Pittsburgh bloggers have started to spontaneously utter the phrase “This is extraordinary” in increasing numbers of posts and comments. Well, I have anyway. Lamar Advertising is currently refusing to halt construction on the downtown LED billboard, though I grant you that might change anytime. When asked about it at the Zoning Board of Adjustment hearing, Lamar’s attorney’s said the council members who appealed the permit would have to go to Common Pleas Court and post bond. Presumably this somewhat enigmatic response referred to Lamar’s lawsuit against the five City Council members.
Well, there is apparently a hearing tomorrow for this lawsuit. It is possible some things will be resolved then. I wouldn’t be surprised if the lawsuit wasn’t thrown out, although it is also possible that the four council persons who filed after Dr Dowd might have to withdraw their appeal from the ZBA. On the other hand, Lamar’s argument that private conversations between council persons constitutes a plot against Lamar is ludicrous on it’s face.
Some commenter’s on other blogs have argued City Council is wasting everyone’s time with petty and unimportant issues. It would be nice to see City Council discuss crime or how to improve the business climate in the city. But these issues, the billboard and take home cars, are important because they get to the heart of the Ravenstahl administration’s style of governing. We learn that we do not know how many take home cars there are because some city employees park them near by there homes in city lots, and are not on the list for take home cars. And of course we now know that Lamar got a foot in the door with billboards years ago, and Pat Ford guided their fortunes over the years. And that George Specter objected years ago and was ignored. By tackling these issues now, Council will have a firm precedent for how to address the bigger problems.