, Bruce Kraus and Doug Shields -- destined to be the nucleus of any worthwhile coalition -- not only must rigorously maintain a sensible and independent bearing but also must be gracious and practical enough to bring others aboard. Magnanimity, mates, lest the ship be lost.

Patrick Dowd would be an enormous asset were he to stop flailing and accept the life preserver his recent rivals should be smart enough to send his way soon.

Robert Daniel Lavelle might start working his way off the poop deck -- after a first day aboard that would have led directly to the gangplank in a less graceful era -- by declining to don the scarlet URA.

Theresa Kail-Smith could deploy her premature promotion and conciliatory bearing as a foundation for bridge-building with the mayor (on behalf of council as a whole).

Natalia Rudiak seems called to forego a learning curve in balancing her genuine interest in district-level issues (and the related self-preservation instinct) against the urgent need to tackle citywide issues that threaten to capsize the entire operation.

Rev. Ricky Burgess could improve the situation by giving voice to the moral component of the pressing need to change the city's course (and, like Mr. Lavelle, by refraining from cashing in the chips associated with his work on behalf of the mayor).

If the U.S.S. Pittsburgh (left, in her glory days of yesteryear) is to avoid running aground (and a formal rechristening as InsolvenCity), it needs all hands on deck.

UPDATE: Agent Ska's field report.

UPPERDATE: McIntire is yapping more prosaically than is usual, and perhaps more realistically (contrasted with optimistically) than some.


Z said...

Very constructive. I enjoyed this article. Thanks!

Derek Neighbors said...

Interesting to see how other municipalities are dealing with their issues.