Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pittsburgh school reorganization approved

Pittsburgh school reorganization approved The board voted 6-3 to close 22 elementary and middle schools at the end of the school year; expand 10 elementary schools to include sixth, seventh and eighth grades, so-called K-8 schools; and turn eight low-performing schools into new, more rigorous schools called accelerated learning academies.
Done deal.

Black board members criticize school reorganization plan

Serious words and worries:
Black board members criticize school reorganization plan Celeste Taylor, a Point Breeze resident and community activist whose two children attended city schools, said safety concerns were among the reasons some parents view the plan with skepticism.

Some parents fear movement of children across neighborhood lines would provoke gang violence or turf disputes, while others worry about younger students encountering drug activity or high school students on walks to new schools. Without addressing safety concerns, these parents say, children won't do better in school and Mr. Roosevelt's goal will be unmet.
Solutions I'm hoping to inject into the discussion include:

-- Re-hire the crossing guards as part of the city's budget, not the school district's budget.

-- Re-tool the crossing guards to make them more repsonsive to enformcement matters.

-- Re-tool the high schools in the east end so that Peabody becomes a city-wide magnet as a single gender school -- as does Westinghouse.

-- Keep Schenley High School at Schenley for the long-term. But, to save money and to insure safe conditions for students and staff in the rehab phase -- move the Schenley campus for one acadmeic year (September 2007 to June 2008) to another location. One possible alternative location, as suggested by the present Schenley High School Principal, is South High School, recently closed.

-- Migrate all the city leage sports teams into the WPIAL, soon. We need to have our city kids face suburban competition day-in-and-day-out so that they raise their expectations and targets for performance in healthy pursuits.

Some say Montessori move 'slap in face' - PittsburghLIVE.com

What do you want? Choices: a slap in the face, or a kick in the teeth? Or, how about a slug in the gut? Call it what you want -- but let's get past the insults and figure out what's what already.
Some say Montessori move 'slap in face' - PittsburghLIVE.com Under a revised plan released earlier this month, the school would be renamed Pittsburgh Montessori and moved to Friendship, and Lemington Elementary would be closed. Fifth- through eighth-graders from Lincoln-Lemington and Homewood would attend school in Montessori's current home, the Belmar building.
The Montessori program is a great asset for our city school district. Sadly, the program has been without all the support it really needs to stay true to its mission with its different academic focus. The staff training has been weaker than it has needed to be. The supplies have not been kept in working condition -- for 25 years.

Here is another great example where we have had a fumble in terms of on-going stewardship.

The Montessori program in the Pgh Public Schools needs a boost from within the district.

The move to Friendship might make a splendid fit for the greater good of the city.

Perhaps we should move a second Montessori program into Friendship and keep another one in the existing location.

The ALAs (buzz talk for Advanced Learning Academys) is a new style of educational flavor that is about to start in September 2006 in ten elementary schools in the Pgh Public School District. Well, the Montessori brand is already a specialized school that is within our landscape now that acts much like these ALAs are to in the future. The benefits are the same when looking at the global district views.

But, now, the tinker phase.

I wish I could have been to the school board meeting tonight. When is it on TV? How did it go down? Feedback welcomed.

Standing and speaking in opposition to another TIF -- today -- again

A public hearing was held today at 1:30 on Grant Street in City Council Chambers about another URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) TIF (Tax Incramental Finance) deal that gives a tax-break to a development.

I was there to speak against the TIF, along with Steve D, of Save Our Transit fame and the TMC.

The other candidates in the race were not present.

However, it is fair to say that there are three in the race, out of eight candidates, that are speaking up against the concept of tax-breaks for the large corporation and institutions. I've been talking about ending TIFs since 2000. Joining me on the trails now to speak up against TIFs is an Indie, Matt B. and the 30-year-old Republican. It is good to have them help to shift the conversation away from the corporate give-a-ways that do NOT help the neighborhoods.

TIFs are another way where the city has policy that make the super rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The TIF on the agenda today was to build parking garages on Second Avenue within what amounts to a suburban office park along the river.

There are many reasons why this TIF and all TIFs should end. These are flowing into a more detailed position paper, to be posted shortly.

TIFs present a quagmire of problems that go to the roots of the city's troubles in terms of finances and population loss. I fear that you will not hear the other four front-runners raise a peep of an objection against TIFs. So far, they have been silent on this topic and this makes for a big distinction in the campaign.

Status quo politicians love TIFs. They love tax breaks. They love to spread the kickbacks to those with influence. They love to make complications and feel as if they are going to win at the game of Sim City.

Furthermore, I need to get onto city council so as to ask a series of direct questions and demand better replies. For example, Bill Peduto asked a fair question. He asked how much this TIF is going to cost. How much is it worth? That is a straight-forward question but he didn't get an answer that had a dollar amount. The best the director of the URA could say was, "We'll see." He didn't know. He didn't say. He didn't answer.

As a tax payer, I'm sitting there to wonder about a tax break that they are going to cut for parking garages -- and they don't even know how much is on the table.

The dollar amount is a big unknow.

These are the types of answers you get when you have eight members of city council all from the same political party.

Sure, I would NOT be able, as a lone vote on city council, to defeat the TIF. However, I would be able to ask pressing questions from at the table and be able to have a dollar amount stated to the public, understood by all the others who are going to vote 'yes' -- and inject a bit of transparency to the process.

Then there is the question of 'when.' This TIF is a deal that could come about in the next 10 years. There is not 'start date.' The project may or may not happen -- say -- when the first graders are in high school.

So, there were total failures on what amount and when it begins and end -- plus comes the kicker. No RFP. The project is going to be a hand-picked deal. There will not be an open-bid process. There won't be a competitive process. There won't be a chance to hear from other developers about ideas that they might have for a deal for the property. There won't be any 'master plan' critique from the market, at large. Nope, this is a good under-the-table, smokey city deal of the highest order.

Let's take some prime, flat, river-front property, right next to our biggest highway, between our three most vibrant business districts (Downtown, Oakland and South Side) pinch it between a new $5-million pedestrian bridge and bike path -- and give it to some developer cronies without so much as an "OPEN CALL FOR PARTICIPATION" to anyone other than a hand-picked windfall agent.

TIFs stink. The TIF process stinks.

What did I do with the phone number for the F.B.I.? This is HIGHWAY Robbery. This is why Pittsburgh is going down the tubes still. We need to turn the tide -- and rather than 3 out of 8 candidates in a race against TIFS, we need every candidate against them.

Kraus, Krane, Koch, Phillips, .... your no-show and no-voice is noted.

There is a simple way to come onto the record when there is a public hearing, such as what happened today. Just call the City Clerk's office and have your name put onto the agenda as either "FOR", or "AGAINST", or "COMMENT" -- and then you can show your true colors.

As I expected, you won't be able to watch the public hearing on the city's cable TV channel because the cable-casting of the meeting was not ordered by anyone on city council. That is like another ring of smoke to complicate deals and keep the city residents and taxpayers in the dark.

But, both the P-G and Trib Grant Street reporters were there to witness the folly. I expect we'll see something in the newspapers, I hope.

This is NOT what I mean by an upgrade to activites on the lake at Panther Hollow

Last night, I released a statement that called for new activites at Panther Hollow -- in the lake / pond there -- with kayaks. We can do more in terms of recreation. Another buddie wrote to me and say I was onto something as that place has been going to the dogs for far too long.

This is close, but not exactly, what I have in mind.

Click on the image for a little video clip of three folks in kayaks and a suprise visitor.

Mayor may fill finance vacancy

Mayor may fill finance vacancy - PittsburghLIVE.com Under O'Connor's administrative reorganization, Kunka could become director of the mayor's Management and Budget Office, which might replace the position of finance director. City Council would need to approve a change.
This is a great appointment. If I was elected a member of city council, I would, after an extensive interview, in the open, in public, move to approve the changes necessary to allow for a new directorship for Bob O'Connor's Administration.

Scott Kunka gets a great deal of respect from me for the job he has done in the past years. He does not get a new job without sitting on the hot seat for a few minutes. But, he's a good person for these duties. He could offer a lot of insight to the new mayor in an area that is pressing, like few others.

New ink at South Pgh Reporter

: Mr. Rauterkus believes the best way to make the city attractive again is by getting neighborhood youths more involved in activities. He claims the problem with juvenile delinquency makes this part of the city unattractive and unsavory for any one planning to raise a family to want to move to this area.
Running out to swim practice now, so I can't do much but put up a pointer to the latest article. The City Paper article on the race will appear on WEDNESDAY. The PG gives the race coverage on Friday, I expect.

Thanks to all for the effort for the fine event last night in Oakland, at the Student Union.

My League of Young Voters statement

Focus on freedom, liberty and justice for all favors everyone, not specific cronies nor constituents from single demographics.

All benefit with: Bike lanes on streets; Trust in democracy; Annual Youth Technology Summits; Day-cares and Preschools; Subsidized housing for poor (not rich); and Graduate housing at Pitt's "River Campus" in Hazelwood.

In-fill-parking treatments in established neighborhoods make more sense than subsidized garages on Second Ave.

I'll deed city-owned properties to college juniors and post-grads as bonus scholarships to encourage home-ownership and roots to Pittsburgh past graduation.

Cutting taxes, (i.e., the deed-transfer-tax) helps young home buyers.

Expect kayaks in Panther Hollow, under lights, a marathon, and community fitness to give urban participants goals to shoot at and for, not each other with guns.

My tech interactions push fairness, transparency, engagement and open-source solution building. Give input at Platform.For-Pgh.org/wiki.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Business as usual? - PittsburghLIVE.com

Honeymoon. JSM makes a case that what I call a honeymoon might be ending.
Business as usual? - PittsburghLIVE.com Everyone wishes O'Connor well. Yet even some of O'Connor's supporters already are grumbling that the man who ran as the 'business' mayor is looking a lot more like the 'business-as-usual' mayor.
I do think that time has been wasted. But, O'Connor has done okay in getting that 'dream team.'

The next key to the dream team is the 9th member of city council. If it is one just like O'Connor, or just like what we used to have -- then that hope for change goes down the drain.

Hooking O'Connor's fate to a hockey arena -- well -- say it ain't so media pundit. Because O'Connor is NOT kissing up to the hockey arena thing is proof enough that this is NOT business as usual. Murphy already built two new stadiums and a convention center that will never be used to its full capacity. We don't need another mayor to build massive things that then act like anchors to our public life.

The arena, now, is simply a distraction. Talk of the arnea takes the eye off the puck (or ball) to what really matters around here. Pittsburgh is more than a bunch of professional sports spectators.

Bob told the Pens to "Think Again." Wonderful.

Bob told the Pens, he has some more pressing things to handle, like the budget. Fine. Now Bob needs to move on those areas, then we'll re-measure his honneymoon and his team's effect on change -- or not.

The arena proposal is not O'Connor's Waterloo! I'm certain of that, despite what Pens fans and Mario might think.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Taxpayer score of Congress Critters

VS_2005.pdf (application/pdf Object)

USOC intends to address bad-boy behavior - Saturday February 25, 2006 1:13PM

SI.com - 2006 Winter Olympics - USOC intends to address bad-boy behavior - Saturday February 25, 2006 1:13PM Miller failed to finish in the first run of the slalom and officially ended his Turin stay with zero medals in five races.

Scherr was obviously aware of reports from the Alpine venues of Miller's late-night tequila shots at the Irish Igloo.

'We have certain expectations,' said Scherr, detailing the code of conduct for the U.S. team. 'The athletes have to prepare themselves and compete to the best of their ability. And their behavior should bring honor to the United States.'

Student crowds Downtown discussed

Student crowds Downtown discussed She said Pittsburgh's Downtown should still be perceived as 'one of the safest urban centers in the country,' and will be helped further in summer by the partnership's hiring of 'ambassadors' who will walk the streets and serve as extra eyes and ears for police.
I think it is sorta silly to hire ambassadors. We should hire crossing-guards.

I think it is sorta silly to put more and more kids onto PAT buses when we should have some service for school buses to and from neighborhoods to our high schools.

I think it is dangerous to close Schenley High School -- in Oakland. I don't like the idea of moving Schenley HS to the east end into Reisenstein Middle School's building. That would put Westinghouse, Peabody and Schenley all into an area that is too close to each other -- and -- someone else has said it would be "a hornets nest."

Building a guys only campus and a girls only campus is another trend that should be examined in Pittsburgh.

The other cheap and obvious solution, should violence become more and more of an issue for the high school kids is to go to a 'uniform' policy. The uniforms are not 'fool proof' of course, and there is some downside to that move, but, it can help and everything needs to be on the table.

Finally, the kids are not going downtown to play basketball or use recreational facilities. That's for sure as there are no decent facilities for them to gather in productive ways downtown.

Until recently, there used to be a swim pool at the Salvation Army -- closed. There used to be a swim pool at the YWCA -- closed. The gym spaces are for the more up-scale corporate clients in town.

What do we have for our kids to shoot at or to shoot for -- other than themselves? That is the nagging questions I want to ask and fix. I want to attack the problems from the other end of the spectrum, from a holistic approach. We need to challenge and coach our teens.

Seniors vote. Seniors have been not only at the top of the priority list -- but the only thing on the priority list. That mentality has lasted far too long.

We have a generation of kids having babies. We need to give new focus to parenting and support areas such as pre-schools and day cares and playgrounds where coaching occurs.

Just 150 words needed to answer this question

What specific policy initiatives will you implement to improve campus
life, the quality of life in Oakland (South Oakland in particular) and make the city more student friendly?

* Deadline for submission: Monday 2/27/06 @ 5 pm.
This question begs for a few wise guy answers, for blog submissions. Suggestions welcomed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

chill, wait, double fallback, could, should,

Those words don't sound like the words of hockey.
Penguins will wait out slots process - PittsburghLIVE.com The county and city continue to discuss an alternate plan, O'Connor said. They could release details by late March.
'We all want the same thing,' he said. 'We want the Penguins to stay here, and we want a multipurpose arena.'
Onorato's spokesman Kevin Evanto called the Plan B a 'double fallback position.'
'If we lose the team because there's not an alternate plan, then people are going to come unglued because of that,' he said.
Evanto encouraged Penguins supporters to lobby the other casino applicants to include money for an arena in their plans.
What became of grinding it out? Pass, shoot, block, counter-attack. Change lines. Do it again. There is political football -- why not political hockey. A hockey game in the political relm is desired instead of our politicians, dear sports franchises and upstart casino bidders playing a game of chicken with eventual lawyering on the sidelines.

Going somewhere? Vote anyway

Allegheny County Elections Division Announces Absentee Ballot App lication Deadline for March 14 Special Election - 2/22/2006

PITTSBURGH - The Allegheny County Elections Division today announced that County residents who need an absentee ballot for the upcoming March 14 Special Election to fill the vacancy in Pittsburgh City Council District 3 must apply before 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 7.

Absentee ballots are available to registered voters who will be absent from their municipality on March 14, or to those who cannot reach the polls because of an illness or physical disability.

Absentee ballot applications may be requested through the mail or in person at the Allegheny County Elections Division, 601 County Office Building, 542 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. Eligible voters may also obtain an application by calling 412-350-4520 or by visiting www.dos.state.pa.us.

Registered voters are encouraged to request their absentee ballot application as soon as possible. Applications must be completed and returned to the Elections Division no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 7. An absentee ballot will then be mailed to the applicant.

The voted absentee ballot must be returned to the Elections Division no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 10.

Hoops update

Westinghouse Bulldogs Girls basketball, Overall Record: 22-3, Section Record: 15-1, hosts Schenley's squad tonight, Friday, at 6:30 pm.

In the boys city league....
Schenley powers way to final - PittsburghLIVE.com Schenley advances to the City League championship game next Thursday night at Mellon Arena to face Allderdice, which beat Peabody, 63-43. It will be the Spartans' third trip in a row to the championship game. Last year, they beat the Bears in the title game, and two years ago, they lost the crown to Perry.

U.S. wins first curling medal

Another excuse to drive around town beeping your car horn is here! Curling rocks!
SI.com - 2006 Winter Olympics - U.S. wins first curling medal - Friday February 24, 2006 10:06AM U.S. wins first curling medal
Did you get a peek at the Curling Calendar?

The Curling News Blog They even got a photo of the streaker on the blog.

Libertarian Party Convention in State College, next weekend

The 2006 Libertarian Party of PA Convention gathers in State College, March 4 and 5, 2006

Statewide Candidate Selection and Speakers from PA Clean Sweep, Commonwealth Foundation and PA State Legislature

The Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (LPPA) released PR and details on the agenda for its 2006 convention in State College. Pennsylvania.

At the convention, the party will nominate its 2006 candidates for statewide office.

This year’s convention is also filled with prominent speakers including Russ Diamond, founder and chair of Operation PA Clean Sweep, Matthew Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation, and the Honorable Kerry Benninghoff PA House, District 171 (Centre and Mifflin Counties.)

Convention organizer, Barry Dively, said, "I am very excited about the upcoming convention. Our opening reception on Friday evening (March 3rd) provides a fun opportunity for people who care about liberty to gather and share ideas. Our business meetings provide a great way for attendees to contribute to the direction of the LPPA and to learn more about being active in the political process. And this year’s speakers are emerging players in Pennsylvania politics."

Banquet speaker, Russ Diamond, was a key voice in bringing about the repeal of the legislature's massive and unconstitutional pay raise. His organization is working to restore responsible government to the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Matthew Brouilette leads a free-market think tank, the Commonwealth Foundation. The foundation is well known for publishing the Liberty Index which informs Pennsylvanians how well (or how poorly) members of the state legislature and governor’s office defend our liberty.

Kerry Benninghoff is a five term member of the PA state House who has been a strong voice against additional government spending and against tax increases. He serves on the Professional Licensure, Finance and Health and Human Services committees, and chairs the Subcommittee on Human Services.

Members of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Commission will be attending to conduct a panel discussion on the Voters’ Choice Act as will members of Toastmasters International to conduct a meeting.

David Jahn, Chair of the party, added, "I invite all who are interested in restoring common sense, economic freedom and social tolerance in Pennsylvania to join us in State College." Additional information about the convention can be found at www.lppa.org.

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States with more than 600 officials serving in office throughout the nation. Visit www.lp.org for more information on the party.

Expectations especially high for Beijing in '08

SI.com - Olympics - Expectations especially high for Beijing in '08 - Wednesday February 22, 2006 11:41PM: "Even before they're over, the Winter Games in Turin are being overshadowed by Beijing, with expectations soaring that the 2008 Summer Olympics will be like none other.
Beijing Games organizers can be found at venues all over Turin, videotaping security procedures and working in ticketing offices, methodically adjusting the playbook for 2008."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Candidate meeting update - 30th ward

I gave a talk at Knoxville Block Watch - and talked in part about the girls high school basketball game. I gave the game score, 71 to 31, and someone spoke up saying -- it was 71 to 30-something-else. I said, "Where you there?"

Carrick HS is just over the hill from where we were presenting. So, I wasn't certain if a parent of a player or uncle might have been at both events. It was just a remark from the sidelines.

The big news of the night, besides the presence of the City Paper photographer, was the appearance of the 30-year-old Republican -- his first event in public. He mentioned support to avoid TIFs, as M.B. and I generally do, but didn't know -- or miss-spoke -- on the actual meaning of the TIF word. TIF stands for, "Tax Incremental Finance."

Yes, we need to end TIFs. We need to end tax-breaks for corporations. TIFs are a way to have the super rich get richer and the poor get poorer. TIFs make for bad policy. TIFs are not fair. TIFs are confusing and come without an open accounting of their progress and performance.

I've campaigned in the past that TIF laws in Harrisburg should be changed. Futhermore, and most important, we need to elect people who are AGAINST ALL TIFs. The city, under Murphy's rule, and with his fellow Dems, has gone overboard on TIFs.

When TIFs are used, they become a "BRIBE" to get a business to open up here. Often after the tax break fades, so too does the company. They close. Rather, we want sustainable business development.

When TIFs are used, the hurt all the honest business operations who need to compete with the business that gets to pay less in taxes. So, when Lazarus had a TIF and didn't have to pay much in taxes, an established clothing store, perhaps that sold mens' suits, had to compete against Lazarus. The market place gets poison with the TIF as then you need to give a tax-break to be 'fair' to the other store owner too. That can't work.

So, the one's without a TIF vote with their feet -- they leave. They close. And, the one's we want to move to the area to open -- won't. They see how things work here and go elsewhere.

When US Airways went down the tubes and the message was sent out from the US Senators and others in the top elected offices that there would be NO MORE GIVE-A-Ways to US Airways (no new hangars, no new rebates, etc.) -- then Southwest had an opening to move here.

US Airways had LOCKED up all the gates at Pittsburgh's airport. As another firm would start up service -- US Airways would undercut them. As a result, all passengers from Pittsburgh paid more. The lack of competition hurt us.

Playing favorites is a bad way to govern.

Knocked off ballot in Ohio -- for Congress

See the comments for another story about a Careless Congress Critter Want-a-Be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

School kids in China -- wearing uniforms and taking their bikes to school.

State Senator Jim Ferlo was in City Council Chambers today, with a deligation of people from Tiawan. The ambassador and I had a brief chat. He said that I'd been to two of the three Chinas. He's right.

I hope they have a fruitful experience in Pittsburgh.

A+ Schools Brown Bag

I went to the Regional Enterprise Tower to a brown-bag discussion led by A+ Schools as they are rolling out their school report that sums up many academic performance results in a nice book, school by school.

I got my copy of the report last night at a meeting hosted at Pgh Public Schools. It is a nice tool.

Again, my first bit of critical advice is to not pit the city schools against each other. Rather, a family that is going to move out of the city because of schools wants to know how Pgh Public School stack up against suburban schools.

Case in point: The I.B. program at USC just got canned. I.B. = International Baccalaureate program. USC = Upper St. Clair (not St. Clair Village). Pittsburgh has a great I.B. program at Schenley High School.

Presently we're not fighting for the I.B. program, we're fighting for the entire Schenley H.S. experience and location.

People in suburban areas, and I know a lot of them, are green with envy with the way we handle our 'gifted education.' So, the Gifted Center is moving -- to Ridge on the North Side. We might be breaking something that is working.

The move to Ridge is going to be a one-year program. That has to be adjusted right away.

The other strong suit for the city in terms of educational offerings is the magnet program and the languages that are taught at many schools starting in kindergarden. That's wonderful and we're far ahead of most other school districts.

But one of the short-falls of the nice book by A+ Schools is that there are few other markers in the entire book that compare and contrast the academic performance of city kids against that of the kids in the state and suburban districts.

People at one school shouldn't be trying to be as good as another city school -- when the real prize is to be the best in the region -- or the best in the world.

Bob O'Connor agrees.... put the city kids into the WPIAL

A long-standing proposal of mine got the attention of Mayor Bob O'Connor today. He was giving an interview to KDKA about the shootings among our youth in downtown yesterday and at Westinghouse in the morning yesterday too.

Bob went into the school and attended a girls basketball game. I told him the final score and said that we should get our kids into the WPIAL.

He said, "You're right."

I'm ready to make this happen in the first weeks of joining city council.

Say what???? Some readers might not understand what I'm ranting about. Let me explain.

The city schools have a city league. They play against each other day-in-and-day-out. The game yesterday was Westinghouse vs. Carrick, for example, 71-31, final score. That's no fun. Nobody wins.

We have an "iron-curtin" of sorts that rings the city so that the city kids play against city school competition -- and the suburban kids play against other suburban schools. The suburban schools, by and large, are part of the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League).

Some pre-season, exhibition, post-season, tournament games happen between schools from the city to those from around the region. But, those competitions don't happen as they should, day-to-day.

We need to get our kids to compete in the global marketplace but can't even get them to compete with Shaler Area, Baldwin or Keystone Oaks.

To rally the citizens for the sake of the schools and performance in academics -- we need to hold a rally and celebrate competition from the outside.

Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Education Fund Presents a date on Monday night at 8:30 pm

The District 3 Pittsburgh City Council Candidates Forum

Monday 2/27/06: 8:30 pm

Kurtzman Room, Main Floor University of Pittsburgh’s William Pitt Union

* On March 14th, an election will be held to fill the vacant seat on City Council that represents Central Oakland, South Oakland and parts of the South Side.

* Students make up almost 25% of the 30,000 residents in City Council District 3; your issues deserve to be heard in City Hall.

* Come and meet the 8 candidates who are running to represent YOU on Pittsburgh City Council.

* Find out where the candidates stand on issues such as nightlife, culture, diversity and job/intern opportunities for students.

* Live DJ: Enjoy the sounds of Omar-Abdul (Phonograffiti) on the wheels of steel.

* FREE FOOD: provided by the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Education Fund.

* For more information contact: The Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Education Fund at 412-728-2197 or pittsburgh@indyvoter.org

This project is supported by the following organizations: The Sprout Fund, The Pitt College Democrats, Just Harvest, Pennsylvania Hip-Hop Political Convention, Everybody Vote, Pittsburgh VIE, Progress Pittsburgh and The Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Education Fund.

"This project supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund.”

What to shoot for???

Great to see Bob O'Connor at a high school girls basketball game

The mayor went to a high school girls basketball game. That's great. I've been to a lot of high school sports events -- this year and in the past.

He saw a quarter final game. Just as today, the USA Hockey team plays Finland for a quarter final. There are eight teams in the mix.

The score.... 71 to 37.

Ask yourself why do the kids shoot at each other -- as they have hardly a thing to shoot for in the sporting life within the city league.

Tue., Dec. 6 Greensburg C.C. L 46 - 42 (good game - vs. WPIAL team)
Fri., Dec. 9 at Schenley W 41 - 34
Tue., Dec. 13 Brashear W 48 - 21 POINT PROVEN!
Fri., Dec. 16 Allderdice W 59 - 56 good game!
Sat., Dec. 17 at Clairton W 68 - 42 WPIAL game
Tue., Dec. 20 at Langley W 58 - 31
Fri., Dec. 23 Carrick W 58 - 28
Westinghouse Tournament
Tue., Dec. 27 Peabody W 56 - 30
Westinghouse Tournament
Wed., Dec. 28 Brashear W 59 - 33
Tue., Jan. 3 at Peabody W 62 - 33
Fri., Jan. 6 Oliver W 63 - 24
Tue., Jan. 10 Perry L 47 - 43
Fri., Jan. 13 Clairton W 65 - 30
Tue., Jan. 17 Schenley W 60 - 29
Thu., Jan. 19 Vincentian W 52 - 35
Fri., Jan. 20 at Brashear W 70 - 35
Tue., Jan. 24 at Perry W 49 - 44
Mon., Jan. 30 at Duquesne W 54 - 51
Fri., Feb. 3 at Allderdice W 48 - 40
Tue., Feb. 7 Langley W 54 - 10
Fri., Feb. 10 at Carrick W 55 - 11
Sat., Feb. 11 at Wilkinsburg L 55 - 50
Tue., Feb. 14 Peabody W 66 - 42
Thu., Feb. 16 at Oliver W 62 - 13
City League - Quarterfinals
Tue., Feb. 21 Carrick W 71 - 37

The city league is at the root of the problems as to what we need to fix. I'll fix this.

There was a game in past years when LANGLEY scored but 4 points in a girls HS playoff game.

Nobody wins then.

The 1,000 foot zone.... sounds like the line around a casino too

There is going to be a clear line at a certain distance around our casino too. I'm not yet sure of the distance -- but it will be dramatic. There are lines like those around the casinos in Atlantic City.

On one side, things are very elegant. On the the other -- the pawn shops can begin.

One one side, the private security enforcement works. On the other -- who knows.

This "favorite here" -- vs. -- "unfavorite there" is what is at the core of what I do NOT like. Liberty has to wash over everything with the same light. To thrive, we can't have these division lines here and there.

We need to favor 'no favorites.' One size fits all. Everyone wins when it all works.

Westinghouse Tragedy Spotlights O'Connor's Safety Plan

The irony of this is not good. They form a "safety partnership" and three kids get shot its first week. The shooting downtown wasn't within the 1,000 foot zone.
ThePittsburghChannel.com - News - Westinghouse Tragedy Spotlights O'Connor's Safety Plan PITTSBURGH -- Tuesday morning's tragedy appears to be providing some momentum for Mayor Bob O'Connor's Safety Zone Partnership plan that he announced last week. O'Connor wants a comprehensive plan for creating 1,000-foot safety Zones around all city schools.
I think it is bad public policy to be dumping our kids downtown to get bus transfers. I think the kids in the schools need to be on school buses more than on public PAT buses. I've talked about this before.

The bus routes and the flow of traffic in Pittsburgh is NOT like that in Philly. In a flat mega city like Philly, the kids can better use the buses to get to where they need to go.

In Pittsburgh, we've got some High Schools, and even Middle Schools, that are put in far-flung corners -- such as Brashier. You can't walk along Rt. 51 to get to Brashier. Buses don't really go along that stretch of Rt. 51 to pass by Brashier.

We do have a school that sits at a big junction of many buses -- on South Side -- and that school is up for sale. That is wrong. South Vo Tech sits at a good location for a school building. We need to keep those locations in public control for valued uses -- like for our kids.

The School District should NOT sell off South Vo Tech High School. Not now.

I'm very happy that the kids who are causing some of these problems are getting caught. The kids in the school at Perry last week with a gun got nabbed -- right away -- perfect actions by the school security folks.

Great to see the police swarm and then catch the kids running around by Gateway Center. A citizen saw the one ditch a gun -- he spoke up and that's what we need. Great.

Let's hope that the shooters outside of Westinghouse in the morning violence get caught.

I'm less worried about a 1,000 foot radius -- and do worry about the holistic plan for the entire city and an entire generation (or two) of young people. But, you need to put a line in the sand somewhere.

... We need dogs in our schools to check for drugs and guns," said O'Connor. Dogs are okay at checking for bombs, right. Are they any good finding a hand gun? Dogs might do a good service in the lunch rooms too -- to pick up spilled food from the floor.

Dogs.... I've got a better idea. I think we should have a school or department that is geared to the bio-sciences. The students in that department, say all the juniors, should train from a puppy a work-dog. That would be a valuable life and educational lesson. There are many types of working dogs: assist dogs, etc.

Here is another major need -- and it has been something I've said HUNDREDS of times. We need to re-hire crossing guards. The city used to have crossing guards. The crossing guards are few and far between. The crossing guards were often closer to schools, as well as bus stops. The crossing guards were city employees with a badge and reported to the police chain of command.

The past mayor fired all the crossing guards.

The burden of paying for the crossing guards went upon the schools. That was wrong. I want the schools to pay for teachers, reading coaches, text books --- not public safety.

Crossing guards work the streets, make cars go slower, become hired eyes and ears on all sorts of matters.

Crossing guards are affordable. But, they are also more, much, much more, than a volunteer.

As a city council member -- I'll work to retore and enhance the program for crossing-guards.

Even when the crisis with the guns end -- crossing-guards have a long-term benefit. More people get run down with autos than anything else. The cars are part of the real problems in life. Traffic accidents are a big threat.

A crossing guards can have a car towed that is illegal in an intersection. A crossing-guards can be the eyes and ears -- getting the drug dealing motor home yanked out of the lot next to the school. The crossing guards should be able to write a speeding ticket. The crossing guards can be with radios.

The crossing guards can make things much safer -- without being in riot gear.

Planners approve expansion at Squirrel Hill school

Planners approve expansion at Squirrel Hill school city planning commission decided yesterday to endorse a proposed expansion of Colfax Elementary School rather than wait for results of a traffic study.
The property values of living in a school district with bad schools is way worse than living near a school with an expanded gym.

We need to cut red-tape. When the public speaks, as it did, and with the jam now before the school district, we've got to move.

In terms of the school plans, we always need to be thinking again -- but -- with 'red tape' -- INMSHO (in my not so humble opinion) we (as a city) need to put the 'pedal to the medal and go straight ahead.'

I'm happy to see a K-8 school really house in one building a full range of K-8 students. I'm happy to know of a K-8 plan that evolves into a K-8 by growing the students too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Editorial: Hold OPEN Primaries

The only fair way would be to hold open primaries South Pittsburgh Reporter
Okay. We are getting some chatter about how we pick our elected officials. Splendid.

The local paper ran a letter to the editor about our election law and the special election process. Click to see the contents.

However, the article has a few technical elements that are not really right on the mark. There are plenty of ways to hold better elections than what we have now. There isn't ONLY one way.

Plus, with a special election, the OPEN PRIMARY would not work. The endorsement was the primary, so to speak. And, because some were able to gather signatures to enter the ballot as a memeber of a political body, while still being a member of a political party -- we have what is very near to an open primary anyway.

Instant run-off elections would be way better than what we have now.

For the record, I'm a member of a political party. I'm a Libertarian. I'll be listed as the third one on the election day ballot. Mark Rauterkus, Libertarian, goes after the Republican and before the Green.

Generally, I like to find real-world solutions to problems and this one was put forth from a friend who is a Democratic Committee Member. He suggested that those who go before the Dem Party Committee to seek an endorsement from the Dem Committee who don't get the endorsement should be banned for the next five years from ever going back to the committee for anything else.

Really, what we've got now is a party problem. The problems are folks who claim to be one thing but are really just being two things at the same time. So, this new, proposed Dem rule, far from me to introduce it, by the way, would raise the stakes so if one does NOT get the Dem endorsement and runs anyway -- they'd not win again. So, real Dem candidates would need to be and stay in the Dem party.

Pat S and Eileen C both ran for the seat -- and then had the grace to get out. Same too with Ed J. Meanwhile, Matt and Mike ran for the seat and had the grace to get out of the Dem party too -- before the endorsement. Nothing wrong there either.

I'd like the Dem party to be more strict with its housekeeping as it would make the alternative party choices more viable. When you can be this one day and then be something else the next day -- while still being that the day prior too -- its double trouble for the voters and confusion sets in.

Clear rules help. Rules within the party and within the election generally.

Let's talk democracy and how to fix it. Ever hear or proportional voting? Ranked voting works wonders too. If there are eight choices, rank candidates 1, 2, 3, and so on.

Now we are in a race where people are voting for the anti-whatever -- and that gets to be really, really goofy when eight are in the race.

The lesser of two evils is still evil.

In a big field, with one vote, you got to choose who you want and you got to hope and understand that there are many others out there that think the same way you do.

Everyone wins when Liberty wins. Everyone understands that. And, everyone who has been a kid is sure to vote for me too. So, (wink, wink), I think I'm the most viable. So, if you're not happy with the way things have been and want to put up a vote that is more anti-establishement than the others, vote for me again.

Ringing endorsement to my Penguin Plan comes on various fronts

I've said all along that the new arena could come, fine, but it should NOT be given to a public agency. Build it and keep it. Thanks Professor Shuster for mentions of the same concepts.

I also said that it is mandatory that we should "THINK AGAIN." The Pens don't want to think again. If you don't think again -- you gotta wonder if they are even capable of thinking at all.

Sure, it takes two to tango, so, perhaps after the Penguins move we'll be able to turn the Civic Arena into a dance hall. Or, today the folks from the Civic Light Opera marked their 60th -- and made mention of the good old days when they used to perform in the Civic Arena -- under the stars. We could always fix the roof and make the venue a home to cultural events again.
Plan B for arena in works - PittsburghLIVE.com Although the region had a 'pretty positive' experience with building PNC Park and Heinz Field, it's almost always better for the private sector to handle such deals, rather than the government or its authorities, said Jerry Shuster, a University of Pittsburgh political communications professor.

'I would much prefer to see the arena not only owned and constructed but operated by the private sector,' Shuster said. 'That takes it totally out of the government's hands, and it would be much better promoted. That, in itself, brings dividends to the city. That's the economic payoff to the city.'

Statement about rich getting richer while poor grows poorer -- before City Council

The following notes were used as I delivered a message to City Council on Feb 21, 2006.

I'm Mark Rauterkus. My family and I live in the historic South Side at 108 South 12th Street. I'm a candidate in the special election for City Council slated for March 14, 2006.
Before my children were born, I published books.
I edited, designed, crafted, marketed and sold books and other titles. I never published a “cook book” but I did resell some. Nutritional guide books and eating for cutting-edge athletes who were my customers was part of our mix.
Recently, I've been working on a new book, an online wiki. This book covers good government.

The book, Platform.For-Pgh.org, examines what's cooking in city hall. The voters and citizens should have an understanding of what's being fed to them in terms of public policy. Pittsburgh would be healthier if it more of our diet came from my suggestions.
Books give instructions on what to do – and what to avoid. The Warning Chapter gets a new page today.
Pittsburgh is going to continue along a pathway of despair if council continually helps the super rich in get richer and the poor get poorer. That is no way to govern.

With eight Democrats now on council, you don't see it as I do. As a Libertarian, I know and understand that freedom, liberty, and justice for ALL – must be applied to everyone – cronies or not.

I think it is wrong to hatch deals on City Council and with the URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) that create subsidized housing for rich people. Especially subsidized housing for rich people in downtown locations.

I think it is even worse – double wrong – to do deals in council that subsidizes the parking of the rich people who live downtown in subsidized housing.

Even worse, -- triple wrong -- is to do deals in council with downtown developers who are sitting on tax delinquent properties in the neighborhoods, such as Brighton Heights. Big properties that don't get the attention that they deserve depress the values of hundreds of other homes of average citizens and become open sores that spew nasty quality of life issues.

Thanks Rich Lord, for the wonderful P-G article on Sunday.The Trib editors get public thanks for slamming PNC Plaza and its $30-million grant from Pennsylvania plus $18-million TIF (a tax break).

These big ticket public subsidies allow the rich to get richer. School children loose and cronies win.

I want to come on council and say, Lay the Shovel Down. Stop already. Enough is enough.

I would rather do deals that address real needs – such as subsidized housing for poorer families within neighborhoods so that the supply is increased and everyone wins with more affordable housing.

Along Second Avenue, I don't want to give a tax break for parking garages in what amounts to a suburban office park. Serious parking problems happen in established neighborhoods. Some “in-fill parking treatments” would increase home values for everyday citizens rather than corporate interests and institutions.

If you wanted to subsidize a day care, then let's talk. The 30-new jobs in a much needed day care and pre-school could guard our most precious assets, our kids. A day-care makes our workforce more productive and keeps people in the city.

The city's school district is about to close 20 schools. A waiting list of nearly 200 kids exist as families want to get into the city operated PRE-Schools. But schools are closing and the wait list for pre-schoolers is sure to grow too.

The reasoning behind the city's continual population decline is clear.

I want to set policy and make prudent investments in the lives of children and the young families in our neighborhoods. Get away from corporate give-a-ways that cost the rest of the taxpayers more money and don't help the overall health of the city – except for the cronies.

Student shot outside Westinghouse High

Student shot outside Westinghouse High Police were looking for a silver Dodge Intrepid with a plate possibly beginning with GCC. Anyone who spots such a vehicle should call 911.

Monday, February 20, 2006

PNC obscenity - editorial from TRIB hits what I'm talking about on the trails

I've been talking about the give-a-ways on the campaign trails. I've been standing up against TIFs. We should "Lay The Shovel Down." This PNC Plaza project is a rip-off to citizens -- in Allentown, in St. Clair, in the South Side Slopes, in South Oakland -- and everywhere in the state too.

We need to stop doing wrongheaded deals. As a member of city council -- I'll do my best to prevent these deals from happening. We need to go in this direction. We need to stop all TIFs.
The PNC obscenity - PittsburghLIVE.com: "With public subsidies of nearly $50 million for its new $170 million Downtown skyscraper, PNC fits willingly and snugly in Gov. Ed Rendell's policy of corporate welfare for the rich.

PNC Chairman Jim Rohr says Three PNC Plaza was not feasible without pumping the taxpayers. First, that's baloney. Second, don't build it.

In the dark, duplicitous world of corporate/government 'partnerships' this money is a political tool, not a public 'investment.' Once Three PNC Plaza is built, it will have a value of only $103 million.

The intended return on this investment is the goodwill Mr. Rendell can buy in this election year with money not his own -- from corporate sycophants and stupid voters.

PNC is quite eager to be on the right side of the ruling elite, which has great power to reward or punish. Humbly, we have only the power of the written word."

Hot Metal pedestrian bridge funding presented

Hot Metal pedestrian bridge funding presented Sen. Rick Santorum today delivered a ceremonial check for $500,000, representing the final piece of funding for the second half of the Hot Metal Bridge linking South Oakland and South Side.

On Capitol Hill, Playing WikiPolitics

On Capitol Hill, Playing WikiPolitics Partisanship Tests Web Site's Policies

By Yuki Noguchi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 4, 2006; Page A01

This is what passes for an extreme makeover in Washington: A summer intern for seven-term Rep. Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) altered the congressman's profile on the Wikipedia Web site to remove an old promise that he would limit his service to four terms.
The best way to get around the flow of doctored content on the web is to produce CDs and tar balls. A snapshot of the web site and/or wiki that goes out to hundreds or more on CDs -- that can't be changed -- is very powerful medicine.

Did you get a copy of our campaign CD?

My Friend in Nebraska.... Got the ticket?

Okay, who do you know in Nebraska? That's where the winning lottery ticket was purchased.

The news on the radio this week said you'd have a much better chance of dating a super model than getting the winning lotto ticket. Since I'm married, I have a better chance of knowing the winner than dating a super model. And, since we are all networked, let's see who I know in the Cornhusker state, just for fun.

First, of course, we all know Steve P -- the former Pitt AD who nuked Pitt Stadium, the Pitt Script and went to the place where they have N on the helmets, to stand for Knowledge. But, he isn't going to spread any love my way if he should win.

But, years ago I coached a gal in Peoria who then went on to get a college swim scholarship at Nebraska. Jennifer B.

PJStar.com - 2003-2004 Journal Star Players of the Year: "In her high school debut on Sept. 5, Swearingen recorded a 53.89 in the 100-yard freestyle. The performance shattered Jenny Bauernfeind's 18-year-old Pekin school record (54.18) and a two-year-old Pekin pool standard set by Southern Illinois University sophomore and Normal U-High graduate Kelsey Kinsella (53.95).
Nice to see that her swim team record was still around for 18-years after her (our) departure. She swam faster than that as a club swimmer. Always just hung on as a high school kid -- hungry to get back to the real program, (wink, wink). Well, that was a long time ago.

Too bad about the results in the state finals, Miss Swearingen. And, the 20-year-old record in the 50 free was nuked too. Way to go on that as well! I love to see old records fall.

Well, a quick Google search couldn't find K.B. I think she became a M.D. I don't think she still lives in Nebraska. But, I did notice that her younger sister, Kara, has her 100 IM time as an 11-12 year old, that is still ranked 85th all time best in the USA. Here time was 1:01.43 from 1987.

Another known Cornhusker is Tom C -- a boss of Speech at Childrens. He and his wife, another Ph.D., reside in Pittsburgh, for now. They are moving to Dallas soon. But, since he's moving from Pittsburgh, its like he's dead to me. ;) And, I don't think he was home to buy the golden ticket, but he might know who did. Humm.... When's Easter?

Davis, Hedrick ready to clash again in 1,500m - Monday February 20, 2006 11:53AM

This will be fun to watch.
SI.com - 2006 Winter Olympics - Davis, Hedrick ready to clash again in 1,500m - Monday February 20, 2006 11:53AM American rivals Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis both believe they can win Olympic speedskating gold in the 1,500 meters. Enrico Fabris could prove them both wrong.

Hedrick is nicknamed 'the exception' while Davis calls himself 'one of a kind.' They both have one gold and it is tough to say who stands a better chance in Tuesday's race."

Just for the record, here is the total medal count so far:
Germany 18
Norway 16
Austria 14
United States 13 = 7 gold; 4 silver; 2 bronze
Russia 13
Canada 13

Bloggers scoop daily newspapers again

Today's headline is yesterday's blog chatter, again. I had better watch out or the editorial boards of the daily newspapers might not give me the endorsement -- as I'm a blogger and we're scooping them in the coverage of the news.
Bettis to join NBC - PittsburghLIVE.com: "Bettis lands a job with NBC


Two weeks after retiring from the NFL, Steelers running back Jerome Bettis already has found gainful employment.
Last year, as I was in Chicago, I got to meet with an old publishing friend who own/runs Triumph Books. Triumph is the imprint that is going to do Jerome's book. They were working on it all year.

Triumph also did the book of #13, Dan Marino. That title comes with a DVD as well.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Bus has a new job -- just interviewed with Costas and NBC in Italy

J.B., you know, #36, took his folks to Italy! So sweet. I just saw the interview, thanks to my wife's shouts. He'll be on the air on that first kick off game on Thursday night. They made mention too that the players will be getting their rings then as well.

More ideas for a better Pittsburgh -- with olympic aspirations

I've been sketching a book or two in the past years. One is called, Compelling Sense. The other is more about Pittsburgh's ideas, such as the one's talked about in the P-G article. A dozen ideas for a better Pittsburgh DOWNTOWN FUN

We should NOT turn lower Forbes Ave into a halfpipe. However there are a lot of better things that can be done. Here are just a few.

We were in the Europe and a river there is set up to have wave board riders towed around via an overhead cable in a course that makes a large square. If the Mon is 200 yards wide, it could also stretch 200 or 300 yards in length too. One could set up a course to go from the the fountain at Point State Park, up the edge to the Ft. Pitt Bridge, (300 yards) along the edge of the underside of the bridge to the South Shore, back along the edge of that river, and back to make a square / rectangle ride. Total distance about 1K.

The water in "the pool" near The Point is a no wake zone. So, you can't really water ski there, unless you don't have a boat. River cafes should be built on both sides to get people there to watch the excitement.

Highland Park, near the dam, but along the north shore of the river, could be home to a few white water standing waves. In Syndey for the 2000 Olympics, they built a water park that is all man made. They store the water -- and then let if flow. Another such venue is in MD near the DC area. This would be easy to construct.

We could do the soap box derby along the ramp that leads from the Wabash Tunnel to Station Square.

We could build a ski jump off of the roof of the convention center. But, the slope isn't really good enough, until you put your feet on a long-skate-board and hold upon a ski kite. Then you've got a good roll and lift that would elevate you into the river. It is sorta like a para sail -- but with a wing-shaped kite. Lift, soar, splash among the sister bridges.

We should be doing rock climbing along the face of Mt. Washington.

The single Iron Man idea, not so good. Rather, I'd like to make it a three day Iron Man done in stages. So, the third day is the Marathon, but on day one we'd swim, either in Highland Park Pool -- or -- in the rivers. On day two there is a bike race. Then the third stage, the marathon, is day three. Give us a three day race, one stage each day.

Of course we should do a fin swim from Sandcastle to Station Square. The pros would go down and back. Or, we could do a real three rivers swim in a marathon. Go from Sandcastle to the first island on the Ohio, past the point, then up to Highland Park's dam (or Washington's Landing) then back to the point and home again up to Sandcastle. In that race, the pros could swim straight up. The amateur racers could opt for paddles, fins, snorkels and wet suits.

I'd also like to see seasonal swim pools that are put outside of PNC Park and Point State Park -- that are floated within the river for lap swimming and swim lessons.

Give me kayak water polo too. Beginner neighborhood teams could form for the tykes on the North Side (avaiary) and Panther Hollow as well as at each wave pool and Highland Park Pool. Highland Park Pool should be used 10 months a year for kayaks, by the way. The adult squads would play kayak polo under various bridges, complete with lights and night games.

We need real bike lanes all throughout the city. Not just along the rivers for tourists, but for residents and workers. I also want to bike in the PAT tunnels and on the busways to the east and west. I biked in China -- and it is a great way to stay fit and save on money without a car.

We need bridge jumping / diving too. Some days and some bridges with bunjie cords -- others just for the free fall into the water of the rivers.

I like trampolines to be put on barges and parked on the side of the rivers at parks. They do this too in Vienna.

Perry High School should play the last half of its football season as home games at PNC Park, in the WPIAL. All of its away games should be in the first half of the season, then all of the home games come after the Pirate season concludes, (not counting August when they are eliminated by mathamatics).

Wouldn't it be great to skeet shoot off of the Mt. Washington overlooks? That's a joke, but the others so far are serious.

If we ever have a Regatta in Pittsburgh again, and we don't have any boat races -- we can't call it a Regatta. Call it a drunk fest instead, I guess.

I want to play HUMAN CHESS in PPG PLAZA each evening in the summers, starting at 3 pm. We could set up a couple of boards there around the tomb of the unknown bowler. On slow nights we'd just play HUMAN CHECKERS instead.

The ski lift idea is way cool. We've talked about this before. The lift shouldn't go from Mt. Washington to the North Side however. That's too drab. I'd want to see the lift go from Station Square's west end (near where the casino might go, or at least the IC Light Stage, to the foot of the Incline / T-stop, to the roof of the Oliver Bath House at 10th Street, or else at South Vo Tech. Then one spur goes to the new 12 story parking lot and horse / buggy station over the river on the other side of the 10th Street bridge. A footbridge should take folks to the DU campus, of course. Then the next stop is at 18th Street, then to the park in the hollow behind UPMC South Side. Then to South Side Works, then to Hazelwood and finally up to Pitt's main campus via Panther Hollow.

On the town side, we'd be able to do another lift from DU's campus to the civic arena and then to the Hill House, and then back to the Strip District. Did you know that there used to be an incline that went from The Strip District to the Hill District.

Really, we don't need to build a grocery store in The Hill District -- if we only had a ski lift down to The Strip District.

The way to get from Station Square to the North Shore isn't with a ski lift -- but rather with outrigger boats and electric Duffy Boats. I want Duffy Boats and boat launches all around the city. Then the chair lifts can be back, away from the edge of the water and just join to the water at a few places.

Of course we need to re-open the lone indoor ice rink on the South Side -- but turn it into a year-round curling facility. In curling, the winners buy the first round of beers. So, it would be like a beer garden and curling site. Bingo halls are going to be outlawed once gambling comes anyway.

The halfpipes that were talked about are too dangerous -- but -- if they must occur, put them within a few of the now closed outdoor swim pools. We have had 32 of them in Pittsburgh. We still own the property. I'm against the building of skateboard parks. That fad has pasted anyway.

I want 20 or more JOHN LENNON WALLS around Pittsburgh. We'll turn grafitti art into a real contact sport. Now we've got none. Give the people places to post and decorate. Every day, a crew would go around to one of the sites and yank down the art and make a blank canvas.

Painting and decorations would go in within the tunnels too. Once a week each tunnel shuts one lane of traffic. Say on Mondays from 11 pm to 4 am we'd close the inbound lane on the Liberty Tubes. On Tuesday, outbound. On Wed, SQ.Hill inbound, Thur is SQ.Hill outbound. Then Fri and Sat is Ft. Pitt in and out. Sundays is a rotation between Wabash and Armstrong.

All the paint and puddy might keep the tunnels in functional condition for another couple decades.

Then comes the annual road races, within the Liberty tunnel. I'd love to see a race start in the park on the South Side of the Liberty Tubes -- near the Red, White and Blue and Tambolini's. It would go into the Liberty Tubes and over the Liberty Bridge, then back and forth using different lanes of the road and bridge. I think we could do it six times.

Sure, the Thrift Drug Classic should return. But, we've got a better race that is now being conducted. I'm not in favor of closures of all those roads however, like the race and the marathon used to be.

The Pgh Marathon should use the bus ways and the bike ways. Each year it should be an out and back course, in one direction, off of the roads, almost all the way. I'd like to see the course change every year in substantional ways for the first 10 years. And, the course would change based upon the votes from the participants.

I want a robot battle bar too.

Once a year the CMU kids should take their buggy races to the rails. We'd be able to race from McKeesport to Sewickley with auto powered rail cars. It would be a staged time trial. Teams that catch the crew ahead of them get to overtake -- so those getting past have to pull their ride off of the tracks.

High school teams should have an all-star show down with the CMU buggy victors. If any high school teams beats a CMU team (s)-- then they do a college scholarship swap once the high schoolers are acadmic eligible for CMU.

I'd love to see a real velodrom built, say in Hazelwood.
I'd love to see a real Olympic speed skating rink built too. But, it would be best if that speed skating rink was put underground, into a mountain or in a mine so as to stay out of the sun and stay cool all year. One oval at 40-feet underground could be built with cement or wooden floor. Another oval could be with ice. It would be with cameras and a motion or sound detection lighting so it could be open all times of the day and night.

A good mountain exists behind the now closed indoor ice rink on the South Side. You'd have the one edge of the rink under a tent -- and the rest would just drive back underground.

To encourage college graduates to stay, form a Pittsburgh Service Corps -- sure. But I'd give kids in their junior year with good grades and good service to the community a free option at a lottery for a free plot of land or a crumbled house / homestead. As a graduation gift, you get a home. If you have better grades and better services to the community you get a better draft choice as to where you'd like to build. And, you'd be able to trade these, tax free, for five years. And, if you can't capitalize upon the property after a deadline (say five years) -- it goes back into the mix for the next class to pick.

The URA owns so many bits of property that we have to give them away. And, we can't just sell them to absentee landlords. And, we can't just put them all on the market at one time as they will drive down the home values of everyone else.

The suggestion of making foreign language mandatory isn't a bad one. But, the kids should also learn a programming language too -- Java, C++, PERL, or even MSQL would be fine.

Rather than closing schools, insist that all the families in that school go abroad for a year. Scatter them to all the corners of the world. Send mom, dad, brothers and sisters. Give them two-round-trip tickets. Then when they come back to Pittsburgh, if they do, they'll understand that their home school has closed and won't feel too, too bad. So, if your school closes -- you get to study abroad. Finland, Iceland, Japan, Brazil, wherever. We have Sister Cities -- we'll just make the best of it.

And, those that don't have a closed school to deal with -- you might need to be hosting another international family or student into your home to trade off for the hundreds or thousands of families we are pushing to the rest of the Planet Earth.

Semester at Sea should return too. If your school closed a second time -- you get to take a cruise.

The Steelers should buy Heinz Field and also buy and build two big parking garages on the land around the stadium. The roofs of each parking structure should be for the practice fields. One should be grass the other turf and able to be covered with a bubble. The locker facilities and team's rooms should be the top floors of the garages.

In D.C.'s Georgetown, the college football team has a practice field on the top of a parking garage.

Scouts and spies could watch the team practice from the lookouts on Mt. Washington.

Finally, I do love the gambling at the airport. Plus, we should put Mario's new ice rink there too.

Internet companies caught between Chinese rules and U.S. demands for free speech

This flap is weird to witness.
Internet companies caught between Chinese rules and U.S. demands for free speech BEIJING -- Yahoo Inc., Google Inc. and other U.S. Internet companies under fire for assisting in China's censorship efforts are insisting they must obey Beijing or risk limiting access to their most promising market.
Some people seem to be worried about what they are doing in China in terms of free speech. I'm not worried about that.

Rather, I'm worried about what we are doing in the United States about freedom.

I'm also worried about what we are doing in the United States in terms of educational opportunities for our youngsters too. Our youth are going to be falling further and further behind the world. Our youth are not getting rich exposures to technology and logic and online community efforts.

We've got a long, long way to go, when one considers where we are at home. We need to put our shoulder to the tasks at hand here -- with our kids -- and get better grips, or grips at all, on tech issues for the sake of our future.

Finally, we have a big challenge ahead in terms of understanding ways to deploy and leverage open-source computer software. We need to get government and the rest of the public sectors to be more favorable to open-source options and tools.
It's (i.e., CHINA) been a particularly delicate balancing act for Yahoo and Google because they don't want to alienate their core U.S. audience, whose loyalty helps attract the advertising that generates most of their current profits.
While China's opportunities are delicate in the balance -- in the US we are square on our bottoms.
Lawmakers plan to question the way U.S. Internet companies have been doing business in China during scheduled hearings Wednesday.
Shame on the US Lawmakers then. Those that we elect need to focus upon what they are doing for freedom here. They can hold some chats -- fine. But don't put the net and techie guys to the test and have them do the dirty work of diplomacy in some underhanded way.

Fast Eddie due to hit The Hill House on Monday afternoon

At 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb 20, Governor Rendell is to take action to protect voter rights by giving a veto to a Voter Protection Act in an event at The Hill House Community Center, 1835 Centre Avenue.

Then at 3 p.m. Governor Rendell is to make a community development announcement in Allegheny County at the Wilkinsburg Borough Hall, 605 Ross Avenue, Wilkinsburg, PA 15221.

Casey - Santorum - and Chuck P

The Dems must be pulling out their hair trying to figure out what in the world to do with Casey and the challenge for Santorum. Casey is often called Santorum-Light. Meanwhile there is another alternative in the D's primary race, a progressive Democrat. By the Numbers.
100- The number of votes that Senator Santorum has cast in the U.S. Senate since first challenging Bobby Casey, Jr. to indicate how he would vote on the same issues.

2- The number of times that Casey, Jr. has actually said how he would vote if he were in the Senate. That was on the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court and the PATRIOT Act (but only after he flip-flopped on the issue).

86- The number of days it took Casey, Jr. to make up his mind on the nomination of Judge Alito.

10- The number of debates that Rick Santorum has proposed, and that Casey, Jr. has refused.

95- The number of days that have passed since Rick Santorum proposed a series of debates with Casey, Jr.

7- The number of days that Casey, Jr. showed up for work as State Treasurer in December.

91- The number of days Casey, Jr. spent away from his State Treasurer office between March and December of 2005.

839- The number of audits that Casey, Jr. left unfinished when he left the Auditor General's office.

5- The number of statewide races that Casey, Jr. has run in the last 10 years.

5- The number of issues that Casey, Jr. thinks is important enough to highlight on his campaign website. Agriculture, Energy, Health Care, and National Security are noticeably missing.

263- The number of days until the voters of Pennsylvania cast their votes for Senator Santorum, and reject Bobby Casey Jr.'s negative, issueless politics.


Declare your candidacy and join the fun!

No Endorsement Rendered in the District 3 race for city council

Contact: Maria Lupinacci, 412-381-7772


Seven Candidates Get A Thumbs Up At Endorsement Meeting

PITTSBURGH, PA – Democracy for Pittsburgh (the local coalition group for Democracy for America) announced today the results of an endorsement vote that was held on Saturday, February 18, 2006.

“Candidates need to jump a high hurdle in order to win our endorsement. They needed to receive at least 75% of the votes, not counting abstentions. I believe that no other progressive endorsing group in Pittsburgh requires this level of agreement from their membership,” said Lou Takacs, member of Democracy for Pittsburgh’s Organizing Committee and "meeting host" for the day. “Setting such a high standard also helps to ensure that winning candidates receive not only an endorsement, but a base of volunteers to draw from,” he added.

Chuck Pennacchio was endorsed for US Senate (26/34 votes). Valerie McDonald Douglas was endorsed for Lt. Governor (31/34 votes). Georgia Berner endorsed for US Representative – 4th Congressional District (30/34 votes). Susan Banahasky was endorsed for Assembly District 20 (23/34 votes). William Sargent was endorsed for Assembly District 42 (! 22/34 votes). And, two longtime members of Democracy for Pittsburgh were also endorsed for Assembly: Dan Cindric was endorsed for Assembly District 27 (21/34 votes) and Steve Karas was endorsed for Assembly District 34 (23/34 votes).

No endorsement could be reached in the following races: 14th Congressional District, 18th Congressional District, Assembly District 21, Assembly District 24 and special election for Pittsburgh City Council District 3.

During the meeting, the host asked for a show of hands of those members who were planning on running for Allegheny County Democratic Committee and nearly a quarter of those in attendance signaled their intentions to run – most for the first time.

We made the sweet 16 -- in a bad way -- air quality and asthma capitals

AAFA Home Page There is no place safe from asthma, and some cities make living with asthma more difficult. More than 20 million people live with asthma in the U.S., and more than half of them have allergic asthma.

Pittsburgh ranks 16th worst in this year's asthma capitals listing.

Part 2: Falbo projects fall behind in paying tax

I don't like the URA. But, I really don't like subsidized housing for the rich. To be building downtown housing with taxpayer's money in the mix, is wrongheaded. Rather, let downtown housing happen on its own, as a private sector development. I have no problems with people living downtown, not at all. But, I have a problem when we pay some of their way to reside downtown.

We should be putting the efforts and attention of the governmental programs to work in the areas where they are needed the most -- mainly with the poor, the edge communities (such as Knoxville, Beltzhoover, St. Clair Village, and other areas around our town and county where the crumbling of the infrastructure has begun, sadly.
Falbo projects fall behind in paying tax His 151 First Side project, Downtown, to include 82 condominiums, got a $1.5 million loan in 2004 from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.
This is bad policy, to subsidize housing for the rich in downtown.

It is much better to build up Brighton Heights (i.e., neighborhoods) rather than downtown. Everyday working people live and own property in the neighborhoods. The little-guys are the lifeblood of the city. Downtown property owners are generally big corporations. Ask, who should GOVERNMENT cater to?

The best answer is NOBODY should get a free ride. NO special interest group should get favorite attention and handouts.

The worst of the worst are the big downtown handout deals. The $18-million TIF to PNC for PNC PLAZA goes on top of the $30-million GRANT already given for the project by Gov Rendell. That state money is our money too. Comcast's building in Philly got a $300-million tax break.

Those numbers are huge and this is where we need to lay the shovel down.

The answers from both O'Connor and Weinstein are on the mark. Way to go.
"There's nothing in the law that addresses sitting still and being patient," county Treasurer John Weinstein said. "I give all the credence in the world to anyone who would take an abandoned piece of property and redevelop it. But someone owns it, and someone ought to be paying taxes on it."

As the abandoned property sits idle, the entire neighborhood goes into a tailspin. Everyone's property is pulled downward. Those little bumps are significant to the families.

Furthermore, we've been rewarding, with cash, those that do the wrong things. You start a crack house and you get money from the URA. You let your property go into the toilet -- you get a tax break. If you fix up your property, you get a tax hit.
Even as it failed to pay taxes, the partnership received $625,000 in loans and grants in 2002 from the URA to demolish the old hospital. The abandoned hospital had become a scene of drug dealing, teen parties and occasional fires.
The philosophy and policies are wrongheaded.

The best solution is the freedom-based solution. Liberty and justice for all. So, everyone gets treated as they should -- no favorites. Mr. Falbo wants "constitutent services treatment" -- not justice for him. You're not doing a favor for Brighton Heights. The tunes have changed since Tom Murphy was mayor, perhaps. Or have they just changed because of Rich Lord, the P-G reporter?

Mr. Falbo said he was doing the city a favor by holding the property. "Do I just walk away and give the thing to the taxing bodies and let them deal with the drug parties and all the other problems?" he asked.

URA's Jerry D said it wasn't uncommon for developers to delay tax payments. "I think it's wrong," he said of the practice. "I think it's unfair to the municipalities."

A good developer in Pittsburgh is one who knows all the angles and can play the system. They use things. They squat where they need to. They get and give favors. They wheel and deal -- and the taxpayers get the bills and the lower home ownership values. The URA said that the developer knows the funding programs -- knows the red tape -- knows the hoops to jump through.

Take the funding programs and put them in the trash. We need HONESTY. PAY THE BILL. EVERYONE PAYS. No give-a-ways. No more funding programs. LAY THE SHOVEL DOWN. Game over.

Without fairness in the system -- we'll never have prosperity, unless it goes to the cheats.

Such a JOKE: But, he added, Mr. Falbo "is a very good developer. He knows the funding programs. He's very good at managing the projects. He's a risk-taker."

Here is another game of corruption that needs to be fixed once and for all: These assessment fights where an independent living center in Allegheny Center was reassessed by the county at $4.9 million, and taxed accordingly. The partnership appealed and won a reduction to $2.5 million. It appealed that and, on Feb. 1, the assessment was cut to $1,125,000. The value dropped from $4.9 Million to $1.1 Million.

That is a massive discount. What if everyone in the city and county paid only 20% of their tax bill? And, to put insult onto injury, this is a project that was another governmental boondogle -- Allegheny Center. This is what's crushing us.

We would have been better to leave Allegheny Center alone. Lay the shovel down -- and we all have a chance to have prosperity. Otherwise, they mess things up in a big, big way.

When we see things that are "billed as a boon for the struggling" -- watch out.

The county assessed the houses at $37,000 to $85,000, with most around $50,000. The partnership challenged those assessments and got them reduced to $3,700 each. So, the changes in assessment went from $50,000 to $3,700, EACH.

This is how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This is how corruption wins the day. This is why we need a fresh voice on council who knows that the way to prosperity, for all, is with the taxes on the land. Land can't be fudged like they have been doing in these instances and throughout the county.

The real solution here is simple, and it is proven, and it has been something that has been in our legacy for generations. The solution is NOT about a UNIFIED TAX, such as pushed and later agreeded to by Bob O'Connor and Tom Murphy. Bob O'Connor, then City Council President, pushed for and got a UNIFIED tax and that leads to troubles such as these. Now we've got a quagmire that needs to be undone.

We need to tax the value of the land. This is often called a LAND VALUE TAX. The Land Value Tax is what caused our downtown to be a dense business climate with many high-rise properties. The Land Value Tax is what has allowed our neighborhoods to flourish in the past generations while keeping our total cost of home ownership as the most affordable in any urban region in the nation.

If the Land Value Tax comes back into our policy direction -- we'll see another boom in home values, home ownership rewards, and downtown buildings. Presently we are seeing folks who can't sell their homes as they are worthless on the open market. Neighborhoods are a big risk for new home buyers. We are seeing the tax shift from the big fish to the smaller families. We are seeing many of the downtown buildings be torn down because it is better to make green space or a surface parking lot.

Oh my oh my.

Falbo projects fall behind in paying tax

Great reporting by Rich Lord, again.
Falbo projects fall behind in paying tax: "Falbo projects fall behind in paying tax
Key developer urging patience over $533,000 that he owes

By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On First Avenue, there's a hole in the ground that represents Pittsburgh's dream of turning Downtown into a neighborhood.

Four miles away in Brighton Heights, there's a weedy lot that epitomizes the recurring nightmare of tax delinquency and neighborhood stagnation.

Both are the work of Ralph A. Falbo, 68, of Squirrel Hill, a determined developer and reluctant taxpayer. A builder of scores of subsidized homes for low-income families and the elderly, he has emerged as an important player in Downtown redevelopment, even while delaying or not paying $533,000 in city, school district and county property taxes, according to records.
This is why some people don't want to have open and transparent government. I do. I helped to fight for the property records to be posted upon the county's web site, for all to see, even that of judges.

PA Libertarian Convention Line-Up

The 2006 LPPA Convention will be held March 3 - March 5 at The Atherton Hotel in State College, PA.

Headline speaker: Matthew Brouillette is president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational organization located at the foot of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. The Commonwealth Foundation is dedicated to advancing state-level public policies based on our nation’s founding principles of limited government, economic freedom, and personal responsibility.

8:30 am – 12:15 pm - LPPA Business Meeting

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm Luncheon

Rep. Kerry Benningoft, PA House of Representative, R - Dist. 171 is a fifth-term Republican and former Centre County Coroner. Benninghoff remains an advocate for improving Pennsylvanians health care and is a strong voice against additional government spending and tax increases. The Commonwealth foundation rated Representative Benninghoff in the smaller portion of representatives in respect to the liberty indey. Kerry actually voted to increase liberty – unlike the majority of the Pennsylvania legislators.

2:00 pm – 3:20 Property Rights Panel – Topics Kelo, Heritage areas, invasive species, Green ways.

3:30 – 3:50 Shauna Moser – Penn State YAF (Young Americans for Freedom) Chairperson on campus activism

4:00 - Petitioning for Liberty Panel Discussion with Chuck Moulton, Jim Babb, Ron Goodman, Berlie Etzel, Ken Krawchuck, Paul Teese (chair of the Pennsylvania Green Party) and John Murphy (for the Ralph Nader campaign).

5:00 – 5:15 pm Dr. Julian Heicklen: Separation of church and State.

6:00 - 9:30 pm Cocktail Reception and Banquet with Mr. Russ Diamond Pa Clean Sweep

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Joey and his application to Havard

Here goes some more college talk. Yes, I did go to college. Yes, I did respond to the gaffe in the South Pgh Reporter -- scroll down. But this story is about a speedskater who hopes to go to that Ivy League School in Cambridge.
SI.com - 2006 Winter Olympics - What about Joey? (cont.) - Saturday February 18, 2006 7:02PM After Joey won the 500, he announced that he was donating the $25,000 he received from the United States Olympic Committee to the Right to Play organization, which promotes sports for children in the third world. After winning the silver earlier today, Joey said that he planned to also donate the $15,000 he will receive for that medal. He said that eight or nine companies had decided to match his original donation and that his efforts in Turin have so far raised $250,000. The person who oversees Right to Play is Johann Olav Koss, the former speedskater and one of the great Olympians of the 20th century. He won our magazine's Sportsman of the Year in 1994, and told one of our reporters today that because of Joey efforts, donations are coming in from people in Norway and the Netherlands.

Team wins in Slippppery Rock by less than 20 points

Our swim team went up to The Rock early this morning, fighting the wind and ice along the way, to win a swim meet by a very narrow margin. Nice event in the SRU pool.

Sadly, I hear, the powers that be at The Rock are about to close the mens and womens swim teams, water polo programs and wrestling. That stinks.

My kids did very well. The end of the scholastic swim season is here too. No more HS dual meets, just championships. Good luck swimmers. It's taper time.

Friday, February 17, 2006

NHL won't commit to Olympics past 2010

SI.com - 2006 Winter Olympics - NHL won't commit to Olympics past 2010 - Friday February 17, 2006 12:27PM The NHL will review several factors -- including the risk of injury -- before deciding if it will commit to sending players to the Olympics past the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
This is why the NHL is such a bad bet, pun intended. The NHL didn't have a hockey season recently too.

This isn't about the chances of injury for the players. This is about a lack of capacity in terms of relationships.

But, the NHL's Penguins franchise is married to the Isle of Capri plan -- and NOT able to think again in terms of alternative or twists to the plan. So, the commit seems to be there -- sadly -- the commit is going to the wrong avenues.

The world gathers its greatest snow and ice athletes together once every four years. To take a week or two off from the season, or to have a 100 players absent for a couple of weeks, or even months, is worthy.

PA Constitution


See the comments. Posted elsewhere in HTML.

Be careful what you wish for - PittsburghLIVE.com The Pennsylvania Constitution does not need a makeover. The commonwealth does need new politicians -- governor, legislators and judges.

Wow. Version of the PA Constitution are WRONG, it seems.

Talk:Pennsylvania Constitution - PittsburghPlatform: "'Senators shall be at least twenty-five years of age and Representatives twenty-one years of age. They shall have been citizens and inhabitants of the State four years, and inhabitants of their respective districts one year next before their election (unless absent on the public business of the United States or of this State) and shall reside in their respective districts during their terms of service.'"

Tech Companies Grilled by U.S. House in terms of China's demands

Sparks flew in a crowded courtroom as House Representatives demanded explanations from technology giants Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco and Google in their involvements with China. After taking heavy fire from concerned Democrats and Republicans for their adherence to China's restrictions on free speech, representatives from each company faced hours of grueling questioning.

Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Tom Lantos (D-Ca) were among the most passionate speakers against the corporations. They criticized the companies for allowing China to censor their own Web searches and content. House members asserted that by giving in to China's regulations, the companies were furthering social oppression and totalitarian principles.

Only one Representative, Adam Smith (D-Wa) defended the companies, saying that blame should be focused more on the Chinese government itself, and that withholding Internet business from the country would not ultimately change Chinese policies. Company representatives whistled a tune similar to their previous reactions over the past several weeks, claiming that it was better for Chinese citizens to have censored information as opposed to no information at all.

House Member Criticizes Internet Companies for Practices in China
CNET Roundup: Capitol Hill's Fury on China
Video: Taking Heat over Censorship in China
Video: Tech Giants' 'Nauseating Collaboration' in China

See links and the newsletter at PoliticsOnline.

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics?

The kids and the grand parents, are getting into the Olympics. I've been too busy, but shut down today and watched day-time TV including women's curling and women's hockey.

Team USA lost both. The Sweeden Hockey squad upset ours in a shoot out. Excellent goalie games on both sides.

Number 7, from Sweeden, in a post game interview was asked how much of a difference her coach made in the game. She said, "at the end of the game we couldn't hear him as he had lost his voice."

The USA's 'Big Kinger,' Katie King, summed it up by saying, "Their goalie played well and she stood on her head."

There has been a lot of talk about 'wipe outs' in the Games, overall. The game wasn't a wipe out. But, I'm better fitted to the summer Olympics where conditions are better monitored.

Republicans consider Pittsburgh - PittsburghLIVE.com

I blogged about this elsewhere a day or two ago, so I'll repost my thoughts here.

Short answer: Pass.

We don't need the Republican Convention here in Pittsburgh for many reasons. The biggest reason is we don't have the right spaces. If we had a new arena along with the old, existing, Civic Arena, then we'd be with a different discussion. We need to have a net gain in terms of assets. Let's build a new arena and keep the old arena. And, let's make all of these facilities owned and operated by the private, not the public, sector.
Republicans consider Pittsburgh - PittsburghLIVE.com: "Before the Democrats settled on Boston, Pittsburgh had a real shot to host the Democrats' 2004 convention, said David Morehouse, a Beechview native who served as Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry's traveling chief of staff. Morehouse now works as senior consultant for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the hockey team's attempt to build a new arena.

China set to pardon shunned athletes

The outside wall of a Recreation Center in China that we visited.
SI.com - Olympics - China set to pardon shunned athletes - Friday February 17, 2006 5:23AM Chinese sports officials have repeatedly said the country is unlikely to repeat its Athens haul of 32 golds in 2008.
But state media and national coaches have made far bolder predictions and by most indications China appears determined to top the medals table when the Games come to Beijing.

Five rings, but not Olympic Rings, exactly, on a fence / divide at the swim pool in Chengdu, China.