Sunday, January 22, 2006

Lebo: Letters, We Get Letters

The P-G published a revealing set of letters last week regarding the Hoodridge Lane gate/fence dispute.

On the one side: The property absolutists. The theme: Once you own something, it is absolutely yours to do with it as you please.

On the other side: The neighborhood. The theme: Property ownership represents an accommodation of absolute interests and the need for social cooperation to build trust and community.

On the third side: The kids. The theme: They just want to keep a safe way to walk around the neighborhood.

Interestingly, the absolutist theme is the intuitive one that many people share, but the neighborhood theme is followed by most historians and scholars of property rights. And property law itself is much closer to the neighborhood theme than the absolutist theme, as one of the letter writers points out. If the lane has been openly used for a long, long period of time, neighborhood interests may trump individual property owner interests.
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Lebo: On School Renovations

The new School Board is taking small steps to investigate the high cost of the schools renovation. A full-on audit of the elementary schools project sounds like a good idea to me.
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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Lebo: Another House Candidate

Mark Harris, another challenger for Tom Stevenson's House seat, does indeed have a website.

The site is at, and I've added it to the list to the right.

The site has a nice image and a link for fundraising, but no contact info. So here it is:

Mark Harris
Candidate for 42nd State House Seat

Campaign Office:
300 Cedar Blvd, Suite #204
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Mail Address:
Friends of Mark Harris
PO Box 13051
Pittsburgh, PA 15243
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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Lebo: Good Fences, Good Neighbors

I grew up in suburban California, where we took fences for granted. Everyone had a fence around their backyard. A lot of front yards were fenced in, too.

So it took a little while to get used to the suburban East, where fences aren't so common, but we did, and pretty quickly we learned to like the fact that kids felt safe using our back yard as a short cut from whatever Point A they liked to whatever Point B they needed to get to.

But not everyone agrees. Many people in town probably noticed this story, about a Mt. Lebanon family that exercised its legal right to build a fence gate on the edge of its property -- but in the process blocked a long-standing shortcut that the neighborhood had come to enjoy. More than a few people more than noticed; they were, in the words of the proverbial joke about a chicken and a pig and their respective contributions to breakfast, committed.

The episode reminds me most of all that our little Mt. Lebanon idyll isn't really so idyllic after all. Many of us, maybe even most of us, can follow up tales of generous neighbors with story after story of pettiness, nastiness, and plain old mean-spiritedness directed at us (always at us, never by us!) by the people we see next door, day in and day out. Whether it's failure to shovel the sidewalk or to trim the dangerous dead trees or pick up after the dog, Mt. Lebanon simply isn't immune to the endless small-mindedness that humanity is capable of. And people here are no better and no worse at sorting out their problems on their own, with common sense and some trust, than they are anywhere else. Paging Justice Larotonda!
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Friday, January 06, 2006

New Neighbors

If you missed the recent stories in the Almanac and Post-Gazette about the 13 Meskhetian Turkish families who have been moved to Mt. Lebanon by Catholic Charities, check them out. It's an example of Mt. Lebanon's schools, churches and neighbors working together to help these families start a new life.
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