Friday, May 29, 2009

G20 Wiki is just open. HELP! We get by with a little help from our friends!

G20 Wiki: "The wiki is about the 2009 G-20 Summit slated for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA in September 2009. Anyone can edit this wiki. 1 articles since"

Hey Pittsburgh, we need to yap about the G-20 Summit -- in more meaningful ways. We need to run our conversations onto wiki pages.


If you need help, just go to a 'discussion page' and type.

DeJuan Blair Has Slimmer Look, Same Big Dreams | Bleacher Report

DeJuan Blair Has Slimmer Look, Same Big Dreams | Bleacher Report: "Ten weeks have passed since DeJuan Blair played his final game in a Pitt uniform, and to see him at the NBA Draft Combine on Thursday afternoon, one message hit home more than any other.
The big guy may have left Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh isn’t about to leave him.
Blair is the same well-grounded guy even if he does figure to be a whole lot richer a month from now. He still flashes the same smile that’s as wide as the free throw lane, one that he practically owned last season.

The Art of News: Flashback. RIP Richard J. Walters

Facebook | Videos Posted by The Art of News: The Art of News - episode 3, part 2: "Videos Posted by The Art of News

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Next G-20 Summit To Be Held In Pittsburgh - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

Might as well NOT fix the broken front window until after this event.
Next G-20 Summit To Be Held In Pittsburgh - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh: "Next G-20 Summit To Be Held In Pittsburgh

New Swim Pool. Not just a sprinkler

Nice new pool, with 4-lanes of lap swimming.
The Black Hills Pioneer | | News for Spearfish, South Dakota > Archives > News > Northern Hills > Water park slides into Spearfish: "“We want everyone to be able to come here and relax. But we also want everyone to be safe,” Brett Rauterkus a Spearfish Recreation and Aquatics specialist said. “I really want to commend our lifeguard staff. They have been putting in a lot of extra time and work to make sure we have all our bases covered to ensure a safe summer. I really appreciate all the hard work they have done.”

Kickoff Season! Not football, exactly

Please join us next Wednesday evening, June 3rd, at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside (on the corner of Fifth & Shady), as Kevin officially kicks off his Independent campaign for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh.

Doors open at 5:30pm, and a short program -- including a brief bio film, and an announcement speech in which Kevin will tell his own Pittsburgh story and introduce the main themes of his campaign -- begins at 6:45.

We'll have free food, drinks, and entertainment throughout the evening, and Kevin will be available after the program to talk, to answer your questions, and to discuss how we can all work together to help Pittsburgh reach its full potential.

Check out the Facebook Event page here:

Please RSVP via email at, or by phone at;412.481.3150.

We'll look forward to seeing you there.

The Acklin for Pittsburgh Campaign Team

To reply to this message, follow the link below:

PA Democratic State Committee meeting, June 5th and 6th, to be held at the Westin Hotel in Pittsburgh.

Friday evening Governor Rendell and Chairman Rooney will headline a celebration of the life and times of Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll.

Where does our senior senator fit in?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

American Water Polo

American Water Polo™: "Welcome to American Water Polo!"
Nice guys.

Swim Star: Cullen Jones promotes water safety

The Associated Press: Jones promotes water safety: "The group of elementary-age children got a treat Wednesday as the Olympic gold medalist gave them a swim lesson to launch a six-city event called 'Make a Splash with Cullen Jones.'
The initiative, which is sponsored by the USA Swimming Foundation and ConocoPhillips, is aimed at reducing drownings among minority youth by promoting the availability of low or no-cost swimming lessons.
Jones is the perfect spokesman for the program after becoming the first African American to break a world record in swimming in an Olympic contested event in 2006. His success continued last summer in Beijing when he won a gold medal with the U.S. 400-meter freestyle relay team.
Wow. Teaching kids to swim! Way to go.

In Pittsburgh I've been punching up a rushed budget for a weed and seed grant to do some aquatics at Greenway Middle School, also known as Pittsburgh Classical Academy and the Pittsburgh Gifted Center.

I think I'll call it "Weed and Seed and Water."

There isn't a Rec Center in the western end of town. There isn't a lot of capacity in that section of town either in terms of nonprofit organizations. Historically, that part of town has not had those institutional players and they've not been needed. So, it does present some interesting challenges.

If you want to see the budget, send me an email.

Just heard from the principal at the school that the charges to use the indoor swim pool are $41.50 per hour in the times we had hoped for due to the cost of the janitors. We wanted to have sessions on some weekdays from 4 pm to 9 pm and also on Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm.

Well, there are other work arounds. Perhaps we'll swim when the janitors are on the clock.

Weed and Seed money runs until the end of September, so fall dates are possible as well. And, volunteers too.

Isn't this cool with images from the sky?

From Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events

You can see this chess board from the sky in Google.

I had not realized that Picasa for Mac had been released. It is still in beta. But, Picasa is much better than iPhoto, IMHO. But, now my Mac is broken.

Excessive Cola Consumption Can Lead To Super-sized Muscle Problems, Warn Doctors

Cut that pop.
Excessive Cola Consumption Can Lead To Super-sized Muscle Problems, Warn Doctors The authors argue that in an era when portion sizes are becoming bigger and bigger, the excessive consumption of cola products has real public health implications.
My drug had been the boxed iced tea. I drank a lot of that and did serious damage to myself. Now I can't take any of it or I get sick. Not good.

From Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events

Peduto proposes panel to oversee city's stimulus spending - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Peduto proposes panel to oversee city's stimulus spending - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Peduto proposes panel to oversee city's stimulus spending
Bill wants another group to do his job perhaps.

Bill wants bigger government perhaps.

Newsflash: Bill Peduto, you are on city council. YOU are the one that should be in the role to oversee the city's stimulus spending. That is YOUR job.

Get it done yourself.

There is a nine-member panel of Pittsburgh citizens already -- called -- CITY COUNCIL. And, city council controls the purse strings.

I don't want another group to give thumbs up or thumbs down to decision makers. The decisions should be open and occur on council.

More sets of eyes are more distractions. That is a way to deflect accountability. I want the decision makers to be voted upon. We already vote for city council members. That's all we need.

I don't want OVERLORDS. I want self determination.

If the URA wants to spend millions on stimulus money on a amphitheater -- then city council members need to say "No way." And, city council members need to tell the URA that their lame proposals, while easy to do with developers, are NOT going to pass. Send them back to the drawing board with a city council vote.

A new, thinking, fitness place of beauty on the river

This Friday evening, June 12, 2009, Lorraine's gift to the region opens. It is the Homestead Labyrinth and gives respect to the regional's industrial past.

Fitness and Schools

Frick Middle School, in Pgh Public Schools, is part of the HEALTHY Research grant and mentioned in the article in the P-G today. My kid goes to Frick. And, he has been in the program for the past 3 years.

If anyone, even Marty Griffin, wants to hold a real discussion about this topic, call me, 412 298 3432, my cell.
Middle schools targeted in obesity fight: "Middle schools targeted in obesity fight
Grants available to help kids maintain daily physical activity"

From Beijing - sports play

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Schenley Musical Awards

Way to go.
Congratulations to Ms. McKrell, cast, crew, pit, parents, and all personnel who participated in this year's musical on winning the Kelly award for Best Musical in Budget I, best ensemble, and best all-student orchestra. The show was amazing!
The boys volleyball team at Schenley didn't pull an upset over Penn Hills.

Curfews Suck

Public Hearing: Pittsburgh City Council: Friday, May 29, 2009 - 10:00 A.M.
Public Hearing - Bill No. 2009-1133 - Resolution providing for a professional services agreement or agreements with The Three Rivers Youth Shelter for the purpose of ongoing professional services related to the Youth Curfew Center and providing for the cost thereof. Cost not to exceed $500,000.00.
Pittsburgh shrinks some more with this.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Volleyball, Baseball -- High School Sports dates

Schenley Boys Volleyball plays Penn Hills at Allderdice at 6 pm on Tuesday. This is round 1 of the PIAA playoffs. Schenley won the city league title.

For the record, I played volleyball at Penn Hills my senior year and we won WPIALs and got 2nd in states. Dan Brown was the coach and is still at the helm of the team. The PH squad got 2nd at WPIALs to NA recently. PH could still win states, but, Schenley comes first!

Baseball at PNC Park on Wednesday has Allderdice playing Brashear at 4 pm. This is a great time to go to the North Side stadium and see a winning team, or two.

Go kids go!

Ed is looking for 15 to 20 football players

Looking for 15-20 Football Players/Athletes....June 6th and 7th

I need 15-20 High school (Jr/Sr), NCAA Players or area football coaches for a camp June 6th and 7th at Robert Morris University. You will be assisting NFL coaches and players from Football University. You will be considered a "Football Operations Assistant" and it is ALL volunteer. Sorry. Free lunch though. Good stuff.

You will be assistants to the likes of Ed McCaffery, Andre Rison, Blair Thomas, Lorenzo White, Levon Kirkland, Lavar Arrington, Mike Kruczek, Greg Briner, Perry Williams, Shawen Moore, Jeff Burress, Irv Eating and man more NFL position coaches and players.....This is a nice opportunity to be on the field helping these guys and you can use it on your CV when you need it if you want.

Please email me at EThompson@FootballUniveristy.Org to let me know if you are interested. I need to know this week. If you have friends, reach out to them. But I need 100% committments. I will be also reaching out to other folks I know too. Thanks and hope to hear from you!!!


Roddey kicks can at Onorato

Weird headline, Kicking the can down the road, but with an important message of honesty.
Onorato promised to fix assessments; he's done nothing but stall

Monday, May 25, 2009

By Jim Roddey

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato appeared recently on "KD/PG Sunday Edition" on KDKA-TV. The subject was property assessments and the dilemma facing Allegheny County as a result of the state Supreme Court's ruling that the county must reassess. Dan's response to that ruling was to ask the state Legislature to declare a moratorium on court-ordered reassessments. It seems to me that such action would violate the provisions of separation of powers in the constitution of the commonwealth.

Dan's defiance of this most recent court order continues a disturbing pattern by the current county administration of repeated efforts to circumvent the court's decisions regarding assessments. All such attempts have so far failed. While Dan's actions may be politically advantageous, it is not a proper way to govern.

During the TV interview Dan stated that he never pledged to "fix the assessment system." During the campaign for county executive in 2003, Dan and I participated in 26 debates. I recall quite clearly that in all those debates Dan said: "I will fix the assessment system." Dan's solution was to freeze tax assessments at the 2002 rate. A majority of the county commissioners did the same thing in 1996 and, like Dan, saw the courts order a reassessment.

Dan and I have a fundamental disagreement about assessments. I believe that assessments should reflect the true value of property and should be kept reasonably current. Taxing bodies should be required to adjust millage so that property taxes will not be raised more than the consumer price index. Seniors on low, fixed incomes should be exempt from any increases and there should be mandated control of school district spending. (Forty-nine states regulate either expenditures or millage for public schools. Only Pennsylvania allows uncontrolled spending.)

I do agree that the county executive's call for the state to administer the assessment system is the best solution. Forty-eight states now control all state property assessments. Only Pennsylvania and Delaware (with just three counties) give this responsibility to the counties.

The consequences of Dan's assessment freeze have been: the already mentioned lawsuits; a significant shortfall of revenues for the county, the city of Pittsburgh and other municipalities; and increased tax rates in most school districts. However, the most egregious result has been the budget deficits incurred by the county.

In 2007, Dan was forced to take $20 million of gaming funds dedicated to airport debt service to balance his budget. (The airport recently had to borrow $20 million to defray high landing fees caused by their debt service obligations.) In 2008, the county deficit was covered by a new drink and car rental tax of $44 million, the highest annual tax increase in the history of the county. This flies in the face of Dan's often repeated statement that he has "held the line on taxes."

By now it should be obvious to everyone that Dan intends to kick the assessment can down the road as long as possible or at least until the issue no longer interferes with his quest for the governor's office. Dan's delaying tactics may or may not benefit his political career, but they undoubtedly will leave the property owners of Allegheny County in a very difficult situation.

Jim Roddey, chairman of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County, was Allegheny County chief executive between 2000 and 2003.
Trouble is, Onorato didn't think anyone watched the KDKA TV Show on Sunday mornings. And, the TV hosts are not going to challenge what Onorato says anyway. So, Onorato feels he is entitled to re-write history. And, none really expect him to tell the truth, really.

Death in the water in Yough

Boy drowns in Yough River
Monday, May 25, 2009 By Michael A. Fuoco, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Authorities late last night recovered the body of a 13-year-old youth who apparently drowned while swimming in the Youghiogheny River near Port Vue.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office identified the victim as August Berg Jr. of Versailles. He was pronounced dead at 11:58 p.m. after divers pulled his body from the river. An autopsy was scheduled for later today.

August was swimming with an 11-year-old girl in an area known as Birdie's Landing. Occupants of a passing boat spotted the girl struggling and pulled her aboard. She told authorities that August had gone under the waves but didn't surface, according to The Associated Press.

White Oak police were investigating the incident. They were not available for comment this morning.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

While in Beijing, my wife had a chance meeting with LaBron

Did you ever hear that story?

Nice bucket!

They next time the two meet and talk, she'll know who she is talking to.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Take a Father To School Day is ON -- but not all of it is being delivered it seems

Updated with link to a draft of the survey.

Hi Fellow Parents and Fans of Public Education:

Have a GREAT DAY for the Take a Father To School celebration.

The presentation yesterday in the chambers of Pittsburgh City Council and outside on the patio was wonderful.

However, there is a sad note and hence the reason for this email.

The SURVEY has been nixed, it seems. This is the survey that we all worked on in the steering committee. It seems to have been printed and sent along to all the schools in anticipation for today. I even spoke about it in public comment yesterday to Pgh City Council / cable TV audence. But, someone at some level killed it. What's up with that?

What happened with the survey at the schools you visited? Any signs of them?

If this above is true, what can the district and those responsible do to fix it?

I think the survey, as is, as printed, should be delivered via postal mail to every household in the district with a return postage envelope. I'd have no problem if the costs of the postage was absorbed by the person or people that are accountable for the lost opportunity.

Hope you are having or had a good day with the students.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

JumpCut is closing

Dear Jumpcut user,

After careful consideration, we will be officially closing the site on June 15, 2009. This was a difficult decision to make, but it's part of the ongoing prioritization efforts at Yahoo!

We have released a software utility that allows you to download the movies you created on Jumpcut to your computer. As well, you can now download your original assets. Please visit the download page at to get started.

Once you download your movies, you may choose to upload them to another site such as Flickr, which allows video uploads for short videos (90 seconds or less). You can find out more here:

Thanks for being a part of Jumpcut.

The Jumpcut Team

How Did Rudiak Win? Voters In A Little Hamlet Called Carrick

Natalia Rudiak, 29, of Carrick, has received without question, the most fortiutous political victory in the city of Pittsburgh since at least Harry Readshaw's loss for city council in the early 1990's.

Readshaw, a Democrat with the fiscal conservative nature befitting the small businessman he continues to be, became one of the most well-respected members of the Pennsylvania Legislature, while City Council District 4 has been a non-stop revolving door of Cusicks, Divens and Motziks.

How did she do it? Because of voters in Carrick, one of the city's least recognized neighborhoods.

Power brokers in the city's other “big neighborhoods” in the District, Brookline and Beechview, normally wage political war with their own annointed sons. This year it was “old hat” Anthony Coghill and “newbie” Patrick Reilly. A fourth guy—Richard Weaver—couldn't inspire 100 voters to push the button next to his name.

Yes, everyone involved are Democrats. Former Republican Governor Tom Ridge carried a couple of districts a few years ago in the area, but otherwise, the vast majority of voters there are blind to a two-party system.

In this corner, Coghill, a part-time roofer/part-time state Senator Wayne Fontana staffer, took on Patrick Reilly, a Wagner family disciple who also had the backing of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato.

Those cliques have manhandled the 4th District forever; however, the often-forgotten Carrick neighborhood fielded an attractive, talented homegrown girl who obviously benefitted from the never-ending political infighting. Normally, Carrick would field a candidate who wasn't an attractive choice, couldn't raise money, or both. Until recently, those voters who have to wait for scraps from the Wagner and Fontana camps.

It's widely believed that voters in Carrick saved former councilman Jim Motznik's hide when Coghill nearly beat him a handful of years ago. That race was an unexpected barn-burner, as Motznik was reeling from a minor controversy (he fled a television news cameraman and reporter as if the world was on fire). Motznik ultimately gave up the seat so he could run for District Justice (voters overwhelmingly gave him that job despite the fact the video showing him run like a Benny Hill day player is still available online).

Natalia Rudiak has stepped up her community profile in recent years and has established herself as a legitimate neighborhood activist (not in the ACORN “fraud” category, dear friends. The battlers of the status quo...I used to be one once upon a time).

Reports also indicated that city councilman Bill Peduto, the city's true lone revolutionist with a heart of gold, was helpful in getting Rudiak a decent war chest. Peduto should be mayor of Pittsburgh, but isn't related to the backroom deal-makers, so his road has been tough. His endorsement of Rudiak is enough for me.

Congratulations Natalia Rudiak on the most shocking win in local politics since Bob Cranmer beat Coleen Vuono for the third County Commissioner seat. That win wrecked the entire system. That whole governing body was thrown out as a result of that disasterous turn of events. (Long story short: Republicans won the majority for the first time in forever and didn't know what to do with the power. Everyone involved in that improbable election watched as their political lifes imploded in front of their eyes, Democrat and Republican.)

Something tells me that Rudiak, with Peduto and a couple of other potential “movers and shakers,” could be good for my former haunt. She absolutely, positively couldn't do worse...unless another job opens up in the next few years...then it's back to square one all over again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Allegheny County voter turnout just under 21 percent

Allegheny County voter turnout just under 21 percent: "The region's highest-profile race, in which Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl fended off Councilman Patrick Dowd and attorney Carmen Robinson, didn't turn out to be a big draw. In unofficial results, 45,356 votes were cast, compared to 58,843 in 2005, 67,657 in 2003, and 66,730 in 1997."
I don't know how 5.5 percent of the people who were not Ds and not Rs got in to vote. Did they wear masks of Nixon and Clinton?

In the city, that percentage would be equal to zero.

Getting 30,000 votes would have been the formula for a win. Still would be a good goal for the fall of 2009. I think 30,000 makes the candidate mayor.

At $1 per vote, which is close to my average, I could win the mayor's race with $30,000.

How much did Luke spend in the end?

How many voters did he get?

What are those cost per votes?

Steelers Nation

A nice warm up on an idle sports day -- in that the next Pens game is not tonight, but on Thursday!

Steeler Nation

I would like an open water swim in this mix.

Hey Bill. Let's put in an open water swim in this mix.

The time and place is not such a big deal. But, that fact that we are swimming in the rivres is.

I think that the pro swim course should be from Sandcastle to Station Square. Hold it on Labor Day at 10 am.

Bashing the guy on day 2

Yesterday, on election day, Kevin Acklin, I, went to the Allegheny County Election Department. He passed the papers necessary to get onto the ballot for the mayor's race in November 2009 as an Independent.

Today, the bashing has begun.

Folks, we don't need perfect.

Folks. Don't put him in a box either.

This song, "Don't Put Me In a Box" -- by Johnsmith, recorded at our house concert, fits for Kevin too.

If I'm -- and I'm not -- Kevin Acklin, Indie for Mayor, I'm saying:

We need t-shirts, posters, window signs and tweets with the message:

Done deals are done.
Pittsburgh says, "Think again."
The second half occurs November 3, 2009.
Tickets still available.

Meet some of these shooting stars. "Hello everyone."

From my camera, to blog, to you.

Campaign Kick-off speech from Natalia Rudiak.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Population decline and Pure Reform about Schools

PURE Reform - Parents United for Responsible Educational Reform: "the number of children enrolled in noncharter Pittsburgh public schools is projected to drop much more sharply- from about 38,500 in 2000 to about 25,000 in 2014. So, while the number of children will have dropped by only 5%, enrollment will have suffered a 35% drop from the year 2000 to the year 2014.
The numbers in the projections don't add up.

I like this thinking. Ask families: What would it take to convince you to choose a Pgh Public School for your kids?

That is a big deal question. I've got plenty of thoughts on the expected results. But, I don't think that the PPS Administration nor Board has the courage to ask the right question and start the honest conversations that could unravel.

This is ironic. The most popular school in the disttict with Pgh Public Schools are put in tiny settings. So, people want to go to these schools. Yet the schools are shrunk.

CAPA High School is a the best performing school in terms of academics. It has a 'waiting list.' So, the PPS Administrators and Board voted to cram additional grades, grades 6, 7 and 8, in to the building for high schoolers. Hence, the total number of high school kids is reduced. Wrong way!

CAPA is not a clown car!

CAPA should have expanded, not contracted. CAPA is getting an expansion -- and it should have expanded so as to allow more high school students into that successful setting.

In similar ways, consider the new Sci Tech School. It is popular. It has a waiting list. It is going into a building that was not built to be a high school. The school is going to have 400 students and it could have been put into a building that would have allowed more than 1,000 students into a popular program in a school that has the necessary space.

Other good questions worthy of reposting here:

A large portion of ARRA funds will be spent on middle years summer programs. When will the details of the summer literacy camp be available? How will the district ensure that the students most in need of this program actually attend?

• When will there be an update on how the district is doing w/ excellence for all goals i.e. # of students taking AP exams, # of AA students taking AP exams, # of students scoring 3-5 on AP exams, # of students graduating?

• In the true spirit of transparency, committees that are formed by the administration to address various reform issues should include people with all perspectives and opinions. We request that the formation of these committees be announced in advance and that all stakeholders have an opportunity to participate and that these meetings be open for the public to observe.

• When will a high school facilities plan complete with names and locations of buildings rather than general descriptions such as 3 comprehensive or 5 comprehensive schools be provided for public review and comment? In addition, it seems like some buildings may be ruled out for future use based on replacement cost compared to a general "build new" amount per square foot that does not consider the location or quality of the new building. Calculations and underlying assumptions of this cost comparison should be provided.

• When will the results of the March community dialogue held a month and a half ago be posted- at the meeting we were told they would be on the Building Excellence website.
We wait. We listen. We wonder.

Parents of Pittsburgh won't put their children into the schools until deeper levels of trust are established. FUD spreads all the time. Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt = FUD. With FUD, people choose to vote with their feet.

If Pittsburgh Public School administration turned to a policy of being open and honest -- then the district would turn the corner and begin to thrive. These are major changes and new types of thinking and communications. But that is the bedrock of what parents want for their kids. We want to be in safe, open, clear, fair, and just schools where kids are given all sorts of challenges and have a great chances of success.

Bar battle on South Side

Bar battle on South Side: "Already target of a lawsuit, the city's bar density ordinance faces a new challenge

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pool passes available for Allegheny County parks

Pool passes available for Allegheny County parks: "The Allegheny County Parks Department this afternoon announced that family, individual and senior pool passes are now available for purchase at the Boyce, North, Settler's Cabin and South park administration offices.

Running Mates starts a new blog: My 4 Hour Marathon

My 4 Hour Marathon: "So, I just completed the Pittsburgh Marathon...and was very disappointed with my result!
Go, Mike, Go!

Run Forrest Run!

Obama and Education

In particular, the Obama administration wants to fix middle schools and high schools, focusing on "dropout factories" where two in five kids don't make it to graduation.
This is not the priority for Pittsburgh Public Schools.

The Rightsized Plan had a focus on elementary schools, with one exception, Schenley High School. Schenley was spared the axe then, by the way.

The 'drop out factories' in Pittsburgh have not been getting any attention.

Schenley High School closed, but it was not a drop out factory. Kids from Schenley classes were going to Stanford, for instance.

What is to happen with Oliver, Westhinghouse, Peabody and Langley? The silence has lasted for years.

South Vo Tech closed, but kids were in school at South -- finishing.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Election night parties!

Where are the political parties? Please post in comments. I'll try to confirm and put them in this posting. FWIW, a party mention does not mean an endorsement.

For example:

Luke Ravenstahl, and supporters gather for his election Night Party at the Hofbrauhaus in the South Side Works from 9:00 PM - 11:30 PM.

Pointers welcome in comments............ please. I don't get out much and it is a Tuesday night!

Friends and supporters of Sharene Shealey, PPS board member candidate, are invited to join Sharene and the campaign staff at the Evergreen Cafe, 7330 Penn Avenue, for an election night gathering as the polls close at 8 PM on Tuesday, May 19.

Turning corner in life as a two-time "L" now

I'm a "Libertarian." That's known as "L" number 1.

And, I'm, "L," in Roman Numerals.

PITTSBURGH, PA -- May 16, 2009 -- Mark Rauterkus, L, age L, embraces the "L" words: Loving, lucky, lean, and lively.

How frustration builds with a school district

There has been a bit of buzz about the recent fight at Oliver High School. Some footage made it to the web, I guess. So, I dust off my concerns and re-ask on some pressing points.

Oliver is a school without a plan, sadly. Here is one chunk of plans for discussion. The suggestions have been made before. My cooling off period on this matter is passed. Nancy is one of the top administrators for the district of Pgh Public Schools. She helps to launch the new initiatives.

Kodman, Nancy R to Mark


There are many good ideas and recommendations from people in the PPS Community that come to central office. Written proposals may be submitted to the District for review through the Superintendent's Office. You may wish to do that with your 13th year option idea and other recommendations that you proposed in your email.

There is a chair and an administrative designee for every Board Committee. The chair and the designee work collaboratively to finalize the agenda. Topics for consideration arise through input from Board members as well as input from staff. Agenda items align with the Board goals and the academic focus and priorities of the District.

I checked into your question about the "new policy where the speakers get a post-card of thanks and a hint of a message as to the topic" following speaking at PPS Public Hearings as you mentioned that you spoke on the topic of 13th grade as an optional choice for students/families in Pittsburgh. I contacted the Public Hearing Office and was informed that a postcard was sent out to you at a 108 S. 12th Street address on February 17, 2009.


Okay, sounds good -- but -- the answers she give don't match the questions given. I don't want a form letter reply. I went to the school board meeting and gave public testimony. I didn't get the curtosy reply post card, by the way. I didn't get the questions any attention.

Meanwhile, a new public process with hand-picked participants is brewing about Peabody High School's long term fate. This is in the wake of the prior committee's work that was done while sworn to secrecy in the fall of 08.

I was very happyt to get a voice mail message from Nancy to confirm that I was NOT invited to the hand-picked group to ponder the fate of Peabody.

Some of the lingering elements where I would like feedback from district administration:

What about the 13th grade option?

Let's have a meeting so I can deliver to you this concept and you can then schedule me for a presentation to the board's education sub-committee.

Next, I'd like some feedback from you as to these points in a blog post from April 3, 2009.

To save you the click:

PURE Reform: Proposed options for future uses of Peabody HS: "Proposed options for future uses of Peabody HS"

#1 I think PPS wants 150 IB kids per class, for a total of 600 students (grades 6-12).

#2 I think that we can fit in 50 extra seats for a 13th Grade Option as well. So, round that to 650.

#3 The traditional Frick school (grades 6, 7 and 8) would need to stay at Rise&Shine Middle School. This should be part of the counter plans. What about middle school for IB track? Missing element must be proposed.

#4 Idea: Put 600 at IB Jr. High (Reiz), 200 in each grade (6, 7 and 8). Figure at the leap to HS, 20 kids go each to CAPA & Dice and some to other HSs and even CTE.

#5 By all means, the IB Middle School is NECESSARY to making the IB High -- work. Would 600 in that building be okay with the economics?

#6 Furthermore, the CTE students in certain grades would be able to have half-days at school and half-days at other sites / jobs, etc. The student load with half days could be greater on the CTE side? I know that the kids at South Vo Tech often were out of the building but still in 'school time' as they were on the job.

#7 I don't like the CISCO option for Peabody into the future. It is a dead / close source technology. It is too much like that offered at computers at Brashear and the Sci Tech too.

#8 All our efforts in networks and tech should be with an open-source approach. Perhaps a computer programming / languages model -- to rely upon the thrust of writing and languages (foreign, PERL, JAVA, etc.) would fit.

I reserve judgment if the idea of a mixed IB / CTE school at Peabody makes the most sense. It is a worthy investigation, for sure.

The boutique option of only IB is something that Mark Roosevelt wanted, I dare guess. That isn't a priority of mine.

#9 How about an IB Jr. Sr High School with one or two CTE options -- such as Robotics and Open Source Programming. Don't get all overboard on new programs that would fill the CTE menu and eat up a lot of space.

#10 I think we should still demand a FULL CTE school to be built. State of the art, etc. Wonderful for the trades. That would be, I dare say, in a new site.

#11 I would like to see single gender, city-wide magnets for public high schools put onto the table. These could also include smaller single gender middle schools too. Perhaps there is a push for 6-12 schools. It might be present as an option.

#12 Put a boys high school at Westinghouse and a girls high school at Reizenstein. Or, do it the other way around. Or, flip the gender at the schools every three or four or five years. The other option would be to use OLIVER HS for one gender and Westinghouse for the other. Put 75 kids in each grade, 6, 7, an 8. Put 100 or more in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12.

+ The single gender option would be cheap to implement.

+ The single gender option would sink or soar on its own merits. If they get a good program and good teachers, more will want to go there.

+ The single gender public option could and should compete for students with Oakland Catholic and Central Catholic.


Michael did well in the meet today.

I posted this to my Facebook page earlier today. Might as well re-post here too.

Mark Rauterkus You fumbled. And the fumble was costly and horrid. But, what to do next -- give a pep talk?
What about scholastic swimming? What about club swimming? What about summer swimming? What about age group swimming? What about recreational swimming leagues? The NCAA poved to be without spines. Now, show some courage and get into the grassroots swim movement as all is not lost -- yet.

We don't need body suits anywhere else.

Go into the ivory tower -- and lick the wounds. Or, get out into the rest of the sport and show more courage and conviction there. And, don't give up the college sport either. Amend. Re-tool. Re-work the rules. What should they be? What specific things should have been done differently?Editorial: The Year of the Suits

Feeling smart?

Then watch this and be cured.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yoni Gottesman -- a wake up call for summer!

Perhaps the worst video you'll ever see.
Yoni Gottesman: "In the summer of 2005, Yoni Gottesman's parents took him to a summer camp. It was supposed to be a fun and exciting experience. It was promised to be a safe experience. Instead, on his first day at camp, little Yoni drowned. In the summer of 2005, Yoni Gottesman's parents took him to a summer camp. It was supposed to be a fun and exciting experience. It was promised to be a safe experience. Instead, on his first day at camp, little Yoni drowned. In the summer of 2005, Yoni Gottesman's parents took him to a summer camp. It was supposed to be a fun and exciting experience. It was promised to be a safe experience. Instead, on his first day at camp, little Yoni drowned.
Don't let this happen!

Mike Lamb's reply

I saw on the web that Michael Lamb made an endorsement or two. Because I don't always have full faith in everything I read on the web, I asked him what's up and if he was making personal endorsements.

Mike's reply to me via his personal email:

I'm not sure what you're looking for but in this election cycle I am serving as Co-Chair of the Committee to Elect Mike Marmo Judge. In my area I am supporting Georgia Blotzer for Council. Also, my friend Anthony Coghill is running in District 4 and I am for him.

Thanks for your interest.

Michael Lamb
Frankly, I'm very glad to see the city controller getting into the fray of politics.

I was so sad in the past when former city controller, now judge, Tom Flaherty, did NOTHING to help oust Tom Murphy from the mayor's office.

It sounds as if Mr. Lamb isn't making any endorsement for the mayor's race. Oh well. It is great to know he is putting some skin in the game in other matters.

Routine Maintenance does not need to take 3 every year. Oliver Bath House request is denied.

A few weeks ago, Mayor candidate, Patrick Dowd, was on 11th and East Carson, just one block from my home in the Historic South Side. He was putting the price tag on the garbage can and talking about waste. Okay. Whatever. I wasn't that excited.

Waste to me also means, "lost opportunities." That's classic Pittsburgh waste. That's what I've come to hate as much as anything.

Doing nothing is wasteful.

The bible parable says it is a sin to put a candle under a basket. If you have a talent, and bury it in the backyard, you've done wrong. You all know the story and get this message.

Not calling 9-1-1 when you see a crime is not as bad as doing the crime, but it is wrong as well.

When Patrick Dowd was in the South Side to talk about waste, I wanted him to talk about what can't be seen as well. He did say that the high costs and self-promotion implied with the price tag on the garbage can is just the 'tip of the iceberg.' I'm hungry for a mayor and a city that gets to the deeper stuff right now.
From hockey hell

The South Side, in this hockey crazy time, has a closed indoor ice rink. This has been a long-standing talking point of mine as it represents so much of the folly that we face on many different fronts. The South Side ice rink (Neville Rink) was once a home ice for practices to the Pittsburgh Penguins. And, the NHL All-Stars once came to town and held a practice skate there.

From playground - usa

The rink was run to the ground in its last years of operation without the due oversight from the city. I complained about that when Gene was our councilman and the chair of the Citiparks Committee. The terms of the contract were constantly broken and without enforcement from the city. Enforcement is another big concept typically.

The rink has been a dark hole in the center of the neighborhood.

We pushed for community partnerships at meetings. We pushed for a RFP by the city. And, we even got the city planning folks to let a Request for Proposals. Pat Ford kicked me out of a meeting at 200 Ross Street to talk about the community process there.

From hockey hell

The Hockey Hell story took another turn as the RFPs were all rejected. The facility would have been re-opened at no cost to the city, with private money. And the city couldn't deal.

From hockey hell

When I ran for city council, we talked about the closed indoor ice rink, the only indoor ice rink in the city other than Mellon Arena about 50 times in community forums and meetings. It was always a point of discussion. One of the other candidates wanted to turn it into a Public Works garage. Another candidate wanted it to be the home for the Zone 3 Police Station.

From Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events

Today, the ice rink is a great example of city waste. It is in a park with a padlock. The rink is closed, and so too is the entire PARK. The whole lower park is locked.

From hockey hell

Next up, the Oliver Bath House.

The only indoor swim pool operated by Citiparks is also on the South Side, just one block from where Patrick Dowd talked about the $1,010 garbage cans. The city had 31 outdoor pools, but only one that it owns and operates that is indoors, hence with year-round capabilities.

But, the Oliver Bath House is closed once the outdoor pools open. It is closed for most of June, all of July and all of August. It won't open until after Labor Day in September.

In my professional opinion, and I'm a Certified Pool Operator, a Certified Aquatic Manager and a swim coach and pool manager from 1976 -- there is not need to have the pool closed for so long for routine maintenance.

This is the way things have been for the past 10 years or so. The pool always closes. It is the way they do things.

In the summer of 2009, the area elementary school, Pittsburgh Phillips K-5, is making plans for summer school. Phillips will be a regional site, so kids from other schools (Whittier and Knoxville) will also blend in to get academic help for 19 days in the summer. The summer enrichment program ends July 17.

It would be great to get a group of students in summer school to have a good experiences with fitness, swimming and aquatic sports as part of their summer school afternoons. This becomes a public health concern as well.

The following letter was delivered.

April 24, 2009
Pittsburgh Phillips K-5

Dear Mayor Ravenstahl,

As the principal of Pittsburgh Phillips, K-5, I want to express our desire to inquire about the possibilities of utilizing the pool at the Oliver Bath House for
our Summer School students. Our school enjoys an extensive partnership with Citiparks and its recreational leaders that has lasted many years. We have talked about the possibility of adding a swimming component to this year's summer school schedule. Since the daily time frame is short, the only option that would be logistically possible for us is the Oliver Bath House. We could walk from Phillips to the Oliver Bath House each day, saving money and time on buses.

We have met and discussed this option with the folks from Citiparks but our effort to secure permission to use the pool has been unsuccessful. I am wondering if there is a possibility that you could assist our efforts to secure this enrichment experience for our children.

Summer school lasts from June 22, 2009 -- July 17, 2009. We would like to have access to the pool from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM during that time.

Mark Rauterkus, a Phillips parent, certified lifeguard and swim coach with Phillips Elementary, is helping on this project. We will also supply whatever additional lifeguard(s) are necessary to comply with regulations.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Rodney Necciai, Principal

From hockey hell

Mayor Ravenstahl's policy boss, Gabe M, had a full briefing on this matter. Luke had plenty of time to look like a hero at career day in the school. Furthermore, I talked in a casual way with a few members of Pittsburgh City Council on this matter, including Patrick Dowd. His office now gets to see this blog posting.

We need city and school cooperation. That is something Patrick Dowd could deliver as he was on the School Board and he was the chair of the Urban Youth and Recreation Committee as a member of city council.

We need to deploy our facilities so we can do good works. I was there when the Dem Party Leader, Mayor Tom Murphy, closed the Rec Centers and all of the swim pools.

The routine maintenance for the Oliver Bath House can happen after July 17, 2009.

Finally, this request isn't for my kids. My youngest is about to finish at Phillips. They are in older grades. And, this request is for kids invited to summer school by being in an academic realm of 'below basic.'

Update: Within an hour, on May 14, I got this message from the Dowd campaign:

Unfortunately, Patrick's schedule is jam-packed through election day so
we're not going to be able to do an event for this. I would recommend contacting
Councilman Kraus if you can.


Eric Parrie

Bruce Kraus and his staff are very aware of the swim pool's closing to the school children and denied request to the principal. But, this is a MAYOR"s decision.

This statement, one that I love, is printed within the Dowd for Mayor campiagn literature that arrived at our house yesterday in the mail. It sounds great.
3) Expand opportunities for children. On the School board I led the charge to cut waste and put resources into classrooms. And it's working. As Mayor, I'll continue cutting waste to free up resources for education and after-school programs that get kids off the streets and into constructive activities.
Deeds, on the other hand, give me an empty feeling.

PURE Reform - Parents United for Responsible Educational Reform

The bottom line in a complicated matter:
PURE Reform - Parents United for Responsible Educational Reform: "As a result this question will reveal little about whether there are other options respondents would prefer, given complete information and a wider range of choices.
Yes, the survey results are sure to reveal little.

The survey is a facade. The questions were loaded. The best answers can't come from that cloud of options.

The people of Pittsburgh are sure to prefer the choice that includes sensible, coolaborative leaderships.

Pittsburgh needs an educational vision. It must be articulated. It must be debated openly. It must be tweaked and those adjustments need to be clearly understood and visible.

Mark Roosevelt has failed in unfurling an educational vision. His "for all" part is a joke, as in 'Excellence for All.' Sure, there are spots of vision with the opening of a botique school or two. But, even there, the vision is delivered without the collaboration, debate, and adjustments.

The consultants are here and hard at work so as to put another barrier between administration and the parents / taxpayers. The consultants are here to conduct a fishing outing in a quest for the missing elements of leadership and vision.

Who do I support in the May 09 Mayor's Race?

It was asked at another blog, 'Who do I endorse' for mayor in the closed D party primary. Well, I'm a Libertarian and as such, I do not get a vote in the May primary.

All in all, I love some of the replies of Carmen Robinson and her experience as a lawyer, police officer, and women seem most refreshing. But, I don't see her day-to-day energy out on the trails. Proof.

Patrick Dowd is GREAT on paper, but in practice, he has left me empty most often.

I've encouraged those I've talked to to vote for one of the above -- and I expect my wife will do as such. Plus, I also make mention that there are two others who are running for mayor as Indies. It would be GREAT for this city to have heated election(s) in the fall for city offices.

IMHO, this PRIMARY race for mayor is going to be very, very close. Much closer than the status quo minded assume. City residents are smarter than most seem to think.

Dowd's statement / bewilderment about "NO WORK ORDERS" yesterday for the Public Works Department got him some votes, for sure. And, he earned those votes without his typical fanfare. Sadly, Dowd's style squashes much of his substance in overall effectiveness in moving supporters to his ranks.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Pittsburgh Comet not able to tape a League of Women Voters candidate event

Shame on the League of Women Voters.
The Pittsburgh Comet I do wish I could show you footage of these remarkable events -- however, the League of Women Voters ruled that I might film the proceedings only if all three candidates agreed to it.
Bram, don't ask. Just do it.

Have you been to jail for justice?

Really, that stinks.

Businesses Balk at Pittsburgh Promise Program

Policy Brief An electronic publication of The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy
May 13, 2009 Volume 9, Number 28

According to a Tribune Review report, the Pittsburgh business community has not warmed to the Pittsburgh Promise program. This is the program that plans to offer college scholarships to virtually all graduates of Pittsburgh’s high schools. So far the Promise fund has garnered only $51,000 from businesses while most of the contributions have come from the usual liberal foundations in the City. Foundations that never miss an opportunity to waste money on will of the wisp, do good efforts, especially if they involve public education.

Apparently, the business community has not been convinced of the efficacy or usefulness of bribing parents to stay in Pittsburgh – or attract parents to the City — as a way to increase enrollment in the miserable failure that is Pittsburgh’s high schools. And little wonder. Years of spending vast amounts of public money as well foundation gifts on enormous numbers of programs with precious little to show in return in terms of academic achievement undoubtedly has created considerable skepticism about whether it is advisable to keep propping up this failure with ever more money.

Whereas liberal foundations have the luxury of frittering away money on hopeless causes, businesses, especially in these difficult times, simply must be more level headed and rational about where they put limited resources. After all, firms in the City are already paying taxes to fund the egregiously expensive Pittsburgh Public School District --currently $20,000 per student annually—which continues to have huge percentages of high school students scoring well below grade level proficiency on statewide exams. Given the poor return on investment on their tax money, why would businesses want to waste more money trying to fix the system?

Nominally, a major goal of the Promise plan is to stop the slide in enrollment and begin to turn it around. Enrollment has fallen precipitously in recent years and is forecast to continue dropping. The question businesses must ask is “How does pouring more money into trying to prop up this expensive, poorly performing system benefit y company?”

Firms need a sufficiently well educated and skilled workforce that can help their business thrive and succeed. If they donate some of their limited resources to the Promise program, they may eventually benefit if some the recipients get degrees in disciplines they can use. However, this is a high risk strategy with a low probability of paying off for the firm. Instead, corporations are more likely to spend money on education programs for current employees through either tuition reimbursement programs at area colleges or through training and certification rograms. These two options provide a more direct payoff with a much lower downside risk than does contributing scarce dollars to the Pittsburgh Promise.

Moreover, companies already have high quality alternatives available for helping students get a good education. For example, they can donate to the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese’s Extra Mile Foundation, which provides scholarship aid to needy
children so they can attend one of the Diocese’s Extra Mile Schools in the City.
Companies can also participate in the State’s Education Improvement Tax Credit,
a program that provides a 75 percent tax credit for donations to a non-profit
scholarship or educational improvement organization. The percentage increases to
90 if the business makes the same donation for two consecutive years. The tax
credit is limited to $300,000 annually per firm. Still, the program is very popular as indicated by the fact that the state’s legislatively established annual limit for the program is completely met each year. Indeed, there are calls to expand the current annual tax credit limit.

In short, there are far better places to invest than the Pittsburgh Promise for companies wishing to allocate funds for the purpose of improving education in the region.

If the Mayor wants to attract corporate and business money for educating Pittsburgh’s children, here’s an idea he should try. Establish a scholarship program that will allow City parents to choose an alternative school for their children—be it religious or private. Then see how that plan fares in raising money compared to the Promise plan. It might even lure some of the more sensible members of the foundation community away to support a program for Pittsburgh’s students who would like a choice other than the public schools but cannot afford it.

To be blunt, why would a rational parent opt to keep a child in a failing school district for nine or ten years, robbing them of chance at a good education, if real alternatives to the public schools were available and affordable? Protecting the public school system as it is—and is likely to remain given the powerful groups who are in charge—is a fool’s errand.

And here is the best part of a scholarship funded choice plan. Competition from such a program could force City schools to improve or fade away altogether. That has happened in Milwaukee where public school performance has improved in the years since the voucher program was introduced there. This is a clear win-win situation that businesses should support whole heartedly.

Jake Haulk, Ph.D., President Frank Gamrat, Ph.D., Sr. Research Assoc.

Please visit our blog at
If you have enjoyed reading this Policy Brief and would like to send it to a friend, please feel free to forward it to them.

For more information on this and other topics, please visit our web site:

If you wish to support our efforts please consider becoming a donor to the Allegheny Institute. The Allegheny Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and all contributions are tax deductible. Please mail your contribution to:

The Allegheny Institute
305 Mt. Lebanon Boulevard
Suite 208
Pittsburgh, PA 15234

Thank you for your support

Is the mayor corrupt? Absolutely says Patrick Dowd on KDKA Radio

KDKA Radio's Marty Griffin is a friend of Luke Ravenstahl and Dan Onorato. So, he hated to hear and baited the question to challenger Patrick Dowd.

My instant message to Griffin, who said he has heard no rumblings in law enformcement realms of 'corruption' on the part of the Mayor follows:

If the mayor's office was clean -- then do you think the state would have TWO sets of OVERSIGHT Authorities in town watching every move of the city officials?

Proof of corruption on Grant Street is in Act 47 and ICA.

Another bit of PROOF of corruption is the hush money paid, still to this day, to Pat Ford, with a contract that does NOT permit statements from him nor the mayor.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Poem by Geri Ann called "Mark" for my 50th birthday


You are the bedroom at the back of the house, the heaps of junk
and Rum Rum cars that exploded from a little sectioned box
tipping out of the corner of your closet.

You are the back yard, shouting out to Chicky and Colin catching balls,
knees and elbows spinning out to grab the next fly.
And that large patch of dirt where grass didn't have time to grow.
That warm dirt, softer than the powder
sprinkled on Vanilla Angel donuts after orchestra on Sundays.

You are Rose Avenue, up for a neighborhood game of Release,
defining back yards and boundaries between telephone poles
convincing Mom and Dad to let us stay out,
even after the street lights came on.
You are those hiding places, under Rhododendrons
where no one is ever found.

You are a chipped tooth, the word "Leftovers!" called before dinner,
and the pounding floor boards under the weight
of acrobats and wrestling matches, even with Mom.

You are canon balls, Fireballs, and Crazy Relay Day when the whole team
swam like dolphins, and windmills, and upside down butterflies.
You are the one who'd still try to win, no matter how ridiculous.

You are the Pennsylvania mountains. And the arm that grabbed me
to say "Look down!" before I jumped over a fifty foot drop.
You are also the bus ride in D.C. and the finger that pointed
to someone asleep on some steps, bundled up in a homeless coat
who said, "Look at everything. And keep looking.
We'll never be here again."

You are all the letters, countless as the stars,
missing from your spelling words. And all the pages
from all the books you printed. You are the monster press
spewing out paper to bind in your South Side basement.
And all the boxes and all the piles of books ready to ship out.

You are the South Side, the shops, the horns, the Beehive, the neighbors,
and Mabel's store across the street filled
with stale Clark bars and ketchup.
You are the rooftops and fireworks every summer.
A ricochet off high rises and burst of sparks
glittering down the Monongahela.

You are the last quarter I had. The one I used to call you
from the Greyhound Station to pick me up in the middle of the night
home from an interview when I didn't get the job.
You didn't say anything. You are the "It doesn't matter"
in situations like that, because you're my brother.

You are the son who bravely trumpets forth and carries our family name,
No matter how hard it is to pronounce,
no matter that it's all stripes and checkers,
or that it comes clumsy with trips and blinks.
You wear it like the Thunderbolt,
the oldest wooden roller coaster
climbing the highest hill in Kennywood.

You are the speed on the way down,
as everything inside lifts up into your ribcage
and through your rumbling, airborne heart, midflight.

My little sister, Geri Ann McLaughlin, wrote the poem when asked by my wife for a suprise 50th birthday party with some friends and family at Kennywood.

Officially, I turn 50 on May 16th, Saturday. That day includes a swim meet in Monroeville's JCC (the boys are in that) and a wedding. Great fun.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Churn looks like this -- not progress

"In the mid 90s, the building underwent a $1.5 million renovation to become Pittsburghs only International Youth Hostel. After experiencing a downturn in international travel following 9/11 the hostel was closed on October 31, 2003.
Can we turn the old police station into a Youth Hostel?

How about if we turn South Vo Tech into a Youth Hostel?

What about Fifth Avenue High School into a Youth Hostel?

What about Gladstone?

Perhaps not the entire building, but a part of it.

The weenies that ran the old Youth Hostel ran it into the ground. That $1.5M investment was lost and it is more than sad.

The second floor of the facility houses one of three state-of-the-art fitness rooms for use by not only Zone 3 officers, but all City police officers. The other two are on the Northside and in Highland Park. Because the fitness room is on the second floor, Nautilus equipment is used instead of free weights. The floor has been reinforced and covered with a special surface to soften the surface and help deaden the sound. The fitness facility is available 24-hours for officers on all shifts.
So we have nice workout areas for the police -- but can't get either the South Side Bath House -- a swim pool already paid for and operational to open so that the kids in summer school have a place to workout in the afternoons. Nor can we get Warrington Rec Center's pool to open.

Party Games - Main Feature - Main Feature - Pittsburgh City Paper

Party Games - Main Feature - Main Feature - Pittsburgh City Paper For a town led by 'good old boys,' Pittsburgh seems to have created a surprisingly youthful crop of politicians for the May 19 Democratic primary. In the races profiled on the following pages, you'll find numerous candidates who aren't even in their mid-40s yet. That makes them practically adolescents, in Pittsburgh-politician years.
All three candidates for mayor think marijuana should be illegal. All three are sorta old fashioned in that stodgy belief. The war on drugs is part of the problems and helps to drive many of the killings of the kids on the streets of Homewood and The Hill District.

Santonio has nobody to endorse.

Nor do the older folks who would have great comfort in their final weeks and months of life with the use of medical marijuana. And, medical marijuana's legalization is before the PA House and Senate now.

I'd hope that the City Paper, of all places, would take a 'younger view' at the issues and size up these spring chicks for being so old-school on this front. has a significant upgade now available

The Community is pleased to announce the general availability of 3.1, a significant upgrade to the world's leading open-source office productivity suite. Since 3.0 was launched last October, over 60 million downloads have been recorded from the website alone. Released in more than 90 languages and available as a free download on all major computing platforms, 3.1 looks set to break these records.

Thanks to all community members who have helped make this release possible. Users of previous versions of were asked to vote for their 'most desired' new features, and this wish list helped shape the new release. The new release also includes a feedback mechanism where users can opt-in to supply feedback automatically to the developers about how they use

The biggest single change (half a million lines of code!) and the most visible is the major revamp of on-screen graphics. Techies call it anti-aliasing - users just appreciate how much crisper graphics are on screen. The improved look extends to other subtle changes, such as: how images display when they are being dragged, how selections of text are highlighted, and even adding the ability to overline text.

New core features include:

Writer (word processing)
* Improvements to comments: reply feature now supports 'conversations'
* Further grammar checker integration
* Outline levels within paragraphs for complex documents

Calc (spreadsheet)
* Hot hints for formulae, with new and improved formulae available
* Improved sorting
* More performance bottlenecks removed
* The zoom slider added to the status bar
* Rename sheets with a double-click

Chart (graphics engine)
* Flexible positioning of axes for scientific and educational users
* Flexible handling of "missing" data points

Impress (presentation)
* Font size buttons

Base (database)
* SQL syntax highlighting
* Easier deployment of macro applications

Internationalization and Localization
* Improved support for bidirectional scripts
* New locale support

Behind the scenes, also now has a more capable file locking mechanism, enabling users to share files safely in a multi-user, multi-platform environment.

The guide to new features is available here:

Download 3.1 here:

Read our Press Release:

The Bike Pittsburgh Blog Archives � Bike the Vote! Pittsburgh’s Democratic Mayoral Candidates Answer Questions from BikePGH

Of course cycling is a political issue.
The Bike Pittsburgh Blog Archives - Bike the Vote! Pittsburgh’s Democratic Mayoral Candidates Answer Questions from BikePGH: "Cycling is a political issue."
Just yesterday I sent out a tweet that Rev. Ricky Burgess, city council district 9, was against the bike lane on East Liberty Blvd. He would have worked hard to stop it too, so he said. Because, the people in his district do not use the bike lane, so he thinks.

I'm not saying that the bike lane is done well -- or not. But, I reported that interesting fact. It is fair to say that he is a politician that can be hostile to bikes.

Next, onto the comments from the blog.....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Buc home runs to benefit city parks - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Dogs around the city are barking for joy.
Buc home runs to benefit city parks - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Every time a Pittsburgh Pirates batter hits a home run, a city park gets a tree.

That's the idea behind a partnership announced today between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
Too bad the kids don't get a coach rather than an obstacle for their play spaces and fields.

By the way, I'm anti trees when it comes to putting them in open spaces, such as on the practice field next to the moved Schenley High School, where the soccer and baseball teams could have practiced prior.

It is crazy how the Pgh Parks Conservancy fixes up a lot next to a park on two sides but chooses to do nothing within the park itself.

These are RAD parks too. The RAD parks have lots of money.

Get your own store by clicking to a new service

What I'm selling isn't that important. But, do go set up your own new store to sell your stuff online.

College Bills

Edits to a mission statement for male involvement in PPS

I've edited a handout from last-night's meeting and made some changes. So, how does this draft sound?

M.E.N.N. = Meeting Education's Needs Now

M.E.N.N. Mission
To assist and facilitate school success through a variety of male aimed initiateves that promote overall parental involement and continuity within the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) District.

PPS' M.E.N.N. facilitates meaningful male involvement in students' lives in school, home and the community.

We believe and work to insure that children are happier, healthier and better students when positive male role models are active and engaged.

The 2010 goals for M.E.N.N.:
- Create a blueprint for consistent male involvement that benefits all students.
- Create belief statements among the steering committee and M.E.N.N. participants.

TV Show on City Cable, PCTV 21, Public Access, about Take Your Father To School

Mark Brentley, Sr., Pgh Public Schools board member and candidate for Pgh City Council in the May 2009 primary, has a TV show that includes, this month, snips of the 2008 Take Your Father to School events.

Air dates:

May 6, 9 am
May 8, 11 pm
May 11, 10 pm
May 14, 3 pm
May 16, 9 pm
May 18, 5 pm
May 19, 9 am
May 21, 3 pm

This year's event is Friday, May 22, 2009, at all Pgh Public Schools.

We also stand in for those who don't have a dad in school that day, for whatever reason. Dad's are positive role models in the child's life -- being the actual father is not necessary.

Did you hear about these 8 who were arrested?

Yesterday morning, eight doctors, lawyers and other activists stood up to Senator Max Baucus.

And the private health insurance industry.

And the corporate liberals in Congress.

The eight activists demanded that single payer - everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital - be put on the table.

And as a result they were arrested.

And charged with a so-called "disruption of Congress."

The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Politico, Democracy Now and National Public Radio all carried stories about the protest.

C-Span carried it live.

And it was widely disseminated on the Internet.

Baucus crafted a hearing to kick off the health care debate in the Senate yesterday where 15 witnesses would be at the table to discuss health care reform.

The insurance industry was at the table.

The Business Roundtable was at the table.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was at the table.

Blue Cross Blue Shield was at the table.

The Heritage Foundation was at the table.

And corporate liberals like Andy Stern, Ron Pollack, and AARP were at the table.

But not one person who stood for what the majority of Americans, doctors, nurses, and health economists want - single payer - was at the table.

Not one.

When I heard about this corporate line-up last week, I called the office of Senator Baucus.

And politely asked that, as a matter of fairness, a single payer doctor be allowed to testify.

I was told - no way, Ralph.

The deal is done.

So, yesterday, at 10 a.m., the Baucus Eight, led by Single Payer Action and other single payer groups, took to the Senate Finance Committee.

And directly and respectfully confronted a room full of corporate lobbyists.

And corporate controlled Senators.

And again asked that a group of doctors who were in the room to support Medicare for all be allowed to testify.

The answer again - no, no, and no.

Remember what Senator Richard Durbin said last week?

Durbin said that the banks "own" the Congress.

To which we might add - the health insurance industry and the drug industry own the Senate.

Faxing, writing, and e-mailing is not getting it done.

Enough is enough.

Time for action.

This is a winnable issue.

But the American people need to focus on 535 members of Congress.

And get mobilized.

Single Payer Action is at your service to get the job done.

So, donate now -- $8, $18, $80, or $800.

To honor the Baucus Eight - who all wore black yesterday in memory of the more than 20,000 Americans who - according to the Institute of Medicine - die every year from lack of health insurance.

And to fuel a citizen action movement that will deliver single payer to the American people - sooner not later.

Together, we can break the corporate stranglehold on Congress.

And deliver health care for all.

Single payer.

More comprehensive. More efficient. More humane. More peace of mind.

Let's get it done.

Onward to single payer, Ralph Nader

Half Marathon Course, slated for Oct 25, 2009

Hey running mates:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Time to consider that Republican write-in effort for mayor: Pat Ford

Perhaps we can get a write in campaign for the mayor's race for Republican voters?

We now open nominations from the floor of the blogosphere.

Consider, Pat Ford.

For some, PAT could be Port Authority Transit, and Ford could be the auto company. Merge the two together, whatever.

Consider, Mark DeSantis. I'm sure he'll get some votes.

Consider, Kevin Acklin.

Consider, Dok Harris.

Consider, Luke Ravenstahl, or Patrick Dowd or Carmen Robinson.

If Patrick is less of a candidate because Carmen is on the ballot in the primary, splitting the anti-Ravenstahl vote, then let's have a do-over. But, the general election ballot in November might have four or more candidates. You never know.

Consider, Tom Ridge. Some are talking about Tom Ridge for US Senate in 2010. Why not have him get onto the ballot for the Rs for the Pgh Mayor Race in 2009 -- just to re-build his base. Perhaps he can help install and monitor the homeland security cameras that Luke just purchased.

Pittsburgh Council approves reforms; Peduto pushes for more

Pittsburgh Council approves reforms; Peduto pushes for more: "Pittsburgh Council approves reforms; Peduto pushes for more

Libertarian Party joins lawsuit challenging PA Election Code

Lawsuit filed to protect electoral process and secure voters’ rights

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania
3915 Union Deposit Road #223
Harrisburg, PA 17109

For Immediate Release: May 5, 2009

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

Harrisburg, PA – On behalf of the Libertarian, Constitution and Green Parties of Pennsylvania, the Center for Competitive Democracy (CCD), a non-partisan,
non-profit 501(c)(3) legal advocacy group( has filed suit in federal District Court challenging the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania Election Code.

The lawsuit specifically challenges provisions that authorize courts to order candidates to pay litigation costs and fees to private parties who challenge their nomination papers. The lawsuit also seeks to require elections officials to count and certify write-in votes as required by the election code.

“Making minor party candidates pay the costs of validating their nomination papers while using public funds to subsidize the major party nomination process makes a mockery of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection,” said Mik Robertson, Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania. “The interest of the government is to secure voters’ rights to choose their elected representatives, not limit those choices.”

The lawsuit, Constitution Party of Pennsylvania, et al. v. Cortes, et al., No. 09-1961, was filed in response to a judgment ordering a 2006 Green Party candidate to pay more than $80,000 in litigation costs to private parties who challenged his nomination papers, and by Pennsylvania elections officials’ routine failure to count write-in votes.

The lawsuit asks the court to hold Sections 2872.2 and 2937 of the Pennsylvania Election Code unconstitutional. Section 2872.2 requires minor party candidates to submit nomination papers to gain ballot access, no matter how many votes the minor party won in the previous election. Section 2937 authorizes private parties to challenge those nomination papers, and authorizes courts to order the candidates to pay their challengers’ litigation costs and fees. The lawsuit also seeks enforcement of Section 3155, which requires elections officials to compute and certify valid write-in votes.

In 1972, the Supreme Court declared in Bullock v. Carter that states may not require candidates “to shoulder the costs” of conducting elections by charging filing fees without providing a non-monetary means of gaining ballot access. In Pennsylvania, however, these candidates cannot gain ballot access unless they submit nomination papers..

Constitution Party of Pennsylvania, et al. v. Cortes, et al. has been assigned to Judge Thomas Golden. CCD is expected to file a motion this week for preliminary injunction to suspend the fees already assessed pending the outcome of the action.

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.
This is very important stuff.

I went before a judge in Harrisburg in 2006, the same time that this was unfolding in another court room. It happened to me too.

As the judge entered the court room, there was the order, "All rise..." I did. But, I never sat down.

"Your honor, ..." I asked without delay. My list was with a handful of points, each taken in turn. One was to this exact measure.

I wanted to have the assurances from the judge, a guarantee of sorts, before we took another step, that I would not be punished and penalized for defending my rights to be on the ballot. I wanted to know if the judge was going to give me a bill or order court costs to be paid by me. I wanted that intimidation to be removed from the realm of the possibility.

The judge said "No." He would not rule that out as an outcome.

So, the PA judge could both toss me off the ballot and pick an amount for a fine to slap upon me as well. My liabilities were great.

In the other matters, I too was at a great disadvantage. I was on thin ice, to say the least. Every one of my requests were denied.

So, I entered into evidence the papers that were served to me with the proof that the PA Senator's office, District 42, was used in connection of this political case of the highest political gain. The papers had the fax number of the PA Senator's office on them -- clearly an ethical violation from Senator Wayne Fontana and/or his office staffers. Then, after that evidence was booked by the clerk, I got a final bit of clarification and then told the judge that I would not be seeking a continuation of the proceedings as it was most prudent to pull my name from the ballot.

As a tip for all elected officials: Don't use your public office for political gain. That's what got Jeff Habay into jail.