Allegheny Conference shovels more shtick

Allegheny Conference shovels more shtick

We don’t know whether to laugh at or pity the Allegheny Conference on Community Development following reports of its newest “branding campaign.”

But it is quite troubling that this long-in-the-tooth organization not only keeps shoveling such shtick but that member businesses and groups keep paying for it. That said, who enables whom is a question not requiring a genius to answer.

It was Tuesday last that conference CEO Stefani Pashman, in the job three years as of Oct. 2, unveiled the “Pittsburgh Region: Next is Now” campaign. It’s billed as the Allegheny Conference’s first marketing campaign in a decade.

Guess the “Our Next 75 Initiative” that bowed less than a year ago didn’t get the job done, eh? Pardon us for not being able to fully suppress the snickers.

As the Post-Gazette reported it, the new branding campaign “aims to attract talent, tourists and companies that will help boost the region’s recovery efforts after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.”

And the launch came with all those effusive endorsements from all the usual suspects. More on that in just a bit.

Pashman says the campaign was born out of the failed effort that sought to lure internet retailing behemoth Amazon to Pittsburgh for its second headquarters. That effort, she says, showed Pittsburgh lacked a cohesive marketing plan.

No, Ms. Pashman, what it showed was a cluster cluck of elected and appointed public officials working in secret in an attempt to hand one of the world’s richest business entities nearly $10 billion in public money.

Worse, Pashman affirmed she was merely a puppet by allowing elected officials to launder and hide the sordid dealing through the Allegheny Conference. The behavior was despicable all around. Even the courts said so. Hey, it was in all the papers.

Now back to those usual suspects.

There’s the big banker whose bank sucked tens of millions of dollars out of the public kitty to help it build a new skyscraper for itself, repeating the bromide that the world doesn’t know what’s happening in Pittsburgh. This new conference marketing effort will fix all that, he claims.

Of course, he means it one way and we take it another way.

While we stipulate that there have been positive advances in the erstwhile Steel City, the myriad problems – one-party governance, wretched city public schools, deleterious devotion to unionized government and repeated attempts to tax our way to prosperity, among others – only seem to get a new coat of whitewash.

Expect that to happen again. Perhaps they’ll even use a broader brush and more paint.

Then there’s the CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority, imploring that with “with one brand, one voice, all of our efforts can go further and faster.”

Yada, yada, yada.

She also noted that in attempts to attract more flights to Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), “The memo hasn’t always landed … with key decision-makers around the world that something’s happening here.”

Consider that code for throwing more millions of dollars after past millions of dollars to airlines to fly in and out of PIT, who then move on to greener corporate wealthfare pastures after the bribes run out.

We can only wonder if the “Pittsburgh Region: Next is Now” budget has enough money to pay for giant “We Are Suckers” banners at the airport. Never mind, the airlines already know that.

Who knows how much this latest branding campaign to end all branding campaigns will cost Allegheny Conference members. That’s not being disclosed.

But it strikes us as just another in a long line of campaigns undertaken to justify the existence of overpaid lackeys serving overpaid lackeys who keep making it fashionable to pay no attention to the underlying problems that have retarded bona fide “progress” in Greater Pittsburgh for decades.

We are wont to ask yet again “When will these folks learn?” But why “learn” when perpetuating such a civic-minded cluster cluck is so profitable to those behind such campaigns — in dollars and in power projection and power preservation?

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).