The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is neither the headline of a media investigation nor the title of a book. It is a simple statement of the truth resulting from deliberate, shameful actions taken by University of Pittsburgh administrators in their host community.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland by university administrators has not happened in a vacuum. That incalculable tragedy had the support of numerous external enablers.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is enabled by yourself, City Council, Allegheny County, and State leaders, who have the power to create laws to protect our community but choose to do nothing.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is enabled by thousands of university faculty members who teach classes, collect their paychecks, return to their houses outside of Oakland, and choose silence.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is enabled by the journalists whose voices are silenced by the domination of the University of Pittsburgh administrators, and whose investigations of the university are non-existent.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is enabled, most unfortunately, by our community’s Registered Community Organization which refers to the university as “partners”.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is unprecedented. All major universities do tremendous good for their city and community by using their vast educational and research resources to create jobs and economic benefits for all. However, not all universities choose to decimate the business and residential districts of their host communities to achieve that good.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is very evident in the Forbes and Fifth Avenue business district that oncebountifully served the needs of all residents of my generation, from the very young to the very elderly. The business district has since been stripped bare by university administrators of any semblance of what it used to be for the residential community. Today, out of the multitude of businesses, only a single flower shop remains.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is very evident in the residential neighborhood where streets like South Bouquet, Boundary, and Dawson have lost over 90% of their long-time residents.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland continues in the residential neighborhood with the University of Pittsburgh’s recent land grab of houses on Bates Street, thus preventing that property from ever being developed as affordable condominium housing to reestablish a residential community. The houses will soon be demolished. Afterwards, university administrators will arrogantly and flippantly invite everyone to “….visit, use and enjoy this new green space.”
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland will be on display July 14 as the university presents its massive Institutional Master Plan to City Council. All members of the council are certainly ignorant of the full impact that the plan will have on our community. However, no member has demanded an independent and honest impact study to assess the truth of what that plan will due to the community.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is only one reason why you became the first incumbent Pittsburgh mayor in 80 years to lose a primary election. You turned your back on the residential community, aligned yourself with the university, and, in the process, diminished your dignity.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland is part of an old consciousness of domination, manipulation, and the instilling of fear. It exists at the University of Pittsburgh because of individuals like yourself who have given their power to university administrators, thus becoming enablers.
The Legal Rape of The Land of Oakland will crumble and end. What choices will you and others make to accelerate that ending?
The Litchfield Consciousness, one of the most destructive for a residential community hosting a university, should never exist in any city, university, or certainly any urban environment. Tragically, it is deep-rooted in the University of Pittsburgh where it originated and in the city of Pittsburgh which is the university’s host. What follows is a thoughtful examination of that consciousness with all of its resultant chaos, devastation, pain, and suffering brought to the host community.
Edward Litchfield was chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh from 1956 to 1965. He was an outsider to the community, as all of the university’s past chancellors have been, who attempted to dictate how the community should live and even whether the community should exist or not.
During his short tenure, he set in motion a wave of ruination for Oakland’s residential community, which continues to fight to maintain its identity and very existence today. He was dismissed by the university trustees in 1965, in part due to placing the university in financial debt. He passed away two years later, but his consciousness is still very much alive today within the university and throughout the city.
Panther Hollow Project
On June 6, 1963, Litchfield unveiled his plan that was known as the Panther Hollow project. It was described as a 21st Century Research Park that would be one of the “architectural wonders of the world,” and become the “nucleus of the nation’s first 21st century city.” The initial phase was to begin at Fifth Avenue and expand down Neville Street, at a width of up to 900 feet and a length of one mile. The project would have cut through Panther Hollow, eradicating the neighborhood and reducing it to rubble. His plan was to build a 21st century “city within a city” while destroying the existing neighborhood within a neighborhood.
His intention was to then continue the project through the Four Mile Run neighborhood in Greenfield, eradicating it as well, until it reached the banks of the Monongahela River.
The main purpose was to create useable income-producing space for the University of Pittsburgh. The plan stated: “The Panther Hollow project was conceived and developed for a high economic purpose: to lay the foundation for and to help build a new and urgently needed supplemental industrial complex in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region.”
Panther Hollow Community
The history of Panther Hollow, one of Pittsburgh’s first Italian neighborhoods, is the quintessential story of the immigration experience in America. Early settlers began arriving in the late 1800s, largely from the two small towns of Gamberale and Pizzoferrato – humble peasants in search of honest work and a new life. They were skilled bricklayers, cement finishers, and laborers who built most of the neighborhood. They constructed homes, cemented the sidewalks, and dug out mud two feet deep to build a red brick street for their neighborhood. The women cared for their own families as well as for the welfare of numerous boarders in this new neighborhood. It became a close-knit community in which no one was a stranger and everyone knew their neighbors.
In 1900, over 200 Italians were living in Panther Hollow, and in 1920, at the height of the Italian immigration experience in America, the population grew to approximately 470. When Litchfield decided that Panther Hollow didn’t deserve to exist next to his university, three generations of Italians lived there – the first arrivals who came at the turn of the century, their children, and their grandchildren.
Litchfield was insensitive to that sacred history, and when he announced his grandiose expansion project, the community sprung into action. An organization called Citizens Against the Ravages of Urban Renewal was formed. Eugene “Jeep” DePasquale, whose parents were among the early settlers, travelled to Washington D.C. and spoke before the U.S. Senate on behalf of the organization. Another descendent of the early settlers, Nicholas Diulus, expressed the sentiments of the community when he said that you couldn’t give him enough money to move out of his home and his neighborhood, and that he would fight the project to his last drop of blood.
In 1965, the Panther Hollow project failed.
The Panther Hollow project. (Click on the images to see a large version.)
The Litchfield Consciousness
Since Litchfield’s attempts, history has shown that the Litchfield Consciousness has continuously been deeply engrained within the University of Pittsburgh and the city of Pittsburgh. The university now owns over 100 buildings in the neighborhood, and is currently purchasing new property. Meanwhile, the decline of the longtime residential population is approaching 90% since the university moved from the North Side to Oakland in 1908.
It is important to understand the key components of the oppressive Litchfield Consciousness. The Panther Hollow project illuminates the fact that the keystone of that consciousness is the devaluation of human dignity and the elevation of economic profit as the highest priority. The cornerstone of that consciousness is that of domination, manipulation, and instilling fear.
The Panther Hollow project was an attempt of ethnic cleansing – later extended to residential and elderly cleansing – not cleansing that results in physical death, but rather results in the death of the hopes and dreams of those whom it severely impacts.
The Litchfield Consciousness doesn’t permeate the entire being of a person. It is an insidious consciousness that is compartmentalized and activated in matters pertaining mainly to the expansion plans of the university. It causes a person to lose his or her moral compass. Some individuals who possess the Litchfield Consciousness are considered stalwarts in society, and deserve praise for their many contributions. They can be found attending, preaching, and leading singing in churches, donating to charities, and volunteering to help the needy, among many other wonderful good deeds.
The Litchfield Consciousness, although abhorrent and destructive, was fully accepted and embraced by the University of Pittsburgh. Edward Litchfield was given the high honor of having buildings named after him. The three tallest and largest dormitories of the university bear his name – Litchfield Towers.
The Consciousness Spreads
South Bouquet Street – In 1958, during Litchfield’s reign, the university purchased the iconic Forbes Field for a little over $3 million with the stipulation that the Pirates would play there until Three Rivers Stadium opened. An article in the University Times quoted a university director of public relations referring to that purchase: “. . . the plan was to eliminate the Oakland community in all directions surrounding the site of Forbes Field.”
The article went on to say: “In 1967, to expedite Pitt’s expansion, the General State Assembly (GSA) stepped in and, invoking eminent domain condemned all the buildings in the two-block area south of Forbes Avenue between Oakland Avenue and South Bouquet Street, and sent eviction notices to tenants and business owners there, many of whom were long-term occupants. The GSA also declared that only academic buildings could be developed in the two-block area, a position that became important later.” The two-block area referenced above was located across the street from Forbes Field.
In 1971, the university demolished Forbes Field. Prior to the university’s invoking eminent domain and demolishing Forbes Field, over 200 longtime residents and only about a dozen students were living on South Bouquet Street. Today, only two longtime residents and about 800 students live there. Eminent domain is meant to be exercised for the public good, not for the selfish interests of a university. The invoking of eminent domain was a catastrophic social injustice. The residential cleansing of South Bouquet Street, including many of the elderly whose families had called it home for generations, is almost complete.
That street is one example of the domination and manipulation inherent in the Litchfield Consciousness. University administrators knowingly used manipulative lies to the community by saying that constructing two Bouquet Garden dormitory buildings in that eminent domain area would remove students from the residential neighborhood. They used the same lies to justify the construction of dormitory buildings in other parts of Oakland, while at the same time increasing their student enrollment to nearly 30,000 students.
Forbes Avenue – The Litchfield Consciousness permeates this street. University administrators are fully aware that the community cannot attract young families or grow a neighborhood when its business district is destroyed by the presence of student dormitories and other university–related buildings. During the current administration, massive dormitories have been – and continue to be – under construction on Forbes Avenue. In addition, the university announced that it is spending $1.9 million to purchase the Allegheny County Health Department Medical Building next to the future student housing site. This purchase is a part of their plan to turn that street into an alleged innovation center. The Litchfield Consciousness continues, with Litchfield’s original words “research park” simply being replaced by “innovation center”.
University of Pittsburgh Faculty – The university faculty is an example of the Litchfield Consciousness that not only dominates and manipulates but also instills fear in others. A culture of fear fills the university. Faculty members are too fearful to say what they honestly feel in matters pertaining to university expansion. When Litchfield announced his Panther Hollow project, not a single faculty voice publicly opposed the plan. Today, none of the 5,000 faculty members has publicly spoken out in opposition to the university’s uncontrolled growth that is decimating the residential community of Oakland. It is phenomenal that 5,000 intelligent faculty members all apparently think alike on matters pertaining to the university’s uncontrolled expansion.
The Mayor – In 2015, the city announced a plan, reminiscent of the Litchfield Consciousness, to build a roadway through the neighborhoods of Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run in order to connect the old Almono site in Hazelwood to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. It would have eventually accomplished what Litchfield had initially wanted to do: eradicate these two neighborhoods. The Litchfield Consciousness attracts the like-minded. The disgraced former leader of Uber was in consultation with the mayor to use the roadway for that company’s autonomous vehicles. The mayor often speaks of his Italian roots and his grandfather’s immigration experience, as well as his desire to protect Pittsburgh neighborhoods. However, the roadway initiative he advocates is a continuation of the Litchfield Consciousness in which glory, greed, and economic profit take precedence over human dignity.
City Council – Pittsburgh City Council members have passed hundreds of bills in the last ten years, but never even attempted to introduce a bill to end the uncontrolled growth of the University of Pittsburgh. The city council is an example of this basic truth: Individuals who choose to dominate, manipulate, or instill fear need victims. The Litchfield Consciousness cannot exist unless there are those who are willing to fall victim to that consciousness. The massive excavation taking place now on Forbes Avenue by a developer from Dallas, Texas to build more students housing is another example of the council’s role as victims. The developer mentioned in a public meeting that he could not do the same project in California because the state laws prevent him from doing so. The Litchfield Consciousness thrives when there are willing victims and good people who choose to do nothing.
Allegheny County Executive Director – At the forefront of the new grandiose plan to make Pittsburgh the innovation center of the world is the executive director of Allegheny County. He is the main supporter for the Allegheny Council approving the University of Pittsburgh’s purchase of the above mentioned medical building on Forbes Avenue. He is also a fervent supporter of the roadway initiative, despite the fact that his mother-in-law was born and raised in Panther Hollow. Sensitivity and empathy to the wants and needs of a community, especially the elderly, are not a priority of the Litchfield Consciousness.
Pittsburgh Foundations – The old Almono site in Hazelwood is owned by three of Pittsburgh’s largest foundations – Heinz Endowments, Richard King Mellon Foundation, and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. These foundations are also at the forefront of the roadway initiative through Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run. These leaders’ actions are an example of how the Litchfield Consciousness is compartmentalized. These foundations give millions and millions of dollars to worthy organizations, ensuring their leaders are esteemed in the city. Recently, the Heinz Endowments announced a major donation for a Mister Rogers Neighborhood project. Mister Rogers Neighborhood is as sacred to its followers as Panther Hollow and Four Mile Run are to their longtime residents.
The Media – One of the most formidable protectors of our basic rights is the media: men and women entrusted with accounting for the integrity and identity of our residential communities. Tragically, the media has never conducted an ongoing, in-depth investigation of the University of Pittsburgh which is systematically destroying the residential community of Oakland. Their inaction is another example of how the Litchfield Consciousness can instill fear in others. It is safer for them not to rock the boat and possibly jeopardize the revenue they receive from the university and its supporters, not to jeopardize their relationship with university administrators who are a source of information, or not to potentially uncover wrongdoing which could tarnish the image of the university and the city. It is safer to remain silent and sit by idly as a residential community – which they had been entrusted to serve – vanishes before their very eyes.
Oakland Organizations – University administrators can provide a long list of all they do for Oakland organizations and the community. However, it is astounding that none of them, or very few if any, of their 5,000 faculty members live in Oakland. All of these individuals could live nearby and walk to work, but choose not to live in a neighborhood that they have helped to create. The university’s generosity is very much akin to a dominating husband who showers his wife with gifts in order to maintain control over her. The wife may even deny the abuse, or even defend the husband, when others bring the abuse to light. The deep fear instilled by the Litchfield Consciousness can lead Oakland organizations to mask, deny, or ignore any wrongdoing.
Litchfield Consciousness Begins to Erode
In 2015, when the city announced plans for its roadway initiative, one of the foundation owners of the old Almono site was the McCune Foundation. They have since sold their interest to the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The leaders decided not to continue involvement in an initiative that would severely impact two neighborhoods. Kevin Acklin, the mayor’s chief of staff and a strong advocate of the roadway initiative, announced his resignation effective in January 2018. He was born and raised in South Oakland and attended a high school with many young men of Panther Hollow. Subra Suresh was president of Carnegie Mellon University in 2015 and another strong advocate of the roadway initiative. CMU is deeply infected with the Litchfield Consciousness and their administrators have laid a path of destruction in North Oakland. Suresh resigned in 2017 and doing so became the shortest tenure of any president of that university. He moved to Singapore with his wife. Karina Ricks was hired as the director of the newly formed city Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. On October 6, 2017, she took a public action that was unheard of: she made a decision that went against the plans of the universities, city, foundations, and their supporters. She chose not to apply for a federal grant for monies that could be used for the roadway initiative.
When individuals take actions to prioritize human dignity, and do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, they gain self-respect and earn the respect of everyone who shares those beliefs. Thus, the Litchfield Consciousness begins to erode.
Communities get destroyed when good people choose to do nothing.
The Litchfield Consciousness is an outdated consciousness that will have no place in a world becoming new. Not simply an improvement of the same old world, but the beginnings of a New World. Choice is seminal to that change.
The Litchfield Consciousness has always been a conscious choice. Therefore, it will also be a conscious choice of good people to end this destructive consciousness. Choice alongside beliefs are the most powerful raw materials for creating this new world.
What will you choose to do to end the Litchfield Consciousness?
Label, Then Love or Hate the Label
– A Tragic Practice
The following paragraphs are numbered for ease in your response..
1) To label, then love or hate the label, is a tragic practice that creates tremendous pain and suffering for people of color, the LGBTQ community, and newly arrived immigrants, to name a few.
2) This labeling practice also severely impacts entire neighborhoods. Oakland, which was once one of the most eclectic, thriving residential neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, has been decimated, mainly by the uncontrolled, greedy expansion of the University of Pittsburgh.
3) You are guilty of employing the horrific, deadly practice of labeling whenever issues arise involving the University of Pittsburgh.
4) In your 19-year career as a councilman and mayor, you never attempted to pass a law to protect Oakland from the destructive expansion of the University of Pittsburgh. If a project was labeled a University of Pittsburgh project, then it always had your overwhelming support.
5) Oakland is losing its identity as a residential neighborhood. The business district that once supported thousands of residents, from infants to the very elderly, is disappearing, and is now referred to as Pittsburgh’s Innovation District. That’s a shame that you and many others bear.
6) You devoutly worship the University of Pittsburgh because it is considered the economic engine of the city, and it has made you the victim and puppet of the university administrators. It is obvious that they dominate, manipulate, and instill fear in you.
7) The tragic practice of labeling to support the University of Pittsburgh to the detriment of the Oakland community extends to the Pittsburgh City Council. No member of this council has attempted to pass a law to protect Oakland residents from the university’s uncontrolled, greedy expansion. These members also bear the shame of the decimation of our neighborhood. They, too, are victims and puppets of the university administrators.
8) You and the city council members have employed the shameful labeling practice in numerous issues, and you have aligned yourselves with the University of Pittsburgh to the detriment of our residential community. These issues are on the websites www.OaklandDignity.com and www.SavePantherHollow.com, and will not be delineated here. You and city council members can mask, deny or ignore your shame, but that will never end the shame.
9) The 5,000 faculty members of the University of Pittsburgh also employ the deadly practice of labeling. They speak out against injustices but only when they are made outside of their host community of Oakland, and they offer no support to stop the destruction of our own neighborhood. They also are victims and puppets of the university administrators; they are locked in fear and cannot speak up in support of our community.
10) The University of Pittsburgh’s massive Institutional Master Plan is now in the process of getting approved by the Planning Commission, Pittsburgh City Council, and yourself. Once again, the labeling process is taking center stage. Anyone who understands the crookery at city hall knows that approval of this plan that would destroy our community is a DONE DEAL.
11) Labeling must be replaced with UNDERSTANDING. That concept requires a comprehensive gathering of information, interpretation, discernment, assessment, inference, appreciation and valuation.
12) To create UNDERSTANDING, we have asked for an in-depth IMPACT STUDY on how this plan will affect our community. You and your city council members continue labeling and have refused to provide us with that study. University of Pittsburgh administrators, whose primary mission is to educate, have also refused to provide the study in fear of the truth that it may reveal.
13) We asked for an IMPACT STUDY as comprehensive and in-depth as the 75-page Brookings Institution study that was funded by the Heinz Endowments and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation. That study regrettably and shamefully concluded that Oakland needs an Innovation District.
14) The Brookings Institution shamed itself by acting like a hired gun for the Heinz Endowments and the Henry L. Hillman Foundation. Our community sent numerous letters to the Brookings Institution president, and the individuals who wrote the study, asking why the voices of Oakland residents were ignored in the study. In response, they all chose silence.
15) You and city council members might continue the pitiful labeling practice and deny our community this important IMPACT STUDY because the University of Pittsburgh doesn’t want it. However, you all may then face civil and/or criminal liability for not seeking the full truth about the University of Pittsburgh’s Institutional Master Plan.
16) Another entity employing the tragic labeling practice to support the University of Pittsburgh are the owners of Hazelwood Green, who are proposing a roadway, from their site, through Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow, and to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. These leaders have become enmeshed in Pittsburgh politics and, as such, have tarnished the esteemed names of Heinz, Mellon and Benedum.
17) Pittsburgh media personnel also employ the practice of labeling. An in-depth, ongoing investigation of the University of Pittsburgh has never been conducted in its112-year history in our neighborhood. They are acting more as silent watchers than as watchdogs for our community.
18) Pittsburgh media personnel, and far too many others, prostrate themselves in front of the University of Pittsburgh as the economic god of the Pittsburgh economy, and thus diminish their own dignity.
19) Six months ago, a Pittsburgh newspaper hired a reporter who won two Pulitzer Prizes for investigative reporting. We sent that reporter a 5-page letter with suggestions for an honest investigation of the University of Pittsburgh. Last week, their first investigative story was about a man in Ukraine who stole money from a bank, and invested in steel mills throughout our country!
20) Goodness and truth will prevail. End the deadly practice of labeling, and restore your personal dignity and power.
Note: Mayor William Peduto chose silence.
((Two previous letters to the mayor that also went unanswered are on Links 112 and 113.)
There are two fundamental pathways of change: the less traveled Path of Dignity, or the worn-out Path of Tragedy.
You Refused to Support
Since 2007, we have been asking you to join us on the Path of Dignity to make positive changes for our Panther Hollow community and the larger Oakland neighborhood.
First, we asked for your support for a University of Pittsburgh-funded environmental program which would end Oakland’s horrific trash and litter problems. You refusedto support the program even though the cost was equivalent to a mere $4 from each student’s hefty tuition fees.
Then, we asked for your support to move the massive fireworks display for Pitt’s Homecoming Week to a safer venue outside of Oakland, such as at Heinz Field. On one occasion, my 90-year old mother suffered seizures due to the fireworks and we rushed her to the hospital. You refused to support this requesteven though we spoke in front of city council on multiple occasions calling for compassion for our community.
Over a dozen other requests were made to you, including stopping the uncontrolled growth of Pitt and CMU that was severely decimating our community. You refused to support any of them.
On July 31, 2015, in an act of moral corruption, the city applied for a $3 million dollar grant to build a roadway known as the Oakland Transit Connector, from the Almono site in Hazelwood, through Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow, to Pitt and CMU. This was done in secrecy. No one, including yourself, denied our assertion that the action was morally corrupt. We asked District Attorney Stephen Zappala to investigate if the project went beyond moral corruption. He chose silence.
In a likely attempt to cover up that shame, the Almono name was changed to Hazelwood Green, and the Oakland Transit Connector name was changed to Mon-Oakland Connector. However, as we have said on numerous occasions, shame that is masked, denied, numbed or ignored, will continue to grow. The following attests to that very truth.
Right-of-Way in Panther Hollow
Last week, I was provided minutes of the April 28 Resident Advisory Group meeting. They were shocking. The moral corruption continues in your desire to use the right-of-way in Panther Hollow for this roadway. There is an iron-clad, binding and legal agreement, discussed below, that precludes the use of this area for a roadway that would eventually destroy our neighborhood. Your attempt to renege on that agreement will be met with the strongest legal action available to us.
Brief Explanation of the Agreement
In 1980, the University of Pittsburgh wanted to build a business school, Mervis Hall, at the top of Joncaire Street, but the university leaders chose not to build a parking structure there. Instead, they decided to use the existing parking lot in Panther Hollow to fulfill their legal requirement for the number of parking stalls needed for the construction of the school.
That decision necessitated this iron-clad, binding and legal agreement between the City of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, and the Panther Hollow community. Part of the multiple conditions of the agreement involved the right-of-way in Panther Hollow. The agreement specified the width of the right-of-way and the requirement that the university plant and maintain the trees and grass there. The university has done so continuously for nearly 40 years. Prior to the agreement, there were no trees and grass in the right-of-way.
A longtime resident of Panther Hollow, who was involved intimately in the negotiations of this agreement, also designed the parking lot and right-of-way. He related to me that this agreement was in perpetuity.
Councilman Eugene “Jeep” DePasquale
This agreement between the City of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, and the Panther Hollow Community was presented to Councilman Eugene “Jeep” DePasquale, who proceeded to make public this iron-clad, binding and legal agreement. Our community is extremely grateful for his vision, wisdom and foresight to anticipate that one day, university leaders, after earning billions of dollars from the use of Mervis Hall, would attempt to renege on the agreement. He also knew that one day, a mayor, even one of Italian descent, and a city council, would also attempt to renege on the agreement.
Path of Dignity
The following suggestions would require a major shift in consciousness for you to support our community.
1) End all plans of a roadway through Panther Hollow. I cannot say this strongly enough—move on to the Path of Dignity and abandon plansto use this right-of-way through Panther Hollow.. All attempts to renege on this agreement can result in personallegal action for individuals in government, university, and foundation organizations, as well as for other planners and operators of a proposed shuttle service on this roadway.
2) Begin the University of Pittsburgh’s and Carnegie Mellon University’s, orderly withdraw from Oakland. This would result in two very positive actions. 1) These universities can move to the Hazelwood Green site, eliminating any need for a roadway through Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow; and 2) it would allow for Oakland to be rebuilt as the thriving residential community that it was prior to the devastating, uncontrolled growth of these universities.
3) Redirect the $20 million dollars approved by you and Pittsburgh City Council for the ill-conceived roadway project. People of color on city council should lead the way and use the monies for underserved neighborhoods.
4) End the University of Pittsburgh’s Homecoming Week fireworks display. It would be criminal for thousands of administrators, faculty, alumni, and students, to congregate for this unwanted event that has already shown to endanger the lives of our residents, especially the elderly.
5) Create an Italian Cultural Center in Panther Hollow. The center would honor the legacy of Italian immigrants not only from Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania, but throughout our country. Such a center would create numerous jobs and generate needed revenue for the city as a major tourist attraction.
Take the path less traveled. Take the Path of Dignity.
The following letter was sent on March 15 and 16, 2020, to individuals requesting support to have the office of District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. investigate the Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation in Panther Hollow.
We are very thankful to all those who had the courage and confidence to contact the district attorney and support our call for an investigation.
I am Carlino Giampolo, born and raised in Panther Hollow, who is asking for your support on behalf of our small community to have the office of District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. investigate the Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation in Panther Hollow. This letter is being sent to individuals who we trust care about ending injustice.
This will also go to members of the Fourth Estate (the press) who can take actions both as private citizens, and by adhering to the principles of their profession in holding government and corporate officials accountable for their actions.
Wrongdoings have occurred in actions by the City of Pittsburgh, Duquesne Light, and the supporters of this project. They have deceived and betrayed us.
It is not hyperbole to say that this project will eventually lead to the destruction of Panther Hollow, as well as to the further decimation of greater Oakland, because of the massive development it will offer for the universities and their supporters. This project is neither needed nor wanted by the residential community.
For greater wisdom and understanding of the injustice of this project, go to www.OaklandDignity.com, especially the letters to Councilman Bruce Kraus on Link 100 and the letter to District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. on Link 101.
Numerous tragic wrongdoings have occurred throughout history, including the well-known Holocaust and the lesser-known lynchings of black people and Italian immigrants. These tragedies occurred because of both those who directly caused them, and those who allowed the tragedies to happen.
The individuals who caused and allowed these tragedies had held onto the belief that it was acceptable to label certain groups of people, and then either love or hate those labels. They did not seek any greater wisdom and understanding. Dialogue was replaced by dogma.
Changes occur either through the path of dignity, or the path of tragedy. Let’s make the right change by respecting the dignity of the residents of our community.
We are reaching out to you for support. Power simply is the ability to take action. Your action will take less than one minute, but can change the course of history.
Simply hit “Reply All” and “Send”. You do not need to add your own explanation unless you want to. The district attorney will know that you support an investigation.
You will be doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. Our community has the deepest gratitude to you for doing so. In the end, through your action, truth and justice will prevail.
To: Councilman Bruce A. Kraus,
Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC) Executive Director Wanda Wilson,
Rhetorical question: Should there be a criminal investigation into the Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation in Panther Hollow?
Duquesne Light is rapidly moving forward with the construction of this massive project on Schenley Park property, without any in-depth, comprehensive environmental and health studies, as to how the project will impact residents of our small community, especially the elderly. Both of you have a fiduciary duty to our community, yet you seem to be relying blindly only on the word of this company’s engineers that there are no problems.
According to Duquesne Light, the project is under the full jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Utility Commission. Is this true? A commission hearing was held that gave Duquesne Light permission to move forward with this project. However, neither myself nor any other resident of our neighborhood that I am aware of received notice of this crucial hearing. If either of you attended, you did not let our community know what concerns, if any, you raised on our behalf. Neither of you provided our community with minutes of the hearing. Please do so.
A meeting for this neighborhood-changing project was held Monday, January 6. I received notice by an OPDC email on Friday, January 3. If a workweek can be considered as Monday through Friday, then I and others received notice of this important meeting only one day before. Also, three meetings about this project were held in late October/early November. I do not have records of notices for those meetings. Please have your offices provide me with records of those email notices. In addition, where are all of the minutes for these three meetings, not just those of November 7 that were contained in the January 3 email?
Duquesne Light representatives mentioned in the November 7 minutes that this project is necessary because institutions are planning major new developments, and they are preparing for this growth. If you read closely between the lines, and beyond the lines, of these minutes, you will come to understand that this project is an indictment of OPDC, the Pittsburgh City Council, Mayor William Peduto, the Pittsburgh Planning Commission, and the Zoning Board of Adjustment, as well as the office of District Attorney Stephen Zappala and the media of Pittsburgh.
Duquesne Light executives know full well, beyond any doubt, that none of the above have the courage to protect and preserve our community, by the fact that the above are not even attempting to stop the uncontrolled expansion of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and their supporters. Although they will not say it explicitly and publicly, they know the above are puppets of university administrators and their supporters. Therefore, Duquesne Light executives are moving forward quickly and confidently with their plans, feeding the cancerous expansion in Oakland.
Both of you have allowed, and are continuing to allow, the further destruction of Oakland by showing zero support for a moratorium on construction in Oakland, or for a comprehensive, in-depth Neighborhood Impact Study as to how Pitt’s Institutional Master Plan will affect not only Panther Hollow, but all of greater Oakland now and for generations to come.
This massive, disruptive substation is basically only for satisfying the needs and wants of the universities and their supporters, not for satisfying the needs and wants of our residential community.
Perhaps the rhetorical question at the beginning of this letter should be made declaratory: There should be a criminal investigation into the Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation in Panther Hollow.
January 8, 2020
Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation
in Panther Hollow – Follow Up
To: Councilman Bruce A. Kraus,
Oakland Planning and Development Director Wanda Wilson
Is it true, as Duquesne Light Company (DLC) executives have asserted, that the residents of Panther Hollow, the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (OPDC), and the city of Pittsburgh, cannot stop the construction of the Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation because the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has already granted the company permission to build the substation? Are all of us rendered virtually meaningless because the DLC has autonomous authority to proceed with this project?
The burden of an investigation about this project should not be placed upon the residents of our community. What actions have either of you taken to protect the health and rights of the residents of Panther Hollow?
Has the city’s legal department obtained all of therecords of the meetings for this project attended by the past administrators of Duquesne Light President Richard Riazzi, the current administrators of President Steven Malnight, and the administrators of Pitt and CMU?
What no one in our community knows yet is if the uncontrolled expansions of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and their supporters have already outstripped the electrical infrastructure in Oakland. Is this project also necessary for the present electrical needs of these universities and their supporters, and not just for their future electrical needs as DLC administrators have stated?
Has the city’s legal department uncovered any actions or omissions by DLC that violated any laws concerning this project? If so, are there any actions or omissions by DLC that warrant the involvement of District Attorney Stephen Zappala?
Has OPDC contacted Representative Dan Frankel, or any other state representatives or senators, for assistance in protecting the health and rights of our community? Has OPDC taken any actions at all to protect the health and rights of our community?
We are all aware that this project is basically for the benefit of Pitt, CMU, and the developers and others who support these universities. This project is not for the benefit and needs of the residents of Oakland. For the past decades, the host community of Oakland has been decimated enough for the benefit of these universities and their supporters. There has never been an in-depth investigation of these universities and their supporters concerning their uncontrolled expansions, and the resultant destructive impacts upon Oakland. This has been an ongoing tragedy!
Our actions in the past 12 years have never been due to any hatred for the universities or their supporters. Rather, our actions have been done to protect and preserve our neighborhood now, and for future generations, as well as to honor the legacy of those who came before us to make Oakland one of themost eclectic residential neighborhoods in all of Pittsburgh.
DLC has already assembled heavy construction equipment on their property. Both of you have a fiduciary duty to our community to provide us the full truth of how this project will impact our lives, as well as a duty to disclose fully how this project was initiated and processed. Actions to stop this project until the full truth of this project is revealed is urgently needed NOW. Anything less would be a breach of these duties.
January 26, 2020
Note: There has been no response to the above two letters concerning the Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation in Panther Hollow.
The following letter was sent to Councilman Bruce Kraus on March 5, 2020.
Councilman Bruce Kraus,
The City of Champions is quickly earning the moniker as the City of Corruption.
On January 8, 2020, I wrote you a letter concerning our community’s serious concerns pertaining to the Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation in Panther Hollow. I asked if it was true that this project was under the full jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Utility Commission, and requested you provide our community with minutes of the commission hearing that gave Duquesne Light permission to build this substation. As you know, our community received no notice from you or anyone else, including Duquesne Light administrators, that this hearing was going to occur. You response to my letter was silence.
Only two days after my letter, as you and other members of city council had chosen silence in response to our community, city council initiated action for the following resolution:
“Resolution authorizing the Mayor and the Directors of the Department of Public Works and the Department of Finance, on behalf of the City, to enter into an Agreement with Duquesne Light Company to provide 1) a Permanent Construction Easement for the improvement of the Riazzi Power Substation in the Central Oakland neighborhood, and 2) a License to maintain a swath of land at the base of the hill to improve long-term storm-water control of the City property (Schenley Park) which also affects the Substation.”
On January 26, 2020, I wrote you another letter about this issue asking what actions you have taken to protect the health and rights of the residents of Panther Hollow. Once again, your response was silence. Both letters are on www.OaklandDignity.com Link 100.
My letters were also sent to each member of the Pittsburgh City Council.
On February 13, the resolution was finalized with the signature of Mayor William Peduto. This entire devious process took place without any notice to our community.
While we trusted that you would fulfill your fiduciary duty to protect our community’s health and rights, you were holding private discussions with representatives of Duquesne Light, and likely with administrators of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, who desperately need the substation to further their development and destruction of our business and residential neighborhoods.
Pittsburgh City Council members have aligned with the numerous other hypocrites in the political, profit, and not-for-profit arenas who don’t live in Oakland, don’t want to live in Oakland, and who definitely don’t want Pitt and CMU in their own neighborhoods. None of them want their own neighborhoods decimated like these universities have done to Oakland. These hypocrites are willing to sabotage their dignity, integrity, and legacy to support the universities’ uncontrolled expansion that is bringing further pain and suffering to the residents of Oakland.
Our community will continue its “Lights Out” movement to protect our community from the unwanted and unnecessary Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation in Panther Hollow.
On February 24, 2020, we wrote a letter to District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., requesting that his office conduct an investigation into the Duquesne Light Riazzi Substation in Panther Hollow. By copy of this letter, we are making that request once again.
The following was sent on December 11, 2019 to Council President Bruce Kraus and members of the Pittsburgh City Council, among others. (The Mon-Oakland Connector was previously called the Oakland Transit Connector.)
President Bruce Kraus
Pittsburgh City Council
You have “sat on the fence” and “weighed both sides” for the past four and a half years concerning whether or not you support the Mon-Oakland Connector through Panther Hollow.
You are fully aware of the vast amounts of information on the websites www.SavePantherHollow.com and www.OaklandDignity.com, and the numerous communications from those individuals and organizations who are in solidarity with us in standing firm against any roadway through our neighborhood. You are also aware of the ample information provided by the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Hazelwood Green foundation owners, the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure, and their supporters who want a roadway through our neighborhood.
You have comprehended, interpreted, discerned, assessed, inferred, and placed an appreciation and valuation on your understanding of this information. Our community is now asking that you move forward without any doubts by giving us your position of whether or not you support the Mon-Oakland Connector through Panther Hollow.
Your decision can be facilitated and simplified by taking one of these two positions: Do you support the protection and preservation of historic Panther Hollow, as well as honor both the dignity of the residents and the legacy of their ancestors? Or do you advocate for the decimation of historic Panther Hollow by supporting the roadway with the resultant massive expansion by Pitt, CMU, and developers, among others?
There has been no response to the following two emails. Both men have chosen not to be transparent.
August 6, 2019
President Farnam Jahanian
Carnegie Mellon University
Please read my email below to Adjunct Instructor Ray Gastil, former City Director of Planning. He has once again chosen silence. This email attests to the fact that we follow through on our word.
We are requesting your assistance to kindly ask Mr. Gastil to respond to a simple question that our communities deserve to have answered. We are making this appeal to your integrity and character. At the end of your tenure, when you look back upon the decisions you made as president, this may be one of your defining moments.
You cannot escape your responsibility for this roadway plan that would eventually destroy the neighborhoods of Panther Hollow and The Run. This plan is reminiscent of the destructive 1963 plans of then University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Edward Litchfield who sought to destroy our two neighborhoods with a futuristic 21st Century Research Park. Our communities prevailed, yet Pitt went on to achieve 10th in the nation in accumulating research funds even without these plans. In like manner, there are other ways to achieve your goals at Hazelwood Green without this destructive roadway through our two neighborhoods.
Our communities will continue to be seekers of truth to protect and preserve our heritage. You could take the path of Mr. Gastil and remain silent. If so, our communities will definitely take future actions on this matter that will be determined by the course of events.
However, I trust your grace and dignity will lead you to realize that choosing silence, or participating in actions that will destroy our two communities, is not the right path in life.
I look forward to your response to the appeal of our communities.
July 31, 2019
Adjunct Instructor – Staff Appointment
You have been involved with the Mon-Oakland Connector (previously called Oakland Transit Connector) since its very inception. As Director of City Planning, you wrote a letter of support for its implementation to the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.
In the past, our community had asked you questions about your involvement, and you had chosen silence. That silence must end.
At the first community meeting for this project, you gave a presentation and mentioned that the roadway from Almono (now called Hazelwood Green), through The Run and Panther Hollow, to Pitt and CMU, would traverse through the back end of the University of Pittsburgh’s parking lot in Panther Hollow. The entire meeting was videotaped.
Our community needs the following question answered truthfully:
Who at the University of Pittsburgh, or at the City of Pittsburgh, told you that the roadway could traverse through the back end of the University of Pittsburgh’s parking lot in Panther Hollow?
Our community deserves an answer and will not accept silence. The question should be easy to answer. If you choose silence by August 5, then we will ask CMU President Farnam Jahanian for assistance to have the question answered.
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.
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.
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.