Propel Pittsburgh commission must prove usefulness

How can a handful of young adults fix the city of Pittsburgh?

This question could be answered by the mayor’s Propel Pittsburgh Commission, a group “dedicated to meeting the concerns and needs of the City of Pittsburgh’s young adults and young professionals.” Formed in 2007, the commission has been described as unwieldy, and many claim it has not lived up to its potential. After being inactive for 10 months due to lack of rehiring after the members of the previous commission fulfilled their terms, the group has been downsized from 35 to 13 members, leaving us to wonder how effective the new commission will be.

There are most definitely issues that a group like this, if used properly, could address. The group could work to improve voter turnout in the 18­–30 demographic. It could focus on transportation issues that plague the city: Port Authority’s unreliability, the lack of taxis, transportation difficulties between core neighborhoods such as the South Side, Lawrenceville, and Friendship. It could focus on a lack of communication between the city and its youth, possibly preventing issues like the 2009 tuition tax proposal.

It is currently unclear if the people who will serve on this commission are the best for the job. The mayor has not announced if any college students from universities like Carnegie Mellon, Pitt, or Dusquene will be selected to serve on the commission. It is also unclear who the mayor is targeting with this commission: young adults who have already decided to stay and live in Pittsburgh, or the majority of students who are counting the weeks until they can graduate and leave the city? We hope that the members of the commission work to survey those who are leaving and have left the city to better understand what others are looking for.

While we call the effectiveness of this commission into question, we recommend that its members focus on economically feasible, short-term solutions to the city’s issues (two to five year plans). In this way they can deliver tangible results that prove they are of use to the city.

Their main responsibility in the coming years should be to prove to their peers, and the city, that they are valuable and effective.