I've been very busy and don't always have time to update my blog. I'm also headed to Dubai for a conference on Women as Global Leaders, so please don't be astonished when I return even more determined and pointed in my criticism than before. Here's an update before I leave and it's a bit of a scathing one at that:
Let's see, we had a very good public hearing at City Council on Monday regarding the Community Benefits Agreement. The Pittsburgh Comet gave a quick update and shared links. I had to give a ten minute presentation on the historical context of "how we got here" and what I choose to call the "tale of two cities" (with an obvious Dickens reference). I hope it went well, folks seemed to appreciate it. But more importantly (and sadly), there was a woman there who was 98 years old and another one at 81 years old who was listing all the properties he'd owned in the past (and some in the present). Endearing and lovely, yes. But it's always so easy to smile at beautiful, elderly people. However, I didn't find it all that endearing because I, for one, do not want to be 98 years old and having to come down to a community meeting over something that should be so basic. This isn't 1958, this is 2008. And I find it rather disgusting, it's not cute at all. They should be sitting around telling us stories about how to better our lives, not having to hustle down to City Council to give testimony to how grand the city's failures have been.
In addition, I am so sick of my City Council representative, Tonya Payne, I wish it were 2009 already so we could vote her up and OUT. It's not about what she did to my brother regarding the Wilson home. And it's not even about anything personal. And Sala Udin has nothing to do with this as far as *I* am concerned. Folks forget a very basic and simple idea --- I DID NOT and DO NOT know Tonya Payne before this whole thing started. And by whole thing I mean a rich, white corporation attempting to put a casino in my poor, black neighborhood and a rich, white corporation taking money from the taxpayers in this blue-collar city and then trying not to reinvest with anything substantial in my poor, black neighborhood and/or to dictate how their "reinvestment" will be spent, when the neighbors have come together over the last TWO years to *further* determine what we need and want in the here and now.
It's not a grocery store, goddammit! Our children are DYING. Get it? Dying!
I told Pgh United this from the very beginning. We shared this within One Hill. We told them not to let anyone market this bullcrap to us from the start. Of course a grocery store is an easy win and another way to GET MONEY from people in the neighborhood.
And so, I am sick of everybody at this point. And I am most sick of my City Council representative, Tonya Payne, because she has wasted our entire community's time for the last two years. If we had someone really fighting for us, really going to bat for us AND (this is key, so pay attention) in the positions that she has been in (Planning and Zoning, the URA, close association with Mayor Ravenstahl and David Morehouse of the Penguins), we would not have to waste one moment of our time having to protest. We would be able to simply shake hands with the Mayor, shake hands with the Pens, shake hands with Dan Onorato and applaud our collective vision and masterplan for reinvestment.
But no. We are people who have the least amount of time to be dealing with this foolishness, we have the least amount of resources to do it and the most amount to lose. We should be focused on the positive energy of development and not have to run and protest and put out fires and stop the steamroll at every term. And to know there is someone in place who could really be an asset to our neighborhood and not just an ass, is incredibly disheartening, annoying and disappointing. THAT is why I am angry and I have every right to be. And you should be too!
And not only that, I am upset because I consider it entirely disrespectful to have the majority of speakers at a public hearing reflective of YOUR district and when it is time to say anything (I mean, anything) to them, you shake your head and purse your lips into a 'no comment' and then the moment Council President Doug Shields says "move to adjourn", you yell out "SECOND!"
I then walk outside (I'm kinda rushing now because I've been there since 10:00am, it's 12:30pm and I have a class at 1:00pm) and the moment I walk out of the chamber doors, I hear Tonya Payne talking to Jeremy Boren of the Trib saying, "I don't know why people are saying the Pens aren't at the table. If you asked them, they would say they never left the table." Now, I heard this with my own ears. Why this didn't make it in the papers is beyond me.
But I find it sickening that you have nothing to say to someone who is 98 years old. I find it repulsive that you can't even muster up a "thank you all for coming to speak out", especially when no one said anything negative about her (and I had ten minutes to do so if I had wanted to) or anything of the sort. This is why I made a comment to Jeremy and then Tonya interrupted me saying I don't know what she does. Precisely, Tonya. Precisely.
And I know this is bigger than someone the likes of Tonya Payne. And I am not blaming her for coming up with these rude and callous ideas regarding our neighborhood. There is no doubt that we will be having a different kind of convo with David Morehouse, Ron Burkle and some others. And, certainly, I haven't forgotten about Ron Porter's shady behind, talking about "the mentality of entitlement is a tough one to crack." Negro, are you crazy? I mean, really, ARE. YOU. CRAZY??? He should be asked to permanently leave the Hill House Association Board immediately. And I am 100% serious about that. From betraying the community on the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force to this---enough is enough!
But for now, for Tonya Payne, who was elected by the people and on a platform of change, I am saying that she has a part to play, she is in a prime position to play it well (not bent over) and I do not feel she is even remotely protecting us and is only protecting her next election interests. But that is already a wrap, so she might as well do what she must to leave an important legacy and contribute something tangible during this one-time-only period as our rep.
Shame on you, Tonya Payne. Just shame on you for everything you have done and NOT done. People elected you because they believed you might make a difference. And all you have done was to make things worse.
Tonya Payne does not deserve to be our representative. And I am calling on all of the people who remotely thought putting her in office was a good idea to please get your ballots ready to put her OUT.
As for all of the rest of you that are too afraid to say anything to or about Tonya (or the Mayor or County Exec or the Pens or anyone else), please remember that "fear and God do not occupy th same space". If you care so much and claim to be working on our behalf, when the hell are you going to say something publicly and do something about it?
When will it be convenient for you to do ANYTHING at all?
Be happy I'm going to Dubai.
But I'll be back!
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