Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm going to PodCamp Pittsburgh. You should too.

Check out the web site.


I.O.U.S.A. (Starring Ron Paul!) is coming to a theatre near you this month! -Very Exciting!


It will be released on August 21st. So far it is scheduled to show at AMC Pittsburgh West. Hopefully it will get enough sales to spread out! And we will be stationed right outside the door as people are coming out, passing out fryers with the Campaign for Liberty website.

Another home team to cheer for

They are called the "Wet Blacks."

Unaccredited journalists, a legion in BJ

For the Olympics, the government expects 21,500 accredited foreign journalists and 5,000 to 10,000 unaccredited journalists in addition to resident correspondents.

This has been good news for the Foreign Correspondents Club, which almost
doubled its membership to 365 in the two years up to 2007.

China also has an Olympic promise to live up to. "We will give the media complete freedom to report when they come to China," said Wang Wei, secretary-general of
the Beijing Olympic Games bid committee, in lobbying for the right to host the event.
"We are confident that the Games coming to China not only promotes our economy
but also enhances all social conditions, including education, health, and human

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

This is going on outside the Water Cube

Rev. Burgess rants on the North Side do-good groups

City Councilman, Ricky Burgess, ranted in length from written statements about the Salvation Army and the North Side community groups.

I'd love to get a copy of this statement on the blog. Please send it to me via email or post it to the comments below.

The Burgess rant swings for the fences. It is bold. It comes from his heart.

However, the rant has its roots within the religious community.

Folks, this is NOT about a religious issue. It is a property rights issue.

The historic issue is a smoke screen too.

The ugly side of Pittsburgh has come out on this matter. I wish Ricky Burgess would have taken the stance that this building has owners. Rights are not to be compromised.

The June 26, 2008, public meeting minutes have been lost. City council does not have it. That's interesting.

Is it 8-8-08?

Perhaps this will help drive down the price of tickets. If they could only put more of the Olympics onto YouTube before they occur, we'd be able to get more tickets.

We'll be using the internet from a private apartment in BJ

Beijing Olympic Games 2008 Xinhua: Internet speedy and stable - just expensive: "Xinhua: Internet speedy and stable - just expensive"

The cost seems expensive however:

Renting a Broadband IC card or a WLAN from July 25 to August 25 costs 3,500 yuan (500 US dollars), while renting a WLAN plus info 2008 costs 8,450 yuan

Also from Slashdot:

“Working for the Olympics as an IT contractor, I recently moved to the Media Village (where all of the reporters live) and was surprised the there was no free internet. BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games) is charging a ridiculous amount of money for ADSL service: for 512/512 it costs 7712.5 RMB (1131.20 USD); for 1M/512 it costs 9156.25 (1342.95 USD); for 2M/512 it costs a whopping 11,700 RMB (1716.05 USD). That is for only one month! For extra features like a fixed IP? That costs an additional 450 RMB (66 USD). I just can’t believe that not only do I have to deal with the Great Firewall of China, but also pay through the nose to use it!”

I suppose China has to get back some of the money for hosting the Olympics. To get internet connected in a private apartment the connection fee is about 300RMB and monthly charge of around 150RMB.

Suckers, those MSMers. Giggle.

We'll be using the internet from a private apartment in BJ

The cost seems expensive however:

Renting a Broadband IC card or a WLAN from July 25 to August 25 costs 3,500 yuan (500 US dollars), while renting a WLAN plus info 2008 costs 8,450 yuan

Also from Slashdot:

“Working for the Olympics as an IT contractor, I recently moved to the Media Village (where all of the reporters live) and was surprised the there was no free internet. BOCOG (Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games) is charging a ridiculous amount of money for ADSL service: for 512/512 it costs 7712.5 RMB (1131.20 USD); for 1M/512 it costs 9156.25 (1342.95 USD); for 2M/512 it costs a whopping 11,700 RMB (1716.05 USD). That is for only one month! For extra features like a fixed IP? That costs an additional 450 RMB (66 USD). I just can’t believe that not only do I have to deal with the Great Firewall of China, but also pay through the nose to use it!”

I suppose China has to get back some of the money for hosting the Olympics. To get internet connected in a private apartment the connection fee is about 300RMB and monthly charge of around 150RMB.

Suckers, those MSMers. Giggle.

word of the day

And update from our friend in China in advance of the trip to BJ

Wow. Locals call Beijing, BJ. My wife is now being hip and using that term.

See the comments for details.

The Steel City Sports Fan (Penguins Edition): WISE Suggestion Made by TSCSF Commentor!

The Steel City Sports Fan (Penguins Edition): WISE Suggestion Made by TSCSF Commentor!: "Nice call, Mark!
Thank you.

I've been right before in making some bold and correct calls.

I was right about South Side Hospital. UPMC Sports Performance Center with those dwarf football fields should be behind South Side Hospital in the now closed park.

I was right about the South Side Police Station too.

I was right about the cheats in Harrisburg in elections as well -- and proved it in 2006.

Oh well. Thanks again.

Another blog gave me a plug today too. See:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Grand finale set for 'Pittsburgh Celebrates 250' - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Grand finale set for 'Pittsburgh Celebrates 250' - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 'Pittsburgh Celebrates 250,' set for Oct. 3-4, will climax with a Zambelli fireworks display that will turn Pittsburgh into a colossal birthday cake, with the skyscrapers of the Golden Triangle transformed into giant candles.
I think that the Opening of the 2008 Olympics in Bejing, China, will beat the pants of the Zambelli show. I am not sure. But, that's my hunch. China invented 'fireworks' before the rest of the world figured out how to slice a pizza.

I'll let you know in about 10 days.

I do get some serious joy at the possibilities of being a lead in the parade as a Libertarian in a canoe. Perhaps we (my sons and I) can take the place of the Native American.

An Oct. 4 flotilla that starts at Brunot Island on the Ohio River and includes commercial, private and non-motorized watercraft. It will replicate a similar event in 1908 that celebrated the city's 150th anniversary, when the watercraft were led by a lone American Indian paddling a canoe. It also will mark the final voyage of the Delta Queen, the last of the original paddle-wheel steamboats to ...

Nice foot


Are you ready for some football?

Soccer Donut Stunt

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hilltop residents looking for help

Hilltop residents looking for help'Continuing gun violence is why my Hilltop is falling apart,' Kraus said in a recent interview. 'The No. 1 key to turning a neighborhood around is safety. It takes political will to allocate the money.'
Well, to begin, for the record, Post Gazette info on the main character of this story is off. The woman they refer to is an insurance case manager at Children's Hospital which is a bit different from being an audiologist!

As for the statement by Mr. Kraus, it is typical.

A lack of safety will turn a neighborhood to the worse.

However, a blanket of safety will NOT turn a neighborhood to a thriving, dynamic place. Being safe and feeling safe will help, of course. But, safety is not the key to prosperity.

Living under an authoritarian state can be very safe. Having police at every corner can be safe. But, there is more. Much, much more. And, by more, I do not mean more wire taps, more drug busts, more DUI check points, more remote cameras, more grocery stores even.

Furthermore, there is not a clear connection between 'political will' and 'allocation of money.'

Bruce Kraus if brimming with political will to allocate money. He'll give to his political pals. He'll take from his political foes. He'll nag about politics and cry for more political will. He is a politician, two-faced and without logic -- as the politicians around here have been trained to behave.

I don't scorn political will. Just those who discount it on one hand and expect it on the other.

The real issue I have is the connection of political will and money. This is what Kraus and the others on Grant Street fail to understand. There is no money left in the budget. They want to spend like this is Pittsburgh in the 1960s. They want to give away stuff to places where there is political will. They want to buy votes. They want to bribe folks into moving here. They want to spend our money and have that be understood as an investment into the community from the politicians.

The political will walking around money is gone. Tom Murphy and the ones that came before Bruce Kraus have spent it all.

All the hanging baskets of plants and lipstick on the business district with the right shades of paint can't fix this city again. They don't get it. That isn't safe for anyone of us.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Local Activist Questions Where Weed And Seed Money Is Going - WPXI

Local Activist Questions Where Weed And Seed Money Is Going - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh: "Local Activist Questions Where Weed And Seed Money Is Going"

Hat tip to BurghReport:

The Burgh Report: Fox Chapel Soccer Clinic Funded By City Weed and Seed?: "Fox Chapel Soccer Clinic Funded By City Weed and Seed?"
I've been waiting for a call back from Weed and Seed folks on matters much like this.

PURE Reform - Parents United for Responsible Educational Reform

Brand new web site! Welcome to the Pittsburgh digital landscape.
PURE Reform - Parents United for Responsible Educational Reform: "Parents United for Responsible Educational Reform ('PURE Reform') grew out of the movement to keep Schenley High School. All along, many parents had questions and concerns about high school reform in general, including concerns about high schools needing the most improvement but which have not been a focus of the reform process."

My only $.02 is the 'reform' word. Bill Ogden has a statement on 'reform.' When he hears 'reform' he often worries about so much reform that the result is 'de-formed.' Sorta cute. Sorta makes sense.

I'm excited to see parents unite for responsible education.

Mark Roosevelt's plan is reforming -- and really deforming.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tickets in Beijing for Olympics -- pack a lunch

Olympic ticket sale in Beijing starts stampede

Thousands of eager fans who had waited for up to two days swarmed sales windows Friday for the final batch of tickets to next month's Olympic Games, knocking people to the ground and bending metal barricades in the chaotic crush.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Private Council meetings to halt

Private Council meetings to halt Private Council meetings to halt
Democrats met behind closed doors
This is another reason to not be a Democrat.

They should all resign. They've done much to advance the city's image as a smokey city.

Wilburn, our present house guest reports that it can be Smokey City or Smoky City -- as either way works for the Smokey Mountains!

Poverty leads to playing lottery, study says

I predict that I will not win the lottery.
Poverty leads to playing lottery, study says Poverty leads to playing lottery, study says
I don't play the lottery. But, I'm not rich.

A professor taught that the lottery is really a stupid tax. That has nothing to do with being rich or poor.

Olympics: China urges US athletes to focus on friendship 2008 Beijing Olympic Games - News - Yahoo!7 Sport

Olympics: China urges US athletes to focus on friendship 2008 Beijing Olympic Games - News - Yahoo!7 Sport China on Tuesday said US athletes should focus on building friendships at the Beijing Games, in a curt response to US President George Bush's call for them to be 'ambassadors of liberty'.

'We hope and believe that all athletes, including American athletes, attending the Beijing Olympics, will make efforts to promote friendship among the peoples of the world,' foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said.
Being a friend, and being an example of liberty, are two faces from the same side of the coin.

Your best fried loves you for being who and what you want to be. And, to be whatever and whoever means that you've got choices and freedom to self evolve.

Everyone needs friends and running mates who are there out of a duty for both the friendship and its enduring hope of liberty.

Freedom and liberty can be kind and gentle. Friends care. Friends are open and honest in unselfish ways, in loving ways.

Friends challenge others to do well and to do right. But it is much like a teacher and student relationship. The teacher learns more than the student in many instances. Friends learn from each other. Friends give and share respect. Friends have relationships because we can.

I want to make new friends with thousands of others from around the world. This will be fun. This will be enriching to me. This will be a way to be more free.

Proposed playground disputed in Schenely Farms - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Proposed playground disputed in Schenely Farms - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review But a few neighbors of the center in the historic east Pittsburgh neighborhood fear that children playing on slides and swing sets will make noise late into the night and that already high traffic volumes created by visitors to the center will worsen if the playground is built.
Children and kids are often a contradiction to old and dying.

Get over it. Let the playground be built on the private property.

The children won't be there late into the night. Kids go to sleep at 8 pm.

Board OKs merger of city arts schools

Board OKs merger of city arts schools Board OKs merger of city arts schools
For months, I've been saying that the merger of the middle school and high school is a bad idea. Recently, I've been less vocal because of our summer schedule. But, it still sucks.

Once again, the Pgh Public School District is doing the wrong thing. First, it is going against the wishes of many thoughtful parents and prime customers. We pay the bills. We get yanked around again.

This is bad news.

CAPA is not a clown car!

CAPA High School should expand. It is a school that is working better than the other high schools in the district. It has a growth opportunity with the addition of new floors within the building complex downtown. Put in more high school students. Expand the program that is doing well.

Rodgers Middle School is one of the very best middle schools in the city too. Same with Frick Middle Schools. Lots of middle schools are very bad. They do the wrong thing by messing with the best middle schools and do nothing with the worse.

Rodgers should not be put downtown. We don't want middle school students with high schoolers. We don't want yellow school buses on the downtown streets on weekdays in rush hour traffic.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Police station's move to hilltop worries South Siders - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Police station's move to hilltop worries South Siders - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 'Our big problem is that the news stations quoted our mayor as saying that they had to make a decision between murders and drunks. That's totally erroneous,' McCoy said. 'We've had stabbings, shootings, armed robberies and we've had people mugged on a nightly basis.'

McCoy filed a petition with Pittsburgh City Council seeking a public hearing about what she believes is a lack of police protection in the South Side and the revolving door of police commanders who have supervised the Zone 3 station. The hearing is scheduled for Aug. 12 in council chambers.

USA 2008 Olympic Team - A for Athlete

USA 2008 Olympic Team - A for Athlete USA 2008 Olympic Team
The list of the athletes is on the wiki.

Pennsylvania did well in terms of numbers of Olympians headed to Beijing.

Pittsburgh has some mentions too, mostly as a former home town.


* Name, Date of Birth (Month/Day/Year), Hometown, Birthplace, Current Residence, Sport, Event/Position/Weight Class/Horse

Watch for:

Marvell Wynne II, 5/8/1986, Poway, Calif. (hometown), Pittsburgh, Pa. {birthplace), Toronto, Ontario, Canada, (Current) playing Soccer, as a Defender.

Lauryn Williams, 9/11/1983, Miami, Fla., Pittsburgh, Pa., (Rochester HS) Miami, Fla., Track and Field, 100m

Allison Schmitt, 6/7/1990, Canton, Mich., Pittsburgh, Pa., Canton, Mich., Swimming, 200m Free, 4x200m Free Relay

Lauren Crandall, 3/17/1985, Doylestown, Pa., Pittsburgh, Pa., Chula Vista, Calif., Field Hockey, Defender

Michael Friedman, 9/19/1982, Pittsburgh, Pa., Pittsburgh, Pa., Colorado Springs, Colo., Cycling, Track Madison

Since this is a wiki, if you know these folks, or want to do the research on them, post them to their page.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the bleachers, the International Olympic Committee just announced the news that the Iraqi teams are being banned from the Beijing 2008 Olympics saying the government missed the deadline to address accusations of political interference.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

iPods, MP3 Players Can Hurt Ears Of Young Listeners - Consumer News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

Catherine got some media coverage at TV 11.
iPods, MP3 Players Can Hurt Ears Of Young Listeners - Consumer News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh: "Dr. Catherine Palmer, director of audiology at UPMC said , 'Certainly these devices have potential to damage hearing. They can be set that loud.'

In fact, they can register more than 115 decibels.

That's about the equivalent of an ambulance siren.

Channel 11 teamed up with UPMC to see just how loud some kids are playing their iPods and MP3 players.

Using a device that has a simulated ear and decibel meter, Channel 11 reporter Stacia Erdos and Palmer went to a local pool to check out music levels.

City council members that watch this video will get a headaches

They have few if any answers to these questions.

Purpose and process are are foreign to what most do and understand on Grant Street.

Hiring a Youth Coordinator - Job Description

Need a job?
BGC Youth Coordinator Job Description - Fix PAJob Description Title: Community Development Specialist

Grand jury: Dem leaders illegally targeted Diven - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Shall we all throw a pitty party for Michael Diven?
Grand jury: Dem leaders illegally targeted Diven - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Grand jury: Dem leaders illegally targeted Diven
Poor, poor Michael.

I called Dave Brown of the Trib about this article. It made me giggle.

The Dems picked on Diven. However, Diven's new friends, the Republicans, picked up the fight for him. The Rs and the Ds are both guilty.

Pennsylvania's Attorney General made a big splash recently with his first wave of trouble. His statement was with specifics that included the work of government employees in campaign, including special elections.

I was in a special election right as this was all going down. I ran for PA Senate, 42nd district, as a Libertarian. The opponents were Michael Diven and Wayne Fontana.

On election day, Michael Diven had more than a dozen poll workers who were state senators. Diven and Fontana each spent about $1-Million. But, the bulk of that money did not come from locals. It came from Harrisburg. And, it was PAC money that didn't even pass through the candidate PACs.

Both Fontana and Diven are people that are okay with others pulling strings for them.

The State Attorney also made specific mentions that the state house Dems, state house Republicans as well as the state senate Ds and Rs are all guilty. Both house chambers and both major parties have been breaking the law. Both have been clueless as to fairness for the democratic process.

They are all guilty. And, this isn't news to me.

Another major objection from the recent reports deal with petition challenges of candidates. Diven didn't get onto the ballot for the Republican primary because he had too many dead people sign his papers.

Furthermore, Wayne Fontana's long time buddy was the stooge that filed a petition challenge against me in August of 2006 -- just as Dan Romanelli was in another court room in Harrisburg. Romanelli was the Green Party candidate that the Dems didn't want on the ballot for the US Senate.

The Dem operatives and the fax machine within the office of my PA SENATOR, Wayne Fontana, was used to challenge the petitions on my nomination papers. Those are the same 50 people that were mentioned by the PA Attorney General doing the same hit jobs -- but it was against me, a Libertarian candidate for PA Senate.

I put the proof before the judge in a Harrisburg court room. It was entered into evidence. The judge told me that the materials were very interesting. And, they well suited for another judge on another day.

Now it is time to get back to wallow in the sorrow for Michael Diven.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My FCC Presentation on the Future of Digital Media - Blog Maverick

My FCC Presentation on the Future of Digital Media - Blog Maverick: "Thank you for allowing me to offer this presentation on the Future of Digital Media. Its great to be back in Pittsburgh. A city that continues to grow in its vibrance, entrepreneurial spirit and verve to continually reinvent itself. I'm proud to have grown up here.
We're proud to call you one of our own, too, on most days.

Wish we could have hooked up. But, I had a basketball game to attend to in The Hill District with the Ozanham Program. It was Grant's final game of the season. Playoffs are on Saturday.

Until next time....

Old polling results.

Should PPS place a moratorium on capital spending on High School Reform until it presents for public review and comment a plan (i.e., configuration, costs, location and projected enrollment for each school)?

* yes = 14
* no = 8
* unsure = 0

Can Pgh spend 1% of the school district's budget for 20 years so that Schenley High School can house almost 20% of the district's high school students for the next 100 years?

* yes = 13
* no = 8
* unsure = 1
* let voters decide = 2

Pick Up the Phone for a Convention!

Russ Diamond and PA Clean Sweep is making progress in terms of a PA Constitutional Convention. Now comes the push to get the bill moving in Harrisburg.
Now that PACleanSweep's recommended language to enable a constitutional convention has been introduced in both the Senate and House, it's time to get on the phone and start pressuring members of the two State Government Committees to move this bill along.

Below, you'll find a phone list of all the members of these committees, the leadership of both chambers and the Governor. Without input from citizens, these people will not act. The most effective citizen input is via live phone calls.

It is highly recommended that you call ALL elected officials listed in bold, because in their committee or leadership roles they are acting on behalf of all Pennsylvanians. If your own Senator or Representative is a member of the committee, place a call to them as well.

When you call these folks, simply urge them to support SB1290 (for Senators) or HB2714 (for Representatives) and ask what they will do to move it along, get it out of committee and on the floor for a vote. Be courteous!

Then call again in a week or so to follow up on what they've done. Keep calling until we get some results!

Each legislator's Harrisburg office number is listed first and the subsequent phone numbers will put you in touch with their district offices.

In the Senate (SB1290)

(click comments for phone #s of specific committee critters.)

Click here to track HB2714

Call the Governor, too!

Edward Rendell, Governor
(717) 787-2500

Click here to read more about a constitutional convention

Who are my legislators?

It is a done deal. Kraus is moving on to litter under windshields

Decision is final to close UPMC South Side, merge with Mercy according to hospital CEOs

The combined July-August meeting of the South Side Planning Forum yielded a response to what residents can do to stop the closing of UPMC South Side, but it wasn�t an answer the roughly 40 audience members wanted to hear.

The decision is final, said hospital president Nancy Magee of closing the facility within five years as it consolidates with UPMC Mercy.
Nope. Can't do anything about it. Over and done. Finished. Caput. Dead. Wasted time there. Fruitless. Oh well. Get over it. Time to punt. Would-a, could-a, should-a don't mean crap. Scrap it. More senior housing or college dorms. Parking will improve.

Now there is a new space for the moved police station. Why not a big harry jail for weekend drunks caught on the video cameras.

Can't get to the South Side anyway -- as the bridges are out.

Ron Paul has been busy this summer -- planning the next chapter

An email from Ron Paul:
If they expected us to retire quietly from the scene, the political elite are in for a surprise.

Today I am making some very big announcements.

First, from August 31 to September 2 in Minneapolis, we will host a handful of events that will shake the political establishment. Everything will culminate on Tuesday with the official launch of the Campaign for Liberty at the Rally for the Republic.

The Campaign for Liberty will be the largest organization for peace, freedom, the Constitution, and sound money in American history. It will launch in grand fashion with lots of special guests and - if the early television and print inquiries we've received are any indication - plenty of media attention.

I would like to personally invite you and your family to join me and thousands of others in Minneapolis for these events and send a message to the Republican Party.

Tickets will go on sale for the Rally for the Republic this Friday, July 25 @ 10AM CST. We want this to be an unforgettable day, so we are holding a ticket bomb all day Friday in the tradition of our famous money bombs. How many seats can we sell on the first day?

In patriotic fashion all tickets will cost $17.76, so you can afford to bring the whole family.

This leads me to the second big announcement. After measuring the excitement and enthusiasm, we decided that the Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota was just too small to hold you. Therefore, we are making a significant upgrade. The Rally for the Republic will now take place at the Target Center, the largest arena in Minneapolis!

This promises to be the most spirited and provocative political event of the year! We held some very large rallies during the presidential campaign, but I have never attempted anything of this scale before. Its success rests entirely in your hands.

Later this week I will announce two internationally renowned musicians as headliners for the Rally for the Republic. We'll also be joined by rock star Aimee Allen, NBC's Tucker Carlson, Barry Goldwater Jr., Gov. Gary Johnson, conservative stalwart Grover Norquist, former Reagan deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein, presidential historian Doug Wead, MTV's Adam Curry, musician Mark Scibilia, and Frank Sinatra impersonator Rick Ellis. Other special guests will be announced soon.

My staff has been working overtime to provide you with three full days of entertainment. Please visit the schedule page of the website and read all about upcoming events. We also have a lodging page to help you find accommodations in Minneapolis.

Together we are taking back our government and restoring the republic. Please join me in Minneapolis to kickoff the Campaign for Liberty and support our Revolution. Can I count on you to be there?

In Liberty,

Ron Paul

P.S. I know that you have done so much already, but with both major party nominees threatening to lead us into bankruptcy at home and more wars abroad, the success of the Rally for the Republic and the launch of the Campaign for Liberty is crucial. Please do what you can to be in Minneapolis August 31 - September 2 and send a loud and clear message of freedom, peace, and prosperity.


Pol. Adv. Paid for by Committee to Re-Elect Ron Paul

Monday, July 21, 2008

Plan to cut Beijing's traffic in half under way - 2008 Olympics -

Plan to cut Beijing's traffic in half under way - 2008 Olympics - "Traffic flowed a little smoother. Busy avenues had fewer cars. By nightfall, even the hazy sky had mostly cleared."
Speaking of car free -- or -- fewer cars, consider Beijing.

The real photo for me is not the cars on the highways. What about the bikes on the bike lanes? I'm not going to be driving. I'll be biking.

Bush gives U.S. Olympians a rousing send-off - 2008 Olympics -

Bush gives U.S. Olympians a rousing send-off - 2008 Olympics - 'You're not going to be alone in Beijing,' Bush said as he toasted the athletes. 'Because you're going to be accompanied by the hopes and pride of millions of Americans.'
Nobody goes alone, and wins.

Who else is going to Beijing in August?

My family and I are going to be there. But, sadly, this blog is not able to be seen in China.

Councilman wants to ban fliers placed on windshields

Councilman wants to ban fliers placed on windshieldsCouncilman wants to ban fliers placed on windshields
Ban on free speech due next from Councilman Kraus.

Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!

I re-posted a Libertarian Party press release from the PA Party guys, I'm the vice-chair of the Allegheny County Libertarian Party, and it was picked up at the Alex Jones Radio Blog. It how has 34 comments over there.
Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!: "REAL ID – A very real threat to gun rights

Mark Rauterkus
Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events
July 21, 2008

Homeland Security claims far reaching power over your guns"

Another blog has the same article as well:

Mark Rauterkus - “REAL ID – A very real threat to gun rights” � The Revolution Will Not Be Digitized.: "The Revolution Will Not Be Digitized."

Can You Give Up Your Car For 30 Days? - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

Can You Give Up Your Car For 30 Days? - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh Can You Give Up Your Car For 30 Days?
I will take this challenge. I'll start on August 4, 2008.

If I was (fill in the blanks), I'd work hard to promote a 'Car Free Day' in the city of Pittsburgh. Do you know about Car Free Days?

That ZipCar challenge is interesting -- but really Zip Car urges: "Don't drive your car. Rather, drive our car, the ZipCar."

REAL ID – A very real threat to gun rights

Homeland Security claims far reaching power over your guns

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania gun owners breathed a sigh of relief at the Heller vs. DC Supreme Court ruling, but the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (LPPa) warns that major threats to gun rights still exist. One such threat is REAL ID, the federal mandate turning driver's licenses into national ID cards.

The long-term plan for REAL ID is to force its biometric ID functions on federal, state, local and private entities for all transactions. Thus, ID confirmation by a distant bureaucracy becomes permission for essential daily activities including banking, doctor visits, transit, school attendance and purchases -- including guns.

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) final rule handed down in January, DHS "will continue to consider additional ways in which a Real ID license can or should be used and will implement any changes to the definition of 'official purpose' or determinations regarding additional uses for Real ID consistent with applicable laws and regulatory requirements. DHS does not agree that it must seek the approval of Congress as a prerequisite to changing the definition in the future."

Do you want to risk your gun rights on the appointment of someone opposed to our second amendment rights as Secretary of Homeland Security?

"The very thought that the sale of firearms and ammunition could be stopped based on some political agenda in Washington is frightening," remarked LP Activist Mark Crowley. "We saw the disastrous consequences of such an agenda in New Orleans during Katrina when some police abandoned their posts leaving citizens defenseless and criminals armed. We must never put Pennsylvanians into a position where they can only hope that distant Washington bureaucrats will do the right thing."

“The implementation of REAL ID presents a significant threat to gun ownership in the United States of America." added Michael Robertson, LPPa Chair.

By participating in REAL ID, Pennsylvanians will be subjected to scrutiny by a host of federal agencies with every swipe of a REAL ID card. This is de facto gun registration, only worse. Once a gun buyer is identified, other information such as military service, purchases, rentals, travel, and medical history will be easily cross-referenced and subjected to interpretation. It's inevitable that politicized standards will emerge that can be used to deny Pennsylvanians the right to keep and bear arms -- everyone except violent criminals and politicians' bodyguards.

LPPa Media Relations Chair, Doug Leard, added, “A few years ago when the NICS [National InstaCheck System] computer system crashed, no one could be validated for a gun purchase. A political agenda is one thing and bureaucratic incompetence is another. When a state submits to REAL ID, it submits its citizens to the possibility of being denied not just gun purchases, but ATM cash, credit card purchases and even a critical prescription pickup. Pennsylvania must emphatically reject REAL ID."

The LPPa urges Pennsylvanians to contact their state legislators and instruct them to support state House Bill 1351 and state Senate Bill 1220. Be wary of other recently introduced legislation such as H.B. 2537 that claims to oppose REAL ID, but ignores the central issue of biometric data collection of Pennsylvanians.

Despite the Heller case, the anti-gun movement will continue to seek alternatives to eliminate our gun rights. REAL ID provides them an unguarded backdoor. Let's nail it shut in Pennsylvania.

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in Pennsylvania and the United States. More than 200,000 people across the country are registered Libertarians, and Libertarians serve in hundreds of elected offices. Please visit or for more information.

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania

3915 Union Deposit Road #223
Harrisburg, PA 17109

For Immediate Release: July 21, 2008

Contact: Doug Leard (Media Relations) or
Michael Robertson (Chair) at 1-800-R-RIGHTS /

Friday, July 18, 2008

Chris Brogan asks on Twitter:

When you pick your knows, where do you put the bloggers?
Hope Boston has a great PodCamp. The light the opening torch on Saturday morning.

Mayor Unveils Plan To Curb Violence

So, do you rest easier knowing now that they were untruthful in the past? - Mayor Unveils Plan To Curb Violence Mayor Unveils Plan To Curb Violence
For years, we've been told by the city's leadership that where the police station sits is not a factor in preventing violence. The officers were all in their designated zone and didn't respond to calls by departing their desks in the police station. They had sectors. They stayed in those sectors, by and large. The station was just a place for the commanders to hang out.

Getting to a call for the police is much unlike that of the firemen. Firemen and even the EMS have stations. They have equipment. They respond to calls from a base. The police are rolling. They rove around. Where the police station sits -- West End -- matters little.

Well, now Luke Ravenstahl has a new plan. He'll curb violence by moving the police station.

Are we going to have COPS again. The COPS are "Community Oriented Police Stations." They are mini-stations for one person.

Furthermore, what happens in St. Clair Village is still not within sight of the new location for the police staion at the corner of Warrington and Arlington Ave.

Luke didn't mention a peep about the new cameras that he promised to have installed by summer.

I don't like the cameras. I think we need more cameras that are pointed at the politicians and the police -- and not the people. However, what's up with that?

Beijing steps up battle against smog - World Blog -

Beijing steps up battle against smog - World Blog - Twenty-two days before the Olympic Games open here, the capital is awash in smog – an unseasonably thick haze that seems part pollution, part humidity.
More negative press from the Mainstream Media.

Where did I put those rose colored glasses?

The UK press might have a smog alert feature now -- but have you heard that the site in Londor for the 2012 Games is radioactive!

Mark Cuban in Pittsburgh on Monday with FCC meeting

Mark Cuban is part of the line-up for the FCC meeting at CMU on Monday. I blogged about this on Thurs -- scroll down to FCC and see the comments.

Welcome home Mark!

The last time we talked, face to face, was in the Bay Area in some convention center when he was doing webcasts, pre-buyout. That was a long, long time ago, perhaps 1990.

I wish he would have purchased -- not the Pirates, not the Steelers, not the Pens, not the slots parlor -- Pitt Stadium. That could have been a crown jewel for his portfolio.

NowPublic Blog - Career posting

NowPublic Blog � Careers, the world’s largest Citizen Journalism web site, has an immediate need for a Deputy News Director.
I'm watching these guys as they are getting into some Beijing coverage too.

Need to tag: BG08

Looks like there is an effort to have tags for Flicker for photos and blog posts for Beijing, #BG08. I'm not sure if the # is to be there or not. Please advise. So, I've set up a new tag at this blog too.

YouTube: Beijing Boomtown

City to move police station from S. Side to Allentown

City to move police station from S. Side to Allentown When news of another St. Clair Village shooting reached Mayor Luke Ravenstahl yesterday, he was in a meeting about moving the South Side police station up to the Hilltop and decided, then and there, that it was time to pull a different kind of trigger.
More boots. That is the same kind of trigger.

So, South Side is without its High School. Without its Catholic Schools. Without its private elementary school, (Waldorf). Without its hospital shortly, as UPMC South Side is closing. Without its hockey rink. Without its Rookie Ball in the park. Without its South Side Summer Street Spectatuclar (horray). Without its rec coordinator at the South Side Market House. Without its indoor swim pool in the summer months. Without its Youth Hostel. (woops, that is in Allentown.) Without its debates for candidate elections. Without its parking. Without its EMS. Without its bridge lanes on Briminham to Oakland. Without its bridge, off and on, to Mt. Washington.

What else?

Frankly, I'm so excited that we have the lights on the Hot Metal Bridge.

These are quotes from Bruce Kraus:

"We have a revolving door in the commander's office," he said. "I am staffing 18 neighborhoods with 22 officers being my prime number at any given time."

Moving the station, he said, "was a unilateral decision made from an ivory tower by someone I'm not convinced knows the community."
Kraus is doing this?!?!?!?

Democracy Rising Reports about the PA Folly

Dear Friend of Democracy,

The latest news from the Capitol tells us one more time what we already know: Our legislature can't police itself, and it can't reform itself.

It's time for us to reclaim our government. But how?

By holding Pennsylvania's first comprehensive Constitutional convention in 135 years.

We need to re-invent our government - without touching the parts of the Constitution that guarantee our basic rights as citizens.

To do it right - to inform and engage the voices of ordinary citizens - won't be easy, and it won't be cheap. To be prepared, Democracy Rising PA spent two years collecting your ideas for changing our Constitution. You can find them all at our web site: . Click on " Constitution Rx ."

To meet the challenge of giving your ideas real power at a convention, Democracy Rising PA needs your help now. Please donate now to strengthen the voice of citizens at the convention.

Most of us already get it.

Even the opinion polls that our political leaders have bought - using our money - say so. Even before the most recent scandals, a clear majority of us understood that Pennsylvania needs a Constitutional convention to:

* Stop the perks.
* Stop the wasteful spending.
* Stop the self-dealing.
* Stop the insider trading.

But a Constitutional convention isn't just about stopping the corruption. It's also about debating and deciding ideas that citizens have for making our government better. It's about creating a government we can believe in again.

DR has been pushing for a constitutional convention since our founding, and we will keep pushing. But we need your support to:

* Educate citizens about our Constitution and about how our fellow citizens think we can improve our government.

* Help citizens understand how a convention works and how they can become a delegate.

Now is the time to push even harder and louder, and we need your support to do it.

* Click here to receive our FREE electronic newsletter, Democracy Rising PA News.
* Click here to donate securely online. Your donation is fully-tax deductible.
* Forward this appeal to your friends and neighbors so that they can become part of this movement for a government that truly represents the citizens of Pennsylvania.

Do your part for our future.

In the past three years you have made history by voting key public officials out of office. Now it's time to make the future by reclaiming our government.

Help us prepare citizens for a Constitutional convention. Please take a few minutes and make the most generous donation you can - today!
I say that it is time that we stop the staff. We don't need to shrink the size of the house members and state senators as much as we need to fire all of their little drones who campaign, file petition challenges and have do-nothing jobs.

I'm sure that some are fine workers. But, they didn't do enough work to not allow the others from putting poision into the well of trust with the citizens and voters.

Flush them all down the drain. Then, perhaps, in a couple of years, we'll see where we need help. Help the citizens -- not government workers.

Your input is welcomed:

The Next Steps with Pgh School Reform, replacing bad board members with good ones

From an email list and Barb (see comment):
It seems that an excellent effort has been made to participate in and influence government at the School Board level only to find out that the outcome and results were very unsatisfactory.

It turns out that as good as the effort of the Schenley supporters was, bad government prevailed and frustrated the efforts.

The focus should now be to change bad government itself so that better government is available to respond to the needs of the parents, students, voters and taxpayers.

As Dr. Moore (using a speech prepared by Larry Myers) stated to the Board, 'every time the Board looks over their shoulder, they see the posse of Schenley supporters following'.

It is possible that a Schenley graduate of 2008 could serve on the School Board in 2009.

The requirements to run for a School Board seat are:

Age 18
Residency of 1 year in the district
10 signatures on a nominating petition
No filing fee

School Board members who voted to close Schenley are:

Heather Arnet District 2
Bill Isler District 4
Theresa Colaizzi District 5
Jean Fink District 7
Floyd McCrea District 9

Odd numbered districts are up for election in 2009. ( Colaizzi, Fink, McCrea)

The election process should start in January 2009.

Determine who in the Parents group resides in the appropriate districts.

Find a candidate to run against the Board member. There may already be someone out there who plans to run, they need to be contacted and supported as necessary.

Frequently, School Board members get reelected because there is no opposition. (Fink, McCrea in 2005)

Need to circulate a petition to get name on the ballot (10 names).

Make contact with Democratic Committee to identify Ward Chairs. Their leadership stated their support of Schenley at the hearing on June 16, 2008.

Try to obtain endorsement of Democratic Committee. These folks can do Poll work.

The following table shows the election results in 2005. It indicates some vulnerability of all three candidates, especially Colaizzi where Tom Baker was able to get 2,493 votes while running as a Republican in the general election. Since the others had no opposition, it may turn out that they can be voted out by a viable candidate.

Candidate District Votes % Opposition Votes

Dem. Primary 2005:
Colaizzi, district 5 = 3825 vs. Tom Baker = 2224
Fink, district 7 = 4,000 vs. for none
McCrea, district 9 = 3,282 vs none

Dem. General 2005:
Colaizzi, district 5 = 4,303 = 63.3% vs. Tom Baker (Republican) 2,493
Fink, district 7 = 3,722 vs. none
McCrea, district 9 = 3,707 vs. none
I am presently gearing up for a trip to China in August. And, I'm on the ballot in November 2008 as a candidate for the Electorial College.

However, I'm considering a run for school board in 2009. I live in district 5 -- a seat that is presently occupied by Ms. Colaizzi.

Not only do we need to get good school board members, like those who won't storm out of meetings when a non-paid citizen is permitted to speak, we need to get candidates for Mayor and some city council seats too.
From PPS








Dem. Primary 2005





Tom Baker












Dem. General 2005





Tom Baker (Republican)












KDKA show host bumped Carlynton discussion

Sadly, the show host seems to have bumped the 10:05 segment about kids.

Rather, he wants to talk about a goofy politician who lost his gun and it killed a guy -- months ago. That turned into a witch hunt -- and that turns Marty on, I guess.

Pittsburgh's Hilton Hotel is making payroll -- but stiffing others

Radio conversations say the Pgh Hilton -- downtown -- is not paying its bills. The construction crew is off the job. This is much like the other big building project on the other side of the river, the Majestic Star Slots Parlor. The workers there left their jobs a couple of weeks ago because they were not being paid.

To be fair, (giggle) the Downtown Hilton suffered with the two year closing of Point State Park for that rehab. All will be better now that the ditch in the park was filled in -- for $15-Million.

Same too with Pittsburgh's "Big Dig," the tunnel under the Allegheny River for extensio of the light rail to the North Side stadiums and slots parlor. Hey, the Gateway Center T stop is closed. Oh my. How are people expected to get to The Hilton with the T-closed?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Marty Griffin -- KDKA Radio to do segment on Carlynton efforts

Francismary writes:
Dear Friends and Neighbors:

The discussion of the Carlynton Facilities policy and how it was passed has been moved to Friday, July 18, at 10:05 am on AM1020 (KDKA).

I will be a call in guest on the Marty Griffin show.

I am asking again that you please listen to the program and call in to voice your opinion on the policy and on the way it was passed. The more calls they receive the more attention they will give it and if they get enough calls, they will consider moving it to a TV slot.

The call in number is: 412.333.KDKA (5352)

I appreciate your support in this.
For more insights see a blog and wiki pages that I've helped her to post:

Chronological list of PRIORITIES for the Ron Paul movement:

1) CIRCULATE NOMINATION PAPERS for third party candidates. Without candidates our movement will have little substance.

2) NOTARIZE AND FILE nomination papers in Harrisburg on or before AUGUST 1st.

3) Organize transportation and lodging for the RON PAUL CONVENTION in MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota. This occurs while the GOP convention is held in the same city.

4) Campaign for candidates that have filed nomination papers and will be on the ballot.

FCC comes to town

The FCC commissioners are headed our way. These folks are not to be trusted. They live on a panel and screwed up net neutrality, WQEX and a host of other things in recent decades.

EVENT TYPE: *Issues;Politics

The Federal Communications Commission is coming to Pittsburgh on July 21 for a public forum on the future of the Internet. There is no more important time than now to speak out for our Internet rights, which is why it's vital that you attend this hearing.

The FCC has published the agenda .

WHEN: Deadline: Mon Jul 21: 4PM
WHERE: Carnegie Mellon University McConomy Auditorium
AGES: all ages

Despite progress, state to still monitor city finances

Despite progress, state to still monitor city finances City Controller Michael Lamb liked the decision.

'There's a lot going on behind the scenes to begin to address those [long-term] issues,' he said, noting a push for statewide municipal pension reform that might steer more aid to distressed cities.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes -- elsewhere. Not here. Nothing is going on in Pittsburgh, either under the spotlight nor behind the scenes, when it comes to real effort to manage the costs of local government.

No wonder Michael Lamb liked the non-decision. We are stuck with more of the do nothing, too little, too late actions from those who have been elected.

Yep. The city lacks a plan.

Here is a my plan, from the past.

While the OVERLORDS are in town, and we've got two sets of them to get rid of some day, we taxpayers have to pay triple the costs of government.

We are paying for Act 47. We are paying for the ICA. We are paying for the regular office holders too.

All of those groups can pass blame and still point to Tom Murphy as well. Nothing gets done. They all have cover. That is just what they want. That is just what the citizens don't need.

Everyone in city hall should have a pay cut by 50% until the overlords depart.

Everyone who is getting state money (our money) to be an OVERLORD should get their contract reduced by 50% as well. The other money that is due to the contract holders and the employees will be put aside into an escrow account and paid to them after their work here is proven to have been completed.

There is no incentive for them to finish their work.

Michael Lamb can be less of a controller because he has the OVERLORDS to lean upon. They do some of his work for him. Same too with the mayor. Same too with the law department. Same too with the state reps and state senators. Everyone is getting paid -- and we are paying for it.

Another example: Of course Pat Ford wants to have a long, drawn out vacation as he is still not working but getting paid to be the head of the Urban Redevelopment Authority. We have been paying his salary for months and he has been doing nothing.

These oversight bodies cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year. There is no end in sight.

Half of the money can be put aside to pay them when their work is finished -- and when their work has proven to be effective. So, I'd take 1/3 of the held money and give it to them upon the completion of the contract. When they close their offices. I'd take another third and pay them once they've been gone for one year and the city is still not slipped back into a financial slump. And the final third would go to them three years after they've departed and the city is still solvent. Benchmarks should be obtained or else they don't get paid.

Open Government Amendment, Pittsburgh City Charter -- Homepage

Open Government Amendment, Pittsburgh City Charter -- Homepage Shall Pittsburgh have Open Government?
Makes good sense to shed Pittsburgh's smokey city methods.

The Pittsburgh City Paper has a rather long feature article on David and his recent efforts. I was interviewed by the reporter in advance of the article, but he had just filed the story's first edition before my quotes were obtained.

It is a good article. Here is my take.

David T has done some good. His battle to get the voter database onto CD-ROM from Allegheny County's Dept. of Election was a major victory. Presently, anyone who shows himself/herself say with a driver's license, can get a two-disk version of the data without cost. Before, the policy made the obtaining the data nearly impossible as it was very expensive and poorly delivered.

In life: Your friends can hurt you worse than your enemies. Same with politics. Hence, it is often better to be a "lone wolf" so you don't drag your friends into the fray, either by design or by accident. Dave is a bit of a lone wolf. Same too, w myself and many others who jump into the political scene.

Furthermore, the machine players and status quo power holders are notorious for making 'blow back.' Counter attacks against associates and buddies for unjustified reasons, except to 'teach em a lesson' is right in the front of their play book. They often attack the messengers and miss the message. They often send in the health department, call favors of other department regulators, mess with public services and deny opportunities to your children. Of course jobs, contracts and employment are all down the drain -- gone in a blink of an eye.

Last night, I heard of a person who filed an ethics complaint and then the spouse gets served with papers and is the target of an investigation too. Blowback happens all the time here, sadly.

Seldom do we have organized groups make strong statements that make an impact in local political dealings. We've had the firefighters do it. We are seeing the bar owners do it now with Whiskey Rebellion II. Bloggers have their day in the sun -- but we are very loose as to an organized group and as an agenda moving operation.

Pioneers are the ones with the arrows in their backs. But the boundaries get moved by them.

We need insulated, secure, fast moving, rebel rousing, lone wolf advocates. It is better to have street credit and better to have a wide reaching voice. But, we'll take various running mates from various sectors and try to amplify their message, for what its worth.

Those that have the weight of the world on their shoulders could better change the world if everyone else with a sense of justice could take a couple of ounces of the load. That's a path to victory and a better community. And, it happens here, generally.

By and large, people don't want to devote ten hours to get a blank petition and then go out to friends, family and neighbors to get 20 valid signatures for David Tessitor, or for Ron Paul, or for Ralph Nader, or for an Open Government Amendment.

However, most people will sign the petition when confronted with the opportunity. Most people are generous for a minute or two.

Dave's got the weight of the world on his back trying to get 20,000 signatures this summer. That's fun for him to a point. Going on vacation and sitting at Sandcastle and thousands of other summer activities are way more fun. It would be wonderful if the city had 200 people who could each be counted upon for 10 signatures. Pittsburgh would be like heaven when we have 400 people who are willing and responsible for each getting 25 signatures.

200 x 10 = 2,000

400 x 25 = 10,000

See where the devil resides: in the total number of signatures needed.

That's why dead people like to sign petitions for Michael Diven's campaigns -- and he was one of the ones in power.

Nirvana comes as the number of signatures needed is put to a reasonable amount.

We should never need more than 100 signatures to put anything onto the ballot. Once it (a candidate or an issue) gets onto the ballot, votes are still necessary to have it win. And, many ballot efforts would be non-binding. Hey, Allegheny County voted to NOT pay for the building of the new stadiums and convention center. Some good that did, right.

At last night's Allegheny County Libertarian meeting, I put up this article and the petition drive as a topic of conversation.

We wish you luck and good times in trying to gather those signatures David.

Meanwhile, we've got our own candidates to get onto the ballot for the fall election.

Go read the news article:
OPEN SEASON (News), by: Adam Fleming - July 17, 2008, Pittsburgh City Paper. Activist tries once again to bring transparency to city government

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ravenstahl expects election challenge - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Ravenstahl expects election challenge - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 'It's tough for me to take anything Council President Shields thinks seriously anymore.'
Life's tough. Tough is out. Shoot the messenger -- ignore the message. That's not going to fix Pittsburgh.

And like last week's leak about Shields and his ambitions to enter a political race in 2009 somehow was the straw that broke the back on the messages and babble from Doug Shields. Don't you think Luke would know what to expect from Sheilds before last week? Jeepers. Come to your senses already.

Rauterkus house gets some TV time -- but this isn't ours

See the comments about another Rauterkus family and their old house.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Olympic canoeing champion Kolonics dies - 2008 Olympics -

Sports drama hits and tugs at life itself, knocking gold medalist dead.
Olympic canoeing champion Kolonics dies - 2008 Olympics - SI.comGyorgy Kolonics, a canoeing gold medalist at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, died Tuesday after collapsing in his canoe while training for the Beijing Games. He was 36.
A true legend of Hungarian sports passes. The 2008 Olympics in Beijing, to start in next month, would have been his fifth Olympics.

Jim Motznik had a blog that lasted just about as long

Okay... here is a game.

I found a new local blogger. He put up a site. He was asked to take down the site. No blog for him.

That sucks.

This is how freedom fails in Pittsburgh.

Now, I could talk about him and his boss -- but -- I don't have a salary to cover his paycheck after he gets fired for his blog and my remarks about his situation. So, I'm less free as well.

We all suffer as one of us gets hammered.

Bonusgate: A Tsunami for Reform Bonusgate: A Tsunami for Reform

From Russ Diamond:
In 2005, the legislative pay raise was a seismic disturbance that rumbled beneath the surface of Pennsylvania's political ocean. In 2006, the electoral effects were felt in what was commonly dubbed a "political earthquake." Three years later, the resultant tsunami - otherwise known as Bonusgate - has finally come crashing to shore.

Citizens should applaud the agents of the Attorney General's office and members of the grand juries. The volume of man-hours apparently involved in pouring through mountains of records and testimony to reach this point is astounding. That the investigation continues and more arrests are likely is even more breathtaking.

The biggest accolades, however, must be reserved for the people of Pennsylvania and their historic reaction to the pay raise. Absent the intense citizen activism during the 2006 election cycle, Bonusgate would not even be a blip on the radar.

Although the grand juries found that the intermingling of campaigns and legitimate legislative functions began prior to 2006, the sheer number of electoral challenges that year created an opportunity for the practice to be utilized to an extent that commanded the attention of the media and law enforcement.

Without pay raise outrage, the practice might have quietly remained behind the scenes for years to come. Without pay raise outrage, journalists might not have had the editorial foresight and ripe audience required for stories that grow "legs." Without pay raise outrage, law enforcement might not have felt compelled to launch such a substantial investigation.

Under grant of immunity, one individual involved in the scandal nailed it: the pay raise "changed the whole map."

Bonusgate should spur aftershocks from voters for the same reasons the pay raise did. Both incidents arose from the fault line of arrogance and greed that unfortunately runs directly beneath our Capitol's dome. For some, apparently, the weight of incumbency is simply not enough advantage in the ongoing fight for power and personal privilege.

Despite gerrymandered legislative districts, the availability of free media coverage for legislative work during re-election season, the ability to dole out public funds, taxpayer-funded newsletters and public service announcements, certain individuals within at least one caucus viewed retaining their positions and gaining a majority in the House of Representatives as objectives that reside above the law.

Although the recent revelations are likely just the first phase of the tsunami, Pennsylvanians must begin considering the cleanup and rebuilding efforts now. Clearly there are instances of individual abuses, but many of the problems of Harrisburg are rooted in the structure of government and inherently systemic.

Will further internal legislative rule changes be enough? Will stronger statutes and threats of stiffer penalties prevent such activity in the future? Can any legislative body effectively police itself, or should Pennsylvania tackle the Mother of all Reforms - an objective constitutional convention where sitting public officials are prohibited from serving as delegates?

These questions can only be answered properly if Pennsylvania's citizens are informed, actively engaged in the process, and honest about both the mistakes of the past and the challenges that lie ahead.

As the waters from the Bonusgate tsunami retreat back to the proverbial sea, some parts of the political infrastructure in Harrisburg will have crumbled while others remain standing. Those that remain standing will have been built on the solid ground of the law, ethics and accountability. It is these principles that will guide us in finally ending Pennsylvania's crisis of confidence.

Constitutional Convention Enabling Act (SB1290)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

From Uprising to Movement: Five Ideas -

From Uprising to Movement: Five Ideas - End the Oxymoron of Autocratic Progressivism: Autocratic Progressives, as I discussed yesterday, are those who think you can build a progressive movement with anti-progressive, autocratic, top-down, command-and-control structures. This is elitism at its worst. If we want to take this uprising moment and channel it into a progressive movement, then the movement institutions we build have to be small-d democratic. Sadly, most of the much-vaunted new progressive infrastructure — from to well-funded left-leaning think tanks in Washington, D.C. — run the gamut from mostly undemocratic to completely undemocratic. That’s not the way to build a movement — and I say that not just from a moral, pro-democratic standpoint, but from a pragmatic one.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

We are ready -- sorta. Well, at least my sons are with paperwork in order

The passports and visas for Erik and Grant have arrived. The ones for Catherine and I are still on the way. We hope.

Details later. Hold thumbs! Or, if American, you can cross your fingers for us.

Perhaps if all the bloggers piched in a few bucks, this could come about.

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium's new baby girl elephant has a new name and she is going out into the elephant yard. "The baby's name is Angelina, chosen by a special donor," says Dr. Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Angelina will be out on exhibit everyday from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. "We are excited for our visitors to have the opportunity to see her," says Dr.Baker. "But she is still young and we do have to be protective of her especially because she has very sensitive skin and we don't want her to get sunburned." Angelina's schedule will be dependent upon weather or if she is acting unusual for some reason. Her schedule will also be affected when the Zoo's second female elephant, Moja, has her baby. Moja is due any day now. Visitors can call the Zoo to check on Angelina's schedule. Visitors also can see Angelina through the large viewing windows at the Elephant Family Room where she is spending time with her family. "The family bonding is going very well," says Dr. Baker. "We are extremely proud of Angelina's older brother, Callee. At first he wasn't sure he liked having a little sister, but he likes her now. He gently touches her and he stands beside her to make sure she is ok." Angelina is 37 inches tall, but keepers have not had a chance to weigh her yet. That will be done within the next couple of days.
The next arrival should be named, "Rufus Peckham."

How did the state bonus scandal happen?

How did the state bonus scandal happen?: "How did the state bonus scandal happen?
The million-dollar 'bonusgate' was fueled by politics and a breakdown of the Democratic caucus' managerial system"
Frankly, it happened because of the combination of greed and "governement jobs." All in all, smarts, purpose, liberty were not the driving factors.

Throw the bums out.

Respect the bus

Getting on the bus, Gus, works in other places.
Respect the bus movies - Peoria, IL - "local transit ridership is up by 24 percent in Peoria this year isn't surprising.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sign of the times: Rolling Rocks -- a budding cancer

Bram has something on this topic too.

The city law department gets tangled in this story too. Face it: The city law department sucks. They are a serious drag on "moving forward." They should all be fired. The law department is a liability. Laws are not. But, the way they act and react are what is to blame. The blame is so deep, that they can't shake it.

If Mayor Ravenstahl was at a meeting -- or if he wasn't -- does not matter. There is no way one person should be 'above the law.' The mayor can be wrong. They can't work to protect the mayor while work to squander both honesty and accountability.

People do not want to live in a place where rules are irrelevant. People choose to avoid lawlessness. The stentch of corruption and being where rules matter little -- except for the connected -- drives people away. This is why the city is shrinking.

It is much easier for the citizens to pack up and depart, rather than to fight.

We want people to go through the process. Back in 2001, when I ran for mayor, I put a top priority on process. How things work and how they don't -- matters most. For Pittsburgh: the questions of who and what are less important than the question of how and why.

Another way to say the same thing is to concentrate on software, not hardware. This isn't about 'stadiums' as much as it is about how deals get hatched.

Software problems and process problems are much more demanding in terms of communications and philosophy. Plus, it is harder to see process, generally.

Joel from the sign company is quoted as saying that the company would sue the city if ordered to take down the sign. That is fear. That is uncertainty. That is doubt. All in all -- it is called FUD.

One firm flings FUD and the law department blinks, as expected.

The law department, the firm, this sign and even the mayor are but pawns in this bigger story. Here is another chapter, but the saga is about the city's approach to process. Is Pittsburgh still going to be a 'smokey city' where back-room deals drive the outcomes. Or, is Pittsburgh, as I would hope, turns the corner and heads to open ways.

By the way, the firm had a green light -- and jumped through some hoops. However, it didn't do enough. They fumbled at the goal line.

When is Mr. Ford going to have his pay checks terminated? Does that come before or after they terminate the head of law department goes?

On May 7, Historic Review Commission members agreed they would not have approved the sign had they been asked. They asked the Law Department to outline their options.

"The current owner is taking the position that, based upon the record, they have the right to continued approval, and we are researching that," city Solicitor George Specter said. An answer might come next week.


"[T]he city's public process serves to protect the public interest, and when it has been circumvented, or there is the appearance of such, we all have cause for serious concern."

Mr. Aaronson argued that the sign doesn't have "any real, substantial impact on the integrity of the neighborhood. ... People should say, 'Well, we'll be diligent next time.'"
Next time is a luxury that Pittsburgh does not own at present.

Next time works from time to time when an abundance of good will has been earned and is entrusted within the institutional ethos.

Pittsburgh is shattered. Trust is cracked. Now is the time for Pittsburgh to scatter further -- or instead, -- inject glue so as to begin to heal with the attaching of the pieces.

Luke Ravenstahl needs to reply upon the red tape for the fixing of things.

Meanwhile, I hate red tape, as a principle. But, you can't cheat it. By design, red tape can be eliminated. But, that isn't what Bob Ford and Luke Ravenstahl have been doing.

The city, could, get rid of the law department. Take that budget to $0 for the next six months.

The city could, on another front, put a question onto the ballot that asks the voters of the city if we should suspend all zoning rules for a five year period. We can get rid of the planning department, zoning and the URA. We can get rid of red tape -- by design -- so as to save money, increase freedoms and put some energy into the local marketplace. That's more of a radical fix. But, it is a deliberate. We can measure it with discussions and projections. Then we can vote upon its merit.

Finance markets crumble

The outlook for the state of the American Economy has hit a new, recent low. This isn't going to be good. More bad news is expected shortly.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Schenley and the rest of the district, too --

Still here! After a little time for a summer break and breather, there's more afoot. The stream of letters to the editor being published in the Post-Gazette seems to indicate that we're not the only people ready to keep going.

All along it's been clear that there's a lot more to HS reform than just closing Schenley under the (fake) cloud of a "$70+M asbestos problem." We're still working on getting accurate information out there to counteract the misleading (or plain wrong) impression that's been left.

But, it's also been clear all along that there are many other changes which were effectively hidden by the Schenley news and they will affect each and every family in the PPS.

Issues like:

* the move to several 6-12 grade themed magnet schools (there will be three beginning in the fall of '09)

* a move to a district wide lottery system for all schools (with changes to feeder patterns and no guarantee of a specific neighborhood HS)

* a lack of clarity on what the district will look like in 5 to 10 years -- for instance, which comprehensive high schools will be left and who will attend them?

* a lack of discussion about the effect of more and smaller schools on competitive team sports, electives and extracurricular options?

No matter what your opinions are on these and other changes proposed -- the thing we've learned is that by the time parents and community members are asked for input, it's too late for plans to change.

So -- are you ready to get the word out there? We really need to let friends, neighbors, children's classmates, co-workers, etc. know that these changes are coming and that the time to be heard is NOW. We're considering a petition drive and/or having letters to sign and mail in to the BOE and other grassroots ways to get people to talk to 10, 20, 100 people they know and make them aware of the changes that are coming and the vital need to start speaking up now, while we might still have a chance to have a voice in these reforms.

If you wish to be removed from this list, let me know. If you're willing to spend an hour or a weekend or whatever time you can give to start getting the word out, let me know that too. Ideas for how best to find and talk to people? Send them my way. And, let's keep the letters to the editor going too -- mark a time on your calendar and commit to sending in a letter. Send me a copy or let me know, if you'd like, it would be interesting to see our ratio of sent letters to printed letters.

Thank you --
Jen Lakin

Ken Krawchuk: Come watch as Abington Township violates the Constitution again


Abington Township is violating the Pennsylvania Constitution again, and (for some inexplicable reason) wants to talk with me about it -- in District Court! Come watch the fun next Wednesday morning, July 16th, at 9:15 AM in District Court 38-1-05, 875 N. Easton Rd., Glenside Penna. 19038.

What's it all about? Article 1 Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution plainly states that citizens have "certain inherent and indefeasible rights", including "acquiring, possessing and protecting property". Furthermore, Section 25 affirms that those rights "shall forever remain inviolate".

Yeah, right. "Forever" has apparently come and gone, because Abington Township Ordinance 1760 flatly denies citizens the right to possess certain kinds of property; specifically, an operable car sitting in your driveway. The Ordinance unconstitutionally claims that a citizen is not "permitted to have any motor vehicle which is not currently registered, not currently inspected, not currently insured, and is not capable of being legally operated on a public street." Isn't your motor vehicle your "property"? Can't you keep your own car in your own driveway?

And the ordinance is not just unconstitutional, it's also illegal: state law explicitly forbids any municipality from enforcing its own vehicle laws, specifically, 75 Pa.C.S.6301, which says that all "prosecutions under local ordinances [are] superseded by title [75]".

There are other aspects to their official repression, but let me save a few surprises for Wednesday. Suffice it to say I want that Ordinance declared unconstitutional, I want monetary damages for their hassling me in the first place, and it's long past time to take whatever legal steps are necessary to remove from office any judge,
commissioner, or township staffer who has violated their solemn oath to uphold the Constitution. Enough is enough!

It'll be fun. Hope to see you there.