Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Critical Analysis Discussion and Debate on the CBA Process, Neighborhood Self-Determination and the "One Hill" Controversy

Here is a flyer for the event. Due to the Mayoral Debate, we moved to Wednesday! Please spread the word and post it to your blogs.

The problem with the surprise over the yelling and screaming on the Northside is that there is an obvious need for some people to be heard and they are not being heard.

Having a town hall meeting on casino design and not having ever had a town hall meeting on the violence on the Northside in 2007 is disconcerting. Which relates to my second point.

By the way, Frick Fine Arts Building is at 650 Schenley Drive on Pitt's campus and can be found in Oakland, across from the Carnegie Library, just off of Forbes Ave.
The Panelists Include:
Ervin Dyer, Senior Editor, PITT Magazine (formerly 16 years with the Pgh Post-Gazette) - moderator

Kimberly C. Ellis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Africana Studies, Chair, Historic Hill Initiative

Noor Ismail, Director, City of Pittsburgh, Department of City Planning

Marimba Milliones, Chair, Hill Community Development Corporation

Rev. James McLemore, Senior Pastor, Bethel AME Church, Hill District

Also Invited:
Carl Redwood, Jr., Chair, One Hill CBA Coalition (or one Executive Committee Member)---declined

Khari Mosley, Campaign Coordinator, Pittsburgh United---declined

Paul A. Ellis, Esq., Negotiator / Legal Advisor, One Hill CBA Coalition---pressured to not participate by One Hill members (it's okay, bro)
Ronell Guy, Housing Alliance of PA, Board Member, Pittsburgh United---had to cancel due to Harrisburg trip.

Our discussions will be undergirded by the groundbreaking research on racial disparities in the City of Pittsburgh, by the Center for the Study of Race and Social Problems
North Siders speak up about casino (Trib, Justin Vellucci)
North Side faces rift over casino (P-G, Diana Nelson Jones)
I went to the end of the meeting on the Northside yesterday. The fact that Executive Director of the Northside Leadership Conference, Mark Fatla, quotes Don Barden's agreement as saying the casino will have "no negative impact" on the Northside is ridiculous. There will be a negative impact on the entire City of Pittsburgh and the State of PA for the entire gaming industry. If the 14 neighborhoods represented in the NSLC actually believed this and signed off on this agreement without ever gathering or conducting any research on the social and economic impact of gambling, they would have never agreed to a $3 million dollar deal.

I find it amazing that in all of the 'yelling and screaming' I had to do during the Raise Your Hand! No Casino on the Hill Campaign, no one ever got wind of social and economic impact, eh? Everybody missed the lecture by Robert Goodman, eh?:

Goodman’s book, The Luck Business: The Devastating Consequences and Broken Promises of America’s Gambling Explosion (Simon & Schuster, 1995), is a study of the economic and social impacts of gambling policy in America that grew out of his work as director of the U.S. Gambling Study, a two-year research project funded by the Ford Foundation and the Aspen Institute.

In his book, Goodman writes that many cities are turning to legal gambling with the hope that it will pump money into their economies. But the reality, he says, is that big-spending tourists don’t flock to these casinos, little new money comes into the region, and what local money is spent is diverted from area restaurants, movie theaters, and shops.

It's imperative for everyone to understand that the casino industry is like any other industry considered a 'bottom feeder'---there will be negative consequences to gambling, just as there are to smoking, drinking, eating fast food, etc.

How we mitigate these problems (because people seem to love to drink, gamble, smoke and eat fast food) is another matter. Pretending they will not occur and failing to prepare for them does a disservice to us all.

I spent a great deal of time researching these statistics and Bruce Barron of No Dice is really an expert on the casino industry and is far more stringent than I am about it, mostly because I believe that people have the right and freedom to be foolish if they so choose. The problem, of course, is that their foolish choices do impact us, as a society, so we must all contend with these industries and their impacts.

If people believe that Northside United / Pittsburgh United is the problem and has been dividing community groups and others believe that Mark Fatla and the Northside Leadership Conference are the problem and others believe that Don Barden's Majestic Star Casino is the problem; and still others believe that gaming, itself, is the problem, and yet everyone claims to want good jobs, social services, government accountability and property tax relief, we certainly have alot to talk about, don't we?

This is yet another reason why a critical analysis of the CBA process is needed and will be the first to occur in the City of Pittsburgh. Congratulations to the University of Pittsburgh's Africana Studies Department for having the insight to jumpstart this process and have multiple conversations on this topic!

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