Open letter to Pittsburgh’s URA

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LOUIS ‘HOP’ KENDRICK

There are a number of people who are aware that I will be addressing the URA board on Sept. 12, and some will wonder why the need for an open letter? The need exists because 99 percent of those who are reading this column will not be present at the URA board meeting to hear my concerns about some very serious inactions the board has failed to address over the years.

Allow me to make it crystal clear to those of you who are uninformed that the Urban Redevelopment Authority in the city of Pittsburgh is the engine that drives development. It is the oldest in the state of Pennsylvania, and one of the oldest in the nation. The reality is that the current mayor and former mayors have been the engineers who drive the train of development, and the board members are conductors, red caps, etc. It is my belief that they could be more productive than they are, but they owe their appointments to the engineer, the mayor.

Across this nation in almost every major city those who disperse our tax dollars have created a class of Blacks and women businesses who are highly successful. Pittsburgh has been an exception. Why?

It is my personal belief that starting with the engineers (mayors) there is an absence of caring, concern or commitment, which filters down to the conductors and red caps (board members). There is a general weak excuse that Black and female-owned businesses lack the necessary qualifications or experience to take on major contracts. My response is and always has been if Black and female-owned businesses are granted the opportunities then experience and qualifications will follow.

The URA has spent billions of dollars and overwhelmingly with the same developers and contractors; and through this use of tax dollars these people have grown larger and richer and the one common denominator is they are all White-owned businesses. The two largest construction contracts in the history of Pittsburgh that Blacks were awarded was the Kingsley Association, which was driven by Executive Director Malik Bankston; and Ebenezer Baptist Church (Wylie Avenue), which was driven by its pastor, Dr. Alfred Van Winsett.

The general public has no concept of the magnitude of taxpayers’ money that is expended not just with construction, but goods and service contracts. The overwhelming numbers of successful contactors that you witness building year after year are generally recipients of the public trough—taxpayers’ monies.

Please remember to send a financial contribution to Kingsley Association.

(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)

 

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