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Comments

Sam M

As for Hooters, I have no idea what you are getting at. My best guess is that you are trying to spring some sort of rhetorical trap that destroys all my arguments as soon as I say that my wife probably wouldn't like to eat at Hooters because she thinks it's sexist. Or something like that.

So to help things along, er, I guess my wife probably wouldn't want to eat at Hooters. Because she probably would find it sexist.

Have at it.

sean mcdaniel

so, you only suggested that he could crush someone. which is must fine. so then i take it that the fact that the crips or us steel might infer that the mayor "could" crush them, without actually doing so, is a good thing. is that kind of like saying i have a gun and could use it when dealing with the crips?

Sam, you said that the "could crush" factor is a positive thing...so please tell me what to make of that.

as for goodfellas vs. hooters, the point is that different people will find them offensive for different reasons.

Sam M

I did tell you what to make of it.

The messenger matters. Presence matters. Style matters.

In the past few days people made a lot of the fact that mayor O'Connor was a "Pittsburgh" guy. They made a lot of his accent. Of the fact that he used local slang like "redd up."

I suppose someone of your mind might lampoon that. Or lament the fact that people care so much about presentation. Hey, why should people like someone who says, "Let's redd up the city for the ball game" and not like someone who says, "I suggest it is time for the people of this city to invest in civic hygiene and other aesthetic endeavors that will cast the city in a positive light on television."

Those two people are saying the same damn thing.

But they are different. And people hear them differently. One is better than the other.

Maybe you don' think so.

I do.

Here's a deal: I'll take my wife to Hooters if you go give a PowerPoint to the Crips. I mean, if style doesn't matter, there is no reason to think they won't be thrilled by your pie charts.

sean mcdaniel

Sam,

As for this statement:
"Martin Scorcese, an Italian American, has created a series of very famous, very public pieces of art that explores the relationship between Italian American culture and violent gangsterism. This you view as OK. Apparently because it is a movie."

Well, yeah, it is a movie. Just as I don't really get too upset at Terminator films for the same reason.

But here's what Scorcese said during a BBC interview shortly after the release of Goodfellas:

the film "makes the way of life in the film extremely romantic and appealing. But then of course one begins to pay for it and you begin to see what the lifestyle really is about. Just a deadend. A moral and spiritual deadend. And in some cases, just death."

On the ending, when H. Hill has ratted on his colleagues and is forced to live in the suburbs:

"The tone of it is, that he has the nerve to be complaining. That's the kind of people I knew growing up. I wanted to deal with them realistically...It's like a provocation of the audience, really. I'm not saying people should live this way. What I'm saying is that I want them to understand the thinking."

Does that make sense to you? Do you think the mayor of Braddock is trying to point out to the crips the deadend nature of their lifestyle...or make a separate peace with them.

As for a "I could crush you" shaved head, tattooed white mayor, I don't think any self-respecting Crip would have a problem taking a shot at him. Guns are a ...i mean can be...a great equalizer....remember that scene from indiana jones when Indy pulls drops his whip and finally just shoots the bad guy? plenty of cops get shot, even ones who can crush most people.

if you think this guy's physical presence is going to convince the crips to give up a lucrative drug trade you're really out of the loop these days. take a look at how many italian prosecutors have died trying to stop the sicilian mob. but hey we all need heroes.

Sam M

Sean,

I am not sure why you are having such a difficult time grasping the point. It is not all that complex. I have stated it plainly several times. And at no point did I ever imply that "this guy's physical presence is going to convince the crips to give up a lucrative drug."

So let me try one last time.

Again, I will turn to Bob O'Connor's use of the local accent and vernacular. Now, do you think the political value of that accent and vernacular rested in their ability to change peoples' minds about specific issues? For instance, do you think that someone who really thought that the All-Star Game was a big rip-off for the city sat around until one day slapping his head and saying, "Wait! Hold on! Did you just say, 'Redd Up?' My God! What was I thinking? All this time I thought that pouring resources into a short-term campaign to burnish the city's image on national television was a monumental waste. But redding up? Damn! If I had known we were redding up, I would have been on board! Why didn't somebody say so?"

I, for one, don't think it worked that way. In the same way that the Braddock guy's physical (as opposed to rhetorical) presence does not magically turn gangbangers into choirboys.

Is that clear enough? Let me state it again. I do not think that the guy's physical presence turns Crips into choirboys.

But can't there still be value in his presence? I think so. In the same way I think there was real value in the way Bob O'Connor talked and the words he used to express himself. Such things can be a crucial aspect of leadership. Especially in a place in dire need of leadership. And I believe that Pittsburgh and Braddock are such places.

So why doesn't everybody just dress and speak and otherwise carry themselves in ways that will impress their audience? For the same reason everyone doesn't do a 360 dunk: It's a special gift, and one that requires years of practice to deliver convincingly.

Bill Clinton had it. Witness him at the academic conference. At the black church. Off the cuff. On the record.

Other people don't have it. Witness Dukakis in the tank. Witness Llamar Alexader in the checkered Woolrich. Witness Al Gore.

Or do a thought experiment: What would you have thought if Tom Murphy had said, "Hey! Yinz are gonna love my plan fer dahntahn!"

Right. Poser.

Well, Bob O'Connor was not a poser. Did that make people automatically agree with him on every issue? No. But it did buy him time and credibility and a few more generous ears than he might have otherwise gotten.

And I believe the same is true of this guy. He's looks like a hard ass. Not because he's posing as a hard ass. But because he is, in fact, a hard ass. Physically, sure. But that's only one element of it. Witness his approach to the homeless people crapping all over the place. Witness his willingness to take on US Steel. Witness his willingness to take on the MFX. And not only take them on. It's HOW he takes them on. All while PROVING that he actually gives a crap about the kids in the area. Cares about playgrounds. And has the balls to hitch his own cart to the Braddock wagon. [Update: I think that's a misguided use of metaphor. Or mixed, or something. But you get the point.]

Hardass.

Which seems to fit with the way he dresses and looks and talks.

Which buys something very elusive in politics (and all other forms of persuasion and communcation): credibility.

Maybe you can find another Harvard graduate with a better chance of actually conveying something to the Crips.

I can't.

Sam M

And, I hasten to add, perhaps you can think of a Braddock resident able (and willing) to impress corporate types with his education, commitment to the arts and other credentials.

I can't.

So he is giving it a shot. And I don't think his approach is "stupid" in any way.

sean mcdaniel

look, i don't think you negotiate with the crips or the mafia. it's that simple. they don't play by the same rules as most people do. in fact they don't play by any rules than the ones they make and break.

if you could negotiate with thugs, they'd be gone. but no matter how many times the FBI claims to break the back of organized crime, it bounces back.

as for bob o'connor, you're right. he was no poser. he flashed the same smile walking out of the forbes avenue starbucks in squirrel hill on a saturday morning as he did entering the city county building on a monday...he connected...without any hint/threat/ability of willingness to physically crush anyone. same with clinton. or bono. or FDR.

i don't think intimidation works, even if thickly veiled.not in the long run. if so, there'd be no mafia anymore. and the drug trade would be gone. hell, the crips intimidation and killing of other gang members doesn't stop rivals from doing business. why the hell are they going to stop for some bulked up white guy with a harvard degree?

by the way, i might have misread that article...but so far, no artist has taken up his offer of free rental space...maybe he needs to be more of a hardass. you know, just throw some scrawny ass goth kid from the art institute in the space and look him inside and make him create! or maybe he needs to cleanup up his act and braddock's too before he gets any takers.

i'll ask you a question...and please to try NOT to parse your way out of it...

would you move to braddock now to show your support for the mayor? let's make it a small essay question. Why? Why not?

Kids' safety? Wife's safety? Your safety? Those would be my answers. But then again, I can't crush anyone. Or shot them either (yeah, Amos, I'm anti-gun)

I wouldn't...because its dangersous, drug-ridden and decrepit...which is probably why none of the mill workers live there either. i still wouldn't live in the mexican war streets, where just about two streets back of north avenue people openly deal drugs and shoot each other (check out how many people have been killed on armandale street this year....a sliver of a four-block long street. it's pretty amazing. i think it's something like 4-6 people killed.)

so when will you be moving the brood to braddocc? fair enough? can you answer that one?

Sam M

Sean,

In what sense is he trying to "negotiate" with them? What is he offering? What is he expecting in return? That's the definition of negotiation, right? And that's not what's going on. I am not aware of any deal in which he promised to tweak the spelling if they promised not to steal his car.

Now, is it an attempt to recognize their presence? To open a line of dialogue? To express to the world the new reality of the place? I can see those things. And I can see some value in them. Just about every community afflicted with gang violence has tried outreach to some degree. And they have seen varying degrees of success. And I don't think it is fair to cast those efforts as capitulation or negotiation or appeasement.

Was Scorcese trying to "negotiate" with the mob? I don't think so. It was an effort to explore a very complex relationship through art. A relationship that causes all sorts of conflicting emotions in the Italiam American community. Was the mob a reaction to limited economic opportunity? A little. Was it rooted in greed? Sure. Were there a lot of people with one foot in it and one in the legitimate economy? Absolutely. Do some Italian Americans still have complex, conflicting emotions about the mob? Yes. Can the mafia, like current urban gangs, be cast simultaneously as empowering and degrading? Yes. Are such gangs often oddly stylish and intriguing? Yes.

Thus an army of Italian Americans in love with movies about a culture that was a cancer on their ancestors' existence. Sort of. And a current urban culture infatuated with the same.

Complexity. Ambiguity. Perhaps that is why people often deal with such things through art. And I see no reason this guy can't do it if Scorcese can.

As for whether I would consider living in Braddock, yes, I would. But my wife? Now way. So no. We are a package deal. So far.

Is my attitude nuts? Well, I often do crazy things. So point taken.

sean mcdaniel

You really bewilder me.

Scorcese is a filmmaker who points out that while he might be fascinated with the mafia (i am too) he doesn't admire them (nor do i in any way). He says he makes his gang movies to show the dead end nature of that way of life. and let me say this again. he is a filmmaker. not a mayor.

i don't want my elected officials making deals with gangs...black, italian or otherwise when the sole purpose of those gangs is to victimize others. honestly, sam, the mafia and crips never intended to be anything more than thieves. it's that simple.

I bet you can't name one criminal group that is now a respected, legitmate and legal organization (not counting the republican party, which has actually gone the other way).

and i bet there aren't a hell of a lot of other people who read your blog who would think that negotiating with gangs is a good deal in the long run...(what would the terms be? not shooting within white residents with a combined household income of $100,000 plus and home value of $150,000 or more? no drive bys on school nights? limit killings of other gang members to 3 a month?) What are the terms that new people in the community could accept?

There have been far too many outreach efforts and truces around here in the past 15 years that led to short respites in the drug dealing and killings...and to have it all rachet up again.

so go ahead. believe that one guy with kick ass attitude can stop the madness in his town...and i'll believe that subsidized condos can revitalize downtown...wanna bet who wins? i'll wager that your guy doesn't make a long-term dent. not unless he can coax and influx of good people into his town that forces out the gangs...to duquesne. they won't go away. they'll just shift around. like all those people from squirrel hill and shadyside who will move downtown (sam, i'm being ironice, just so you know.)

sean mcdaniel

just so you know. your site is really sluggish. maybe it's me.

Sam M

I still don't know what deal you are talking about. Where do you see anything about a deal? What is he expecting to get in return for what he is offering? And what is he offering? And I don't mean what do you think he is asking and offering. I mean, where have you seen any presentation of this light-up night as a "deal"?

And by the way, I think our roles are officially now reversed. I am the optimist and you are the one panning the person with ideas. Well, at least I was willing to offer an alternative to subsidizing downtown development. Are you willing to stick your neck out and offer an alternative for Braddock? Or are you just going to sit around and hope the guy fails?

A guy, by the way, who happens to have done this:

Mayor Fetterman has moved into the old concrete-block warehouse, having converted it into a Greenwich Village-style loft apartment with brown leather couches, exposed concrete block walls and stainless-steel countertops. He’s also allowed the kids he works with to paint graffiti inside it. He’s refurbished the church next door, having transformed it into a community center that provides space for after-school programs and community dances.

... Fetterman earns roughly $33,000 per year from his Hill House job; being mayor of Braddock is a part-time position that pays only $150 a month. Yet he says he’s invested about $100,000 in the church and around $30,000 in his home...

...This is aside from the time and physical effort he’s invested by fixing basketball courts and playgrounds. It’s all part of Fetterman’s effort to improve “the quality of life and opportunities for our young people” and to attract “outside interest, ideas, investment and energy.”

... He preaches this pretty much everywhere he goes — when he’s helping local youths get their GEDs, or planting new trees and shrubs in his front lawn, or giving tours of Braddock. He talks up Braddock when contacting local media, or picking up garbage left behind by squatters, or any of the other tasks he performs daily. He does it, in part, to set an example for those who might feel overwhelmed by Braddock’s plight.

End quote:

So let me get this straight: Lucas Piatt wants to take government money to build luxury condos for people who are already doing really, really well for themselves but don't want to foot the bill for all the amenities they read about in Martha Stweart Living. And for that, you christen him a hero.

The mayor from Braddock invests his own money in a town that everyone, including you, has given up for dead. He has put his own sweat into cleaning--literally cleaning--the streets around him. And in doing everything he can, against all odds, to salvage a future for the place. And for that, he gets a bit of derision, a few slaps because you don't like his version of public art, and unsubstantiated charges of striking deals with violent gangs.

Weird.

Sam M

As for reformed criminal groups...

I already mentioned the Kennedy family, right? Bootleggers to Millionaires Club. That was quite a switch.

NASCAR (In a sense)

Sinn Fein (At least they would claim it.)

The American Continental Congress

Most unions

Most churches (at one time or another in history)

Any speakeasy that evolved into a legitimate licensed establishment


Etc.

John Morris

Sean,

By your own admission, you won't step foot in Braddock, but you are picking on the one guy who does seem to care what happens to the place.
I think, you would be hard pressed to show how Fetterman is something other than a saint for involving himself. He seems to have already forked over a lot of his own money and time.

As far as his persona goes, it seems like a somewhat desperate attempt to identify himself with the place and is also no doubt intended as part publicity stunt.

A corrupt dude would have likely seen how much money he might skim off the MFX project. That was the big pot of money rolling in. He could have easily played the "I have serious doubts game", which is usually followed by " I was assured that this would be good game"; after your sister's brother in-law gets the paving contract.

I do agree with you about the crime issue which is a primary. The real revival of NY came after serious work on fighting crime. For a bunch of places in the city, a tiny police station would be of so much more help than almost anything else.


Sam M

John,

I think that one of the great strenghts of the article is that it is completely open and honest about the crime problem. And in pretty stark fashion:

"So far, however, the number of people taking advantage of such opportunities in Braddock is limited. Probably because that means actually going to Braddock … which is more than many of us are willing to do."

Later on it has people openly talking about crime, openly discussing reservations about the artist space being offered, etc. it actually has a discussion about how the place smells like "piss and shit."

Look, I think it is safe to say that the folks at the City paper are rooting for this guy. And would love to see projects like this work. But they are being honest.

I think Pittsburgh would be a lot better off if all redvelopment efforts got this kind of close scrutiny. Have you seen anyone other than a few bloggers and the Tribune-Review offer anything half as critical of the PNC/Piatt plan?

I haven't.

John Morris

sam,

I can't say that i have spent time there, but I have walked around Braddock more than once, when I first came into town. It does have the classic hallmarks of a potential place for artists to revive ( or at least, that it was once at that stage ) One big problem is the extreeme poor condition of most of the "artist type" buildings. I think that one of the bad things that happened was that the MFX thing has kept things in limbo for years. The plans to tear down bradock have been looming out there for years and no doubt are a big factor in what happened.

In NY, a lot of similar neighborhoods have been revived in that way. But, the big difference is that NY has a massive housing shortage, which means that an army of people is out there looking for stuff like this. Here the path of least resistance is too cut and run.

My general feeling about a lot of the depressed, post industrial or emptied out communities around here is that they should work together and with the city of Pittsburgh to market themselves and to attract new residents.

If there was one giant website linking all the arts initiatives and similar positive efforts, one might be able to really attract and retain people. The vital thing is to see the potential market for residents and investment on a global scale instead of just having a bunch of poor towns looking to poach each others stuff.

I also think that, to the extent there would be demand for things in Braddock, the logical demand would be for ownership. The blunt fact is that the place is a mess and the only reason for being there is to get in on the ground floor of a revival. One has to get stuff down to a market clearing price which in this case may have to be in the sub $5,000 range.

This is a situation similar to the pioneers on the prairie. If a lot of these buildings could be put out there for close to free, something could happen or perhaps the owners or the city could try to have some kind of a profit sharing deal. It's pretty clear that at this point, anyone who buys anything there will be earning anything they get even if the buildings are bought for $1.00


John Morris

Sam,

Around two years ago, I looked at properties in Braddock on some real estate websites and then I actually looked at a few from outside.
I didn't take a close look, but it seemed like the prices being asked on the official websites was really high. I think I saw a bunch of buildings with no roofs in a state of total collapse that wer priced at around $100,000-125,0000. These were places that likely needed $200,000 or more in renovation costs.

I can't help feeling that most of the owners there were just waiting for the government check and playing games with the eminent domain thing.

The MFX thing was the major reason, that I never took a closer look.

1) I didn't know the proposed route and if I had I wouldn't have trusted that it wouldn,t change.

2) I saw potential for Braddock as a unique waterfront artist/residential thing so the highway looked like something that would make the place hopelessly unattractive.


sean mcdaniel

on sam's attempt at humor with reformed criminal groups"

As for reformed criminal groups...

I already mentioned the Kennedy family, right? Bootleggers to Millionaires Club. That was quite a switch.

NASCAR (In a sense)

Sinn Fein (At least they would claim it.)

The American Continental Congress

Most unions

Most churches (at one time or another in history)

Any speakeasy that evolved into a legitimate licensed establishment

...Let's just say that Sinn Fein and the American Continental Congress had legitimate political points to make. They were criminal groups because they threatened the power structure. But their main intent was to commit crimes such as murder, theft, prostitution, etc.

Unions...same story as above. The effort to reform work practices put the bosses in an uncomfortable position and would likely affect the bottom line.

Churches...same reason as the first two...they threaten the powers that be. Do you really want to lump Jesus into the same category are a Braddock gangbanger?

A speakeasy isn't exactly organized crime...even by your strict definitions.

As for the Kennedys...again, they wanted to sell some alcohol. But until you show me that old Joe actually went around gunning people down to practice his trade, I say you're engaging in some pretty stupid reasoning.

As for the thug tactics of Sein Finn and unions over the years, I find them reprehensible. A few years back in a live version of Sunday Bloody Sunday, Bono shouted this memorable phrase....fuck the revolution.

Sam, this all goes back to your statement of braddock's mayor's ability to possibly crush something as being a positive when dealing with the crips and US Steel. I just don't think physical intimidation (or the threat of it) works in the long run...as least that's what all the parenting books say...and it never works with terrorists either.

And Sam, again and again...people have tried to threaten, appease, ignore gangs for decades in this country...and gangs are stronger and more prevalent than ever.

i'm not saying that the braddock mayor is trying to cut deals with the crips...i'm saying that cutting deals with gangs doesn't work.

sean mcdaniel

hey, i noticed in my last post that i make it sound as though Sein Finn and The ACC were out to commit crimes of murder,drug running, prostition, etc. That was exactly opposite of what I meant to say.

sean mcdaniel

John Morris says about why people might not be buying property in braddock:

"This is a situation similar to the pioneers on the prairie. If a lot of these buildings could be put out there for close to free, something could happen or perhaps the owners or the city could try to have some kind of a profit sharing deal. It's pretty clear that at this point, anyone who buys anything there will be earning anything they get even if the buildings are bought for $1.00"

Hey John, if the current owners are asking too much money for these properties in anticipation of a govt. buyout...how in the hell will they go on the market for $1 unless the govt. meets the owners' exorbitant price? oh wait, how about eminent domain?

And in the end...isn't this just a freebie for the new owner...at the taxpayer's expense? Well?

Sean says:

"A speakeasy isn't exactly organized crime...even by your strict definitions."

Well, Speakeasies were crucial element of orgazized crime at the time. And run by many of the same people bootlegging the booze. And besides, you did say "name me some organized crime groups." You asked for criminal groups. So I did.

And as for this:

"gangs are stronger and more prevalent than ever."

That's a pretty broad statement. I am sure that you could find a few anecdotes to support it. And I am just as sure that I could find a few anecdotes to refute it. Is gang activity in New York as bad as it was during the Death Wish years? I understand it's not. But maybe I am wrong. Maybe that drop, if there has been one, is due to brutal crackdowns. Or outreach. Or a combination. I honestly don't know. And I suspect you don't either, really. But to reiterate, I would be surprised if today, September 3, 2006, marked the absolute apex of organized gang violence in American history. have you seen Gangs of New York? Death Wish? I don;t think such anxieties are misplaced or irrational, but I don't think they are new, either.

And this:

"I 'm not saying that the braddock mayor is trying to cut deals with the crips..." i refer you to these comments...

"Do you think the mayor of Braddock is trying to point out to the crips the deadend nature of their lifestyle...or make a separate peace with them."

"look, i don't think you negotiate with the crips or the mafia."

"i don't want my elected officials making deals with gangs"

So what were you getting at in those comments? Did someone else bring up the idea that a different mayor might be making deals? If so, what bearing does that have on Braddock? Or were your comments just non-sequiters? Grass is green? Sky is blue? And other non-related truths?

So, you asked the question. Why not answer it:

"Do you think the mayor of Braddock is trying to point out to the crips the deadend nature of their lifestyle...or make a separate peace with them?"

If you think it's the former, then you should have no problem with his actions, right? And if it's the latter, your claim that you are not positing a "deal" seems off base.

sean mcdaniel

Sam,

Again and again...I read the article. I was impressed with the guy's pro bono work with Hill House. And the fact that he gets a truly measly salary from the place now. I think that everything he is doing is laudable. I do. Please go back and read my original post...my beef is with your statement that someone's potential ability to crush someone is a positive. Funny, the people you mention as being able to deal with diverse groups...Bob O'Connor and Bill Clinton...probably never had to rely on physical muscle to get what they wanted. Neither did Ronald Reagan. Or Abraham Lincoln. Or Jesus.

I never said I don't like the deals Braddock's mayor might be cutting with the Crips (if he is or is thinking of it). I said that I don't think it's a good idea. Ever.

The Crips aren't out to win political or religious freedom. They're not striking about to win equality in the workplace. They're not even really trying to earn a living during a time of prohibition. The Crips only goal is to control a neighborhood's drug trade through physical intimidation.

And the problem with physical intimidation is that it's really hard to control. Just ask the people in Lawrenceville you like some of the improvements their local muscle guy has made against drug dealers, but don't care for how he uses that physical muscle to intimidate many law abiding residents who disagree with him.

look, even Jews in Germany thought Hitler was doing some good things for the country, especially in getting rid of the communists. And many believed he would stop the strong arm stuff once he led the government. But even you know the history there. Same was true in Italy. Spain. Japan. Russia. China...anywhere political leaders used muscle to clean up undesirables.

As for the mayor's appreciation of art...i really do think the common graffiti artist is not much more than a vandal...ask anyone whose home has been tagged...and do you know that in the city of pittsburgh, the tagged home owner is responsible for cleaning up the mess or is subject to paying a fine?

My point about the Crips Art Museum is that I find it ironic in this town that liberals just adore their lawn concerts at the Frick Museum, when their great great grandfathers labored under a business tyrannt's hand who routinely exposed his workers to unsafe conditions, paid them miserably and called in the pinkertons and cops to club employees into submission. And yet, they frolic in the gardens that their ancestors' labor made possible. Now there's a labor day thought for you.

And yes, Frick was a thug too. In a three-piece suit.

I hope Braddock and Duquesne and Monongahela and Ambridge and all those other ghost steel towns come back...but where's that influx of people going to come from? Shadyside? Allentown? Brighton Heights? Garfield? Granberry? Monroeville? Bethel Park? Or all those starving artists from NYC and Philadelphia? Hell, Braddock was too pricey for John Morris. And probably too scary for most others.

Before anyone starts telling me about the horrors that people put up with in the transformation of NYC's alphabet streets in the East Vilage...let's remember that the East Village's problem was squalor and drugs, not organized gangs. And also keep in mind that much nicer parts of NYC were within walking distance or a short train ride from the East Village...there are no such refuges near Braddock. It's a wasteland within a much larger wasteland.

As for being pessimistic about Braddock's future, well, you might be right. A few years ago there was much hoopla about a renaissance in Duquesne because a lot of gay couples were buying older homes there and renovating them. but today, duquesne is still in the same sad shape and its school district is on its last legs.

So sure, if i was placing a bet, my money would be on downtown pittsburgh instead of braddock...you really don't win by backing the long shot all the time. that's just not good horsesense...or good business.

John Morris

Sean,

Basically, if you don't have positive ideas for Braddock just let it go. The guy is giving it a shot. I also agree that for now, the place is pretty hopeless or at least hopeless if it acts alone.

You have made a great point here Sean in that, the most obvious areas ripe for revival are closer in to Pittsburgh. IF and when those core areas become attractive then the smaller towns can sell themslves as close to Pittsburgh.

and as far as Braddocks potential future residents, yes I think that the entire region should be trying to reach out to the world. But I can see that there is a deep resistance to doing that. One obvious thing to do would be to create a virtual Braddock to at least keep the towns memory alive and also to have a way for all the people who are from ther to stay in touch.

The fact that Pittsburgh has such a huge diaspora and yet so little is done to keep people connected is very strange.

Sam M

First eisegesis, then revisionist history:

Sean wrote, on September 3 at 7:30 am (at least according to the time stamp on the post):

"I was impressed with the guy's pro bono work with Hill House. And the fact that he gets a truly measly salary from the place now. I think that everything he is doing is laudable. I do. Please go back and read my original post..."

OK. Let's revisit the original post, from September 1 at 12:53 pm:

"I think that when you have a mayor that pays homage to the Crips is far beyond controversial...it's insanely stupidly...maybe we should change the spelling of our country to Amerika, because, you know, that Hitler fellow and his SS goons were pretty good at crushing people who didn't like the Nazi way of life.

Oh yeah...I can't wait to see young white couples flocking to a town with a mayor who looks like a hell's angel and tips his hat to the spirit of the Crips"

Hmmm. Does that sound anything like "I think everything he is doing is laudable"?

The original post said nothing about pro bono work or Hill House. Don't complain to me. You're the one who told me to go look at it.

So...

Far beyond controversial
Hitler
SS goons
Insanely stupid
Crushing people
Looks like a Hell's Angel

All that becomes "laudable."

And all within two days.

Amazing, homey.

sean mcdaniel

sam,

quit the to-the-letter literal, pedantic nit picking. i agree with everything the mayor of braddock is doing except...any negotiating with the gangs (that's if he is). and if he does rely on muscle and his physical appearance to persuade people, then i don't agree with that either.

look, he might look like a hell's angel. but if he doesn't act like one, that's fine. but when the two go hand in hand, then the person (even the mayor of braddock) is just a thug. (which according to the american heritage dictionary is "A cutthroat or ruffian; a hoodlum." And according the same sources a ruffian is "a tough, lawless person; roughneck; bully." I think we all know what a bully is. And that's a good way to describe someone who relies on physical intimidation to get his way...even the mayor of braddock, if he does rely on his ability to maybe, possibly crush someone.)

so, let me ask you this...are you going to use your physical appearance and ability to potentially crush your children to make them behave the way you want? is that how you persuade your wife to see things your way...is that your classroom approach too?

muscle and physical force (especially in the hands of public officials) can be a tough thing to control. that's why cops can easily cross the line from reasonable force to police brutality. do you think that just because the mayor has a harvard diploma that he couldn't misuse his muscle? again that's if he does rely on his muscle. and i guess i have to keep saying, "that's if he does" because you are the one that said that having such a potential weapon in his arsenal is a good thing.

braddock isn't deadwood (yet) and the mayor isn't the self-appointed sheriff. Hey, maybe if George Bush "could" — not that he would — really clobber the president of Iran (or Kofi Annan, just for the hell of it) the nuclear development issue would just disappear. I mean our military might doesn't seem to impress the Iranians.

If you don't get my point, how far up the political ladder does the physical intimidation factor work? and is it appropriate even on the lowest rung?

Again and again...my arugment here has been your statement that the mayor's ability to possibly, potentially, maybe, if he needed to (have I couched that enough for you?) crush the opposition, whether in the hood or boardroom, is a "positive" thing. and it's definitely not a positive way to run a government, not even in braddock.

what part of that don't you understand?

you are free to start nit picking.

sean mcdaniel

J. Morris sez:

"Basically, if you don't have positive ideas for Braddock just let it go. The guy is giving it a shot."

Look, JM, my point is that if the mayor has to rely on physical intimidation (not that I'm saying he is!) then it's not the right approach. Also, I don't think there is room for negotiating with criminal gangs. That's been tried again and again...and it doesn't work in the long run...even if there's proof of a major gang giving up its evil ways, there are plenty more gangs to fill that void. Gang members don't believe in the future...all the see is today and they are more than willing to do whatever it takes to get their daily bling.

Giving them space to operate in doesn't get rid of the problem. Seriously, do you or sam really think that anyone (regardless of potential to crush) can convince scores of gangmembers to trade in their street colors for Wal-Mart vests or KFC cap? Seriously?

Face it, the guy in Braddock's never going to win. As I said, the place is smaller wasteland inside a bigger wasteland. You want to rebuild Braddock, you better start from the area's core...Pittsburgh...it's how this region grew from its very start...everthing radiated and grew from the point, not the other way around.

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