You may ask, “Why did ed put the time in today?” Well, that’s because I just finished the breakfast dishes. No, I haven’t been sloven (I love that word and have been wanting to use it forever). The notoriously inept Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority had a water main break outside my Inn yesterday afternoon and we didn’t have water until mid afternoon. My poor guests were real troupers, I kept them as informed as I could about the situation, offered the limited options they had and got each room a gallon of bottled water. I ended up flushing the powder room toilet with water I scooped out of the water feature in the elephant ear garden. PWSA has a special place in my heart, any of you that have listened to my tirade about them costing me $42,000 when I was trying to open know why, (if your interested, just ask me next visit). PWSA almost put me out of business before I even opened. This summer has had a rash of water main breaks. They have no capital plan to replace our aging system and it’s only going to get worse. They need to develop a plan for all water and sewer line replacement. Survey the system and prioritize the areas with the oldest and most unreliable lines and put a dollar figure on it and a ten to twenty year plan to replace these ancient pipes (I hear that some are still wooden logs, I don’t know if that’s true). PWSA missed the boat with the stimulus package. If they had this in place a year ago, I bet with some effort, they could have gotten this kick started. For this reason alone, heads should roll. $42k, I’d be happy to start the head rolling.
Speaking of heads rolling, let me rant on one more of my favorite topics, Port Authority of Allegheny County. Steven Bland, the head of it should get the boot. His way of dealing with financial crisis is to whine about not having enough money and threatening to cut services and staff until someone bails him out. They built that white elephant parking garage at South Hills Village Mall at the end of the T, for a fortune, that sits empty. They missed the boat several years ago when the Ft Pitt Tunnels had to close for a major renovation and there was federal money set aside to alleviate the traffic problems that was going to create. The money ended up going to a very nice fly over interchange at the mouth of the Liberty Tubes instead of a high speed or light rail system servicing the west hills (and airport). Now they’re extending the T system to the Northshore that is way over budget and they keep asking for more money. Instead, they should have run the T out to Oakland. If Oakland wasn’t part of the City of Pittsburgh, it would be the third largest city in the state. Don’t get me wrong, I like having the T over here, when it opens, it will be a nice amenity for my guests. But from a practical stand point, the money should have gone to an Oakland line. Now they’re looking into spending more money on an automated payment system. Why not look into expenses and live within their means. Number one, move their offices from their Ivory Tower Downtown into one of the many empty buildings they own over here on the Northside. Another way to save money is to get rid of all those big buses that run half full or empty so much of the time. They know how many passengers ride on any given route, on the slower routes, replace the big buses with little ones. The smaller buses would be cheaper to buy and operate. They would also pollute less. They would lessen congestion and they could pay the drivers less. No, I’m not anti-union, I’m anti-waste. Unions have fought hard to raise wages of the common man. But big unions are like big businesses, set in their way and inflexible. Look what happened to GM. To respect seniority and the unions, I feel the new smaller buses should be purchased and the pay rate should be set appropriately less than the drive of a big bus. Staff these buses with tenured drivers at the higher rate. Through attrition, when Port Authority needs to hirer new drivers, they get the lower rate driving the smaller buses. They can work their way up to the higher rate that the big buses warrant. To me, this is a win win across the board. They unions win by granting concessions in financial troubling times, the Port Authority wins because they lower costs and most of all, the riders win because they are not facing continued raising fares and cutting services. Most of the bus ridership are people struggling to make ends meet, many juggling two or more jobs and cutting service and raising rates are the worst thing you can do for this people. One final and shocking quote from the Port Authority, when I first moved back to PGH and the T extension hadn’t started yet, the newspaper asked them if they were going to expand the service for game days and special events over here on the Northside. The spokesperson said “No, we can’t pay overtime”. 65,000 people attending a Steeler’s home game and they’re going to run on a traditional slow Sunday schedule. In the next newspaper, the quickly changed their story on that.
OK, I promise not to rant again for at least a week. Any of you looking for a last minute thing to do this weekend, “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” is playing at the Melwood Screening Room out in Oakland. Shows are 7:30 and 9:30 on Friday and Saturday and then Sunday in the afternoon at 3 and 5. This is one of those campy movies that has drawn huge crowds across the country, mainly from word of mouth. It’s like the old SciFi movie “Plan from Planet 9″.
Lastly, there’s a new brew your own beer place opening in Greenfield. These places have risen in popularity and lost popularity over the years. This will be PGH’s only. It’s an adjunct to Hough’s bar and restaurant in an old hardware store. They have all the equipment and you pick from thirty some recipes and they supply the ingredients. They’re opening with six kettles, each one makes about five cases of beer and they range in price from $100 to $180 for everything, even the expertise on how to do it. They plan on opening this fall.
Now that the breakfast dishes are done, I’ve blogged and have water, I’m going to go out and water my thirst plants in the parking lot and sidewalk. Have a great one,