This came across my desk about 14 times last week:
Please join Councilman Bill Peduto &
State Representative Chelsa Wagner for
“The Life of the Party”
feat. live music by
The Old E Allstars
DJ Omar Abdul
Friday, October 31 from 8 to 11 PM
The Grand Hall at The Priory
614 Pressley Street, Northside
Cost is $10 with costume, $20 without
All proceeds benefit Northside charity
Paid for by People for Peduto and Friends of Chelsa Wagner
My first question? Which Northside charity. Representative Wagner represents part of the Northside, specifically my part of the Northside – Manchester. Along with Castle Shannon and Beechview and Brookline, etc. Hmmm. Our little step-child status isn't her fault — she didn't draw the district maps. I've talked with her staff on a regular basis and I believed they genuinely wanted to connect with our community.
This seemed perfect. A chance for Chelsa to do something for the children in Manchester (and their families) by designating the proceeds to benefit a local charity in her district. This could pave the way for more contact and stronger connections which would be a win-win for everyone. Right? Bill doesn't have any voters in the Northside so there isn't a conflict with him, right?
I asked some questions. I contacted Wagner's folks and Peduto's folks. I asked some friends of friends. I got various answers, but it boils down to no one being willing to name the charity or tell me how that charity has been/will be selected. That seems weird to me. Why would there be a problem with designating the proceeds to benefit a neighborhood that could use it? On the other hand, if they chose something outside of our district, why not just say so?
I think I am too naive and missing some sort of insider perspective here. I asked some people about that possibility and no one is talking.
It is a party. With masks and costumes. It costs $10.00. It seems reasonable to ask that our State Representative invest her time, talent and energies to benefit families living in her district. We don't have an office. Her staff cannot always attend (or aren't invited to) local events. They haven't organized any events here. So why not this one small first step?
I certainly have nothing against the other local charitable organizations. I just think it should be okay to ask for a little transparency when your elected official gets involved a few blocks outside of your district while you are struggling for some state attention. If you've been reading this blog, you've seen the Herculean efforts it takes to get PennDOT to simply cut their grass. We could use some help out here.
Let me say this in closing. Chelsa's staff have typically been very forthcoming with me and responsive to my calls. They seem like good people. I wasn't even going to blog about this until it became apparent that I could not get a straightforward answer. Having recently sat through a depressing free-for-all that passes for a public meeting, a meeting not attended by her staff, I just think someone has to start speaking up –speaking up more — and saying that Manchester deserves attention. My God, my neighbor caught a state employee DUMPING in our fields, only half a block from the house he (the employee) rents. It is pretty bad when you drive a car down the street that is subsidized by my tax dollars (gov tags) to your rental property. But to dump in our neighborhood — a place you should consider home? That's crazy.
There's a disconnect here. Or maybe I'm crazy for asking questions. Maybe I'm just supposed to put on my costume, shut up, pay up and have a good time. Then drive back down the street to Manchester passing the kids “hanging out” because their pool is closed, their community center is leaderless and focused on $250,000 housing units and because no one can agree how to ensure these kids get a shot at decent jobs being created by development around the block (i'm talking to you casino and Steeler-hotel people).
Maybe I'm the crazy one.