The week that was: 07/20/14

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City block party

The Pitts­burgh Down­town Part­ner­ship may not be old enough for drinks, but its 20th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion came with salsa danc­ing, walk­ing tours and even Christ­mas in July. The or­ga­ni­za­tion’s eight-day “Cel­e­brate Down­town” event, which runs through Mon­day, is de­signed to high­light the city’‍s new de­vel­op­ments as well as clas­sic fix­tures such as the U.S. Steel build­ing, which is of­fer­ing roof­top tours. On Sun­day from 8 a.m. un­til noon, Sixth and Mar­ket streets from the Roberto Cle­mente Bridge to Mar­ket Square will shut down to make room for yoga, Zumba, dance and other ac­tiv­i­ties de­signed to get the city mov­ing. A full list of events can be found at www.down­town­pitts­burgh.com/.

Costly Consol

Penn­syl­va­nia tax­pay­ers who be­lieve state aid equals free hand­outs could be tak­ing their griev­ances to Con­sol Energy Center. A 2007 deal to build the $321 mil­lion arena orig­i­nally called for $7.5 mil­lion in state as­sis­tance an­nu­ally for 30 years. How­ever, state records show tax­pay­ers have paid an ad­di­tional $5.08 mil­lion and will need to pay an­other $5.6 mil­lion over the next five years. Lo­cal stake­hold­ers said the 2008 re­ces­sion and fi­nan­cial cri­sis forced in­ter­est rates on the bond used to fi­nance the arena to sky­rocket, forc­ing the state to make up for the short­fall. The com­mon­wealth isn‘‍t the only en­tity dip­ping into its sav­ings to fund the arena — the Pen­guins’‍ orig­i­nal con­tri­bu­tion has jumped from $4.1 mil­lion to $6.1 mil­lion since the deal was set.

Tracking gas

The sur­veil­lance econ­omy is trend­ing down­ward, spe­cif­i­cally for Google Street View Cars tasked with sniff­ing the streets to de­tect gas leaks. The New York-based En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fense Fund has teamed up with Google to map nonhaz­ard­ous gas leaks com­ing from leaky pipes in three U.S. cit­ies. The in­ter­ac­tive maps noted that one gas leak per mile was dis­cov­ered in Boston and Staten Island, areas with pipes made from cast iron and un­pro­tected steel. In In­di­a­nap­o­lis, which has mod­ern pipes made of plas­tic, leaks were one in ev­ery 200 miles. EDF and Google are tak­ing re­quests from cit­ies seek­ing to mon­i­tor gas leaks.

Quote of the Week:

“Being part of a family business is kind of like a marriage; if you never fight, there‘‍s something wrong. The important thing is we always resolve our disagreements. And we never talk business at the dinner table.”

— Anthony Mascilli, co-owner of East End Plumbing and Mechanical in Sharpsburg, discusses the day-to-day issues that come with working with relatives.

Deborah M. Todd: dtodd@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1652. Twitter: @deborahtodd. 


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