Thursday, June 30, 2005

South Side's Authentic Food Fest Update: Abruzzi's and Halo's

Abruzzi's moved to the Holiday Inn Express on the South Side, just a short walk from the current place.

Abruzzi's used to be HELENS. Helen had a food joint that was family style. She'd cook and you'd eat what she cooked. No menus were needed.

Abruzzi's is authentic Italian Cuisine and on 10th Street, one the same block as the Oliver Bath House. It is now serving lunch M-F from 11:30 am.

Another new opening, but brand new, is HALO Cafe. They've done a splendid job on a church rehab. It is right on East Carson Street and just opening now. Valet parking available.

I'm not a food critic, so I'll pass on giving my insights. Imagine that. But you all can post below. Additionally, if you want to set a date, I'd be glad to go there with you and yours as a guest. My bar tab will be $0, so I'm cheap. :)

Come Live Over Here -- and enjoy the South Side. And we won't even miss the Street Spectacular this summer.

City Paper: Opens Case for Open Government

Pittsburgh City Paper - News News Briefs

No Open and Shut Case for Open Government by CHARLIE DEITCH

"We’ve been putting this in front of [city] council for two-and-a-half years now," says long-time activist David Tessitor, about his efforts to place an "Open Government Initiative" on the November ballot. "But they never paid attention to it and we’ve never heard back."

Tessitor, working under the name PANDA (Pittsburgh Area New Direction Alternative), hopes he'll be able to gather the requisite signatures to put the proposal to a vote. The Open Government Initiative would change the city’s home-rule charter to set up a citizens' advisory panel. The panel would place a representative at every city council meeting to participate in discussions in a non-voting capacity. The move would also require that public information and recordings of public meetings be placed on the city’s Web site.

These two changes alone, Tessitor says, would allow citizens to have a clearer picture of what exactly their public officials are doing.

"We have one instance after another where our government officials have tried to sneak things past the public," says Tessitor, who points to the city's plan in 2002 to sell the publicly owned library buildings to the Carnegie Library board for $100 each, an option that was buried in building leases. "They have created an illusion of openness by putting some information forward to the public, but it’s not nearly enough."

Both Tessitor and Celeste Taylor, whose group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is also supporting the initiative, say they are aware of cries that it will slow down the process of government. That should only happen in cases where it needs to slow down, says Tessitor. Good legislation will fly through the system faster, he says, while bad legislation will be held up to allow for proper scrutiny and, if it's truly a bad deal, to be killed.

Neither council President Gene Ricciardi nor President Pro Tem Jim Motznik were available for comment by press time.

"When I'm asked why we need this, I can give a lot of reasons, but the most obvious is because this city is broke and that surely didn’t happen overnight," Tessitor explains. "And worse than being broke, this city is broken."

More volunteers than the current 30 have to step up to get the required signatures, Taylor says, which number in the hundreds after less than a week of neighborhood canvassing. The group has until Aug. 9 to get about 9,000 signatures of registered voters.

"We’re trying to make this fun and empowering and not just a bunch of people bitching and complaining," says Taylor. "This is a good city, but council is too closed off from the citizens."

Contact Celeste Taylor, 412-628-7867 or; or see

Chris L of GrassRootsPA, moving to office in Camp Hill (Harrisburg)

Chris Lilik, DU grad, hub site coordinator of, guest on the final M-F Jerry Bowyer radio show, mentioned that hs is moving out of Pittsburgh to central Pennsylvania.

Lilik's site is much like a blog but without original content, and with plenty of links and article snips about all sorts of state-wide political coverage. Self-described: The Epicenter of Conservative Grassroots Activity in Pennsylvania.

The population decline continues. Pittsburgh dropped another 1% per year, as has been the progress, for a total of 3,000. Pittsburgh's population decline has been massive, and its still on a roll.

Lilik's departure, as stated on the air from Jerry Bowyer, makes next year's census look drop to be predicted as 3,001.

One of the organizers of, an aggregate site, has wondered about keeping or nuking the feed from GrassRootsPA. Now, with the move out of the local area, the hook can take hold.

What's yours is ours.

Four letters to the editor ran in the Trib that were critical of the Supreme Court's
Kelo v. New London ruling. One was from fellow Libertarian, Mark Crowley.
Supreme abuse II, Letter to editor

"Promoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government."

With those reckless words, five Supreme Court justices implemented a far-reaching expansion of government power serving well-connected special interests at the expense of property owners. "Public use" might as well be called "public used," as property rights are traded for corporate welfare and tax revenue.

To be clear about this, substitute the word "medical" for "economic" in the above quote. Consider what "public use" now means. Your body could be a tissue farm ripe for harvesting by pharmaceutical interests and research labs.

What now prohibits tax-hungry bureaucrats from considering a forced organ transplant from a low-wage worker to an injured high-wage ballplayer, actor or industrialist just for higher wage, entertainment or sales tax revenues?

Government is closer to taking an arm and a leg than ever before.

Mark Crowley, Plum

Jason Almire, The First Interview

The first interview has run. Next comes the first bad review. It is offered as constructive remarks so he and others get a better launch. Running for political office opens a parade of hurdles to trip upon. Here is a look at some of them below.

Jason just quit his job at UPMC (gov relations) and is entering the race for US Congress and may run against M. Hart, R, if Jason could win the Dem's primary.

The Qs are bold. Jason A's answer start with "A" are are italic. My reply is regular text. The next link only show the interview from the Politics PA site. By the way, hat tip to Politics PA for getting out good local and state news. If you are a political junkie or otherwise, you need to sign-up for the email blast from the operators of that site.
Jason Almire, The First Interview: "An Interview with Jason Altmire

Q: How does the future look for UPMC? What are the biggest challenges facing it as you depart?

A: UPMC is the largest driver of economic development and employment in the region. I expect that they will continue to diversify and lead the way on cutting-edge biotechnology initiatives. I enjoyed my time at UPMC but have given up my job to explore this race because I feel strongly that Congress is out of touch with the concerns of everyday Americans and leading the country down entirely the wrong path. It is obviously a huge personal and financial risk for me and my family, but I simply cannot stay on the sidelines when I believe I have something to offer the national debate.
MR's reply: Jason didn't come close to putting together an answer to either of the questions. For that, he might be well suited. But, we don't need to know about the HUGE risk when asked about UPMC. Going to UPMC is a huge personal and financial risk for any individual and his or her family. Perhaps the biggest challenge is to sound like one is NOT out of touch, to stay on the wrong path, to be a driver of employment. Mumbo jumbo.

UPMC is much more than an economic development. UPMC is a hospital and research institution. UPMC is about education, fighting illness for patients and solving health care situations -- and as a sideline, it is about employment.

Tell us about your time at FSU, playing football.

I treasure my memories from my time at FSU. As the years go by I realize more and more what a special opportunity I had to be a part of the football tradition there. I've had six knee surgeries and my playing career certainly didn't turn out as I had hoped, but I got to play for a true legend in Bobby Bowden, which by itself makes it all worthwhile. I learned the value of hard work and perseverance, and even what its like to be totally overmatched. As a wide receiver of relatively marginal ability I worked everyday for an entire season against Deion Sanders, which makes a mere congressional race seem like child's play!

MR's reply: Jason has it backwards. It is football that is child's play. A congressional race should not seem like child's play.

Q: We understand that until now, based on your current job situation you could not speak directly about your personal position on political issues, or your possible candidacy for congress. That said, if someone like, say... you, were to run for Congress how much would he or she need to raise to defeat Congresswoman Melissa Hart?

A: The opposing candidate will need adequate financial resources to get the message out, but I don't think that necessarily means matching Hart dollar for dollar. I'm sure she is going to have all the money she needs given her vulnerability and the growing high-profile of this race. Clearly the minimum needed to mount a credible challenge is $1 million, but it will probably take closer to $2 million when all is said and done. If, as I expect, the race stays close after the primary and late into the cycle, the national money will pour in from both sides and you may be looking a one of the most expensive races in the country.

MR's reply: Jason, don't refer to yourself as "the opposing candidate." It is weird to use the third person to talk about yourself too. Say, 'I will need....' Or say, 'Our campaign team hopes to..."

The cause and effect of Hart having all the money she needs because of the vulnerability doesn't wash for me. If she is vulnerable, she'll not have all the money she needs. And if she is vulnerable, the money won't flow to her as easily and some will sit on the sidelines.

I think it is bad form to predict national money will pour into the race. That is a huge assumption.

Frankly, I have to wonder why it would take $2-million to get my message out to the voters of a congressional district. Is that message that hard to deliver? And, I wonder why anyone would want to burn $2-million for a chance at a job that pays $100K per year.

In the PA State Senate race, a big district sorta close to the size of the US Congressional district -- both the D and R candidates out spent me 250-to-one. In total, I was out-spent about 500-to-one. But the R candidate only out-voted me 5-to-1 and the D candidate who won out-voted me 7-to-1.

In would have good feelings for supporting a challenger candidate who understood that the campiagn would hope to be out-spent by a margin of 50-to-1 or even 100-to-1. However, you'd still have a plan to win.

When I talked with Michael Lamb, months before the campaign really started, he told me that he had a plan to raise the $1-million that was necessary to race in the campaign. He was confident that he'd do it. He was well on the way to doing so. All signals were good. I just rolled my eyes. Michael Lamb's campaign did a great job at raising money. But, there was not $1-M that flowed into the kitty. To telegraph the amounts, and have them so out-of-touch with everyday citizens is self-destruction.

Q: Georgia Berner says she would be the best candidate to take on Congresswoman Melissa Hart. Thoughts?

A: Georgia and I are very different people with very different backgrounds and experiences. The primary will provide a real choice for democratic voters and we'll let the people decide who's better for the district and has the best chance to challenge Melissa Hart. Since the story of my interest in the race became public a couple weeks ago, I've been gratified by the overwhelming positive response and many offers of assistance. I'm confident that it will become clear very early who the democratic frontrunner is by the public endorsements and active support from elected officials from within the district.

MR's reply: The reply is fine. However, I'd go a bit more to a point-counter-point type of answer at this moment and begin to raise some issues. Georgia is for X-Y-and Z while I'm even better a Y-and Z, I also stand for A-B-C and that devotion is clearly hard to match, even by the incumbant. So, your race is not going to discount the opposition D, but you can frame the challenger and yourself on issues and contrast that against what Hart has done. Give a couple props to the loyal party opponent and then dive into the race against HART, the real target.

Q: How come Democrats can't come up with decent candidates to take on Tim Murphy, Don Sherwood, and before possibly you, Melissa Hart?

A: Sherwood's challenge would have to come from a primary because his new district is more heavily Republican. Murphy's district is majority democrat in registration and I'm surprised that a big name challenger has yet to materialize. With two strong Democrats on top of the ticket, 2006 is going to be a different year than we've seen in the past in Pennsylvania.

MR's reply: Who are the two strong Dems on the top of the ticket in 2006? Are you talking about Rendell and Catherine Baker Knoll? I'm left wondering. Is this the challenger to Santorum? The point of the mention is to say that your answer wasn't that clear to non-political people. Why even comment on Tim Murphy's challengers? Say that you are aware of various happenings in the greater political landscape but only comment on things that are near and dear to yourself.

Q: You live across the street from Melissa Hart's brother. Do you lock your doors at night?

A: Obviously this is an awkward situation, which I regret. They have been great neighbors and we hope to remain friends through what promises to be an eventful year and a half. We could have moved away before this race and in fact strongly considered it to relieve the tension. But we like the community and our neighbors, including them. We'll just do the best we can. I view our street as a sort of de-militarized zone -- I've told the Harts that I won't involve the neighborhood and we'll just keep our street completely out of the race. We're going to try to keep it as normal as possible under the circumstances for the sake of our friendship and especially our young children, who play together everyday. For me, this situation is the most difficult part of the campaign.

MR's reply. The awkward situation and point to regret is the question. The best way to keep it normal isn't to talk about it with the media. Nor do I want to hear about a "de-militarized zone" in a political campaign.

How about, "I have a great neighborhood and treasure my community." Nuff said.

10K -- say what -- To me, a 10K is a race. To them 10K is a pay raise.

Front page news: Harrisburg lawmakers are hatching a plan for giving themselves a $10k pay hike.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about hot I'll be able to run a 10K at the end of the Friends of the Riverfront Triathlon. That's what a 10K means to me.

It will be interesting to see what happens. If my former 'race' opponents, Fontana and Diven, vote for that pay raise, they'll be a little richer for the duration of their terms, but it would be another nail to shut down their elected careers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bloggers lobby to fight government regulation

Bloggers lobby to fight government regulation - Are bloggers going mainstream?


Red State got a mention. My mini-blog there has not gotten too much use. But, they do a fine, fine job.

UPA Properties for sale for $500 minimum. Let's change the ADJACENT policy and extend it farther to better liquidate URA holdings.

The City of Pittsburgh and the URA own a countless number of properties scattered all around the city. These are countless as a real inventory of the property locations and the assets are NOT available. A count and details have been promised, again, to be completed in the next couple of months.

Some of these properties are vacant lots. The lots are in neighborhoods. Often, these were homes that were left to rot and have since been torn down. The city can take the property's deed when taxes are not paid.

As the city owns the properties, the city needs to from time to time, go there and mow the grass and do minor upkeep.

If there is a city owned lot or a paper street (that's a slightly different matter but still has many of the same outcomes), the city will often tranfer the title of the property to the URA. Then the URA has a property manager who can work to sell off that property.

A policy of the city is to sell for $500 or more, vacant lots to adjacent property owners. So, if someone lives right next to an empty, city-owned or URA-owned property and there is not overall plan for that property by the URA, then it can be sold to ADJACENT "qualified" buyers.

A qualified buyer is one who has paid all the taxes, water bills, sewege bills and such. That's a great check. We don't need the city to sell its excess property to property cheats.

But here is the new suggestion!

Let's sell off the excess property owned by the URA to qualified buyers who might not be ADJACENT, but who are NEAR BY reidents.

Perhaps the corner lot is URA-owned. Perhaps the next-door neighbor does NOT want to purchase the corner lot. But, say the people who live in the middle of the block do want to purchase the corner lot. Let's have the URA sell off the property to those who live near by.

I'd say the technical definition of "near by" could be extended by month to stretch from five units to an additional five units each season.

So, in the fall of 2005, all lots are for sale as is the present policy. This gives those who do live ADJACENT to the property time to make that sale that they've been putting off and never needed to make.

Then in the first quarter of 2006, anyone who owns property within five address numbers of a URA-owned lot can make a purchase.

Then in the second quarter of 2006, anyone who owns property within ten addresses of the URA-owned lot can make a purchase.

In third quarter of 2006, the near-by description stretches to 15 address numbers.

Then in the fourth quarter, the near-by description stretches to 20 address numbers.

Perhaps in the future the near-by would grow even farther -- to zip codes or to council districts or perhaps by 200 meters.

I'd also make a restriction that each property owner would be entitled to only one $500 sale per quarter.

Furthermore, an owner of a vacant lot would not be able to be considered a nearby resident. This way a person who gets a vacant lot, or who already owns a vacant lot can't go around a neighborhood and buy up more vacant lots. That person would need to reside on a property to qualify to buy at the new ADJACENT lot price rate.

The URA can sell off some of its properties in other ways as well. But, the URA's track record at getting properties back on the tax rolls is less than a success. The URA is good at getting properties and holding onto them. That is the trend needs to be reversed so the properties are more fluid and begin to generate more income for the city from annual property taxes.

Act 72 Laid to Rest - Press Release from Libertarian Party of PA

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania
3863 Union Deposit Road #223
Harrisburg, PA 17109

For Immediate Release

For more information contact:
Doug Leard at 215-646-1502 or David Jahn (Chair) at 610-461-7755

Act 72 emerged from Pennsylvania's General Assembly as a very complicated and confusing piece of legislation. The complexity of Act 72 ensured that just about everyone could find something they did not like.

Many school boards quickly realized that Act 72 threatened their power to tax-and-spend since it gave voters the opportunity to vote against school budgets that raised taxes above the rate of inflation. So, the overwhelming majority of school boards across the state opted out because it would have made them more accountable to taxpayers and voters.

What happens next? The Libertarian party agrees something must be done in the short-term to help property owners who are threatened with the loss of their homes simply because they cannot afford the rising cost of school property taxes. But, we also see rising property taxes for what they really are, a "symptom" of an inefficient and expensive government-run education system.

It is obvious we can no longer afford to keep doing what we have always done before -- raise taxes and throw more money at our public schools. But beyond the money issue, what really needs to be fixed is the "education" side of our public schools. Many parents are dissatisfied with the public schools their children are forced to attend, and a growing number of teachers are frustrated with the constant meddling in education by government bureaucrats and politicians.

Instead of focusing on ways to shift taxes to fund our public schools, Governor Rendell and the General Assembly must begin the process of getting government out of the education business. Pennsylvania needs to encourage a free-market educational system that provides students and parents more choices, where educators have the freedom to use new and innovative teaching methods and where parents would be primarily responsible for the cost of their own child's education.

Education is far too important to be trusted in the uncaring and self-serving hands of government bureaucrats, special interest groups and politicians. We need to put education back where it belongs -- in the hands of parents and teachers!

The Libertarian Party, the third largest and fastest growing political party in Pennsylvania and the nation, continues to provide a beacon of hope for voters disillusioned by the fog of Big Government.

Do Growing Greener Right and Do It Now, Coalition Demands

This came to me from another source, hence the ITALIC type. Authorship / ownership tip: As a style convention on this blog, generally, a good way to tell that I (Mark Rauterkus) didn't write the text is from the ITALIC messages.
Growing Greener implementation legislation is in the balance in Harrisburg at this moment. As you are likely aware, the budget process is supposed to be finished by June 30 (tomorrow), so this is the crazed rush time of year where everything gets thrown into the mix. The good news is that Growing Greener is in that mix. But, we need to make sure that what comes out the other end is what we all voted for in May.

PLEASE contact your legislators NOW and urge them to implement Growing Greener, but to do it RIGHT. See talking points below from a press release issued yesterday by the Pennsylvania Alliance for Conservation and Restoration (PARC). Sierra Club is a founding member of PARC, and urges our members to support PARC's positions in their communications with their Representatives and Senators.

Legislative Delay Violates Voters’ Trust, Risks Farmland and Environmental Cleanup

Harrisburg –With time running out for action this summer, the Pennsylvania Alliance for Restoration and Conservation (PARC), a coalition of sporting, environmental and civic organizations working together to protect Pennsylvania’s environment, who were the main organizers behind the resounding vote for environmental cleanup on the May ballot, called on Governor Rendell and the General Assembly to implement the voters' mandate for new spending on the environment. Instead of the House-passed version of Growing Greener, HB 3, which takes away $85 million a year in existing environmental funds to provide $115 million, the Coalition's 30 organizational members asked the legislature to adopt a general obligation bond, to be paid out of future revenues and not out of existing environmental programs, and to take that action prior to adjourning for its three-month summer recess.

"The voters overwhelmingly embraced the existing Growing Greener program with their 61 percent approval of the $625 million bond question in May," said Jan Jarrett, PARC co-chair and vice president of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture). "They didn't vote to take money from one set of environmental priorities to fund another, nor did they turn out to hand over state dollars to local government. They voted to preserve open space, clean-up abandoned mine lands, and restore our rivers and streams. Instead of playing shell-games with the taxpayers' money, the legislators and the governor need to stand up and do what the voters asked them to do."

"The proposals put forth so far by the governor and legislators violate the voters' intentions because they divert funding from other environmental programs or fail to make the significant investments needed in conservation and restoration programs," said Andrew McElwaine, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and PARC co-chair. "This new money must be used for environmental programs to protect farmland and open spaces and to clean up our water and maintain places for hunting and fishing. Anything less is a betrayal of the voters' wishes."

The PARC coalition sent Governor Rendell and the leaders of the General Assembly a set of guidelines for spending the voter-approved $625 million bond, which includes:

  • The new program must address critical needs to conserve dwindling open space and farmland, to restore land and water damaged by coal mining, to protect and restore watersheds, and to repair infrastructure maintained by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and the Pennsylvania Game Commission;

  • Funding for these purposes must not come at the expense of existing environmental programs such as recycling;

  • The existing trash dumping fee should remain dedicated to its current purposes; and

  • Funding to address Pennsylvania's environmental problems and to conserve our natural resources must be in place for the long term to ensure a high quality of life in our communities.
  • Tuesday, June 28, 2005

    Patriot Act - statement of opposition got the endorsement from County and State Libertarians

    The Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania chapters of the ACLU sent out an endorsement call and both the Libertarian Party of Allghengy County and the Libertarian Party of PA are included on a letter that has just been sent to the Judiciary Committee Chair of the US Senate, our own Arlen Specter, Republican.

    The exercise accomplished the following:

    * Added weight to the very real concerns surrounding the Patriot Act.

    * Presented the LPPA and LPPGH names out there where our "LP" brand should certainly stand apart from some of the left-leaning groups.

    * Established some contacts within the ACLUs of PA and Pittsburgh that we can use in the future.

    * Reminded them that we are "the third largest political party in Pennsylvania" and that when necessary we can be organizationally responsive to an appropriate request
    even if requested in an awkward way. (Although, I hope they learn to be a little more proactive and maybe feel just a little guilty.)

    * Gave local Libertarians an opportunity to respond to a "fire drill" where we had to react quickly to an opportunity to promote liberty and to promote ourselves. We passed, but I hope we can do this even smoother next time.

    Hats off to Mark C, a local Libertarian leader, who was on best behavior with the
    ACLU and keep on this side of being tolerant of those who make it difficult for us to do them a favor.

    A few feel that the letter is pretty lame, but maybe it has to be and too long.

    Mr. Bill Robinson -- he's considering a run for City Controller

    Lump Camp bumped into Bill Robinson, present member of county council, headed into Giant Eagle.

    I asked him if he is considering a run for City Controller -- and he is! That's good news.

    He has, he assured me, taken into consideration the eventual resignation of his council seat. He said he'd not want to have me on his back while he was still on county council yet running for another public office.

    Good answers Bill. Good on both accounts. I hope he gets into the city controller's race. And, I hope he pulls out of the county council before or at the proper times.

    Wayne Fontana didn't. Wayne's lack of action in getting off of council at the right time set a bad policy that shouldn't be repeated.

    China heat could kill Olympic horses in Hong Kong -- Downers. - Olympics - Official: China heat could kill horses Horses could die in the heat if Olympic equestrian events are held in Hong Kong during the 2008 Beijing Games, the former secretary-general of the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation was quoted as saying Tuesday.

    How do the elephans survive in the heat of Thailand?

    Is it because elephants don't "compete?"

    Are horses more prone to going prone in the heat? Or, is it the humidity?

    Can't the horse races occur at dawn, so as to be in prime time in the WEST COAST? It would be cooler at dawn.

    What do you call a cow without any legs? .... Ground beef.

    But that kiddie joke isn't funny any more as there is a word, "downers" now is an official world in the vet and cattle circles. A downer is an animal that can't get up. Those downers are all tested now -- for mad cow disease.

    A cow in the American West recently tested positive for mad cow disease.

    I'm sure that the control freaks in China would much rather have the lifestock all go to Hong Kong. No sense in spreading the illnesses of the world to Beijing and putting a BILLION PEOPLE to bed hungry with some infection that could spread.

    China is now running into some big problems with its birds. A flock of ducks or geese were hit with a "bird flu" (not flew) in the past weeks. This was in the interior of the country and the animals were migrating. In a blink of time, thousands if not millions of fowl could be infected. That is scary on many dimensions.

    If Hong Kong won't have the equestrian events, I could see those events being offered to Taiwan.

    Horse racing is a big deal in Hong Kong, by the way. They were building a big race track very near to the center of the city last year. Gambling is a big deal too, at the track. They are called, Jockey Clubs.

    Another interesting concept in China, polo. Not water polo but polo with horses. A former dynasty in China got into polo for a bit. It is a game for kings. Polo didn't fly in modern times nor with the communist. But, there were some rather large public art pieces in squares and such that featured polo.

    I don't think POLO is an OLYMPIC sport. Perhaps it could be pulled into the offering for Hong Kong as an exhibition sport.

    Perhaps China couls sweeten the deal and be able to put horses in Hong Kong if a deal was cut to also allowed the jockey clubs of Hong Kong to permit gambling and book making on the Olympic events. In house bets on DIVING would be a real draw.

    Red Alarms: Theater District Revival Plan smacks of elitism, cronies and stupidity

    A gathering of 75 out-of-town building, planner, designer, developer wonks is being held downtown at the Renaissance Hotel to gather, ponder, pitch and fester about some parcels of "key" spaces that are controlled by and within the Cultural District.

    That's fine, except.....

    Only outsiders were allowed to attend and participate.

    Pittsburgh individuals and firms were EXCLUDED by DESIGN.

    How stupid can they be?

    But, remember, fools like this run the PDP, Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. The PDP held a candidate night for participants in the Pittsburgh Mayor's race -- and told people that they were NOT invited. There were people who were not allow to attend as spectators. A black woman walked to te event from her home in The Hill -- and the PDP morons shut the door in her face.

    We've got too many with 1940 style country club attitudes in our downtown institutions.

    I won't raise my concerns with the AARP again, now as another example.

    The headline in the Trib, "Rivival continues in theater district" -- is plain old B.S. Same old sh*t.

    The information I'm blabbing about in this post comes from a few trusted sources. I'll be happy to eat my words and make a public retraction as soon as I see the list of those who attended the sessions. Then we'll call the Pittsburgh-based people and firms and figure out why they were 'blacklisted.'

    It is uneasy for me to write this. It is a shame to have to read it. And, I'm sure that some who read this are going to be livid at me, the messenger, and ignore the real message.

    I think the creative people that have been invited are the one's who call home something other than Pittsburgh. The ones from here are homers and they might have the luck of setting up the rules, playing gatekeeper, and doing catering duties.

    Another head-scratching point: A pedestrian bridge is mentioned in the article. It is to go over Ft. Duquesne Boulevard. They're attempting to span the wrong gulf.

    The cultural district is a fine jewel, no doubt. But, I have a big problem with elitist running around acting like they've got rocks in their heads.

    All the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to put Pittsburgh together again.

    I guess that the photo in the story shows the first residential structure to be built in Downtown Pittsburgh in the past three decades -- if you ignore all the abodes from the homeless, loft conversions, the new Allegheny County jail that's overflowing, (plus the new-new temp housing jail annex), and units within downtown's spitting distance (The Hill and North Side, and anything Uptown???).

    We should have more downtown housing. I'm in favor of that. But, I don't want to have subsidized housing for the rich.

    We should have open community forums to dream big and plan for sensational, stars-bound landings. But, I don't want any leader nor leadership entity to display the slightest closed-door mentality yet alone outright hostility. What gives when people who live here, and who are experts here, are spat upon?

    To right the impressions -- publish the minutes of the meetings, online, in haste. I'd like to see the documentation from those brainstorming sessions. And, I'd like to know what other buildings are going to be needed -- perhaps by eminent domain -- to make this a public-good "darling."

    Please, make me eat these words. I want to be wrong.

    Monday, June 27, 2005

    Lump camp swings into high gear

    This week, my boys are engaged in Lump Camp. This isn't anything new to us. We've gotten quite good at this activity in past summers as well.

    We are going to get some of the details of this fantastic experience documented this year so as to allow others to sign-up for it in the future. But most of all, I'm hoping that my kids will grow up to one day be camp leaders for their own Lump Camps. They are still campers. Next year we might allow for one to graduate to Junior Leadership Roles.

    Lunch is provided at lump camp, only if you ask for it, and ask at the proper times. Plus, lunch depends upon available leftovers in the refrig or hotdogs in the freezer.

    We got a leg up on this week's lump camp this weekend. It is always good to build up to the activities of nothingness and not go 'cold turkey' so you don't hit the wall.

    We did have a little bout of Thai Boxing at the end of lump camp today. But, officially, that session was AFTER Lump Camp's day ended. Thai Boxing and other such motions are strongly encouraged and permitted after mom walks in the door at the end of her long day at the office. We have to keep the daytime pure and void of activities.

    In our Thai Boxing lessons, Grant, 7, worked on keeping his head up so as to avoide the headlock position between my ankles.

    Next week, Grant goes to half-day Zoo Camp. So, our time in the zone, the sweet zone of nothingness and naps, is fleeting.

    When it is 90+ degrees (F) outside, we have great weather for lump camp. You can't drop into Lump Camp. We have a strict policy on visitors. But, for the future, should you get the clearance and apply early, say for next year, be sure to bring sweaters. The air conditioning is on 'high.'

    One of the nice perks of the Green Tree Swim Team is the 8 to 10 pm swim practice as it doesn't bump into Lump Camp. Time to shave and head to the pool.

    Pippy's bill strikes out on what is REALLY needed

    PA Senator, John Pippy of the south and western parts of Allgheny County is putting forth a bill that is nice, but isn't really what is called for.
    June 24, 2005

    Pippy Bill to Prevent Windfall Tax Hikes Approved by Committee

    Requires revenue-neutral millage rates following reassessment, unless approved in separate, public vote.

    Harrisburg – Legislation sponsored by Sen. John Pippy (R-37) to protect Allegheny County taxpayers from tax increases following a countywide reassessment has been approved by the Senate Finance Committee. Senate Bill 726 now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

    "The purpose of property reassessment is to provide accurate data for fair taxing, not to provide a back-door tax increase," said Pippy. "This legislation will stop automatic increases and require an open, public discussion."

    The measure requires that following reassessment municipalities and school districts determine millage rates that are revenue-neutral compared to the previous year. To set a tax rate higher than the revenue-neutral rate, they would have to take a separate and specific vote in a public meeting. A municipality or school district that violates the limitations would have to refund with interest the excess taxes paid by homeowners.

    The Second Class County Code permits a taxing body to institute a final tax rate up to five percent greater than the amount it levied on properties the year before. Under the proposed legislation, in cases of dire need – to purchase new equipment related to public health and safety, for example -- a political subdivision may petition the court for approval to increase the millage rate beyond the five percent that was approved via public vote.

    Local efforts to limit tax hikes following reassessments remain bogged down. Common Pleas Court ruled May 12 that Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato's property assessments plan is illegal and would create more problems for the system. Rep. Mark Mustio (R-44) has introduced legislation similar to Senate Bill 726 in the House of Representatives.

    "Representative Mustio and I began this effort in May and I'm encouraged that we're already seeing legislative action," said Pippy. "We're both going to work hard to see that this legislation is approved by the Senate and House and signed into law as soon as possible."

    Everyday people don't care much if taxes are flat, held at 5-percent or increase in municipal-wide ways. Windfalls of the whole township or city are but a pimple of pain to individual taxpayers.

    What matters to the individual is the specific tax bill that comes to the individual. We need to have leadership that considers the bottom line for that person as a greater force to deal with rather than the bottom line for that person's community.

    They real point of pain and problem is being missed.

    As it is now, when a reassessment is made, the gross value of increase is not to exceed by five percent. Pippy's plan changes the five percent to zero.

    This is a yawner.

    When the first major reassessment came, taxpayers were told that one third of the property values were going to go up, one third would remain about the same and the final one third of property values would go down. We were told that all in all, this reassessment would be a wash with the ups being matched by the downs. The process was just to right-size the values to make everything more fair.

    That song and dance was repeated thousands of times in all of our communities.

    This trend is like batting at the leaves on the tree of suffering. We need to have those in power go to the real roots of problems. One of the roots of the problem reside within the changes to the specific tax bill that individual gets.

    Pippy should be talking about assessment buffering. he's not. Neither is Fontana.

    If today's tax bill is $1,000 per year, and then the new tax bill comes in at $1,600 -- that is a big problem. If you are on fixed income, you can't just come up with the extra money. Banks need more money for monthly payments to cover the mortage and the taxes. These changes happen right away. Family budgets are blown out of the water with one piece of mail.

    Changes, as in price increases, to a person's taxes on real property need to be made in a gradual, year-by-year basis.

    A re-assessment comes with "sticker shock." That shock can be dealt with in a universal way if Pennsylvania would allow for "assessment buffering."

    Let's say you are fortunate to have your assessment go sky high. You must be living in a neighborhood that is seeing the home values increase. Your home is making money, once you sell it. That's the theory at least.

    But now the tax bill has shot up frmo $1,000 to $1,600 per year. With Assessement Bufferws over a three year period, the rate of increase will be something that people will be able to manage and deal with over time. Next year's tax bill goes from $1,000 to $1,200*. Then to $1,400. Then in the third year to $1,600.

    * The formula is a little more complicated than 1/3 over three years. The down to the decimal change put into places is generally 1/3 plus 10-percent of the increase. But, that detail is not so important, yet can't be overlooked. A whole tutorial is available if needed, say for Pippy and others. FYI to the digit heads, 10-percent in year one (with a $600 increase) is $60.

    The neighborhing state of Maryland allows for this type of tax billing to ease the changes upon new assessments.

    People don't like to be jerked around. Assessment buffering calms the storm.

    Another huge benefit is the time allowance factor. When Allegheny County had its new assessment a couple of years ago, it too two years or so to deal with the flood of appeals. Perhaps your property went from $1,000 to $2,500 per year. Your appeal might have only been able to be scheduled for two years later because the line was so long. The assessment might have been wrong, but you still needed to pay the inflated amount while you waited for the appeal's outcome.

    With Assessment Buffering, the rush to fix broken assessment values is NOT a grave. The extra time takes plenty of stress out of the system. Refunds are less of a problem. Schedules are less pressing. Lower workforces are able to be employed. The knee jerk reactions vanish -- or at least are not as connected to the wallet.

    This is not a way to lull people to sleep. But, it is a way to respect family budgets.

    If you know a new assessement is in the works, you might not buy that new car, take a vacation, invest in a musical instrument, change your job, go back to school.

    You might not want to buy a new house either -- because that tax bill at $1,000 might triple and then you've got a home you can't afford nor sell to any other sucker.

    I think that the overall marketplace would be much more healthy if the sticker shock associated with a new assessment was always buffered.

    Senator Pippy --- how about if you extend this conversation about assessment buffering to the halls in Harrisburg. In the neighborhoods in the 42nd district, as I campaigned in the past months, we were able to inject these concepts and always had favorable reactions.

    Take the ball and run with it. Be "Mr. Touchdown" and score a major victory for all the taxpayers in Pennsylvania. There is no downside to this measure. Slip it on as an amendment to what you've already started.

    Trail Party, 4 to 7 pm on July 8 on the South Side

    Friends of the Riverfront is holding a Heritage Trail Party and Dedication from 4 pm to 7 pm on July 8 at the Trail Head Facility (Intersection of McKean and Bingham).

    All are invited. I'll try my best to attend too.

    I'll try to get a new CD out with a video of a new song for the event, Kicking the Stone by Johnsmith.

    South Side's 10-1 Trail Segment of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail (aka "the missing link") is finally completed. No need to R.S.V.P.

    Walk, bike or blade along the Heritage Trail to the new trail head facility in Pittsburgh’s South Side at the Terminus of Fourth Street at the Intersection of McKean and Bingham off Carson Street.

    We will enjoy food, entertainment and an inaugural bike ride. The dedication is being cosponsored by Dasani in conjunction with the Rails-to-Trail Conservancy, Friends of the Riverfront and Bike Pittsburgh. The event will serve as an unveiling of a new Community Bike Program, a first in the City of Pittsburgh.

    Fatal Error: Can't run new game, Lego Star Wars, the video game

    Fatal error:
    sorry, but your machine is unable to run this game. It requires a praphics card which supports Pixel Shaders v 1.1. this game will now exit.

    The computer was purchased six months ago, in December 2004. It is a Compaq Presario, 3200+. The display adapter is VIA/S3G UniChrome 1GP driver version

    The game's developer is

    Skinny on the game at isn't good. I read how many others are also in the same pickle. But, if it works, the game seems nice.

    Support at Compaq's chat, just now, was hopeless and without a clue. If the system works with other games then there isn't a problem with the computer. I'm not looking to fix blame, yet. I'm looking to fix the problem.

    I saw a few more mentions in the read me file. But, I can't get to that unless I install the game on another computer. The other PC, same age, different maker, gave the same error. That PC is an Emachine. That PC has a different make of video card. The game is on this computer -- but -- I can't get to the read me file.

    Bottom line: DO NOT PURCHASE THE GAME: Lego Star Wars. Don't do it. Be sure you can get over the hurdle with Pixel Shaders v1.1.
    One report says TARGET won't take it back as a return.

    PA Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Festival - Berks County event in Sept

    The first annual Pennsylvania Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Festival is the consummation of years of interest, research, experimentation and interaction in the world of renewable energy and other Earth-friendly related disciplines.

    The Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association, along with many diverse groups, clubs, and individuals have come together to host his two day festival on September 23rd and 24th of 2005 at the Kempton Community Fairgrounds, Kempton (Berks County) PA, 19529.

    Speakers, national exhibitors, workshops, hands-on demonstrations, vendors, live music and entertainment, children’s activities, food and more. This wide-ranging educational program offers you the chance to debate the key issues, whilst a groundbreaking exhibition creates the perfect environment to evaluate the solutions – all under one roof! The Festival will promote solar, wind, hydrogen, biofuels, green building, organic farming, green political awareness and much, much more.

    If you've ever dreamed of powering your home or business off solar or wind energy, and growing and preparing wholesome organic food, don't miss this unique opportunity to learn how to make your dream a reality.

    The Pennsylvania Chapter is a proud sponsor of this event and will have several tables. Scot Case of the Center for the New American Dream and a Sierra Club activist is slated as one of the keynote speakers. Judy Johnsrud, Energy Chair, will be conducting a workshop.

    To volunteer contact Bob Flatley, Chair of the Kittatinny Group, or 610-756-6625

    Sunday, June 26, 2005

    Slogan stumbles for 2008. Hey, BOOC, Think again. One size doesn' fit all.

    Every Olympics has an organizational stumble and snafu, or two. It is good to see China's approach is to get its stumble out of the way early. They must have said, "Let's get this money off our backs and do a major screw up now, in 2005. Then we'll be done with all the screw-ups and expect smooth sailing the rest of the way.

    BEIJING (AP) -- The slogan for the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be "One World, One Dream."

    This slogan "embodies the common aspiration of the 1.3 billion Chinese people in establishing a world of peace and better future," said Liu Qi, president of Beijing's Olympic organizing committee.

    The slogan was chosen from 210,000 proposals in Chinese, French, Spanish, Portuguese and other languages, Liu said.

    Chinese Cabinet member Li Changchun announced the slogan Sunday at a gala in the city's Workers Stadium featuring breakdancers, basketball players performing with a military band, and television celebrities. The ceremony was televised live.

    Also Sunday, China started construction of its 160-acre Olympic Village, where 16,000 athletes and officials will live during the games. It is to be completed by the end of 2007, organizers said.

    The slogan, "One World" is a darn great slogan. I love that part as the song, "One World" is on my CDs that I've been giving out since late 2004. Mindy Simmons, friend, singer and songwritter, provides the song, "One World" as part of my campaign CD.

    By the way, Mindy is going to be back with her music and guitar very soon. She'll be doing a concert on Monday, July 11 in Kenyon College as part of Summer Institute. Plus, Mindy is doing a service and concert at First Unitarian on Sunday morning, July 17. First Unitarian is in Shadyside. If you can go -- please do. She's great.

    The song, One World, from a female, American singer associated withe a free-market community guy in Pittsburgh comes from a point of view that is grossly unlike that from China's top officials in Beijing.

    One World, One Heart -- that would work for me.

    How about One World, Countless Dreams -- that would work for me too.

    I just hate to see the "one dream" part as it feels too much like we'll be stuffing too many square pegs into round holes.

    As for other Olympic stumbles -- how about the motocycle crash in Athens? But there are countless official, coach, athlete blunders. Do you remember the unleashing of the masot well in advance of the Atlanta Olympics? That was a royal joke. It was like this droopey white star that was like a puffed potato chip. That character was gone before anyone could say, "Give-me-Coke and a smile while calling Disney ASAP."

    How about, "One World, One Spirit of Determination!"

    The Three Rivers Post & Standard -- and new blog with fellow Libertarians and beyond

    The creator of this site, J.E., just became a father for the third time! Way to go J and Libby. His family now has THREE BOYS.

    The Three Rivers Post & Standard Welcome to The Three Rivers Post & Standard, a new journal covering the Pittsburgh region’s general mess…

    I think the blog will be a welcome addition to the overall landscape. Some good minds are involved. The technology is kwel too. I just posted a bit about our family's open house on the 4th of July there. I like the features and wish some of them were at Blogspot as well.

    Training for the Triathlon

    My self-paced swim workout was greater in distance than the distance for the actual race. The race is 1.5K in the Allegheny River. Looking at the course, the first 1/3rd goes upstream and the back 2/3rds flows with the current.

    Swim 400 with flip turns (no stopping)
    Swim 400 with open turn, head up at mid length for peeking (no stopping)
    Pull 1 x 200
    Pull 4 x 50 (10-sec rest between, swimming faster)
    Paddles 1 x 200
    Paddles 4 x 50 (10-sec rest between, faster)
    Swim Breast 1 x 200
    Swim Breast 4 x 50
    Kick 1 x 200 (Breast)
    100 swim down

    Jack Writes Letters: 'world' of a mayor award and ICA's wind in its sails

    Jack Wagner, quck to write a letter about Tom Murphy, might want to consider sending in a piece of his mind to this outlet,, too:

    Tinley may have a 'world' of a mayor: "The City Mayors profiles of Richard Daley and Tom Murphy, of Pittsburgh, are credited to 'Josh Fecht, U.S. Editor,' but in fact are ripped word-for-word from biographies published on the cities' Web sites.

    If Jack's words can re-ignite the ICA (oversight board), perhaps they can skuttle any hope for glory on Tom's exit.

    Here is the Trib's Whispers mention in the Sunday paper:

    Wild Thing, you make them Dems sting - A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE MAYOR MURPHY MISERABLE? Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner just couldn't resist.

    With only six months to go before he leaves office, time is running out to take shots at Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy. Wagner, a longtime political foe of the mayor, evidently realized the clock is ticking.

    Wagner recently sent a letter to Gov. Ed Rendell and key state legislative leaders requesting they maintain the city financial oversight board established last year by the General Assembly.

    There has been talk in Harrisburg of dissolving the board, which has been a frequent thorn in Murphy's side. Most legislators don't mind the panel being a mayoral irritant, but they are concerned about it also sparring with the Act 47 financial recovery team appointed by Rendell.

    Wagner, a former City Council president who lost to Murphy in the 1993 Democrat mayoral primary, had a hand in establishing the board when he was a state senator.

    As a state row officer, he really doesn't have standing to inject himself into the debate over whether the oversight board should survive. Knowing how miserable the panel could make Murphy's final days in office probably helped convince Wagner to lobby to keep it alive.

    Saturday, June 25, 2005

    Jerry Bowyer is out at WPTT, 1360 AM -- talk show switches

    On the 4th of July, WPTT has a new line-up. Frankly, I don't like it. I'll miss Bowyer.

    7-9 am = Laura Ingraham Show (syndicated)
    9 to noon = Lynn Cullen (Pgh's own)
    Noon to 3 = The Thom Hartmann Show (syndicated)
    3 to 6 = Uncle Dougie, Doug Hoerth

    Boywer is leaving for a new talk show on WORD-FM (101.5) starting in September.

    Clark Howard (syndicated) is from 6 to 10 pm.

    Just getting my head above water.... What do you make of these numbers?

    On May 18, just after the May 17 election day, we went over the Pacific Ocean for a month. I'm just now getting my act in gear in terms of catch-up.

    What do you make of these election result numbers?

    At first blush, I see that at every polling place, I got someone to vote for me. I didn't get ZERO anywhere.

    The totals again:

    Mark Rauterkus = 2,542

    Michael Diven = 13,353

    Wayne Fontana = 19,834

    I got more than 7 percent of the total vote in the three way race.

    The City Paper ran a blurb after the election and they had the numbers wrong. I was outspent about 250 to 1 by each candidate. But I was NOT outvoted by such an amount. I was outvoted 5 to 1 by Diven. I was outvoted 7.8 to 1 by Fontana.

    Insights welcomed. Mine detailed insights yet to be posted.

    New principals are appointed to city of Pittsburgh schools

    There are plenty of changes. New principals are appointed to city of Pittsburgh schools

    Delano goes 'ga-ga' over Swann -- but ABC and FOX are worthy matches

    Jon Delano wrote, in part:
    Swann's problem is this. Once he announces formally, ABC Sports will drop his lucrative contract as a football commentator during the 2005 season. How lucrative? I am told it's in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a few months work, but who knows. Bottom line, forget the money -- it's also great publicity for a would-be candidate running statewide. Of course, the more visible Swann becomes as a candidate during this pre-election season the greater the pressure on ABC to admit the obvious. So Swann has a narrow political (and legal) path to trod. He wants everyone to think of him as a candidate, to promise him support, and give him lots of money -- but he doesn't want to give ABC (or opponents contacting ABC) any excuse to drop him from national broadcasting this autumn.

    If Swann makes all the right moves on his timetable, don't expect a formal announcement of candidacy until next January.

    What about Ed Rendell's contract to give insights on Sundays about the NFL for FOX? Rendell is on the air -- and he must campiagn too. What is good for the goose is good for the gander too, or in this case the swan. (honk, honk, honk)

    I don't think ABC needs to drop Lynn Swann from the football broadcasting gig in the fall of 2005, even if Swann tosses his hat, formally, into the race for the GOP nomination for PA Gov spot. Nor should ABC do so.

    At the most, perhaps ABC would put a memo together to ask him and the counterparts on the air to stick to football. And, if things made viewers blink twice, keep Swann out of the games in Phili and Pittsburgh. That would help calm fears, perhaps.

    So, if I'm the boss of ABC Sports, Lynn, you'd not be benched for being a candidate.

    Equitable's new North Shore HQ opens -- and it is a major letdown

    Equitable's new North Shore HQ opens When oversized scissors snipped the blue ribbon at the new Equitable Resources Inc. headquarters next to PNC Park yesterday, it marked a moment for which Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy had been waiting eight long years.

    This is an average building. This is a splendid space and a poor choice for a corporate headquarters.

    The building blocks the views of the river.

    The building is nothing special and fails to reach the necessary potential that the site should exhibit.

    I think, and others who are in agreement, say that this is a classic example of a blown opportunity. Pittsburgh should have done much, much better.

    City pools open, for now anyway - Lifeguard shortage is a world wide problem

    City pools open, for now anyway: "Though City of Pittsburgh pools are scheduled to open today, some face the possibility of closure in July due to a scarcity of lifeguards.

    The city has 103 lifeguards ready to go, reflecting the bare minimum needed to operate 13 pools, said aquatics supervisor Shelley Terlecki. There are not enough lifeguards in reserve to handle the inevitable vacations, call-offs, and resignations, she said.

    A lack of lifeguards is a problem. Sandcastle needs them. REAMS will need them. Beaches around the world need lifeguards too.

    Lifeguards are made in years of play at the pools. Swim teams are often great sources for lifeguards. There is an aquatics mentality that is made over time. The pool rats are the ones that aspire to be lifeguards.

    One can't just wake up one day and turn into a lifeguard. You have to be able to swim well. Nonswimmers are out. Average swimmers are out too.

    When Pittsburgh's officials worked to pull the plug on its swim team that used to operate at the Oliver Bath House -- I raised a warning flag. We don't have enough kids that can swim well enough to become lifeguards. And, we don't have enough kids who want to be lifeguards either.

    Without the kids at the pools -- you'll never be able to fill the need.

    Beauty and ruggedness of the Point - liquid, cool, floating on the weekend

    Three Rivers Artist Festival artist Stacy Levy is in tune with the beauty and ruggedness of the Point

    Today is a great day, with the heat, to take a swim. Too bad we can't do that at Point State Park.

    Friday, June 24, 2005

    China dealings in the news: The bad karma of US actions are wearing on me.

    There have been a number of issues with China in the news recently. On almost all instances, I'm favorable to the position of China and not that of D.C.'s.

    I like free trade. I think it is wrong to force China to prop up its own export limits or export tax on textile products. This news broke more than a month ago. The US signed a free trade deal and now it wants to ignore it.

    I agree with Alan Greenspan. I see no harm in the US Dollar being a benchmark for the China currency. The dollar float is matched perfectly with the China exchange rate. This foils the messing that could happen with DC wonks. They don't like it. Tuff! I'd rather have China hitching to the US Dollar than the Euro.

    Today's news had to do with the USA's position that China isn't helping enough with the power ploy on North Korea in terms of weapons.


    Thursday, June 23, 2005

    New Irony Trend

    Look at the trend (some past and some future) and notice the various twists on the "progress" of various projects. Feel free to insert some of your own observations as well.

    Construct a new Convention Center -- but make a new pruchase of a damn for the water treatment and fountain that runs down the middle of the interior road, at a price greater than the entire Citiparks' aquatics budget for running outdoor swim pools.

    Build a natural grass football field, then run out and get new turf.

    Give HEINZ naming rights for the football field, then sell Heinz to DelMonte and then have that firm sell the asset again.

    Invest in a new airport for US Air -- and then have massive layoffs.

    Build a new indoor basketball arena, because the Fieldhouse isn't good enough. Then pay $5-million to get a new, new roof.

    Make a roller-coaster with a new loop -- and then close it a year later. Subtract the loop and give it a new name.

    Re-pave a stretch of highway with new formula that prevents potholes -- and then re-do it with new, new pavement months later.

    Close a number of fire stations, but then put in to build a few new ones.

    Construct a new aquarium to join with the Pittsburgh Zoo, yet see the Amazon River Dolphin (poor Chuckles) and stingrays perish.

    Have a great city skyline to display, but choose to put a light-rail extension in a tunnel under a river.

    Choose to close schools to save money and be certain to shut down the ones that educate the most and retain highschoolers from dropping out.

    Build a new jail for the next century then see it fill past its capacity within its first decade.

    Program progress could include the outcome that firing police officers revealed a drop in crime rates.

    Get a hillside designation in the city's zoning code, then suffer with great losses with landslides on many of those hillsides that cost more than $10-million to repair.

    What's new with you? Generally there is good news, and bad news.

    Drunk Driving, Tom Flaherty, judge candidate, courtroom experience, humm...

    I don't think that this be scripted any better for our present controller.

    Jury duty for a guy who is a candidate for judge.

    Free press.

    It's a drunken driving case, no less.

    Eminent Domain hits the news again with a new court ruling that spells trouble for property owners and aids redevelopment.

    Ouch. U.S. Government Power to Take Property Backed by Top Court

    (Bloomberg) -- Local governments have broad power to take over private property to make way for shopping malls, office parks and sports stadiums, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

    The court said government agencies can constitutionally take property in the name of economic development -- and even transfer it to another private party -- as long as the landowners receive compensation. The 5-4 ruling today came in a case involving land near a Pfizer Inc. plant in New London, Connecticut.

    Scott B, a friend of Pittsburgh, now working in DC, was quoted on the radio news today. He works with a nonprofit that fights against eminent domain.

    I hate eminent domain. The excuse of economic development does not lessen this hate. Rather, this new court judgement makes policy makers more critical in the process. Overboard, power-hungry, do-good authoritarians are given more room to roam. Hence, eminent domain is sure to be more and more of an issue for many if not every election in the future.

    I am one who says let the markets operate without heavy-handed governmental impacts. Buy the property. Do the development if you feel justified. But don't buy it with force.

    Once property is able to be taken, then investors will slow their investments into property. Investments will go into other, more secure assets. Hence, the downward spiral of real property is sure to accelerate.

    Torn on this public broadcasting matter with the US Congress

    I've been silent about the matters before the US Congress, the federal budget and the funding of Public Broadcasting / NPR. A buzz of noise on the topic has come from other sources. So, I've been relaxed in my efforts to discover and in turn inform.

    The House vote may come today on funding cuts for PBS, NPR and other public media. The cuts are "defang and defund public broadcasting."

    Oh my.

    Sadly, I think QED is already toothless, by choice. WQED put WQEX into limbo and squandered its responsibility. QED burnt the trust I have in that instution years ago and has done little or nothing to change its tune.

    The potential is there to do so much more. But, they fumble. The managers are more interested in do-whop and what is not here anymore. Certain duties are involved in public tv and they are not being upheld. So, I say that pulling the plug is not such a bad thing. I also contend that the public tv elements are in the marketplace and that squashes other indies from doing the same actions.

    Kenneth Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is engaged in a deliberate campaign to bully programmers to produce shows that echo the White House line. His cronies in Congress are slashing funding for the news, children's and cultural programming Americans trust.
    I used to trust that programming. They've blown their trust in my view.

    Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) and Diane Watson (D-Calif.) have introduced an amendment that would block Tomlinson from meddling in noncommercial programming. And Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and James Leach (R-Iowa) have offered an amendment that would restore $100 million in funding stripped out by the Appropriations Committee.

    More at

    Three second head start is too generous now in racing my oldest in the water

    My older boy, 10, was able to beat me in a swim race in the breastoke, but not freestyle, given a 3 second head-start and a 25-yard distance. This is a major milestone of sorts.

    Straight up, I think I can still out swim him. But, this advantage might sunset soon.

    Korea brings homegrown open source to schools

    The American schools and American kids are not zooming ahead on these important fronts as others are. We have a chance to lead the world -- and we are still taking baby steps.

    Korea brings homegrown open source to schools | CNET "The South Korean government is rolling out a homegrown open-source platform to 10,000 schools in the country.

    The project, called the New Education Information System, is built on a Korean-developed version of Linux that already services 190 schools in the heart of capital city Seoul.

    It would be easy for a mayor or even a state senator to make a dispatch and claim that Linux is a preferred platform. The open-source movement is strong in some sectors in this city -- like at CMU for one example.

    A Korean, Chinese, and Japanese shell in an Asian version of Linux that could read any programis a great dream for many and various reasons.

    Murphy's task force gets more muscle - But I'll dispute that article's conclusion.

    The PG had an article about yesterday's challenge to statewide gambling.

    For starters, let's not forget that the state reps and state senators made this law and put it into place. The original, initial shame on them can't be ignored. Those folks are too often about power and not about doing the right thing.

    The article says that the hand-picked task force, the do-good volunteers, the ad-hoc Murphy boosters -- call em what you want except "legit" -- is going to gain in their power. The bad law was knocked down. Sure. But, the power within the bad law wasn't then granted to a different bad organization without structrual powers.
    Murphy's task force gets more muscleUp to this point, the task force had not been considering zoning because 'it wasn't on the table,' Porter said. But he added putting such decisions in the hands of local authorities 'clearly is in the interest of the local community.'

    Furthermore, as is the case with most of the efforts on Grant Street, the posse who were working on the matter were given tight guidelines and had to stay within their sandbox. They were not looking at zoning because they were not told to look at zoning. And, nobody noticed that there was a case headed to the state supreme court.

    The trend is to wear blinders. We have too many sub-groups going willy-nilly and being quick to ignore the important and fumble on the heavy lifting that is called for.

    Has anyone seen the minutes of the task force? Has anyone gone to one of their meetings? Has anyone seen their schedule for future meetings? Who is even on the task force? How did the members get approved to be on the task force? What is the task force budget?

    What's the real deal for the task force?

    What does Bob O'Connor say about the task force as well?

    Okay, so let's say the locals get to set some local rules and have them apply to the gambling establishments -- which are not yet established. Why in the world would the paper-organization of the task force gain in muscle? That's the logic in the article that misses the mark.

    Zoning gains in muscle.

    But, we know from other encounters that zoning is without anything but skin. No bones, no muscle, no fat -- just skin deep perceptions.

    When push comes to shove on an issue, the zoning pit stop is skin deep and combat spills over to Pittsburgh's City Council Chambers. If you want to build a high-rise or a pizza-beer joint in Mt. Washington -- go straight to zoning to burn some incense and drop off your plans. Then go straight to the council members and try to sew up your five votes.

    I don't have a lot of respect for the zoning process in Pittsburgh. An overhaul is needed, to say the least.

    And, I have NO respect for a hand-picked task force created under the watch of Mayor Tom Murphy.

    Thank goodness the law was changed the the judges. The outcome makes city council more important in the placement of the casino -- or is it still just called a parlor with slot machines.

    Wednesday, June 22, 2005

    REAMS POOL -- no water yet. Letter to open came from the Mayor's office.

    People went to REAMS swim pool on Monday, June 20, trying to take a swim. Some had purchased a seasonal swim pass for $60 (for a family of 4). The pool was closed and bone dry.

    I heard that Mayor Murphy has issued a letter saying that the pool, REAMS, in Mt. Washington, would be able to open with private money.

    Last year the pool opened with private money as well. However, it didn't open until August.

    If I'm mayor, Salvation Army and Kroc Center is on the edge of the river and not in Brighton Heights

    This pending, proposed, long-term development is something that we've been pondering for some time. I hope that they get it right. It sounds like they won't.

    The McDonald's fast food giant was started by Ray Kroc. His wife began a massive foundation and has teamed up with some serious money to build modern, large community centers that are with sports, drama, and fitness. The model is already in operation in the San Diego area.

    The closest we have around here that matches the concept is the Jewish Community Center. One is in the city in Sq. Hill and the other in the South Hills.

    The Salvation Army has a number of facilities around the region as well. They have a dinky community center with a swim pool even downtown. Plus, a center is in the North Side, and it had a computer lab at one time. And farther away, they have a camp that takes kids for a week at a time in the summer months.

    Today KQV did a radio interview with on at Salvation Army.

    The local S.A. is going to put in for a grant to try to get one of the centers. I think a dozor or so are going to be built around the nation. These are $40-million grants, so I hear. There is little to report upon at this time, other than the locals are going to go after a Kroc grant proposal, as expected.

    Some in the Salvation Army administration are changing. I began to work on a relationship a couple of eyars ago, but that individual is no longer in the same role. They, like others in clergy or missionary work, seem to move around a good deal with their devotion and call to service.

    The news reports say a 30 acre site for the proposal is in Brighton Heights, a section in the north and west part of the city. This land is now owned by the URA.

    A more inspiring site on the river's edge might give a better chance at winning the grant.

    Furthermore, a more inspiring site on the river's edge might be pivitol to getting more people to live and reside in the golden triangle vicinity.

    Volume 1, Issue 1 of Nana's Newsletter arrived in today's mail

    My mom, called Nana by our boys and their cousins, is publishing a weekly newsletter for the clan with lots of cousin correspondence. The motivation came from reading an article that writting skills are often neglicted in the summer. Plus those communication skills are vital in academic success. So, we have a weekly writting assignment. It is really the duty of the kids to deliver something to her each weekend.

    The first edition was eight pages and had some drawings, email updates from our trip, a maze and a bit of poetry.

    I doubt it will be ever put "on-line."

    Job: D.U. AD

    Who would you hire for this job?
    Director of Athletics. Duquesne University invites nominations and applications for the position of Director of Athletics. Reporting to directly to the President, the Director of Athletics is responsible for all aspects of the University’s intercollegiate athletics, intramural, and related fitness & recreation programs. Duquesne is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), sponsors 20 Division I varsity programs, and competes in the prestigious Atlantic 10 Conference in all sports with the exception of football, which competes in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and wrestling, which is independent. Today, Duquesne University serves nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students, offering more than 150 programs on the Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral levels in its ten schools. Duquesne seeks an experienced and dynamic leader with the ability to support student athletes, while maintaining the highest level of excellence and enriching the student experience at the University. Major areas of responsibility include: oversight of all intercollegiate athletic and intramural programs; management of fiscal resources; athletics alumni and community relations; and supervision of coaching and office staff. Athletics media relations and fundraising are coordinated with the Office of Public Affairs and University Advancement. A commitment to the strategic vision and Mission of the University is expected. The individual we seek will have earned a minimum of a Master’s degree and have significant experience in leading and achieving success with an intercollegiate Division I athletic program. Solid knowledge of NCAA rules and regulations and a commitment to ensuring compliance is expected. Experience and understanding of basketball is particularly important. The ability to work with people of diverse backgrounds and solid record of fundraising experience is preferred. For confidential consideration, please forward: a letter of interest, curriculum vitae or resume; and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three professional references. Screening of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Application materials may be sent to: Duquesne University, Office of Human Resource Management, Attention: AD Search, 600 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15282. To learn more about Duquesne University, visit us Online @ Founded and sponsored by the Holy Spirit Fathers in 1878, Duquesne University is Catholic in mission and ecumenical in spirit. Motivated by its Catholic identity, Duquesne values equality of opportunity both as an educational institution and as an employer.

    What about Tom Murphy?
    What about Myron Cope?

    Tuesday, June 21, 2005

    Cope with that -- motorcycle pushed off the nearest bridge and other cycle tidbits.

    Myron had some good advice for Tommy M and Ben R -- Steeler quarterbacks. He suggested that the two, if they still have a brain in their heads that God gave them, that these motorcycle riders should take their bikes to a bidge and push them off.

    If nothing else, get rid of the cycles for the sake of the 50 other teammates.

    I'm not keen about sending wheeled lumps of trash into the rivers -- or off of bridges due to "green concerns" -- but I agree with Myron Cope's advice.

    Today we were driving to swim practice and Rt. 51 between the Liberty and Ft. Pitt tunnels and traffic went to one lane. In the other lane, police already on the scene, was a car with a bent fender and a motorcycle on its side in a couple bits. A guy was flat on his back on the pavement.

    We offered a prayer in our car driving past. Sadly, somewhere, calls went out to some family to meet at the hospital.

    Creepy as Myron Cope offered the advice on the 11 pm news. Fedko also reported that it is 40 days until the start of the Steelers season.

    In other bike news -- today I took the training wheels off of my youngest son's bike. He's 7 and not good -- yet -- on his bike. In the city, our opportunities to bike ride are self-made.

    Tomorrow I'll try to get to the bike shop for new tires and a tune-up of my Trek 520, 1982 model, $420 retail. It is a budget racer. With my triathlon ambitions, I had better put some time on the road and trails.

    Seasons change

    The official beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere occurred in the morning of June 21, 2005, at 2:46 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time [EDST].

    Happy Summer Solstice Day!

    EFF's guide to help bloggers understand the law

    The Electionic Frontier Foundation created an guide to help bloggers understand the law and their rights.

    This roadmap to the legal issues bloggers confront. Know rights, and blog freely with the knowledge of legitimate, protected speech.

    Legal issues affect publishers, especially with legal claims or threats based on the information published on blogs. Issues could arise when you publish material created by others on a blog.

    Defamation (libel) law discussions of the constitutional and statutory privileges may protect too. Federal law gives some protections against legal claims arising from hosting information written by third parties.

    Privacy rights of people you blog about are part of a FAQ.

    Reporter's Privilege is useful to bloggers who report news gathered from confidential sources.

    Get tips for bloggers for getting access to public records and government meetings, as well as press passes to help with newsgathering. Legal issues swirl when blogging about political campaigns.

    Standing before City Council. Kicking off Open Government Amendment

    I spoke today at the public comment period at the start of the Pittsburgh City Council meeting. Here are my words:

    My name is Mark Rauterkus. My family and I reside at 108 South 12th Street on teh South Side. I have a home on the internet at Presently I'm a board member with the Allegheny County Libertarian Party. Recently I was a candidate for PA Senate in the special election. Since election day our family had the opportunity to travel abroad for work and education. In time I'll share plenty of insights on the election and our trip. Today, it is my pleasure to stand with fellow citizens to promote the Open Government Amendment.

    Before I get into my remarks, I'd like to make one other sidebar mention. I'd like to welcome Dan Deasy to City Council. I hope you have a successful career and are fully appreciated by the people of the city for all your hard work in the years to come. Best of luck in your tenure.

    I'll work to get the signatures and put the Open Government Amendemtn on the ballot. I also pledge to work to establish and sustain the discussions about these various issues within this effort.

    Let's look at the internet access elements. If we streamed the meeting content and made them available to others, say at the workplace or at home with children, we'd be much further along. Others could tune in. Not only people from within the city would be more aware, but people from other cities and even other countries would have access and offer solutions, ideas and pointers to other best practices.

    I've often talked about how all the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to put Pittsburgh together again. This Humpty Dumpty lesson can have a different outcome as soon as all the people get into the action. We need everyone's help.

    The depth and scope of the internet's impact is only outmatched by its economy. It will not cost a lot to get the content on the net in effective ways.

    I think this measure will do a lot to crack the "done deal mentality" around here.

    Now, let's do the hard work of getting this question put onto the ballot and before the voters in November, 2005.

    KDKA: Hundreds Claim Wrongfully Ticketed in Pittsburgh

    We just paid $80 for two tickets -- with late fees. Yesterday. And for the life of me I can't remember getting those tickets. Humm. I'm not perfect -- but -- I am generally aware. Oh well. Perhaps my wife will give up some sympathy for me after reading this news story.
    KDKA: Hundreds Claim Wrongfully Ticketed in Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh (AP) Since the Pittsburgh Parking Authority turned over a list of more than 50,000 unpaid parking tickets to a collection agency last month, hundreds of people have complained they never got a ticket.

    Take Walker Lundy. The retired Philadelphia Inquirer executive editor says he has never even been in Pittsburgh and can't understand why he got a collection letter for a ticket from November.

    The ticket was written for a car he says he sold five years ago. Lundy says the parking authority told him options are to fight the ticket or pay the $18 fine.

    Walker, who lives in North Carolina, says he won't do either, and can cost the authority more than $18 in bureaucratic time.

    A spokesman for Mayor Tom Murphy says that shouldn't be necessary. He says a staffer will look into the case and if Lundy can show he drives a different car or had a different registration, the ticket will be dismissed.

    The city turned the unpaid ticket cases over to a collection agency in hopes of collecting an estimated $1 million.

    Yoy and Double Yoy!

    Have a great retirement Myron.

    Perhaps Myron will choose to gear up and do fantasy cruises or even the Olympics some day.

    Personal update from Running Mate, Mike Sally

    Fellow dad, and South Side neighbor, Mike, turned a corner, saved a life, changed his career and opened a web site. He also has encouraged me to put out a call to form a team and/or relays for the Pittsburgh Triathlon, July 17. Here is his update.

    In April, I commenced a new career and decided to become a mortgage loan officer. It has been exciting. I started a new web site at Both things that I would not even imagined doing while a paralegal! I am proud to now be in the position to directly help people! Perhaps is was just foreshadowing for some similar events.

    For whatever reason, the first weekend after the decision was made to change, I was in the fortunate place (with others who were also caring enough to stop) to assist an older woman who was in a burning car in Western Maryland. To make a long story short, I ended up in the Western Maryland by a higher spiritual power. Thankfully the woman in the car survived her ordeal (although the car burnt to the ground!).

    Since then, I have spoken to a lot of wonderful people, and, even better yet, saved another person.....from foreclosure!

    I am now asking for your assistance.

    I would greatly appreciate any referral so that I can provide a service to those who need a mortgage. No, I'm not looking to save anyone else (although, if the situation presents itself, I will!!!) but I am simply asking if you could refer to me people who are considering a home purchase, or need advice in refinancing their current mortgage.

    I will offer any referral the best rate and I will back it up with unparallelled service. The company that I work for is licensed to do business in both Pennsylvania and Florida.

    I appreciate your continued support and hope this year continues to be gracious to all!

    T. Jefferson Think Tank tackles stem cell as topic on July 6

    Various stem cell research topics will be discussed at the July meeting of the Thomas Jefferson Think Tank at 7:15 pm on Wednesday, July 6, 2005. Arrive early to enjoy the food, drink. Bring a friend. Gathering hosted at Silvioni’s, 2125 Babcock Boulevard. Dinner will be served until 7:00 pm. The meeting will start at approximately 7:15 pm.

    The talk on “Stem Cell Research: The Science, The Ethics, and the Politics” will begin with an explanation of what exactly “stem cell research” entails, and how it is currently being used in medicine and what other medical treatments might arise from it in the future. Next, discuss the ethics of the issue. Finally, the politics.

    More in the comments.

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Planning ahead for future races, i.e., 2006

    Tim C, the Allegheny County Libertarian Chair wrote in part:
    Casey and Santorum are both Pro-Life. So the LPPa (Libertarian Party of PA) could field a Pro-Choice candidate and get enough votes to hang onto minor party status. The big hurdle, however, is that in 2006 the LPPa will need to gather at least 66,000 valid signatures. This means that we will need about 100,000 raw signatures.

    In 2004, we only needed 42,000 signatures. In 2006 we will need 100,000. This is because Casey ran away with the Treasurer's race in 2004 and we now need 2% of Casey's 3.6 million vote total.

    We should begin to have a group conversation about how we intend to handle the 2006 ballot access drive. In 2004, LPPa volunteers gathered 21,000 signatures. That would leave us about 79,000 signatures short.

    Since 2004 was a Presidential election year, The Badnarik campaign and the National Party each kicked in for enough signarures for the LPPa to get 42,000 total, enough for ballot access in 2004....

    KQV Newsradio Pittsburgh - Opinion Poll on the Light Rail to the Stadiums - Click to vote now

    KQV Newsradio Pittsburgh Daily Opinion Poll

    The federal government is contributing 290-million-dollars toward the 365-million-dollar cost of the Port Authority's North Shore Connector. The massive project includes twin tunnels under the Allegheny River, extending the 'T' light rail line from Downtown to the North Shore stadiums.

    I hate the idea of the light-rail to the stadiums for a number of reasons.

    The federal money is our money too. The money can come from our back pocket or our purse, but it is still from the people.

    Pittsburgh will never get its fiscal health back when we squander good money on bad projects.

    The local match is needed for this project and there isn't any. The county's chief executive has said there is no money to do the project from county sources. The city is broke.

    We need to extend the light-rail in meaningful ways. If the light-rail went to CCAC on the North Side -- I'd have a different opinion. But this is to service PNC Park and Heinz Field.

    Boston's "big dig" is leaking. That extended a road under Boston Harbor. It went over budget. It is now built and with serious problems. I fear that this project is going to net the same results.

    We want game-day pedestrian traffic in the greater area. Let's keep the festive crowds on the closed Clemente Bridge. Let's allow for vendors, and others throughout town and the North Side to capitalize on the fans. If the light-rail stops are put at the stadium doors, the rest of the neighborhoods see no upside. Walking from town is NOT a big deal. Taking a cab is easy.

    The PAT plan calls for the re-do of working, existing stops. Gateway Center stop works now. But with the new plan it is totally rebuilt. Same too with the stop near the Pennsylvanian close to the Convention Center. All in all we get four new stops, but two of them are re-done construction projects. The net gain is half. Rather, let's extend the light-rail to Oakland, Lawrenceville, (new Children's Hospital), and even out to Highland Park.

    We should be pushing mass transit to places where people live.

    Sunday, June 19, 2005

    Better Hearing given some ink and friends and peers visit Pitt -- a leader in audiology

    See the feature article that mentions wellness and audiologist.
    New Pittsburgh Courier Her hearing loss was said to be a combination of age, noise and genetics. McCray slipped into depression.

    For the past three days, 50 educators of audiologist from around the nation came to Pittsburgh for a workshop organized, in part, by my wife, Catherine V. Palmer. The event was called a "landmark event."

    Way to go Pitt!

    The "NO" vote was as high as 90-percent in some neighborhoods

    This is interesting if true.
    New Pittsburgh Courier: In May, I had written a column urging the electorate, particularly the African-American community, to vote No on the referendum question in the primary regarding row office consolidation. I have reviewed the voting tallies. What is bold and interesting is that though the question passed by over 70 percent due to many factors, it failed consistently within the African-American communities, in some cases by over 90 percent. And the no vote was higher in working class communities than in higher income communities.

    I've not done my homework, yet, in the vote specifics from May, 2005. If anyone has any insights and charts on the data, I'd be happy to get a copy via email.

    Courier reports FAMILY Dollar might open near the Hill House

    New Pittsburgh Courier Family Dollar ushers in new Hill House CDC.

    No ordinary classroom

    No ordinary classroom - The gardens will become a key component of the planned community greenhouse and pavilion where students and neighborhood children will learn agriculture and environmental science hands-on, Wilcox said. The greenhouse will be 75 percent solar-powered.

    While the greenhouse is 75-percent solar powered, the percentage for the produce grow in the ground will be much higher.
    I'd love to see a charter school, or a public school, tied to the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium. A concentration about animals would be rewarding and beyond the ordinary as well.
    Tip: Hope we see a Highland Park 4H club bloom soon.

    Updating dart boards has become much easier with these cards.

    If this was really about growing 'sprouts' -- I'd be happy. However, as I see it, this is more about preservation of the status quo. Same old same old gets institutional support from those who claim to be change-agents.
    Want political savvy? It's in the cards - The inaugural 60-card set was unveiled Saturday night at Hothouse '05 -- the annual money-raiser for the Sprout Fund, which provided the seed money of $9,400 for the venture.

    I'd rather provide a set a trading cards for a thousand Chinees gods than give my kids cards with little known facts of those who are taking apart our city, folly by folly.

    Rather than reveal little know facts, the card creators should have stuck to straight politics.

    The less the people know, the better those in power like it. Rather than give straight up info on who stands for what -- and who was at the helm as various bogus budgets came into being to cripple our region -- do fluff.

    I feel certain that I'd be happy if half of the 60 who are featured on those trading cards were put into the private sector at the next election.

    I'd be thrilled, plus we'd see a rebound of the region's public health if every one of those featured today on the trading cards were removed from office and put into the private sector.

    Those trading cards should serve as resume cards. Every elected cronie needs a new job. If you like a person -- offer him or her a job in your business. Your business might take a hit, but, the region will have hope.

    By the way, does Joe Weinroth have a trading card? What about Alan Perry and Tonya Payne?

    Saturday, June 18, 2005

    Blue City Conservatives by Matt Rosenberg

    Seattle Weekly: News: Blue City Conservatives by Matt Rosenberg Here are some admittedly gloomy snapshots of life in the city under the vestiges of one-party rule.

    This article isn't about Pittsburgh, thankfully. But, it is something that needs to be understood. In the real world, it isn't always smooth sailing.

    SEA needs a hand - I say give it an arm. Then run the other way with a quick turn of ownership.

    SEA needs a hand - Without more than $3 million in gambling revenue it was counting on this year, the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority could ask Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to help plug a hole in the operating budget for the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, according to an audit released Friday.

    This spells trouble on many fronts. And, some of us saw it coming.

    The SEA is banking on hype. The authority is over spent. The authority has yet to tighten its belt to match its income. The overhead of the building is getting like a heavy weight that is going to be a bigger and bigger burden.

    The term WHITE ELEPHANT needs to be realized. If it is ignored, the problem is going to be worse later. Come to grips with reality.

    That big sucking sound is still ringing from the operation of the Convention Center. Look at the cost of the water fountain that runs within in the convention center, its new DAM, its re-building and contrast that with the cost of running a real swim pool and the smack-down being tossed about with the ACT 47 oversight board (see next post) about the hope of shifting operation of swim pools to other entities.

    These are not cash-flow issues. These are overspending issues. These are bad decision issues. These are poor planning issues. These are didn't close down operations issues. These are issues of inaction and poor leadership.

    By the way, how much of the Convention Center was put in use by the recent events of the Senior Olympics?

    Could the Convention Center hosted the badminton, shuffleboard, table tennis, opening or closing events, and more?

    The Convention Center isn't be leveraged to be a great community asset that is could be. Our potential is being squandered because there isn't enough creativity with that venue.

    Why isn't the Act 47 team looking into the use and miss-spending at the SEA?

    Why wasn't the Convention Center turned into a campaign issue in the mayor's race?

    Joe Weinroth could make some serious waves if he talked about the Convention Center and injected some new, creative ideas backed up by research and understanding of what really goes on in that facility and how it is and will yet impact the budgets of the city and the SEA.

    Rather than getting a bailout for the SEA for the convention center .. think again. How about if we sell the convention center and make money on it. And, sell the convention center to the new gambling site owners. They could take part of the convention center and turn it into a casino. Then other parts could be dedicated to gaming and other ventures as they wish.

    The convention center is a massive public liability now. It would be an asset that can be taken off of the backs of the taxpayers. Then the ongoing gambling money incomes won't be diverted and lost in continual bailouts of the convention center.

    Then, the SEA can be liquidated and go away.

    The boat show and the home show -- and other conventions that are slated for the convention center can still go forward. But the operators would be the casino owned coordinators.

    Get that skin in the game and into the marketplace -- now!