Pittsburgh residents push back on Amazon HQ2: This is 'our city'
- More than 100 Pittsburgh community members gathered in the Allegheny County Human Services Building on Saturday to express concerns about the potential impacts that Amazon's HQ2 could have on the city, according to GeekWire and others.
- The forum was hosted by the UrbanKind Institute and The University of Pittsburgh Human Rights Working Group. Panelists, including Amanda Green-Hawkings, director of the Civil and Human Rights Department of United Steelworkers, and Carl Redwood Jr., professor at Pitt's School of Social Work, discussed how winning an Amazon HQ2 bid could negatively affect affordable housing, minority neighborhoods and transit. Redwood expressed that, until it is known how the major deal with Amazon would benefit "average" residents, there is "no reason to be supportive."
- Another main concern was the ability for workers at Amazon HQ2 to unionize, which Green-Hawkins said would be "crucial to equality and pay equity," according to The Pitt News. Neither Mayor Bill Peduto nor city officials responded to Smart Cities Dive's requests for comment.
Pittsburgh landed a spot as one of Amazon's top 20 contenders for its HQ2 bid in January alongside other nearby cities including Philadelphia and Columbus, OH. Since the announcement, Peduto has taken to Twitter a few times to share various media stories on why Pittsburgh is a good pick for the new headquarters, including a Boston Globe op-ed that touts the 'Burgh as a "gleaming city of promise," compared to Boston.
However, this confidence from Peduto doesn't mute the masses of Pittsburgh residents who reportedly chanted, "Whose city? Our city!" during the recent meeting. As evidenced by Peduto's now-famous response to President Trump's "Pittsburgh, not Paris" comment when he withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, Pittsburgh residents are proud to be of a city that is leading the change and advancing toward a smart future. Just this week, Pittsburgh exited Act 47, relieving it from bankruptcy status, in a move that Peduto cited as possible due to the way "Pittsburghers are able to do things together," according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
This raises the question of why Pittsburgh can't stand together on a decision regarding a potential HQ2 bid — and indicates that residents need Peduto's assurance that everything would benefit all Pittsburghers if 50,000 six-figure tech jobs were to one day manifest in the city. Of course complete transparency of the process is not realistic — both Peduto and Amazon have made it clear that city leaders must remain tight-lipped while the deals are being worked out — though that doesn't mean overarching concerns can't be addressed.
We are under Non Disclose Agreements with the property owners & developers - it isn’t public land. Without the NDAs we wouldn’t have been able to have a proposal. Every single economic development begins with confidentiality- then the public process, same w Amazon. https://t.co/4YKNGdmfW6— bill peduto (@billpeduto) January 26, 2018
In a November interview with 90.5 WESA, Peduto said, "Within the city of Pittsburgh, we realize that inequity follows race; that there is a very strong correlation between being black in Pittsburgh and inequity." He assured, during this interview, that the city is keeping this in mind while working on its Amazon HQ2 proposals. Yet that was before this latest round of progression toward the finish line, and if Pittsburgh continues to move closer to winning the bid, Peduto must continue to address concerns and remain a mayor for all residents — especially the "average" ones.
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