Pittsburgh Panorama, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Brook Ward’s photostream

Mayor describes progress in neighborhood reinvestment, government reform & innovation

PITTSBURGH, PA – “When I took the oath of office January 6, I pledged to change the culture of city government. My administration is following through on that pledge, through the hard work, square dealing and good faith I promised that day, and today I am issuing a detailed report on our progress over the first 100 days.

Every day when I walk into the Mayor’s office, there is one thing on the top of my to-do list, and that is focusing on neighborhoods that have been left behind. Our economic development efforts are community-driven: in a partnership with our foundation community we created the city’s first Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment to work hand-in-hand with chronically-neglected neighborhoods, and a new Office of Community Affairs collaborates with community groups citywide and reports their needs directly back to my administration.

We have projects in the pipeline that will provide neighborhoods citywide ladders of opportunity to join in our city’s overall prosperity.

In Larimer, we are finalists for $30 million in funding to rebuild housing in a neighborhood that hasn’t seen investment in decades. In the Lower Hill Chief of staff Kevin Acklin led the effort to reset the discussion over development to work with all organizations in the Hill and the Pittsburgh Penguins to create economic benefits for all stakeholders. In the Strip District we intervened in disagreements over the Produce Terminal and emerged with a deal that will preserve the neighborhood’s unique character and create new opportunities for growth and investment. In Hazelwood the Almono site is poised to become a global model for sustainable brownfield reclamation that reestablishes the neighborhood’s connections with Oakland and other neighbors.

We are committed to visiting neighborhoods throughout the city during regular, one-on-one visits joined by my entire executive team — my first “Mayor’s Night Out” in Beltzhoover was invigorating, and I’ll meet residents too during “Mayor’s Night In” events in my City-County Building office.

We are following through, too, on a promise to restructure and reform government, from taking away long-abused parking passes and take-home vehicles to adopting new technologies to open up our books for all to see.

My team has been safeguarding taxpayer resources: we cut this year’s operating budget, restructured city departments, implemented a severance package that will save $6 million over five years, experienced two bond rating increases, and began working with Harrisburg on a new approach to Act 47 to address the city’s financial issues for decades.

We have reinvigorated the public’s watchdog against government abuse — the Office of Municipal Investigations — and opened up the hiring of top administrators across city departments to a competitive, public-private process led by Talent City that has attracted applicants from across the country. We remain committed to building strong leadership in Public Safety, while supporting the rank-and-file: the current sworn strength of the police bureau is 890 officers, which is 99% of the budgeted amount and the largest force in years.

We’re implementing innovations to bring sunlight in, and to instill job performance metrics and accountability into the fiber of city government services, which will benefit residents long after my time in office is over.

One of my first acts was to retool our old-school IT department into a new one called Innovation & Performance and charge it with improving the efficiency of city operations, using sustainable, performance-based budgeting and technology. We have already revamped 311 to expand its hours and staff, and to make communication with city workers about service delivery better. The department is also studying our management of long-term assets and reforming our capital budget plans.

While we have accomplished a lot in our first 100 days, we have a long way to go to realize our potential as a city poised for greatness. Through every stage of our work — from studying the best ways to fill potholes to striving for cutting-edge neighborhood development models — we have one message for both our residents and the world. Our single focus, from the first 100 days to the next 1,000, is to make comprehensive changes to fashion a city government that serves all residents and makes all of Pittsburgh stronger for generations to come.”