John R. Allen
December 26, 2017
Request for an Internal Investigation
The purpose of this letter is to request that you initiate an internal investigation of a study conducted by the Brookings Institution titled “Capturing the next economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city”. It was written by Scott Andes, Mitch Horowitz, Ryan Helwig, and Bruce Katz.
The study called for the creation of a so-called Oakland Innovation District that would encompass the entire 1.7-square-mile neighborhood. Unfortunately, the perception, whether or not it is true, is that the wealthy foundations which funded the study as well as their supporters are able to use your institution to further their own agendas. Will this study, if left unchallenged, eventually bring this shame to your institution?
The success of a city is not based solely on its economy. It is also about how a city values the dignity of its people. Nowhere in the study do the recommendations focus on their impact to Oakland’s longtime residential community. Why? Don’t these residents matter? Part of the mission statement of your institution is to do high-quality research. Did these writers know about the history of Oakland’s residential community and its catastrophic decline due to the presence of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University? Did they talk to any of the longtime residents of Oakland to ask about their thoughts on the impact the universities have had on their community? There is no indication that they did. Do the writers fully comprehend what will happen to the residential community because of their recommendations? Do they care?
Both the residential and business districts of Oakland are being decimated by the presence of these universities. The above mentioned study is already being used by university administrators and their supporters to foster the continued uncontrolled growth of the universities in our urban community. The University of Pittsburgh, which currently owns over 100 buildings in the neighborhood, recently purchased yet another building for their “innovation center”. The above study is also used as justification for the construction of a roadway through two neighborhoods to connect the Almono site mentioned in the study to the universities. Such a roadway would have a severe, detrimental impact on these two neighborhoods. Heinz Endowments, one of the two funders of the study, just happens to be one of the owners of Almono.
Please view “The Litchfield Consciousness” at www.SavePantherHollow.com. In this article, I believe you will find similarities between University of Pittsburgh Chancellor David Litchfield’s grandiose plan of the past and this Brookings Institution study of today. In both of these efforts, the dignity of the residential community is devalued. On December 15, I asked Kelly Cofrancisco to bring the above website to the attention of the four writers of the study as well.
There will be no pressure from the local media for you to conduct an investigation. They lack the ability and the will to challenge the universities’ uncontrolled growth, and their impact on the host community. There will be no pressure from the national media, for they consider our community problems to be only a locally newsworthy issue. You will need to make the determination of whether or not to initiate an investigation based on your own values.
We are not casting judgment on the writers of this study, because we do not fully have the information as to why our longtime residential community was ignored. We simply need and deserve to know the full truth. You were elected president because you are widely respected for your skill, integrity, and courage. Those are precisely what are needed to reveal the truth.
As a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general, you admirably defended our country. Now we ask you to defend the truth in our community.
Please let us know what choice you will make.
(Author’s Note: David Litchfield’s should read Edward Litchfield’s)