Thursday, February 17, 2011

Allegheny River Week

It's 55 degrees in February, and Spring is in the air in Pittsburgh. The final stage of the Great Allegheny Passage has received funding for its last segment along the Monongahela river and will be finished by January 2012. It's only natural that the-powers-that-be should move along to the amenities along the Allegheny River.

Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan

This $350,000 study paid for by the city of Pittsburgh and the URA outlines how to improve and capitalize on this under-utilized riverfront. The ambitious 20-year plan involves property from the Strip District all the way through Lawrenceville. Features like a commuter rail, circulator trolley, and a bike-walk green boulevard make this plan exciting. But forcing the wholesale distributors that are the heart and soul of the Strip district move up to 62nd Street definitely makes me cringe.

Active Allegheny

Not to be out-done, the Allegheny County also published its $300,000 study this week with the goal of making county residents more active and safe. Highlights of this study include the areas with the most pedestrian and bicycle accidents. Penn Ave which parallels the Allegheny River features prominently in the study with that thoroughfare ranking top on the list of priorities for infrastructure improvements and tops in terms of accidents. Hopefully, the city and the county can work together to accomplish some of their shared goals in less than 20 years!

Biking Bonus
Port Authority announced a timeline for equipping its entire bus fleet with bicycle racks thanks to a grant the authority received last year
. By July, you won't have to fret about whether the next bus arriving will have a bike rack. Though with a 200% increase in Pittsburgh bike ridership in the last decade, you may have to worry about whether the bike rack is already filled.

Happy Biking!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

PLCB Compromise Proposal

We get it. Lots of workers are going to lose their jobs if the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) is abolished and there are lots of arguments for the state control of liquor.

But what about wine?
Only 3 other states (New Hampshire, Utah, and Wyoming) control the sale of wine (as opposed to the 18 states that control liquor). In New Hampshire, you can buy wine at grocery stores, but the state is wholesaler of wine. If the state were to sell wine licenses, they would still make a windfall profit as many entrepreneurs entered this new market. The state liquor stores could continue to sell wine and not waste the time and effort that they've spent on forging relationships with wineries.

In terms of annual profits, liquor sales account for more than 60% of the annual retail sales income which would maintain a steady supply of dough to the state coffers. The 6% State and Local sales tax would still bring $112 Million dollars to the state's coffers. And the 18% State Liquor tax would still bring $271 Million to the state's coffers.

So how about we exercise some bi-partisanship and compromise on this issue? Let's keep union jobs, expand options for entrepreneurs, make a windfall of profit, and maintain a fat revenue stream while still excessively monitoring the sale of liquor.

And maybe while we're at it, we can get a refund on the pathetic, malfunctioning waste of millions of dollars that are the wine kiosks? For those keeping track at home, the wine kiosks are back in action after over a month of being out of service.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social Media & The Super Bowl

Every year, there is a media circus surrounding the Super Bowl along with inane bets by mayors and Governors of the involved teams. There is also always a viable economic benefit for restaurants, hotels, and stores in the host town as well as the home teams cities.

This year, however, social media has extended the reach of Super Bowl fever.

Ways for the lay-person to get involved!

1) Help out local Boys & Girls Clubs and get a sneak peek of the Coke ad airing during the Super Bowl. If 10,000 people cheer on Pittsburgh through Coke's site, then the soda magnate will donate $25,000 in addition to $1 per each "cheer".

2) If you donate to Penn Future, you are joining the EnviroBowl 2011 helping to improve Pittsburgh's air quality. That's a little more important than the Bud Bowl of past years.

3) If the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl, head on over to the Carnegie Museum of Art to see Boating on the Yerres by Gustave Caillebotte which will be temporarily loaned by the Milwaukee Museum of Art.

4) And before the Super Bowl on Sunday night, why not stop by WYEP's annual Alternative Souper Bowl to enjoy some local music and help out a local homeless shelter by donating non-perishable goods?

If we as a city are going to spend so much time and effort cheering on a football team, we might as well do some good while we're at it and show off our philanthropic side.