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.
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
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 adeep 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.
On December 26, 2017, I requested from you an internal investigation of a study conducted by the Brookings Institution titled “Capturing the next economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city”. That letter sent to you by email is now on the website www.SavePantherHollow.com. Perhaps the email was intercepted by one of your colleagues and withheld from you, or you chose not to respond. Either way, the needs and wants of our community are important and valuable. We deserve a response.
My grandparents’ generation in Oakland contributed to the funding for the construction of the Cathedral of Learning. They trusted that the University of Pittsburgh would benefit their community and that of succeeding generations. That trust has since been broken. The shameful greed and self-interest of the university has devastated both the community’s residential and business districts and has caused much suffering, especially for the elderly longtime residents. Today, there are shocking new revelations of serial sexual harassers and discrimination against people of color in the university’s Department of Communication. The Cathedral of Learning has become the Cathedral of Shame.
This climate of hostility to women and people of color is documented in a bombshell essay written by a former Pitt professor. The link to that essay is included at the end of this letter. The essay confirms what we have said: The Litchfield Consciousness of devaluing human dignity is prevalent at the University of Pittsburgh. The long-standing culture of hostility described in this essay occurred in a department that is in close contact with our local media. Did the leaders of the local media know about the ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination to people of color, and yet choose not to investigate the university, thus ignoring the suffering of university personnel and students—the same way they have ignored the suffering of the elderly longtime residents of our community? Or do they claim ignorance? Who investigates the investigators?
It is likely that the shame in other university departments will be brought to light. On August 22, 2013, I wrote an Open Letter to the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees which is on Link 2 of the website www.OaklandDignity.com. The letter said: “A Pitt researcher from China who experienced wrongdoing in her department but was fearful of losing her job if she spoke out said, ‘There is more academic freedom in China than there is at the University of Pittsburgh.” The letter continued: “The new Chancellor must have the confidence and courage to create an environment whereby faculty and other employees of the University do not have to face the fear of retribution should they speak the truth.” That fear of retribution still exists today. The letter had been distributed to numerous local media personnel, but no action was taken.
The acknowledgments in the above mentioned Brookings Institution study began with: “The authors are especially grateful to the leadership of Chancellor Patrick Gallagher.” Brookings Institution is perceived to be a “hired gun” of our city’s wealthy non-profits to perform a study to further their own agendas, as well as the agenda of the University of Pittsburgh, among others. Your non-response has furthered the perception that the esteemed Brookings Institution is yet another puppet entity dominated by the University of Pittsburgh. Shame that is masked, denied, and ignored will continue to grow. Has the shame of the University of Pittsburgh spread to your own institution?
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)
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?
Pittsburgh City Council
November 29, 2017
By Carlino Giampolo
I am here because the city of Pittsburgh, in collusion with CMU, Pitt, and the foundation owners of the old Almono site in Hazelwood, is once again attempting to build a roadway through the neighborhoods of Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow.
It is well-documented that the city’s first attempt to do so resulted in protests at CMU, Heinz Hall, and Benedum Center, and was brought to the attention of the district attorney and other entities outside of the city. During that period, although the reasons are unknown, the city lost the Smart City Challenge, and the president of CMU resigned in a shroud of mystery.
The ill-advised decision of city leaders to once again attempt to build a roadway through these two neighborhoods may place them on a path of self–sabotage in their efforts to make the city the site of Amazon’s second headquarters.
We strongly recommend the city to indefinitely suspend any plans for a roadway. The mayor has in his possession a petition signed by 462 powerful individuals who are adamantly opposed to this roadway, and who have emphatically stated that this roadway is not needed or wanted. The opposition to the roadway now will be in greater numbers, and extend to more venues.
Three minutes is not enough time to detail all that needs to be said, but let me highlight a few key points. In the bigger picture, we are faced with this issue because of the uncontrolled growth of Pitt and CMU that has devastated the residential and business districts of Oakland, and, like a cancer, the effects of that uncontrolled growth have now spread to the communities of Four Mile Run and Panther Hollow.
Communities get destroyed when good people choose to do nothing. These good people may also be referred to as enablers – individuals who are well aware of the injustice but remain silent anyway. They include the thousands of faculty members of these universities, the media, and this council. We are asking this council to break its silence, and form an alliance with our two communities to put an end to any plans of a roadway through our two neighborhoods.
We are also asking the same of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald whose mother-in-law was born and raised in Panther Hollow. On November 1, in a television interview with KDKA, he referred to the Kaufman building downtown. He said, “Moving into the future while still preserving the past. That’s who we are in Pittsburgh.” Belief precedes experience and we ask that he extend his belief about buildings to also include neighborhoods.
The leadership of Pittsburgh will not be remembered by how many thousands of robots are manufactured at the old Almono site in Hazelwood. Rather, the leadership will be remembered more fondly if they make human dignity their highest priority.
Robots never have, and never will be, made in the image and likeness of our Divine Creator.