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Paul

Can't help but wonder how many of the urbanists who hate Walmart and decry the impact on local mom & pop business the opening of one of their privately funded stores has feels when they read this:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07304/829842-53.stm

Jonathan Potts

We don't all fit in the same box, Paul. What I hate about Wal-Mart is that local and state governments across the country have given them something in the neighborhood of $1 billion in subsidies to open stores. That's not Wal-Mart's fault; it's the fault of public officials who fail to see the folly of subsidizing any form of retail with tax dollars. (Suburban governments in Allegheny County, incidentally, give out all kinds of subsidies for big-box retail.)

Likewise, I hate what is going on Downtown. I would love nothing better than to see the free market allowed to operate unfettered Downtown, for better or worse.

Jonathan Potts

We don't all fit in the same box, Paul. What I hate about Wal-Mart is that local and state governments across the country have given them something in the neighborhood of $1 billion in subsidies to open stores. That's not Wal-Mart's fault; it's the fault of public officials who fail to see the folly of subsidizing any form of retail with tax dollars. (Suburban governments in Allegheny County, incidentally, give out all kinds of subsidies for big-box retail.)

Likewise, I hate what is going on Downtown. I would love nothing better than to see the free market allowed to operate unfettered Downtown, for better or worse.

Paul

Indeed "you" don't fit in the same box, that's why I wondered what people thought about it.

Honestly though, do you really feel as though you desire to see a more market oriented downtown are shared by many who we refer to as "urbanists?"

My underlying point is, again, that while there's a focus on location and the argument about merits of high density or suburban living it's pretty much a red herring in most cases. The fact simply is that many who engage in Walmart or big box retail bashing regularly vote for people who implement the same policies with the same outcomes in their own preferred communities, but will justify it in their own minds with some unsupportable claim that when they do it there's a benefit to be derived.

Choices, personal and lifestyle, government and policy, have a far greater impact on the results than location ever will.

Jonathan Potts

See, it's long been my opinion, and the opinion of others, that the people who have been foisting these plans on Pittsburgh for the past 60 years don't really understand cities, how cities are supposed to work and what makes them distinct from the suburbs. Jane Jacobs, considered the grand dame of urbanism, certainly didn't approve of what Pittsburgh was doing in the 1950s and 1960s, and those plans share the same DNA as what we are doing Downtown today.

Paul

Not sure how many times are needed to cover this, but ...

I applaud you for you approach to the issue Jonathan, but I'm sure you're not naive enough to believe that your view s shared by most city residents and urbanists. You are the expection not the rule.

Luke Ravenstahl is running TV spots in the run up to today's voting touting these very plans and efforts because "he" knows that the vast majority of city voters think they're fantastic and exactly how a city is supposed to function.

I can't help but wonder at what point the truly reform minded in the city start to realize that change is not coming to Pittsburgh now or anytime soon because to many residents are invested in keeping things the way they are?

And then what?

Frank

I think the problem with all of the scenarios is that it's always a top-down approach. It's always the big politician, the big developer, or the big-box retailer that decides to come in with some big plan to make big changes. Real change in cities and communities comes from many small changes, changes made at the local/grass roots level, that build upon each other.

The worst part is that people get so used to hearing big plans from outside that it seems like we're just waiting around for someone to "fix" us. It's not going to happen, at least not in a lasting sense. Spin the flywheel locally, and bit-by-bit momentum will build.

Adri

Hey, Sam. This is Adri. I'm linking to you on my blogroll. Hooray, interwebs!

Paul

Doesn't seem Sam has had much to say after the disaster of the last city elections.

Maybe he's still struggling with the realization that all the notions of city residents looking for change and reform minded Democrats was nothing but a self induced delusion.

Buck-up man, you fought the good fight like I did for 30 years now come on out here with the sane and rational, put city machine politics behind you, live a little.

mike grant

The smaller changes in larger numbers are just as important as the larger changes in smaller numbers. People have debated for years the benefits and detriments of wal mart being in the area. We need less focus on what people are doing, and more focus on what is not being done. Why are we not encouraging success for smaller businesses? Less taxes? Affordable healthcare for their employees. Smaller businesses are tied closely to the communities in which they live. The larger corporations are more concerned with how to make a profit and please their shareholders, not how to help the community.

Mike Grant
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pat

What happened to this blog? Is it's founder (Sam?) OK? It was a good read and I always remember thinking when I checked it out now and again that the guy really should be getting paid for this. It is more thoughtful than the majority of schlock I pay to read. Hope all is well.

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