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PITTSBURGH IN CRISIS

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Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
 

It was six years ago that the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy created what it called "the Benchmark City," an amalgamation of four "regional hub cities" of varying populations and geographic locations. The purpose was to gauge how Pittsburgh competed.

But an updated version of that effort isn't very encouraging.

Indeed, the think tank's study shows Pittsburgh, still in state receivership, "closed the gap somewhat" in some areas. But Pittsburgh has "lost ground" on police spending and spending in general, the institute finds. Here are some other sobering conclusions:

• Pittsburgh spent 50 percent more on a per capita basis than the composite "Benchmark City," composed of Salt Lake City, Columbus, Charlotte and Omaha, Neb.

• The erstwhile Steel City collected 56 percent more per capita in taxes.

• It has higher staffing levels (per 1,000 residents) for overall city employment and for its fire, police and related authorities.

• Pittsburgh "is far out of line" with its benchmark composite on the value of assets held by authorities, on workers' compensation, pension funding and net bond debt. Public school spending and taxing also are higher.

Pretty facades are one thing. Sturdy foundations are another. Pittsburgh has a monumental amount of work to do. Are there any real reformers out there?

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