What Fresh Hell Is This?

April 10, 2007

Patrick Dowd - Candidate for City Council

I got a chance late last week to chat with another candidate for Pittsburgh public office. This time it was Patrick Dowd. He's running for City Council-District 7.

I started the chat with the same question I start all my candidate chats, "How's the campaign going?"

"Pretty exciting, so far." he said. And we were off. By the end of the campaign, he said he's planning on knocking on 9,000 doors. Ouch.

From the beginning of the interview, Dowd took (for me at least) a unique approach to answer the question "what ails the city of Pittbsurgh?" For him, the biggest issue facing the city is its population loss. That's the main issue he's looking to address and it's from that problem most of the city's other problems (tax revenue, urban renewal and so on) flow. Coincidentally, this came the same day it was reported in the P-G that:
The Pittsburgh region has lost more residents since 2000 than any U.S. metropolitan area except New Orleans, but there's no hurricane responsible for it dropping 60,309 people.
Dowd's general plan (and this is in the broadest sense) is to build a city that will be more attractive - more attractive so that young people will stick around AND non-Pittsburghers will want to move here and then stick around.

In order to do that, for example, the problem of the city's 15,000 vacant and abandoned houses will have to be solved. The problem here, he said, was the drain these houses placed on their neighborhoods. "People worry" about what's going on in them. They're a sign of decline as well.

He's looking to solve it via tax incentives for people to reinvest in those houses, rather than boarding them up and tearing them down. He's looking for a way to boost property values - this leads back, for Dowd, to his idea of building up an attractive city people won't want to leave.

Another issue, public transportation, also plays into Dowd's general plans. He's less than satisfied with the City Council's work on this issue. He says they've "done nothing" for Pittsburgh public transportation.

When I asked whether it's in fact the council's responsibility, considering the bus system is county-wide rather than city-wide, he answered that while that's true the system is county wide, the City Council could be a bully pulpit for city residents in this matter. It could be pushing for a restructuring of the system, driving for change on public transportation. The city, he said, is the hub of the region , the majority of those taking public transportation are city residents - so it is a council responsibility. Dowd added that there are legislative tools available to the council and they should use them.

In the face of public transport cuts "what has the City Council done?" he asked rhetorically. "Nothing." he answered back.

In terms of the functioning of city government, he's looking for a greater transparency (for example in terms of the City Council's discretionary spending) and a greater reliance on solid data from which any city program would grow. He said he'd start by finding out exactly what the city is doing - how many manhole covers does it have? How many does it replace in a given year, that sort of thing - in order to better utilize the city's resources.

Throughout our chat, he emphasized his ability to form broad coalitions around issues rather than labels. He's looking to find the middle of the city council, and build a coalition there around anyone willing to work seriously about the issues facing the city.


yee olde Polish Shill said...

Nice summary of your interview. Thanks.

r said...

This Guy ROCKS

Steve said...

Do you mean City Council Candidate?

Mark Rauterkus said...

The idea of tax breaks by neighborhood is, at its root, not fair. That will drive people away.

People don't like it that Lazarus got a tax break. People don't like that the Steelers got a tax break.

The tax break is bad. But, the subjectivity of various breaks for some, and not for others, is what stinks.

When people come to understand how crooked things are, everywhere, around here, they vote with their feet. They leave.

The root problem, shrinking city, is a good one to tackle. But, to win the decade by saying you who got ignored are now next in line -- is not going to cut it.

Yeah, this guy rocks. It is like a rock that goes into the river and sinks to the bottom. It is good for waves, for show, for action. But, it isn't going to catch us any new fish -- no new residents -- no reversal of the tides of outward migration.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Yes, the HEADLINE of this blog posting isn't correct. Dowd is candidate for city council -- not controller.

dayvoe said...



Anonymous said...

Mark you are very insightful. People listening to Dowds rant and only hear his thoughts er Bill's ideas. His ideas are basically word for word what Bill Peduto has been saying all along, I wonder where he stole his policy page information from? This is all just setting the stage for a Mayoral run. There is no traction in the community because those being most affected by this race know the truth. Dowd is willing to slander, lie, kick people off the ballot, and anything else to get to his ultimate goal. Peduto should be looking over his shoulder and checking the sign in sheets at his policy meetings. Patrick, with a new campaign staff that doesnt make fatal mistakes every other day could be a good gain some support in the more affluent, white, middle-upper-middle class college educated areas of Pittsburgh. Non-Profit organizations that are not supposed to be political would back him, Elsie and the rest of the Republicans, and his friends at the Post-Gazette could position him for a run at knocking Peduto off of his roost as the top progressive in Pittsburgh.

mega super anonymous said...

If the city gets more progressive, fine by me.
It will be a great day when we get rid of the hacks and all their ways that have led this city down the path to the place we are at.