Friday, May 21, 2021

Pittsburgh, Pa.

 A Mr. Cranky's Neighborhood episode

This is: A weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids and my great-grandkids — the Stickies — to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — A Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering. Viewing with a tablet or a monitor is highly recommended for maximum enjoyment.  

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlereader  

"I am a friend of the working man, and I would rather be his friend, than be one." -Clarence Darrow

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

This column/letter is about Mr. Cranky's original neighborhood, my hometown actually, Pittsburgh (with an h), Pa. Pittsburgh, by the by, is the hometown of Mr. Rogers. Cosmic coinkydink or cosmic consilience?

Anyways... The Burgh just turned its back on 1,000 full-time, union construction jobs and kissed off 3,000 steelworkers.

I was skimming a local business publication that serves the Hootervillle, Ohio region and came across a story about U.S. Steel canceling a $1,500,000,000 project to update its Mon Valley Works.

If you're not a Yinzer you're probably unaware that the Mon Valley Works isn't, technically speaking, actually in Pittsburgh, it's spread out across an adjacent "borough" or three. 

Locals know, more or less, where the borders are. But to most out-of-towners (and many Yinzers), lost and/or dazed and confused even with the help of GPS as they try and navigate the City of Bridges — and one-way streets, dead-ends, and death-defying hills — it's all Pittsburgh

To me, the Mon Valley Works is a perfect (and rare) example of the enormous steel-making complexes that were all over my hometown when I was a clip-on tie-wearing, daydreaming, Catholic grade school kid gazing out of schoolroom windows when sister Mary McGillicuddy was expounding on the esotericities of English grammar.

Mon Valley, by the way, is short for Monongahela Valley, named after one of the Burgh's famous three rivers, the semi-mighty Monogahela. 

{You just like writing the word Monongahela.}

Monongahela? Why yes, Dana, I do.  

Now, although the Mon Valley Works is about 100 miles southeast of Hooterville, the Hooterville region is the former home of all sorts of former enormous steel-making complexes, pieces/parts of which are still hanging on. The majority are now rusting hulks or hopeful empty fields. 

So the American steel industry is of interest to we flatlanders. There's no shortage of my fellow geezers/geezerettes that used to make steel, some of them while employed by U.S. steel.

Second paragraph of the article by Marc Levey of the Associated Press (AP):
"Project permits initially stalled by the pandemic never came through, U.S. Steel has added capacity elsewhere, and now it must shift its focus to its goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from its facilities by 2050..."

Well, I thought, that sucks sweaty socks, and moved on. 

Recently, however, I came across a different article about the same subject; I confess I can't remember where. That article placed the blame squarely on regulators at the Allegheny County Health Department, the country wherein Pittsburgh is located.   

I returned to the original article and read it slowly, carefully, and in its entirety. 


From paragraph 17, "...the Allegheny County Health Department halted the permitting process because of the challenges the coronavirus posed to the public comment process."

Looong story short (based on the article in question and a bit of googlin'). 

Two years ago, in May 2019, U.S. Steel announced plans to turn the Mon Valley works into a primary source "...for high-strength, lightweight and flexible steel that feeds the automotive sector" via a process that was the first of its kind in the U.S.

The plan also included partially shutting down some of a highly polluting, locally controversial coke-producing operation, and adding a new emission control system. 

A thousand construction workers and three years later 3,000 current steelworkers would be breathing a little easier, literally and figuratively.

Fast forward to 4/30/21. U.S. steel announces that while the project updating the coke plant will go forward, the rest is canceled. 

In the last two years, U.S. Steel spent $170,000,000 on the project before deciding to give up. From paragraph 17: "...the Allegheny County Health Department halted the permitting process [a year ago] because of the challenges the coronavirus posed to the public comment process. My emphasis.  

Apparently, there was no possible way to gather public comments in the midst of the Wuflu Plague. 

County officials are accepting no blame; the usual suspects are pointing fingers at each other. Allegheny County and Pittsburgh are Democratic strongholds. My old man's Democratic party (he died in '69) would've never allowed this to happen.

My father's Democratic party, the working man's person's party, is now the Depublican party — often hard to distinguish from the Republicrats, and now the party of tech oligarchs, teacher's unions, and Wokies.   

What Have You Learned, Dorothy's?
My Dear Stickies, firms and entrepreneurs are about results. Without a facility and/or profits, there is no business. Regulators (bureaucrats) — competent, incompetent, well-meaning, or otherwise — are all about process.

No one who works for the Allegheny County Health Department will experience having their lives or paychecks disrupted because of this cluster suck. FYI: A cluster suck (sucks sweaty socks on steroids) is worse than a... well, you're likely familiar with the other version.   

Although the county and the city are both Depublican strongholds local Depublican officials will not pay a price. One-party rule, particularly by the party that has abandoned the working person, doesn't work very well in the Rustbelt. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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