Monday, December 31, 2007

None need to crash this party as all are invited

Dear Friend:

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato invites you and your family, friends and colleagues to attend his swearing-in ceremony and inaugural celebration on Wednesday, January 2, 2008. Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, please open the below invitations. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year!


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Help us support the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank by bringing a canned good or non-perishable food item to the inaugural celebration. Nice.

Dickheads of the Year : Photos : Rolling Stone

Dickheads of the Year : Photos : Rolling Stone His slogan should be 'Not on my watch . . . again.' - Huckabee: Romney Okayed $50 Abortions

These guys are getting down and dirty. - Huckabee: Romney Okayed $50 Abortions Huckabee: Romney Okayed $50 Abortions

You're hot! Skate this way.

The Steel City Derby Demons, Pittsburgh's only all-female, flat track roller derby league, is recruiting new skaters now!!

Tryouts will take place on Sunday, January 20th. Recruits must be female, at least 21 years of age, and have basic skating skills.

Email Alvilda Kil at to register or for more information.

Why is there no Socialism in the United States

From Dan Sullivan.
Werner Sombart, the most influential socialist of his time, came to America in the late 1800s to investigate why American workers had rejected the socialist approach. He published his findings in a series of essays called, "Why Is There is No Socialism In the United States?" and put them in book form in 1906.

I have written a critical synopsis of Sombart's findings, with extensive quotations. It is online at:

It is an important work, even for those who oppose socialism, for two
reasons. One is that it gives a pretty clear picture, from a socialist
perspective, of the American anti-socialist temperament.

Another is that Sombart accurately predicted that socialism would become more popular as American workers lost access to free and inexpensive land. His analysis will help anti-socialists understand why the land issue is the Achilles Heel of anti-socialist ideologies.

Socialists can also benefit from an understanding of how much more important the issue of land monopoly is than the issue of capital monopoly, and that Marx's confounding of capital with privilege was a critical flaw in Marxist thinking. They will not get a full understanding of that from Sombart, as he did not understand it

Although it is clearly indicated from his observations, he did not "connect the dots." This is understandable, as blaming capital was the core premise of Marx's departure from classical liberalism. The mind shift from blaming wealth back to blaming privilege creates "cognitive dissonance" in the mind of anyone steeped in Marxist ideology.

In any case, the portrait of the American temperament is fascinating. If you think Americans are libertarian individualists today, wait till you see how they were viewed back in the 1890s.

Also, for those who have not seen it, or saw it before the revisions of this last few days, I have a site showing why sales tax destroys commerce. I will soon be adding separate pages showing why it is a terribly regressive tax and why it promotes monopoly at the expense of new business. It is at:

When and where are those polar bear swims?

When and where are those Pittsburgh polar bear swims? Last year I took the plunge on the Mon Wharf around 9:30 am -- It think.

Update: It happens at 9:30 am!

This year there is a bike ride getting some advance ink too. Nice.
Annual Icycle Bicycle Ride to be held Jan. 1 - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Annual Icycle Bicycle Ride to be held Jan. 1

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Saturday night football: Jags to Pittsburgh for a do-over

The last time the Jags played the Steelers, we were there. Grant and I had lots of fun. The game started at 1 pm in a blizzard of snow as they sang the National Anthem.

This week, the Steelers get a do-over. The first round of the playoffs are slated for Saturday evening at 8 pm-ish.

I expect that the results will be the same, sadly. This time, we'll be home and watching on TV.

Poll to the top left -- at 21 votes

Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events Should Mark Rauterkus stand for public office, again, in 2008?
The question is clear -- but the voting results are not yet resolved.

With 21 votes, 12 (or about half) say that I should 'give it a break' and not run for public office in 2008. However, the other half (or so) say I should. Humm....

Your opinion is welcomed. Place your vote now!

The Free Market: A False Idol After All?

I'm a big fan of the free market place. We need more freedom, generally.

In this NY Times article the pros and cons of 'market place forces' are considered.
Peter S. Goodman | The Free Market: A False Idol After All? 'The way they justify it is that you've got to protect the stupid people who can't read a contract,' Mr. Henderson said. 'But they're treating everyone as stupid.'

But in Washington, and under the roofs of many homes now worth less than a year ago, there appears to be a shift in the nation's often-ambivalent attitude about regulation.

Back in the boom, banks made loans to homeowners who did not have to prove their ability to pay, then quickly sold the loans to other companies. By the time it emerged that a lot of homeowners could not pay, these loans had been pooled with other loans and chopped into strange new paper assets that were sold to unsuspecting buyers around the globe. The subsequent reckoning has forced major banks to write off vast sums of money.

"Here you had all these people who were supposed to be sophisticated investors, and it turns out they were buying billions of dollars worth of debt where they didn't even understand what they owned," said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. "There is going to be a willingness to re-regulate financial markets."

Liberal critics have long asserted that dogmatic devotion to market forces has skewed American society toward those of greatest means. More wealth is being concentrated in fewer hands, with rich people capturing the best housing, private education and health care services, and, as the argument goes, only crumbs left for everyone else.
What gets me is that there were lots of loans sold. These loans were paper transactions. The assets and/or debt were not valued as they should have been. Big time corporate folks didn't do their homework.

Now what????

Here is where we as a nation cave and do the 'corporate welfare' things. They do a 'bail-out for the bankers.' They do deals that help the heavy hitters.

If the US Gov had 'dogmatic devotion' to the market forces then there would not be any bailout options for the bankers and corporate entities.

The willingness should not be to re-regulate. The willingness should be to let some of them tank. Tough love!

More wealth is being concentrated in few hands, with rich people, because government comes to the rescue for the rich, the connected, the corporations, the elite.

The market needs less supervision than the politicians and their over-reaching promises.

When untethered market forces lead to bad things, and the governmental wonks try to fix them -- then the market is not 'untethered.' When the wonks try to make the bad things okay, they aid their buddies with corporate welfare.

You can't run an economy as complicated as ours today with only ideology and do nice things for your friends. Generally, those with influence hate those who are driven by ideology alone. Those with influence and special privileges who crave more of the same are the quickest to complicate situations to prove their points and justify their special handouts.

More to think about.

REPUBLIC MEDIA | THE MEDIA OF THE PATRIOT MOVEMENT - So you're a citizen journalist, are you?

Interesting web site.
REPUBLIC MEDIA | THE MEDIA OF THE PATRIOT MOVEMENT - So you're a citizen journalist, are you? This country needs more original news being generated by independent journalists to cause a flood of information that will seep into the mainstream. This is the entire purpose behind We've established this site to be a connecting point between indy journalists who are focusing on freedom-based issues so that they can more easily collaborate and organize, and also to be a powerful distribution and syndication tool to get their works out to the masses!
I found this 10-minute video at the site.

KDKA-TV proves its lack of journalism with year in review slideshow � BurghBoy Blogs

KDKA-TV proves its lack of journalism with year in review slideshow � BurghBoy Blogs KDKA-TV proves its lack of journalism with year in review slideshow

Where Will You Be January 2nd?

Where Will You Be January 2nd? - Pennsylvania Ron Paul Meetup Alliance (Carlisle, PA) - I asked where you would be January 2nd. As for myself, I'll be in New Hampshire, hitting the pavement to spread the message of freedom, liberty, and Ron Paul until January 9th.

Did I mention I'm not spending any money to get there?
Have fun.

Comments from another blog as to a post from another person as to what Patrick may have written

Get a grip on this concept, that came from, so we are to think, Patrick Dowd, a new guy due to take the oath to uphold the consitution, on Jan 7, 2008. - CommentsI cannot, however, reach out to some folks without breaking confidences. Thus, I am stuck being silent and taking lumps for falsehoods. ...
Say what?

Here is a novel idea, speak for yourself.

Another idea, break confidences! Don't hold any secrets.

Furthermore, Dowd does offer a pie-in-the-sky approach for council. He wants a 'legislative agenda.' And, after that is detailed, in public, he'll decide who should get his vote for city council president.

How nice. But, it is also filled with irony. How can a member of council reveal something as important as a 'legislative agenda' -- yet be worried about 'breaking confidences' should he speak in public AND need another citizen to post his messages for him.

To tip-toe and then worry about 'secrets' gives two big steps in the wrong direction. And, he's not even on council yet. His last act as a school board member was very bad. And, his recent interview on KDKA about the Pgh Promise didn't wash either.

Since there is a shortage of public policy directions and leadership from members on council, and since they all have a hard time sharing those thoughts (if they exist at all), we might need some citizens to come foward and be front folks for members of council.

Jim Motznik is the chairman of the Citiparks and Youth Policy committee on city council. Motznik has held that role for a few years now. Motznik is bucking for the job as city council president in 2008. In my not so humble opinion, Motznik makes a great case for getting the nod for city council president by doing such a poor job in his role as chair of the committee on Citiparks. As far as I can tell, Motznik's big splash of leadership with his Citiparks duties is his willingness to hand out popcorn and huggies (drinks) at the movies in the park in his neighborhood.

What kind of 'legislative agenda' has Motznik advanced in recent years in his recent positions when he was a chair of a committee?

What have these other members of council done in their roles in council when they are 'at the wheel?'

Looking into the past is a good way to predict what to expect in the future. But it is also prudent to ask people what they hope to do in the future too. Politics is about the future.

What would Jim do?

What would Tonya do?

What would Doug do?

What does a 'legislative aganda' look like?

What was the promise of a 'legislative agenda' for city council in 2007? What there ever such a statement or set of objectives in the past?'s script for the second Ron Paul American Freedom Agenda Act radio ad Blog | Second Ron Paul American Freedom Agenda Act radio ad No snowflake in an avalanche believes itself responsible ...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sunday huddle with parents concerned about Pgh Public Schools

The parents are gathering at a meeting at 2 pm at Panera in Oakland on the Blvd of Allies. We'll talk about our Christmas breaks and gear up to write checks for the other hundred million dollars to fund the continual scholarship of our children.

There is a lot to do. High school reform is still ugly and not something I agree with in the slightest. Closing Schenley votes may come in next month. The engineers have taken another look at the historic building with new windows and exterior recently.

City Council fumbles historic building - abandon buildings rise

Glenn A. Walsh reported:
Thursday morning, Pittsburgh City Council approved a resolution which will allow The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to abandon America's first publicly-funded Carnegie Library, the Allegheny Regional Branch of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (originally, the Carnegie Free Library of Allegheny).

The vote was 7 in favor, 1 opposed. City Councilwoman Darlene Harris, whose district the historic Allegheny Regional Branch is located within, was the lone dissenting vote. She stated that she had to vote against this bill, as the majority of her constituents oppose the abandonment of the historic library. Beyond this statement, she did not make much of a fuss. As a new councilwoman with limited influence, she could "read the political tea-leaves" and realize that the rest of City Council considered this a done-deal.

Bill number 2007-1944, now approved, allows the City's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) to sell a vacant piece of land on Federal Street (which formerly held a gasoline station), three blocks north of the Allegheny Regional Library, to The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for construction of a new library building. The groundbreaking for this structure, which was postponed from last Autumn, is now expected in the Spring of 2008.

In addition to Councilwoman Harris' comments, five members of the public also addressed City Council prior to the final vote, all opposing the abandonment of the Allegheny Regional Branch: Yvonne F. Brown, Mark Rauterkus, John Petrack, David Tessitor, and Glenn A. Walsh. Along with the printed statement I submitted to City Council, I included a letter from Heather Steed, who could not attend the meeting, also opposing the abandonment of the Allegheny Regional Library. I want to thank all of those people who have been supportive of retaining a library use for the historic Allegheny Regional Library.

Future action on this issue is indefinite. We are still evaluating the feasibility of a legal challenge to the City's action yesterday.

We still believe that, even if a new library is to be built, the Allegheny Regional Library should be reopened until such a new library is completed. So far, the Lower North Side has been without library service for more than a year and a-half. And, this is despite the fact that $2 million of insurance money was used to repair the damage from the lightning strike, and annual funding from the State and the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) continues to be available for Lower North Side library service.

It is unknown what has become of the State and RAD subsidies, allocated for the Allegheny Regional Library, since the closure of the Library in April of 2006; library repairs were completed in May of this year. We do plan to address the RAD Board of Directors on this issue, next month.

You can read more about yesterday's City Council votes, including my public statement and Heather Steed's letter, at this link.

History and photos of the Allegheny Regional Library

Continue to use the following web site for updates on this issue.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pew identifies social networking gender split - Social Marketing - BizReport

Time is still ripe for a YOUTH TECHNOLOGY SUMMIT.
Pew identifies social networking gender split - Social Marketing - BizReport Ninety-three percent of all teens are online, up from 73 percent in 2000 and 87 percent in 2004. And, in a culture where it’s increasingly the norm to create and share information, 64 percent of online teens have contributed to online content in one way or another, up from 57 percent in 2004.

watch for a new web site or two

Bruce Kraus - Democrat for City Council District 3
Bruce Kraus, 52 years old makes his home on Pittsburgh's Historic South Side. Raised along with his two brothers to have a strong work ethic through the ...
I don't know if it will be as good as the vanishing Motzinik blog or not. He hired a secret agent to do his site for the primary.

In real news, Dan Sullivan is building a site on sales tax policy. The sales tax drives commerce away.

Another page shows that the sales tax is a regressive approach, even with Pennsylvania's exemptions for food and clothing. Additional insights show how the history of sales tax disasters.

Anyone who wants to work on this with Dan should let him know.

Dan Sullivan, director, Saving Communities, director - at - savingcommunities -dot- org.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - A local satirical news Web site is slowly being assimilated by mainstream media outlets - Main Feature - Main Feature Extra

Nice ink about media ink for a local blog via the City Paper.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - A local satirical news Web site is slowly being assimilated by mainstream media outlets - Main Feature - Main Feature Extra - Pittsburgh City Paper - PittsburghA local satirical news Web site is slowly being assimilated by mainstream media outlets
I only wish that the CSB was able to take comments within its blog postings. Perhaps they can run an 'open thread' once a week within the blog.

If comments were permitted, that would could prove to increase the humor ten-fold.

UPMC drops tax credit bid - Let the games of the Pgh Promise begin

UPMC drops tax credit bid UPMC drops tax credit bid
Goes forward with pledge of $100 million to Promise
Thursday, December 27, 2007
By Matthew P. Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Citing the controversy that has embroiled its $100 million pledge for a city high school scholarship program, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center yesterday said it was dropping its request for a possible tax credit in exchange for its commitment to the Pittsburgh Promise.
This is what victory looks like.

Now we can get rockin on the challenge grant. Now we can rev up the potential boom for the city.

Now, we can begin to look for the arrival of the three wise men. Faith has been restored, partially.

But, Post-Gazette reporters, understand that the balking that happened within council chambers did NOT come from the majority of city council. Two on council put up some objections. That's Doug and Bill. A third, Darleen, asked some deer in the headlights questions.

Then there was Len who was okay with the deal as long as it stroked his special interest too -- and was able to be go to students at Catholic schools. Len is a dead duck in the same flight path as Barbara Burns, hopefully.

The balking of the Pgh Promise was citizen centric.

Yesterday, I was invited to call into the KDKA Radio Show hosted by Marty Griffin. We talked on the air about the deal for more than 20 seconds! (giggle)

He claimed to have 'insider knowledge' that the Pgh Promise was a 'done deal.' I told blew back his 'honestey, openness and integrity' mantra to me -- asking if he talked to the three new members of city council, yet. He was off base in many ways. The Pgh deal is unlike that from Kalamazoo. And families don't want to move to a city where there are backroom deals, special interest calling the shots and more. The college scholarship won't overcome the corruption in a day-in-day-out setting.

Later that day, I posted over at the Burgh Report. In that post I was asked if I would reject the deal. I predicted that the deal would get major changes.

This is what I posted there:

There should be NO business of government within the transaction of one nonprofit giving money to another nonprofit.

It is fine (if not noble) for UPMC to gift money to the Pgh Promise. Wonderful.

However, the city of Pgh has no role in that transaction.

The city of Pgh does have its own budget and its own incomes and expenses. Within the city's 2008 budget, $1.5 (or so) is expected from UPMC as part of the Pgh Service Fund. That is cloaked -- which I hate.

If the city's budget changes, with a loss of $1.5 M, then a new budget must be associated with any new terms.

Finally, if the UPMC deal goes as it was introduced before council -- it is sure to KILL the Pgh Promise. The challenge grant will flop. And, the boom to Pgh among the students, families and potential new residents will never occur.

The side-deal (as structured) makes the Pgh Promise dead in the water.

Changes will need to occur. Mark Roosevelt and UPMC need to think again. And, they will, I expect.

Better to put $8.5 into the Pgh Promise and $1.5 into the Pgh Service Fund -- and do that without any additional strings. Then we can get to work to make the challenge grants come true.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Philly Amber Alert -- seeking 2 young children


The Pennsylvania State Police has issued an Amber Child Abduction Alert on behalf of the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Police Department is searching for two children: Kaliopi Hionas, a 3 year old white female child wearing a pink coat and flowered pants, and George Hionas, a 6 year old white male child wearing a navy blue coat and blue jeans. The children were in a vehicle when it was stolen from Baring Street in Philadelphia. The vehicle description is a 2005 silver BMW X5 sport utility vehicle with Pennsylvania registration GDF-1692. The vehicle was last seen traveling northbound on 31st Street from Baring Street in the city of Philadelphia.

Anyone with information about this incident should immediately contact the police by calling 911.

This has been an Amber Child Abduction Alert for the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

Affected Counties: Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Bucks

This email is not intended to and does not empower members of the public to act as police officers or to take police action. Additional information regarding this activation may be available through the investigating agency. General information about Pennsylvania's Amber Alert Plan is available at

It's a dream undeterred for Browns sub Dinkins -

Feature article on an ex-city kid, (Schenley HS), Pitt-player, and Pgh Colt too!
It's a dream undeterred for Browns sub Dinkins - Darnell Dinkins, a reserve tight end for the Browns, has grown accustomed to overcoming obstacles during his improbable journey to the NFL.

A star quarterback at Schenley High School in Pittsburgh, he was buried deep on the depth chart at that position after arriving at Pitt and ended up playing safety after spending some time at wide receiver and linebacker.

Dinkins was a starter for two seasons at Pitt, but no NFL teams came calling after his college career ended.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Schenley eases into new era - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

This team has its backs against the wall. Defending state champions -- and asbestos (so they claim) as well!
Schenley eases into new era - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review The Spartans (8-1, 5-0) lost to graduation two players who are starting in the Big East. Longtime coach Fred Skrocki resigned after Schenley won the City League and PIAA Class AAAA championship last year. With talk of the school closing at the end of the year, this could be the last season for Spartans basketball.
The team's game in Greensburg on the 28th of December will be on the radio.

More than 2 political junkies hang here, making a ruckas

Ruckus on

There's a new group blog on The Ruckus ( , focused on the 2008 presidential race and authored by nine members of the Media Bloggers Association ( .

The initial lineup features several well-known, outspoken, and even frankly partisan bloggers: John Amato , Crooks and Liars ( ; Faye Anderson , Anderson at Large ( ; Dean Barker , Blue Hampshire ( ; Adam Fogle , Palmetto Scoop ( ; Joe Gandelman , The Moderate Voice ( ; James Joyner , Outside the Beltway ( ; Ed Morrissey , Captain's Quarter ( ; Oliver Willis ( ; and Chris Woods , Bleeding Heartland ( .

...Sounds like fun. I just wonder how well's editors have thought through the ethical and practical differences of bloggers and journalists. I'd hate to see another ugly implosion of a group political weblog due to miscommunications, culture clash, and political pressure -- like what happened recently at ( .

Making the world a much more literate place. What are YOU waiting for?

Some great things are happening, again and again, with open source ways, more freedom and hard work in the community to help everyone, rich and otherwise.

People of Pittsburgh, it is time to get on this bandwagon. You need to be running open source software -- this year, this month, this week! We can't be left in the dust. The rest of the world is work and understanding technology. They are blowing past us. We need to take the plunge and get serious about, about open-ways and open-source.

The article link goes to three predictions for the future. One of them details the embrace to all things open.

Article in The Economist
Surfing—and everything else computer-related—will open

Rejoice: the embrace of “openness” by firms that have grown fat on closed, proprietary technology is something we’ll see more of in 2008. Verizon is not the only one to cry uncle and reluctantly accept the inevitable.

Even Apple, long a bastion of closed systems, is coming round to the open idea. Its heavily protected iPhone was hacked within days of being launched by owners determined to run third-party software like Skype on it.

Apple’s initial response was to attempt a heavy-handed crackdown. But then a court decision in Germany forced its local carrier to unlock all iPhones sold there. Good news for iPhone owners everywhere: a flood of third-party applications is now underway.

The trend toward openness has been given added impetus by the recent collapse of the legal battles brought by SCO, a software developer. Formerly known as Santa Cruz Operations, the firm bought the Unix operating system and core technology in 1995 from Novell (which, in turn, had bought it from its original developer, AT&T).

Short of cash, SCO initiated a series of lawsuits against companies developing Linux software, claiming it contained chunks of copyrighted Unix code. Pressured by worried customers fearing prosecution, a handful of Linux distributors settled with SCO just to stay in business.

But IBM, which uses Linux, was having none of it, and fought the firm through the courts until it won. SCO is now operating under Chapter 11 of the American bankruptcy code.

The verdict removed, once and for all, the burden that had been inhibiting Linux’s broader acceptance. Linux is now accepted as being Unix-like, but not a Unix-derivative.

Bulletproof distributions of Linux from Red Hat and Novell have long been used on back-office servers. Since the verdict against SCO, Linux has swiftly become popular in small businesses and the home.

That’s largely the doing of Gutsy Gibbon, the code-name for the Ubuntu 7.10 from Canonical. Along with distributions such as Linspire, Mint, Xandros, OpenSUSE and gOS, Ubuntu (and its siblings Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu) has smoothed most of Linux’s geeky edges while polishing it for the desktop.

No question, Gutsy Gibbon is the sleekest, best integrated and most user-friendly Linux distribution yet. It’s now simpler to set up and configure than Windows. A great deal of work has gone into making the graphics, and especially the fonts, as intuitive and attractive as the Mac’s.

Like other Linux desktop editions, Ubuntu works perfectly well on lowly machines that couldn’t hope to run Windows XP, let alone Vista Home Edition or Apple’s OS-X.

Your correspondent has been happily using Gutsy Gibbon on a ten-year-old desktop with only 128 megabytes of RAM and a tiny 10 gigabyte hard-drive. When Michael Dell, the boss of Dell Computers, runs Ubuntu on one of his home systems, Linux is clearly doing many things right.

And because it is free, Linux become the operating system of choice for low-end PCs. It started with Nicholas Negroponte, the brains behind the One Laptop Per Child project that aims to deliver computerised education to children in the developing world. His clever XO laptop, costing less than $200, would never have seen the light of day without its clever Linux operating system.

But Mr Negroponte has done more than create one of the world’s most ingenious computers. With a potential market measured in the hundreds of millions, he has frightened a lot of big-time computer makers into seeing how good a laptop they can build for less than $500.

All start with a desktop version of Linux. Recent arrivals include the Asus Eee from Taiwan, which lists for $400. The company expects to sell close on four million Eees this financial year. Another Taiwanese maker, Everex, is selling its gPC desktop through Walmart for $199.

When firms are used to buying $1,000 office PCs running Vista Business Edition and loading each with a $200 copy of Microsoft Office, the attractions of a sub-$500 computer using a free operating system like Linux and a free productivity suite like OpenOffice suddenly become very compelling.

And that’s not counting the $20,000 or more needed for Microsoft’s Exchange and SharePoint server software. Again, Linux provides such server software for free.

Pundits agree: neither Microsoft nor Apple can compete at the new price points being plumbed by companies looking to cut costs. With open-source software maturing fast, Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox, MySQL, Evolution, Pidgin and some 23,000 other Linux applications available for free seem more than ready to fill that gap. By some reckonings, Linux fans will soon outnumber Macintosh addicts. Linus Torvalds should be rightly proud.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Recent Services: Poet

Get about 30% into the service to hear the main speaker.
Presented by Lynn Chandhok

Lynn is the daughter of Vijay and Shelly Chandhok and was a part of Sunnyhill from age 3. She reads from her first book of poems, which won the 2006 Philip Levine Prize, and talks about writing, religion, motherhood, memory, politics and history.

Listen to this service: 2007-dec-09.mp3

Romney Attacks McCain Tax Votes - Romney Attacks McCain Tax Votes: "Romney largely ignored Giuliani, telling reporters he was focusing on McCain rather than the former New York mayor because Giuliani had curtailed his campaigning here and polls showed his support flagging.

Libertarian Party of Allegheny County -- board members for 2008

The installation of a new Board of directors for 2008 has happened. There being no objection, the 2008 Board will consist of the following:

Chairman - Dave Powell
Vice-Chairman - Mark Rauterkus
Treasurer - Richard Loether
Secretary - Henry Haller
At-large members include:
David Eckhardt
Jerry Gloekler
Tom Kawcznski
Harold Kyriazi
David Weiser

Chairman Dave Powell asked for unanimous consent to install a new Board to consist of the people that served on the 2007 Board with the exception of Tom Kawcznski in place of Rob Willis.

$4.5 million spent on keeping the city in line

$4.5 million spent on keeping the city in line But critics ask: Are the state's oversight costs really worth it?
The worth of the OVERLORDS is much less than it should be because they don't meet as they should. I'd have less of a problem with the OVERLORDS if they really worked.

Pittsburgh has had a huge problem over the past decades because too many fell down on the job. The slumber has killed this city.

The watchdogs don't guard as they should. Here, I pin a lot of the blame on the Post-Gazette and the Tribune Review. They both miss too many important stories. Recently, they've been better. But back in the day of Tom Murphy, Tom Barnes and others were absent -- and in a deep sleep fueled by too many bologna sandwiches.

The checks within government also have to bear a lot of the blame. The city's controller and the county's controller stink. Tom Flaherty was barking at the wrong things, if he barked at all. Michael Lamb won't be too different. He is a bureaucrat. We need more.

The academics have been in a deep slumber too. From time to time, great work comes from them. But, it is rare. They should have lots of projects in the air at the same time. And, every college and university should have a dozen or more who are 'go-to people' on various issues. Most of the time, we are fighting against the higher educational leadership. They should be on the side of the people, the students, and generally helping with the stuggles concerning quality of life issues for the region.

Then the last group to fumble time and time again are the neighborhood groups. They need to be holding debates, forums, issue discussions and sending their open-minded people to events. But they all worry and try to NOT bite the hand that feeds them. Trouble is, the feed is not energy of empowerment.

So, we needed OVERLORDS. But, the overlords are lazy.

Dr. Wrestling:Armageddon Live at Civic Arena from Dallas

Recap from another blog about a trip to the Civic Arena for Rasslin.
Dr. Wrestling:Armageddon Live When we arrived at the show we noticed a ridiculously long line that stretched from the building down to the side walk and very similar to when we attended Smackdown, there was only one gate open to enter the building. Now for those that haven't been to the Mellon Arena let's do some simple math here, the Mellon Arena has ten gates to enter the building and no that's not a typing mistake. There's ten possible gates to enter the building and there was only one gate open when we arrived at the Mellon Arena. As a result, even when people started entering the building there was still a wait to get inside and out of the cold weather. Despite the ice and the snow mostly everyone was very understand and there wasn't any type of traffic jam to enter the building.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lumps of Coal go to Roosevelt, Ravenstahl, PPS Board and Fischetti

The Pgh Tribune Review had nothing good to say about the Pittsburgh Promise side-deal disclosure and quickie approval by the school district.
Lance: To Luke Ravenstahl and Mark Roosevelt. Can these two "leaders" prove any more convincingly that they are unfit to serve? Mr. Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh's mayor, talks of UPMC's feelings being hurt because the public has the audacity to question a secret tax-credit deal. How warped. Mr. Roosevelt, the Pittsburgh school superintendent, calls those raising questions "demagogues" and disseminators of "misinformation." How dare he. These are unacceptable statements by two people who suddenly have forgotten who their bosses are.

Lance: To the Pittsburgh school board. In full "Ramming speed, Mr. Sulu" mode, the board adopted a resolution Wednesday approving potential dollar-for-dollar tax credits for UPMC's pledge of up to $100 million for a college scholarship program. Board members received the resolution all of 35 minutes before voting on it. There was no public hearing. But given the public outrage, this is despicable -- a "public-purpose" perversion. The tax break was not disclosed on Dec. 5 when UPMC announced its pledge.

Lance: To Lisa Fischetti. The chief of staff of Pittsburgh Public Schools seems to think it's much ado about nothing that it was not initially disclosed that UPMC demanded, and public officials are attempting to give it, tax credits for its up-to-$100 million pledge to The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program. The "focus" was the "scholarship component." Oh, so it was the sizzle, not the steak, eh?

Meet The Press with Tim Russert - Video, Podcasts, News and Politics, Transcripts-

Lots of quotes from Tim Russert, host of the show, from the 1970s and 1980s. Jeepers. Time to think about 2007, 2008 and the next five years! Wish MSNBC would come into modern times.
Meet The Press with Tim Russert - Video, Podcasts, News and Politics, Transcripts- Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) joined us for an exclusive interview. Watch our netcast or read the transcript to find out where the congressman -- who has raised more money this quarter than any other Republican candidate for president -- stands on the major issues facing our nation.

Happy 90th Birthday, mayor

She's 90.

Pittsburgh Pist-Gazette

The Pittsburgh Promise has more required reading than the application to the Naval Academy.

Char hits with her blog.
Pittsburgh Pist-Gazette My bottom-line conclusion is that if The Promise does not deliver on its promise, it will be because of the program’s complexity. Because with complexity comes a certain level of uncertainty.
The Trib did an article that looked at the West Virginia Promise.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Drink tax revenue more than needed, restaurateurs complain

Drink tax revenue more than needed, restaurateurs complain The 10 percent drink tax in Allegheny County could raise a lot more than the $30 million the county needs for its Port Authority subsidy next year and beyond, say restaurateurs who contend the county didn't do its homework in estimating revenue from the tax.
The same concepts were spoken at the public hearing on this topic. The speaker right before me said so. Her name is Chelsa Wagner.

Chelsa hit it out of the park. She explained how getting this tax was like getting a $1-million line of credit for home improvement (new bathroom) when the worth of the house is $50,000.

Sunday, 10:30 am, Meet the Press visits with Ron Paul, WPXI, TV 11

Tune in to TV 11, WPXI TV, Sunday at 10:30 am for Meet the Press and an interview with Presidential candidate, Ron Paul, R, born in Pittsburgh!

Pittsburgh Council balks at Promise qualifier - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Not only are the P-G editorial folks wrong with what happened -- so is the news reporter who works with the Tribune Review, J.B.

City Council had no choice. City Council did not "refuse" anything. City Council had to do what it did. City Council needed to call for a public hearing -- and that is what happened.

It was the citizens who refused to let the side-line deal with the city and UPMC pass concerning the Pittsburgh Promise. The refusal was our, the citizens. Refusal was NOT a good description of what council wanted to do.

Had city council had its way, the deal for tax credits would have passed. Folks on council are still trying to rush the public hearing. They'd love to play the refusal role -- by refusing to allow the citizens to exercise rights to demand public hearings.

The desire to study the resolution is not that of council. Rather it is of the citizens.

A women, citizen, parent, spoke to council on Tuesday. She demanded a full discussion and public hearing. And, she has a child in the 12th grade of Pgh Public Schools. She has the most at risk. The first tuition payment for he soon to be college freshmen would be expected in a few months. However, she wants accountability. She wants to have an open process. She wants to live in an honest city. She wants what is best for the region -- greater than her own self interest of getting a $5,000 check in eight months.
Pittsburgh Council balks at Promise qualifier - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Pittsburgh City Council refused to be rushed into granting UPMC potential tax credits Tuesday despite political pressure from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to reward the hospital giant for jump-starting a scholarship program for city school graduates.

No, no, no -- the P-G editors got it wrong about Pgh Promise

No, no, no. The P-G did NOT get it right in their editorial.
Hasty promise: Council must do right by UPMC's pledge Time out, everyone. That was the welcome call Tuesday from City Council to stop the runaway train that followed UPMC's pledge of up to $100 million to the Pittsburgh Promise, a scholarship program for city high school graduates.
The call for a "time out" came from the citizens. We shouted it in council chambers. The council would have been quick to rush to action had the citizens not called for the public hearing. The majority of the members of council, were willing to jump onto that runaway train.

They all botched the communication on this. It started in early 2007 when the first hint of the promise came with a $10,000 check from the PFT (Teachers Union). That was scripted by Mark Roosevelt. The thing died then and there. A Media Empire A Media Empire: "And even sillier for them to threaten to renege on this 'donation' unless we just do what they say and guarantee that they'll never have to pay taxes no matter what.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Make a bid. Burgh to host NRA. How about the event?

News says that the NRA is going to return to Pittsburgh.

Well, I'd love to see a bid go in for OpenOffice.Org's annual event. Annual Conference 2008 - Call for Location

Would your team like to rise the challenge? Full details of the Call For Location process are available on the website There is also a conference organisers' mailing list with open discussions.
Working with open source software is sure to help thousands of people, as well as schools and government.

Blowback: Why they hate us. From Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan, Pittsburgh, fellow Libertarian, wrote on another email list, reposted below:
This attempts to explain why Muslims hate Americans so much that they would be willing to strap bombs onto children or kill themselves in suicide attacks. Those who insist that this is some irrational, unprovoked, religious jihad should look at how many of them and their children have suffered terrible, protracted deaths due to US foreign policy.

This is not about GW Bush. Even though he has done terrible things to Americans and has completely botched the second undeclared Iraq War, the hatred of America's intervention was already established by our previous foreign policies that attempted to subjugate these people to control their oil.

Probably the best recruiting tool Osama Bin Laden ever had was this clip of Clinton's Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, saying that half a million Iraqis dying due to our embargo of Hussein was "worth it." Here is a very short clip.
Yes, Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator. But those who make that argument ignore the fact that Hussein was already a brutal murderer when we helped him overthrow the Qassim government, and a brutal mass murderer who was getting "weapons of mass destruction,"
including nerve gas and biological weapons, from the United States.

This slideshow, made to the sound of Bing Crosby singing "Thanks for the Memories," lasts 4 1/4 minutes.
Yes, Saddam killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians and Kurds, but he did so, not only with our acquiescence and approval, but with our resources. The reason we figured he still had anthrax-causing bacteria was that we had sent it to him to use on Iran.

Why did we help him make war on Iran? Because the Iranian people had overthrown their own brutal dictator, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the Shah of Iran), whom we had installed in 1953 after we overthrew the democratically elected President Mossadech.

The Shah's denial that he engaged in torture now echoes in our own similar denials. This clip is one minute and 20 seconds:

Our imperialist brutality has existed under many of our regimes. The following Bill Moyers Journal episode focuses on Reagan, because it was made in the wake of the Iran Contra Scandal. However, its historical background implicates every President since Truman, with the exception of Jimmy Carter.

This documentary, made by liberal journalist Bill Moyers over two decades ago, said exactly what Ron Paul is saying about the dangers of ignoring the Constitution, and said it very, very well. And the excuses made for trashing the Constitution then are very much like the excuses being made today. This 86-minute video is EXCELLENT!

In looking at all of these videos, I keep thinking of the people in other countries where we did these things, and asking Ron Paul's question, "How would we feel if some foreign power did things like this to us?" How many of our own children would have to die at the hands of these brutal murderers before we become desperate enough to want one of those children to take a bunch of foreign imperialists down with him?


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hoops in MSG -- Overtime

Pitt played D and Duke missed two shots to get the game into overtime.

Ouch. That outside keen folded badly. #31 is feeling it.

Navy game is on delay. The Pitt & Navy connection...

Just as Big Ben was getting sacked in another knee bending, jerky way -- Pitt hit a 3-point shot. Duke missed two more at the other end at the buzzer.

Wow. Blair gets the 5-star player of the game from ESPN.

Isn't it great that you can watch an online movie (Thanks Google Video) such as this, from one citizen about a candidate

Updated in December:

Older version:

Twelve Days

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ron Paul - A Person of the Year for 2007 - from TIME

Ron Paul - Person of the Year 2007 - TIME Booed by Republicans for his isolationist foreign policy views and anathema to Democrats for his anti-government philosophy, the Texas congressman was proudly out of step with both political parties. But marching to his own drummer, the grandfatherly libertarian found himself leading an online parade. Millions of dollars poured into his quixotic presidential campaign, raising an inevitable question: What's next for this free-thinking and strangely compelling grassroots crusader?
First, he is NOT an "isolationist." Rather, he is about NON-INTERVENTION. To isolate isn't his, nor my, pathway. Rather, free-travel, free-trade, free-markets, among free-people works best. I want to be friends with people from around the world. I went them to be my customers, suppliers and competitors too.

I want them to be free. And, I want to be free.

I don't want to impose MY WILL upon them. I don't want the USA military to invade foreign land. I want others from around the world to know us for reasons beyond our might, or from the other side of a gun.

City weighs UPMC trade-off

Coverage in the P-G from yesterday's actions.
City weighs UPMC trade-off Council delayed a vote on the resolution pending an as-yet-unscheduled public hearing that activist residents demanded.
Figures, the P-G coverage gave me recycled electrons in the early edition that went online. By mid-day, my name had fallen off the story. By the next morning, when the printed paper gives ink to the story, the citizens are just a peep.

The big story was that this "Pittsburgh Promise" was stopped -- for now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WVU governing board supports administration in coach flap

Perhaps UPMC should read a lesson from the playbook at WVU.
WVU governing board supports administration in coach flap 'Making donations to a public university does not entitle anyone to dictate policy or personnel.'
Jeepers. That was a hard lesson to deliver.

UPMC made a donation to the Pittsburgh Promise. With that donation, they want to govern. UPMC feels entitled to dictate policy -- for city government.

Furthermore, UPMC wants one seat on the board that manages the Pittsburgh Promise trust fund.

And on that farm there was Mr. Zober, e-i-e-i-oh!

Other inside baseball (and barnyard) thoughts:

When the cat is away, the mice will play. Humm. Seems that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is out of town today. So, in the lobby of the 5th floor, both before and after the city council meeting when the UPMC tax credit associated with the Pittsburgh Promise was being milked -- Mr. Zober was there. When the discussion went before the camera, at council's table, the only one to speak for the administration was a guy who didn't even read the deal but was named in the legislation.

Schenley High School could still be saved. Bill Peduto had a meeting with Mr. Mark Roosevelt and a number of 'concerned parents' tonight. Bill spoke of this as he entered a public hearing on the North Side at the "old library" and the original Carnegie Music Hall.

Seems that there is a plan to tell the whole story of Schenley this time. Part one is how much it costs to fix up Schenley High School. But, there are three or more other parts to the full formula. Moving costs money. Where they want to move to costs money to fix up. And, it is inferior to what is already available at Schenley anyway. And, selling where they want to move to could be sold instead. That could make money and income for the future in taxes.

The reuse of Schenley High School would, I guess, go to Pitt. That makes for another tax exempt building. The sale price is one thing. But, can that sales price be shrunk based upon the Pittsburgh Promise donations from UPMC. (nevermind) However, if Pitt operated Schenley for the years to come -- that property would NOT generate new tax income for the city.

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Selling Reisenstein (ex-Middle School) as a commercial property, perhaps with town homes, next to a park, near tennis courts, near the Bakers Square development, could make real income for the city for generations to come.

What does Heather, the new chick (barnyard) or 'peep' say?

E-i-e-i-o! With a snort-snort-here and and a bark-bark there...

Chinese pupils learning for Olympics - Tuesday December 18, 2007 5:33PM

These guys are motivated and with a focus.
Chinese pupils learning for Olympics - Tuesday December 18, 2007 5:33PMThe students at Yangfangdian school are doing their homework for the Olympics.
Wonder if they are getting ready to kick some tail in the games as well.

What are the American children doing to prepare?

Citizens question tax exemption for UPMC tuition gift

Citizens question tax exemption for UPMC tuition gift 'There's a lot of unanswered questions,' said Mark Rauterkus, a some-time candidate for city office who was involved in petitioning for the hearing. 'It doesn't smell right, and they did this in the last minute. We can have a public hearing in January and then get to the bottom of it.'"
It is 'hard' to do the right thing Mr. Motznik. It is hard to turn things down, when without principle.

UPMC needs to better understand that the Pittsburgh Promise isn't a PILOT. Furthermore, we all understand that things change.

UPMC is flush with cash now. But, few know exactly what will happen in the years to come.

That 'insurance' is not lost upon UPMC. Laws change. Conditions change. Markets change. However, that change and uncertainty is what is going to kill the overall concept of the Pittsburgh Promise.

Families are not going to move to Pittsburgh, nor stay, based upon a half-baked promise where the major donor is given exit at a blink of the eye.

Families don't like being yanked around. People are skeptical. Rightly so. Hence, when it smells bad, people will vote with their feet. They'll leave. They'll continue to leave.

The motivation of the Pittsburgh Promise, like a carrot on a string, is fleeting.

The statement from Judge Cindrick from UPMC is perfect: This is NOT about the money. The success or failure of this program hinges upon other factors -- not the cash.

Factors like trust, honesty, devotion, and 'doing one's homework' are important.

How about -- (joke) -- the Pgh Promise goes as long as there is Malpractice Reform

How about malpractice reform in PA?

Let's tie that to the Pgh Promise too.

Discussion about the Pittsburgh Promise in today's council meeting

Live Blogging:
At the table:
ex-Judge Cindrich, UPMC.
Ira Weiss, PPS Solicitor.
George Specter, city attorney.

Highly inappropriate to discuss this bill, said Peduto. City gov has never given a tax deduction or tax credit for a contribution. This isn't done all the time.

A decision by three executives.

UPMC and UPMC alone, by virtue of its size and power, gets a right. I can not ever support a special right to an individual, nonprofit, or corporation. Don't ask the Pgh Taxpayers to provide a tax credit for it.

We have no such deductions in city government.

"My phone is ringing off the hook about the disgust about the backroom deal that has been done," said Peduto.

I have no questions. I am very disappointed.

Len Boadack, lame duck:

There is a whole lot on my mind. Happy with the Pgh Promise. But nobody saw the strings that were attached. Now we see the strings. Federal tax deductions are fine. But we represent the residents of the city.

His kids go to Catholic schools. Every child in the city should benefit. Seems that if Len had the tax break for his kids he'd vote for it. He'd live with it. The small segment of the population.

Jim Motznik:
Let's UPMC talk.

We shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Story: Uncle Pete wants to give money to Charlie, nephew. One condition. Don't ask for it again.

The only condition that UPMC is asked for, we will give $100 M. Please don't ask us to give it twice. If there is a change in the law.

Lawrenceville was blighted, so says UPMC.

Nonprofits don't have stockholders.

Jim Motznik:

He is thankful. He thinks it will benefit the city. He thinks it will attract families and keep families to the city. Jim's buddies left the city. Jim stayed. The schools were the ultimate decision. The schools in BP, USC, Mt. Lebo are better. This gives the poor people in the city a chance. It puts second thoughts in the mind of young families.

Jim is glad to see the criteria for the Promise. He read em.

Jim's son is in first grade at Carmault. Marvelous school. He is learning about periods. It is a great thing. Jim is not crazy about the high schools that are in Pittsburgh today.

"What are we going to do with Jack?" We are not "holy rollers." We care about his safety. He thinks the school system will get better and better over the years.

Jim's 18-year old daughter, now at CCAC, went to Catholic Schools. Jim has no answer for the others about the "catholic promise" or the "private school promise." It is the responsibility of the school system to do that same thing.

Jim not in agreement with Peduto. Jim asked: Are we changing the tax structure at all?
Specter: The agreement is to protect UPMC in the event that in the future that if these gifts also get a tax -- then the amount of money to the Pgh Promise is reduced. The city is not required to grant a tax credit to UPMC, under this bill.

It may well be that the city may not have a choice or the power to grant a tax credit. Then UPMC would reduce the gift to the foundation for the Pgh Promise.

Doug Shields: Not sure if the city solicitor is at the table for the administration or not. This goes to the heart of the "uniformity clause" of the PA Constitution. The fundamental issue here is how one nonprofit gives another nonprofit money -- so why does the city come into play.

Specter: We don't know if there will be a change in the law. What I meant by the possible illegality, how, when, why, etc. If the city is to tax UPMC, it may not have the power to give a tax credit to UPMC. Then UPMC would reduce in corresponding amount.

Doug Shields: Blah, blah, blah about a bill in the old days when the city was broke. What if a .055 payroll tax comes? How would there be a legal authority to exempt UPMC?

Specter: That's my point. We don't know.

If and when taxation comes to UPMC, the tax credit could not occur. Then UPMC would

Len: Why do we need to have the city come to help UPMC renig on the Pittsburgh Promise.

Bill Peduto: The Pgh Promise is not the city of Pittsburgh. UPMC is confusing the subject. We are here to say if any organization should be given a tax credit for a charitable contribution. This is not a PILOT program. This is a very big situation.

Why is there nobody here from the Mayor's office?

UPMC dude: You've gotten to the crux of the issue. Who is the city of Pittsburgh? We are not at an interesting position.

UPMC gives $1.5M to the city. Are we making an impact? We felt not.

The visionary opportunity here. :/

Why in the hell are they talking and not just sending this to a public hearing?????

Doug Shields: You (UPMC) are buying an insurance policy. You bring up an agreement from the 1990s? There were plenty of bad agreement in the past.

Did you read the depositions? We give them a wallet biopsy? We check their wallet for an insurance call.

Hey Charlie....

Let's not forget where you are at.

And what do you do when they don't have insurance? They put them back into the ambulance and send them to St. Francis. ???

UPMC then gave in and came on to give PILOTs. Then UPMC then went to the state politicians.

Back to the point that Mr. Specter brought up. This might not be even legal.

Doug Shields: Where is this agreement? Why is it not on the table. Not interested in buying a pig in a poke nor a Trojan horse.

You as the solicitor, I assume you have read the agreement.

Specter: I have NOT.

This guy has not even read the blasted agreement. But, the solicitor is within the legislation, directly.

Where is the agreement? When was it hatched?

Specter: The agreement isn't finalized.

Shields: Who is negotiating the agreement? Who? Who is in charge? When did it begin?

Specter: I assume....

When did the negotiations to this side agreement begin? And, if this is not done today, is the gift removed?

Specter: This is a work in progress. Then the solicitor steps in.

Shields: I'm trying to find out what you know. The solicitor's office was not involved. You are not aware of who negotiated. I'm here to ask the questions that are being asked of me. The public has yet to hear an answer on specific points.

The school board needs to provide the same agreement to UPMC.

Quote from PG: If the school board says "no" -- then there is no agreement. The Pittsburgh Promise needs to have the two side agreements. You gotta go 2 for 2 here. Both the school board and the city of Pittsburgh.

Both agreements are needed to put this in place. They are covering all their bases.

Ira Weiss thinks that this gift would exceed any tax. Well, a .055 on a payroll tax was once proposed. Given a $4B payroll tax, then that would net $20-Million. Over 10 years that is $200-M.

Shields would be happy to take the $200-M and put $100 of it into the Pittsburgh Promise and call it the Pittsburgh Guarantee.

Doug: This is aobut process. This is a total disregard to the people. Who knew? Were there any administration briefings as this was going on.

Any good attorney would cover all the bases -- but who is covering the basis of the city's finances? Who is looking at the other options? Has the solictor's office caluclated what a .055 payroll tax would be?

Doug Shields: I might vote for this next year. I might vote for this next month? We are going to be out of session in one more meeting. Heck, nobody even thought to pass a note to the city's citizens on December 5. YOU ALL OWE an appology to the city.

Shields: It is wrong to bring it forward today. It was made behind closed doors.

Tonya Payne: In light of all the questions that have surfaced, and in light of the petition, and the language.

I'm going to motion to hold for one week.

If we need to have a public hearing, we can ask for that.

At 12:27 they are getting to the matter.

Tonya Payne: If the citizens have a legitimate petition, then we are going to hear from the citizens.

Peduto seems scared about the way the administration has handled. There is something going on. Nobody is sitting in the chair. Peduto wants it to be voted on next year. He doesn't want to leave the door open.

Point of order from Len: There isn't enough time. For the record, Len is okay with a public hearing.

Doug Shields: It is obvious that they are going to have the signatures.


Public hearing will be held. YES!

Jim Motznik: I'd like to ask UPMC and solicitors if the public hearing would be okay.

UPMC: I respect the council and the concerns about the process. No, I do not think that we'll pull the promise. It is important to us, as UPMC has finite resources.

The hearing will be televised. Thanks.

Now Darlene Harris is not sure if the donation is a donation. She isn't able to get a grip on the promise and its side agreements. Why wasn't this on television?

UPMC: The purpose was to energize the public. We tried to inspire the public. We wanted to show them the potential of the promise.

The PFT made a donation of $10,000. Ira Weiss forgot about that.

UPMC says the superintendent rushed them. He was on the line. They were rushed up to Dec. 4. There are 3,000 seniors this year. This years class is to take advantage of this year's class.

Darlene says: They don't graduate until June.

UPMC: When this fails in other places, it isn't for a lack of money. The Pgh Foundation is the other agreement. If it is okay with them (Pgh Foundation), it is okay with me (UPMC).

Some things about administration of funds.

UPMC gets one board member out of the seven.

Len Boadack should get an invite to speak at the public hearing -- as a citizen. Len, come on down. Don't be a stranger. Len wants to change the language in the agreement.

Peduto: There is a lot of miss-trust with the way this has been handled, even in the last 24 hours by the administration.

Done at 12:50. They were at the table for about 90 minutes. They got some insights out into the public light. But, this could have been done in 4 or 5 minutes.

The necessary signatures are into the city clerk to call for public hearing on the Pgh Promise tax credit quickie

Ho, ho, wooooooo.....

The necessary 25 signatures are already before the city clerk. This is in advance of the 10 am meeting.

Well done.

More news later.

This has got to go to a public hearing for early 2008.

Monday, December 17, 2007

City Council Asked To Give UPMC 'Pittsburgh Promise' Tax Credits - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh

Ravenstahl Wants City Council To Give UPMC 'Pittsburgh Promise' Tax Credits - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh: UPMC has issued a statement saying the side agreement is an 'essential condition' of its agreement to contribute up to $100 million to the Pittsburgh Promise.
Where is this statement?

Oh my gosh. Something stinks.

Let's rumble at a public hearing in January. This can't go down like they want.

The regular city council meeting for Wednesday is Tuesday this week. A standing committee session is slated to begin at 10 am, 5th floor, city-county building. Look for the Christmas Tree.

The public has the opportunity to speak for 3-minutes at the start of the meeting. I'm one of the 'regulars.' I go every other week now. We talk. They listen. Much like school board.
But after we talk, they go on with the meeting. Everyone is invited.

As new "laws" (legislation) get introduced at one meeting, that was today for this new wrinkle on the Pgh Promise, the public is provided with a three day period to file a petition to call for a public hearing. Then city council generally gets to talk first about new laws at its standing committee -- tomorrow. This got fast tracked. Final vote would be Dec 27, I think.

Then the session ends for the year. Three new members arrive in early Jan.

Perhaps it is time to talk about "lame ducks." These lame ducks should do NOTHING.

Talk about Schenley and high school reform too.

Meetings are to start at 10 am. Generally they are late -- say 10:15. Expect 4 to 10 people to speak for 2-3 minutes. Just go to the podium / microphone when you want in that period. No sign up needed.

We need to get 25 signatures on a petition and that needs to go in within 3 days of the bill being introduced. That calls for a public hearing. We might need to talk tough as they'll hate to hold a public hearing. But, we're in the right.

If we make a lot of buzz tonight, tomorrow, ASAP -- then that might be a brush back and they'll set up a public hearing for January.

City's 2008 Budget

The city's budget is now passed.

They'll be installing new cameras all around town, to spy on citizens. Bad. Let's peer on public officials and mind the public funds first.

Demolition finds are being increased. Bad. Let's repair and maintain our historic treasures -- not tear them down.

The city has a "Pay as you go capital budget." Bad. Capital budgets are for long-term investments. Capital budgets need planning and discipline. Pittsburgh has neither. Sadly, that concept is a victory for them as they used to have NO capital budget. They have to pay as they go as they can't pay what they should to maintain, to repair, to paint, to fix, to halt decay.

The long term outlook for the city's budget comes without a plan for keeping the city's financial head above the rising red ink in future years. Bad. This council approved tax breaks for a new hotel complex in Baker's Square. They fund development deals as they come, even if they promise to exclude union workers from the jobs after these places open.

Pittsburgh is going from hand to mouth with more employees than ever. This city budget has a line item for a trust fund for the Ethics Hearing Board -- a group that endears NO TRUST from me.

They want to celebrate the passing of the budget. In the big view -- the 2008 budget is simply just another nail in the coffin of a once great American city.

Pittsburgh Organizing Group plans protest for Dec 20 -- Rain on Luke's parade

Pittsburgh Organizing Group: "Ravenstahl is Rotten, They All Must Go!"

MindMapPedia mindmap

MindMapPedia mindmap:

MindMapPedia is a worldwide library of mind maps, created by people like you, who are eager to share their work with others. First introduced in the 1960s by author and researcher Tony Buzan, these maps are a visual—and highly practical—way of representing knowledge. Today, people from all over the world, in all professions, are discovering the value of using mind maps to unlock creativity, generate new ideas, solve problems, and formulate plans. Business professionals, scientists, artists, students, teachers, and countless others use mind maps to uncover new knowledge, gain self-awareness, plan, strategize, write books, and even to increase their income.

UPMC wants tax credits on the donations to the Pittsburgh Promise

They are trying to pull a fast one!

What the heck. Heads up!

The Pittsburgh Promise is making waves. And the city administration (Mayor Luke Ravenstahl) is pushing to get a bill to the table and rush it along.

OKAY to rush include: Motzink, Boadack, Deasey, Koch, Harris and Payne.

Peduto and Shields voted no.

We need a petition from the citizens of Pittsburgh to call for a public hearing on this bill.

This is inside baseball. But, here at the end of the year, there is a meeting in City Council today (Monday). At this meeting, that is generally scheduled on Tuesdays, comes the introduction of new bills. Today's new bills included one about UPMC and the Pittsburgh Promise.

It seems that UPMC and the city want to give extra 'tax credits' to UPMC for the money it donates to the Pittsburgh Promise. This smells bad.

Furthermore, city council members -- with the exception of Bill Peduto and Doug Shields -- pushed to waive rule eight. Humm... That means that the bill will be able to be up for discussion tomorrow, not next week.

Generally, a bill gets put out to the public and there is a week before it comes up for a preliminary vote. When the council votes to waive the traditional roles of council, the preliminary vote can occur within 24 hours.

When a bill gets introduced to city council, the citizens have three days to call a public hearing on the bill. The public hearing helps to put more examination and attention on the bill. The public hearing is the best way to get public input for the bill.

The next meeting of city council is at 10 am on Tuesday. That is the standing committee. Those meetings are generally held on Wednesdays.

The last meeting of the year, and with these eight members of city council, is slated for December 27. That's when the final vote on all bills needs to occur. Otherwise, the year ends. New bills need to be re-introduced.

Next year there are three new members of city council to come to the table.

The Pittsburgh Promise tax credit for UPMC needs attention. It can be resolved next year after we know what's what and have a full discussion.

Allegheny Library dot org

New site:

Pittsburgh City Council should work to insure that the historic library on the North Side stays in Allegheny Commons, in the square.

Our 2007 Christmas Letter is about to hit the mailbox

Rauterkus Family

108 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh, PA, USA 15203

(phone #s nuked for website)

Dear Family and Friends:

We hope this letter finds you happy and healthy and reflecting on a great 2007 while looking forward to more growth in 2008.

This year began with time, visits and energy devoted to the Maine/Boston area as we said goodbye to Catherine’s father. Two memorials celebrated Grandpa's life. Later in 2007, we celebrated the other end of life's spectrum a birth and baptism. Our sons have 15 cousins now.

We lived in Christchurch, New Zealand throughout May and early June. Words and pictures can barely describe the beauty and our excitement for New Zealand. Catherine taught (assisted by two Pitt graduate students) at the University of Canterbury. I got to coach "full time" for the Wharenui Swim Team (pronounced "fair –a –new–ee"). Erik and Grant swam and competed for this team. We rode bikes everywhere, saw penguins walking on the beach, and enjoyed multiple Lord of the Rings Tours! Visit for some pictures of the NZ trip.

This was a massive year for home renovations. The roof and entire 3rd floor room and deck was taken off and replaced while we were in New Zealand. Catherine’s Mom was 'project manager' and her overseeing this project from across the street was a huge help. The new third floor gives us a “Great Room” to match our view that overlooks Pittsburgh's skyline. The whole house (siding, some interior walls, flooring, kitchen, lights, paint) has got attention. Uncle Bob and cousin AJ were wonderful to help with insulation and office area floors. Come by and visit with us, and get a tour this old house. Catherine’s Mom had us at her house for a month of meals as the kitchen and dining room were being recreated.

Politically, we worked hard to build "opposition" and insure few would get elected without opposition. Libertarians with various running mates, (myself in two ballot positions) built teamwork. My goal was to give voters a choice and to create an atmosphere that would demand debates with discussion of issues. All in all, many goals were largely met, including the netting of 7,000 votes within a frugal budget.

It was fund to help organize and celebrate: 30th reunion of the Penn Hills High School, three weeks water polo camp, a July 4 biathlon (5K run + 1K swim); local swimming (of course) and more personal fitness for myself as we are now members at the JCC (with a health club).

Both of our boys are in the double digits: Erik, 13; and Grant, 10. Both doing well with great schools, great friends, swimming fast, and home in newly renovated bedrooms! On Saturdays the boys take their violins to Xtreme Strings to play rock, jazz and fiddle tunes with some electric and improv. Both love it.

Our very best wishes to you and yours in 2008!

Mark, Catherine, Erik and Grant

Thirty minute video, in two parts, slated for IOWA, now that the tea-party has put wind (major gusts) into the sails of freedom

part 1:

part 2:

Paul’s Haul, Redux

  • For the second time this quarter, a supporter-organized “money bomb” has helped Ron Paul break the single-day online fundraising record, this time raising more than $6 million in one day (the first effort, on November 5th, raised more than $4.2 million online in a day). Led by Paul supporter Trevor Lyman and timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, Ron Paul’s Tea Party ‘07 marshaled supporters to contribute to what the Politico’s Kenneth P. Vogel called “arguably the largest single-day fundraising haul in U.S. political history.”

  • Ron Paul Graphs, the site that’s tapped into the Paul campaign’s own fundraising data to produce dozens of graphs and charts, produced an impressive donation arc that shows donations kicking into high gear around 8am ET yesterday, and tailing off at midnight. “Dan B.,” the supporter who runs the site, puts the final online number at $6,043,022.96, from 59,170 donors.

  • The Washington Post’s Jose Antonio Vargas points out that Paul is the only candidate this year, Democratic or Republican, “to increase his fundraising haul with every quarter, raising $640,000 in the first quarter, $2.4 million in the second, $5.1 million in the third.” He’s raised an astonishing $18 million this quarter, more than tripling last quarter’s haul and beating out his campaign’s goal of $12 million by Dec. 31.

  • Meanwhile, all we’ve been talking about is money. But the haul is a representative of a massive voter-generated movement. Some supporters have quit their jobs, moved to New Hampshire, blogged, made videos, and obsessed about data. PBS’s NOW produced a good piece about Paul and his zealous supporters, including Tea Party organizer Trebor Lyman. It includes a part of an interview with techPresident’s Zephyr Teachout, the full text of which was posted last week.

Update from Ron Paul:

December 17, 2007

What a day! I am humbled and inspired, grateful and thrilled for this vast outpouring of support.

On just one day, in honor of the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, the new American revolutionaries brought in $6.04 million, another one-day record. The average donation was $102; we had 58,407 individual contributors, of whom an astounding 24,915 were first-time donors. And it was an entirely voluntary, self-organized, decentralized, independent effort on the internet. Must be the "spammers" I keep hearing about!

The establishment is baffled and worried, and well they should be. They keep asking me who runs our internet fundraising and controls our volunteers. To these top-down central planners, a spontaneous order like our movement is science-fiction. But you and I know it's real: as real as the American people's yearning for freedom, peace, and prosperity, as real as all the men and women who have sacrificed for our ideals, in the past and today.

And how neat to see celebrations all across the world, with Tea Parties from France to New Zealand. This is how we can spread the ideals of our country, through voluntary emulation, not bombs and bribes. Of course, there were hundreds in America.

As I dropped in on a cheering, laughing crowd of about 600 near my home in Freeport, Texas, I noted that they call us "angry." Well, we are the happiest, most optimistic "angry" movement ever, and the most diverse. What unites us is a love of liberty, and a determination to fix what is wrong with our country, from the Fed to the IRS, from warfare to welfare. But otherwise we are a big tent.

Said the local newspaper ( "The elderly sat with teens barely old enough to vote. The faces were black, Hispanic, Asian and white. There was no fear in their voices as they spoke boldly with each other about the way the country should be. Held close like a deeply held secret, Paul has brought them out of the disconnect they feel between what they know to be true and where the country has been led."

Thanks also to the 500 or so who braved the blizzard in Boston to go to Faneuil Hall. My son Rand told me what a great time he had with you.

A few mornings ago on, I saw a YouTube of a 14-year-old boy that summed up our whole movement for me. This well-spoken young man, who could have passed in knowledge for a college graduate, told how he heard our ideas being denounced. So he decided to Google. He read some of my speeches, and thought, these make sense. Then he studied US foreign policy of recent years, and came to the conclusion that we are right. So he persuaded his father to drop Rudy Giuliani and join our movement.

All over America, all over the world, we are inspiring real change. With the wars and the spying, the spending and the taxing, the inflation and the credit crisis, our ideas have never been more needed. Please help me spread them in all 50 states. Victory for liberty! That is our goal, and nothing less.



Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tea Party -- sure to leave other R candidates with a hangover, again

To minimize traffic on, please monitor the Tea Party
progress on one of these sites:
These concepts of freedom have legs. America still cares! Politics matters to many.

Go Ron Paul!

What Does Freedom Really Mean? — Ron Paul

What Does Freedom Really Mean? — Ron Paul 2008: We’ve all heard the words democracy and freedom used countless times, ...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

YMCA to add second Downtown site

So sad to say, if there is one thing that UPMC has messed up over the years -- it is fitness. UPMC has stumbled in this area so much that it must be scared to step onto the treadmill.
YMCA to add second Downtown site At the U.S. Steel Tower, the Downtown Y will team with UPMC, which is moving its headquarters into the city's tallest skyscraper, to operate a wellness center.
To partner with the Downtown YMCA is "interesting."

It might be a nice perk for the top brass at UPMC. How nice for them.

Would have been nice to see UPMC team with the Pens and get a real fitness and community center in The Hill as part of the CBA (Community Benefits Agreement) or in Uptown by Mercy.

It would be nice if the UPMC facility on the South Side had access -- as promised in our CBA -- before CBAs were called CBAs. Twice a month -- 24 times a year -- the community is to have access to the indoor football practice facility. Camps, competitions, community expos and a wide range of other things -- run by community organizations and leaders -- do NOT happen there.

So, who thinks this is true?

With UPMC, which will start moving in this spring (2008), nearly 10,000 people will work in the U.S. Steel Tower alone.
Is that saying UPMC will have 10,000 workers in USX or that there will be 10,000 workers in USX including some from UPMC?

This is what the Downtown YMCA should be doing more and more of. Taking care of downtown workers is not the core mission of the YMCA.

Breast training with Coach Gong in Chengdu, China.
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breastroke training in China
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