Tuesday, March 31, 2009

County Announces Plans To Build Taxpayer-Funded Professional Wrestling Arena

Allegheny County authorities, along with the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA), announced today that a new, publicly-funded professional wrestling arena will be built in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood.

Persons close to the negotiations revealed that the $4.1 million structure will be erected next door to the Lawrenceville Moose at 120 51st Street.

Real estate taxes will also be excused as part of the deal for five years, according to county authorities. The tax abatement is a part of an economic stimulus plan to encourage small business growth.

Industry insiders call the deal revolutionary, especially since it falls on the heels of the Mickey Rourke-Oscar nominated, “The Wrestler.”

Landon Mark, real estate liaison for the county, says that breaking ground on the multi-million dollar experiment will occur within a few months. “Next to building the new hockey arena, and with the possible exception of a NASCAR track in the Hays neighborhood, this is simply the biggest, best news for the region in these tough times,” added Mark.

Funding will be made possible through money from the current Regional Asset District (RAD) budget. There is also talk of siphoning from a proposed half-cent “sin tax” increase on cigarettes to assist with overruns. Authorities say that naming rights is also a possibility.

Organizers and promoters with the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance expressed gratitude and applauded the decision. “The region has been a hot-bed for professional wrestling and this beautiful arena will be the crown jewel of the industry,” said Francis Gotch, senior vice president of real estate development.

Originally a warehouse, the future KSWA Arena will sport a glitzy outdoor waterfall, a parking garage for 200 cars, and a chain restaurant called HEADLOCKS.

La Lucha, a Mexican immigrant who has become one of the KSWA's most celebrated Megastars—and a former World Champion—will be on hand for an official announcement soon.

Special tax incentives will also be given to KSWA stockholders as part of the plan. The arena is expected to create dozens of jobs and should be open April 1, 2011.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Patrick Dowd talks about tip of iceberg with garbage cans

Updated with video, inserted below:

Patrick Dowd came to my neighborhood today to talk about the cost of garbage cans, again. He put a price tag on the one at 11th and East Carson Street, $1,010.

The inflated price of garbage cans is but the tip of the iceberg, so he said. Jeepers. Why talk about the tip of the iceberg? I want a candidate that is going to address much more than the pimples of life.

More to come.

I asked a few questions too.
Dowd claims Pittsburgh wasted $20 million: "Councilman Patrick Dowd outlined what he called $20.2 million in 'wasteful spending' by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration today -- almost all of it associated with a water authority debt deal -- and repeated his call for changes in how the city spends money."

To me, the irony of it all is what is NOT able to be seen. Putting a price tag on a garbage can is a ploy and it is a dumb ploy. It doesn't resonate with anything as it isn't really a huge deal in the bigger picture of life.

I don't want to spend money on a business district period -- trash cans or otherwise. Does he want to replace the spending on trash cans spent for a business district and get cheaper cans? Let's not just re-arrange chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

The real waste is government is the wasted capacity.

We don't have programs in the parks because we have too many dogs that have taken over the parks -- and too much red tape to get things done with volunteers.

I told Patrick that the biggest waste in the South Side was the closed, indoor ice rink that sits in a park that is behind a padlocked gate. The park is closed for the most part. The rink has been closed for five years. There is only one indoor ice rink in the city and that is the Civic Arena -- a place that is slated for the wrecking ball. The Pens get a new arena -- but our kids don't have a place to play. So, people move out of the city. Families move out of the city.

And Patrick was in charge of the parks committee for the past two years. Nothing got done with parks on his watch. Nothing due to his watch.

Furthermore the school district is no great model for reduction of wasteful spending. In contracts alone, the taxpayers paid out big bucks for Dr. Lynn Spampinato. She vacated her office at the PPS and went to US Virgin Islands with plenty of additional paydays and a golden parachute.

The school district fired Dr. John Thompson six months before his contract was to expire. I had no problems with the district telling Dr. Thompson his time with the district was finished, at the end of his contract. But, it made no sense in a prudent financial sense to release him of his contract before his work was finished. I hate to see folks getting paid for not working.

Government waste = Lynn Spampinato.

How much did she cost PPS?

Update on April 2:
Strings attached! Photograher asks, shouldn't Bruce Kraus write an ordinance about this?


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Worse than being a Pitt fan is...

The only thing worse than being a Pitt fan tonight is being a Pitt fan and living in Philly.

Come on home. We'll leave a light on for you.

Lewis, Clark and Dog from Pittsburgh, Seaman

The Phillips Elem School Think-a-thon team goes into its competition today at Brashear High School.

Meanwhile, I'm going with the Chatham University women water polo players to Erie for three matches.

Updated w photo.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pittsburgh approves first round of surveillance cameras

Pittsburgh approves first round of surveillance cameras: "Ending a 21-month selection process, the city of Pittsburgh today announced it has picked Maryland-based Avrio Group to deploy a network of public safety surveillance cameras, starting along riverfronts and extending into high-crime areas.
If they are going to point cameras into high crime areas, then there will be a lot along Grant Street, inside the buildings and among the Authorities too.

I want to point the cameras at the public officials before they are pointed at the citizens.

Great Re-Cap of the win over the X-Men

Pitt Blather — The Rantings Continue Permalink » Survive and Advance Talk about rewriting a legacy in half-a-minute.

As great as Levance Fields has been for Pitt, the senior was hardly anything special for 39 minutes. He had 9 points, 6 assists and 3 turnovers. He probably should have had more turnovers. He shot 3-9 at that point. Only 2-5 on free throws. He just had not come up with much in the most important game of his career. It looked like he would go down small and his team would join yet another Pitt squad that couldn’t break that barrier of winning a third game in the NCAA Tournament.

Then. Then. Then it all changed. Drilling a 3 with under a minute. Deep. Hand in the face. A “NO.NONONONONONONO! YES!!!!!” moment. After that coming up with a steal when Blair poked it lose and racing like he never raced before to the other end with a lay-in. Wow.

Nothing about this game was pretty. I do not understand what is wrong with Pitt in the first half. Whether it is playing too tentative because they don’t know how the game will be officiated. Whether it is overconfidence. Whether it is tightness. Obviously, Coach Dixon has been reaching them at halftime.

Still, it was ugly. Credit also has to go to Xavier for playing that hard and tough against Pitt. They also do well in this type of game and clearly it was their game as well.

Ultimately Pitt did enough. Pitt was tough enough. Physically and mentally. Never gave up. Never stopped.

Now this Pitt team gets to keep playing.
My reply:

Pitt wins if it can do three things. Really, only one, but I'll cover all the bases.

First, Pitt needs to take care of the ball. At times the team can't even make an in-bound pass.

Second, Pitt needs to get the rebounds. Tip it, swipe it, swat it -- whatever -- except have the ball hit you when your standing off the court.

Third, Pitt needs to score more points. I'll take #3 any time over 1 & 2. As long as Pitt scores more points, any way, any how, -- I'll be happy. Older of course, but happy and grey.

THESE BASTARDS: Culture under siege

THESE BASTARDS: Culture under siege Et tu, boy mayor? Must you treat us like lowly Morgantown dwellers? I'll bet this solves everything. No more fires. Nothing else in Oakland is flammable.

An era is ending. No more sitting on the porch discussing literature getting shit faced and skipping class. Now people will have to steal lawn furniture or milk crates and sit on those. They will have to defend and protect these new sitting implements from theft. This flies in the face of the whole dirty porch couch concept: that no one in their right mind would ever try to steal one.

City's lack of glitz now a selling point for conventions

City's lack of glitz now a selling point for conventions VisitPittsburgh is now marketing the city as a glamorless destination for the post-luxury age.
I've been saying and wishing others would promote that Pittsburgh is a great place to be frugal -- and for living as a family. The combination of the two are slam dunks for most and better than what they've ever come up with.

Getting the casino means some new business. But, it also means others won't come. The net effect is marginal at best.

So, only VisitPittsburgh would begin to bill the city as less than glamorless a few months before the casino opens. Go figure. The timing is wrong again.

When one does organize an event, it is a draw to have a city that can function yet not distract those who attend. This means that the conference attendees go to the trade show, attend the lectures, have time to socialize among themselves in the profession. That's an ideal world for event organizers. Especially if the family of those attending can hook a trip too and have sideline activities -- like Kennywood, Sandcastle, Warhol, Science Center, and so forth.

One Dollar DVD Project Is No Longer... a one man operation.

Better than NetFlicks, sorta.
...no longer a one-man operation, that is.

Two assistants help get the orders out, now. I suppose it is a good thing the project is too much for me alone.

The DVDs are still a dollar each when purchased in bulk (over $100). Otherwise, they are now two dollars each.


Do not blame inflation, I am no longer able to do it all, at my age. Some will be bummed, sorry.

Smaller orders will be more costly. If regular, repeat buyers will order less often and buy more per order, little will change for them. Besides, why give the Post Office all the shipping charges, anyway?

Please, buy a box full ever so often and help this project continue to grow.

Also, a new Recurring Subscription Project is available. Receive monthly deliveries of the most popular or newest DVDs; four DVDs a month for only $9.95 or, nine a month for only $19.95. You will receive more than one copy so, pass the extras along to friends and neighbors after viewing.

Again, thank you all who work the front lines of the info war. Please, just consider me part of your support team.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pittsburgh Crosswalk Injuries Hit Five Year High - Target 11 News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

I care about pedestrian Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Crosswalk Injuries Hit Five Year High - Target 11 News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh: "'The problem with that area is it's a straightaway and people are leaving town and there just aren't enough traffic signals there to slow the traffic down,' said Hal Waldman, Price's attorney.
But, traffic lights are not the tool for slowing down traffic. Same too for STOP signs. Traffic lights are for taking turns. STOP signs are for stopping.

Slow down traffic with speed limits and enforcement.

Pittsburgh would be wise to build dozens, if not dozens of dozens pedestrian bridges and walkways -- away, above, below and apart from the traffic on the street.

Pitt prepares for possible NCAA riots - College Basketball - Rivals.com

Pitt prepares for possible NCAA riots - College Basketball - Rivals.com: "Dave Jedlicka, president of the Oakland Zoo and a member of the Celebration Task Force, said he thought any student linked to destructive activity should be immediately expelled.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ask the Obama Administration to address the obesity epidemic

Ask the Obama Administration to address the obesity epidemic by using some of the $650 million set aside for prevention and wellness in the economic stimulus package to strengthen the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO). CDC is the nation's lead prevention agency, yet DNPAO is funded at less than one half of one percent of CDC's budget.

Please go to the “contact us” section of recovery.gov. Insert a request for CDC obesity funding, such as the model comment below, and add a supporting fact of your own or one from the list of options below:

Please ensure that the prevention and wellness fund from the stimulus package includes a strong investment in obesity prevention by providing $90 million for the CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.

To support that request use one of the following or your own supporting fact:

* At the current funding, $42 million, CDC is able to support only 23 states. The remaining states receive no funds from CDC to address a condition that affects two-thirds of American adults, contributes to 112,000 deaths annually, and costs the nation $123 billion in treatment costs.

* Over the last ten years, the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity has begun to build a strong science base, effective programs, and national infrastructure to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The Administration should build on that initial investment rather than reinventing the wheel.

* With high rates of obesity in adults and children, the Administration can’t afford to not have a strong national obesity prevention program in place. Without sufficient investment in prevention, obesity rates are going to continue to wreak havoc on the nation’s health and health care costs.

* Funding CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at $90 million would allow it to support obesity prevention programs in every state.

* Even though all state applications were approved for funding, 13 states lost their obesity funding last year due to inadequate resources.

Campaign finance-plank-Dowd - Fix PA

Nice response. Now lets go and split hairs.
Campaign finance-plank-Dowd - Fix PA 1) I will introduce comprehensive, common sense campaign finance legislation that is tied to federal contribution limits within the first 100 days;

2) I will end the practice of awarding no-bid contracts to campaign contributors;

3) I will ensure that every contract over $25,000 will be competitively bid;

4) As an incumbent Mayor, I will not solicit campaign contributions from any firm that does business with the City of Pittsburgh or its Authorities;

5) I will make all finance reports electronically available to the public on the state and county filing dates;

6) I will ensure the creation of and integrate searchable electronic databases of all city contracts and all campaign contributions of all city elected officials.

7) I will publish my public schedule on the city's website so that any Pittsburgher can see who I am meeting with.

#7. Why not have your private and public schedule on the web?

Why not have the schedule on the web now?

Why not have the schedule on a personal site and not the city's site?

Why not have the main meeting room set up with UStream or some other video conference set up so that what is said is broadcasted and archived so others can see or hear exactly what happened?

#6. Why not do a database of your spending and incomes now?

Why not support the TRANSPARENT PAC ACCOUNT concept with private banks as a way to make a solution that is without any extra costs and overhead on city resources?

Why not meet with me to learn about and craft such a solution with a call to local bankers for a new type of account for local PAC accounts?

Why not ask all the other candidates you know in the city and county to migrate their bank accounts to these new TRANSPARENT PAC ACCOUNTS so that a critical mass rewards to early adopters and a new chapter in transparency is started in earnest?

#5. Why not make finance transaction data available as it occurs, not as the reporting periods dictate? Do reporting in real time, not with big lags.

#3. Why not insure that every contract greater than $5,000 be awarded after a competitive bid? Why the $25,000 ceiling?

Cal swimmers embrace unusual training methods

Cal swimmers embrace unusual training methods: "'At Rutgers I didn't think I would go any farther in swimming,' she said. 'I was just about ready to leave the sport. I wasn't where I wanted to be. I was frustrated with the whole thing - coaching, practices, meets, everything. Back East, it's very old school: Just pound out a lot of yardage. The coaching style is very removed. They tell the swimmers exactly what to do without a lot of positive feedback.'"

Program's goal is to knock down barriers, expose black youth to swimming : Local News : Memphis Commercial Appeal

Program's goal is to knock down barriers, expose black youth to swimming : Local News : Memphis Commercial Appeal: "Program's goal is to knock down barriers, expose black youth to swimming

By Wendi C. Thomas (Contact), Memphis Commercial Appeal
Thursday, March 19, 2009

Last summer city pools opened to tragedy: two teens drowned on the first day the pools were open in June.

Not this year, said Susan Helms, director of injury prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South at Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center."

Big Job Fair -- the day after a posting closed

The city held a big job fair. Great. The city had an open job posting that closed the day before the job fair. Go figure. Not great.

PAC this to Zero-Land. The loophole is the PACs

From hot-pot-w-students

Start here, at Bob's blog: http://thebusmansholiday.blogspot.com/2009/03/peduto-campaign-finance-reform-by.html

My reply:

The loophole is PACs.

A union's PAC can give 2.5 times as much as an individual. But, a union PAC often has a city, county, regional and national PAC. And, it can have Grey PAC, Gay PAC, At-Home PAC, Retired PAC, Women's PAC, and so on. Anyone can make a PAC. PAC can then funnel money to candidates.

A rule follower could give $1-M to various PACs and they can all end up giving money to the same candidate for the same campaign.

When the rights of a mob, group or clan exceed that of the individual, red flags should fly.

1 hour and 20 minutes on the Kraus bill for sidewalk cafes

Bill Peduto is going to use his gavel. Finally. He is a bit hacked off today at city council for the spending of 1 hour and 20 minutes on a bill that had no amendments.

Too much talk. Too little action.

From NZ-whales

Mr. Kraus wants to thank everyone for all their help. That's called doing their jobs. Grandstanding stinks.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kraus is always late to meetings. When I'm talking today -- he gets up from the table. When other members of the public are talking, Mr. Kraus is in the audience schmoozing.

Fixing it isn't everyone's duty. But to flag it is a great help.

My suggestion at another blog about fixing wiki pages when errors are noticed.

Life must be hard to know it all yet not have the technical / language skills to fix any of our bogus shared understandings.

Tip to Chris: At wikipedia.org, (and even FixPA.wikia.com) when you see something that is at odds with the truth, click the blue button at the top of the page called, "discussion." It is at the tab just to the right of the link labeled 'article.'

Then click again on the button, also at the top, called "new section." Sometimes a "+" sign is there. Then insert with the wiki language of plain old text in English to what you feel should be changes / adjusted / altered / inserted. Just go freehand.

Often two fields are presented, a title, like in a blog post. And a body field for longer chunks of text.

No need for any HTML nor WIKI mark-up. Just type like a blog comment.

Then after you are done, sign your nugget of insight by hitting the ~ (tide character) four times. That is way to the top left of the keyboard, often a CAP. It looks like this, ~~~~ .

That trick, ~~~~ puts your name and time stamp onto the posting.

Then leave the edits to others. Go about your merry way to other pages or whatever.

When busy, drop of comment onto the discussion page and move on. Hopefully others will get to the matter in due time.

I did this the other day at:


Perhaps some day the Caliguri page will get fixed to everyone's satisfaction.

(full thread)

The Pittsburgh Comet & Campaign Finance Reform

The Pittsburgh Comet: "If the ship leaks, we can look to where it's leaking.
My second comment at another blog goes like this:

If pay to play is the problem, then fix pay to play. You don't fix pay to play with campaign finance reform.

As you said, "If the ship leaks, we can look to where it's leaking." EXACTLY.

If you have a leak on the roof of your house, don't put in cement floors. Fix the roof.

The pay part should be okay, within reason. Don't make it criminal to give a donation to a candidate. We want people to be invested in self-government and the American process -- generally. However, we don't want special favors to be delivered to anyone. We don't want certain players to get the ball and our money all the time at the exclusion of others. Government isn't about making the rich richer despite effective operations.

The play part of pay to play is where the taxpayers get screwed. The play part is fixed with the elimination of all no bid contracts.

If you want to do business with government, we need to have a competitive bid process to insure that we buy the most and best for the money -- open to all.

Gaming the system is solved when the contracts and purchasing elements are with sealed bids and competition.

Campaign finance reform is another matter. It needs attention too. But, trying to make Campaign Finance Reform a wonder drug, magic bullet, and fix-it-all-solution, is sure to bog everything down and fail.

BTW, this was one of the failures of Peduto 2004 thinking. We're past that now, I dare say.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You don't fix one problem with an approach that isn't about the problem: Campaign Finance Reform

This is what victory looks like!

When Bill Peduto championed campaign finance reform in 2004, I was there saying, "Think again."

Peduto knew of the gang of 75 who were the pay to play mavericks. They ruled this town and took from its treasury, as needed, via their no-bid contracts. They come in all flavors from law firms to bond underwriters to URA designer weenies.

Peduto's aim, in part, was to fix this 'pay to play mentality.' So, he wanted to limit the size of campaign donations. The pay to play problems shrink as the size of the pay-offs are able to decrease -- generally. But, the root of the problem is the awarding of city contracts to friends.

In the case of Twanda Carlisle, she gave city money and city contracts for doing nothing, to family and friends. Those folks didn't give big campaign donations. They were paid, but they didn't even need to play the game with advance payments.

My point in recent years has been to the problem of letting city contracts to those who are hand picked. End all no bid contracts and the pay to play realm gets shattered.

This is what's on the table now. This is a major reform move. This is what I've been talking about and it is coming to pass.

Can anyone tell me any reason why we need any no-bid contracts in city government?

Next, gifts. Sure. We can start a gift abatement policy. But, that has to come from the individuals and it would be nice to have an Ethics Hearing Board too. Rev. Ricky Burgess is ranting about gifts and that's just fine.

The problem comes from enforcement.

What if I give you a ride home after a meeting? What if I let you use a cell phone to call home because of some special circumstances? These are much like NCAA Recruiting and Eligibility Rules. Have you ever seen or read the NCAA Manuals? Thick like phone books. Fairness. A college athlete can't get a new suit to go to a banquet to get an award. That's a deal breaker that will change the team's record from the last year.

A college athlete can't use the coach's phone to call home -- even if mom is home sick. Bang. Eligibility violations.

The mirco management of elimination of all gifts can get really unhealthy.

The thing to do is offer and reward the culture of gift elimination. But, don't legislate morals, as that's next to impossible to do.

We need to hire and elect wise and honest individuals.

The kicker gets to enforcement, in the final chapters of these discussions. Time to talk, again, about the 'scarlet letter provisions.'

If a person wants to buy property from the city, and that person owes taxes to the city on any property, the deal is off. The city won't sell property to tax cheats. The people who owe back taxes are blacklisted and can't purchase additional properties from the city. That's fine with me and a great law and policy.

I'd like to see the same thinking apply to these matters of campaign finance reform enforcement.

So, if a company has an employee that donates more money than allowed to a candidate, as established by these pending bills -- then what. I say that that company has to get a better grip on its employees, or owners, or board members. And, that company as a cheat on the campaign finance reform measures would be ineligible for any business dealings with the city. That company would be blacklisted and not be eligible for any contract with the city -- other than paying taxes, of course.

For example, consider the case of building a bridge or digging a tunnel under a river for the expansion of light rail. Some city contracts are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Buying a council member or five, or a mayor or field of mayors, is worth tens of millions of dollars. And, if the penalty is a $10,000 fine -- yet the contracts are worth half-a-billion, then guess what.

Those who wanted the Mon Valley Toll Road gave Bob O'Connor and Tom Murphy both -- lots of money. They wanted to send the road through Hazelwood and into the Mon Valley -- out to Thomas Jefferson and such. This toll road would be valuable to those land speculators. And, it was worth hundreds of thousands. Those deals flowed in 2000 and 2001. Both O'Connor and Murphy spend $1-M in the 2001 primary election. Much of that money came from Mon Valley Advocates.

Same too happened with gambling.

Wayne Fontana and Michael Diven both had money from the D and R parties in Harrisburg that amounted to $1M each for a state senate seat. Years of gambling money, from horse track, slots, casinos, resorts and such flowed to Harrisburg and they were flush for their candidates.

Some deals, like casinos, stadiums, convention centers, sports teams, mass transit, airports, mining rights, dams, etc., are big ticket deals. Fortunes are made on the backs of public money.

We need to say that those who are guilty of breaking our rules are not eligible for any government dealings. That goes for the givers who give too much. And, that goes for the takers who take too much. Both are guilty. Those who are guilty can do so in their private lives on their private time with their private funds -- and should be excluded from any transactions from the public treasury. This would include pay checks.

And, the scarlet letter would last as long as those who are in office stay in office. The expiration of the black-listing should exceed the duration of the term of public employment in any capacity.

Now, let's swing the conversation of campaign finance reform to the enforcement aspects.

Getting serious, again, with the school name game

Time to think about school names and mascots.

Pittsburgh Public School is starting a new high school. It opens, sorta, again, in the fall of 2009 and is going to be dedicated to the I.B. concepts. This I.B. style is short for International Baccalaureate.

We've been calling the school, "I.B. High."

Let's name at school: Pittsburgh International, Junior and Senior High School. The short name, PI High.

The mascot: The Olympians.

Now taking the court, Pi High Olympians of Pittsburgh.

This school comes from, in part, Schenley and its Spartan tradition. The Spartans were Greek. Same too the Olympians. I think the Olympian name does some justice to the Spartan tradition. They can be brothers.

Of course, the logo should not be the five interlocking rings as shown in the trademarked design of the International Olympic Committee. But, that is for another discussion on another day.

Twitter make me tweet rich

My twitter account is @Rauterkus.

Look to the left of the page to see my recent tweets.


Rocketboom did a twitter video. I put in with embed on my blog. http://Rauterkus.blogspot.com. But, it seems to have been lost with a bug. Gone. Poof.
Background: I tried to put in a 'comment' but it was made into a 'tag' instead. So, I was hitting delete on each of the tag words. After 4 or 5, the entire video vanished.

After about 10 minutes, the video came back. And, I've since nuked the various bogus tags.

Dowd and Schenley High School

I watched the first moments of the Dowd talk about Schenley High School closing (and his big important role in that) and nearly choked to death.

After a cooling off period, (15 seconds) the resumed the watch brings the following.

Schenley's capacity was strong. There are district problems that were ignored for too long -- thanks in good part to Patrick's in-action. But, the capacity at Schenley wasn't one of them. And, by closing Schenley, the rest of the problems got ignored still. And, a new set of problems came into the scene.

With too much capacity, why endorse a plan to open NEW high schools? New U-Prep. New I.B. New Sci-Tech. The U-PREP is in a building with ability to hold 1,000 plus students and the first year had less than 150. So, thanks to Patrick -- we've got bigger problems.

Still no change in sight for Westinghouse nor Peabody nor Oliver nor Langley. Zippo -- still.

Schenley wasn't a problem! But, Dowd closed it and made it worse.

Dowd said, "For years, and years, and years (3x), people ignored the problems at Schenley." Well, Schenley's new windows were like 5 years old. The entire facade of the building, and roof, was brand new. BLIND SPOT.

Same crap was said by Mark Roosevelt. He said on the radio that the physical structure of Schenley had not changed for 90 years. Except the new swim pool, new gym and addition -- all modern in recent decades. Lies.

Money was spent on Schenley. Not enough on the walls. But, elsewhere.

The 'Rightsized plan' (old news on Dowd's tenure) was to close 20+ ELEM Schools. Except 1 = Schenley H.S. Some how that school, Schenley HS, was put into the mix with Elem Schools. Go figure. That was on Dowd's watch. We fixed that with outrage at the board.

The merry-go-round didn't stop on Patrick's watch. It tripled in speed, IMNSHO.

Bonus clip -- flashback:

Nolte movie seeks 1,500 student extras

Going to the movies and The Pete.
The Pitt News - Nolte movie seeks 1,500 student extras The Petersen Events Center is also a major character in the film “Warrior.” Brennan said that the Pete will be a gym and will possibly be transformed in to a Las Vegas set. The Pete will also be the setting during the film’s climatic scene, where the star battles opponents in a series of choreographed mixed martial arts tournaments. On that day of filming, more than 1,500 extras are needed to fill the Petersen gymnasium.
Speaking of which, is The Pete going to be open for students and fans to watch the basketball games this Thursday and Saturday?

Monday, March 23, 2009

City officials urged to link youth summer jobs program to academic performance - Pittsburgh Business Times:

What do you get in life with a lottery choice?
City officials urged to link youth summer jobs program to academic performance - Pittsburgh Business Times:: "Richard Flanagan, youth development director at Bloomfield Garfield Corp., urged Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and other elected officials to tie academic performance to youth job placement to maximize use of economic stimulus funding. Summer job candidates are currently chosen by lottery.
In Pittsburgh, you get to pick a school by lottery. That's bad.

In Pittsburgh you get to pick who to hire by lottery. That's bad too.

I agree with Mr. Flannigan. Hire based on merit. Imagine that.

Dowd blasts Ravenstahl for contributions from contractors

Getting closer.
Dowd blasts Ravenstahl for contributions from contractors 'On the first day of taking office, I would issue an executive order that would ban no-bid contracts for political contributors to elected officials,' said Mr. Dowd, whose 2007 council run was backed in part by a handful of lawyers and financiers that do business with the city. 'I'm sure at some point we will also say that we will have no no-bid contracts.'
One does not need to ban political contributions for people who have no-bid contracts if you eliminate all no-bid contracts. So, I'd say, as I have said in the past, the city should eliminate all no-bid contracts. There is no place for no-bid contracts in government.


Otherwise, I don't like the removal of free speech for some on day one.

Furthermore, all donors to political campaigns can have their names and details visible as soon as the money gets deposited. And, as soon as the campaign spends any money, that gets reported as well. All incomes and all expenses of political action commitees -- starting with me -- can be made visible on the internet in real time.

Dowd blasts Ravenstahl for contributions from contractors: "Pittsburgh Controller Michael Lamb has said he is putting together searchable, online lists of contributions and contracts."
Too little and too late, Mr. Lamb. Get moving already.

St. Louis - Daily RFT - Libertarians Claim State Violated Homeland Security Policies

St. Louis - Daily RFT - Libertarians Claim State Violated Homeland Security Policies Libertarians are still rankled about a memo uncovered last week in which Gov. Jay Nixon and other state officials classify followers of Ron Paul and third-party candidates as possible militia members.

Yesterday, the Missouri Libertarian Party issued a statement saying that the memo in question (circulated by the Missouri Information Analysis Center, or MIAC) failed to follow U.S. Department of Homeland Security policies that prohibit political profiling and other civil rights violations.

Carmen Latrice Robinson's says "fighter"

UPDAED. See comments.

Facebook | Carmen Latrice Robinson's NotesA Good Fight!

Safe neighborhoods, good schools and a strong local economy are the building blocks of a livable city; those goals will not become a reality without a fighter at the helm.


If you’re looking for an advocate and not a politician, vote for a fighter Carmen Robinson, as you’re Mayor May 19th.
G.W. Bush and Dick Chaney were always looking to start a fight.

Tom Murphy was always in 'fight mode' too.

I'm thinking, 'fire in the belly' is great -- if not necessary. However, I'm not excited in the least bit about one who picks to make fights.

The Kingdom of Heaven goes to the peacemakers. Making peace is rough.

Give us un-unflappable leadership. Give us a fixture for certain principles. Give us tenacity. Give us an underdog that isn't intimidated. Give us drive and determination. Give us the uncomfortable.

More than telling you are hungry for a fight -- deliver the actions. Engage in that mental toughness of a fight with bone-headed authority figures day-in-and-day-out. Who are your in a rumble with? How is it going? What ground are you going to protect. What areas do we need to recapture? Draw lines and see who falls on which side?

If you want to be a fearless fighter like the TV cartoon, Tazmanian Devil, jumping around in a huff without purpose, you'll get less than 400 votes and not do much but blow smoke and dust into the air.

Finally, some are less into the fight and more into the outcomes. Getting jazzed about the fight is almost a primal urge -- if not middle-school aged hubris. Rather, let's jump on the bandwagon of a victor. Let's celebrate the win together. That is with real mass appeal.

Goffyness of Governance

Bill would exempt some from yearly tax relief form: "under Councilman Patrick Dowd's legislation, residents 50 and older would only have to fill out the city's Act 77 tax relief form once. Then they would have their assessments frozen until they moved or reported an increase in income."

Making a tax freeze is a guarantee way to advance corruption, unfairness, and plant all sorts of other bad karma nasty ramifications.

This is politics 101 for dummies and Dowd seems to be the one who wants to go there now.

Pandering. Unsustainable. Unethical in the end.

The entire Allegheny County re-assessment boondoggle came about because of a 'freeze mentality.' Their bogus fix is a turn-back the clock solution. Live in the past. Stay there.

Meanwhile, the city and region shrink some more.

Dowd, or someone else, should take the high road on these important matters of self governance.

Schools dig into stimulus arithmetic

Don't let that cat out of the bag.
Schools dig into stimulus arithmetic For those who are hoping the closed Schenley High School building will be renovated, Mr. Roosevelt said, 'There's not monies sufficient to bring a project of that magnitude to the table, nor is it consistent with the very clear Obama administration edict that the money be used primarily on student gains.'
Do students gain when they have extra time on a bus?

Do students gain when those in 6th grade are put with those in 9th, 10, 11th and 12th?

Do students gain when $5-Million of additional money is to be spent in the summer of 2009 to fix up a school that will be given to a bulldozer in less than four years?

Do students gain when massive buildings sit empty?

I say that students gain when prudent investments of the past are continually realized into the future.

I say students gain when they can study and learn in a learning community, such is Oakland. Today, some will be walking to a play for a Spanish class field trip to the Oakland-based Cathedral. The topic of the play is an idealistic gent who took on some major opponents -- quixotic even.

I say high school reform is needed and must be in the back seat as we speed into a future with community participation with our schools.

The magnitude of fixing some plaster at Schenley High School has never been put onto the table in a fair, open and honest way. We don't need to fix the pipe organ. We don't need a lavish food court in the school. And the alternative costs are not put into the formula either. The magnitude is the uncertainty and doubt -- not a building with interior walls and ceilings that match what is found in some other schools.

Mr. Roosevelt expects the school system's innovations will prove effective.
Prove that the past innovations have proven as much.

What about the Gifted Center innovations that have not come to pass?

What about K-8 schools?

What model of 6-12 grade schools has proven to work -- ever -- anywhere?

What about the ALAs? Why the flop? Why the uncertainty?

What about starting of school in mid August -- when we don't even know how many showed up for school on those days nor how hot the buildings were?

How are the kids doing in Duquesne's district? PPS has had a hand in that leadership innovation. Summary reports are where?

How are the Vo Tech kids doing in schools now -- since the closing of South Vo Tech? Where is the proven effect document with peer review, naturally.

The closing of some 20 school buildings in the past has made an impact. The Rightsizing innovation has saved money yet put dark holes into many communities. Where and how and when do we get to look at the effect of those empty buildings to places such as Knoxville and Hazelwood (with the still closed Gladstone Middle School)?

Here is a final question in our search for proof: What maget programs are effective? Why? How?

Save a radio show, The Edge of Sports

Updated: See comments.
Edge of Sports Nation: The People at Sirius/XM have decided that they will be no longer broadcasting Edge of Sports Radio. Their reason has nothing to do with the quality of the show.We have interviewed political/sports legends from Kareem Abdul Jabbar to Jim Brown; sportswriters from Sally Jenkins to Selena Roberts; sports sociologists from Dr. Graham Farred to Dr. Mary Jo Kane; and the most cutting edge bloggers from Michael Tillery to DK Wilson. We have also used the show to spur debates throughout the sports world from our interview with the late Pat Tillman's mother Mary to our conversations about the Firestone boycott before the Super Bowl.

This is the only show where sports and politics come together and that's exactly why it is getting the shaft. The high ups at Sirius XM LIKE the show but think it is too sporty for the political channel and too political for the sports channel. We need you to tell them otherwise. If you have never listened to the show, go to this link address.


If you do dig the show, or just support the concept of a radio show that brings these issues together, please send RESPECTFUL complaints WITHOUT profanity to the following email addresses.

MKarmazin@SiriusXM.com; SGreenstein@SiriusXM.com; JColeman@SiriusXM.com; GParsons@SiriusXM.com

If you are a Sirius/XM subscriber, go to http://xmradio.com/help/emailus.xmc?ch=167


E of S Nation. Well I'll be g-damned. We won. This is the quickest victory since Tyson took out Spinks. Or King Kong Bundy avalanched George Welles. It seems that hundreds of people emailed the top brass at Sirius/Xm this morning and told them to keep Edge of Sports Radio and in record time, it worked. We are going to be on Sirius/XM Sports Nation on weekends and we will still post the show to iTunes and on edgeofsports.com. Give us two weeks to get the paperwork signed and then we should be back.

Thanks so much to everyone who sent emails, faxes, or just vibrations to the Sirius/XM honchos. In fact, part of the deal is for me to ask folks to please please stop emailing them.

I haven't been this happy since game 6 in 1986. This almost makes up for picking West Virginia in the final four.

In struggle and sports,
Dave Zirin

Blog of the Allies, New Pittsburgh Blog

The Pitt News has a guy that is blogging on his own. He did the bit about the couches and I sent him a note that came back with this pointer. Nice, again.
Blog of the Allies: "Have you ever taken a wrong turn off Bates and ended up in East Berlin, 1984?"

"So preposterous!" Lehe: Couch law cramps 'Burgh living

From china - foods
In China, two women sit on a porch couch like this.
The Pitt News - Lehe: Couch law cramps 'Burgh living Behold City Council’s recent commandment: It is now illegal to put a couch on your front porch in Pittsburgh.

The law sounds ominously like the climax of an unlikely slippery slope argument. Imagine: You’re talking to some right-wing militia nutjob about building codes. “Some basic safety ordinances are called for,” you say. And nutjob says, in a fit of paranoia, “Building codes are fine. But before long, they’ll make it illegal to put a damn couch on your own front porch!” You throw up your hands in disgust because the idea is so preposterous.
Understand that Mr. Kraus, on city council, could be called "Mr. Preposterous."

That's a college word, preposterous.

Latin praeposterus, literally, in the wrong order, from prae- + posterus hinder, following — more at posterior

The posterior part is best left for another day or another blog.

And, source 2:

Contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd. See Synonyms at foolish.

More from The Pitt News:

The newspaper coverage and the City Council members themselves make it clear that the ban is to prevent couch burning... I came to a surprising conclusion: You can burn a couch that isn’t on your porch. Clearly, a porch couch can be stolen and burned by someone besides the owner, but I would submit that the City Council instead take the radical step of making theft illegal.

For every infringement on people’s liberty, the extent of imposition has to be weighed against the severity and commonness of the problem the infringement tries to pre-empt... The couch-burning problem is not serious. It rarely happens. Only a dozen or so of the many thousands of couches that sit on Pittsburgh’s porches year round are set afire. Obviously couch burning should be illegal, but the act is not especially damaging either. The porch couch ban is equivalent to putting stop signs at every single intersection in Pittsburgh, because statistically over one year the stop signs might save a life.
OMG. Only a knucklehead would take the city councilman's logic to its next step by suggesting the city put stop signs at every intersection in the city to prevent car crashes. Bruce Kraus has his marching orders now. The volumes of research will be waved in council chambers in the weeks to come -- and we'll have someone to blame beyond the over-reaching legislative folly wizard.

The Kraus viewpoint is disconnected from reality.

Oakland is not burning. All of the damage happened in one night, not all week long. The damage done by couch burning is also negligible compared with the overturned cars, bus stop collapses and bonfires that people set with trash cans and wooden debris, not couches. It is downright amazing what people can burn when they put their minds to it. That’s Yankee ingenuity in action.

Kraus also makes a non sequitur: “One idiot decides to place an accelerant on the wood of that porch, and that whole row of houses could go up.” This is to say that, if someone covers a porch in gasoline and lights up a couch that’s on the porch, then the porch will catch on fire.

Supporters talk about other reasons, such as rodents and insects that infest couches. This is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem. It’s like people who argue for lower speed limits because driving your car fast hurts its gas mileage, which causes global warming and terrorism and supports governments hostile to women’s rights.

No one believes Pittsburgh suffers from serious rodent problems, or that any such problems are due to porch couches. No one was biting their nails over rat problems before the Super Bowl. Besides, the consequences of vermin infestation fall mainly on those who possess the couches.

Show me the upstanding Pittsburghers who shake their fists at fate and cry: “I did everything right! I keep a clean household! But my neighbor has a couch on his porch that rats use as a springboard for swarm attacks on my home.”

Those who say porch couches are a fire hazard forget that this is only true to the extent that couches in general are fire hazards. The danger doesn’t go away inside the house. A couch actually seems more dangerous inside, where it is dry, can burn a long time with no one noticing, and sits among carpets and other fire-prone upholstered furniture. Is a ban on all couches next? This is a silly, slippery slope. Yet, if you had told the average person five months ago about a porch-couch ban to stop rioting, she would have thought you silly then as well.

The important thing about these complaints — couch theft, couch burning, rodent infestations, fires — is that they are already illegal. More people calling the police, and better police response, would solve these problems surgically.
Well written Lewis.
From texture - misc.
Some things just bug me more than others.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

South Side's revelry challenges police

Here is the perfect example of when it is great to scream, "Think Again!"
South Side's revelry challenges police: "'I'm sorry, officer,' the man said. 'I apologize. I didn't even think about it.'"
Didn't even think about it. Well, a $100 ticket -- or whatever the amount -- is good cause to think again. The ticket, the enforcement, would be a 'wake up call' that would linger longer in that guy's memory. And, in the collective conscious of the community.

So, did this guy get a ticket? Was a fine ordered and collected by the police? The order came from the neighbors. What was delivered by the officers of the peace?

Yep, think again to Mr. Kraus too. He is the one who wants more state help on the South Side, saying they don't help enough but it was a State Police Officer that used his gun while on patrols the week prior.

Kraus wants to get a 'handle on this.' The city doesn't need city council members putting handles on what they can't handle.

I'd say that the neighborhood's personality changed on St. Patrick's Day much before 6 pm. It changed on the day of the St. Pat's Day Parade, the Saturday before St. Pat's Day -- by about 10 am. So, the re-change on Tuesday, the real St. Pat's Day, came at 6 pm -- as reported.

A tall girl in black tights and a short skirt was walking away from a long, wide puddle that was streaking over the pavement toward the cruiser.

She saw the officers, flipped jet black hair over her shoulder and stalked away.

"That's class there, sweetheart, real class," Officer Stover called after her.

She was lucky they hadn't actually seen her urinating, he said. They would have issued a citation.

That's enforcement. That's evidence. That's when it is time, again, to "Think Again." Issue the citation.

Friday, March 20, 2009

School Districts Paying Double At Pump - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

Target 11: School Districts Paying Double At Pump - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh Target 11: School Districts Paying Double At Pump
PITTSBURGH -- Are local school districts being taken for a ride when it comes to filling up their school buses?
Target 11 investigator Karen Welles crunched some numbers to find out.
It cost $4.31 a gallon to fill up almost every school bus in Allegheny County when the price at the pump is about $2.00 a gallon.
Why so much more?

Meet Dok and Kevin, together

This image was taken at the Kingsley Center, home to the Kingsley Stingrays swim team, under coach Hosea Holder.

Time for a pep talk, and a blast from the past.

Choose your friends wisely. Give it a go. It is time to turn good into greatness.

FLUKE gear

Shop to you drop.

Mayor Luke? Total fluke.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Urgent call for help for the sake of democracy

Please Help Audit Phantom Ballots

Tomorrow at the Division of Elections!

Meeting at the Division of Elections at 10 am!

What: Phantom ballots occur when more eBallots are cast than
voter's signed in to vote on the touchscreen voting machines.

Where: The Allegheny County Division of Elections
6th floor of the County Office Building,
542 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

When: 10 am to 2:30 pm
If we hope to get 10 volunteer auditors.

How: Simple and fun! Follow the link to see how its done!


The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them

The Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them he Theory Underlying Concept Maps and How to Construct and Use Them
I hope to use Concept Maps with Mark Conner, a Pgh Public School employee in charge of family engagement.

They tried to kills us. But we won. So, let's eat.

Words from the refrain from a Purim song by Dave Nachmanoff.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Pat's Day in Ireland

Too bad they didn't have couches to burn.
Home | WOPULAR: "Cars torched, firefighters attacked, police bombarded and neighbors terrified: It was another fine St. Patrick's Day in Ireland, where inebriated mobs annually turn districts of Dublin and Belfast into a nightmare.
Where is Dan Rooney when you need him? He could stand there in the helmet and spikes and fix it all.

Olympic Swimmer Visits Capitol Hill

Olympic Swimmer Visits Capitol Hill - washingtonpost.com: "Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones yesterday implored lawmakers to put federal and state monies toward what has been a privately financed program to teach swimming skills to inner-city children."

During his morning visit to Capitol Hill, Jones in particular urged lawmakers in his home state of New Jersey to commit funding for the USA Swimming Foundation's "Make a Splash" initiative, which Jones said helped 2,500 inner-city kids in Atlanta learn how to swim last summer.

The four-year-old program, Jones said, has spread to 21 states but its success has been jeopardized by the economic crisis.

Jones, who won a gold medal in the 4x100 freestyle relay in Beijing, learned to swim after nearly drowning at a water park in Irvington, N.J., when he was 5.

"This is something we really want to catch fire and spread throughout the country," Jones said.

Motznik vs Diven and a real solution

Marty Griffin of KDKA Radio is going to rant about Diven and Motznik on his show. I just sent this via instant message:

Judges, or district magistrates, don't really represent the people. Rather, they are to uphold the Constitution and laws. Greater scrutiny and higher standards are necessary.

Solution: Insert "NOTA" - "None Of The Above" voting on all ballots. If NOTA wins, a re-do with different candidates is necesary. Works wonders in other areas. PA could do it too.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Diven, Motznik challenge each other's election petitions

My oh my.
Diven, Motznik challenge each other's election petitions City Councilman Jim Motznik -- who is battling his former boss Michael Diven for an open district justice seat in the city's South Hills -- filed court papers today challenging Mr. Diven's nomination petitions, and Mr. Diven turned around and did the same to his former chief-of-staff.
Democracy at work.

Michael Diven is the guy who had dead folks rise up to sign past nomination petitions.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Public service set for some in Super Bowl disturbance

Public service set for some in Super Bowl disturbance Forty-one of the 44 accused in the unruly Feb. 1 celebration showed up at Municipal Court this morning. Three others did not receive the mailed summonses and the court will attempt to contact them again.

A contrarian strikes again

Rant on the folly that is Bruce Kraus.
A contrarian strikes again - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Here's the pressing question for a Pittsburgh City Council featuring one member who says 'there's absolutely no room for discussion' of its tentatively approved ban on indoor furniture being used on outside porches:

Why is such furniture on an unenclosed porch, balcony or deck that's not visible from the street or sidewalk any less of a supposed public hazard (for fire and/or vermin) than such furniture that is visible? At least that's how the proposed law, set for final approval this week, appears to be styled.

The legislation ostensibly is designed to thwart torchings during spontaneous street celebrations -- think Oakland, think Super Bowl XLIII -- and to eliminate yet another place for rats to supposedly plot The Siege of the Cathedral of Learning. Author Bruce Kraus, the councilor who has appointed himself the no-discussion Kraussissar, er, kommissar, says 'Rome is burning.'

How many aggravated couch burnings does Pittsburgh have in a given year again, Herr Kraus?
Yes, Mr. Kraus, Rome is burning -- the city remains in state receivership, the pension funds remain virtually bust and systemic budget flaws soon likely will metastasize like a voracious ugly cancer.

And City Council is 'prioritizing' by regulating outdoor furniture. Can dictating the color of our homes, what flowers we plant and the number of scoops in our coffee makers be far behind?
To the credit of Mr. Kraus, but really to employees of public works, the South Side is clean this morning. On Sunday, the clean-up from the weekend was in full swing. The place looks good.

Yesterday, a neighbor was using some green paint to cover a mailbox that had been a vandal magnet. I asked if she was painting the green with the left overs from St. Pats Day. Thanks for that effort. I dare not give more details as she isn't a union worker.

But, back to the couch.

What if a couch shows up in front of Mr. Kraus' home? Does he get to pay the $500 per day fine?

Couches are able to burn. But, worse than a couch are the Eucalyptus tree. Let's ban all Eucalyptus trees too. And, pine trees burn. Let's ban all pine trees. And, what about a top cause of fires -- Christmas Trees. It would be better for Mr. Kraus to ban all Christmas Trees than to ban indoor couches placed outdoors.

Datestone is a solid find, but where to put it?

Datestone is a solid find, but where to put it?: "Neighborhood activist Carl Suter of Crafton Heights, who happened on it two weeks ago, thinks it deserves a better fate, perhaps as an artifact along one of the city's riverfront trails.
I agree with Carl. Put the stone back in Point State Park.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Do not press 9 0 # while on the phone

90# on your telephone is a no no!

I dialed '0', to check this out, asked the operator, who confirmed that this was correct so please pass it on . . . (l also checked out Snopes.com. This is true, and also applies to cell phones!)


I received a telephone call last evening from an individual identifying himself as an AT&T Service Technician (could also be Telus) who was conducting a test on the telephone lines. He stated that to complete the test I should touch nine (9), zero (0), the pound sign (#), and then hang up.

Luckily, I was suspicious and refused. Upon contacting the telephone company, I was informed that by pushing 90#, you give the requesting individual full access to your telephone line, which enables them to place long distance calls billed to your home phone number.

I was further informed that this scam has been originating from many local jails/prisons DO NOT press 90# for ANYONE.

Driver dies after chaotic South Side chase

Bad news.
Driver dies after chaotic South Side chase Driver dies after chaotic South Side chase

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's PI day!

Everything is going around in circles today. There was a famous mathematician who discovered that our universe may not be just simply a rectangular space but may be bent into a huge hypersphere instead, with pi around it (circumference/diameter).

His birthday was today in 1879 - Albert Einstein.

Now you know he rest of the story.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bill Peduto kicks off re-election to Pittsburgh City Council

Or, watch the same content at Rauterkus.blip.tv.


Snake Oil

Pittsburgh Marathon running out of entry spots

Pittsburgh Marathon running out of entry spots: "The registration spots for the May 3 event are going fast. Entries have been capped at 9,000 -- 3,500 for the full marathon, 3,500 for the half marathon and 2,000 for up to 500, four-person relay teams."
Why cap the entries? Why?

Perhaps it is time to think again. The race is in May.

Search for Greatness

In her school visits as N.C. Teacher of the Year, Cindi Rigsbee discovered that the best administrators have some things in common.
Robyn R. Jackson, author of the recently published Never Work Harder Than Your Students & Other Principles of Great Teaching, discusses the mindset of master teachers.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kids on the radio on Saturday playing violin

Tune in to the Saturday Light Brigade Radio Show on Saturday from 10-10:30 AM to hear us do our new Irish music set as well as other fiddle, jazz and rock tunes. You can hear the show on the following stations

WRCT 88.3 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh
WIUP 90.1 Indiana University Indiana PA
WMCO 90.7 Muskingum U. Ohio
WSAJ 91.1 Grove City PA
WNJR 91.7 Washington & Jefferson U.
WCUV 91.7

Or on the internet from their site http://www.slbradio.com/

You may also come to see us do this remote broadcast at the Pittsburgh Center For The Arts at the corner of Fifth Ave. and Shady Ave. in Shadyside. It's their open house and open to the public free. We may also stick around for awhile and play a few more tunes in another area of the center.

Bert P. Krages Attorney at Law Photographer's Rights Page

I'm still a little hacked off about last night and how I went to two meetings and was asked to put away my video camera. This has happened before. A twitter friend pointed me to this.

Bert P. Krages Attorney at Law Photographer's Rights Page A Downloadable Flyer Explaining Your Rights When Stopped or Confronted for Photography
Thanks! I'm printing it out now.

The Photographer’s Right is a downloadable guide that is loosely based on the Bust Card and the Know Your Rights pamphlet that used to be available on the ACLU website. It may be downloaded and printed out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may make copies and carry them your wallet, pocket, or camera bag to give you quick access to your rights and obligations concerning confrontations over photography. You may distribute the guide to others, provided that such distribution is not done for commercial gain and credit is given to the author.

Download The Photographer’s Right in PDF format

A Stand for Photographer’s Rights

The right to take photographs in the United States is being challenged more than ever. People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples have included photographing industrial plants, bridges, buildings, trains, and bus stations. For the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents to society.

Ironically, unrestricted photography by private citizens has played an integral role in protecting the freedom, security, and well-being of all Americans. Photography in the United States has an established history of contributing to improvements in civil rights, curbing abusive child labor practices, and providing important information to crime investigators. Photography has not contributed to a decline in public safety or economic vitality in the United States. When people think back on the acts of domestic terrorism that have occurred over the last twenty years, none have depended on or even involved photography. Restrictions on photography would not have prevented any of these acts. Furthermore, the increase in people carrying small digital and cell phone cameras has resulted in the prevention of crimes and the apprehension of criminals.

As the flyer states, there are not very many legal restrictions on what can be photographed when in public view. Most attempts at restricting photography are done by lower-level security and law enforcement officials acting way beyond their authority. Note that neither the Patriot Act nor the Homeland Security Act have any provisions that restrict photography. Similarly, some businesses have a history of abusing the rights of photographers under the guise of protecting their trade secrets. These claims are almost always meritless because entities are required to keep trade secrets from public view if they want to protect them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pittsburgh goes to the mattresses — and sofas - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Whew. We dodged a bullet with the fines for these couches.
Pittsburgh goes to the mattresses — and sofas - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "'The safety and the image and health and prosperity of the surrounding neighborhood is critical to the health and safety of the business district,' she said. 'These (couches) really are safety hazards.'
There will never be a fine given for anyone. Enforcement won't happen.

If the fee was $20. Then tickets might get written.

Socking a kid a $500 bill will knock them out of college in many instances.

Besides a $20 fee rather than a $500 fee, how about if you give out a 3-1-1 phone number and the Department of Public Works will come to pick-up the couch in 24 hours or less.

War on Drugs didn't work. War on drinking might fail too.

Being drunk isn't against the law. Being disorderly, destructive, and taking a leak is.

There is no holding cell for disorderly drunks -- as in youth curfew center.

Open containers are illegal and should not be tolerated.

All in all, downtown venue for drunken party is okay as it allows South Side to be slightly more human.

Marty G on KDKA Radio is ranting about the St. Pats Parade.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

This sounds like a fun spring and summer project

Call for Entries: The BurghBot Project
Submission Deadline: April 1, 2009

Are you an artist interested in exploring new media? A roboticist looking to show off your creativity? If so, the BurghBot Project wants YOU! The Pittsburgh Technology Council and CREATE Lab are currently seeking artists and roboticists to participate in the 2009 Annual Art and Technology Exhibition.

DETAILS: The Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment [CREATE] Lab of the CMU Robotics Institute will provide up to 10 artists with robotic media to serve as a foundation for robotic artwork -- to be juried and showcased during this year’s Art + Technology Exhibition at the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 15 Minutes Gallery.

SUBMISSIONS: No robotic or new media experience necessary.

MATERIALS: Selected artists will be notified and presented with their materials by April 15, 2009. All artwork must be completed and delivered to the Pittsburgh Technology Council for the exhibition opening on June 18, 2009. BurghBots will be showcased and for sale at the 15 Minutes Gallery, with a portion of proceeds returning to the artist.

ROBOTIC SPECIFICATIONS: Each artist will be supplied with a robotic framework [above] and a three hour instructional workshop. Robots are approximately 18”Hx 8”Wx 6”L. Artists may utilize any creative means to enhance the robots aesthetics or function, as long as no working parts are damaged or destroyed. Robotic frameworks remain property of CREATE Lab.

TO ENTER: To be considered as potential BurghBot artist, email your resume, brief artist statement and porfolio samples to kharvey@ pghtech.org by April 1, 2009.

CONTACT: Direct alll questions and submissions to:
Kim Chestney Harvey,
Creative Director, Art + Technology,
Pittsburgh Technology Council,
2000 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
kharvey@ pghtech.org


Win Makes 28 Straight for Stanford

Great props for a Pittsburgh guy, also a member of the JCC Sailfish, swimming his freshmen season at Stanford.
Win Makes 28 Straight for Stanford: "La Tourette downed Washington senior Scott Spansail (14:44.24), with Cardinal freshman Trevor Scheid and sophomore David Mosko coming in third and fourth respectively. The top four all met NCAA qualifying times.

Another first-year Cardinal, Bobby Bollier, won the 200-yard butterfly in 1:42.92. Arizona freshman AJ Tipton finished second in a time of 1:43.43, while Peter Davis of Cal was third.

'We have a great freshman class, maybe one of our best ever,' Kenney said. 'It's been one of the more fun years. They've brought a lot of energy.'

Where's My IRS tax refund?

Where's My Refund Home: "Your Social Security Number (or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number);
Filing status (Single, Married Filing Joint Return, Married Filing Separate Return, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow(er))
The exact whole dollar amount of your refundYour Social Security Number (or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number);
Filing status (Single, Married Filing Joint Return, Married Filing Separate Return, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow(er))
The exact whole dollar amount of your refund.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pitt women edged out by Louisville, 69-63

Pitt women edged out by Louisville, 69-63: "top-ranked and unbeaten Huskies routed Villanova 72-42 in the other semifinal."

University of Michigan hosts Chatham University in women's water polo. Historic first tournament in Ann Arbor for Cougars.

Witness the University of Michigan womens water polo squad hosting the Chatham University Cougars in a historic first varsity tournament for the new varsity squad at the Pittsburgh based all-women's university.

The team traveled to Ann Arbor for the games against Michigan and Indiana University on Saturday, March 7, 2009.

This is the second quarter of the game. See two of the Chatham goals.

More game action is going to be put online soon.

Michigan's squad was playing its 19th game this season. The team had traveled to California twice and to the east coast once. They also hosted a prior tournament this season as well.

This was the first day of action for Chatham University in official varsity games. This season Chatham University expects to play 13 games.

Michigan has four players listed as goalies. None of the Michigan players are on the competitive swim team. Chatham's squad comes mostly from the DIII swim team with the athletes doing both swimming (fall and winter sport) and water polo (spring).

Other coverage: MGoBlue: "Mulder Picks Up CWPA Rookie of the Week Honor"

Mulder notched five steals against Washington & Jefferson to go with two assists in the second game before tallying a goal and an assist against Chatham. Humm. Chatham let her cool her jets.

MGoBlue: Water Polo Goes Perfect as Host of CWPA League Games: "The No. 15-ranked University of Michigan water polo team cruised to four double-digit victories, downing Grove City, 14-1, Washington & Jefferson, 20-2, Chatham, 19-2, and Penn State-Behrend,15-0, on Saturday (March 7) in CWPA Western Division league play at Canham Natatorium."

Franco Harris' son running for mayor of Pittsburgh

Franco Harris' son running for mayor of Pittsburgh: "Franco Dok Harris, the 29-year-old son of Steelers Hall of Famer Franco Harris, announced plans today to run for mayor of Pittsburgh.

The Shadyside resident will not compete against Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and others in the May 19 Democratic primary, but rather as an independent in November. It will be his first run for office.

Summer School dates

Regional Extended Learning Camp dates: June 22, 2009 through July 17, 2009. (No camp on Friday July 3rd.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Local Newspaper Files Petition in Supreme Court in Relation to Corruption

Corruption in PA looks like this.
Local Newspaper Files Petition in Supreme Court in Relation to Corruption: "Local Newspaper Files Petition in Supreme Court in Relation to Corruption

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY- The owners of the Citizens Voice newspaper will file a petition in the state supreme court today claiming that suspended judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan have direct connections to jailed mobster William D'elia. It centers around a multi-million dollar judgment against the newspaper in a defamation lawsuit.

The citizens' voice newspaper is reporting that their lawyers will file a petition with the state supreme court to vacate and throw out a $3.5 million dollar defamation verdict issued by suspended judge Mark Ciavarella in June of 2006 following a non jury verdict, Ciavarella ruled in favor of a West Pitttston businessman, who claimed he was defamed in a series of special reports in 2001. Those reports came after federal agents raided his business as well as homes owned by D'elia and others.

The Pittsburgh Comet: Michael Lamb and the Public Square Project

Gentle as a lamb. Except, our landscape is less than white as snow, regardless of the salt mix.
The Pittsburgh Comet: Michael Lamb and the Public Square Project Michael Lamb and the Public Square Project
"Loosely tethered" = great description, sadly.

Too little and too late on many issues.

Crazy that Mr. Lamb does not control his own web pages.

Crazy that Mr. Lamb would release his audit to the authority boards -- if he tip-toes over to them -- before he shares it with the public. That's not transparent.

Campaign finance reform data that comes out late is worthless. The elections are already past.

The hurdle isn't the donors changing their names. The hurdle is the lack of accountability that he's sustaining.

Now ready to track city contracts by the end of the first quarter of this year.

Mike Lamb needs to hire outside folks when he should be doing it himself.

Did you ask him about the city controller candidates that ran the auto sales program? Did you ask him about the audit of the controller's office he wanted from outside vendors too?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Ken asks for thoughs on this reading list

Please read ANY ONE of the following prior to the Video Marathon for SWEATSHOP EDUCATORS. Contact Kenneth or Amy for copies of any of these.

Paying to Lose our Jobs, The National Labor Committee

Describes with primary resources the connections between trade and foreign policy. Anyone who ever pondered how the Human Rights of apparel industry workers is connected to the campaigns against US militarism, this one is for you.

Bangladesh: The Role of U.S. Universities and Student Solidarity, from National Labor Committee

An early attempt by the National Labor Committee to connect university communities with the people who sew their clothes. Bangladesh is SPECIAL, for so many reasons.

AFL-CIO Solidarity Center Guide for Conducting Workshops with Apparel Industry Workers

What do AFL-CIO Solidarity Center employees talk to workers about? How are these teaching techniques similar to those we use with workers in Pittsburgh or students in the classroom?

Workers Rights Consortium report on Multi-Fiber Expiration

The Multi Fiber Arrangement (1972-2003) was the mother of all the “Free Trade” agreements that proceeded it. It’s implementation created the global apparel industry we know today and its expiration began a new chapter of instability.

Workers Rights Consortium Annual Report for Affiliates

Are the 250 College and University affiliations with the Workers Rights Consortium having an impact? The disclosure and investigatory protocols that the WRC has established are not enough to make a dent.

The Jungle, Upton St Clair

The original piece of mucking raking journalism that uncovered terrible workers rights abuses.

David Zirin – What’s My Name Fool?

Or any other book by David Zirin. Read Zirin’s coverage of the 2006 All Star Game. This is the contemporary sports writer who gets the likes of Dennis Brutus and Roberto Clemente.

Any biography of Mohandas Ghandi

How are the life and ideas of Mohandas Ghandi connected to a contemporary global apparel union organizing drive?

Field of Schemes

What are we up against when we make demands on the Pittsburgh Pirates or try to leverage the people’s ownership of PNC Park to impact their licensing efforts? Why is it important for Pittsburgh’s future that require the Pittsburgh Pirates to honestly address our concerns about an issue so black and white as sweatshop apparel licensing?

Sporting Weekend and More Discussions Perking

I'm heading up a sports task force of sorts with Mark Conner with Pgh Public Schools. I'll be making phone calls on that front starting on Sunday. If this is an interest that is important to you, send me an email: Mark - at - Rauterkus - dot - com.

My questions are simple at first. I think we need to express ourselves as to the state of the OVERALL SPORTS and ATHLETICS in the PPS District. And, as to its OVERALL importance to the community, to the health and wellness of the participants and families, and the impact it can and should have on our school life.

You can send me your thoughts via email -- or -- just think on the topics and I'll talk to you on the phone.

I'm working on a lot of different aspects of this -- and have been for my entire professional career as a coach and volunteer.

Two extras:

Friday night at 6 pm the Fox Chapel Foxes visit Allderdice High School to play Schenley in a girls PIAA basketball game. That's tonight.

Saturday at 1:30 the Mt. Lebo Blue Devils visit Peabody to play the boys team of Allderdice in another PIAA hoops game. That's tomorrow -- as the Pitt vs. UConn game comes to a close (noon tip).

Meanwhile, I'll be on a bus with the women's water polo team from Chatham Univ this afternoon. We're going to play Univ. of Michigan at 9 am and then Indiana Univ Hoosiers in the afternoon. Go Chatham Cougars. This is the first year women's water polo is a varsity sport here. Wish me luck.

So, I won't hit the PIAA hoops games -- but I hope you and your family can attend.

I was at a breakfast business meeting in Mt. Lebo this AM and guy there told me that many in his community were 'scared shitless' (his words) about going to Peabody. Such a sad statement. Let's treat them well.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Funny or Not?

City teams tango w WPIAL squads. Allderdice boys regroup for PIAA playoffs

PG East: After City League title game loss, Allderdice boys regroup for PIAA playoffs Allderdice will face WPIAL runner-up Mt. Lebanon (21-5), a familiar opponent, in the PIAA first round Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Peabody. Knowing that a postseason run was possible with his team this year, McDonald scheduled a challenging out of league schedule of games, including a matchup against Mt. Lebanon. Allderdice defeated Mt. Lebanon, 42-40, Jan. 17, 2009.

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Main Feature - Pittsburgh City Paper hits touchy subject

What is going on here? Well, I don't really want to know. But the telling part is the six year delay. Pittsburgh is a smokey city, sadly.
Serving Time - Main Feature - Pittsburgh City Paper Of course, in most sex-abuse allegations there are rarely witnesses apart from the alleged victim and perpetrator. And while delays in criminal cases are 'the rule, rather than the exception,' says Tracey Provident, an associate director of the Center for Victims of Violence and Crime in East Liberty, a six-year delay is rare indeed. Hearing about it, Provident exclaims, 'Wow. We often prepare victims that their case won't go to trial for a year.' A half-dozen years of waiting 'is probably the far end of postponements.'
Mike F talks of this all the time. Here is his latest rant.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Parents and Education -- connections

In the Classroom Connecting with over- and under-involved parents
No matter how much an educator begs, some parents won’t get involved in the classroom; others are so-called “helicopter parents” who hover over their children constantly. Whether you’re faced with too much or too little from parents, it can sometimes be a struggle to develop positive relationships with family members in order to ensure student success.


Call parents at the beginning of the year to introduce yourself.

Be clear about when and how it’s appropriate to contact you.

Call, e-mail or send notes home about your students’ positive accomplishments, not just negative happenings.

Send home student-generated newsletters regularly.

Maintain a class Web site.

Send home progress reports for all students.

Let parents know how they can help their children at home.

Publicize classroom volunteer opportunities on a special parent bulletin board.

Encouraging reluctant parents

McDonald says: “Informed parents equal empowered parents, which equal supportive parents; uninformed parents equal frustrated/helpless parents, which equal angry/defensive parents.”

Gateway girls devour Allderdice

Brown, Gateway girls devour Allderdice - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Gateway built a 55-13 lead

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

View from the BurghChair: 14 to 8.3% -- City vs County

View from the BurghChair: "Fourteen percent of city births are from women under the age of 20 (post). This is compared to 8.3% in Allegheny County (post). Twenty -four percent of African American births in the city last year were to mothers under the age of 19 (post).

Monday, March 02, 2009

Landlords sue city to stop registrations

This is what folly looks like:
Landlords sue city to stop registrations The Apartment Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh sued the city of Pittsburgh today to try to overturn the rental registration ordinance that tells landlords to pay a $12-per-unit fee by April 1.

The association, which includes 185 landlords with properties in the city, according to the complaint, believes the law is unconstitutional, unenforceable and an illegal tax.
City council needs to be relevant, again, someday. City council can't get there doing what shouldn't be done. Rather, do what needs to be done. Do that well.

Don't talk to opponents after they file paperwork with the courts. Too late. Too little.

It is impossible to legislate morality -- and responsibility. Plus, these acts of over-reaching are not prudent for a city on the brink. The purpose of government needs to be respected before respect can be delivered by the force of government run a muck.