Friday, December 31, 2004

Wrap up the blog archives for 2004 with this closer:

I am only one; but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

Helen Keller

Happy New Year -- ringing in 2005

Great weather for First Night -- so we go as a family. But, the kids and my sweetheart crack by 8:30 pm. Nuts. Oh well, back to the homestead. We'll have a later night to watch Pitt duke it out with the Utes in 24 hours.

Then James sends out some heavy mentions that I've got to ponder and share here:
The medium IS the message.

Journalism, nowadays, in addition to being largely a mouthpiece for the short-term elite corporate interests of the top 1% income bracket Americans, covers style, techniques and process more than substance. Issues are secondary to the mainstream media. It's hard to distinguish between the rhetoric of the coverage of a football game and almost any of the omnipresent television political "analyst" shows...

...political practices which favor the privileged over the underprivileged, liars over seekers of truth, authoritarian hustlers over those who struggle to help others, the unprincipled over the principled, and the mean-spirited over the kind-hearted. This is the legacy of the politics of deceit. It is a time of deep crisis for democracy and freedom...Vaclav Havel, Jan Patocka, and other Eastern European insurgents brought down their Soviet masters with far fewer resources than we have at our disposal."...

I'm generally quite amazed at what he digs up and sends to his blast list. I've asked him to be a running mate, but, he has his own thing brewing in his own style. Not much time for other techie hurdles. Understood.

The footnote to the above, I think, is The Politics of Deceit: Saving Freedom and Democracy from Extinction by Glenn W. Smith

As we floated around town tonight, we peeked into an ageless room sponsored by the Post-Gazette. Different trade show booths with each decade and places for comments with markers. In the 1990s board my wife wrote, "Got a Ph.D., got married, moved to Pittsburgh, purchased a house, had two kids." She reflected and said, 'that was a busy decade.'

Hope you have a safe time tonight. Let's get excited about 2005. I am now well rested from a nice week filled with naps. Lots to do in the weeks to come.

Turnaround Year for Pittsburgh? I say 2004 is but a churn-around year.

the turn-around year could be 2006, if we force the mayor to resign ASAP. Otherwise, we might be in churn mode. We can't churn and say we've been progressive or developed. We have to make real changes.

The Allegheny Institute released a policy statement at year end. Some of the more interesting points and reactions follow.
Workers in the City will pay a $52 Emergencies Services Tax (formerly the occupational privilege tax). Those earning less than $12,000 annually will be eligible for a $42 refund.

The for-profit business community will be subject to a new payroll tax that completely replaces the mercantile tax and significantly reduces the business privilege tax—which will be phased out in five years.

... Many trends in Pittsburgh that are tied to the City’s business and tax climate that are still very worrisome.

* Population decline in the City shows no sign of abating. The latest estimate for the City of Pittsburgh's population stood at 325,337 in July of 2003. This was down 2,600 from July of the previous year and over 9,000 since the 2000 Census.

* Decline in enrollment in the Pittsburgh Public Schools is to continue over the coming years.

* People working in the city are in decline.

* Office vacancy rates provide a strong indication of the economic vitality in the City. In 2001, Pittsburgh’s central business district vacancy rate stood at 13 percent. By 2002 the rate had risen to 17.2 percent and by the third quarter of 2004 had climbed to 18.1 percent. The national average in the third quarter of 2004 was 15.3 percent. Bear in mind that there has been no appreciable increase in Pittsburgh’s downtown office space that could have raised vacancy rates.

* Due to the decline in occupancy levels, rents are falling and the value of office buildings is dropping rapidly. Dominion Tower sold in 2000 for $82 million, the building is now listed at $53 million.

* The countywide taxes ... are growing at a negligible rate. Hotel/motel tax, Regional Asset District, Sales tax revenues ... remain flat.

The City needs to get spending and taxes down to sensible and sustainable levels. The 2005 budget stands at $425 million, or about $1,300 per resident. Per resident spending has grown too high and needs to come down dramatically. Aggressive outsourcing, privatization and merging services with the County are absolutely essential.

The City's authorities as part and parcel of a long-term slimmed down City. Mention has been made that the Stadium Authority may be the first to go. Others, such as the Urban Redevelopment Authority, should sell off assets and downsize, returning properties to the tax rolls and using proceeds from property sales to help the City pay off its debts.

Most appropriate would be an abandonment of the top-down government-driven economic development strategy that has been embraced here for far too long.

For a formatted version of this brief, please visit our website:

Agree on the shift away from top-down styles and cutting the authorities. Nuke the Parking Authority, over time. Zap the stadium authority too. And make more democratic all the other authories -- as that injects lots of accountability.

Frankly, I think that the worst is yet to come. Our roads are sure to crumble. Our infrastructure is thin and frail. The mayor is still in office and 2006 budget is going to be worse.

A sell off of URA assets can drop the value out of all the decent properties still in the city. A rapid sell off would hurt us dearly.

We need to reform some of the taxes and the overall political landscape. Term limits, better debate inclusion, and real sustainable discussion, such as what the A.I. does, is needed to reach far and wide in our communities. The mind leads and the body follows. Frankly, I worry a lot when the PG just talks about beating Buffalo in terms of mergers. Too much hype of Louisville.

Let's talk about the deed transfer taxes. Let's start to put a pinch on the bond holders and the debt rates. Let's look further at the past corporate welfare deals and try to wiggle out of them as soon as possible. Lazarus is still eating our lunch. The place closed and we are still paying for it. We'll be paying for the Convention Center for a generation or two. We can't pay to have the place heated and lights on. But, is that part of FRIST NIGHT --- no!

We got a lot to do. Cutting a few more schools is not going to be the ticket to fixing the city.

FairVote-The Center for Voting and Democracy

FairVote-The Center for Voting and Democracy: "Become a democracy activist. Suggestions and encouragement for promoting full representation and instant runoff voting in your city and state."

We need more activist for democracy. Some, such as Jessie Jackson, are pushing for IRV = Instant Runoff Voting.

Buffalo is kicking our tail and I don't care!

If they want to jump off a bridge -- let em. I'm not going to follow in haste. This type of pressure doesn't work for me. Community connections take time.

If there's a merger race, Buffalo leads it: "The Republican county executive succeeded this year in forming a high-powered, 11-member committee that is scheduled to deliver a detailed city-county merger proposal in mid-January.

Another item that doesn't work for me -- nor for the region -- is the notion of a "high powered 11-member committee" that has been hand picked. We have these over lords. Un-inspired outcomes.

On the other hand, let's bring on the discussions. Let's let it all hang out and really give the conversation the respect it needs.

So, what do you have to say about the merger idea I floated in a 100-plus plan on May 1 for parks and recreation? http://DSL.CLOH.Org/v1

The PG has not given that one heartbeat of ink. I'm sure dozens of people there have read it. John Craig did too. But, they fumbled the ball in terms of the community conversation. Rather, they want an 11-member committee. They also endorsed Tom Murphy over and over again.

All this "METROVISIONS" stuff needs to look in our own backyard.

If the talk to come is about mergers in the midwest -- I bet they miss the part about Illinois and its PARK DISTRICT models. There isn't a need there to merge as they have a different set up from the get go.

And as for Cleveland -- why follow that mess? Cleveland was the envy of Pittsburgh. But when the Presidental tickets went to debate there the news was that Cleveland was the worst city in North America.

There is no ARMS RACE among the cities. What we need to do is make a "NEW NORTH." Their suffering is not our gain, unless you are talking about the NFL. But, life isn't about the NFL. That's a football game. That isn't how life works.

Rather, Cleveland needs to worry about Pittsburgh in terms of us building an under-river pair of tunnels to the North Side -- and burning millions of federal funds for no real benefits. They can help us save us from ourselves. And, we in turn could help them do the same. Financial folly here hurts them.

As for Pittsburgh's merger issues, look no further than the mayor. He is the road block. He could merge 911 services after years and years of efforts. To the rest of the world, it is a no-brianer. It makes sense to merge 911 services with the county but it was nearly impossible to do with Murphy at the helm. There is no way he can do anything with EMS or any other issue where real creativiity and problem solving is needed.

Pittsburgh can't heal itself with Murphy in the mayor's office. So, for now, it is time to wait or eject him. We don't need more damage with new solutions.

Murphy's best idea for the next merger solution is to give the ball to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy so they can take over a parking lot between the library buildings in Oakland to make a gateway to the park and a merry-go-round. Take away parking and income and give us something that's not needed or desired. No thanks.

Murphy's merger plan blueprint is called playing chicken. He starves and punishes into nothingness. The when the value evaporates, he gives it away. Look how he merged the Crossing Guards. That is no merger at all.

Meanwhile, what is even worse is the merger and metro plans of Bill Peduto. Murphy has taken apart the city by neglect. Others are out to destroy city life by design.

Think again.

What we need to do is pull ourselves up into a realm of functional positions of strength. We need to get our house in order. We need to engage in democracy and it is going to be an open, messy age of discussions. But we need to protect and increase the benefits and value of our assets -- not diminish them. And, after we get back onto our feet then we have some standing for merger talks.

As it is now, I'd not want to merge the city into the county. Understand, I'm in both a citizen of the city and the county. The dead weight of the city to hit the county is too much. I want the county to function for the long haul. If the county comes to take over the city, that task would tip the county to its death. Today, the county can't absorb the city. But, when the city gets its health back, and that can occur, then we can be partners in those merger talks. Then we can do it well and for the benefit of all parties.

The city needs to pull its own weight. After the city is functional again, then mergers are going to make sense.

Finally, this is why my solution in the position paper is so splendid. I don't call for a merger of Citiparks into the County Parks & Rec Department. No. That would be a wrongheaded solution. Rather, make a new Pittsburgh Park District. This would be a new entity. This takes the Citiparks plus the Coutny Parks and Rec plus the Pgh Public Schools for AFTERSCHOOL time and gives a new teamwork approach with new volunteers and new democracy. That new entity would be a benefit to all and not be a burden to one.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Don't TIF Deer Creek for another shopping mall

I hate TIFs. I would put an end to them in the city if I'm elected mayor. I'd help to re-write new rules for TIFs in Harrisburg if elected to the PA Senate.

TIFs (Tax Increment Finance) are deals that were used to great measure by the creative and visionary Tom Murphy in Pittsburgh. They got us new retail at the expense of old retail. They churn developement, and that isn't real development. And, as the churn occurs, the one's who build get to pay less in taxes. Then the loosers who lost out leave and pay less in taxes. So, we're stuck with new low-paying tax avoiders and empty buildings elsewhere in a serious decline.

This TIF effort is all about 'corporate welfare.' Any progressive city or progressive politician should be against corporate welfare. However, in Pittsburgh we've got corporate welfare deals going to Giant Eagle, going to Lunar Square in Shadyside, going to places where the marketplace should be doing deals alone.

Bill Peduto has never met a corporate welfare deal he has not embraced. Bill Peduto calls himself progressive. I call that ineffective. Some think Bill is going to be like Murphy light. I think it is more like Murphy HEAVY.

If you want to join with me and others to fight against a TIF, for whatever your reasons, an opportunity is knocking.

Help protect Deer Creek, one of Allegheny County’s best trout and bass streams, and a possible site for a new mall, with tax favors.

PennFuture has represented and assisted local residents opposed to the proposed Deer Creek Crossing shopping mall development since its inception, including a long court battle to demand the current amendment process. On at 6 pm on Wednesday, January 5, 2005, Allegheny County residents can give public comment for or against a tax-increment financing (TIF) plan that would clear the way for the mall.

TIFs are supposed to be used for blighted (mostly urban) areas only. Please take action to protect this undeveloped green space, stream, and surrounding wetlands.

Attend the hearing, and sign up to speak by contacting County Clerk John Mascio at or at 412-350-6495 no later than noon, January 4, 2005. Each speaker gets up to five minutes.

Allegheny County’s Office of Economic Development will make a presentation of the existing Deer Creek Crossing project in Harmar Township, Allegheny County, with proposed amendments by the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County at the hearing. There will also be opportunities for comments by the other taxing bodies (Allegheny Valley School District and Harmar Township) and by the proposed developer that will be participating in the tax-increment financing plan.

The hearing allows for comments on tax-increment financing, and on the Deer Creek TIF in particular.

Local residents, PennFuture and other organizations including the Sierra Club, Tri-County Trout Club, Clean Water Action, Pennsylvania Environmental Council and the Rachel Carson Council have been opposing the project for more than four years. Deer Creek is one of Allegheny County’s best (and perhaps only) trout and high-quality bass streams, and the network of habitats supporting and supported by it, including nearly six acres of wetlands, will be replaced by 200 acres of parking lots and buildings. The plans for the mall, even as revised, will eliminate the riparian zone (the vegetated, forested areas bordering the streams), confine the stream to a deep, narrow valley; produce large amounts of runoff from the parking lots (containing many contaminants); and remove productive habitat by creating several culverts. The results, at the very least, will reduce Deer Creek to an average or below average urban stream, with little quality or function.

Tax-increment financing (TIF) is a form of public subsidy intended for blighted, previously-developed areas. TIFs are quite simply not appropriate or meant to be applied to green, undeveloped areas. This development will draw jobs and businesses away from existing developments, resulting in no net increase in tax revenues or jobs, and creating blight elsewhere. Allegheny County cannot continue to subsidize retail developments on our last, best green spaces.

Public Hearing is slated for 6 pm on Wednesday, January 5, 2005, at the Allegheny County Courthouse, 435 Grant Street, 4th Floor, Gold Room, Pittsburgh, PA, 15219.

To contact members of County Council to voice your concerns, visit

For more information, contact Heather Sage, Outreach Coordinator for PennFuture, at 412-258-6681 or sage - at - pennfuture - dot - org.

Don't take your Christmas tree to the landfill.

Two recycling options:

Don't take your Christmas tree to the landfill! Union Project will accept your old tree (even if you didn't buy it there) at the Union Project building between Saturday January 1 and Saturday, January 8. Please place your tree in the side yard in the area that has been designated for Christmas tree drop-off. Union Project members and volunteers will turn your tree into mulch for the Union Project flower beds from 12-4 pm on Saturday, January 8. If you'd like to volunteer to help mulch the trees contact justin - at -


Christmas tree recycling collection on Saturday, January 8, 2005 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Construction Junction, 214 N. Lexington Street, Point Breeze section of Pittsburgh.

‘Tis the season for good deeds and good treats—and the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) can help with the good deed part. At the close of this holiday season, don’t send your tree to the landfill, where it will take up valuable space. Instead, bring it to Construction Junction for a second use.

PRC, the City of Pittsburgh, and Construction Junction, in cooperation with Emery Tree Service, are hosting a Christmas tree drop-off on Saturday, January 8 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. During that timeframe, individuals are welcome to drop off their real Christmas trees for a $1 fee per tree. Emery Tree Service will recycle all of the trees into mulch. PRC will also accept old phone books for recycling at no charge that day. The Christmas trees must be free of ornaments and loose or tied with a string when dropped off. Absolutely no trees in plastic bags will be accepted.

Additionally, PRC needs help unloading trees from vehicles and directing traffic in Construction Junction’s parking lot. Volunteers will stay warm with cups of hot cocoa; the Square CafĂ© will provide lunch for everyone. All volunteers will receive a coupon for one free hour of kayaking this spring, courtesy of Kayak Pittsburgh. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, approximately 25-30 million real Christmas trees are sold in North America every year. For every Christmas tree harvested, 2 to 3 seedlings are planted in its place the following spring. Help PRC keep these trees out of the landfill—recycle them. Call PRC at (412) 431-4449 ext. 243 or visit for more information.

Duquesne Light and Downtown Living Initiative to Illuminate Building Facades Along Penn Avenue Corridor

This story and project is a glowing example of our wrongheaded embace of bricks and mortar solutions. Putting a bath of new lights onto a block or two of downtown buildings is all about the hardware end of the spectrum -- not the software side of life. I think we need to get away from the focus on the buildings and instead give a priority to the programming, the software, the network, the human elements and the thoughtful components.

Furthermore, this solution is costly. How much? How much to install? How much to maintain? Where is the mention of money? I have no problems with making an investment. And, I have no problem with allowing the foolish to burn their own money and keep control of their own property rights. I'm just flexing my right to speak up and call em as I see em.

But, then again, who voted on this effort? Who owns the public company? Who pays the rates to this power company? Who has to deal with the economic and enviro waves it is to make? Who benefits?

This isn't the first time I'm called into question the efforts of Duquesne Light. A couple of years ago the company thought it a top priority to light up the bridge over the Allegheny River. I made light of the fact that the same money might be better spent if it was invested into math teachers for our 9th graders who were failing algebra. I'd rather have a dozen teaching specialist to tudor, give night classes, assign and check homework, and advance scholorship rather than light a rusting steel expanse in the night sky.

Don't you take great pride in those lighted bridges? I'm sure many hear the claim that their new neighbors have moved to the city despite the 65% failure rate in 9th grade algebra just to soak in the post-card landscapes of our bridges built in the 1930s and 40s.

Since Duquesne Light does lights, and not math tudors, perhaps they would find it more to their mission for the funding of a Vo Tech program. Or, if you gotta have illumination, why not light some ballfields, if not PNC Park for local kid's to use. The bill to hold the city's little league championship games at PNC Park is $7k per year. That's paid out of the Citipark budget.

Duquesne Light and Downtown Living Initiative to Illuminate Building Facades Along Penn Avenue Corridor: "The premier begins with remarks from Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy at 7 p.m. in front of 940 Penn Avenue. J. Kevin McMahon, president and chief executive officer of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, which hosts the First Night celebration, and Morgan K. O'Brien, president and chief executive officer of Duquesne Light, will join him to inaugurate the facade lighting program. Their remarks will be followed by a spectacular laser-light show, which will course up and down the two-block area of Penn Avenue.

'This is just one in a series of public lighting projects Duquesne Light has initiated to help foster a strong, safe and vibrant downtown,' said O'Brien. 'We believe that a healthy downtown is critical to the overall economic well-being of the region, and we are proud to be a part of such a unique project.'"

(More of the press clip is reposted in the comments section.)

City paper ink

"Perennial candidate Mark Rauterkus already owns his dot-com.

The City Paper, alternative, gratis, news weekly, did an article (page 10, Dec. 29, 2004) with the headline, For Stronger Elections -- Mayor candidate haven't declared, but they're snagging Web sites.

You can watch, as I'll open up in the future. Of course I'll yap about it here first.

What's more interesting is Julie M's New Year's Eve party. Perhaps I'll try to bring something there.

I also think some of the comments at some of the other blogs are very telling, IMNSHO. I'll post them in the comments section, FYI, FWIW.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Home fix up. Hired the pros and are very happy.

The new tub and walls are so white. They make the rest of the house look very old, as it is. Posted by Picasa

This old house meets BATH FITTERS

Our old bathroom walls had some leaks. They were removed and made ready for a new tub liner. The old tub stayed, but it was covered with a new form-fitted outside cover. Posted by Picasa

PG Letters to the editor hits solid points

Love it when two letters in the same day hit home splendid points. Better to use the words of others for extra leverage when I can:
PG Letters: 12/29/04 Thank Mayor Murphy? He brought down the city I thought I'd seen everything in the PG's opinion section, but Elsie Hillman's praise of Mayor Tom Murphy on Friday was nothing short of bizarre ('Thank You, Tom Murphy: Despite Some Painful Years, This Mayor Has Served Our City Well,' Dec. 24 Perspectives)! Mrs. Hillman (pseudo-Republican that she is) must have had a bit too much Christmas cheer, or she has been secluded for so long (except for appearances in the Seen column) that a primer/re-education is needed regarding Pittsburgh's desperate situation.

My former hometown has gone into freefall mainly due to Mayor Murphy's totally inept leadership. I agree with Mrs. Hillman that Mayor Murphy is an honest man -- but without a clue.

Since a Democrat has the only chance of being mayor for the next 30 years or so, here's my plan: Mrs. Hillman should throw some of her vast fortune into helping bail out Pittsburgh, and Dan Onorato (the only Democrat in Allegheny County government with any sense) deserves a chance to go up against the entrenched policies of the ruling party.

Good luck, Mr. Onorato; you're going to need it!


Mayor Tom Murphy's recent announcement that he will not run for re-election ('Murphy Won't Seek 4th Term,' Dec. 22) should signal Pittsburgh residents to take a stronger role in local politics.

Pittsburgh is best known for its institutions, and it goes unrecognized that rugged individualism has been obliterated through lost jobs, lost family-owned business and lost representation for the unaffiliated person. The relationships among big business and local politics have resulted in socio-economic disaster.

The best strategy for economic and cultural growth in Pittsburgh is to re-introduce manufacturing to the region in the form of independent tradesmanship.


Mrs. Hillman being called a pseudo-Republican fits. Cluelessness is also on the mark.

Rich Lord of City Paper asked, off line, so I answer.

Here is a telegraph, pals:
For planning purposes, can you tell me whether you're leaning toward running for mayor, or state Senate ... or something else? And if you're not planning to run for mayor, do you know who anyone in your former party who is?

RICHARD LORD, Pittsburgh City Paper

Hi Rich,

I'm running for the State Senate -- now. I'm on the ballot. Tonight I'll be going to the DU at RMU hoops game. While at the game, a theme is to seek others to run for office too. Both DU and RMU are in the PA Senate 42nd District, FWIW.

I want the State Senate election to be May 17 to save $200k. But, if it was held in March or April, as is the custom, 60-75 days, (Jan 18 start), then I'd be able to be more visible and more active for the May 17 primary as the State Senate race would have concluded.

If I win the state senate seat -- I don't expect I'll run for Mayor.

Should I win the special election, I'd be the lone Libertarian in either chamber. That would be an important role and would mean I'd pull out of the Mayor's race general election.

I'm asking GOPers to NOT put anyone on the ballot. A candidate for mayor can backfire. Run good races for other posts. Rather, they can vote for me as a write-in in the primary (that message comes later). Then my network can join with theirs. We win in the community by addition.

I'll be making calls to the city voters shortly.

Other moves on ballot access for Nov are being considered. To appear on three slots (Indie, Libertarian and GOPer) would be an eye opener.

The Platform.For-Pgh.Org is getting more attention and will be suitable for others to use as well -- from State Senate to Mayor to city council and such.

By the way, as a look ahead, I'll be helping my wife, still a GOPer, help Gene Ricciardi get onto the ballot for District Magistrate on the GOP side. That will be action to take root in early January.

Call me if you want more insights or quotes.

Pittsburgh's embattled mayor keeps quiet, wins support for recovery plan

PG review / coverage The mayor would have to shut up.

'Every day [aides] would remind me not to put my foot in my mouth,' Murphy said recently, laughing at the memory. 'The effort was to stay on message and not have me get people mad.'

The strategy worked when the state Legislature approved the Pittsburgh budget package Nov. 21. It was great news for city government, which was facing bankruptcy in early 2005, but there wasn't exactly a victory parade down Fifth Avenue at the news.

To say the strategy worked is to say Pittsburgh is business friendly -- or -- why not say the Penguins are in first place and we're a city of champions again.

The effort from those aids should have been leveraged to get Murphy to resign. We don't need a leader to zip up for top performances.

In life all moves are either to protect equity or to gain equity. It is offense or defense. So, our city is going down the drain, we are running out of money, we are full of outward migration, our kids are shooting each other --- and the best we can do is sit with a buttoned trap.

Murphy isn't good at playing defense. He isn't good at playing offense either, as his agenda has been a proven failure. And, when he can't play well in either role, the best we can hope for is for him to remove himself and take it to the sideline. That is what should have and still needs to occur.

This is no memory to laugh about and reflect upon as history. This year, 2005, we stay in neutral and keep the back slide in high gear.

Then, what is this bit about Murphy was bluffing? I assume you are talking about his actions in 2000, 2001, 2002. The swim pool closed -- many for good. The kids didn't play baseball. The rec centers still are NOT open. What bluff is that? Is he still pulling the wool over your eyes? Let's not be at odds with the truth. Let's not re-write history so soon and with such absurd stances.

The mayor is still bluffing every second he sits in the Mayor's office. So, perhaps the bluffing from Murphy still in high gear. He isn't leading this city. He hasn't done so in years.

It is one thing to be the one to bluff. It is another to be the one to fall for the bluffing and promote it as reality. Murphy can't be blamed for bluffing as that is all he has left in his inventory. But, those who churn the ink and paper and subscribers with tall tales of the new wardrobe of the old emperor are hardly selling soap.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Pennsylvania's big-city mayors have trouble with the law

Pennsylvania's big-city mayors have trouble with the law: "'It's their method of governing,' Saidel said, lumping ethical shortcomings, prickly personality and other factors under the umbrella of governing style.

'I think old habits die hard,' he said.

This is a hoot, IMNSHO.

Bill Green is looking for a mayor like Rendell. He wants man to meet city to meet job. He wants to see a certain personna and bank-roll justifications. Duhh.

Rendell isn't in trouble in Phili as they have term limits. Same too for Murphy. He should have taken a hike after eight years. The writting was on the wall. I saw it then. Green didn't.

The media --- like Bill Green --- help by sustaining the agony of these situations. John Wayne types are sure to find a sniffling Bill Green in a puckering position.

I heard Lynn Swann might be at the mall next week, sickem Bill sickem. Atta boy.

And, what is sure to reverse this "amazing coincidence" trend is either ego-centric politicians who agree to serve one term and run elsewhere. Or, a new breed of gentlemen, scholar, servants who can dance among the people. And, please, let me be complete and qualify this second half by one more major distinction. The gentlemen part needs few other modifiers if it began with a woman.

How many jag-offs in office in trouble are female?

A women wouldn't make those same mistakes. But moreover, most are smart enough to not step into these messy situations at the outset.

Next mayor must run with ball "Al Neri, editor of The Insider, a statewide political newsletter, said the perfect candidate will have to persuade voters that he or she is 'a different animal from Murphy and an agent of change for the better.'

An 'anti-Murphy,' Neri said.

Bingo! That fits me.

Knocking on doors, being able to be reached, holding and going to lots of community meetings --- are descriptions of what I'm about too.

'Mayor Murphy developed this whole administrative blockade so the average person in the community could not go to the mayor,' said Mary Ellen Hayden, lead organizer for the local chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. 'It totally lifted the mayor up and away from the people, made him inaccessible.'

Murphy put up walls to protect himself as he couldn't rumble. He knew democracy was messy and he wanted to take the easy pathway with corporate welfare. It is easy to pick up the phone and talk to Rooney or talk to the Alcoa executive. It is hard to talk with the congregation of a church or twenty merchants along Fifth & Forbes.

Voters next year are going to want someone more like them to lead their city, political analysts say. -- Well, that's me in most instances. While I don't have season tickets, I do it one better. I've been know to be a vendor at the games and get in for free. I helped my Uncle Joe for a season or two, "Get your official, game day, souvenier, programs."

Hello: Voters still want a brainy leader, but one with the common touch. A Pittsburgh populist, in other words.

Have you been introduced to the campaign slogan, "We the people?"

Voters are saying: "Let's modernize Pittsburgh, but do it like a Pittsburgher does it," said John Verbanac, chairman of NeriVerbanac Public Affairs, which specializes in political issues. "They want a person who is a Pittsburgher, who understands our uniqueness and who can apply modern solutions and changes to who we are."

Right on.

Because the next mayor will need to answer to the oversight boards, and will have fewer resources, we can choose to pick a leader who has no intention of doing corporate welfare deals (there is no money anyway). I won't need to be sorry and make excuses to those seeking handouts. Plus, we'll be able to have the experienced oversight lords to lean upon on making the budget and finances tick. They'll be calling the shots anyway. And, we'll want someone who can get into the parks, get into play with the kids, get into volunteerism, get into sports and cheerleading and coaching and literacy.

We have toys here to play with among ourselves. We can make this place fun -- without building a downtown mall. I want to work with coaches, leagues, fields and families. That's the type of cheerleading we need.

A candidate will have to show he or she can deal with all that without being consumed by it. A viable candidate will be upbeat, a cheerleader who will lay out a program that excites residents about getting more involved in improving neighborhoods and solving problems.

Problem solving is about being creative and then being able to communicate. Plus, the communication goes in mini-cycles, not one-way.

"We could use a nice person with brain power," said Joseph Sabino Mistick....

I think that the "being nice" part is a little out of focus yet with JSM's comments. Murphy was too nice when it came to management of the city's contracts. He was too sweet with the corporate welfare. He was soft when he needed to be hard and hard when he needed to be soft. Personally, I'm not "nice" all the time. I'm hard in some instances. I'll be nice when I tell you -- you are off the team or your job is going to go to this other person because you're not doing what needs to be done. But, that isn't so nice. We need boldness. We need respect. We need tough-love. We need a coach -- Ditka like. We can cheer, but we can be down in the pit too and riding your back for another 10 reps or another set or more attention to detail.

When I expect this level of intensity, fair play, kindness, scholarship and effort from myself and my friends, then the same can be demanded from others that work with the system, operate in the neighborhoods and choose to live here and engage with our services.

It is about sincere respect. I treasure the worth and dignity of everyone. This includes the kids. Yes, kids, as in non-voters. And, those in the suburban reaches -- another non-voter population. Mayor Murphy has little respect for dissent and for the real treasures of Pittsburgh -- its people and its network of relationships.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Happy Boxing Day

American Gridiron takes center stage on Boxing Day in Pittsburgh. Our gang is also going to the see The Nutcracker.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Letters to the sports editor: 12/25/04

Double yoi and merry good cheer to both letters.

Letters to the sports editor: 12/25/04 Pitt needs atmosphere adjustment

The decline of the Pitt football program starts in its own back yard. Pitt needs to get away from Heinz field. The college atmosphere does not exist there and most students have no interest in traveling on a bus or cab to or from a home game. College football is all about students tailgating and giving their team an added advantage of the 12th man. Therefore, recruiting a high school superstar becomes a difficult sale. Find a way to bring football back to Oakland.


Bring back script 'Pitt'

Now that Walt Harris' departure is confirmed, the door has closed on the rebuilding era of former athletic director Steve Peterson. Maybe Pitt can look back to its glorious roots and return something Pitt faithful have missed for a long time (No, not Pitt Stadium): the script 'Pitt' logo on the side of the helmets. It was in place for many years, and it's time for the heritage of Tony Dorsett, Bill Fralic and Dan Marino to return to Pitt's helmets.


Welcome Home Dave!

Hi Coach! Welcome home.

We'll have to get you and your wife new voter's registration forms soon. If you are going to return to Baldwin, you'll be able to vote for me in the special election for State Senate.

Merry Christmas

Hope you and yours have had been having a wonderful time at Christmas. Things are great in our home, but a bit slow on the blog. That's good news.

At our Christmas service lots of folks were asking me what I was going to do with myself now that Tom Murphy has said he wasn't going to run.

The short answer is to make sure that the next mayor isn't worse than the one we've had. And, frankly, that is a real concern. Twice in the past the Pittsburgh voters picked Tom Murphy over Bob O'Connor. Ever consider the option that Bob could have been worse?

Oh well, there will be plenty to do in 2005. And, it can wait for a few days.

Peace. Hope. Charity. And, stay warm.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004 is kicking our high tech tails Weblogs
1. Taipei, Tawain
2. Spokane, Washington, USA
3. Toronto, Canada
4. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
5. Mitaka, Japan
6. Pirai, Brazil
7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
8. Tianjin, China
9. Singapore (1999 Intelligent Community of the Year)
10. Sunderland, U.K.
11. Long Island (Nassau & Suffolk Counties), NY, USA
12. Province of Ontario, Canada
13. Greater Cleveland and NE Ohio, USA
14. Calgary, Alberta, Canada (2002 Co-Recipient of the Intelligent Community of the Year)
15. Dublin, Ireland
16. Spanish Fork, Utah, USA
17. London, England, U.K.
18. Issy-les-Molineaux, France

Brief - Ink in the Trib about candidate for 42nd South Side

Rauterkus seeking Wagner's empty post

Mark Rauterkus, 45, of the South Side, will run as a Libertarian Party candidate for the state Senate seat being vacated by Jack Wagner.

Rauterkus, a swimming coach, was nominated last week by the Allegheny County Libertarian Party as its candidate in the race to complete Wagner's term in the 42nd Senate District. Rauterkus ran unsuccessfully for Pittsburgh mayor as a Republican in 2001.

Wagner, a Democrat from Beechview, was elected state auditor general on Nov. 2 and is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 18. A successor will be chosen in a special election to fill the nearly two years remaining on Wagner's term, which expires at the end of 2006. The date of the special election will be set after Wagner resigns from the Senate post.

What's Tom Cox saying here?

Can someone please translate this for me?

Murphy's out - "'Over time, people will come to understand what happened here,' said Tom Cox, Murphy's top lieutenant. 'There is brick and mortar, if anybody will see it. The objective legacy is palpable.'"

Editorial: Board and coverage was hitched to Murphy

Editorial: Murphy's limit / Pittsburgh's mayor decides to call it a career: "In the city's hour of desperation, it was hard to find any good will toward Tom Murphy from suburban lawmakers, some Democrats included.

That, if nothing else, was a sign that Pittsburgh needed a new mayor.

Two weeks ago, this editorial board said as much and we also said that candidates with fresh perspective, even from the Republican Party in a city dominated by Democrats, should step forward with their plans for the future. Now that the incumbent has decided not to run, those ideas will get a more thorough airing."

My expression, said thousands of times has been: "Pittsburgh needs a new mayor more than I need to be mayor." Finally, the sign of needing a new mayor get home to those at the PG.

We'll see how the treatment goes to candidates with fresh perspectives. The double talk is obvious in the mention above. Why not just say that the editorial board will be open minded to candidates and don't rub the readers in the nose with the city dominated by Rebublicans swipe?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Thomas Baker for School Board

Tom is a candidate for school board. Site just launched. Go get em!
Thomas Baker for School Board: "I will provide parents and students within District 5 with electronic newsletters monthly so that they can remain in touch with what is taking place in the school district and provide direct feedback to their school board representative"

The Middlebury Declaration

Middlebury is very near and dear to our family. Our Cameron is there as a sophomore. And, the Palmer family has many ties to the school and community.

The Second Republic, Journal of Vermont Independence

Naylor on Vermont, George Bush and Secession, from the Vermont Cynic.

Vermont Independence Day Petition.

New Hampshire Free State Project

South Side Summer Street Spectacular STOPS

Local news is reporting the death of the SSSSS.

I thought we all knew that this event was toast.

Last year the event organizers were tickled because their event rose in the standings. The event became the third largest annual gathering in the city, up from forth. I think. The pulling the plug on the Regatta lifted the ranking. Big deal.

A possible replacement is the South Side Spring Sports Saturday! Pitt's spring football game could be played on a Saturday at South Vo Tech with a parade from the UPMC Sports Complex to the staduim, tailgates, and a big blending of campus and community.

Murphy won't run

Our marathon running mayor won't run in either the Pittsburgh Marathon -- cancelled due to a lack of funds -- nor the 2005 mayor's race. He said today, as he signed the 2005 budget, that he won't be running for mayor. Tom Murphy is finishing his third term.

I was wondering about the turnout to his Christmas Party this year. Generally it is a big festive afair on the North Side. Didn't hear a peep about it this season. But, I never get an invite so I might have missed it. Anyone know?

An upsdide to not holding a 2005 marathon is the embarasment avoidance. Lots of injuries, blown knees and ankles sprains are sure to be avoided along the course. The sum of the city's road re-paving budget enables a scant 4-miles of pavement coverage for the duration of 2005. That sad fact is part of the budget the mayor signed today as well.

The city is about to crumble. The capital budget for 2005 stands at $0. Most of the rec centers and swim pools are staying closed.

More people left Pittsburgh while Tom Murphy was mayor than voted for him to continue being our mayor.

Voice of the Region uses "Think Again"

A quarter page ad in today's trib, page A4, uses the expression, "Think Again."

Headline: Think Your Opinion Doesn't Matter? Think Again.
Help Chage our Region by Givein Us A Piece of Your Mind.

The campaign and web site is by Mampos Inc. in partnership with the Pgh Tribune Review.

These folks also did a lame undecided voters market research thing after one of the presidential debates. Only "undecided voters" were invited. Then they ran the discussion on the radio. I called it lame because all the candidates on the ballot were not in the debates. To build a case after only some of the evidence is presented is faulty. And, to build a decision with a flock of those who are wishy-washy by choice is sure to a cheap investment of one's time.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Gratis read on Linux from IBM about desktop migration

IBM released a new Redbook: Linux Client Migration Cookbook -- A Practical Planning and Implementation Guide for Migrating to Desktop Linux.
Among the most interesting topics which are focused on the desktop deployment and technology are the chapters about "Migration best practices" and "Desktop automation and scripting".

Libertarian Party: Home Page

Libertarian Party: Home Page Libertarian to run for Pennsylvania Senate in special election.

Phili wine friends: What are you doing New Year's Eve?

See the comments to learn what's up with singer, songwritter friend, Dave Nachmanoff.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

DC's convention center lasted 22 years

Boom! Poof! Another churn and burn in 22-seconds. Film at 11.

DC got good ink and props for not blinking to the pressure from Major League Baseball. But, it gets a new parking lot on the site of its old as dirt convention center. Yep, the new one is already built. At least they didn't take down the one before the other was built.

Interesting sprawl fact: 20-new miles of roads for mall

Montour Record Robinson Planning Director Rick Urbano said the township will have to take over responsibility for 20 miles of new public roads connected to the Mall at Robinson.

Meanwhile, in the city, in 2005, we expect to be able to repave a total of four miles of roads. That's the extent of the paving budget.

West Allegheny Record reports on new park next to a school

West Allegheny Record One of the main focal points of the site will be the 1,000-seat amphitheater.

Parks such as this add value to the community and to the home owners. This seems to be a place for interactions, coaching, gatherings.

Meanwhile, some would like to remove the bandstand and stage from Point State Park.

River boss and overlord to vacate

Another one bites the dust.

River boss - "John G. Craig Jr., who stepped down as co-chair of the Riverlife Task Force, epitomizes the 'fatal conceit' of self-appointed leaders who presume to know what's best for everyone.

Some of the region's best and brightest citizens serve on the task force, formed in 1999 by the Murphy administration to create a 'grand, urban-scale park along the three rivers in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.'

Craig, appointed by his good friend Mayor Murphy, gave voice to that fatal conceit when he told a reporter the task force was a sort of 'moral authority' over developers of projects along the rivers.

However, this former newspaper editor did not cite a source indicating who gave the organization that so-called moral authority, or how Craig even was qualified to determine or guide the proper use of anything. "

Murphy's mess

Murphy's mess by the biased Joseph Mistick

Should have blogged about this a week ago. We do need more perspective in these matters. But, Mistick's folly is part of the mess too. Murphy has put the pedal to the medal and drove the city over the brink. But, the funding for the corporate land speculation had already started. Oh well. Now we're all on the same side, I assume. But, I'm not going to assert much more than an assumption, yet.

Gambling & greed: Joined at the hip

Editorial from

Fox Chapel hopes to remain competitive in Class AAA

Go Foxes!
Fox Chapel hopes to remain competitive in Class AAA - "Fox Chapel's swim teams were among the best in the WPIAL last season.

The boys finished fifth in the Class AAA meet, and the girls were seventh.

Inheriting two teams that were in the top 10 in the WPIAL is not a bad situation for new head coach Todd Clark.

'It's always nice to have them know what being successful is like in advance,' Clark said. "

Last year I was the head coach of the varsity swim teams. This year, I'm having a lot of fun coaching my kids in the pool in another suburban location.

It is good to see in Fox Chapel the team with the same coach for both the club and varsity programs. Furthermore, it is great to see coaches from last year still on the staff this season. The Foxes should be able to climb higher in the standings in the years to come. I hope to get to one of the meets this year as a spectator.

City of Pittsburgh schools' magnet program slots are filled

The demand at these schools exceed the supply.

City of Pittsburgh schools' magnet program slots are filled Liberty Elementary, Homewood Montessori, Pittsburgh Classical Academy, Sterrett Classical Academy, Frick International Studies Academy, Liberty Elementary, Perry Traditional Academy and Allderdice High School.

Roddey to bail, not bail out

PG: Roddey plans to quit city oversight board Asked in July why Pittsburgh's government should not have direct access to those gambling funds like other communities, Roddey's answer was, 'Because all the other communities aren't as screwed up.' ... Later he went off on council members who spent thousands of dollars on books, picture frames and other miscellaneous items even while the city was facing bankruptcy. ... Council had 'no intention of changing the way they operate, and have no appreciation for the crisis the city is under ... They don't get it. They simply don't understand what it means to be frugal,' Roddey said in October."

Meanwhile, our Gov, Fast Eddie, shows how he is like the others doing too little too late. "Rendell said yesterday that he plans to submit legislation next year expanding the board to seven members, which he said would make the board more diverse. Board members are currently all white males."

As for Mr. Roddey, it is hard to call him a critic of Tom Murphy. Roddey was no critic of Tom Murphy in 2001. One can only wonder how much of a help or hinder he'll be in 2005 when it comes to protecting the machine in the city. Time will tell.
Finally, I think it is sad to hear that another on the board is talking about putting external pressure on Mr. Roddey. What is that about?

Hens-Greco for Judge site goes live

Hens-Greco for Judge: Introduction: "I am a candidate for Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County."

Friday, December 17, 2004

SEA bets on $2 M in revenue from slots

These guys are still drunk on the expected slots incomes. Now the move is to prop up the SEA (Sports & Exibition Authority) Budget. They are with a $2-million hole. Rather than doing the right thing and making a balanced budget, as hired to do, they wish upon a star.

Logan is generally a strong critic of Mayor Tom Murphy. However, in this move, he seems to be doing the same things Murphy did with the 2003 drink tax.

SEA bets on $2 M in revenue - "
There are ways state gambling overseers could raise money before slots revenue starts rolling in, said state Sen. Sean Logan, D-Monroeville, an SEA board member.

Other state agencies, he said, borrow money against future revenue, including the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which pledges future toll revenue to borrow money.

'It's not like the Gaming Control Board, if they choose to do that, would be breaking new ground,' Logan said. "

The SEA needs to build a hotel. This slots money doesn't go to that purpose. Perhaps the size of the white elephant known as the convention center will be a story in 2005 or 2006? We've got a big sink on our hands. We're taking hoped for money to plug up operational holes for things that are to supply our economy with robust fuel. This is rolling out of control in reverse. And, if Logan is part of the new guard -- we are in deep, deep trouble.

Christmas letter, 2004

All on Earth can all take credit for another trip around the sun. Hope yours was exciting, joyful, peaceful, or whatever you wanted it to be. Our trip around the sun had some extra zig-zags around the planet as well.

We're thankful for many things and find that we don’t say “thank you” often enough. Consider this holiday letter as a thank you as you've touched our lives in special ways this year.

We are thankful for:

Beautiful places and splendor magisty as witnessed on a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The family soaked up one of the most beautiful places and the boys and I spending several days in Yellowstone. Amazing – bison, moose, eagles, elk. Grant went over the edge of the raft to cool his head and dunked into the Snake River. Snatched back into the boat by quick hands, Grant was the only one all season to topple out of a raft. Later with mom, the boys took their first horseback ride – up into the Rockies. They look great in their cowboy hats.

Catherine took both boys to Arizona for a weekend adventure that included horseback riding and lots of cactus.

DC trips have been fun. Catherine is planning the American Academy of Audiology 2005 convention. One adventure included meeting Congressmen, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Globetrotters.

Two trips to Chicago. One included a fun visit with Meryl and family. Thanks for the hospitality everywhere.

Catherine was awarded the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology honors. (Many thanks. Humbled by this.)

Catherine made a productive writing trip to Nashville. We've become country western fans and particularly enjoy singing “It’s only Monday Mr. Mom.”

An adventure in Vermont that included a wonderful family visit with nephew Cameron at Middlebury College and sugar on ice.

Erik got a $500 prize for the best essay for Black History Month in his age group in the city.

Many wonderful winter days ice skating.

Another great ski/snowboard/sledding weekend at Margie’s Hidden Valley House.

Another caring year being involved in our church community. Both boys sing in the choir.

A remarkable five week trip to China. Thankful there for wonderful tour guides, two terrific Pitt grad students who traveled with our family, and the people of China who made us feel welcome. We visited Beijing, Chengdu, Xian, Hong Kong. Catherine lead a month long course. We purchased new violins, had lessons, joined a swim team, and turned badminton into our newest family sport! An invite has been extended to a return trip in 2005.

Teachers at Philip’s Elementary School and the teachers at the gifted program are talented, patient people.

Nephew/cousin, Cameron, spent the summer in Pittsburgh, His presence was a treat for the whole family.

Aunt Debbi came to Pittsburgh and Uncle Bob made several visits throughout the year.

We rented a car and drove to Maine to visit Grandpa, Jay, and Jim and the exciting Atlantic Ocean. This year we kyaked in the ocean and Catherine went shopping.

We visited with Uncle Charlie, Aunt Pat, Sandy, and Steve, and enjoyed delicious lobster, for the first time.

Another week camp with a life affirming SUUSI and many UU friends. Thanks to our musical friends who take time with Erik, he wrote another song this year. Our year was full of music with visits from Mindy Simmons and Amy Carol Web – thank you so much!

A four day trip among family at Aunt Pinky and Uncle John’s youth hostel in eastern PA. Each year we are grateful for the Rauterkus family and once again celebrated with many of them at Nana’s annual cousins’ party.

Another undefeated summer swim season for the Green Tree Great White Sharks. The boys swim. I coach.

Year-round swimming started this fall for the boys. I'm coaching Grant as part of my duties with a club team a few nights a week. Both boys are swimming well and enjoying it.

For Grandma, she's still right across the street.

Red Sox crushing the Yankees and taking the World Series.

Others who care about the city too. Some advisors meet each morning after walking the kids to school. I've accepted the nomination to run for PA's Senate in a special election this spring.

Our old house is still standing. Home improvement is on our list for 2005.

Grant finds himself drawing in his free time. He creates a cartoon series that makes us all giggle. Dang it, Dangy. Dangy is a superhero who rids the world of people who do stupid things.

Erik currently is reading the Constitution because he finished the Declaration of Independence. It doesn’t give all the details (all inspired by the movie “National Treasure” – go see that one!).

There is so much more. We hope you have too much to be thankful for too.
With love – Mark, Catherine, Erik, and Grant

No Dice


Commentary #3 from No Dice, December 17, 2004 - For use as desired by Bruce Barron

The new Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board held its first meetings this week, and at least one historic event took place: the word "emergency" was redefined.

The board invoked emergency procurement procedures in order to take four actions without going through the standard bidding process prescribed by state law. One of those "emergency" actions was to rent office space.

State law says that emergency procurements can be made without going through standard bidding procedures only when there is a threat to public health, welfare or safety, or when circumstances outside the agency's control create an urgency that does not permit the use of competitive methods.

Nevertheless, the Harrisburg Patriot-News quoted a state Department of Revenue spokesman as defending the use of emergency procurement to rent office space, stating, "They have no place to sit."

That certainly sounds like a dire emergency to us.

We're sure that the honorable members of the Gaming Control Board investigated all other possible options before taking this emergency action, so we assume the following must be true:

* Governor Rendell used up all his chits fighting for the slots bill, so he can't persuade a single one of his own agencies to lend the Gaming Control Board a conference room and an office for three months.

* The Gaming Control Board members, hampered by salaries of only $140,000 a year, have no spare change available to buy folding chairs or a table, or to rent a meeting room a few times while conducting a proper bidding process.

Judging from their "emergency" need for a place to sit, none of the Gaming Control Board members could make it as a stand-up comedian, even though many of their actions may be downright hilarious.

Representatives of the gambling industry, predictably, expressed pleasure with the Gaming Control Board's willingness to bypass state law in order to accelerate the arrival of slots.

At least the Gaming Control Board, by demonstrating its ability to declare a state of emergency at the drop of a rental agreement, is getting Pennsylvanians accustomed to what Nevadans have known for years: once you let gambling into your state, the gambling lobby trumps good public policy every time.
(No Dice is a Pittsburgh-area advocacy organization opposing the proliferation of legalized gambling in Pennsylvania. To be added to or removed from this distribution list, or to receive copies of previous commentaries, contact Bruce Barron at nodicepa - at - aol - dot - com or 412-835-0614.)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

No ho, ho, ho's for Santa

No ho, ho, ho's for Santa pols - Shopping-mall Santas are less harmful than politicians.

End all corporate welfare here and now!

Another 'historic' day

Onorato calls row office reduction vote 'historic.' People recognize that this is a historic day.

We've had it to here in historic days .... and .... these folks are giving history a bad name. Putting something on the ballot isn't so historic, in my humble opinion. Should people vote for the measure, then, all-in-all, its like the loss of a few pimples.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

City faces $528,000 in interest to pay bills

PG coverage "This is a less than perfect plan . . . It adds more debt to the city when we don't need it," Shields said.

Everything around here is always less than perfect. Everything. Generally, it is often one step better than the worst possible.

Next stop for row office reform: May 17 with the voters of the county

Allegheny County's Executives signed the 10-4 plan that puts the ballot question before the voters of Allegheny County voters.

Keeping the Sherrif's office as an elected position keeps politics in law enforcement. However, the move keeps their boots out of the game. They have a lot of muscle. Had this been a 10-2 plan, perhaps their might would have swung the fight to no refrom at all.

Keep the Treasurer as an elected office is interesting to me, personally, in an around-about way. A potential opponent in the 42nd Senate has that office. His job is not up for elimination. Staying put might be an option that makes more sense.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Penn Avenue Arts Initiative

PG story

See comments for a letter from Jeffrey Dorsey.

Great tutorial on deed transfer tax with Jerry Bowyer's show.

I called in and we talked after a great tutorial on the deed transfer tax. This is a very important issue to the city. Jerry said, "The devil's in the details." Good point. We should be getting rid of this tax as a top priority. Meanwhile, the city is going in the exact wrong direction.

Some who know these things would say, and I agree, that this is the worst tax in our "mix."

Save Pennsylvania $600,000 -- Yawn, another day in the blogsphere with your help.

An Open Letter and Request (feel free to repost, link to, re-use, etc.)

From: Mark Rauterkus, Candidate for PA Senate
108 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh's South Side, 15203 412-298-3432 = cell

Pennsylvania's Elected Leaders
Allegheny County's Election Officials
Allegheny County Executive

Original release: December 14, 2004

Subject: Special Election in PA Senate 42 should be May 17, 2005.

The citizens and voters of Pennsylvania would benefit greatly if the date of the special election for the PA Senate 42nd District was set to May 17, 2005. Please do what you can so as to schedule the special election to occur on the same day as the Primary Election rather than as a day unto itself in February, March or April.

The cost savings for the taxpayers would be significant. The senate's district stretches from Baldwin to the city and out to the airport. The large district calls for many workers. These expenses are paid by the county and refunded by the state could be totally avoided. The county and state have better uses for those funds. The district has 250 districts at a cost of $800 each for a total expense of $200,000.

Rushing into the election shortens the campaign cycle and diminishes the opportunities to raise issues, debate positions, discuss solutions, and create better understanding and relationships within our communities and region.

The divide between the city and county has grown into a massive gulf due to abrasive actions from Grant Street and less-than-ideal bailouts from Harrisburg. In many instances it is as if the city is ringed with an iron curtain. Rather, we need to have this campaign be an opportunity to bridge city and county understandings. We need to heal and reverse the dysfunctional strains that pit city and county residents, and their elected leaders, against one another.

+ In Baldwin the Sierra Club and others are in dismay at the city's plans that advocate gambling, the extraction of coal and retail development with Charles Betters and Tom Murphy.

+ Suburban sprawl often clogs the Parkway West as more are being pushed from the inner city. Extra traffic chokes suburban streets. These are lose-lose situations and many others are seeking to raise money with $52 commuter taxes.

We have witnessed divisiveness. A range of issues add fuel the fighting: WPIAL/City League sports; RAD Tax; Transportation; MagLev; US Airways; Airport Development, and so on.

If the election is to be rushed to occur in 60 or even 75 days, the community can't rally to call for forums, hold in-depth discussions and work together in earnest, meaningful ways. Cramming the date sooner into the calendar hurts our opportunities to flourish as a region. We should cherish the interactions among candidates and community before votes are cast. May 18, 2005, is 119 days after the seat opens given the intended January 18, 2005 resignation of existing office holder.

Another matter to raise: prosperity. Nobody creates wealth by sitting at a polling place for 13 hours to handle a trickle of voters on special election days. Thousands of hours are absorbed in polling duties by many good neighbors. Rather these people should better invest their precious time with work, volunteer efforts, family time, school assistance and starting new businesses. I'd rather see a day of neighbor helping neighbor, improved fitness or even snow removal rather than the time and energy sink of a special election -- even with my name on the ballot.

I'd be embarrassed to NOT speak out as best I can on this matter. Democracy is messy. Politics is complicated. But voting is simple. The easy, simple and more direct path calls for the special election for the 42nd on May 17. Let's have a dual election. As the others are headed to the polls for the primary, we'll pick a senator too.

As I understand, Allegheny County's Department of Elections budgeted for the election's cost. An overtime investment into the election process should do different tasks.

1. Let's spend a small portion with mechanics to insure functional voting machines.

2. Let's recruit and train poll workers. Today's workers are great, but they are not getting any younger. We need to deepen and widen the pool of workers.

3. Let's speed the result certification so the new state senator from PA's 42nd is able to take the oath of office and join with colleagues within days after the election. Let's provide for overtime work, if necessary, after the election to get the new senator on the job. I will want to get to work on time. It would be better to delay the election by six weeks and work hard on the back-end to certify the vote's results in hours or days.

The 2004 PA Senate stood with a 30-20 party margin. A delayed election in the 42nd won't impact the balance of power in that chamber nor would it impact upon any super-majority necessary to override a veto. The politics of picking the election date is minimized, hence the practical matters are maximized.

Two special elections in eastern Pennsylvania could occur sooner, if need be. However, I'd love for them to be delayed to May 17, 2005, as well. Hence, the suggested savings nets a three-fold increase.

Google Partners with Oxford, Harvard & Others to Digitize Libraries

Google Partners with Oxford, Harvard & Others to Digitize Libraries: "Placing full text book material is not a new idea on the web. Many services, both free and fee-based, allow you to access books online. The longest running such service is Project Gutenberg, founded by Michael Hart in 1971, with over 13,000 books available."

Monday, December 13, 2004

Judge nominees to face grilling from 'jury'

Nominees to face grilling from 'jury' - "Candidates running for judge next year in Pennsylvania can expect to be grilled like never before about their positions on hot-button issues such as abortion and gun control.

When the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 struck down a Minnesota rule barring judicial candidates from expressing their opinions on issues, it created a new playing field for judicial candidates in 39 states in which judges are elected.

'It's a different ballgame now. You can no longer hide behind the ethical requirements that judges and judicial candidates not comment,..

This "deliberative democracy style" is now the rage in certain circles. It has plenty of merit in terms of making better choices. These new wrinkles will be interesting to watch and promote in the months to come.

Got ink in today's newspaper. When it rains, it washes out the poor.

See the article on this weeks public campaign reform hearing in

Mark Rauterkus, of the South Side, who initiated the petition drive, said Peduto's bill favors the wealthy because it places no restrictions on the amount of money candidates may spend on their own campaigns.

Rauterkus said he is considering a run for the state Senate seat vacated by Jack Wagner, who was elected state auditor general in November. Rauterkus also is considering another run for Pittsburgh mayor. He lost a bid to James Carmine to be the Republican nominee in the 2001 spring primary.

'If this is approved, we'll have a situation in which a rich person can spend all they want, but somebody who might make a great leader and doesn't have a lot of money won't be able to accept the large contributions they need from the people who back them,' Rauterkus said.

Peduto said the U.S. Supreme Court already has ruled that there is no limit on how much individuals can spend on their own campaigns. Peduto believes his measure would ensure that so-called front-runners won't have a significant edge because they are able to attract large contributions.

I have no problem with the rich being able to self-finance campaigns for public office. However, I do have a problem when they begin to exclude the poor from the process.

Your comments are welcomed.

To speak at the hearing, either for or against, or to just appear on the record for, against or undecided, call the city clerk's office: 412-255-2138.

More to come.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Walt walks to Cardinal

Let me join in the chorus and wish him the very best in in his position at Stanford.

Hope Walt coaches, or gets to coach, the January 1 game.

Hail To Pitt!

Pitt Rocks!

Feedburner button that updates itself.

Code can be posted on your web pages and stay up with the changing content of this blog.

more jobs

Here is a great job for a human rights peace activist. The pay range is $35,000 – 45,000, but you would have to move to Harrisburg. Please pass it on.

The PA Progressive Majority is now interviewing for an outreach/political director. This is a newly created position that will be based in Harrisburg but requires extensive in-state travel. I have attached a job description for your information and ask that you please forward this to anyone you feel may be interested. Thank you for your assistance.

Kathy McEntee, State Director, PA Progressive Majority, 717-238-4775
More in the comments.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Superintendent's fate official. Perhaps he'll consider a Running Mates position?

Superintendent's fate official - "
'Dr. Thompson's extremely disappointed in the board's decision and even more disappointed in the way all this has been handled,' said the superintendent's attorney"

Friday, December 10, 2004

MeetUp -- Christmas party -- post this around as you can, please.

Slashdot Meetups

Hint: Click the logo / button!

Gathering at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, December 15, 2004 at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites on Pittsburgh's South Side, 20 South Tenth Street, 412-488-1130.

Bring your wireless PCs. Bring a couple bucks. Bring some favorite beverages too. Coffee and juice is provided. Swimming is right next door at the Oliver Bath House, family swim from 7:30 to 9 pm.

We'll hang there to about 10:30 pm. Want to help, feel free to call or email me.

20 Million Loud Meetups

Come with checkbooks open: 10 am on Thursday, Dec. 16, public hearing in city council chambers

The city clerk just called to inform me that the Citizens of Pittsburgh have called City Council to hold a public hearing on bill 2004-0900 about Campaign Finance Reform for the city races of mayor, controller and city council to be held at 10 am on Thursday, December 16 in City Council Chambers.

Watch for an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review on Saturday.

I went to speak to Pittsburgh Business Times today and did speak again withe the editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.

The public hearing has been rushed ahead. That's fine with me. I think they need 10 day's notice. This is six. Oh well. Wonder if TV coverage will be nixed too. I expect so.

If you want to speak, --- do so NOW. We need to coordinate efforts. That's about effectiveness and efficient discussions.

The list of problems with this bill are long. But, I hope we'll be able to fix them.

I saw some firefighters today too. They'll talk about the bill at their union meeting soon.

Questions: 412-298-3432. = my cell phone.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Doyle's e-newsletter

Reading the newsletter from the congressman, great effort by the way, has many interesting connections to the mayor, rather than the president. Bad budgeting. Bad will with closed and quick decisions. (see comments)

Board for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Nicholas Beckwith III, News Bureau: There are 63 directors on the board, which is comprised of representatives from the University of Pittsburgh, member hospitals and other community civic and business leaders.

Are you on the board too? Or, have you been?
I frown upon authorities. Appointed authority directors serve on the boards and get to pull powerful strings in the public sector. They are not held accountable to voters in elections. PAT, Stadium Authority, Parking Authority, Water & Sewer, Leasing Authority and so on.

Worse than a frown, like frown squared, goes out to UPMC. Those board members are not even identified. Faceless.

We need to open our ways, big time.

Spirit of America - How baseball helped children and saved lives in Afghanistan

I generally stay to local issues on this blog. But, here goes a sports and international story about volunteerism, coaching and kids. Nice read. Spirit of America

Meanwhile at home, our kids now without the coordinators who had been part of the BIG League office. They were layedoff, some in past years, two more this month. Pittsburgh's volunteers are needed to fill roles of coordinators and coaches. And, our kids need some attention too.

Peace. It's hard work and brings a lot of fun to everyone.

Show Me The Way

Confessions Of A Political Junkie: Show Me The Way All campaigns are exercises in investments. The greater the risk, the greater the reward – if successful. The greater the risk, the greater the disaster – if unsuccessful. Likewise with little risk there is little reward or disaster. Unfortunately, too many campaigns have no idea where they are positioned to know if they should take a big risk or a little risk and, if so, in which direction that risk should be targeted to get to victory.

Humm.... This fellow has a lot of good advice on his blog.

I have a good understanding of where I'm at on the map. I'm aware of the travels yet to come. I'm not adverse to taking risks. I can go out on a limb. Being a risk taker, and being calculated, is one of the only themes found in the study of successful people.

The risk element, however, plays greatly to my friends and neighbors in the city's Republican party. To do nothing in one slot on the total ballot (i.e., Mayor's race), can be the safe and prudent option. Efforts to run a candidate for mayor can backfire. The best option, still with a great, great upside, is to support these efforts, here.

Meanwhile, running for other seats is with more purpose and devotion.

KQVs AM show has some nice interviews

My AM Radio dail has been set to KQV, and I've been impressed in the past weeks. They are doing a nice job with extended interviews.

Joan from Penn Future was on to speak of the pie in the sky building of the Mon Valley Toll Road. She hit all the big points well.

Seems Paul O'n, formerly of Alcoa and Bush cabnet, is now an ex- with UPMC's board. That board is H - U - G - E. Not sure why he'd pull off there. Humm.

The KQV editorial on the city's finances made it to the air too, it seems, after three others were yanked due to changes in the conditions in the landscape. Too many cooks can spoil the broth was a theme. Beyond a recap, the only other solid statement, "Sometimes even a blind pig can find an acorn."

Finally, like the radio ads of Trizilla, a sports and fitness store run by another former Fox Chapel swim coach. I'll need to look to see if he has an affiliate program and does web banner ads. Or, just need to plug Dicks some more.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Perhaps you'd better be older than 42 to represent the 42nd?

Senate seat draws interest - "The 42nd Senatorial District includes city neighborhoods in the south and west portions of Pittsburgh, plus Baldwin, Kennedy, Neville, Robinson, Scott and Stowe townships; and Bellevue, Brentwood, Carnegie, Castle Shannon, Coraopolis, Crafton, Dormont, Green Tree, Heidelberg, Ingram, McKees Rocks, Pennsbury Village, Rosslyn Farms and Thornburg boroughs. "

Row Office Reform tidbits

One idea: Make the recorder of deeds a function of a new office on assessments. That County Assessor could and perhaps should be an elected official. Property assessments have been such a tooth ache around here. Putting it as a political office, with accountability to the voters might be a viable solution. So, that is an increase in Row Offices.

The Prothonatary, Clerk of the Courts, and Register of Wills, (that's three current row offices) should be servants to the courts, not the County Executive. The PA Governor does not appoint the positions for similar state positions. Rather, the court officials do.

Perhaps a court challenge will come in the weeks and months in the future from, none other than the court leadership. The judges are not going to like the fact that the leaders of those possitions are assigned by the county executive.

Now looking for signatures to call a public hearing

A petition is being circulated that calls for a public hearing before city council on the matter of the campiagn finance reform bill just introduced yesterday. We have until Friday to get the necessary signatures from voters in the city.

Furthermore, we'll need to huddle a bit to organize the points for and against the bill.

I'll try to get golden master copies of the petition online soon (by midnight at the latest) so you can print, sign and forward back to me or directly to the city clerk's office.

The bill itself has been put into a PDF and linked to from another blog entry here. Reactions welcomed in comments here too.

Jobs: Web Marketing Manager - for Gr. Pgh Convention & Visitors Web Marketing Manager

See comments for other interesting job postings this week including:

1. Bloomfield Garfield Corporation for a YouthLinks position.

2. East End Neighborhood Employment Center for Executive Director.

3. Stonewall Dems for DC political director.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Christmas strings concerts

My boys are playing their violins with the Pittsburgh Music Acadmey at PPG Wintergarden at 5: pm on Saturday, Dec. 11.

Plus, you can catch them at 2 pm on December 19 at the Carnegie Free Library in Carnegie.

Ho, ho, ho. Tickets are $0.

I'm not sure when the school concert is, exactly. Their holiday play was scratched as the teacher had a bad fall and messed her ankle. Get well soon! My older boy had a speaking part, 4-lines, and was to play the Mayor.

Row office reform

I talked with Wayne Fontana of County Council on the phone. He worked a lot on the row-office reform measures and process. It seems the idea of 10-ballot questions, one for each elected office, was talked about. Wayne, perhaps being nice to me, said he like that idea and pushed for it himself.

By the way, Wayne and I are both expected to be on the campaign trails seeking the PA Senate seat in the 42nd District. Disclosure ends.

But, the Republicans didn't like the 10-votes idea. Nor did the Dems. Wayne didn't have a lot of support.

The fear was that the public would be so mad that they'd transition all 10 from elected office status.

How about this as a wrinkle for the veto's counter measure. The election is May 2005. Any given office transitions from elected to appointed could occur January 1, 2006. But, if the case of more than five (50%) transitions are voted upon, the remaining ones (6, 7, 8, 9, 10?) are to terminate Jan 1, 2007.

The offices that are mandated with a higher percentage of voters for closing close first. The offices that are less strongly in favor of an appointed leader transfer in 2007, if that is the will of the appointed leader of that office. Sooner would be permitted.

Bill's bill about too many bills. Pay to play -- nickle bets

Newly introduced campaign reform bill in a PDF with notes from me.

Hot off the presses. Some new rules are coming in time for the 2005 mayor's race, if Bill Peduto has his way. Bill is being talked about as a candidate. So, he is going to change the laws in serious ways now? Are you nuts? Let's change the goal post in the first quarter of the game.

I think I'll try to peg this the JIM THORPE rule. Thorpe was an Olympian. Great athlete. Poor background. Won medals. Lost medals because he broke the amateur athlete code and got some cash to play baseball. Those rule at that time were part of the sporting landscape to favor the rich. The poor kids, like today, can't travel to tournaments to compete without some cash to get there. But the rich could.

We do need to put these concepts onto the table and talk about them. There is a lot of "Pay To Play" in the city's fabric. However, this law is not yet ready for prime time. There should be a public hearing put on the law as soon as possible, for starters.

Trend: Too late. This should have surfaced six months ago.

If this isn't the JIM THORPE law, perhaps it will be the Earl Jones law. Earl has a wealthy nephew who could bankroll the mayor's race for Earl. Are the Democrats afraid of that?

Another kicker was today's city council action. A contract was awarded to a firm, Mockenhaupt Benefits Group that finances some of the benefits package of city workers. It is some finance deal that the administration wants to put into place. Deal like this happen all the time. But, two on council, Luke and Jim, voted no. They both, and Gene might have been absent but raised some questions last week, wanted to see a contract of that value be put out to bid -- or at least to a RFP process (Request for Proposals). But no. The mayor of the city wants to spend the money is a fashion as he sees fit -- without a bid. And, Bill Peduto is fine with that. I'm not.

Bid all the contracts.

New campaign reforms would not be needed if everything in the city was done on the up and up. The proposed law states that any person who makes a maximum contribution during an election cycle may not be awarded a contract relating to City affairs, without going through a competitive bidding process. Jeepers. Have all the awarded contracts be done with a competitive bid.

Furthermore, who is to say what's what. Who works at the benefits group, or owns it, or manages it, or rents space to it --- whatever --- who is giving to various campaigns. As it is today, no corporate donations can be made to campaigns. So, Mockenhaupt Benefits Group isn't going to show up in the campaign finance reports.

There are many better things to do than this law. How about, for starters, we give each candidate for office 10 hours on the government station as soon as they are on the ballot. Let's let all the candidates make their case. Rather, we get flashing photo billboards of all the members in office now for free for four years at a time. team nets Monica for political director

See the comments for a mention from Bob G, the GOP Chair. Lots of strong females are in the upper ranks of the county's GOP team.

Do more with Les

It's a good campaign slogan: Do More with Les. That's Les Ludwig.

Today Mr. Ludwig tossed his hat, officially, into the Democratic Mayor's race primary. He talked about the lack of leadership in the city council chambers, in the administration AND with the unions.

Doubt you'll see much in the newspaper or on the radio. His arrival into the race is going to make it rocky for Bob O'Connor. There is some history between the two. Bob O'Connor, as his city councilman, didn't help in a home-care operation.

Les has dug on a few different issues. I've posted his comments on the issues to the internet at my sites.

PG: The people lose / Needed repairs come to nothing

EditorialThe legislation that brought casino gambling to Pennsylvania was flawed in various ways, but the most flagrant irritant to many ordinary people was the provision allowing public officials to have up to a 1 percent stake in gambling entities. A public outcry went up to fix this open invitation to a conflict of interest, and lawmakers hurried to oblige.

That effort has come to nothing... When Republican Sen. John Pippy of Moon introduced Senate Bill 1209 in August, it was a simple affair dealing with the 1 percent problem. When it reached the governor's desk last month, it was anything but simple. The bill was loaded with amendments and Gov. Ed Rendell vetoed it....

This was a collective failure of the executive and legislative branches, Democrats and Republicans. Many Pennsylvanians wanted something done and what they got was a parody of casino life: a lot of action and no final payout. Shamefully, it is another thing that the politicians did without getting right. It's a piece of unfinished business that must be revived next year."

This goes to the trends of doing too little, doing it too late, and one-step better than the worst possible. We need higher standards. Perhaps our expectations need to be raised? When you aim low, it is hard to miss.

10-4 vote for 10-4 question on row office reform

Passed council, 10-4 for 10-4.: "'I think this is a historic moment to reform and reorganize county government,' Rich Fitzgerald said after the meeting."

Everything is so dramatic and so historic. Give us a break.

And, to say it is only 'fair' to let the officials serve out their terms is NOT fair to the will of the people. Fair for row offices. The fair thing to do is put each office before the voters and have it stand on its own.

Give us 10 ballot questions, one for each office. Then let's see how the campaign works.

Dan could veto their plan and get the necessary signatures to put his 10-2 plan onto the ballot. Or, Dan could counter with a 10 office 10 vote plan. Thankfully, there is still a little time.

Anyone else what to offer a ballot question for discussion? This is the time to toss it out into the marketplace of ideas for review.

Place those orders to getting ready for Christmas?

In the next days I've got to come to grips with our final purchase for our kids. Do they do Linux at the North Polo or do we have to get an elf from Round Rock, TX? My kids don't read my blog, as they are generally into Backyard Baseball. But, if you have had any good values let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance.

Christmas Party -- RSVP form

Thanks for the RSVP. Christmas Party, slated for 7:30 pm on Wednesday, December 15 on the South Side.

You can use this page to invite up to six others as well. Thanks!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Sunday's Libertarian Party, Dec. 12, 7 pm - Monroeville

I'll be there. Hope you can consider it and attend as well. To RSVP, send me an email or put it into the comments.
Sunday, Dec 12th 7 PM. Annual Libertarian Party of Pgh (Allegheny County) Holiday Party at John Harvard's on Business route 22 in Monroeville. This is next to Penn Center and across the street from the Cinnemette East. Everyone on this list is invited. We have to plan the details in the next few days, gather RSVPs and send out additional invitations. Admission will be free. There will be separate checks.

We will probably have a 50/50 raffle to get funds for the party. Anyone can join the LPPgh for an additional year for the reduced rate of $20 at the holiday party. We should hold a short meeting, ratify the chapter election results, possibly nominate someone to run for Jack Wagner's vacated state senate seat, then adjoun. There is no out of town speaker this year, but potential candidates may wish to speak.

We should also take a few minutes to recap 2004 and lay out a general plan for 2005. John Harvard's is a brew pub that makes about 20 varieties of beer. Their food is British/American and includes entrees like chicken pot pie, shrimp scampi, blackened chicken something or other, Oriental chicken salad, grilled salmon,

Replacement sought for Wagner's state Senate seat

Replacement sought for Wagner's state Senate seatThough no date has been chosen for the special election, the election will probably be in the spring, and could coincide with the spring primary."

To date, the only Republican to publicly express interest in running for Wagner's Senate seat is David Jason, a Scott Township commissioner.

(Bill Toland can be reached at or 1-717-787-2141.)

My adivce is headed to Harrisburg in a letter soon. I'm asking that the special election for this open seat be held on May 17, 2005. That special election can occur at the same time as the primary election day so as to save money. The costs of a special election for a Senate seat are too steep to hold on its own day.

I was at an organizational meeting this weekend with some former DEAN supporters from throughout the county. They started to talk about the open PA Senate seat and the need to get good candidates. I spoke up and said, "I resemble that remark." Later I had the floor for a three minute update and invited them to the wiki, Platform.For-Pgh.Org.

Row office reform solution -- unbundle and take on a case by case vote.

I wrote to Erik Selby, Program Manager, KQV, and asked if I might provide an audio editorial.

Row office reform is a big topic in 2005. Our county's chief executive has a plan to reduce the elected offices from ten to two. Others on council and in our political system have different plans, be it 6 or 5 or otherwise.

Rather than a bundled package, I'd love to see the voters of the county deal with each office on a case by case basis. Rather than one question for the voters with an outcome of for example, 10-2, take it or leave it.

Let's think again. Let's ask ten questions.

Should the county charter be changed so as to keep and elected position of:
  • Treasurer: vote "YES" or "NO."

  • District Attorney: vote "YES" or "NO."

  • Sheriff: vote "YES" or "NO."

  • (and so on)

  • Listing all the office postions could be squeezed into the radio's message.

    The voters are smart enough to take this apart on a case by case basis. The vote would allow each office to campaign or not for their role within the new structure.

    When there is a bundled deal, this gives cover. The process should be open, honest and clear for all to see.

    As voters are not aware of the issue, they'd be encouraged to not vote and leave the decision to those who have strong opinions on the matter. But, in the course of the campiagns, good news outlets would rise to the call for more voter eduction, also on a case by case basis. This educational exposure would make the county stronger and serve as a civics primer to many.

    Western Pennsylvania lags in terms of our use of democracy. Let's provide more power to the people. Our use of referendums and ballot questions is horrid. We should enliven this process as a tool of democracy. Self-reliance is in short supply and greatly needed before we can solve the various crises we face.


    Of course, I'd re-write for length before going to the studio.