Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Row office reform and Dan O on Bowyer

Our Chief Executive, Dan Onorato, was on the Jerry Bowyer show and spoke about his bill on row office reform. The bill is presently in committee and should surface to a vote soon. Until the vote on council, we're not sure where the people stand. This vote, by the way, only gets the question to change the row office onto the ballot.

Dan's is a 10-to-2 plan. We end up with two row offices. This is the next logical discussion. The second step in home rule is here. Home rule -- there is an interesting point that gets kicked around in the city. We don't have home rule when we have two oversight boards. So, we've swapped out row offices for oversight boards and Over Lords.

The so-called machine, so says Dan, is something that makes him chuckle. He said, "I don't know how much machine is left." We'll find out.

"A lot of those things are from a prior era. It really does not exist. Most of these jobs are civil service jobs. You can't bring in your friends. Merit hiring is in place."

Today's machine is around, but not in the employee ranks. However, the machine is in the funding, campaign ranks in terms of donations to campaigns. The machine is in place in terms of the media coverage too, I expect.

Running from duties! Wear these 'sneakers' -- sneakers.

Store.Reebok.com Monthly Coupon If you are going to recess and run from duties, might as well be prepared with nice shoes. Sneakers are also good to play upon the lack of soul.

Throwing an anvil to a sinking swimmer


Oh my gosh. I was always good at recess. Gym class and firedrills were other favorite classes of mine. Plus music too.

The city council at 12:30 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2004, pulled out a rule to recess its meeting. Only the chair can end the recess. Now we wait. Closed door meetings are to happen again, perhaps?

If you don't know what the heck I'm talking about -- join the rank-and-file club. We all don't know for sure, sadly.

The Act 47 vote to switch out the ordinances was about to go down. The 5-4 vote from the summer was about to be a 4-5 vote.

I went to speak before city council today and I asked for "self-reliance." Rather, when the going go tough, they ran and hid. Gene Ricciardi asked for the recess. He holds the gavel. So now, the citizens wait. The workers wait. The tax hikes are looming larger.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Carpenters rally on Friday with Anne Feeney

Invite from a friend:
Rally at the Carpenters' Hall this Friday evening, 12/03/04. All are welcome.


At 7 to 9:00 pm, Friday December 3, 2004 at the Carpenters' Hall, 3rd floor, 495 Mansfield Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15205

Nationality rooms at the Cathedral host holiday open house, Dec 5

I'll be at a birthday party for a special 6-year old, but you might check it out. We could put some holly on the sign, Fire Mayor Murphy.
The University of Pittsburgh's Nationality Rooms are traditional classrooms created from 1938 to 2000. Rooms, including Irish, German, Hungarian, Lithuanian, and 22 more, are decorated in holiday style traditional to each culture, and truly are magical for the young and old alike. The Holiday Open House is Sunday, December 5, from noon to 4; food, crafts, and tours will be offered by guides in ethnic dress.

Transportation blog needs a dozen worthy volunteers and contributors

This current events blog outsources chatter on transportation to a sister blog, http://Ratsburgh.blogspot.com. The issue of transportation stretches from roads, potholes, river-traffic, light-rail extension, PAT's doomsday budgets, Mon Valley Toll Road and bikeways, to name a few.

We need a number of others willing to chime in on these matters, posting pointers and insights, at that blog. Interested? Willing?

Seems as if the special session to the legislature called for by both Jake Wheatly and Don Walko isn't happening in 2004. Snip from the New Pgh Courier:
Steve Mishkin, spokesman for House leader Sam Smith, R-Punxutawney, said the session is over and the governor is to blame.

“The administration would not do a supplemental, they wanted permanent taxes and fees as a temporary fix,” he said. “The governor can use surplus Intergovernmental Transfer Funds to tide PAT and SEPTA over. There’s $250 million right there and he doesn’t need legislative approval.”

In a letter sent to Rendell Nov. 12, Smith noted the legislature held off on discussing transit funding at Rendell’s request until an audit of SEPTA and PAT was completed. “Having just indicated (Nov. 22) that you received the final audit report Nov. 12, I am concerned that it has not been shared with either the House or Senate Transportation committees, or leadership as far as I know,” said Smith. “This information may have been helpful as we sought to reach an agreement on temporary funding for public transportation.”

Smith said he remains committed to working on further dedicated funding for mass transit early in the next session and urged Rendell to use the funds at his disposal, which he would have to do anyway since his proposed taxes would not yet be available.

“If using any of these funds truly creates a secondary problem, I propose we consider any transfer as a loan, which can be subsequently addressed during the general budget process,” he said.

PAT spokesperson Judy McNeil said the staff is assembling its public comment report for the board of directors and has put the process in motion to increase fares, cut service and layoff 500 employees by March.

“With nothing happening in Harrisburg, there is not enough we can do administratively to close a $30 million budget deficit,” she said. “On (Nov. 21) SEPTA sent out 1,400 pink slips. So it’s pretty gloomy around here.”

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Too many secrets, closed door meetings and double-dealings

Rendell's double-dealing by the Trib's Brad Bumsted: It was one more public relations nightmare for Gov. Ed Rendell. ... Rendell had a secret plan for a commuter income tax.

Only with the legislature's blessing could a commuter income tax be pursued. But the legislature won't bless anything Tom Murphy champions. This plan wasn't solid for the city nor the region. But even if Murphy had figured out how to cure cancer, The Murphy/Rendell/O'Connor plan would not get a reception in Harrisburg.

It's obvious that Rendell and/or the Murphy administration were angling for a loophole in the law. These guys try to wiggle past the letter of the law. And, at the other end of the spectrum are others who would rather value the spirit of the law and do the best things on the basis of a higher calling.

House members insisted on the provision because they don't trust Rendell. (And Tom Murphy too.)

A disaster for Rendell is that his credibility - and his top staff's - was already damaged in negotiations with legislative leaders during the final weekend of the session. Senate Republicans aren't sure how they can deal with Rendell in the future based on how he botched things with what they say was a disorganized agenda with shifting priorities.

Rendell and Tom Murphy are good together. They broke campaign laws together. They spin each other's lies together. A special on the city cable tv shows Rendell giving a big check to the city and Rendell says how he is unaware of anyone in the city raising the white flag and leaving. None. I don't know how he can say that with a straight face.
Stephen MacNett, counsel for Senate Republicans, said he hadn't seen such a poor effort since the tail end of Democrat Gov. Milton Shapp's administration (1971-79.) He called it "a shameful performance by the front office."

Speaking of Comcast, Rendell was demanding a huge annual tax break for cable giant Comcast in Philadelphia.

The flap over the conference call was an example of "what we've been dealing with. He (Rendell) says one thing, then he's running around doing something else.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Does this slogan work for you?

Sandlots Over Stadiums

Could it be more clear? Comments welcomed.

Senior Showcase Night -- a western PA tradition

Seniors talk here is not about blue-hair bingo players. Rather high school seniors who want to scramble for a football scholarship for college.

This outfit, www.akrecruiting.com, of which I know nothing, is holding a Senior Showcase Night on December 7 at the Pittsburgh Indoor Sports Arena (up Rt. 28). More info contact AK at 724-826+1331 or email - akrect at salsgiver dot com.

Swimming is so simple next to football.

Saw DU's head football coach at the All-Star game at Cupples today. By the way, the city kids scored 44 points and the north team (mostly from the burbs but also included North Catholic) had zero. I don't think that the scoreboard was broken, but it is very old. (Snicker as to the scoreboard's age.)

South Side's football stadium -- move Pitt's spring game here!

The PG's education reporter covered some of the fix ups at the South Side's football stadium, owned and operated by Pgh Public Schools. The article gives some depth, but sadly, was only put into the public eye after most of the construction has been completed. Too late. I knew this was to occur and happen, but the general public didn't. Wonder what would have been the story had this news hit when the news of school closings hit?

For example, the K.O. (Keystone Oaks) coverage on its stadium happened before the building. It has had plenty of buzz and coverage.

Article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/04332/418120.stm
"With all these changes you've done, what have you done for the facilities players actually use?" Tokarski said. "And there are things they could be fixing in the athletic program that don't cost a dime."

At the most recent school board meeting there was a conversation about the overtime pay that also got a lot of ink -- after the fact. Some janitors make more than $100k as they work a bunch of overtime. The board member, Randall Taylor, said that there are lots of things that we as board members can't get to. He made the point that there are things that go on that he can't see or or hidden by design, and its his job to set policy and be aware. As the district is so big that board members have troubles, then we all have troubles.

There are many things that occur in a big district that don't get attention. Both good and bad things happen. Part of our problem is the fact that the district is so large. I think we'd be better served as citizens and taxpayers if we split up the PPS into a few other districts. And, I'd love to see one of the splits be horizontal -- cutting the 9-12th grade education into one highschool district.

I have a lot to say about the stadium, but let me only sping one bigger item today. The Pitt's SPRING Football game should be played at South's Cupples Stadium. I would like to see a "spring sports sepectacular on the South Side." Parade from the practice facility, block parties, all sports getting a bit of a showcase in the neighborhoods, street festival, tailgates, graduate activities, game on a Saturday afternoon in the spring.

Pitt has played its game in a high school venue in the past, in the burbs. Pitt has been kicked out of Heinz Field in the past too. Pitt's spring game crowd is thin, not like the sell out at PSU. And, Pitt needs to do more with an open house at its sports performce place and community efforts in the neighborhoods of Oakland and South Side.

Finally, two other points about the PG article. I called the writer and left her a voice message of thanks plus:

A) The story behind the story is the fact that the Pgh Public School's Athletic League should dissolve and the schools should merge with the WPIAL.

B)What's going to become of South Vo Tech High School? I'd love for that faciltiy, with its fixed-up stadium, be the home of the new Pittsburgh Park District. Take all the offices of County Parks and Rec, Citiparks and School Athletics and Afterschool, and put them under one roof -- ASAP. Then bring in the offices for other rec associations as well. We need to use South as a hub for community. More.

I'll be at the stadium shortly, with the sign, Fire Mayor Murphy, to mingle. Was there last week for Perry's playoff game too.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Doug Shields and Shield Laws --- psst --- wire taps?

The boys on Grant Street have their nose bent out of shape as some of their secrets came into the PG with Tim McNulty's lead story.

Just a few days ago I wrote an obscure position plank that concerned this topic. Funny how it was pulled into the limelight so quickly. Platform.For-Pgh.Org's plank on journalist and shield laws.

I graduated from Ohio University with a Journalism degree. I'd never make the threats I heard from City Council President Gene Ricciardi today. Unreal. He's "going to keep this on the front burner." Murphy too came out to rant about an investigation.

If I'm elected mayor, I'll help the folks in the media do their jobs. They have a duty. We need them to stay awake and alert. The Fourth Estate has a most important job.

Furthermore, there should be no secrets. I don't want any secrets. These guys are working in the public sector and they are talking smack about trust.

PG Editorial, Rendell on the line. A reporter does the public a favor by listening in.

Rendell: "If he was going to unethically eavesdrop, he should have eavesdropped on the whole conversation."

Not to be outdone in the annals of folly, Council President Gene Ricciardi, Mayor Tom Murphy and other council members then called for an investigation into how the call came to be overheard by the reporter.

Creating a community task force focused on African-American Achievement.

At 6 pm on December 2, a consortium of parents, teacher, staff, community leaders and members are gathering at the Kingsley Association, 6435 Frankstown Ave., for the Greater Pgh Alliance of Black School Educators' informational community forum, Collective Voices: A Call to Action for Addressing African American Achievement.

Followin a reception, the community forum will explore the gap in African-American achievement. The goal is to create a community task force focused on improving African-American achievement.

Parents, prepresentatives from community, schools and faith-based groups as well as local political leaders are invited to attend.

RSVP to 412-665-3980. Hope to see you there.

David at the Public Hearing about Act 47 changes

Comments of David Tessitor at City Council Hearing
on the PA Legislature's Act 47 requirements on Monday, November 22, 2005

Council members: You honor me today … by proving me right as you have brought to fruition my most dire predictions over the past decade. This Council, the Mayor, and the Allegheny Conference, a.k.a. Pennsylvania Economy League, have doggedly pursued one subsidy after another for real estate speculation. Now with the City on its knees, you are hellbent upon continuing real estate speculation subsidies while placing the burden for you ways upon the average citizen.

I have watched as you have overseen the dismantling of the City. I have heard Councilman Peduto express his desire to see the City eliminated and it looks as though he and the Allegheny Conference will get their way.

In reviewing the proposal before you, I see you removing much that makes the City a unique urban community. In doing so, you make it harder for the City to compete, not easier.

Let us look at the purchasing provisions. First, surrendering to the County is not any step forward — the County is actually worse off than the City, it just hasn't hit the fan yet. Second, deleting anti-sweat shop provisions is a clear statement that you are inviting sweat shop competition with our fair practice American businesses, some right here in Pittsburgh. Maybe you should turn our purchasing over to Wal-mart instead of Allegheny County.

But you are going to do what you are going to do. So, let me argue in the alternative that if, in the face of the crisis you have precipitated, you implement onerous changes that undermine the urban product, then, at the bare minimum, you must protect the City by predicating the changes upon them existing only as long as the City remains in its fiscal crisis and placing in your legislation a sunsetting provision that returns the present requirements and arrangements to full force upon the City regaining solvency.

In the meantime, I implore you to stop subsidizing the real estate speculation. The Allegheny Conference will undoubtedly argue otherwise, but they have not been elected to run the City. The only time it stood for election as the initiator and proponent of the Stadium Tax, they were defeated 2 to 1 in the city and 8 to 1 in the surrounding counties.

Thank you

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Nameth, Dorsett, Cash

Joe Nameth, Tony Dorsett, and Swin Cash (US Olympic / US Post Office) all gathered at the Macey's Thanksgiving Parade.

I've started a VIP page at Platform.For-Pgh.Org to chart celeb endorsements and efforts to secure those statements. This has gotta be fun.

Bob The Builder held up the Lincoln Tunnel on his trip to the city last night as he had to be folded to fit. Seems he had left his ''Easy Pass Card'' in his pocket. (Matt L's (Ohio U) joke).

Musical tunes were generally fitting and well done.

The spirit of America is alive indeed. This great country, great land.
Another tune: Free to dream, million hues of color.

Don't like the recorded music however. It is interesting to watch to see what is "live" and what is not. That's tension I could deal without. Early songs were more about America and later about Christmas. <;/

Floats: Clifford, the big red dog, follows the city's leash laws. Nice political statement.

Maps matter from a Go Blue state big M state.

University of Michigan site on maps of election: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/

In addition to that traditional red-blue map of states, these political scientists give you a more realistic way to look at the election based on population vote, along
with some other options.

Sprawl's Ugly Side on a day to feast

Farmer harvested corn; neighbor sowed anger. Interesting story in the PG. Plus, the reporter covered it as a story. Even the headline does not give away the outcome.

Hats off again to great law enforcement efforts. Fantasic! Good news on prevention.

The story behind the story is about sprawl. Live in the city. Stay away from the pesky, loud farmers. Nothing like the din of growing corn to drive you up the wall.

In other matters, the story of the Shaler couple in an apparent murder-suicide shows how things unfolded without the necessary protections. We need to have a watch list that works. This is part of the state's role and duties -- protection. One's home needs to be safe from intrusion.
Shaler couple found dead in apparent murder-suicide When police arrived, they discovered the front door had been kicked in, and found the body of Sheryl Burkhart, 33, and her husband, Barry Burkhart, 46, in an upstairs bedroom. Both had been killed by gunshots.

Except for forced entry at the front door, Morton said there didn't appear to be a struggle.

Chauncy's closing

Eight indicted in drug scheme at Chauncy's: "
'It is apparent that the operators of Chauncy's bar-nightclub cannot and will not control the patrons and the persons attracted to the vicinity of the bar to the extent that they terrorize, ruin its peace and safety and good order, making it a miserable, fearful and dangerous place to visit,' wrote Zappala's staff."

A Station Square night club, ripe with fights, weapon violations, LCB complaints, and other headaches, was with a pad-lock. Closed.

I don't have any problems with taking people to jail. If there is an unsafe area, that should be closed, of course. But, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.

The flip side of the coin to the closure is the thugs, drunk drivers, drug pushers are now in the neighborhood bars. Having the rowdies in Station Square is fine with me.

I live on the South Side, just 12 blocks from Station Square. Now I'm a half block away from those itching for a fight, flashing weapons, pushing drugs and causing other headaches.

I tried to illustrate the right way to handle matters in Pittsburgh a few years ago with another matter. Recall the wake of a fire in R.I. when indoor fireworks caught a stage curtin with a band's show. That caused many deaths at an over-crowded venue. You don't have BBI (Breau of Building Inspection) storm the place with the police and close the place, kicking everyone out in one swoop.

Rather, no others get to enter. Plus, you turn off the music, turn up the lights, stop the sale of alchohol. Keep the joint stay open the rest of the night, selling coffee. Don't dump a mob of drunks needing bathrooms, yanked off about a spoiled night trashing the entire vacinity.

Plus, a big shake down takes a dozen or more officers and empties the streets of the force.

Chauncy's should have to stay open, selling nothing but soda and coffee. Punish them, not us. Well, seems that two of the managers are in jail too. That doesn't mean that the place can't keep its doors open. Perhaps 10 or 30 others lost their jobs with this total shut down. I hope some were clean.

Furthermore, hat's off for being proactive. Let's choose to run with preventative measures. We need more undercover cops in these places. Take the drug pushers to jail. If we have bullies, any given night, pick em up and have them cool off in a jail cell for 12 hours.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Citiline Apartments on DU's campus

Duquesne Univ. wants to purchase Citiline Apartments. The mayor stood up to the sale. Coverage in the PG.

Mayor Tom Murphy testified that a Duquesne University apartment building should stay on the tax rolls and not be ruled exempt from Pittsburgh ...

I got into politics years ago as the sale of 35 acres of the South Side Works site was about to be sold to UPMC for a sports performance complex that had 4-new jobs, $100k bargain basement price per acre, and smaller-than regulation football fields that broke the NCAA rulebook about shared facilities among college and professional teams.

The plans for the South Side called for flex office space.

The mayor pushed for the UPMC site and its rental agreement to the Steelers. Then he goes around and cries the blues that the non-profits are taking so much land. That's two-faced, at best.

The biggest problem with the non-profit land grab isn't our fine educational institutions. The big problem is the URA.

Should DU buy that property. Sure. Should it be taken off the tax rolls. No. Do DU folks care about 10 new city police officers? Heck no. They've got their own police force.

The big nut to watch about Citiline is the deed transfer tax.

Turnpike Tolls and a travel story with toll workers.

My sister and her family from the eastern part of the state are in their mini-van heading over the hills to Grandmothers house for our Thanksgiving. When I see her I'll ask for the $12.00 saved in tolls.

The toll takers are on strike today. Everyone gets a free pass. Another free skate is expected again on Sunday for her trip home. Might as well hit her up for $24. I'll keep four quarters in my pocket just to be prepared to make change from her $25 bill.

Would be nice to see our nine members on city council working the toll gates today. Think of today as a way to replenish the 'rainy-day fund' as the PA Turnpike Commission is out $1-million that would have been generated.

How long does the strike need to last before new employees are hired. Or, before we start to slide into the hole regardless of the pay raise? Feel free to do the math and post it here. Or, post it elsewhere and give a pointer here.

Speaking of grandmothers, when mine died about 15 years ago, her childhood neighbors from Dunkirk, NY, came to town for the funeral. Margaret Rauterkus was in her late 80s. She lived as a child in NY and my dad as a boy would often go there in summers. The nice family in NY had heard of her passing, got into the car and drove to Pittsburgh. They drove up to the PA turnpike gate in Monroeville and said, "We're here for the funeral of Margaret Rauterkus."

The PA toll worker knew exactly what to say. She gave the visitors turn by turn instructions of how to get to the funeral home. The toll worker, my little sisters friend, had been to the funeral home the prior night.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

What ever became of Pitt's Enviromental Law Center?

At one time, say 5 years ago, a lawyer with a connection to Pitt opened up an enviornmental law clinic. One of their first issues was to help with the citizens' defence in the fight to halt the Mon Valley Expressway (Tollway).

What happened to that clinic / center?

Didn't someone get into some hot water about those conditions?

Web URL, names, email pointers, phone numbers ware welcomed, either in the comments or directly: Mark.Rauterkus at Gmail dot Com.

I need to learn more about trespass laws and environmental cases with the Platform.For-Pgh.Org.

Building Neighborhoods By Bulldozing Blight

As a licensed Realtor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, "building neighborhoods" is one of my responsibilities. And as a city Realtor with great pride for my adopted hometown, I try to do whatever I can to improve the "quality of life" in and around our fair city.

That said, I was interviewed by a prominent TV Reporter, KDKA's Paul Martino, for a piece concerning the demolition of some blighted properties, so people can invest in nice homes in improving neighborhoods.

With assistance from city Councilman Gene Ricciardi's office, one long-vacated home in the Allentown neighborhood was razed. Another, next door to the first, is slated for demolition in the first quarter of 2005.

With luck and more than a little diligence, those active in their communities can help improve their neighborhoods by communication and good will.

Look for the report on Channel 2, KDKA TV, sometime soon. There's a chance that they may want to return to film a "speed boat full of garbage" near another of my listings.

Monday, November 22, 2004

My comments before City Council in OPPOSITION to Act 47's wrath of ordinance changes

Today, Nov. 22, City Council hosted a public hearing at 3 pm that was NOT put onto the city's cable television station, for some unknown reason. The meeting should have been on the government station as it was very important.

Jack Shea spoke just prior to my statement. He finished his statement with a comment about wanting a 9-0 vote, against the Act 47 package.

My name is Mark Rauterkus. My family and I reside at 108 South 12th Street. Pittsburgh's South Side. My home on the internet is at Rauterkus.com.

I have to take exception to Jack Shea's mention of wanting to see a 9-0 vote. The lock-step boosterism is a mentality that got us into this situation. These guys are all of the same party. We need someone around here to break ranks. We need to value dissent.

We need people like Jack and Tom Flaherty, our city controller and leader of the county's Democratic Party, to say Tom Murphy is a big part of the problem and that he should resign.

We don't need a 9-0 vote. Rather, we need to value some disent.

Today I speak more from a parent's perspective. We, the people, are baffled, confused, betrayed and angry. Our public sector is a heavy burden, an anchor, that is pulling us down. We are sinking in our hopes, faith, dreams, and aspirations. We must tell another generation of our kids, and mine are here with me today, that they can't get to where they want to go in life by living here.

We, the people, want to see and need self reliance.

As a parent, an at-home parent, I'm going to take care of my kids. I'm not going to farm out my children's welfare. As an engaged parent, I am not going to choose to stay in a city with absentee elected leaders. I want you to step to do the job and be self-reliant too.

I spoke here a number of months ago and gave away four badminton shuttlecocks as a prop to encourage the ones to vote "no" then and "ruffle feathers."

I spoke four years ago and said "All the king's men and all the king's horses won't be able to put our city together again." We've had a massive fall. Those others have proven that they can't do it on their own. The city needs all the people working together. This plan stinks.

The crossing guards -- they need to write tickets.
The RAD Tax shift -- that antiquated RAD Tax (sarcastic point) is wrong.
The mix tax shift away from schools is bad.
The worst is the deed transfer tax hike.

Ten minutes ago we stepped out of the chambers and I took my son to the bathroom. I told him something that applies here too. You're old enough now. I don't need to wipe. Clean up after yourself.

We teach our kids this. City council is expected to do the same for itself.

We, the people, need to see our city council become more self reliant.

24% of businesses in the state can't find enough qualified workers.

Insights from a friend's email and associated article in mainstream media.
Among the 50 states, Pennsylvania ranks 46th in the percentage of its
labor force with education levels beyond high school. Currently, only 3% of working-age Pennsylvanians are enrolled in part-time, postsecondary education, compared with 6% for the country as a whole.

What are the 47th, and 48th states? Obvious MS, and AR are at the bottom.

Labor Pains: Closing the 'Skills Gap'
November 22, 2004; Page A2

PITTSBURGH -- One conundrum that continues to vex the U.S. job market is this: Workers can't find jobs, and companies can't find workers.

A Labor Department report released Friday on employment trends by state showed that .... (see the comments) ....

Oversight with or without malice?

This blog, Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events, is one of the most vibrant in the blog-landscape. It was part of the PghBloggers.Org site, until this weekend.

Wonder why the blog got zapped?

Another area where the light needs to shine, but the switch is to "off" is the city's cable television department. I was looking forward to seeing the public hearing, on cable. It didn't get done. Funny business. Non-open ways.

Wonder why the public hearing wasn't on the city's government tv station?

So, I had to go there and testify with my kids in tow.

Toss the poor fellow something, but don't make eye contact

An opinion cartoon has the above caption being stated by an older white guy in a suit with briefcase and "non-profits" -- talking with a pear wearing older white women. Then is the City County Bldg in the background with a wire leading to a two crate desk and the mayor sitting there reading budget and a big bucket with "GIVE" sign. The city skyline is in the background.

BTW, a web search on the PG site by Tim Menees doesn't lead quickly to this image. ??

The only problem with the cartoon is that Mayor Murphy is sitting on the sidewalk. Rather, Murphy isn't in the public eye. He isn't on the front lines. He isn't doing 'retail politics.' The Mayor is in a hole. He is accessible.

Editorial: Pgh children left behind by Marian Wright Edelman

No child should have to worry about surviving the walk to and from school each day, but ...

The efforts on the part of bus companies and escorts are laudable, but they are not a long-term solution for Homewood, and they do nothing to address the hundred of other Homewoods scatter across the country.

We must insist on making the safety and needs of children America's supreme moral value and demand investment in the most vulnerable instead of the wealthiest among us.

We have to look more deeply at why so many of our neighborhoods have become like Homewood and devolved into place of drug dealing, brutality and lost purpose.

We've got a bully problem in the city. The biggest bully has an office on Grant Street.

Folks, called a, " Dismal failure"

Ferlo and Wagner voted no.
Schools got raped.
Not reform.
Oversight impotent and lightweight.
Today, the city is in worse condition compared to a year ago, due to Mayor Murphy and the oversight boards.

Those are the words of Gene Ricciardi, City Council President, on KQV on Monday AM. Gene voted for the Act 47 plan. Gene has never called for the resignation of Tom Murphy.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

PA's new clean energy bill

See the comments for the text of a press release.

Jeopardy, the shows from Pgh to air shortly

My son went to see the Jeopardy show from Pitt's campus on October 10. He's been waiting to see those segments. He figures that they'll begin to air on Monday.


From another source, Chris L, of YC of PA.
Imagine if your State Representative or State Senator walked into your house, opened up your strongbox, removed some money, and placed it directly into his own wallet. Well, disturbingly, state legislators are going to attempt to vote themselves a huge pay increase, which achieves the same effect. Unless you and other concerned taxpayers act now, this week state legislators will vote themselves a 20% pay increase that they don't need or deserve, especially when we're the ones paying for it. Consider the following:

State legislators are paid $66,203 -- each. A few big shots get more, with the House speaker and Senate president pro tem hauling home $103,347.

As reported by the Harrisburg Patriot-News, state legislators get an extra $126 per day stipend just to show up for work. We also give them a car and insurance -- up to $650 a month -- plus mileage. We pay for their health insurance and provide an annual cost-of-living increase, which there salary automatically goes up with inflation.

State lawmakers increased their pensions by 50 percent three years ago. They already make 51 percent more than the median household income in Pennsylvania. And unlike many state residents, pay nothing toward their health insurance.

If their salary is increased to $80,000 or more, Pennsylvanialawmakers would zoom up from having the fourth-highest legislative salaries to the No. 2 spot, behind California's $99,000, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Unlike members of Congress, state legislators are not forbidden from earning outside sources of income in addition to their legislative pay, and many do.

Pennsylvanians were just socked with a higher income tax rate, and we are paying increasingly higher property taxes--thanks to the very politicians who want to take still more of our money to line their own pockets. Working families cannot afford this outrage!



Speaker of the House John Perzel
(717) 787-2016

House Majority Whip Dave Argall
(717) 787-9024

House Appropriations Chairman Brett Feese
(717) 787-5270

Rep. Sam Smith
(717) 787-3845

Senator Robert Jubelirer
(717) 787-5490

Senator David Brightbill
(717) 787-5708

Senator Jeff Piccola
(717) 787-6801

Friday, November 19, 2004

Allegheny County Libertarian Party Elects 2005 Board Officers

Press Release
Libertarian Party of Pittsburgh



November 20, 2004

Pittsburgh, PA - The Libertarian Party of Pittsburgh (which serves Allegheny County) announced the results of its internal election for its 2005 Board of Directors. The 2005 board, a healthy mix of senior and newer members, will officially take office at the end of final 2004 regular meeting on December 15, 2004. The 2005 board member are:

* Timothy Crowley - Chair
* David Powell - Vice-Chair
* Henry Haller - Secretary
* Richard Loether - Treasurer
* Mark Rauterkus - Member at-large
* Thomas Gillooly - Member at-large
* Jerold Gloekler - Member at-large

Tim Crowley, Henry Haller and Rich Loether are the most senior board members. Each has served the Libertarian Party in various administrative and activist capacities for many years. Henry Haller was the 2002 Libertarian Party Lt. Governor candidate. Tim Crowley also serves as the Western Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania.

Dave Powell and Mark Rauterkus are the newest Libertarian Party members to serve on the board. As a 2004 at-large board member, Dave Powell played a key role in starting a Libertarian Club at the University of Pittsburgh. Mark Rauterkus is a welcome and recent convert from the Republican Party. Before his recent efforts to seek private solutions to closed Pittsburgh recreation facilities, Mark was a candidate for the 2001 Republican nomination for Mayor of Pittsburgh.

In 2005 the LPPGH board will focus efforts on increasing party membership, adding to Libertarian voter registrations, running candidates for local offices, assisting local university libertarian groups and general party building activities.

Libertarian Party of Pittsburgh
P.O. Box 71333
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

The Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the United States, in Pennsylvania and Allegheny County. It runs more candidates than all other third parties combined.

Nearly two dozen

By one count, there are nearly two dozen candidates seeking elected office for the bench. Seems like there is about to be a mad rush with people hoping to be judges.

Glad I'm only going for the Mayor's office as the field is more thin.

Four years ago in this time, I was beating the bushes to try to recruit opponents for the Mayor's race. Now my strong personal advice to others to toss their hat into the judge races -- or that of city or county council.

Come Live Over Here -- two lists of urban top spots

This list is nice, but not mine. Not that I have a list, yet. But, it is mind food for travelers.
Discover Pittsburgh
Project for Public Spaces (PPS) - Placemaking for Communities - The 20 Best Neighborhoods in North America

1. Granville Island, Vancouver, British Columbia
2. East Village, New York, NY
3. North Beach, San Francisco, CA
4. Camden, ME
5. Coyoacan, Mexico City
6. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, PA
7. The Plateau, Montreal, Quebec
8. Kensington Market, Toronto, Ontario
9. Center City, Ponce, Puerto Rico
10. Fells Point, Baltimore, MD
11. Lower Garden District, New Orleans, LA
12. Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL
13. Lake Street, Oak Park, IL
14. 23rd Street, Portland, OR
15. South Beach, Miami, FL
16. Federal Hill, Providence, RI
17. Downtown Northfield, MN
18. Chautauqua, NY
19. Venice Beach, CA:
20. Adams Morgan, Washington, DC

Around the world in 20 places:

A few of our favorite neighborhoods abroad

* Arbat Street, Moscow
* Asafra Beach, Alexandria, Egypt
* Downtown Christchurch, New Zealand
* Fez Souk, Fez, Morocco
* Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
* Le Marais, Paris, France
* Miraflores, Lima, Peru
* Muslim Quarter, Kunming, China
* Neal's Yard, London, England
* Old City, Dubrovnik, Croatia
* Old City, Krakow, Poland
* Old Delhi, India
* Old Havana, Cuba
* Otavalo, Ecuador
* Pedestrian Center, Copenhagen, Denmark
* Pedestrian Center, Freiberg, Germany
* Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland
* Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland
* Yemenite Quarter and the Carmel Market, Tel Aviv, Israel
* Weekend Women's Market, La Paz, Bolivia

One of my sites at CLOH.Org is "Come Live Over Here" -- and it is getting rusty around the edges. No much effort has been given there in some time, sadly. Oh well.

Bail out hits hardest at --- take a guess --- those who don't vote.

The kids are getting crushed again. This time the blow comes from Harrisburg. The new bailout for the city, still in the wind, is going to hit hardest against the school district and the kids of our city.

The RAD tax has been an on-going source of $4-million to the PPS (Pgh Public Schools). Gone. Send that money to Mayor Murphy and the city.

The tax rates are shifting. For the consumer / citizens / taxpayers the rates are not shifting. Rather the shifts come in that the percentage given to the schools is less and the amount to the city and Mayor Murphy is more. This is a one-two body blow too as it hits in two different flavors. It's all in the mix.

Then comes the crossing guards. Mayor Murphy ran away from that duty. He fumbled to the school board. In the past this had been a 50-50 deal. Murphy went to zero as per the budget a year ago. Now the crossing guards are fully the responsibility of the schools. Wrongheaded.

Crossing guards need to work for the police department. They can write tickets. Or, they used to be able to have law-enforcement capabilities.

We just build a new school in Homewood and there are people pulling out of that place as it isn't safe getting there. The last thing we need are fewer police and crossing guards.

By the way, the Mayor's Commission on Public Education was shameful. The A+ Schools effort is still a joke.

Next we'll see a reverse on the reversal. Dr. John Thompson had expected to raise taxes. Then he took a reading of the board and got the message. He said this week that there won't be any new taxes in his 2005 budget. Now Harrisburg is smacking the schools on repeated fronts.

The Homeland Security grant for $3-million should be made to $8-million and given to the Pgh Public Schools. Is there some under-handed state money due to arrive to PPS's budget?

Then there are the foundation folks. They used to provide $4-million to the schools. The mayor pulled their chain and ended that to great fanfare three years ago. Well that money crept back to the schools recently. But, now they are being dragged in part ty Dr. Trueheart of the Pittsburgh Foundation to the table to pony up $6-million a year.

Everyone around here needs to get back the their knitting. The foundations need to do foundation work in nonprofit ways without a threat of taxes. They need to help in the schools and not run the city swim pools. The mayor needs to stop stealing from others (foundations, schools, Homeland Security, Harrisburg, parkers, suburban residents). The schools need to do their thing without getting yanked around.

This is a total mess. And, the fix is so easy. But we can't heal with these dunderheads.

Stevens out and time to join the NAAC

Trib coverage of NAACP election. New leader said, "My No. 1 (priority) is to build the membership base."

Moss is the director of Naomi's Place, a transitional housing affiliate of the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church in East Liberty. Naomi's Place assists single mothers suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness.

Moss said she also will focus on job training and education.

'Our people are gravely unemployed,' she said. 'We're going to form new partnerships with the government and CEOs of companies that pull the purse strings in this community for economic development.'

Where is that NAACP membership form?


Producer Jude Pohl is pleased to announce the opening of his latest
production, THE USO CHRISTMAS SHOW, at the Perry Como Dinner Theatre in
Canonsburg, Pa. The show will open on Friday, November 26 for eight
performances only. Dates are: Friday & Saturday, Nov. 26 & 27; Friday,
Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 3, 4 & 5; and Friday, Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 10, 11
& 12.

THE USO CHRISTMAS SHOW provides a trip back in time to the 40's and World
War II when Hollywood stars went overseas to entertain the troops, with old
favorite songs like: "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "Boogie Woogie Bugle
Boy," "Paper Moon" and "I'll Be Seeing You."

Starring in THE USO CHRISTMAS SHOW are Gary Baughman, Karen Hanes, Lisa
Weiss and Leigh-Anne Yost. Musical Director and accompanist is Carol Karl
with percussion by Roger Dimit.

Because of the nature of the show (similar to The Bob Hope Christmas Shows),
Pohl is inviting all military personnel, Active Duty or Reserves, to come IN
UNIFORM for free. He will also offer a special discount if they choose to
bring their families. He does ask that they make reservations since seating
is limited.

The Perry Como Dinner Theatre is located in the Canonsburg Elks Ballroom,
diagonally across the street from the famous singing statue of Perry Como.
On Fridays and Saturdays, dinner is served at 6:30 with the show starting at
7:30. On Sundays, the dinner will be served at 2:30 with the show at 3:30.
Price of the dinner theatre package is $32 and is all-inclusive.

Reservations are absolutely required and several performances are already
filling up. For additonal information and/or reservations, please call JUDE
POHL PRODUCTIONS at (724) 746-1178.

Dr. John Thompson, another prediction comes true

Looks as if Dr. John Thompson, Pgh Public School's Superintendent, is going to get a new contract and sustain his position.

I'm fine with an offer of a contract extension. And, I was fine with the lack of action a number of months ago as well. Be calm. Be patient.

A number of months ago a few including Rev. John Monroe, pitched a fit and folly about the position and the person.

I had good expectations then, and told many that Dr. Thompson was going to stay and would be offered another contract, all in due time.

Furthermore, it is great to hear that the school budget is NOT going to raise taxes. It is of interest to see how that news of no new taxes is tied with such closeness to the news of contract extention talks. Humm. I see direct links.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Photo content for the PennFuture's e-calendar and screensaver

A collection of beautiful scenes from around Pennsylvania, urban, suburb, rural and wild are welcomed. See www.pennfuture.org for this year's version.

If you have beautiful Pennsylvania photos that you would like to donate to this project, please submit.

Preferred image size is 1600 x 1200 at 72 dpi, saved as a .TIF file.

Submissions should be sent to taylor@pennfuture.org

Deadline for photo submissions is Monday, November 29th.

Troma's Lloyd Kaufman at Pitt this Friday

Lloyd Kaufman, Troma President (TOXIC AVENGER) and author of MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE is coming this Friday, November 19th, 2004, at 5:30 PM at Room 501 of the Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Forbes Ave, University of Pittsburgh.

FREE and open to the public!

Lloyd Kaufman: "Make Your Own Damn Movie!"

Entertaining and informative advice from the producer/director/actor who has
done it himself (Toxic Avenger, Tromeo & Juliet), and runs Troma, the oldest independent production company in the world!

Troma has a loyal fan base and gave stars such as Kevin Costner, Billy Bob
Thornton, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert DeNiro, Dennis Hopper, Dustin Hoffman
and the South Park creators the chance to get a start!

With 30 years of experience with independent films, Lloyd can show you how
to make a movie, even if your funds are tight. Don't miss this FREE
interactive event that already taken campuses across the country by storm!

Everyone is welcome, so spread the word!

Don't just dream about making movies, do it!


We just talked about this last night

Trib covers special election for PA Senate listing some possible Dem candidates.

I expect to enter that race as a Libertarian.
PA Senate Map - smaller
Official announcement(s) expected December 15, 2004.

Click the map to see a full sized image that is more readable. Thanks Chris.

Homespun Ponderings about Electorial College

The first Homespun Symposium question: Is it time for the U.S. to end the Electoral College? If so, in favor of what alternative system? If not, why is it still relevant and beneficial to the nation?

I'm a huge fan of expanding our democracy and making a much more open public sector process. We need large measures of accountability. Our system is frail and ill. But, I don't want to mess with the electorial college. I'd say keep it as it is for the next 10 years or so as there are many more important things to tackle first.

I don't care about the pimple known as the electroial college. Rather, I care about the cancer that strickens our overall wellness in terms of (small 'd') democracy.

We should insist upon ballot access changes. In my city, the old parties get to put candidates onto the ballot with a fraction of the signatures on the petition vs. those in minor parties or as indies. Ballot access is a big, worthy issue in Pennsylvania.

We should insist upon a new entry on all elections of individuals: None Of The Above. NOTA! If candidates had to race against each other, and outscore NOTA, then we'd be much better along in terms of our public service. The 'lesser of two evils' dilemma goes out the window.

I'd be a strong supporter of the removal of the single-party lever. Yep, we still got them. And, lever-puller data should be made public at each polling place. I'd like to know how many people in each polling place voted with one action. I think that reporting could be very insightful, until those levers are removed.

Plenty of other great ideas exist as well. They are all going to be blended into my Platform.For-Pgh.org as I build a case for elected office in 2005. Referendums, percentage votes, and retention votes for authority appointees make great sense and should be enacted before the E.C. is scratched.

Another reason for keeping the E.C. -- Iowa and New Hampsire. A campaign is a dance. We've got voters in those areas, and others, that take their added responsibilities with great seriousness. Retail politics can thrive with today's system at certain, early periods. Without the E.C., candidates wouldn't hit the other areas much. The overall dance would change greatly. Meltdowns like that of Howard Dean might not unfold. Candidates could just set up in studios in major media cities.

PA Flag
Back in Pennsylvania, I am NOT in favor of moving our election day to a sooner period in the presidential primary time line. We shouldn't vote in a snow storm.

If anyone wants to inject democracy into their everyday email discussion groups, check out one of the other projects I'm engaged with: eVote, http://Deliberate.com/ and the eVote blog.

Pay raises

Pledge 1:
I won't ever vote for a pay raise.

We don't need to pay our state reps more money. Sorry Harry Readshaw, Mike Diven, Jim Ferlo and you others that represent us. I'm sorry too that you'd put the pay raise matters into effect in a lame-duck session that has so many more important things to occur.

Pledge 2:
Upon leaving office, my golden parachute would constitute nothing but a swim coaching position.

Pledge 3: If I become mayor, and if I ever want a pay raise, I'll put the question to the people of Pittsburgh in a referendum. The voters can decide.

Beating up on Murphy

Murphy might go down in this election. Another "punching ballots" story is unfolding. It's a mayor's race too, but in California.

See the post here from Oct 1, 2004, Maverick Enters Mayor's Race.

The campaign of Donna Frey was challenged in Superior Court. They say the city charter does not allow for write-in candidates in general elections. They wanted an injunction to halt vote counting.

Frye scored 35 percent of the vote to incumbent Dick Murphy's 34 and a county supervisor, Ron Roberts' 31 percent.

A crowd chanted, "Count our vote!" The lawsuit amounted to a pathetic attempt to stop the democratic process. "I will fight any attempt to undermine the will of the voters."

The vote needs to be certified by November 30. For more info, just google it. New comments welcomed.

Today's a great day to kick the habits.

One habit that should stop.... Smoking. Today is the Great American Smoke Out.

Too many young people are smoking. Kids ages 8, 10, 12 are starting their smoking careers. We need some focus on wellness. I've got some wellness planks being built at the Platform For Pgh.

Another habit to kick, one-party lever pulling.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Four or more meeting nights

Tonight was one of those nights, too much to do.

The RED team in Market House soccer (middle ages) played in the championship game. Missed it. Same too with the older kids. Was covering swim practice at the kids there went on the road to watch a college meet at W&J. Plus, won a 2nd election in as many weeks. More news on that later.

The Market House's Family Fun Night is tomorrow -- and I'm not missing it. South Side's light up night is a bit earlier. Harry Readshaw is to be there to throw the switch on the snowflakes. See the South Pgh Reporter for more details.

Flick: Grass

Catch the movie called 'Grass' on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 9 pm in 104 David Lawrence Hall. Venue holds 75 people. It is either about lawn care of marijuana.

Communications In The Arts, seminar with Andrew W. Thornhill

This series of seminars and discussions is designed to help arts
organizations, artists, media outlets and local businesses gain greater
advantage from their communications planning and implementation.

Begins, Saturday, November 20, 2004 - 9:00 to 2:00 pm.

Details in the comment section.

Hosted with PCTV21.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ho, ho, ho.


Easy info on downtown Pgh

The PDP, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, is making it very easy to find out everything to do this year. It's so streamlined...... thin..... concise...... don't blink......

Fireworks at midnight. Weee!

Last one to leave, please turn out the lights.

Mapping the city for serious, smart campaign

The map is small, to fit the blog. Click the map to go to the directory to see a few others, all larger. The city's vote areas are mapped. Vote totals from Rauterkus 2001 are being matched with others, such as Libertarian candidate for US Senate, Betsy Summers, in 2004.

Other maps you'l be able to see show my votes vs. Carmine in 2001. I got creamed in Shadyside, and those areas show as white.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Too shady and oh so rich

Golden parachute for Mt. Lebo's School boss. gets good blog mentions at Pittsblog.

I wonder if part of this is from a fallout with the botched swim pool deal? The school and the township should have pulled their resources and made a great aqutics facility that would have been a regional asset. But it didn't happen, sadly. The plan wasn't held together with enough duct tape or vision or something.

With her $500k, she could make a nice swim pool benefactor.

NY, Paris, London, Madrid or Moscow

"New York offers the Olympic movement an outstanding combination of marketing, financial and media power that can help the games achieve a new level of global prominence," Ueberroth, chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee, wrote in The New York Times on Sunday.

New York's plan is for a stadium on Manhattan's West Side that would be home to the NFL's Jets. The uncertainty surrounding the estimated $1.4 billion project may complicate the city's Olympic hopes.

New facilities would be built for cycling, rowing, sailing and swimming. Multiuse arenas would be added for fencing, badminton, judo and wrestling.

"New York's bid is superb in every area," Ueberroth wrote. "[It] will add to the quality of life for future generations of New Yorkers and leave one of the most impressive legacies of any Olympic host."

I'm torn between NYC and Moscow. Going to Russia would help in many ways. But I've got a place to stay close to NYC.
As for the new Jets stadium, hold onto your wallets.

Sweet Catherine to WJAS

WJAS with "Chilly Billie" made radio today from the DePaul Institute in Shadyside and interviewed my sweetheart, Catherine. He jagged with her on the air calling her "Sweet Catherine" and the Neil Diamond song, Sweet Caroline, was in the playlist,
Sweet Caroline (Good Times Never Seemed So Good)

I'll post the sound files of the interview some day, I hope.

article on the garden efforts in WA

Just sent an email to Julie DAVIDOW to thank her for the article on the gardens:

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER on Moses Lake accepts challenge to eat better and get more exercise] from Monday, November 15, 2004

I'm going to use highlights in my campign's wellness plank in the platform.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Downtown falling like a house of cards.

PG speaking of the mayor's downtown development efforts "What they were doing was wrong. The way they handled it was wrong. The way they treated really good citizens was wrong," Patty Maloney said. "I think there are times when you have to stand up for what you believe in and for what is right."

If Maloney has a regret, it is that she and other merchants did not follow though and implement a Main Street program Downtown. Such a program has been successful in neighborhood business districts, and Maloney believes it could have worked Downtown.

Still, she doesn't fault Murphy for trying to spruce up the dreary Fifth and Forbes corridor.

"In fairness to the mayor and the mayor's office, they thought they were doing the right thing. They were definitely sincere in their attempts."

Great example of that "free-pass mentality." The mayor was wrong. Great statements. Then comes the 'flip-flop.' We can't give him and the wrongheadedness a free pass.

New County Skate Parks, good for MDs

Three public hearings are slated for the county as it hopes to build skate parks. Skate parks are great injury zones and perfectly suited for E.R. parking lots. My kids won't be there. The county can do about a million other, better things for the kids.

This move, by both the city and county, to build skate parks is about 15 years behind the curve. Fits the trend: too late.

The other trend: one step better than worse. Perhaps it is worse to do nothing. So, let's do a step better than nothing and build a skate park.

Photo: Nice helmet dude. The photo comes from an ISP trying to drum up business. We can do your web site because we can catch some air at a skate park. Say what?

As is my regular mode of operation and style, I take that extra step. I try to go well beyond simply pointing out only the negative by offering alternative, better suggestions.

Here is what I'd do as an alternative: kayaks. Build outdoor kayak parking stalls so folks can build and buy their own boats and lock them up. Sites at North Park, Deer Lakes, Boyce, Settlers Cabin, South Park all have nice water access spots and fringe zones along with ample parking lot. Plus, the swim pools in each can be used. Toss in Highland Park, North Side's commons and Panther Hollow for city locations. Then the kids can play kayak water polo on the water.

The "canoe polo" endeavor would beat the snot out of skate parks in the minds of the kids and for overall wellness of the region.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Ruffle Feathers

Fast Eddie announced in his newsletter that he picked the Steelers. Wonder if he can forcast who is to win and loose when it comes to other state matters, such as US Airways' fate?

Gov asks house and senate to support critical measurs

Governor Rendell Asks General Assembly to Support Crucial Measures Needed for Pittsburgh Financial Recovery Plan

Governor Rendell appealed to the Pennsylvania General Assembly to consider and pass legislation needed so that Pittsburgh can avert a budgetary crisis that threatens its economic future, its residents� way of life and its historic position as one of the Commonwealth�s most vital cities.

In a letter (see comments) sent to all senators and representatives, the Governor called a consensus plan developed by the several groups working on the financial situation �tough and realistic.� For the plan to be implemented, the General Assembly needs to enable the city to fill its remaining budget gap by changing the way the city taxes business and individuals.

Another Dr. Francis (sp) Barnes, but this is inbound

HARRISBURG: The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously approved Francis V. Barnes, Ph. D., Tuesday evening. Dr. Barnes was Governor Rendell’s nominee for the Commonwealth's Secretary of Education. Barnes, who now becomes the state's first African American Secretary of Education, will lead the state’s 501 school districts, and implement the Governor’s Block Grant Funding Program that allocates $200 million in the 2004-05 school year for districts to implement research-based programs to boost student achievement such as full-day kindergarten, pre-kindergarten, smaller class sizes, tutoring and English as Second Language programs. He brings a wealth of experience to the position, having served in rural and urban school districts across the Commonwealth.

Check the search engine box for "Frances Barnes."

Dated Dean. Married Kerry. Woke up with Bush

Dean's Democracy for America seeks to elect progressive-leaning candidates and train grass-roots organizers.

Notes: Dean's roller-coaster campaign started with soaring polls, but crashed. Dean, an 11-year Gov., shouts a Boston Yahoo! ad. Supporters have cheered the ad, reveling in its irreverent self-mockery. Or, William Shatner land? Next could be Sedatives or Throat lozenges.

Politicians as pitchmen: Bob Dole for Viagra; US House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill for American Express; Geraldine Ferraro for Pepsi; Ann Richards (TX) Mario M. Cuomo for Doritos, Sophie Masloff for Used Appliance Warehouse. None have won political positions after cashing out.

Wonder if Dean-supporters would be fertile land for fund-raising letters?

Wonder if the Democrats who cannot give up feel the need to scrub undemocratic Democrats from bankrupt landscapes?

U.N. highlights sport as unifying force

I'm not much of a fan of the U.N., but I am a big fan of sports. Pittsburgh is, so some like to say, a "sports town" too.

Sports Illustrated article is interesting.

If you thought the United Nations and Secretary-General Kofi Annan were all about brokering peace deals and lobbying world leaders to play nice, brace yourself for the international body's venture into the sports field.

Anyone But Murphy

With the funky frames in the City Paper's web site, we put this article here in its full splendor.

Added Feature - 11/11/2004

Best mayoral candidate: Anyone But Murphy
A conversation with Nick Kratsus of Bethel Park, a 25-year-old University of Pittsburgh student, founder of the Yinzer Party and possible candidate for mayor.


What’s with your shirt?

Well, it says "Murphy Sucks." It’s a shirt I actually picked up Downtown when I was coming home from a Pirates game. We’re thinking about possibly printing them up -- our own version for the Yinzer Party. In fact, our slogan may be "Murphy Sucks." Our current slogans are "Stop Mayor Murphy’s Weapons of Mass Taxation" and "The Regime Now." They might be changing.

Why are you interested in running for mayor?

I thought the stadium situation was a crock! Everybody voted against funding them and then the mayor going and inserting that 1-percent sales tax. … I watched as he tried to develop Fifth and Forbes avenues. One can look at the Lazarus -- that was a total mess-up. Lord & Taylor is leaving. Obviously Mayor Murphy is an idiot when it comes to finances.

There’s not even a commercial movie theater Downtown.

There’s nothing. There’s no grocery store. Soon there will be no buses leaving in the evenings and on the holidays and Sundays. What the hell is that? We’re supposed to be building up the city of Pittsburgh, not building it down. We can not only fix the problems Downtown but also fix problems throughout the city.

What are your plans for the city?

You need to have fiscal responsibility with the budget. You need to lower taxes. You’re not going to be able to tax yourself [to] prosperity like the mayor’s doing. You have to raise public awareness. You’ve gotta fix the school system. You’ve gotta work with the county. I honestly believe the city and the county need to be merged.

The formation of the Yinzer Party got you some media attention.

Ah, yes. I almost got interviewed with Mike Pintek on KDKA. I was also approached by WYEP. I wrote an op-ed in The Pitt News about how I believed I could help the city. I pledged that if enough people want me to run for mayor, then I will run for mayor. It’s better than what we have now.

Who are some of your supporters?

Right now, I have a total of eight e-mails [from supporters]. I also have people who said they would support me if I asked them to. My mom said she’d help me out. It’s a grassroots effort.

In all seriousness, are you running for mayor?

I have no plans to honestly do it, but if 10,000 people sign a petition and want me to do it, I’ll do it.

To Jack Shea -- the mix from Les Ludwig

Jack Shea, President of the Allgheny County Council of Labor, is to be commended, with the others, in their attempts to convince City Council to vote against Act 47. They held a meeting yesterday at the Teamsters 249 Union Hall.

We have spoken out against the Act 47 along with the ICA.

Whatever efforts were decided upon, house to house, face to face campaign, hopefully these efforts will have the desired effect to convince City Council to vote against Act 47 and ICA by more than a single vote majority as a message to Harrisburg.

But what then?

How is bankruptcy to be avoided with the dangers that are part and parcel of this course of action in terms of unions and city destruction?

Jack, there is a potential answer that is more than a stop gap grant or as council members said, "We were repeatedly asked in Harrisberg, 'What's the number of dollars to avoid bankruptcy for Pgh?'"

This is not a reasoned approach but rather a Dutch Boy Solution resulting from the pressure of the moment.

Jack, it's your power to call upon leadership in every county of our state to ask -- or may demand -- those union leaders support because if not drectly then indirectly they will be threatened by what happens here in Pittsburgh. These county union leaders should call and email State Represenatives, State Senators and the Governor to pass the Insurance Tax increase to at least 4% for the benefit of Class 1 and 2 Cities. (The tax is presently 2%.)

This tax increase puts Pittsburgh in the black before the cuts and would allow a cooling off period to the next session of the legislature. Can we deffuse the heat. Learn from the suggested cuts and move a funded Pittsburgh and Phila forward to a successful recovery.

The legislation, in our view, should call for long-term commitments of help, but only until these communities can pay their way again.

Also, the legislation should stipulate those specific economic conditions that would allow the help to start and stop automatically so that the current pressure for a solution does not reoccur.

Jack, please, if you agree, copy to all the union leadership in the state.

More details at the Wiki, Platform.For-Pgh.org.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Flaherty says plan to abolish row offices is Onorato power grab


Undemocratic Democrats: Bahh, humbug.

Tom Flaherty has got to go too. Onorato wants to be the boss of everything. Meanwhile Flaherty is good for nothing.

A great quote: "Nobody's pants are on fire." Our pants were on fire in 2001 when I last ran for mayor. Our pants are not on fire, except that the city is running out of money next month. Sure, the pants are not on fire. Rather, the city is three steps beyond toast. I wish our pants were only on fire.

Murphy is spending on stadiums again

PG: Slots-for-arena plan worth a look, Onorato says In an interview last week, Murphy said he would like to see the winning bidder dedicate a portion of its slots revenue to help build a new arena, whether it's the Penguins, Forest City, Stabile or someone else.

Mayor Tom Murphy gave us the stadiums despite the will of the people and the outstanding $40-million still due on the now gone Three Rivers Stadium.

Next, Mayor Tom Murphy wants to spend a good chunk of the gambling income for a new hockey arena.

No way. That gambling money is sure to provide some income. However, gambling is not going to materialize to such grand form as they have projected.

We have to stop miss-spending on big-ticket items. The new hockey arena should not get a dime of public funding.

Lawmakers oppose $144 occupation tax

"That is the worst of all worlds," Roddey said.

Sigh. One trend in Pittsburgh that I've pondered and am now putting into the Platform for-Pgh deals with our decisions and method of making community choices. Often, we out-pace the worst by a step. Now it seems as if the best choice isn't the only one to blow our doors off -- as we are neck and neck with the worst.

Now the conversation deals with "the mix." There is a mix of taxes all about to swirl around and come out in the wash. Occupation tax, pinch of parking tax, deed-transfer tax, place-holder taxes, jumps in property taxes, commuter tax, service cuts, garbage tax, increased fees, payroll taxes on for-profits, grants from the state, grants from the non-proftis, privitazations, and so on.

The final mix, whatever it is, is in the hands of state legislatures now. Right.

The chair of the ICA, William Lieberman, said, "This is a working document that is not meant to be definitive."

This is important for all to understand. Many around here have been thinking that the oversight folks are here to solve the problems. Wrong. The oversight folks are here for oversight. That's about all they can do. And, oversight is no little feat given the city's ways under this mayor. Oversight isn't for fixing the problems. Oversight isn't a solutions provider.

The fix from these ills we now suffer is going to come when we oust the existing administration and put new leadership into place on Grant Street.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Phone book Recycling

The collection of telephone books is currently in progress, (October through May 2005). Bring old phone books to one of the following City of Pittsburgh drop-off locations. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday (except holidays), between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Additional telephone book drop-offs are located at, Construction Junction, Home Depot and Giant Eagle stores (during regular store hours).

Telephone Book Drop-off Locations

2nd Division, P.W. - West Homewood/East Liberty near North Point Breeze on Dallas at Hamilton Ave.

3rd Division, P.W. - Melanchton Ave., off the 5200 block of 2nd Ave. in Hazelwood

5th Division, P.W. - Hassler St., off Herschel St. next to Herschel Field in the West End off Steuben St.

Environmental Services Building - 3001 Railroad St. off 30th St. in the Strip

The Home Depot, East liberty at the corner of Penn Circle-North and Highland Avenue

Construction Junction In North Point Breeze at 214 North Lexington Avenue

Giant Eagle Southside at 2021 Wharton Avenue

Giant Eagle in the Crafton-Ingram Shopping Center

Giant Eagle 5550 Center Ave in Shadyside

Giant Eagle at the Waterworks Mall on 915 Freeport Road.

Old phone books are made into new phone books, animal bedding, pizza boxes, egg cartons and more.

For more information contact the City of Pittsburgh, Recycling Division at 255-2631

Political Books

Some suggested reading notes are within the comments. Please put in your notes too.

Catherine spoke to the musical students and faculty at CMU about hearing protection. This was a technical talk with 150 or so in the audience at the lecture hall.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

URA stops development

Trib opinion: "Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy is a control freak who is out of control."

New Homes Being Built As Part Of South Pittsburgh Revitalization Efforts

South Side Local Development Company Announces: Fifty New Homes Being Built As Part Of South Pittsburgh Revitalization Efforts: "About the community planning process Hardy notes, 'Community leaders quickly recognized that to reverse several decades of disinvestment requires an initiative of significant scale.

Here is another instance of that subtle but important distinction between wholistic vs. holistic. The tone is for the whole ball of wax.
Wonder if the community planning process is online? Can you find it? Did one need to go to Georgia to learn of it?

School overtime

The Allegheny Insitute and TV 11 News blasted to the Pgh Public Schools. See the PDF formatted Policy Brief on PPS's Excessive Overtime.

So as to not rehash what is already said, I'd like to extend the conversation to additional slants and stories behind the overtime.


We have a city finance watchdog who has duties with city government and the school district. Our city controller is Tom Flaherty, Dem, machine politician and head of the county Dem party. He should be on this. He isn't. He is absent again in matters of financial concern. Tom Flaherty is part of the problem in the city. He has been here through it all. His voice is generally absent.

The storm of overtime is an artifact of closing so many schools with so little time. After the closings were announced, I raised objections. They tried to do too much in too little time. For example, South Vo Tech High School closed. It served 450 students in grades 9-12. Final word of the school's shutting came around May. Expected freshmen, then in the 8th grade, were already recruited to the school. They needed to enroll in their high schools long before they found out South was going to be gone. All the students in the other three grades had to scramble to other schools. And, all the other schools had to absorb the wave of new students who were displaced at South. Transcripts had to shift, guidance offices need to adapt, I.E.P.s needed to be managed, so on and so forth.

Evolution is a good thing. We could have migrated the kids out of South upon graduation. We could have staged the shut down over three or four years. The school board and the administration jerked the students, their families and their staffs around because of the abrupt closings.

The school board has seen the light in my remarks, however. A couple of months ago they released a statement saying that the policy to shut so many schools so quickly would get more consideration. They are thinking again for the next round. But, time will tell.

Generally, those in power need to act quickly and do so behind a veil of smoke. The school board and superintendent think of this as pulling teeth. Do it quick, hard and it is going to be painful. But, it will be over and we'll not see our power erode. That's wrong. They don't want to have organized opposition. They know parents and families move slowly. They need to outrun the volunteers with their staffs and agendas and don't really want input and compromised positions.

The bigness works for the school district and so does FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt). Above all, so does swiftness of action.

For these reasons, among others, parents and citizens can't go into a slumber -- ever. And, we've got to be our own best watchdogs.

As mayor, I'd strongly encourage school closings to be a staged process and a multi-year ordeal. If any school needs my help, I'd be available to listen, investigate, publicize, and speak loudly.

The city has a legacy now of miss-treatment to residents by jacking up taxes by 34% and knowing it will be suicidal. We toy with the deed transfer tax with an increase in 33%. We put parking tax to the roof, without time to even change the signs and rates. And then we knock the kids out of Rec Centers without warning. Then schools close, seemingly, at a drop of the hat. The people of Pittsburgh are getting jacked around, pulled all over the place, and it happens with litle warning. It is like the crew is falling overboard and the skippers are just darting around the rocks.

Summary: we jack around our residents, the students, and the employees. That is no way to be effective.

The overtime is often a ploy to boost retirement. The county police do it too. Same with coaching. A union teacher needs to pad his or her pay check in the twilight of the career to qualify for more upon retirement. So, teachers often coach three sports and opt into summer school to boost the take home pay. That's okay if they really care about the kids. And, if teachers come in and take away jobs from others who are already doing a wonderful job, that stinks. Teachers generally don't get overtime, but the motivation on the job is to spike those income averages.

Furthermore, Pittsburgh has a serious debt problem. A good bit of the debt is devoted to pension payments. Our pension payments are high because we paid a lot of overtime in certain key years to certain key employees, and for years to come we'll pay the pension based on those higher numbers.

Do the math. A person who retires from a $45K job gets a pension that is much less than another who had overtime to push the amount to a $80K job. Then you can compound that increase by 10 or 15 years and notice the difference. Those overtime pay amounts become precious dollars.

Too bad I don't get overtime for blogging.

Shows that we are not with our house in order. Part of that order is management, supervision, hands-on oversight. The board members need to ask hard questions and hold the administration's feet to the fire. But, the administration needs supervision.

Begins to look a lot like "band-aids" ... Everywhere we go

PittsburghLIVE.comA $17 million gift from the state to tide over Pittsburgh could become part of the Legislature's bailout plan to keep the city from sliding into insolvency.

The only thing worst than band-aid philanthropy is band-aid politics. I guess it is not in their character to step up and lead. Jeepers. We'll just need to elect some new leaders.

Reading between the lines it is now fair to say that Gene Ricciardi is NOT going to be running for mayor when he sings this tune. "Restructuring the city's antiquated tax system is "our highest priority," said council President Gene Ricciardi."

Fast Eddie is a leader, in his desires, it seems: "Rendell spokeswoman Kate Philips said it's premature to comment on a proposal until the governor has had a chance to review it. Rendell "wants a long-term plan that doesn't need to be revisited every year," she said.

Our city council should have take up some pumkin, apple and sweet potato pies to ulock the doors to the Gov's office. Perhaps I'll do that myself.

Now at 31 pages

Platform.For-Pgh.Org Wiki The goal is 20 to 30 solid platform planks by January 1, 2005.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

City budget unity fractures as competing plans are introduced

City budget unity fractures as competing plans are introduced: "
For a third year in a row, Murphy is trying to get state lawmakers to help him balance the budget, which sets tax rates and pays city salaries and other bills."

This is a key to my platform for Pittsburgh. I will never do anything like what has been done by Tom Murphy in the handling of the budget. The budget is perhaps the most important duty for the mayor. His failures at every turn with the budget make him a worthless leader for our city.

As part of the positive side of the agenda for dealing in a more productive, open and democratic way with the city's budget, I'll host and organize annual citizen budget building sessions throughout the summer months. We'll have citizen budget summits on a regular basis. We'll have work sessions in community centers, spreading out the facts, figures, history and priorities.

Other cities have budget sessions with citizens. We'll start with an overview of what is done elsewhere.

Budget in council's lap

Tony gets it right. Well done!
PittsburghLIVE.com On the revenue side, the revised budget adds an additional 0.5 percent to the city's 1.5 percent realty transfer tax -- an increase of 33.3 percent.

The mayor's revised budget is technically balanced by a proposed 34 percent increase in property taxes. However, Murphy has vowed not to impose such a steep hike on city residents, calling it 'suicidal for our city.'

Open letter to OpenDebates.Org

This letter was sent to those at OpenDebates.Org.

I've followed your story. I've helped with some blogging. I think you are doing the right things. Now for some ideas:

Why not take 10 to 20 cities and help in 2005 with their democracy and debates for their Mayor's races?

It might be great if you had forums in various cities, and I would PUSH you to make Pittsburgh, PA, one such city. Then you could show the world how a real debate with real candidates and issues, should occur. You can tape the event, review it, offer analysis, and trouble-shoot -- both the process and the event itself.

If OpenDebates.Org wants to aspire to leading the national debates with the presidential race, we need you to prove yourself, be seasoned, be in the marketplace, and be with all the credit due to the task at hand.

Pulling together a debate is no easy matter, as I've done a few of them. I've been on both sides of the microphone. This is exciting, worthy and serious work.

Let me know if you want more insights and info. Please let me know how might I be able to push these matters to othes?

Market House Soccer winding down

The indoor soccer season at the Market House is about to conclude. Our family fun night with a parents game, pizza, trophies and a special guest, Riverhounds Head Coach, is Thursday, Nov. 18.

We launched the season in September with a lot of help from a crew of volunteer parents. John S. has been a tireless leader and most dedicated to the effort. He has done a wonderful job. I'm just there to coach and lend a hand here and there. The others are really working hard.

The Marke House had been closed for the prior year. Now we play and organize without any staffers. The costs went up quite a bit.

For the kids, the program has been much as it was in the past. This is a great program for the tykes and wee players, without a doubt. The liitle kids are so fun to watch, ages 4, 5 and 6. Most of them have not been on a team in the past, to say the least. All the ages have fun and get a nice experience, team play, some skills and new friends.

I took a few photos the other night and I'll try to get some more. If you're with the media and have room to cover something other than the kick-off to "sparkle season" -- give me a call. Our light-up night comes on the faces of the kids, not with some tall downtown buildings.

The indoor hockey, often called, "deck hockey" starts in January. The first night to sign-up is the family fun night. We play on the gym floor in sneakers. Kids often bring their own helmets, but some are provided. The little kids use our sticks, older kids bring their own. Kids have their own shin guards and gloves too.

We need more players, and a high school league, 3 on 3, is slated for Saturday mornings.

Parents and volunteers are also welcomed, for coaching and other duties. The play is on Monday, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

In the tank officially

The official start to the scholastic swim season is next Monday, Best of luck to all who are jumping into the pool, or "tank" for another season. For the bulk of last year I was on deck as the head boys and girls varsity swim coach with the Foxes.

This year I'm coaching my kids in swimming! Yes! They been swimming, and I've been coaching at Carlynton. I'm just with the swim club, and with the littlest ones too.

I did have a number of interviews this fall (Shaler Area H.S., Penn Hills H.S., Winchester Thurston for an afterschool start-up) and made an application to the Chartiers Valley Swim Club.

Given the year ahead, the kids' ages, our lifestyle and the fit at Carlynton -- I'm quite certain we are in the right place.

Election win

At the most recent general meeting and election with the Green Tree Swim Team, I was nominated and elected to a position on the board. Won in a landslide, so I was told. I'll be the fifth member there and the rep for the team in the swim league.

Got a team? Want to join our league?

We've been a part of the swim team for a number of years. The league includes Scott Township, Mt. Lebo, Crafton, South Fayette and Green Tree. Gotta freshen their site soon I guess, http://GreenTree.CLOH.Org.

For the record, I did get the firefighters vote. My cousin in law, John Kirby, a recently retired Pgh Firefighter, voted for me. He said he was the only one in the room to know how to spell Rauterkus. I asked if this was a one-year term, and he was quick to point out it was for ten.

One more election is on tap for later this month. More news later.


My sweetheart and I celebrate our anniversary, Nov. 10. We were married on a rainy day in Springfield, Mass., in 1990.

Pgh Symphony On the 11th she'll be at CMU to speak to 150 at the monthly music convocation and with the Pittsburgh Symphony at their break in rehearsal.

The boys are off of school that day too. Perhaps we'll sit in and get some photos, video or an audio version of the presentations. Plus, we can have a family lunch date I expect.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The older team at the Market House. November 8, 2004.

Earl Jones, welcome to the mayor's race, again

Earl Jones, Dem., speaks to the GOPers at the RCAC.net Picnic in 2004 Earl Jones, our teddy bear champion, is going to enter the mayor's race in 2005. His expressed theme is family values.

Earl ran in 2001. I expect he'll be a democrat, but there is no telling.

Earl was invited to speak at the RCAC.net 2004 GOP Picnic in Scott Township this fall. Great hospitality.

All in all, Earl's expressed desire to enter the race is really bad news for Rich Fitzgerald, Dem., County Council from Sq. Hill. Earl has a mean streak and hankering against Rich to the nth degree. Otherwise, I'm sure the move to run is a great favor to Tom Murphy. Tom even mentioned Earl Jones from the podium today at the outset of his budget address. Tom Murphy blew Earl a wet kiss from the podium.

Mayor's Budget Address = Full of lies

The Mayor's budget address happened in city council chambers today. As expected it was full of lies.

This time it only took minutes before a city council member, Jim Motznik, started to talk to the media. KDKA was able to start filming the mentions from Jim about how the matters are less than truthful.

Furthermore, I wasn't allowed to get a budget book. The citizens are the last to know, by design.

The promise from the Mayor's spokesperson, Craig, was that the document would be put onto the city's website today.

  • The deed transfer tax has been increased by 33%, not .05 percent.

  • The property tax increase for home owners is going up 34%. It is still in there.

  • The mayor said that this budget follows the guides set forth in the Act 47 agreement, but it fails to do so by increasing salaries to some, and replacing others with job switches.

  • Police legal advisor, slated to be terminated, appears under another manager's title wit an 2004 salary of $53k moving to 2005 to $73k.

  • Twelve commanders are up on pae 287 so as to make the overall public safety budget an increase of $140K.

  • A building inspector gets a raise of $7,700. The city is to be on a wage freeze.

  • The public works director gets a new job title and ups from $67K to $77K. Same to with an assistant director to deptuty director, and an operations manager moving from $60K to $67K.

  • Uniforms were cut last year, but re-appear this year for $8,600.

  • Joe King pointed out how the mayor has padded his budget with a misc. account and education. Then he cuts it and claims a 10% savings.

  • Others are saying that there are lies. I've yet to list the one's I've noticed.

    We don't need to reform first. We need to replace this mayor, now.

    Take this message to Harrisburg

    This letter has been passed to my city councilmember, Gene Ricciardi, in advance of their trip to Harrisburg. http://dsl.cloh.org/v1/call-11-04.pdf

    November 8, 2004

    Leaders of the PA House & Senate
    Elected Leaders of the City of Pittsburgh

    Dear Neighbors and Friends of Pittsburgh,

    We need the state's assistance to allow the Pittsburgh region to form its own public, governmental entity, called the Pittsburgh Park District.

    Illinois has Park Districts. Pittsburgh needs to have the same. The formation of a Park District should be debated and confirmed by the voters in a spring, 2005 referendum. An introduction of park district concepts are in a position paper at http://DSL.CLOH.Org/v1/


    An oversight plan for the city calls for $0 in funding for Pittsburgh's Citiparks for 2006.

    We've already told our children that they can't play ball in their Recreation Centers nor swim in the swim pools. Those closings happened in August 2003. The Mayor's 2004 budget was to keep the facilities closed.

    In 2002 the Mayor told the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network that he would prohibit the opening of computer labs in some Rec Centers. Labs were promised without charges to the city with donated equipment, services and net fees as per the cable franchise agreement -- all rejected.

    Serious conditions swirl in the city with teens: drugs, shootings, and with few places to seek shelter for sport, coaching, friendship, and structured activities. Meanwhile, the Mayor proves again that he won't play well with others. The kids, yet alone the volunteers, coaches, and parents, need relief.

    When the Pittsburgh Park District is formed, recreational matters can be solved in open, democratic ways with elected trustees, sunshine laws, and accountability. Then real community can flourish, outside of the grasp of potholes, pension funds, and games of "political chicken with our kids" instigated by city hall. The Park District solution makes for self-reliance, stewardship and bucks against the mayor who has trashed the kids' opportunities and facilities.

    Thanks for your consideration and urgent follow-up on this matter as our kids can't wait.