Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Regionless Pittsburgh

Pop City recently did a story on Pennsylvania state representative Chelsa Wagner. Once again, Pittsburgh's small scale parochialism comes to the fore:

Leading your typical a-camel-is-a-horse-designed-by-committee district, Wagner’s 22nd combines such disparate universes as Overbrook, Carrick, Brookline, Beechview, Mt. Washington, Baldwin, Whitehall, Sheraden, Esplen, even Manchester. Indeed, Wagner has her own version of the thousand warring duchies into which the region seems to be divided, the seemingly impassable divides – “disconnects” in the current argot -- between hilltops and hollows.

Ms. Wagner is a politician worth watching. She is overtly taking on Pittsburgh's most difficult policy problem and engaging in regional speak that might indicate a willingness to listen to the Burgh Diaspora:

“The future of policy-making must transcend increasingly inconsequential governmental boundary lines. So the sooner we embrace regional planning, the sooner Pittsburgh will chart its course as an undisputed leader in a changing economy.” To that end, she adds, “I am hugely supportive of legislation that encourages cooperation beyond community borders – both within and beyond the city.”

Ms. Wagner will need allies to promote a regional agenda. At the very least, she is talking across the traditional borders and Network Pittsburgh has another advocate. The policy counter-narrative continues to gather steam.

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