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Vanaski: City looks to leave 'Gatsby' days behind

| Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, 10:18 p.m.

This one movie has been stuck in my head this week. It's called, “Man of the Century.”

It's a comedy about a guy who is living in modern-day America (which is 1999 in this case), but he dresses and acts as though he's from the 1920s. His interactions with everyone else are rather awkward — and funny — because he just doesn't quite fit in with the world around him.

I mention this because I live in Allegheny County, an area of the state that is rich with history. That's probably why some people here are really attached to the “good old days.”

For example, the county's health department, in a bid to do what every other metropolitan area has been doing for decades, is finally getting close to establishing a grading system for restaurant inspections. Restaurant grades would be prominently posted for the public to see.

So how do you know right now if a restaurant's kitchen isn't quite sanitary? You don't! That's what makes eating out such an adventure!

This plan has been in the pilot testing stage, so they're trying to work out some kinks. You know, such as how not to cite restaurants too much over dented cans of fruit, but rather for general filth.

Sigh ... No one said this would be easy.

Some restaurateurs are critical of this, which makes you wonder if this area is so full of restaurants partly because of an absence of a grading system. And the reason the county is so heavily soliciting the opinion of restaurant owners in how to govern them is also unclear. If you get a second, take a look at the county's 2011 proposal for the grading system at www.achd.net

Under the planned guidelines, it takes at least two rodents to be present at the facility to be a major violation. One is probably just a fluke, right?

Another example of how behind the times this area is involves obtaining a building permit.

For years, the process to get a permit from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Building Inspection took about a month, which seems like a long time. But when you consider you are doing this without the benefit of computers, email or cellphone apps, it all makes sense.

The Tribune-Review reported that the department's new chief, Maura Kennedy, is working on getting its building wired for computers.

Council members had problems with Kennedy's appointment, citing the fact she is not an engineer. Considering she oversaw the same department in Philadelphia, I'd think they'd be more worried about a lack of technology.

Maybe none of them ever had to apply for a permit to build a fence and then sit on their thumbs for weeks waiting for an inspector to come over and take a look at their property.

After all, when you're doing everything with a chisel and stone, you have to concede that a month is actually pretty good turnaround time.

Nafari Vanaski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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