Thursday, June 19, 2008

death by a thousand filings

News is that Lamar advertising has resubmitted and amended it's application for a billboard at the Downtown Grant Street Transportation Center. It may be a bit of creative-nonfiction-licence, but not hyperbole, that the PG version describes the whole billboard fiasco to date as having "ripped tornado-like through city government".

I thought some sort of resubmission was the half-expected result of previous legal agreements between the assorted parties. So this was not wholly unexpected. Surprising is that they now want to add an electronic 'ticker' to the sign. I wonder if that was in the plan all along, but might have expected to just slide it in as it was being built. I bet the argument would have been that an 'electronic' sign need not be limited to static content.

Funny to me at least is that I was talking with a researcher from outside the US last week. The general topic of all this came up tangentially and I had to try and explain as briefly as possible what the whole deal was. It's hard to explain just how inexplicable this all is to someone who is not immersed in local politics. No matter how you boil it down, people from elsewhere find all aspects of this just too bizarre to comprehend.

My only question: who decides the content of the 'ticker'? Gotta be a joke in that.

If you didn't catch it yet, the Pittsburgh City Paper has a long look at the issues involved in City-County Consolidation. The only thing to add to that is that I see the spectre of Skybus brought up ever again. Skybus as few will recall first hand has a history that goes back well into the 1960's and met its demise in the 1970's. I actually agree that the Skybus episode in Pittsburgh history (think Lamargate on steroids in terms of the politics involved) became as much a debate on metropolitanism as transportation. Only in Pittsburgh could that have happened. If you are interested in local politics, or anything related to transportation here, the rise and fall of Skybus really defines where the region is, or isn't, in terms of transportation planning to this day. For the definitive history see:

SKYBUS Pittsburgh's Failed Industry Targeting Strategy of the 1960s
by Morton Coleman, David Houston and Edward K. Muller. 2000.


Some news from Canada: Mentioned here repeatedly is how big an issue growth in the nuclear industry may be to the region. Just yesterday is news from our neighbor to the north on their plans and several new reactors.See: Ontario looking to lead Nuclear Renaissance in the Toronto Star. and on the same day there is another news story from their fellow province Saskatchewan also working up a plan to build several reactors of their own. See: With two proposed reactors, Saskatchewan joins Ontario in nuclear renaissance. Nuclear power is not exactly an industry that you can just throw some money at and become a player. The fact that there really are only a couple major contenders (one of which is here) for all of these projects popping up is really going to be big news for years go come. There just isn't another industry where we have such a concentration of all worldwide expertise.

I can even talk about this as a regional issue. The Toronto Star paper explains how US-based Westinghouse (just need to get media around the world to call it Pittsburgh-based) is one of the main contenders for the Ontario project. Atomic Energy of Canada and that French company are others. Seems that if Pittsburgh and Ontario are both considered part of the greater Great Lakes region, then Pittsburgh based Westinghouse could be considered the home team as well. Must be some collaboration that could be formed between Westinghouse and AEC. It is a shorter drive from Toronto to Pittsburgh than it is from Toronto to Montreal.


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