Time for the perfidious to pay back taxpayers

Time for the perfidious to pay back taxpayers

We can’t help but being struck by news stories about the final beam being placed at Pittsburgh’s newest skyscraper, FNB Financial Center, in the heart of the laggard redevelopment of the old Civic Arena site.

There was no mention of the multimillion-dollar public subsidy to this project.

As the powers that be — or is it the usual suspects? – signed that final beam for the 26-story, $220 million-plus high rise, there was glad-handing and brace-snapping aplenty from the high muckety-mucks and the exalted business barons.

There were all kinds of self-congratulatory bromides about minority participation in the project, “givebacks” to the Lower Hill District community and, but, of course, making “amends” for the original district redevelopment in the late 1950s and early 1960s that displaced so many predominantly black residents and businesses.

(Never mind, that is, that the owners of those properties taken then through eminent domain were paid fair market value.)

FNB Corp. and First National Bank CEO Vincent Delie talked of how it was “important to us, giving back to the community.”

Funny, but there was no mention of giving back to taxpayers the $10 million in corporate wealthfare that FNB received to help build its new edifice to pocket-diving.

Mr. Delie could fix that oversight by cutting a check back to the taxpayer kitty.

Kevin Acklin, president of business operations for the Penguins, said, as the Tribune-Review reported it, that it was important to the development team that they include Hill District residents and focus on the broader impact the development of the FNB site and future elements at the former Civic Arena site could have.

“This is not just about building buildings,” he said. “It’s about rebuilding a neighborhood and investing in people.”

How about reinvesting in the taxpayer trough that both the Penguins and FNB (like so many before them) have bellied up to, to socialize their risk in pursuit of private profits?


We seem to keep coming full circle with corporate titans conspiring with government almsgivers to “invest” in “progress.”

More truly is the pity that the public allows these purveyors of such perfidy to keep operating.

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