Thursday, March 31, 2005

Of course this is a poison pill from Fitzgerald

Officials eye campaign bill - PittsburghLIVE.com When the bill came up for consideration at a campaign finance reform committee meeting last night, council President Rich Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill, added an amendment to have the legislation cover all candidates for local, city, county, state and federal offices.
Price called the amendment a deliberate attempt to make the bill illegal. 'I think this is, in essence, the poison pill,' he said.

Fitzgerald is going to try to look like he cares -- but he is really taking the issue and killing it in a backhanded way. He had five amendments last month. They were all suspect.

From what we are seeing, Doug Price from County Council gets it. He gets two thumbs up from me on these efforts.

Hope that Bill Peduto sets a date for a public hearing for the city's version of campaign finance reform. It should be in mid-April. That bill was put into a 10-week task force. It is time for that work to come public.

I was named to the campaign finance reform task force. Not much work has been done in recent days as there is no known reaction from the legal beagles within the city. Oh well. We've waited long enough for their input. It can come at a later date.

GOP legislators defend fiscal oversight board

GOP legislators defend fiscal oversight board Republican legislators support the Pittsburgh oversight board's effort to nullify the city's new 'budget-busting' firefighter contract, but still hope that a nasty courtroom showdown between the board and city officials can be avoided.

AP Wire | 03/31/2005 | Analysts unclear

AP Wire | 03/31/2005 | Analysts unclear on effect: "Analysts unclear ...."


So this newsworthy. They don't know. Duhh.....

Of course they are unclear. Furthermore, of course the clarity comes within the reading of such insightful news editorial / commentarty / feature / profile -- not.

The only thing that we do know is that we don't know these other guys. And, the only thing that I'll be certain to repdict is that with two weeks to go in the campaign, the voters are sure to score a high percentage as "undecided" -- despite the wishes of the front-runner.

With Bob and Tom four years ago, the undecided percentage with two weeks to go exceeded 20-percent.

Skews go to FUD, (fear, uncertainty, doubt). Pile on brother. Kick up some FUD. Make a career of it here.

Campaign for Wagner's Senate post heats up - PittsburghLIVE.com

Campaign for Wagner's Senate post heats up - PittsburghLIVE.com Mark Rauterkus of the South Side is running as a Libertarian.

My photo directory isn't hard for the Trib to find. My cell phone is obvious too: 412 298 3432.
Mark Rauterkus photo

uComics Web Site featuring Tom Toles

Welcome to uComics Web Site featuring Tom Toles -- The Best Comic Site In The Universe! Toles

Cool political cartoon sent to me by a friend.

Other friends have just completed a "green book." I can't wait to read it. More on that later.

When it rains, it pours. Michael Lamb shows up for another job. But again, this isn't OUR Lamb.

Michael Lambs are everywhere. Too bad our Michael Lamb isn't everywhere. I'm sure Michael is a lot of places, so I don't mean to be critical in a mean-spirited way. It's just a chuckle.
Library director taking Ohio job Michael Lamb will take over while they look for a permanent replacement.

Tip to the Lamb for Mayor campaign. Invite everyone named Michael Lamb to Pittsburgh and hold a rally. Perhaps a whole flock could form?

In another type of chuckle, I was amazed to hear from the United Jewish Federation as they were searching for Joe Weinroth, R, candidate for Mayor and Jew. They couldn't reach Joe to invite him to a debate to occur in the future at the Jewish Community Center. The amazement builds as they contacted me in homes of trying to reach Joe.

Furthermore, when I was a candidate for Mayor in 2001 in a contested GOP Primary, I spoke at the event. I took that opportunity to scold the leaders of the organization for only inviting a few of the speakers on the Dem's primary ballot.

The chuckle turned quickly into an event that got my blood to a boil.

The United Jewish Federation is repeating the same mistake. Four years ago, Josh Pollock was on the ballot and litterally cut his teeth at the Jewish Community Center. He wasn't invited to the candidate's forum. Same too this year with Les Ludwig. With friends like that, no need for an enemy.

The UJF is part of the blame and explains why Pittsburgh is bankrupt.

We are getting Bob O'Connor in 2005 as a front-runner, who is in dodge mode, because he can take cover with the help of the UJF. The PDP fits the same mold. (pun intended)

When it rains, it is going to pour.

Ombudsman - A concept that is missing from our public landscape in western PA -- for now.

OmbudsmanAn ombudsman is a government official charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individual citizens. The term arose from its use in Sweden, with the Parliamentary ombudsman instituted in 1809 to safeguard the rights of citizens by establishing a supervisory agency independent of the executive branch. The word ombudsman and its specific meaning has since been adopted in to English as well as other languages, and ombudsmen has been instituted by other governments and organizations such as the European Union.

We don't have any ombudsman. None in the school district. None in city government. None in the county. None in house or senate districts or even with state government. Zippo.

The recent matter when the citizens entered into the struggle to remove the WE-HAV program makes a perfect illustration for the need of an Ombudsman.

The citizens can mobalize, organize and defeat poor governmental programs. However, it is always a long-shot operation. It is painful for the champions of the cause. It makes for burn-out and hard-feelings among neighbors.

This call for the the creation of an ombudsman is a splendid way to give the citizens more leverage to control government officials and the process of self-government.

As a state senator, I will push for the creation of an ombudsman on various levels.

As a citizen of Allegheny County, I'm putting out a call for others to join in efforts to introduce the concept of an ombudsman to be injected into the county charter. First, we need to eliminate row offices. But soon after, we need to retool our offices and make an ombudsman part of our public landscape. We can put out an educational campaign that is matched with a petition and a ballot question before the county council or if necessary, with the voters.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Johnsmith's music on iTunes

Called into the Jerry Bowyer show today and got to talk with Ron Morris who was a sub host and his guest of MacWorld. Ron is a big Macintosh fan, as am I.

This iTune button takes you to Johnsmith's song, Kicking the Stone.
Kickin' This Stone


The title track for the concert, however, is called, Don't Put Me in a Box.
Don't Put Me In a Box


Check it out. Come to the concert at 7 pm on April 7 at the South Side Holiday Inn Express on 10th Street.

As the weather breaks -- guard your bike.

Banner 10000004

Stop Head Start, says the Trib editorial

Stop Head Start - PittsburghLIVE.com Stop Head Start

Monday, March 28, 2005

The scandalous mismanagement of the misnamed Head Start program is another reminder that a village cannot raise a child.

Humm....
The one quote that stands out like a sore thumb, "Parents must be allowed to reclaim their children."

That line makes a show stopper and doesn't wash well enough. I'm okay with the headline. It is my feeling that we need more attention paid to the middle school and high school kids than we do to the tiny tots. My other hunch is that the school teachers unions have been making a push to head start as a way to grow their base and influence.

I want to keep schools out of the lives of the youngest kids as parents and other care givers are better suited. Private day care centers are great, not just mom, dad and grandma.

I'm scratching my head when the editorial speaks about parents being allowed to reclaim their children. That's a big stretch.

I've been very fortunate to be able to stay home with my children for most of the past ten years. My kids are 10 and 7. These have been the best times of my life. It is, without a doubt, the best job ever. I'd wish the same on nearly every couple. But, we are lucky for these choices.

It takes a good bit to stay home with your kids. But I'm thinking that it takes a good bit more to get your kid through ninth grade algebra too. More parents are capable of keeping a 16-week kid in a smooth setting with the right stimulation than a 16-year old kid.

I'd want to lean lightly on the governmental programs for the wee ones -- and dedicate more energy and coaching to the more difficult years between 6th and 11th grades.

In an ideal world, those in 10th grade would get a good glimps of what it means to be with a baby so as to take out the glamor of having one at such a young age.

Our first kid came when I was 35. Patience pays dividens when it comes to parenting. And we could all use more of it.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Michael Lamb, senator, and parade switch-a-roo. Who would have thunk this long-shot?

File this in the "say what" category. Perhaps it fits in City Paper's news of the weird as well. And, put a little humble pie on my plate too. But, check out this final giggle.
Herald and News: Klamath Falls, Oregon Under the watch of the Jaycees, the theme of the Fourth of July parade had been 'Horse and Buggy Day' since the 1970s, said Michael Lamb, senator for the Jaycees. A Jaycees senator is a member who has passed the age limit - the group is open to people age 21 to 40 - but stays active.


Today was the deadline. I had not only predicted, but also suggested a different pathway for Michael Lamb (of Pittsburgh). I was one of many who said in private that Lamb should have joined the race for PA Senate (42nd district). Furthermore, I was one of the few who also gave the same suggestion in public.

The suggested move (pulling out of the Mayor's race and into the PA Senate special election) needed to be made by today. The deadline for putting in petitions to get onto the ballot as an Independent was March 28. Lamb could have done both races and tossed aside the need to get the Dem's endorsement by putting in a switch to "I" and re-directing his effots to the PA Senate race.

Well, the closest to the truth comes today. Seems a Michael Lamb is a senator -- and is in the hub of a 4th of July parade switch with the Jaycees and Chamber. But, we have to go to Oregon to make the prediction have any sense of slight of name irony.

Michael Lamb of Pittsburgh is the son of a PA State Senator. Perhaps he'll be able to run for the State Senate in two years.

Oh well.

"... Lamb said ... isn't calling it quits."

"We certainly hope to rebuild," he said.

Well, I was wrong. Munch, munch, munch. I'll eat the humble pie.

As for the 4th of July, come on down to the South Side. We don't have any pony rides, but we do host an annual 4th of July party. Then we'll serve up some real pie. Tonight it is just that weird tasting digital humble pie bytes.

Next up, since operation musical chairs didn't materialize, is a real musical event. Our concert is on for 7 pm on April 7, 2005. Be there. Music to be delivered on the web shortly.

Peduto mentions the "B" word.

The seldom mentioned "B" word is BUDGET!

Our Budget is BROKEN.

Furthermore, we've got a two-stage problem: One, the public purse is broke. Two, the budget process is broken.

One of Tom Murphy's greatest weakness, followed only by that of City Council -- was the management of the budget. They all failed. Murphy faild. And, City Council failed too. All the players let Pittsburgh's budget slip right into the toilet. The city is NOT in the toilet, but the budget efforts have been.

Most of all, I talk about the new Pittsburgh Park District, and the Youth Technology Summit. But more of an impact is the proposal I wrote about months ago to hold a citizens budget process.

The Platform.For-Pgh.org has a page devoted to Citizen Budget Summit.

KDKA's Jon Delano ended his TV news segment by saying this is a battle of who can cut more.

Meanwhile, Lamb says he is qualified when it come to shrinking a budget. Great confidence there. Vote for Lamb as he'll shrink the city to a better degree than the others.

Vote for Peduto as he'll put a chain saw to the budget. Frankly, I think our kids and the public has already been through a buzz saw. Is a chain saw to impress us? What about a cut with a lazer beam or a light sabre?

Vote for O'Connor as he has experience cutting to the bone with his driving of extra-crunchy Popeye's Chicken.

If feels like a gray Monday in March in Pittsburgh. I don't really want to have a campaign for the city's mayor office based upon who can manage the decline better than the other one who wants to put a fork in the city more quickly.

The way to get out of this, and even Tom Murphy will agree with me on this, is to grow our way out of it. But, how to grow is where Tom Murphy and I are at such drastic odds. Murphy wanted to grow the city with stadiums and convention ceners and downtown retail. I knew that his plans would fail. I want to grow the city with sandlots, not stadiums. I want to put people first, not special interests.

Peduto and I agree that special interests are killing the city. But Peduto has another suite of those with special interest who are not in the drivers seat. He'll want to switch out the special interest group in control now with another set who are on the outside looking in. Pick your poison, pinstripes or loafers. The same outcomes are expected. Either way the city is going to be but a fraction of what it was in the past. None of the folks are really getting to the pathway we need to get to prosperity for Pittsburgh.

The budget is a mess and O'Connor, Peduto and Lamb all share a good deal of the blame. They all were in office and they all let matters coast.

North Side Connector may have chance - PittsburghLIVE.com

This is a big deal issue for me. I hate the idea and so do the people of the county. We need to stop this project. It needs to stop dead until other more pressing things happen.
North Side Connector may have chance - PittsburghLIVE.com Three months behind schedule -- and counting -- the Port Authority of Allegheny County's under-river subway to the North Side finally has a chance to get under way.


Tougher penalties on teen drinking and DRIVING. Okay by me.

Legislators seek tougher penalties on teen drinking "Legislators seek tougher penalties on teen drinking..."

In Norway, you never drink and drive. The DUI (driving under the influence) ramifications are much, much stronger and harsh.

I would never want to drug test a kid to have them on the school band. But, if that kid was behind the wheel and not 100% sober, watch out. I'd be in favor of a removal of the drivers license for kids for at dusk and beyond.

In another interesting twist, however, is the backlash. I'm well aware of this, I hope.

For example, today there are kids who pass out at a party and drop into a coma like state and are in serious health trouble. These kids need to be rushed to a hospital. However, they are left without aid because of the stiff fines, penalties, and other ramifications that are sure to follow. If an underage kid goes flat at a house party, the home owner is going to have some explaining to do and might be behind bars. So, the hope and gamble is to wait it out. That deep sleep with be a hangover in the morning -- or it could be a coma in another 30-minutes. Decisions were impaired long ago.

"It's one of those issues that people don't like to talk about, especially parents, but it's a serious problem,'' Logan said last week.


I care to talk about these issues. I'm not sure who doesn't want to talk about them -- other than career politicians, school officials and teens (perhaps). I welcome such conversations.

Some of the parents I know have been very concerned about drinking and drugs in light of their life with teenagers.

These would be great sideline conversations and presentations at a proposed Youth Technology Summit that I'm calling for to begin in earnest as soon as I'm elected. It could start in late 2005 or early 2006.

FYI, I was never an underage drinker. I'm too squeeky clean. I would never drive while drunk.

Political conditions could be ripe for Republican revenge

Political conditions could be ripe for Republican revenge - PittsburghLIVE.com He said his decision to switch his party affiliation paved the way for like-minded constituents. He claims that 200 people came into his South Hills office asking for the forms to switch their registrations in the first two weeks after he became a Republican.

And, I ask, how many of those converted and changed their party?

The numbers within the voter registration data are part of the public record. A few of us here can figure it out. Conte can figure out the facts from the fiction as well.

I'd not want to call it a "retraction" -- but perhaps a clarification would seem very wise for the Diven camp in the next 48 hours. They could tell us how many became GOPers and do a time line on the switch of parties. Diven switched when? In week # 1, how many switched to the GOP side. What party did they leave? In week #2, and so on.

When I ran for Mayor in 2001, I switched 100 (+/- 5) people to the GOP party. About 90 came from the Dems. Some, I know have switched back. Some have not. I know that these people switched because I took the voter registration forms into the county election department myself.

Here is a hypothesis: To date, given 2001 and 2005 numbers, I imagine my impact on recruting to the GOP party is three times as great as that of Diven's. Said another way, I do not think Diven was able to get more than 30 new GOPers to the party since he switched his party registration.

Prove me wrong. I'd be glad to eat my words. But, the data has to be from the voter database. Not from some form handouts in the office.

Mr. Conte, you, or Dave Brown even, can be the judge.

The real spirit of the story, as I see it, isn't about becoming a Republican. The real buzz is about the frustration of the voters and citizens with both of the old parties.

Case in point: Have you seen the wonderful rant from J of PennF? She began a draft Barbara H for Gov site. She is angry and with justifications. But, she isn't gonig to run to Diven's camp as one of her core issue is a woman's choice.

I think that the real action for real change won't be able to be delivered by a back-bench party switcher who is really a buddy of Mayor Murphy's ways.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

As if teens don't talk enough, now there are blogs

I'm all for free expression, free speech, free travel, free trade, free markets.

Funny, the best way to get free expression is to do boneheaded moves such as these -- dragging kids into the principal's office.

Blog on.
As if teens don't talk enough, now there are blogs North Allegheny students, posting messages on their online forum, www.nasucks.com, ping-ponged back and forth over a report that school officials had called students into the office to question them about the site's content.

And a controversy over a school administrator's alleged ban on same-sex couples and friends holding hands, hugging or kissing at Downtown Pittsburgh's Creative and Performing Arts High School prompted a furious and instantaneous call for protest on another student-fed forum, >www.livejournal.com/community/anticrapa/.

'Find a buddy of your own gender, hold hands with them whenever possible,' one CAPA student wrote on March 17. 'Make out in the halls with anyone you can find.'

Govenor's Election Reform Task Force: Public Comment Opportunity

On THURSDAY, March 31, 2005, the PENNSYLVANIA ELECTION REFORM TASK
FORCE will meet in Harrisburg to discuss the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and how its requirements are being implemented in Pennsylvania. This meeting is open to the public. Celeste Taylor of Project Vote, Larry Frankel, Legislative Director, ACLU-PA, Paul W. O'Hanlon, Disabilities Law Project and Bonita Hoke, Co-Chair of the PA Voters Coalition are all scheduled to speak, and the Agenda includes an opportunity for the public to be heard.

This is an excellent opportunity to let the Governor's Task Force know how you feel about voter-verified paper ballots and other elements of transparent, reliable, publicly verifiable elections. You may only have a few moments to speak, so prepare something very brief in advance.

Some good talking points:

a. Voter-verified paper ballots (VVPB) can help ensure our votes are counted as cast, and we deserve that much

b. E-voting systems without VVPB have irretrievably lost votes in other states; let's not make that costly mistake here

c. Nothing in HAVA prohibits VVPB; other states have used HAVA funds to pay for VVPB systems

d. We can achieve both accessibility and auditability by choosing wisely

e. The most reliable --and cost-effective-- option is precinct-based optical scan, made accessible with ballot-marking devices

f. Accessible VVPB systems build voter confidence and increase voter participation

North Office Building, Hearing Room #1, Ground Floor, Commonwealth Avenue, Harrisburg, PA

Thursday, March 31, 2005, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

http://verifiedvoting.org/stateview.php?area=39

With your help, we can make history in Pennsylvania and create meaningful election reform - this year! Please join us in Harrisburg on Thursday.

City 'at a crossroads'

Long article:
Next mayor to inherit city 'at a crossroads' - PittsburghLIVE.com


Roads are a minefield of potholes.

Residents deserve better -- especially after paying more in taxes this year. Furthermore, residents deserve better from the elected officials. The first major milestone on the serious pathway to improvement begins at the ballot box. Don't elect career politicians who have made this mess. Don't vote for Diven nor Fontana as both have been big parts of the problem.

I agree: Taxes have gone up, and they (old school politicians) don't do nothing for you. Furthermore, now they can't do anything at all. They are broke. They can't advance and agenda other than that of power containment.

In the past, the politicians could do something for the fat cats. Sure, politicians generally do little for the citizens and voters. Now, without any money left in the public treasury, politicians can't even help the special interest groups as much.

No time like the present. Now is the time to strike back and take back various offices. Let's make gains in the city and region with new people and new purpose in various elections.

And, sad to say, the hard facts of the matter are that there isn't much that the next guys and gals will be able to do for you either. My pledge is to do what I can for the citizens, shun the corporate interests, and pledge self-reliance efforts. We'll need to fix this ourselves. We'll need to engage as volunteers. We'll need to take charge on our own. We'll need to interact like never before.

The next mayor and the next wave of elected officials get to inherit a broken system. The fix isn't with the same old same old.

It is great to read how Andrew Conte of the Trib writes that "conditions are not likely to improve, either. " Sadly, he is on the money. We've been talking about these matters in realistic terms for years. Folks, it is going to get worse before it gets better.

Mayor Murphy's positive spin on his legacy is a joke. Don't even interview the guy. I don't even need to waste the recycled electrons on this blog to talk about the failed policies he and his type have championed. But, sadly, Diven and Fontana are from the same pod. Diven has been a Murphy buddie for years.

The Diven legacy and the Murphy legacy are nearly identical. The abrasive part with enemies in Harrisburgh and elsewhere is dead on identical.

Meanwhile, Fontana sat on County Council and approved TIFs. The TIFs (Tax Incremental Finance) deals are text book Murphy. The moves come right out of Murphy's playbook. Deer Creek Crossing was something I stood up against. Fontana voted for it, and many others. (As did Diven.)

I said, "NO TIFs, period." when I was running for Mayor in 2001! I still have the same resolve in 2005. TIFs hurt us on many dimensions. It's like cocaine. The career politicians are hooked. Perhaps in some remote way, under the care of experts, they'd have some value in theapy. That view isn't our reality.

These TIFs won't expire for years to come. And, I'm only one voice.

Murphy's reform of taxes is his biggest joke. His new tax policy is going to kill Pittsburgh for decades to come. There was no real reform. And, the changes are generating less money and providing more shelters. Wait until we see the results and the failout. That might come in a few months. The schedule is way less than what is to come.

Murphy is proud of the EMS tax -- so people making less than $12,000 have to pay and then get a refund for next year? Same and scorn is what's due.

Pittsburgh is open for business if you discount the tallest office towers, ignore how USAirways, a top employer is going, and all the other woes.

More to come. Good job Andrew Conte!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Streetwise group gets great ink in effort to head off city violence.

Great service. Nice ink.
Streetwise group trying to head off city violence ... soldiers tackle some common goals -- mentoring, resolving conflicts, intervening in crises and guiding clients through the human services system.

The group also has had impact with the launch of Community Days, neighborhood picnics in Manchester and Beltzhoover, and summer basketball programs, most notably a revived league at the Hill District's Kennard Park, which drew thousands.

Garland said it was critical that One Vision, One Life continue to work closely with churches, community groups and schools. 'We're not the solution to all the violence in Allegheny County, but we do hope we can slow things down.'

L.B. is doing his part. He supervises basketball teams in Northview Heights and volunteers at Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.

'I was one of those people that was the problem,' he said. 'Now I'm trying to solve the problem.'

Programs such as this are fine. We need them because of the crisis.

We've ignored the leagues, the basketball, the coaching, the youth. We've let the kid's fend for themselves -- and trouble results. We have not been healthy.

This program is about prevention -- and some of it is about wellness. We need an attitude that services those who are going to hang at the sandlots and those at the stadiums can fend for themselves for a while.

Those 20-year olds who were part of the problem and are now trying to to help solve the problem need people like me who have never been part of the problem and are keenly interested in helping to solve the problem too. This is a teamwork approach. This is a winning approach.

Together we need to fix this -- not just with the king's horses and king's men. All of us need to be part of the solutions. And, its hard and messy.

Sadly, those on Grant Street have been okay with their shutdowns. They close a rec center and don't care. They punt and hope Elsie Hillman will come up with some cash and "save our summer." Trouble brews as many on Grant Street who do want to help don't want to help in ways that make the most sense. They want to help in their feel good kinda ways.

I want good grief and response from trusted, valued, buddies on the streets in day to day instances. Sure, we need to give these guys a raise. Let's engage. Let's find common ground in accountability on all sectors.

But, by all means possible, let's not stop there. These in the trenches operations are NOT going to be able to get us to prosper.

We also need others on other fronts but in the same neighborhoods to be planting seeds that allow opportunities to soar. We need to get these kids to live past next summer. And, we need to know that some are going to Cornell, Princeton and Case Western.

By the way, when is the next picnic? Perhaps we'll toss one for you in the summer. Call me, 412-298-3432, and we'll set a date. How about a China theme? We'll do noodles or dumplings, and something with authentic spices. Want to help? Leave a comment or send an email.

Demolish. That word is what I want to hear from the Mayor's office only about itself. Nothing else.

Could this be an April Fools Day story, just a bit early?
Sadly, I think the story is truthful. I fear the worst. And, the worst is yet to come.
City of stairways may lose some of its character - PittsburghLIVE.com By mid-summer, the Public Works Department expects to provide city officials with a list of 60 to 100 staircases it recommends be demolished, said Rob Kaczorowski, the assistant director of public works.

Demolish! Stop already.

The city is being taken apart, step by step.

Don't demolish the steps. Don't do anthing else Tom Murphy, except leave.

The city's steps are a treasure. These people don't know how to be stewards.

We need to take care of what we have. We need to make infrastructure repairs a top priority.

These steps are a transportation issue.

The steps matter greatly. The steps need to be repaired. The roads need to be repaired. We need to take care of what we have. We don't need to be doing wrongheaded projects elsewhere such as a rebuild of the Gateway Center T-Stop to make it "glass enclosed."

The steps are a great example of what we need to do well and do right. The steps are not going to be as sexey as Michael Diven offering to give away a big cardboard check to a new umbrella development company in Beechview. Diven has his priorities in the wrong places. The steps crumble. The neighborhoods crumble. The character of Pittsburgh is being destoyed. The urban density is being hijacked.

Bloggers and Politics: Online politicking rules under debate

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Thursday proposed new ways of apply campaign finance rules to political activity on the internet, asking for public input on limited regulations for the medium.

The FEC, which is beginning to consider restrictions on political advertising, blogs, and other online activities. A pending document may describe the legal issues it plans to take on over the next few months. The agency plans to hold a public hearing on the issue and then vote on the final regulations later this year.

Members of congress concerned about possible new regulations have sent letters to the FEC urging that a press exemption apply to the net. Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev., has also introduced legislation that would exempt internet politicking from most of campaign finance regulations.

Netizens have likewise been actively trying to persuade the FEC on the issue. In preparation for the FEC's expected vote, a group of bloggers and political activists have organized a petition to the commission through the website Online Coalition . The petition has received more than 3,200 electronic signatures as of Friday morning.

  • NY Times: Election Commission Urges Finance Rules For Online Politics


  • Washington Post: FEC Signals Light Hand On Internet Campaigning

  • News.com: Bloggers Have Rights Too

  • ZDNet: Bloggers Narrowly Dodge Federal Crackdown

  • Rules Could Be Blocked

  • FEC Draft Rules


  • Of course I've signed the petition. You should too.

    The war on copyright communists

    I'm an open source software advocate. I've been a part of that movement for some time. It is more of a lifestyle and can have great benefits for our public endeavors.

    Additionally, I've been a small business owner, publisher and netizen. Plus, I'm a Libertarian. Furthermore, I've been to China and expect to go again. So that mix of politics swirls around in my realm, as well as being a "free market advocate."

    Now comes one of the more interesting article of the season.
    Guardian Unlimited | The war on copyright communists The war on copyright communists

    Bill Gates wants software patents to protect his profit, not the public

    Andrew Brown, The Guardian

    Bill Gates is an intelligent man who has done a great deal of good in the world. So when he gets caught out in a bare-faced lie this should matter to all of us; and last week, when he called the opponents of American intellectual property law a 'communist' movement he was encouraging a mistake that could impoverish the entire world.

    He said: 'Of the world's economies, there's more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don't think that those incentives should exist.'

    The argument in principle that Gates makes against 'communism' starts in exactly the right place. But his vested interests lead him to drag it in the wrong direction. It is as if the Sheriff of Nottingham were to announce that it's enormously important that your property was protected from criminals - so he'll take everything you have that might be stolen and lock it up for safety in his castle.


    I'm jazzed about OpenOffice.org and its 2.0 release with XML. As soon as it is avaiable, I'll be putting it onto some CDs and passing them out around town.

    This brings us to another point. I need to get blank CD-Rs. They cost money. We'll need to raise some money. Not a lot, but a little. This effort should yeild fruit in many areas.

    Just today I pulled up a document needed for a presentation for my wife with OpenOffice.org's software that could NOT be opened with the M$ stuff. It works well.

    Open Source is ruling the world!

    The New Zealand Herald dumps on Microsoft's Gates

    The New Zealand Herald If you wondered how Bill Gates topped the Forbes rich list for the 11th year with a personal fortune of US$46.5 billion ($63 billion), look no further than the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office.

    Patent 525484, accepted by the office and now open for objections until the end of May, says Microsoft invented and owns the process whereby a word-processing document stored in a single XML file may be manipulated by applications that understand XML.

    It is one of a raft of patent applications Microsoft has dumped on the overworked staff of the office, and on patent offices worldwide.

    Some of them might have more merit than this particular piece of junk, but they are part of a strategic effort by Microsoft to control another generation of technology, just when its grip on the personal computer is being undermined by the Open Source movement.

    Friday, March 25, 2005

    Taxes foot bill for board members' cars

    Transportation is one of my key platform points in my campaign. This isn't what I think the taxpayers want to hear about.

    A Dormont supporter / advisor suggested a future press conference outside of a West Liberty Ave auto dealership selling luxery rides -- to talk about transportation. She is "on the money" as to what is going to resonate with voters and this campaign.

    Taxes foot bill for board members' cars - PittsburghLIVE.com


    I've got some music that goes very well with this theme as well. But, first I've got to get the Johnsmith tunes online. I'm close. But the song is from Dave Nachmanoff -- "Waiting for the Light to Change." It is very much a song about peace, patience, anti-road rage. The spiritual is uplifting. Baby, we are just sitting here waiting for the light to change.

    Dave is going to be in Cleveland in May. Cross your fingers. But first, we need a nice turn out for April 7. Are you going to be able to attend? Come to the Holiday Inn Express, South Side, on 10th Street at 7 pm on April 7.

    Contract controversy, of course. Grant Street envy and buyers' remorse yet to settle in for taxpayers.

    Contract doesn't extinguish controversy - PittsburghLIVE.com

    So, the ICA, the Act 47 coordinators, the mayor's office, city council, a big union, and the governor's office are having another fight. There are winners and loosers.

    The mayor does NOT play well with others.

    Their teamwork stinks. Never expect anything else from them. New people can give different results.

    Mayoral rivals take sides (Dem side with two guys and a legal side with another)

    Dave Brown wrote a nice article that compared and contrasted three in the mayor's race. I can't compare the coverage to the statements as I wasn't at the event. However is are some of my reactions based upon the statements in the press and prior knowledge.
    Mayoral rivals take sides - PittsburghLIVE.com 'I have real concerns with the legality of it, despite the fact that similar legislation exists in other cities. I made it very clear to them (the SEIU) that I had problems' with the law.

    Peduto and O'Connor both go to the side that calls upon the city's legislation to invade the operation of a commercial enterprise. I don't agree with those two.

    Meanwhile, I don't agree with Lamb either. Lamb raises a legal question. Lamb doesn't disagree with the principle of the matter. Rather, he raises doubts about the legality of the legislation.

    Perhaps Lamb, the lawyer, wants to govern through the courts and bench. We've seen that style in action from our present mayor and it stinks.

    How is it that the city can go simply fire hundreds of its workers. Between 800 and 900 were laid off in the Augusts 2003 reductions. However, the city powers do not want to allow the private sector to have the power to do the same with private workers. Citiparks workers got two weeks notice and then came their pink slips. Citiparks workers didn't get six months notice.

    The government's role has nothing to do with keeping a "very delicate balance" in the market place.

    Rather, Peduto means to say is that he is on very thin ice with the unions. Peduto has to walk a tight rope. Peduto has some feats of delicate balance between Peduto's own hope for a career in Pittsburgh's political ring and labor/management issues to resolve within Peduto's past.

    Meanwhile, O'Connor has never seen a market that wasn't worthy of a governmental headlock. Bob can squeeze the private sector with new regulations and smile thinking it should be called a hug.

    Here is a suggested script for for Michael Lamb. He could use these terms the next time he's given the opportunity:

    "The city has no business telling the private sector how to behave. If I was mayor, I'd have vetoed that law. As mayor, I want to encourage business operations to flourish in the city. As government intrudes, matters worsen. Recently Pittsburgh has seen three of its largest buildings go up for sale. A firesale of CNG, Dominion and USX is upon us, without even a mention of the legacy decline the encircles Fifth & Forbes debacle. The outcomes are clear.

    "The wrongheaded approaches of the present mayor and city council have hurt Pittsburgh. We have too many vacant offices. We have too many bankrupt enterprises. We have too few jobs. Pittsburgh prosperity can't rebound when government is in the way.

    "As the old guard continues to make new laws that hasten our city's decline, the private sector is going to continally vote with their feet and depart.

    "Furthermore, if I was mayor, I'd do everything I could to reach out to those workers in those buildings. I have real alternatives that begin to address the needs of the people in this community. With a wellness initiative, we'd inject a sense of purpose in terms of continual education, job trainning, ...."

    Thursday, March 24, 2005

    The 'other' Pittsburgh, where crime is common and life is fragile

    Brian O'Neill talks about violence and the tale of two cities in Pittsburgh. Nice article. Let's pick up on some of his closing words.
    The 'other' Pittsburgh, where crime is common and life is fragile ... That's our Pittsburgh. That won't change.

    The other one has to...

    The words, "That won't change." speaks to the greatness of Pittsburgh and its wonderful quality of life. Brian and I share this city. We both have kids here and choose to live here, crossing the same paths. Our Pittsburgh, in that respect, is swell.

    We differ on the perspective of Pittsburgh's propensity for change. Brian is so bold in his prediction that Pittsburgh won't change. He feels that the goodness is always sure to be.

    It is my hope that the good Pittsburgh won't change. But Pittsburgh is on the brink. It is changing. Pittsburgh won't be a legacy town much longer. We need to scramble to insure that it won't change.

    There are a number of struggles that are being waged in this city at the same time. Among the violence comes the fight between gangs or drugies. Among the peaceful is the struggle to engage or be at rest. Then of course, there is the matter beteen the cops and the robbers. There are other dimensions as well. The blending and spill-over from one realm to the others is starting to swirl as never before.

    When a cup of poison goes into a gallon of water, the purity is gone. The buffers are spent. Containment slips.

    Sure Brian, the other side has to change. But I worry greatly that the change agents are now without the capacity to do their jobs. We are at the brink and beyond on a number of critical tipping points. The youth have been ignored for so long that the kid's kids have become a challenge that is ten-times the effort. And we've got one-tenth the capacity and are using lame programs as well.

    The life that our kids know today is special. We are not the norm. Those in our Pittsburgh have a life that is similar in many ways to the life of all the kids of 30 years ago.

    Summary: Ninty-five percent of the kids shared the same Pittsburgh 30 years ago. Today, 30 percent of the kids share the good Pittsburgh. In 20 years, that old, good Pittsburgh could be but a memory. None will be afforded what is ours today, still.

    Meanwhile, in suburban areas, a bulk of the kids are still in the same general groupings. The disparity among the kids in Franklin Park (North Allegheny School District) is super thin compared to what you properly describe between the two Pittsburghs.

    Next, we need to roll up the sleves and ponder the fix for the situations of the two Pittsburghs.

    Some advocate a crash and burn. Some want to flee and just make Pittsburgh a sore with puss that festers. Some want to take apart the city and have the county take over.

    My approach is to think it out, get up the will for action, find the strongest counter measures, and attack on all fronts. We need to flourish with the best and the brightest. We need to soar everywhere we can. And at the same time, we need to insure that the ones in the other Pittsburgh are given opportunities to soar too.

    We need to demand the best from everyone -- while being patient and persistant.

    Community Technology Conf in Cleveland in June. Rush to finish paper proposals

    See the comments area for details of the event and its scope.

    Swimming Lessons and more at Carlynton

    Last night was our year-end swim and party with the Carlynton Swim Club. Great season. Good fun and conditioning. Looking forward, here are some details of programs.

    Lifeguarding classes with coach Mike Schneiderlochner.

    Call before May 6 (412 215 2766) or email. Request a confirmation on emails. Times are 7 to 10 pm. Dates are May 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25. Cost is $140 for full class, $80 for recertifications, $35 for CPR on May 21 (9-11 = recerts; 11-3 pm for full class)

    Swim lessons
    Sessions 3, 4, 5, 6. Cost is $30 for first swimmer, $25 for each additional in the same family. There are 10 x 40-minute classes or 9 x 45-minute classes.

    Session 3 = Registration, 5-6:30 pm on Tue, March 22 at the Carlynton HS Pool
    Classes are March 23, 30, 31, April 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 from 6-6:45 pm.

    Session 4 = Registration, 5-6:30 pm on Tue, March 22 at the Carlynton HS Pool
    Classes are April 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 from 6-6:40 pm.

    Session 5 = Registration, 7-7:30 pm on Wed. April 20 at the Carlynton HS Pool
    Classes are April 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, May 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 from 6-6:40 pm.

    Session 6 = Registration, 7-7:30 pm on Wed. April 20 at the Carlynton HS Pool
    Classes are May 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 from 6-6:40 pm.

    Email registrations are accepted AFTER the in-person registration, and based upon availability.

    Swim Team, Carlynton Swim Club
    March 29 to July 15, $50 for first swimmer and $25 for additional in same family.

    A pre-competitive summer program is to occur June 13 to July 8 on M, W, Th from 7:30 to 8:30 am at $30 per family or $25 if one.

    Allegheny Club and the Sports Garden

    The Pirates are trying to keep their 1979 World Series trophy off the auction block. The trophy and other memorabilia are about to be sold as part of bankruptcy proceedings at the Allegheny Club.

    Remember the Allegheny Club? It is a text book case in how not to treat others.

    Same too with the joint near to Station Square that closed due to a bartender's filthy talk, the Sports Garden. Remember the 30-day trial? That owner from Texas pulled up stakes and won't ever come back to this state.

    This present tailspin is going to take some time to play out.

    Our region needs to make some serious changes and then begin to heal. This is going to take a long time. People in Pittsburgh need to understand that we need to start to champion long-term views. The quick fix of the Murphy-led economics are still coming back to bite.

    The Pirates, the Stadium Authority, the mayor and others stuck it to the Allegheny Club. Perhaps they'll be able to buy back the trophy on eBay. I won't be tearful.

    Study details city school students

    DUHH!!!!

    Study details city school students The biggest percentage loss is at the middle school level. This year, there are 11.8 percent fewer students in sixth grade than there were last year.

    Jeepers. Where have you been?
    I get beside myself here. This is another example of how many people just don't get it. I'm not saying I know all the answers. But, I get to say this again, "I TOLD YOU SO."

    I'm not "gifted." I'm not the only one. I retell as I can from great insights and wisdom from others I meet and talk with.

    We know that the Pittsburgh Public Schools has a piss-poor record (yeah, I'm hacked off and slinging slang) at the retention of kids as the family's oldest child goes to middle school.

    The leap to middle school is an invite to suburban living. This is not just a sticking point -- it is a killer. We are choking here.

    And, you don't fix the serious problem by holding a walk-a-thon for kids. (See my other post below.)

    When the kids hit middle school ages -- you can't fool em like you used to be able to do. The toddlers, pre-schoolers, elementary kids are easy to fool.

    I'm not interested in fooling our kids. I want to challenge them. I want to get them to perform. I want them to be able to master at levels of excellence.

    Here is another fact that doesn't show up on any "street list." -- Too many 9th graders fail algebra. Not 15% -- more like 65%.

    People and families vote with their feet.

    We've asked for these numbers in the past. I've been denied. It is GREAT to have this study. We need to do the homework now and begin to understand the real issues and real solutions.

    Mr. Lamb, this isn't something for a cabnet level administrator. This is something for the mayor to come to grips with him/herself. I took no comfort in hearing from Bob O'Connor that he was going to hire a cracker-jack manager to run the city if he was mayor. Lamb pointed out that that manager should be the mayor, not the mayor's hired gun. And I'd go a step further and say the mayor needs to really understand schools and the city. And, sadly, I've seen little from A+ Schools to show that there is anything there other than a resume bullet.

    To bring this back home to the PA Senate race. Diven had a big hand in messing up the election process in the school board races four years ago. That was a power grab that was a total failure and hurt the system greatly. It set the stage for the justification for the foundation pull-out of support for PPS.

    Let's avoid the cluelessness.

    Schools are critical to our region. Schools issues go way beyond the buildings. This quagmire is more of a software problem. Schools and the success of the students have little to do with bricks and mortar.

    As one looks at the numbers, what is more important to grip is not the number of 6th graders from this year to last year. No. Look at the number of kids who moved from 6th grade to 7th grade. Follow the kids, name by name. Micro decisions matter most. Even on a class basis, there are hundreds of kids moving out, but being replaced by another hundred. So, the real migration isn't being charted.

    We churn the kids, the families, and in turn the troubles. This is like baseball. We got to keep our eye on the ball. Follow the students, as individuals and as members of families.

    Then we begin a real conversation.

    I want to know, over the past 20 years, how many of the oldest kids in the family went to 5th grade and didn't advance to a PPS 6th grade class. And, is 5th grade the only choke point?

    Another hunch, we have a lot of kids who move into the PPS district in the high school grades. They've been branded in their home district and they need a new setting with a ton of diversity, and it is found in the city schools.

    The frustrations are noted with the bogus street names and maps. That is another sign of our decay in infrastructure, but on a data-driven level. We can't even get good maps around here.

    Resolving conflict. Restoring relationships. Building peaceful communities.

    Gale McGloin, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Mediation Center, 100 Sheridan Square, 2nd floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15206-3019, 412-365-0400, sent along this pointer:
    Carolyn is a dynamic speaker, fresh from a presentation last week that was attended by members of our foundation community who were very impressed. Wouldn’t this be a great way to resolve some of our community issues?

    TO: All Interested Parties

    The Pittsburgh Mediation Center, the Mediation Council of Western PA and the ADR Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association are again co-sponsoring the Lawrence W. Kaplan Lecture in Conflict Resolution. It will be held April 5 at 5:00 p.m. at the Omni William Penn Hotel downtown.

    This year's lecture is "Conflict Resolution and Deliberative Democracy", by Carolyn Lukensmeyer of AmericaSpeaks, www.americaspeaks.org. Ms. Lukensmeyer is known worldwide for her work in engaging large groups (500 to 4500) of citizens in the public decision-making process through interactive technology and other innovative techniques.

    Along with changing the nature of public decision-making, interactive dialogue is one of the most effective forms of conflict prevention. Ms. Lukensmeyer has taken this process to new heights. For example, see how NE Ohio is mobilizing to use these techniques to involve the community in regional planning.
    We are very excited to be part of the effort to introduce the Western Pennsylvania region to her innovative work.

    This event promises to be a unique opportunity to enrich your thinking in the fields of conflict resolution and deliberative democracy. I urge you to make attending this event a priority. Deadline to RSVP for the lecture is March 29, 2005.

    Download & print the invitation (doc format)

    To receive a paper copy of the invitation, contact Marlene Ellis at the Allegheny County Bar Association.

    Deliberative Democracy is a new term to Pittsburgh, mostly. This isn't new to the rest of the world. I've been hosting "deliberate.com" for a years with Dr. M. Davis. http://www.Deliberate.com.

    Pittsburgh can't get into the new styles of engagement with its wrongheaded leadership approaches. The people we have in office now are just not cut out for these efforts, sadly. So, we need to replace them with others who are.

    All the king's horses and all the king's men could not put Humpty together again. Same too holds for Pittsburgh. This MUST be a community process. Humpty is NEVER going to look the same.

    To make peace is hard work. Democracy is messy. Bring it on -- with glee because authorities are killing our region. The union attitude (small "U") is driving people away.

    For Pittsburgh to thrive, we'll need many opportunities to get our heads around issues such as "deliberative democracy." Count me in. This is wellness on a grand, civic scale.

    Bill Cosby to hold town hall meeting at Reizenstein

    Can't enter unless you go to that school.
    Bill Cosby to hold town hall meeting at Reizenstein Bill Cosby will hold one of his noted town hall meetings April 5 at Reizenstein Middle School in East Liberty. Billed as 'A Conversation with Bill Cosby,' the event, 6 to 9 p.m., is open only to Reizenstein students and parents and will feature local speakers as well. The names of those speakers have not yet been announced.

    The VP is in town and you can't just waltz into that meeting as well.
    These would be great meetings for STREAMING on the web or with a community television broadcasting effort.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2005

    Fair and Biting

    Thanks for the posting Salena Z:
    Fair and Biting My epiphany with his inability to recognize opportunity and face challenges began this week.

    My epiphany was about five years ago.

    Good to have you on my side on this. We, however, are in the minority, yet.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2005

    Draw the line

    Pittsburgh Tuesday takes - PittsburghLIVE.com: "Says Mayor Tom Murphy: 'I would challenge you as you drive out to the airport to tell me where Pittsburgh ends and Green Tree or Carnegie or Moon Township begins.' The comment came in a Friday forum on merging Pittsburgh and Allegheny County governments into one. Mr. Murphy was bemoaning the competition between jurisdictions to attract business. Actually, Mayor, it's easy to tell where Pittsburgh ends -- once you leave the city limits, new development can be seen virtually everywhere.

    I could and would take that challenge. It is easy.
    My kids swim on the Green Tree Swim Team. That can't occur in the city. Find a swim team, then you've located the end of the city.
    The swim team isn't the important missing link to a rebirth in Pittsburgh's quality of life. However, everything that the team represents is at the crux of the issue. Self discovery, self reliance, self discipline, teamwork, and the cycles of cooperation and competition.

    Troy Hill residents angry over fire station's closing

    Troy Hill residents angry over fire station's closing - PittsburghLIVE.com 'They took our pool, they took our rec center, they took our crossing guards, and now our fire station,' she said. 'It makes you wonder what we're paying taxes for anymore.'

    Many who were on hand this morning were angered by what they viewed as broken promises from city officials.

    Should we make a list as to what wrongheaded things we're paying for for thoos who really want to know?
    The corporate welfare is tops on my list. We pay for the convention center that can't be used to its capacity as we don't have enough hotel spaces. We will be paying for the hotel next. We'll be paying for the local match for the tunnels under the Allegheny River for light rail to the stadiums -- yet alone Three Rivers Stadium still. That's no typo. We owed $30-million on the one that was destroyed.

    Of course we're paying for schools -- but -- I'm not going to quicklyl put that into the 'wrongheaded' category. I'll put some of the costs there, but not in one lump.

    We are paying for the URA and the thousands of properties the URA owns and the millions in debt that the URA has acquired.

    We are paying for the debt, the pensions, the Pittsburgh Development Fund. The debt is huge and was racked up in Murphy's tenure. We're paying for the gambles he took and his eventual failures. And, we pay for the bonds to re-do the debt.

    Monday, March 21, 2005

    Another good reason to have a wiki.

    Could I spend my campaign cash windfall on a trip to Germany? That's a joke. I have no intention of spending campaign money on international travel. However, I'd love to present at this event.
    Wikimania Call for Papers

    Wikimania 2005 - The First International Wikimedia Conference will be held in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, from 4 August 2005 to 8 August 2005. Wikimedia is the non-profit organization operating Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikisource, Wikibooks, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikispecies, and the Wikimedia Commons. We are now accepting papers and other submissions (from everyone within and outside the Wikimedia and Wikipedia communities) for presentations, workshops, and discussion groups. We are also accepting nominations for speaker panels and keynote speakers, and suggestions for other activities. Submissions to cfp@wikimedia.org. More insights.

    Environmental funding plan stalled in Harrisburg

    Growing Greener Gets Football Status by Rendell.
    PG coverage HARRISBURG -- It's hard enough asking your buddy if you can borrow, say, $100. So how difficult must it be to find exactly the right words when you're asking for $800 million?

    Difficult enough, apparently, that lawmakers and Gov. Ed Rendell have been debating the subject for more than a year and have yet to arrive at an answer.

    But time is running out for lawmakers trying to find a way to ask voters' permission to borrow up to $800 million for environmental programs if they hope to place a referendum question on the May primary ballot.

    When the past PA Governor, Ridge, started Growing Greener, it was established as a pay as you go program. Now that the Dems have the mansion, the plan is to make this a funded program with a massive state bond. The program's direction is getting a serious adjustment. Plus, Growning Greener is getting turned into a political football by those who love to play football and politics.
    The program is about to go down the drain. Steps are being taken now so that the eventual blame can be sidestepped in the future. Some of us are watching. Many of us are upset at this lack of stewardship seen in so many instances in Harrisburg today.

    Change is in the air.

    Sister City status not square well with Sister Region in this reporting

    The sister city concept works well with other cities -- not with an Indonesia district.

    Doctor wants to set up sister city - PittsburghLIVE.com


    I am all in favor of the moves of Pittsburgh to double or even triple its sister city programs. But, sister cities should not be established with places that are not cities. Common ground seems to be absent. Pittsburgh and Nagan Raya, a 30-by-50-mile district in Aceh, are not similar -- like sisters -- with two exceptions.

    To begin, the Shadyside doctor, Ali, from the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh makes a vibrant and true connection. He's one guy. Brave, helpful, hopeful, talented and giving as he is -- its a one person connection. A three person connection, as the article listed others, could be made. I'm sure, another hundred beyond these three could be located. Personal connections are great. But they don't make a sister-city status.

    The other connection between Pittsburgh and Aceh (Nagan Raya), is the loss of a population. In Aceh, "more than 300,000 people are dead or missing from a total population of 4 million. Another 500,000 are displaced from their homes." The city of Pittsburgh has lost about 300,000, but in a trickle, not a single event. Pittsburgh's population is half of its former self. The displaced Pittsburgh population seems to make the two regions somewhat equal. The total number of displaced Pittsburghers is similar, sad, grief causing -- but its a stretch.

    One can't minimize or trivialize the hardships of the tsunami, nor that of the city's outward migration. But as common ground, those are fleeting examples. That's the best there is.

    Speaking of sisters, my sister, Mary Lee, and her husband, Phil, both doctors, went to remote Pacific Islands to live and work in humanitarian efforts. They delivered medical skills to some hard situations for a couple of years of service. I'm proud of their work. They too forged friendships that live to this day from those experiences. Wonderful. But, let's not claim those locations as sister cities either.

    Same too for southwestern China's, Chengdu. Chengdu is a city at least. Our Pittsburgh connection runs to Chengdu via our family. My wife teaches a course there. That city has a huge medical center -- and others from Pittsburgh have been there too. But Chengdu exceeds 10-million people. The sisterhood elements are slim as well. Furthermore, Pittsburgh has a sister city in China, a steel town no less.

    Sister city links make great relationship building experiences. Pittsburgh can do much, much more in these effort. But, the relationship needs to be based upon serious common ground.

    Let's help out in Nagan Raya. Let's do what we can for the world and ourselves. Let's do more with our existing sister cities. Let's not be loose with the designation and make what is nearly meaningless really meaningless.

    Peduto vows to clean up - if you ignore those red signs.

    Peduto vows to clean up - PittsburghLIVE.com Peduto's 'Operation Red' measure would put large red signs in front of the buildings and list the name, address and phone number of the landlord in question so residents can call owners directly.

    How does one clean up the neighborhood with large red signs in front of rentals?
    As it is now, we've got a ton of for sale signs. Next we'll have these red signs too? They will stand out like sore thumbs saying, don't feel safe here, don't move here, don't stop your car!
    The red signs gotta go. But, the same info can be better delivered on the internet with technology.

    Map Pittsburgh is touted as a solution to Pittsburgh's woes. Talk about technology as an answer for the delivery of information in terms of troubled property ownership.

    The owners who get their rents are not going to show any worry about a sign at the rental property. Rather, how about if we put the sign in the home owners lawn, not in the rental's location? Signs that spring up in the suburban locations are sure to raise some desired effect. Of course that isn't going to happen. But, it would be a much better suggestion.

    The sign suggestion is: costly with materials and employees, ugly, hard to update, and screams wolf to no avail. Using technology would greatly help matters.

    CAN ANYONE STOP O'CONNOR? (more from Jon's PSF)

    A number of points need to be challenged in Delano's story about the Mayor's race. Pittsburgh's Dems pick their mayor candidate for the Dem's nominee in May -- they don't get to embrace the next mayor until after the November 2005 general election.

    Hop is an aid to O'Connor. Conventional wisdom from my perspective goes the othr way from what Delano reports. The concept is to divide and win. O'Connor would rather have a crowd in the field of challengers rather than a single opponent.

    The flood of entries into the Dem's mayor race is a sign of discontent. When people are upset they'll be motivated to run themselves.

    As for Lamb and Peduto, both have troubles. Lamb is in the wrong race. Lamb should have run for PA Senate. He'd make a better candidate than Fontana. Even Lamb as an Indie would do better than Fontana.

    Michael Lamb has exactly one week to get his act together and pass the nomination papers so he can enter the PA Senate race as an Independent. To enter the race, the candidate needs nearly 900 signatures. He'd need to shoot for 1,000 or more to play it on the safe side. Given 20 volunteers, each would need to get 50 signatures. Lamb would be able to do the job in about two days. One rule of thumb is says 15 per hour makes a decent work outcome.

    I'd welcome Michael Lamb into the PA Senate race, now. Lamb should have been putting his energy into this race months ago. The knock on the Lamb vision would make a hurdle. But Lamb could bypass the late entry with some interesting re-tooling and alliances as an Independent.

    Lamb's been asked by others with more sway to switch out of the Mayor's race and go for the open PA Senate race. But I'm the only one in the PA Senate race who is doing the asking in public. Furthermore, I'm in the race where he should be.

    Perhaps Lamb's unwillingness to switch to the PA Senate race is due to his brazen hope that he'll be able to win the Mayor's race? The Trib's numbers need to be replayed in a few other polls and formats to give more weight to the realm of possibility for Lamb in the Dem's Mayor's Race outcome.

    Delano wrote:

    With just eight weeks to go before Pittsburgh Democrats embrace their next mayor, nothing seems to be stopping the impression that former county council president Bob O'Connor has momentum in his race against county prothonotary Michael Lamb and city councilman Bill Peduto. The problem, of course, is that nobody really knows much more than a Tribune Review poll conducted by Susquehanna Polling & Research in early March. That poll gave O'Connor 51 percent, 14 percent for Lamb, 12 percent for Peduto, and 23 percent undecided.

    Is the race for mayor of Pittsburgh over? Maybe . . . unless Lamb or Peduto does something soon that really shakes up the race. Last week Lamb tried by taking on O'Connor directly, alleging that the former city council president was partially responsible for the city's fiscal crisis. During a recent debate, Lamb said to O'Connor, “You say you have a ‘vibrant and far reaching’ new plan to put Pittsburgh on the right track, but in the past we have seen the Mayor and the members of City Council make decisions that have brought us to the brink of bankruptcy. While you were President of City Council, city budgets increased by $48 million. Why should the people of Pittsburgh believe that as mayor you will do anything to put the city back on the right track, when all we have heard from you is a proposal for an expensive new streetcar system from Downtown Pittsburgh to Oakland?”

    If Lamb really wants city Democrats to hold O'Connor responsible for the city's mess, he will have to get that message up on television and/or out in direct mail pretty darn quick. Time is running out for Lamb and Peduto, not because eight weeks is too short a time to make a difference, but because there is no sense among the general public that O'Connor (who has been running for this post for eight years) is unfit for this office. This race has always been Bob O'Connor's to lose, but so far his opponents have not given city residents any compelling reasons why O'Connor should not be mayor.

    By the way, the race for mayor now has an African American candidate: Louis "Hop" Kendrick. Kendrick tells me that he may be black, but he is not the black candidate. He is running to refute notions that Pittsburgh is the "most racist city in America" and that "Pittsburgh's blacks are the most docile blacks" in the country. He says both portrayals are false, and his candidacy will prove it. Kendrick, who has a weekly column in the New Pittsburgh Courier and works for Allegheny County as a consultant to the minority disadvantaged business program, says he will spend no money in this race.

    African Americans make up just over a fifth of the Democratic voting electorate in the city of Pittsburgh and, if united, can have an important impact. Conventional wisdom is that Kendrick hurts O'Connor because O'Connor has had some support in the African American community over the years. Still, no one thinks a candidate who spends nothing can make much of an inroad.

    Unless and until his opponents go on the attack on television and radio in a convincing and effective manner, Bob O'Connor will be the next mayor of Pittsburgh.

    Neither Lamb nor Peduto will go on any attack of O'Connor. They can't because they are both too young. An attack could be effective -- or it could backfire. Lamb and Peduto are playing it safe and are expected to linger around the race to build their resumes and get practice in the race. For either Lamb or Pedutor to offend O'Connor and his pals before O'Connor steps into the mayor's race is sure to hurt in the years to come after O'Connor becomes Mayor, should that come to pass.

    The yawn will sustain itself.

    Furthermore, Hop got into the race to knock out two others who have more vocal expressions -- Mark Brentley and Harry Liller. Brentley toyed with a dual run, for city council and mayor. He let loose on a rant before city council as Dr. John Thompson got an award as he finished his tenure at Pgh Public School's superintendent. Meanwhile, Liller didn't get onto the ballot as pages of petition signatures evaporated in a Homewood church with Hop's arrival into the race.

    Hop is a buffer with a government job and a pledge to spend $0. Hop makes a perfect wet blanket on the sparks of others.

    I miss Leroy Hodge.

    Jon Delano gives up some recycled electrons at the end of this PSF rant

    Jon Delano, a KDKA TV business and politics reporter, and frequent moderator at debates, did give a mention in his recent PSF email blast. Thanks Jon.
    DIVEN V. FONTANA NOW A REAL BATTLE:

    With Republicans already spending money on TV ads (admittedly, only on cable so far) for their state Senate candidate, Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Michael Diven, and the Democrats suffering a contentious nomination process that gave all signs of disarray, the odds seemed to favor a Republican upset for that Democratic state senate seat vacated by now auditor general Jack Wagner.

    But that was a week ago.

    Last Friday, the Dems tried to turn things around with a unity fest that brought together some of Allegheny County's heavyweights to embrace Wayne Fontana, the Democratic nominee and former county councilman. Chief among them was long-time Diven supporter Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll. Knoll says she tried to keep Diven from switching parties, but when he ignored her she made it clear that she was backing Fontana all the way to the state capitol. She wasn't alone, as both Wagner and the man who once ran against him for state senator years ago, Dan Onorato, teamed up on Friday to proclaim Fontana the man.

    For his part, Fontana made it clear that Diven's switcheroo was an issue, demonstrating lack of conviction on core Democratic issues. He accused the Republicans of "trickery" by running TV ads that "hide" the fact that Diven is now a Republican. And he says that social security is an issue in this campaign because Diven, by choosing to embrace the Republican Party and Rick Santorum, has embraced GOP values.

    More impressive than the newfound come-on-strong attitude of Fontana and the unity of his fellow Dems is the team that the Senate Dems are putting together to keep the Wagner seat in the Democratic column. Marty Marks, a local operative who ran Onorato's field operation in 2003 and ran Joe Hoeffel's campaign in this region last fall, is now Fontana's campaign manager. Also on board are Ken Snyder and Tom Hickey, two well-known eastern PA operatives who bring strong media and strategy expertise to the operation. Those two were in town putting together TV commercials last Friday that should hit the air in a week. That won't be the end of the Harrisburg Dem support for Fontana. Rumor has it that once the special state Senate race in the Allentown area is concluded on April 5, Paul Gage, the field director for state Rep. Jennifer Mann who is running in that race for Senate, will also be heading west to help F! ontana.

    All in all, what once seemed like a very likely G.O.P. win for Diven has suddenly turned into a race. Why? Because the Harrisburg Dems are sinking real money into the race and local Dems appear determined to teach Diven a lesson about party-switching. In case folks in the 42nd senatorial district don't like either Fontana or Diven, there is a third party candidate, Libertarian Mark Rauterkus.

    Mt. Lebanon Shooting Shouldn't Cause Frenzy

    There was a shooting in one of the region's most affluent neighborhoods on Sunday. By initial reports, there may have been a disagreement between people who knew each other. They raced to Virginia Manor in Mt. Lebanon, where one guy reportedly shot at the other.

    No one was injured. But aside from that, the Mt. Lebanon story is eerily similar to the one that occurred in Carrick in the same week.

    Virginia Manor contains million-dollar homes. I delivered UPS there one winter season. The folks there are nice, just have thicker wallets and portfolios than those of us in Carrick.

    For Sale signs should not increase in Mt. Lebanon. Nud-knicks with no real schedules shouldn't parade to their school board member's house, demanding someone do something about things out of his/her control.

    Things will be back to normal today in Virginia Manor. There's no need to cause a frenzy in one of our nicest neighborhoods. And Virginia Manor, too.

    Sunday, March 20, 2005

    Lipstick on a pig, the promotional video

    Why spend $250,000 for a promotional video to attract vacationers to Pittsburgh? It is like a Pittsburgher seeing a promotional video about St. Louis or Minneapolis and saying - "Gee maybe rather than going to the beach this year I'll go to Minneapolis." Not gonna happen.

    People travel to Pittsburgh for two reasons - job or family related. That's it.

    Create jobs, expand the tax base, get more people to move here. That's the only sensible way to increase visitors.

    Do not forget the dopey slogan fiasco a year or so ago. A new PR campaign only puts lipstick on a pig.

    We have our strengths here - good medical treatment, universities, but they are non-profits. We need profitable enterprises.

    Source: Our campaign's, new Dormont volunteer.

    City's lame duck mayor and county heads urge consolidating -- Dan and Tom are wrong on rights.

    It wasn't fair of me to insert the word "dead" before the "head" in the headline. Dan O is our county executive and he's alive. Sadly, our mayor's status puts him as one still in office but with room temperature and lame duck status. It's rotten to see Murphy still at the helm. He's done so much to destroy the city that we can't give him the juice to sustain the death march.
    City, county heads urge consolidating Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy said yesterday they plan to ask the state Legislature for the right to put the issue of a city-county merger before voters.

    'The mayor and I have been meeting and working on this for months, and we're building a strategy to bring to Harrisburg,' Onorato said at a luncheon sponsored by the League of Women Voters. 'We have to convince the Legislature to give us the right to vote on this.'

    The legislature does NOT need to give us the right to vote. Dan and Tom can both put matters before either the city or the county without running to Harrisburg. And, both can be instrumental to put a question onto the ballot without getting local legislative bodies to sign off on the question as well.

    Presently the executive (either Tom or Dan) can write a ballot question and submit that to the legislative branch (either city council or county council). The respective council can put the question onto the ballot. Done.

    Go to Harrisburg and beg for your own crumbs.

    If either Dan or Tom were serious about consolidation, more would have been done last year or the past dozen years before that.

    If Dan or Tom want to make a significan merger plan in the near future, they'd do what I suggested to them in May, 2004, with the position paper on PARKS consolidation. That called for a new Pittsburgh Park District. That is the NEXT best place to make a "merger." The parks effort would get the support of the ICA, the Act 47 coordinators, the public, the county officials, the city officials and state officials too.

    Most of all, the park's plan would capture the spirit of the citizens in new ways, generate new life in the ranks of volunteers and be a springboard for other creative change endeavors. That's why Dan does NOT want to make it happen. It is a power thing.

    Opposition would not be strong if they did what I requested. http://DSL.CLOH.Org/v1

    As for Tom's lack of capacity for change -- let's just say he's just being Tom Murphy. He's the grand teacher of how to NOT play well with others.

    Friday, March 18, 2005

    Serious shame on the Downtown Pittsburgh Partnerships for the closed-minded invite and closed meetings

    Debates launch mayoral contest Les Ludwig, was not invited.

    No suprise noted as these are the same people that can't follow the charter to their own corporation. Les was not only not invited, but he was denied entry.

    Weinroth had an opportunity to score serious points on the ethical front. He didn't.

    Say it isn't so, Joe!

    Peduto already failed to meet my standards. Peduto called for the others to sign a clean election statement. To bad he couldn't call for the others to share the debate microphone.

    We knew Bob O'Connor was going to balk at inclusion. He did a dozen debates in 2001 with Tom, one-on-one. That's why Bob isn't mayor today. His selfishness got in the way.

    Meanwhile Michael Lamb, an expert in the County Charter and reform leader, wouldn't join in the call for the resignation of a candidate on County Council, as called for the county charter itself.

    The League of Women Voters and the 'clean' task force should rip into the organizations in town. Go beyond the candidates in the report card, please.

    Props to the PG for the mention of the failures as part of the real story.

    This yawner of a race, as others are calling it, needs only include all the candidates. Then issues and attention will perk to life quickly, I dare predict. Likewise, Pittsburgh as a region would come back to life as well after all are included and the web of life is respected.

    To soar, we'll need to extend a wing to the left, another to the right and include some tailfeathers. Otherwise, we'll dwell in dispair for another decade.

    Mister Rogers house assessment is NOT online yet

    Can you find the county's assessment of this house?
    AP: Miniature houseThe Carnegie Science Center's Miniature Railroad & Village debuts a tiny recreation of Mister Rogers' house from the popular television show 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.' The cardigan-clad Fred Rogers, who died in Feb. 2003 after battling stomach cancer, would have been 77 on Sunday.

    The brown and white home, made with beeswax carved to look like stone, sits near a red trolley that whizzes by. On the porch, a miniature Rogers, wearing a red sweater and navy blue sneakers, sits with two children on a wooden porch swing gently rocking back and forth.

    In other news, the USX Tower is going up for sale. Deed transfer taxes on these buildings are going to net some serious cash. But, sadly, the buildings are selling because the land value tax is gone.

    Is that right Dan and Harold?

    Did Pittsburgh toss out the baby with the bathwater with its "unified tax" that Bob O'Connor hailed as a solution four years ago? Now the buildings downtown are selling like hotcakes.

    SUNSHINE Week: It’s going to to take all of us to clear the air

    Ads Developed by University of Florida, with good basketball team props.

    Recently, newspaper reporters discovered that the Environmental Protection Agency had "quietly allowed oil refineries nationwide to miss court-mandated deadlines to reduce air emissions, exposing thousands of people to dangerous pollutants."

    Airing issues like this is important to all of us. Citizens in a democracy have a fundamental right to know what their government is doing—or not doing.

    Freedom of information assures that we have access to government records. Then we can take steps to prevent government from keeping us in the dark on pollution. We’ll all breathe easier.

    It's Time.

    Let the Sunshine in.

    Ohio U's Bobcats got to 60 to 60 with Florida after picking being down by 20 points.

    The Florida Gators won. But the Bobcats came scratching back.

    Speaking of animal sports performers, Dan Perkey, Carlington's Wildcat, was in the finals in the PIAA Meet, in the 100 Breast. Dan has his heart on going to Notre Dame in the fall.

    Mike Ley, a Fox Chapel Fox, went 21.32 in the 50 free to make finals too!

    Way to go men.

    In other steroid news: Greek sprinters cleared in Olympic drug scandal

    All is not as it seems at first blush. These Greek athletic heros were in a world-class mess as the Olympics rolled into their backyard. The media and its buzz with officials can really do a number on the individuals.
    SI.com - More Sports - Greek sprinters cleared in Olympic drug scandal - Friday March 18, 2005 12:54PM 'The decision is very good, but someone has to pay,' Tzekos said after Friday's ruling. 'They say I was informed about the test and the athletes were not -- I can live with that.'

    Kenteris, who won the 200-meter gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and Thanou, who took silver in the 100, were national heroes in Greece and showered with honors until the scandal broke.

    Both runners have declared their innocence, claiming they had not been properly notified about the Athens test.

    Kenteris and Thanou also allegedly evaded tests in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Chicago over an 18-month period before the Olympics.

    Kenteris' British-based lawyer, Gregory Ioannidis, said the sprinter was 'delighted' by the verdict.

    'The decision means Mr. Kenteris has been exonerated of highly damaging and unfounded charges which have been extremely harmful for his career,' he said in a statement.

    Meanwhile, in PA, some in the state house would like to make it illegal for those 17 and under to even have tobacco. To hold it could be criminal. To buy it is not legal. Fine. But the move to raise the range of offenses to possession is sure to raise more toubles.

    These are drug war struggles.

    Walko's move to increase red tape in knee-jerk reaction

    Capitol Notes, 3/18/05: "Rep. Don Walko, D-North Side, this week introduced House Bill 992, which would regulate bounty hunting in Pennsylvania. In a press release, Walko said he drafted the legislation in response to the fatal shooting of an unarmed fugitive, Michael P. Robinson, by a bounty hunter at a North Side home in December.

    These bad guys are running around our neighborhoods and State Rep Don Walko wants to regulate the good guys who are trying to catch the bad guys. This is a wrongheaded response, IMNSHO.

    Pittsburgh could be a mecca for fugitives. No thanks. Pittsburgh is already a hot spot nationally for meth labs, grafitti vandals and over taxed operations.

    I would rather make it easier for bounty hunters to come here help us keep our streets and neighborhoods safe. Today's headline is about the police getting little help in finding the shooting suspects in the afterschool murder. Perhaps State Rep Walko does not see the connection?
  • Prior post from Jan 2005
  • PG's Capitol Notes and DeWeese's 31-member group on schools

    Capitol Notes, 3/18/05STRANGE BEDFELLOWS. Who knew that a liberal Democrat like Rep. H. William DeWeese of Greene County had something in common with a conservative Republican like President Bush?

    But the issue of improving public schools in Pennsylvania has brought them together.

    DeWeese, the state House minority leader, this week introduced legislation to create something called the 'Commonwealth Commission on the Provision of Public Education.'

    If approved by the Legislature, it would be a 31-member group that would, by Oct. 31, 2006, 'make recommendations on the current system for the delivery of public education and related services to children in pre-school through and including bachelor degree level instruction.'

    'What we want to do is make education better,' DeWeese said. 'This is something to which we can all be agreeable.'

    DeWeese said Bush has taken the lead in the matter by creating the federal No Child Left Behind law, which sets standards for schools, students and teachers to meet over the next 10 years.

    'It has impacted nearly every aspect of public education throughout the United States,' DeWeese said. He is hoping this new panel will 'take a holistic look at the entire public education system' in the light of the new federal requirements.

    The way to make education better, in the eyes of the one's who are in power, is to make a new commission.
    The approach of making a new panel, such as the A+ Schools or the Mayor's Commission on Public Education, is no insurance for better schools. That approach is a joke, as are the two organizations mentioned.
    Another harmful, failed approach that didn't help our schools but only caused harm was championed by Michael Diven and a couple of others who were elected to city office. Michael formed a PAC (Political Action Committee) with Gene R and Jim M to sway school board election results. A bull in a china shop could have done less harm.
    The Pgh Public School Board soon spun into a national embarrassment.
    We can all agree that public schools are in need of some serious help. President Bush, state lawmakers and I know that schools are not in great shape.

    The best way to handle these issues is to electe people who care greatly about these matters and not allow the elected leaders to pass the responsibility and in turn the blame to some other authority or hatched 31 board as mentioned in the story from DeWeese.

    I'm against the creation of more red tape. Let's not create more frustrations without accountability.

    Grant to preserve photojournalist's trove of images

    Grant to preserve photojournalist's trove of images: "Every Monday for the past 21u20442 years, Lippincott has worked with archivist Kerin Shellenbarger to catalog roughly 8,000 Harris images.

    How long?
    Is this some librarian joke with a Dewey Decimal reference? April Fools comes early?
    I'd love to see the Harris collection online. I'd love to have it happen in our lifetime.
    If the collection was put into the public domain, it would be done 100-times faster.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    Carrick Shooting Shouldn't Cause Frenzy

    As a resident and community activist in the city neighborhood of Carrick, I was disappointed to hear of the fatal shooting of a student outside of the high school, but not overly surprised.

    I grew up in a rural community and went to an elementary/middle/high school campus that looks remarkably like the Columbine high school where several kids went on a killing spree years ago. Residents of that previously sleepy town didn't run to their nearest urban area, afraid of gun-toting teens. Likewise, Carrick residents shouldn't run for the hills after this tragedy.

    Parents need to be responsible for their kids' activities, before, during and after school. Immediately upon hearing of the shooting, I predicted that the actors knew their victims, it was probably drug-or-pseudo gang related, and that there would be plenty of fear to go around.

    News reports indicate that the act was caught on video. They already have suspects. I truly expect arrests within a week.

    Within the next few days a city leader, or prospective city leader, MUST unveil a plan to help parents--single parents, married parents--everyone who has children in Pittsburgh. Counseling, after-school activities, motivational speakers, family experts, etc. At foundation or private expense. A challenge to the "downtown community" to help any parent who needs it.

    Carrick has the city's largest baseball league. Just last week, we signed up our son for another season of shagging flies and hitting sharp grounders up the middle. Carrick's baseball community does its part. It's a guarantee that none of the actors involved in today's shooting were a part of Carrick's baseball community.

    Parents should allow their students to go back to Carrick High School. Maybe not tomorrow if they are particularly concerned. But without question, people in the community shouldn't fold up their tents and go into a tizzy.

    Hertzberg steps out to allow for special election on May 17

    Alan Hertzberg is setting aside personal compensation and is quickly resigning from his city council seat to allow for the special election to occur on May 17.

    The special election would have cost the city an extra $60,000 if it was held on another date.

    Alan did the right thing and did so for the good of the city.

    Last year I pushed and pulled at Harrisburg to hold the special election for the 42nd State Senate to be held on May 17. That move saved $250,000. The proper date was selected so we'll not only save more money, but engage more voters in the selection of the public officials.

    Alan's move turn up the heat a bit for the city council race. The Republican candidate needs to get into gear.

    Anyone want to run for the office under a LIBERTARIAN banner, please contact me. Tonight the Libertarians are meeting at 7 pm at Ritters Diner in Oakland/Shadyside area.

    NEPA News - busted for living the high life on Ben Franklin's good name

    Corruption. Caught. Outcome.
    NEPA News: "Leaders such as Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy and former Gov. Tom Ridge instructed McGeehan to 'shake trees' to bring new businesses to the region, McGeehan said, and he did that by traveling and hosting parties at which he could network.

    Read about the fat cats in the comments or click the link above.

    I have a no problem with fat cats in the private sector but they don't sit well in my view in the public sector.

    I remember the Pittsburgh Ben Franklin center -- and how worthless they were as I approached them. I was there on a number of instances and was always left with a bad impression.

    I had also been to the small business incubators in Evanston, Illinois with Northwestern Univ. too. The contrast was real. These pretentious characters are part of the continual decline of the Pittsburgh business climate.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2005

    Fontana resigned. Next phase begins.

    Wayne Fontana, thanks for the five years of service. Thanks for tendering your resignation. Now let's start the discussion on how to best serve the citizens and taxpayers of the region.

    The meeting in County Council was on the wild side. A new crisis is here. Headlines in the papers are sure to point out that the 1-2-3-4 plan is headed to court.

    One eight-to-sevewn vote dodged a year-long delay. The final vote was with three on the minority side.

    Everyone was in agreement, the system is broken. Some think it will take three years to fix it. I ask, why? What was happening the last three years?

    My solution, "assessment buffering." More to come on that in the weeks to come.

    Venture outdoord hits a bump in the road with insurance

    Sad news from our outdoor friends on insurance is in the comment section.

    When the Rec Centers and Swim Pools closed, I put a message to the firefighters union to ask them to come to the rescue in terms of insurance help. Coordination matters.

    The Pittsburgh Park District would be another way to get solutions to insurance problems.

    See the comments.

    City of Pittsburgh needs GOP mayoral candidate, a PG statement

    City of Pittsburgh needs GOP mayoral candidate The rest of you just have to work on your sales pitch. That argument I've heard so often on talk shows -- 'You people are idiots. Why don't you let us run that city we hate?'' -- will need polishing before November.

    For the record, I love Pittsburgh.

    The rest of the article is interesting.

    Mr. Reform falters, so says the trib. But Lamb isn't dead yet. His rebirth could come in a new race. Mine, no less!

    Pittsburgh Tuesday takes - PittsburghLIVE.comThe mayoral campaign of Allegheny County Prothonotary Michael Lamb continues to go nowhere fast. To wit, the Democrat's transportation 'plan' talks of pumping more money into the Port Authority instead of fixing the badly broken agency. Lamb also gushes over the proposed high-speed magnetic levitation train and the North Shore Connector. Both are boondoggles of the highest order. Some 'plan.' 'Mr. Reform' is dead.

    We did get the deer in the headlight glaze to vanish when asking Lamb about the Mon Valley Toll Road. A few months ago he was without comment. He's on the campaign trails and has no comment on a vital issue. Well, at least he is moving and showing some progress there in the right direction.
    But, by and large, the reform tag misses the mark. So, I agree with the Trib's editorial snip.

    But, Lamb isn't dead yet. In the Mayor's race, Lamb might be. But, Lamb has a chance of getting a new gust of wind if he would only switch races. Lamb could still jump into the PA Senate race slated for May 17.

    Fontana, D, has yet to resign from County Council. Fontana, the expert that he is, might be too valuable to county council in this new crisis in his field on his watch. Fontana might need to stay right where he is to fight off the court cases that are sure to arrive.

    Michael Lamb could fill in for Fontana as the Democrat's entry into the race for PA Senate to fill Jack Wagner's old seat.

    Next year, Fontana might be able to get a job within Lamb's office.

    Michael Lamb's father is a former majority leader in the PA Senate. The younger Lamb, 42 now, should have entered this race months ago.

    Lamb, however, to his credit, says he can't allow Bob O'Connor to become Pittsburgh's next mayor. He, too, cares a great deal about the future of our city and region. But the time is too short.

    Lamb could pull out of the Mayor's race, get the endorsement of the Dems with a deal with Fontana, and run for Harrisburg. Lamb, and his supporters, could then influence the Mayor's race in the fall's general election. But that effort would take, T E A M W O R K.

    Teamwork. Humm. The debate stage for the Mayor's Primary among Dems is sorta busy. Les, Bill, Hop and others are there to engage Bob. The frontrunner might get more than 50% of the vote. But, in 2001, Bob got 30K votes. Meanwhile in 2004 Kerry got 114K and Bush got 39K.

    This year, the November election could be important.

    Think again.