Saturday, May 31, 2008

Journeys - Swimming Vacations - Journeys - Swimming Vacations - Don’t Bother With the Hotel Pool - Travel -

Journeys - Swimming Vacations - Journeys - Swimming Vacations - Don’t Bother With the Hotel Pool - Travel - "JOURNEYS | SWIMMING VACATIONS
Don’t Bother With the Hotel Pool

Time will tell -- so he said. Perhaps it already did.

In a thread at another blog with chatter about Luke Ravenstah as mayor, Bram wrote, "Time will tell."

Well, time does not speak.

People tell. Actions speak. Time is generally silent. Time is more often a friend of those in power.

Pittsburgh's best wish would be that time would tell as time and time again we've seen our neighbors depart, our city shrink, an economic decline and the idle time, do-nothing ways of foundations and want-a-be movers and shakers.

Its bad when the 'movers and shakers' are out sung and danced by 'old man time.'

This time, will it be different?

Let's not wait for 'time to tell.'

Looking for a photo of the Pens t-shirt with five languages: Sacrifice

Where can I find a photo of the Penguins Sacrifice t-shirt?

I'm not interested in another t-shirt. But, I'd love to see a photo of the shirt, or the design, or it on a player or fan.

Any help would be welcomed. Post it to the blog.

I hear that the team wears the t-shirts in the games, under the sweaters, of course.

Going on now: Anti-Violence Summer Project Day

Saturday, May 31st
1pm - 3pm
Westinghouse High School (1101 N. Murtland Avenue)

This is Part 1 of Support Campaign to combat the violence in our neighborhoods. This family-friendly free event is sponsored by 9th Grade Nation of Westinghouse High School and PennCORD. Invited community leaders Rev. Ricky Burgess, Randell Taylor, and Alex Mathews will lead the discussions and speak on the issue.
Roxanne Banks with the League of Young Voters Education Fund will be there registering people to vote.

Students, parents, churches, organizations, and any concerned citizen who wants to learn more is invited to attend! Face painting, music, refreshments, prizes and the planting of a Victory Garden will also be a part of the afternoon acitiivites.

More Kraus chatter

I posted some thoughts in a thread at another blog, PghComet, about Bruce Kraus.

Frankly, there are lots of other things that are more important to focus upon. However, some really want to dwell on the silly folly.

I would never have gone to Detroit for a hockey game. But, I'm not going to go out of my way to bash and devote tons of time there when many more important things are here to talk about.

Double talk alert from above.

Bram, you are right. A "previous negative recommendation" from the past, what two mayors ago, means zip when the new kids on the block are trying to be 'open for business.'

Kraus wants to stay in a rut of dispair?

Because the city failed in the past -- it should fail in the future -- it seems to him.

Alert to Bruce: Things change. We are fine with change. We don't want 'changes for the worse.'
"Mr. Kraus: We are stewards of the public purse, ..."

Why rush to hire additional lawyers then? (He has two attempts to hire already, one rushed.)

City bureaucrats should be able to do their jobs without the pre-approval by clearing things with lawyers in advance. That's nuts. That's EXPENSIVE. That's NOT good stewardship nor prudent. That's living in the bottom of a rut.
Bruce: "I am afraid that this will possibly then go to the courts..."

Bruce lives under and spreads FEAR. FUD.
"Mr. Motznik: If you guys would just let Pat (Ford) come to the table."

Exactly, Jim. That was another three hour meeting, or more, just on this topic. Folly. That isn't stewardship. That isn't being respectful of the public purse. That's the creation of civil war -- pompous too.

Mr. Kraus wanted to squander time, by design. He climbed a soapbox and wasn't going away.
"Mr. Kraus: I'm also increasingly concerned about the amount of time always being questioned that we spend at this table. This is the job we do. We are charged to represent the people of the City of Pittsburgh. I don't find it difficult to spend time to do the job in which I was elected to do."

The job Kraus was elected to do is NOT to represent the kittens and puppies in the animal shelter -- at the start of every committee meeting, on TV, generally 20-30 minutes late. Kraus is double-talk personified.
"Mr. Motznik: But we have someone who can answer you question sitting in the audience. You are wasting our time. He can answer your questions. Bring him to the table!"

Bingo! Motznik is right, again.

Kraus generally makes Motznik look to be on the high road. How accomplished is that!

BTW, IMHO, Rev. Burgess was sold 'down da river' by being called as the chair for that meeting. Burgess, as chair, showed his in-experience.

Friday, May 30, 2008

$32-million -- for what? Point State Park should NOT have closed


I love parks. I know parks.

We got ripped off.

They can pat themselves on the back. Meanwhile, $32-million went poof.

Campaign Finance Reform legislation

BILL 2008-0026


Ordinance supplementing the Pittsburgh Code, Title One, Administrative, by adding a new section, Article XIII, entitled, “Campaign Finance Regulations.”

Be it resolved that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh hereby enacts as follows:

Section 1. The Pittsburgh Code, Title One, Administrative, is hereby supplemented by adding a new section, Article XIII, entitled, “Campaign Finance Regulations,” as follows:

Chapter 198: Campaign Finance Regulations

§198.01 Definitions

For purposes of this Chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(1) Candidate

(a) An individual who files nomination papers or petitions for City elective office.

(b) An individual who publicly announces his or her candidacy for City elective office.

(2) Candidate Political Committee.

The one political committee used by a candidate to receive all contributions and make all expenditures as required by §198.03.

(3) City elective office

The offices of Mayor, City Controller, or City Council.

(4) Contribution

Money, gifts, forgiveness of debts, loans, or things having a monetary value incurred or received by a candidate or his/her agent for use in advocating or influencing the election of the candidate.

(5) Covered election

Every primary, general or special election for City elective office.

(6) Person

An individual, partnership, corporation, sole proprietorship, or other form of business organization permitted under the laws of the Commonwealth to make political contributions.

(7) Pre-candidacy contribution

A contribution made to a political committee that: (a) has been transferred to, or otherwise becomes available for expenditure by, a candidate for City elective office; and (b) was made before such candidate became a candidate.

§198.02 Contribution Limitations

(1) Except as provided in subsection (3), no individual shall make total contributions per covered election, including contributions made to or through one or more political committees, of more than two thousand dollars ($2,000) to a candidate for a City elective office.

a. On the Monday following a mayoral general election, the contribution limit shall increase by the percent difference in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Customers (CPI-U) for the previous two years.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (3), no person, other than individuals who are covered under §198.02(1), and no political committee shall make total contributions per covered election of more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) to a candidate for a City elective office.

(3) The limitations imposed by this Chapter shall not apply to contributions from a candidate’s personal resources to the candidate’s political committee. However, if such contributions total $250,000 or more (regardless of the time period over which such contributions are made), then the contribution limits set forth in this Section for all other candidates for that City elective office shall double.

(4) The limitations imposed by this subsection shall not apply to volunteer labor.

(5) No candidate for City elective office, and no political committee, shall accept any contribution which exceeds the contribution limits set forth in this Chapter.

§198.03 Candidate Political Committee Accounts

A candidate for City elective office shall have no more than one political committee and one checking account for the city office being sought, into which all contributions for such office shall be made, and out of which all expenditures for that office shall be made. If the candidate for office maintains other political or non-political accounts for which contributions are solicited, such funds collected in these accounts shall not be used for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a covered election

§198.04 Competitive Bidding and Disclosure

(1) Any person who makes a maximum contribution during an election cycle may not be awarded a contract relating to City affairs, without going through a competitive bidding process.

(2) Any candidate seeking an elective office in the City must submit a disclosure form for every contributor who makes a contribution of five-hundred dollars ($500.00) or more:

1. Does business with or has a contract with the City, its Authorities, Boards or Commissions and the nature of said business or contract for the past five (5) years;

2. Is employed by the City, its Authorities, Boards or Commissions or was employed by the same in the past five (5) years;

3. Has an appointment to any Authority Board or any other Board or Commission of the City or has held one in the past five (5) years;

§198.05 Public Record of Reports

All candidates submitting campaign finance reports to the Allegheny County Department of Elections shall simultaneously file copies with the City Controller for the City of Pittsburgh. The Department of City Information System is responsible for maintaining an up-to-date and public database that is searchable based on the following categories: candidate name, contributor name, contribution level, and, where applicable, employer.

§198.06 Required Notice of Contribution Limits

The Ethics Hearing Board shall annually arrange for the publication of a notice setting forth the contribution limits set forth in this Chapter, together with a plain English explanation of the provisions of this Chapter and the penalties and remedies for violations. Such notice shall also appear at all times on the City’s official website.

§198.07 Penalties and Injunctive Relief

(1) Any person residing in the City of Pittsburgh, including the City Solicitor may bring an action for injunctive relief in any Court of competent jurisdiction to enjoin any violations of, or to compel compliance with, the provisions of this Chapter. The Court may award to a prevailing plaintiff in any such action his or her costs of litigation.

(2) The provisions of this Chapter shall be subject to the jurisdiction of the Ethics Hearing Board.

§198.08 Severability

If any provision of this Ordinance shall be determined to be unlawful, invalid, void, or unenforceable, then that provision shall be considered severable from the remaining provisions of this Ordinance, which shall be in full force and effect.

§198.09 Effective Date; Implementation

(1) This Ordinance shall take on January 1, 2010.

(2) By June 1, 2009 the City Controller should provide City Council with a report on the City’s preparedness of the implementation of this ordinance.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Teachers are a huge concern. Same too with principals.

Article link from Pgh City Paper @ schools.
"I'm not trying to minimize their concerns, and I'm not saying there aren't any, but I haven't been besieged with concerns," Roosevelt adds. "For all of the public turmoil, there is also a lot of excitement."

The above quote is taken from the article "Class Trip" in the May 29 edition of City Paper (see link above). I do admit to taking the quote out of context. The article deals with the very real issue of teacher assignments which I know I, and several others, especially Jen, have brought up. With a son who is entering the diploma programme in the fall, I do not have to worry much about teachers. Teachers who have IB training have preference over non-IB trained. However, if this article is true, there is the possibility of teachers with higher seniority "bumping" non-IB teachers. More experience doesn't necessarily mean better teacher. We are already having to deal with the chaos of a new school; do we need to have a staff that is not used to working together? Sometimes change can be good but too much too quickly can lead to disaster.

Mr. Roosevelt does not think that he has been besieged by concerns. Maybe we need to speak up a little louder, write a few more letters, make sure that we are heard. There a far too many details that have NOT been worked out. Please don't experiment with our children. Plan first, before taking any action.

amy moore
I'm going to 'pile onto this concern and talk a bit about principals. Why on earth would the city hire a new principal for a new school and pick him from a leadership position directly from the worst situation ever?

I'm not sure if the Assistant Principal at Woodland Hills, a place where one teacher this year has already had to break up 60 fights within the school, is fit for a leadership position in a new school in Pittsburgh -- in the Hill District.

Generally, discipline falls onto the shoulders of the "assistant principal." Clearly, the school year at Woodland Hills has been a disaster. Good for him for getting out. Bad for us for getting a promotion here.

So, there are no problems with hiring teachers?

Connect the dots.

The district has already lost too many battles in the front lines of the war with 'trust.' Discpline was to be the battle cry for the year too. Yeah, right.

Multimedia Center from the P-G visits with Bill -- where is Justine?

Multimedia Center: "Post-Gazette staff writer Bill Toland and Bill Peduto, councilman for District 8, discuss several issues important to residents of Pittsburgh.

Penguins to open arena for Game 5

Great news. Pens keep arena open for game five. Well now. Let's continue the streak and keep the arena open for the next 15 years. Sure, build a new arena. Play the games there. But, keep the existing arena for overflow and community, err civic, events.
Penguins to open arena for Game 5: "Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals will be on the road Monday night in Detroit, but Pensguins fans can watch from the comforts of home ice, yet again.

The Penguins announced today that they will open Mellon Arena for Game 5 so that fans can watch the game on the arena Jumbotron.

Great news: The lame duck is dead, at least in one chamber

Following is a statement on today's decision by Senate leadership not to convene lame-duck session this year:

The Senate's decision not to hold lame-duck session is an important step in the right direction. For at least this year, it gives Pennsylvania citizens the same protection against post-election deal-making that citizens in most states already enjoy. Since the House cannot enact legislation without the Senate, citizens may rest easy after Election Day.

This is an improvement that 82 percent of Pennsylvania voters want, according to a 2007 Keystone Poll. It's good to see that Senate leadership values demonstrating that things really can change for the better in the Capitol.


* Will House leadership make the same declaration?
* Will House leadership pass legislation amending the Constitution to prohibit lame-duck session permanently?
* Will House leadership pass a law to the same effect until a Constitutional amendment can take effect?
* Where do your legislators stand on this issue?

My answers:

I am against all lame duck sessions.

I would try to amend the Constitution, and the city charter, to prevent the spending of any money in a lame-duck period.

I'm not sure where our state reps stand on this issue. If you do, please inject into the comments.

Rush to judgment

Op-Ed by citizens who care about our schools.
Rush to judgment Closing Schenley cannot be justified until the school district develops a high school reform plan

By Linda Metropulos and Jill Weiss

On May 19, Pittsburgh Schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt recommended that Schenley High School be closed -- even though a comprehensive, districtwide high school reform plan has not been formulated or presented to the school board.
Linda Metropulos (lmetropulos and Jill Weiss ( are co-chairs of a committee working to save Schenley High School.

Without such a plan, how can the decision be made to close one of the most illustrious and successful schools in the district, a building that could be saved if the right team of professionals helped guide the process? We are asking the school board to table the Schenley vote until a comprehensive analysis has been conducted and publicly debated.

Members of the board, parents, students and the public have asked for a comprehensive reform plan. The only plan so far has been to close Schenley because it has deteriorated, thanks to years of neglect and poorly executed renovations.

Mr. Roosevelt stated that the district must choose "instruction over bricks" while not revealing the true cost of re-opening two schools and renovating two additional schools to accommodate the current Schenley student body of 1,100 students. According to Mr. Roosevelt, Schenley would cost at least $76 million to renovate. When board members questioned the cost to remodel four schools to accommodate Schenley students, they were given a low-ball estimate of $35 million.

There is some question as to whether these numbers are only construction costs or complete project costs. A report by MCF Architects that compares the cost of renovating Schenley to those of renovating the Reizenstein building has not been released to the board or the public. How can the board undertake a smart and fiscally prudent vote when information is confusing, sketchy or withheld?

It is also disappointing that the International Baccalaureate program, one of the strongest academic programs currently offered by the Pittsburgh Public Schools and a reason many families have stayed within the city, would be set adrift, with no permanent home identified until 2009. The lack of a well-thought-out plan for the IB program is causing chaos and concern and is forcing many families to look for other options for their children.

It is disingenuous to assume an inexpensive building solution is going to mysteriously appear for 1,100 IB students from throughout the district. Why would the administration want to prematurely eliminate Schenley from future consideration? What other options are there?

Mr. Roosevelt talks about creating a science and technology school, possibly alongside the Carnegie Science Center. Are we to believe funds will mysteriously appear for this school, as well?

Over the past year, a committee of concerned professionals has been meeting to look at renovation and fund-raising options for Schenley. Schenley is so well constructed that it would cost more than $500 per square foot to build new today -- about twice the value of modern school buildings. Why walk away from such a formidable structure?

There are alternative ways to approach the needed improvements that would cost less than the worst-case scenario that Mr. Roosevelt presented to the board. An investment in Schenley now could allow the school to be used for another 100 years.

One idea is to re-use the building's original passive system for ventilation instead of installing air conditioning. There are numerous such practical options that could lower the cost of renovation. Pittsburgh prides itself on being a leader in green design and construction; what better way to demonstrate this than by keeping an institution of this caliber functioning instead of discarding it?

Mr. Roosevelt said his staff had looked at possible state and national resources to renovate Schenley but had found nothing useful. However, our committee has found numerous programs that might be available.

Schenley High School has been set adrift by the Roosevelt administration. The superintendent says we cannot afford to save the building where Nobel Prize winners and internationally known artists and musicians were educated. He says we cannot afford to renovate the building in which politicians, civil rights lawyers, star actors and athletes have been nurtured and where children from throughout the city have thrived and learned.

Our question is how can we afford not to renovate this building, one where students of every color and social strata choose to attend school together. Living and learning together is a life lesson that cannot be taught in books; it becomes a part of us only through experience and tolerance.

We have been told that the fate of Schenley must be decided now. We are asking school board members to table the issue beyond their June meeting until they can make an informed decision.

Keeping alive the option of renovating Schenley High School would be choosing "students and bricks.

Schenley High School, interview with board member


Budget Discussion about schools

Another school meeting. These meetings should happen with the district. Instead, they sub-contract to A+ Schools. Thankfully A+ Schools is there to be a bit of an escape value. But, when you really have some troubles with the schools, you don't want to go talk to the lunch-room lady.

A+ Schools is to Pgh Public Schools as a lunch-room lady is to a school principal.

That isn't an original quote authored by me. However, it came from one of the four citizens who recently spoke to the Pgh Public School Administrators and Board at last month's public testimony meeting.
Join A+ Schools to talk about the PPS budget!

Schools and Money: Community Meeting on School Budgets

A+ Schools, in cooperation with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, invites you to attend this community meeting about the PPS site based budgeting process and the budget reductions that result from enrollment declines. We’ll discuss maintaining educational priorities as part of the budget process.

Monday, June 9th
6PM to 8 PM
Life’s Work of Western PA
1323 Forbes Avenue, Uptown (across from Duquesne University’s Palumbo Center)
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

TO REGISTER: Sign up online at or by calling 412-258-2660 ext. 101.

FREE Dinner and childcare (for children over 1) will be provided to registrants.

Free parking is available in the Life’s Work parking lot as well as the nearby streets.

Please RSVP by Friday, June 6th.

Theresa Smith's comments:

As many of you know, I have requested that A+ Schools schedule a meeting with PPS regarding the budget. I am thrilled that they have successfully scheduled the meeting and that PPS has agreed to meet, please see the meeting information below. The intention of the meeting is to provide folks with an opportunity to receive answers pertaining to the PPS individual school budgets. Many of our schools face serious cuts in funding and PPS has mentioned that they attribute the declining enrollment as one factor. I did question ...what would happen to the funds that would no longer be allocated directly to the schools. I was told the funds would remain in the general budget and could be redirected to other PPS initiatives. I am hoping parents realize the importance of showing a large crowd to reflect our concerns for our children and all schools.

Thank you for considering attending this worthwhile meeting and I hope to see you there,

Theresa Smith

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Live blogging: City council

These are urgent times for kittens. Thanks for that knowledge Mr. Kraus. He thinks you'd be doing a "great service" to the city by adopting a cat or dog. We learned this at 10:20 am, 20-minutes after the scheduled meeting should have begun.

In campaign finance reform discussions.

Rev. Burgess does not want to have the reporting to include spouse info. So, if Mrs. Ravenstahl makes a donation to someone, then she'd not need to note that she is the spouse of an important person (authority board member, etc.).

Tonya is confused. She said, "I'm confused here."

Darlene does not want to neuter the political action committees. She feels that the amount of donations should increase for PACs. Hey, neuter those pets Darlene.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vo Tech in our schools

The P-G did an article about Vo Tech in schools. This is a topic that I've talked about on many instances.

But, I don't get to talk to Jon Delano on a Sunday morning TV show, like the media darling, Superintendent of Schools, Mark Roosevelt.

The article by P-G's Joe Smydo, is something to look at with an eye to fine detail.

It is very funny, and tragic, that the mentions of 'cutting edge Vo Tech lessons' are being hyped as a part of the Engineering Magnet at Taylor Alderdice High School. The Dice students have an interesting program. The Dice students are NOT Vo Tech students.

South Vo Tech High School closed a few years ago. Vo Tech education in Pittsburgh Public Schools is frail, at best.

Pittsburgh Public Schools needs to do an overhaul of its Vo Tech positions and programs. This was promised years ago. It is late and long over due. The administration has not done its homework in this regard, like the other missing plans for high school reform.

When South Vo Tech closed, we were promised a comprehensive plan for Vo Tech Education. We are still waiting.

The article has plenty of interesting talk. Sadly, there is very little evidence of that talk being walked in the schools of Pittsburgh -- with the smaller, specialized expection of the Alderdice Engineer Magnet.

Brings May Flowers ... slideshow

Gives new meaning for local drivers of "flipping the bird"

Took this photo while walking the sidewalk in another city.

This guy was right outside of these joints:

and . It was like he was a prop!

He makes our pigeon problem look small. Pound for pound, don't know how it stacks up with the geese that Dan Onorato needed to gas at the local parks last year.

What's going on here? (game)

Photo 1:

Photo 2:

Comments welcomed.

Hint: Both photos were taken in the same stretch of road (perhaps a private driveway), outside a hotel in Amsterdam.

City Council intends to hire its own attorney

The taxpayers of the city already pay for a legal department. We don't want to pay for another.

I'm with Motznik and Dowd.
City Council intends to hire its own attorney Council members Jim Motznik and Patrick Dowd did not sign the letter.
If you have five pitchers on the team and they are not getting the job done, fire the pitching coach -- and -- fire a few of the pitchers. Bring up a few new replacements.

Don't hire a sixth lawyer. Don't hire more.

To rebuild our city, we must take down some of the broken parts first. Then we can build on solid ground.

City council should move to make the budget for the law department ZERO for the next six months. The law department isn't doing the job it needs to do. So, they should not be funded.

City council has the power of the purse. Use it.

The city, the taxpayers, and the citizens are all going to suffer -- nobody wins -- when more lawyers are hired. When parts of the city fight with other parts -- the only victors are the lawyers. We don't need more lawyers. We don't need to spend additional money on lawyers when the ones we have don't do the jobs that they should be doing.

What do the OVERLORDS say about the hiring of additional attorneys? They are often attorneys too -- so that will be interesting.

How about if the members of city council want to get a second opinion, then they go to the Act 47 Overlords or the ICA Overlords (we have too many of them too) -- and ask their attorneys to come up with an answer.

So, we really have the city law department, plus, we have the law departments of the two sets of overlords. I figure that is THREE sets of attorneys.

How about if they run to one of the authorities and use the legal council that they hold on retainer.

The School District has its own attorney. Perhaps we can get some additional work out of him?

What about the Allegheny County Bar Association? What about some of the law schools in the area? Perhaps Pitt Law or Duquesne Univ. might be willing to help out in a pinch?

Is this about patronage and jobs, again?

Why not get some advice from the lawyers that are quick to rush into municipal bond deals?

In the past, Jim Motznik hired attorneys to do the work of his district out of his district's slush fund. If the staff of the council is not good enough with law -- then perhaps a member of city council should hire a lawyer for his or her staff. Use staff money to hire lawyers. That is already in the budget.

City council staffers are too busy working on the next pets to present before city council meetings. There are the proclamations too -- but here, I mean dogs and cats. Council and Bruce Kraus is working to make sure that the animal shelters are moving animals.

The legislation that was presented and eventually passed today was redundant, so he said himself. There were changes (amendments) to the new law that came after talking with a local District Judge. Thanks District Magistrate King. Pittsburgh does NOT need new laws that are just re-dos of ones that are already on the books.


City Council increases fines before passing graffiti bill: "Now vandals can be hit with fines ranging from $250 to $1,400 per incident, depending on the amount of damage done, in addition to being compelled to remove the graffiti. Councilwoman Tonya Payne pushed for the higher fines -- up from a range of $100 to $500 approved last week -- which were unanimously approved."

More questions:

Is council going to do a national search for its lawyer? Will this be a bid process? Can a 'retainer' be used for the contract?

Did the present law office director undergo scrutiny after Luke fired all (or most) the directors? They had to re-apply, right? What about George?

Does council provide a 'performance evaluation' of the law department and its director? Does the mayor?

What do the OVERLORDS think about more spending by city council for marginal value added services in terms of fixing the city's massive debt? Might the overlords nix the contract for council's own attorney?

Pittsburgh Pist-Gazette: Patrick Dowd On The “Politics Of The Middle”

Pittsburgh Pist-Gazette: Patrick Dowd On The “Politics Of The Middle”: Patrick Dowd On The “Politics Of The Middle” By Bram and Char
Fellow bloggers talk to Patrick Dowd. Long posting. Nice insights. My comments are over there and posted in these comments for my records.


Great work bloggers. Keep it up.

Fantastic opening season Mr. Dowd.

Now if you only had the time to get into saving Schenley, working on Vo Tech plans and urban recreation -- we might be able to die more slowly with the bleeding of our young people in the city and region.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

C-Span -- LIVE -- NOW -- Libertarian Party Convention

Tune into the C-SPAN coverage of the . Our guys from Pittsburgh are there too.

The first round vote count is happening now. Real democracy at work.

PA Voted as follows:

6 Bob Barr

5 George Phillies

7 Mike Gravel

1 Mike Jingozian

2 Dr. Mary Ruwart

1 Steve Kubby

3 write ins

0 Wayne Allen Root

0 Christine Smith (given an anti Barr speech on her way off the podium.)

First vote totals and candidates for the second vote:
  • Barr, 153, = 25%
  • Mary Ruwart, 152, = 25%
  • Root, 123
  • Gravell, 71
  • Phillies, 49
  • Kubby, = 41, = 7%
    2nd vote:
  • Barr, 188
  • Rwart, 162
  • Root, 138
  • Gravel, 73
  • Phillies, 36
  • S.Kubby = 32


PA's final vote: 15 for Bob Barr, 8 for Mary Ruwart, 2 for None of the above.

The Libertarian nomination for US President goes to Bob Barr.

Next up, the running mate.

I'll help him pack his home and office

Talk about the future of this guy's career is not welcomed because I'd rather work on fixing the schools. Sure, he his breaking them as fast as possible. But that isn't the real problem. However, if he needs some boxes, tape or a hand when it comes to moving -- let me know. I'll be glad to volunteer.
The final solution to $8-a-gallon gas - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: ".

ROOSEVELT WILL NOT RUN. Besides facing a firestorm of criticism over his plan to close Schenley High School, city schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt has also been the target of rumors about job opportunities elsewhere.

Roosevelt told Whispers he wants to dispel the gossip once and for all.

'I've been approached about a lot of jobs,' he said. 'I'm not interviewing with anybody. There was one job I got into deep discussion about, but it was not a superintendency.'

Roosevelt declined to specify what that job -- or any of the others -- was about or where it might have taken him."

Earthquake lessons?

Earthquake lessons? - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Somebody better tell President Bush to send his FEMA director to China.

Looks to me like its government can handle a disaster far better than ours.

Lynn Ford, Gibsonia
Let's do all we can to pull our troops out of bases in foreign land and have them here, state-side. Then if there is an earthquake in the United States, we'll be able to deploy the people here to save ourselves, re-open the roads, check on the dams, fix the bridges, clear rubble, mend crushed bodies and bring relief where it is urgently needed.

Told ya. If you missed it -- too bad for you. Schenley's musical claims top prize

Kelly Awards.... and the envelope please.... (drum roll) ....
It will be in tomorrow's paper but I couldn't wait to break the news: Schenley's musical All Shook Up won best musical in the low budget category. Schenley student, Teressa LaGamba, won best supporting actress at the Kelly Awards presented last night. It is nice to have others recognize what the Schenley family has always known: Schenley musicals are magic!
Thanks for the news from our regular network of insiders!

2008 Gene Kelly Awards announced: "The Benedum Center was packed Saturday night as Pittsburgh CLO and the University of Pittsburgh honored Allegheny County high schools with the 18th annual Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musical Theater."
See the article on the show:

Award winning Kelly Critic review: "All Shook Up," Schenley, April 24-May 3: "It was this evident sense of community that allowed Schenley to take what would otherwise be written off as a testing situation and turn it into something truly magical. Whether in the moments of surprisingly-well-executed dramatic and choreographic teamwork (for a group of over 40 performers), or in the unmistakable passion shining through the smiles of each cast member, Schenley managed to prove, as their program so wholeheartedly attests, 'They can take the kids out of Schenley, but they can't take the Schenley MAGIC out of the kids!'"

Friday, May 23, 2008

More on Schenley and talk on Schools

The first part is from Jill Weiss. I'm not 100% certain where the second part came from. These were part of an email blast from concerned taxpayers and parents.
From Jill Weiss:

Mark Roosevelt's recommendation that Schenley be closed as a PPS and that the district could not afford to renovate it came as a surprise, because the last conversation I'd had led me to believe that the recommendation would be to not officially close it; as he said, "this would give us time to continue to look at options." Last night, he stated that he is living in the "real world" and that requires hard choices.

Important questions were raised by some of the board members. Heather Arnet asked if there was anyone on staff who had been actively looking for funding on every level, and after hesitation, the answer was "yes," a response that was clearly not the case. She also requested that the board be shown a comprehensive high school reform plan before any vote be taken in June, so the board would know what expenditures they would be voting on in the near future, and Roosevelt denied that this would be able to be available. Sherry Hazuda also asked that the board be informed more completely of a comprehensive high school reform plan, if one exists. Randall Taylor reiterated that there is so much spending going on at other buildings which could be put into Schenley.

What has become clear is that the numbers for Schenley have been examined so much more thoroughly than those for the options that the district wants to take. Numbers have also been manipulated to fit the reform options. The Schenley numbers continue to be inflated by increasing construction costs, but the district project numbers do not. Roosevelt appears willing to accept the high number from MCF Architects, and all of their recommendations about Schenley (increasing costs, occupancy, and construction schedules), but he dismisses their numbers for Reizenstein, going with the lower district numbers.

The plan for the students of the new IB school is to stay at a minimally renovated Reizenstein for 4 years and during that time a permanent home will be found for them. Derek Lopez (head of high school reform) stated by that time the "Schenley students will have faded away." A committee will be formed to look for a permanent home for the IB school. What was not made clear was that this new home will also require money for renovation which could be approaching the cost of Schenley, depending on the state of the building.

I am asking others to write letters to the editor and letters to board members asking these same questions (or at least making a request to table the vote until there is a comprehensive reform plan.) Testifying publicly on June 16 is also effective. Please keep in mind the veracity of the district numbers for other reform projects as compared with the "real" costs of Schenley.

I am willing to keep working for the building, at least until the June vote, if not longer, as much for the process of letting the public know all of the facts, and but also to continue to show why the public has been so engaged with this issue.


More details from A+ IB meeting on Tuesday night:

There is a list for the committee to find a new site for the IB building, by this November (although they are planning on a 4 year commitment to Reizenstein). If you'd like to see the members (or proposed members) give me a holler. Two parents are to be chosen by principals of Frick and "Schenley" to be on this committee.

Mr. Roosevelt confirmed that the University Prep program is aimed at "below proficient" (PSSA terms) students. Also that as the new high schools (IB, but particularly University Prep and Science - Technology) are opened, there will be, over the course of several years be a decrease in comprehensive high schools in the district to "3, maybe 4."

He also made the interesting point that while there is still a trend toward population decreases in the city, there may also be an increase seen as the casino (and associated businesses like hotels) open. These could lead to increases in populations (at least in areas) of the city schools.


Components of a comprehensive High School reform plan would seem to include:

A report on all buildings in the district (including suitability for different ages, location, long-term costs for renovation, re-use, short and long-term maintenance costs) -- parts of this were done by A+ schools, but more with an eye toward selling closed schools.

More information about Science-Technology (is it also aimed at low-performing students?) The planning for this school (opening 2009-2010 school year) is said to be nearly complete. However, it doesn't yet have a building.

Vocational education given a high priority.

Three stranded planning -- what will the district look like if

• enrollment declines continue indefinitely
• enrollment levels off at or near current levels
• enrollment increases either due to programming or new families moving in to the city

Reflection -- Mourn -- Pray -- China slideshow

I took these photos while visiting a temple in China. They are all in the public domain and can be used by anyone for any purpose.

If you can furnish additional insight as to what the various names and purpose of the elements in these photos, please type away and explain. Input can occur within the comments of this blog. Also, each photo in this album has a spot that allows input.

Civic Arena could OPEN for all HOME GAMES after the building of the new arean

Wouldn't it be nice to have the existing Mellon Arena, the original Civic Arena, be open for all Pens games -- home and away -- in future years even after the new arena is built.

They are going to build a new arena. They could keep the existing one.

Rather than watching the game in the parking lot -- invite the excess fans to a game-day festival within the existing arena. Furthermore, ticket holders to the Pens Game could swing by the older, historic, civic arena before and after games.

The combination of the Civic Arena next to the new arena would provide for a "net gain" in development for the city and the region. We'd be able to host bigger event. Have flexibility to have scholastic, college and club hockey on many more dates -- not with a conflict with the pop concerts.

The tractor pulls can be at the existing Civic Arena -- while the latest rock concerts can be at the new venue.

The existing arena can be set up with lots of smaller spaces, push-carts, vendors, mini-stands selling funnel cakes, etc.

The Civic Arena has always been a great place to gather as a community -- and be 'civic.'
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Safe Summer & Lifeguarding

Have a safe summer. Perhaps you should get your "lifeguarding certification."

I'm going to take a recertification course from noon to 5 pm on June 13 at the Monroeville JCC Family Park, $75.

The full lifeguarding course is slated for 9 am to 6 pm on Wed. June 11, Thurs. 12, and Friday June 13 with the cost of $175 for JCC members and $200 non members.

For more insights, call 412 278-1975 and talk to the instructor, Earleen Birkner, aquatics at the South Hills JCC.

Hill District housing development gets $1.3 million in tax credits - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Hill District housing development gets $1.3 million in tax credits - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review The Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency has awarded $1.3 million in tax credits to the Oak Hill mixed-income housing development in the Hill District, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said Thursday.

The credits will be put toward the construction of the Wadsworth Hall activity and office center, which is part of the latest $90 million development phase.

Boston-based developer Beacon/Corcoran Jennison will start construction on Wadsworth this fall. The developer will begin working on 40 homes for low-income residents and 50 homes that will be sold at market rate. When Oak Hill is finished, it will have 450 new homes, parks, office and retail space.
Humm. This story is short on details. Meanwhile, the Oak Hill saga hasn't been brief.
Residents Demand Immediate Action In Repairing The Hill District - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Representatives from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s office toured the problematic areas. Many residents said their continuous requests to repair street curbs, ...

Pittsburgh Laurels - who is green now?

Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review If Pittsburgh truly is serious about historic preservation, shouldn't a campaign be on in earnest to raise the necessary dollars to rehabilitate Schenley High School in the heart of Oakland? The district says it can't afford the $76.2 million price tag for repairs. But an architect says given the exquisite nature of the building, it's worth fixing. Sounds like the Pittsburgh Promise needs a subsidiary.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

3 WVU profs cite M.B.A. scandal in deciding to leave

3 WVU profs cite M.B.A. scandal in deciding to leave
How many are NOT moving into Pittsburgh and how many are going to still be departing because of the goofy leadership of the Pittsburgh Public Schools?

Take Your Father to School Day -- on Friday

We gathered to promote the 10th annual, Take Your Father to School Day, this week on Grant Street.

I'll be going into my son's school to visit a bit in the classroom and have lunch with the kids.

Days and time to mourn and pray -- lighting a fire

China is ending its three days of national mourning. This began one week after the original earthquake that was northwest of Chengdu. Flags were lowered. The Olympic Torch took a break from its country-wide tour leading up to the 8-8-08 event when the world gathers in Beijing.

Meanwhile, some people are still coming to the light after being crushed for more than a week. And, after shocks are nothing to sneeze at either.

I propose that the United States, or perhaps, just Pennsylvania, or perhaps, just Pittsburgh -- hold its own time to mourn, reflect, pray, and adjust perspectives about natural disasters that have hit in China and Burmma.

Should Pittsburgh and perhaps the rest of the world, hold a two-day period so as to mourn with those on the other side of the world in their terrible time of grief?

Let's begin this one MONTH after the quake.

Until then, keep digging, drying and cleaning. And may the offerings bring you comfort.

The earthquake happened on May 12, 2008. A ONE MONTH rememberance would begin at 2 pm, or so, local time, June 12 through the 13th and end mid-day on the 14th.

Politicians are like rats.

Politicians are like rats. What they steal for themselves is minuscule compared to what they destroy getting it.

Luke, Dan: Go have a good time in Detroit. Tip: Beware of these.

Comcast fires Barry Nolan over Bill O’Reilly protest -

Comcast fires Barry Nolan over Bill O’Reilly protest - “He’s delusional,” Nolan said of O’Reilly, a former Boston TV anchor. “He’s a man that mangles the facts.”

At the awards, Nolan said he quietly put fliers on tables that “simply had” quotes from O’Reilly as well as three pages from the sexual harassment lawsuit O’Reilly settled that was brought by his former producer.
Comcast might not like whistleblowers too much.

Ideas from a citizen consultant to the PPS Board and Administration

Leslie V. Horne

NNACP Pittsburgh Branch

PPS Public Hearing Testimony

May 12, 2008

There is a crisis in the Accelerated Learning Academies. You recall that these were advertised as a giant step forward in eliminating the racial and socio-economic achievement gaps that are the shame of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. I am especially concerned about the state of the ALA’s because the vast majority of students in these schools are poor and/or African American.

My calling is to speak for those children.

The following are facts garnered from first hand sources in the ALA’s. The original posting for ALA administrators required a 3 year contract.

Proposed: Principals would be able to choose staff from a pool of candidates who wanted to work in an ALA. The difference in pay scale would attract the best and brightest. Principals were told that they would be able to staff their entire buildings without fear of cuts and that seniority and union issues would not be a concern because it was "new" model.

Reality: Principals were unable to hire clerical and custodial staff and many first choice staff selections were cut or bumped out of their positions by senior district employees who in most cases did not want to work in ALAs. Principals in most cases were left with third round choices or no choice at all. At one point, principals were meeting with human resources simply picking from a list of teachers that simply did not have positions anywhere in the district. These people only had to stay for one year (despite the promise that teachers had to commit to a three year contracts) and most of them transferred at the beginning of this year. Teachers can make more money attending a few workshops and working after-school programs.

Proposed: The original model had each ALA with a foreign language and some had Home Ec or computer classes.

Reality: These classes were cut due to either staffing and/or financial problems.

Proposed: Dr. Spampinato told the ALA principals that their budgets would not be cut during the first year.

Reality: She lost her position and budgets were cut when the other district schools made cuts. Proposed: Teachers would receive extensive in-service training on America’s Choice.

Reality: Most ALA staff did not receive adequate training on America's Choice. There were two full day sessions held in Oakland for staff. However, when the training took place, buildings were not completely staffed and in other cases people who went to the training were cut later in the year. Schools received improvement funds and money for "at risk" students but as all district schools get a portion of this funding it was not additional.

Proposed: ALAs receive money to buy classroom libraries.

Reality: This money was only available for the first year and it did not include enough copies for each student or adequate classroom sets.

Proposed: Instructional resources will be plentiful and available when needed.

Reality: The Ramp-up curriculum materials did not arrive to ALAs in a prompt manner. In several cases the books were weeks late and schools had to xerox them. This was true for some teacher materials too. When these materials arrived coaches and teachers found computational and editing errors.

Other problems that impacted the ALAs successful implementation: The America’s Choice Cluster Leader who was responsible for providing technical assistance to ALA math teachers resigned and ALAs went several weeks without a replacement. Principals had to make staffing changes to accommodate this program which proved to be inadequate for students that were in certain ability levels. Most of the ALAs decreased the number of these classes significantly this year. The America’s Choice support is provided by two cluster leaders who provide support one day a month to each of the Academies. This is inadequate.

Most ALAs are not air conditioned and start school in August. In some schools, rooms reach temps exceed 100 degrees during August and September.

The parent engagement piece is lacking because of the low pay scale and lack of qualifications required by this position. Parents of ALA students are not required to participate any more than other schools and do not have increased accountability.

Three ALA principals have either taken medical leaves or sabbaticals during the 2007-08 school year. A significant number of these principals are relatively new administrators. They feel threatened, not supported. And, the district may lose some of them who are dedicated and caring but frustrated and unappreciated. They are penalized for poor performance even when they have teachers who are on improvement plans and do not want to work in ALAs. The burden of the PA tenure law allows a bad teacher to stay in a classroom for TWO YEARS before firing. The ALAs have a lack of adequate support staff.

These schools are set up for failure. The NAACP will not accept inadequate education for our children. This is a promise.

Digital Summer Camp, a spin out of PodCamp

Background statement about critical issues leading to the efforts for the summer of 2008.

The Bruce Kraus authored "moratorium" is working like a charm

The Bruce Kraus authored "moratorium" is working like a charm. It is such a relief to see that sins of the city are getting resolved with extra time to deliberate and comprehend the "progress" that has been occurring at "breakneck speeds."

Don't you think? April 1, 2008 -- such a milestone.

Mr. Kraus has a knack of injecting more rust into a system that is already overflowing with fear, uncertainty and doubt.

From what I heard, Jim Motznik did NOT talk on the air to Marty G about the Pens' sign situation. Motznik didn't fuel that conversation one bit, as described in another blog thread. Marty G did try to bring up the subject and Motznik didn't bite, but passed on discussing it.

Bram, the Reebok logo does NOT make the sign advertising. Even without the sponsored logo, the sign is still advertising. The Pens and NHL are not charities.

Bram may have posted in another thread on another blog, "This sign could have gone up like that (snaps fingers) if Reebok or Nike or whomever was not advertising on them, but they were."

Isn't the Bruce Kraus authored "moratorium" is working like a charm????
Banners For Penguins Hit Grant Street Snag
KDKA - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Councilman Bill Peduto says the moratorium was never the issue - it was the size of the 40ft by 85ft banners. "The sign is over the maximum amount of ...

Mayor of Pittsburgh, city council in hockey fight over banners, ethics
Detroit Free Press - United States
"There were no ultimate decisions made," said Councilman Bruce Kraus. Council drafted the holiday legislation, and he was ready to introduce it -- until he ...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pittsburgh Plans To Get Tough on Graffiti Vandals - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Plans To Get Tough on Graffiti Vandals - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh 'I want to see the complete eradication of graffiti, every piece of graffiti in this city,' said Pittsburgh Councilman Bruce Kraus.
One's "wants" and "needs" are not the same, Bruce. What you "want" is up for review.

I don't want my kid, nor his peers, to have his driver's license taken from him for years because he has a magic marker in his pocket.

I don't want the Pittsburgh Police running sting operations against local merchants. Merchants are not guilty of making the graffiti.

Over-reaching sucks. There are problems that are sure to unfold.

A 'conspiracy' has often become a 'code word' for lynching innocent people by those who are badge empowered.

I do not favor the taking of property by the police for their own use. Asset forfeiture stinks. Ever hear of the successes of the 'war on drugs?'

"I'm absolutely convinced that abatement is the answer," said Kraus.

Well then, why the talk about punishments? If abatement is the answer, do abatement in spades.

I agree. Abatement empowerment is a worthy direction. Go there. Going elsewhere is sure to be counter-productive on many fronts.

Man vs. Che = SuperBowl of football (in Moscow with UK teams)

ESPN2, live.

Score was: 1 to 1 at halftime.

Ended in a shoot out.

I wonder, with all the international publicity (for both Manchester, UK; and Chelsa, UK) will there will be many headed there for vacations and/or business opportunities.

BTW, Peter's Pub on East Carson Street was jumping!

Downtown banners for Penguins put on ice - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Downtown banners for Penguins put on ice - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Two giant Downtown banners heralding the Pittsburgh Penguins quest for the Stanley Cup have been put on ice thanks to a quarrel between City Council and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration.

Where oh where can the banners be hung?

How about in the shape of a "M" and put on the top of the US Steel Building?

From signs

How about from the upper deck at PNC Park?

How about if the are used as a patch on the roof at the Convention Center?
From Convention Ce...

How about as a wind-break on the construction site of the new slots parlor on the North Side?

How about within Century III Mall?

How about as a massive slip and slide on Rt. 28 or Kilbuck Township?

From playground - usa

How about from the broken bridge on the upriver side of the Birmingham Bridge, still in one lane status?

Or, what about on the closed lower McArdle Roadway?

From playground - usa

How about on a stand right behind the still closed Point State Park bandstand? Why in the hell is that place still closed? Work has not been done for months within Point State Park.

How about if the banner goes into the Pittsburgh International Airport to close off the empty wing that is now vacant due to the shrinkage of US Airways over the years.

Perhaps a banner could be floated on the surface of the river tied to one of the many sets of locks and dams that are in frail conditions throughout the region?

A banner could be hung within the Civic Arena -- as that building is going to be torn down shortly.

Why not in the new cafatorium at Reisenstein School? It is both a cafeteria and an auditorium. Might as well be a banner-torium too. There are NO WINDOWS within Reisenstein, so you won't be able to peek in from the outside and see it. But, fear not, in a few years it will take $50-million, or more, to fix up Reisenstein into a decent school. Some zealots (Mark Roosevelt) want to move out of Schenley to save $30-million and pay $20-million additional to 'save money.' Might as well give the banner to them as the might need to use it as a tent to teach under given all the sky-is-falling fears of asbestos that is throughout all the schools in the district.

Let's fold the banner into a door sized package. Then put the banner on the office doorway of Bruce Krause in city hall to cover up the other sign that shows how much money they are raising to cover legal bills that were not approved for fighting a sign that had ethical implications.

Perhaps the banner could be used to cover up the abandoned building that the Penguins left in the heart of the city in the middle of a park -- also known as the Neville Ice Rink -- closed for many years now.

From playground - usa

Red Tide Report: Kiefer Commits to Carthage Class of 2031

Great grandson of gold medalist, Adolph Kiefer.
Red Tide Report: Kiefer Commits to Carthage Class of 2031: "Kiefer Commits to Carthage Class of 2031

Somers, WI - Carthage College men's swimming coach Greg Earhart today announced the signing of River Jeremy Kiefer to swim for Carthage beginning in 2027.

Harris and Kraus pimping animals at city council before more serious business

Two members of city council feel it is good public policy to delay the start of city council meetings to pet cute cats and dogs and promote efforts of the animal shelter. The meeting didn't start until after 10:25 am -- a full 25 minutes late.

There is no problem with promotions of valid causes. That is what the 3-minutes of public comment is designed to provide. Give the people at the animal shelter a chance to go to the microphone and train the cameras on the animals then. That is public comment.

Furthermore, there is a fix that I proposed for getting the meetings to start on time.

At 10 am sharp, turn on the microphone and cameras. Point them at the podium where citizens give public comment. Open the cable broadcasts from 10 am until the chair of the council hits the gavel. Citizens, including animal lovers, could talk and promote as they wish, self organizing, until the meeting begins.

For example, today's meeting started at 10:25 AM, not 10. There could have been 25 minutes of extra citizen comment until the council members arrived at their seats to do their jobs and conduct the meeting.

There would be NO extra charges if the cameras were turned ON at the correct time. The camera operators are there. The signal is being piped to the cable and to the various TVs around the city. The resources are being wasted.

What will really happen -- however -- will be much different. They will start the meetings at 10 am. Otherwise, they'd have to face the wrath of the citizens for extended remarks at the podium.

Meanwhile, Bruce Kraus and Darlene Harris should work on something of greater merit while on city council. The city's population is half of what it was. The city's debt is massive. Get to work. Give the animal shelter folks a golden invite to join the citizens at the podium within public comment.

Animal Friends: Animal Friends: Home Page Click on one of the faces above to meet a homeless animal who needs your help.

Allegheny Institute Blog: Time out Chief Executive

Allegheny Institute Blog: Time out Chief Executive: "Time out Chief Executive
Following a meeting between state legislators, Mayor Ravenstahl and Chief Executive Onorato regarding the proposed City-County merger, the Chief Executive was quoted as saying, “They (the legislators) agreed that if the two of us want to push this, they shouldn’t block it.”

Well how generous of the legislators. Perhaps they might want to consider the views of County Council, City Council, elected municipal officials and citizens groups before yielding the field to the Mayor and Chief Executive. There are a lot of reasons to slow this train down. Not least of which is there is no real plan for people to debate or discuss. No structure, no talk of potential savings, no estimate of job reductions, nothing."

Banners for Pens

Marty G asked:

Banners UP -- IF -- they pay.

Banners can go up on private property. That should be 'legal' in libertarian world. If damages occur, they'd be on the hook, of course.

On public property -- no banners unless they pay -- and cover the fix up costs of Schenley High School -- for example.

Read the Cappy Complaint from the League of Women Voters

Now online at

Russ Diamond says:
Pretty interesting stuff, some of it eye-popping; certainly lends credence to all our efforts over the last few years. And gives more weight to the argument for a constitutional convention to undo some things that were done in 1968.

Another asked:

Who is the "Senator" and "House Member A"

Shades of "Deep Throat" and Watergate.

Lets keep hammering them - eventually the truth will come out.

Schenley High School worth fixing, architect says - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The price tag: $10-million. That is it. And, the students do NOT need to be out of the building. Roosevelt is way out of bounds.

It is cheaper to fix the building and not move the school and make such radical and rushed changes. It is better for Pittsburgh's taxpayers to fix the building and keep Schenley operational in Oakland.
Schenley High School worth fixing, architect says - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "In recommending the closure of Schenley High School, city schools Superintendent Mark Roosevelt stressed an architect's cost estimate of $76.2 million for renovations.

He left out one thing.

The Downtown firm, MacLachlan Cornelius & Filoni, said the 92-year-old building is worth fixing.

'Despite its high cost, it is our opinion that the building is worth the investment,' Albert L. Filoni, president of the firm, wrote in a report Thursday to Paul Gill, chief of operations for the Pittsburgh Public Schools."
This is the headline:

Filoni's firm, which designed Schenley, estimates it would cost $10.5 million to remove the asbestos. The firm suggests that the work not be done while students, faculty and staff are in the building.

The inflation of the fix-up is being reported upon as $77-million. The early reports to the board were $44-million. But those reports had done LOTS more than just the asbestos removal. The price tag is NOT what we have been shown.

There are much better ways to manage the overall situation.

1. Move Schenley to Milliones on a temporary basis until the work in Schenley is done. Keep Schenley's sports facilites open for after-school efforts. Kids can walk to Schenley from Milliones. The newer sports wing of Schenley isn't in the rage of asbestos. Or, at worst, do that section in the summers.

2. Do NOT open the University Prep in its own building. Instead, put the University Prep into Schenley. The University Prep should be a city-wide magnet for grades 9, 10, 11 and 12.

3. Keep Rodgers Middle School right where it is for now; grades 6, 7 and 8.

4. Keep Frick Middle School right where it is for now; grades 6, 7 and 8.

These moves, I and others have suggested, ends the fabricated crisis from the zealot, Mark Roosevelt. Lots of money is saved. Performing schools are not crushed. More time is allowed for Mark Roosevelt to do his homework for the whole of high school reform for the district.

Nothing should be done in such a rush. And, nothing should be done until the entire scope of the district and associated costs are fully understood.

For instance: The Pgh Public School district should sell its Board of Education building in Oakland. That is valuable. The windfall from the sale of that building can fetch the necessary money to pay for the fix-up at Schenley.

Furthermore, the Reizenstein building at the eastern edge of the city, a building that was always an inferior school, should be sold. That building is valued for development, as it sits next to the new Baker's Square new development. Land circles the building. It is also next to a park, offering a benefit for housing. The Reizenstein building is a poor excuse for a school as it has no windows. The fix up for the Reizenstein building into a school again is going to cost $50-million or more. Sell it. It could make for a nice office park.

Provide a plan for Vo Tech right away. It is already four years late!

Do your homework school administration!

We want to know more about the proposed Sci-Tech educational plan. Where is that building going to be located. Reveal it to us -- and consult with us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

EarthLink to pull the plug on Wi-Fi in Philadelphia

If I lived in Philly, I would be starting a new ISP business.
EarthLink to pull the plug on Wi-Fi in Philadelphia: "EarthLink, which will give current customers until June 12 to switch to another provider, said it even offered to donate the Wi-Fi equipment to someone and give them an additional $1 million.
Too bad they didn't come to Pittsburgh.

I wonder if there is a list of other assets from Earthlink in other metro areas that are going away at better than fireside prices?

Fighting for Schenley: Gathering set for planning

Save the date:
Tim just called to let me know that he made the reservation for June 5th at 6pm at the Hill House so that we can continue strategical discussions around Schenely and overall High School reform.

Root, root, root for this guy! He is running for President

Comments from others (Pittsburgh Libertarians):


If you have a few moments, view some of the YouTube videos listed here -- Wayne Allan Root is truly a great performer (in one of them, he billed himself as "Ron Paul on steroids"):

I've watched a half-dozen or so of them, and he has yet to say anything I disagree with, and pushes all the right buttons. What's really cool about it, besides him being a great communicator, is he says he's in it for the long haul, and plans to run every 4 years, getting more recognition and votes all the time, until he wins in 2020.

Catch some of the Fox News debate between him and Mike Gravel. Gravel comes across in places as an angry old man who's losing it, while Root is everywhere positive, in control, and incisive in his answers. (I disagreed, though, with his characterization of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco as caused by government regulations forcing banks to make loans to people who shouldn't own homes. I heard some interviews on NPR last weekend with bankers who were being flooded with dollars from foreign investors who couldn't get enough of U.S. investments, and they couldn't create these mortgage package investment opportunities fast enough to supply the market, and so their bosses, simply out of blind greed, instructed them to keep relaxing the standards until having a pulse was all that was required.)

Henry Haller remarked:

During the Presidential debate at the Pa. state convention, in one of the "lightning rounds," Ken asked the candidates - by a show of hands - who could envision the future need to launch a war against Iran. Wayne Root was the only candidate to raise his hand.

Therefore, I will not vote for Wayne Root.

HK again:

Yes, his initials are WAR, he did support Iraq 2 initially, and he supposedly has some hawkish tendencies, perhaps because he's Jewish and has pro-Israel sentiments/loyalties. But he doesn't push it, when he talks about foreign policy he sounds like Ron Paul (no wars without a declaration by congress, no spreading democracy by force, closing many of the bases around the world, etc.), and he's far and away the best libertarian communicator for the common man I've seen. Harry Browne was good for intellectuals, but Root can reach the blue-collar working people much better, I think.

Close Schenley, Roosevelt urges - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

I got some ink in today's Tribune Review concerning Schenley:
Close Schenley, Roosevelt urges - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Mark Rauterkus, 49, of the South Side had hoped that his two sons, Erik and Grant, would someday attend Schenley.

'You don't break the best schools,' he said. 'You replicate them, and you fix the other schools.'
I was also shown in two TV interviews on the 11 pm news: TV 11 and KDKA TV 2. - Superintendent Mark Roosevelt Recommends Closing Schenley High School Roosevelt Recommends Closing Schenley High School
The point of the interview was to say that Pittsburgh Schenley is home to the I.B. program AND other programs as well with neighborhood students and robotics. The blending of the urban fabric happens at Schenley, in a safe and successful school. Schenley is sending students, again, to Stanford. It works! It should not be taken apart. Rather, it should be replicated. Fix the schools that are failing. There are too many 'drop out factories' in the district. Those schools with unrealized potential and excess capacity need to be address. What about Vo Tech Education? What about the other places?


A summary from another parent, Jen Lakin, came in email.
Well, you read or saw the big news already. Basically, the exact same thing we heard in the fall, only with bigger numbers. Lots of reassurance that they've really worked hard to not have to do this, but not a single thing fell into place despite their 6 months of looking.

However there were several interesting tidbits that came out during the meeting:

It's a 4 year commitment to Reizenstein -- they'll put in under $5M to the building and make sure that next year's 9th graders graduate from that building. Then they'll probably move again. Or not.

Several members pushed for some sort of comprehensive/district-wide/long-range plan. This was answered in various ways, none of which was yes. Randall Taylor pushed on the idea that there would be another 1050 student building in the district available in 4 years that wouldn't also require $$ to make suitable. When he asked a second time (it wasn't answered) and pointed out that the only buildings fitting that description meant that other students would be displaced or merged. There were other questions about what reform has been or will be for the failing, underenrolled schools. Both of these threads were finally answered in that as kids are sucked toward the new schools, it'll be a slow death for the bad schools. Rather than getting direct reform, those kids and their parents just better jump ship to a new school. Anyone left, well...they'll be moved when one of the new schools needs the building. Obviously, that's a paraphrase, but that's the gist of the plan.

There were several highlights (learning that mature people living in the real world support these plans, for instance) but I did like as well when Mark Roosevelt assured the board that they'd spent time when he got here talking to a lot of parents, especially those who had left the district, and they were answering their stated needs for "more high school choices." Of course, it's a bit of a leap from that to 6-12 themed schools, but hey! And we also know where those of us who've stuck through good and bad stand in their eyes.

If you get a chance watch the meeting -- I think they're on cable at some point (I don't have cable so I'm clueless there) and available on the PPS website, maybe?

I'll send out more later, but basically, it's time to support the board members in not acting on Schenley or ANY other building spending until they have an idea of what we're aiming toward as a district. It's also time to get it out in the media that this isn't about just Schenley, it's the start of a huge structural change in the district. Changes are long overdue, but people need to be informed and a part of the change before it's already happened! Honestly, before all this happened, I understood the meaning of the word 'transparency' but now, I get it, I really get it. There is such a chokehold on information from the administration, such a lack of ability for parents to have their voices heard before plans are made, and a near total disregard for the knowledge and expertise of the really excellent teachers and principals who are still out there.

Here's an email I received earlier in the week, sent out with permission (and some names removed):

I just wanted you to know that as a parent [and retired teacher...] I've been sending you moral support and good vibrations for the past months of this.....fight?

It seems weird to refer to it as that. Why must one fight for one's children with an institution whose very existence is for the welfare of those same children? One of my reasons for choosing to retire when I did was that I became very weary of fighting for what is right for children in all aspects of Pittsburgh public education. I needed to be so much more than a disseminator of information; children need adult role models, parent figures, and, indeed, friends. The system increasingly allows teachers to be NONE of those. Our days became filled with shoveling the information for tests down the throats of students and worrying about our own jobs and family security in the face of poor fiscal management, bad decision making, deaf ears in Harrisburg, a lack of clear moral standards for an orderly environment, and overworked principals and administrators who must become spin masters and middle managers rather than educational leaders. ... Early on, [a current teacher] invited me to become a part of your cause. I declined due to weariness, and yet I find myself increasingly unable to stay quiet in the face of the unbelievably botched (even for our Board and administration) attempt at "improving" our high schools at the cost of its one true gem. (Allderdice seems to get that title; however, if I knew then what I know now [...] All one would have to do is to attend the musicals of both schools and allow him/herself to feel the vibes.)

(parent of a Schenley 2003 grad and Allderdice 2009 student)

More later --

Jen Lakin

Today's message theme: Pompus Folly. Stay tuned and headed to city council

We're just back from Amsterdam where they have a clever t-shirt:

Amsterdam: since 1275

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is headed into a big 250 celebration. Wow!

Frankly, I'm getting sick of the "Pompus Folly" that is filling our city, county, state, federal and school board governance.

More to come.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tom Sumpter cried. He realized Schenley High School is about to die. He killed it.

Pgh Public School Board Member, Tom Sumpter, chair of the education committee, spilled a tear or two at the very end of the meeting tonight.

He said, "My grandmother graduated from Schenley. My mother graduated from Schenley. I graduated from Schenley. And my kids graduated from Schenley." He said, "We are Schenley."

This weekend, Mr. Sumpter is to attend his 40th class reunion.

Sumpter is Schenley. And, Sumpter and all that have gone before are in the past. Schenley is now just a memory. Schenley is about to die.

Next year, Schenley gets ripped apart. The final chapter on Schnley is not written. But, there is certainty that the evil forces are sure to have the upper hand in the next battle and section of history.

Schenley has its I.B. students going to "I.B. High" -- or -- I.B. World.

Schenley has 90 students being forced to attend a new University Prep School that was once a middle school. It will be in Milliones.

This is a royal mess. The district didn't do its homework. And, they admit as much. A full high school reform agenda was asked for by a board member in the questions but Mark Roosevelt said that it would not be delivered in the next months.

Tom Sumpter is going to kill Schenley High School. Let the tears of its funeral flow farther and wider.

There are four on the board who are NOT in favor of this. Sumpter can cast the vote that swings the tide. Or, he can move ahead on a half-baked plan that re-segregates the district and drives more families with the capability to move to depart.

Fathers urged to attend council meeting

Fathers urged to attend council meeting: "Fathers urged to attend council meeting
Yes, I expect to be there.

The Economy: Another Casualty of War

The Economy: Another Casualty of War ... Even though the House failed to pass the war spending bill, opponents of the war should not be fooled into believing this vote signals a long term change in policy. At the end of the day, those favoring continued military occupation of Iraq will receive every penny they are requesting and more as long as they agree to dramatically increase domestic and international welfare spending as well.

Jen Lakin has something to say about Schenley High School

It took until your vote in February, 2008, for me to really crystallize what I find wrong with dividing up Schenley, both the building and the kids. Your plan not only breaks the kids apart, it will, by design it seems, pit the new schools against each other.

We chose the magnet program because we believed in the idea that different kinds of kids could and do learn things from each other. I chose it because when I asked for changes or better choices, I wasn't asking just for my kid(s), but for all of the kids.

Now, I'm in a position where fighting for the best interests of my child (in particular, my 8th grader) pits me against the same kids who would have been his peers at Schenley.

To demand the best teachers at Frick’s 9th grade next year is to lessen the possibility of the kids at University Prep having those same teachers. The division guarantees that the good and great teachers have to make choices about where to be -- and I can't see how they can be fairly split in the future, either.

To demand a range of classes (CAS, PSP, mainstream, electives) at Frick is to ask for resources that will take away from the kids at University Prep and Reizenstein. Elective choices in the three locations for next year are obviously going to be far more limited than they are at Schenley. Sharing programs like Youth and Government, the musical, band, chorus, and sports for a year or two by busing kids around every day only puts off the problem that the two new smaller schools will never be able to offer the choices available now at Schenley.

You are tearing apart a family, a working community. I’m not saying it’s perfect nor that it can’t be improved – ask us! The parents have lots of suggestions.

I’ve attached several charts, showing that Schenley’s population (which is 71% African-American, 24% white, 6% other):

* Outperforms the district averages (the only majority AA school to do so)
* Has the highest performing AA students
* Has the highest percentage of college bound seniors – the most males and females, black and white

Even when the district pulls out only the lowest performing scorers at Schenley and not at any other school? Those kids still outperform 5 schools’ averages for all students, not just the lowest scorers. A cynic might suggest that the University Prep planners specifically chose a traditionally high-scoring population for its experiment, rather than the more difficult task of fixing a failing school.

Soon, if these reforms go ahead as planned problems will be faced by the whole district. Where do you think the students for these new themed schools will come from? IF the new schools populate most of the kids will be coming from the current high schools – which will then be faced with underenrollment, leading to cuts in staffing and cuts in programs. Some kids for the University Prep middle school program starting in 2009 will be coming from Arsenal’s feeder pattern. What will that do to Arsenal? You are going be faced with this same situation over and over again if you don’t stop and look at the big picture soon.

As a board you need to make sure that you aren’t receiving cherry-picked and incomplete information that leaves out both comparisons and context for the information you’re given. This district needs comprehensive, well-planned reform created with public input and supported by public buy-in.

Save Arizona State University Swimming

Save ASU Swimming: "ASU Men's swimming is in crisis mode after the ASU Athletic
department disbanded the Men's swimming team. The ASU Swimming
foundation has been created to reinstate Men's swimming and
Protect the future of both Men's and Women's swimming at ASU.
The ASU Swimming foundations primary mission is to generate
money to fund the ASU Men's and Women's Swimming team.
Go Sun Devils.

Statement from Nick Lardos to the Pgh Public School Board


Good evening everyone. My name is Nick Lardas. I am a resident of Oakland and am here to speak again as a concerned parent, taxpayer and voter.

I am here today to ask you for two things:

1) Stop the current High School Reform Plans now and take the time to plan fully for meaningful improvement not change for the sake of change.

2) Leave the current programs and students that are in Schenley HS in Schenley HS and make phased plans for improvements to the building and the programs.

Over the past year I have made a good attempt to keep up with the plans for High School Reform and Schenley HS. And the only thing I know for sure is that I am totally confused. Each day there are new rumors as to what the renovations of different buildings will cost where programs will be moved and then possibly moved again, what programs will be dropped what will be added, the district is in even worse financial condition than previously thought, taxes will have to be raised and on and on. The latest rumor is that Mr. Roosevelt is abandoning us and interviewing for jobs.

The end result is that parents are voting with their feet and leaving the district. Your latest projections show enrollment for September down over 10% from last year.

The excuse often given that the sudden deterioration of Schenley HS forced the district to begin implementing their incomplete reform plans is false. If Schenley were unsafe the students should not have been let back into the building for the 2007-08 school year. Your own documents and a tour of Schenley show that there is no imminent danger. Classes can continue in the building this year and next year and the year after while thoughtful planning takes place. The last time I testified before this group I offered to meet with you to tour Schenley and review your Architect’s reports with you. No one took me up on my offer so I am making it again.

The current confusing HS reform plans call for scrapping the second best middle school and third best high school in the city and tearing them apart to create two maybe three new themed 6-12 high schools. There has been no statistical information nor any educational theory presented that either the 6-12 concept or the themed high school concept have any merit. There have been no cost benefit studies done to show that these concepts and the massive facilities changes they entail will financially or educationally benefit the district and our students. There are no plans for the high schools and middle schools that are totally failing in our district. None of this makes sense from a fiscal or educational point of view.

Stop the current reform plans keep Schenley and its students intact. Take the time to work with the parents, teachers and students. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Look at what is working at the private and suburban schools that are taking our students. Then come up with a comprehensive plan for the entire school district and begin to implement it slowly and methodically.

Respectfully Submitted by:

Nicholas D. Lardas

3434 Parkview Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Phone: 1-412-(NUKED by BLOGMASTER)

Email: (NUKED by Blogmaster too)