update: 27 June 2002

update: 27 June 2002:

I'm writing this before I find out what happened at the City Council Committee meeting on Wednesday 26 June.

It'll be interesting to see what has happened.

I attended the remaining two meetings of last week -Wednesday in Elliott and Thursday in Sheraden.

In Elliott, there was the smallest crowd of the week (just under 50(?)); the computer-projector wasn't working, so the presentation was given without the text-slides and graphics;
-but everyone who wasn't already somewhat informed quickly got the gist of WeHav,
-and when the obligatory tax was confirmed by an answered question , they went through the roof; especially some of the usually-silent elders present. They......were.....indignant !

After not being able to get a public peep of support for (or even public discussion of) my last-minute efforts to prevent the demolition of Elliott's national-landmark-eligible 1885 Westlake School in Feb. 2000, nor similarly, since Jan. 1999, in attempting to publicly expose and evaluate the flaws in the rationale for, and the "Plan" of, the so-called $2 million+ "improvement" currently underway on the Elliott Bluff Lookout (West End Overlook), I was surprised and encouraged to see and hear inactive persons come to life and take a very public stand against the injustices facing them.

       Eventually a show of hands was demanded. -including the "core" persons, there were about 6 for WeHav, and it was later noted that one of those didn't own a home/residential unit..
The meeting dissolved on a similar note of incredulous levity..

The next evening in Sheraden, I arrived just after the presentation, expecting to be facing the home-court advantage of the WeHav Task Force, since that is where most of the volunteers are supposed to reside.
How wrong I was! the largest gathering of the week (over 100) were about to become as animated, indignant, and as loud in opposition as their neighbors in the other communities all week.

As the meetings progressed through each evening, as the facts of WeHav, and facts not revealed by the Mayor's Task Force, but uncovered by numerous individuals, became public knowledge, the opposition, criticism, and non-violent outrage developed with almost every Task Force answer to every question.

All week, essentially all residents, including some of the Task Force volunteers, have had little, if any, knowledge of HB 1142, let alone its larger context of which WeHav would be part.
       Without exception the explosive vocalized objection is to the infuriating obligatory yearly tax and the frustration with the "un-democracy-ness" of the HB 1142 No-vote mechanism -compounded by the public realization that the Bill No.5 No-vote process was not conducted properly.


The four meetings were cautiously invigorating to me; I have become disappointed and frustrated over more recent years with the seeming futility of the public's ability to halt inane and financially wasteful local and state "projects", particularly in the realm of mass transit, highway, and architectural/historic preservation/re-use matters.
       I have come to realize that very often the "projects" have been set in motion far in advance of so-called "public-comment" meetings, and that such meetings are held merely to tell the public what is going to be done to them, not to potentially discover better alternatives or to determine if no-thing should be implemented.
       Somewhere there is a requirement for "public comment"; and these are token meetings to meet that condition. It is disgusting to see truly more intelligent, more economical, and more viable alternatives from the general public discarded by too-often incompetent and/or corrupt buffoons in charge of squandering/or pocketing the public's tax money on half-witted "solutions" to problems that very often do not even exist.

It is along this line of feeling that as people mulled around in small clusters after the meeting in Sheraden, I heard comments exposing the present nature of our governmental processes, and general opinions about many of the people in our elected offices.

In spite of all that went on in that full-house gathering, people were wondering if the nine Councilpersons who would potentially be voting on Bill No. 5, and thus upon its effect upon our lives, would have any idea of the visible, not to mention the undercurrent , district-wide public outrage at the Bill No.5 "scheme" -none of the Councilpersons, including our own, was present at any meeting last week. Was a personal staff member from any Council district present at any time?
-Was Council going to get its information from the Mayor's staff and the Mayor's WeHav Task Force who were present?
-Would that information be accurate?

It is a sad observation that no matter the obvious clearly-expressed public rejection of the No-vote/obligatory tax, and virtual total dis-interest in enrollment in the WeHav Plan, more than a few people that evening expected the Pittsburgh City Council to vote for Bill No.5 anyway -because they're politicians and "..don't give a damn what we think."

..and this is why, perhaps more than anything, it'll be interesting to see what has happened at the Council Committee meeting, and what course the opposition might be taking thereafter, if necessary.

--paul-- 26-27 june 2002

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27 june 2002/upd: feb'03