Tube City Almanac

April 11, 2007

The Stingy Man Pays the Most

Category: default || By officerjim

(Guest Commentary: Officer Jim)

Uh oh! I'm gonna be in trouble here, leaving The Almanac without an update for so long. Sorry about the delay folks, but unfortunately I happen to be a very cheap guy. You see, I'm one of the few people left who doesn't have a connection to the internet tubes in my humble domicile.

It's not that I have anything against the internet. Far from it. I use it every day, in fact. I'm just too darn Scrooge-like for my own good. Heck, I'm still holding out against getting cable. And I don't think that Guglielmo's invention is anything more than a trend. And that Ford fella's too clever for his own good! Harumph!

Okay, okay, so I'm not that behind the times. It's really for the best that I keep from having internet access. As it stands now, I get home from work about 11:30 in the evening and usually don't go to bed until 2 or 3 in the morning. If I had internet access, I'd probably be up all night drooling over images on some bizarre website.

So you see, it can be somewhat difficult to post to a blog without the requisite access to an internet connection. Normally this isn't much of a problem, as my employer is somewhat generous in the amount of down time that I'm able to take advantage of; or, at the very least, "what chief don't know don't hurt me!"

These last few days, for whatever reason, have kept me a little too busy. I mean, I hardly had time to finish the second doughnut let alone sit down and write something witty and clever (and then erase that and type the dreck you've been reading).

So, mea culpa on my part for not fulfilling the obligations that I made to your humble (!) webmaster and you, the dear reader(s?). I swear on my sainted Aunt Eunice's grave that I will never, ever slack in my duties, or may I be run over by a streetcar.

Of course, I never had an Aunt Eunice...

And the closest thing to a streetcar line is the "T", and I live in the Mon Valley...

But you get the picture.

. . .

Speaking of pictures, the Garden Theatre (spelled "re" 'cause it's classy that way) has shown its last adult film. Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority finally won its six-year battle to claim the theater under "eminent domain" in an effort to spur further revitalization of the North Side.

According to the article in today's paper, the URA bought the theater for $1.1 million back in February. They have no new buyer yet for the property, but URA project manager Angelo Taranto "said interested developers will be shown through the building as soon as consultants can assess the building's soundness, the content and value of its interior assets and clear debris."

In the meantime, $1.1 million of public money was spent for yet another building in the county to be owned by a public entity and off the tax rolls. That's just the purchase price, of course. That doesn't take into account the no doubt millions in legal fees that have piled up over the last 6 years, all at taxpayer expense.

I'm no smut peddler, nor have I ever set foot in the Garden Theatre (or other like establishments). And while I'm not a prude, I can acknowledge that an adult establishment isn't exactly the type of joint you'd want next door to your home, or on the block that your children walked to get to school, or across the street from the grocery store you shop at. On the list of desirable businesses, I imagine it ranks far down on the list next to "rendering plant" and "medical waste incinerator."

But it is a tax-paying entity, is it not? Property taxes were being paid, right? Income taxes and the $52 Emergency and Municipal Services tax were being paid, right? Sales taxes were being paid, right? There was a tax-paying business on that property, albeit a non-desirable one, right?

And now there's another empty, government-owned building on the North Side. Somehow, another empty building in Pittsburgh seems slightly more obscene than the movies that were once shown there.

. . .

Locally, the Borough of Homestead is looking at a lawsuit from another entity that wished to purchase the empty former bank building at Eighth Avenue and Amity Street for use as a "gentleman's club."

According to a March article in the Post-Gazette, two national operators of strip clubs signed a sales agreement for the $660,000 lease-purchase of the property in June 2006. Allegedly, after representatives met with borough officials, council passed an ordinance that effectively would prevent the firm from doing business in that building.

Again, do we necessarily need a strip club at the entrance to the Waterfront development? And seeing that Eighth Avenue already possesses two adult businesses, as well as open prostitution on the same street, does Homestead really need that type of business? Maybe not.

But one thing Homestead definitely does not need is another building sitting empty. (Or near-empty, as the basement houses a day care center. Presumably that present tenant wouldn't co-exist with the potential new one.)

I dunno. In an area that is starved for business and tax dollars, can beggars be choosers? These types of businesses are going to exist somewhere. They're going to be giving those tax dollars to some municipality, who will gladly take their money even if they (understandably) accept the cash with an up-turned nose.

So why shouldn't one city that's still in the throes of Act 47 bankruptcy, and another borough that's just barely clawed its way out of bankruptcy, take advantage of those tax dollars (and maybe reduce the burden on the tax-paying residents a little)?

I could be wrong about it, but isn't a bird in the hand worth two in the ... er, um, you know what I mean.

Your Comments are Welcome!

The whole issue of adult business regulation is a can of worms. You’ve got free speech issues vs. crime attraction vs. property values. Most jurisdictions that have successfully dealt with the issue have had to do formal studies on the impact such businesses have on neighborhood character, and then allow such uses in some location where they will do the least harm. Regulations can be drafted to require such businessness to be some many hundred feet from schools, libraries, parks and residential areas, so long as you don’t exclude them entirely, which then runs you afoul of the 1st amendment. Some cities, notably Boston, created “combat zones” where such stuff was allowed and everyone knew it. It gave the police the chance to concentrate their resources where the known trouble was likely, rather than running all over the place.
ebtnut - April 12, 2007

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