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Testimony: Flawed process inhibits open discussion

Wilkinsburg Future is publishing transcriptions or first-party provided written statements delivered at hearings, such as the Pittsburgh City Council public hearing on annexation on January 11, wherein speakers opposing annexation numbered twice those who supported it.

This testimony was submitted to Pittsburgh City Council at that hearing by Kipp Dawson. WF publishes it here in its entirety with her permission.

Honorable Council Members,

While I respect and actively seek more equitable, responsible, and mutually beneficial sharing of resources between our city and the people of Wilkinsburg, I urge you to vote AGAINST the motion that is before you today.

The action you are being asked to take is legally, ethically, and morally flawed.

In particular, the action you are voting to take in regard both to Wilkinsburg Public Schools, and Pittsburgh Pubic Schools, is out of order.

You are being asked to step over, ignore, bypass, and assume the role of the school boards the voters of each city have elected to run each school district. There is no way this is excusable. That you should overstep the roles to which YOU have been elected, to mandate basic changes in the ways the schools operate, should be unthinkable to you. But since it has found its way to you via this proposal to annex our sister city next door, I trust you will vote against doing so.

Indeed, the entire annexation resolution you have before you sets us back in our attempts to work together across our rather wobbly city lines.

My family and I moved to Pittsburgh from Wilkinsburg 25 years ago, but we didn’t move far. We live a couple blocks from the Wilkinsburg line, going either east or south, and much of my life has me crossing that line. I taught for two years in Wilkinsburg Public Schools, at Turner and Johnston, before teaching for 19 years in Pittsburgh Public Schools. I know first hand how much we all could gain by increasing the collaboration between the two districts, so that all of our children and their families and our school workers could grow our schools together. This is a relationship our schools should build and lead, as they already have begun to do. And as our elected school leaders have taken responsibility for. Appropriately.

The people both of Pittsburgh and of Wilkinsburg deserve a more open, more thorough discussion about all of the matters before us than we have been given an opportunity to happen. Please vote this resolution down, so that we can make this happen.

Dictating to the people of Wilkinsburg, and of Pittsburgh, as this resolution does, is not OK. Please cast your vote against it.

Tell Pittsburgh City Council that you oppose this annexation. Act now.

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