The fracking jobs lie (Update #4)


  1. Originally published, April 6, 2021, 8:41 pm.

  2. April 7, 2021, 6:33 am:

    • The San Francisco Unified School District has officially suspended[1] its decision to rename schools that was, in many cases, based on historical inaacuracies,[2] after earlier having ‘paused’ it and promising to, you know, maybe actually listen to historians in the future.[3]

      The episode remains troubling and not just because it made the district a caricature for right-wing attacks,[4] but because it reflects a self-righteousness that outweighed attention to detail and accuracy. Such would be troubling in any context, but is especially so in institutions tasked with instructing the young.[5]

      It came on the heels of a decision to cover up a mural at my old high school that in fact depicted George Washington in an unflattering light, but was being interpreted as oppressive for its depiction of oppression,[6] a decision I regret but am compelled to support.[7]

      The district also attracted attention when old tweets from its then-vice president came to light that singled out Asian-Amerikkkans for charges of racism against Blacks,[8] but this to me reveals a citywide political establishment bent on denying its own racism, whether systemic or otherwise.[9]

    • After a lot of back and forth due to Uber support’s extreme reliance on canned messages that don’t actually respond to messages I send, my car is back to being enabled on the platform. I cannot condemn what happened here strongly enough. They were unwilling to accept a PDF I had sent, but wouldn’t say that they would not accept a PDF, and they never properly explained why, though I surmise that their messaging system was somehow filtering it out. They repeatedly referred to the breakdown as if it were a collision when it was just a breakdown. I don’t believe I have ever before seen in a support team the degree of unprofessionalism, unresponsiveness, and incompetence I saw last night.

  3. April 7, 2021, 8:09 am:

    • Seven thousand Blacks left the City of Pittsburgh between 2014 and 2018, allegedly due to gentrification. Others say, no, this was not gentrification, but due to blight and crime, and only Lawrenceville has a problem with gentrification.[10]

      I wasn’t present for this, but with so much housing in and around Pittsburgh in a blighted condition,[11] it’s not easy to simply rule out that people may have moved of their own accord.

      People are pointing to the Penn Plaza Apartments, which were demolished to make way for, among other things, a Whole Foods Market. 200 people lost their homes,[12] which the developer promised to replace with new low-income housing.[13] The problem here is fairly obvious: What were those 200 people supposed to do in the meantime? Indeed, what did they do?

      But also, 200 doesn’t explain 7,000, and to deny a more widespread problem with gentrification seems disingenuous.[14]

      Finally, the problem of gentrification isn’t simply numeric. It’s also about neighbors who are no longer present, isolating people left behind in communities that seem to me to be tight-knit. There’s damage here and while it doesn’t do to simply leave people to languish in the abysmal housing I see all around Pittsburgh, redevelopment needs to be thoughtful.

  4. April 7, 2021, 10:43 pm:

    • The Santa Rosa Press Democrat has more on the San Francisco school renaming debacle. A piece I hadn’t caught in previous coverage: “San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman issued a ruling calling on the Board of Education to do what the lawsuit [filed in March by San Francisco attorney Paul Scott, whose children attend public schools] requests — rescind the vote and dissolve the renaming advisory committee — or show by April 16 why it shouldn’t be compelled to do so.” It is unclear whether the board complied with the part about dissolving the renaming committee or will, in the future, comply with California’s open meeting law.[15]

    • I think it was just the other day I noticed a green hue to many of the trees that had shed their leaves for winter and gone totally brown. Today, flowering trees and shrubs are flowering and there is a bright green on many, not all, but many trees. It’s springtime in Pittsburgh.

Fossil fuels

One of the mysteries I’ve encountered since arriving in Pittsburgh has been about alleged fracking jobs. I see political campaign postcards that claim the Democrats want to eliminate all these jobs. Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, says, “We can’t just throw [out] all of these union jobs and all these workers’ jobs and say, ‘Well, just go learn to code and maybe you can get on at Google or someplace.’”[16]

But I don’t see those jobs. As an Uber/Lyft driver, I don’t take anyone to or from their fracking job. I don’t see any hiring for the fracking industry. In fact, I see zero evidence these jobs even exist.

And indeed, fracking hardly seems to be the savior of the Ohio Valley economy its advocates pretend.[17] But while politicians and oil company executives pretend, Kate Aronoff points to a history and present of job-killing.[18]

Kate Aronoff, “Fossil Fuel Companies Are Job Killers,” New Republic, April 5, 2021,

White supremacy

There is a new blog post entitled, “Hate, Pittsburgh Style.”

Nan Levinson, “The Far Right in Uniform,” TomDispatch, April 6, 2021,

So the windshield guy looked at my windshield. And couldn’t find a leak. He says he’s 100 percent positive. Which left me in something of a quandary as what to do next.

I called the dealer back and the service writer assured me that they had covered the site over and applied some substance—I believe one of the words was ‘dielectric’—that would prevent a recurrence of the corrosion, that I should be good to go.

Whether this will prove sufficient for Uber, which requires proof of repair, remains to be seen. It would help enormously if they’d get rid of the fools they have working support who do absolutely nothing but return replies like the one in figure 1 all day:

Fig. 1. An all-too-common response from Uber support. Screenshot by author, April 6, 2021.

I had already explained the situation. These assholes barely look at the most recent message, if even that.

  1. [1]Faith E. Pinho, “San Francisco board halts renaming of public schools after months of furor and debate,” Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2021,
  2. [2]Isaac Chotiner, “How San Francisco Renamed Its Schools,” New Yorker, February 6, 2021,; Fernando Martinez, “San Francisco school board considers renaming a school after the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia,” SFGate, January 29, 2021,
  3. [3]Greg Keraghosian, “SF school board pauses renaming 44 schools, promises to consult historians in future,” SFGate, February 21, 2021,
  4. [4]Faith E. Pinho, “San Francisco board halts renaming of public schools after months of furor and debate,” Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2021,
  5. [5]David Benfell, “It’s fine to highlight other people. But don’t cite historical falsehoods when you do,” Not Housebroken, February 21, 2021,
  6. [6]Karin Klein, “At first, it looked like censorship. But covering up controversial mural makes sense,” Sacramento Bee, July 20, 2019,; Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board May Save Controversial George Washington Mural,” New York Times, August 10, 2019,; Carol Pogash, “San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide, but Not Destroy, Disputed Murals,” New York Times, August 14, 2019,
  7. [7]David Benfell, “A non-conformist mural and a non-conformist kid: Why the mural still must be covered up,” Not Housebroken, April 14, 2021,
  8. [8]Jill Tucker, “Mayor Breed calls for S.F. school board member to resign over racist tweets directed at Asian Americans,” San Francisco Chronicle, March 21, 2021,
  9. [9]David Benfell, “San Francisco’s political establishment doth protest too much,” Not Housebroken, March 22, 2021,
  10. [10]Tom Davidson, “Is there a crisis of ‘forced mass displacement’ of Black Pittsburghers? Residents, council divided on answer,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 6, 2021,
  11. [11]David Benfell, “Market homelessness,” Not Housebroken, January 1, 2021,
  12. [12]Tom Davidson, “Is there a crisis of ‘forced mass displacement’ of Black Pittsburghers? Residents, council divided on answer,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 6, 2021,
  13. [13]Bob Bauder, “Pittsburgh settles court battle over Penn Plaza Apartments,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 27, 2017,
  14. [14]Ryan Deto, “Pittsburgh is one of the most gentrified cities in the U.S.,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 4, 2019,; Ryan Deto, “The displacement of Anthony Hardison from his Lawrenceville apartment is a microcosm of a neighborhood epidemic,” Pittsburgh City Paper, January 15, 2020,; Rich Lord, “House hunters: How an anti-blight law has become a tool for ambitious landlords in Allegheny County,” Public Source, November 24, 2020,
  15. [15]Jocelyn Gecker, “San Francisco school board suspends plan to rename schools,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, April 7, 2021,
  16. [16]Holly Otterbein, “John Fetterman launches Senate bid in Pennsylvania,” Politico, February 8, 2021,
  17. [17]Kate Aronoff, “Fossil Fuel Companies Are Job Killers,” New Republic, April 5, 2021,; James Bruggers, “A Decade Into the Fracking Boom, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia Haven’t Gained Much, a Study Says,” Inside Climate News, February 11, 2021,
  18. [18]Kate Aronoff, “Fossil Fuel Companies Are Job Killers,” New Republic, April 5, 2021,

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