Wednesday, October 06, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

So maybe the squeaky wheel doesn’t get the grease. That’s one finding from the Pittsburgh controller’s performance audit of the city’s Redd-Up crew, a work unit of the public works department charged with addressing blight conditions like messy empty lots, troublesome vacant structures, accumulated debris and various code enforcement issues.

What auditors for city Controller Michael Lamb found was that residents of some of the neighborhoods that phoned in the most blight complaints to Pittsburgh’s 311 help line actually received the least attention from the Redd-Up crew in 2008 and 2009.

In some cases the audit showed what city residents would expect — that the parts of the city serviced by Redd-Up corresponded to “a large degree to those areas that generated larger amounts of complaints” on 311. Yet the hilltop neighborhoods of Carrick, Knoxville, Allentown and Mount Washington along with Beechview and Brookline were among the top 12 to report cases of blight — and in 2008 none was among the top 10 served by Redd-Up and last year none was among the top 20.

While part of the reason is Redd-Up work hours are assigned through other means than complaints heard on 311, it’s still important for public works managers to ensure that legitimate concerns by citizens about neighborhood blight are addressed by city workers. That way, Pittsburghers will know that Redd-Up works and that calling the 311 help line works, too.