Monday, August 31, 2009

PITTSBURGH BRACES FOR G-20 SUMMIT



"CLEARING MY DESK"
...Editorial Commentary

MOST IMPORTANT DAYS IN CITY'S HISTORY LIE JUST AHEAD
By Angelo Spagnolo, Publisher

Typically, when September rolls around in this region, thoughts center on Back to School sales, Labor Day, Fantasy Football drafts and the Steelers' opening game. While all of those
events are still in the process of taking place as this piece is being composed, this year there is an event coming that is so big that it literally will dwarf anything that's ever happened before in the history of Pittsburgh, even this year's Steeler and Penguin parades!

ABOVE: All of the city's art treasures will be on display for the summit.

ABOVE: Mayor Luke and Chairman Dan are on the lookout for protesters and another $8 million bucks to cover the total cost...but can you imagine how many photo ops Luke will have with 24 heads of state in town all at once?

The G-20 Summit is guaranteed to be the first time in the storied history of our city where Pittsburgh will be center stage for the entire world for two days. While this opportunity was initially intriguing and even awe-inspiring to local politicians, by this time we're sure that the reality of past G-20 meetings has more than made them realize that our city is in for something it's never seen before.

Pittsburgh is going to attempt to do two things: Put the entire city on lock down while at the same time showcasing its' beauty and the progress it has made since our steel manufacturing economy went belly-up in the early 80's. This is not going to be an easy feat to pull off.


ABOVE: You might as well be aware of it, there are big things being planned for Pittsburgh and they're not all good.

The city has already amassed thousands of police officers from around the country who will assist in security for the world leaders in attendance. It has already been announced that Point State Park will become a giant tent city for the assembled officers. This show of force will cost the city millions of dollars and while the Obama Administration has already agreed to underwrite massive amounts of expense, the city reportedly is still looking at an $8 million dollar shortfall at this time (although Mayor Luke disputed that number yesterday).

While the city will obviously be the beneficiary of much commerce (drink taxes, hotel and rental car taxes, etc.) and p.r., the potential for confrontation at an event such as this is so great that it practically tends to counteract any good public relations that the city could garner because of worldwide television coverage. In fact, when was the last time that there was a G-20 Summit where there weren't scenes of violence, confrontations between riot police and protesters and scenes of car burnings and window smashing?

Yes, the world is going to get a good look at Pittsburgh in the week before the summit as the world's journalists descend upon "America's Most Livable City." The city, to its' credit, has put together an impressive array of press tours for the worldwide visitors to get a closeup view of what Pittsburgh is all about. For our part, "Pittsburgh's Black and gold" will be there to report on two of these international journalist tours.

ABOVE: A unique flag in distress. This one, instead of having the stars in a typical American flag, has the logos of American companies.

The first tour will be of the many robotics initiatives going on in the city today and will feature Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. Pittsburgh has become the world's leader in robotics research. We would like to share a glimpse of what the world will soon be seeing and hearing about our city by being a part of this internationally-flavored tour and bringing our report to you.
ABOVE: Quick, think of G-20 Summit: What's the first thing that pops into your head? I thought so... Will Pittsburgh in 2009 be different? Don't hold your breath on that!

Later, we'll then be a part of Pitt's "Biomedical Science Tower 3" tour where groundbreaking research is taking place every day. Both of these tours promise to be incredibly interesting and should provide you, a person who has great interest in the City of Pittsburgh, with a perspective of the "Burgh" that you've never seen before.
ABOVE: The people who demonstrate at G-20s obviously blame any problems they may have in their lives on capitalism. They apparently prefer some other failed "ism".

Along with seeing and photographing these facilities, I'm also anxious to meet journalists from around the world and at the same time possibly help them to get a better perspective on the city they are covering. It should be very interesting.

ABOVE: The Brits really have a "thing" for rioting. Let's hope that the cost of a plane ticket discourages them from coming here.

A few days later the real fun will begin as the talks will get underway at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center or "ground zero" as some may refer to it.

ABOVE: Oh those crazy Brits. They've had a lot more experience rioting at G-20s in London than what we've had here. As an example, the guy in the photo above wants to, "eat the bankers." This is a novel approach to an ages-old problem, but when you think about it, it really could work.

While I'm certainly anxious to be a part of the tours and meeting the international media, there is a certain amount of trepidation that this type of an event has a way of generating. Here's to hoping that Pittsburgh pulls it off...that it gets the word out around the world about the positive changes that have happened here for the economy and for the environment, without having full-scale riots as a backdrop for that progress.

ABOVE: As the song says, "There's gonna be a riot tonight." It sure looks like some people are planning just that. Brace yourself Pittsburgh.