Thursday, September 30, 2004

Budget Tomfoolery

Allegheny Institutue - vol4no37.pdf a PDF file about how the city isn't cutting, isn't moving parks to contracts, isn't liquidating.

Eric's jeopardy rant

His opinion mentioned:"...quixotic Mayor Tom Murphy"

Humm..... as a mayor's race participant I was called quixotic in 2000/2001.

So, does that now mean that the name "front-runner" will come my way next?

PIIN "Rolling Thunder" Public Action Meeting - 3 pm, Oct 17

Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) hosts its third public action at 3 pm on Sunday, October 17, 2004 at Wesley Center A.M.E.-Zion Church, 2701 Centre Ave. (Hill District).

Congregations and organizations in Southwestern Pennsylvania draw together to issue demands and act powerfully on local and regional issues. PIIN is a younger organization that has its methods of community-building, direct action, and negotiation with decision makers.

PIIN's first newsletter looks snappy.

Democracy matters to me

Few issues are as important to me as civics 101 -- public life in America. Democracy counts. It matters. When it is frail and flounders, as a habit, people depart and vote with their feet.

See and hear my statement before City Council on September 28, 2004 in a QuickTime movie.

Moving out for liberty

The Pitt News: "'Because you leave a nice house with great food and a loving mom and you go to, what, a studio apartment with a rusted Volkswagen in the driveway [and] a mini fridge with leftover bologna? Why would you do that?'

'The answer is liberty,' he added. 'You love Mom and Dad, but it's time to make decisions for yourself. Does the government love you more than Mom and Dad? The republicans want to be your daddy, and the democrats want to be your mommy.' "

Yard Sign for bloggers and beyond


Frances Resigned

Dr. Frances Barnes, formerly on the Commission on Human Relations Frances Barnes, Ed.D., had been on the board that fights against discrimination. She stepped down from that commission as she was discriminated against. The moment-to-moment justice in Pittsburgh is unreal. This is one of our greatest ills. The saga lived by Frances is a splendid example of what is so wrong here.
Her statement given with heavy heart.

If I was the mayor, I'd NOT accept her resignation. I'd make her in charge of the commission.

Visitors from Iraq visit Pittsburgh

A state department tour put two visitors into city council chambers. Hear their statements.


Female's statement
Doctor's statement

Click to see the Quicktime movies
Visitor from Iraq to Pittsburgh, Sept 2004

Visitor from Iraq to Pittsburgh, Sept 2004

Black Box Voting: Ballot - Tampering in the 21st Century

Black Box Voting site: "detail a 'long history of concealing problems' and a willingness to ignore potentially serious problems 'largely for the sake of corporate profit'. "

Has a book in PDF files.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ninth floor visit to cable tv department

I went to the 9th floor of the city-county building and asked those in the cable tv breau for their help in working to keep them alive. The new oversight plans call for the elimination of the department. One of the worse things would be the holding of city council meetings without telivision coverage. We need more light and awareness on the matters of our public life, not less.

My name and contact info went to the union leader in that department. I doubt I'll hear anything of merit from them.

It makes sense to fund the department, and have new income streams from them via the County Council and the Pgh Public School board.

There is no way the money for PCTV 21, cable access, should be diverted to Grant Street. A letter was read into the record that suggested such a solution.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Another bites the dust

Carnegie Library Director Herb Elish is leaving! PG on Elish's departure. This is good news. Can he take the merry-go-round with him as he goes?

Rally without the political signs

A call to gather hit the inbox.


This coming Sunday, October 3 (can you believe that it is October already?) we will be meetingat 11:30 AM in a show of support for the men and women in the military.

The rally will be held at Fort Duquesne in Point State Park -- Pittsburgh's oldest military facility. The temperatures are expected to be in the 70s with the possibility of some rain, so dress appropriately. However bad it might be, it will still be quite a bit more comfortable than conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan. There is little or no chance at all of sandstorms, bombings, or firefights.

This rally is for the men and women serving this country. Not the politicians and not the government. This is for our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our husbands and wives, our neighbors and friends who are risking their lives for our security, our safety, and our well being.

Since that horrible day three years ago, there have been no more attacks here on our soil. One reason is that many of the would be bombers and attackers are engaged in a struggle against our troops in Iraq. They have made themselves the target so that we wouldn't be. We are able to go about our lives in relative security because of their service and their sacrifice. Come say thank you to these brave men and women.

Please forward this to everyone in your local email list and ask that they send it on to everyone in their's. I hope to see you all there.

Go here for full details:


Monday, September 27, 2004

Oversight board postpones on Pittsburgh budget

AP: "A state panel overseeing Pittsburgh's financial recovery has delayed a vote on the city's $433 million budget proposal, which includes a 34 percent property tax increase that the mayor, city council and the state oversight board do not intend to implement.

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority delayed a meeting set for Wednesday until Oct. 18 to study the proposed 2005 budget, said David O'Laughlin, an oversight board member.

Given the phony budget, these folks choose to not hold a meeting to talk about it in open. Perhaps the typical, backroom, closed-door deal-making isn't done. Perhaps this is why people are so skeptical. Perhaps this is why people choose to vote with their feet and leave the city and region.

Officials want 911 sit-down

They want a 'sit down?' No, not a sit-down strike. No, not a sit-in. Reasoned, trusted, public-service people can and do want measured progress. They want to sit down and get to the basics of planning for a better future. Many people out there care.

Officials want 911 sit-down -
'We're ready to hand the keys over to you, once we have a sit-down about these issues,' Shaler Manager Tim Rogers told Onorato. 'We're ready to do it by the end of this year.' "

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh folks do a brush off. Dan O does a push away. Still, he acknowledged, the county is not yet ready to take on the extra duties."

We've got people who can't walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to think again. We can't linger and not have the plans put on paper.

Pittsburgh City Council earlier this year approved merging the city and county dispatch centers after more than a decade of wrangling. Mayor Tom Murphy hailed the shift as a way to improve the area's emergency response capabilities while saving the city almost $1 million a year in payroll and benefits.

The merger's delay, still not complete, made for a decade of failures that rest with the Mayor, Tom Murphy. Sure, council had to approve the deal. But, Tom Murphy had to deliver it. This too ten years. Only the promise of oversight boards doing the dirty work did anything happen. Tom Murphy had his hand forced with oversight boards. He would still be doing nothing if it was up to him. And, he'll claim the one move, that took a decade to complete, makes him a champion of mergers.

Tom Murphy was in the way. And, other city based officials are in the way. When the folks in the county want to sit down -- we should have leaders who sit down and talk.

Talk is cheap. Do it. That is all we got. We have nothing to give away. We might as well sit down and talk about cooperation in these times. These guys, the old guard of city's do-little elected place holders, are too used to in-action. They don't even talk.

Back and forth with Charles McCollester

I am NOT going back and forth with Mr. McCollester. He is doing the heavy lifting and pitching ideas to the PG and Jim Roddey -- in public. Here is some of the recent rumblings that arrived in my inbox.

On Labor Day the Post-Gazette printed my Op-Ed entitled "Assault on City Workers" (attached). Jim Roddey followed with a very nasty and personal attack (see P-G, Sept. 13). As of this moment the Post-Gazette has decided not to print my "Reply to a Rebuttal"(attached and following), but I'd like your help in distributing it to those who might be interested.

Charlie McCollester

Response to a Rebuttal

Issues raised by Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority board member Jim Roddey

Leaving aside the gratuitous personal attacks, I'd like to respond to the points raised in Mr. Roddey's rebuttal article:

As anyone who has read my articles in the Post-Gazette over the last several years on Pittsburgh's financial crisis knows, I have been extremely critical of Mayor Murphy's development priorities, fiscal management in relation to Tax Increment Financing, and the brutal across-the-board closing of pools, recreation and senior centers.

That was phase one of the squeeze; phase two is upon us. The problem with Mr. Roddey's characterization of future recommendations from the ICA calling for a fairer sharing of the tax burden is twofold: First, they are in the future and therefore somewhat ill-defined and second, they must pass through a Republican controlled legislature. That is not to excuse Democratic complicity with the present situation. In a previous article I criticized Democratic legislators for failing to come to the aid of a city that has been very loyal to the party over the past seventy years.

As far as participation in the process goes, I interviewed a half dozen city unions about their experience with the Act 47 Recovery Team for the article. Their experiences ranged from little or no contact to a one-sided pushing of an agenda of privatization and cuts without serious bargaining or listening to either a critique of their assumptions or a presentation of union generated alternatives.

The city mechanics are a case in point. I personally attended the very first meeting of the ICA and my impression was that the entire process would have been much more under wraps if there were not a very vocal group of activists as well as the media demanding transparency.

The elimination of Pittsburgh City Cable certainly doesn't indicate any great concern for public access to the deliberations and concerns of the city's elected representatives.

As far as cuts either executed or proposed for police and firefighters, it's hard to see how public safety has not been materially affected. The whole thrust of the Firefighters referendum is to assert performance standards over mechanistic cost reduction. They want a guarantee that residents will be effectively served in any reorganization. Talking with firefighters in our local station, they were acutely concerned about an imposed plan that would undermine
their ability to serve the neighborhoods.

As to Mr. Roddey?s assertion that he never called for the elimination of City Council, the Tribune-Review on March 31, 2004 reported that the state oversight board is looking at dissolving Pittsburgh's government -- including eliminating the mayor's office and City Council -- as a way to solve the city's financial woes.

The May 15 edition of the Post-Gazette pinpointed Mr. Roddey's leading role: A March 31 draft of the oversight board?s recommendation, authored by board member and former Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey, urged the Legislature to dissolve the mayor's office and City Council and replace them with a part-time council and a city manager.

While I have urged City Council to get more backbone in their resistance to repeated violations of democratic legitimacy, I deeply respect their position as the elected representatives closest to the people, neighborhoods and workers of the city during this time of crisis.

As to my students receiving a very biased view of how communities prosper, I must respond that I have spent 25 years arguing that the preservation and modernization of our region's manufacturing base was critical to the region's economic health. The turning away from an understanding of how wealth is created and the importance of productive labor by people who grow, build and make things by much of our political and economic leadership has been one cause of our region's collapse.

I once admired Mr. Roddey for his early championing of MAGLEV, but lost a lot of respect for him when he declared the project dead in the course of his last campaign for county executive - apparently to gain a few not-in-my-backyard suburban votes. I continue to believe that the innovative work being done at the MAGLEV facility in McKeesport remains the best hope for a renewal of manufacturing in our region.

We cannot shop, gamble or entertain our way to sustainable prosperity. Investment in production and wealth creation is essential for the long-range survival of both our region and the nation. We also cannot strip our urban areas of essential services and amenities and expect them to prosper. The workers and residents of the City of Pittsburgh are ill served by the present undemocratic and unfair process. Mr. Roddey needs to take responsibility for his positions and not try to deflect legitimate criticism by personal attacks.

Boosterism and looking up to see the curb

The email today from the Allegheny Conference, a bumbling group that causes harm to the region, had an interesting quote:
"Things don't go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and
give up. They happen to break you down and build you up, so you can be all you were intended to be." (Charles Jones)

Is that the new slogan for the region? No, it's just a simple quote in an email. However, I wonder if that is that how they explain the circle in East Liberty or any of a number of other flops here?

We can't give politicians free passes. Nor should we give the free pass to various organizations that have been the cause of big fumbles.

Audio of Jim Carmine

Index of Jim's clips

In 2000 and 2001, I ran for Mayor, City of Pittsburgh. In that effort, I came to meet James Carmine, Ph.D., a loyal opponent. I lost the GOP primary to Carmine and then worked as his 'webmaster' for the general election. Without saying too much about those times here, let me re-introduce some audio snips from that period. I recorded these clips.

Let me know if they play for you. Leave comments below.

Crashing the Parties, 10 pm Wed. QED

WQED, a public tv station that has been the subject of some criticism, is slated to air an interesting PBS primetime special Crashing The Parties 2004 from 10 to 11 pm this Wednesday.

The program challenges the conventional notion that third parties are "spoilers" with no constructive role in the process. It is to showcase the candidates and their political platforms.

Who wants to host a documentary screening house party?

This special gives voters a behind-the-scenes look at third party campaigns and conventions in the 2004 presidential race, showcasing the serious political alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans. The one-hour program focuses on four major third party/independent bids:
  • Libertarian Party (Michael Badnarik),

  • Green Party (David Cobb),

  • Constitution Party (Michael Peroutka).

  • Ralph Nader, and in addition,

  • other candidates' bids for their party's nomination are featured, such as Libertarians Gary Nolan and Aaron Russo.

  • My advance hunch is that the coverage of others who are NOT on the ballot is just to discredit the entire show. Why cover the others? Edit!

    In most markets, "Crashing" debuts the evening before the first Bush-Kerry debate - showing PBS viewers the candidates who were shut out of the presidential debates. In a few cities such as Boston, the third party documentary is the lead-in program for the Bush-Kerry showdown on Sept. 30.


    On Wednesday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m., PBS filmmakers Peter Koziell and Darren Garnick will be participating in a live Web chat about the making of "Crashing The Parties 2004" sponsored by The Washington Post. Join in the conversation during your lunchbreak! For more information, visit: and scroll to the bottom of the page for the "Live On-Line" links. Questions can be submitted earlier that day.


    If you find the themes, scenes or commentary from "Crashing The Parties 2004" to be compelling, please consider sharing your thoughts with both your local PBS station and the PBS national network. The stations are always eager to hear from "viewers like you."

    Sandy Heberer
    PBS Programming
    1320 Braddock Place
    Alexandria, VA 22314

    And, contact QED directly.

    The filmakers also appreciate feedback,

    Saturday, September 25, 2004

    Parenting woes or infrastructure issues

    Its fixed! A new sewer cover and sidewalk has arrived. The city did its job, and cut down the three trees. The building owner did the sidewalk with cement contractors on Sept. 25. The saga started in early August. Not many drunks fell into the open hole.

    Parenting the ducks
    Conventional wisdom says "bad parenting." However, I'm wondering if it is bad city infrastructure? Our children are falling between the cracks here. And, it takes little effort to get the right type of street treatments to prevent these types of accidents.

    Notice that the storm gutter's slots are not the full length, but they do go in the direction of traffic. Bike riders have trouble with street coverings that have larger spaces as wheels get caught, flipping the rider. Inline skaters are sure to have issues. Many street treatments in Pittsburgh are bad for all sorts of reason.

    Pittsburgh makes continual, classic mistakes and frustrates up the opportunities care for our kids. Pittsburgh makes parenting much more of a chore.

    Broken sewer cover on 12th & Bradish

    Seniors and children, yet alone drunks and little ducklings could get lost, hurt and perhaps wealthy by visiting our streets in Pittsburgh.

    See the comment to learn more of a road study by the city. Sadly, these roads get attention every four years. An election is due next spring, so the Grant Street gang is making a list and will check it twice this fall so as to get the most votes.

    $38 million in grants from Fast Eddie

    City Life, a show of the Pgh Cable Television Breau, getting its plug pulled, perhaps, is due for a hand-slap if not a good freeze out.

    On a show, Gov Rendell said, "Not one person, not one business, not one organization, has run up the white flag and said that they've had it with Pittsburgh."

    He means to point out that those that are here are not giving up. In a way, he is good to say that there are lots of people who still care. Some of us are "fighters" and we'll be in the good fight for the long haul.

    However, our Gov is just flat out wrong. Many have quit on Pittsburgh. Many have left. Many more are leaving in the future.

    More people departed Pittsburgh since Tom Murphy has been mayor than voted for him to continue being our mayor in 2001.

    The outward migration is massive. Those people are voting with their feet. Those people want to be more free. Those people have been frustrated with the city.

    Today I talked to a guy working on a new sidewalk next door. He won't live not only in the city -- hell no -- but not even in the county. He'd rather live in Armstrong County. He gave up. He waved the white flag. He isn't going to post on this blog. He isn't going to write a letter to the Governor. He is going to go about his work and life -- and make it elsewhere as much as possible.

    The other kick in the teeth from the city cable television department is the fact that these boosterism shows run on our cable. This isn't about public service -- but it is about being elected again and pushing PR.

    Erik's homework with photos of landforms

    I've set up my sons with their own blogs. See gRauterkus or eRauterkus for Grant and Erik. In due time, home pages. For now, I'll just pepper this space with some of their works.

    Homework: Make a dictionary of various landforms. So, with my wife's help, my photos and uploads, Erik made a booklet that shows the various landforms, all from our travels in the past months.

    See the presentation of 11 slides on the web with html pages:

    Same presentation in a single PDF file (189 k):

    What is a "Paladin?"

    Pitt played the Furman Paladins at Heinz Field. After smacking Pitt around the field for three quarters, it is safe to assume this Division I-AA school won't be a guest again. Great game! Pitt did win in overtime.

    Library -- still searching for TRFN and Wirless

    PG: Main library articleAnne Candreva, director of information technology at the Carnegie Library, unveils the marquee near the library's entrance, ...

    Animated messages are fine, but I'm still looking for TRFN and Wireless

    The Oakland branch should be wireless. The Beehive, a South Side coffee shop, is now with free wireless. So, the library spend a hefty sum to modernize -- and we get signs that blink.

    The real potential isn't in the bricks and mortar. Sure, some people don't leave the first floor. But many more don't even make it to the doors. The services of the Three Rivers Free Net made for great outreach. Those services are missed. Those services stopped just as the planning for the new expresso bar began.

    If you are lost, there is nothing like Google or Ask Jeeves.

    A Zillion .... excuses

    By next year, Candreva said, the library may be wireless, but that is a major task because the building is chock full of steel, necessitating the placement of 'just a zillion' hidden antennas.

    We don't need every inch of the library to be wireless. How about five antennas. Put one right on top of the pastry display.

    Can't wait to go to the quiet reading room that features no computers. Perhaps a page was taken from the Parks Conservancy. Let's advance with a Highland Park rebuild a fountain and entry way that was just like it was in 1900. Same too with the library. Get rid of those nasty computers here. Too much noise.

    No doubt that the library re-make was a lot of work and effort from all involved. However, here we go again with a "massive" remake instead of an evolution. Do something every year or two. In terms of overall facilities, little or nothing has been done since a few wheelchair ramps were installed -- other than the start-up of the internet and the killing of a wildly popular and necessary TRFN.

    When the first planning meeting was held on the South Side to talk about its library face lift someone asked, "What about the books. Are we getting new books?" Sadly, this whole exercise is about bricks and mortar -- and there won't be an impact with the books. Without new parking, without new books -- some dare to ask, "why?"

    South Pittsburgh Reporter - Carnegie begins planning stages for South Side Library


    The overall theme for finding the solutions for Pittsburgh is much more about software and programming and much less about hardware and buildings. The process and the software outcomes are where we need to put our creativity, energy and investments. Think again. The "build-it and they will come" mentality isn't the desired pathway for me in our quest for vibrant community.

    Mergers talk spreads to school districts

    PG (cont): "Murphy lamented that the idea of merging some or all of the county's 43 school districts rarely comes up for discussion.

    I've talked about mergers of school districts, plenty. Wilkinsburg, Sto Rox, and even Woodland Hills' history is on my radar.

    However, the A+ Schools group, and the Mayor's Commission on Public Education -- group that Tom Murphy had a had in forming -- FUMBLE constantly. They are absent. They don't have open meetings. They don't publish minutes. They don't invite outside voices who have knocked repeatedly at their doors. They blacklist. They operate just as Tom Murphy does.

    Furthermore, until 2000, schools were a topic that was without even a breath of Tom Murphy's concern. He avoided all interactions and comments about schools at every turn. The people at Pittsburgh Public Schools knew Tom Murphy and Tom Cox only when they would rush to them for a TIF (tax favor for some hair-brained corporate welfare scheme).

    Then in 2000 and 2001, my campaign for Mayor and that of James Carmine, Ph.D., professor who teaches many teachers, talked long and hard about schools. That can of worms got plenty of shaking from us then and it was an area that was totally foreign to Tom Murphy and Grant Street.

    We need to put schools and districts and mergers and re-organizations into the discussions. Bring it on. Start by insisting that A+ Schools (an on-going front organization) meet with me and begin to address my long-list of serious concerns.

    Ex-Gov. Thornburgh assails 'dysfunctional' system

    Ex-Gov. Thornburgh calls for mergers of towns: " tackle the region's problem of municipal-government fragmentation."

    I assail dysfunctional leaders. The system isn't broken. The ones with the controls are dysfunctional.

    Let's attack solution fragmentation from dysfunctional thought and leadership.

    Thornburgh is giving a free pass to the elected leaders. Thornburgh is clueless as to what happens in Pittsburgh. If Thornburgh had the same view as city residents, he'd change his tune. That's my 'free pass' to him.

    Dear ex-Gov: The ways of Pittsburgh and the characters involved here in these times are unlike the public servents in other parts of this great land. Selfishness, corruption and lack of cooperation is pervasive. You can't force these leaders to cooperate, This crew in Pittsburgh can't even agree among departments to hold meetings. We must first force them out of office. Then new people can begin to correct the situations. We must get our own house in order first. Then new deals of cooperation could be struck with a keen sense of democracy throughout. But, first things first. The worst of all outcomes would occur if we began to merge towns to enable the bumbling, bankrupt, and hopeless leaders with more power and influence.

    The oversight board came to Pittsburgh, with another group (Act 47) no less, to take away power from the mayor and city council. Now if I read between the lines of your statements -- or perhaps the coverage of those statements -- one could ponder your intent to mean you'd like OVERSIGHT BOARDS and AUTHORITIES to come into power by merging towns. That possibility is Un-American and not to be tolerated.

    City Cable TV bureau may be saved

    Headline should be: TV bureau still slated for closing. "County Council President Rich Fitzgerald said council has just begun looking into the feasibility of getting council meetings on the air....

    County Councilman Vince Gastgeb, who also has been working on the broadcast project, believes the county is 'behind the times' because it does not broadcast its meetings. "

    Jeepers guys, let's get with it. Here we go again as the leaders are not leading. They do too little too late. This rumor of a cut in the city cable bureau has been around since it was part of a mid-summer play by the mayor.

    The one thing Pittsburgh does NOT need is more "done deal thinking" and "less light."

    We need to watch these meetings and the actions of the elected with more awareness. Turn the lights on, more brightly. Meanwhile, some like to scury in the cover of darkness. Mayor Murphy does NOT want to be accountable and visible. Mayor Murphy does not want to be blasted for not meeting with City Council Members for months at a time. Mayor Murphy does not want to hear about the rats the size of lapdogs after he fired the rodent control crew.

    Ripple from the blast about the new "PHONY" ink

    As I reach out via email, (often called an email blast) a number of interesting ripples appear. See the comments.

    Phony Budgets and Current Events - archived of my blast email, 412-public-remarks, to more than 8,000 contacts on Wed. Sept. 22, 2004.

    No We-Hav

    We have no We-Have!

    Finally, the fight ends with victory! City Council voted to NUKE the bogus We-Hav in September. I guess the mayor didn't veto it. A notice arrived from the city clerk.

    Citizens of Pittsburgh's West End areas made a great showing at a public hearing on July 7, 2004. Sadly, a cable broadcasting and rebroadcasting of the hearing was not ordered by city council in July.

    Shamefully, the We-Hav organizers had a provision in their by-laws that their board meetings are NOT OPEN to visitors and the public. Unreal.

    The termination of the We-Have program, called by a petition of more than 4,000 home owners, is slated NOW for September 1. It was pushed off the agenda in mid-July by Council President.

    Those on city council SHOULD vote to terminate the undemocratic (small "d") program.

    The City Clerk said she understood this to be so that the Councilmembers (4) who were not at the Hearing, the Solicitor and the Administration study the transcripts.

    The first vote was delayed for the weeks of the summer recess by City Council. Action is expected to occur at the Sept. 1, 2004 meeting.

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    Bluff Overflows with Vikings and Indians

    Good "Quad A' football was played at D.U.'s stadium on the bluff as Central Catholic hosted Penn Hills Friday night. Nice game, nice venue -- but a bad fit.

    The game should have been played at Heinz Field. There were too many fans in a space much too tight.

    Central Catholic should have its own stadium / field. Same too for North Catholic. When I'm mayor, we'll talk. But, this is not to ignore Schenley, Peabody, Perry, The Dice, Carrick, Langley and Westinghose. I don't see why we don't play some high school football at PNC Park in October and November. They used to play Steelers and Pitt football games in Forbes Field.

    A band festival, hosted by Central Catholic, is slated for the morning of Saturday, Sept. 25 at South High School (South Side at 9th Street and East Carson). Go bands!

    Transit Rally and Protest in Harrisburg, Oct 5, 2004

    Here is another nail in the coffin of Pittsburgh, the Port Authority's proposed, massive, service cuts on nights and weekends. More public hearings and committee meetings are slated. But come to Harrisburg on Oct 5.

    Public transit is a youth issue. More transit talk at

    Bus trip had some room for more. Cost is $15 per seat or what ever you can give. If you are in a tight spot right now don't let that stop you from going on this trip. Three Rivers Community Foundation is helping. Call Steve D. at 412-361-3022 to get on the bus and then all you got to do is SHOW UP.

    DEPART: 7am from 4th Avenue and Ross Street downtown

    ARRIVE: State Capitol around 11am

    STUFF: Rally with folks from PA from 11 to noon in the rotunda.

    DEPART: 4 pm, and exit Capitol by 3:30.

    ARRIVE: 8 pm.

    Next meeting

    Wed, Oct 6 @ 6:30 PM. UCP Association, Neville Street at Centre Avenue. Time is running out for these bills. There is no guarantee that they will pass before the session ends. If they don't we
    (those of us who ride on weekends or at night) are in deep trouble.

    Celebrating a Near Giant

    The last black tie event I attended was, humm. I shouldn't even say that. The last time I wore a tux was at my wedding.

    This photo is from Sept. 23, 2004 at Dr. Bluestone's celebration. I'm not calling it a retirement. Here I am with another guest (not Dr. Bluestone). More on our interactions later. His statements are most interesting, and I hope to cover them in great detail beyond the blog.

    But for now, who does he look like to you? Can you tell where he is from?

    Cheers to Dr. Bluestone and all the amazing people he has helped as both patients and professionals!

    Candidate Under Fire

    A women in the south, a Pitt Law School grad, and a candidate for judge might need some "home-town cooking."

    Rachel Lea Hunter, Go,Go, Go!

    The University of Pittsburgh has come front and center recently. Rachel's opponents are considering Pitt to be a subpar school by saying that her graduating in the top third of her class in law school meant that she probably couldn't get into a 'prestigous' institution such as Duke.
    Opposition Says

    "Her web site says that she graduated in the top third of her class at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. That's respectable, but hardly impressive for a Supreme Court justice. The University of Pittsburgh School of Law is ranked about 50th among law schools. Duke is ranked about 10th. She probably would not have been in the top half of her class if she had been at Duke (if she were even admitted)."

    Rachel's web site has more. It's getting interesting in NC. More on the attack from NC

    Statement supporting college students and professors -

    In the past, Rachel's campaign manager, Cameron DeJong, wrote (in part):
    Anything that you can do to promote Rachel's campaign on the web is greatly appreciated. We need all the help we can get as we are not depending on the 'establishment' to get us through this one.

    I think it is time for Pittsburgh folks and Pitt folks to get moving. Send notes to your friends in NC. Send letters to the editor there. Put up links to her site on our sites.

    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    Black Tie

    Catherine and I on our deck before a "black-tie function." I had not worn a "black tie" for more than a decade.

    Mingle with guests from Australia. This researcher uses sports and communications in interesting ways down-under.

    Pittsburgh Commuter Tax: Bad Idea

    One one hand, the Mayor puts forth a "phony" budget. One the other, City Council President, Gene Ricciardi, has asked the Mayor to cut to the chase and push now for the "commuter tax."

    The commuter earned income tax is a wrongheaded strategy that is unlikely to bring about the desired results. First, this is a tax paid mostly by city residents. Next, the tax can't fetch money for the city from those who live elsewhere if they have to pay elsewhere. In all, 28,609 commuters from twelve communities would pay no commuter tax.

    Moreover, a many home rule communities (with 19,231 commuters) can raise their home rates and lower property taxes so as to nullify any gains to Pittsburgh.

    See the report has the details. Thanks Jake.

    Rally for those who need MENTAL RETARDATION SERVICES

    Call Kathy at ACHIEVA: 412 995-5000 X 509.

    PA Self Advocates & Families United to End the Wait are to rally to demand that the Rendell Administration END THE WAIT FOR THOSE WHO NEED at 1:30 on October 19, 2004 at the Capitol Rotunda, in Harrisburg.

    Hundreds of individuals waiting for services and their families will descend on the State Capitol to inform Governor Rendell that new funds are needed in the community MR system and that the Governor's budget proposal due in February 2005 MUST include the following:
  • Sufficient funds to end the "Emergency" Waiting List

  • sustain the community services already in place

  • The 2,102 on the "Emergency" Waiting List are desperately counting on our success. More than 20,230 people are waiting overall. The Mental Retardation community system received one 2% increase in three years. Community-based services are being starved.

    Contact your Legislator and set up a meeting with them prior to the Rally. Thank them for passing the last budget which included funds to support 475 people on the Waiting List and for passing the 2% Cost of Living Adjustment. Ask them for their continued support to seek adequate funding and ask them also to encourage the Rendell Administration to fund this need.

    Buses and vans will be available for the rally. General Information on the PA Waiting List Campaign 1-877-372-WAIT. Southwest Region, Barb Telhorster (The Arc of Indiana County) 1-724-349-8230. Thanks to the PA Self Advocates & Families United to End the Wait!

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    Analysis: Guard memo blunder raises questions about future of '60 Minutes,' Dan Rather and journalism

    Analysis: journalism "The old mainstream media are not all that they once were in terms of being the gatekeepers,"...

    We have no time to pat bloggers on the back.

    [412] Phony Budgets and Current Events

    Hi Friends and Neighbors,

    The Mayor of Pittsburgh issued his PHONY budget today. Even the Post-Gazette
    calls the budget "phony" in its online headline.

    Your invite to react:

    Genuine opposition to phony, pea-brained actions in Pittsburgh is needed.

    Just as the rivers swelled and washed over too many friends and neighbors,
    same too comes another flood of falsehoods with additional red ink. Today's
    source of sludge that cripples Pittsburgh is neither heaven nor hell -- but
    Grant Street.

    The mayor and city council have fumbled their financial duties. To
    complicate matters, oversight board members are bucking for the lone
    gambling license and are moving out of the city.

    Too much common ground is shared between certain media outlets and
    politicians that thrive upon fear. Too many seem to thrive because of
    special interests and the creation of divisions.

    On a national front, another dark cloud is due to arrive with the
    Presidential debates. The stage for the Presidential debates won't match the
    choices on the November ballot.

    Debate organizers and the networks want to deliver tight, easy 1-on-1
    debates. Red states / blue states. They serve up sanitized, prepackaged food
    for thought. As the watchdogs need watchdogs, I crave a democracy that is
    deliberate and genuine. I want coverage, concepts and interactions that are

    Doom and gloom prevails. We are bogged down locally and nationally. We have
    elected leaders who choose to break laws and act with phony intentions. They
    should depart. If not on their own, then may the educated voters prevail.

    In this quest for a smarter citizenship and raw thoughts, I'd love to
    get your input and feedback at my blog,

    Visit. Read. Post when the spirit moves you. Comment on any of the
    articles. Your idea contributions (ideas only) are most welcomed in these
    times. This blog on 'current events' in Pittsburgh has more than 130

    So join in. Let's vent together. And, on a final uplifting note, let's
    sing together too. Save the date, get a babysitter -- Thursday, Oct 21,
    2004. I'll be helping to host a voter education event and concert with one
    of the best performer you'll ever hear! More news soon. And, catch the
    details in advance at the blog,


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

    Mayor submits budget with (phony) tax hike

    PG coverage.

    Expect Mayor Tom Murphy to use MONOPOLY money next. Then he can build "hotels" and "houses" out of green and red plastic.

    "Let me be clear, I absolutely do not support this [property tax] provision, and I will not implement such an unfair increase on our residents and businesses," Murphy said in a prepared statement.

    Murphy won't implement what he proposes. He should not propose it then.

    What's phony isn't the budget. Rather, it is our mayor, the city's administration and our city's leadership. The phony Mayor is often out-paced by city council. Council should have held its own budget hearings already. Other cities have had legislative branches that have already completed the "budget process."

    Releasing the annual operating budget this early is something new for the cash-strapped city, which is on track to run out of money in mid-December.

    But, it isn't too early for Pittsburgh this year. And, other cities have completed their budget process already.

    Lieberman called "NO PUBLIC SERVANT."

    City Council President, Gene Ricciardi, ranted and asked Bill Lieberman to resign from the ICA (Oversight Board). In 14 years in governement, Gene has never asked anyone to resign.

    Gene, I'm glad to have you on my side, finally. I asked for Lieberman's resignation in mid July, 2004.

    Leaders need to lead. Gene should ask for Tom Murphy's resignation. Murphy is another road-block to recovery. We can all dream, but, as multiple resignations occur, we'd have a real trend. The sweeping tide might roll right over those on city council too.

    Three Stoms Hit Florida, no joke

    Click the image to go to the site and see a better image showing how the three storms hit Florida and the county by county breakdown of pink and blue results from 2000.
    Being God's will doesn't wash with me, for the record. But, it worth a peek as some may think this way.

    Barking up the wrong tree: Lynn Cullen and her radio guests

    Open Debates | The Issue
    The CPD (Commission on Presidential Debates) exists to decieve American voters in order to protect the major party candidates, and that deception unacceptably harms our democracy.

    Want a unique way to get in depth on the presidential election coverage -- worthy goals for Evon, Dianna and Lynn. But, your hitching your wagon to the wrong horse. The debates are bogus as the ballot isn't on the stage.

    Who wins the election and who gets to debate are not factors that should be equal. The debate isn't to pick the winner. The vote picks the winner. The debate is to frame the issues and the old parties do not have any monopoly on ideas.

    The show of the debate would be much better if all the candidates were on the stage.

    Back when Bob O'Connor was a candidate for Mayor, in 2001, I told him to NOT go into any debate with Tom Murphy without insisting upon the others who were on the ballot. Bob O'Connor got smashed in the debates. He went into the debates and Tom Murphy cleaned the floor with Bob's bumblings. Bob O'Connor didn't follow my advice. Bob O'Connor LOST the election.

    Had Bob O'Connor gone into the debates with Josh (the young guy), LeRoy (the black guy) and Earl (the retired guy) -- then Bob would be our mayor now. In the Dem primary in 2001, there were five candidates on the ballot. But at least three debates were on TV with only Bob and Tom.

    Shame too spreads to the local broadcasters: PCNC, WPXI, KDKA, and now Renda Broadcasting and PCNC.

    No steam for EMS again as agenda swirls in toilet

    No deal to privatize city's EMS this year - "A proposal to save money by privatizing Pittsburgh's emergency medical services is not likely to be part of a five-year budget scheduled to be unveiled today. "

    Merging EMS with the Firefighters was promoted as a "solution" by Tom Murphy and his Administration some years ago. When that failued, the next wish-upon-a-star promise from Mayor Murphy was a merger of EMS with the local hospitals. Both plans, as is the overall agenda of Mayor Tom Murphy, are stalled. He can't move an agenda forward.

    On the hard issues, there is no hope with Tom Murphy as our mayor. The political capital in city hall is gone. Too much betrayal in the past is proviing too great a burden for the present.

    "The timing is short. The hospitals themselves are not of one mind what to do. They don't know how to approach it," Lieberman said.

    The timing on the EMS deal has been looming since the first re-election of Tom Murphy. Promises were made in the late 1990s that still smolder as burt bridges. The timing is long, not short. And it is not the duty of the hospitals to solve the city's mess. The hospitals are going to be guarded, thankfully, on any approach.

    Jim Roberts, who heads the Act 47 recovery team, said ... the five-member board backs the idea... "We support the formation of an authority to run the EMS with the hospitals contributing the revenue for the operation," Roberts said.

    Of course a non-elected oversight board member would endorse the creation of a new authority. But, all the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to fix this.

    Pittsburgh can begin to heal as soon as Tom Murphy leaves Grant Street.
    "The hospitals are an attractive partner for us because they understand the job we do," said Jeff Vesci, president of the Fraternal Association of Professional Paramedics.

    The unsaid: The Mayor's office and the authority boards don't understand the role and vital mission of the professional paramedics. The mayor and the annointed are clueless when it comes to building complicated solutions.

    PA Row Office Races Money Update

    Grassroots PA
    With six weeks to go, I find it strange that those with more money in the bank are given props as to being 'ahead.' If one is really putting forth the effort to win the election, then the cash on hand might be much closer to zero. On the other hand, folks like Jack Wagner are more interested in a career in politics. They want a "war chest" so other races can be waged. The idea for them is not to win the race and do something in that office. Rather that rules is self-preservation.

    These row office politicians are more sizzle than steak. And, most of their real meat is parked in their wallets under their seat. Or, it is already put into the freezer.

    Auditor General
    Jack Wagner, of Pittsburgh, raised about $357,000 in cash and in-kind contributions and spent $161,600 in the period. He now has $387,200 on hand. Overall, Wagner has raised nearly $692,000 and spent $287,500 in the race.

    Former Scranton police officer and federal prosecutor Joe Peters, raised $246,000 and spent $136,400 in the period, and now has almost $135,000 on hand. Peters has raised a total of $463,300 and spent $330,000 in the race.

    Robert P. Casey Jr. raised $352,000 in cash and in-kind contributions in the period and spent nearly $124,000, and has about $528,700 on hand. Casey, who is the state's two-term auditor general, has raised $979,000 and spent more than $417,000 in the race.

    Jean Craige Pepper, a financial consultant from Erie who has not run for public office before, raised $110,000 in cash and in-kind contributions in the period and spent about $83,400, and now has $34,400 on hand. All told, Pepper has raised about $269,000 and spent $240,000.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    Parents, nonprofits stepping in to keep Pittsburgh facilities open (


    Keeping Pittsburgh facilities open

    by JUDY LIN, The Associated Press
    PITTSBURGH - Across the river from downtown Pittsburgh, Mark Rauterkus walks around his neighborhood and sees basketball courts in need of repaving, a swimming pool in need of water and an indoor ice rink in need of restoration.

    Fed up with Pittsburgh's political leaders, ....

    We are still making progress, so we dust off this blast from the past. Our first night of soccer at the Market House was a success. We could use a few more 10, 11 and 12 year old players however.

    Next, the search begins for badminton players! Stay tuned.

    Burgh not that drunk of a town

    Survey coverage in PittsburghLive says, "They know how to handle their liquor. "

    As a South Side resident, I'd dispute the degree of self-control displayed in Pittsburgh's late-night. Sure, we might not have as many alcoholics and lower 1/1000 rates of liver disease. Our D.U.I. rates are also down, but, I bet that is more of a factor of aggressive enforcement. But, many folks can drink and stumble home without getting behind the wheel, as we have bars closer to our homes.

    Left out of discussions "'We weren't even included in the discussions when decisions were made that will affect our ability to do our jobs,' King said following the meeting. 'They just want us to sit back and swallow what they give us...'

    Councilman Len Bodack Jr., who chairs council's public safety committee, said he, too, has been left out of discussions about restructuring the fire bureau. "

    Mayor Murphy does not play well with others.

    Music fans will miss this place "Unfortunately, the Rock and Roll Hotel has heard its last note, long before most Pittsburghers ever got a chance to visit."

    This is so Pittsburgh. Write about it after its dead.

    Mike, please don't wait until I'm dead to talk about the things I do and care about.

    Suburbs melted into Ontario's 'Steeltown'

    PG covers Ontario's 'Steeltown': "Government consolidation -- or what Canadians call 'amalgamation' -- took place in Hamilton in two stages spaced nearly 30 years apart. In 1974, the province of Ontario eliminated through mergers five of the 11 municipalities in the Hamilton area. Simultaneously, the province superimposed a new county-like government, called the Hamilton-Wentworth Regional Council."

    Fine. That's called "evolution." Pittsburgh needs to evolve. Pittsburgh does NOT need a massive jamming.

    This is a serious but subtle problem with Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh's leadership has been stuck in self-service and can't and won't evolve with modest steps. To close schools, for instance, takes a massive upheaval. Rather, schools should be phased out over time and everything at everytime needs to be under constant evaluation. Rather than call for the elimination of seven or eight or nine row offices in one sweeping cut of the ax, let's close one office each year for the next five years. Row office reform was such a hot topic a year ago and both candidates (Dan O. and Jim R.) wanted some type of it. However, now is the time and it isn't getting done.

    I don't want "metropolitanism." Rather, I want serious, measured, ongoing change that is calculated, managed, obvious and sets a trend to actions based on principles and common sense. Furthermore, everything is on the table at all times. The creativity needs to be in the mix at all juntions.

    For example, the hoped for merger of EMS and the Firefighters didn't happen. People in the Mayor's office have been working on that for years and failed. Then then hope of getting the hospitals to pick up the EMS units is now the pathway of narrow-minded, agenda driven, top-down wish-for-the-sky approach. Folks, it isn't going to work.

    All the king's horses and all the king's men can't put Humpty together again.

    For example, think Fifth and Forbes. The Mayor's plan called for a massive re-do. His golden ticket was tied to "critical mass." Now it is time for us all to be critical of the mayor and his mass-appeal. He can't move along his agenda as he isn't creative. He is spent. He is an all-or-nothing bone head who can't manage day-to-day instances.

    Finally, the media doesn't get it either. The PG is looking for that fountain of youth and award winning story. It is hard work to cover the ordinary done in exceptional ways.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Time, again, to kick-in at the Market House

    Soccer starts today

    We play today!

    Our kids are going to be running around at the Market House again. We should be holding a ribbon cutting.

    The Market House Childrens Athletic Association is about to resume programming after a year of no activities due to the lay-offs and closures by the Mayor.

    Sign ups for the fall youth soccer program will be from 6 to 8 pm on Friday, Sept. 10 and from 10 to noon on Saturday, September 11.
    Market House Basketball team - yellow - LakersThe Market House is located on the South Side, at 12th Street, and Bingham Square, very near to East Carson Street, the main street through the South Side Flats.

    The Market House youth soccer program, for both girls and boys, is slated for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for ten weeks. Times are 5 pm for ages 4, 5, and 6; 6 pm for ages 7, 8 and 9; and 7 pm for ages 10, 11 and 12. Charges are a $25 nonrefundable registration fee of $25 for the first child and $15 for each additional child. Additional info and scheduling will be provided at signups and in the first week of practice to follow.

    The goal is to get up to 15 players on six teams in each age group --- and no more. Registration will be limited. Parents are needed as volunteers and coaches.

    Hope to see you there.

    The Pittsburgh Hip Hop Initiative's Education Series Presents:

    Carnegie Mellon's University Lecture Series on Thursday, September 23. The lecture will take place at 6 p.m. in Rangos Auditorium"

    Education Innovations, Inc. is searching for a volunteer artist

    Assignment: Draw our vision for the proposed, uptown, NatureLAB space. The drawing for perspective sponsors, customers, and partners is to depict the 26,000 square-foot property with greenhouse, geodesic dome classroom, performance space, and working mini-farm. If interested, s.wilcox @ or call 412.363.7707.

    Source: Salvador Wilcox, CEO, Education Innovations . Org
    914 Heberton Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    Humor in big type

    Today's chuckles in PG sports headlines:
    Strictly for the birds (i.e., Baltimore Ravens)
    Stuck in idle (@ The Bus)
    Little elbow room (@ #7's elbow injury)
    A heap of trouble (@ Todd Heap, #86 for the Ravens after getting pushed back after being injured the prior play) - MLB - Neyer apologizes for anonymous book review - MLB - Neyer apologizes for anonymous book review

    Posting under a fake name and posting as anonymous are two different matters. I have no problem with you being a faceless coward and voice in the crowd, like a heckler. Shout and duck and be without a name. But, don't post and say you are who you are NOT.

    On this blog, you can post without a name. But, don't post as "Joe Sixpack," when that isn't your real name, please.

    Furthermore, some do have real "nicknames." Pen names can work, if you always go there.

    local disaster

    Bush declares local disaster - "'We'll get through this because we are all working together,' said Mayor Tom Murphy."

    Mayor Murphy's statement about "working together" is such a joke as it comes on the day City Council is holding a POST AGENDA and the Mayor has refused to show up and has instructed others in the administration to NOT show up. Tom Murphy isn't working together when he doesn't respond and stops others from responding. This is his duty. The topic of the Sept. 20, 2004, post-agenda is, get this, EMERGENCY RESPONSE TIMES.

    We'll get through this in a much better way when Mayor Murphy shows up in the PRIVATE SECTOR. As mayor, he isn't working with others. Tom Murphy isn't showing up in city council chambers to discuss a ballot question that will be in front of voters in the city in a few short weeks.

    Our shared landscape has a lot of boats parked within Point State Park at the moment. But the real local disaster is when Mayor Murphy is parked elsewhere when he should be before the citizens and city council on matters such as EMERGENCY Response Times.

    Mayor Murphy is absent on the agenda again.

    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    Bucs sweep double header

    Shiver me timbers! The Pirates played the Mets at PNC Park in two games and swept them both. Too bad it wasn't through Sharpsburg and Millvale. Great Sunday for a game, for all 86 people in the stands.

    Yard sign drop off

    Some good soul, (unknown to me) delivered an Arlen Specter yard sign to our house this morning. Thanks.

    I wonder if the sign came because I miss-spelled both of his names in a blog comment at some other site this past week. Woops. I don't claim to be a good speller. I'm way better as a re-write communicator. I always try to touch up my prose and typos. But, I can't re-visit and edit my postings on other sites.

    The sign will sit in the office in easy view as penance. It won't go in my front window as I'm staying "neutral" in the elections (so far). I've got a few public roles to fill. From the podium one can't be too overboard in partisanship.

    Flogged by the blogs "As in all revolutions, first, the old order must be destroyed, then we will learn both the strengths and the shortcomings of the new order. We're now getting a glimpse of the Internet bloggers' strength."

    The eiditorial is about Dan Rather by an out-of-town writer. Perhaps that same headline will ring true when it comes to Mayor Tom Murphy and his administration. Time will tell.

    Saturday, September 18, 2004

    He Said She Said

    Union bosses attack official on Act 47 plan: "Marlene Lamanna at a news conference yesterday -- said Lieberman also told them to lobby against the recovery plan."

    What the heck is going on here? Generally I'm in the know. Generally I have a sense of what's about to happen before it is ever reported (as far as city politics). I'm not bragging, but more so discounting what get reported.

    But, from time to time, as this is, I find a real head scratcher.

    Bill Lieberman is on the ICA (oversight board). For starters, Lieberman should resign. Isn't he the one who wants to be a player in a new gambling venture in the city? For even thinking about the play for the lone license -- I sense a real conflict of interest. His conflict occurs in the gamble to get the gambling permit -- not after hitting the jackpot.

    Next, he's puffing up the ICA (oversight board) and taking the air out of the Act 47 Recovery Team. Right? Is this just a selfish power play? Is this just a deal where more power can be secured by helping the enemy of an enemy?

    But, why in the hell does any enemy exist? Just to undercut?

    And, why are we only seeing about this comment in the PG now? Because of the press event? And, what did the other union officials say about what got said. Is the crossing guard union president being left out in the wind and rain by Rossi and Vesci and who knows who else.

    PA Aspen and how to land on your wallet at the slopes

    Bank takes control of Laurel Mountain ski lodge: "We have some very interested parties lined up,' said Somerset Trust Vice President Lee Murdy."

    We can (as does the State) sell management rights to facilities and keep on top of the contractors for the sake of the public good.

    The closed indoor ice rink on the South Side that was once operated by a contractor -- but there was NO oversight from the city, sadly.

    Welcome Cornhuskers

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. Three cheers to the good people of Nebraska for taking Steve P off our our hands. He is your Athletic Director now. You sent him to us, and I'm glad we could send him back. Sorry, an 'at.

    Enjoy your stay.

    Pitt's campus, should you care, is in a part of town called Oakland. That's where you'll find the acadmic buildings, the medical centers, a wonderful cultural hub and the old as dirt Cathedral Of Learning -- the landmark building for education.

    The Cathedral of Learning, Pitt's visual showcase, was built some time ago -- just about the time of the once great Pitt Stadium. When Steve was in town he did all he could to put the wrecking ball to the grand old venue called Pitt Stadium. He ripped it from our landscape before a lease to use Heinz Field was even crafted.

    Pitt should be playing Nebraska at Heinz Field. But, the band should hold its practices, the track team should hold its meets, the intramural games could occur, and the injured athletes could get their rehab at Pitt Stadium too.

    Point being: If my neighbor offers me the use of his new motor home for our family summer vacation each year -- great. I don't need to get rid of the family station wagon for the other 355 days a year.

    We are doing the same foolishness with the talk of the Penguins arena. They want a new home for NHL hockey, should it ever resume again. Fine. Mario can build a new home without destroying the existing Civic Arena. Then we could host a city-league or PIAA championship basketball game in town and have a NHL game on the same date.

    Steve's failed lesson: 1 + 1 = 2
    But, he's in good company as Mario and others around here can't seem to grapple with that as well.

    We churn. We even got two new stadiums (PNC Park + Heinz Field) but lost 3RS and it had a $50-million mortgage still outstanding.

    Hope he doesn't bring Nebraska more of the same.

    And, how did that loss at home to a non-confrence foe feel last week?

    Friday, September 17, 2004

    Corporate Welfare at Work

    PAPower: GOVERNOR RENDELL PRESENTS ALMOST $78 MILLION FOR PHILADELPHIA DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS: "Governor Edward G. Rendell today presented checks totaling almost $78 million for 16 community and economic-development projects in Philadelphia. "

     “Funding for these projects is part of my ongoing commitment to change how we do business in Pennsylvania, err, Philadelphia." said Governor Rendell.

    Fast Eddie is at it again. He's spending. He's taking our money. He's giving it all to the eastern part of the state. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh gets a gift for the Rooneys on the North Shore. Pittsburgh gets a merry-go-round for Oakland. Pittsburgh gets a stern letter and finger wagging that calls for more lock-step actions for the Mayor's agenda.

    Big-screen excitement

    This blog, now with movies too, (see below) will keep its $0 admission.
    Big-screen excitement: Workers rush to ready SouthSide Works Cinema for tomorrow's grand opening: "General admission will be $8.50, with senior citizens (62 and over) and children $6. All seats before 6 p.m. will be $6."

    I still think that the best theater in town is the Earth Theater behind the bones in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. That's where I want my movie to play on its grand opening, other than Cannes, of course.

    GOP chair yacks back to PG editorials

    Allegheny County's GOP chair, new to the job in 2004, fired a letter to the editor to the PG in response to recent PG stances that so strongly favor Kerry. See the comment section for a replay of his email and letter.

    City Council Speaker

    Check out the movie! This is a new feature for the blog.

    My presentation at City Council in early September, 2004. We didn't get an award for the re-opening of the Market House, like they did for the South Side Slopes Step Trek. And, we didn't have a ribbon cutting, but we could.

    The overall tone of talk from the speakers in the public comment period at city council meets has seemed to have taken a turn. The edge is sharp, all in all.

    Few dollars for public works - York Daily Record

    Let's get in a spitting match to find the worse place, YORK vs. Pittsburgh:
    York Daily Record smashes Pittsburgh and proves to be ahead of the game too: "Brenner, who returned from meeting with Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, said things in York aren't so bad. He said Pittsburgh had to lay off hundreds of firefighters and police officers, completely shut down the parks and recreation programs and be subject to a state takeover with an outside board governing the city.

    'As bad as things look with our budget, things could be worse,' Brenner said.

    After hearing the condition of Pittsburgh, resident Gerry Turner slumped in his chair.

    'I feel like I've been to the graveyard,' he said."

    Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, we've not had one budget meeting. Last year the budget was passed on New Year's Eve. We operate on a too little too late schedule. This smaller city is well ahead of our progress. Shame on Pittsburgh's leadership.

    Called as a "free radical"

    I love Pittsburgh:
    Quotes: 'The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.' - H.L. Mencken

    PSU to train Indian Principals - Knowledge

    PSU got a $1-million grant from the US Dept. of Ed to expand its American Indian Leadership Program.
    Wonder if an mentions are made to gambling prevention within the overall program?

    Family trivia: Years ago, Catherine (my wife) was a 2nd grade student teacher in New Mexico at an Indian school. She values that lesson / experience and still keeps in touch with some friends from there.

    A new challenge for Catherine comes in the form of grant a Pitt from the Air Force. The first days of activities covered some of the Air Force culture -- interesting as well.

    Meanwhile, the new grad students in Catherine's class come from all around the nation. Sixteen students entered the multi-year program this fall, from Washington state to the east coast. Only two graduated from Pitt as undergrads. Not only is brain size and class size increasing a bit, but the years of study has gone up and the number of out-of-state students is much greater. That makes a triple win for Pitt.

    In mid-week, all of the students in Catherine's class were clueless as to Pitt's football opponent this weekend. Its Nebraska. Grad students have more pressing matters to ponder.
    Question: Why does Nebraska have a big red "N" on the side of its helmets?

    Answer is found in the last word in this blog-entry's headline.

    Pittsburgh, corruption, bonds, -- oh my

    Feds seek paperwork that links to payoffs: "Federal investigators are looking at a possible Pittsburgh connection to a corruption probe focused on officials tied to Philadelphia Mayor John Street.

    Mayor Tom Murphy's administration is catching a subpoena.

    Too many times there have been grumblings about bond deals -- but nothing ever happened -- other than blogger's head scratching. Smells fishey still.

    Family living gets back to even steven in downtown and is shut-out in South Side Works

    Great example of how the city administration makes life with kids in the city such a struggle. Why eliminate the parking at the outset? Why not insist that day care centers be incorporated within new neighborhoods -- such as at South Side Works?
    Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances - "Laurel: To the city Department of Engineering. It has reinstated a drop-off zone near three Downtown day care centers. Much to the consternation of parents, the zones along Penn Avenue were eliminated during the new convention center's construction. Police then began tagging parents attempting to drop off their little tykes. We're glad to see common sense prevail. "

    The ribbon cutting for the South Side Works site, a new extension of the neighborhood that promised to generate 4,000 new jobs, generated ZERO increases in our day care capacity. Fumble, again.

    Laurels from Trib for Ad sales

    Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances - "Laurel: To Jim Motznik. The Pittsburgh city councilman is proposing the city sell advertising space on the fences at 83 multiuse sports fields. Great idea. On street furniture. Great idea. On the city Web site. Great idea. And on city government cable broadcasts. Great idea. Mr. Motznik doesn't have an estimate of how much such advertising would generate. But every bit helps, doesn't it? "

    The parks position paper put forth in May, 2004, also called for the sales and advertising. Why can the Penguins keep the money for the naming right for Mellon Arena. That was a public asset built with public funds. However, the Pens got to keep the money. Meanwhile, we who work with the kids in the neighorhood can't do similar deals.

    Les Ludwig gets the biggest laurel for starting this type of chatter.

    I'd also give Motznik a laurel for his lone vote to reject the $5-million from Gov. Rendell for a new merry-go-round in place of parking in Oakland.

    Pleads for pension - slam shut case

    Its safe to assume Terlecki isn't surfing the net and reading our blogs, as he is functionally illiterate. He wants his $2,263 in monthly benefits for his reward and contributions. His productivity must rank him with the poorest work record in the world, other than that of crack salesman, Gil Martinez.
    Guilty ex-city boss pleads for pension: "Terlecki -- a former Democratic Party ward chairman and supporter of Mayor Tom Murphy who started working for the city in 1964 -- is 'functionally illiterate' and 'can barely read or write.'"

    Sadly, City Controller Tom Flaherty is loose again with the purse strings. And, he was the one to employ Martinez.

    Water Taxi -- might as well paddle

    Swift boat -- water taxi

    A new water taxi service just opened and is serving Pittsburgh. One of the features mentioned in today's news account is the city's skyline. It is all about the service, not skyline. The service is slim.

    With all the chatter about swift boats, too bad the taxi service can't move in a like manner. Everything is fast at the Olympics, I guess. And, sadly, does everything need to be so slow in Pittsburgh, hence making the skyline enjoyment some consolation.

    On one hand, the service will cost nothing from the city's budget. But, we pay via the Feds to subsidize the service.

    Moreover, the taxi service is starting as a boost to the Convention Center. They want to get tourist. They want another feather for out-of-towners.

    Why not build the service for residents? Why not start the service early in the morning rather than at 10 am. Who can go to work at 10 or 11 am? One can't even get to City Council meetings that late.

    We need to use the rivers. But, we need to have real use. We need sustainable projects.
    Convention Center -- that big sucking sound

    Folks, who wants to go from the Mon Warf to the Convention Center? Other stops are going to include PNC Park, Heinz Field, Point State Park, and the Cultural District. Nobody lives at any of these stops.

    Run the service from 10th Street Bridge. Run the service from 18th Street on the South Side. Run the service from the new South Side Works -- where there will be lots of housing and some is already there.

    Run the service from the West End, from Hazelwood, from Highland Park even.

    The scope of service is too small. And, the time of service is too short. This will flop. And, I really want it to work.

    That big sucking sound is coming from the big white building -- the convention center. The debt is high. It is still not finished. The hotel space is too slim. And we are even now going to move the light rail T-Stop to its back doors, near the dumpsters. A stop is just a short two blocks away that could be used.


    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    Libertarian Doubleheader Hits Pittsburgh

    Libertarian Doubleheader Hits Pittsburgh: "will visit Pittsburgh on Sunday, September 26th" -- check em out.

    A 'grand' groundbreaking

    A 'grand' groundbreaking -

    #1) ... Mayor Tom Murphy expressed satisfaction with the project, saying the city 'would not settle for anything that was not grand.'

    Rauterkus Replies

    Pittsburgh needs to settle for things as they are. We don't need "everything to be grand." Murphy's wants exceed his needs. Murphy's wants are so grand that the budget can't pay for them. When Murphy said he won't settle for anything that isn't grand, he sends the wrong message of being prudent. That is typical Murphy, the poor leader, the over spender.

    When only the grand can get his attention, then the others don't rate. The homeless problem -- just use a grand broom and sweep the problems away.

    The little things are the keys to making a great manager and a great city.
    #2) ... nearly $4 million from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh and $1.3 million in equity from the Cultural Trust.

    Who's money is that of the Cultural Trust? And, we'll see less than truthful statements that not a penny of city money went into this project. At least there isn't $10-million from the water authority under a cloak here -- or is there?

    #3) ... a half-dozen other projects are in the pipeline.

    Sure, the pipeline is primed now. Always is. Pittsburgh's population was going to explode, some 6, 5, 4, 3 years ago too. Things have been on hold since Tom Murphy has been in the Mayor's office.
    #4) 'I think more (people) living Downtown encourages more retailers and restaurants,' said Murphy, who envisions more living options working in partnership with retail development.

    Retail, gambling, and Hard Rock --- tickets to salvation for Tom Murphy's vision. False hopes all.
    #5) Tom Cox, chairman of the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority, said 'the URA is here to stay in developing Downtown.'

    Tom Cox makes more complicated deals that are going to be harder to untangle to insure that the URA can't go away. Tom -- take your golden parachute and beg for a job in Detroit.

    #6) 'But I've been wrong in my predictions in the past on who will live in other new housing developments, such as Washington Landing and Summerset,' he said.

    Murphy's past predictions have always been wrong. He has poor forecasting skills. He can't understand that Nordstoms isn't exactly what Pittsburgh needs. And, here we go opening a new cinema, this time in South Side -- while others are closing in Monroeville (Wilkins) and Mt. Lebo. Tom would have had us build the big complex as part of Fifth and Forbes. It was another looser of an idea.
    #7) For example, Murphy said he did not believe Summerset at Frick Park, a massive new housing development under way at the former Nine Mile Run slag dump site between Squirrel Hill and Swisshelm Park, would attract families with children. 'At least half the families that purchased houses in Summerset have children,' he said. "

    Developing the slag dump pulled homeowners out of their other city neighborhoods and into another. And, it took money that didn't go to the frail neighborhoods and made for new upscale homes. All the work on the stream, green goals, creek run off and such was necessary and should have been the priority. In Murphy's way, elements of the environment were an afterthought that needed attention.

    Cultural District Apartments for upscale

    First, we don't need to have a super-tight focus and only build in the downtown sector. There are lots of fringe areas within an easy walk that should be better suited for the new residential buildings. Sure, some can go downtown. But, 10 to 20 times the potential and upside is just a short walk beyond downtown.

    Lower bluff, West End, North Side of the West End Bridge, both sides of Station Square, bottom of Bates. Then go a tiny bit farther and the real gem is Hazelwood.

    I don't think it makes sense to make subsidized housing for rich folks. Frick at Sommerset is not prudent in terms of priorities for the public dollars.

    Why is the URA putting money into quarter-million dollar apts in the Cultural District? Its $4-M that I'd strongly object.

    If you put housing in downtown that families would use -- then you'd have places that empty nesters, college kids and young urban types would use as well. Why build temporary housing just so folks move in and move out?

    If we make places that people are not going to leave -- then we'll have real demand. A marketplace will form that will be sustainable.

    Aim low, don't miss. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh slips some more.

    However, I do think we need some student housing in downtown. That is a no brainer. And, I would also love to see a large time share complex as well. Think of all the Pittsburghers who are not living here any longer. My we all love to come home. But how we hate to stay with aunts and uncles or older parents, should they still be around. But, a week at a time, once a year. They'd sell like hotcakes, even without the fries.

    More at Fester's blog. See his downtown housing post.

    Who is mentioning parents rights in the presidential campaign

    Parental rights opens a big can of worms. It is both a local and national issue. I'm not hearing much about this topic in the race for president.

    Grassroots, Jewish, Gratis Training

    A Grassroots Training Seminar is slated for Sunday, September 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 P.M. at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel, 300 W. Station Square, Pittsburgh for the Jewish Republican leaders from Pittsburgh.
  • Learn effective ways to reach out to potential supporters of President Bush's policies

  • Receive special training in heightening grassroots awareness and activity

  • Work with grassroots, Jewish, and political experts on ways to "deliver the message"

  • Listen to experts from Washington and New York discuss 'the message” and “how to deliver it."

  • This one-time training seminar will provide you with the tools, language and skills to reach out to the general Jewish community and reach the hidden, potential supporters of President Bush's policies on Israel, Jewish security, economic security, and other issues of concern.

    A 70 page Briefing Book on the issues of the day will also be distributed to participants.

    RSVP Is Required. Please respond to: Marc Radasky, 202-638-2909 x 107, Email: MRadasky @, NOTE: SALOMON DINNER WILL BE SERVED.

    Yes, the training is free. All that is required is an email address at the door. Please mention it to others. Explain to people that they will have to give their email addresses.

    If you attend, I'd love to hear how it went. Please share your observations with the comment section or offline in a direct email.


    Transportation: "Federal funds could revive Maglev project
    Slide over to my other budding blog, dedicated to transportation rants.

    Stadium authority worker accused of taking $200,000

    Stadium authority worker accused of taking $200,000: "Writing numerous checks for small amounts -- but also once taking a bank bag containing $20,000 of the Stadium Authority's money -- authority accountant Jeffrey S. Harmon managed to elude detection for more three years while embezzling nearly $200,000, "

    What are these folks thinking? The Pgh Parks Conservancy had an employee steal some serious money as well.

    In China, folks who got caught steeling get shot. When the public trust gets shaken over and over, it is little wonder that the public trust is stretched so thin around here.

    Furthermore, it is one thing to steal for yourself. It is another matter to steal from the public purse and pay others for outright deeds of little public value. The shame patrol needs to out both types.

    For the later, we've got a legacy of miss-deeds such as the paving of streets, the lowering of property values, handouts of consulting contracts, the buying of bogus PR campaigns, etc., etc.

    County hires consultants for minority outreach

    County hires consultants for minority outreach: "The Rev. James Simms, former president of the county council, will assist faith-based and community groups in identifying county and other government resources to develop social service, housing and public works efforts."

    Sounds like re-treads. Perhaps Sala Udin will be getting jobs like this with the state or county after he is booted from office in the city.

    Those guys are both with big respect and big scorn. I've never crossed either, personally.

    I wish they would care a lot more about parks and opportunities for our kids -- within the city especially -- and less about minority contracts that have lead mostly to pass throughs and scandal.

    The concept of "faith-based outreach" is fine with me. But, the hook and attractiveness of that effort is to save money and get things done. It isn't about more pork, more red tape, more consultants.

    Time will tell if these folks are productive or not -- but -- time has told us something already. Both have been around the block, or should I say the around the downward spiral.

    I wonder why Dan O, our county executive, wasn't quoted in the new article? I assume he hire them personally. Where is a quote from him on these hirings?

    Airport to step up wooing

    Keep those dogies rolling -- hub of chuck wagon. Pittsburgh's airport, with its hub and spoke model, is about as modern as the wheel in the image. Pittsburgh overspent on the airport. It is mostly idle, too large, with huge debt. The airport isn't the type of economic engine Pittsburgh needs. The building project is going to saddle our kids with debt for years to come. Sadly, same goes the Convention Center. And, even worse, same goes the underwater tunnels to the lower north side to service the stadiums and alter the light rail. Wrongheaded.
    Airport to step up wooing of all fliers: "The authority has launched a $272,000 advertising campaign designed to generate more local traffic"...
    FWIW (for what its worth), its easy for Tom Murphy to catch a flight out of Cleveland from his home in Butler County.
    Here is more "boosterism" to make our load of image-gap all that more of an uphill challenge. The airport authority shouldn't be running a quarter-million-dollar PR campaign. The authorities are way out of bounds around here. And, it is money like this that goes to the media outlets that then allows the watchdogs to fall to sleep. They can't bite the hands that feed them.

    Meanwhile, we are building a new airport in the northern edge of the county. More corporate welfare.

    PIAA District 8 - draft handbook

    A number of volunteers have reviewed and edited a new handbook put forth by the Pittsburgh Public Schools for its coaches. A PDF version, unofficial, 36-page copy has been posted at http://Dorm.CLOH.Org/hot/AthleticHandbook(Sept04)R.pdf.

    The Pgh Public School District serves the City of Pittsburgh and is much like an island only unto itself in terms of scholastic sports. The suburban schools have a different sporting landscape than what occurs in the city. In a sense, there is an "iron curtin" around the city in terms of many issues, including the way we play our most organized games among communities.

    I think the handbook is a great first step in the process to benefit the students and overall community with PPS. However, the real solution rests with the merger of the city schools to the W.P.I.A.L. (The WPIAL is also known as PIAA District 7.)

    My position paper on parks calls for the gradual elimination of the "city league" on a sport-by-sport basis with a gradual flow among various schools as well. - Money - City Council President Wants Commuter Tax - Money - City Council President Wants Commuter Tax: "Ricciardi will call on the mayor to immediately petition the common pleas court to impose a commuter tax.

    Ricciardi said 25 years of lobbying the state for tax reform has not worked. He also called Murphy's proposed 40 percent hike in property taxes for 2005 unfair."

    Gene Ricciardi, City Council President, should be pushing anyone and everyone to make a removal of Tom Murphy from the Mayor's office. Gene, push to impeach Tom -- now. The key to that process is with city council.

    Otherwise, put in public and private calls to John Kerry. Demand that Kerry announce, upon his election, that Kerry would appoint Murphy as an ambassador to Ireland, or New Zealand, or Greece, etc. If Kerry pledged to get Murphy out of town, he'd get a ton of votes from western PA's swing voters.

    Tom Murphy's been playing chicken with those in the state house and state senate for a few years now. He put our children into the front seat -- and it still hurts. Next he'll be putting the homeowners into a mission impossible ramble to misery. Murphy can't move the agenda to a "commuter tax" because he can't move any agenda. He must burden those who are stuck here who have yet to be drained in full. Murphy can't even stick it to seniors -- as you can't get blood from a rock.

    Pittsburgh is in a hopeless place with this mayor. And, the hopelessness increases as the leadership of city council is so lame.


    Erik, Grant and Mark in watching in Wyoming Give us a home, where the buffalo roam. The city kids did well in the west. We loved the visit to the Diamond Cross Ranch.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    China's guys and gals

    Interesting article:
    An American demographer, who has been closely following China's population program and who spoke on condition of anonymity, lauded China's "coming to grips" with the problem.

    "Still, they are in a deep dilemma -- emotional and policy dilemma -- because the solution to the problem will conflict with other parts of their population strategy to reduce birth rate or some of the measures could perhaps make the problem even worse," warned the demographer.

    $5-million for Merry-go-round in parking spaces in Oakland

    The merry-go-round in Schenley Plaza was given the green light in city council. A state grant of $5-million has come from the PA Governor. The $5-million can't be used for street paving, because it is being spent in the removal of valued parking spaces.

    There was no public hearing on the park expansion. Yes, there was a post-agenda. I did rush to the meeting and got to speak. The process was trash. The process is a great example of what is wrong with Pittsburgh today and the outcome is going to be another elitist boondogle.

    The grant for $5-million should have been applied to the formation of a new Pittsburgh Park District.

    Who died so as to make the leader of the Pittsburgh Park Conservancy the queen of our town?

    The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy should be eliminated as it makes a serious a drag on the region. Its mission is with blinders by design. Its goals are of bricks and mortar, sadly.

    Doug said, like a coward, "In the future I will look with great disfavor on projects such as these." Doug, there is no time like the present. You should have voted "NO" today. You should have acted like the leader you were hired to become.

    The Heinz History center grant didn't take over public spaces, such as Phipps and the Carnegie Museum. Bill Peduto has it wrong.

    The only councilmember to vote with courage to deny the elitist plan was Jim Motznik. Yeah Jim.

    Grandview building heights

    The uproar in Mt. Washington has been about the height of buildings. A zoning law has wiggled to city council that aims to cap the height of buildings along Grandview Ave, the senic roadway that sits atop of Mt. Washington and provides a splendid view of the rivers and downtown.

    First of all, the folks in Mt. Washington have been energized on a number of different matters in the recent years. They had fights to save the school (Whittier), incline, library, ball-fields, rec center, swim pool, rehab of the long vacant South Hills High and still manage to program the DHCC -- a community center in the shell of a former grocery store. South Siders have some of that same spit, but, perhaps, Mt. Washington residents have been more on the cutting edge since the WE-HAV toils were nipping at their heels.

    So, its been time to keep in the sadle and go again from Mt. Washington to city hall. Keep up the good work.

    The clash comes with:
    1) zoning laws,
    2) the bulk of the people (desire a hight limit on buildings)and the grassroots want limits and are fighting "developers / speculators."
    3) Meanwhile, elected leaders need to lead. And, if they can't sway the masses with their points of view, then it is time to "represent" the people's wishes.
    When one is silent on the issue for 15 months, as was the city council member from that district, then it is hard to lead. And, pushing for a new amendment might soil the process.

    However, Sala, "going all the way back to zero" is okay. That is a call to "think again." When a new law gets to the council, the law makers, it is fine to take it out at the knees if there are better possible outcomes. Sala is all to often quick to embrace lockstep decisions.

    Bigger solutions

    Pittsburgh is blessed with places all around the central ring where we should be building tall housing. The edge of the west end, near station square's west entry, at the north side of the west end bridge, near the east end of station square, at the bottom of the bluff east of the jail over from the 10th Street Bridge.

    We can't turn Pittsburgh into Hong Kong -- but we could try for the higher residentail buildings at wasted corners that are now vacant or without much community merit. Point being: we need to fix the broken areas. We don't need to trample the thriving areas.

    Furthermore, we need to use our political capital into allowing the marketplace to strive. I'd be quicker to think again on zoning and put all zoning laws into the trash and allow property rights to reside with the property owners.

    Standards that are not standards is favortism. Our government needs heavy measures of justice and fairness -- not favorites and exceptions.

    Doug: You don't need stability to move forward. To move forward you have to leave where you sit.
    Your town, your neighborhood, your city. WRONG. What about your property?

    However, the real bottom line comes with this awareness: The city's planning department is a complete failure. One of the first actions for the new mayor -- eliminate the planning department. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. However, when you follow poor plans, the results are sure to be poor.