“Government of the people, by the people, for the people” is one of the phrases that really stick with you. President Lincoln used the phrase in Gettysburg 150 years ago. There’s lots of bad financial news coming from cities across the U.S. and for good reason. Things are not going as well as they should.

In Pittsburgh, its was very refreshing to see the turnout on November 30th in Oakland for the mayor’s transition team kickoff. Bill Peduto, who is taking office next month and his team of Kevin + 7, were on hand to welcome and speak to those that turned out. Originally, they  expected a few hundred to volunteer their services through an online application. The actual result was 1059, of which about 1/2 showed up on that holiday Saturday for four plus hours. For more on what transpired, click here. http://ow.ly/rMEWU 

What seemed like chaos in the beginning transformed fairly nicely. The enrollment process went smooth as did the breakout into the committees. I chose the Economic Development, which was conducted by Kevin Acklin, Mr. Peduto’s new chief-of-staff. We broke into groups and had a lengthy conversation with Kevin doing a fine job as conductor. All of the talking points were written down and then using a voting technique which relied on post-its, we stepped to the stage and prioritized each on the list. Those with the highest amount of votes were broken down into sub-committees.

I’m part of the Land Bank sub-committee which deals with blight and the challenges faced when property owners are unable or unwilling to maintain the property. Eleven of us met last Wednesday evening and it was revealing. All of the obstacles were identified. We have challenges on our sub-committee – identification, recommendations and preparation of the final document. I’m sure its the same on the many other areas where volunteers are trying to promote positive change. The subjects ranges from red lights to health and human services to transportation. The deadline to submit these proposals is the end of December.

There was plenty of high-end talent in Oakland and to a person, they were passionate about promoting Pittsburgh and all of what this great city has to offer. It was certainly something Abe would have been happy to see. Stay tuned!

Mark Schuster, Partner