Cubans love baseball. They especially love former Pittsburgh Pirate and Puerto Rican native Roberto Clemente so when Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto led a delegation of business leaders to the island nation in May, it was no surprise that the Pirates and Clemente often came up in conversation.
What was a surprise was the email Bill Peduto received after returning home.
“We had the opportunity to meet a guy named Roberto Chile who is the official documentarian of (former Cuban President) Fidel Castro,” Peduto said. “He had sent a message saying, ‘If you could please ask the mayor if he could send two Pittsburgh Pirates baseball hats, one for me and one for El Presidente,’” Peduto said.
Peduto sent that message along to the Pirates and suggested that along with the two hats requested, the team send twenty child-size hats.
“Because one of those kids might wind up being your right fielder,” suggested Peduto.
The Pirates have not commented for this story but Peduto said the team was excited about the possibility.
“His [Pirate President Frank Coonley] response was, ‘Every Major League team is trying to find a way to get into Cuba, if this helps us it would be great,’” Peduto said.
The trip seems to be paying dividends on the commercial side. Peduto said one of the companies on the trip has inked a deal to begin operations later this year sending building supplies to Cuba. The embargo on that type of material, along with medical supplies, was lifted following a recent Hurricane.
Peduto Takes Blame For Initial Bike Plan
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says the way the city went about drawing up plans for dedicated bike lanes in Pittsburgh was wrong.
“What if someone comes into your house and says, ‘This is the color I’m going to paint your walls?’ asked Peduto. “You are basically going to get negative reactions right off the bat.”
Peduto admits that when the city’s bike plan was drawn up by the planning department it was done with the best intentions and by the best experts but without enough public input. He said that doomed it from the start and since then the city has been working to get that public input and make changes to the plan.
“Several meeting with our planning department helping them to understand the ‘Pittsburgh way of doing things’ and there is an approach now where we come in and we have options,” Peduto said.
That is reflected in the Oakland bike plan that saw at least a dozen changes between its first presentation to the public and the plan presented last month.
In the meantime the fight over the mix of protected bike lanes, which Peduto says are only used in areas where there is a serious safety concern and little impact on automobile traffic, bike share lanes and no markings at all continues in several other Pittsburgh neighborhoods.
By Mark Nootbaar & Essential Pittsburgh, 90.5 WESA Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station
August 17, 2015