Friday, November 16, 2007


I went out of my way the other day not to pile criticism on the Allegheny Conference for Community Development, after the Trib published a pretty scathing review of that outfit. Why stir up additional trouble on the eve of the ACCD's annual meeting.

Then the ACCD's chair, James Rohr of PNC, essentially declares at that meeting that Pittsburghers should stop talking about change and the future of the region. Things are just fine the way they are! Dan Fitzpatrick in the P-G writes up the details.

Jim Rohr reminds me of Kevin Bacon, in the movie Animal House. There's a moment toward the end of the film, during the parade/riot scene, when Bacon -- who has a minor role as a freshman ROTC and fraternity recruit -- stands in the middle of the sidewalk and screams, "All is well! Remain calm!"

And the onrushing horde of townspeople crushes him. Literally. Flat as a pancake.

Where is Pittsburgh's Senator Blutarsky?


Jefferson Provost said...

This quote sums it up: The goal now under Mr. Rohr is to return to business basics, control what the conference can control and hammer home the message that southwestern Pennsylvania is better off than we think. Yesterday, Mr. Rohr was upfront about the barriers to business success he believes the conference still can address: high taxes, government fragmentation, transportation gaps and school performance.

In other words, if it's not something ACDC can address, then it's not a problem.

ACDC Rocks!

Anonymous said...

PNC employees who have seen Mr. Rohr in action on the job (where he outearns most of the rank in file 100:1 on an hourly basis) wouldn't be surprised by this. The Rohr philosophy in general seems to be "skate."

John Morris said...

I think one has to understand the dynamics of statist systems. They ussually benefit connected inside players-- and PNC is one of them. The system works for them or at least they have enough bulk and pull to make out ok.

One of the big effects of fractionized government is that it increases the relative power of large corporate players who can play people off against one anther and shop for special subsidies and deals.

Anonymous said...

At least he's honest. The system is working pretty well for him - he's paid well, and the region has subsidized a tower and stadium bearing his company's name. Why should he do something that will bid up the price of labor, or increase traffic, or make it harder to get dinner reservations? Are you nuts?

One might imagine that with all of these gifts and recognition that there would be an obligation to help those who want to improve their lot. Growth and innovation open new opportunities for those who might never have them. It's why most taxpayers want to invest in economic developent. Apparently, if the ACCD has anything to do about it, that's not what they are going to get.

I don't understand why the ACCD has exclusive economic development authority in the region. It's not like they've had such a great record in the past, either in establishing Pittsburgh as a corporate headquarters city in the post-WWII era, or in being competitive to other cities in the more recent past. And this "let them enjoy the short line at the drink concession during opera intermission" can't be resonating across the neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying he's Mr. Perfect or anything (far from it), but I don't see the big problem here. Clearly he does want to address important issues like high taxes, transportation, etc. In the meantime he wants to see people be a little more positive about their region. Is that a bad thing? And is it bad for him to focus on the things he can actually affect?

He isn't setting a goal of 10% job growth. Okay. Maybe he's right. Maybe we should focus on the basics (fixing taxes, government fragmentation, etc) first. If we fix those things, growth should follow. He's being realistic if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

The conference is just a front for foundations and big corporations to do pet projects with little public impact.

Not much has changed in 100 years

Anonymous said...

The real problem is that Jim got his numbers wrong. he asked, "Isn't it good enough for us to grow at the national average?"
Well, Jim, We haven't hit the national average for more than about 6 months out of the last 10 years.
I'd be ecstatic if we hit national average growth. Instead, we wallow near the bottom of the pack and at the bottom on population growth.