Flanked by neighborhood advocates, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl held a press conference this morning in an unusual location -- directly in front of City Council Chamber's doors -- to urge the city's legislators to approve quickly a $500,000 contract to run the proposed new curfew center.
"We were on schedule to open the curfew center on May 1 of this year," Mr. Ravenstahl said. Because of council's "continuing delays, now we can't meet that deadline."
Council last week opted to hold off on approving the contract with Three Rivers Youth to run a center at at 200 N. Dithridge St. in North Oakland, until it can hold an as-yet-unscheduled public hearing. Members were concerned about the price tag, the civil liberties aspect of enforcing the curfew and the need for more cooperation with the school district on youth issues.
The cost is "a $500,000 portion of a $68 million police department budget," said Mr. Ravenstahl. "If this $500,000 saves one young person's life, and it sends them in the right direction, then it's $500,000 well spent."
Three Rivers Youth plans to provide counseling to curfew violators and their families.
"Some of our children are getting lost out there," said Sarah Campbell, public safety chairwoman of the Homewood Brushton Community Coalition Organization. "We need the curfew center and we need the agency that is going to provide this service."
Councilman William Peduto, who has sparred with the mayor on many issues, joined him at the press conference. "A 10-year-old child on the street at one in the morning becomes a 12-year-old who's trying to steal a car," he said. "You don't just create 20-year-olds with AK-47s. There's a history there."
The curfew ordinance applies to those 16 or younger who are out at night, unaccompanied, with some exceptions -- like driving to or from a job. It kicks in at 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays for most of the year and at 11 p.m. from July 1 through Aug. 31. For Friday and Saturday nights, the curfew starts at midnight year-round.
It was sporadically enforced from 1996 through 2004, then put on hold when the prior curfew center, Downtown, was closed in budget cuts.
Rich Lord can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1542.