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sean mcdaniel

you know the cultural trust/piatt development comparison reminds me of the salvation army vs. the red cross. the salvation army doesn't take a dime of government money, spends about 92 cents of every donated dollar to services and never spews off the slightest scent of scandal or financial misdealings. and yet, when a katrina or some other disaster strikes, the red cross gets swamped with donations (not that the army goes dry). maybe it's because the red cross presents a better public image (really the army people really are pretty serious. and they don't throw gala fundraisers that cost millions of dollars). maybe politcians like the piatts and their type better because their plans look sexier (even though the cultural trust has a real record of success, just as the salvation army outperfoms the red cross). still that's not to say the red cross isn't worthwhile or that the piatts of the world can deliver a project that enriches downtown. maybe it's the fact that the cultural trust can't think about making a profit.

Jonathan Potts

An earlier article in the Trib said that the state may kick in as much as $30 million for the Cultural District project that is supposed to go toward streets, sewers and other infrastructure.

Sam M

Yeah. I am not at all sure about the wording of the article. Especially since it comes from a quote. Here it is again:

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's ambitious riverside housing project, the biggest Downtown housing development in the city's history, "is different from most, if not all," privately funded real estate projects in the United States today, says Robert Campbell, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for The Boston Globe.

Now, it doesn't say "OTHER privately funded real estate projects." It just says "privately funded real estate projects."

So does that mean that it is privately funded but different from other privately funded projects? Or does it mean that it is publicly funded, which perhaps explains its difference from the privately funded ones?

I mean, why mention it at all in this context? Was it just an extraneous part of an otherwise worthwhile quote?

That's what I am not clear about.

Sam M

I might point out that the "privately funded" falls outside of the quotation marks. That is, the reporter put it in there. Is that because it was in response to a question asking the expert to differentiate this from other privately funded projects? Or is it something else? Was it part of a larger discussion about private projects? Or was the question something like, "This is a publicly funded project, and people would like to know why it is getting public funds. So, why is it getting public funds?"

As worded and punctuated, it could be any of the above, no?

sean mcdaniel

there will be government money involved. not huge amounts that make newspaper headlines. and the PCT is hoping to tap that source as little as possible. but yes, that dirty "S" word will be involved.

sean mcdaniel

you know, once it again this story points out that shoddy work of local reporters. all it took was a phone call to find out. it's that easy. funny you guys didn't think of it.

Sam M

The problem with placing a call is that all you can get is information. Which is a good start, but it hardly answers the ultimate question.

That is, as we have seen, development is an extremely complex process. Does it count as a subsidy if the city only builds sewage and streets? It provides those services everywhere, right? Or does it? How does that cost get distributed?

Then you have the issue of the public-private partnerships. Up where I am from, we call it "North Central." Which stands for something like the North Central Pennsylvania Economic Development blah blah blah. Its officially counts as a private nonprofit, I think. Yet there was recently a huge flap over whether the people in charge of it should have to reveal their salaries since they get a whole pile of money from the state. Here is a story from today:

http://www.ridgwayrecord.com/articles/2006/08/22/news/news01.txt

The intro is a quote from Congressman John Peterson:

"I brought a check for a half a million dollars."

No kidding.

The agency recently provided some funding for this:

http://www.ridgwayrecord.com/articles/2006/07/21/news/news01.txt

I don't think the fact that things are so complicated is a good thing.

Here is an excellent musing on such issues. Also from today:

http://www.reason.com/links/links082206.shtml

Jonathan Potts

The question that should always be asked is whether the infrastructure improvements are necessary regardless of what development occurs--and in Pittsburgh that answer may often be yes--or whether the development itself makes them necessary. An example of the latter would be if a municipality has to install a traffic light or add a turning lane to accomodate a big-box retailer.

The state of Pittsburgh's infrastructure is one reason I think it is ludicrious that money from the casino is going to spent on a new arena. How about improving the water and sewer system?

Sean--I'll pass along word of your diligence to the Pulitzer committee.

Sam M

Jonathan,

Didn't you hear? The Isle of Capri is going to GIVE the city an arena. For free. Quite magnanimous, really. A bargain at twice the price, and all that.

Sigh.

sean mcdaniel

the subsidies are the real kind...not just for putting up a traffic light at eighth and penn. as i said the trust is going to try to keep it to a minimum...and maybe nothing if they raise the money privately. the reason the project will take 10 years to complete is that they're trying to do it the old fashioned way...on their own. the trust isn't holding open its pocketbook or reaching into harrisburg's wallet to finish this deal in two years.

and again, the fact that readers found that quote about private funding to be confusing is because not one damn reporter from the trib, PG or business times bother to ask a simple question or two...such as how is it different?...and will public money be involved? seriously, how tough would that have been...or does the cultural trust get a permanent free pass?

hell, the reporters at all the local rags probably just copied and pasted from the e-mail the cultural trust sent.

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