Submitted by Renee Haynes-Johnson to WF, posted with permission. Haynes-Johnson was invited to and intended to share this statement verbally in a Pittsburgh City Council public hearing on December 4, 2021, but technical issues for her and several other guest speakers, most speaking against annexation, prevented her from doing so.
Madame President, Council members, and honored guests,
Thank you for the opportunity to come before you at this Public hearing on the proposed annexation of Wilkinsburg Borough by the city of Pittsburgh.
My name is Renee Haynes-Johnson and I’ve lived in Wilkinsburg since 1985. I began and retired from my 30-year career, bought a home, and raised my family during this time. I’ve seen the borough go through rough times and enter times of stability and improvement. I enjoy living in a small town with a small government. I enjoy the social, economic, cultural, and race diversities that exist within the 2 miles of my community.
I became aware of the annexation proposal in September of this year and immediately planted a sign that reads “SAY NO TO ANNEXATION” in my front yard. Soon after I became aware of who initiated the proposal – the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC)-which is, to me, a misnomer. By their actions, they have proven themselves to be a self-serving entity whose motivation is to promote a land grab and to fatten their coffers rather than develop the community whose name they bear! They did not approach this Council with the blessings of Wilkinsburg’s Council who filed a cease + desist against them when they became aware of the WCDC’s actions after the fact. They approached you as representing the desires of Wilkinsburg residents. This non-profit was not elected and does not represent Wilkinsburg with any power or authority. Their arrogance is objectionable and disrespectful and without regard to the negative impact on the majority of Wilkinsburg’s residents. Their skewed propaganda bamboozles some into believing the annexation will benefit them. That includes you!
Wilkinsburg is no more a failed community than Pittsburgh is a smoky city. Wilkinsburg deserves the opportunity to continue as an independent municipality and become an even better one.
I ask you, members of the Pittsburgh City Council, to say NO to the proposed annexation.