Friday, September 30, 2005

Possible tone for the pending city council race: Matching seriousness of Old Faithful


Old Faithful. It's a technical place that happens in rare instances with the right conditions. It's more than just "hot air." It's something to marvel upon and respect. A treasure.

Going to the Opera -- In Italian -- with two intermissions!

The opera goers gathered outside of the school and the center on South Side. They headed to the cultural district after getting the insights into the opera at a class a few days prior. This is a wonderful program that my kids and wife enjoy. I got to take the photo.


Headed to the opera.

The show has two intermissions -- much like a hockey game with three periods. I expected that my youngest would be sleeping throughout the show, prior to departure. Wrong. He was on the edge of his seat all night. They arrived home after midnight. The sleep part came on Saturday morning.

Jennifer Madge, our violin instructor, played first chair too.

Big games -- or not

Pitt is behind, 27 to 0 in the second quarter at RUTGERS.

Big weekend of Red Sox baseball, hosting the Yankees.

My call-in to Pippy on KDKA-radio about the 5% windfall shrink to 0%

The South Hills' John Pippy, R, was on KDKA radio talking about the plan in Harrisburg that NUKES the provision that allows for a 5-percent windfall for taxing bodies as a result of new property assessments. Presently, a community with a new assessment can get up to a five-percent bump in gross tax incomes. So, for exmaple, the Penn Hills School District, which is part of Allgheny County, would have all of its properties with new assessment figures because the county did a re-assessment. The old values of the properties would up up to X. Then the new values of the properties would up up to Y. The law has said that Y can be up to 5% greater than X.

In essence, the present law kept the total municipal property gross close to zero, with a little wiggle room, i.e., the 5% fudge factor.

Some argue that the municipality can "raise taxes" by five percent without voting on a tax hike. Rather, the taxes were raised under the cover of the reassesement's new figures.

The controller's office, once held by Dan Onorato, needed to crunch the numbers and then could have taken a case to the courts fighting local school districts or boroughs who set the taxing levels too high so that the 5% limit was over-stepped.

The tax rates and the math that is matched with the new property values isn't "rocket science." However, the numbers are not simple and transparent for citizens nor elected officials as the benchmark is found within the sum of all municipality's properties.

Furthermore, the new assessment numbers are often in a state of flux. High percentage of people apply for appeals. So, the sum of the assessments is a moving target. Estimates are necessary within the process. Additionally, the county executive often makes blankt-changes to the forumlas and jacks around with the outcomes.

In a perfect, ideal world, no tax increases should occur without a vote for the tax increases. So, a zero windfall makes sense. But, we don't live in an ideal world.

Plus, this won't be enforced. It is a joke. It is a ploy. The legisilation is lame and feel good from Harrisburg represenatives --as usual. The new law doesn't get to the roots of the problem.

There have been many municipalities that have broken the existing five-percent windfall rule and NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE. If the law gets broken and nothing happens with its enforcement -- then the law isn't worthy.

Another serious issue that was downplayed on the radio by Pippy, as a result of my on-air question, goes to 'new development.' Pippy said that this is not a big deal and he's wrong. Statewide, he is very wrong.

For example, there are many rural communities that are turning farmlands into new suburban housing. A township can see a new development with 600 or 6,000 new homes and need to take that into account when making the tax incomes match the citizen services. A community might need new police, new road crews, new garbage pick-up crews and streetlights -- because of new developments. So, the new law puts the township supervisors in a pickle.

What if Homestead, the site of the Waterfront Mall, had to keep its total tax incomes at zero -- the year that the Mall opened. Do police not cruise the mall and just go to those who paid the same from last year?

The new law needs to make some allowances for new growth and new tax incomes that were not there the past year -- and not have that included to the zero windfall benchmark.

Duhh!

The PA zero windfall proposal is a lot like zero tolerance in schools as well. A first grade kid that wears a Pirate costume to school for Halloween shouldn't be suspended for two weeks because of his sword and the zero weapon rule that ties the hands of administrators and teachers.

If Pippy wanted to do a better job -- put out the numbers from past tax increases from past assessments on a district by district basis. Then, go after the entities that took more than a 5-percent windfall. Pippy and others should enforce the existing law before they go ahead and create a new law.

If Pippy wanted to do a better job -- talk about and study, as well as enact, a different type of law that applies to an individuals tax situation that hits with new assessment figures. We need each household to add the numbers together and fight the good fight with tools that impact families -- NOT GROSS MUNICIPAL INCOMES.

Assessment buffering is needed. If we had assessment buffering -- we'd not need any ZERO WINDFALL LAW. And, assessment buffering, a point that I campaigned upon in my race for State Senate in 2005, makes a perfect solution for every tax payer throughout the state.

TCS: Tech Central Station - The Technorati Candidate

By all accounts, I'm a wired citizen and from time to time, a wired candidate. However, I've not yet gone overboard to predict a victory and only earn 5% of the vote.
TCS: Tech Central Station - The Technorati Candidate In the 2000 presidential election, Al Gore found out that it was possible to win the popular vote, and still lose the electoral vote. In last week's Democratic primary for New York City Public Advocate, Andrew Rasiej found out that it was possible to win the blogger vote, and still lose the popular vote.

For the two months leading up to the primary election on September 13, Rasiej captured the hearts and minds of bloggers like no other candidate since Howard Dean with a technology-centric campaign that included a plan for citywide wireless Internet access, a video blog (in addition to a regular blog), and a plan for making 911 calls from the NYC subway. On the day preceding the election, in fact, 'Rasiej' ranked as one of the ten most popular search terms on the blog search engine Technorati. Anyone convinced of the power of the blogosphere to determine the fate of political careers (Trent Lott, anyone?) would surely have guessed that Mr. Rasiej was on the cusp of sweeping into office with a broad new mandate to revolutionize politics.

Massachusetts moves ahead sans Microsoft | CNET News.com

Five years ago I had a platform plank that called for actions like this. The movement is now, finally, taking root in the US in other states with better awareness of technology policy.

At times, it can be hard to show what isn't there. No Microsoft to oil the palm.
Massachusetts moves ahead sans Microsoft | CNET News.com Massachusetts has finalized its decision to standardize desktop applications on OpenDocument, a format not supported by Microsoft Office.
The state on Wednesday posted the final version of its Enterprise Technical Reference Model, which mandates new document formats for office productivity applications.
As it proposed late last month before a comment period, Massachusetts has decided to use only products that conform to the Open Document Format for Office Applications, or OpenDocument, which is developed by the standards body OASIS.

Thanks for the tip, Amos_thePokerCat.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


My camera died today while on the field trip to the Pgh Zoo and Aquarium. I had some nice photos of a nice field trip -- but the best I can share with the blog readers is this photo of some fish -- for sale on the street -- literally on the street. We got to feed the fish at four different tanks. Cool.

October 6 -- WQED Community Reception

Go there and demand community meetings on issues that impact the community! Go there and demand that candidate debates occur.
Meet WQED personalities, hear about upcoming programming on WQED tv 13, WQED fm 89.3 and Pittsburgh Magazine. This is also a great time for input on issues affecting your community, and how WQED can better serve you. This Community Reception will be held at Robert Morris University.

For more information and to RSVP, call 412-622- 1313.

Economic TV -- or -- DoWop?

What would YOU do if you had two weeks in Hong Kong, starting early next week??

We are headed to Hong Kong. This is your chance to give us last minute pointers or tasks.

My wife is a visiting scholar / teacher at HK University.

We are staying in an apartment in Discovery Bay. We'll take a ferry to Hong Kong Island.

Our group includes our sons (Erik is turning 11 there, Grant, 7), two Pitt Graduate students in their own apartment about a 10-minute walk from ours, and a HS senior from CT (step-nephew).

We'll touch down there on Monday and spend Tuesday at the new Hong Kong Disney. There is a serious Disney connection with the step-nephew.

My note of introduction to the faculty of the HK Univ. Human Performance (Physical Education) follows in the comments. I've already got word on when they hold swim practices.

I'm thinking that we'll shop for plenty of 'tea' -- and host a few 'Pittsburgh tea parties' so as to warm up the mood for a revolution of sorts. The same worked in Boston some time ago when they held the Boston Tea Party. But, we'll drink ours and take the revolution to the voting booths on election day.

So, note if you have a favorite tea from China, please.

Time to junk the Microsoft Office Suite and go to OpenOffice.org -- because it is community driven, free and better.

OpenOffice.org 2.0 has gone from being a Beta to a Release Candidate

As an RC, OpenOffice.org 2.0 RC still -- even more so -- needs to be downloaded and tested by the community. You are urged to download and start the application. The sooner we clean up the bugs, the sooner we can come out with OpenOffice.org 2.0.

OpenOffice.org 2.0 is the world's best and easiest to use free productivity suite. Read the product page and features pages for more information.

* Product
* Features

*** NOTE: Windows user with OpenOffice.org's older, beta and past developer builds should remove them prior to the installation of the RC because of an incorrect interpretation of their version information by the Windows Installer. As a matter of course the stable version OpenOffice.org 1.1.x (most recent: 1.1.5) can be used concurrently.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Free Pennsylvania = highly moderated. Yuck.

Good luck Jason. First order of business, get rid of the moderation. Just nuke it.
Free Pennsylvania, http://www.freepa.org. It is a highly moderated discussion site for political discussion among those that consider themselves conservatives: whether fiscal, social, or both. There are forums for general discussion, news, and a Campaigns section to discuss the various political campaigns currently being waged. Over the last few days I have had a few friends register and make a few posts in order to make sure that everything is functional. Now that thebugs are worked out (I hope), it’s time to let the masses know that Pennsylvania conservatives finally have a home on the Internet. Please take a moment to register and help to get this community started.

Ticket given to woman sitting on park bench -- without a kid

In Pittsburgh, we are about to get finger-printed and ticketed for being in the cultural district without a home or without lunch money.
7Online.com, WABC-TV A woman was given a ticket for sitting on a park bench because she doesn't have children.
The Rivington Playground on Manhattan's East Side has a small sign at the entrance that says adults are prohibited unless they are accompanied by a child.
Forty-seven-year-old Sandra Catena says she didn't see the sign when she sat down to wait for an arts festival to start. Two New York City police officers asked her if she was with a child. When she said no, they gave her a ticket that could bring a one thousand dollar fine and 90 days in jail.
The city parks department says the rule is designed to keep pedophiles out of city parks, but a parks spokesman told the Daily News that the department hoped police would use some common sense when enforcing the rule.
The spokesman told the paper that ticketing a woman in the park in the middle of the day is not the way you want to enforce the rule.

Laws and rules are sure to be enforced in stupid ways. Laws need to be smarter. Often, the smartest law is no law at all. Otherwise, things like this happen.
Parents, don't leave your kid alone in the park. Plus, if there is a problem with a person in the park -- call the police. Police, meanwhile, need to arrive on the park scene and deal with the issues.
Playground area in a park we visited.
Pittsburgh's City council is trying to fight, "aggressive panhandling." Yeah, right.
Councilman Peduto wants to take the fight to all solicitations.
Meanwhile, County Executive Dan Onorato has a 10-year plan to help the homeless. That might start in a few years.

What is going to happen to Mardi Gras in 2006? Predictions are welcomed. Would you go?

Transcript: Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt

Transcript: Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt duck Q: Mr. Roosevelt, do you feel that the current system is able to survive financially with out cutting programs?

Mark_Roosevelt A: We do have serious financial issues. We are spending about 40 million dollars more than we have in revenues. And we have spent down the surplus that we had so that it will be entirely gone at the end of 2006. There will have to be cuts. And we will have to work with the state and the foundation community to gain as much new revenue as possible. But there is no way that this problem can be solved without making some very difficult decisions.

So, what do you do about tax give-a-ways? The URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) is now calling upon the city, county and THE PGH PUBLIC SCHOOL District to build parking garages with tax incomes. Please say "NO." We can't give anything away.

Family Flashback (Aug 7, 2004)


Flashback! Top row: Phil, Bill, Leo (my dad), John, Kevin and me (Mark). Bottom row: Mary Lee, Margie, Audrey (my mom), Geri Ann, Michele and Catherine (my wife). Those are my four sisters and their husbands. We are with the giggles because we always have a great time together -- even when the camera's automatic shutter is the focus.


Our kids. To be exact, my two sons are in the photo along with their cousins. Since the photo, one year ago, the family has grown by one.

IT: Forbes Fund -- yada, yadda, yaddda.


Photo shows a nonprofit playground computer workstation.
The Forbes Funds is pleased to announce that the 2005 research studies funded under The Tropman Fund for Nonprofit Research are complete. These studies address many of the strategic challenges and opportunities affecting nonprofits in the Pittsburgh region.

You are cordially invited to a special half-day conference on November 2, 2005, featuring these new research findings. At the conclusion of this special event, we will announce the recipient of the fifth annual Alfred W. Wishart, Jr. Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management, as well as present the 2005 Frieda Shapira Medal. Also, The Pittsburgh Foundation will present the Isabel Kennedy Award. (We’ll have lots to celebrate!)

This year's Annual Nonprofit Research Conference is presented in cooperation with Robert Morris University (our host), as well as Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy, Duquesne University’s School of Leadership, and the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005, 3:00-4:00 pm Workshops
4:15 pm - 5:30 pm Research and Awards Presentations

5:30 pm Reception

Hosted at the Sewall Center, Robert Morris University, Moon Township Campus, Main Campus, 6001 University Boulevard, Moon Township, PA 15108.


PARKING NOTE. Parking is available in the upper lot for which the campus will have electronic signage posted.

RSVP: Amy Thomas at thomasa@pghfdn.org, accepting RSVPs by e-mail only.

When you RSVP to Amy Thomas, please indicate if you will:

A. Attend a workshop; and, if so, which one. (Please see the list below.)
B. Attend the research and awards presentations.
Or
C. Attend both a workshop and the research and awards presentations.

Three concurrent workshops will be held from 3:00 until 4:00. All rooms are located in the Sewall Center, Robert Morris University, Moon Township Campus. All 3 workshops will be limited to the first 30 respondents.

WORKSHOPS
1. The Cost of Meting Compliance: A Case Study of Challenges, Time Investments and Dollars Spent (please designate this as session 1 for RSVP)

2. Service Clustering: Building Cohesive Public Service Capacity (please designate this as session 2 for RSVP)

3. Why Engage? Understanding the Incentive to Build Nonprofit Capacity (please designate this as session 3 for RSVP)

These 3 research projects will be presented and discussed in brief during the session beginning at 4:15pm in the International Suite at the Sewall Center. (Seating for the research and awards presentations is limited to 300 people.)

Please RSVP soon. We apologize, in advance, if we cannot accommodate your participation in one of the workshops. As with our recent conferences, we will maintain a waiting list, if necessary, and advise you about openings.

We hope you will join us for this special opportunity to explore emerging issues and cutting edge methodologies for enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of nonprofit organizations in Pittsburgh.

Forrest City -- sits on property in Cleveland

This is a great read.
Peirce for Ohio Governor 2006 - On the Trail -- Can Cleveland Use Property Taxes to Prod Intransigent Developers? Forest City had hyped similar plans in 1989, after it gained control of much of the property, but nothing happened. The convention center's implosion has the company reverting yet again to squirrel mode. "It will sit for a long time," the co-chairman of Forest City, Sam Miller, said of the peninsula.

Peirce for Ohio Governor 2006 - Eminent Domain comes to front in race and state

Eminent domain is getting attention in Ohio, now. My recent eminent domain talk/blog posting got attention and a link from a site in Oregon.
Peirce for Ohio Governor 2006 The Supreme Court of Ohio will hear oral arguments regarding the demolition of Joe Horney's and Carl and Joy Gamble's homes on Wednesday, September 28th at 9 AM.
The Libertarian Party of Ohio, the Peirce for Ohio campaign, and other property rights groups are currently organizing a petition effort to amend the Ohio Constitution.

Murphy wants more state help with budget


The big elephant behind the three Americans, (Erik, Mark and Grant). Talk about the elephant in the room already.
Murphy wants more state help with budget - PittsburghLIVE.com 'We did not talk about what some people call the elephant in the room today,' Murray said. 'We didn't talk about 20 percent of the budget going to pay that debt service.'

Step Trek -- Volunteer in my absence -- but do it for yourself


We missed the South Side Slopes StepTrek -- but we hit some other steps in the hopes of generating some good karma with those back home.

Erik's taking a trek.

This year's South Side Slopes Steptrek, Steptrek.org, occurs soon -- while we are in Hong Kong. We'll walk Victoria's Peek and make other treks on the other side of the world -- and we'll be thinking of you on the South Side Slopes. Does that mean that when I'm over there walking up a pathway, it would be like walking downward over here? However, check out this opportunity to participate with a last call from Bev, one of the great community organizers. Good group of people, nice cause, splendid views.
StepTrek Volunteer Meeting! We will need upwards of 50 volunteers this Sunday and we have ~ half that amount. Please help us out!

There will be a meeting, at which you will receive a free Trek tee shirt, on this Thursday, September 29th at 7:00 pm at my (BEV's) house 126 Pius Street. It will be a quick meeting. We will go over the event and where volunteers are needed.

There are many jobs. We need a driver, people to walk the route and put up direction signs, we need a couple of people along the route to direct walkers. We have 6 artist venues with 3 water stations where people need to be. We need people to help park cars, put up tents, take down tents, set up tables & chairs, register people, sell pedometers, cut fruit, you name it & there is a job for that!

Please email me here if you want to volunteer & can't make it Thursday. We also need pick up trucks to deliver to the water stations. Volunteers times go from 8:00 am to - 4:30 pm. On hour, or as many as you can give!

Volunteers Saturday, October 1st! We will quickly walk the routes one last time this Saturday. The majority of the litter was picked up last Saturday, but we want one last check of the route. Also, I will be at the Triangle Garden 18th & Josephine. Lamar is supposed to fix it by Friday - I am not holding my breath. For those who missed it an overzealous subcontractor weed-whacked it - 3 weeks ago. Anyway it looks like crap. It will need some sprucing. The Greeley Garden also needs some TLC. We will meet at 21st & Josephine Streets at 9 am.

StepTrek October 2, 2005! Here it comes, our 5th Trek! We would like you to come & be a part of it. The website is full of details. Our Honorary Chairperson is Adelaide LaFond, she has graciously allowed us to use one of her designs on the tee shirt front. It is beautiful! The event formally runs from noon to 4 pm. Trek it out!

Thanks, all! We need you! Bev :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Sprout Fund opens some murals in the near future

The Sprout FundCentral North Side Thu Sept 29 @ 6:30pm 1300 Federal St
Downtown Fri Sept 30th @ 5:30pm Smithfield St & Strawberry Way
Homewood Brushton Sat Oct 1 @ 3pm Meadows Bowling Alley at 7340 Frankstown Ave
South Side Tue Oct 4 at 5:30pm Don's Green Front Inn at 2341 E Carson St
Hazelwood Wed Oct 5 @ 5pm 2nd Ave & Elizabeth St

N-TEN : Global ICT Conference in DC about global crisis response

N-TEN: Global ICT Conference Answering the call: Katrina, the Tsunami, Darfur, Afghanistan -- lessons learned from the Global ICT responses

Well done in the state capital

The protest was a success. And, it looks like some of those pigs are cooked.
Nice photo of Mr. Shiller ran on the front page of the PG site.
Protesters urge state legislators to roll back pay raises ... Brothers Frank and Gerald Schiller, who live in Wilkins and own property in Downtown Pittsburgh, held signs reading 'The Costas cost too much,' referring to their legislators, Sen. Jay Costa Jr., D-Forest Hills, and his brother, Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins, who both voted for the raise.

The Schillers said they supported the Costas for election in the past but no more. Jay Costa later declined comment...

The large inflatable pink 'anti-pay raise pig,'' which got statewide attention in newspapers last week, was back for another appearance at the rally.

The protest rally was organized by Harrisburg activists Gene Stilp, who has filed a state lawsuit seeking to overturn the raise, and Eric Epstein, who has led protests over the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg.

They joined a dozen groups including Common Cause, Pennsylvania Clean Sweep, the Commonwealth Foundation, Democracy Rising PA and others that have kept alive the protest against the raise."

Firefighters union backs Republican for mayor

I don't expect to get a thank-you note from Joe Weinroth, but I'll chalk up some self-absorbed high-fives on this news. As an estimate, I bet I called and poked and visited and dropped in on the firefighters' brass -- in one way or another -- more than 100 times in the past five years. Some of those brushes with perspective paved the way for this news.

Think beach-head.
Firefighters union backs Republican for mayor The union representing Pittsburgh firefighters has endorsed Republican Joe Weinroth's bid for mayor in a surprise break from labor's usual preference.

International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1 President Joe King said the decision made Friday by the union's political committee was unanimous. 'It's probably the first time, that I remember, that the fire union has backed a Republican candidate for mayor,' said King.

However, you know what they say about playing with fire. But then again, there are times when you need to set a fire to stop a firestorm. The puns can flame away all day and night in the comments.
Way to go Joe. I'm glad to see the union putting some wind in your sails.

Roosevelt holds chat

Tuesday log of the chat is available. Search the PG site for Roosevelt and chat. What was raised for the new Superintendent of Pgh Public Schools, Mark Roosevelt.

Online chats could present many excellent opportunities for the community and the school's parents to raise questions -- but this is hardly the case with the Post-Gazette's style.

I was part of a PG chat when the Bassmasters Classic was in town. The chat is so -- 1983. There is no real-time interaction. It is all moderated.

If the Post-Gazette wants to get serious about online interaction, we'd have a lot to look forward to.

In the case of Pittsburgh Public Schools, it would be wonderful to have online chats so that questions can be raised in a faceless way. Teachers, principals, volunteers, and even bus drivers could go to the chat and put something into the mind of the boss and have little fear of a backlash on the whistleblower.

Are you aware of such and such at this school on that date? What's going to be done?

Furthermore, the Pgh Public Schools might be able to make an online chat work without the Post Gazette's help and restrictions. Why can't weekly chats happen just among the resources within PPS?

Mark_Roosevelt: Thanks to everyone who participated. Sorry that there was not enough time to answer all of the questions. Maybe we should do this again.

Carnegie Urban Hike on Saturday

My kids play violin at the Pittsburgh Music Academy, in Carnegie, often on Saturdays. So, I'm hopeful I'll stop by -- if we are not swimming from 9 to 11 am.
Carnegie has been through a lot in the past year, and now they have to deal with us! Urban Hike is in Carnegie this Saturday to look at how one community is working to come back from last September’s floods. We’ll visit the home of a Pirates legend and check out Carnegie’s thriving arts scene. Meet us outside a rather artsy cafĂ© called Eccentricities, 222 Third Avenue, 10 am, October 1st. There should be plenty of street parking. The hike will take about three hours. As always, comfortable shoes, sunscreen and water are excellent ideas. We’re glad you thought of them!

Click comments for directions.

The South Side Sabres play against Chartiers Valley this weekend too.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Techyvent/Pittsburgh: e-Learning Comes of Age

Techyvent/Pittsburgh: e-Learning Comes of Age: "e-Learning Comes of Age -- Access to Broadband, New Technology Dramatically Cuts Costs by Sheldon Murphy

A free, on-site consoltation comes to the subscribers of this newsletter. That might be worth the price of admission.

More power to you -- comes in handy from time to time.


Summertime strength was needed recently by one of the youngsters. See comments for the full (edited) version.

Photo showed Coach Jason and some of the charges on the lawn at the Green Tree Swim Pool before a swim practice this summer.

Hot Rod Ludwig


Les Ludwig and his new wheels that have been decorated for his campaign.

At least he didn't get drunk at the Steeler game this weekend.

At least he isn't driving around town in a city-owned car.

At least he had lived in Hong Kong.

At least he was a business man.

At least he has a never-give-up attitude.

What else can you say?

Patriot -- and the guy with the arrow in the back

My son, 10, didn't wear either of his Patriots jersey's to school on Friday, black and gold day. But he is wearing #12, Drew's jersey, today. Ouch.

He just loves the Patriots. What are you going to do?

And, the love goes out to the Red Sox too.

At least he has great taste.

There is a family connection to Boston and New England.

Fifth and Forbes, Steigerwald's opinion: Give the free market a chance

Fifth and Forbes & the highest bidder - PittsburghLIVE.com It's time to give the free market a chance to fix Fifth and Forbes.
Government has proven it can't redevelop the two once-proud downtown Pittsburgh shopping streets; it can only strangle and kill them.
Thanks to decades of City Hall's ineptitude and serial abuse of its powers, the Fifth-and-Forbes corridor today is a shabby, undervalued and embarrassing wasteland.

Then he calls for an ebay sell off of the entire URA.

I too have called for the liquidation of the URA. It is an office that should be downsized to nothing.

The URA is holding a lot of property. Those properties number more than 5,000 lots. Those properties are not even on an inventory listing. For starters, let's see a map of the city with the URA Properties clearly marked. The URA can't provide that.

The URA properties don't generate tax incomes. So, those of us that own properties ourselves have to pay more in taxes to support the URA holdings.

However, there are a few problems with the total sell-off of the URA's properties. First, if the URA dumps 5,000 properties onto the marketplace at one time, all the other properties in the city and county are going to nose dive. The supply and demand formula is going to get shaken to its core. In due time, the prices and the marketplace tumbles will self correct. So, perhaps we take a big hit now and ride it out. In the long run, we'll all be much better. In the long run, our properties will then grow in value as our city rebounds in other services too.

Another problem with the total sell-off of the URA assets is the fact that the buyers would be entering Allegheny County. Our population growth is flat. Our economic outlook is questionable. Process problems about taxes linger. And, our leadership is about to change from one one grey-haired, white Democrat to another of same age who can hug and kiss a bit better than than other, more abrasive one. A bulk of the leaders in the past and present are cut from the same cloth that allows corporate welfare and hates to trust the free market and the people of the region.

So, a sell off of the URA property with eBay would help, no doubt. But, the sales needs to be staged. Furthermore, the liquidation of all authorties need to begin. And, system-wide reform is necessary as well.

If we had a splendid landscape of reforming attitudes and systems, then the sell off of the URA properties would cause a windfall for the city and generate a buzz throughout the nation.

I've ranted in the past that we should sell off the side-lots to homeowners who are within a 200-yard distance to the vacant land right away. Then extend the distances each season.

In the early months of 2006, the city needs to get serious about enforcement. If you have over-grown side lots breeding rats, cracked sidewalks, garbage without closed dumpsters and such -- warnings and tickets need to be issued. We need to get the city to do its job with rodent control, and that can occur in two blinks. Then we need everyone's expectations to change.

We need a rebirth in terms of respect for the city. Where you park your car; how you handle your trash; and when you scream your head off (i.e., not in the wee hours) matters. City-life needs cooperation among its citizens. Police and inspectors need to give attention to these basic jobs as well.
Considering eBay and auctions: Pitt's throwback uniforms are for sale now.

Part of my heart is in Harrisburg today -- but my wife is on about DePaul

Best of luck and highest hopes to all who are in Harrisburg today to send a message of scorn and revenge to the state capital bandits. Rock on!

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the radio dial, my wife, Catherine Palmer, Ph.D., is on with Chilly Billy as they do a remote broadcast from DePaul School. Catherine is on the board there. I think she's on the air from 1 to 2 or 2 to 3 pm.

In non-P.C. terms, DePaul is a school for the deaf. Today, however, many of the kids are not "deaf" -- as they have had a surgery and implants help to restore hearing -- stimulating the inner ear. They have a wonderful school environment. The facility moved from the South Hills to Shadyside just a few years ago.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Abbot to compete in 28th Great Race

Tom Murphy didn't compete in the race the year he called off The Great Race. There were two alternatives. One was the Great Disgrace Race.
Abbot to compete in 28th Great Race - PittsburghLIVE.com: "Today, Abbott will join a select group of 26 others, including Pittsburgh mayor Tom Murphy, who have competed in every Great Race. Abbott has memories of the first race.

Furthermore, our mayor is a marathon runner and Pittsburgh doesn't have a marathon any more -- thanks to Tom Murphy's leadership. Akron has two.

Why? Because it is still our money and the idea stinks!

Why do people still gripe about extending light-rail service to the North Shore when there is no cost to the city, only a 3 1/3 percent cost to Allegheny County and a 30-to-1 return on local tax dollars? The state and federal governments have earmarked $380 million for the Port Authority's project. Use it or lose it.


The money can come from your wallet or your purse. It is still your money. Right.

The money that comes from the local sources and the federal sources is still our money. Just because the feds pay for some of the project does not make it "free." We pay for federal projects too.

Furthermore, the project does not merit the spending. The project stinks.

Finally, spending this type of money on this one dumb project is going to take our regional credit downward so that other, better projects are not going to be done.

Close schools to save on gas. And,

Pgh Public Schools are closed on Tuesday. Georgia is closing all schools on Monday and Tuesday. Guess they don't have 'snow days' to look forward to as often as we do in the north.
Bloomberg.com: U.S. Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Georgia will close all public schools on Monday and Tuesday to conserve fuel in light of disruptions caused by two hurricanes in the past month, Governor Sonny Perdue said.
The closures will save about 500,000 gallons of diesel, Perdue, a Republican, said at a press conference in Atlanta that was broadcast over the Internet. The governor also urged people to avoid unnecessary trips to save gasoline.
``We don't know what will happen, but it is probable that we will again see temporary disruptions of our fuel supply,'' Perdue said. ``We don't want a repeat of the wasteful and unnecessary gas panic we saw right after Katrina.''
On Sept. 2, Perdue signed an executive order that waived the state's 7.5-cents-a-gallon excise tax and a 4 percent sales tax on gasoline through the end of September. About 24 percent of U.S. refining capacity has been shut in Texas this week with Rita's approach, while 5 percent remains closed because of Katrina, which hit Louisiana and Mississippi.

Did our Gov ever act in lowering the gas tax? He thought it was a good idea, then changed his mind. But either way -- I am not certain that he is capable of acting in a deliberate and decisive way.

If schools had a one day school week, rather than five -- think of all the money that would be saved.

The aim is NOT to save money. The aim is to educate kids without waste. Our kids are getting beat by much of the rest of the world. We need to teach, educate and allow kids and families and communities options that insure we all can thrive. I don't want to only survive. I don't want to put a lid on excellence.

Big, Fat, Targets

These incumbents need viable opponents in 2006 as they each scored D or F in the Liberty Index and voted for the pay raise!

Rep - District
Costa - 34
Dermody - 33
Frankel - 23
Markosek - 25
Petrone - 27
Pistella - 21
Preston - 24
Ruffing - 38
Walko - 20
Wheatley - 19

Senate - District
Costa - 43

Anyone instered in running, sound off.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Evacuees from Katrina line up in search of new job, new life

I've been doing a bit of work with fellow netizens (citizens of the internet) in a people finder project / effort. A new sense of purpose is starting to show itself -- job references.

When I was younger in my career, I had the great fortune of working for three brilliant mentors who taught me many great lessons. I was an assistant coach for Dan Sullivan at Greater Pittsburgh Swim Club and Fletcher Gilders at Ohio University. The third was Jerry O'Neil, the club / YMCA coach at Plum when I was the head coach for the high school varsity teams. All three of these fine friends and mentors died soon after I moved onto other steps in my life. Each are greatly missed in a personal sense -- now, still. Furthermore, in a professional way, I miss them as references.
SignOnSanDiego.com > News > Metro -- Evacuees from Katrina line up in search of new job, new life Former cook and kitchen manager Austin Diven, 27, of New Orleans, has been turned away from eight restaurants so far because no one can reach his references.

I can't imagine what others from the gulf are dealing with as they try to patch their lives together and embark on new opportunities -- but can't easily lean upon the past and their roots.

Networking can be critical in many instances in life. Now that is nearly impossible.

Pittsburgh is going to open a casino. Other casinos are going to open around the state as well, perhaps even at Seven Springs or some other regional resort location. If we had proactive leaders, they'd be working on the network with interviews and head hunters so as to get a handle on the workers and operators who have been put out of work in Mississippi.

These operators are going to drop $50-million for the license. It would be prudent to do some human capital investments now, while the opportunities are critical for others. And if the network that is built is portable, it could be sold to the eventual winner of the license(s). Human resource managers, take note or give me a call and I'll consult for you on some creative ways to make progress in these areas.

It would make great sense to open the Pittsburgh casino on the day after the Major League All-Star Game in July 2006. That should be our goal. I don't want the casino -- but it is going to come. Let's get it jump started in earnest soon.

Meanwhile, if I'm an employer, I'm saying these words. "Let's see how you do. Come to work for us for three weeks (at this pay and in this position) and then we'll build our own, new references. In the meantime, we'll keep looking for your cerifications and/or background documents. Here is a copy of our employee manual. Let's begin to write a new chapter on lowering risk with creative hiring practices in the wake of a crisis.

Pondering the wiki: Platform.For-Pgh.org

An insightful evaluation of the wiki, Platform.For-Pgh.org, flowed from Adam. His thoughts are on the mark and worthy for others to read and comment upon as well. I'll get my answers to each of his specific remarks in short order.

I'm motivated to spend a few weeks on the wiki to ramp up for the next election cycle. So, I'd love to invest some time there in the second half of October and November, 2005. Positive help and reviews are needed.

One problem with local issues and more technical politics is getting up to speed with the basic facts. Another dimension of the wiki could be for general education and information. Pointers to articles elsewhere could assist others in doing their homework. Covering trends and documenting facts help to build confidence. However, the general journalistic coverage within the wiki is crushing to the efforts for the refinement of a specific campaign platform. Both voters and candidates don't want to wade through, yet alone create, multiple term-papers before blurting out specific platform planks on certain issues. So, my question now is "how."

Additional tech tools also exist that have yet to be deployed with gusto. Podcasting, concept maps, deliberative democracy and multi-media CDs are still on the back burner. Each can serve in the campaign as tools to win supporters and lead the charge for reforming Pittsburgh's landscape. However, the roll-out for each tool is yet to be determined.

Time will tell how this can all come together, or not. If you'd like to make an impact -- join our efforts and become a positive, thoughtful contributor.
For the platform wiki, I think that the front page is really the most important page. A person should come to the front page, understand what he is looking at and how it can be useful to him. Anything on the front page that does not contribute to this is just a distraction.

So, who do we want to use the wiki?

1. Voters

2. Activists

1. Party activists
2. Issue activists

3. Candidates

4. Policy-makers

Others?

We may want to have introductory pages specifically targeted at each audience group. There already seems to be pages targeted at party activists and candidates, but not much focused on the other groups.

Another way to think of the wiki's user-base is in terms of "readers" and "editors." Readers need to find the information that they are interested in, while editors need to also know what sort of material to add. For readers, we need a link-structure that they can navigate intuitively. Right now, some of the page names aren't informative (such as "beyond the platform" and "mind food")--those titles could include just about anything. We need editors who will arrange the content in an easy-to-navigate manner with informative page titles--so the immediate issue is: what do the editors need?

Editors need guidelines--it isn't clear how to go about producing a collaborative political platform. Right now, I don't see any pages that describe the vision/mission for the wiki, and I don't see any guidelines for editors. As the main force behind this wiki, you need to provide the vision for it. There's one big question that needs to be answered for the editors:

Is the platform your platform, or is it a "meta platform".

1. Is it about your ideas and your goals as a candidate, with the allowance that others may reuse the content, or

2. Is it a collection of all possible items that could be in a platform, with a special emphasis on items that you could incorporate into your own platform?

Based on the front page right now, it seems that the answer is that this platform is for you and your political allies. This places considerable constraints on the editors, and these need to be spelled out clearly so that editors know that they aren't wasting their time.

1. What values form the basis of your campaign. This needs to be stated so that editors can contribute content that is consistent with those values, and won't just get thrown away.

2. What reforms do you expect to push? Listing these reforms allows knowledgeable activists to provide you with detailed information about these policies.

3. What issues do you think are important, but you don't have an opinion on? This allows activists to argue for their own position on those issues.

The other option is that the wiki is supposed to incorporate any idea that could be placed on a platform (a "meta-platform"). This places less constraints on the editors, as each of them is using the platform for their own purposes, but it means that we need a stricter system for distinguishing between items that you endorse and that you are interested in, and items that have been placed on the wiki by others, and possibly by opposing candidates.

Finally, we can consider how the wiki will develop, and what phase it is in right now. In my view, we have three major phases

1. Infrastructure deployment: this includes the wiki itself, a basic link-structure, and guidelines for editors

2. Initial content expansion: recruiting editors (activists), and fleshing out a number of policy positions/proposals

3. Use and maintenance: draw in the general public, continue to expand content with feedback

How we approach each of these phases ultimately depends on whether this is your platform or a meta-platform. We'll have to provide (and "enforce") general usage guidelines, which I think should mimic Wikipedia. We can address that later.

So, those are my thoughts on the wiki.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Field Trip Frenzy

I got to spend much of the Friday school day with my son and some of his classmates on a field trip. We walked to the IBEW on the South Side for a fitness event that was tied to Highmark and The Great Race Expo. (more later)

Next week there is no school on Tuesday. Then I've got field trips on Thursday (zoo trip for gifted center) and Friday (Voyager boat for science).

Then the next two weeks, staring on October 2, we go to Hong Kong with three other students (beyond my boys) so Catherine can teach a course at Hong Kong University.

Fun. Field Trips.

I don't think we had many of those when I was in school, other than the annual trip to Turners' Dairy to see how the farm worked and get the little hats made of white paper that they use in the dairy.

Eminent Domain: Statement before the House State Government Committee

Meeting in City Council Chambers, 5th Floor, City County Building from noon to 5 pm on Thursday, September 22, 2005.

From Mark Rauterkus, 108 South 12th Street, South Side, Pittsburgh, PA, 15203
412 298 3432 Mark@Rauterkus.com

Schedule (estimated): To testify at 3:20 pm for 10 minutes for comments and 10 minutes for questions from Committee Members.

Dear Chairman, Representative Paul Clymer, members of the committee and fellow citizens:

My name is Mark Rauterkus. My family and I reside at 108 South 12th Street on the South Side, Pittsburgh, 15203. Home on the internet is at Rauterkus.com. My statements go to a blog and the Platform.For-Pgh.org wiki.

On September 6, 2005, a Pittsburgh daily newspaper ran this front page, above the fold headline:

Venezuelan state governor seizes Heinz plant

A state governor ordered troops to seize a tomato processing plant owned by U.S. food company H.J. Heinz.

At first blush, the Heinz spokesperson said, “We see this as a local issue." The company officials awaited the government's next step.

News quote: "At that time I was mayor of that town, I felt impotent. My hands tied, as 30 million kilos (66 million pounds) of tomatoes -- almost 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) -- were produced, and the closing of the business led the farm workers to go broke," said Briceno.

Officials were expected to expropriate the plant, a move that would require the National Assembly to declare the property to be of "public interest."

Chavez said the government may expropriate the property of companies whose factories are idle or partially paralyzed, in order to put them back to work.
Venezuela's constitution says the government will respect private property but says the state may expropriate property if for public use or "social interest," as long as compensation is paid.
So far this year, the government has expropriated the assets of a failed paper company and an industrial valve maker. Venezuela's largest food producer was challenging the legality of a military takeover of its storage facilities. (Silos are not being used as required by law so soldiers seized control of the facilities.

These actions are much like eminent domain and there are aftershocks.

Consider the actions if you are an investor, board member, stockholder, manager, or sub-contractor. I'm not going to invest there as assets can vanish one day.

Heinz gets 60 percent of its revenue from outside North America, and is pursuing growth in China, India, and Indonesia.
"We're concerned at the actions of the authorities to seize the property. ... We hope this situation will be cleared up shortly and the property will be returned," the Venezuelan Heinz unit said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Heinz was preparing to sell the plant when the governor, an ally of President Hugo Chavez, seized it. The company said it was not warned about the seizure.
Chavez signed executive orders in January, 2005 that established the legal framework for the government to seize private properties it considers unused, and to distribute them to poor farmers and workers.

Sad to say, I expect that the poor will become poorer due to this policy. They might feel empowered for acting, but in the long haul, this will backfire. Meanwhile, the rich in power get richer in power.

Government is force. It is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is not compassion. It is force. And as the proverb goes, “When the only thing you have is a hammer everything starts to look like a nail.” This is why, for government, every situation boils down to a question of control. (Source: a posting at DownsizeDC.)

People in Pittsburgh notice and chuckle at interesting twists of fate. Heinz made tomato paste and baby food here. HEINZ used the leverage of eminent domain to expand its property on the North Side from Pittsburgh Wool. Now we have loft apartments and Del Monte.

Eminent domain is understood. In Homestead and the South Side, mills expanded over neighborhoods including Holly Cross Church. Pittsburgh's Civic Arena saga is well known, as is Fifth and Forbes plans A to F.

I'm a parent, coach, and a ballot candidate.

I ran
  • for PA Senate, 42nd district, (May 2005 special election),

  • for mayor, city of Pittsburgh (May 2001 – contested GOP Primary), and

  • expected candidate for City Council, district 3, (early 2006 upon resignation of Mr. Riccardi for his move to district magistrate position).

  • I'm a board member of the Allegheny County Libertarian Party. My affinity favors a common-sense libertarianism. I lean to a Geo-Libertarian views. "Geo" here could be "geography" and "land." I have self-identified as a free-market candidate as opposed to a corporate welfare approach.

    I call leaders and the public to think again by injecting different perspectives.

    Venezuelan authorities need to think again. In a global market, PA's leaders need to think again as well.

    Eminent domain is about control, power and force.

    Nationally, FEMA officials displayed their hyper-control mentality when a PA doctor was forced to stop giving chest compressions at the New Orleans airport.

    Force is the government's hammer.
    Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter traveled from Pennsylvania to Louisiana to help the victims. He was in the midst of applying chest compression to a dying woman when FEMA officials stopped him. He begged them to let him continue, but they refused. The doctor wasn't an official FEMA physician. State license clearances mattered most, even in the height of the crisis.
    Some speakers want to take the hammer out of the hands of government.

    It pleases me that the new laws you hope to advance say that an increase in the tax base of a municipality should NOT be the sole reason for allowing eminent domain. Please, think again about the borders of a real public interest project.

    Times have changed. Spaces have changed.Eminent domain isn't what it used to be. I crave more creative ideas in the toolbox so we never need to use the hammer of force.

    As a candidate for mayor in 2001, I pledged that I'd fight all instances of eminent domain within our area from any governmental entity. That statement, perhaps just a spec of trivia, didn't resonate with masses of voters then. Only a keen sage could appreciate such a statement and stance. Many keen sages are in this room. That "fringe statement" is becoming mainstream.

    Let's make Pennsylvania the best place in the world for investments. Investments must be safe from seizure. Don't simply tweak the eminent domain laws. PA could jump to the head of the pack -- as other states are re-tooling their approach to eminent domain too.

    I expect stances from candidates on eminent domain to rise in importance.
    According to David Jahn, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania, "the Supreme Court betrayed the constitutional sanctity of property rights in the Kelo decision. Local governments can now seize private property and transfer it to developers of shopping centers, office complexes, hotels and sporting arenas for no more reason than the wishful hope of an increase in local tax revenues. The Court’s decision blights the 'public use' clause of the Fifth Amendment with corporate welfare."
    The Libertarian Party plans to make eminent domain and the protection of private property rights a key campaign issue in 2006.
    The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States with more than 600 officials serving in office throughout the nation.
    Pennsylvania has an abundance of land and "brown fields." If we needed bigger spaces, we have them. We have miles of empty space that surrounds the Pittsburgh International Airport.

    If you want to build a factory in this state, we don't need eminent domain.

    Pittsburgh does NOT need to use eminent domain in downtown's Fifth & Forbes projects. If our leaders were more creative, the need for eminent domain vanishes.

    Pittsburgh has blue areas that streak around town, our rivers. We can build anything we want over those rivers without eminent domain.
    There are hundreds, if not thousands of acres of prime development space -- if one considers the spaces over the rivers.
    We could build a downtown mall (or two) within pedestrian bridges that span from Station Square to town and then to the North Side. Shops, services, and all the goodies can be provided for and paid for by lease holders. There is even room for the mega developers like those that have been so warm to Mayor Tom Murphy in plans.

    Create spaces over the water of the rivers.

    If this is hard to picture, think of a pier in an ocean-side community. Huntington Beach, California, has a massive pier, for example. Gov. officials in H.B. manage the beach (a shared space, community owned) and built a pier. They sell leases on the pier for businesses. The lease holders pay for the pier itself. That's new development without the pain of eminent domain.

    Finding spaces in Pennsylvania is not a problem, even in our biggest cities. Spaces are all over the place -- from closed prisons to waterfronts. Plus, the URA (Urban Redevlopment Authority) already owns plenty of properties, estimated at more than 5,000.

    Space is our asset in PA.

    We don't need government to take land from its citizens. Find the necessary spots in other, more original places.

    Consider Maglev, a high-speed train was to zip from Greensburg to Monroeville to town and then the airport. The citizens in Westmorland County went bonkers figuring where that line would be placed. Elevated tracks are not wanted.

    We don't need to use eminent domain for Maglev. Nor do we need to spend a fortune to secure land rights at market rates.

    Put Maglev underground 300 to 500 feet. Then we'd have an experimental line. And it is proven as subway systems carry millions of people worldwide each day. Maglev as a subway would not bother anyone's property rights.

    If you want to do some real work on eminent domain, unravel the rail road right of way and that relationship with eminent domain. Our state is blessed with rail lines that are not utilized for moving people.

    Fix roads, bridges and tunnels that arlready are here. The Commonwealth could spend 25-years to fortify our existing infrastructure with continual maintenance and upgrades and be much, much better off. Hence, we'd never need to use eminent domain for a new road.

    Pennsylvania is shrinking.

    Schools are another point of entry for eminent domain. Pittsburgh Public Schools needed to use eminent domain to build a new school in recent years as one or two home owners didn't want to sell. But Pgh Public Schools just closed a dozen schools and more are on the chopping block.

    The call for eminent domain vanishes if better uses of what we have is demanded.

    If a popular, growth area needs a new school -- build taller on the existing footprint.

    Nonprofits gobble up land in Pittsburgh. Pitt is trampling with its sprawl. Yet the tallest building on Pitt's campus was built 80 years ago. The newest building from Pitt in my neighborhood is a flat, football field the size of an airplane hangar without a basement nor second floor.

    If I'm in your seats, I'd be working on the words to calls for a state-wide referendum that enacts a Pennsylvania moratorium on all eminent domain for 25 years.

    I'd certainly want to sunset the provision. My children are here. They can face the problems of the future much better than me. I would never want to tie their hands -- like you did with the 50-million dollar gambling licenses that never expire.

    If we had no eminent domain in Pennsylvania for 25 years, this would force creativity among the ambitions for building public spaces. Otherwise, it puts faith in the marketplace, as a fall back.

    Finally, there has been a lot of talk about property tax reform. I think that the elimination of all property taxes is a bad idea. I think we should be taxing land. If you were to eliminate property taxes and eliminate eminent domain, we'd be much worse off when my kids have kids. The coupling would slide our Commonwealth into a FEUDAL state.

    Pittsburgh already has two oversight boards and judges who dictate property tax shenanigans. I call them "dueling overlords.' With no property taxes and no eminent domain -- a new class of land-lords and royalty will emerge and so too will citizen serfs.

    I'd be happy to defend these concepts on principle, if asked.

    City Council over budget; staff layoffs are possible

    The most logical layoff to consider is Gene Ricciardi's job. Gene is going to resign from City Council some day. But, we don't know when. He'll need to resign around January 1, 2006, as he'll be getting sworn in as a District Magistrate.

    Gene is my city council representative. I'm expected to enter the race for his seat.

    With gambling's arrival in the future, we do need to have city council's third seat filled by a strong voice. Same too with the arrival of a new mayor.

    If Gene was able to resign now -- that would save some money.

    Another hit against the overall budget is the cost of the pending special election in early 2006. The election for the city council seat will need to occur on its own day -- rather than coupled with the November general election. The special election tab won't be carried by the city council line items in the budget.
    City Council over budget; staff layoffs are possible: "Ricciardi said he believes the situation may be worse, with council heading for a $150,000 deficit.

    Perhaps city council should put a little peer pressure on the city controller's office to cut the spending over there. I don't think it is right for Tom Flaherty's office to continue its spending -- blowing a big hole in the budget. Tom Flaherty wants to be a judge and he is showing poor judgement.

    Sure, the cuts to the controller's office demanded by Act 47 are not within reason. I hate the fact that everyone always runs to the courts to settle our problems too. But, I'm not seeing much from the Controller's office these days either. They must be spinning their wheels on a court case and not the downward saga of the city.

    The city controller's office should put an extra $200,000 or so on the table. Then city council's ills are not so drastic.
    The voters of Allegheny County should know how the city controller's office has managed its budget.

    I'm in a strange position if I call for the quick resignation of Gene Riccardi. I'm not sure I want to raise that as the best possible solution. It would have been better if the leadership there had been watching the spending and had it match the budget, week in and week out. They didn't seem to do that, as is typical.

    Gene does have a few things to attend to in his present role on council. But, time is short and so is money.

    Gene has not won the D.J. seat yet as the November 2005 election is still to occur. Elections should not be considered just a formality, even when one is running without opposition, I guess. Humm. I guess it is just a formality now, really.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    CmapTools and scaffolding - FLOSSE Posse

    CmapTools and scaffolding - FLOSSE Posse CmapTools is a software toolkit design to facilitate manipulation of concept maps. It�s pretty brilliant set of software tools, ...

    Murphy Submits another broken Budget -- pants on fire

    The school crossing guards have been the responsibility of the city's budget, not the school budget. The school budget was stretched to pick up the fumble that Murphy created.

    The police and firefighter positions will not be affected in the budget, but the EMS positions are another matter. A January strike has been predicted for EMS. Murphy's contract offer is so bad that the union isn't even going to consider going to the table with certain provisions in there now.

    Murphy was to merge EMS some eight years ago. He didn't.

    The hiring freeze is going to come on now -- in January, just as Bob O'Connor comes back to the city. Where have you been Bob. I hope he is looking tan.
    KDKA: Murphy Submits Budget To ICA Board
    Pittsburgh (KDKA) Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy today submitted his budget proposal to the city�s fiscal oversight board.

    The $415 million budget is $15 million less than the board predicted.

    However, the city needs to make a $4 million cut.

    The city says it will not have layoffs, but will instead institute a hiring freeze through 2006 for non-public safety positions.

    Police and firefighter positions will not be affected.

    Additionally, Murphy says the city�s budget took a hit after it had to spend $600,000 more than budgeted for gasoline, and paying salaries for crossing guards after Pittsburgh Public Schools announced it would no longer do so.

    I'm rich! -- and who would of thunk I had a relative die on 9-11 with roots and riches elsewhere

    These spammers must have a lot of fun. See the recent spam in the comment section on the creative spin of a crook.

    China's model for a censored Internet

    We are going back to Hong Kong next week. So, this posting goes out for what its worth, and not much else is going to come from me now.
    China's model for a censored Internet | csmonitor.com: "China's model for a censored Internet

    Some worry China's controls could be copied elsewhere.

    By Kathleen E. McLaughlin | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

    SHANGHAI, CHINA As China began to go online, observers made brash predictions that the Internet would pry the country open. Cyberspace, the thinking went, would prove too vast and wild for Beijing to keep under its thumb.
    Now these early assumptions are being sharply revised.

    We do expect to go back to China, again, for the Olympics in 2008, too.

    UK school switches to Linux

    SourceWire | Press Releases - UK school switches to Linux The Mall School in Richmond has replaced its aging Windows 2000 PCs with a state of the art Linux thin-client network, offering access to a wealth of educational software at a fraction of the cost of an upgraded Microsoft-based solution.

    Ballot Access Coalition announces speakers for voters choice act rally

    For more information contact:
    - Ken Krawchuk, 267-496-3332
    - David Jahn, 610-461-7755

    The Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition will be holding a kickoff rally to introduce their Voters Choice Act on Saturday, September 24th, at 4 PM in the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg, with a reception to be held immediately afterwards at the Harrisburg Hilton, Second and Market Streets in Harrisburg, beginning at 6:15 PM. Both events are open to the public.

    Speakers at Saturday's Rotunda rally include the 1998 and 2002 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Ken Krawchuk, Libertarian Party state chair Dave Jahn, former Green Party state chair Jennaro Pullano, Constitution Party national chairman Jim Clymer, Reform Party state treasurer Tom McLaughlin, and John Murphy of the Ralph Nader campaign, among others.

    Speakers at the Hilton reception include the 2004 Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, among others, and entertainment will be provided by Green Party activist Tom Mulligan.

    The Voters Choice Act reforms Pennsylvania's draconian ballot access laws by leveling the playing field for third parties and independent candidates. Under the current law, Democrats and Republicans must collect 2,000 signatures to have their names placed on the statewide primary ballot, and none at all for the November ballot. However, to have their names placed on the November ballot in 2006, third party and independent candidates will be required to collect a minimum of 67,070 signatures, more than 33 times as many, despite a Constitutional provision that "Elections shall be free and equal".

    The Voters Choice Act would change the definition of a minor political party from the current district-by-district electoral formula (2% of a recent winner's vote total) to one based upon statewide voter registrations (0.05%), and allow minor political parties to nominate candidates for all offices directly according to their party rules, and at their own expense, rather than by the existing nomination papers process. Independent candidates would continue to nominate candidates for all offices via the current nomination papers process, but using the same signature requirements required of the two old parties rather than the current district-by-district electoral formula (2% of a recent winner's vote total).

    A copy of the Voters Choice Act and its accompanying white paper can be found on the Coalition's website at www.PaBallotAccess.org.

    The Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition (PBAC) is an association of representatives from Pennsylvania’s largest political third parties and independent campaigns, including the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Constitution Party, the America First Party, the Reform Party, the Prohibition Party, the Socialist Party, the Unified Independent Party, the New American Independent Party, and the Ralph Nader campaign, among others.

    The Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition, PO Box 309, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081
    www.PaBallotAccess.org PBAC@PaBallotAccess.org
    Voice: (610) 543-8427 Fax: (215) 572-9248

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    KSDK News - FEMA Sends Trucks Full Of Ice For Katrina Victims To Maine

    KSDK NewsChannel 5 - Where The News Comes First - FEMA Sends Trucks Full Of Ice For Katrina Victims To Maine

    Flight 93 movie and memorial

    A couple of my friends have recommended the Discovery Channel film about Flight 93, the plane that was hijacked on September 11, 2005 and crashed in Somerset County, PA -- about 130 km east of Pittsburgh.

    The film is called "The Flight that Fought Back" and the Discovery Channel is selling it on DVD. I checked it out and decided that this is a really good deal:
    1. They say that the ENTIRE PURCHASE PRICE will be dedicated to the Flight 93 memorial
    2. There's no charge for shipping (enter code FLT93)
    3. The total comes out to about $23.
    It's a good deal, raising money for a good cause, and helping to memorialize the heroic actions of the 40 passengers on Flight 93. Check it out.

    Sunnyhill, our church, turns 40 this weekend.


    Keep on thinking free.

    We'll be missing The Great Race due to services. Oh well.

    PA Doctor says FEMA ordered him to stop treating hurricane victims

    2theadvocate.com: News - Doctor says FEMA ordered him to stop treating hurricane victims 09/16/05
    Advocate staff writer

    In the midst of administering chest compressions to a dying woman several days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter was ordered to stop by a federal official because he wasn't registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Rescuing a School Technology Program: Linux Thin-client Overview OP/ED - www.reallylinux.com

    Rescuing a School Technology Program: Linux Thin-client Overview OP/ED - www.reallylinux.com Rescuing a School Technology Program:
    Linux Thin-client Overview

    Oak Hill developer sues Pitt over tactics

    Pitt, known for taking other universities to court to force them to be friends in a football conference, is playing under the table games with others now.
    Oak Hill developer sues Pitt over tactics A developer is suing the University of Pittsburgh, claiming that it's offering 'inducements' to Hill District residents in an effort to undermine a proposed housing expansion.
    The inducements include scholarships and business opportunities for key residents of the Oak Hill development, says the lawsuit by Boston-based Beacon/Corcoran Jennison, which owns that 639-home complex.
    The lawsuit, filed in Common Pleas Court, is the latest heave in a long tug-of-war between the developer and Pitt. The developer wants to build 200 more homes on land bordering Pitt. The university wants the land for sports fields.

    Who was it that told Pitt it could buy off his influnece if Pitt used the old Pitt script on its helmets? For two games this season, we'll see turn the clock back uniforms with the Pitt script! (giggle)

    It stinks to have bullies in your neighborhood. It stinks worse when the bullies are non-profit institutions. It stinks tripple-dog bad when the bullies are universities -- institutions of higher learning.

    OMG. "Mostly is is our way of saying to Pitt -- back off." The developer isn't done playing with its vision.

    Pittsburgh needs to be done with the playing of childish games.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Disasters and governance

    WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Disasters and governance by Jon Lebkowsky

    Libertarian Party statement on eminent domain reform

    Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania
    3863 Union Deposit Road #223
    Harrisburg, PA 17109
    1-800-774-4487
    www.lppa.org

    For Immediate Release:
    Date: 09/20/2005

    For more information contact:
    Doug Leard (Media Relations) or David Jahn (Chair) at 1-800-R-RIGHTS


    Eminent Domain Reform
    A step in the right direction, but further steps are needed

    The State Government Committee is holding a public hearing on House Bills 1835 and 1836 on Thursday, September 22nd at the City Council chambers in Pittsburgh. House Bills 1835 and 1836 reform Pennsylvania statutes to prevent municipalities from using eminent domain to appropriate property to:
    • turn the property over to a non-public interest
    • add or increase the tax base of the municipality
    • take land by condemnation without a reverter clause in the declaration of taking.

    This clause assures that the property will revert to the condemee or his/her heirs or assigns should the condemned property ever be used for a non-public purpose.

    "While a step in the right direction, these bills do not address the root cause of the outrage over the Supreme Court decision," said Ken Crippen, Chair of the Legislative Action Committee of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania. "Municipalities still have wide latitude to take our property by just declaring that the property in question is in the 'public interest.'"

    The United States Supreme Court ruled in the Kelo v. City of New London case that local governments hold the power to widely interpret what “public use” means for their purposes. As witnessed by the Kelo case, this expanded power comes at the expense of tax paying property owners.

    According to David Jahn, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania, "the Supreme Court betrayed the constitutional sanctity of property rights in the Kelo decision. Local governments can now seize private property and transfer it to developers of shopping centers, office complexes, hotels and sporting arenas for no more reason than the wishful hope of an increase in local tax revenues. The Court’s decision blights the 'public use' clause of the Fifth Amendment with corporate welfare."

    The Libertarian Party plans to make eminent domain and the protection of private property rights a key campaign issue in 2006.

    The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States with over 600 officials serving in office throughout the nation. Please visit www.LP.org or www.LPPA.org for more information on the Libertarian Party.

    Running Mates, help. Input on eminent domain needed urgently!

    I'm slated to make a presentation for up to 10-minutes (with 10-minutes of time for possible questions from the committee) to a PA State House Committee hearing slated for Thursday afternoon on Grant Street (City Council Chambers) on EMINENT DOMAIN.

    HELP.

    Got content? Insights? Tips? Pointers?

    Want to offer your services as a reviewer of a draft of my prepared statements? Email me, Mark@Rauterkus.com, and watch your inbox for their arrival shortly.

    Frankly, I'm not too worried. But, I do want to put out this call in advance to others who might like to have a meeting on the minds about this important issue. Thanks for the consideration.

    Otherwise, I'll upload the statements to this blog in the next 48 hours or so.

    Flex Your Rights (wallet card)

    1. Officer, am I free to go?

    2. Officer, I don't consent to any searches.

    3. Officer, I want to speak with a lawyer.

    The movie, Busted, from FlexYourRights.org, was shown at Pitt by the College Libertarians.

    The Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable causes, supported by Oath or affimation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons of things to be seized.

    Alcosan Open House

    Gratis events for the public from 9 am to 4 pm on Saturday, October 1, 2005. Call 412 732-8002, or www.alcosan.org.

    Welcome to Pittsburgh, Mr. Roosevelt. My address to the Pgh Public School Board and Administration

    My words: Welcome to Pittsburgh, a city where politics matters, as it should. But where what matters in politics isn't as it could be.
    Statement before the Pittsburgh School District and its Administration, September 19, 2005

    Statement before the Pittsburgh School District and Administration
    September 19, 2005

    From Mark Rauterkus, 108 South 12th Street, South Side, 15203
    412 298 3432 Mark@Rauterkus.com

    I'm a parent of two students at Phillips Elementary (PPS), a community activist, swim coach, former stay-at-home dad, and a ballot candidate:
    -- for PA Senate (May 2005),
    -- for mayor, city of Pittsburgh (May 2001), and
    -- expected candidate for City Council, 2006.

    Topic: POLITICS

    Welcome to Pittsburgh, Mr. Roosevelt. (I too am Mark R.)

    We both are self described non-traditionalists with shared interest in education and politics.

    Politics is a part of life. Only the foolish choose to ignore it.

    In my opinion, Dr. Thompson tried to ignore politics. Upon Dr. Thompson's arrival to Pittsburgh, like those before him, I wrote him a note saying we had a dysfunctional political landscape. In computer-speak one could say, “garbage in, garbage out.” I hinted that the life of a school superintendent would bound to be full of frustrations as long as this Pittsburgh political quagmire persisted. Dr. Thompson was not interested in actions in this realm. Suffering in our community continues.

    Examples:
    Three on city council formed an alliance to exert influence in school board elections. These were no friends of public education. (Diven, Motznik, Ricciardi)
    A+ Schools is a resume builder for Michael Lamb and certain factions and special interests.
    A wealthy gatekeeper for school board elections has been Elsie Hillman who can stroke $10,000 checks for lawn signs so as to win the day.
    Religious leaders, such as Rev. John Monroe, are going to work themselves into a state of frenzy and protest – perhaps with another extended prayer in the public school's board room disruption's sake.
    The teacher union leader, the late Mr. Fondy, never was known to speak to non-Democrats without an abundance of profanity.
    Mayor Tom Murphy only came to the school administration when he was seeking a TIF (tax break for a new development). That robs the present incomes on the hope for the future – but they have not pulled their weight in the slightest.
    Bob O'Connor spoke in all seriousness when he said, if he was mayor, every school student would have his homework completed by 6 pm. Yeah right. I guess he has an after school magic pixie dust.
    The state situation is no better as Gov. Rendell can't understand why 80-percent of the school districts in the state didn't swallow his plan for gambling incomes.

    Pittsburgh's dysfunctional political landscape comes from neglect.

    The good news, with some attention, the potential for improvements exist. Great strides can be made with some time and energy investments – and a new attitude. Benefits are sure to touch the lives of the students and school performances – and city-wide wellness.

    Politics and voting are significant elements of the American way. We need an open minded approach that is inclusive and educational. The decision logic for voting in Pittsburgh is frail. Sadly, ignorance rules.

    A solution suggestion:
    I would love to either lead or assist with a coordinated effort from the Superintendent's office to create an extensive position paper. Perhaps it should be called a “PINK PAPER on Pittsburgh Politics and Schools.”

    Better policies on politics can be established after wide debate:
    Where are:
    - school assembly opportunities,
    - TV debates (with cable and public TV),
    - policy talks with web streamed delivery, and
    - zones for politicians and issue discussions at and following PPS sporting events?

    A handout from a suburban school district invites citizens to meet the candidates for school board at a school function. Those type of events are rare in Pittsburgh.

    Furthermore, suburban districts have the distinct advantage of being smaller and more intimate in terms of knowing candidates. In the suburban districts, neighbors have better chances of knowing one another. Pittsburgh's larger, urban district has 10 times the schools and neighborhoods yet the same number of board members. City-wide, Pittsburgh needs many more opportunities to meet the candidates, but we have less.

    Another problem stems from petitions. Petitions should be dealt with in a simple and direct manners – and not treated as if they were plans for the overthrow of a dictator.

    Another larger solution suggestion for the political landscape of Pittsburgh and schools is to end the stepping-stone trend.

    I'd love to see a rule/law/charter addition that is similar to the one in place with Allegheny County Council. Twice, the voters of the county upheld a charter provision that makes a resignation necessary before a member of county council can seek candidate status for another elected office.

    If you are on county council and you want to run for state senate, you need to resign your seat on county council before you are a candidate for the other office.

    People like this rule. It imposes a clean purpose. Those with ambitions elsewhere need to leave their present positions first.

    The same would work wonders for Pgh Public School Board Members.

    I think those on the Pittsburgh Public School Board should be IN-ELIGIBLE for any ballot position for two years from the concluding date of their tenure on the board.

    We have a history of others using the school board as a way to increase in power and and personal influence. This career advancement uses the school board seat as a stepping stone to other jobs.

    Valerie McDonald and Barbara Burns moved to City Council after being on the school board.

    Once the elected school board members – and the public know that these positions were TERMINAL and not a pathway to advancement -- then a different flavor of behavior and different style of candidate for these seats for arrive.

    We need politics in the schools, about school matters and beyond. We do not need to continue the flooding that rage from a litany of other political factors appearing in our school decisions. Now it is as if the tail (politics at large) wags the dog (our schools, educational efforts and children's best interest). This happens because of ignorance by design from the main body.

    Education reform might work without any political process reform. However, education reform that occurs with political reform, in parallel, is what I desire.

    Reform should be like a pitched fork – with multiple prongs, one being politics.
    Or, the dog can be whole, tail and all. But each needs to be aware and engaged and grounded.

    Welcome to Pittsburgh, a city where politics matters, as it should. But where what matters in politics isn't as it could be.

    State reduces estimate on city's slots revenue

    Pipedreams go poof!
    State reduces estimate on city's slots revenue State reduces estimate on city's slots revenue
    Who woulda thunk it.

    The over-hyped gambling incomes are now not what was promised. Nor are the new incomes to arrive when they were expected.

    Too little. Too late.

    Mayoral candidates endorse bike trails

    Mayoral candidates endorse bike trails 'I'm all in favor of expanding the bike trails and getting them to come together as a unit,' said Republican nominee Joseph Weinroth. 'Whether I would put that as a top priority? I don't think so.'

    Joe does not think bike trails should be the top priority but fails to mention what would be a top priority.

    Bikes should be a top priority in terms of city transportation. They are effective, economical, efficient.

    But sadly, Mayor Murphy's view of bike trails is to go to DC -- and same for Bob O'Connor. When going to DC, bikes are NOT economical, effective nor efficient.

    Bikes can be a lifeblood for the city in terms of getting people and goods to school and work.

    Gas prices are up again. The gas prices went down -- for a week -- and then the went up on a rebound. Ouch.

    Cars and toll roads are not the answer. Parking garages and parking taxes are sources of headaches.

    We can't bike everywhere in this city. Going to Carrick on a bike is hard work and isn't happening. But, going from the South Side Works to Hazelwood to Station Square to Downtown to the North Side and to the Strip District makes for flat, easy bike transport.

    People can use bikes well in Shadyside and Oakland too.

    If we had a few simple road treatments -- bikes could go much farther in our city.

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    'Last Chance' casino by Dimitri

    'Last Chance' casino - PittsburghLIVE.com Now that the City of Pittsburgh has mastered the nuances of urban redevelopment, retail merchandising -- and pretty soon rodent control -- it wants to own a casino.

    Going to speak to the Pgh Public School Board tonight

    I'm going to speak tonight and share some ideas with the Pgh Public School Board about politics. Mark R is in town and on the job now as the new boss of the schools. He's a man with a politcal background. I'll offer up a few of my suggestions -- formally.

    School board members should not be permitted to enter the ballot for any other elected office for a two year period following their exit from the the Pgh Public School's board.

    Once the elected postion as school board member was converted into a somewhat "terminal" position instead of a stepping-stone to other, higher elected office, then serious school advocates who want to better the schools would run for those offices rather than those who want to better their power-base at the expense of the school students.

    Those who work in The White House know that they won't be able to leave their position as an employee in the White House and just pick up any other position they'd like (like with a lobby firm).

    More to come, sortly.

    Green Event with 2004 Presidential Candidate in Pittsburgh

    David Cobb (Green Party Presidential Candidate, 2004) and Titus North (Green Party Candidate for Mayor of Pittsburgh) are slated for a House Party/Fundraiser at 2140 Wightman St., Pittsburgh, PA 15217 at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, September 20, 2005.

    Suggested donation for the fundraiser $10.

    David Cobb is billed as a true hero of Election Reform, a passionate speaker, and he is definitely one of the strongest National voices for fair and auditable elections.

    Gipper, gadfly, or GOPer

    Gipper or gadfly? - PittsburghLIVE.com: "Allegheny County's Republican Committee should not consider the coming mayoral election as an inevitable failure. Bob O'Connor, poised to snatch the Grant Street throne from Tom Murphy, began his political identity as a registered Republican.
    Yes, a Republican.

    Word on the street says Tom Murphy was a Republican as well. And, he went to the established Republicans early in his ramping up for elected office and put the cards on the table. He sold his soul to them in some early meetings and got into bed with the Allegeheny Conference.
    To this day, many Pittsburgher folks are sure Tom Murphy isn't a Democrat. I was on a talk-show and this same noise came up. It is everywhere. Tom Murphy acts like a Republican comes from the Dems and the denial of Tom Murphy as a pawn of the Republicans is bold too.
    Tom Murphy used to speak to Jim Roddey, R, County Executive, every day while both were in office. They were tight. They were reading from the same playbook until late 2001. Roddey wanted Murphy to win election in 2001.
    Life here isn't so much about Rs and Ds. Salena might wish it was, because that is the national sizzle that makes smoke for the business model to scale up to bigger and different accounts in the political PR world.
    Bob O'Connor is cut from the same cloth as Tom Murphy. Both are the leading Democrats in the city. Both are for status quo. Both are for corporate welfare.
    The article says the sky has already fallen on Pittsburgh. Well, I'd say it fell, sure. But, today is a new day and it is falling again. The sky is still going to fall -- and further debt is sure to mount. There is still a valid reason for sounding the alarms when the city's budget for 2006 calls for an additional $25-million in new debt.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    FreeMarkets founder Glen Meakem contemplates future in politics - PittsburghLIVE.com

    Trib article Meakem said he doesn't have faith in the Pittsburgh electorate to put people in place that will make real change. He said he supported Bill Peduto and Michael Lamb in the Democratic primary, and urged that one of them pull out of the race and support the other in order to present a realistic chance against front-runner and eventual winner, Bob O'Connor, whom he doesn't view as a strong agent for radically transforming the way the city does business.

    Both Lamb and Peduto are partly to blame for O'Connor winning the D's spring primary. I wish there was more teamwork among the challengers. Sadly, they fumbled those opportunities.

    Dollar Bank Junior Great Race

    I guess this can be the 10th annual -- but -- there was a time when the race was stopped in its tracks by Mayor Murphy. Refunds were given. A crisis was needed to waive in the face of residents of the city and suburbania and Harrisburg. Murphy's wisdom put a stop to the race despite the facts that The Great Race makes money.
    WPXI.com - WPXI-TV - Dollar Bank Junior Great Race
    The Great Race has Fun for the Entire Family, today, Sunday, September 18, 2005, at Point State Park.

    Register your junior athletes in this non-competitive race for children 12 and younger. $5 for pre-registration; $7 on Sept. 18.

    Start setting examples for your children while they are young. Encourage them to participate this exciting day of family fun that promotes health and fitness.

    Parents can make this event more memorable for the kids by running with their children in the 1-Mile Fun Run.

    Beginning at noon, Point State Park will be hopping. Children of all ages will enjoy meeting with favorite mascots, silly class and face painters.
    www.rungreatrace.com.

    Packet pick-up and late registration will begin at 10:30 a.m.

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Recruiting grassroots leaders

    Here is an interesting call for grassroots leaders from Alan Keyes. Grassroots leaders wanted for Renewamerica.us
    RenewAmerica is looking for dedicated activists who would like to 'make a difference.'

    The purpose of RenewAmerica is to inspire and develop grassroots leaders who are committed to advancing the principles of our nation's great Declaration of Independence and its framework for implementation, the U.S. Constitution.

    We call this philosophy "Declarationism."

    Our goal is to identify -- and prepare -- those individuals who believe enough in these uniquely-American ideals to DO SOMETHING, not just watch from the sidelines.

    An appeal for leaders:

    We're looking for self-motivated, patriotic Americans who are willing to lend their time, talents, and knowledge to building a nationwide grassroots movement of dedicated activists--activists who are willing to sacrifice for the cause of liberty in the tradition of their forbears.

    Are you possibly such a self-motivated citizen-activist? If so, we'd like you to become an official member of RenewAmerica -- authorized to represent RenewAmerica in your sphere of influence (within guidelines set by the organization).

    We'd also like you to consider organizing your own local chapter of RenewAmerica -- built upon Declarationist principles, but reflecting your own particular interests, perspective, and focus. Each chapter is meant to be fundamentally autonomous and distinctive, within guidelines created by RenewAmerica.

    All chapters are local franchises of the RenewAmerica name and concept.

    Are you interested? Do you have sufficient "moral heart" to lead out in reclaiming our republic? Are you willing to inspire and teach others to emulate your example--at least, are you willing to try?

    What we have in mind is a unique organization that is built from the bottom up, and thus has much deeper roots and greater strength than any "top-down" political organization. We're absolutely serious about making this grassroots vision a reality.

    We believe nothing else will work.

    Please join us!

    As our nation continues to show signs of increasingly-destructive erosion of the foundation our Founders gave us, there is great urgency to ACT in setting things right, within the parameters of basic decency, respect for law, and faith in God, through grassroots activism inspired by effective grassroots leaders.

    If you've had enough disillusionment with our political process, with our government, and with powerful lobbies and special interests, consider becoming a recognized member of RenewAmerica--and also think about forming a franchised RenewAmerica chapter in your area.

    Ultimately, our plan is to have over a million individual RenewAmerica activists in place throughout our country--and at least one RenewAmerica chapter in every county.

    Visit the site and even see the CHAPTER FRANCHISE AGREEMENT, plus a Declarationists of America, Unite handbill. And as usual, reactions welcomed.