The King Is Coming

Drivers licenses

I didn’t initially care that much about the G20, or think that it would be a big deal. Clearly, I was wrong.

What first made me angry was learning that several downtown universities would be closing for the three days surrounding the summit. At least one university is closing its residence halls, though it will deign to provide the students with alternate housing.  To drive into downtown, you’ll need a driver’s license with a downtown address. No word what you do if you just moved.

Pitt is three or four miles from downtown and the convention center, but because of a dinner being held at the Phipps conservatory, Thursday evening, all classes after 4PM are being cancelled, and all classes in the Cathedral of Learning are being cancelled starting at Noon.  I won’t pretend that having the afternoon off is a terrible burden.

What rankles is that this is all for a dinner.  After all the disruption that’s being inflicted on people who live and work downtown, they’re taking the delegation to Oakland just because they fancied the dinner location.

I don’t mind the tremendous expense of security, and I don’t think that the meeting is a waste of time.  I do wonder if there might have been a better city than Pittsburgh (isn’t this why we built DC?), but I have to admit that the visitors will probably bring enough money for it to be a net benefit.  I don’t even mind that the White House is a very nice place, and we the people spend money on ensuring that the president’s bed is comfy.

But when we’re shutting down a university for the sake of a dinner, we’ve crossed a line into treating the heads of state as if they’re kings and we’re their subjects.

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One response to “The King Is Coming

  1. Well, I agree it’s a pain.

    But I think it’s nice that the G20 is doing the welcome/opening reception/dinner at the Phipps. It’s this beautiful 19th century glass conservatory in the “intellectual” part of town. It’s also Pittsburgh’s biggest innovator in energy-efficiency — it’s powered by a solide-oxide fuel cell, cooled by earth-tubes from below, and uses a fancy automated temperature control system.

    All this makes the Phipps seem like a great side of Pittsburgh to show off — especially for a congress that will discuss energy efficiency and the environment. But beyond that, the fact that the whole shebang will be broadcast on international TV is what’s really worthwhile.

    After all, it’s the media attention that’s really expected to benefit this city, after all the riff-raff has moved on. Pittsburgh needs people to come here and stay here — so let the world see the Phipps!