District 3 Councilman Bruce Kraus opened a new satellite office today in Oakland and about 25 people turned out to inaugurate it at a two-hour meet-and-greet buffet.
Every second and fourth Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., his staff will be on hand in the first floor resource center at People’s Oakland, 3433 Bates St., to meet, listen to and try to help constituents.
Some of the people who wandered into the gathering today clearly followed their noses to finger sandwiches, cold cuts and cookies, but most stopped to talk to the councilman. Among them, Ed and Stella Gentile live in Oakland Square.
“We wanted to just be here and listen and learn,” said Ed, in the photo above talking with the councilman.
What? No issues to complain about?
“Oh there are a lot of issues,” Ed said, smiling.
“Our street needs paving,” said Stella.
“The litter is bad,” Ed said. “Everyone should get a big bag like we do and pick up trash. I’ve lived here 88 years and I’ve never seen it this bad.”
“But the good outweighs the bad,” said Stella, holding her hands about three feet apart to indicate a long list of positive reasons to live there. “It’s why we’re still here. The location is great.”
The councilman’s first satellite office opened in Arlington — 2320 Arlington Ave. — in 2009 and a third one will be opening on the South Side in January. The location will be somewhere, still to be worked out, at UPMC South Side, 2000 Mary St., with hours of 10 to 2 every first and third Thursday. The Arlington office is open on Monday and Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m.
Mr. Kraus’s constituent services coordinators, Donna Wielock and Arlene Trost, are the main contacts for these offices and they answer at 412.689.1130. They say they’re available 24/7.
“Donna and Arlene expressed a desire to have more presence in the neighborhoods,” said Mr. Kraus, who picked up central Oakland during last year’s redistricting. “Not everyone wants to go Downtown, not everyone wants to deal with parking Downtown, especially our senior population.”
Donna said the bulk of constituent complaints are about ill-kept properties, abandoned houses and cars, older kids “terrorizing the neighborhood” and people's need for help paying energy bills.
The offices attract a number of people who are not officially District 3 residents, “but we help them anyway,” Donna said.