Present -vs- PANDA
Comparison: The Guiding Question
The primary difference between the present policy and PANDA is in their
Guiding Questions. While the guiding questions do not tell you all
is specifically different between the two approaches, they do most succinctly
describe the direction in which each is looking. As we hope you will
see, it is as if the two approaches are standing back to back, looking
in opposite directions.
|Present Policy asks:
"Who do we want to attract, and what do we need to do to get them to come here?" — Using carnival tactics, it's felt the most important thing is to get people to come into our tent, even if it means ignoring and abusing those who live here. People elsewhere aren't fooled; they can see that if they move here, they too will suffer along with the present residents.
"Who do we have here, and what do we need to do to take care of us? — We should learn from Chattanooga. Once called the little Pittsburgh of the South, the collapse of steel hit Chattanooga harder than us here. But, as they asked and answered this as their guiding question, people elsewhere noticed and felt they too would do well to live or invest there. They're now booming and called the little Atlanta!
Comparison: A General Overview
Most people are fed up with the region's present public policy and that in itself should be cause for action, but what many do not realize is that our present public policy is creating even greater problems for our future. Unfortunately, rather than spare us the pain of repeating mistakes made elsewhere, our leaders appear determined to make them again here. It's as if those mistakes are a right of passage, or maybe our leaders are demonstrating their ignorance, the way unscrupulous individuals pirate electronic designs by copying computer chips, burned out bugs and all. We expect that they should know better, and it doesn't make sense — but then again, there is an old maxim for trying to understand such conundrums: "When things don't make sense, follow the money and you'll have your answer." That answer becomes clearest when viewed first in a general sense and then in specifics.
PANDA, on the other hand, seeks to draw a lesson from the costly errors
of other cities (as well as their successes) and has laid out a specific
strategy that can reverse our present disastrous course. Not only
can it prevent further community destruction, but it can actually lead
to a healthy community revitalization. To understand how this is
possible, it is first necessary to look at a comparative overview of the
|Under present public policy, the region's
leaders are looking away for quick-fix solutions, and they're clueless
as to the region's real problems which are mainly the result of their policy.
To hear them talk, it is as though they are saying, "It's not that we're
doing the wrong things, it's that we aren't doing enough of the wrong things!"
And they're determined to do more of the wrong things, faster, and on a
Our political leaders feel that if only a superficial facade can be created, others will flock here. When that doesn't work, they are prepared to bribe them to come with subsidies from your hard earned tax dollars. They feel that if they can only get people here, somehow everything will magically change into a fantasy fairyland of resort communities, as Pittsburgh becomes America's playland.
Pittsburgh could once have easily shared the official motto of Portland, Oregon: "The City that works." Now, it is our regional leadership's strategy to have us entertain our way to prosperity. By their thinking, Pittsburgh's new motto is to be: "The City that plays!"
While they ignore what could be easily fixed, our leaders champion their
be-all-to-end-all solution — "re-invent the region." While
the region has problems that should be addressed, this is a solution for
problems which don't exist. Worse, at the heart of this strategy
is the creation of more and greater problems for our future!
When people from elsewhere visit the region now, they are most impressed with the abundance of traditional communities which we have here. Yet, it is our traditional communities which are currently in the cross hairs of our present leadership's destructive policies. It is not just that our traditional communities have been slighted for years, but there are a number of proposals which are being actively pursued which will eventually take the wrecking ball to large portions of the communities which made Pittsburgh what it was and are its strength today.
The principal mechanism of our regional decline: Overall, it is a public policy based upon subsidized real estate speculation, (primarily causing increased suburban sprawl but also making the City of Pittsburgh into a sub-city) that is the greatest threat to our existing communities. Even the outer Allegheny County suburbs, once thought a safe haven from urban decay, are now being impacted by a decline which is heaviest in the center city but to an increasing degree can be found extending to the County's borders.
As present property owners watch the value of their own investment erode
away, well connected real estate speculators are arranging even more public
subsidies which will guarantee them a handsome profit. — With the greatest
of arrogance, these speculators expect the taxpaying property owners to
pay for their projects while sitting patiently by and suffering one more
financial hit after another.
The Pittsburgh Area New Direction Alternative's proposal is to immediately stop the subsidies for real estate speculation and to use our scarce resources, instead, to build upon our existing assets rather than demolishing them. Carpetbagging speculators may seek to hide their profiteering pillage with glitzy publicity campaigns, but we must elect new leaders who can see through them. We, as a public, must look to region's traditional communities which are its strongest assets. Instead of undermining them, we must immediately implement a new public policy which has their revitalization as the number one agenda item.
The PANDA vision is to focus inward, restoring our traditional communities to health and vigor so that they naturally attract residents from within the region and beyond. At the heart of the PANDA vision is for the region to quit trying to be something it isn't and, instead, focus upon being itself. Rather than pinning its economic hopes upon becoming a "tourist town," PANDA has a better option:
The region still sits in the heart of the primary zone for investment in new manufacturing in the U.S. and it could once again expand the manufacturing segment of its economy, if it would merely reverse the present effort to turn the old industrial sites into new suburban resort-style communities and low density office campuses. By applying the modern rail transportation technologies of today (not waiting for a speculative new mode of transportation to be perfected sometime next century), by using existing rail lines and rights-of-way to connect the hearts of our traditional communities, the old industrial sites, Downtown Pittsburgh, and the new and old airport terminal buildings, the Pittsburgh Area would have the basis of a healthy, sustainable future which could easily attract people and investment without using the gimmickry of the region's present, charlatan speculators.
Comparison: Item by Item Table
It is our intention in coming weeks to include a table which provides a direct item by item comparison between PANDA and our present public policy.
You may use the comment section of the PANDA Contact/Participation Form to give your suggestions or requests for either general or specific comparisons.
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