Friday, December 30, 2005

AP Wire | 12/30/2005 | Pittsburgh's new mayor touts city despite problems

State Rep Frankle is hardly an ally of mayor-elect O'Connor. Frankle was a Mayor Murphy supporter.
AP Wire | 12/30/2005 | Pittsburgh's new mayor touts city despite problems 'The city's debt load and pension responsibilities remain intractable, and no level of downsizing and problem-solving is going to be enough,' said Democratic state Rep. Dan Frankel, an ally of the mayor-elect. 'I think he's going to have an enormous challenge in front of him.'

Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances - PittsburghLIVE.com

This is called, corporate welfare.
Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances - PittsburghLIVE.com: "Lance: To PNC Financial Services. Its 2005 stock performance was rated second-best by Standard & Poor's out of the 28 bank stocks it tracks. So, why the lance? This is wonderful news, isn't it? It is. But this is the same very well-to-do banking giant that wants to shake down taxpayers for $48 million to help build a new skyscraper Downtown. A good corporate citizen would not even dream of such larceny."

Wagner to challenge Diven

YourBaldwin.com

'I put my constituents first,' said Diven, a former Pittsburgh city councilman. 'I feel at the end of day, the people will see past politics and elect the person who stands up for them.'
Sadly, the people of the district elected a Democrat. But, they got a Republican just a month after the election.
Furthermore, I'm looking for someone to serve the constitution first. I don't need a bring-the-pork-home guy or gal in Harrisburg.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Big party set for O'Connor's mayoral inaugural

Are you going to go? I'll be there. And, it looks like I won't even need to set my VCR to capture the speech. Besides, the VCR can't eat all the cookies and other goodies.
Big party set for O'Connor's mayoral inaugural The ceremony will be held on the steps of the City-County Building's portico. And no, there will be no tent in case of rain.

While people take their seats from 11 a.m. to noon, they'll be entertained by the Perry Traditional Academy marching band, Wesley Center African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church choir, Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School choral ensemble, and Greater Pittsburgh Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums.
I don't expect to see any protesters, other than some food vendors who might want to kick up a food fight. Has any been left off of the list? Penny and others not in the newspaper might have been invited, but just left off of the newspaper coverage. That's what I figure.

No booze. That's good. But that does not mean that all from that sector won't be attending. I've heard that the brass of Pittsburgh Brewing will be there with a tin can to take up a collection to cover its water bill. Plus they have their hearts set on a re-do of the Save Our City web page.

"T" is for "track" -- or "T" is for "termination" -- He wants a letter. Pick "T"

I don't know if the educational character from Public Television, Big Bird, will visit Police Chief McNeilly or not. But, if he really wants a letter, I'd suggest that Bob O'Connor could sends him a "T" as that letter.
The mayoral transition: Police chief out 'All they said was they wanted to go in another direction. I asked what that meant, and they said they wanted to go in another direction. I asked that they send me a letter,' Chief McNeilly said.
As McNeilly winds down his career, he'll be able to send news articles along with his resume as he applies to other jobs. He doesn't need to get a letter.

I think it was interesting to see that he asked for a letter. I don't expect he'll get a letter of termination, but that is just my outsider's hunch.

To really toss a wrench in the Bob O'Connor transition team, McNeilly should have asked for an "email." That request could have been a show stopper, a real train wreck, a real -- off-the-track kinda communication.

Here is a golden opportunity for O'Connor's team, is it up to four now?, to deligate. Perhaps they should ask the Executive Director of the Citizens Police Review Board to ink a letter for the outgoing chief.

Others, more creative than me, might be happy to write a letter for the outgoing chief as well. Those rants in the City Paper might be a good place to find such a letter.

McNeilly will land on his feet. He is a good public servant. His work in the Pgh Police Force is done, for now. His next employer is going to be very happy to have a man of his talents and drive.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

KDKA - Pittsburgh's Source for Breaking News, Weather and Sports: Murphy Remembers Time In Office Fondly

Goals and principles -- Morphed by Murph.
KDKA - Pittsburgh's Source for Breaking News, Weather and Sports: Murphy Remembers Time In Office Fondly The whole struggle of trying to keep the Pirates here, which morphed into building a new baseball park, which morphed into building two parks and then a convention center.
All along I said that it is much easier to cut a deal with the owners of a sports team, or the owners / players of a corporation than with a bunch of citizens. It was easy for Mayor Murphy to pick up the phone and wheel and deal with the Rooneys. That's one phone call. It is easy to deal with the deparment store bosses, such as Lazarus or Lord & Taylor. Same too with 'fix is in' folks like Station Square owners Forrest City or Chicago developers of downtown malls (Urban Properties whatever).

It is hard to get a handle on citizen groups. It is hard to reach a consensus with diverse populations. It is hard work.

Corporate welfare deals are easier deals. But, they don't work in the long-haul.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

May I be the first to wish you all a happy Boxing Day!

We are still trying to get our Christmas letter -- side A and side B -- out the door. But, we had a great Christmas. I only wish that I'd be able to turn the clock back to December 1. I need another December.

This year, we gave the kids a ping pong table -- and a room for it to fit within. And, it was all a suprise.

Others came through with a lot of help and extras. Thanks!

Murphy looks back at his 12 rocky years

Every dog has its day in the sun. The days of Tom Murphy are just about to go to dusk -- finally. To his credit, he didn't have a "day" in the sun. Tom Murphy got more than a decade.

But the beauty of this news article is within the words of Rich Lord. He is great. I just love the angles he puts into print. And, I really love it that his words are being published in the P-G. That is as much of the magic of these times as anything else.

Make no mistake. I'm am thrilled that we're able to see Tom Murphy move to the private sector. And, I'm thrilled to know that Rich Lord is going to be on assignment with the P-G in the months to come.
Murphy looks back at his 12 rocky years There was little left in Mayor Tom Murphy's office last week but a bike leaning against a desk. That and enough attitude to fill a moving van, plus about a dust bunny's worth of regret.

The man who, at his 1994 inauguration, compared his job to Tom Sawyer, 'who got all of his friends to paint the fence,' is leaving office in a town spattered with his vision. He's unabashed about a dozen years of roller-coaster governance, featuring controversial development efforts, federal oversight of policing and a continuing struggle to fix the city's finances.

'We might have overreached,' he said of his administration. 'One's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?'
We should thank them for turning our once great city into a hell -- because when we die we'll go to heaven. Yeah, right.

The over reaching was classic. To over reach is exactly what should NOT happen now and next. We have to get centered. We have to reach within. We have to be unlike Tom Murphy if we are to have any future in this city.

Not only does Tom Murphy get to be the last mayor this might ever have -- but the same holds true for city council as well. Gene Ricciardi is gone too. Both Gene and Tom are departing Grant Street -- but we have OVERLORDS camped out there now.

This is another classic Tom Murphy thought. I say, 'think again.' He says the consent decree was unnecessary, but helpful in accelerating the changes he was already making.

Humm.... but the changes he was making didn't have room for the citizen police review board. Those were changes demanded by the people's votes. So Tom's changes were Tom's to make and his to ignore if they weren't his.

The same gutter thoughts come when Tom Murphy cheered the arrival of "distressed status." The arrival of the outside forces was something he was quick to roll out the red carpet for. Murphy wanted others to come in and do the bailout. Murphy needed those outside forces because he couldn't manage inside forces. His administration could not coordinate nor execute the right changes with the right people within this town.

How sad for him as a Mayor.

Murphy didn't send the Pirates packing. But Murphy is a marathon runner in a town that does not have a marathon. Murphy's management killed the Pittsburgh Marathon.

We'll just have to restart the Marathon. But, we'll need to do it in a much different way.

Rich Lord even tossed in the word, "lockstep" into the article. That raises another concept that we'll need to crack -- like Humpty Dumpty.

Well, I'm not going to waste any more Christmas minutes on this.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Jazz these electrons, if you please

independent solutions Blog hits upon the new downtown development

independent solutions Here we go again, and again...

Just what are our elected officials up to this time? O?Connor and Rendell are happily shaking hands as they use our money to partially finance a thirty story office tower at the initially projected cost of $170 million. That is about six million dollars per floor.

WPXI.com - News - Italian Judge Issues Arrest Warrants For 22 CIA Agents

Some were worried about roid using NHL players going to Italy for the 2006 Olympics. Now there are other worries. Seems as if the judges in Italy are going to be assertive.
WPXI.com - News - Italian Judge Issues Arrest Warrants For 22 CIA Agents ROME -- An Italian judge has issued European arrest warrants for 22 purported CIA operatives wanted for the alleged kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric, a prosecutor said Friday.

Prosecutor Armando Spataro said the warrants allowed for the arrest of the suspects in any of the 25 European Union member countries. Italy issued warrants for the arrest of the 22 suspects within its own borders earlier this month.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Schools Save with Open Source

Schools Save with Open Source

A lot of people ask about the real savings that Open Source can bring to school districts. Noxon Schools has used Open Source software for 6 years now and so I wanted to demonstrate the actual savings and philosophy of Open Source in a real life setting.

Noxon Schools is a rural school district in remote northwest Montana with a student body of about 270 students. The school uses 4 Linux Terminal Servers on separate networks to serve 125 Linux Thin Clients. In addition, the school has a Web server, DNS server, 2 Proxy Servers, Backup Server and a Samba server to provide all of the services the school needs in house. 60 computers run Windows 2000 or XP.

Philosophy
As Technology Coordinator I am provided a budget to manage each year for the school's total technology development K-12. The bad news is, the budget changes every year, often the changes are as much as 40% from one year to the next. What this means is that you really cannot plan a five year project because likely the funds will not be available. This factor was one of the primary reasons I began to exam Open Source, we need stability. The expectations of administration, students and community is that technological assets will be available to every student in increasing complexity.
The second primary reason for examining Open Source is the ability to manipulate the Open Source product to meet our needs, not someone else's needs. We need servers that are setup the way we need them to be setup with the hardware we have available. We need desktops that will do what we want, not want some corporation dictates. In other words we need freedom and options.

Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances has two corporate welfare examples worth watching

When public money goes out to big corporations -- it is called corporate welfare. The Penguins' deal could be worse, but it isn't finalized. And, just because the deal is not as bad as it could be does NOT mean that I'll embrace it. To soar again as a region, we can't make goofy deals.

Why, for instance, should the new arena be given over to the sports and exibition authority? If the Pens get a new arena built for them -- then the Penguins should own it, operate it, pay taxes on it, and then decide its long-term fate.

In my neighborhood, I'd much rather have an owner-occupied building on my block -- rather than renters. Renters are fine, but owner-occupied is even better as the investment is there. And, this is a generalization. One of our blocks, if not the world's best neat freaks in terms of sidewalk trash is a long-term renter. Bless her heart. I love her devotion and how she picks up around these parts. But generally -- we've got to think about the best solutions.

If the Penguins get the handout from the developer, perhaps the Penguins should build a building to their own specs and keep it. The SEA shouldn't take ownership of it.

Furthermore, the public owns a Civic Arena. We'll just take that one back, without a main renter (The Pens). We'll program the Civic Arena, as a true civic arena. I don't want to see the Civic Arena get knocked down with the building of the new home for the Penguins.
Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances - PittsburghLIVE.com On the 'Watch List' I: The Penguins' development plans. The NHL franchise, partnering with a major gambling company and an Ohio developer, has put a bold proposal on the table to privately finance a new hockey arena and redevelop the lower Hill District. On first blush, it appears to be a great plan. There are, however, plenty of details we'd like to see. And it all is contingent on the developers getting one of those stand-alone slot parlor licenses. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, those involved in the Penguins' plan might want to walk down Fifth Avenue to show PNC's Jim Rohr how not to shaft the public.

On the 'Watch List' II: Jim Rohr. The CEO of PNC Financial Services Group next month becomes chairman of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Given PNC's deal this week that dives into the public pockets for Mr. Rohr's Three PNC Plaza skyscraper, we are not encouraged that he'll offer anything in the way of meaningful reform at the long-in-the-tooth conference.
The remainder of the L&L is worthy reading too. See the comments or the link above.

City's General Services director to depart

Another bites the dust.
City's General Services director to depart Mr. Perrett, 49, is a 21-year veteran of the department. He said his accomplishments include contracting out the city's vehicle maintenance, negotiating a deal with the Pittsburgh Public Schools to have city workers televise their meetings and 'just maintaining services despite severe cuts over the decade.'
The Pgh Cable Department / General Services did do some telivision work with the Pittsburgh Public Schools. However, the broadcasting of the Pgh Public Schools Board Meetings is to end, sadly. The success of the program was short lived.

The effective outcome of the broadcasting of the meetings is questioned too. One can't listen to any meeting on the web. Getting the meetings into MP3 files and stored there, for listening, is a no-brainer that General Services could have and should have done.

The Cable TV offering from the city were stripped of a number of employees and a lot of the wind in their sails departed. They work hard to just keep their heads above water. Other efforts for more cooperation among the other institutions in town could have been championed from the upper administration managers.

The O'Connor camp is not commenting on personnel moves. It is December 23 and we've heard of one person being hired.

Perhaps the higher cost of either parking or fuel has gotten to the transition team efforts. Bob might be waiting until he gets his official parking spot before he ventures out, as he got nailed by the media for nicking extra graces in prior parking news coverage.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Splendid Concept Maps of I.D. issue from MN prof.

I love the concept of "Concept Maps."

Here is a great example of Concept Maps on I.D. He is an assistant professor in MN.

I've not even looked far into the conclusions he puts forth. But, I love the use of technology in the covering of the issue.

Insight: I've been so busy in the past two weeks, I've not even watched the news or read the newspapers. I saw ID in the headlines. And, I've got all the papers sitting here, for reading soon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some Libertarians with an guest speaker, now a GOPer, at the Allegheny County Lib Christmas Party


Mark, Russ Diamond, Dave, Joe.

I'm now the Allegheny County Libertarian Party Vice-Chair. That's Dave Powell, my boss, the new chairman in the photo.

Russ has been working hard with Operation Clean Sweep in the past months. His site is at www.PACleanSweep.org.

Family Christmas Letter. It is about to hit the mail.

Season’s Greetings - Boas Testas - Meilleurs Voeux - Felices Fiestas

December 21, 2005

From the Palmer / Rauterkus home: Mark, Catherine, Erik, and Grant.

108 South 12th Street Pittsburgh, PA USA 15203-1226 412-298-3432

Mark@Rauterkus.com
For the first time, this Christmas letter comes on paper and CD. Play the CD both in your computer and on an audio boom-box/car stereo. On the CD this letter (as PDF, .html, and OpenOffice.org document) comes with underline links to treat you to plenty of pictures from the past year. If you're without a computer, just read and know that the kids are taller, Catherine and I are older, and everybody looks happy. Another first for our family Christmas letter is a supplemental, political call found on the the flip side.
We enjoyed two trips to Asia this year. Catherine was invited to Chengdu, China, for an advanced class. The highlight was purchasing a rick-shaw, a three-wheeled bike. With the boys in the back seat, we biked around Chengdu. The bike was sold the day we departed, sadly, but for a fair price. We felt like we were going to our second home in Chengdu and the boys once again swam at the provincial facility. The boys learned lovely Chinese folk songs from a Chinese violin teacher. Plus, we hired a splendid art teacher and got into ink paintings of bamboo!

This trip included visits to Shanghai and Thailand.

Upon our return, another invite came for teaching in China, but from Hong Kong University for two weeks in October, 2005. Catherine and two different graduate students commuted to class by ferry from Discovery Bay, Landau Island. Meanwhile, we played and explored, plus cousin AJ came along, too.

Mainland China and Hong Kong are quite different. We loved these educational experiences. The boys made terrific presentations for their classmates and teachers after each trip.

Voters saw “Mark Rauterkus, L,” on the ballot for Pennsylvania's Senate in a special election on May 17, 2005. As a Libertarian in a 3-way race, I garnered 7% of the vote, 2,542 to be exact. These terrific results came as each old-party candidate burned nearly $1-million in negative campaigns. Elect.Rauterkus.com raised $3,400 (more on the flip side). So, I was out-spent 500-to-1 by both the Democrat and Republican, but was only out voted 5-to-1 by the “R” and 7-to-1 by the “D.”

Currently, another race for public office, City Council of Pittsburgh is brewing. This district is much smaller, just 1/9th the size of the city. I'll continue to be a political advocate and a dad you can count on to go on field trips. There is plenty to do to improve Pittsburgh, so we're expecting another busy year in 2006.

As planned, I'm coaching swimming again, and the boys are both competing, with the same team. I was on the board and coached with Green Tree in the summer. Winter coaching and swimming is with the Carlynton Swim Club, just south of the city. We pulled together an elementary school team for the kid’s school, Pgh Public School's Phillip’s Elementary. About 15 kids participated. We practiced for five weeks on Sunday nights. They all loved it. Erik took first place in the breastroke. Everyone was pleased.

Erik continues to play violin and continues to be a terrific student (5th grade). His passions are politics and traveling. He has enjoyed the church choir and got a lead and solo in the school holiday musical. Erik has several violin solos for this year’s school concert as well. Although he swims seriously, his fun sport is ice skating with Grant and Catherine. The three hit the ice at an outdoor rink in a park every Sunday afternoon throughout the winter.

Grant is an excellent student in 2nd grade. He joins Erik at the Gifted Program on Thursdays. Grant seems to enjoy those challenges. He too plays violin and joined the school orchestra a year early in order to play with his brother before Erik moves on to middle school next year. Grant still loves Star Wars. He saw Episode III in China. Anything that includes violence as a critical element plays well with Grant, a joke on peace loving Mom and Dad. Grant is also into long hair and eating ham. (The joke continues.) One of Grant's weekly joys is spending time alone with Grandma at Grandma’s house (right across the street) -- a real treat.

We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by returning to Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern Univ. invited Catherine to return as a visiting scholar, so the timing was perfect. We dined at the Davis Street Fishmarket where we enjoyed our first date, wedding proposal and 15th anniversary.

The family spent a week in D.C., while Catherine chaired an audiology conference for 7,000+ people. The boys had a wonderful time meeting senators, congressman, and seeing the sights.

Summer included another wonderful week at SUUSI (church camp) and a yearly tour of New England with visits to Catherine’s family and surfing.

We fit in a week long trip to Southern California in August and had wonderful beach time and catching up with some west coast friends.


We're lucky all year seeing Pittsburgh family for various holidays. Fourteen cousins populate the Rauterkus side.

Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!


Blog visitors, the links internal to the letter above, do not yet work, yet. I'll post the PDF or do a re-do with active links for the photos. But, there are so many images, I'm not sure I'll have enough space on my webserver. It might just stay a CD thing for now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

U.S. hockey opts for experience over potential

I hope the voters opt for both experience and potential in the race for city council. I have experience dealing with the issues of our community. And, I have the perspectives, potential and creativity to demand that we put the best possible solutions on the table.
SI.com - Writers - Michael Farber: U.S. hockey opts for experience over potential - Tuesday December 20, 2005 11:53AM Age before beauty
Veteran-laden U.S. hocey team poised to surprise
I love the Olympics. Sadly, no Penguins are on any team, so I understand. Yes?

I'll cook up some 'torch talk' services shortly. If you're interested, drop me a note.

In political circles, a friend did some check about me, for me, with some others who she has known for some time who are politically aware. She reported that all the people she talked to knew me. They all thought I was a good guy with plenty of solid ideas. But, the word was that as a Libertarian, I'd not win. I'd need to join another party.

I said, "Great! I got em right where I want em."

Perhaps the same plays true for the USA Hockey team as well. The experience factor, coupled with the lack of attention heading into Turin, could make Team USA sneaky good. American hockey teams often have done well when they were not particularly fancied (Lake Placid in '80, the silver medalists of '02)

Business Plan Archive and a couple of my flaws...

An article on ten reasons for failure for dot coms is at Business Plan Archive. (Hat tip to local blogger, Anthony, at http://bizzbangbuzz.blogspot.com/. )
Business Plan Archive 3) Too early? Too bad. Timing issues continually pop up in the post-mortem of the dot com shakeout. Many of the web's wrecks came to market with high-cost products well before the infrastructure was ready to receive them. The digital entertainment category is one good example. Companies like Z.com, Pop.com, Icebox.com, Digital Entertainment Networks and Pseudo Networks all may have had good products, but they were much too early for the broadband marketplace."
Generally, I think that there are too many ways to fail to really study failure in great detail. People don't aim to fail. Rather, it is better to study greatness and then walk along those pathways. But, of course, it helps to know, generally, where the sticking points reside.

Before I got into politics and community activist work, and while I've been here, I did a lot on the internet. I'm a failed dot com businessman. I have owned a slew of domains and have two or more shelves of failed business plans to show for it.

By in large, I failed in Pittsburgh with these ventures because I was too early. I was way too early for Pittsburgh's markets and for setting up the headquarters in Pittsburgh.

I was talking to bankers and possible investors before Netscape went public. The Netscape IPO was the single biggest day for wealth creation from any company, ever. I knew that this was to happen, but, I couldn't get others to come along for the ride then.

Later, I saw that most Dot Com ventures were not really doing much except for selling stock and burning investor's money as they grew their equity. It was formula for a crash -- and it happened.

Speaking of Netscape, I was part of a group of netizens that urged them, years after their IPO, to put out its source code in a dual format with a PUBLIC DOMAIN version. They didn't. Mozilla was formed. But a year or more later, after the rush of community was gone, the code licenses were changed again.

Oh well. Live and learn. In the past, I have been guilty of being too forward thinking. This habit is going to be impossible to break. To make up for it, I try hard to not repeat, "I told you so."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Yahoo! Answers Relies on the Kindness -- and Knowledgeability -- of Strangers

Two weeks in Pittsburgh. Is this some kind of joke? Is this because Google set up a new office in town recently? Is this because it is 7-degrees outside as I type this?
Yahoo! Answers Relies on the Kindness?and Knowledgeability?of Strangers The point system (http://answers.yahoo.com/info/scoring_system) rewards both the quality of answers and the frequency of participation. All participants start with 100 points and can build up their scores without ever answering a question just by asking questions and voting on answers. However, achieving ?best answer? ratings can add 10 points, the highest lump sum of points available. Accrual of points leads to seven answer levels?white (0?249), yellow (250?999), blue (1,000?2,499), green (2,500?4,999), purple (5,000?9,9999), brown (10,000?24,999), and black (25,000-plus)?with different ?thank you? status awards attached. The awards range from a simple thank you note, to eligibility as a ?featured user? on a community editorial page or even on the home page masthead, to something so astounding it remains unannounced (?Be the first to find out!?). The higher the level one attains, the more opportunity Yahoo! promises to ask, answer, comment, and rate. (?Second prize is 2 weeks in Pittsburgh.?)
At a number of different junctions in my online life, I played critical roles in leadership. There was the Village Chat Server, the Village Compass Bundle, the USS Swim Boards, the Better-Swim-List, the SC buy-out and the Eureka Squared! discussion with Netscape, to mention a few.

Because of the knock above -- and I can take a joke -- I'll pass on the Yahoo! Answers network.

Lou's List: "He's just a name."

Lou's List: "He's just a name." 'He's just a name.'

People are finally beginning to realize that st. Treasurer Bob Casey, Jr. may not be the ideal candidate to go head to head against U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in November. Casey continued to unimpress ...

Tom Leturgey's article about City Council in The Front -- at news drops now

The cover has a big photo of Bill Peduto. The inside article is full of interesting insights and great photos of each member of council. It isn't online yet. It is worty reading, for sure.

Well done Tom.

The Front's website is at http://www.TheFrontWeekly.com.

The Front Weekly article on blogging

The Front Weekly Blogging by David DeAngelo

The author of the article writes, in part, "I have to say that I still have no idea what the future looks like." He should have asked, or perhaps that will be part two of the story. I'll be glad to connect the virtual dots if you ask.

Some might say that our brians are one big gray glob of more or less useless informational static, just has he described the blogosphere.

But the possibility of more bloggers searching through source material and analyzing what our elected officials (and un-elected punditry) assert should have those officials and pundits more than a little concerned. Imagine a huge mass of people going about fact-checking on the news.


To me, that isn't scary. It is duty.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Man Who Would Be Mayor (InPgh news article)

Blast from the past: The Man Who Would Be Mayor (InPgh news article) Wednesday, January 03, 2001

How Google woos the best and brightest

I use Google's G-mail application. It is nice. And, the enhancements have been flowing quickly.
How Google woos the best and brightest Free cafeteria food, annual ski trips to the Sierra and free laundry are just some of the fringe benefits of working at Google. Getting hired is the trick.

Every month, aspiring workers deluge the popular Mountain View search engine with up to 150,000 resumes, equivalent to a stack of paper at least 50 feet high. And the firm claims to read each and every one.
Note that one of the higher job enhancements at Google is child care.

Jake Wheatley, Jr. + Mark Roosevelt + meetings

I got to mingle with a few at Knoxville yesterday at a meeting hosted by Jake Wheatley, Jr. Dem, State Rep, and Mark Roosevelt, Pgh Public Schools Superintendent. Others were there including two school board memebers (Mark B, Jean F) and a few friendly community activist.

Knoxville is slated to close -- as per the plan. The kids there are to go to Arlington. In this case Knoxville is ranked as a "2" -- and so is Arlington. And, the Knoxville School and community is putting up a fuss. The school is in great shape. There is a strong sense of family in the building. There are plenty of positive elements to the overall situation there.

It will be a very, very sad day if Knoxville closes.

I didn't hear the word, "phase" once, sadly. I did hear a bit of hype in the promises. Some Elementary kids, now in 5th grade, have already been to four schools. Unreal.

The trend has been, as I've described before, to jerk the citizens around. They jerk us out of the swim pools in the summer. They jerk students out of the schools, such as South Vo Tech. The property values get jerked around. The budget process is full of tugs and pulls -- often at last minute, frantic, paces.

How about if we phase out a few of these schools!

When they closed South Vo Tech -- I objected that the news came in May. There would be no school to re-open in September. Furthermore, some of the kids who were JUNIORS at South Vo Tech had already been to two other schools. If you are a high school student, going into your senior year, you don't want to be going to your thrid or fourth school for your senior year. That was wrong.

I asked for the follow-up numbers too. I want to know how many Juniors and Sophomores at South Vo Tech dropped out of school and didn't graduate from Pgh Public Schools.

It would have been a little more expensive, but a lot more human, to close South Vo Tech in a phase out so as to not jerk around the students and families.

If the board and superintendent promised to do a much better job of closing schools in a phase out process -- in terms of years -- then they'd get all the support in the world.

Put a big red "X" on the front doors of the school to signal the school's future closure. This school is to close in three years. No new students may enroll. End all bussing for the school for the last year. Drop the staff by 50% each year, at least.

That promise of a gradual school shut down would give a huge boost to families in the city. In the burbs, they don't shut down schools like this. Heck, many suburban districts only have two elementary schools. How could they close one? Most have one middle school and one high school.

They people in the burbs don't deal with this same crisis that city redisents face -- year in and year out.

Finally, for now, don't stand before the citizens and say that this is the last time we're going to 'right size' the school system. That's a joke. This year's 'right sizing' does NOT apply to high schools, so says the 'right size plan.' The kids in middle schools are going to be jerked around again with the eventual, probable shut down and re-organization of the public high schools in Pittsburgh. Don't say we are going to do it once and for all.

Superintendents who succeed generally don't make it past 3 years. Our kids are going to be with the district for 13 years.

In Pittsburgh, do NOT sing the blues until you've paid your dues.

Oh Christmas Tree -- they were sold out! But we scored on 18th Street

Our regular Christmas Tree vendor sold out of all his trees. Yesterday, he said, they moved about 40 trees. Today, the last few were going, going, gone! This location is at Rt. 51 on the south side of the Liberty Tunnel at Boggs Ave and Arlington Ave.

We scored a great tree, and there are more too, just past Mt. Oliver, up 18th Street, just before McDonalds. $30 for a blue spruce. It is getting a drink now. I should join it.

I heard that there are $60 trees in Bethel Park....

Not getting what you want for Christmas, then ...

send your complaints here, to the North Pole.


North Poll -- photo from fall 2005. Elves were busy at work making gifts. Santa was doing the first drafts of his lists.

Meanwhile, we were on a flight from Chicago to Hong Kong.

We've been working very hard around here to bring a fun Christmas to our household. So, the blogging has taken a back seat.

Today I've got to finish our Christmas letter, 2005. And, it is sure to have a supplent with a political message as well.

Suggestions are welcomed. Leave them in the comments area.

I got to peek at some images from A.J. He went on our trip to China this year and has shared his photos. I'll blend them into the collection. A.J. is going to be going to art school next year. He and Uncle Bob visited Pittsburgh yesterday.

Many find you can go home again - PittsburghLIVE.com

I am a boomerang born at the end of the baby boom. And, I own a few boomerangs. We bought em in Australia.
Many find you can go home again - PittsburghLIVE.com ... 'boomerang migrators,' those who leave the area and then return, ...
Last week, I spoke with a light-industrial guy who makes boomerangs in Pittsburgh. We want to do an event -- talking to boomerangs, tossing a few, and pumping up the flow for others to come as well.

But, first things first. The headline says 'can.' Think of the kid in 2nd grade who asks the teacher, 'Can I go to the bathroom?' Then the teacher says -- down his grammer driven nose -- "Yes you can. But, you want to know if you may." So, "May I move back to Pittsburgh."

"Honey, may we move to Pittsburgh?"

For best results, ask this question after you've red up the house and at.

Another first thing first mention -- I don't want to spend too much time dweling upon the folks that are not here yet. Rather, we have a core of folks who have not yet left (either again or at all). Those are the ones who are going to make a difference in the near term.

I lived in Penn Hills. Then Athens, Ohio; Boston; Waco, Texas; Peroria, Illinois; Chicago; Long Beach / L.A., California; Evanston, IL (back to Chicago); South Side.

The best academic job for my wife, as she was about to get her Ph.D. from Northwestern (we met while I was living there) was at the Univ. of Pittsburgh. So, my mothers rosarys were answered!

When we moved back to Pittsburgh, and we had visited together a number of times prior to a move, I insisted that we reside on the South Side. That was 1990.

In 1994 we spend a month in Australia -- and got the boomerangs. I'll try to post a photo soon.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

pittsburgh bloggers | Write here in Pittsburgh...

pittsburgh bloggers | Write here in Pittsburgh...: "A Fresh Face! "

I'll say! Looks great.

Letter to Mr. Roosevelt about the Gifted Center from concerned parent, Catherine Palmer (my wife)

108 South 12th Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Superintendent Mark Roosevelt
School Board, Pittsburgh Public Schools


Dear Madams and Sirs:

I write to you as a parent of two elementary school children in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and a fellow educator. I am an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders. I have an undergraduate degree in elementary education, my PhD is in Audiology, I conduct research, and see patients who have communication problems due to hearing loss. I believe I am sensitive to educational needs, budget constraints, and making decision based on data due to these various roles.

My sons came home from the Gifted Center last Thursday (their favorite day of the school week) and told me that the superintendent was going to close the Gifted Center. In fact, they both produced a handout from the Gifted Center that summarized the news thus far (frequently asked questions: buses cost money, the board is voting 12/21, gifted education is mandated by law, how to be at the hearing, etc.). And then they both asked me how I could let this happen. So, out of my responsibility to my two boys, I decided to compose a letter so at least I won’t have to say that I didn’t even ask the important questions. I have taken several days to think about this because I have admired the process thus far in the Pittsburgh Public Schools to try to make data driven decisions rather than emotional ones. Just because I love my boys going to the Gifted Center and they love going, isn’t actually a reason to keep it open. Yet, what is the reason for closing it? I will try to suggest a data driven way to approach this.

Thus far, the major decisions related to the “right-sizing” of schools in Pittsburgh have been data driven even if the formulas weren’t readily available. And these data were based on educational performance. These are hard to argue with. What is the formula for considering closing the Gifted Center? It can’t be performance based because these children clearly are performing. So, is it solely financially based? The only information that we have received states that this “…is not an educational decision, but a needed financial decision. By closing the building and sending all students back to their home schools the district will save $394,449 the first year and possibly $986,000 thereafter.” But these aren’t adequate data. First, it is disheartening, although honest, to be told decisions related to your school children are not educational. All the “right-sizing” thus far has emphasized that these were educationally based decisions, but now when it comes to some of our most gifted students, decisions are no longer educational? That seems peculiar.

I would respectfully request that no action is taken until data can be collected as it has been for all of the other decisions. These data would include the actual costs of integrating gifted programs into each and every home school for the same grades that currently receive services. In doing this, the administration also needs to be honest in how they will do this and maintain the standard that the Gifted Center has set.

I can save you some time here, because you can’t possibly maintain this standard. Anyone who has studied Gifted Education and seen it implemented in the Pittsburgh Public Schools knows that it is a culture that is created. It is not something that can be recreated in a room set aside at a home school. You cannot replicate the interactions between the students from different parts of the city, the freedom to explore subjects with amazing resources (both things and teachers), the independent learning that is created in this environment, and the forthcoming leadership skills that are born and nourished. This is not likely to be recreated in a room that most likely will be shared with other programs at home schools. And perhaps even more importantly, whatever is created in the home schools will be wildly different between schools and you will see some schools with terrific gifted resources and others with very little. This is not equitable or just for the gifted children of Pittsburgh who come from different neighborhoods. Most likely the best we will be able to hope for is some accelerated work in these home school “gifted programs” and no one should be fooled into thinking that this is adequate gifted education. Regardless, the responsible way of looking at this would be to calculate the true costs of implementing adequate and equal gifted programs in each and every school (materials, rooms, teachers, etc.) including all grades that currently use the gifted center and then comparing it to what is spent now on the Gifted Center and the transportation to the program.

As we interact with our friends and relatives who live in the suburbs with children the same ages as our own, there are two things they always mention and envy about the city schools – the fact that we have language magnets that start language immersion in Kindergarten and the fact that we have the Gifted Center – a place where gifted education truly takes place in an ideal atmosphere. Why would we close the Gifted
Center, why wouldn’t we make it a model for others to follow? Why wouldn’t we use it as a source to approach foundations who might want to encourage the best and the brightest in our city schools? These two programs that are the envy of suburban friends are also part of what keeps people who choose to send their children to the city schools doing just that. Without these outstanding resources, the reasons to be in the city schools may not outnumber some of the costs and we may find ourselves yet again needing to “right size”. As superintendent and the school board, you must look at all of your constituents and part of that constituency consists of individuals who make a conscious choice to have their children in the city schools and have other options available. We want a diverse group of children in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and we want people who have consciously chosen to be here.

I respectfully request that you postpone any decision related to the Gifted Center until you have collected and shared the data that would reasonably compare the current cost of the gifted center and the cost to duplicate this program in each and every home school. This would be a responsible way to make a decision related to gifted education in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Sincerely,


Catherine V. Palmer

Overseer finds error in budget that favors city

Okay gang, here is an idea I floated a while ago. It might be time to revisit it as there are many cries for an accounting of the expenses of the two overloard bodies that are working in Pittsburgh. We don't know how much these oversight groups are costing.

But more to the heart of the matter, not that the money isn't important, comes my suggestion. My point goes to a working pressure point. News:
Overseer finds error in budget that favors city Council must pass a budget by year's end, and is scheduled to take a final vote on Monday. If the state-appointed Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority doesn't approve it, state funds may be withheld and the authority could intercept new tax revenue next year.

The authority and Act 47 team are working together in talks with council.
These overlords might be earning their keep if they find $2-million-plus errors in the budget. That's great.

However, the overlords need to make themselves players. So, they must deny approval of the budget for as long as possible. And, they must create an uncertainty about what the plan is really about. If the overlords are fuzzy with the plan, then the overlords get to have decisions as they come as the wind blows. That puts power into the realm of the overlords and away from the city's elected politicians.

So, here is the plan. While the overloards are in town, everyone's pay is cut in half. Don't pay the mayor nor council members (elected folks) their full salary. Pay them half. And half is generous, IMHO.

Also, don't pay the overloards their full salary.

The unpaid money goes into escrow. Half of the unpaid money gets paid upon the departure of the overlords. The other half of unpaid salary gets paid three or four or five years after the departure of the overlords, provided that the city's finances are still afloat.

This would give an incentive to the overlords for leaving. That is real motivation.

This plan would also give incentive to the overloards and elected people to find a real solution.

We don't have much leverage now. We don't have a 'sunset' of these overlords. They stay and they get paid. And, we don't even know how much.

I want to pay them when the work is done and when the solutions are proven to work.

I will be happy to take this challenge as long as others in the overloard caucus do the same. And, I would be happy to use self-lobby efforts to make these concepts part of state law, for all present and future overlords throughout the state.

Wiki pointer: Global Voices

Main Page - Global VoicesWelcome to the Global Voices Wiki, a place to discuss the shared goals and identity of Global Voices, and to gather links to voices around the world.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events: All this focus on Math and Science -- does it mean we won't be teaching history -- so asks Tracy L

An older post here, from Nov 2005, is getting heat -- via Nevada, in the comments.

Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events: All this focus on Math and Science -- does it mean we won't be teaching history -- so asks Tracy L All this focus on Math and Science -- does it mean we won't be teaching history -- so asks Tracy L

Feeling the Pull of Thai Massage (washingtonpost.com)

Dana Scarton, freelance writer, had a column in the Pgh Press years ago. She has a nice read about Thai massage. When we went to Thailand, I got a massage. Sadly, I don't have photos. :(
Feeling the Pull of Thai Massage (washingtonpost.com) In Thai massage, the practitioner's table is replaced by a floor mat, no oils or lotions are used, and clients wear clothing suitable for exercise. The practitioner uses his hands, knees and feet to manipulate the client's body into a series of postures and stretches that resemble yoga positions. In fact, some call Thai massage 'lazy man's yoga.'
The grad students with us got a treatment of some type in China while in Chengdu. That flipped me out a bit.

Budget crawls ahead - Perfect Lose-Lose Example

Here is another lose-lose proposition. We can't win, again. This is a classic example of what drives me to be on city council.
Budget crawls ahead - PittsburghLIVE.com If council passes Murphy's budget this year without the oversight board's consent, it could cause the board to withhold new tax revenues from the city to force it to comply.
None of the options are worthy of a great city. None of the options are worthy of a place that I want to be well suited for my children and my childrens' kids.

We need someone to do the heavy lifting so that options, real options, are put onto the table. I want one avenue available, as an escape route if necessary, that will insure that we can soar again.

I want a performance option. I am tierd of only seeing these 'crawl along' solutions and options. They stink. And, they are crafted by those who don't have the capacity to make anything else. Nor do they have the motivation to do anything else.

For them, the status quo is just fine. The status quo doesn't work for me. It doesn't fit. It doesn't wear well.

The status quo, and the crawl along options, explains why people in Pittsburgh have been voting with their feet -- and leaving -- in the past years.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Kansas City woos Penguins - PittsburghLIVE.com

The Pens have not received any government support for the new arena -- but -- how much do they get from the existing arena? Is that to be ignored?

Furthermore, if the Penguins have a shot at getting a slots license -- isn't that a heap of government support? The sltos license revenue is a direct outcome of governmental action. That is government support -- directly.
Kansas City woos Penguins - PittsburghLIVE.com But they have not received any government support for a new arena. That means the Penguins must rely on efforts to obtain a slots license or revenue generated by a license awarded to another candidate.
And, the kickback from the slots could be generated by the Penguins if the team went for the ownership of the license. The team does not need to beg to the slots license holder if the team was the slots license holder. The team can make its own application for the slots license.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wired: going solo for the rivers on a bike that floats

This guy might be looking for a sponsor. I should send him an Elect.Rauterkus.com t-shirt.
Wired 13.12: POSTS When Simmons planned his 2,180-mile, four-month trip, he was really just searching for an excuse to camp out on his 18-foot hand-built bicycle-powered pontoon, the Libelula. But now he had Cub Scouts, news reporters, and elementary-school kids between here and Louisiana waiting for him to expound on river conservation and watershed awareness.

PAT dictates school schedule

PAT is slated for a holiday schedule on January 2, 2006. So, Pgh Public Schools is going to stay closed on that day. The school schedule called for school to begin on Janary 2, 2006. Now that is going to be a vaction day.

Schools will be closed from Monday, December 26, 2005 through Monday January 2, 2006. School will resume on January 3, 2006.

PAT is going to have more and more of an impact upon the school schedules. That scares me. PAT is always seeking another 'bail out.' And, a strike by transit workers would greatly impact upon the schools too.

Furthermore, one of the ways to "right size" the schools is to eliminate all buses for high school students. Students who go to high schools would not be able to get a school bus. Rather, all bus rides will be on PAT buses, when it comes to high school students.

Trouble is, many buses don't go to the high schools. Buses go downtown -- and then the kids need to take a transfer. So, the net effect will be a lot of high schoolers with dead time downtown. That spells for more trouble too.

Buses do go -- but not frequently -- to Perry and to Brashier High School.

This is also a big impact upon the moving of Schenley High School out of Oakland, central in the city, a transportation hub, etc. to East Liberty.

Of interest, they are saying that the new Schenley is going to be in "Shadyside" -- but this is not Shadyside. Reisenstein Middle School is in East Liberty, isn't it???

If PAT holidays can mean changes to the school schedule, then we better consider PAT service patterns as a viable element in the positioning of our schools about town.

City may use police funds to cover firefighter overtime costs

This sums up life in the city -- everyone suffers. City may use police funds to cover firefighter overtime costs Neither the firefighters nor the police are happy about it.

To rob Peter to pay Paul is no way to live. They do this on Grant Street all the time. They think it is fine. I don't agree with these types of practices.

Manage the people. Manage the budget. On Grant Street they react. Being proactive isn't a valued priority.

Task force wants to keep Saks Downtown - PittsburghLIVE.com

Here we go again. We'll need to have the timeless conversation soon that draws distinctions between "wants" and "needs." What Bob O'Connor wants, and what Bob needs are not the same.
Task force wants to keep Saks Downtown - PittsburghLIVE.com Task force, O'Connor want to keep Saks Downtown

Keeping upscale retailer Saks Fifth Avenue Downtown is among the priorities for mayor-elect Bob O'Connor and those involved in trying to rejuvenate the Fifth-Forbes retail corridor.
I don't like the fact that we have "a private task force" setting policy. Herb Burger, chairman of the Pittsburgh Task Force, a private group charged with reinvigorating Fifth and Forbes.

They use the word, "charged" with reinvigorating --- humm... Like charge card, like debt, like overspending, perhaps? We don't NEED some private group spending the money and setting the priorities.

The priority for me is not some store downtown with a lease that is set to expire in 2011. This is an article about corporate welfare.

We need to be sure that the youth don't move out of our city -- and expire from school -- from violence -- from poverty. Keeping Saks downtown isn't the key to the real priorities that matter greatly to me.

Saks must and will figure out where to put its stores based upon the marketplace. The stores will go to places where customers have money, tastes, and in turn jobs and opportunities. We need to make sure government does its job of in the sector of government -- and then the citizens can be more prosperous. And, in turn, the marketplace will respond in healthy ways.

The worst thing our city can do is to continute to be a town that is driven by corporate welfare. See: Platform.For-Pgh.org.

Rocky Mountain News: Avalanche & NHL

This is the exact word I do NOT want to see in the news. We don't want to "replace" the civic arena. To churn and burn is no way to get ahead. If Mario wants to build a new arena, fine. But, we need to hold onto what we've got.

Progress is not about one step forward and one step backward.

Progress is about fixing and upkeep of what you have -- and creation of new value and wealth.
Rocky Mountain News: Avalanche & NHL OFFICIALS WORK TO SAVE PENGUINS: Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bob O'Connor are working to find a way to replace Mellon Arena and secure the Penguins' future in the city, Onorato said.

Owner-captain Mario Lemieux said has he is doubtful the team will remain in Pittsburgh after its lease expires in 2007, citing lack of progress on a new arena."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Phillips First Swim Team


My son, Erik, at top in blue shirt, and other swimmers on the Phillips Elementary School's Swim Team with stretching exercise before the city meet. That's a big sister and former Carrick swimmer, Amanda, leading the kids.

Erik won the 25 breast.

Ryan got 4th in the 25 back.

All the kids did really well. They did some excellent races.

Interesting meet notes. There was no warm-ups. Kids were not allowed off of the blocks. And, no butterly. But, the 2nd swimmer in the medley relay and free relays dove off the deck in the shallow end.

Monday, December 12, 2005

USATODAY.com - Lemieux doubtful on Penguins future in Pittsburgh

Think again.
USATODAY.com - Lemieux doubtful on Penguins future in Pittsburgh The Penguins are projecting a $7 million loss this season, a figure that assumes the team will draw near-capacity crowds and advance to the second round of the playoffs.

The Pens are helping in the city's collection of the Parking Tax. But, that money isn't Penguin money. It is needed for things such as crossing guards and snow removal.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Peoria's son, RIP: Pryor

I lived for three years in Peoria, Illinois. Home of Richard Pryor. They knew it.

Meanwhile there is an expression -- "will it play in Peoria?"

I played in Peoria. Pryor, without a doubt, played and made it from Peoria too.

His comedy is real. His characters were 'out there' -- but -- he kept real, not a model nor a forgery. Pittsburgh and Peoria are bad places to be artificial.

I'll be interested in reading what is said in Peoria about Pryor.

Barnestormin: While Pennsylvania Burns

I got a plug at another blogger's site. And, he's a journalist too. But, I really don't do all this for the stokes and plugs elsewhere. I raise my voice, in all sorts of ways, to combat all sorts of ills. We have to fix ourselves. PA is behind the times in terms of what it tolerates from the "lobby industry" that serves "special interests.
Barnestormin: While Pennsylvania Burns Pennsylvanians, where is your outrage? Have the flames of your anger been doused by the pay raise repeal?

If I told you that your pants were on fire and you saw the flames, you’d run for water. But I tell you how Pennsylvania state legislators are regularly influenced by corporate interests, and almost nobody comments. None of my three readers commented, and with the exception of blogger Mark Rauterkus, none of the local media picked up on it. Almost none of the local blogging community mentioned this problem, perhaps because local bloggers prefer to complain about the money spent on stadiums and they prefer to tout local websites, but they don’t want “hard” news. Or maybe they like having their legislators answer to special interests.

'Slim chance' Penguins will stay in Pittsburgh, Lemieux says

'Slim chance' Penguins will stay in Pittsburgh, Lemieux says Owner cites lack of progress on new arena

Build your own arena. Go to McKeesport. Go to Cranberry. Go to Washington County. Go to the nonprofits and ask for it to be built on the river on the land in Hazelwood.

Mario, be creative. Be original.

If there was a chance of getting a new arena AND saving the old arena -- without the Penguins -- without public money flowing into the project -- then Mario would be sininging a different tune.

The Penguins are not running out of time. The Penguins have run out of creativity, perhaps.

I do agree that the city and county have not been working with the Penguins. However, get some new blood in there that is willing to talk the hard talk -- and work the hard work -- in serious ways -- then we'll have a whole new chain of interactions. The ones who are in there now are "push-overs," or worse, "do nothings" when the going gets tough. They quit on your Mario because that's a sign of their best response and lack of creativity.

But, they also quit on our kids and parks as well. And, I won't let that continue either.

Mario, I'd be glad to meet with team administrators of The Penguins and come up with some better, alternative plans. Then I'll champion a new home for the Pens -- given that there is no public money involved and given the fact that the Civic Arena gets a new life as a 'civic arena.' I don't want to have the Pens build something new and destroy what is already here. No churn and burn. The Civic Arena is a community asset.

Finally, the I assume Mario knows that Pittsburgh has something else to offer besides the Penguins. We have excellent health care facilities, people and institutions. Those capacities have to be fresh in Mario's mind since this past week when his heart went hyper. He might be glad he's in Pittsburgh and not somewhere else in times like those.

Meet with me. Drop the frustrations. Set a new course. Gain a new attitude.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

First hint of a Candidate's night, Jan 10, 2006

The South Side Slopes Neighborhood Assn has its third President and new board for the year. Their news -- the group is to host a candidate's night on January 10, 2006.
We hope to see you for a Candidate’s Night for the Special Election for our City Council Seat, once the Honorable Gene Ricciardi resigns. As you all know, he has been elected to our District Justice position. From the first candidate to announce, we will invite all of the many candidates who have since announced their interest in the position. Each candidate will be given equal time. SSSNA President Brad Palmisiano will be moderating. We will have refreshments and you need not be a member to attend.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Roosevelt faces hard choices in balancing financial, education needs -- my quote and extra insights

I am quoted in today's Post-Gazette.
Roosevelt faces hard choices in balancing financial, education needs 'They're the generals, and we're just the minions ... I think that's a Smoky City legacy,' said South Side parent Mark Rauterkus, who complained Mr. Roosevelt developed the budget cuts behind closed doors instead of seeking the community's input.
The proposed closing of Pgh Public Schools Gifted Center is very bad news. The decision isn't going to get support from me. And, the moves announced this week might sink the entire reform agenda.

I talk about this "smokey city legacy" in the quote. And, it is illustrated with great clarity with the quote at the end of the article. "Some of the sacrifices, I think, in the end will be understood not to be sacrifices," said the director of A-Plus Schools. Bingo! See what I mean.

We (citizens, parents, customers of our schools) take crap. They (foundations honchos, unelected leaders, appointed neighborhood weenies, special-interest takers) call it A+ Beef. We have to eat it. In the end, they'll expect to be thanked by the citizens (minions).

Meanwhile, another 10,000 flee the city this year. The one's who value choices and freedoms vote with their feet.

I wanted to see a meeting among the parents of gifted students. I wanted to see some open meetings among the teachers, or various sections of the city. How about a meeting of gifted center alumni too. What do the gifted center staffers say? I wanted to have the facts put out before us for all to see.

Just a year or two ago we (citizens) heard that the Pgh Public Schools was running a nice, healthy surplus. Then the RAD tax was stolen. Then the crossing guards pay was shifted onto the backs of the kids in the classrooms -- rather than the mayor's budget. Then the foundations pulled $3+ million a year for a few years. That's all in all more than $20-million.

Dr. John Thompson said that there wasn't a budget problem. Now Mr. Roosevelt says we have a $49-million annual shortfall.

I remember when James C. Roddey said that Allegheny County government was an island of stability in a sea of red ink from all the other failing governmental entities. Then Dan Onorato came into office and the story changed in drastic ways. And, Mr. Roddey defended his claims for the next number of months.

Who do you trust? Who is right?

Perhaps they are all wrong.

There has been a changing of the guard. Around here that must mean that there is about to be a purge of the opposition. That's a smokey city way that is tolerated.

Bob O'Connor gets the spotlight shifting to him next. We'll see. Is there a "budget surplus" (already kicked around by Murphy) or not?

We need change, of course. We need to make stong, bold steps to moderize and right-size -- of course. But, we don't need to churn and burn. We don't need to have this shoved down our throats. We need to have the best possible solutions -- and that takes time, effort, communtity and interactions. Those qualities are absent in Roosevelt's actions so far.

Thanks to the director of A-Plus Schools for proving my point in such vivid color.

We need to think again. I would insist we act out in the open. I'd insist we seek valued input from all sectors. I would overhaul the process for change. I would make an open system. I want a more transparent governement -- so we can terminate this "smokey city", behind-closed doors, knee-jerk reaction mode of operations.

I would be PROACTIVE among the entire community.

I know that this is messy -- but it is original and it makes a huge difference. You can't be self-reliant when all the brians and brawn are concentrated in the few.

This week alone we have opened up the newspaper to read for the first time that the outgoing police chief is expecting the South Side Police Station to close -- and the school superintendent and board are going to close the Gifted Center. That's a big one-two punch -- and they are SUCKER PUNCHES, blindsided bad news, little options for ducking or sidesteps or even rolling with the punches.

But in the end we'll thank them --- ha, ha, ha. You better be good because Santa is coming to town.

Gifted Center Counter Proposal

My two children attend The Gifted Center.

My father is a retired Pittsburgh Public School teacher. At the end of his career, he was assigned to The Gifted Center.

I think it might make great sense to end all bussing to The Gifted Center. But, keep the Gifted Center open.

Children go to The Gifted Center one day each week. Today, with a 2-hour delay, none of the kids will go to The Gifted Center. But, on days where the kids go to The Gifted Center, they go to their home schools for a half period (home room). Then they get on buses to The Gifted Center. To the end of the school day, the kids go from Gifted Center back to their regular school. Then comes the end of the school day.

Some kids need to take four bus trips on days that they go to The Gifted Center. From home to regular school, to Gifted Center, back to home school, and then finally back home from the regular school.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tuesdays with M...

We went out to see City Theater's Tuesdays with Morie -- and were entertained, greatly.

Today I got to talk with three State Reps. Plus, got to speak with a boss at the Tribune-Review. I thanked him for the fine correction in today's paper.

Early today, I had my own, Tuesdays with Morie moment. The full story later, as a podcaste. In 1982 I graduated from Ohio University and organized an event for all graduating sports lettermen and women. This was held the week of graduation at the student union. The sports banquet that year was nixed and as seniors, we all got a deck of playing cards from the Athletic Department. Well, that wasn't good enough.

I was a senior, and, I had been a coach for four years as well. We scrambled and pulled together our own banquet and party. I asked three to be the keynote speakers -- and all invited speakers came. Plus, we got a good audience. Today, I revisited those tapes and listened to the event. From the archives to a podcast soon, it should be fun to release it, finally.

In Tuesdays with Morie, Mitch is a sports reporter who connects with his college professor after 16 years. This presentation is from nearly 24 years ago. The poduim was set with a women's field hockey coach with roots from Ireland, a sociologist who was a national, masters champion in orientiering, and a philosopher tennis player. Nice line-up then. Good messages to this day too. Stay tuned.

By the way, it is great to live on the South Side and walk home from the City Theater in three inches of snow. It is falling fast. I expect a two-hour delay, at least.

Still At Large, article from Russ Diamond

See the comments for an article from Russ that has a fun twist to the state pay raise that has been revoked.

Meet the activist and author at a county-wide Christmas Party, event at 7 pm on WED. Dec. 21 at John Harvard's Brew House in Monroeville. Be there if you can.

Fixed online. Yesterday's untruth is but for digital dust.

This is what is online now -- changed from yesterday.
3 contenders line up to replace Ricciardi - PittsburghLIVE.com: "and Libertarian Mark Rauterkus, a part-time swimming coach and a stay-at-home dad, from the South Side.
The printed edition of the newspaper has a correction on page B2. It reads:

Pittsburgh City Council candidate Mark Rauterkus is a part-time swimming coach and a stay-at-home dad. his employment status was incorrect in a story on page B6 Wednesday.


Thanks for the truth.

TheStar.com - Odds against Penguins staying put

Hey there. Canadian weather arrives -- and now talk of Pittsburgh from Canadian news.
TheStar.com - Odds against Penguins staying put ... Yet Crosby's days in Pittsburgh might be numbered and it has nothing to do with the Penguins languishing in last place in the Eastern Conference with only seven wins in 27 games.

For months, Crosby's teammate and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux has been in a battle with one Las Vegas heavyweight and several Pittsburgh big shots for the right to acquire a licence from the state of Pennsylvania to operate slot machines.
I don't think they had the news of Mario's check in to the hospital with heart ticker weirdness.

Activists protest against voter bill - PittsburghLIVE.com

Activists protest against voter bill - PittsburghLIVE.com Voting-rights activists gathered in Pittsburgh on Wednesday to protest a bill pending in the state Legislature that they say would disenfranchise poor and elderly voters.

'Our voting statistics are getting lower and lower on almost every election -- not only for black people, but for white people as well,' said Tim Stevens, president of the Black Political Empowerment Project. 'This state does not need to discourage anybody from voting.'

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Candidates lining up to replace Ricciardi on council

Candidates lining up to replace Ricciardi on council ... and Libertarian Mark Rauterkus.

To Luke, "May the force be with you!"

Luke, 24, D, has floated to the top of City Council. Not Luke Skywalker. But rather, the North Side's own, Luke Ravenstahl.

Luke won the vote today to be City Council President. The nine members of council vote among themselves to pick their leader. The move out of the president's seat by Gene Ricciardi was hoped for weeks ago, but none on council could muster the five votes to insure a win, until today. Luke got five votes.

Furthermore, beyond the power of the force, Luke, I'd love to be appointed to the chairmanship of the committee on Citiparks and Youth in the event I'm elected to city council. So, save me a seat, if you please.

City residents, businesses may face steep fees for false burglar alarms

A few points on the false alarm news and how I'd want to think again. First, if the fees go from $0 to $50, as would be the case with "free passes" that would diminish, the number of false alarms will drop.

So, presently the city resident gets four calls for $0 cost. The plan is to make it 2 calls for $0 cost. The next two calls would be $50 each.

As for the budget, lets say a resident had five calls in 2003 and paid $15. The Act 47 look at this and say that the fee in 2006 would be $150. That is an increase of $135. But they are dreaming. The new plan isn't going to generate those kinds of windfalls. Some increases, but think again about the totals.

When the prices get jacked up, residents will be more careful with their systems or else will disconnect from the 9-1-1 system or just leave the alarms off more frequently.

Another point: $50,000 for the software. I'd put out a call for an open-source software solution. For $50,000 you'd be able to hire the programmers and get the job done. And, you'd be able to give some incentives to the open-source software teams for their efforts. The code could then be used in other areas of the county, state, country or world.

This move to open-source software won't be a lot cheaper in the first instances, but it will be much better in the long haul and much cheaper. And, I don't think it would be bad to hire a programming coordinator who does open-souce software and can manage a number of different projects via Sourceforge and such.

Third point: The city has a bad track record with billing, colllections, and application of fees to end-users in the realm of public-services delivered. The EMS system could have been a profitable enterprise on the whole if it would have had the dedicated assets to do the necessary billing and paperwork. People get rushed to the hospital and the city does not get paid. The bills don't go out. The health insurance red tape is huge, but there needs to be some follow-up to get paid for services delivered.

Too often the Act 47 team looks at the budget and sees that the billing department costs could be cut by $200K, but they fail to realize that if an extra $100K was put into the budget then the work would get done as it needs to and the windfall would be 10 or 30-fold increases of incomes.

The overlords and Grant Street politicians are too often penny wise and dollar foolish. They need to think again about the overall solution.
City residents, businesses may face steep fees for false burglar alarms: "The Act 47 recovery team, which wrote the plan, found that 31,000 annual false alarms accounted for 9 percent of police calls.

The city collected $17,400 in false alarm fees last year, according to the Police Bureau. The Act 47 team found that higher fines and better collection could quickly yield $250,000 a year.

'We feel very confident that it will raise a minimum of $200,000 in revenue next year without additional staff' if the software is purchased, Mr. Stern said."

As for the online payments, the quote in the newspaper is, Mr. Stern said he also would like to upgrade the city's Web site to allow people to pay fees and taxes online with credit or debit cards. Mr. Skrinjar said the mayor-elect could support online payment, if taxpayers want it and if all information and funds can be transferred securely. Duhh....

Of course we should be doing online bill payments of city services. Of course it needs to be secure. Making an eMayor suite of servers were planks I talked about when I was running for mayor in 2000 and 2001. That was a long time ago and those efforts have not been put in place.

Furthermore, I'm not sure Bob O'Connor is the type of guy who can make the internet and open-source software a top priority of day-to-day operations. I've never seen an email from Bob O'Connor.

Heck, we still have both the city and the county selling dog licenses. Michael Lamb ran for mayor and talked about how there are two offices on Grant Street doing the same thing (simple dog licenses) and how this was wrong. He barked about those fumbles hundreds of times around the city, in nearly every community he visited. Well, it still happens.

How about if the city provided a way to get a dog license online!

Council proposal not Godly, but wise - PittsburghLIVE.com

A public hearing would be a good idea.
Council proposal not Godly, but wise - PittsburghLIVE.com: "The two East End councilmen were planning to hold a vote on the ordinance Wednesday, but they have instead opted to hold a public hearing on the measure."

The reception area at City Council have been flooded with phone calls about this issue. As of today, I don't think that there is a public hearing. I'm not sure if one will happen or not.

City police considering move from South Side station

Just go away. We're sitting here, waiting for the mayor to change. Then we hear about the old police chief who wants to change a police station. I don't think so. This is no time for McNeilly to create a legacy for himself, the department, nor the outgoing administration. City police considering move from South Side station Pittsburgh's Police Bureau is considering alternative locations for its South Side station, Police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr. told City Council yesterday.

He stressed that no final decision had been made. 'We've just been looking around,' he said.

'Route 51 divides the zone,' he noted, so sites along it might be considered. He said the bureau hadn't yet narrowed its search.

His comments may begin a new chapter in the search for a policing solution for neighborhoods south of the rivers.
This is going to go over poorly. But, there has been some trouble with the station, and parking. Nothing else really matters.

The EMS station moved out of the South Side location. They moved into a site that is a pit in terms of working conditions. Let's ask EMS how their move has worked for them.

Perhaps EMS can move back into the building that they were kicked out of by the police squads expansion.

I'd have no problem with the police and EMS moving into South Vo Tech High School. That should be a public building with jobs. Might as well put the Citiparks and County Parks there too, under one roof, as well.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Arts Council urgen rush about bill of rights legislation in PA

An urgent with four *s hit my email box today from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council. These folks are about as political as my pinky toe on my left foot.

When we have the Cultural Center doing downtown development, we get the Ballet holding Nutcracker events without musicians. When we have arts groups making calls about the bill of rights -- I begin to wonder what the Court Jesters would have said about the loss of the king's head.

I don't have anything else to say about the call -- just yet -- today.
State Funding at Risk ATTENTION NEEDED TODAY

This is an important announcement concerning future support for arts and culture in Pennsylvania. Please read this completely and act today.

This week, fast moving legislation will go forward without public hearings or debate in the Pennsylvania General Assembly that could severely reduce state support for arts, culture, education, public broadcasting, history, arts education, heritage, preservation, support for lower and middle income families, agriculture, and a plethora of other things funded by the state that we may have not yet identified. This legislation, introduced in both houses, is known nationally as TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) or TEL (tax and expenditure legislation), and in Pennsylvania as the "Taxpayer Fairness Act."

ACTION NEEDED
Call, fax, e-mail or visit your legislators this week to ask them to explain the long range impact of this legislation. Stress that a NO VOTE on House Bill 2082 is essential. Click here to find your legislator and visit the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council's Advocacy Pages for information on what to include in a letter, fax or email to your legislator.

This legislation would set limits on the growth of state and local spending and tie state spending to a formula that includes the annual change in population plus the current rate of inflation. This legislation is based upon a Colorado law enacted in 1992 that implemented severe expenditure limits. The effect of this legislation was devastating in Colorado. Discretionary funding for programs such as arts and culture, higher and basic education, healthcare, and social services was severely reduced. In November 2005, after 13 years of a downward trend in quality of life, Colorado citizens voted to roll back TABOR.

Some facts about TABOR/TEL and Colorado
Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights contributed to a significant decline in that state's social services and education programs since it was adopted in 1992. According to Americans for the Arts, fiscal year 2004 saw the Colorado Council on the Arts budget slashed by 93%. Research done by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC found that:

* Under TABOR, Colorado has declined from 35th to 49th in the nation in K-12 spending.

* Higher education funding has dropped by 31 percent.

* Tuitions have risen as a result. In the last four years, system-wide resident tuition increased by 21 percent (adjusting for inflation).

* Colorado has fallen to near last in providing on-time full vaccinations to the state's children.

* The share of low-income children lacking health insurance has doubled, making Colorado the worst in the nation.

How Pennsylvania's "Taxpayer's Fairness Act" might affect you
TABOR/TEL legislation in Pennsylvania would dramatically limit state spending in areas most important to low and middle income families and the state's quality of life institutions. According to an analysis done by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, if TABOR/TEL had been in place when Governor Rendell took office, the current $24 billion state General Fund budget would have to be cut by over $2 billion. Ways to cut $2 billion out of the state budget might include:

* Elimination of state funding for higher education.
* Elimination of state funding for health care to low income citizens.
* Elimination of state funding to arts organizations, museums, public libraries, museums, historical societies, public television stations, and other arts and cultural agencies. Currently, Pennsylvania ranks 16th in per capita support for the arts.
* Reduction of the basic state subsidy for public schools.
* Elimination of all state funding for the Department of Agriculture.

Important Note: Pennsylvania already has a constitutional requirement for a balanced budget. The budget process already provides the General Assembly and the Governor with the tools they need to control the growth of state government. TABOR uses the term "Bill of Rights" which has a spin that may make some people think that they're talking "Constitution." This is not the case, and it is just a name for similar programs that have failed in other states to theoretically save taxpayer dollars.

ACT TODAY!
Contact your state senator and representative ASAP. Ask them to VOTE NO on House Bill 2082 and oppose all TABOR/TEL both in an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution or other legislation.

Even if you are unsure of your position on this bill, please ask your senator and representative to explain to you what impact this bill would have on the ability of the state to support services to the people of the Commonwealth, especially those who need it most.

To locate your legislators Click Here.

Time is of the essence. Do not delay.
Contact your State Legislators NOW! Proponents of HB 2082 say they want to enact it before the end of the month.

More information about the TABOR/TEL legislation may be found on the following websites: Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities - Information about TABOR-like legislation in other states, including a fact sheet and analysis on what happened in Colorado.
*
House Bill 2082 is also being opposed by the following organizations:
AARP Pennsylvania; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF); Citizens for Consumer Justice; Keystone Research Center; Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in Pennsylvania; Maternity Care Coalition; Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania; National Council of Jewish Women-PA; Pennsylvania AFL-CIO; Pathways PA; Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators; Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center; Pennsylvania Council of Churches; Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations; Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG); Pennsylvania School Boards Association; Pennsylvania Social Services Union (PSSU); Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA); Philadelphia Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY); Service Employees International Union (SEIU); and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776.
*

Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council
707 Penn Avenue, 2nd Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3401
P: 412.391.2060
F: 412.394.4280
www.pittsburghartscouncil.org

Reversing the call to action from the pro-choice rebels

Planned Parenthood is putting out a call to action. They want people to attend this Wednesday's city council meeting. My reply follows.
We need your help. This Wednesday, December 7, Pittsburgh City Council will be holding a preliminary vote on the Medical Safety Zone legislation that would protect patients and their companions entering medical clinics and hospitals in Pittsburgh. The anti-choice hardliners are organizing their masses to attend the meeting and give public testimony when the meeting begins (10:00 am).

The co-sponsoring Council members of this ordinance have asked us to gather as many supporters as possible to attend the meeting. If you live in the city of Pittsburgh, it is even more critical that you try to attend this meeting.

If you'd like to give brief public testimony in support of the ordinance, please click here.

Thank you. Here are the details:

Wednesday, December 7, 2005
10:00 A.M. - Standing Committees Meeting, commencing with the public comment followed by the Committee on Finance and Budget.

Pittsburgh City Council 510 City - County Building, 414 Grant St. Pittsburgh, PA 15219 Telephone: (412) 255-2138

The legislation before City Council is a yawner, mostly. I go to council all the time. I'm not motivated to go now because of this bill.

The bill has two parts. I love the first and hate the second. And, there is another problem that they are trying to fix that is best fixed with real enforcement.

Bill says: 1. You can't be within 15 feet of an entrace to a public health clinic. Fine. Great idea. Do it.

Part 2 -- says you can't be within 8 feet of another person. This is to keep protesters away from those who might be going to the clinic. That creates a buffer zone that is about 7.5 feet wider than what an average person from China needs. And, the buffer zone moves with the person as the person moves.

Person A is on the sidewalk with protest posters doing his/her free speech thing and Person B exits clinic and goes to stand next to Protester A. Then -- police arrive and the 8 foot buffer is absent and Proterster, person A, goes to jail.

So much for free speech.

Part 2 stinks.

Peduto, and others on council, again, go overboard in limits to freedoms. And, the law will go to the courts. And, this will cost another nickle or two for constitutional attorneys and the city's legal department. They always go to the courts to figure out matters. Rather, I say do the right thing by crafting better laws in the first place.

But, we run into this problem because people have been assulted in a number of ways going into and out of the clinic. Plus, the city does not have the manpower nor budget resources to put an officer at the clinic as they have had to do in the past.

So, people in the burbs who don't care much about city politics -- time to care. The quality of life in the city impacts everyone.

Furthermore, the police are slow to make an arrest of someone protesting. They don't have clear leadership. They don't have clear marching orders. They know that a wrong move -- and -- bingo -- they just lost their job as people around here won't support them for doing the job. The pass the buck problems always surface. So, enforcement is lax to say the least.

If someone got pushed on the sidewalk headed to or out of a clinic -- and police made an arrest -- then this problem would not generally happen. Assault is assult. It shouldn't happen. And, when it does -- people should be put in handcuffs and taken to the Judge.

The police are our friends, if they do their jobs.

If they don't do the job -- because of uncertain winds from politicians -- then the police need to be better managed or else need to have more laws put on other laws to make them do more.

Even this law is a question as to its enforcement from the men and women in blue. ????

This health clinic effort to rid the landscape of protesters grew out of the panhandlers legislation that went down a month or so ago. The downtown weenies want to rid the city of the homeless. The homeless are not a big problem. But, when there are so few others downtown, they look like a big problem. Likewise, the homeless and beggars are getting away with disorderly conduct because there are serious enforcement problems with the police. One guy who was trouble downtown had 60 violations to his name. He should have faced some different outcomes about the third time he was picked up -- not the 63rd time.

If you think otherwise, let me know.

Mayor-elect O'Connor bucking transition tradition

Mr. Matter just D.Q.ed himself....
Mayor-elect O'Connor bucking transition tradition 'It's better to do it below the radar screen,' said David Matter, ...
Bob's played defense in the campaign, mostly. Bob's playing defense in the transition time, for sure. Bob is going to play defense in the appointments with the authority members, who are going to be safe throughout the winter, so he says.

Pittsburgh loves a good D-Fence, D-Fence, D-Fence.

A mayor who plays defense might be a major blessing.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sunday -- swimming and skating

Swim meet today...

Skating in afternoon.

Sleep over was last night.

Happy Birthday Grant. He's 8!

Sing a song of Pittsburgh: Searching for a 'Burgh-defining tune

Part 2 --

What about the cultural district and its ballet without musicians. We love music -- but would rather have recorded instruments at the Nutcracker!

The fine folks in the cultural district have been too busy with buildings and high-rises and redevelopment efforts and not culture. They've been high-jacked by the outgoing mayor's agenda too.

Put some big notes on a building, like the illustration to the story, then you've got something -- but it is still the wrong 'brand."

Sing a song of Pittsburgh: Searching for a 'Burgh-defining tune

The song of Pittsburgh is "Think Again." It is on my campaign CD. If you have yet to hear it, send me a donation and I'll send it along to you -- by the dozen.
Sing a song of Pittsburgh: Searching for a 'Burgh-defining tune: "Yeah, we love Pittsburgh. But how would we sell it in song?"
The song for the city for the times is "Lay the Shovel Down" by the same singer. It talks of the hole they dug, and how we have to move to get out of it.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Victory: RAND releases a working paper, Assessing the Performance of Public Schools in Pittsburgh

Excellent. This paper was asked for. Now it has been released.
RAND: Assessing the Performance of Public Schools in Pittsburgh Assessing the Performance of Public Schools in Pittsburgh
Next we have to read it and figure out if it is worthy of defending -- or otherwise.

The full document (less than 1 meg, 30 pages or so. It is at http://www.rand.org/pubs/working_papers/2005/RAND_WR315-1.pdf

This Dork, Flying Oyster, says it is okay to Retire #21. I agree. Plus, he isn't a bad dork.

>blockquote>Flying Oyster: Retire #21 Terry Pluto of the Akron Beacon Journal believes they should retire #21. I agree. Let's talk about the rivals from Cleveland.

City flunks terror test - PittsburghLIVE.com

City flunks terror test - PittsburghLIVE.comThere's no value in hashing over it,' DeMichiei said.
Think again! There is value in hashing over it. There is value in thinking again.

I'm a coach. I love drills. We do drills all the time.

The little tykes (i.e., ages 6, 7) I coach in the swimming pool can do these frestyle drills: Catch-up, side kicking, zig-zag 9 (sculling), thumb-in-arm-pit, finish-up, alternate breathing, to name a few.

Seems to me that the Pittsburgh police force should be able to set up a mobile command center in a time of a major emergency at a suitable location.

Practice makes perfect, is the old saying that is very popular. Frankly, I don't buy into that slogan at all. Only perfect practice makes perfect. And, the high school kids I coach get that drilled into them.

Field of Running Mates

One of the state-wide political blogs was tipping the hand of a pending super-duper website, an 'online headquarters' by the Junior US Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. The new, yet unopened site, for his re-election efforts in 2006, is slated to have a blog with open comments. The title, "Running with Rick" is sorta like "Mark Rauterkus and Running Mates." Rick's own words a promised to be there. I wonder if his site will feature Rick's own spelling errors, like my site does. The Santorum site is getting pages devoted to specific issues too. OMG!
OMH = Oh My Gosh.
Today, by the way, the Platform.For-Pgh.org is at 179 pages.

There were other elements of this web site that were so far advanced that it might harken the ghosts of 2001 and my run for mayor site. Even volunteer resources, and info specific to all PA communities.

fun poster looking tan with uncle sam Shiver my timbers! I can't wait.

I'll have another blog to visit so as to help shape the conversation of the region.

Meanwhile, in another state, a Pitt Law School Grad who ran a campaign in the past, is back, as well. I felt a certain kindship for her and her campaign. We traded a number of ideas and emails. She is on my radar and look at what's up with her now. As a bit of background, her last campaign was as a Republican. But, she didn't get the "endorsement" from the GOP party and ran as an outsider. The party did its best to sling mud her way and foil her efforts, if not rights as a candidate. She kept chugging. And, she even switched parties. Now she is gearing up again for another race.

In some ways, her history is a bit like Kathryn Hans-Greco, D, Allegheny County. KHG didn't get the help from the party. Ran before and then ran again, with more gusto, more relationships, more votes!

Judicial candidate to run Internet-based campaign
By SETH EFFRON, StateGovernmentRadio.com

RALEIGH -- Rachel Lea Hunter wants to be chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

In 2004 Hunter, a lawyer with no experience on the bench, or in politics, spent about $24,000 and ran in an eight-person field for an opening on the high court. It was an astonishing third place finish.

She got nearly 452,300 votes -- 100,000 more than one of the state's best-known judges, Howard Manning. Manning spent about $132,000. Paul Newby, a Republican who won the seat, spent $171,200 and got 582,684 votes. Manning spent 42-cents per vote; Newby spent 30 cents and Hunter, a mere 5 cents per vote.
While the campaign is overtly non-partisan -- the 2004 campaign was very partisan with Newby anointed the Republican candidate. Hunter's candidacy was a source of friction in a party structure well-known for its unbending demand for uniformity. Some of the GOP leadership attacked Hunter for undermining Newby’s ultimately successful candidacy. Hunter has since switched her voter registration to Democrat.

One thing Hunter has going for her is name "I-D." She shares the same name as the famous super model from New Zealand who has, among other credits, graced the cover of Sports Illustrated’s famous swimsuit edition. While Rachel Lea Hunter has NOT done anything to promote such confusion, some analysts say that celebrity name recognition was one of the major factors in her 2004 vote-getting success.

Her 2006 campaign for the top judicial spot in the state is already up and running. She's not relying on any phantom name "I-D."

Hunter says she'll be a different kind of candidate and run a campaign that isn't out of the typical playbook of dashing around the state to campaign appearances, spending hours dialing for campaign dollars and putting the bulk of the campaign treasury into television advertising.

That doesn't mean she’s not going to be a media candidate -- just looking to some different media.

Visit one of North Carolina's newspaper Web site and you'll likely see a Hunter campaign banner ad: There’s a picture of Hunter and the declaration "RACHEL LEA HUNTER: A candidate for N.C. Chief Justice; She cannot be bought; A real leader and top candidate for Chief Justice."

The Internet ads, which link to her own campaign Web site, are running on 25 to 30 North Carolina newspaper site -- including the Asheville Citizen-Times; the Elizabeth City Daily Advance; New Bern Sun Journal; and ENCTODAY.Com. She’s also got her ads on selective blogs as well as some national publication, such as Mother Jones.

Hunter says she intends to spend less than $100,000 -- and much of it on the kinds of grassroots campaigning that only the Internet can provide. From the outset, she said she wants to be on the cutting edge.

"This was going to be a different kind of campaign. And it was going to be run, especially since it was statewide, mostly on the Internet," Hunter said. "I don't know if I can quantify it -- 60 or 75 percent -- something like that, because this is a big state. It's a huge state. I've driven from end, to end, north and south, too.

"It's a big state. It's hard to reach this many people. This (Internet-based campaigning) is a way of getting the message out to much more people. I could go around to all the Republican or Democratic clubs now, and I would see the same the same tired old faces I always see. But you really don't reach people all over the state. This is a way of reaching so many more people."

As Hunter seeks a new route for her campaign trail she'll also be discovering to what extent her 2004 success was beginner's luck, fortunate name identification or, in fact, a strong foundation upon which to build a new-style campaign.