Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Meet the new boss, same as all the old bosses

Luke Ravenstahl is a young guy, but for some reason, when he talks about making Pittsburgh cool, he reminds me of one of those middle-aged high school teachers who tries to be the students' pal. They were nice and all, but their jokes were corny and their trying-too-hard-to-be-hip references were always six months behind.

In other words, the mayor is a new dog, but he's full of old tricks. With the city struggling to stay out of the red, he wants to give away tax breaks for new housing Downtown, without explaining where the demand for this new housing coming from, and why, if there is such demand, developers have to be bribed to build it.

As evidence of the city's emerging hipness, he cites American Eagle Outfitters move from Marshall Township to SouthSide Works, apparently forgetting that American Eagle received more than $6 million in state aid to shift its headquarters from one part of Allegheny County to another.

Then again, maybe he hasn't forgotten, because, as the Post-Gazette notes, "He wants to replicate that development's style elsewhere, and intends to tap Gov. Ed Rendell for dollars to get that done." Oh, and he wants parking garages to offer free spaces during select days, like Light-Up Night, even though free holiday parking in 2001 and 2002 failed to save Lazarus and Lord & Taylor.

The mayor, given a chance to start things anew, wants to keep doing everything the same. What's so cool about that?

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