Monday, June 23, 2008

Follow those stories... and tracking the Mystic Order of the Yinzerati

Before anything else... I think this could be the greatest advance in public discourse in decades. Britain's Local Government Association has put out advice that local governments should avoid the use of nonsensical jargonistic non-words that only confuse the public. So "no more synergies, stakeholders or sustainable communities".... or the better quote:
""Why do we have to have 'coterminous, stakeholder engagement' when we could just 'talk to people' instead?"

If only that would happen around here. With apologies to all my very good friends who have worked at Mckinsey over the decades, just say no to management-consultant-speak.

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I was pointing out the other day how despite rising gas prices parking is as scarce as ever Downtown. Check out PG's coverage showing that it's worse than that. It looks like parking prices have been going up dramatically, not down which is counterintuitive if indeed people are finding it too expensive to drive. Is parking a mythical Giffen good for some?
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Last week I put up a map of the last Altmire-Hart race for PA's 4th congressional district and a look at the history of PA's 18th congressional district. The PG's Jim O'Toole looks more broadly at the vulnerability of Republicans in Pennsylvania's congressional delegation and the Philly Inquirer looks at some Pennsylvania redistricting history. The story of post 2000 redistricting in Pennsylvania could be summarized as: never has so much money been spent for so little return. Another way to look at it: sometimes you can overquantify things. At least in this case, the supercrunchers got things backwards.

If you read the Philly story linked above, it focuses a bit on the migration (it's kind of a diaspora story unto itself) of State Senator Frank Pecora following the 1990 redistricting in Pennsylvania. To connect everthing, who was Frank Pecora's Chief of Staff?

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I have a long transit post building up in me, but there are so many things going on that it's hard to boil down to one post. But the Trib has coverage on the expenses involved in the operation of the Port Authority's light rail system, or "T". Maybe a bit of history is needed. See this great video from the KDKA archives reporting on the opening of the T in the 1980's. There is a brief interview with spry young Jim Roddey (actually he looks much the same) who was Chairman of the Port Authority during the T construction years. Something that might have been good to include in the Trib story is the map below. This is a map of public transit usage in Allegheny County. It's hard not to miss the big impact of the "T" on ridership along its mostly South Hills routes.

A more detailed view is available as a PDF file of same.

Also just for context, in London the operating shortfall for it's Tube dwarfs ours. Read this article from the Economist on their 750 pound (~$1.5 Billion) operating shortfall for their system. or this article from Chicago where they say they need $6Billion just for sheer maintenance on their system. Both are likely going to get that money. Just to connect everthing back to Pittsburgh: many know this, but the London Tube is being run these days by an American; the brother of Jim O'Toole (see above) no less. Lots of Pittsburgh expat CEO's out there. Maybe something for Jim R. to look into, but could the Pittsburgh diaspora be the new Illuminati.

Ok... when I try to make jokes, you know it's time to stop.

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