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Ask The Leaders: Land Banking, Deer Lakes Fracking And Working Together

By Jessica Berardino
(Photo Credit: NewsRadio 1020 KDKA)

(Photo Credit: NewsRadio 1020 KDKA)

(Source: NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) Mike Pintek
Mike Pintek loves Pittsburgh, but being a “D” student in geography...
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PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – KDKA Radio’s Mike Pintek hosts Ask The Leaders with Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for a chance to pick the brains of two of the most influential leaders in our city. The two were ready to cover issues such as the land banking and the recent meeting with the district attorney.

While sitting face to face with Rich Fitzgerald, Pintek aired for him the remarks made by Councilman Bill Robinson toward Fitzgerald’s Director of Communications, Amie Downs. Fitzgerald explains that this accusation about email snooping is unfounded.

“It’s unfortunate that a Democrat like Barbara Danko would team up with Heather Heidelbaugh to do this,” said Fitzgerald. “It would be like Nancy Pelosi and Mike Doyle teaming up with Eric Cantor to go after Barack Obama, or Jay Costa and Frank Dermody teaming up with Joe Scarnati to go after Ed Rendell, you just don’t do those kinds of things when you’re a Democrat, but I guess she does.”

Recently, Mayor Peduto met with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala regarding the accusations that precious information is being leaked to the media. Mayor Peduto acknowledged that there are occasionally ‘frank’ conversations between police officers and reporters.

To remedy this situation, he has hired Sonya Toler as the Public Information Officer and all media requests will be going through her. This will help resolve the problem of too much information getting out.

He continues to comment that he’s still in the process of looking for someone he can trust to stand by him as a police chief. He is also continuing his search for a new public safety director.

Fitzgerald addressed the issue of fracking in Deer Lakes, and if the decision is a ‘yes,’ then those against the fracking plan to take him to court. They will be fighting that this is against a constitutional amendment from the ’70s. He wishes that they would see all the benefits that this will bring.

“This will be a decision that council will have to make if this is something that we think will improve the environment, improve the finances on the parks, I think the answer to that is yes,” said Fitzgerald. “Even if there was no money, even if there wasn’t a nickel coming in to the county budget to offset property tax increases, which there will be, but even if there wasn’t, the fact that we’re in this lease will improve the environment, it will improve water testing, it will improve the truck traffic, it will improve the roads, it will improve things for the community at large; nothing is coming on to park land.”

Places like McKees Rocks, Wilkinsburg and Braddock hold lots of land that could be used for development.  There are legislation plans to use land banking as it’s method to utilize the land faster and more efficiently.

Mayor Peduto is in support of the idea of taking away the power from himself and politicians and giving it back to the people.

“As a politician and as the mayor of this city, I have more power to do more and to have a bigger say without this legislation of picking the winners and the losers and which neighborhoods get help and which ones don’t, which houses we go after, and I’m giving up my power because I know that this legislation will empower the community to turn it around,” he said. “If you think things are good in Homewood, then oppose land banking, if you think things are good in the Hill, then oppose land banking. But if President Barack Obama stands up and says this is a needed tool to help fight blight and abandonment and turn around our neighborhoods, then be careful of politicians who are trying to fight so that they have their power to pick who does the development and the community’s voice is being taken away.”

Watch Segments 2 and 3 of the ‘Ask The Leaders’ here.

Here’s a list of our upcoming Ask the Leader dates:
*These are subject to change*
Thursday, April 24 – 11 a.m. to Noon
Thursday, May 28 – 11 a.m. to Noon

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