Wednesday, March 31, 1999

A rant for all times, Browser Wars, Netscape, Microsoft

From March 31, 1999

Jamie posted:

resignation and postmortem.
© 1999 Jamie Zawinski <>

April 1st, 1999 will be my last day as an employee of the Netscape Communications division of America Online, and my last day working for

Netscape has been a great disappointment to me for quite some time. When we started this company, we were out to change the world. And we did that. Without us, the change probably would have happened anyway, maybe six months or a year later, and who-knows-what would have played out differently. But we were the ones who actually did it. When you see URLs on grocery bags, on billboards, on the sides of trucks, at the end of movie credits just after the studio logos -- that was us, we did that. We put the Internet in the hands of normal people. We kick-started a new communications medium. We changed the world.

But we did that in 1994 and 1995. What we did from 1996 through 1999 was coast along, riding the wave caused by what we did before.

Why? Because the company stopped innovating. The company got big, and big companies just aren't creative. There exist counterexamples to this, but in general, great things are accomplished by small groups of people who are driven, who have unity of purpose. The more people involved, the slower and stupider their union is.

And there's another factor involved, which is that you can divide our industry into two kinds of people: those who want to go work for a company to make it successful, and those who want to go work for a successful company. Netscape's early success and rapid growth caused us to stop getting the former and start getting the latter.

In January 1998, Netscape hit one of of its blackest periods -- the first round of layoffs. It was quite a wake-up call. Netscape, darling of the computer industry, the fastest-growing company in the world, was not invincible.

More concretely, this was when we realized that we had finally lost the so called ``browser war.'' Microsoft had succeeded in destroying that market. It was no longer possible for anyone to sell web browsers for money. Our first product, our flagship product, was heading quickly toward irrelevance.

And then the unexpected happened: the executive staff decided to release the source code. I won't re-hash the history of the creation of the project, but suffice it to say that, coming as it did only two weeks after the layoffs, it was a beacon of hope to me. Here was Netscape doing something daring again: here was the company making the kind of change in strategy that I never thought they'd be able to make again. An act of desperation? Perhaps, but still a very interesting and unexpected one. It was so crazy, it just might work. I took my cue and ran with it, registering the domain that night, designing the structure of the organization, writing the first version of the web site, and, along with my co-conspirators, explaining to room after room of Netscape employees and managers how free software worked, and what we had to do to make it work.

At this point, I strongly believed that Netscape was no longer capable of shipping products. Netscape's engineering department had lost the single-minded focus we once had, on shipping something useful and doing it fast. That was no longer happening. Netscape was shipping garbage, and shipping it late.

And daring move or no, this was not going to change: Netscape no longer had the talent, either in engineering or management, to ship quality products. The magic was gone, as the magicians had either moved on to more compelling companies, or were having their voices lost in the din of the crowd, swamped by the mediocrity around them.

The Netscape I cared about was dead.

But I saw as a chance to jettison an escape pod -- to give the code we had all worked so hard on a chance to live on beyond the death of Netscape, and chance to continue to have some relevance to the world.

Beyond that, I saw it as a chance for the code to actually prosper. By making it not be a Netscape project, but rather, be a public project to which Netscape was merely a contributor, the fact that Netscape was no longer capable of building products wouldn't matter: the outsiders would show Netscape how it's done. By putting control of the web browser into the hands of anyone who cared to step up to the task, we would ensure that those people would keep it going, out of their own self-interest.

But that didn't happen. For whatever reason, the project was not adopted by the outside. It remained a Netscape project. Now, this was still a positive change -- it meant that Netscape was developing this project out in the open, in full view of the world, and the world was giving important and effective feedback. Netscape made better decisions as a result.

But it wasn't enough.

The truth is that, by virtue of the fact that the contributors to the Mozilla project included about a hundred full-time Netscape developers, and about thirty part-time outsiders, the project still belonged wholly to Netscape -- because only those who write the code truly control the project.

And here we are, a year later. And we haven't even shipped a beta yet.

In my humble but correct opinion, we should have shipped Netscape Navigator 5.0 no later than six months after the source code was released. But we (the group) couldn't figure out a way to make that happen. I accept my share of responsibility for this, and consider this a personal failure. However, I don't know what I could have done differently.

I can come up with a litany of excuses and explanations for why we are so late (heaven knows I've been making these excuses to the media for half the lifetime of the project.) Some of them are:

Excuse #1:
It's a really large project, and it takes a long time for a new developer to dive in and start contributing.

Excuse #1a:
Because of this, what happens is, someone will try to make a small change, find that it's taking them longer than a few hours, and will give up and do something else instead.

Excuse #2:
People only really contribute when they get something out of it. When someone is first beginning to contribute, they especially need to see some kind of payback, some kind of positive reinforcement, right away. For example, if someone were running a web browser, then stopped, added a simple new command to the source, recompiled, and had that same web browser plus their addition, they would be motivated to do this again, and possibly to tackle even larger projects.

We never got there. We never distributed the source code to a working web browser, more importantly, to the web browser that people were actually using. We didn't release the source code to the most-previous-release of Netscape Navigator: instead, we released what we had at the time, which had a number of incomplete features, and lots and lots of bugs. And of course we weren't able to release any Java or crypto code at all.

What we released was a large pile of interesting code, but it didn't much resemble something you could actually use.

Excuse #3:
The code was just too complicated and crufty and hard to modify, which is why people didn't contribute. This was a believable excuse for a while, which is why, six months ago, we switched from the old layout engine to the new layout engine (Gecko/Raptor). By being a cleaner, newly-designed code base, so the theory went, it was going to be easier for people to understand and contribute. And this did get us more contributors. But it also constituted an almost-total rewrite of the browser, throwing us back six to ten months. Now we had to rewrite the entire user interface from scratch before anyone could even browse the web, or add a bookmark.

Excuse #4:
It didn't contain a mail reader. There is surely a large class of users who would be interested in working on Communicator that are less interested in Navigator, but we never really found that out, since we never shipped the source code to communicator (for a number of reasons, none very good, some downright pathetic.) Now, as a result of the Gecko/Raptor rewrite, the mail/news reader is being rewritten as well. Maybe it will even ship someday.

Excuse #5:
Netscape failed to follow through on their own plans. During 1998, Netscape sunk a huge amount of engineering effort into doing the 4.5 release: working on a dead-end proprietary code base, the source of which would never be released to the world, and would never benefit from open source development. This was a huge blow to the Mozilla project, since for the first half of the year, we weren't even getting full-time participation from Netscape.

This isn't even so much an excuse as a stupid, terrible mistake, considering we should have learned our lessons about doing parallel development like this in the past, with the abortive ``Javagator'' project.

The worst part about all this is, for the last year, I've spent much of my time striving to convince people that is not I've told people again and again that the organization does not serve only the desires of the Netscape client engineering group, but rather, serves the desires of all contributors to the Mozilla project, no matter who they are. And that's certainly true. But the fact is, there has been very little contribution from people who don't work for Netscape, making the distinction somewhat academic.

Now, to be fair, in this first year, we did do some very good things:

  • We showed the world how to operate a large software project out in the open. Whatever else happened, we did maintain a high level of communication between geographically and organizationally separate contributors and other interested parties. We transitioned from a secretive and proprietary development model to a very public one. We showed that it can be done.

  • Though we didn't get a whole lot of participation in the form of source code, we did get a lot of feedback about the directions the software was going. And the right feedback at the right time can easily be far more valuable than source code. By doing development out in the open, and ``living in a fishbowl,'' I believe that Netscape made better decisions about the directions of development than would have been made otherwise.

  • We released the source code to a number of ancillary tools, such as our bug systemsource-control interface, and build tools. These are very good (and complete!) tools in their own right. Though they were critical to us in the development of Mozilla, and we created them in support of Mozilla, they are not tied to Mozilla, and others are finding them useful with their own non-Mozilla-related projects. These tools, and the development model they represent, are a valuable contribution in their own right.

  • And merely by being who we are and doing what we did, we played a big part in bringing the whole open source development model to the attention of the world at large. We didn't start the mainstream media interest in open source (Linux did that, mostly), but I think we did legitimize it in the eyes of a lot of people, and we did tell the story very well. Lending the Netscape name to this software development strategy brought it to the attention of people who might otherwise have dismissed it.

But despite all this, in the last year, we did not accomplish the goals that I wanted to accomplish. We did not take the Mozilla project and turn it into a network-collaborative project in which Netscape was but one of many contributors; and we did not ship end-user software. For me, shipping is the thing.

Perhaps my goals were unreasonable; perhaps it should have been obvious to me when we set out on this project that it would take much longer than a year to reach these goals, if we ever did. But, it wasn't obvious to me then, or now. These are the goals I was aiming for, and they have not yet been met.

And so I'm giving up.

The Mozilla project has become too depressing, and too painful, for me to continue working on. I wanted Mozilla to become something that it has not, and I am tired of fighting and waiting to make it so. I have felt very ineffectual, and that's just not a good feeling.

For those of you who choose to continue, I wish you all the best of luck.

I must say, though, that it feels good to be resigning from AOL instead of resigning from Netscape. It doesn't really feel like quitting at all. I was the 20th person hired at Mosaic Communications Corporation (All Praise the Company), and of those twenty, only five remain. The company I helped build has been gone for quite some time. We, Netscape, did some extraordinary things. But we could have done so much more. I feel like we had a shot at greatness, and missed.

My biggest fear, and part of the reason I stuck it out as long as I have, is that people will look at the failures of as emblematic of open source in general. Let me assure you that whatever problems the Mozilla project is having are not because open source doesn't work. Open source does work, but it is most definitely not a panacea. If there's a cautionary tale here, it is that you can't take a dying project, sprinkle it with the magic pixie dust of ``open source,'' and have everything magically work out. Software is hard. The issues aren't that simple.

Jamie Zawinski, 31-Mar-1999

Monday, March 22, 1999

Hold the phone: P-G Headline was Panthers see move as positive. But I didn't.

PG, March 22, 1999

Headline: Panthers see move as positive

by Shelly Anderson, Sports Writer
A piece of lined notebook paper was taped to Pitt Stadium door leading to the athletics department yesterday in large letters was a note to the athletic director.

"Hey Steve Pederson, Thanks for destroying our tradition and our football program, SOS."

The three letters at the end stand for Save Our Stadium, a movement among student groups who unsuccessfully lobbied against the Univ. of Pittsburgh's plan to raze the 74-year-old stadium and move home games to the North Side.

Note: The PG reporter made it seem as if Pitt Stadium was razed. Pitt Stadium still stands. The students were not unsuccessful in the lobby campaign just yet. And, the first three paragraphs have noting to do with any "POSITIVE" mention in the headline. The note might have been put onto the door by a football player. The headline should have been: Unknown football player thanks AD for destroying tradition and football at Pitt!

Inside the stadium, the Panthers were holding a makeup practice for one that got snowed out a couple weeks ago. The fact that this will be their final spring in Pitt Stadium apparently does not weigh on their minds.

Note: This is proof positive that the Pitt football team will NOT step foot inside of Pitt's indoor football practice facility, the Cost Center, to play football. To cancel a spring practice because of snow when an indoor facility is available is a strange occurrence.

Interesting, the writer must have ESP to know that the issue does not weigh on the minds of the entire football team. How subjective.

Snow comes to the South Side too. A late winter storm on the grass fields that are planned for the river-front property being raised out of the flood plain can not be pushed aside with snow removal equipment. The Pitt Stadium artificial truf was plowed, and the field was able to be used the following day. Practices would have needed to have been canceled for more than one week if the team was at the planned facility, because of the snow, wet ground and mud.

The river bank lands that are going to host that fields might have terrible drainage. The team should not expect to use the fields in the South Side for spring football until finals week. Pitt's academic schedule has graduation in early May. Finals and preparation for finals are in full swing in April. Spring football so late in the semester is another hardship on the student athletes.

Penn State has spring football starting as Pitts is ending.

"I think it is a positive move for the program," said sophomore linebacker Amir Purifoy. "Everyone can benefit from it -- everyone at the university.

"No one on the team has a big problem with it and, hopefully, recruits can be excited about the situation."

Note: It = silence. Everyone can benefit from silence. Everyone at the university (has been told to keep quiet. No one who wants to keep his scholarship on this team is going to have a big problem with keeping silent. Hopefully the recruits can be excited about the situation (as the players who are here now are not excited in the slightest.)

The players had a few days to digest the news. The Pitt board of trustees voted unanimously Thursday in favor of the plan, and university officials then outlined their intentions. A basketball arena, student housing and green space will replace the stadium.

Note: The players had a few days to digest the news, more if they read the student newspapers. The Pitt News scooped the PG at every turn.

Pederson and Coach Walt Harris later discussed the plan with the football team.

Note: Who, what, when, where, how, why, wow?

"They just said not to get wrapped up in the student fanfare -- that this is what's best for the program," receiver/punter Jay Junko said.

Note: The head coach and Athletic director said no to fanfare. Fans must not be important to Pitt football under these leaders. The AD and head coach told the athletes that your fellow students are not worthy of attention. They said don't build relationships with classmates. They said you are here to play football. They said keep quite. They said, we'll do all the thinking for you.

Althouogh the idea of the move has been controversial for several months, the players might be among the most understanding -- and trusting.

Note: Several months is wrong. In November the Athletic Director published other accounts that went counter to recent directions.

The idea of razing Pitt Stadium had been mentioned for a few weeks. No controversial element was allowed to surface within the ranks of the Athletic Department.

The players are understanding of who pays for their athletic scholarships. The football team, by NCAA regulations, is filled with 85 players who get full scholarships (room, tuition, board). Each scholarship is renewed on a year-to-year basis with each player. So, an athlete who speaks out of turn, misses the mark set by the coaches can not only get benched, but can lose his athletic scholarship.

The frail position each athlete finds himself in as part of a NCAA football program make for slave labor situations with certain understandings understood --- hardly most understanding -- and trusting as described.

"I think the people in charge know what they're doing," said senior strong safety Seth Hornack, who thinks the resistance factor will die down."

Note: The Pitt Administrators ran a wear-them-down campaign and counted on the students to lose energy. They knew how to run a PR campaign.

"We've heard about this for a long time, and occasionally you'll see people wearing the T-shirts with 'SOS.' It would be nice to have the stadium stay on campus. It's sad to see it go. But once they see the new facility, they'll see what a nice thing it is for us."

Note: It would have been nice to have the stadium stay on campus. It is sad to see it go.

Nobody has seen the new facility. The plans for the new facility are not done. It is foolish to go after two in the bush when one is in the hand. The decision to go to the new stadium should be made after the new facility is seen and known to work.

The new stadium is a pipedream "nice." The existing stadium is a known "nice." The net gain is nothing.

Hornack won't get the chance to play in the new stadium. Many of his teammates will, and they're looking forward to it.

Note: What young person does not look forward to events in the future? Everyone on the team is looking forward to graduation day too. Of course people look forward, that is what people do.

"As far as the new stadium, for everyone who has a chance to play in it, it's exciting," said quarterback David Priestley, a transfer from Ohio State who is competing for the starting job.

Note: Duhh to Shelly, the writer. David, we'll be cheering for you.

"As far as tradition, I've been taught about that at Ohio State and I'm just learning about it here. But it's great that you can rebuild and play in a stadium like that."

Note: It is great that you can ... play in a stadium like Pitt Stadium. True? If you've been taught something about the college traditions at Ohio State, can you please share those with the Pitt leadership? It would be great if one can rebuild a tradition, but you can't.

Priestley has three years' eligibility at Pitt. He and other young players will compete in three home stadiums over the next three seasons --- Pitt Stadium this fall, Three Rivers in 2000 and a $233 million stadium to be built for the Steelers in 2001.

Note: Given the transfer from OSU, that counts as four stadiums for this athlete.

    Given the way the stadiums are being portrayed in the media, how about the:
  • $16 Billion Pitt Stadium
  • $700 Million Three Rivers Stadium, and the
  • $233 million STEELERS stadium.
Let's use inflation adjusted dollar values to 1999 settings and some cost benefit factors to account for the traditions, history, emotions and innate functionality. Once Pitt Stadium is close, razed (if ever) and needed again in a few years, how much is it going to cost Pitt to rebuild a Pitt Stadium on campus? Hospitals will have to be torn down, infrastructure will have to be rebuilt, new code changes are going to be in place. Other NCAA Division I programs made the same decisions, SMU and Univ. of Minnesota, to move off campus and play football games in pro sites, only to need to rebuild stadiums on campus years later.

The above numbers are fictional, but an accounting of the cost of the associated stadiums would be welcomed by anyone interested in doing this analysis. For example, the RAD board has been putting $10M per year into Three Rivers Stadium for the past few years.

Pitt Stadium got a $5.8 Million upgrade to the football training facilities in the past couple of years.

That doesn't seem to bother them.

Note: Editorial, not news.

"I think we're all pretty positive about it," said Junko, who redshirted last fall and has four more years to play.

"There's understandably a lot of nostalgia here, but football is football."

Note: A redshirt freshman is "pretty positive." Not so convincing. These players do want to keep their scholarships remember.

The football is football statement is insightful. Football is a game of space, time and relationship. Pitt football played off campus in the Steelers stadium is going to hurt many relationships. Pitt football practiced off-campus is going to hurt many relationships student-athletes, and cause many troubles with their management of space and time.

Football is football, and in no time frame should a team give away 4-miles of yardage. Home games at the Steelers stadium are going to be road games for Pitt players, Pitt students and everyone else except club-box owners.

Football is football, and practices on the South Side for Pitt players are going to be another major waste of time for travel, and a poor utilization of space, given the 80-yard fields. The time, space and relationship factors for the UPMC football compound don't make sense for the student-athletes.

The UPMC facility make sense for a few doctors who desire to hang out in secluded, river-view offices when they are not in surgery at a hospital elsewhere.

PG Editors Shame

Shelly, the hope for you is that I'm going to assume that the above story assignment was a trap that the editors of the PG baited for you. That is my guess.

I'm sure that the PG sports and news editors do not have the guts to cover this story as it should be investigated and reported.

John Craig, we saw you on the Sunday Morning TV Interview show on KDKA with Pitt's Chancellor. All hopes were dashed after seeing your interview skills and follow-up questions that grey winter morning.

Thursday, March 18, 1999


Pitt's Athletic Slogan: Commitment, Teamwork, Pride

Commitment is needed to the spaces of Oakland. Commitment to listening is necessary. The athletic director needs a commitment to his role as a keeper of Pitt's sacred releationships.

Teamwork is needed between Pitt and our Pittsburgh citizens. Pitt has a poor record in teamwork.

Pitt is one of Pittsburgh's biggest players. If we were to make an illustration with a deck of cards and the card-game of bridge, Pitt and UPMC would be much like the Ace and King of Spades when it comes to our assets these days. There is no doubt that Pitt's star is burning brightly in these times, now overshaddowing the rest. In the game of baseball, the power-hitter of the line-up bats fourth and is affectionatly called the "clean-up hitter."

Without naming names, Pitt is pulling a Barry Bonds. Pitt is being a spoiled player who chokes in the big-games and cranks in the glory and successes when the game is already in the bag. Pitt's TEAMWORK, to use its own slogan against itself, sucks when it comes to the larger picture items in our community.

In the case of the LTV site and the building of the football practice compound, Pitt isn't needed. The developments at the LTV site is, as a basketball player might put it, a "slam dunk." The LTV site is going to be developed in seven years, says the URA Executive Director at a City Council meeting. Pitt can ride the bench at this game and Pittsburgh can still pull out a mighty victory. The LTV site can be a lock.

An official from UPMC, T.D., said at a South Side Steering Committee Meeting in January 1999 that other developers for the site are not going to be found. That miss-information can not be allowed.

What other players did not get to develop at the LTV site because of UPMC's and Oxford's arrival? The URA isn't going to case back-up plans and court developers for places already being developed. The URA puts all its eggs into one basket and gives the cold shoulder to others who might be interested in the site.

If asked, the URA won't have a clue as to who else might be possible developers and tenants for the LTV site, as in their mind the first best bet already got axed too, and that was River Boat Gambling. Well, if River Boat Gambling went sour, UPMC became part of the next best option. The trend is from sour to bland -- and we must go back to the drawing board and get what works and what was ordered.

At the initial news event, UPMC was to take nearly 30-acres of land at the LTV site. Now UPMC is going to get nearly 20 acres. The early projection can be called a speculative land-grab.

UPMC downsided the space plans by casting off the chaft. UPMC only needs to buy the most valuable spaces. The skinny, odd-shaped parcels of land that no developer would acquire are now worthless. No developer would want a tiny, odd-shaped spec of land that sits right next to UPMC as UPMC would be an overbearing neighbor.

At a public meeting, the developer of another portion of the LTV site, said something very interesting. His off-hand comments that came in the question/answer period of his presentation was at odds to what UPMC and the URA seem to say. The residental builder said that it would have rather have had a larger portion of the site to develop. He hinted at the fact that if more of the site was made available to his company, then they would certainly want to develop those sections as well.

An obvious alternative to the sale of land to UPMC for a football practice compound is a second sale of space to Contential. Perhaps more apartments can be built on the site, or perhaps a condo development can be built by the same company, and rather than all rental units, these units can be made available on a for-sale basis.

Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs hit the ball and played a great teamwork game. is an ace in our is he greater good of Pittsburgh by tacking the bigger problems in our society. Teamwork isn't selfishness, and moving a football practice site to that prime river location is total selfishness displayed at its best. Pitt should not cash into a prime spot (such as is the case with the LTV site). Pitt wants to run the final yard and score the touchdown. Pitt can score big-time with a new complex on the river's edge of the Mon at the LTV site.

Pride is won and earned from respect, not acquired by bullies.

The past victories that served to buid Pitt Pride are feelings. Feelings can't be easily bulldozed into a new facility, such as the Steeler's New Three Rivers Stadium. As Pitt Stadium closes, so too goes the intangibles of Pitt Pride.

Tweaking a development to placate special monied interests is the pathway to ruin.

Wednesday, March 17, 1999

Operational Consensus with the Body Politic and Democracy

More on Consensus:

Operational Consensus with the Body Politic and Democracy

The local planning forum on the South Side operates under a charter of a strict CONSENSUS. Just to be clear as to what they mean by a "strict consensus," understand that any "nay" vote breaches progress in that area of discussion. The vote can be 11 to 1 and the lone voter wins. All votes for action need to be unanamous.

As a result of this charter of "strict consensus" the group is super selective as to who gets to speak and even more selective as to who gets to "join" and "vote." Only the safe survive.

Those who are of a different mind-set and who might "rock the boat" do not get to participate.

One of the recent actions of the South Side Forum was the formation of official rules as to who could join and who could not. These rules were enacted in January 1999 due to some pressure some months prior that a new seat was needed for another interest group. Suprise, a new member wanted in, and gee, there were not any official rules as to who they could let in and it had to go to committee for a many-month delay.

The rules as to who can get into the South Side Forum and who can not are now official, but since the rules are not posted on the internet or in the library, it has been hard to comment on them. Perhaps a later draft of this Position Paper will show the rules of membership.

The Consensus Cloud Boggs Down the Threat of Most Actions

The act of participation is another issue worthy of evaluation, in and of itself, because of the looming consensus cloud. The body needs a consensus to act, so any issue that isn't sterile, safe and sure to win by a land-slide is not addressed. Any "hot potato" issue is not welcomed.

The South Side Forum meets a lot, and votes a little. It counts the number of meetings they hold, so as to bolter its image as a cog in the wheel of community input. A score-sheet as to the number of meetings held is not a benchmark of one's success.

Not only are "hot" issues avoided, most of the time all issues are avoided. The South Side Forum has members from other organizations, so it can deflect most direct contact with the outside world to a member organization, as a "more appropriate move." For example, when the people of Hazelwood who are fighting against the proposed SUN Coke Plant wanted to speak to the South Side Forum, they were instead given an audience with the South Side Community Council. Having a fire-wall to the community seems to be make the organization more important, like the Supreme Court is to the Judicial branch of government.

City Council can not rely upon a group of this nature for serious planning issues and critical advice. The South Side Planning Forum should be a voice, but not a voice that is heard above any other and to the exclusion of others.

Questions and Answers about the South Side Planning Forum:

  1. How are members appointed?
    Advisory bodies typically are appointed by the mayor, council or both in most states.

  2. How do they approve things, i.e., do they vote under rules of parlimentary procedure?

  3. Are they subject to Open Meeting or Sunshine Laws?

Exposing a ruling clique who pretend to operate out of "consensus"

By definition, one can have a "Consensus" on an issue and NOT "unanimity." In everyday talk, a "strict consensus" is not the same as a "general consensus." The South Side Planning Forum's charter calls for a "strict consens" and this means a vote with a unanamous result. Generally, unanimity is often the goal of consensus, and sometimes a consensus is actually achieved.

In the real world, the whole idea behind a consensus is the commitment to hear every objection, and to bring people with differences together through mutual persuasion. Any process which dismisses "nay-saying" is not consensual. It doesn't matter whether the nay is dismissed by overriding it (majority rules), ignoring it, or "preventing" it through careful selection of the discussants.

The Courtroom Consensus Example
Lawyers try to get their point of view represented on the jury before the case is presented, but the opposition also gets a shot at this. One of the best portrayals of arriving at consensus is Sidney Lumet's film, "Twelve Angry Men." To "expose" the planning forum, let's re-visit that film's message and lead a post-screening discussion with clear reference to how things are done in this town.

Sanford Smith

  • Is the South Side Planning Forum an "official" organization?

  • Is the South Side Planning Forum subject to public meeting laws?

  • How, exactly, are the members appointed to the South Side Planning Forum.

  • Is the South Side Planning Forum strictly volunteer work, or is there public money involved, even for expenses?

    Face it, the South Side Planning Forum is city government's private way of getting around public accountability. City Council needs to see this portrayal of the methods and the facts of the matters.

    The South Side Planning Forum is full of U.R.A. cronies and volunteer buddies squeemish for area development and climbing the power ladder. This group does work that city council is supposed to do.

    The Accountability Trail is a Long and Winding Road

    Ask the Pitt Football Coach about this project and he'll say, talk to the Athletic Director.

    Ask the Athletic Director at the Univ. of Pittsburgh about this project, and he'll say that one should talk to UPMC.

    Ask UPMC about this project, and they say they have little to meet with me about as things are not final yet. Because things were not final, all the more reason to talk, so I said in December 1998. "Let's talk before things are final so we can build together rather than ditch what you wanted to build from the outset." It was clear what UPMC was going to do and not do from day one. The UPMC folks then get to the point and say, go talk to the URA.

    The URA folks say, go talk to the Local Planning Forum. For what it is worth, I do think that I did get my invite to the discussion table with a Steering Committee because of my badgering of the people at the URA.

    The South Side Planning Forum says, "Take up your issues with one of the Forum's members that would represent your concerns." Yea, Right.

    The South Side Planning Forum says, "Take up your issues with the LTV Steering Committee." Well, the Steering Committee meetings are closed affairs and they meet only when they want to meet. Most meetings are to listen to new plans brought forth by the URA.

    Three Tests of Political Fairness by Lani Guinier †††††† ††††††††Ä Does the system mobilize or discourage †††††††† participation? ††††††††Ä Does the system encourage genuine debate or †††††††† foster polarization? ††††††††Ä Does the system promise real inclusion or only †††††††† token representation? In most debates about democracy in action, issues such as Race-conscious districting often surface. While race-conscious districting does not do well on any of the three tests above. Fascism, such as displayed with the system of leadership deployed by the South Side Planning Forum, does worse. No election structure alone can be perfect for all. However, we need to consider alternatives to single-member districts -- in particular, to consider systems of modified at-large representation, which promise politically cohesive minorities both potential electoral success and reasonable influence throughout the extended political process.†††††††† ††††††††There are many such alternative systems, but here I will focus on a scheme used in corporate governance called "cumulative voting." Under cumulative voting, voters cast multiple votes up to the number fixed by the number of open seats. If there are five seats on city council, then each voter gets to cast five votes. But they may choose to express the intensity of their preferences by concentrating all of their votes on a single candidate. ††††††††Let's return now to the three tests sketched earlier, and consider how cumulative voting fares in mobilizing participation, encouraging debate and fostering inclusion. Cumulative Voting and Participation ††††††††If voting is polarized along racial lines, as voting rights litigation cases hypothesize, then a system of cumulative voting would likely operate to provide at least a minimal level of minority representation. Unlike race-conscious districting, however, cumulative voting allows minority group members to identify their own allegiances and their preferences based on their strategic use of multiple voting possibilities. ††††††††Instead of having the government authoritatively assign people to groups and districts, cumulative voting allows voluntary interest constituencies to form and regroup at each election; voters in effect "redistrict" themselves at every election. By abandoning geographic districting, it also permits a fair representation of minority voters who do not enjoy the numerical strength to become a district electoral majority or who -- as is true of Latinos living in dispersed barrios -- are so geographically separated that their strength cannot be maximized within one or more single-member districts. ††††††††In these ways, cumulative voting would likely encourage greater electoral participation. Cumulative Voting and Political Debate ††††††††Cumulative voting also looks good as a way to encourage genuine debate rather than foster polari-zation. Cumulative voting lowers the barriers to entry for local third parties since supporters of such parties can concentrate all their votes on the candidates from their party. With barriers reduced, minority political partes might reclaim, at a newly invigorated grassroots level, the traditional party role of mobilizing voter participation, expanding the space of organized alterna-tives and so stretching the limits of political debate. ††††††††Additionally, locally-based political parties might then organize around issues or issue-based coalitions. Since the potential support for the minority political party is not confined by a geographic or necessarily racial base, cross-racial coalitions are possible Cumulative Voting and Inclusion ††††††††Cumulative voting is more inclusive than winner-take-all, race-conscious districting. Cumulative voting begins with the proposition that a consensus model of power sharing is preferable to a majoritarian model of centralized, winner-take-all accountability and popular sovereignty. ††††††††Cumulative voting takes the idea of democracy by consensus and compromise and structures it in a deliberative, collective decision-making body in which the prejudiced white majority is "disaggregated." The majority is disaggregated both because the threshold for participation and representation is lowered to something less than 51 percent and because minorities are not simply shunted in "their own districts." These changes would encourage and reward efforts to build cross-racial electoral alliances. A Vision for the Future ††††††††The principle of proportionality, or "political fairness," is molded by the hope that a more cooperative political style of deliberation and ultimately a more equal basis for preference satisfaction is possible when community-based minority representatives are reinforced by structures to empower them at every stage of the political process. Ultimately, however, representation and participation based on principles of political fairness are also an attempt to reconceptualize the ideal of political equality, and so the ideal of democracy itself. ††††††††The aim of that reconstruction should be to re-orient our political imagination away from the chimera of achieving a physically integrated legislature in a color-blind society and toward a clearer vision of a fair and just society. In the debate over competing claims to democratic legitimacy based on the value of minority group representation, I side with the advocates of an integrated, diverse legislature. A homogeneous legislature in a heterogeneous society is simply not legitimate. ††††††††But while black legislative visibility is an important measure of electoral fairness, taken by itself it represents an anemic approach to political fairness and justice. A vision of fairness and justice must begin to imagine a full and effective voice for disadvantaged minorities, a voice that is accountable to self-identified community interest, a voice that persuades and a voice that is included in and resonates throughout the political process. That voice will not be achieved by majoritarian means or by enforced separation into winner-take-all racial districts. ††††††††For in the end democracy is not about rule by the powerful -- even a powerful majority -- nor is it about arbitrarily separating groups to create separate majorities in order to increase their share. Instead, the ideal of democracy promises a fair discussion among self-defined equals about how to achieve our common aspirations. To redeem that promise, we need to put the idea of proportionality -- meaning political fairness and the notion of taking turns -- at the center of our conception of representation. ††††††††Lani Guinier is a professor law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a former attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. This article is adapted from an essay that originally appeared in The Boston Review. For more on Professor Guinier's ideas, see her book The Tyranny of the Majority (Martin Kessler of the Free Press). ††††††††"With cumulative voting, any substantial minority, by casting all its votes for a single candidate, might win a representative. But a smaller ethnic, religious, political or geographic minority would have an incentive to find allies and build coalitions. . . . . Cumulative voting may not be a panacea for the knotty problem of giving minorities -- any minorities -- representation. But it's worth exploring." Ä Don Noel (Hartford Courant political columnist), Hartford Courant, June 30, 1993 ††††††††"Disagreements over the Voting Rights Act are more than arguments over principle. They are also intensely political. Republicans are coming to believe the act enhances their prospects by safely concentrating minority voters in a few districts, thereby minimizing their influence elsewhere. Meanwhile, Democrats are discovering that well-regarded white liberals are redistricted out of office to make way for minority politicians. ††††††††"There is, however, a new approach that could defuse much of this conflict. The Voting Rights Act might be amended to encourage use of a practice known as cumulative voting. This practice would achieve the goals of the act just as effectively, while addressing the concerns of its detractors." Ä Richard Pildes (University of Michigan Law School professor), New Republic: "Gimme Five: Non- Gerrymandering Racial Justice," March 1, 1993. Table of Contents † ____________________________________________________ Copyright © 1998 The Center for Voting and Democracy. All rights reserved. PO Box 60037, Washington D.C., 20039.† Contact information.

  • Tuesday, March 16, 1999

    Mayor visited South Side Slopes for a neighborhood meeting

    Slippery Slopes

    Shared Perspectives

    The South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association's addressed Mayor Murphy on March 16, 1999. Another perspective adds to our insights. The theme, tone and major thrust make great advice.

    Snips from the Address to Mayor from Slopes Association

    I raised my voice, made calls to the media and phone calls to PWSA, spoke to the South Side Planning Forum and still nothing has happened. Mr. Mayor, it is this pattern repeated over and over which disturbs us and brings us here tonight. Our neighborhoods are falling down around us, either by degrees or in events like the landslide, and we cannot get the city to respond appropriately, no matter what we do.

    Most of us are here tonight because of a pervasive feeling that the city has abandoned, and forgotten its neighborhoods.

    Neighborhoods have made Pittsburgh someplace special -- a liveable city and yet the City behaves as if neighborhoods are no longer a priority. One look around and it appears the money interests are remaking an amusement style center city; here in the neighborhoods we are not amused.There is the sense, Mr. Mayor, that we are last on your priority list.

    We are concerned, and frankly some of us are angry.

    As taxpayers and voters our sincere hope is that you will apply your vision, energy and resources toward revitalizing our neighborhoods.

    Neighborhoods are the true foundation of our city, and although the challenge to rebuild them is great and complicated, the rewards are truly long term. You know, houses in my neighborhood were standing when Forbes Field was built. Houses in my neighborhood were still standing when it was torn down and Three Rivers Stadium built. And when Three Rivers Stadium is torn down and two new stadiums built my neighborhood will still be there. Neighborhoods are the long-term investments in our city.

    Pittsburgh has few showcase neighborhoods to attract potential residents. It is clear to us that together we have to put similar energy into neighborhood planning and revitalization so we can bring people back to city neighborhoods not just for shopping, recreation, and entertainment, but, indeed to live. We are willing to devote our time and talents toward improving our neighborhood for the long run, but how can we get you to focus your leadership on the neighborhoods?

    .... The deputy Fire Chief told us smaller trucks were not possible. We carefully researched the issue and determined that smaller trucks were indeed available. Other community groups said they had pursued the issue with no luck, but after cooperation from the Firefighters Union and a public hearing, we were promised a smaller pumper truck. There is an underlying issue -- and that is what we are most upset about. Why did we have to spend hundreds of hours of community volunteer time to get a service we already dearly pay for? And why is the city so reluctant to permit input from citizens groups?

    .... We are doing all we can with our own time and money. ...

    The list of specifics asked, among other things:

  • Will you move the purchase of a smaller fire truck along faster?

    ... (snip) ...

    We want to hear your vision for our neighborhoods and we want to see your tenacity in applying your vision to help us create a showcase hillside community, a true neighborhood that will continue to stand the test of time.

    ... (snip) ...

  • Public comment to PPS School Board

    A Three-Minute Address to the School Board and Administration of the Pittsburgh Public Schools

    Who: Facts
    My Name is Mark Rauterkus. My family and I live at 108 South 12th Street, on the South Side of Pittsburgh.

    Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you tonight.

    Contact Information:
    My phone number, home and office: 412-481-2540.

    My email address is, Mark@SportSurf.Net.

    The WWW site for the things I'm going to address tonight is: http://SportSurf.Net/backyard

    Open Invitation for Feedback to All
    I am very interested in hearing from any one, (board member or otherwise) regarding these issues. Do not hesitate to call, ask questions, raise objections. By better filtering and refining the ideas, we sharpen our perspectives and knowledge base. That insures a victory.

    Goals for Tonight's Presentation:
      In the 3-minutes of time I'd like to:
    • introduce myself and
    • present a "commercial" of sorts.

    First the Commercial.
    The commercial is to hype a position paper that is being released on the internet. IMHO, the School Board and the educational community is going to fall in love with the ideas presented within this position paper.

    You are going to enjoy the position paper for all of the right reasons.

    1. From what I can tell from my vantage point -- on the outside looking in, some of the ideas raised by the position paper make for a perfect match to the district's mission. I do, by all means, need your assistance here. I want to not only dovetail this plan upon your plan, but we want to make a complete overlap.

      I want to bond our ideas together. I want to forge later drafts of this position paper with your help so we all can work from a position of strength. This benefits the kids and the community and the district.

      The ideas within the position paper can be made to surround and fully-support the mission of the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

        Issues of Overlap with School Board and the position paper:

      1. The ideas make great financial sense.
        • Let's address a $50M burden looming large in our future.

      2. Let's champion community and school interactions.

      3. Let's leverage some inter-governmental cooperation with some the school district, some identified matching state grants, some capital investments and discussion brewing with Pittsburgh City Council and our Citiparks Department.

      4. Finally, let's get everyone on the same page and for the same reasons -- and then let's deliver a package to UPMC, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt -- that is just too good to refuse.

    2. A wide-open window of opportunity exists, and we need to greatly accelerate some of these discussions. I need some high-priority attention from the board and some of the key administrators.

      You'll see that time is a critical factor. And, we need to have some high-level conversations and meetings within the week. I have had the chance to chat with the AD, the principal at South High, the AD at South High, some others in the district and with a school board member tonight. Furthermore, the Business Manager, Mr. Fellers came to a South Side meeting at my request, so he has this on his radar screen, so to speak. But these are more casual conversations. Now we need to get very serious.

      The citizens of Pittsburgh have put in a call to City Council for a Public Hearing on these matters. That meeting should be scheduled this week and held in a month's time. In short order, I'm going to be asking each of you to begin to network with your counterparts on City Council and to attend the Public Hearing. That would be a great show of brilliance for you all to be there, with the citizens and with City Council.

    3. The dirty parts --- there is no one-page executive summary.

      The position paper is hundreds of pages in length. There are many concept maps. Large sub-sections of philosophy are tied within the points and justifications. To absorb these plans, each of you will have to apply about 6-8 hours of study. And, each of you are going to have to interact with chunks of this plan. Your want to raise objections, questions and offer refinements to various positions and elements of the vision.

      You're going to have to get to the internet, or, pickup a 3-ring binder, and slot a full-day of time to examine these issues -- in the very near future.

      Can the district make copies of this position paper available to its staff and board members once I deliver a Master edition, please? The photo-copy assistance is greatly appreciated.

      To spend a day of your time on issues I bring before you at short order is a tall request, granted. Please do it, because it is your duty.

      Do it for duty, and do it because we are talking about tens of millions of dollars.

      Do What?

      Before peeking at the WHAT, let's get to a big question you all have the right to ask. It is fair to wonder, "Who in the heck am I to ask for such big favors."

      What is in this for me?

      Often in this world, sad to say, it is not what you say, but who you are when you say it. An introduction is in order.
      Pittsburgher -- and Passionate about Education
      Presently, I'm a stay at home dad. My sons are age 4 and 1. My wife and I met while she was getting her Ph.D. at Northwestern. We moved her from Chicago. She is a professor and director at a medical setting.

      My blood has been boiling about this cause since November. I've been working on this every day since then. I'm fortunate as I've got some flexibility, time, and experiences to pound the pavement on this.

      We live on the South Side, just 2 blocks from South High School. Our kids are going to go to school some day soon.

      I'm the son of a long-time Pittsburgh Public School teacher. My dad is Leo M. Rauterkus -- he retired a few years ago. My sister, my cousin, and my uncle also taught in this district.

      I've been blessed to have two different careers throughout my life -- both on hold while I attend to my kids. I've been a swim coach in six different states, and I've been a sports publisher.

      I've been lucky to coach at:
      • Harvard with Olympians on the team in 1980.

      • New Trier School District, on the North Shore of Chicago -- rated by Town and Country Magazine as the best public high school in America.
      • Ohio University, Bradley University and the Peoria Park District.
      • Plum High School -- where one athlete set a PIAA record as the fastest 200 IM swimmer in the state.
      • Baylor University in Texas. I was a grad student in Education.

      Texas Past
      I hitch-hiked from Pittsburgh to Waco, Texas to begin my year as a graduate student at Baylor. Short story if time permits.

      Publisher of 100+ Sports Books and Multi-Media Titles
      Books on Volleyball, Competitive Swimming, Water Polo, Triathlons, Sports Psychology, Weightlifting, a Flexibility Video, a book on sports inclusion for Hearing Impaired Athletes, Pull Your Own Weight -- self-esteem and body weight exercises.

      The Treasure Within --- handout cover. The philosophy. A companion work by Kevin DeForrest to Sports, Spirit and Soul.

      What is Happening?

      City Council's Control
      Some City Council-people are looking for ways to do things for the little-folks in this city. With "Plan B" everything seems to break in the favor of the corporate folks in development issues, at the expense of the citizens.

      The Jim Ferlo tax on ballplayers is to generate $1M per year, some for a city-parks trust fund. In today's paper read a great idea championed by Dan Onorato who wants to auction parts of the old Three Rivers Stadium, to raise $10M.

      Petition Has Been Filed
      The Citizens of Pittsburgh (49 names were gathered) -- filed a petition to the City Clerk's office last week to call for a Public Hearing on the topic of the URA's sale of land to UPMC on the South Side for a Sports Performance compound to be used by the Pitt Panthers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

      UPMC wants to spend $30M to develop this prime river-front site -- and it isn't going to fit. There are lots and lots of problems with the UPMC plans. The position paper uncovers hundreds of issues about this bogus plan.

    4. One tiny example: The NCAA won't allow its college athletes to share the same facility at the same time with professional athletes.

      I feel that UPMC is trying to hoodwink the URA and the citizens on this terrible deal. Once this plan is understood by some additional people, everyone can see it doesn't make sense. The facility isn't going to happen if we take the time to look at it. Graders and bulldozers have been working at the site since mid-Feb, yet the deal for the land can't occur.

      Slogan: In a hurricane, even turkeys can fly!

      There is so much happening at this time with our city, we need to take a deep breath and be certain that the right projects get done for the right reasons.

      The position paper takes some long-hard looks at the global development picture. We dismantle the bogus plans, and then we must re-construct a better vision. Enter PPS officials.

      The Steelers Need a Practice Facility -- next year even.

      Let's get on the same page -- and put the Steelers into a spiffed up, bubbled, shared with city-kids, South Stadium at South High. There is much, much more to come in the vision as to what is needed, what can be done, and so on. We can expand the Market House concept to include a dynamic place for schools and community to interact.

      We can build a win-win-win solution -- if we have your help.

      Next Stop -- Arm and Arm with City Council
      I'd like to see you all begin to wrestle with these concepts. And, I'd like to have you all come to some positions, that benefit the kids and the district -- by this month. Then we can all go into the Public Hearing with City Council on this with some clear cooperation and much better solutions.

    Aquatic planning process, Pittsburgh, Let's Get Wet Already

    Let's Get Wet Already

    City Council's Pool Fees Fight Means Another 5-4 Vote
    Visualize the kids in Pittsburgh following the debate in City Council on the pool fees, at home in their living rooms, putting on and then taking off their swim trunks, over and over and over again. Thanks for this mental picture, Dan Onarato.

    Jim Ferlo said the debate on the swim pool fees was like a bad tooth ache that didn't go away.

    Trail basis, policy decisions, and compromises aside, this issue of pool fees has gotten out of hand and needs to be addressed.

    Water Over the Dam
    Perhaps the former director of parks and recreation didn't properly address the issue.

    The former Director of Parks and Recreation mentioned that a state grant and some secured funding was in-hand for an overall aquatics programming evaluation in July of 1998 in the course of casual conversations.

    That director has since left the office.

    The RFP and overall-aquatics plan is going to get some attention with Duane T. Ashley, the new Director, appointed by City Council's formal vote on March 16, 1999.

    Jump Start to Aquatics Planning

    The call for the RFP, as hinted at in the Council Chambers in the working sessions in Feb 99 is moving along. Let's get some new energy into this process.

    Chair Volunteers

    Mark Rauterkus, a resident with aquatic experience has volunteered to participate and has been granted a pending role within this planning process. Mark and his family utilize many of the city pools, and he has a keen interest in making improvements. A volunteer role is fine.

    A meeting between Mark Rauterkus and Director Ashley occured in mid-March.

    Concept Map

    Often, The Hardest Part of Swim Practice: Getting Wet!

    Spent time on the swim pool deck and notice that there are days when the hardest part of practice is diving in and getting wet. To counter the human condition of inertia, let's start with a warm-up exercise. Click the button below and send an email message.

    Thanks for your input and concern.

    Questions for Pitt

    Questions from the Alumni Assocation on March 16, 1999

    1. What was wrong with the initial plan sold to Governor Ridge about putting the Convocation Center on the OC Lot? There is parking for 4,500 spaces. If placed on the OC Lot, 700 would be lost still providing 3,800 spaces.

    2. What is the contingency plan? Shouldn't it be in place now?

    3. March 14, 1999 interview on KDKA-TV: Mark Nordenberg was asked by John Craig: "Has there been any market research regarding issues of location, parking, stadium amenities, or is it based on a common sense response?"

      Norenberg: "Yes, it was a common sense response."

      How can the University make a decision of such magnitude without the proper research?

      Shouldn't there have been discussions with season ticket holders and other fans of the University?

    4. If Pitt football goes off campus it has 6 or 7 fewer events that transcend all university groups and return fans, friends, alumni and new people to the university. What proposal do you have to replace these events and showcase our university campus?

    5. What is the driving force behind this thought process -- politics? Harrisburg? City of Pittsburgh? Dollars? Oakland Community?

    6. Between 1982 and 1983, Athletic Director Ed Bozik had a surplus of funds built up from Athletic Department successes (i.e., Football Bowl Games) so those dollars where rechanneled to improve to lower campus (i.e., Library). That $5 million could have been used in the Athletic Department for renovations. Shouldn't the University Administration invest that $5 million back into the Athletic Department? With interest, we would be looking at approximately $20 million.

    7. What were the plans 5 years ago for PITT Stadium? Why does the 1998 Annual Report say that rennovations are scheduled for PITT Stadium?

    8. What were the plans in the 1997-2007 master plan for PITT Stadium?

    9. The University never had a focus as to what the building plans are for the university. What type of future foresight do you have? It is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to devise a long-term viability plan for the University with a master plan, for the entire campus. What were the options considered in regards to PITT Stadium? What has been said to the donors and potential donors in the last 18 months of the capital campaign?

    10. Explain the sense of urgency.

    11. Have attendance numbers been researched? Tulane, who plays off campus, was 11-0 in 1998 and averaged 27,943 in attendance in a stadium that seats 69,028 resulting in a stadium that was only 40% full. Even with a 2-9 season, the average attendance (as a percent of total capacity) at Pitt Stadium was greater than all of the city schools that play off campus.

    12. The following groups use the stadium on a daily basis, not just "6 or 7 Saturdays" per year:
      1. Men's Soccer Team
      2. Women's Soccer Team
      3. Men's Track Team
      4. Women's Track Team
      5. Intramural Sports
      6. Marching Band
      7. Recreational usage for students, faculty and staff.
      What will happen to these groups? Where will they go?

      Veteran's Stadium in Philadelphia was completed about the same time as Three Rivers Stadium. Both were touted as 'state of the art' stadiums. In a few years after the completion of Veteran's Stadium, Temple University moved their games to this new 'state of the art' stadium as a way to jump-start their program. Any University who has ever attended a Temple Football game in Veteran's Stadium would not want to duplicate that same atmosphere at their own stadium. Rutgers played at the Meadowlands and went back on campus because they found out that being off of campus did not work. Why do we think it will be any different here?

    13. Don't tell us you can't renovate Pitt Stadium into a top rate facility as per the previous plans designed for the Second Century Stadium renovations in the mid-90s. From a civil engineering standpoint, Pitt Stadium was built so that it could hold 67,000 people by adding an additional area to the top. Couldn't this be investigated so that we could determine what all of the options are before moving off campus?

    14. By looking for a solution to renovate Pitt Stadium can emphasize COMMITMENT, TEAMWORK, and PRIDE by everyone. Bring in all of our "VALUED PARTNERS" to spearhead this approach.

    15. Reasons to Stay at Pitt Stadium:
      • Construct lodge seating or corporate boxes (refer to the original architectural plans of the min-90s / Second Century Funding). Corporate boxes will pay for themselves. Visit North Carolina and see its 8,000 lodge seat facility within their on campus stadium.
      • Throughout the facility, construct shops, stores, restaurants, and attractions that would be used daily by the thousands of students, faculty, UPMC employees and visitors with in the walking distance of the Oakland Community.
      • Promote our University, Enhance Oakland and our campus and challenge the City of Pittsburgh to improve Oakland as well as the North Side.
      • Challenge the City of Pittsburgh to give us our green space from the Towers to Heinz Chapel.
      • Do not take "College out of College Football."

    16. If Pitt was to play on the North Side, and on a given Saturday afternoon the Pirates are playing in PNC Park at the same time, has anyone thought of the traffic nightmare and congestion getting to and from the game? What road system will be put in place? The Fort Pitt Bridge and Route 28, two major arteries to the North Side, will be closed. How would this impact attendance on the North Side?

    17. Since Pitt wants to be so closely associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers, what would happen with this association with the Steelers have a bad season?

    18. If the Rooney family is such a good partnership for the University of Pittsburgh, why have they never given any money to the University but have instead given substantial contributions to Duquesne University?

    19. What members of the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees have their own vested interest in moving away from Pitt Stadium?

    20. By taking the college out of college football, you rob the identity of the college experience from the students who in the future can return to our campus to connect and reconnect with their family, friends and alumni. You also rob the University of the dollars that would be generated from these future alumni.

    21. The students of today are the development prospects of tomorrow and are the strongest foundation for the University, for without students, there would no longer be a need for a university. The current Student Government President, George Mongell, should be applauded for championing this cause to "Save Our Stadium."

    22. Chancellor Bowman did some great things for the University of Pittsburgh but unfortunately he is remembered as the "Chancellor who fired Jock Sutherland." No matter how many wonderful things are accomplished during your tenure, Chancellor Nordenberg, you will always be remembered as the "Chancellor who tore down Pitt Stadium." Can you live with that legacy?

    23. How much tailgating space will there be on the North Side? Preliminary plans show for two massive parking garages that will not allow tailgating. The restaurants, shops and hotels are being built to make money prior to and after games. They will not lend to an afternoon of college football complete with tailgating.

    24. How and where will pregame class reunions be held on Homecoming weekend when you no longer have a stadium on campus?

    25. The Chancellor has been known to hold pregame events for current and potential donors, at his residence and on the lawn of the Cathedral of Learning prior to all home football games. Where will these events be held to showcase our University?

    26. The Pitt Alumni Association has been actively working on an Alumni Center that was to be used for among other things, pregame football events. Wasn't this part of a long term strategic plan for the Alumni and the university as another way to entertain donors and showcase the University?

    Monday, March 15, 1999

    Microsoft and URL


    Ponderings from Pittsburgh

    Microsoft's grip of the High-Tech Industry Pales to the U.R.A. grip upon Pittsburgh's Development Environment

    The development environment is more than buildings, mortar and blueprints. The grip on the development environment includes ideas, sharing, open communications, and planning.

    The URA's role has escalated into a "super department" in the Murphy Administration.

    Clear examples to the barriers facing competitive viewpoints.

    Liberal Re-Writting Follows from
    The Be Newsletter Volume III, Issue 8, February 24, 1999 article, Crack in the Wall, by Jean-Louis GassÈe explains some of the key points to the "global" problem in the high-tech industry when confronted with the Microsoft domination.

    Microsoft Emotions and Background

    The United States DOJ (Department of Justice) spent the end of 1998 and early 1999 in an anti-trust case against the software giant, Microsoft of Redmond, WA. You're the CEO of a PC OEM, delivering some great news to Wall Street: "In an effort to offer greater variety and performance to the customer, our factory now installs three operating systems on the hard disk -- Windows, Linux, and the BeOS. The reaction has been spectacular. Customers love having a choice of OS, and the press -- from John Dvorak in PC Magazine to John Markoff in the New York Times to Walt Mossberg in the Wall Street Journal -- has heralded us for our bold move. This is a great step forward for the consumer and for the industry. Oh, and by the way, we lost $50 million since we no longer qualify for Windows rebates. But it's a sacrifice for the common good."

    You're now the ex-CEO of a PC OEM.

    Just as Microsoft has huge clout in high-tech, so does the URA in Pittsburgh developments.

    Microsoft has a choke hold on the computer makers, resellers and developers of software. Standards get set by Microsoft.

    Microsoft's Windows pricing practices are closely guarded secrets, so we don't know exactly how rebates are structured. Closely guarded secrets, so too goes the discussions between the URA and developers. In November 1998, the URA and UPMC entered into a "90-day OPEN Discussion Period," (quote from the new conference), but by March 1999, a site plan asked for 100+ days ago that detailed the land desired by UPMC was not forthcoming.

    but we can assume that it works something like this: The total cost of a Windows license consists of a base price offset by a rebate. The base price is set; the rebate is flexible, and contingent on the "dedication" of the licensee. That is, the more you "advertise" the product -- through prominent positioning, expanded shelf space, and so on -- the greater your rebate. The Microsoft quid pro quo rebate within the industry looks innocent enough, and can be a useful tool in a competitive market. But when running a monopoly -- and when it comes to out-of-the-box, consumer-grade PC clones, Microsoft *is* a monopoly. "Prominent positioning" and "expanded shelf space" have little meaning. Microsoft has no interest in getting "more" footage on the OS shelf, because they've already got it all. What interests them -- the only useful advantage they can "buy" (to be kind) with their rebate -- is to ensure that no one else will get any.

    Pittsburgh's re-developments organized by the URA need a measure of competitive pressures to keep down prices of buildings, roads, infrastructure and such. The TIFs help so as to not bankrupt the city's finances. Things are getting developed at fair market value prices by the URA, but the serious issue of concern is not the price, but the project.

    A family that goes to the grocery to discover dog-food on sale at 85% off the regular price is wise to NOT make any dog-food purchase unless it has a dog to feed. The competive price is okay, but the decision process on what to get is flawed.

    The citizens of Pittsburgh and the South Side do not want the region's biggest instituional employer to buy the very best property in the eastern time zone!

    Furthermore, very few developers, architechs, real-estate agents, small-business owners, employees of Pitt or UPMC, health-care workers, contractors and suppliers of Pitt/UPMC, or the city, want to say otherwise. It took a child's courage to speak-up and say that "The King Has No Clothes."

    Pitt and the City are so pervasive at every corner in our village of three rivers that most who would make sensible objections and advance alternative insights are tainted and don't speak up.

    Futhermore, Pitt and UPMC are spiteful, grudge-knowing, adversaries to some. What neutral individual would want to pick a fuss against them, and

    In the business world, "dedication" is measured by Microsoft in a number of different ways. In Pittsburgh, dedication and loyalty points are not scored by smashing apart $30M develoments in popular sections in town by leading employers.

    The BeOS and Linux OS are not installed on *any* PC. If you randomly purchase 1,000 PC clones, how many have any OS other than Windows loaded at the factory? Zero.

    But what about all these announcements from companies such as IBM, Dell, and others? A few URLs are supplied here for your convenience:


    If you parse the statements, Linux is offered and supported on servers, not on PCs. Another IBM story is that installation is to be performed by the reseller on some PCs or laptops, not by IBM at the factory.

    As an industry insider gently explained, Microsoft abides by a very simple principle: No cracks in the wall. Otherwise, water will seep in and sooner or later the masonry will crumble.

    Guarding against even the smallest crack is important to Microsoft, because it prevents a competitor from taking advantage of a phenomenon that economists call the "network effect." The "network effect" manifests itself as an exponential increase in the value of a product or service when more people use it. Applied to a computer operating system, the effect works like this: As more people install and use an OS, the demand for applications increases. Developers respond to the demand, which attracts the attention of OEMs and resellers, who promote the OS in order to sell the apps, which attracts more customers... The key to all this is distribution and visibility -- in other words, "shelf space."

    The URA needs to guard against "wise cracks" and "loose cannons" who might get into the system and then turn up the volume of displeasure on the global operations and project directions. The URA needs to move quickly on development progress so as to not allow time for the citizens to mobilize and oppose any one development. The URA needs to have foot-soldiers in the trenches running planning forums so as to give their local "seal-of-approval" to developments that come down the pike, in any shape or manner.

    The shelf space in Pittsburgh is mind-set and momentum and most of all, media visability. The Public Relations feeding frenzy that was evident at the URA and UPMC event made it impossible to conduct a meeting in the Brashear Association Conference Room.

    As for the network effect, wanta job next year? Keep quiet.

    Bill Gates understands the network effect well. Back in 1983, the market share limitations of DOS was "no problem," Gates said. With the wide distribution we enjoy, we'll get the attention of third parties, and the marketplace will fix these shortcomings."

    Shortcoming! Ahh. If the developments in Pittsburgh have shortcomings, then the project get to churn for another run sooner, rather than later. Lasting value isn't a high priority of the developers. Look at the life of Three Rivers Stadium and The Civic Arena. Who would build wonderful public structures that would have timeless beauty and functionality --- when one can rebuild every 20 years?

    Those idiots who made monuments and classic buildings in Washington DC had better not step foot into Pittsburgh.

    I'm sure that there are some folks sitting in an office building at the URA or Mayor's office trying to figure out ways to justify the demolition of The Cathedral of Learning, slated in the year 2008. Let's build a throw-away football stadium at the site of the old Cathedral of Learning once we wear out the New Three Rivers Stadium and know for sure that the University of UPMC can't co-exist there, due to NCAA rules that the next NCAA Executive Board voted to approve: Samarach, Willard, Fazio, Sherrill, etc.)

    If the Univ. of Pittsburgh football team can't co-exist with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the same facility at the same time, then we'll have to have another development next year to fix these shortcomings.

    If the 80-yard practice field is proven to be a crutch in the team's preperation, then we'll demand a 120-yard field and the fans will support a new practice home and the associated cost over-runs for the new stadium project.

    This puts statements by senior Microsoft executive Paul Maritz in perspective. In reaction to my claim that Be wants to co-exist with Microsoft, Mr. Maritz said (as quoted by Joseph Nocera in Fortune Magazine):

    "[Gassee is] articulating his strategy for entry into the operating system marketplace. But on the other hand, I know that Be has built a full-featured operating system, so what I believe he's doing here is outlining his strategy about how he will initially co-exist with Windows and, over time, attract more applications to his platform."

    Mr. Nocera interpreted Mr. Maritz's interpretation thus:

    "In other words, Gassee's spiel is little more than a trick intended to lull Microsoft. But Microsoft isn't so easily fooled! Microsoft will never ignore a potential threat to its Windows fortress, no matter how slight. The software giant may be in the middle of an antitrust trial, but -- as Andy Grove says -- only the paranoid survive..."

    The entire article, part of a court house diary, can be found at

    Industry sages such as T.J. Rodgers, the CEO of Cypress Semiconductors, as well as venture capitalists aligned with Microsoft, criticize the Department of Justice's intervention in the new Pax Romana we're supposed to enjoy under Microsoft's tutelage. Don't compete in court, compete in the marketplace, they say.

    I'm a free marketer myself; I left a statist environment for the level playing field created by the rule of law in this, my adopted country. A free market is *exactly* what we want. One where a PC OEM isn't threatened by financial death for daring to offer operating systems that compete with the Windows monopoly.

    We started with a thought experiment. We end with a real-life offer for any PC OEM that's willing to challenge the monopoly: Load the BeOS on the hard disk so the user can see it when the computer is first booted, and the license is free. Help us put a crack in the wall.

    For information on list archives and subscription requests see:
  • Sunday, March 14, 1999

    The UPMC Plans, as they were prepared by UPMC are Not Desired

    "The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so of the other sources of our experience. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it."

    (John Stuart Mill - Utilitarianism)

    Wednesday, March 10, 1999

    Development Mantra: High Quality Buildings and Large Commitments

    Development Mantra: High Quality Buildings and Large Commitments

    The U.R.A. Director always seems to speak about projects by boasting of the "high quality of the buildings" and "large commitments" from the prospective owners. Great attributes. Great sound bites, Safe statements. But much more is expected.

    Some important attributes of the developments in Pittsburgh are not getting lip-service. These points matter and they go way beyond the quality of the building materials and if Union Labor was employed for the construction.

    With the UPMC Sports Performance compound, one glaring shortcoming is community access. Other glaring shortcomings exist too.

      Let's raise the benchmarks of public development discussion by including:
    • a keen sense of fitting into the environs,
    • programming,
    • quality of life,
    • promises of passion opportunities for all.

    The Soup Simmers

    Is it soup yet? was a famous marketing line from TV commercials. Where's the beef? was another slogan that asked a question.. Both sound-bites make sense in a critical way when looking at Pittsburgh developments.

    Catchup company, Heinz, must be sitting in numerous offices on the North Side and downtown and be thinking that it is missing out on the developmental gravy chain.

    Post Gazette Headine on March 5, 1999

    Heinz cooking up more local plans

  • See the site for more details.

    Quote: City redevelopment officials are considering declaring as "blighted" the section of the North Side riverfront where the Heinz warehouse would go. That means the project would be eligible for certain financing tools, such as Tax Increment Financing.

    Heinz wants, and the URA might try to deliver, six acres of land next to the Heinz plant for expansion. The present owners of that land might not want to sell it. So, Heinz runs down their neighborhood to a blighted state, so it can expand with state and URA aid.

    Gov. Ridge, "engaged in some very serious discussions with H.J. Heinz for several months involving substantial assistance. "Heinz gets credit for being a part of the history of the region," one that involves trashing your neighborhood, getting state aid for corporate welfare expansion.

    Fix What You've Got

    Heinz put some effort into the Sara Heinz House. That place needs your expansion energy.

    Partner with Your Inspired Local Sites

    Perhaps Heinz should look into its own neighborhood to partner with existing and inspired providers of high-quality experiences.

    How about a Heinz section in the National Aviary?

    How about a Heinz sponsored exhibit at the Children Museum, sorta like the one with Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood with lots of hands on exhibits and nostalgia?

    How about a Heinz sponsored wing to the Childrens' Museum, and allow them to expand across the street into the old and now empty Buhl building?

    How about "The Science of Heinz" with an association with The Science Center. They do do food demonstrations at the Science Center already.

    How about a partnership with the Andy Warhol site? It could be a great exhibit, sorta like Chicken Soup for the Soul of Catchup Eaters.

    How about a partnership with the Heinz Natural History Center in the Strip District? Duhh. Should have thought about that one before you decided to go open up a discussion about Heinz plant tours.

    Heinz, it takes a village. Having the employees spread around the city, from Station Square to the USX Tower to the North Side plant is not a bad position. And, if you need to get your own building, by all means, go get your own building. But, don't go get a hand-out from the Governor to do so for you.

  • WTAE makes big mistakes in its reporting

    Radio Talk
    Miss Info on WTAE
    Tidbits atat Odds with Truth
    Pitt Stadium Upgrades Have Happened Recently
    Pitt has not put any money into Pitt Stadium in many years. Wrong. Pitt has spent a lot of money in recent years on the Pitt Stadium experience.
    The football training rooms upgrade done about 1997 cost $5M.
    Pitt spent money and turned the corner on a number of issues for game day enjoyments of the fans, such as tailgate parties, a huge #12 jersey, shuttle buses.
    Pitt spent a lot of money on signage, estimated cost, $2M.
    The Pitt AD needs to be well liked and needs to build better relationships.
    The Pitt AD does not care if he is popular and well liked. Wrong. The Pitt AD does have a job to do. The Pitt AD does have to make some tough business decisions, and be held accountable for those decisions. However, since one of the largest points of philosophy in sports is to improve upon relationships, it is most important to be well liked.
    The Pitt AD is a fund-raiser. People do not give money to people they do not care for. If people in Pittsburgh, students, alumni and corporate folks included, do not like the new Pitt AD, the program is sunk.
    Pitt Friendly Set-Up of the New Three Rivers' Stadium
    If Pitt does not have to spend a lot of money on the stadium, it can spend more money on the program.

    Tuesday, March 09, 1999

    Pittsburgh's History of Hard Work

    Councilman Sala Udin's illustrated a snapshot of history with his introduction of the Pittsburgh Works legislation on March 3. Our city has been about Hard Work. Sala's grandfather worked in a mill on the South Side.

    • Ordinary Hard Work
    • Union Town, Second to None
    • Our parents and grandparents locked arm and arm and were together

    Our Legacy

    The legacy of hard work runs throughout the entire region. What follows is more of a look at the South Side, and it builds upon that regional mind-set. What makes each part of this region different is due to our typography, but we are more similar than not.

    The South Side Is NOT the North Side

    The South Side's quality of life rings true with a sense of community and neighborhood balance.

    Contrasting South Side to North Side
    South SideNorth Side
    Brew HouseAlcoa's Corporate Headquarters
    BeehiveThe Clark Bar
    Carnegie Science Center's WWII SubStation Square's Good Ship Lollipop
    Flats & SlopesMexican War Streets
    South Vo TechPerry Traditional Academy
    The Market House Gym, Oliver Bath House,
    South H.S. Stadium
    (old as dirt and still kicking)
    Three Rivers Stadium
    (RIP: 1970-1999+)
    Video Crew visits for WQED specialBlimp visits for Monday Night Football
    City TheaterPublic Theater*
    Consensus Planners propped by URALiving Wage Activists
    The MonThe Allegheney River
    SandcastleFox Chappel Yacht Club
    Great view of the new County JailGreat view of the new Convention Center
    East Carson StreetAllegheney Mall
    The Mon Valley ExpresswayI 279
    Fixed income pensions to wives of steelworkers who forged a nation.Million dollar salaries to NFL Steelers playing an after school activity.
    ShootzPenn Brewery
    Too bad The Public Theater is leaving the North Side for Downtown. And as for the Shootz and Penn Brewery comparison: shrug. You can't win them all.

    The Heart needs Heart!

    If you look at the heart of Pittsburgh, and begin at its center, you'll not see another section of town that has any balance like the South Side.