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The City of Pittsburgh and the region have been nothing if not resilient.  I graduated college in 1981 as the steel industry was collapsing and the entire Pittsburgh region was being drained of population and talent.  I was lucky to land a job at a local newspaper as a reporter and was able to stay in the city I had grown to love.

Yes I left Pittsburgh for the sunshine and beaches of Southern California for a bit, but (perhaps foolishly) longed to move back to my hometown, which I did.  At one time I worked at a nonprofit called the Greater Pittsburgh Office of Promotion and handled all the publicity for the opening of the new airport in 1992.  I’ve watched the city endure many down periods and two projects called Renaissance because they were so transformative.

But until recently, I don’t think that Pittsburgh had really begun to realize its full potential.  Recent gains in the technology sector, a new reputation as a town for foodies thanks to innovative chefs and restaurant managers, world class healthcare and education have turned Pittsburgh into a hip place for younger folks to move with their families.

And now this.

And I don’t mean Covid-19, though I guess we can call it a contributing factor.  No, I’m talking about the absolute and total destruction of our economy in response to the virus by the governor and other political hacks in this commonwealth.

The decision making has been breathtakingly idiotic and instead of correcting errors, admitting mistakes and shifting strategy, our leaders instead choose to double down and make even more damning decisions.

When the city and county basically canceled summer last week by closing pools, canceling sports leagues, camps and more, I thought we had hit rock bottom.

But then the Governor is asked if salons and barbershops will be considered to be open before his magical green phase – for which, by the way, there is no timetable, plan or data points to hit and there may never be any – he said “no, not before green.”  He and the county executive have begun a narrative that “not very many people were out” on the first day of “yellow” so clearly there isn’t a demand for things like salons and restaurants.  Uh, if everything is still closed in yellow, what makes you think that anyone is going to be wandering the streets of Pittsburgh looking for an open door when they know they are all closed?

And the city’s mayor has now said he wants to explore closing roads and putting tables in the streets to allow restaurants to serve.  But his plan is to put out a bunch of tables and have diners choose which restaurant they want to dine in, as if there will be a cadre of wait staff who can serve for any restaurant and every restaurant will be fully prepared to serve meals to either ALL or NONE of those tables.  Are you kidding me?  Oh and, it will probably take him a month to get this plan going because you know, he has been so flipping busy the past two months closing pools and ruining summer for all the kids in the city.

Twenty years ago, I was a communications professional with a great job, a 1 ½ year old daughter, living in a house we had just built in a great suburb of Pittsburgh. I had many opportunities to leave the city for jobs in other parts of the country but chose to stay in Pittsburgh to raise my family.  If this current crisis had happened 20 years ago, I’d be gone.  I would bide my time until a good job offer came from nearly anywhere else in the country and I would run screaming from the mess that these politicians have created.  Hell, if it happened two years from now when my youngest child is out of high school, I would probably do the same. When the young people who had begun to flock to Pittsburgh make this choice to get out to a city, a county and a state that supports their dreams of entrepreneurship instead of killing it, we will see these same leaders wringing their hands and wondering why it happened.

The collapse of the steel industry couldn’t do it.  The bank crisis didn’t do it.  Even 9-11 and its impact on the hub status of our airport and huge loss of jobs didn’t do it.  But in a few strokes of a pen to veto bills, close pools and tell us all to stay home, stay safe and stay scared, the state, county and city government officials all have a hand in killing this vibrant, growing city.