Category Archives: Panther Hollow

Protecting and Preserving Our Two Neighborhoods

Protecting and Preserving Our Two Neighborhoods – July 21, 2019

By Carlino Giampolo
Panther Hollow

2nd Annual March from Panther Hollow to The Run

I want to thank the residents of Panther Hollow and The Run and our supporters here today, for having the courage and confidence to publicly demonstrate your desire to protect and preserve our two neighborhoods from those who seek to destroy them with an ill-conceived roadway plan. We will continue to take the high road by putting our values, ideals, and principles into action, and knowing that the means to an end is more important than the end itself.

These actions will continue to be taken with wisdom. There are those who believe a person is wise based on one’s I.Q., the number of letters after one’s name, one’s accumulation of wealth, or the position one holds in the workplace. This is the general consensus of society. However, there is another characterization that says wisdom is:

1) Moving beyond logic and reason without abandoning them.

2) Being a bit irrational without losing sight of the rational.

3) Looking at where you are going more than where you are coming from or where you have been.

4) Looking to where something can lead you more than what it can get you.

5) Looking to see what you can learn more than what you can reaffirm.

6) Seeing the symbols and metaphors, and looking in and beyond them to find the value that lies in their meaning and significance.

7) Seeing the bigger picture without losing sight of the current picture.

That last tenet reminds us that the bigger picture of our problem is that of the uncontrolled expansion of the University of Pittsburgh that is threatening our two communities. Most of us know the story of Pitt’s past chancellor, Edward Litchfield, who sought to destroy our neighborhoods in 1963 with his ill-conceived 21st Century Research Park. Our parents’ generation succeeded in defeating Litchfield. This story is on the website: www.SavePantherHollow.com.

However, that destructive consciousness still exists today at the university. Our generation is now willing to take on the mantle of being free from that destructive consciousness which threatens our two neighborhoods, as well as being free to create a new consciousness at the university that respects our dignity and the right to determine how we are going to live. In the near future, when there is a call to action to support these freedoms, I trust each of you will respond in a positive way.

Oftentimes when individuals dream impossible dreams, think out of the box, or attempt to embark on a journey against insurmountable odds, they are characterized as crazy or “not all there”. There are some who think all of us are crazy or “not all there” for even attempting to triumph over the two largest universities in our city, the three largest foundations, the city government with its vast resources, as well as all the friends and supporters of these entities. So, in the words of the country and western song: We’re all here cause we’re not all there.

We are going to continue to be wise and crazy, and to move forward to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do.

As we did one year ago, we are once again taking a stand to let city, university, and foundation leaders, as well as their supporters who want a roadway through our two neighborhoods, know that they will never take away our dignity, diminish our intensity, shackle our freedom, or break our spirit. They will never silence the voice of our soul.

We will triumph. There will be no roadway through Panther Hollow and The Run.

City Council Public Comments

I have spoken before this council on numerous occasions to express the Panther Hollow community’s adamant opposition to the proposed roadway from Hazelwood Green, through our neighborhood, and to Pitt and CMU. Our will to protect and preserve our unique heritage as one of Pittsburgh’s first Italian neighborhoods is unbreakable.

Unfortunately, our Italian mayor and this council will be setting aside nearly $20 million in this budget and future budgets for this roadway. Those monies should be reallocated to the districts of Councilmen Burgess and Lavelle, or any district where the basic human needs for housing are not being met.

The mayor and city council are perceived as puppets of Pitt and CMU. These economic giants are worshipped as gods because they control the purse strings of the city. However, their uncontrolled growth has decimated the business and residential districts of Oakland.

Although that is a tragedy, it is not perceived as such because 1) the tragedy has occurred slowly over a long period of time rather than a single moment in time; and 2) the tragedy has resulted not in any physical loss, but the etheric death of hopes and dreams. When will council epiphanize that enough is enough of this uncontrolled growth?

That decimation is shameful. When you meet with Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, the president of CMU, and their administrators, ask them if they feel any sense of shame for what their universities have done to Oakland. They will tell you no. Dominators pass their shame onto their victims. What are each of you and the mayor going to do with this shame? You can’t pass it on to the longtime residents of Oakland, because we don’t want it. End the shame by giving it back to the universities. In so doing you will take back your own power, and be the leaders the citizens of Pittsburgh elected you to be.

There are two pathways toward change: tragedy and human dignity. The pathway of tragedy is well worn out, the human dignity pathway not so much. To get on this pathway will require from each of you a new system of beliefs and attitudes, thoughts and feelings, and choices and decisions. It requires new desires, expectations, and imagination.

Now is the time for each of you to pause and reflect on why you became leaders. What were your ideals, principles, and integrity, and how far have you deviated from them? What wrongdoings by yourself and others, both inside government and those who interact with government, are you aware of, but have masked, denied, or ignored? End that shame also.

A new year gives hope for a new beginning, not just better than the past, but a genuine new beginning. Make the resolution to have spirituality, whatever you perceive it to be, as the essence of your every word and deed.

Carlino Giampolo

Belief Precedes Experience

City Council Public Comments
December 12, 2018

On August 24 and October 3, I came here and expressed the sentiment: Peduto must resign. Let’s end the crookery at city hall. Those public comments are on the website OaklandDignity.com, Link 82 and SavepantherHollow.com. I echo that same sentiment today.

Belief precedes experience. The mayor holds on to the faulty, destructive beliefthat a roadway from Hazelwood Green to Pitt and CMU is needed to develop that site. He initiated; city council shamefully approved$1.3 million for engineering design work; and the budget presented today will set aside $10.5 million for its construction. It is not hyperbole to say the roadway would destroythe Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow neighborhoods.

Our communities thank Bob Bauder of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewfor his November 27 article that shined a light into the opaqueness of city government. In that article, the mayor alluded to the fact that Pitt and CMU have little room to grow in Oakland. That’s a savvy, political way of saying these universities have already legally raped the land of Oaklandfor their self-interests. They have taken ownership of over 110 buildings and properties in our small community, but their insatiable greed continues.

The mayor went on to say that the roadway’s impact would be “minimal”. He is ignorant of the history of Oakland and is deceiving the people of Pittsburgh. When Pitt left the North side to come to Oakland in 1908, my grandparents’ generation also thought the impact would also be minimal, never imagining the massive destructionthe university would inflict on their community. Oakland has lost more than 80% of its residential population since my grandparents’ and parents’ generations.

The business district has been virtually destroyedand replaced with student housing, dormitories, and university-owned buildings. Today, there are no supermarkets, movie theatres, bowling alleys, hardware stores, shoe stores and shoe repair shops, high fashion men and women’s clothing stores, dry cleaners, alteration shops, bakeries, novelties and gift stores, and children’s toys and clothes stores. That destruction by Oakland’s universities is animmensetragedy that killed the hopes and dreams of a wonderful community.

The city of Pittsburgh offered Amazon more financial incentives than any other American city in its attempt to be home to Amazon’s second headquarters, yet Jeff Bezos did not choose Pittsburgh. Was he aware of the crookery at city hall, and did not want to partner with a city government that destroys neighborhoods for economic gain?Was the forged document in the mayor’s application just one of many other illegalities in the application process?

We suggest city and university staff to report any known wrongdoing to U.S. Attorney Scott Brady at (412) 644-3500. Crookery has no placein our city government and universities.

Carlino Giampolo

Pittsburgh Communities Need Federal Prosecutors to Oversee City Hall

City Council Public Comments
October 3, 2018

“Peduto must resign. Let’s end the crookery at city hall.” On August 24, I spoke before this council and ended my comments with these words. I echo these same words today.

In those comments, I talked about the shameful deception of the mayor and his administrators who, in July 2015, secretly filed for a $3 million dollar grant to build a roadway from the old Almono site in Hazelwood, through The Run and Panther Hollow, and to Pitt and CMU. We asked the Allegheny County District Attorney to investigate this sordid affair, but he did not respond to our requests. Pittsburgh communities need federal prosecutors to oversee city hall.

This past April, the city repeated that shameful, opaque deception when they applied for federal funds through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s Smart Program. In July, the city’s application was approved for $1,000,000. Again, our communities had no knowledge or word from our council members that this application was being made.Pittsburgh communities need federal prosecutors to oversee city hall.

A syndicate in the city of Pittsburgh controls city hall. That syndicate is known as the University of Pittsburgh. For 16 years, as a councilman and mayor, Peduto has been a puppet of this syndicate. This was clearly evident 10 years ago when he chaired the hearings for Pitt’s master plan. The first two hearings lasted less than 20 minutes, and he never asked the Pitt administrators a single question of how that plan would further decimate Oakland.Pittsburgh communities need federal prosecutors to oversee city hall.

However, the mayor is not the only puppet of this syndicate. The university also controls this council, which has never written a law to curb their uncontrolled growth. In matters pertaining to the university, this council thinks what the university wants it to think, and acts how the university wants it to act. Even though the city has lost 120,000 residents in the past several decades, this council attempts to justify their inaction by saying that the university is the economic engine of the city. Tragically, that engine is toxic and lethal for the university’s host community. Pittsburgh communities need federal prosecutors to oversee city hall.

Until the strings of these puppets are cut and the domination by the syndicate has ended, Pittsburgh communities need federal prosecutors to oversee city hall.

Those listening to these comments can visit the websites OaklandDignity.com and SavePantherHollow.com. If there are any attorneys whose ethical, moral, and spiritual values guide them on a journey to end social injustice, then contact myself or someone you may know in Panther Hollow or The Run to offer your support. In the end, truth and justice will prevail.

Carlino Giampolo

Peduto Must Resign

Pittsburgh City Council
Public Comments
August 24, 2018

End the Crookery at City Hall

On July 31, 2015, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) filed an application with the State Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) for a $3 million grant to build a roadway from the old Almono site in Hazelwood, through The Run and Panther Hollow, and to Pitt and CMU. The mayor kept this plan a secret from our two communities, clearly violating the state Sunshine Law.

Councilmen Kraus and O’Connor, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and our communities eventually received copies of the application. We were all deceived. Compared to the application on file at the DCED in Harrisburg, our copies were missing documents.

Among the missing pages was a letter from the mayor, asserting that the city “will be committing $400,000 in the 2017 budget for the construction of this project.”

Another missing page was from the URA Chair Kevin Acklin stating, “The URA will be committing $400,000 from our major projects budget to be used for the construction of this project.”

There were also discrepancies. The application asserted that the project would be a partnership between four entities, including with the University of Pittsburgh, but Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said he had no knowledge of the application. Who is telling the truth?

The application asserted that the land for this project is owned by the City of Pittsburgh. However, at the first community meeting, four months after the application was filed, Director of City Planning Ray Gastil stated that the roadway would traverse railroad property and a parking lot owned by Pitt in Panther Hollow. It is unscrupulous and unconscionable that the mayor and Pitt would use that lot, which exists because of a 1982 agreement with our community, for this roadway that would destroy our neighborhood.

Also, in the application and without any community input, Ray Gastil wrote a letter to the DCED on behalf of the Department of City Planning, supporting the roadway project.

Twice, we asked District Attorney Stephen Zappala to investigate this issue. He has chosen silence.

In his 16 years as a councilman and mayor, William Peduto has been a puppet of the University of Pittsburgh and always supported its uncontrolled growth that has severely devastated Oakland’s residential and business districts.

The assertions made in this deceptive application clearly indicate that the mayor believes our community’s voices are irrelevant and powerless. Nothing could be further from the truth. He continues to impose his will upon our community by attempting to build this roadway. Peduto must resign. Let’s end the crookery at city hall.

Carlino Giampolo

Protecting and Preserving Our Two Neighborhoods

On July 29, 2018, residents and supporters of Panther Hollow and The Run held a protest rally at the monument site in Panther Hollow, and then proceeded to walk to The Run. The purpose of the protest was to send an unequivocal signal to city, university, and foundation leaders that this proposed roadway, from the old Almono site in Hazelwood (now called Hazelwood Green) to Oakland, is neither wanted nor needed by our two communities. Speeches were given in Panther Hollow and The Run. The following is one of those speeches.

July 29, 2018

By Carlino Giampolo
Panther Hollow

I would like to thank the residents of Panther Hollow and The Run, as well as all of our supporters, for being here today for this historic gathering. We unite as one to urge city administrators, foundation leaders, and university leaders to end the plan to build a roadway through our two neighborhoods.

Panther Hollow, one of the first Italian neighborhoods in the city of Pittsburgh, is a cultural treasure. This historic neighborhood should be protected and preserved, not threatened with an ill-conceived roadway. The Italian history of Panther Hollow is the quintessential story of the immigration experience in America that dates back to the 1880s when immigrants, mainly from the two towns of Gamberale and Pizzoferrato in the region of Abruzzi, settled here.

That first generation of humble, honest, hard-working immigrants came in search of a new life and brought with them their Italian traditions. In 1900, over 200 Italians lived on this street, and by 1920, that number grew to 470. Many of the early immigrants built their own homes and created a self-contained community with six stores, two banks, a travel company, cows and a milk company, vegetable gardens, and wine vineyards. Families looked out for one another and it was a place where everybody knew each other’s name. A detailed history of our neighborhood is on the website: www.PantherHollow.us

This is not the first time that Panther Hollow has been threatened with an ill-conceived development plan. In 1963, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Edward Litchfield proposed a 21stCentury Research Park that would have begun at 5thAvenue and Neville Street, and continue through Panther Hollow and The Run until it reached the banks of the Monongahela River. In Panther Hollow, 60 homes would have been destroyed and over 250 Italians displaced. In addition, Central Catholic High School would have been destroyed, depriving any future students of graduating from there. The second generation of Italians, that of my parents, prevailed and Litchfield was defeated.

It is now up to us, the succeeding generations of our ancestors, whether you live here or not, to protect and preserve our historic neighborhood.

To those who propose this roadway, I have already provided numerous solutions that would not impact our two neighborhoods. Four roadways already in existence can be used instead: Second Avenue to Brady Street, Second Avenue to Bates Street, Greenfield Avenue to the Greenfield Bridge onto the Boulevard of the Allies, and Greenfield Avenue to Swinburne Street. In each of those alternatives, the travel time from Saline Street and Greenfield Avenue until you are in Oakland is, well, less than 10 minutes. This destructive roadway plan, which would save only a few minutes in drive time, is convenient for the universities and foundations, but devastating for our two historic communities. I have also suggested simply to employ express buses from the old Almono site to Oakland. These are just two of 12 suggestions that are on the website www.SavePantherHollow.com.

I had also asked 10 of the top city, university, and foundation leaders who support the roadway, to please provide to us in detail all of the benefits to the Panther Hollow community, especially to the elderly residents who have lived here their entire lives, and who wish to live the remainder of their lives here in dignity and peace.Those leaders failed to provide any benefits. They all chose silence.

We all know who benefits the most:

They are the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. These are institutions of higher education. Should they not also have leaders of higher intelligence who can creatively figure out how to help the Hazelwood community without destroying Panther Hollow and The Run?

The roadway also benefits the foundations who own the old Almono site in Hazelwood. These foundations spent nearly $10 million dollars on the purchase of that property as well as for studies to support the proposed roadway. Would that money not have been better used to help the disenfranchised in our city?

The roadway also benefits our Italian mayor’s political ambitions. Should he not be using his energies to protect and preserve our historic Italian neighborhood, and to support efforts to enhance the neighborhood by building an Italian Cultural Center here? Should Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, whose mother-in-law was born and raised here, not do the same?

This neighborhood is sacred to us. We deeply honor and highly respect the legacy of our ancestors who came before us and sacrificed to make Panther Hollow a special place. They may very well be looking down on us, saying: keep on, keeping on, for your cause is just.

We will. We will stand tall, stand proud, stand out. We will triumph. There will be no roadway through Panther Hollow and The Run.

Basta is Basta

Panther Hollow & Th Run United As One

Break the Silence

Stephen Zappala, Jr.
Allegheny County District Attorney
436 Grant Street #303
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

July 11, 2018

RE: Oakland Transit Connector

Dear Mr. Zappala:

I am writing to you once again concerning the proposed Oakland Transit Connector project. On December 14, 2015, I hand-delivered a letter to your office, along with supporting materials, stating that this project warrants an investigation by your office.

You have chosen not to respond. However, it is now time to break the silence. The tragedy of this ill‑conceived project continues today, as evidenced by this letter to you. Your silence is a mystery, and from mysteries come numerous possible solutions. Here are a few questions we have for you:

1) Did you read my letter with the supporting documents and decide not to do an investigation? If so, why not? Were you contacted by any City and County political officials, leaders of the foundations that own the old Almono site, or any University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University leaders about this possible investigation? If so, what were you told?

2) If your office did an investigation, who conducted the investigation and how extensive was it?

3) As you know, on July 31, 2015, the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) then Acting Executive Director Robert Rubinstein submitted an application in secret for a $3 million Multimodal Transportation Fund grant to the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA). Was DCED and CFA deceived about the funds available for the project, and was there an overvaluation of a security amount to obtain the grant?

4) Mayor William Peduto stated in a letter to the DCED that the City of Pittsburgh will be committing $400,000 in the 2017 budget for the construction of this project. Did the mayor overvalue a security to obtain the grant?

5) The application was submitted by the URA on July 31, 2015, but was not ratified by the board until August 13, 2015. Board Chair Kevin Acklin wrote a letter to DCED stating that the URA will be committing $400,000 to be used in the construction of this project. Did the board chair also overvalue a security to obtain the grant? As you know, he was also the mayor’s chief of staff and has since resigned to work for a public utility company.

6) The application stated that the project will be a public-private partnership between the city of Pittsburgh, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon University. However, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher stated that he had no involvement in this project. University of Pittsburgh Attorney Paul Supowitz stated that the university was not involved in any discussions about the roadway project, and that they first learned about the proposed roadway in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. Were university officials and city officials questioned by your office about this discrepancy? Who is telling the truth: University of Pittsburgh officials, or those who prepared and submitted the grant?

7) Former CMU president Subra Suresh resigned in 2017, making his tenure the shortest in the school’s history. For some, this created another cloud of mystery. Was he questioned extensively by your office about this project? Did he eventually become aware of the injustice this project would cause to the communities impacted, or by the morally corrupt manner in which it was proceeding? Did he decide not to become further involved, thus creating tensions with others at CMU who do support the project?

8) The McCune Foundation was one of the four original foundation owners of the old Almono site. The leaders made the decision to sell their interest to the Richard King Mellon Foundation, thus creating another mystery. Were the leaders of the McCune Foundation investigated by your office as well as the leaders of the other foundation owners – Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation? What were the results of the investigation, if any?

9) It was discovered that the land for this roadway project proposed in the grant is owned by a railway company, the city of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh. The assertion in the application which stated the land for this project is owned solely by the city of Pittsburgh is not true and was deceptive to the CFA. Did your office investigate this untruth?

10) There were two versions of the application: one given to our community with pages missing, and one that was more complete and given to the DCED and CFA. Did your office investigate this discrepancy?

11) What was the involvement of Uber? Were there secret deals made between Uber and the city, foundations, and university officials?

12) The grant application stated there would be $200,000 of federal funds for the project, but there is no documentation of federal approval. Did you investigate this, or is this the domain of federal investigators?

We as a community are suspending judgment, for we want to hear from you directly. Both the #MeToo movement and this project bring to light once again that shame that is masked, denied, numbed, or ignored continues to grow. Similar to this project, the Duquesne Light Company recently purchased a parking lot in our community for $5.45 million in secret, without informing city council representatives, Oakland organizations, or our community.

In 1963, when former University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Edward Litchfield wanted to destroy Panther Hollow to build his futuristic 21stCentury Research Park, he also wanted to demolish your alma mater Central Catholic High School. Litchfield failed and the residents of Panther Hollow prevailed, allowing you and over 10,000 other graduates since to create memories and forge a solid moral foundation there.

Silence is compliance. Stand tall. Stand proud. Stand out. We trust you will respond this time, from your deepest inner integrity about everything you know. In the end, we believe goodness and truth will prevail.

Thank you,

Carlino Giampolo

The December 14, 2015 letter is on the website:  www.SavePantherHollow.com

June 2018 Update

Parking Lot Sale

A private parking lot in Panther Hollow was purchased by Duquesne Light Company for $5.45 million dollars. This secretive sale was documented on May 31, 2018.

Prior to the sale, Duquesne Light Company President and CEO Richard Riazzi and his administrators chose not to inform the community, City Council President Bruce Kraus who represents the community, or Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, the largest community organization, of this purchase or their future plans for the site.

This shameful, secretive action is reminiscent of a similar action taken on July 31, 2015 by the mayor, his chief of staff, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, among others. At that time, an application was filed with the State Department of Community and Economic Development for a $3 million Multimodal Transportation Fund Grant to build a roadway through the Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run neighborhoods. It was the actions taken primarily by residents of these two communities that resulted in the application being denied. (See this site for further details.)

Carlino Giampolo

Benefits to Panther Hollow Community?

Benefits to
Panther Hollow Community?

Letter to Pittsburgh City Council
President Bruce Kraus

March 16, 2018

Council President Bruce Kraus,

On February 23, an email was sent individually to ten leaders who are advocating for a roadway through Panther Hollow. They are: Mayor William Peduto, Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, CMU Interim President Farnam Jahanian, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Heinz Endowments President Grant Oliphant, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation President William P. Getty, Richard King Mellon Foundation Director Sott Izzo, Michael Baker International Chief Executive Officer Brian Lutes, City of Pittsburgh Department of Mobility and Infrastructure Director Karina Ricks, and Chair of the Urban Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors Kevin Acklin.

This was the email:

You should be fully aware of the long-standing adamant opposition to any roadway through or above our neighborhood of Panther Hollow, including the latest roadway proposal made at the February 20 meeting.

We have made our position abundantly clear on the website www.SavePantherHollow.com. Actions that will be taken include, but are not limited to those mentioned in the recent letter to John R. Allen titled “The Gilded University Cage”.

We want to give you the opportunity to respond to this email. Please provide in detail all of the benefits to the Panther Hollow community, especially to the elderly residents who have lived here their entire lives, and who wish to live the remainder of their lives in dignity and peace.

Thank you,

Carlino Giampolo

Nine of those ten leaders immediately chose silence. Kevin Acklin responded, but did not state in any way that the roadway could benefit the Panther Hollow community. When asked to do so in a follow-up email, he then chose silence.

As you know, because of the uncontrolled growth of Pitt and CMU, we are also in a battle to stop an outside developer from building townhouses for student housing on our street.

Panther Hollow is a cultural treasure for the city of Pittsburgh. It embodies the essence of the Italian immigration experience in Pittsburgh. The above mentioned leaders should be using their creative and innovative skills, as well as their vast resources, to enhance, protect, and preserve this historic district.

Panther Hollow’s legacy should not be tucked away in the file cabinets of the Heinz History Center. This district should be the birthplace of an Italian Cultural Center to perpetuate the rich traditions and history of the Italian immigrant experience of not only Pittsburgh, but all of Western Pennsylvania. Panther Hollow should be the venue to honor those who came before us, and to tell the story of this invaluable Italian immigrant experience.

Sincerely,

Carlino Giampolo

The Gilded University Cage

John R. Allen
President
Brookings Institution

February 19, 2018

The Gilded University Cage

Mr. Allen,

This is my third letter to you concerning a study conducted by the Brookings Institution titled “Capturing the next economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city”, in which we asked you to conduct an investigation and respond. You continue to choose silence.

You are one of the many who have been silenced by the Litchfield Consciousness in regard to the University of Pittsburgh’s uncontrolled growth in its host community. Over 5,000 faculty members and 7,000 staff have done the same. There are those at the university who are well aware of the destruction in Oakland caused by the administrators’ decisions, and who would want to see that destruction end, but their voices have been muted. They are entrapped in what I will refer to as “The Gilded University Cage”. Fear of retribution, reprisals, retaliation and revenge render them unable to fully express their thoughts and feelings. They work in an environment where they lack the intellectual freedom to be honest.

Your institution is now entrapped in its own gilded cage. The above 72-page study was filled with economic data but makes no reference of how the recommendations would impact the longtime residents of our community. Their dignity was completely ignored. The Litchfield Consciousness, in which economic gain trumps human dignity, has reached Washington D.C.

Your silence speaks volumes. It reveals that the spark for courage is a deep level of caring for oneself, one another, country, community, cause or any endeavor that requires courage to be put into action. In the “The Litchfield Consciousness” article at www.SavePantherHollow.com, I made reference to a man who travelled to Congress in order to stop the destructive plans of Edward Litchfield. Like you, he was a former Marine. He fought in the jungles of the South Pacific in World War II. Dozens of other men on our street fought in that war, and then later, with the support of the women in our neighborhood, fought Litchfield and his supporters who sought to destroy their homes. The difference between your silence and their action is how deeply they cared about human dignity and the heritage of their community. They are our heroes and we will continue their efforts to protect and preserve our community.

In my previous letter to you on January 8, I provided you with a link to a bombshell essay written by a former Pitt professor concerning sexual harassment and discrimination against people of color in the university’s Department of Communication. I mentioned that the shame in other university departments is likely to be brought to light.  On February 4, a former tenured female faculty member in the university’s School of Medicine commented on that link. She talked about experiencing the pattern of administrative cover-up and harassment following her reporting of extensive research misconduct by a male colleague. She called her work environment a “toxic, immoral culture” and has filed a lawsuit against the university. This coincides with what I mentioned to you, in that same letter, about a female researcher from China who said, ‘There is more academic freedom in China than there is at the University of Pittsburgh.”

Your institution has aligned itself with the University of Pittsburgh but these are just a few of the troubling questions that you must answer to: Will there be an in-depth investigation by the university of any sexual harassment or discrimination against people of color? Will the university investigation be conducted with transparency, or in secrecy as the university once again hides behind the shield of being exempt from Pennsylvania’s Right to Know law? Will law enforcement agencies become involved and the perpetrators and enablers be brought to justice? Will the victims be compensated and employees protected going forward? Are the perpetrators and enablers currently employed? How many abused women and people of color suffered in silence because they didn’t trust the university’s avenues of complaint? How many decades ago did the abuses begin? How many women in position of power have betrayed other women? How many people of color in position of power have betrayed other people of color?

It was reported in a 1988 Pittsburgh Magazine article that Panther Hollow was not Edward Litchfield’s first choice for the location of his proposed grandiose Research Park. His first choice was in the black community from the Upper Hill District to the Lower Hill District. The article went on to say, “Litchfield alluded to universities, as The Pittsburgh Press puts it, ‘protecting their flanks from encroaching slums.’”  Is it plausible to conclude that discrimination against people of color at the university has occurred continuously from the 1960s to the present?

Central Catholic High School is often referred to as the best high school experience in Pittsburgh, thousands of male students have graduated from there since the 1960s. These students have life-long cherished memories that are forever a part of their lives. Central would have been demolished under Litchfield’s plan, but fortunately was preserved primarily because of the actions of the Panther Hollow community.  However, either through their actions or inactions, some Central graduates support the building of a roadway through our neighborhood.  Residents of Panther Hollow as well as 4 Mile Run have emphatically said that the roadway is not needed or wanted, and that it will eventually lead to the destruction of our two neighborhoods. Those who don’t believe that destruction will occur are either in denial, or ignorant of Oakland’s history

Gratitude and compassion are not attributes associated with the Litchfield Consciousness. The mayor’s former chief of staff and the current chair of the Urban Redevelopment Authority Board of Directors is a graduate of Central. He has the honor of being selected as a Distinguished Alumnus. Yet in his position with the URA, he recently voted to fund Michael Baker International up to $120,000 to find a route to build this roadway that will eventually destroy our two neighborhoods. Coincidentally, the Allegheny County District Attorney is another Central graduate. He was asked to investigate the URA’s first grant application for the funding of such a roadway, but we are still awaiting the results. We have also been waiting to see whether or not he will conduct an investigation of the University of Pittsburgh since the reports of sexual harassment and discrimination against people of color were brought to light. The executive director of Allegheny County is another graduate whose mother-in-law’s family was Italian immigrants that settled in Panther Hollow. He uses the Brookings Institution study to justify the university’s purchase of yet another building in our business district and boasts, in Edward Litchfield’s style, how Pittsburgh will become the greatest innovation center in the world. The city councilman for 4 Mile Run is another graduate and has remained silent, refusing to exercise his power and position to be a champion for the residents there.

Our neighborhoods are an integral part of Pittsburgh’s future. We will not allow them to be destroyed to satisfy the ego or greed of any leader. In the past, we have called for the resignation of University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and the president of Carnegie Mellon University. Both resigned. We will again seek the resignations of those leaders who continue to force this roadway upon our two communities. We will take our actions to their places of employment, or anywhere they have influence, to have our voices heard.

Your institution is not the only one entrapped in a gilded cage because of the Litchfield Consciousness. Nine years ago we created the website www.OaklandDignity.com. Illustrated on it are the University of Pittsburgh puppets: The mayor, city council, planning commission, zoning board, media, organizations, state government. Each has its own gilded cage whereby individuals are not free to honestly express their thoughts and feelings. The University of Pittsburgh leaders have not taken responsibility for the decimation of Oakland. They blame each of these puppets for that ruination, either by granting them permission or supporting their actions.

At the top of that website we have the words: Human dignity must be the highest priority of a University. The University of Pittsburgh has ignored those words and we are all now seeing the consequences of that as individuals are starting to break their silence. We have said it often to university leaders: Shame that is masked, denied, ignored or numbed will continue to grow. Is human dignity the highest priority of your institution?

Like many others, you have chosen silence. Does your silence compromise your personal integrity? Does it further your self-respect? Is it congruent with your core values? Is it in alignment with your spiritual beliefs?

The Litchfield Consciousness is fundamentally weak. Its strength is derived from people that it needs: Enablers, puppets and victims who have given up their own power for silence. How can leaders of universities, foundations, and government, or anyone, dominate, manipulate or instill fear when there are no enablers, puppets and victims left? When this phenomenon occurs, the Litchfield Consciousness will cease to exist.

The key to unlock a gilded cage is choice. We hope everyone entrapped will make the right choice. We especially hope more individuals at the University of Pittsburgh will break their silence, and have the courage and confidence to leave The Gilded University Cage.

Sincerely,

Carlino Giampolo

John R. Allen once again chose silence.