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TheGerbil

Really irritating article from "Reason Magazine"

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http://reason.com/news/show/119998.html

I can't say I'm surprised to see someone trying to disprove our city's ranking as most livable. But this article is ridiculous. It claims that the city is "in a death spiral."

Why must people say these things? We have minor population loss and slow but steady job growth. How the heck does that constitute "death spiral"?

This entire article is full of exaggerations. The author takes grains of truth and makes them sound worse than they are, meanwhile giving minimal lip service to the city's strengths. Someone who reads this article knowing little about the city beforehand would get a horrific image. It's just plain misleading and nasty.

And um, how can the writer even claim that the highways are always congested? We've been shown time and again to have very good commute times.

I can only hope that this magazine isn't too widely read (I've never heard of it, but who knows). When the heck will this kind of nastiness end? When will this city be able to go a day without someone attacking it? I really and truly believe that articles like this are a big contributer to our small immigration numbers.

Heck, I just noticed who wrote this piece of trash. Bill Steigerwald, who also writes for the Trib. Gee, a Trib writer ragging on the city and misleading people? What a shock!

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Chris Briem has a nice rebuttal to this. He is one of the few people who can soberly discuss this issue. http://nullspace2.blogspot.com/

What's interesting... is I don't remember this type of hyper-active negativity in the last 6 years of this decade... the pre-Katrina years in which Metro Pittsburgh was the No. 1 population loser... only after we became No. 2 population loser in the wake of Katrina are people starting to freak out with their delusional rantings. lol

As you know, TheGerbil, the issues of population growth and economic trends here in Pittsburgh is extremely nuanced... too nuanced to make for most people to understand... it sells more if blowhards like Steigerwald just come out with the sledgehammer of doom.

Considering the amount of progress our region has made in recent years... it's quite frustrating to be consistently subjected to this sort of "sky is falling" quasi-journalism. Pittsburgh has real problems and real threats... but these types of articles do not address the real problems, real consequences and real solutions.

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It was actually through that blog that I found the article ^_^

You're right, it's a very complicated issue. Most people only see the surface of it and don't (or can't) examine the subtle details. It's such a shame when a so-called journalist just sees the surface issue and runs with it. What ever happened to investigating? Providing all sides of an issue? Ah, but who am I fooling, we're talking about someone who writes for the Trib after all.

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Bill Steigerwald

.

Nothing else needs to be said. He's an idiot and this childish, unprofessional piece of crap is another demonstration of it.

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Wow! One would think that someone who is FROM the area, and has written about the goings on of the area for several years now would not be so negative.

Mr. Steigerwald is truly a piece of work.

The Tribune-Review should be so proud.......The Greensburg paper parading around like it belongs in Pittsburgh...... :dontknow:

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Has anyone else read through the online comments attached to this article? Pretty interesting mix. But I can't believe some of the negative people's comments. Okay, I can believe they said it, because there is nothing new about such attitudes, but I still find it appalling. Honestly, the extreme negativity and the leaps in judgement are silly sometimes. One guy is claiming that the reason we have a high proportion of elderly people is high taxes. He has no data to back that up, it's obviously just his judgement. He says the 80's were too long ago to be an excuse. Does he think that when the year 2000 hit the population demographics just reset themselves? It takes a long time to fully recover from such an enormous loss of jobs and people.

I am curious about the whole tax thing. People just keep blindly claiming that taxes here are too high, but I wonder how we really compare to other cities. Obviously taxes are lower in the suburbs, I am pretty sure that is normal. But if we actually compared to peer cities and not just to Butler county.... I wonder.

Does anyone know of a good resource for making such a comparison?

By the way, one of the commenters is in fact me. I won't say which, but you can probably figure it out :)

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I think Reason Magazine is the rag that tried to debunk New Urbanism with half baked claims such as that bicycle paths cause spikes in the crime rate. They've also decreed death to the city and declared sprawl to be the utopia of the future. Basically, anyway. It's read by a bunch of tax-sheltering libertarian types who couldn't agree with it more.

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I just got a few minutes to read the article. If this were a debate then we should all leave the building right now because the guy betrayed his bias so easily... he disagrees with the city's "most livable" status because it's too Democratic, too unionized, and he's not a fan of major league sports. And the city survives economically because of organ transplants. He also thinks the bus fare costs too much... but he really doesn't sound like the type of guy who rode the bus in his life. Just grasping at straws and spewing out unsupported lies. If this guy is the type of enemy that Pittsburgh has, then we're in pretty good shape.

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it. - Voltaire.

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Oh yeah, I wonder about the bus fare too. He says it's among the highest in the nation, but that smacks of unsupported bullcrap to me. From what I have heard, fares in other cities are about the same as ours, mostly.

Then there is the parking tax. It is indeed the highest in the country, but that is quite misleading. It's the *rates* that matter. I'd like to see how our parking rates compare to other places.

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Wow! One would think that someone who is FROM the area, and has written about the goings on of the area for several years now would not be so negative.

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In my experience people who grew up here are the most negative about Pittsburgh. I can't count the number of times that someone from here has asked me, "why did you move here?" Said with a tone of voice to to indicate that you must be crazy because no sane person would move here.

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Just to address some of the points here... I don't have the sources on me right now...

1. Pittsburgh's CBD actually does have one of the highest parking rates in the country. We're right after places like NYC and Chicago... and about equal to Philadelphia. I see this as a good thing. Pittsburgh should keep its parking supply limited as opposed to becoming a city of parking garages. The high rates might make Joe Schmoe from Adams Township angry... but the parking garages remain at about 94% capacity... job growth continues in the CBD... the rates reflect supply and demand. Placing a harsh tax on parking is a smart move as well, despite Steigerwald's anger. Parking has an inelastic demand. People who work downtown are going to have to park if they want to go to work.... unless they felt compelled to change their lifestyle and move to the city and/or take mass transit. For as much complaining as Pittsburgh does about its downtown... it's in much better shape than other downtowns in our tier... which are dominated by surface and structured parking and have less job concentration and mass transit availability. Parking is comparatively dirt cheap in Downtown Detroit... there's a reason for that.

2. PAT actually does have a relatively high bus fare. And if the potential bus fare hikes go through in the absence of dedicated mass transit funding, PAT will be one of the highest in the country (behind SEPTA's fare increase). Of course, getting a bus pass is still a HUGE bargain compared to the fuel and vehicle wear and tear of private automobile commuting... let alone the costs of purchasing and owning a vehicle in the first place.

3. I don't know how Pittsburgh taxes compare to Philly, Baltimore, Cleveland, etc.... but the city's 3% wage tax puts it at a massive disadvantage compared to the suburbs and their 1% wage tax. And I do think this may have an effect on skewing the age demographic to the elderly... who no longer make wages... and the young adults who make very little money (our young adult population is increasing in the city). Most people who make real money are going to flee to the tax havens of the suburbs. The wage tax discrepency must be addressed if the core city is to become competitive... but I'm not sure how. While suburbanites often complain about the evil/stupid city government... they tend to forget that this is the core city of a region of 2.5 million people... the region's primary economic, cultural and entertainment hub... and we lost half our population in the past 50 years yet still have all that infrastructure to maintain... infrastructure used heavily by "free-loading" suburbanites. So the city gets caught up in a vicious cycle. The core city makes up only about 15% of the metropolitan area's population. I could dream about structural consolidation, but that will never happen in Pennsylvania.

Property taxes imposed by the City of Pittsburgh are actually lower than many suburban municipalities (though I'm not sure about school districts).

4. Negative natives is one of the biggest hurdles this region has to overcome. If we could generate substantial net job growth and hence in-migration from other regions... the collective negativity could be abated.

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I know city taxes are higher than in the suburbs. I'm just wondering how our income and property taxes compare to other cities.

I'm sure plenty of people go to the burbs to avoid taxes, but I don't think that's where all the elderly people we lose are going. Just some of them.

I'd like to see your source about the bus fares. Not that I don't believe you, but I'm curious. Because usually when I hear someone mention fares in other cities, it's around the same as ours. I'd like to see some kind of chart, if one exists.

I think point number 4 is the most important thing though. Even if we do have unusually high bus fares and parking rates, that doesn't make this a bad place to live (as some people would claim... *cough*Steigerwald*cough*). Every city has it's faults, and people can choose to either overlook them, try to fix them, or whine about them. ^_^

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I have been reading and enjoying much of what the people on this forum have to say for the past several months. However, one thing I am truly sick of is all the complaining about the people who live in the suburbs. It just seems like such a constant here that I can't help but saying something. Does anyone realize that many of the people who live in the suburbs are from the city and the vast majority of them love the city? I personally love the city atmosphere but many people do not--so what? What terrible "free loaders" we are, working in the city and pumping money into the local economy. Heaven forbid there are people out there who would rather not deal with congestion, higher taxes being spent in poor ways and the one party political system! Not to mention the higher crime rate. Pittsburgh is a safe city but you must admit that any city proper is going to have a higher crime rate than its suburbs. Would you like us to pay more in taxes toward the city? Sure thing, just as soon as we get the right to vote for city officials--but I don't think you'd like that either.

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I have been reading and enjoying much of what the people on this forum have to say for the past several months. However, one thing I am truly sick of is all the complaining about the people who live in the suburbs. It just seems like such a constant here that I can't help but saying something. Does anyone realize that many of the people who live in the suburbs are from the city and the vast majority of them love the city? I personally love the city atmosphere but many people do not--so what? What terrible "free loaders" we are, working in the city and pumping money into the local economy. Heaven forbid there are people out there who would rather not deal with congestion, higher taxes being spent in poor ways and the one party political system! Not to mention the higher crime rate. Pittsburgh is a safe city but you must admit that any city proper is going to have a higher crime rate than its suburbs. Would you like us to pay more in taxes toward the city? Sure thing, just as soon as we get the right to vote for city officials--but I don't think you'd like that either.

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It's not about bashing the burbs. This site focuses on urban things. Many cities though suffer because of the flight to the burbs. If Pittsburgh's borders were extended you would have a realistic tax base and yes you could have Republicans too.

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No one has anything against individual suburbanites. I have friends who live in the suburbs. I even lived in the North Hills for about a year myself.

Many of us are simply frustrated with the current tax structure and fragmentation of the region. What we would really like to see is consolidation. One government for the entire county. This is not the same as the city annexing suburbs either. It would be more like all municipalities, including the city, merging into one county-wide government.

Pittsburgh has one of the nation's largest daytime increases in population. Which means that an unusually high number of people working in the city live outside the city. This is a strain financially. I think that's what the "free-loaders"comment was getting at. Some of us feel pretty strongly about these issues, but we don't mean to offend anyone.

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My comment on suburban bashing was much more of a general complaint about the forum then it was directed at any one specific comment.

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Competition is great... I would love to see several parties represented on the ballot.

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If Pittsburgh's borders were extended you would have a realistic tax base and yes you could have Republicans too.

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I'm glad you think this way--I believe a lot of people from the suburbs are turned off if only because the city only ever votes for democrats. I think it would be healthier to any area economically to have political competition and not shear domination by one party. Not that the suburbs aren't largely dominated by republicans, its just that at least democrats in the burbs do win elections. Sorry, this is pretty off topic.

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I think a Republican would have a chance in the city if the party ever offered a decent candidate. Seems like they don't really try.

But I'd rather see a lot less focus on parties (at both the local and national levels), and a lot more focus on platforms.

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There will never be a single city/county government because Pittsburgh cannot forcibly annex incorporated municipalities... and no healthy municipality will allow itself to be absorbed into fiscally-paralyzed Pittsburgh. What can happen... is regional institutions such as the regional tax-base sharing system implemented in the Twin Cities metro

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