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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

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Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Laurel: To public-private partnership results. Tuesday's opening of the OTB Bicycle Cafe at the Boathouse by private owners who've invested about $550,000 and are leasing Allegheny County's North Park Boathouse brought to fruition a new amenity without further burdening taxpayers. Let's have more such ventures.

Lance: To taxpayer-funded feel-good junkets. Personnel from at least 60 Western Pennsylvania school districts, intermediate units and career and technical centers attending this week's Pennsylvania School Boards Association conference in Hershey each cost taxpayers $379 to take part, plus up to $700 in hotel fees. Defending such featured non-education speakers as the namesake of the “Captain Phillips” movie and the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team's captain, the co-sponsoring Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators contends unpaid board members need “a human story here or there” to “lift their spirits.” Better to lift taxpayers' spirits instead — by spending their money more wisely.

On the “Watch List”: The Hill District's first grocery store in 30-plus years. Public subsidies have taxpayers unwillingly sharing the risk inherent in this just-opened $11.6 million Shop 'n Save — risk that private interests alone should bear. If nearby residential development, mainly on the former Addison Terrace public-housing and Civic Arena sites, doesn't provide enough of a customer base soon enough, what now seems to Hill residents a long-awaited asset may prove to be a neighborhood — and public — liability.

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