Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The One Hill CBA

So, this Saturday, the One Hill CBA Coalition is going to vote on Saturday to pass the tentative CBA Agreement "up or down". Despite reports that Chair, Carl Redwood, is quoted as saying that "the majority" of the members must vote in order for it to pass, the reality (confirmed last Monday and the Monday prior) is that only twenty (20) of the 98 supposed members of One Hill need to vote in order to meet "quorum" and only a majority (as opposed to the consensus touted by Tom Hoffman at the beginning of this situation) is required to pass.

So, at bare minimum, only eleven (11) people need to vote "yes" in order to pass the One Hill CBA. It's so sad, it's amusing, especially considering that the negotiation team is nine (9) persons and the strategy team is a total of twelve (12) persons, which includes the negotiation team. So, quite frankly, the strategy team can vote the entire CBA "up" with very little effort (or approval) from the community.

Unfortunately, I'm not confident that many of the organizational representatives or their members really know what's in the CBA and what they're voting for. There were over 50 persons in attendance two weeks ago; but there was so much confusion over what was actually in the CBA (including the most recent inclusion of the value / reinvestment amount of the 28-acre site) that some of the members asked for another week to ask questions, get answers, etc. And, unfortunately, it seems the next meeting (this past Monday) was not advertised because approximately 15 persons (total) showed up. Evan Frazier was well-meaning in attempting to answer the questions posed but he did not know many of the answers and it was clear that any revisions offered from the week prior either weren't considered or just weren't taken seriously---and certainly not included.

Carl Redwood announced that the CBA will not be changed at all this week and that members needed to vote the present CBA up or down. I later found out after the meeting that the CBA is still being worked upon every single day and that the Pens have even attempted to provide a further clause. This sort of back-and-forth between the lawyers was presented as the reason for which the detailed CBA was not passed out three (3) weeks ago.

It's pretty amazing how this is all going down.

In its present form, I would not vote for the CBA and here's why:

1. The last-minute inclusion of the 28-acre site WITHOUT proper reinvestment is a sham, plain and simple. Sure, there is job inclusion and work on the Masterplan but the Pens are trying to get away with not providing ONE DIME of reinvestment based on the 28-acre site.

2. The Neighborhood Partnership Program that is proposed offers $500,00 per year for six years with a POSSIBILITY to renew for another six years, which is not enough.

The problem? The Pens aren't paying one dime into this fund either. They are going to help "in good faith" find corporate partners. Gimme a break. (For the record, the NPP was suggested by Jake Wheatley as a START 1.5 years ago).

3. The Pens spent a year and a half telling everyone within an eye or ear's reach that the Arena is not built with public subsidy, therefore they should not have to provide reinvestment relative to the CBA. Now, they have allowed for language regarding the 28-acre site but with little to no PROPER reinvestment (i.e. not one dime based on the huge amount of public subsidy and profit to come from this site). For those who might have forgotten the gargantuan amount of public subsidy the Pens received, click here. This is unacceptable.

4. The City and the County robbed the Hill District community of Don Barden's $350 million dollars of spurred development in the Lower Hill with a focus upon sweeping that development up through the Centre Ave. corridor and above Crawford Street. They chose to give it to the Pens but are not forcing them to provide PROPER reinvestment for the arena and the 28-acre site.

5. The BEST part of the CBA has the LEAST amount of proper investment --- the One Hill First Source Hiring Center (patterned after the Milwaukee Big Step Program), which is set to be funded at $90,000 per year for two (2) years, subject to the availability of funds and with the hope that the Falk and Heinz Foundations will supplement this gap. But this is not their responsibility, the funding should come from the PENS.

The Hill Faith and Justice Alliance has been repeatedly maligned in this process because we insist on much more and, you know, a novel idea that---we live, work and play here.

And now for the amazing One Hill double standard:

1. In April 2007, the Hill Faith and Justice alliance demanded, among other things, $10 million dollars in reinvestment funds for development.

Now, One Hill's negotiating for $3 million dollars in reinvestment funds for development with the possibility of $3 million more if the NPP program is renewed for another six years. Add the $1 million for the grocery store and we're at $7 million total.

We were considered elitist, extortionists, greedy, crazy, the whole nine.

2. We were kicked out of One Hill, supposedly, for negotiating separately for the CBA when we are the ones who secured a commitment for the CBA to begin with. The truth is, we were kicked out because of the agreement between three entities because we were considered too radical and demanding too much---supposedly without the community. This was entirely untrue, it was all about control but at the end of the day, preventing the history from ever being known to One Hill members, as a whole, in addition to relentless attacks from various parties inside of the organization only served to maintain the division, no matter how many times we reached out. Carl's response: "just join One Hill", which is hilarious.

Hypocritical much?

I could go on but I'll have to get into it later. Just thinking about this makes me sleepy and I have set new limits of what I can tolerate for myself.

All that I ask at this point is that Ron Porter not be allowed to return to the Hill House Association Board to help advise or otherwise manage monies flowing through the Hill House Association after he "temporarily resigned" from the Board to take a Senior Consultant position with the Pittsburgh Penguins to negotiate a substandard CBA and talk smack on the community the entire time.

Shady much?

See ya.


Scott said...

Dr. Goddess,

I read your comments on PittGirl's blog re the Hill and the new arena and then your comments on your own blog since they perked my interest. I'm sure you'll brand me a racist, etc, but I have to ask, why is it that certain neighborhoods can't take their situation into their own hands instead of demanding payouts, subsidies, etc? I guess I come from the school of thought that everyone, and every neighborhood is capable of acheiving anything they set their mind to, without always pointing the finger at other people for holding them down, or placing blame on others instead of taking charge of their own destiny. I truly think this is the curse of many of our challenged neighborhoods and it keeps folks from doing something to better themselves instead of waiting around for somebody else to hand it to them.

Raise Your Hand! No Games said...

Dear Scott,

Thanks for writing in. I haven't had much time to write on my blog in a while, so I appreciate your beckoning.

For the record, I have pretty thick skin and it wouldn't matter to me if you were racist or not. I don't know enough about you and, quite frankly, when I speak and write about racism, I really try to avoid focusing on individuals (although I could) because racism is a system of thought, speech and actions reinforced by institutions and, certainly, individual behavior. For me, focusing upon individuals is too narrow-minded an analysis and can easily lead to confusion.

Having said that, I don't find your opinion or position here to be racist at all. What it reflects, however, is a certain type of mythology that far too many Americans hold dear --- that myth of self-reliance.

You see, Scott, you cannot name even ONE neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh that is "self-reliant", that does not enjoy public subsidies and even payouts. Go ahead and scrape the coffers of Fox Chapel, Squirrel Hill, Upper St. Clair or Shadyside. Let me know when you find the absence of public subsidy or private reinvestment that is simply expected from the residents.

Further, please understand that Hill residents and groups DID take their situation "into their own hands", which is why we have a Hill District today. You need to be clear that if the government had its way (and by "way" I mean their brand of urban renewal) in the late 1950s, there would be no Hill District today.

Taking charge of our own destiny? Well, Scott, it's real simple. We have an arena that is being hosted in the front yard of our neighborhood (which was *actually* in our neighborhood two years ago but, you know, the area was rezoned to make sure the new arena wouldn't have to bear the burden of actually being in the Hill and benefitting from all of those tax credits as a result of settling in a targeted tax zone area --- oops, that's a handout, isn't it?) . . . point being that only those who live around an arena or stadium understand what it's like, especially a neighborhood trying to protect its residents and institutions from crime, drugs, underdevelopment and underemployment.

Having said that, I do think there's a terrible case of apathy, laziness and entitlement that too many Americans engender and we must all fight against that. On the one hand, you have folks who have a superiority complex and believe that they should receive opportunities, without being qualified and just because they are "white". And on the other hand, you have folks who are tired of seeing their parents work for what appears to be nothing and to get little to nowhere, dying young and partly disabled when they go. So, they give up and feel "entitled" to a life filled with immediate gratification and no need to plan for the future.

Internally and externally, everyone needs to do better.

Thanks for writing, Scott.

Corporate Pens said...

Theres a situation that occurs in ones life when it reaches time to go on alone away from home but something just doesnt click right. Since they were so used to being at home all these years, or maybe because they havent had the right mentality set them straight in the right direction. But when they do depend on themselves, its a bit different because now it isnt handed to them. Working and earning something is quite the difficult task in some eyes, but its gotta be done or else nothing gets done. Am I right or Am I right????

Much Love
-Jerryd W.

Dr. Goddess said...

Jerryd / Corporate Pens:

Thanks for your note. I wish you were a bit more direct instead of more general in your statements; but what I get from your comments is the implication that self-reliance, hard work, independence and the dignity that comes from one's work ethic is unparalleled. Okay, let's say that I agree with you (and I'm not saying I don't) but given your name "Corporate Pens", please share with me how and in any way that the Pittsburgh Penguins, as a corporation, has exhibited SELF-reliance (instead of corporate welfare, set asides, tax abatement and minority tax credits), hard work (instead of relying on the players' hard work and then trading them as soon as they ask for the money they deserve), independence (see self-reliance) and the dignity that comes from being the beneficiary of poor urban renewal and planning, as well as racism . . . and then seeking to replicate that pattern by placing a casino in that neighborhood's front yard without even remotely considering REAL proper investment in that community?

Looking forward to your response...