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August 24, 2009

G-20 Pittsburgh: Open Questions at D-30



I would like to offer accolades and commendations to both the Post-Gazette, which has a G-20 "topic" page at: http://www.post-gazette.com/g20summit/, and also to the Tribune-Review, which has a similar G20 page at http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/specialreports/g20/.

Here's a partial / early listing of announced G20 closures:
  • Federal courthouse, Downtown: Closed Sept. 23-25.
  • Pittsburgh City Council offices: Closed Sept. 23-25.
  • Community College of Allegheny County: Closed Sept. 23-25.
  • Duquesne University: Closed from noon, Sept. 23-25.
  • Point Park University: Closed Sept. 23-26.
  • Robert Morris University: Pittsburgh Center and Bayer Center closed Sept. 23-27. Moon campus will be open.
  • Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh: Early dismissal Sept. 23 and closed Sept. 24-25 for 13 elementary schools and 14 high schools
  • City Charter High School: Closed Sept. 24-25.
  • Pittsburgh Public Schools: All 66 schools closed Sept. 24-25.
  • West Mifflin Area School District: Closed Sept. 23-25.
  • Harris Theater, Downtown: Dates to be announced.
  • Amtrak: No trip can start or end in Pittsburgh from Sept. 24-26.

Sunday's The Observer writes about London's G-20 experience.

(coming soon to a Burgh near you)


I read a well-written post by Sue about City Council closing and the impact on lower-paid employees. She says it better than I can:
What about the rest of City employees? The ones making $24,000/year who need to conserve their PTO for their kids sicks days? What about the non-unionized service employees? What about the people who live Downtown (and not just in the penthouses)? ... I saw a press conference snippet of Joanna Doven practically shaking her finger admonishing people to reschedule their medical appointments. She fails to explain how the small business optometrist is going to weather the enforced closure of his practice for a few days. Who pays the "inconvenienced" staff salaries?

The AngryDrunkBureaucrat has a great G-20 Update that synthesizes the state of affairs: no local people know anything. You may think this means Uncle Sam has this covered. Or, you may think that Luke's administration is hosed. Glass half full, glass half empty. We'll see.

To summarize (ie, repeat) my open questions:
  • Who actually said "yes" to having the G-20 in Pittsburgh? What elected official is responsible for bringing it here?

  • What elected official is responsible for public safety in the streets around the G20 perimeter - is it Luke Ravenstahl (city), Dan Onorato (county), or Ed Rendell (state)?

  • Why is Pittsburgh planning on a much smaller police presence than London and Italy used for their G-20 meetings this year? Who made that decision?

  • Was Pittsburgh the first city offered the G-20, or the eleventh?

  • Will government be reimbursing lost salary to people who lose work because of the security zone?

  • After the G-20: What work was done here? Or was it a photo-op?
These questions matter (to me) because in a democracy, government action doesn't just appear from the heavens as a fait accompli. Decisions are made by elected officials, and implemented by careerists. Nobody shuts down a city without the people knowing who made that decision, and holding them accountable. That's the American way.

The alternative, where unidentified, unelected government agencies/ officials take action and the hoi polloi "Make the best of it", is totalitarianism.
I get that for security reasons, some details are tightly held. It's too easy for a lazy bureaucrat to wrap himself in that blanker. None of the questions above are security issues.

Philosophically, if we tolerate the (current) totalitarian approach and don't insist on democratic transparency, we're making the Anarchist's argument for them.


Here's my G20 Confidence Chart at DaysToGo=30:


Other than that, readers might want to review the "Miami Model" of American police strategy that we're probably about to get a good view of. Here's a story about the Miami Model at the Republican Convention, one year ago. Expect to see: Police control of the news, embedded reporters reporting from the official point of view, unidentified officers, lethal force, and treating dissent and protest as an offense. Chances are they'll treat the Thomas Merton protesters (the local good guys), the Anarchists (their favorite scapegoat), and the transient sociopaths (who'll be in the mix) as one homogeneous group.

The Pittsburgh Organizing Group's Updates ( Update 5, Update 6, and Update 7 ) are online.

This will, I believe, be my last post on the subject of the G20 in Pittsburgh. Thanks for reading.

3 comments:

Bram Reichbaum said...

PCNC has been airing a 5-minute address by Bill Flanagan of the Allegheny Conference that speaks with great precision to all of your concerns.

According to Flanagan, the 'purpose' or 'work' of the G-20 doesn't enter into the equation remotely. Hosting the G-20 in Pittsburgh will yield news stories about Pittsburgh, and will give us an opportunity to tell our story about environmental and economic recovery. In turn, positive buzz about Pittsburgh will increase, companies will be more likely to move here, and individuals will be more likely to move and/or stay here. Worries about "thousands of rampaging protesters" were dismissed with a shrug and an eye roll, and we were assured that the inconvenience would be highly localized and very short.

Personally, I wonder whether the G-20 as a whole will result in much more than a blip on the news radar, let alone spin-off stories about the loveliness and resilience of Pittsburgh. And even Dan Onorato warned us early on that the delegates are coming here to hold meetings, not take Duck Boat rides (besides, the rivers will be closed, so Just Ducky Tours and the Gateway Clipper fleet will be among those out of luck).

What really stuck with me, though, was Flanagan's conclusion: that we should not be bothered by "the cynical and jaded voices of our age". It sent a chill down my spine; his whole affect changed as he said that. Like, "We'll do the thinking for you, not just on this issue but from here on out."

Anonymous said...

AS SUMMIT NEARS LOOKS LIKE IT WAS A LESS THAN GOOD IDEA FOR PITTSBURGH GOVERNMENT TO HOST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SECURITY PEOPLE TELL YOU TO LOOK AT TAPES OF WHAT HAPPENED IN SEATTLE WASHINGTON AT LAST SUMMIT!!!! WILL PITTSBURGH PROTESTERS ( SOME FROM OTHER LESS THAN FRIENDLY COUNTRIES SUPPORTED BY AND BACKED BY THERE GOVERNMENTS HELL BENT ON CAUSING DISRUPTIONS AND PROBLEMS). YES THIS COULD VERY WELL BE WORST DECISSION EVERY MADE BY THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH GOVERNMENT!!!! LOOKS LIKE LOTS OF PROBLEMS GO ALONG WITH HOSTING THIS EVENT(30-60,000 PROTESTERS) NOT TO MENTION EST. COST NOW EXCEDING $15 MILLION DOLLARS AND COST SHUTTING DOWN THE CITY TO PUBLIC/BUSINESSES FOR 2-3 DAYS!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A BAD BAD BAD IDEA!!! LETS HOPE WE SOMEHOW MAKE IT THRU THIS EVENT!!

Rapman said...

Pittsburgh's G-20 story: Take an expressway from town and disappear into desolate 'hoods and encounter the civilization of menace. Pittsburgh, a dual city! The glass wonder of PPG Place and/or the G-20 Summit is a faded memory. Here in the 'hood lives lie abandoned as far as the eye can see.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEukcWW5dM0

That is: For the most part, African-American Pittsburgh seems to be invisible, not only to the public relations hucksters who tout Pittsburgh's successes, but we are equally invisible to the protesters.

Certainly, black Pittsburgh is as proud as anybody in that the black President we worked so hard to elect has selected Pittsburgh as the host of the G-20 Summit. We even enjoy the re-invention of Pittsburgh from a dirty, smoky steel-churning history to the bright, clean, green financial success that the business leaders and politicians boast about so loudly. Nobody is more proud of the Super Bowl winning African-American coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin. But none of that feel-good stuff erases the pain of the stubbornly high unemployment among African American young adults and the staggering dropout rate for young black males from the public school system.

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