Rust Belt Watch
So here is the current version of my rust belt tracker looks like fwiw:
follow all of that? What's it mean? Just that we are all related and that this is not such a big town.
Honestly, my prediction is that Chuck M. may wind up being a candidate for County executive someday just because there are not many high profile R's in the county. He seems to get more press than most including today where he has put himself in the middle of the opposition to the drink tax. I was wondering what ever happened to the issue that prompted him to try and drop out of the county council race back then. You would think it was either resolved or lead to serious legal issues for him, but in either case there has just been little real follow up in the news which is odd. The only item I see must have been lost amid all the political news leading up to the fall elections was this news snippet on what is up with that. Has there really been a grand jury looking into this for more than a year?
Mentioned passing this WSJ article last week: Grim Debt Prognosis At Health Nonprofits is this quote:
West Penn Allegheny Health Care System, survivor to
$1.3 billion bankruptcy by Pennsylvania-based Allegheny Health Care Education and Research Foundation July 1998, finds its Moody's Ba3-rated junk bond debt trading at about 48 cents on dollar.
48 cents on dollar is not good.
Not really news, but AP is running a blurb about how 2008 data will show that Pittsburgh passenger total expected to hit record low out at airport.
Sometimes you just have to fill space. What is point of doing a quarter by quarter breakdown of game yesterday. Also up in Cleveland the hopes that Bill Cowher will come to save them continue to escalate. jaw came out fighting when Titans were stomping on a Terrible Towel. You have to wonder a bit.
And finally, my news filter caught this headline which I thought was about Pittsburgh: Layoffs, Pay Cuts Cast Shadow Across City of Steel. But it's from St. Petersburg, and not that St. Petersburg either.
SNOWQUEEN OCEAN AND LAND PROPERTIES OF DELAWARE
Terms of sale: You are bidding on the full price of the home. Winning bidder will pay $1,000 by paypal at the end of auction. The balance within 3 days. You will recieve a deed. The winning bidder will also pay $1,200.00 for costs, which cover the closing/completion, and deed delivered to you., etc. Title insurance would be extra at approximately $300, if buyer requires.
Then yesterday the news up the pike is that Continental is canceling their Cleveland to Paris flight... not long after Delta announced it is adding a Pittsburgh to Paris flight here. That should not be interpreted as gloating. Seriously the Cleveland to Paris flight was only started this year and it's demise is a warning that it's a tough market to sustain as Pittsburgh pins its 'international' airport status on the new flight. I just remember all the talk about how it was all the Pittsburgh firms with ties to Germany that made the Frankfurt flight so crucial. Will be be seeing stories about our new French connections soon?
and then there is this football game to look forward to. In fact, the main Cleveland football stories today start with this article all about Dan Rooney and Bill Cowher. So poor Cleveland fans can't escape reading about Pittsburgh. Just a random thought, however one describes the relationship of the Rooney's with Pittsburgh, it must come close to the opposite of the feelings Clevelanders have for former Browns owner Art Modell.
and more an aside since it's not about Cleveland... but actually even closer to Pittsburgh there is news that unemployment rates are rising dramatically across Southeast Ohio. Again, when you consider the big auto layoffs have not hit those numbers yet, there are going to be pockets of some pretty bad labor force numbers.
As first reported, we think, on The Burgh Report, the blog authored by Alecia Sirk, who has since Sept. 24 been the press secretary to Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, went dead some time yesterday evening.Prophesy? So over a year ago we had the media commenting on blogs reporting on blogs. Seems to be a trend of sorts. At the end of the day, Alecia was quite a trend setter and certainly a change-agent. For anyone who thinks they can predict the future, who would have dreamed that Pittsburgh's Person of the year was a bunch of unpowered transistors attached to a bus station.
Well, the hits are pouring in here apparently because the dissolution of the Burgh Report has risen to 'breaking' news....
Just so readers passing through have something constructive to read. This is nothing new to anyone in town, but new in something called Format magazine is: Bill Strickland : Rebuilding America, one slideshow at a time. Still worth watching even though it is from a year or so ago. The Youtube they highlight is Strickland's talk at last years TED conference. If you don't know who Bill is, you really want to watch the video.
I do have a question though. This isn't a comment about Mr. Burgher at all, but if it makes sense to be reporting the coming and goings of Pittsburgh bloggers, why is there so little reporting on what journalists down at the PG have taken the retirement offer that was on the table. I know, or at the very least can speak for myself, that folks want to know that bit of news. A lot of PG readers want to know who they will not be hearing from in the future. I bet there are readers have been following some local journalists for decades and are kind of left hanging. I know it's a painful bit of news, but it's still news.
update: just a suggestion for my friends down at the PG. You all need to put up a map of where your online readers are from. Up to 300 hits in the last few hours referencing the link in Roddy's article and they are from some amazingly far flung places. I am not sure I believe this one, but according to my hit counter there was just someone reading from:
"Alaska, Wasilla, United States, 0 returning visit"
No joke. Will the reader from Wasilla please identify themselves? Could there really be a diasporan in Wasilla that nobody found to interview during the presidential campaign?
"It's wrong for this auto bailout legislation to reward or bail out transit agencies for participating in these tax shelters."
The nominal reason being given for closing the plant is that it isn't needed with the switch to lower weight LCD televisions and thus less of a need to produce near demand in order to minimize. Not too long ago the switch to LCD production was said to be good for the future of the plant. The jobs were even expanding and were described as "jobs that last". Did anyone question that type of implied prediction? It sure sounded good. It wasn't long ago that I recall calls from journalists asking about a problem finding housing in Westmoreland County for an ever growing number of seasonal workers at the plant. I thought increasing transportation costs would have pushed up the importance of proximity if anything, but I doubt it really is at issue here at all. That type of location dependency for TV manufactuirng ended long ago I thought. Most TV's are made a long long way away and I believe the Westmoreland County plant was the it's last TV plant in the US. What is worth noting is that the plant went from growing faster than the region could sustain to just plain gone in a couple of years.
More interesting is how that site has been the focus of so much economic development effort. Some of the history of the site is discussed here. I also discussed some of the history of the Chrysler and Volkswagen plants at the site in this old oped. Suffice it to say, a lot of time, effort and money have been put into keeping employment going at that one site with successes for a period, but in the long run you can't make business do much different than it is going to do based on market conditions. Also, at one point a lot of effort was put into trying to create a chip-design cluster of industries in Pittsburgh. That was the original intent of the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse and Sony was a big part of that logic. It's biggest success may have been Sony's once had a small r&D operation at the Rubicon building in East Liberty. Though that didn't last long.Lots more to say on the history of the Sony Plant here, especially its initial decision to locate here and the history of Volkswagen and even Chrysler before it on that one site. Maybe more later on. But as Sony's hardware biz looks as shaky as most manufacturing, they are also announcing new pushes into more ethereal software businesses and their new 3-D social networking site. Is the future of any Sony-Pittsburgh nexus focused more on that part of their business?
"Pittsburgh is a good case in the sense that medical and biotech firms took the place of steel mills. That didn't help the steel workers, who don't have the necessary skills, but it helped their kids."
" ... Second, we will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money."