Friday, March 31, 2006

University Partnership of Pittsburgh

This is exactly what is wrong with Pittsburgh.

The better idea is to tax commercial places, tax industrial places, tax business places. Then taxes are NOT needed to be carried on the backs of children, nor school buildings, nor other places that SHOULD NEVER be TAXED.

The Pittsburgh Technology Center is a place that got a lot of tax relief in the past. It "took" in the past decade and should "give" this decade. But no. The taking continues.

The tech people talk about how we need to educate the kids in schools as we don't have a literate workforce. But, the schools can't function on the taxes provided from centers of great technology -- as the tech center is nothing but a big tax dodger.

This says: The SUPER Rich and INSITUTIONS Get Richer and the POOR GET POORER.
Welcome | University Partnership of Pittsburgh 3/21/2006
Expansion of Pittsburgh Technology Center Moves Foward
Pittsburgh – The Greater Oakland Keystone Innovation Zone (GO KIZ) is a collaboration formed by regional economic development organizations to increase technology company formation, location and growth by better leveraging the combined assets of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. For the past year the GO KIZ Space Subcommittee has been focused on expanding the amount of space for high tech start ups and corporate research centers in close proximity to the universities.

This week City Council gave final approval for $43 million in infrastructure funding setting in motion the expansion of the Pittsburgh Technology Center.

GO KIZ Board members Jerome Dettore, Executive Director of the City of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, and Dennis Davin, Director Economic Development for Allegheny County, shepherded the expansion of the Pittsburgh Technology Center through the public approval process. The Urban Redevelopment Authority is managing the site planning and coordination of private developers interested in the site.

The expansion of the riverfront Pittsburgh Technology Center could double the size of the current development by adding over one million square feet of high tech lab and office space to a growing concentration of university R&D, corporate research centers and high tech start up companies spanning through the South Side, Hazelwood, Oakland and Lawrenceville sections of Pittsburgh.

The expansion of the riverfront Pittsburgh Technology Center is the latest step in an emerging movement to redevelop and interconnect the Greater Oakland area around Pittsburgh’s university-health care hub. These activities will provide a more inviting environment for the growing number of university spinouts, companies locating in the region to access the university-hospital complex, and for graduates of the universities, helping the region to better capture the technology value being generated by the Oakland institutions.
In reality, this is no expansion of the Pittsburgh Technology Center -- it is just a couple of parking garages. The infrastructure investment is just to park a car for suburban residents.

The infrasturcture for wet labs is $0. The infrastructure for dense urban spaces is $0. The infrasturctur for technology is $0. The infrastructure for new business development is $0. The infrastructure for progamming, coordination, management and new ideas is $0.

The Pgh Technology Center is on a prime piece of property. There should be no tax breaks there. It rests on the river, among the thriving job sites of Downtown, Oakland and South Side.

The infrastucture expansions should occur in Hazelwood -- but no. This is not a deal for the mega site in Hazelwood.

The infrastructure investment and expansion could occur throughout the city in the 30 or so school buildings, in real neighborhoods. There are many school buildings around the city that could be GREAT places for interesting job creation sites and re-habs. And, those sites could take some of the burden off of the schools need to increase the tax collection of the city's bottom line.

The school buildings are going to be sold at below bargain basement prices -- to get fat cat developers rich -- because the city is doing dumb deals on property that should be taxed.

This is the latest step in the emerging movement to cripple the region and bankrupt the city.

Analysis: Charges of political favoritism come with territory on slots

Swann and Rendell might not have a dime's worth of difference between them on this issue.
Analysis: Charges of political favoritism come with territory on slots Some Democrats were amazed yesterday that Mr. Swann came out in favor of Isle of Capri's plan.

If Mr. Swann wins in November, he'll get to replace the three board members that Mr. Rendell appointed. Democrats ask how the new members could make a reasoned and fair decision when they know their boss -- Mr. Swann -- favors Isle of Capri.

Senate Democratic leader Robert Mellow claims the GOP candidate 'has destroyed his own credibility.'

Since slots were legalized in 2004, Mr. Mellow said, 'We have made every effort to keep the application process open and protect it from political opportunism. Then along comes Lynn Swann, willing to trash everything we worked so hard for.''

That's baloney, Mr. Swann said. 'The gambling commission needs to make a decision ... and this [Isle of Capri offer] is the best possible plan.' ...

Sky is the limit with the buzz on the new arena.

The Pitt News - EDITORIAL - Honest politics an unsafe bet With a new civic center and a veritable license to print money on the line, it's looking as though it's business as usual in Pittsburgh.

The finger-pointing, which was somehow mercifully absent to date on the matter of the Gaming Control Board's pending decision, teed off yesterday as accusations of political favoritism and position flew between Republican gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann, Gov. Ed Rendell and former Mayor Tom Murphy.

Saving Communities - Saturday seminar, TRANSPORTATION

I hope to attend another good seminar by Dan Sullivan.
Saving Communities: "How to Fund Transportation
Pittsburgh, Sat. Apr. 1, 2006, from 10 AM-Noon.

How the funding mechanisms for transportation drive transportation policy, including over-reliance on highways, extending transit systems outward instead of improving them at the core, and other issues where political clout overpowers economic sense.

Friends Meeting House, 4836 Ellsworth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 No charge. Contact Us to RSVP

Langley Mustangs Boys sports -- humm -- and teachers contract too

Mustang close up.

Ups and Downs of High School Sports come into focus with these shocking stories from the same school, Langley. Look at the hoops story:
Langley Mustangs Boys Basketball schedule & game results -
Fri., Feb. 10 at Schenley L 77 - 25
Tue., Feb. 14 Brashear L 68 - 35
Thu., Feb. 16 at Allderdice L 73 - 34
City League - Quarterfinals
Mon., Feb. 20 at Schenley L 93 - 28
In the last four games of the year, Langley averaged 30 points. The other teams' average was 78.

Then in wrestling, the results have shifted.
PG WEST: Coach prompts Langley wrestling success: "White took over at Langley three years ago and within two years he turned the Mustangs from doormat to top contender. That contender status went full bloom when Langley won the City League team tournament championship last week, routing top seed Perry, 57-23, in the dual finals.

Langley had never been a factor in City League wrestling prior to White's arrival.
Such a swing says a number of things. First, going from last to first in the city league is quite a deal. Well done. But, playing leapfrog isn't that hard to do, it seems.

We need to get better coaches at more programs throughout the city. I think that this can happen with two major pushes. First, we should take apart the city league and have the city schools compete with the WPIAL schools on a day-in and day-out basis.

Next, we need to look at the teachers contract as it deals with coaching. The teachers contract is hot news today as they voted it down yesterday. I don't know why or what is in the contract in terms of coaching. I need to find out.

Family Films -- and a plea from the indie cinema in Oakmont

From the email newsletter at The Oaks Theater.

We generally receive a lot of comments and suggestions about showing more "family-friendly fare," but this week we're feeling a little burned. "DUMA" is one of the best films of the year, and landed on several critics' TOP 10 lists for 2005, nationwide. It's a beautifully photographed film, appropriate for all ages, with none of the typical kiddie-flick pandering that is a trademark cliche of most Hollywood family fare. Still, despite the overwhelming number of pleas we hear to show "less R-rated movies," this past week has been disappointingly slow. The total week-long attendance barely equals one DAY's attendance for our last R-rated film. Meanwhile, "DUMA" is currently playing to sold-out crowds in single-screen art-house theaters in nearby cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.

Why is that?

We showed "DUMA" three times a day this week, often filling less than 10% of our 430-seat auditorium. Statistics like this present the argument that similar films are simply bad for business! We always appreciate feedback and movie requests, but we certainly cannot afford to cater to requests that promise no return. We have held onto "DUMA" for three extra shows this weekend, Friday thru Sunday at 3pm, and we challenge you to bring your families THIS WEEKEND and prove that it is worth our commitment to continue bringing films based on audience demand. Right now it's certainly seeming like most families won't come unless there's a Happy Meal endorsement involved.

Unless we can get a better sense that audience support backs up audience demand, this will probably be the last "family film" for awhile...

Rolling Stone Silenced in China

Grant is standing on The Great Wall of China.
Rolling Stone Silenced in China - Los Angeles Times BEIJING — Rolling Stone has hit a wall.

The rock 'n' roll publication entered the Chinese market early this month with a huge splash, including billboard advertisements, a 125,000-copy roll-out and free Rolling Stone hats with each magazine. On Wednesday, regulators said they would not allow it to publish a second issue.
Gather no moss -- by keep rolling. Another instance for the publishing of photos from our recent trips to the third largest country (by land mass). Just click to see larger view of the image for extra details and insights.

US got the magazine, Rolling Stone. But in China, they've got some hot rod wheels that we can only dream of.

Urban density, gated community, tightness of the land's footprint, no wasted spaces, few needs for autos.

Splash of a state-sponsored stadium...

In China, they drop their bills at the foot of old statues. In US, the money goes to the Political Action Committees of stuck-in-the-mud politicians.

What's the deal with the spending of millions on robots for the All Star Game???

I've got a cool video of a robot... but it isn't on line yet.

Tiger Team for Voting Machines

Tiger team....
Dave E, a professor at CMU, and a fellow board member for the Allegheny County Libertarian Party presented a concpet to Allegheny County Council months ago as they were pondering the new, electronic voting machines. Dave asked for a 'tiger team' to handle and hit upon the new voting machines to make sure that they were capable of counting the votes -- without messing up!

The new machines slated for arrival in Allegheny County don't work! This is bad news. And, the asked for 'tiger team' never got put in place.

County Executive Dan Onorato said on the radio that this is "confusing."

There is NO CONFUSION, Mr. Onorato. This is a binary decision -- OFF or ON. Work or broken. Tested or Free pass. Count or GUESS. Democracy or Kingdom.

The machines don't work. They failed in Illinois on multiple instances in multiple ways.

In Pennsylvania the other CMU prof who did some testing figured out how to screw up the results -- big time.

The new machines should NOT be deployed. Return them to the sender.

We'll use the older machines in our election in May 2006. We'd expect to need to use the OLD, existing, working, trusted, available, owned, machines in our November 2006 election, in Allegheny County's elections until we get a tiger team of testers to give a full workout to the new systems, in Allegheny County.

You never should take GOOD machines that are on hand and trusted and replace them with expensive, new machines that don't work.

So, the next step -- LET's FORM a TIGER TEAM -- and let's give that squad of testers the authority to certify our machines for our use for our elections. Otherwise, no deal.

Poor, sad, blue Pooh.

Poor Pooh. (Click image for larger view.)
This story sounds like what's headed our way... Give-aways for Penguins, give-aways for PNC Plaza, give-away for technology park, give-away for sprawl in land out by the airport, give-away for older industrial sites, give-away of 150 parking spaces for the Pirates to use near PNC Park, give-away for more than 700 new seats to be constructed within Heinz Field, give-aways for parking and housing for rich people to live downtown....

Folks, like Pooh Bear, --- there is NOTHING LEFT TO GIVE AWAY.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Keystone Review -- says follow the money.

Keystone Review Have you ever noticed how life is full of immutable truths - simple, fundamental realities that just never change no matter how much we want them to? Many such truths have been encapsulated in what are often called Murphy's Laws ('nothing is ever so bad that it can't get worse') and have become standard fare in our 21st century culture.

In Pennsylvania politics, there is one immutable truth which permeates all others, which explains why our state legislature is so corrupt, why so many of our elected officials have chosen to abandon any semblance of principle, why so many of our politicians say one thing but do another.

That immutable truth is: 'Follow the money trail.' For by following the money trail, we discover every last vice and deadly sin that mortal flesh has been warned against since the beginning of time - greed, lust, vanity.

In Pennsylvania, the higher one goes up the political food chain - particularly in the state Senate - following the money trail is not merely pastime; it is a way of life. And the tentacles of corruption eventually spread out to those people and groups we have so often considered above reproach.

Sadly, conservatives may be disturbed to learn that two prominent 'conservative' groups - one allegedly pro-life, one allegedly pro-taxpayer - have fallen prey to the financial tentacles emanating from the state capitol, and may be even further disturbed by the original source of that money.
Read the rest at that site.

The cemetery campaign: Dead for Diven -

The cemetery campaign: Dead for Diven - The cemetery campaign: Dead for Diven

At least Michael has a new, budding career to go to after politics -- communicating with the dead. He has a track record now, and all this free publicity.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Speaking up & Assault on the Ears -- Sunday Newspaper Ink for my wife, Catherine Palmer

Catherine was in the newspaper the other day and I failed to put the link on my blog. Enjoy the article.

Speaking up - "Catherine Palmer, director of audiology at UPMC Eye and Ear Hospital in Oakland, admits baby boomers sometimes are connected to a lifestyle of rock 'n' roll that has led to bad ears.

But she says most boomers haven't experienced the eardrum-thumping power of a concert frequently enough to make it a crucial matter.

Rather, she says, the group simply is dealing with the realities of an industrialized society where the ears always are being assaulted, by lawn mowers, trucks -- and loud music.

'It's a noisy world out there,' says Palmer, also an associate professor in the department of communication science and disorders at the University of Pittsburgh.

She says boomers are not in denial about hearing problems.

But, 'they are in denial of age,' she says. 'They are part of a very active generation and want to be able to communicate.'

She says, though, that baby boomers probably aren't having more hearing problems than other generations, but rather are more active in looking for solutions to their problems.

A larger group of people experiencing hearing problems makes the problems more visible -- and drives the quest for more varied solutions.

Turning up the volume"

Fontana is in the back seat in the Senate



Tocci PHONE: (717) 787-5300 PHONE: (717) 787-5166


HARRISBURG, March 29, 2006 - Legislation aimed at keeping the Penguins in Pittsburgh, playing in a new arena built with private funds was put on ice by Senate Republicans, the bill's sponsor Senator Wayne D. Fontana (D-Brookline) said today.

"We were informed that western Pennsylvania Republicans put a hold on the legislation and the bill was pulled from today's agenda," Fontana said. "The reasons for the hold were not specifically conveyed to me but I intend to find out why there is a delay and what are the specific objections. In my opinion, it's all about politics and not good government."

Fontana's measure was slated for consideration by the Senate State Government Committee today. Under the legislation (SB 1091), the Gaming Board is required to consider whether an applicant for a Pittsburgh slots parlor has included plans to provide funding for a new arena. The provision of these private dollars for a new arena would become a consideration for awarding the license.

"The plan keeps the Penguins here, builds an arena without taxpayers footing the bill, and provides clear criteria for applicants," Fontana said. "It is inexplicable and unclear why there would be opposition to this, especially from western Pennsylvania lawmakers."

As important, Fontana said, Governor Rendell recently indicated that he backed efforts to build a new arena with private dollars leveraged through gaming.

Fontana said that he does not favor one slots applicant over any others and that the legislation will assure hockey fans that the Penguins will be playing at a privately financed venue in-town for years to come.

"The goal shouldn't be moved every time we prepare to take a shot at solving this problem," Fontana said. Fontana said that he planned to ask Pittsburgh area Republican Senators today why the bill was pulled from the agenda. "We need to move forward, be innovative, leverage private dollars and keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh," Fontana said.

"This legislation would help do that and it deserves to be considered."

Fontana is a member of the Senate State Government Committee.

Fontana is generally clueless and also without the necessary power to get anything done. Fontana is worried about "good government" yet he couples that conversation with a new arena. Oh my gosh. He thinks good government and the Senate Government Committee should be dealing with an new arena in Pittsburgh.

To him, it is inexplicable and unclear why there would be opposition to this. DUHH.... Because Fontana's measure is all about what BAD GOVERNMENT does.

Mr. Fontana, I beg to differ. We don't need to move forward on a new arena when the city and state is in the toilet.

Swann backs casino company's arena plan

Sorry, Mr. Swann.
Swann backs casino company's arena plan ... and it's a win for the taxpayers because it doesn't cost the taxpayers a cent,' Swann said.
The building of the new arena with the windfall from the once-in-a-lifetime selling of an under-valued gambling license to an out-of-state operator can ONLY be a WIN for the taxpayers IF they BUILD IT and KEEP IT. The new arena should NOT be given back to the taxpayers nor to any government authority. Let's insist that the private owners insure, operate, program, promote, and maintain the new arena.

For example, the Steelers are putting in more than 700 new seats and a new lounge area at the public-owned HEINZ Field. The taxpayers are paying for a LARGE PORTION of the cost of that facility upgrade. Citizen taxpayers are paying -- as this enhancement is NOT being paid for fully by the Steelers.

So, don't you dare be so short sighted as to say that this is a WIN for the taxpayers unless you amend your thinking to include strong statements that the new arena should be held in private hands for the future.

And while we are making statements about sports facilities, I think it is now prudent, given the Steelers XL glory and the Pirates hosting MLB's All-Star Game to have those two sports venues SOLD to the teams. The teams should buy both PNC Park and Heinz Field -- now.

Technology - Apple Limits Volume On iPods

This is what victory looks like -- too.

The limiting of volume was being offered in France. Now it can come to the US. - Technology - Apple Limits Volume On iPods: "Apple Limits Volume On iPods

POSTED: 10:04 am EST March 29, 2006

Some have claimed lately that portable music players are causing hearing problems because people listen at high volume for long periods of time.

Apple announced Wednesday a software update for the iPod nano and fifth generation iPod that allows customers to easily set a maximum volume. The software update also gives parents the ability to set a maximum volume limit and lock it with a combination code, the company said in a news release.

The software is available as a free download from Apple."

Ken, I'm waiting for the All-Star Game.

City board faces tough issues in trying to sell 27 old schools

City board faces tough issues in trying to sell 27 old schools

This was one of the challenges that I wanted to deal with, head on, and why I wanted to be elected to city council. These schools are a big issue for our city and very, very important to the overall health of the city and the city's long-term survival.

First thing: South Vo Tech's High School Building should NOT be sold. No way. The School Board should keep that building within its holdings for now.

Do NOT SELL SOUTH Vo TECH. And, I mean the HIGH SCHOOL. The Vo Tech part isn't up for sale. But, they have split the campus and the old school building is up for sale now and the sealed bids are to be opened on March 31.

If a school building sells to a charter schools, then that building is NOT taken off of the tax rolls. That is NOT the issue. The correct way to understand this: what is off the tax rolls can't be taken off the tax rolls. Schools are not taxed now.

The entire conversation is all mixed up with the P-G and the city's understanding. Bob O'Connor wants to take property off of the tax rolls in downtown. The URA wants to take property off of the tax rolls on Second Avenue at the Pittsburgh Technology Center, an modern office park. These are the most valuable bits of property in the region. And our elected and appointed leaders (URA BOARD) is hell-bent on giving subsidy (tax breaks) to businesses in valued areas. THAT is what is called talking property off the tax rolls.

Try this: Tax commercial properties and allow schools and nonprofits to be without taxes. DUHH.

Meanwhile, the school district is now charged with putting property back ONTO the tax rolls.

Schools shouldn't be taxed. Schools serve an important community function. Schools should be public spaces and businesses should be private spaces. You tax business and commercial spaces to pay for the public spaces.

When the URA and Mayor give tax breaks for the businesses and commercial spaces -- and at the same time take away from the kids, the schools, the education of our community -- they are SCREWED UP and they are KILLING this city.

And, I'm a big, big, big advocate of the FREE MARKET. I'm a LIBERTARIAN BOARD MEMBER.

Granted, some of the excess capacity within the schools needs to be adjusted. Some of the school buildings need to be sold. Some of the buildings need to put on the market -- right away -- as many of our neighborhoods are about to crumble and an empty school building that goes dark could be a devistation.

The Schools have a mission to educate our kids. Let's not forget that -- above all else. And, this mission is serious work and it needs to be respected. For example, I don't want the schools to be paying for the crossing guards as that is an out-of-building duty of neighborhood public safety that the city should provide. I want the schools to be teaching algebra and reading and other academic things.

Likewise, I don't want to see a big burden and duty heaped upon the schools so as to make them real estate agents. That's wrong. Richard R. Fellers, chief operations officer for Pgh Public Schools, and the school board members, should devote 99.9% of their time and energy into efforts that help the kids with scholarship. Mr. Fellers has to figure out how to staff the schools, get the kids books, keep on the lights, pay for heaters and food and school buses.

The school district should not be a re-development authority!

The school district is going to fail me in efforts to be a judge and jury on neighborhood considerations for the best use for extra property.

It is wrongheaded for the district to sell buildings as quickly as possible to buyers who will return them to the tax rolls -- willy nilly. It is wrong for this worry to be on the plate of the school district.

The district's approach already has drawn criticism. City Councilman William Peduto, claiming the district has mishandled the proposed sale of the former Regent Square Elementary School, is demanding the district use a better process for selling other buildings.

Sounds like Bill Peduto is pointing fingers at the district for not doing its job when, really, the blame should rest at the feet of city council. Peduto and Council have been masters at giving tax breaks to the wrong people.

How about if the city buys all the empty buildings from the school district. But, the city already owns nearly 20,000 bits of property throughout the city. The URA has been on hyperdrive. The city even purchased commercial property downtown just months ago. The city has been buying the wrong buildings in the wrong places for the wrong reasons to pay the wrong people.
The board will hold a special hearing at 7 tonight to take public comment on the fate of the 33,488-square-foot Regent Square building, closed in 2004. That building highlights the district's difficulties.

My $.02 is to sell the building for $3-M, as offered, and don't worry about the tax situations. If the school board really wanted to worry about the tax situations it would NOT have given approval for the $18-million tax break to PNC Bank for PNC Plaza downtown. PNC already had a $50-million grant from the taxpayers as a gift from Fast Eddie Rendell.
The board scheduled tonight's hearing because it wanted to hear the public's thoughts about the sale. But Mr. Peduto said that's too little, too late.
I don't want to swear at Bill on my blog -- but cuss words are flowing out of my mouth and my fingers are typing other statements, blah, blah, blah. Too little too late is the definition of city council and how it treats all things about kids.

School officials should NOT be worried about how reused schools should breathe new life into neighborhoods -- because it was city council who sucked the life out of the neighborhoods. Hows that for blinders, Peduto?
"They're looking with blinders on," he said, claiming school officials don't see how reused schools could breathe life into neighborhoods.

Instead of gathering input at the 11th hour, he said, the district should have sought public comment at the beginning of the sale process and sought a buyer willing to conform to community development plans.
I've been standing on my head for nearly a decade saying 'end tax breaks' (no TIFs) to corporations and developers. The 11th hour for city council was in 2004 or some time long ago past. Peduto is the guy that wants to subsidize Giant Eagle in Shadyside. That's bunk. And Peduto is the guy that wants to have the school worry about design standards of the neighborhood -- more bunk.

Here is a design standard for the school -- it is a school. Enough said. Keep it a school. Make it a charter school. Give the charter school operators nonprofit status. Keep more kids and families in the district -- rather than have them move to Scott, Peters, North Allegheny, and elsewhere in Steeler Nation (except the city, of course).

As to A+ Schools, and its effort as a Downtown education group with hooks to architects and developers to tour closed buildings and analyze potential uses, PUNT. A+ Schools should be at neighborhood meetings that gather public comment on best uses for the buildings -- but A+ Schools can't be the driving group to organize those meetings. A+ Schools needs to divest itself from the school building discussion. That needs to spin out of that organizaiton.

I want A+ Schools to worry about the kids grades in the PPS schools -- and frankly, the use of land, development, tax breaks and potential uses is a great example of taking the eye off the ball.

A+ Schools lost all its respect from me when its boss kissed butt to Mark Roosevelt's Right Sizing Plan without getting the community's input. A+ Schools had a board that wasn't even consulted before it started its propaganda machine to steamroller an agenda from a hired Roosevelt. A+ Schools is a teethless tool of the foundation community.

Does Peuto hint at a threat with this statement? Mr. Peduto said the district has little choice but to accept neighborhood advice. He noted the district cannot sell buildings without the help of city agencies that grant zoning changes and offer financial incentives to developers. WRONG!

The School District can sell the building to a charter school operator and there may not be any reason to get any city approval -- to keep the building as a school. Bill -- lots of people don't care to dig into the pockets of the taxpayers and have you agree to this robbery. - District Facing Criticism For School Sale PlanThe Pittsburgh Public Schools District is now facing criticism for a plan sell 27 school buildings, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

The district is trying to find the right buyer. One of the biggest problems is whether or not to sell these buildings to potential charter schools. That move would take them off of the city's tax rolls and hurt their budget.

Swim lessons anyone?

Swimming lessons happen in two week periods at Carlington. Let me know if you're interested. This photo shows Grant and Erik, from last year.

A High School with a swim pool in Illinois. Many of our schools do have pools. A swim pool is in South High School and another pool was in South Hills High School. Our pools are not like this one.

Plan for face lift of Downtown's shopping district emerging

Plan for face lift of Downtown's shopping district emerging 'We will be building a comprehensive effort,' he said. An early step will be understanding how Market Square, the Cultural District, and the Fifth and Forbes corridor interact, architecturally and economically.
Mayor, how they interact architechturally is only a bricks and mortar element that needs to be discounted. We've been too, too heavy on facades and hardware.

I'm happy to see a breath given to the connections among the economic realm. But, to make the project one that is able to florish -- the now "modest" susbsidy should be taken off the table. Make the subsidy ZERO. Then we can start to talk about who really wants to be here and what is really a sustainable effort.

Downtown needs to pull not only its own weight, but the weight of the city and region. And, downtown needs to perform -- NOW. So, we can give valuable spaces any free passes. Otherwise, the subsidy comes right out of the opportunities for the kids that are on our streets today and in our schools today.

And why not call the Fifth and Forbes area, since you want a new name, something that ties in the re-naming of the Parkway West with the same number as the Parkway East.

Fifth & Forbes could be "Junction of 376."

Or, 376's Middle-Point Rest Stop.

Or, Subsidized Shopping.

Or, Rich Get Richer Ville while Poor Get Poorer and NEVER any free lunch in Market Square.

Or, Bubble Zone Off Ramp.

The real news of this timeline article, if you ask me, is the hint that we're going to get to have a new branding exercise and a new name to dream upon. We've already gone through Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and D, E, F. Fitting, "F" came as Murphy was at a total failure.

Shall we start with the GREEK alphabet now under O'Connor's watch? Does that go, "Alpha, Beta, ????" (Excuse me, I'm preppie deprived as I went to Ohio U and didn't study the Greek A-B-Cs.)

Military man finds himself battling the GOP |

Here is another story of a politically homeless that might want to consider a switch to the Libertarian party.
Military man finds himself battling the GOP | Military man finds himself battling the GOP

If there's even the tiniest chance a situation can be fouled up, count on the dysfunctional Marion County Republican Party to do the job.

Consider the case of Lance Langsford, a friendly and hard-working Republican councilman from the city's Eastside.

A firefighter in normal times, Langsford and his Indiana National Guard unit were recently activated. So, as the rest of us prepare to soak in the madness of this weekend's Final Four, Langsford is living in a barren camp in Kabul, Afghanistan.
'If you find a strip of grass, you're lucky,' he said by phone from Kabul over the weekend. 'TB is commonplace. They just found avian flu.'

But Langsford didn't call to discuss life in Kabul. He called to talk about the Marion County Republicans who are abandoning him.

'I'm getting kicked in the (rear),' he said."

A kick in the rear is not as bad as a kick in the teeth.

Signature challenges prompt Rep. Diven to withdraw from May primary

On face value, I think this means that Mike Diven is going to RETIRE from the State House. Or, he'll need to RETIRE from being a REPUBLICAN.

And, if he retires from the R party, what are the chances that he'll choose to be a LIBERTARIAN? Get that.... Jeepers. That would get folks heads to spin.
Signature challenges prompt Rep. Diven to withdraw from May primary P-G article says Diven out of race as an "R"
This is big news. Mr. Diven might be in the politically homeless category. And, it is accurate news as well in terms of Diven's perspectives.

However, I don't put much value in the fact that the Rs recuited Diven to their side for the special election.

For the record, when I was in a three way race in May, 2005 against both Diven and Fontana for the PA Senate Seat formerly held by Jack Wagner, Diven, the new R, out-spent me 500-to-one and out-voted me five-to-one.

Diven could turn to become and Indie -- and that would be interesting. He didn't vote for the pay raise and didn't take the pay raise, but that doesn't matter as he didn't speak up against the pay raise either.

I think it might be best for him to turn to the private sector for a while.

Furthermore, now I understand why Bob Hillen, R, city chairman, tossed his hat into the ring in as a state rep candidate with petitions that had but 301 signatures. The requirement was 300. That had been a puzzle of mine -- until now.

I sent Michael Diven an email a week ago.

Last year when Diven was a candidate for PA Senate, I thought it was a big mistake that he didn't really campaign on behalf of the other republicans in other races within his contested district. Sam B was running for City Council and another R was in the district that covered downtown and the North Side. Diven should have done more coordination with them, even with signs and door-knocking.
Politically homeless.
This year, Diven, as a state rep with an R by his name, could have been a big force on the campaign trails in the city council race of my loyal opponent, Neal Andrus, R. I didn't see Diven once, nor did I hear of him making phone calls, doing letters or anything for him.

Diven used to be my state rep. He had an office on 13th street and I live on 12th. He has friends down here -- and some of them worked on the Bruce Krane campaign.

Diven had every excuse to engage in our race -- in one way or another -- but didn't. I even saw State Rep, Harry Readshaw, D, and his wife, at various functions in the community in the months of our city council race. I don't think Mr. Readshaw took a stance with one candidate or another in the race, but he was out in the community and listened to what we were saying. And this week, Mr. Readshaw, D, was at the ceremony to swear in Jeff Koch, D, in city council chambers.

Michael might want to gear up for the City Controller's race in 2007. He could run in that contest as an Indie. But, he had better get behind some others who are running now to get his skin in the campaign trails.

Since I'm pushing some personal advice, let me say that there is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home dad when you have youngsters at home. Here is the first rub, I don't think Diven is a dad, yet. But he is a husband now. And, I'm getting into personal stuff that is none of my business. But Mike could put that on the back burner. Should Mike ever become a stay-at-home dad, he'll have a greatest job in the world.

Until the little one arrives, Diven can always get lots of real-world experiences with care-giving among his extended family, you know, the clan that was in the campaign brochures in 2005.

Finally, should Diven switch to the "L" party -- I'd want to buck for the job as his chief-of-staff. That would be a fun conversation.

Fainally 2, I understand that Bob Hillen, R, put in to get onto the ballot for state house -- but he didn't get enough signatures. There was a snafu with a circulator's registration and the elections department.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Penguin day is June 18

I'm not talking about the NHL team, nor this guy, Stanley.

Click the comments to find out, techie friends.

Another guy with a tux, rental not required.

First time ever -- Duquesne Club function and a rented tux

I'm renting a tux on Thursday for the second black-tie event I'll attend this century. And, for the first time in my life, I'll be going into The Duquesne Club. (oh my ....)

It is all in the line of duty with my wife's work. So, I've got a good excuse.
Tux time -- on Thursday.

Science Center Misses Deadline to Reassemble Historic Zeiss Projector; Claims "Delay"

NEWS RELEASE For immediate release: March 27, 2006
For more information -- Glenn A. Walsh gawalsh -at-

A 2005 reassembly deadline of Buhl Planetarium's historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector, promised the City of Pittsburgh by The Carnegie Science Center, has come and gone with no reassembly. Due to the 2003 collapse of the Science Center's proposed $90 million expansion project, Science Center officials claim there is a one-year "delay" in reassembly of what was the oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world.

Yet, Friends of the Zeiss Project Director Glenn A. Walsh, in prepared statements before the Board of Directors of the Allegheny Regional Asset District (March 27) and Pittsburgh City Council (March 28) expects that the Zeiss II Projector will not be reassembled this year, and Science Center " 'delays' will probably continue for many years."


The History Channel did a bit in South Side with these handsome kids --- of mine.

Grant giving a TV interview about historic places in our neighborhoods -- as filmed by The History Channel.

Erik giving an interview about historic buildings in our neighborhood to The History Channel.

Last year the boys and I were involved in a special event at the South Side Market House and The History Channel was there to film and get interviews. This year, a 3-minute promotional bit was done that talks about all sorts of HISTORY and has folks from all sorts of venues (nationally) is being produced that includes both Erik and Grant. I don't know much of the details and would LOVE to see, if not point, to the final product. So, help is welcomed.

The file that came to me is a WORD file and there seems to be video clips within the various pages -- but those clips didn't arrive and were not able to be played.

Today I took a mini-field trip with the 5th graders at Phillips Elem School and we walked around the South Side to examine various building styles with the good guidance of an architech, Dave. The kids learned about and sketched dentals, window heads, brackets, and various brick work designs from nearby buildings.

Looking down for arts patterns too.

Since I didn't bring my camera, but the kids did use cameras, here is some building design elements that we might see in a neighborhood elsewhere.

Ceiling of an airport.

Could Brad be more wrong about "wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time"?? (long post)

Wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time -

By Brad Bumsted STATE CAPITOL REPORTER, Sunday, March 26, 2006

The PACleanSweep reformers are looking like ordinary pols. (footnote 1)

Russ Diamond, the founder of PACleanSweep, a statewide anti-incumbency group, last week even sounded like one of the Pennsylvania lawmakers he excoriates in offering "no comments" and speaking of confidential agreements. (footnote 2)

Just like the state Legislature they want to put out of office, the PACleanSweep leaders were bickering and jockeying for power. Diamond, the top leader, came off as an opportunist. (footnote 3)

A rapprochement may or may not be achieved by the time you read this. In a way, it doesn't matter. (footnote 4)

This is a column about what had been the angst for some PACleanSweep board members: Diamond's interest in running for governor as an independent candidate.

Diamond hasn't declared, of course. He has until August to decide. But as this column was being written, Diamond was still contemplating a race for governor. In an interview last week he rated the chances of running 50-50. He could swear off interest in running to bring peace to PACleanSweep.

The ongoing negotiations with his board prompted the talk of confidentiality.

Shortly after state lawmakers shocked the collective conscience of Pennsylvania last July 7 by approving a 16 percent to 54 percent pay hike for themselves, Diamond, a Lebanon County businessman, founded a Web site,, calling for repeal. Throwing the bums out was the unyielding call of Diamond and his cohorts. (footnote 5)

Diamond became the highest-profile member of the anti-pay movement. There were several leaders from different groups. But Diamond went about attacking the Legislature with the most panache.

No matter what happens, Diamond deserves credit for stepping out early against the pay hike and for showing no fear of powerful politicians.

As the voter insurgency swelled, Diamond also became a target of scorn for legislative insiders. He came to epitomize what lawmakers and legislative staffers saw wrong with the anti-incumbency movement.

Diamond was portrayed by his critics as a demagogue, a media hound, who cared little about the real workings of government. (footnote 6)

With the repeal of the pay hike last November, Diamond turned his full attention to defeating incumbents in this year's election. By the filing deadline last month, Diamond's organization was able to put up 99 candidates for House and Senate seats -- playing a key role in the 2006 surge of post-pay raise challengers. (footnote 7)

Some argue that PACleanSweep's main effort could end there with considerable success. (footnote 8)

But Diamond began to set his sights on the governor's race. Incumbent Democrat Ed Rendell is being challenged by Republican Lynn Swann. To run as an independent, Diamond would need to meet the enormous hurdle of gathering 67,000 signatures by August. (footnote 9)

Even as he downplayed the possibility of making such a run, Diamond told me there was one man who could have stopped the pay raise dead in its tracks -- and didn't. That man is Ed Rendell, he said.

It's called a veto.

Such a three-way race would be entertaining and enlightening for voters. (footnote 10) A candidate like Diamond could push Rendell and Swann into issues they would never address on their own. But it likely would be futile. (footnote 11)

If Diamond runs for governor, it would cheapen the anti-incumbency movement. (footnote 12) The critics on his board knew instinctively (footnote 13) that a Diamond-for-governor bid would hurt the larger cause. Diamond would be portrayed as a reformer with one foot in the governor's limo. (footnote 14) Defenders of the status quo in Harrisburg would have a field day lambasting Diamond. (footnote 15)

Further, it could be argued that entry of Diamond into the governor's race would merely hurt Swann and help Rendell get re-elected. Diamond and Swann would split the anti-Rendell vote. (footnote 16)

So where does that leave angry voters? With Rendell, the pay-raise master, and co-conspirators in legislative leadership still in power?

An argument could be made that if Diamond truly believes the stuff he's been saying, he has a duty to step in and face the voters as a candidate.

Maybe so, but on balance it seems a Diamond gubernatorial campaign fits under the heading of wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time. (footnote 17)

The anti-incumbency movement spawned by the ill-fated pay hike has never been about Russ Diamond, or Gene Stilp, another reformer running for lieutenant governor. (footnote 18)

It's about restoring trust and integrity to state government.

Reactions and footnotes from Mark Rauterkus:

#1. Of course the citizens are looking like ordinary people. We are ordinary. We want ordinary. We are citizens. To say the reformers are like the Harrisburg leadership -- that is another matter. To say that the reformers are acting like judges with massive expense accounts -- that is another matter.

#2. The expression, "No comment." has been part of the Russ Diamond and Clean Sweep vocabulary from the get-go. The candidates were getting on-board with the movement in the fall -- but the list wasn't released until the end of January. They were saying 'no comment' for months. To say 'no comment' is not new.

#3. You make lemonaid when you're given lemons. That is prudent. The real opportunist are those in Harrisburg who passed a big pay raise in the middle of the night in the middle of the summer.

#4. If it doesn't matter -- why waste the ink other than to smear? Say something that excites and then say -- just fooling. What's that --- an April Fool's Joke? Brad, the writter / reporter, is double-talking now.

#5. The pay raise was repealed. That is business that has happened -- and was fixed -- and is part of our history now. So, that important milestone has passed. If nothing else happens -- the effort of PACleanSweep and the others was a success. And, for a while, a high priority was NO Votes to Newman and Nigro -- and history was made there too. One got tossed from the bench, thankfully. The "unyeilding call" has many flavors and echos -- with different verses.

#6. The reason Diamond has been such a nasty pain-in-the-butt to the Harrisburg politicians is because he does understand and does communicate real insider knowledge of the mechanics of Pennsylvania government's machine. Diamond has taken a knife and bright light to the smoke that the elected policians spout at every turn. It is clear that Diamond has been 'on message' with critical 'government policy struggles.' Average citizens now know, thanks to Diamond's podcast, how many sit in the chambers of the PA House and do cross-word puzzles. We understand now, better, how one session of the legislature can happen with another session -- at the same time -- so the double-dipping of pay is easier. Diamond has unraveld the wires and levers of governmental workings -- a wicked contraption -- and put those insights into the realm of thousands of citizens.

That's an eye opener. That's dangerous to the jerks who play along for their jobs and pork.

So, it makes sense that the attack will come from them that Diamond cares little about the workings of government. It is exactly where he shines best.

The real red-face blushing should be from -- get this Brad B -- the Fourth Estate. The Harrisburg coverage from the 'watchdogs' has been lax to the Nth degree. The jouralists have NOT done a decent job in covering what's what -- for years now.

Let's all do our jobs -- and not worry about who is to blame or get credit. There is plenty to do to unravel the mess that has been created in Harrisburg and elsewhere in terms of government. And, I'm one who really respects the duty of the media. Then, we can have educated citizens.

#7. The number of candidates is growing and will go past 99 in the weeks and months to come. This is a process and there will be some movement among candidates to adjust that number according to many personal reasons.

#8. PACleanSweep is a success. It has been like a modern day Johnny Appleseed to scatter seeds, high and low, on pavement and in fertile lands. Another verse makes PACleanSweep efforts like that of a mustard seed. A small seed has the potential to move mountains. Hope and seeds are present and some have been planted in some places.
Seeds within the needles.

#9. The enormous hurdle of gathering 67,000 signatures is NO JOKE. It is HUGE. It is unfair. It has to be changed. For me to run for State Senate, I'll need 500 signatures of people in the 42nd district. That isn't for the faint of heart either.

#10. A three-way race means nothing to me in terms of being "entertaining." Zippo. Being a candidate is hard work, tireless, and after a few spins is mostly grunt work. I try to be a candidate that engages thoughtful interactions -- but that has little to do with entertainment. Watch the WEST WING to be entertained.

The other word in the article I did think was right on the mark, "enlightening for voters." That is the mission -- to be enlightening. And this is a light that can be shared. This is a common cause thing. We are building a well of knowledge and working on our future -- and everyone benefits. (except Rendell and Swann, perhaps.)

But, I do think that Rendell and Swann could benefit with Russ Diamond in the race for Governor too. I do feel that the people of PA will benefit in both the short term and long term with a Diamond run for Governor in 2006.

#11. Futile?!?!? F-you. Fuedal is what we got. A fued brews. Fruits will come about because of these efforts for public office.

I, way more than most, understand that there are plenty of victories that come about because of a lost election. If you think it is really "futile" -- then I'd certain that Bumsted is a fool. But, I'm sure you don't really think what you happened to write. You're just tossing out a concept so as to shoot it down -- like a skeet shooter does.

Just turn the clock back a bit -- and history shows that Russ Diamond was a candidate for public office. He ran for state house and lost. But, that was part of the valuable foundation of other things to come. His loss in the last election wasn't futile. And, perhaps, it can be championed, as Pennsylvania goes -- it was WAY, WAY better that Dimond didn't win his past election(s). Now we have Diamond free to do the bigger work and heavy lifting that only a governor candidate can do. And, he's got something of a network.

Furthermore, there is a lot of reason to get onto the ballot to be a bigger player and help with these other elections. There are lots of up-ticket and down-ticket actions and influences that need to be shared and leveraged. This is politics. Diamond can play politics -- and run for Governor (and other offices) -- as that is what great players in politics do every once in a while when the opportunities present themselves.

#12. I say it is impossible to cheapen the anti-incumbency movement by offering a challenge to an incumbent. The flip side of anti-incumbency is PRO-Challengers. Running adds value to the anti-incumbency movement, for goodness sakes. It is what it is.

#13. "The critics on his board knew instinctively...." hold the phone. This is Diamond's organization and Diamond's board. Why in the hell would there be critics on it? The board for one organization should NOT be littered with critics of that company -- so as to work against the driving force. This is an organization, not a government. Government should have spots for critics on all its boards.

But, do you think that the Trib Newspaper Board -- or editorial board -- would dedicate seats there to editors of the P-G? That would be called a mole, perhaps a 'spy' and perhaps a counter-revolutionary.

My instinctive reaction is that an organization should NOT have critics within the board.

My other understanding is that a board that just formed months ago. That board is but a baby. And, nurse-maids might help a baby -- but would better move along as the organization grows. Reforming a board that is young is okay to do. And, lots of boards have lots of dead weight members. They should pull the plug on themselves and get out of the way. Board work is hard work and few knew what they were getting involved with to jump on the bandwagon that has become PACleanSweep. Just holding on is hard work and a sure fire way to failure. That organization is going fast -- and there isn't a brake pedal for the board to push. They each have decisions -- and some should bail if they are worried about the real mission of the cause. And, they've lost skin already and will take their lumps stepping off now.

#14. One foot in the governor's limo is another bad joke. Running for governor doesn't have much to do with getting a foot in his limo. But, yes, this is a time to take an inventory and jump on or jump off. And, it is a trip where dust gets kicked in the air. Zoom -- and I don't mean break the speedlimit on the PA Turnpike at 85 miles an hour. Fast Eddie works hard, of course. He needs to. He should. And so too should those around him and those who want to unseat him.

#15. Sure, no doubt. It is easy to have a field day lambasting Diamond -- as that what should occur in campaigns. Those that can't take the heat should get out. Some of the lambasting will stick -- some won't. Those that lambast might end up last. To protect a candidate from false attacks from ever hitting the news cycle is to do damage to the candidate.

Furthermore, Brad B, the author of the article, has no business lambasting Diamond for no reason at all other than to say some might have a field day of lambasting him. Brad is doing the dirty work of those in status quo positions who want to lambast but can't or won't or would only wish for need a puppet to do the lambasting for them.

#16. One way to be sure that the entry of Diamond does not take away from votes of either Rendell or Swann is to have a NONE OF THE ABOVE option on the ballot -- in all elections. I'm in favor of a built-in option of "NONE OF THE ABOVE" on all ballots in PA.

I don't know, yet, if Diamond is going to hurt one or the other more, if it even comes to pass. Time will tell.

I was in a 3-way race as a 3rd party candidate against a D and R who both spent $1-million on their negative campaigns. I looked at each of the opponents and would have helped one of them beat the other if either was worthy of being a PA Senator that I'd be proud of. They both failed -- in my eyes -- to say things that made sense to me -- as a parent who is raising a family here.

I was in a 8 way race too. Again, I looked hard at all the other candidates. With one month to go before the election, I talked with my insiders and we looked at the others in the race and made some decisions about getting out of the race, or staying in.

Even when I ran for Mayor, in 2001, I recruited candidates to run against in the R's primary. I called dozens of people on the phone and asked them to enter the race. I knew then that Pittsburgh needed a new mayor more than I needed to be mayor. That was honest.

When I was on the ballot in the special election for PA Senate -- I offered my position to another person who I thought could win a Senate Seat and be a much better senator than either Diven or Fontana. Michael Lamb didn't want to get out of the Mayor's race and he got third -- and he split the anti-machine vote with Bill Peduto.

Even in the race -- people can have a big impact as to who they help and who they don't help. In our 8 way city council race -- seven of us were certain as to who we didn't want to win. He didn't win. That is a good example of power and influence that doesn't make the headlines.

Furthermore, in the recent 8 way city council race, another candidate, M.B, spoke strongly about "ending TIFs." (TIFs are tax breaks to rich developers and insitutions that cost the school and current budgets.) It was good that he was at the candidate forums so he'd speak about an issue that I had championed for years. Then I'd give the combination punch too. The citizens got the enlightenment from a few channels. Same too with the Republican -- who wanted to liquidate the parking authority. He must have read my letter to the editor from prior years as I had called for the same measures. So, battles are won and lost -- but the war rages and the tides are turning.

#17. The only thing worse than the wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time -- is wrong logic and being at odds with reality.

#18. I agree that the anti-incumbency movement has never been about any one individual (Russ Diamond, or Gene Stilp). But, it is about 100 or so reformers. It is about a series of candidates to challenge a series of incumbents. The movement now needs role players. Just as the NFL isn't about "Big Ben" -- nor is the SuperBowl about Joe Montana. But, we need people to fill roles for our team at certain places and times.

Just think again. Do you think that the Cleveland Browns would be more able or less able to beat the Steelers if that team steps onto the game-day field without anyone willing, ready, able and prepared to play the Q.B. position?

The Browns could beat the Steelers without a Q.B. given a fantastic defense and great blocking and running backs. Could happen. The Browns could play a single-wing offense. Might be possible. But the chances would be better if various people were slotted for various roles.

This is the time for the reform movement to draft a person for the quarterback position.

I see nothing wrong with Russ Diamond as a player for public office in November 2006.

I'll help him to get onto the ballot. I'll help the movement along too in other ways as well.

And, ask to see my playbook -- and I'll say, "no comment." Then I'll be just like all the ordinary polls too.... yeah right.

Brown vs City of Pittsburgh = Free Speech Law Suit

BrownComplaint.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Bill's Bubble Bill gets blasted and charged in court

Here is Peduto's bubble bill getting taken to court. If I was asked on the tails of the campaign about this bill many times. I would have voted "NO" on the bill because it is not practicle. And it comes on the heels of an enforcement problem. I don't think it is wise to make new laws that come after other laws that are not enforced.
TheRealityCheck.Org Writing & Public Relations: "“Speech-free zones” near abortion clinics and other establishments must go


ADF attorneys file suit against Pittsburgh for unconstitutional ordinance enforced against peaceful sidewalk counselor

PITTSBURGH — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh City Council, and the mayor today for its recently adopted ordinance that prohibits speech in specified zones outside of abortion clinics as well as other local businesses and establishments."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Judge: Republican spat warrants review -

The saga continues.
Judge: Republican spat warrants review - A Pittsburgh Municipal Court judge ruled today that former Pittsburgh Republican Committee Chairman Bob Hillen’s case against Allegheny County Republican Chairman Bob Glancy regarding claims of demanding money for political favor warrants a review by the District Attorney.

The office of District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala must decide whether to move Hillen’s private criminal complaint against Glancy to the trial level in Common Pleas Court.

Zappala spokesman Mike Manko said he’s not sure how long it would take for his office to make a decision on the court ruling, once it’s received.

Philadelphia Daily News | 03/27/2006 | John Baer | Let 1,000 reform flowers bloom

Philadelphia Daily News | 03/27/2006 | John Baer | Let 1,000 reform flowers bloom Of 198 incumbent lawmakers facing re-election (all the House, half the Senate, minus 30 incumbents retiring), 80 have opposition in the May 16 primary.

Not revolution, but noteworthy.

In '04 only 24 incumbents faced primary challenges, in '02 only 12.

Eat right -- and eat with responsible tastes

Think again about palm oil.
AlterNet: Blogs: Tai Moses: "The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has launched a campaign asking consumers to boycott products made with palm oil and to let food manufacturers know that, hell no, it ain't ok to destroy our great wild mammals for chocolate cream sandwich cookies, good as they are.

Jeff Koch takes his seat at the City Council Table and swears to uphold the Consitution!

Photos to come later.

Well, day one is coming to a close, and Jeff Koch, D, the city's newest member of city council, has done no harm! And, he served up some nice snacks and sandwiches too.

Jeff was a loyal opponent in the race and I'm not going to badger him too, too much. But, he needs to know that his honeymoon is over as he has won the seat for just a year and a month or so until the next election -- the D primary. There might be folks looking to bump him off then. He has to hit the ground running.

The talks that were given today were from Bob O'Connor and Jeff Koch. Bob's was much longer.

The new mayor said, This is a very, very good day for the city of Pittsburgh." He honored to be there. He's know Jeff for many years. Jeff will do a great job because he is a good father, husband, businessman, worker, has an excellent track record and cares about the City of Pittsburgh. Jeff cares about the people.

This can be one of the best city councils in history. They work together. They care about our community. That is what Jeff excels in.

There is a lot of exciting things happening in Pittsburgh. Yesterday was the kick off for Pittsburgh Roars.

"I saw families from all over western Pennsylvania there celebrating all the great things we have: parks, culture, universities, hospitals, rivers, community. That is what Jeff exlemplifies best. He represents Pittsburgh and all the good things about Pittsburgh.

Enjoy that first election as it never gets any better than that. There is nothing like your first day in office. Congrats!

Jeff's remarks went about 100 seconds.

Thank you all for your support. It will be a priveldge to serve. Then a phone rings the first time. The phone is being carried by one of the TV news camera men.

I'm looking forward to many challenges. I know I'll have to put in a lot of work to solve them, but I know we will get it done. Thanks...

Make our neighborhood safer... and then the phone rings again. Can you get that. Laughter.

I'm not a desk person. I'll be out and about. I want to make sure all your concerns are being taken care of. My committment is wide ranging and long term.

Then we had cookies!

Pgh Public Schools Key Communicators -- details of pending meeting

Helping kids.
At the Legislative Meeting on March 22, 2006, the Board approved the District’s recommendation to pursue a new district-wide curriculum and agreed to a three year contract with Kaplan K-12 Learning Services, LLC. Kaplan K-12, which has a 70-year history and experience with large-scale curriculum reform similar to what Pittsburgh needs, will custom design the curricula, assessments and professional development for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear first hand how Kaplan K 12 will be working with students, staff and parents in our district. All parents K-12 are invited to hear this presentation. Please reserve a spot by calling 412-622-3617 by Wednesday March 29th.

Key Communicators’ Meeting is from 6:30 pm to 8:30 on Thursday, March 30, 2006, in
Conference Room A.

Welcome & Introductions, Donna Vlassich, Assistant Director Public Engagement

Opening Remarks, Superintendent, Mark Roosevelt

Introduction of Kaplan K-12 Learning Services, Lynn Spampinato, Deputy Superintendent

Presentation of Information, Kaplan K-12 Representatives


Major gambling interests focus on Pa. -

What if we said, "We don't want slots in Pittsburgh. But, we'll take table games instead." Then what?
Major gambling interests focus on Pa. - "Though table games won't be allowed, up to 61,000 slot machines will be enough to draw interest from the biggest names in gambling.

The other line in the news that I must get notice is, "(AP) - With an expansion of gambling stalled elsewhere in the country, major gambling interests have set their sights firmly on Pennsylvania, ..." So, gambling is not expanding anywhere but here. Gambling is on the downturn. The gambling marketplace has come to its peak and is in a fast decline.

The sun is about to set in terms of gambling -- and now Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania is going to dive in.

It is too late in the game for slots.

It might be too late in the game for table games too.

Just as we built the huge convention center -- and it won't ever reach its capacity nor be sustainable -- because the rest of the nation zipped on past Pittsburgh, the same holds true with gambling.

There is good reason to fear that our casino is going to suck. It might not work. It will need to be scaled down and back and won't pull the promised income the hyped politicians and developers have expected.

Ninth member of city council gets sworn in today, and I'll be there.

New guy joins city council today at 2 pm.
I'm not too sure what to blog about with the arrival of Jeff Koch, D, to city council today. I have mixed emotions. So take what you want from the photo above -- as I'm not sure if that is to show him or me -- or just my mood. We need a watchdog, for sure. And, the dog show just concluded. That puppy didn't win. And, every dog has its day in the sun. Enough.

The other day on another forum (and with various conversations) I heard some 'down-beat' comments about Jeff. One person said or posted that 'he (Koch) does NOTHING for me.' Jeff might score 0 for some on a 1-to-100 scale. I'd like to re-frame that position in a few ways.

First, the scale I hold as a measure spans from minus 100 to plus 100. With that in mind, I'd also score Jeff in the low zone. I'd give him a "zero" -- if that zero means right in the middle. To me, now, Jeff becomes a neutral addition to city council.

I could be a lot worse. Some might have come to council with a minus 90 score, in my opinion, given my score methods. Your mileage may vary.

Furthermore, I've talked to a few on Grant Street and the impression I get is that Jeff needs to prove himself. He'll need to do things in the first months as he does come up for a re-election in a year for the Ds endorsement and November 2007 for the general election.

If Jeff is slow to move on items -- he'll be a weaker candidate. He's going to need to show some action. Jeff doesn't have much of a honeymoon. Bob O'Connor is still in a honeymoon -- but Jeff Koch's time to shine is NOW.

I'd like to see and hear a big opening day pitch from Jeff at the microphone. But, he isn't a 'talker' -- so he says himself. Well, he had a couple of weeks to plan and prepare. I hope he takes a good and bold first step. I'll be there -- and with my recorder.

To be sure, Jeff is a supporter of Bob O'Connor. And, the support went to Jeff from Bob as well. Some, but not too much, I'd say. And, we've got a new mayor and we should be charting a new direction for the city. That's great. I want to get rid of all the Murphy ways and notions as quickly as possible. So, this election give more wind into O'Connor's sails -- and he had better make good progress as there is much to do.

Let's not forget to LISTEN close to the words as Jeff takes his oath of office -- as this was a point I made here and on the trails. He'll swear to uphold the consititution -- NOT to be a hallmark of service to the citizens who all want a hand-out.

Dave Nachmanoff - The Official Dave Nachmanoff Website - CALENDAR

Dave Nachmanoff, a friend and musical talent like none other, is returning to Pittsburgh with Al Stewart, his side-kick (if you ask me or my wife or my mother-inlaw) for a Sunday night concert on May 7 at Club Cafe, just down 12th Street. He's great and played a couple events for us in the past. One was the 9-11 concert before Dan Onorato was elected. Dave also helped with a concert to open the Musicians Hearing Clinic at UPMC's Eye and Ear -- with my wife's department.
Dave Nachmanoff - The Official Dave Nachmanoff Website - CALENDAR Sunday, May 7th, 2006, Club Cafe
8 pm

With Al Stewart!

Mark Cuban on C-Span - and how our paths come from the same fabric

Mark C did a great job with an interview on C-SPAN. Two thumbs up. I saw the last 20 minutes or so this morning and dashed off a quick email to him before I took the kids to school.

There are a lot of things we have in common beyond our first names, hometowns and similar ages. I returned to Pittsburgh and he stayed in Texas -- where I had been. I went to graduate school at Baylor in the Heart of Texas and spent some time in Dallas. Recently, I was called the "maverick" candidate and he owns the Dallas Mavs of the NBA, but we both lean Libertarian in politics. He said he won't be a politician -- and I had never expected to be either -- until Mayor Murphy had such an easy time trashing our city and its future. Then I jumped from the sidelines into the game of politics -- as a candidate.

I never started a chain letter, as Cuban did in his college days to help pay his way through school, but I too payed my way. I went to Ohio University, and looked long and hard at Indiana University, twice. I took the Journalism, he business. If I dig, I'll find letters from I.U., as Doc and Hobie were there. I coached swimming and also earned some scholarships throughout my undergrad days to pay my way.

I worked in a computer store too as he did. I went to Nabih's (an indie dealer in Chicago -- Evanston, really). That's where I met my wife, as she was in grad school at Northwestern. So, we are both techies.

Long ago gave an interview to Cuban's partner when they were working Audio Net. I was helping a buddie at his trade show booth as he geared up his software publishing firm. I was doing some marketing with him at a San Jose email/web trade show. His database/webserver product then only ran on a Mac. So our paths crossed then and I knew of the Pittsburgh connection, but this was no big deal.

Pittsblog has been watching the Cuban feed and putting up a few ideas about how Pittsburgh couldn't embrace a Mark Cuban in its culture. I agree.

When they were talking about tearing down Pitt Stadium, I put in a word to the Pitt Rocks folks that Mark Cuban might be a go-to guy to team with Ditka and T.D. to save the ol gal, but they only huddled and had too many delay of game calls for my fancy.

As I'm re-tooling from the election and wondering what's up next for me -- beyond swim coaching and playing with the kids and other basics -- I generally go back to the sports, business and media enterprises. Politics is going to matter to me forever more, but in my heart of heart, and as I said on the trails in this election, I'm into politics now because of the crisis.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Schenley Plaza project uproots old trees

Told you so. I obected to this project years ago. It is a waste, a joke and very expensive. To build a merry-go-round is very fitting -- as it is a living example of what to do for total frustration. A merry-go-round is designed so you can never get ahead. It is even a 'poor' (pun intended) 'cheap thril'.
Schenley Plaza project uproots old trees: "Not long after the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy had 10 London plane trees cut down there last week, several University of Pittsburgh employees and others fired off e-mails to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
'One by one, [the trees] were systematically mowed down,' wrote John Hempel, a member of Pitt's Department of Biological Sciences, who also is chair of the Braddock Hills Tree Committee. 'Apparently, old trees need not apply for space at their new plaza.'"
The merry-go-round project takes away parking spaces -- in a lot where people would wait in line to park. Often there were 10 to 15 cars in a que just sitting to wait to enter the parking lot.

People who live in Pittsburgh understand where to park and how to slide into the side streets and garage spaces. But people who visit don't. It was often visitors, a precious asset that we need, that used that parking lot that is now but a memory.

The parking lot could have been turned into a parking garage -- with green space on top of the garage. I would have loved to have seen a second level of that garage with bike and pedestrian ramps from all directions and over all the near-by roads. Then the parking incomes could have supported the building of the garage -- upwards.

Pittsburgh needs to build UP.

Pittsburgh's centers of business, academics and density needs to get away from this 'green space' fascination and make more functional, buseinss friendly junctions.

Even the vendors took it to the teeth (pun intended) with this plan. We used to be able to get a hot dog, or some other goodies, from the push-carts. Pitt didn't like them cutting into their 'food court operations.'

Next we'll get an upscale garden cafe for a high-tea and place to wear your big Easter Hat.

Forget the ride with two Double E tickets and give me a free swin set that costs nothing.

In Georgetown, as In D.C., the football team holds its practices on the roof of a parking garage, because space is so tight. There is a nice green space lawn at the front of Soldiers and Sailors Hall. That is a great example of good space use. But, they didn't see that? Nor do out of town visitors who are looking for a short-term parking space either.

We could also try to turn this space into a 'free speech zone.' Yeah, right.

Here is my simple test, Q1: How much "coaching" is going to happen in this park? -- NONE.

Test two: Are the rich getting richer and poor poorer? YES.

Test three: Does it help with flow? NO.

So, this place will do little for fitness, flow nor freedom. It even hurts our city's finances as there are going to be less parking incomes and less parking tax collected. This little park is a concentration of resources in places that don't need further investments when there are so many other more worthy places that are such great need.

Broken furnace cancels today's performance of "Veronica's Veil"

This is so sad.
Broken furnace cancels today's performance of "Veronica's Veil": "Broken furnace cancels today's performance of 'Veronica's Veil'"
The theater company should host its performances at South Vo Tech's auditorium and have it turn into a dinner theater. They could also hold a meal and mixer for the audience and build up the 'experience' in the years to come. And, this could be as a rental, not ownership.

Then, the stage and building that they now own could be either moth-balled or re-positioned into condo spaces.

But, the players won't have the option of using the South Vo Tech spaces -- if the building gets sold. We need to have a better plan and handle on the building's ownership and use. We can't let South Vo Tech be sold as is the plan for next week, even.

It makes more sense to have an overall view of all the assets. Sell the Veronica's Veil building first. Keep South Vo Tech -- a place that buses can reach -- for a bigger venue, community, job production site.

Missed chances: Delays in seeking treatment, gaps in care mean few receive drug treatment for stroke

I love lifeguarding stories -- and this is a big one in the Sunday P-G:
Missed chances: Delays in seeking treatment, gaps in care mean few receive drug treatment for stroke: "But delays in getting to the hospital and gaps in the system of care mean that stories such as Mr. Mayros' remain the exception. "
Longterm: I think EMS should merge -- among CITY and COUNTY wide entities. We'll need to really work hard on that merger as there are so many smaller EMS groups in the burbs.

Furthermore, the academic folks at Pitt need to be pulled into a leadership role in that discussion -- so its focus is on best practices and patient care with evidence.

Finally, we need to do much more in the city with defibrillators -- devices that can re-start the heart's beating -- as that is proving to be more of a help than CPR. And, we don't have the devices in public spaces as we should in the city.

It took our old mayor, Tom Murphy, nearly 12 years to merge 911 services. That merger (of 911) was a no-brainer. To make a real movement, we'll need to move along to EMS and other merger discussions.

Chelsa Wagner - for State Representative, 22nd District - About Chelsa

Chelsa Wagner - for State Representative, 22nd District - About Chelsa Chelsa Wagner crossing the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon, her first marathon, Washington 2005
She has a fundraiser on Thursday night in Shadyside. And, she has done a marathon. We'll have to get her to upgrade to a Triathlon some day. But first, get the issue pages uploaded to the new site.

Up & Down in Erie

At least Erie has an indoor swim pool that brings people to take a dip with a family get-a-way.
Up & Down It couldn't be more fitting, this week the Erie City Council passed a tax on amusement. Yes, having fun in Erie is now taxed... needless to say it won't raise much money.

Meanwhile in Erie, former Mayor Rick Filippi claimed stupidity, rather than criminal behavior, in his secret participation in a land deal. Since he is from Erie, it might be believable. But PoliticsPA must share in his down arrow for naming him in 2003 one of Pennsylvania's best mayors.

Ride a bike!

Ride a bike!: "We're hard at work planning BikeFest for this summer. This year BikeFest will be held from June 23rd - July 4th. That's twelve fun days filled to the rim with bicycle-goodness!

We're looking for individuals and companies of all sizes to sponsor BikeFest this year. Please contact us at for more information."
Bike Pittsburgh has a new blog.

Running mate: Ken, made a suggestion: Film and site, "WHY WE FIGHT" -- now a MUST see

You need to see this film and visit its site -- so says Ken. I listened and agree.

Tom Martin for US Senate

Tom Martin for US Senate Tom Martin is the Libertarian Party candidate for the United States Senate from Pennsylvania.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

PIAA Boys' Basketball: Results and Pairings

Must have been a heck of a game. I wish I would have gone.
PIAA Boys' Basketball: Results and Pairings Lower Merion 60, Schenley 58

And the blow-by-blow coverage from the next day...
PIAA Class AAAA Boys Basketball: Schenley's sweet dreams are CRUSHED
'Everyone in the state was saying Schenley was this big, bad wolf from Pittsburgh,' Downer said. 'To be honest, I saw glaring weaknesses with some of the stuff they ran and we thought we could expose it.'

New contract extends Dixon's stay at Pitt

New contract extends Dixon's stay at Pitt Pitt and Dixon came to terms late Friday on a new contract that will put him in a new tax bracket. Pitt nor Dixon would disclose terms of his salary last night, but indications are that he will be in the neighborhood of $900,000 per season. That would put him in the upper half of the Big East coaches in terms of compensation.

Dixon had four years remaining on his old pact and had three more added. The new deal runs through the 2012-13 season.

'You can rest assured that his salary is in line with where he has brought the program in the Big East and nationally,' Pitt athletic director Jeff Long said last night. 'We've provided him with a good salary, one that is competitive in the Big East and one that shows we're happy to have him as our head coach.'
Nice payday for a guy under contract.

Constitutional dependence II -

Tom's letter to the editor... in part:
Constitutional dependence II - "Justice Cappy was and is one of the primary backers of the pay grab. His court has been conveniently acquiescent when issues that are clearly unconstitutional or violate existing law -- but benefit the court or the Legislature -- come before it.

The best example of this, but not the only one, is the 'unvouchered expense' provision. There are so many other similar issues (legislative benefits not permitted by the Constitution, legislative secrecy, gun registry by the state police, etc.) that no court, nor Judge Colville, has any credibility with me on this issue.

Thomas A. Portante

MLB stars to visit Pittsburgh in style

MLB stars to visit Pittsburgh in style When baseball's elite players cluster in July, they needn't worry about tapping into their All-Star bonuses for taxicab or limo fare to reach PNC Park.

As part of the Hollywood-style, star-studded events surrounding the 77th edition of Major League Baseball's mid-summer classic, the 64 All-Stars from the National and American Leagues will parade in convertibles on a red carpet from the Byham Theater across the Clemente Bridge to the ballpark.
Have them walk. And, these guys might be heros for the pill-popping culture, but they are not worthy of any idol status for me and my family. Hell no.

If you want to see a real cavalcade of stars, go to the city league baseball championships -- or a WPIAL baseball championships, if not softball.

I hate it when we rob our kids of basics -- like rec centers, ball fields, and swim pools. Then we heap frills on those that don't need them. It is another example of miss-placed priorities. And, it is another example of the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer.

We should celebrate the game. Games have players. Big deal.

PCTV is streaming -- and feedback is welcomed

Hello Pittsburgh Community Television Producers, Friends and Supporters,

We need your Feedback.

PCTV has just added a video streaming component to our web-site so that PCTV programming can be watched on the internet globally. We need you just to take a little time out of your busy schedules to look at the site and let us know if you are able to see PCTV programming on your computers? Is the image clear? Is it difficult to access the live feed? Are their any other issues that we should know about to make this better. You will need Media Player software on your computer; I believe you can easily download it for free. Again, we are not asking for too much time but this will be a great help and your feedback will only strengthen our site.

Thanks and I look forward to hearing your comments.

Thomas Poole

The streaming works for me -- but it is really bad. I'm watching the slide show -- between a show -- and the frame for the media container (stream) is about half my screen size -- but the video within that frame is about 1/3 of that container's size. So, I only get a postage sized video of the station's video. I can't even tell what it is, visuall.

The audio is GREAT.

I've got a PC with Cable Modem and the PC had all the necessary plug ins already -- so it was a snap for me to get the stream started. Good job there.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ben and John gave Pittsburgh some big plugs on National TV between the games tonight

The Men's NCAA basketball coaches -- each with a Pittsburgh connection -- (Ben H and John C) face off in the elite 8 game on Saturday night as UCLA and Memphis clash. They were interviewed between the games and tossed out a few mentions of Pittsburgh.

I wanted to call up Bob O'Connor and see if he could fly out to the game so he could get some tv time too. Heck, the rest of the nation is everywhere but here -- and Bob might be able to get some others to think about moving back.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, the Women's hoop team at Pitt is glowing in a NIT game -- held at The Fitz -- NOT The Pete. The Pitt News gave some high praise for the venue now mostly in mothballs. A wrestling event is in the big, new arena and the women's games are in the old hangar building -- that is much more intimate.

This is FANTASTIC in that Pitt didn't tear down The Fitz Field House after it built the new Event Center. Pitt has some flexibility now. Pitt had a net gain with its indoor sports venues.

This example is a perfect match as to why the city needs to keep the Civic Arena -- AFTER the building of a new hockey arena. To really have a net gain -- we need both, the old and the new. Don't churn and call that 'progress.' Don't tell me 1-1 = 2. Only 1+1=2.

How did the women's team do anyway?

And, if the Pitt Women do win, when and who will they play next? And, where? Do they keep those games in the Field House?

We could NOT attend either of the past games -- but will do our best to make the next one if it is in Pittsburgh. Especially if it is in The Field House.