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Fine, well-spoken critical comments that address the economic issues that, after all, are being hidden behind or inside some idiotic nonsense term like "livability."

I've been travelling again, I'm writing from Durham, NC and I'd like say that one might use another, rather vague, term to address Pittsburgh's "livability" - infrastructure. Prime example, the Pittsburgh bus system. Jobs may come and go (and tax revenue too) but a local committment to public transport, come hell or high water, makes a city livable through prosperous times or poor.

In Durham I'm relying on the kindness of old friends to help me get around this poorly served community of rich, isolated students and poor, isolated workers. In the end, this kind of bifurcation doesn't and hasn't produced a sustainable economy for the town.

I would also like pose a quick question about DC public transport - is the Metro only for rich people? Who drive to the suburban stops and park there? Or is it used in other ways?

Jonathan Potts

Pittsburgh has been in denial for about as long as it's been in decline. One of the city's major problems is its refusal to right-size itself to match its population loss. We have too many pools and too many schools. We have a fire department that is too large and thanks to powerful municipal unions, way too many employees, a situation that I'm sure still exists despite layoffs the last few years. (For example, clerical workers, if memory serves, have a no lay-off clause in their contract.) All these things keep spending and taxes high, while infrastructure needs go unmet. People boast about the low cost of living in Pittsburgh--well, it would be even lower with a smaller government. And I'm not even mentioning all the hare-brained redevelopment schemes that provide no return on the public investment.

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