Sunday, December 31, 2006

Keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh - Signatures

Keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh - Signatures 11414. Mark Rauterkus Stay in Allegheny County but exit The Hill. Build by airport.

What will 2007 bring in terms of swimming in the river?

Flashback. Splendid flashback.
PostScript: Assignment -- whatever's happening It was reasonably warm and there was no ice on the Monongahela River as more than 100 members of the Polar Bear Club prepared for their annual plunge into the water.

I had thought of doing it for a while.

I've been taking photographs for the Post-Gazette for 25 years. I'm not getting any younger.

So when I got up that morning, I just put on the trunks and a tank top, with my work clothes over. I took an old pair of shoes. I told myself, 'There's always a chance I can chicken out of it.'

But when covering such a predictable event, you need to do something a little different.

I had prepared one of my cameras in case. The underwater camera that we have is a film camera, but it's much easier with the motor drive digital camera. I put it on autofocus and placed the camera in an extra large freezer bag with tape around the lens.

As I stood on the bank, I took some ribbing from fellow news photographers, but my mind was made up. I decided I'd go in five minutes before the group took its leap, so I could get their expressions as they hit the water.

It was not what I'd expected. The water was 38 degrees.

I could not breathe. I felt like there was a ton of bricks on my chest. I could not get enough air in my lungs. I was having trouble.

We'll always have Paris -- 2006 from Dave Barry

Dave Barry remembers the Super Bowl in his year in review:
We'll always have Paris | Chicago Tribune In sports, Super Bowl XVXXLMCMII takes place in Detroit, and by all accounts it's a big success for the Motor City, with huge crowds thronging to both of the restaurants. The Pittsburgh Steelers win a game featuring a controversial play in which an apparent Seattle Seahawk touchdown pass is called back after the Steeler defender-in what is later ruled an accident-is gunned down by Vice President Cheney.

Rat Pack, a Night at the Sands, here we come

We're going to Heinz Hall to see The Rat Pack show tonight. There is a show at 6:30 pm. We're thrilled. More to come from me later. Anyone else catch this show? What did you think? Is there anything specific we should be sure to watch or listen for???

Singer, songwritter -- Joe Jencks -- performance on Jan 7, 2007

Friendship House Concerts is proud to present Joe Jencks at 4 pm on Sunday, January 7, 2007.

Joe has earned wide recognition for his songs about working people, and for his unique merging of musical beauty, social consciousness, and spiritual exploration. Joe weaves a diverse web of stories with brilliant musical skill, ensnaring even the most rigid of hearts, inviting them to open.

Whether performing at a union conference or folk festival, or at an intimate club or house concert, Joe manages to make any audience feel welcomed, valued, and part of a community.

Joe’s life-long interest in folk music led him to undergraduate and graduate studies in Vocal Music Performance, Choral Conducting, and Music Education. Like any good craftsman Joe applies the skills of this well-rounded training, using his lush and lyrical voice to enchant, heal, and inspire to action. Joe has won numerous songwriting awards for his original work, and has an ability to connect genuinely and intimately with audiences of diverse ages and backgrounds.

Joe is a dual US/Irish citizen living in the US, and merges traditions from both countries in his eclectic and vibrant musical presentation. Joe Jencks’ newest CD Rise As One: A Live Solidarity Concert (2005) is a musical retrospective on the labor movement.

Check out Joe and his music at

Seating is limited. Reservations necessary. For information and reservations,
call or email:

LLouise & Jim Altes, 412.361.6051, altes -at-

Suggested donation: $10.00. All proceeds go to the performer.

After the concert, there will be a pot luck dinner. Please bring entrees, hors d'oeuvres, salads, side dishes, or desserts to share.

NEITHER Perzel nor DeWeese

Contact your Representative (and others) NOW and demand that they
vote for NEITHER Perzel nor DeWeese.
Way to go to a lone Democrat (so far) in the PA House who broke ranks and offered his vote against the D party boss, DeWeese.

Seems that DeWeese has time to draft legislation to expand the slots parlors with table games. But DeWeese has no need to contact his own party member about rules to reform the operations of the PA House.

Stripping Democrats who voted against the pay raise of committee positions was an obvious abuse of power by Mr. DeWeese. Those committees had nothing to do with legislative pay, why would it affect them? Mr. Caltagirone rightly does not support an individual that abuses power.

To Joe R,, (and I agree fully, as he posted on another list) what is more impossible to believe is that any Democrat would support a power abuser. Each legislator needs to be able to vote as they see fit without coercive threat from Mr. DeWeese. Please speak to the Democrats about an alternate leader.

HockeyNation talks of Pens and KC

HockeyNation That could be the ad seen soon in newspapers across North America, as Kansas City’s Sprint Centre nears completion. The plan is that if a team is granted to Kansas City for the start of NHL season in 2007 then the rink will be ready with all the latest whistles and bells, the luxury boxes and supposedly a stable base of season ticket holders who have forgotten the horrid days of the Kansas City Scouts.

The new rink comes on line at a convenient time for the deep pocketed would be owners, with the most exciting team of the future, Pittsburgh going through the throes of a broken heart and dream, Kansas City might be the obvious destination for the Pens.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Times and Democrat - Is my space your space?

The Times and Democrat - Is my space your space? Some teens, though, think adults worry too much -- and say deleting too much defeats the purpose of social networking. Tyler Belden-England, a high school freshman in Pittsburgh, puts the name of his school on his site, but says he's not 'going to be stupid about it.'

NCAA job at RMU for Strength Coach

NCAA - National Collegiate Athletic Association Robert Morris University is accepting applications for the position of Strength and Conditioning Coach. This is a full-time position with responsibilities to include all aspects of the implementation of a comprehensive strength and conditioning program for 23 intercollegiate teams. The coach will work collaboratively with head coaches and athletic trainers to implement sport-specific programs. Requirements include a bachelors degree, master's or post-graduate degree preferred; at least two years experience in strength and conditioning; and certification by the NCSA. Those interested should submit a letter of application, current resume and a list of three references to Craig Coleman, Director of Athletics, Robert Morris University, 6001 University Blvd., Moon Township, PA 15108; or e-mail to EOE

Gerald Ford: Athlete, Politician, Statesman, Swimmer - Swimming Hall Of Fame Remembers Gerald Ford In 1977, less than a year after leaving the White House, Ford paid a visit to the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF), located in Ft. Lauderdale. Ford, promoted the sport as a great way to exercise during his term, and was considered one of the biggest cheerleaders for the ISHOF.
Buck and Bob get interviewed in the TV news segment.

There is a strong tie to Michigan with those guys as well.

Musical? Give these podcasts a listen.

Do you make music? If so, listen to these podcasts. Wonderful and perhaps the best I've heard with musical tutorials.
Pandora Podcast Pandora Podcast

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pens get ballpark figure for arena

Hold the phone. We don't WANT a NEW UPTOWN ARENA. We already have an arena uptown. The Civic Arena is ours. It is paid for. It is historic. Mario and the Pens would not be nearly as happy nor successful if they build a new UPTOWN Arena.
Pens get ballpark figure for arena - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review the deal Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are offering the Penguins would give them a new arena with team contributions similar to those made by the Steelers and Pirates for their North Shore stadiums.

Unlike those outdoor venues, an Uptown arena could make money for its operator throughout the year.

'I don't know why (the Penguins) are fussing so much about $3 million a year, if they can get the rental agreement the Steelers and Pirates have,' said Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a Castle Shannon think tank. 'A lot of this is just posturing.'
I want Mario and the Pens to thrive. I want the region to prosper. I don't want to be held hostage again in another five or ten years.

The Pens need to cut ties to the uptown location and built where there is an upside for the organizations bottom line.
Pittsburgh needs the Penguins to stay in order for a new arena to work, said Megan Dardanell, spokeswoman for Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato.
Exactly. But, if the Pens leave, the Civic Arena can still work. The Civic Arena is paid for. The Civic Arena can host NCAA Division I women's basketball, again. Duhh....

The Pens can build a new arena with corporate boxes, somewhere else. That will work for them. And, the civic arena can work for low-key events -- like graduation for local high schools.

Political leaders are willing to negotiate such things as the rights to concessions, parking and advertising, Onorato has said.
The Pens can have their own parking, concessions, advertising and condos with their own new arena out by the airport. Build it. Own it. Manage it. Do it.

If we bring in consultants for the deal with the Pens, as we had for the other two stadiums, it will be a sure sign that Onorato and Ravenstahl will not be re-elected. Those deals stunk. Those deals were not made public. Those deals are still the subject of great scorn.

The hype of PNC Park for the Pirates was that there would not be any game day tickets avialable for years into the future. It was smaller than Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park was to be an on-going sell out. By the fourth game, there were tickets available. There were only five or so sold out games its first year. Seasons at Three Rivers Stadium have been much better attended than seasons at PNC Park. The Pirates suck. The deal for the citizens for the staduims is worse than the performance of the team on the field.

In the summer of 2006, the public treasury was raided again for an upgrade to Heinz Field. We build more seats in the stadium. We build more club box seats too. We, the public, did an upgrade for the Steelers and paid a big part of those improvements.

Why wasn't that reported?

We upgraded the Mellon Arena. We let the Pens keep the money for the naming rights to o. Remember the Blue Seats at the Arena? What a joke.

Bad deals of the past are behind us now. But let's not talk about doing them over again. The consultants and the political leaders struck poor deals for those venues. Let's not let this happen again.

The Pens -- as well as the Pirates and Steelers -- should all own their own venues. They should do the upgrades as they see fit, on their dime.

The Pens would have an easier time with competition for sponsors if the venue was out by the airport. Those who want to sponsor teams at Pitt would have some distance from those that want to sponsor the NHL's Pens.

All the non-sporting events that have income potential can go to the Pens, if they build their own arena.

Save Fort Pitt: Save the Fort Pitt Music Bastion!

Save Fort Pitt: Save the Fort Pitt Music Bastion!: "Save the Fort Pitt Music Bastion!
Only two remnants of Fort Pitt can be found at Point State Park. One is the Block House dated 1764 and erected by Col. Henry Bouquet, a leading British military figure of the day. The other is the unearthed (in the 1960s) and partially restored Music Bastion noted by George Washington (...two of which near the land are of brick...). The brick wall, next to which ran the moat, sits well below ground level in what appears, from even close by, to be a wide, deep, and pointless ditch. It is marked by a bronze plaque, but barely interpreted at all. The fact that the walls are so far underground is fascinating in itself, and speaks not only to the changes to the land made by man, but also the power of river flooding, through which nature is always seeking to resculpt the earth."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

PSU's Morelli unloads on Penn Hills coach - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

PSU's Morelli unloads on Penn Hills coach - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 'I'd just say thanks for everything you've done for me. Thanks for trying to bash me as much as you could. It didn't work.'
It didn't work -- or -- did it work?

I don't know. I'm very far removed from that situation and relationship, other than being a Penn Hills grad.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Onorato: Hate makes waste. Now it is a priority! OMG, what about 3 years as ACE and before?

Give me a break.
Onorato's arena goal: Deal finished by Feb. Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato vowed yesterday to make keeping the Penguins in Pittsburgh his 'number one priority' heading into the new year and would like to have an arena deal completed under Plan B in two months or less.
This is too little too late in the minds of the hockey fans. Now the ACE (Allegheny County Executive) is in a scramble or else he'll have his head on a -- slapshot out of office just as the Pens puck out of town too.

I think that Dan did too little in the past.

I also think that Dan needs to think again about what really should be done now that we have a new opportunity, a new dawn, a new year.

The best place for the Pens is not in the vicinity of the existing Civic Arena.

You don't want to negotiate until after you've set a vision. You want to establish the goals. You want to have shared priorities understood. You want to overcome objections -- as a good sales person wants. You want to qualify the buyer. You want to get on the same page.

Dan has done nothing in these areas.

Mario is hacked off at the leaders in Pittsburgh for good reason. To jump into a 'negotiation' phase now -- is more sillyness.

Dan is ready to put his offer on the table. That's putting your word out before you think it through.

Time is on the side of Pittsburgh. Time is not of the essence. It was Mario who burned the past six months. Mario is the one who is not returning phone calls as they wait until they see if there is any hope with an IOC objection and legal challenge to the decision of last week.

The lease for the civic arena needs to be extended one season. That offer needs to be put out there for all to see.

The Penguins don't need to be released from its contract with IOC, the Penguins need to break their silence. The Penguins are not slaves to the IOC.

The slots parlor should alter the idea of a new amphitheater next to Heinz Field. That deal should be terminated. Luke should step up and say, 'think again' about that.

And finally, there is a word from Michael Lamb. Where and when did he put in his $.02? Does he have a web site now? Ho, ho, ho... Did Santa bring him a voice?

Jack Wagner says - keep eye on the ball.

Jack Wagner doesn't get it.

On the Marty Griffin Show, KDKA-1020, Auditor General Jack Wagner said, "We have to keep our eye on the ball. That ball is getting a new arena for the Penguins and keeping the Penguins here."


The goal is more about being a place where freedom resides. We need to be free and folks should be free to watch the Penguins too. We need to have flow from our infrastructure so the free people can get from place to place. We have to keep our eye on the ball with the future for our children.

Giving $290-million to Mario today, so he can build a new arena today, is NOT going to do jack for our children. We'll be in the same situations in another 10 years, held hostage (not free) by the sports teams and buzz nuts who want to 'churn facilities.'

Let's keep our eye on the ball, Jack. But it isn't about Mario's new arena. It is about doing the right things. It is about doing the best things. It is about being free, building flow, thinking of the future.

I sent this email to Marty:

I agree with you that the Pens presently have a sweet deal on the table concerning the amounts of money offered within Plan B and PA's public treasury.

Nonetheless, a switch in the coversation is in order. You could help -- rather than driving a wedge into the discussion and Pens' fans the community.

Mario's perspectives are bound tightly to hockey game income because everyone is talking only about a possibility of a new arena in the same vicinity of the Civic Arena site -- the Hill District. The Hill wasn't deemed to be the best location for the new slots parlor, nor is that part of the city the best place for a new arena.

The upside for Mario climbs greatly, giving the Pens a sweeter deal, when we talk of the vision of building a new arena where land is plentiful, cheap and where expansion is desired -- near the Pittsburgh Airport.

Then everyone wins -- Hill District, historic preservationists, city, county, region, state, and NHL -- and Mario, of course.

Think of a Penguins Village with new arena, high-rise housing, buziness park, much like an Olympic Village.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Downtown Eastside Enquirer: Vancouver Public Library stays open Christmas Day

We can't do trash pick-up on holidays well. We can't even keep open historic library buildings on regular hours. Meanwhile, in other parts, the libary is open on Christmas. Open hearts. Open heads.
Downtown Eastside Enquirer: Vancouver Public Library stays open Christmas Day

What do you do on Christmas Day when you have no money but time to kill between free turkey dinners on the Downtown Eastside?

You go to the library.

'I'm glad the libary is open,' one guy said as he walked into the Vancouver Public Library in the Carnegie Centre. 'Everything else is closed.'

The Library is paying a staff person to keep the library open, one of those Library Technicians who don't cost as much as a real librarian. She is not actually alone though. The Carnegie security guards are hanging around in the lobby just outside the wide open doors of the library.

Farewell to the Yangtze dolphin

The Public View of Farewell to the Yangtze dolphin
So sad.

Mark Crowley's Letter to the Editor in the P-G

Mark C, wrote to say:
I had a LTE in the Post-Gazette today (Christmas Day) promoting the Voters' Choice Act. In the print version they gave the LTE the prominent spot at the bottom right of the editorial page in its own box and even drew a little sketch for it. I suppose that today isn't one of the days people make it a point to check the editorial page, but I'm glad they saw fit to place it as they did.

Oddly, I submitted it about three weeks ago and they called soon after to confirm my intent to print. Next they just held it, I guess, for a slow time. (Either that or they dug mine back up after they got tired of endless letters from hockey zealots complaining that the award of the local slot casino wasn't the one that would pay 100% for a new hockey arena.)

This LTE follows an old formula for getting into the papers to promote the VCA: find a voting/election oriented article, recognize its central theme but make the point that ballot access consequences are at least as important, give one reason why expanded ballot access is good for PA, and finally offer the VCA as a solution. I've used variations of this approach four times in two years to get VCA LTEs
into local papers.

Too bad getting on the statewide ballot isn't as simple.


The real voting problem: third-party or independent candidates are shut out

Paper ballots may stop votes disappearing from recounts ("In Praise of Paper" by Bruce Schneier, Dec. 3 Forum), but they won't stop candidates disappearing from Pennsylvania ballots.

2006 saw no Pennsylvania third party or independent statewide candidates because unfair rules required more than 67,000 ballot access signatures. Major-party statewide nominees needed only their 2,000 primary election signatures.

When the Green Party's U.S. Senate candidate attempted ballot access, Democratic Party lawyers filed suit resulting in ballot denial and a staggering $1 million fine.

Incumbent parties use law and crippling financial threats to silence candidates who serve us all by bringing uncomfortable topics to political debate. Thus, paper backups won't stop disappearing debate from disappearing candidates.

What will? The Voters' Choice Act.

Since 2005,, a coalition of Libertarian, Green, Constitutional, Reform and other parties, has promoted the VCA. It would implement fairer ballot access rules. We need to push this again in the 2007 Legislature.

While unverifiable recounting is a concern, a far greater concern is censoring debate by unfairly prohibiting ballot access.

Running Mate photos from the 2006 Liberatian Christmas Party. Speaker, State Chairman, Chuck Molton, said our gathering and chapter had more people and energy than that of Philly. Professor David of CMU spoke of some of the worries of the county's policy with electronic voting machines and what fixes make sense. Others spoke and showed their brillance too in presentation and daily jazz, including Mark Crowley (in top left of first).

It is December 25 and this guy is eating Chinees Food

Not as spiritual as the Joy To The World pointer. And, I don't know this dude like we knew the string players in our church service last night. But, enjoy.

Hope your day is as nice as ours.

Jewish friends, be sure to visit Grant's blog to see and hear him doing another tune. That was from the Phillips Elementary School holiday concert.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Joy To The World, with 20 strings, at Sunnyhill

Watch and hear Erik, Grant, Phillip, Tess and Marina (left to right) at Christmas Eve service, December 2006.

Steelers, Pirates Disappointed by Slots via - Houston Chronicle

Hey Houston. We have a bit of a problem. This from the, of the Houston Chronicle. Note, this article in Houston isn't harping about the Penguins moving to Texas.
Steelers, Pirates Disappointed by Slots | - Houston Chronicle: "The Pittsburgh Steelers and Pirates were surprised and troubled by a state gaming panel's decision Wednesday that allows a gambling casino to be built close to their stadiums, with each team wondering how the slots parlor will affect them on game days.

The Steelers, long opposed to sharing their North Side neighborhood with a $450 million glass-and-steel casino, issued a terse statement that didn't disguise their anger that Detroit developer Don Barden will build the casino only a block away from Heinz Field."
We'll deal with the Steelers, what time is the game anyway, and Pirates in another thread. But let's clear up the facts.

Steelers President Art Rooney II said. "It seemed it was a process that was designed to give little weight to local interests....

No sir Mr. Rooney. First, the statue of Art Rooney with a cigar gives little weight to local health concerns. The no-smoking ban aside, the process gave great weight to local interests. The slots parlor didn't fit in the lower Hill and there were protests. The slots parlor didn't fit in Station Square as there were serious concerns from locals in both South Side and Mt. Washington. Furthermore, no local interest doubt came from the North Side. The Pirates and Steelers don't have ownership of squat in our public built and owned stadiums.

The Steelers could have local interest if the Steelers purchased Heinz Field. Buy it. Get local interest with ownership of the facility you play in.

The Steelers could have had more local interest if it would have built a practice facility on the North Side. The team could have practices over there and you could have rented offices to Dr. Fu and UPMC for an Orthopedic Clinic. So, the Steelers don't have any interest in the South Side either, just for the record. Rooney's Steelers are renters.

The Steelers had an opportunity to build an outdoor concert venue on the North Side. But the state came in with a promise of $4-million as a gift. This was two years ago and I don't remember any concerts over there yet. Fumble! I'm glad that project is in limbo, frankly. We'll get a nice outdoor concert venue on the North Shore, around the glass facade of the river front slots parlor.

The deal of the Stadiums, another broken promise squared, was that the Steelers and Pirates would get their new facilities and have ownership stakes and incentives for development of the land around Heinz Field and PNC Park. That rip off didn't materialize either. Years passed an little to nothing was done. The promise was that mixed use development would come and the teams would be the driving force of that value expansion. The development around Three Rivers Stadium never materialized as was promised back in the 1970s too.
The Steelers and Pirates squandered an opportunity of a lifetime. The deal that was hatched to get Heinz Field, before it was even called Heinz Field and you hogged the naming rights revenue, was crooked and all in the favor of the Rooney family. We've got rid of Steve Leeper and Tom Murphy and the boss of the URA too. The local interests of the ball teams on the North Side can be put into one surface parking lot, after the tailgaters have departed. I see the statement about your new, soon-to-be neighbors as nothing more than trash talk. And, its to #32 and his extended biz buddies too.

Furthermore, the Steelers statement continues, "We will have to consider all of our options in determining how to respond to this decision."

Your options were clear: The Steelers were to pave the streets of the North Side with gold -- and do it with tax-payers money with private developers jumping aboard. The Steelers fumbled. The Steelers didn't get it done. An open hole was presented and you didn't run with the ball -- jagoff.

The North Side should be much, much more than it is today, and it isn't because of the Steelers total lack of leadership and ambition.

The Houston article states, "The Pirates' tone was more conciliatory than that of the Steelers, perhaps because their PNC Park is four or five blocks away from the planned casino."

It is a slots parlor, not a casino. It is NOT the Pirates PNC Park, it is owned by the public. The Pirates rent PNC Park and they get a bunch of free parking spots too.

Last year the SEA, (Stadium and Exhibition Authority) granted a slew of parking spaces to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. This large give-a-way came in Luke Ravenstahl's first SEA meeting. The office people, coaches, players and workers didn't want to pay to park. They wanted a free spot. They cried about the lack of perks to the SEA, a board that is to care for the public interest of these public spaces. The SEA caved and granted the free parking to the Pirates.

The reported loss of parking spots is backwards. The Pirates have been making out on parking. And there is a mega new parking garage between the two sports venues that just opened months ago. I don't think anyone has seen a spot on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th floors -- yet. Because it is never used. But, they were built. And the ramp right onto and off of the highway might come soon too.

The upper decks of the parking structure with ramps to the highway might make for a great place for teens from Robinson and Shaler to gather so as to burn rubber in circles since there is no room lots of security at Ross Park Mall.

Mr. McClatchy, congestion has an upside and doesn't need to hurt. McClatchy asked, "will it (slots parlor) create congestion that hurts everybody?" Most urban aware business people see congestion and density as an opportunity for profits. When fans have the ability to get to the ballpark quickly, it is because nobody wants to go to PNC Park. Getting to Fenway has never been seen as a problem. Getting to Wrigley has been seen as an experience, not a problem. Those navigational worries are what they are because of the urban experience of fans among community.

More worries come in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings of games with the team on the field.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Western Pennsylvania Sports -- Infrastructure that needs some action!

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We'll destory that bridge when we get to it

The statement, "The fix is in", became a buzz statement back in September, 2005, and pressed on people's minds for more than a year. It may or may not go away in 2007.

View of the speakers.

This is the day when Tom Murphy said, "The fix is in."

Tom Murphy was able to scold the media for not reporting on how 'the fix is in.' But he wouldn't name names and be transparent as he expected the media to be. Some mayor. Then can Bob O'Connor, then Dennis Regan. Now Luke, the young Jedi, in full campaign mode. But, the casino choice was made and the North Side won -- the dark horse.

What is the deal now with the West End Pedestrian Bridge?

West End Bridge from the water. The Pedestrian Bridge might be built on the downtown side of this span. It would be a smooth connection to the North Shore (shown on the left) and the pending slots parlor.

What is the deal with the North Side's outdoor concenrt venue to be built by the Steelers? Two years ago Gov. Ridge promised $4-million in grants to that deal, sadly.

Watch the Video

Yesterday I posted these 'old photos' and then today (Sunday) the Trib put this in the paper, proving that this is a quote that didn't go away easily.
Wrong again, Mr. Murphy.

Anyone remember Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy alleging the "fix" was in last year to award the city's sole slots license to Harrah's Entertainment for a Station Square casino?

Thomas "Tad" Decker, head of the state Gaming Control Board, certainly did.

Shortly after awarding a bunch of casino licenses across the state -- including one to a group headed by Detroit's Don Barden, who will operate the Majestic Star on Pittsburgh's North Shore -- Decker became irked when asked by reporters about Murphy's remark.

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"It's hogwash. It's nonsense," he said. "Who was fixing what? It's insane."

Care to elaborate, Mr. Decker?

"How can people accuse us of this not being on a level playing field without having some facts? It irritates the hell out of me because it's not true."

Given the inaccuracy of the former mayor's comment, which he quickly retracted, it's hard to blame Decker for being a bit upset.

And another:
The Citizens Voice - Loaded questionsThis is a town where backroom deal-making is part of everyday business, so it shouldn’t be surprising that some people believed — and will continue to believe — that clandestine deals were behind the awarding of the state’s slots licenses.

We going to do something about this yet.

ESPN did a ranking of sports. This beat swimming.

Today is Festivus!

Happy Festivus. A holiday for the rest of us.

Grant has been saying, "Have a kicking Kwanza."

Teliban Teachers a no-no

Detention never looked like this:
Sturmgeschutz and Sorcery Taliban are explicitly forbidden from working as teachers for the government. The Taliban sees the growing number of schools, especially those that educate girls, as the most dangerous threat. If the Taliban can get to a teacher, they must first warn them to stop teaching. If that is ignored, the teacher is to be beaten. If that doesn't work, the teacher is to be killed. So far this year, twenty teachers (male and female) have been killed by the Taliban, and hundreds beaten, and even more threatened.
The best way to get revenge on those elements of culture isn't with war, but with education.

We shouldn't send soldiers. Rather, we should educate their daughters at fine educational institutions such as Smith, Kenyon, Chattam and Carlow -- and then send them back home.

Quiz: Where am I?

This is a game at JumpCut. The video asks, Where am I?

The correct reply has not yet been left on that groups page.

This post is dedicated to those in Hays and near Mifflin who have been without water, given all (now 10 or so) their water main breaks. Do you think we'd ever see man-hole covers and craftmanship like this around our streets and sidewalks?

Bits&Bytes: CMU kids ponder city-wide wi-fi

Noodle heads noodle behind closed doors:
Bits&Bytes: Comcast unveils higher rates after FCC eases rules A group of Carnegie Mellon University students are putting the final touches on a report considering what a citywide Wi-Fi Internet access could mean to Pittsburgh, but stops short of telling the city what to do.

'It's not our job to say what's best,' said Jon M. Peha, an associate director of CMU's Center for Wireless and Broadband Networking, whose class of about 21 undergraduate and graduate students spent the fall semester doing the work free of charge.

The report, likely to be released to the public sometime in January, sought to present scenarios estimating how much a citywide Wi-Fi Internet network might cost, what one or multiple Wi-Fi providers could expect to earn from each neighborhood, and how city government and services might use the Wi-Fi network.

The class presented its analysis to an invitation-only panel that included city Councilman Bill Peduto, telecom attorney and former city Councilman Dan Cohen, a representative from Verizon and technology nonprofit 3 Rivers Connect. The class is tweaking the report before making it widely available.

There are trade-offs to blanketing the city with Wi-Fi, Dr. Peha said. 'Some parts oft he city are probably profitable' for a Wi-Fi provider but to bring Wi-Fi to the whole city would require additional financial resources, he said.
This is what I've been saying all along. The effort to make the city covered with robust wi-fi is going to present some places where there will be profits and other places where there will be losses. Downtown's might and density is a cherry. One should NOT give away the cherry of the region. The cherry needs to go out as the rest of the city gets coverage.

The Pgh Downtown Partnership picked the cherry in the wi-fi landscape. The next move for city-wide wi-fi is stalled. No doubt: "The wi-fi to the whole city would require additional financial resource." Darn you!

I still think that the downtown wi-fi plan that was to hatch by the All-Star Game (but didn't come on time) was a bad deal for the entire city. I am proven correct -- still.

I'd love to see the report and give it my serious feedback. It might be better to have me address it with my sharp insights and skeptical peer-review, before it goes out to the world.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Call to Flip Side -- ends in a quick click

Happy Festivus Eve.

Headline in today's Tribune Review: "Pens start looking out of town." Exactly!

The Pens should move off The Hill. Move to an Allegheny County destination. Build the new arena near the airport.

The prior caller said, "Show me the money." That isn't ideal. Rather, we've got to guide the conversation into "Show me the upside." There is no room for expansion into other ventures if it stays on The Hill.

Build out an Olympic Village complex with a new arena. Insert RMU grad housing. Set a new vision with room to grow.

The small minded broadcasters said, "The location decision has been established." click.

Going down this pathway, then, the location decision is out of state. The location decision is UP IN THE AIR. Put all options on the table. Pick a place with big upside. Pick a place that people can get to, in their cars, near their homes, near the airport, with room for expansion.

flower currency

flower currency A Hippyesque Post-Hippie Approach To Changing the World

A project to explore a value exchange system, created and owned by children, to enable artists to collaborate on the creation of interdisciplinary art works.

Judge Puts Allegheny Co. Smoking Ban On Hold - News

Judge Puts Allegheny Co. Smoking Ban On Hold - News Judge Puts Allegheny Co. Smoking Ban On Hold
Injunction Stands Until April

On the 12th day of Christmas, Another water main break.

Another water main break repaired in W. Mifflin Another water line in the West Mifflin area developed a leak last night, but this time Pennsylvania American Water Co. reports that it was able to make repairs quickly. comes up with a solution to the new arena funding problem

Funny. 2. The 'Shoeless Joe Jackson' Initiative

This would be tough for us to execute because we hate to see our Pens lose. However, our plan is to contact the Pens and have them throw the rest of their season; losing every game while keeping an eye on the spread and the over/under for every game. Pens fans everywhere bet against the Pens for the rest of the season. $290 million dollars. New Arena.
I love it as gambling was at the root of the fussing. Use gambling to get the arena back on track.

There is a vote under way too. And, I picked a whinner!


Come To the Island of Misfit Reformers!

Crank Up the Radio; Pick Up the Phone. Stream.

Join activists Russ Diamond and Eric Epstein as they fill in for two of talk radio's greatest assets in Central Pennsylvania during the holiday season!

Russ and Eric fill in for talk radio host Bob Durgin on WHP 580 AM from 3:00 - 6:00 pm on Friday, December 22, Tuesday, December 26 and Wednesday, December 27, 2006. The Bob Durgin Show’s toll-free talk line is 1 800 724 5801.

  • WHP 580 website

  • The fun continues with The Gary Sutton Show on Newsradio WSBA 910 AM from 9:00 am - noon on Wednesday, December 27 and Thursday, December 28, 2007. The Gary Sutton Show’s toll-free talk line is 1 800 357 0910.

  • Listen to the Gary Sutton Show live on the internet. Link to the The Gary Sutton Show

  • Call in and talk about reform issues, the future of responsible government in Pennsylvania, or whatever else is on your mind! One never knows where the conversation will lead with these two at the helm.
    Dates, times and pointers are on the Google Calendar of Mark Rauterkus and Running Mates.

    Thursday, December 21, 2006

    Bill Toland casino chat transcript

    Bill Toland casino chat transcript We must not forget our third new arena in the area paid by the state. The Peterson Event Center. The cost over runs alone could have paid a large chunk of the new arena. Why did Pitt not look to combine a multi-use arena with the Pens at that time? They would have had more seatting than the Pete.
    FYI: I was against Pitt's building of The Pete on its present location as a basketball only venue. That was a bad deal.

    Pitt should have kept Pitt Stadium for one game a year, Akron, etc. And Pitt Stadium was used around the clock for practices for many sports teams and even the band. Pitt Stadium could also have been conditioned to hold graduate housing on an upper ring.

    Pitt's new basketball facility should have been able to do ice too. That should have been built at Pitt's new River Campus, down Panther Hollow - in Hazelwood -- at the foot of the Parkway East and perhaps one end of the Mon Valley Toll Road.

    More Pitt buildings, such as more graduate student housing, and the UPMC Sports Fields could have been put back on campus. Then they'd have spaces for intramurals and such.

    By the way, Bob O'Connor loved those ideas. I delivered them to city council in 1999ish.

    Another idea that has merit to speak of again, but not mine, comes when talking about the new stadiums for the Pirates and Steelers, but the Pens were left out. A guy had a great vision of building PNC Park on top of a sunken ice facility. The same footprint would hold both the baseball and hockey venues.

    The baseball field is the roof of the hockey facility. Much of the stands and fan infrastucture can be shared. That would have been great.

    Today, I guess we could still flood the ballfield and play outdoor hockey with the red line about the pitchers mound.

    Wooden Nickles, from running mate, Mark C (again)

    At the Allegheny County LPPGH Holiday Party (12/20/2006) one of our speakers, Johannes Ernharth (a past LPPGH chair and financial planner), spoke about some of the deep financial problems facing the country.

    He mentioned that it's now illegal to take more than some set amount of change out of the country and that it's illegal to melt our coinage for the value of the metal.
    That's the sad result of a money policy that inflates our currency and, thus, drives up the apparent value of most everything else in terms of that inflated currency.

    FYI, here is an interesting web site:

    It shows the value of our coin money based on its alloy composition and the current value of metals. Note that even that today's lowly penny (largely zinc) is now worth less than the equivalent amount of zinc and copper. At this rate, can we expect wooden nickels sometime after the 2008 election?


    PS -- If you didn't hear about illegal coin melting read this:

    Johannes Ernharth digs in his pocket, for a wooden nickle perhaps. On the left is Chuck M, recent chair of the Pennsylvania Libertarian Party and on the right is Harold, a long-time leader among the Allegheny County Libertarian movement.

    PA Government on the hook for past is greater than the present

    Keystone Politics :: Pennsylvania Politics, PA Government, Harrisburg Gossip Preliminary calculations put the price tag at $33.8 billion during the next 30 years -- a figure larger than the Pennsylvania government's entire budget for the current year.
    Here comes an advance thought. New idea alert.

    Every retired municipal employee and benefit holder who lives outside of Pennsylvania should have checks cut by 90-percent until this issue is resolved.

    A retired teacher, firefighter, policeman, lawmaker -- whatever -- who worked in PA and gets a PA pension but now lives in Florida, or anywhere outside PA, should get notice that the amount is going to be cut by 90% by next year. Else, move back to Pennsylvania.

    Help me think this through....

    Gettysburg's anti-slots group rejoices

    Another reason to cheer:
    Gettysburg's anti-slots group rejoices : The Morning Call Online ''I just don't think this is the place for it,'' Blanc continued. ''This is history, not gambling. I just think it would have taken away from the history of Gettysburg.''
    There might be a theme here.

    In life, decision are generally made to either preserve capital or grow capital. You are either playing defense or offense.

    The best offense comes when there is no defense.

    In Gettysburg as with the situation in The Hill and at Station Square -- there were clashes. Opposition had mob appeal. Traps were set. Perhaps there was wisdom when choices were presented. Why go there when you can go elsewhere and have a clear pathway.

    Uncertainty and doubt came with the Gettysburg site. Best to avoid it.

    Keystone Politics dishes out some gifts of note

    Keystone Politics :: Pennsylvania Politics, PA Government, Harrisburg Gossip For Pittburgh’s mayor, Luke Ravenstahl… we give a box of “Just for Men”, because we know the graying process is going to start early for you.

    The Burgh Report hits a home run

    Do read his posting. Then ponder my reactions below.
    The Burgh Report most of the nicer, newer ones - were built by private interests and are run for a profit.

    Developers are not falling all over themeselves to build and maintain a public arena in Pittsburgh because everyone has pointed to them to locate the facility in the city. The city is not the ideal spot. Not now. Not in this marketplace. Not with our traffic, our demographics, our footprints. The scale and the potential make the central location (be it North Shore, Hill, or even Strip) a mega risk.

    However, once the ties to the space are cut and all locations in the county are considered -- then the upside becomes much more obvious. The project has real merit if it comes somewhere else and not in The Hill.

    Land in the city's core is just too tight. Expansion is too much of a headache. The infrastructure is old. The roads are going to need more than a redd up around the facilities.

    More can be done elsewhere.

    No one has stepped forward with a plan for a privately financed, state-of-the-art arena project because everyone has worn blinders concerning its location. The arena does NOT need to be on a bus line.

    How many people take the bus to the circus?

    How many people take the bus to a Pens game?

    How many people take a bus HOME from a Pens game?

    How many season ticket holders walk from Crawford Square to see the Pens play more than 30 times a year?

    No one would dare, is right. Why dare the investement for a city with a government that is on the brink. Why dare build a parking structure when parking taxes yo-yo. One year parking tax is 35% then it is 50%. Now it is to go to 45% and next year 40%.

    One year parking is made free for all downtown spaces in December. The next year it isn't. And when it is made free, they decide the day before.

    Central services from rodent control to lids on dumpsters can present a quagmire of red tape from week to week.

    Rodeos are out. Scalping of tickets is only by those who can stand on their heads. T-shirt vendors have to grease the undercover inspectors. SMG, blah, blah, blah. There are hundreds of reasons why serious players choose to sit on their hands.

    People vote with their feet. And investment flows like water and avoids uphill challenges.

    Governement does stand in the way. Your blog posting is right on the mark.

    Why not us? Because we can't think again. Because we choose to only use half our brains. Because we allow the media to set an agenda. Because power aims to sustain its power. Because the status quo is far too sacred. Because those who rock the boat are called names, such as 'naysayers.'

    We need to be open minded. We need to get out of the little boxes and little labels. We need wide-open discussions, thinking and sustainable conversations where criticism is not just tolerated, but welcomed.

    We need to be able to spot 'lockstep boosterism' for what it is -- and brand that as evil.

    FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) must be squashed in high level public sector circles. When FUD is the best tool deployed by those in control, we need to yank them from their seats. And if they don't go, we need to a revolution.

    We have one-party rule in the city. And in the county when another party is present, they are without a dime's worth of difference. Generally, the powerful elite in Pittsburgh, both D and R, have a corporate agenda that hates community and challenges. has a new utility to ease the uploading of video clips

    Problems loom large however. I'm getting continual error messages and the files are not uploading. The message comes as 95% of the file seems to upload and then a dialog box shows. (beta) UpperBlip is a downloadable program that lets you publish many videos to all at one time. You can drag files into it, add titles and descriptions, and upload them all at once!"
    My site:

    A flock of locals have Penguins on the brain.

    Downsize DC: Big government harms you, hurts your family, and injures your neighbors

    Prude alert:
    Downsize DC: Big government harms you, hurts your family, and injures your neighbors Stop the 100 hour legislative orgy

    Another reason to avoid Pittsburgh

    Mark Crowley of Plum, fellow Libertarian, wrote about Peduto's red-light cameras. They give reasons to avoid Pittsburgh. Sure, we'll have safe streets when nobody is here. Drive out the people and businesses and the streets will only be filled with tumbleweed.

    As a solution, put those cameras where the sun doesn't shine, so to speak. Point the cameras at the politicians on a 24-hour basis. Then we'll all be able to see these governmental officials in action, or not.
    Politician cameras? - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Suppose we mandate surgically attached cameras and microphones for all Pittsburgh politicians.

    It stands to reason that 24/7 monitoring of Pittsburgh politicians might have prevented, or at least identified, those complicit in the fiscal crimes and policy blunders that have besieged Pittsburgh and spread costs far beyond city limits.

    If monitoring politicians stops just one bribe, patronage job, eminent-domain seizure, misuse of public money or shady backroom deal, then aren't a few implants worth it for the greater good?

    Mark Crowley
    This idea isn't new to me. I had advocated continual monitoring of Steven Leeper in the past. We should have had a tv uplink on him as the convention center and stadium deals went down and the resulting constuction contracts unfolded.

    My vision was more like that guy on Saturday Night Live who wore a helmet fitted with a small dish and a ton of wires. That guy was on the front lines of the war, and it was all for the humor. But, I wanted to have him follow Leeper, Murphy, Cox and Birru.

    Wonder if I could find one of those skits from SNL on YouTube now?

    Mean Gene has the best blog headline of the month

    Mean Gene Bye Bye Birdie; or, Glad I Didn't Buy That Malkin Jersey
    This made me smile.

    The Civic Arena is a dump. A historical dump. And, it is a dump that is paid for. Leather seats and corporate boxes are nice and perhaps needed for the NHL and Pens. But, they are not needed for a high school basketball tournament nor a graduation.

    When the Pens leave the Civic Arena, it should not be torn down. The Pens should leave the city too. Move to a site near the Airport, please.

    Wednesday, December 20, 2006

    Sorta justifies the tunnel under the river

    The North Side location for the slots parlor can justify the tunnel under the river -- to a degree. We shouldn't be building the tunnel. But, at least we have a use for it now, on a year-round basis.

    Will the light rail run 24 hours a day, like the slots parlor.

    DelMonte and Equitable Gas -- not happy


    DelMonte and Equitable can move office workers back to downtown locations. Plenty of office space is available in our downtown neighborhood. Move into the space now used by PAT, for starters. Better to put employees farther away from a slots parlor. I'd not be happy if I was Equitable. But then again, Equitable choose to build a new building, with handsome perks, in an entertainment district.

    How do you think Duquesne University and parents of those who send their young scholars to D.U. would have felt if a slots parlor would have moved to the edge of its campus. Employees are farther away physically than the college students would have been. And, employees are older, wiser, more responsible.

    The Carnegie Science Center isn't upset about the new neighbor.

    Any complaint from the Steelers and Pirates should come with a quick objection. Neither the Pirates nor the Steelers own their stadiums. They are not owners. If they want the voice of ownership -- buy their stadiums from the public.

    Democracies Online - Time Magazine think’s so

    Steven Clift’s Notes - Democracies Online � Blog Archive � Are you the Person of the Year? Time Magazine think’s so Person of the Year? Time Magazine think’s so.

    Welcome “Citizens of the New Digital Democracy” to the cover of Time magazine.
    Shall we take a bow together?

    Celebrate Festivus with Jim Babka Blog | Celebrate Festivus with Jim Babka Today is your chance to celebrate Festivus with Jim Babka, on his radio show. In fine Festivus tradition you can participate in 'an airing of grievances' and 'feats of strength.'

    The 'airing of grievances' is easy. Tell us what really irks you -- about government, politics, other institutions, Downsize DC, or even Jim Babka. Jim will attempt to show sympathy, or perhaps something else. As for the 'feats of strength,' brag about something you claim you can do, if you want to. Maybe Jim will believe it.

    "At this point, our franchise has entered a period of uncertainty."

    This is a direct quote:
    "At this point, our franchise has enters a period of uncertainty."
    There is that concept -- 'certainty' -- raising its ugly head again.

    The Blackberry guy stood before the gaming board and talked about the IOC plan being a 'certain' -- and days later he bailed.

    Now the period of being uncertain dawns! Now that the IOC didn't get the slots license!

    Think again.

    Official Home of the Pittsburgh Penguins: STATEMENT FROM KEN SAWYER, CEO OF THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS ... At this point, our franchise enters a period of uncertainty, ...
    Mr. Craig Patrick and Upside-down-guy. "Put the factory near the customers" Photo taken at an airport area chamber of commerce meeting in January, 2006.

    Memo to David Caliguri. Don't be a part of the legal challenge.

    Franco, the same message fits for you too.

    Don't cry over spit milk. It didn't just spillllll.

    David, in a few years, we'll forgive you for your role in the IOC plan. That will be old news if it becomes old news soon.

    David, I hope the IOC work paid well. Fine. You gotta make a living. More power to you. But, I also hope that you can display that you're a good sport.

    I'd hate to see any challenges to the decision.

    But, let's be clear. If there is some ethical problems, holes in the plans, constructive critical insights -- spill the beans. Scrutiny is welcomed. Air grievances in the name of Festivus! David Caliguri might be able to walk that edge and reveal his opposition research for the benefit of the city. But, this needs to be about moving forward, not asking for a re-do.

    Let's get this straight: Plan B uses public money!

    "Plan B" is on. Well, they don't want us to use the handle, "plan b" any longer. Rather, it is to be called a "finance plan."

    Well, "Plan B" uses public money because this deal leverages the windfall from the low-ball price of the slots license. The real worth of the slots license wasn't $50-million. It was much greater. The higher sums of money that didn't come can't be used for tax relief. Rather, the money that didn't come is part of the promise for a new hockey arena.

    The money didn't come from taxes. But, the money comes from the broken promise of tax relief.

    It isn't a lie when only half the truth is told. But, this is a half-truth. The promise was to allow for gambling so we'd have property tax relief. Gambling came and the property tax relief is much less because the funding of the new arena.

    Furthermore, Plan B is going to cost the public treasury with ongoing operations. If they build the new arena with the windfall of the low-ball price on the slots license application, fine. But, after it is built, keep it. The public should not be with the ongoing burden of ownership.

    Hey Penguins. Take a deep breath. Stick around. Let's build with your money in the airport area

    I think it makes great sense to build a new arena out by the airport.

    Keep the Civic Arena where it is for decades to come. Put some energy into the Civic Arena and allow it to thrive without the Penguins, after the Pens move out. The Civic Arena can have an evolution in the years to come. But let's be honest about putting up a new arena. Let's put the new arena in Allegheny County out by the airport.

    One plus one equals two. That provides a net gain. When one new comes and one old goes, there is no net gain.

    Even with the two North Side stadiums, PNC Park and Heinz Field, we lost 3RS and Pitt. The formula there was plus two and minus two with no net gain.

    Some have told me that there are many game day Penguin tickets provided to students at Pitt and D.U., as well as the other smaller schools such as the Arts and Culinary students. Those folks who live in the center city will not be as quick to get to the Pens games if the new arena is built in the airport corridor. However, those who go to RMU will take their place, as will those at W&J.

    All in all, I don't like the efforts of development at the airport. I think it causes sprawl. The movement to the airport area comes at an expense of the urban core. However, the hockey building and efforts with an entertainment venue in the west suburban reaches would fit the suburban lifestyle and make for a great addition.

    Let's call the NHL team the "Pittsburgh PENNSYLVANIA Penguins."

    The Pens could play a few games each year in the Arena, perhaps with the roof open, with turn-back-the-clock night festivities.

    Of course, the building, operations and on-going ownership of the new hockey facility should be a private venture, not owned by the stadium authority.

    Public officials should be part of the mix in working out the deals. We need leaders who lead. But, the public officials are not going to make nor break the deals and have much of a say nor sway in the marketplace.

    North Shore Slots Parlor. Majestic Star gets it.

    I'm fine with this decision. I'm even going to say, "I love it."

    The slots parlor gets built on the river's edge. That's good. It goes in next to the family centric Science Center. The North Side choice has less of an impact upon any home owners.

    I loved that the Majestic Star was the only plan that talked about a bus depot. Buses were my worst fear of the Station Square project.

    PITG had made strong promises to complete the development in the Hill District, in terms of neighborhood.

    Next challenge, thinking again about a new arena for the Penguins.

    Slots Parlor decision: Choke, ... not!

    Marty Griffin (KDKA-Radio) has a feeling that the decsion won't come today on the slots parlor.

    They will choke. I have little doubt that the commissioners, behind closed doors, are going to choke. But, I was wrong. I eat my words. Chomp, chomp.

    Now, what happens when the news comes. Another elected official told me he expects to see a lot of ugly clashes in the streets after this news comes. Some bad blood has been flowing. Ministers are clashing with each other, in the open.

    Jon Delano said, before the decision was announced, that the decision of the pending ownership to pull out of the Pens deal put a monkey wrench into the decision. Perhaps???

    Trashy government takes a holiday. Visions of sugar plums dance too.

    I've posted policy advice about these situations in the past. It surfaces again. They don't have the best solution. I think I have a better approach.
    City Council puts brakes on traffic camera proposal Mr. Peduto asked Public Works Director Guy Costa to change the trash collection schedule for part of Squirrel Hill. It is currently set for Fridays, but holidays push it to Saturdays, creating problems for strict Jews who cannot take out garbage during the Jewish Sabbath.
    Mr. Costa said he will consider switching two East End collection routes.
    Clearly, a problem exists. Something should be do so as to fix this situation. Those on grant street don't want to offend those in Sqirrel Hill.

    Furthermore, when something is done, a postcard with Luke's photo can be sent to everyone's address. So, I look for four or five versions of the trash pick-up schedule, each with its own postcard and magnet for the the refrig.

    Holidays present a problem for government. Government never sleeps. Police, firefighters and water should never take off. Same too for road treatments with snow and ice. Travel needs are always present. People need to park and expect traffic lights to work, even on holidays.

    I don't think government should take any holidays.

    Trash build-up doesn't take a holiday. Often, our biggest days of trash is on a holiday, because of the holiday.

    The trash collection is just as important as the other duties of government.

    I hate that the recreation center was closed on election day, because it was called a 'holiday.' That's not logical. On the 4th of July, I want to go to the swim pool. I don't want them to take a holiday.

    On the day of Bob O'Connor's funeral, Mayor Ravenstahl, at the last possible moment, called for a city holidy. That was wrong, in my book. Senior centers had to close that day. Lunch was not provided. Socialization didn't occur. The seniors could have gathered at the senior centers to reflect on Bob's life, on their interactions with him, and spend time in community -- a vital role of life and a mission of government.

    On the 4th of July, we want to watch fireworks. We want the parks to be open.

    My trash day is on Thursday. I don't want to have it on Friday after a Monday holiday because more than half of the residents, myself included, can't remember the holiday schedule and tons of trash show up on the streets for days when a holiday schedule is used. The extra trash on the streets stinks -- literally. The mess gets spread.

    To redd up -- we've got to have regular trash pick ups. We need to count on it and have a mission critical schedule that never changes.

    I think we should take one holiday -- the 4th of July. And on that day, everyone with a government job should work a double shift because the citizens and voters want to have their services working.

    So, the fix for the trash pick-ups for Squirrel Hill is simple. I'd want to tell the residents that trash gets picked up on a certain day of the week, every week of the year.

    The workers should have vaction days, sick days, subs, temp workers and what ever else is needed to do the job. But the job needs to be done. This is what management does -- manage the work force as best as possible.

    Grand opportunity to see exactly how government truly operates in the Commonwealth.

    Who Watches The Watchers?

    The case of former State Representative Mark McNaughton gives Pennsylvanians a grand opportunity to see exactly how government truly operates in the Commonwealth.

    For the unaware, McNaughton decided to retire from the legislature instead of facing the voters of his district after supporting the Great Pay Raise of 2005. He was subsequently appointed to a seat on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board by Speaker of the House John Perzel, who cited McNaughton’s steadfast opposition to gambling and a desire to make sure the slots law is meticulously followed as significant reasons for the appointment.

    As a result, the former legislator is slated to get a boost in pay after all, from roughly $72,000 to a whopping $145,000 plus some lavish perks. Unfortunately for McNaughton, The Philadelphia Inquirer recently discovered that he failed to list thousands of dollars of personal gambling winnings over the past few years on his Statements of Financial Interest, which are required by the State Ethics Commission from each lawmaker every year.

    Oddly, McNaughton’s failure to report gambling winnings would not have even registered on the radar had he not abused the power of his former position by attempting to quash certain information in a very messy divorce proceeding. As a result, some of his federal tax returns, on which he did report the winnings, are now part of the public record.

    McNaughton claimed ignorance in regard to the omissions, although instructions on the Statement of Financial Interest clearly list “prize winnings” as one of the sources of income to be reported. But even if we were to give him the benefit of the doubt and consider the matter an oversight, is this a quality we’d want in someone charged with overseeing the activities of a multi-billion dollar industry?

    While it’s all a bit ironic - on many different levels - it could become even more so.

    The penalties for violating the ethics regulations are a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one-year imprisonment. Such a finding would need to be reached by the State Ethics Commission and could potentially disqualify McNaughton from serving on the seven-member Gaming Control Board or in any other official capacity in the Commonwealth.

    Coincidentally, the State Ethics Commission also consists of seven members appointed to their positions in exactly the same fashion as the Gaming Control Board: one appointee each from four leaders of the legislature and three from the Governor.

    An optimist might view this scattered appointment system on the ethics panel as a way to keep things balanced so no individual is singled out for political punishment. A pessimist might view it as insurance to protect everyone’s cronies - a slightly twisted version of “equal protection under the law.”

    While any citizen of Pennsylvania is entitled to file a formal complaint on this matter with the State Ethics Commission, Section 21.2 of the ethics regulations permits the Commission to launch its own inquiry.

    The Inquirer story was subsequently picked up by the Associated Press and widely disseminated across Pennsylvania. Between seven appointed Commissioners and nineteen staffers listed on the State Ethics Commission’s website, surely one of these 26 must have caught this latest tidbit regarding McNaughton. If not, they’re not doing their jobs.

    Here’s hoping that for once, a government entity in the Commonwealth will step up to the plate, do what’s best for its citizens and give them some hope that the public outcry launched after July 7, 2005 is actually being heard somewhere in Harrisburg. Even better, however, would be for Mark McNaughton to withdraw his name for consideration as a member of the Gaming Control Board.

    Who watches the watchers? We’ll find out soon enough.
    PACleanSweep is a non-partisan effort dedicated to returning honor, dignity and integrity to government in Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit

    Tuesday, December 19, 2006

    Sports Montage: The Sports Blog That Strikes First, Strikes Hard, No Mercy

    Sports Montage: The Sports Blog That Strikes First, Strikes Hard, No Mercy “I’ve never heard of a government turning down $290 million of private money to build a public facility." - Mario Lemieux
    The Wabash Tunnel is a 'public facility.' The new arena is NOT a public facility.

    The Wabash Tunnel was built with federal money but is owned now by PAT, a different public agency.

    PAT owns the tunnel and wants to unload it. PAT does NOT want to maintain the tunnel. PAT knows that ownership has many downsides that can be long-term, significant and expensive.

    Maintaining a new arena isn't on the list of top priorities for good government. We've got schools, courts, roads, and matters of democracy to attend to in this region. Watching millionairs skate and brawl on ice isn't high on the list when it comes to core activities.

    If the Penguins want to be a good neighbor and a good corporate citizen in Pittsburgh -- the Penguins should invest in its own property and have control of its ownership.

    US Steel owned the land and the mills to produce its products.

    UPMC owns buildings and hospitals to employ its health care workers and care for patients.

    Even the Salvation Army demanded ownership rights to land for the building of its Kroc Recreation Centers.

    Get rid of SMG. Get rid of any and all hurdles to making its own opportunities flourish.

    The key to this discussion isn't to look back ten years. The key is to look forward ten years. They key is to look forward 20 and 25 years too.

    Final argument for moving Penguins -- could be more "iron clad" if the Pens owned the new building

    Isle of Capri makes final argument for license ... the agreement between the Penguins and the Isle of Capri required any new owner to stay in Pittsburgh for at least 20 years if casino operator wins the coveted license.

    'Anybody who buys [the Penguins] is required to step into their shoes,' he said.

    He added that any potential owner who breaks the agreement could be subject to liquidated damages -- hundreds of millions of dollars, according to one estimate -- and possible court action to block any move.
    The "at least 20 years" deal and the liquidation is something to bank upon. But, the outlook of saying, 'we'll sue' doesn't give much confidence.

    I think the Pens should plan, design, build, and keep the new arena. Then the team can sell the seats, program it, insure it, heat it, upgrade it and do as they wish with the new building without needing to get the lame stadium and exhibition authority involved.

    Then, should the Penguins want to move out of town, they'd have to manage a liquidation of the new arena.

    The word on the street is that it will take $7-million to tear down the Civic Arena.

    If the Penguins left town and had a building in Pittsburgh, perhaps we'd be sure to get a minor-league team associated with the Pens to play here.

    Perhaps the Penguins leave in 2012 and want to tear down its building that opened in 2009. Fine. They could do that -- if -- they didn't tear down the Civic Arena in 2008 or 2009. The Civic Arena is a building that the Penguins do not own. The Pens only have a lease.

    When a renter leaves an apartment that had been rented, even for a long time, the lease holder can't demolish the property. Moving out makes a vacancy, not an ownership switch.

    Dan Onorato defending himself on arena and slots deals dealings

    Dan Onorato is on the counter-attack with the noise generated by recent 'fix is in' talk. He went onto the Honz Man show on Tuesday afternoon at 2 pm. John Stagerwald has been on a few shows making noise about how the gambling mess and saying there was a lot of back channel arm twisting.

    I ranted a bit about this buzz at city hall today in a 3 minute pitch.

    Dan Onorato denies the saga that was unfolded by the journalist. Onorato wants names to be named too.

    We might be splitting hairs in this one point, but Dan says that under any of the proposals, local tax dollars won't be used for the building, as is the case with PNC Park and Heinz Field. Zero is the amount, he contends, go from public sources into the building. To Dan, that was a good position to be in.

    The IOC plan puts for $290-million, clean, and simple, so says Dan. There is no local money. This is a total different position that is out there.

    Monday, December 18, 2006

    Business Times say China slow-down with foreign investments

    Business Times China, which has lured US$622.4 billion from overseas since 1978 and surpassed the US in 2003 as the largest recipient of foreign investment, is turning off the tap that helped feed two decades of growth.

    With new restrictions on investment, China risks impeding its own modernisation efforts and invites a backlash from its trading partners, China specialists say.

    Pittsburgh City Council overwhelmingly approves underwhelming budget

    It is nice that there won't be any new taxes. It is nice that the ticket tax for consumers attending events hosted by nonprofits is going to be less. The parking tax drop of 5-percent was due to the state legislature's mandate. That's more like a bad joke as savings won't be passed to the consumers. But, all in all -- the new budget is an underwhelming work from a city still on the brink. Additional fallout is expected from the Murphy Administration. Some bad news gottchas still loom large. No real salvation is in sight.
    AP Wire - Pittsburgh City Council overwhelmingly approves budget overwhelmingly approves budget

    Legal Okay given to NOT advertise public meetings!

    G.W. -- a Running Mate like few others -- sent me this letter. Here is a snip.
    Friends of the Zeiss On Monday, City Council held a “Post-Agenda” session on funding for The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. As with all Post-Agenda sessions, this session was open to the general public. This was also one of the relatively few Post-Agenda sessions that was broadcast on the City’s Government Communications Cable Television Channel, City Channel Pittsburgh, on Comcast channel 13.

    However, I only found out about this Post-Agenda session, inadvertently, when two people who attended the December 5 regular legislative session of City Council, where the Post-Agenda time and date was announced, informed me of the meeting. I did not attend the December 5 meeting, as I was scheduled to attend another meeting at that time.

    As with many of the Post-Agenda sessions held in the past, the December 11 Post-Agenda included discussion of important City business, including the request for significant City funding from a major City institution. Yet few people knew this Post-Agenda would occur since it was not posted or advertised in any public location.

    I discussed this matter with the City Clerk, and she informs me that the City Law Department has told her that posting or advertising the date and time of Post-Agenda sessions is not legally required. I would disagree with this legal interpretation.

    Terms: Oversight, gangs, and playing the race card

    This is called "oversight."

    Gang members and they even wear their specific colors.

    Watch the Video

    Roll -- advice to backstrokers

    Two guys doing backstroke at the Pitt Christmas Meet yesterday. The guy in the lead has a wave off his shoulder. The one in the back has a much better shoulder roll without the wave of water pushing on the brakes.

    Honz Man: Bi-Partisan Fix Is In with John Stagerwald

    On the radio with KDKA-1020 AM, John Stagerwald, sports, talks about the Pens and gambling and explains how there has been a bi-partisan fix about gambling.

    There were no Libertarians who were part of these raw deals -- as were the Ds and Rs.

    Furthermore, John S, name names. I'm not so happy to hear about a big scoop on how the fix is in -- but names are not named. This was exactly the same thing that Tom Murphy did.

    Former Pa. lawmaker who opposed slots won $15K at casinos and a $150k job

    The truth hurts. Then this player asks, 'it's not illegal?' -- but he was part of the process to make it legal. Duhh...
    Report: Former Pa. lawmaker who opposed slots won big at casinos - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Former Rep. Mark McNaughton, who voted against the state's slots law in 2004 and opposed gambling for years before that, won $15,500 between 2003 and last year, according to tax returns obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

    McNaughton, a five-term Republican from Harrisburg, disclosed his winnings on federal income taxes, but not on his state ethics forms, the newspaper reported. He is set to take his $145,000-a-year post on the gaming board by the middle of next month.

    'It's not illegal to gamble, is it?' McNaughton told the newspaper Friday.

    Spoke today in city hall

    I went to City Council Chambers to speak again today for 3 minutes. Some notes follow:

    The meeting last week in city council chambers about the Carnegie Library's request for more funding was not advertised. It was a post agenda and was on TV, but not on the web site. We need the business of city governement to occur in public with notice. When meetings happen -- advance notice is justified.

    The meeting schedule for next week is not posted yet today -- on either the web site or the little bulletin board in the reception area of the 5th floor of city hall. Telll the people in advance when the meetings are going to be held.

    Using a simple Google Calendar, as set up already, for Pgh City Hall, would be effective and free. When I called 3-1-1 with this request -- they were worthless.

    When a simple meeting schedule can't be posted in advance with clarity -- people wonder if more complicated things such as the budget can be managed. Or, what the heck are they trying to hide.

    The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is looking for the cover of darkness, however. They've messed up the North Side branch and want to build a new library and abandon its historic, paid for, branch in the public park. I would not be willing to give the Carnegie Library additional funds as they are messing up what treasures and assets they've been charged to preserve.

    I worry about 'broken promises' such as the Pittsburgh Promise. What about paying for the college education of those who have been home schooled or attend private / Cathlolic schools and reside in the city? And the funding amounts are 10-times too low, at least. It seems to be another promise that looks like it will be broken.

    In other hidden business, I'm still upset at Dan Onorato and the Allegheny County Board of Elections for stopping the Libertarian Party's designated poll watcher from a witness to the tabulations for the November 2006 general election. What's up with that? What are they trying to hide? The law says that parties are allowed three people to witness all tabulations and vote counts. We don't want to run to the courts. I want to see a memo of understanding and letter from the Allegheny County Chief Executive, Dan Onorato, a Board of Election member. Dan can clear up the sins of the past unethical policy. What happened in the past was wrong. Tell the world that it won't happen again.

    There were goofy things happening on election night. These facts came out at the Board of Elections meeting when I was there to protest our denied access. Five times a worker who was employed by someone other than the election department, pulled out a 'smart stick' (USB DRIVE) and inserted that into the electronic voting system / network. Witness to vote hi-jacking is strong and should not be ignored.

    There are problems. A lack of trust is throughout. The way to fix these troubles is not to be more closed. Rather, be sure to be open, as described by the law and then some.

    If Onorato was smart, he'd insist that five, not three, designated people from the Libertarian Party be present for all vote counts and tabulations. Go overboard. The law says three. But he should bend over backwards to welcome scrutiny. Fix it. Don't hide it. And pledge that it won't happen again -- on your letter head in an open letter to the workers and the voters.

    Then comes the scrutiny of the 'red light cameras.' I asked Bill Peduto to look at the blog to learn what they are doing in New Mexico. I think if he made such a move in the legislation due in 2007 then there would be more support for the bill.

    The tax lein by-back was on the agenda too. Here is another example of another ill set in place by Tom Murphy's Administration that city council played a role in allowing. City council is at fault too, as well as Murphy. But, that was then and some on council today were not part of those decisions. However, they are here now for the clean-up of the mess. But, if they don't understand the history and how their oversight was lacking back then -- they'll be sure to repeat many of the same mistakes.

    I don't want to have the tax lein buy backs present opportunities for ONLY the LDCx. The LDCs are Local Development Corporations. Pittsburgh has a slew of LDCs and these LDCs presented a good deal of Tom Murphy power bases. The LDCs have played along with Tom Murphy's ploys and screwed up our city in serious ways. This $6-million investement today should not be another tool in our tool bag -- for LDCs only. Citizens and taxpayers and voters and private individuals should be able to move on these properties -- along with the LDCs. We should not see favored treatments to cronies. Even cronie organizations.

    An additional point didn't get raised but was on the agenda. Again, it is a place where Tom Murphy screwed up in the past and the city pays today. And, the city council was sleeping at the wheel in the past.

    Bill No. 2006-1008 reads: Resolution providing that the City of Pgh enter into a temporary professional services Contrace or Contracts with UPMC Work Partners for the purpose of paying Workers' Compensation medical claims for expenses which were incurred prior to December 31, 2005, at a cost not to exceed $716,353.

    More than a half-million dollars is going out the door because folks in higher level Murphy positions didn't do their jobs. And, city council didn't do its job and be proactive in fixing things before a $700,000 bill must be paid.

    I know people at UPMC and at AGH (Allegheny General Hospital). The contract for medical services was switched. Fine. But, it was switched poorly. Now the city pays dearly.

    What's $700,000 -- well -- that much pays for all the city's crossing guards. That amount pays for four or five rec centers. It is a good bit of money. That's a big problem that makes for a big fumble. And the oversight is not to be found.

    Another gloomy day in the city when looking at the actions of city hall.

    Direct Action @ Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

    Civil disobedience by Philadelphia residents in protest of the Gaming Control Board's not responding to their demands for good information on the casinos proposed for their neighborhoods.

    keywords: PGCB, Casino-free Philadelphia, slots, casino, gambling, Pennsylvania, hallwatch

    Notice that a member of the media got arrested. When was the last time a member of the Pittsburgh media got arrested for justice? Well, at least we have some who are blogging now, if that is any peace of mind.

    The Busman's Holiday

    The Busman's Holiday I have great respect for those bloggers who are so prolific and creative that they’re posting through the day with charm and passion.
    Thanks Bob. Back at you. But, I name names. =;0

    Perhaps you could take your workshop to this page and do a bit of an update on the wiki page. Think of it as a workshop assignment.

    Sunday, December 17, 2006

    URA to Crush Longtime Pittsburgh Landlords

    The Three Rivers Post & Standard � URA to Crush Longtime Pittsburgh Landlords You gotta love government meddlers when it comes to development. Their supporters always crow, crow, crow about what they build — even when it fails, as have many of their initiatives in the downtown Pittsburgh area . We are always reminded that nothing would have happened if the meddlers didn’t do their deals.

    City Hall intrigue does not take a holiday during the holiday season - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    City Hall intrigue does not take a holiday during the holiday season - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Talk in certain Grant Street hallways has Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl considering offering Allegheny County Prothonotary Michael Lamb a high-level position in his administration.

    But would Lamb accept?

    I hope so. He should. He needs a job. He would be a good addition to the administration as he'll continue to offer the city fine public service.

    Downtown efforts leave empty feeling - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

    Here is the rub. Chamber of Commerce folks and the PDP (Pgh Downtown Partnership) want big programs, big taxes, big organizations and big lies. Meanwhile, real people vote with their feet. The marketplace is too fluid and too much of a force for the big central planning types who are big, slow and stupid.

    At this point in time, the volume of merchants who know best are long gone. There are not enough of the sensible around to counter act the big-time jokers who aim to soil our landscape by grabbing what they can for themselves with the next massive programming ploy.
    Downtown efforts leave empty feeling - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Taxes are a problem, said Gerald Schiller, part-owner of several family-owned properties along Forbes Avenue and a frequent critic of government-driven rehabilitation efforts. 'Retailers are deserting Downtown, because they are being phased out of business by the city's tax policy.'

    Schiller is particularly disturbed by a Business Improvement District tax increase on retailers. The 3.92-mill assessment, which provides money for the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, will increase by 5 percent annually for the next five years. The tax is levied against property owners in a 90-block area.

    Barbara McNees, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, supports the tax increase.

    'We must keep Downtown safe and clean, not only for its current retailers and residents, but for visitors, new residents and others in the Downtown area,' she said.
    We need real benchmarks too. Let's say things are going well, when they are not. Let's look at office vacancy rates -- but exclude the Lazarus Building. What's up with that? We have way to many blind spots, by design.

    Those who make the rules, rule.

    I have no hope that the new investment of $35-million for Point State Park will save downtown.

    I have no hope that the new T-stop at Gateway Center is really needed to revitalize Fifth & Forbes.

    I have no hope that the half-billion dollar tunnels under the Allegheny River will turn things around either. What's the attraction of the underground T? Were people afraid to swim across the river for shopping and cheering for the Pirates?

    The surge in residential units is because the value of commercial spaces is at such an all time low.

    We have more people willing to move downtown because less are willing to live in our neighborhoods.

    They are thinning. They are taking away high-rise buildings and replacing them with green spaces. They are getting rid of density. They are putting capacity out by the airport and other green fields while they are doing demolitions on density and urban spaces.

    Our economic engine is not on a rebound. We've choked the hope. We have places to sleep, but few place to earn a pay check are willing to locate here.

    We're turning into a slumbering little town. Everyone that says we are building momentum are sleeping. Wake up soon, before the marketplace leaves the state.

    Saturday, December 16, 2006

    Jumpcut - Group Game called, "Where am I?"

    Have you seen Jump Cut yet? Check out this new group there to play a game called, "Where am I?" I've uploaded three mini videos there. You watch and comment. Jumpcut - Group Where am I?

    Here's the game: Shoot a short video from wherever you find yourself - with enough scenery so that someone could guess where you are, but not too much - and post it here. The first person to guess the location in a comment wins.
    tags: travel game

    Sarah Heinz House, hard hat tour photos

    See dozens of images from a major expansion of a boys and girls club being built by Dick Corporation. It isn't as nice nor expensive as the Polar Bear exhibit at the zoo, but hey -- its for our kids! They are still looking for a couple million to close out the building campaign.