Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sweetheart deals are okay with me, really. Statement before City Council, March 7

My name is Mark Rauterkus. My family and I reside at 108 S. 12th Street. South Side.

My home on the internet is at and

I am a candidate in the special election on March 14, one week from today.

Today's talk covers my #1 issue: Kids, Youth, and Young People. This topic blends parenting and schools, as well as community use of school and park facilities.

Yesterday's Post-Gazette editorial said this about me. "Mark Rauterkus, 46, is a Libertarian who opposes cronyism and sweetheart deals and who is 'running for the kids' -- to improve their safety and recreation."

Just to be clear, I'm not against all sweetheart deals. I think the use of the Market House for $5 per hour for nonprofit groups is fine. I think affordable swim pool passes for every resident is a great sweetheart deal. Public libraries, great public schools, reasonable mass transit and interesting park programs are all sweetheart deals that we should endorse.

Last month a black kid was on my TV – mouthing off a bit. He felt “dissed” -- as in disrespected. He didn't get what he thought he was due from the man, the big guy. Then this other, white kid gave it right back to him.

They both were smiling – but shaking their heads. It was like they had just ripped their hearts of of their bodies too.

On the spot, Bob Costas (not Costa) – was sure to show the world and play upon that 'rivalry.'

I'm talking, of course, about the speedskaters in Italy: Chad, a kid from Texas (Don't Mess with Texas) – and the black young man was originally from South Chicago. He had been quoted that he had to run home after school so as to not get beat up. Shanti became the first African American individual gold medalist in winter Olympic history from team USA.

That was wonderful conflict. That was personal drama and it played out on the world's stage with NBC cameras. Both young Americans raced to 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the 1500 meters. Both had even held the world record within this past year.

The "Home Boy" won. The dude from Italy beat them both. the margin of victory was .2 seconds – faster than you can say thump, thump, thump – gold, silver, bronze.

In the past weeks there have been some sporting events in Pittsburgh as well. These got some news coverage too. First, Bob O'Connor went to a girls high school basketball game at Westinghouse, the morning after a shooting outside the school.

Final score: 71 to 37. That game was our city league quarter-final playoffs. Hardly a tight score and game. With 71 to 37 – who do you think won that game?

I think – everyone lost.

That's oh so typical in Pittsburgh.

In the Olympics – even with some “bad blood” -- who do you think won there? I say, everyone won. To put your heart on the line in a challenge – it is what is about. Being your best. Having focus, challenges to yourself and others, at a level of excellence is fantastic.

Then we have shootings at Westinghouse and Downtown too.

Bob is worried about safety. You are worried about safety. The police chief is worried about safety.

First things first: Re-Hire Crossing Guards.
On the internet – in the past I wrote that Gene Ricciardi was NOT a friend to the public schools. He didn't like reading my statement, and he replied to me. I told him that he was no friend to the public schools for two main reasons.... public policy reasons, not personal nor family reasons.

1. He was in charge when the crossing guards were terminated. The city fumbled and this was tolerated. I hated that move and still speak up about it today.

2. He was around when the $4-million RAD funds were stolen out of the budget of the schools – in mid stream. That was a bailout backlash.

With my perspective, I'm less interested in building new jails and getting drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors.

People on Grant Street are now trying to worry about the 1,000 foot zone around each school. Fine. Make that a worry that comes from the eight of you and our new mayor.

My worry is at the other end of the spectrum.

That 71 to 31 girls basketball score stinks.

Our old school superintendent, Dr. John Thompson, is to blame, partly. Al Fondy, bless his soul, is to blame as well. The chairman of the committee on youth policy and citiparks – used to be Gene Ricciardi for many years – and now is Mr. Motznik – is to carry some blame.

I've been standing on my head – getting dissed – saying that city council is not doing what needs to be done.

Now our kids are killing each other – shooting at each other, weekly. This is crazy.

Our kids don't have anything to shoot for --- or to shoot at --- except each other. Everything they are seeing is lop-sided.

I care to put real challenges before our kids.

And this costs nothing -- or next to nothing.

To have the Pgh Public Schools join the WPIAL – and dis-band the City League – would cost NOTHING. And, the volunteerism that would swell would be massive – if we do it right.

I was at a meeting with the Assist. Superintendent of Schools. She wants to “rally the city” so we don't have pockets of excellence – but we have a city of excellence. Beautiful... How?

You don't do that with more metal detectors. More dogs. More lopsided basketball games.

I am not like any of these other candidates in the race. I am not like any of the present members of city council.

Same old same old is going to get us shooting after shooting.

Whether I win or loose the election on March 14, 2006, these problems with the youth need to be fixed.

I know that I want to create literate Olympians here. That isn't happening now.

Now, I want to begin to talk about sweetheart deals that make sense.

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