The argumentation I’m seeing for Pittsburgh to annex Wilkinsburg remains incredibly sloppy.
There still doesn’t seem to be an argument for the annexation beyond neoliberal platitudes. History informs us not to underestimate the impulse toward Pittsburgh municipal empire building—indeed, to drive around Pittsburgh is to see one sign after another indicating dates when former municipalities were annexed—but from the sound of this first serious hearing on the idea, this one just doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen: One question was why Pittsburgh, which already has (many) blighted neighborhoods, would want another one.
One answer to that is population. Pittsburgh’s is declining, at least partly due to gentrification and notably among Black people, but I’m not clear on why, in itself, beyond bragging rights, that’s really an issue, and to the extent it is an issue, we should be seeing why, again, very specifically, an annexation might not have a similar impact on Wilkinsburg.
It isn’t, I will generously assume, that these arguments can’t be made. I can see ways that they might be made. But it’s very striking to me that they aren’t being made, that we are just presumptively taking some things—mergers, for example—to be good things and some things—population declines, for example—to be bad things without any kind of rich exploration of community impacts. And aren’t those impacts what really matter?
Julian Routh, “Pittsburgh City Council hears from stakeholders at 1st public hearing on Wilkinsburg annexation,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 1, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-local/2022/03/31/wilkinsburg-annexation-pittsburgh-city-council-public-hearing-west-end-vote-annex/stories/202203310154
Lori Rozsa, “Judge strikes down Florida election-law changes,” Washington Post, March 31, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/31/judge-strikes-down-florida-election-law-changes/
Christoph Hasselbach, “Ukraine: Could neutrality really be an option?” Deutschewelle, March 25, 2022, https://www.dw.com/en/ukraine-could-neutrality-really-be-an-option/a-61261793
Matthew Luxmoore, “Russia Refocuses on Ukraine’s East After Month of Heavy Losses,” Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/russia-refocuses-on-ukraines-east-after-month-of-heavy-losses-11648243627
Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom, “Will Russians Toss Their Leader?” Tyee, March 25, 2022, https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2022/03/25/Will-Russians-Toss-Their-Leader/
Daniel Boffey, “Russia reasserts right to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine,” Guardian, March 26, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/26/russia-reasserts-right-to-use-nuclear-weapons-in-ukraine-putin
William Booth, Robyn Dixon, and David L. Stern, “Russian generals are getting killed at an extraordinary rate,” Washington Post, March 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/26/ukraine-russan-generals-dead/
James Kilner, “Russian MP accuses Poland of planning to take Kaliningrad back from Moscow,” Telegraph, March 26, 2022, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/26/russian-mp-accuses-poland-planning-take-kaliningrad-back-moscow/
Claire Parker, Robyn Dixon, and Erin Cunningham, “Where was Sergei Shoigu? Russia’s missing defense minister resurfaces,” Washington Post, March 26, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/26/sergei-shoigu-russia-disappearance/
Tarini Parti and and Drew Hinshaw, “Biden Says Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘Cannot Remain in Power,’” Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/biden-and-polands-leader-look-to-boost-support-for-ukraine-11648304117
Nebi Qena and Yuras Karmanau, “Russia shifts focus to try to grind Ukraine’s army in east,” Associated Press, March 28, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-putin-kyiv-business-europe-7386a5893a3b43bad7e438cfe45468c2
Robin Wright, “Biden’s Fate Is Now Inextricably Linked to Putin’s War in Ukraine,” New Yorker, March 28, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/bidens-fate-is-now-inextricably-linked-to-putins-war-in-ukraine
Jon Henley, Pjotr Sauer, and Shaun Walker, “‘Ukrainians are not naive’: Zelenskiy voices doubt on Russian military withdrawals,” Guardian, March 29, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/29/ukraine-russia-peace-talks-istanbul-war-kyiv
Samantha Lock and Léonie Chao-Fong, “Russia-Ukraine war: what we know on day 35 of the Russian invasion,” Guardian, March 29, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/30/russia-ukraine-war-what-we-know-on-day-35-of-the-russian-invasion
Adam Taylor and William Neff, “Why the world is so worried about Russia’s ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons,” Washington Post, March 29, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/03/29/why-world-is-so-worried-about-russias-tactical-nuclear-weapons/
Joshua Yaffa, “Why Do So Many Russians Say They Support the War in Ukraine?” New Yorker, March 29, 2022, https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/why-do-so-many-russians-say-they-support-the-war-in-ukraine
Michael Birnbaum et al., “U.S. says Putin being misled, as Ukraine refugee tally hits 4 million,” Washington Post, March 30, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/03/30/ukraine-putin-misled-russia/
Nebi Qena and Yuras Karmanau, “Russia shells areas in Ukraine where it vowed to scale back,” Associated Press, March 30, 2022, https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-zelenskyy-roman-abramovich-kyiv-europe-ef9c28c44f94b34262fe6b7c296d58a6
British Broadcasting Corporation, “Ukraine war: Gruesome evidence points to war crimes on road outside Kyiv,” April 1, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60949791
- David Benfell, “Wilkinsburg voters should insist on a better argument than ‘trickle-down’ for a merger into Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, January 18, 2022, https://disunitedstates.org/2022/01/06/wilkinsburg-voters-should-insist-on-a-better-argument-than-trickle-down-for-a-merger-into-pittsburgh/↩
- Diana Nelson Jones, “The day the City of Allegheny disappeared,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 9, 2007, https://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2007/12/09/The-day-the-City-of-Allegheny-disappeared/stories/200712090229↩
- Julian Routh, “Pittsburgh City Council hears from stakeholders at 1st public hearing on Wilkinsburg annexation,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 1, 2022, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/politics-local/2022/03/31/wilkinsburg-annexation-pittsburgh-city-council-public-hearing-west-end-vote-annex/stories/202203310154↩
- Julia Felton, “Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg leaders split on potential annexation,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 10, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-wilkinsburg-leaders-split-on-potential-annexation/↩
- Tom Davidson, “Is there a crisis of ‘forced mass displacement’ of Black Pittsburghers? Residents, council divided on answer,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 6, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/is-there-a-crisis-of-forced-mass-displacement-of-black-pittsburghers-residents-council-divided-on-answer/; Kimberly Rooney, “How rising rents and renovations have displaced Pittsburghers and added to the city’s ongoing issues with gentrification,” Pittsburgh City Paper, April 28, 2021, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/how-rising-rents-and-renovations-have-displaced-pittsburghers-and-added-to-the-citys-ongoing-issues-with-gentrification/Content?oid=19360553↩