Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Blast from the Past: Coming Full Circle

First, a reminder:

I'll see you on Monday, January 14, 2pm onwards (feel free to come after work, we will still be there), City Planning Commission Meeting, 200 Ross Street, Downtown Pittsburgh. We need you for three minutes. We're on a filibuster to stop the vote at City Planning until the Pens address our questions and there is a signed Community Benefits Agreement---legally binding contract---that is mutually agreeable.

History is extremely important
So, what you can do to come full circle on the One Hill Community Benefits Agreement / Hill District Reinvestment Plan is to read Bram's blog, since he's like the first outsider to really bring it home (we've been here, waiting...) and then read below to come full circle. Be sure to pay attention to the names on the press release and this will all sink in for you---with one exception:

Councilwoman Tonya Payne. She gives verbal support to One Hill---yes. Her people passed out flyers a few months ago---yes. But has she (or her people) done anything substantive to really support One Hill? No. Why? Because she was doing her master's bidding by playing with hockey sticks for the Pittsburgh Penguins and working for a Mayor's election, after which he promptly kicked her in the teeth. Very sad. That's way too much shucking, jiving and buckdancing (and I like to dance) to not get anything in return. This is why you should stand with the community. The power will always, always, be with the people.

After you see these names, just understand that largely because she felt threatened by people she thinks will run against her and because of her angst towards anything related to her former boss and our former City Councilman, Sala Udin, Payne worked hard to help Carl Redwood and company form One Hill and then flooded the organization with her friends, family members and democratic committee persons to totally exclude or heavily minimize the influence of anyone who put the development rights, Don Barden, funding for community development, or any ask she considered too strenuous, etc. on the table---i.e. Jake Wheatley, the Hill CDC, Raise Your Hand! No Games, the activist ministers, etc . Why? Because her Master, David Morehouse, told her so. And her overseer, Mayor Ravenstahl, told her so.

We want to let Tonya Payne know that slavery is over. We are beginning the campaign to Free Tonya Payne.

To wit, the blast from the past:

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kimberly C. Ellis,

Hill District Community Demands Representation in Negotiating Development Rights for the Lower Hill District, To Hold Press Conference on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 2:30pm, Mellon Arena

For years, the Greater Hill District Community has worked to develop an inclusive, decision-making process with City officials and other elected representatives in an effort to shape its future. Of paramount importance in this struggle is the need to confront the dismissive attitude towards the Hill District community and its indigenous leadership of private citizens, faith-based institutions, service and development entities.

As residents, stakeholders, leaders and institutional representatives, our collective mission is to preserve, protect and develop the Historic Hill District. This is evidenced by our recent sustained and collective battle to protect the community from the encroachment of a casino placed within and in the front yard of our neighborhood. Thus, the Hill District Community demands representation in negotiating development rights for the Lower Hill District, which are currently being negotiated solely by government officials and the Pittsburgh Penguins Sports Franchise, with no representation from the Hill District community. The Penguins share a unique and recently contentious place in history with the City of Pittsburgh and are now seeking to rectify it. Similarly, the Hill District Community also shares a unique and contentious history with the City of Pittsburgh. As such, we are at a pivotal period in our neighborhood and the City's history and are seeking to forge a new path with a much brighter future.

Therefore, with our collective mission in mind, the concerned citizens who live, work and play in the Hill District would like to make exceptionally clear the following:

  1. The Greater Hill District Community is bound by Bigelow Boulevard, the Boulevard of the Allies, Forbes Avenue and Sixth Avenue. This area encapsulates the Upper Hill (Schenley Heights / Sugartop, the Herron Avenue Business Corridor), the Middle Hill (Oak Hill, Whiteside Road and the Centre Avenue Business Corridor) and the Lower Hill (Reed & Roberts, Crawford Square, Bedford Dwellings, Uptown and the Mellon Arena / Melody Tent associated lots and sites).
  2. Throughout the entirety of its history in the Lower Hill District, the Pittsburgh Penguins have not served as partners in any substantial manner and are not entitled to development rights to the land in the Lower Hill.
  3. Further, as a multimillion dollar sports team that has been given concessions by the City of Pittsburgh in accordance with Plan B, the Penguins will receive a new arena and a reduced contribution to this arena from the initially stated $4 million dollars annual contribution to $2 million.
  4. As residents and citizens of the City of Pittsburgh, we expect our elected officials, especially our Mayor and County Executive, to represent Hill District taxpayers, voters and stakeholders in the protection and proper representation in any decision-making process that reflects our past while shaping our present and future.
  5. Therefore, we demand a seat at any decision-making table with regard to the Greater Hill District Community.
  6. We demand equity in any plan for the Greater Hill District no matter who or what entity obtains development rights and we demand a formal agreement be determined in writing with any and all entities involved.
  7. Hill District residents and stakeholders will hold a press conference on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 2:30pm at the Mellon Arena site; and invite all of our elected officials who are in the critical, decision-making roles in this process to ensure that community voices are heard.

It is unconscionable and entirely unacceptable for City representatives and other elected officials to continue a process of engagement with the Pittsburgh Penguins or any other entity that seeks to develop within and in the front yard of the Greater Hill District community without taking into account the concerns of the citizens who live, work and play here twenty four hours a day.

At this point in our history and upon the cusp of change, it is important to come to the table to address the wrongs of our collective past, engage the needs of our present and move forward into a brighter future for the Greater Hill District Community and the City of Pittsburgh, as a whole.


Terri Baltimore, Hill House Association

Larry Demarzo, House of the Crossroads

Kimberly C. Ellis, Ph.D., Hill District Resident, Raise Your Hand! No Games Movement

Rev. Glenn G. Grayson, Pastor, Wesley Center AME Church

Emma T. Lucas-Darby, Ph.D., Hill Community Development Corporation

Marimba Milliones, Hill Community Development Corporation

Momar Milliones, Lifelong Hill District Resident

Rev. Johnnie Monroe, Pastor, Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church

Carl Redwood, Hill District Consensus Group

Rev. Tom Smith, Pastor, Monumental Baptist Church

State Representative Jake Wheatley, Jr., 19th Legislative District

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