Thursday, July 29, 2004

Heavy Or Not - Schools, Fitness and P.E.



On July 29 a live Web chat on school efforts to promote student health had this question:

Question from Mark Rauterkus, parent, Pittsburgh:

Most of our playgrounds are slabs of blacktop and ripe with bullies. How can we get play structures as a higher priority for principals and those with the will to do a make-over for the sake of recess, before school and afterschool times?

Sarah Lee:

Hi Mark, One thing you may want to consider is finding an appropriate assessment tool that would allow for the examination of safety of the schools' facilities and equipment. I do not have a resource for this at my fingertips. This would seem like a first step for assessment. Another resource that may be helpful is the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. This center includes information relating to playground safety. Their website is the following:

Childhood obesity is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States, with the rate of overweight children and adolescents nearly tripling in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the nation's children grow heavier, policymakers, health officials, and interest groups are pressuring schools to provide students with healthier meals and snacks and more time for physical activity during the school day.

Fewer than 35 percent of students today attend daily physical activity classes, and most schools don't require physical education, the CDC reports. At the same time, the federal agency says, half of all districts have a contract that gives a company the rights to sell soft drinks in schools. Some states have already moved to limit the sale of candy and soda in schools, but asking schools to give up the lucrative vending deals offered by companies such as Coca Cola is no small matter. Our panel of expert guests will address your questions on these and other pressing school health issues.


* Rep. Sean Faircloth is a Democrat in the Maine House of Representatives who has sponsored comprehensive legislation to help the state's schools address childhood obesity.

* Sarah Lee is the physical activity health scientist in the division of adolescent & school health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

* Jane Mandell is a senior nutritionist in analysis, nutrition, and evaluation with the Food and Nutrition Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The fourth submitted question from this parent in Pittsburgh:

A parks, city, and schools soda bidding war for a 5-year contract might net the public parties some tens of millions of dollars, and even new scoreboards. (Pittsburgh's documented estimate is $50-million, by the way.) How can those incomes be primed in the marketplace when Pepsi and Coke are OUT of the buildings and solutions? Could "Fruit-y-drink-y" whatever have the margins and investment upside for such deal makings? Do soda machines turn on again at 4 pm?

Text transcripts are worth the visit and read.

Badnarik, Libertarian for President Navigates to November

"Michael Badnarik isn't likely to win the election in November (how's that for understatement?). However, if he plays his cards right, he can determine that election's outcome. Polling is a key factor in doing so -- and that's why it scares the bejabbers out of Chuck Muth."


  • Polling is an important cornerstone to the Badnarik plan.

    Only 3-percent of the people, as of now, would choose Badnarik as thier first pick. However, 43-percent pick Badnarik as the second choice. Bush and Kerry are within a stastical margin of error for the top slot.

    Wednesday, July 28, 2004

    Mayor Murphy's status

    Question from a net friend:

    Is there another petition to impeach Mayor Tom Murphy in the works? I sure hope so. I laud your efforts in trying to have him impeached last year.

    It's sad to see my hometown of Pittsburgh suffering so. If you are doing a petition again, I'll let my mom know so that she can sign.

    My reply:

    I don't think so. There are new T-shirts. The old ones said, "Fire Mayor Murphy." The new one's said, "Fire Mayor Murphy and City Council."


    I do think that there needs to be a real movement to get him (Tom Murphy) out of office. We have no term limit. He could run again, and win.

    Mayor Murphy is in Boston now with the DNC event. Too many Dems who are in power are NOT standing up against him. Even some who are bucking to be the next mayor (Gene R, Sala U, Bill P) are silent on the distain and demands to have him leave the office -- for the common good.

    There might be some "opinion polls" that I'd organize via eVote software.
    But, I'm waiting until I get to 10,000 subscribers on my contact list. So, for now, I'm looking for email addresses (low volume) of contacts in and around Pittsburgh -- or -- folks like you who are elsewhere but care about the city and region.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2004

    July 4th follow-up

    Since Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting Pittsburgh on the 4th of July to speak at an event in Oakland's S&S Hall. The VP was invited to our family's open house. An invite was faxed to the White House at the end of June. In mid-July a note came to me from Elizabeth Kleppe, Deputy Assistant to the VP and Director of Scheduling:

    Office of the Vice President

    Due to security concerns, mail delivery to the Whit eHouse has been delayed over the past several months. As a result, we did not receive your correspondence until after your event had taken place. We apologize for the delay in response, and thank you for the kind invitation.

    Many of the readers of my email blasts were happy to learn of the Cheney's visit -- so as to make plans for protesting. As for the next visit, I'll be away again.

    President's next visit

    President Bush visits Pittsburgh again on Saturday at the Convention Center. The rally is on the heels of the Kerry-Edwards convention in Boston.

    Tickets to the event will be available at two locations in Allegheny County beginning on Wednesday at 9:00 am.

    1. Victory 2004 Center, 125 Hillvue Lane in McCandless (off Route 19 a quarter of a mile south of Cumberland Road), 412-369-7197. Open Wednesday and Thursday 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and Friday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.

    2. Bethel Park American Legion Post, 2409 Bethel Church Road. Open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.

    Tickets will be available for committee members and their families only at both locations beginning at 3:30 this afternoon, as recognition by the Bush-Cheney campaign of all the hard work you do for the Republican party here in Allegheny County. Name, address, social security number, and date of birth are needed for each person for whom you are picking up tickets, and the person picking up the tickets will be required to show photo ID (as will every adult attending the rally on Saturday).

    On Saturday, doors open from 1:15 and close at 3:30. The President is expected to speak shortly after 4 pm. Arrive early to avoid the wait in line. Arrive after 2:30 and run a risk of still
    being outside as the doors close.

    Monday, July 26, 2004

    Known the world over as "football"

    Pittsburgh's Heinz Field hosts soccer teams: Chelsea FC (London) and AS Roma (Rome) - at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 29 at Heinz Field.

    Would be great if:

    A regional soccer league could be formed and organized with play at the South Side's stadium, next to the closed South Vo Tech, owned by Pgh Public Schools. That facility is generally closed to community programs.

    The Riverhounds facility, to be built years ago, would be under construction if not completed, within the city.

    With Roddey on Jerry Bowyer's radio show

    Fax sent to the WPTT station: ON-Air HOST:

    Hi Mr. Roddey,

    Talk of the next Pittsburgh Mayor SHOULD include both:
    ---> None of the above, and
    ---> a Republican.

    Furthermore, on a personal note, I think it makes sense for YOU to mention me as a candidate as well. You rejected the opportunity to sign my petition to get me onto the ballot for that office in 2001. I've been busy in our community since then. I have written that I am the FRONT-RUNNER in the GOP side for that office.

    If I call today, I'd ask you about your role as an Oversight Board Member and your postions on PARKs and RECREATION. I called for the creation of a NEW Pittsburgh Park District in a postion paper released in May. Did you read it? Can you react to some of those ideas?

    Tom's on-air question was very well put and generated an interesting reply from Mr. Roddey. When Roddey talks only about the status quo -- he is talking only about sustaining the same old same old. It would have been easy to name the names and then offer none-of-the-above. But, he is NOT interested in a real power shift around here. J.T.'s none of the above mention was great!

    The idea of a sell off or removal of PARKs from the realm of the city -- and the county -- and the schools -- allows a "down to the basics" with those governmental agencies. The city is diverted with PARKS. If the city didn't need to worry about parks -- then -- it would do the things mentioned (... police and fire protection...keeping streets plowed in the winter, pick up garbage) to a much better degree. These folks can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

    Sunday, July 25, 2004

    Forever Gambling Sell Off

    So, the $50-million slots license sale is "forever."


    Gambling isn't my cup of tea. But, if those in Harrisburg are intent on getting drunk on the new incomes, just sell the rights for one generation. Allow our children and our children's children do the same.

    Simple solution: Sell the $50-million licenses / rights for 10, 15 or 20 years. Not forever. Make those license expire. Sunset them. Then, a future auction can occur.

    Senator Costa's email to me on July 20:

    Thank you for contacting me to express your belief that the licenses authorizing the operation of slot machines in Pennsylvania should be issued for a limited period rather than an indefinite period. I appreciate your interest in this legislation and I understand your contention that the Commonwealth could generate additional revenue if licenses were issued for a definite period.

    As you may be aware, the legislation that enacts the gambling expansion does not explicitly limit the term of a slots license. The license will be issued to the groups deemed most appropriate by the Gaming Control Board, and those groups will be obligated to pay the $50 million license fee. The licenses are subject to annual review, and the Board may revoke the license issued if there is cause to do so. If the license is successfully renewed, however, there is no additional fee for the renewal. If the license is revoked, however, it would presumably return to the Board who could re-assign it and the new licensee would again be assessed a $50 million fee. I realize that this proposal may not generate as much revenue as is possible, but it allows the Commonwealth to evaluate the applicants based on their merits rather than the amount that they can pay. I am confident that this legislation provides a sound licensing system that will allow the Commonwealth to create an honest and well-run gambling industry.

    The press watchdogs have ask those questions of the represenatives and
    senators. Tom Barnes wrote offline: "We've already asked such questions, mark, and legislative leaders have rejected the idea; it's a onetime $50 mil fee."

    Citizens ... the time to put a bug into the ears of those in the State House and State Senate has passed. Some tried. A "historic bill" would be less of a historic give-a-way had there been a term limit. A license in Illinois sold for more than $500-million. Ours, at $50-million and forever, are selling for much less than is prudent.

    Thursday, July 22, 2004

    Resign William Lieberman

    The Oversight Board should not have anyone seeking the lone Pittsburgh Slots Parlor.

    The Tribune Review reported, in part:

    In a related matter, Roddey said oversight board Chairman Bill Lieberman should resign from the unpaid position if he succeeds in partnering with a group that wins a slots license. Lieberman has said he is seeking such a deal, but doesn't have one yet.

    "If he is successful, he will have to step down from the committee," Roddey said.

    "I respect (Roddey's) opinion," said Lieberman, who has said he will seek an opinion from the state Ethics Committee if he becomes part of a group with a slots license.

    A number of groups are now in pursuit of a state license for gambling halls. And, the oversight board is going to control the new incomes that are due to the city. William Lieberman, a Republican who contributes to both parties, has teamed up with investors (Charles Zappala) to strike gold.

    In another snip from a past press story:

    "Lieberman has said he has not yet invested any money in a slots operation, and if he ultimately does, he will seek a ruling from the state ethics commission." (Post Gazette quote)

    Lieberman may never invest in a slots operation, but might work hard to get an operation the slots license. The conflict is in the rub in who gets the slots operation opportunity. Lieberman does not need to invest money in the slots operation to make a sticking point.

    As Leiberman forms or joins a partnership that entertains the notion of a pursuit of the lone slots license then the next breath should be about "resignation of his oversight board duties."

    Ethical questions arise again.

    Wednesday, July 21, 2004

    Whistle Blower Costs and Bumsted's Perceptions

    State Represenative Jeff Habay, R, of the near north burbs, is in some hot water these days with an ethical wrangle. A fee was charged and paid, costing Jeff more than $10,000.

    In the Tribune Review, state-capital reporter Brad Bumsted wrote, in part:

    What's on the line in this case, potentially, is Habay's political career. If Simpson agrees with the citizens' complaint, he could order a full-scale audit or refer the case to the state attorney general for possible criminal prosecution. The plaintiffs apparently don't have much to lose other than the "hundreds of hours" Radich said were involved in preparing the case and their expenses.

    Apparently the cost of being a whistle-blower is lost upon Bumsted.

    As to who is right and who is wrong with the apparent bad-blood being spilled among the participants is not the factor that is alarming to me within the Bumsted article. The opinion as to the apparent cost of defeat is not only out of touch, its out of place as well.

    Brad Bumsted can be reached at or (717) 787-1405.

    Our shared well of democracy is not to be taken lightly, nor is its protection. And, in doing so, our resources and characters are stretched and meet great tensions.

    Udin Hints at New Mayor

    The PG article that talked about the all-star baseball game going to PNC Park in a couple of years had a quote from Sala.

    "The city's taken some black eyes. It's good for the world to know, especially by 2006, that our problems will be behind us," Udin said. "We'll have a new mayor in office, and we'll be able to say to the world: Pittsburgh is back."

    I wonder what Sala will do to help Pittsburgh get a new Mayor? Is Sala ready to stand up and say that Tom Murphy should resign?

    The present mayor has no term limit. He can run again.

    I expect Tom Murphy will run again -- and the chances of him winning the election for the D's primary is within the range of possible, if not probable.

    Sala should ask Tom Murphy to resign. This should be made public soon, Sala.


    Tuesday, July 20, 2004

    Creative Eating and Playing

    Oh I wish I could win the Weinermobile for a day. My submission at: looks like this.

    Budget blues: the Mayor closed Pittsburgh's 19 Rec Centers and 32 swimpools in 2003. Volunteers can fix our cooperation crisis. I'd set up a tour with badminton. I've got 5 nets, courts, rackets. We'd eat and engage in discussions for long-term  re-opening solutions


    Nine Mile Run

    Rachel Filippini of GASP issued an alert that warns of a threat to the progress of the Nine Mile Run stream restoration.



    Federal funding, expected $1.6 million, seems to be $330,000. Meadville Land Services must pull all their workers and equipment out of the work site in a matter of weeks.

    Although they are doing their best to leave the site as stable as possible by seeding the area with native plants, they are still a long way from finishing the restoration. The Army Corps of Engineers, who are supervising the implementation of the project, are expecting that funding will be cut next year as well, seriously jeopardizing the completion of the restoration.

    If the restoration is left incomplete our stream will continue to suffer from serious stream bank erosion and degraded habitat for fish and other wildlife, and will remain inhospitable for human recreation.

    Human recreation has not happened at the RECREATION CENTERS as well. Jeepers, for $300,000 plenty of the centers could re-open.
    Even if the restoration proceeds, but at a much slower rate due to continued funding shortfalls, the stream and park may in fact be in worse condition — sediment will enter the stream during multiple summers of construction, invasive species will colonize the banks in between construction seasons, and park access will be limited. Not to mention the additional unnecessary cost of remobilizing construction crews each summer, reducing the amount of money available for direct restoration work.

    of the initiative.

    GASP asked citizens to say that the completion of the stream restoration project is essential! Is it really?

    Urge them to ensure that full funding for the project will actually be reinstated in the next fiscal year!
    Perhaps the home-owner association at Nine Mile Run can fund the rest of the project.

    Total cost of the Nine Mile Run Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration project is $7.7 million. The $2.7 million local match was met by the City of Pittsburgh more than two years ago. See that money go, how does one say, down the drain. Of the remaining $5 million expected from the federal government, $3.4 million is still needed to finish the work.

    Marijke Hecht, Executive Director, Nine Mile Run Watershed Association at 412-371-8779 or

    PG news snip

    Marijke Hecht, 33, of Wilkinsburg, the executive director of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, asked Onorato to push for more funding to complete the "re-streaming" of Nine Mile Run by creating an open stream that replaces the pipe the waterway was forced through years ago. Onorato said the city and county are working together to garner more state funding to fill the $3 million gap in federal funding cut from the Army Corps of Engineers budget.

    Bill Frist

    The LEFT -- is way out there again with name calling. This is how it should NOT be done.
    Citizens for Legitimate Government, , called U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Republican from TN, a cat torturer.  Frist is a medical doctor. He called for the creation of Medical Courts in a wide-ranging speech on health policy at the National Press Club.
    Sen. Frist urged the federal government, among other things, to "set up an expert medical court system with transparent decisions, limits on punitive damages, and scheduled compensatory damages to provide rapid relief to injured patients. This solution comes as an alternative to the trial lawyers being the prime stake holders.
    That seems like food for thought and worthy of more investigation. But, the opening to the press release from the site with the "cat torturer" handle gives a great example of a serious stumble.

    Linda and Desperado

    Casino INDUSTRY and Linda fall out. Meanwhile, I'm soaking in some of the best music ever. Sure, it is out there -- but bring it on. I'm at SUUSI, our summer camp, hosted at Virginia Tech. The music here is always amazing. And this year, I'm taking some photos and snips of video to show my friends and family back home.
    As for the story that follows, we don't do much drinking. Me none. Nor gambling. But, Linda, should you need a gig for later in the week, come on out here. We might, and that is a questioned "might," be able to fit you into a slot for our coffee shop -- Common Ground-- late in the week. The jam sessions are always open to new faces and talents.

    LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Singer Linda Ronstadt was thrown out of the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas on the weekend after dedicating a song to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore and his movie "Fahrenheit 9/11," a casino spokeswoman said Monday.
    Ronstadt, who had been hired for a one-show engagement Saturday night at the Las Vegas Strip casino, dedicated a performance of "Desperado" to Moore and his controversial documentary, which criticizes President Bush and the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
    That dedication angered some Aladdin guests who spilled drinks, tore down posters and demanded their money back, said casino spokeswoman Sara Gorgon."We had quite a scene at the box office," she said.About a quarter of the 4,500 people in the audience got up and left before the performance had finished, Gorgon said.
    Before her concert, Ronstadt had laughingly told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she hoped that the casino performance would be her last."I keep hoping that if I'm annoying enough to them, they won't hire me back," she was quoted as telling the newspaper.A statement issued by the Aladdin said Ronstadt had been "escorted out of the hotel" just after her performance and said the performer would "not be welcomed back."
    "Ms. Ronstadt was hired to entertain the guests of the Aladdin, not to espouse political views," the casino said.Ronstadt was not immediately available for comment.

    Saturday, July 17, 2004

    Open Ways with Open Source

    As mayor, I'd turn the city's technology front directly into a new direction. This proven direction would include an embrace of open-source software.

    Significant developments have been happening around the world and around the halls of government in terms of open-source software. Other cities have made the move to open source software. The US Court system has made shifts to open source too. My 2001 platform had an embrace of open-source software, but it was hardly noticed. Those on Grant Street and in the media were clueless to these advantages and the cost savings. Now more and more aspects of the US government is getting jazzed about these aspects.

    Advocating open-source software as part of the solution to Pittsburgh's ills was bold and insightful in 2001. In 2005, open-source software will be much more pressing, and just as brilliant.

    For example, a circular from the Office of Management and the Budget (OMB) covered OSS. For education, this can expand the ability to apply for grants that have been unavailable in the past. Look for the section on Common Criteria important.

    Article at Linux Journal

    Polling's depth at university is fails at preschools

    Quinnipiac University is a tiny little college with even smaller thoughts, actions and services. Most pre-schools have higher expectations for teaching what's right from what's wrong. Quinnipiac would be completely unknown, except for its name in the northeast because of its polling volume.

    The signal to noise took another beating with another poll in PA, labeling it a 3-way Bush / Kerry / Nader race.

    The academics there have been called on this in the past. Thumb sucking is a hard habit to break, whatever the age. They still REFUSE to include Libertarians among the mix of those who are eligible selections in the polls. Quinnipiac has been called on this in years past, but to no avail. To leave out candidates is to think like a child.

    Please, people, BLAST them this time. We can't allow the media and its slaves to keep soiling our shared space called democracy.

    Call the main number and ask for the polling institute and Doug Swartz, the director of polling: (203) 582-8200,

    Wednesday, July 14, 2004

    Olympic Swim Coaches

    Named for the staff and headed to Athens:
  • David C. Salo, Ph.D.

  • Bob Bowman

  • Jon Urbanchek, Teri McKeever, Richard Quick and Frank Busch.

    Coach Salo, Irvine Novaquatics, authored a book, SprintSalo, published in 1989. That was the second book ever published by my company, an indie small press.

    Bob Bowman is moving from Northern Baltimore to the University of Michigan after the games. He is Michael Phelps' coach. I got to know Bob when he was with the Las Vegas Gold and the Cinci Marlins.

    More on the others and general observations about the Olympic Trials and movement still to come.

    Dave wrote:

    Thanks for the note and the support. Looking forward to getting to Greece and taking on the rest of the world. i think it will turn out to be a great event.

  • Lost in the Parks

    A City Parks Public Meeting is slated for 7 pm to 9 pm on Wednesday, July 21, 2004 at the Schenley Park Visitor Center, 101 Panther Hollow Road, Contact: 412-682-7275.

    Tell them what kind of signs would help you navigate and enjoy Frick, Highland, Riverview and Schenley parks. Join park users from around the city in a public forum to discuss how wayfinding, directional and identity signs could improve your park experience.

    My list includes:
  • Directions to the 20 closed swim pools.

  • Instructions for re-opening the dozen closed recreation centers.

  • Contact info for various swim teams, coaching opportunities and programs within each park.

  • Rules for entering your vintage roadster into the Grand Prix.
  • Drafting Coaches to Politics -- with Chicago & Pittsburgh Roots

    I lived and coached in Chicago. I met my wife there as she was getting her Ph.D. at Northwestern.

    Furthermore, drafting "running partners" is a theme -- as is there a need to draft good candidates in general.

    The Draft Ditka movement, mentioned here a while ago, picked up steam, then turned to State Party Chairmanship -- not US Senata. Ditka went to a House Republican Organization Fundraiser at Navy Pier. House GOP Leader, Tom Cross, HRO Chairman, Skip Saviano, and Deputy House Leader, Brent Hassert, were set to endorse a Ditka Candidacy. For the latest, contact: David Dring 312.505.0256 or Tom Pence 630.215.3017, or visit their site.

    Football fans, Pittsburghers, ex-coaches and GOPers take note. Some are hoping to draft former Chicago Bears Coach Mike Dikta into the big leagues of Illinois politics. was created by staff members in the Illinois House to gather signatures to nominate Ditka as the chairman of the state's Republican party after the current chairwoman, Judy Baar Topinka, steps down at the end of this election cycle. Within days, the website had generated 6,000 signatures.

    With the vacancy left by Jack Ryan for the GOP Nomination for U.S. Senate, Coach Ditka's name came to the surface.

    There are some real heart warmers on the "Letters to Ditka" page worth reading. My letter went like this:


    I too am a Pittsburgh-native, coach, GOPer, and have had the same passion of you and helped here with Pitt Rocks fellows to save Pitt Stadium. That was my entry into serious politics. And, I'm still mad -- and expect to run again for Mayor, City of Pittsburgh, in 2005. I'd love to have you visit Pittsburgh and hold a special event for you here in Pittsburgh. And, we'd put it into a TV show. How about a policy address to those beyond the Lincolnland -- from your homeland. Thanks for the consideration. Call my cell: 412-298-3432. We'll be in Chicago and would meet with anyone there in early August.

    My efforts are now being put into motion so as to hold an event on September 11, 2004, in Pittsburgh with Coach Mike Ditka. We'd be able to attend the Pitt game vs. Ohio University. Want to help? Send an email ---> Ditka-Rocks@CLOH.Org.

    More political spin: Phil Jackson is also free these days and might consider coming back to Chicago, and if it's not for DAAA Bulls it just might be for DAAA Elephants.

    News Swells and a recent story that is the Top Story on Yahoo!

    Former NFL coach eyes US Senate seat

    CHICAGO (AFP) - A former NFL coach is considering a run for a US Senate seat, following a path already blazed by the likes of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (news - web sites), and former Minnesota governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

    Former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, better known to his fans as the irascible "Iron Mike," is mulling a run for public office -- one in which his considerable name recognition would be a powerful asset.

    "I'm getting excited about it," Ditka said in an interview with a Chicago television network Monday.

    The 65-year-old NFL Hall of Famer stressed that he was just evaluating the idea, but that was enough to rev up his many fans in this Midwestern state, some of whom have already established a "Draft Dikta" campaign.

    "We need more signatures on the petition. We want to present them to him this week and we need your help," read one entry made Monday on the "" website.

    "Da Coach will do this if we push him!"

    The people behind the website aim to collect 10,000 signatures to encourage Ditka to run, and say they have already passed the 6,000 mark.

    Republican Party officials have not formally approached the 65-year-old about joining the race, but they are desperate to find a viable candidate to put on the ticket.

    The previous candidate, millionaire banker Jack Ryan, quit the race late last month over a late-breaking sex scandal, and some Republicans who have been touted as possible replacements have reportedly balked at jumping into a campaign at this late stage.

    Even before the sex rumpus, Ryan was trailing his Democratic rival Barack Obama by 20 points in the polls.

    "Certainly, you wouldn't have to spend five or six million dollars for people to get to know (his) name," said Dennis Hastert, a US representative from Illinois and the most senior member of the state's congressional delegation.

    Even this state's Democratic governor said he would welcome a Ditka candidacy because it would add spice to the race. "I love Mike Ditka. He's a straight talking guy who talks from the heart," said Rod Blagojevich.

    There are still some hurdles left: Ditka's wife has said she will divorce him if he throws his hat in the ring, and he is not apparently even registered to vote in this state.

    The Senate seat is currently held by a Republican, Senator Peter Fitzgerald, but he is stepping down after one term and voters will choose his successor in November.

    Ethics -- "Not Engaged Here"

    The City of Pittsburgh has an Ethics Commission, but it might not have any meetings in the past four years. There might not be any members to the commission, revealed City Council Member Bill Peduto. He put the blame fully on the current mayor.

    We have not taken up campaign finance reform. Peduto also wants to raise that issue in 2004.

    Sala Udin said, "The ethics commission does not exist."

    Tuesday, July 13, 2004

    Trib's mentions on Mayor's Race

    Trib Story and GOP Urban Flight

    My home is NOT up for sale. I am not a DEM, yet am a front-runner in the Mayor's race.

    If the Trib's EDITORIAL REVIEW Board wishes to talk with me -- I'd be very happy to do so. I've asked for years to meet with them -- but they've not taken up the offer.

    I hope you don't do too many articles on who else is NOT going to run for Mayor. Roddey in that race is a non-story. Or, to get the poison out of the discussion, do the article on Paul O'Neill and Glen Meakem before August.

    Four years ago the Trib's fumbles were downright shameful.

    However, your lead about URBAN FLIGHT was on the mark. This is a top worry in the city, not only for GOPers but also for the general wellness. An entire group of people voted with their feet. Pittsburgh is a one-party town and Pittsburgh is half of what it was. The departures were calculated. Hence, the repairs that need to be made are such a burden to accomplish. And, without functional watchdogs, they are nearly impossible.

    We need the Trib's coverage to flourish.

    Monday, July 12, 2004

    Convention Center, its water course is working but

    Don't you find it interesting that the $7-million water course under the new Pittsburgh Convention Center is working again -- but -- our swim pools in the city are not.

    Talk about miss-placed priorities.

    Newspaper reporter replied:
    I do. The best part was when I called the Sports and Exhibition Authority for comment, they laughingly patronized me and tried to make light of the whole debacle. So I said, "if you built something at your house that cost $7 and it leaked or didn't work properly, you'd want to know why, right?"

    He didn't have a response for that. It's amazing how these groups spend ,illions of tax-payers' dollars and then get upset when someone asks questions.

    Alyson Walls

    Sunday, July 11, 2004

    Fox Chapel Setting

    The interesting email from Charlene is but a memory. Then Bob Glancy, RCAC Chairman posted.
    "For months, western Pennsylvanians have seen a Fox Chapel mansion used as he staging area for John Kerry's presidential campaign, perhaps on the theory that a presidential candidate cannot have too many home states no matter how dubious his claim to live in any of them.

    "Just last week, as hundreds of thousands of Allegheny County homeowners received their bills for school property taxes, that same Fox Chapel mansion was used to introduce Kerry's running mate to the public and the press.

    "There, Kerry struck the themes that have shaped his entire political career: support for more government spending and opposition to middle class tax cuts. These, in fact, may be the only issues on which he's held a consistent position over the years.

    "I am sure that countless middle-class homeowners disagree with John Kerry's contention that they neither need nor deserve a tax break. Until now, though, they might have imagined that Kerry and the liberal elitists around him were willing to pay their fair share of taxes.

    "John Kerry doesn't have to worry about paying the property taxes on mansion in Fox Chapel, thanks in part to a seven-figure assessment reduction described in Sunday's Tribune-Review, a reduction based on the assessment of the Heinz-Kerry property as "farmland."

    "This is more than an insult to the voters' intelligence. From a candidate seemingly unable to venture into public without railing about "tax loopholes," it is the rankest hypocrisy. The Heinz-Kerry estate is no more a farm than are the tens of thousands of back yards in Allegheny County in which a few square yards are dedicated to growing tomatoes or zucchini.

    "If John Kerry is going to masquerade as a Pittsburgher, he should at least pay his fair share of taxes-or admit that he is a Boston liberal out of touch with the values of western Pennsylvania."

    Snips of the POST-Gazette news:

    "As a result, he's way off the mark. Mrs. Heinz Kerry does not receive the so-called 'Clean and Green' write-off because she has chosen not to apply for it."

    But in a letter Heinz Kerry wrote, dated March 12, 2002, to former county Chief Executive James Roddey, she said she was "not writing to express my anger, but to point out that my property is being undertaxed."

    She said two assessment notices sent in 2000 and 2002 both incorrectly reduced her property value and asked that "someone with the authority to do so will make the proper correction and bill me accordingly."

    Romash said Heinz Kerry paid the higher amount.

    Romash also turned the tables on Glancy and criticized President Bush, saying he saved $23,679 last year because of an agricultural exemption on his ranch in Crawford, Texas. In 2002, she said, Bush accepted an exemption that reduced the property from $2.1 million to $950,000.

    Sam Wilson, head of assessment for Allegheny County, also characterized Glancy's criticism as "politics as usual" and said the Heinz estate is not assessed as farmland.

    Although the county Web site lists it as a "general farm," Wilson said anything over 10 acres is put in that category, but it has no effect on the actual assessment.

    "If it were underassessed, the school board and municipality would be in there beating it to death," he said. "Whatever's there is what a willing buyer and seller would transfer for that property."

    He said Teresa Heinz Kerry has never applied for a reduction in taxes based on assessment of her property as a farm.

    Friday, July 09, 2004

    Mindy's concert was a success -- and lots of musical fun.

    Mindy played a concert for us at the Green Tree Swim Pool. She is with her son, Aaron.  Posted by Picasa

    Mindy and Aaron as the concert is about to begin, poolside. Later we'd watch a movie. Prior, we ate burgers and dogs with the members of the Green Tree Rotary. Posted by Picasa

    Thursday, July 08, 2004

    [412] Wishing for your presence and toe tapping

    Hi Friends and possible "Running Mate(s),"

    Let's consider the concept of "Running Mate" for a moment.

    When I ran for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh in 2001, I have to admit,
    I was a little weak in the "running mate category." In efforts to strengthen
    that concern, I'd love to recruit you, and your ideas. So, as of now, the
    auditioning for the roles of "running mates" for the pending Grant Street
    shake-up is starting.

    As we advance to the 2005 elections, I'd love for YOU to seriously
    consider the descriptive handle, "probable running mate." You got this
    email. You're reading it. Then you know. You HAVE made the short list.

    Let's get a clear about this act of "running." If you're moving, you
    could be "running" -- especially to those who are hiding. And, when one
    runs, the direction could be "to" - "against" - or "with" something.

    It is our honor to inform you you've been recruited to attend a
    community concert or three (see below). Please consider these "toe tapping"
    opportunities. We don't want to push our fellow running mates too far on
    such short notice.

    This weekend, our out-of-town RUNNING MATE magnet is MINDY SIMMONS. Mindy is
    from Florida and visits Pittsburgh to present three concerts. You are
    invited to any and all of them.

    6 pm, Friday, July 9, Club Cafe (South Side, 12th Street).
    Adults only (21 & over)
    $5 cover
    Theme: This IS America

    8 pm, Saturday, July 10, lawn concert on the Green Tree Swim Pool.
    This is community movie night, (flick at 9 pm). Thanks Rotary.
    Kid's and parents welcome. Swimming, throughout, of course.

    10:30 am, Sunday service, intergenerational concert, UU Church of the
    South Hills, http://Sunnyhill.Org. Topic: Consider the Source.

    S6 = Sports, Spirit & Soul Song and Story Summit. The spirits are at the
    night club, Club Cafe (over 21). The sports occurs on Saturday at the swim
    pool. Sunday service covers the soulful elements.

    Mindy Simmons:
    Mindy is a church-camp friend, singer, songwriter, recording artist, and
    Floridian with wit. Mindy travels, sings, plays guitar. I know you'll be
    impressed with her performances.

    Closing INVITE:
    A blog feature at allows for your feedback and
    comments on various issues. I'd love for you to share your ideas and
    perspectives, i.e., We-HAV, Gambling, Act 47, etc. So, hope to see you at a
    concert, and at the blog.

    Thanks for the consideration.


    Mark Rauterkus http://Play.CLOH.Org
    xCoach at http://CLOH.Org
    412-298-3432 = cell


    My email blasts have an archive. Thanks for your understanding. The membership list is now 7,479. When the count reaches 10,000 or more, we'll unleash 'eVote' to the participants.

    Saturday, July 03, 2004

    Ricciardi: No more cuts

    City Council President, Gene Ricciardi, asked the oversight board to avoid further cuts. "There will be dire implications."

    The ironic twist to the letter and pleading is that there were "dire implications" for the years of overspending from City Council. Too much spending went uncheck for most of the past 10 years.

    Meanwhile, Jim Roddey is saying that the city could save by merging more services with outside governements. That not only includes merging operations with Allegheny County offices -- as the Act 4 report recommends -- but working with local agencies such as the Port Authority or the Airport Authority.

    Hey.... Menion the new Pittsburgh Park District. That idea has merit too. It fits the mold. We need a local governmental agency that merges Citiparks, County Parks and Recreation and afterschool with Pittsburgh Public Schools. But, we need this to be more than an authority. We want true democracy (with a small "d").

    John Murry wants a focus on helping business growth not on worrying about providing government jobs. Much growith can occur in recreation. The facilities are empty, robbing the kids. But, there are enterprising coaches and professionals who would be able to operate facilities and make money in the process -- making new business.

    The new Pittsburgh Park District is the place for a tight structure, new culture, and hospitable to new and existing businesses.

    Version 1 of a position paper
    that calls for the formation of a new Pittsburgh Park District is at DSL.CLOH.Org.

    Gene R: We can cut Citiparks from the city budget. We can cut some of these recreational facilities from the city's asset list. These elements can be put into stewardship with a new department. We can move permit office -- as of September 2004. We can do this soon. And, for the sake of the kids, we need to do it quickly.

    Friday, July 02, 2004

    Delano's take on Act 47 and Pittsburgh's Recovery Plan

    PSF reply

    Delano wrote, in part:

    ... From a political perspective, it was clear that these unions used every political card in the deck to try to block the plan....

    The political cards of the union leaders were not all played. The day Joe King gives, say a $3,000 donation, to a political candidate's PAC, such as myself, then -- we'll be getting to the real ace of spades.

    The union folks didn't meet with citizens. They didn't build bridges to others. They just passed a lot of hot air.

    Delano wrote:

    ... In the end, five Democrats -- Alan Hertzberg, Bill Peduto, Gene Ricciardi, Doug Shields, and Sala Udin -- voted for the plan. Whether it ends their political careers remains to be seen....


    In the end, the Act 47 vote is going to be a black eye on the people in coucil who approved it. But, ... the real end to their political career came with the past budget votes. City Council approved two annual budgets that were not legal. Key players on city council stood by for ten years (Udin, Ricciardi, Hertzberg) while the city did its tailspin. Council veterans have been on the crew of this voyage of destruction. The overall legacy, not one Act 47 vote, is going to fuel the real tide that throws the bums out of office.

    Alan Hertzberg, who voted against one illegal budgets from Mayor Murphy, will see his career in council end because of WE-HAVE -- and anti democracy efforts. His political career in council could be toast due to the anger of many in the west end. Sure, Alan H. wanted to liquidate the PDF (Pgh Development Fund) and the URA. Sadly, it didn't pass and was too little, too late. Alan was on the URA board.