Monday, October 31, 2005

Mars High School meeting about PA Tax Policy and property tax cuts

PSBA/Local Policy Tax Caucus Meeting at Mars High School

WHO: The Pennsylvania School Boards Association and Tax Policy Caucus of Harrisburg

WHAT: A public meeting on for all school districts and communities in Western Pennsylvania to discuss property tax relief Vs reforms and school funding for education in Pennsylvania's schools

WHERE: Mars High School Cafeteria

WHEN: Thursday, November 3rd from 7 pm - 9 pm

CONTACT: Ms. Diana Mastovich @ 724-625-1518 or

This will be the only meeting held in Western Pennsylvania.

We hope to see you there! All are welcome to attend!

Dem candidate to run against Tom Stevenson, R, for PA House


William F. Sargent will announce tomorrow his candidacy for the 42nd Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, pledging to bring integrity, honesty and accountability to Harrisburg.

Sargent, 29, a Democrat, is a native of Mt. Lebanon and a United States Air Force Veteran, completing his active duty tour last week and has resumed Traditional Reservist status. He returned to the United States in August, 2005 after two deployments to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. William has been a life-long resident of the 42nd District, and he represents the fourth generation of his family to be born and raised in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He will run against incumbent Tom Stevenson for the seat.

"The citizens of the 42nd District, as well as the citizens of Pennsylvania, deserve responsible, effective leadership in Harrisburg that will directly impact and mprove the lives of every Pennsylvanian," Sargent said. "Professional politicians have run Harrisburg for far too long, and the time has come to make a change. As an Air Force Reservist I represented the United States as a citizen soldier, and when elected I will serve my district as a citizen legislator, not a politician. As Pennsylvanians, we are in the midst of a crippling economic crisis stemming from ever-increasing property taxes, stagnant local and national economies, a decline in manufacturing jobs, and the rising cost of energy. We can no longer afford ineffectual leadership in Harrisburg."

"We must require accountability from our legislators for their actions as our representative leaders. Some legislators in Harrisburg have failed to put their constituents' needs first. Legislators should address issues that are important to their constituents' day to day well being. As Representative for the 42nd District, I will work hard to provide residents with outstanding elementary, middle and high schools, world-class yet affordable public universities, safe streets, and reasonable property taxes."

William Sargent resides in Rosslyn Farms, Pennsylvania, with his wife and daughter. He recently returned from his second tour of duty in the Middle East as a United States Air Force Reservist for the 911th Air Wing in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. Mr. Sargent invites citizens to find further information about his platform and his campaign at his website,

Open efforts to make sure the folly of Katrinia recovery never happens again.

Heard the Word of Blog?

The other League: Voter Guides

The Voter Guides State Supreme Court
Candidate/Issue: Judge Sandra Shultz Newman
Endorsed Vote: No
She allowed the Constitution to be trampled by politicians who award themselves a huge pay increase, paving a culture of arrogance and greed to take control of our state government.

State Supreme Court
Candidate/Issue: Judge Russell M. Nigro
Endorsed Vote: No
He did the same things as Judge Newman, above
Join the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters as we celebrate the release of our 2005 Fall Voter Guide and Endorsement Slate! Party at 7 pm on Thursday November 3, 2005, at Firehouse Lounge, 2216 Penn Avenue, in the Strip District.

Resigned my board position at the Market House Childrens Athletic Assn.

I recently sent in a letter (see comments) to resign from the board of a local youth sports organization.

Come to our house for trick or treat and get the latest CD that features 2.0 installer for Windows

Loaded for trick-or-treaters.

We've got a few hundred CDs ready. The CD has music and a scary message. Plus, it has open source software install of 2.0 for Windows PCs.

Script for the CD's audio portions.

This Haloween message is for you – a splendid neighbor and someone with an open mind.

Something that is scary to me is a city that is on the brink of a disaster. And we don't need a hurricane to put us over the edge.

I'm not talking about any city – but out city, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

We used to be our nation's fourth largest city. We used to have more than 600,000 residents – and now we are half the size of what we were in terms of population.

And the cast of characters for this scarry story includes some elected politicians who are not willing or are not capable of making the necessary changes so we can thrive again.

I'm Mark Rauterkus, a concerned citizen from the South Side who is going to run for City Council. I want you to be safe and enjoy this song, think again.

At the end of the song, I'll further explain what's on this CD and how it can play in your computer as well.
My friend, Amy Carol Webb, sang that song. Let's work together to help our city by getting everyone to 'think again' – especially at the voting polls on election day.

My name is Mark Rauterkus. I used this song and prouced some CD when I ran for State Senate in May 2005. A lot of people were excited about the music and message – and gave me their trust with their votes. My opponents spent nearly $1-million each. They were a Democrat and Republican and could get lots of money from Harrisburg for their campaigns. Most of that money came from special interests – like those who wanted to put gambling in Pennsylvania.

My campaign perked along on $3,400.

I was out-spent 500 to 1 by both of them.

But, in the minds of the voters, I was out voted by 5 to 1 from the Republican and 7-and-a-half to one by the Democrat.

I got 2,542 votes – and was encouraged with the outcome – and didn't do any negative campaigning.

The next time – the goal is to win. We need serious help on city council and I have the principles, awareness and expressed solutions to make sense out of these scary times for Pittsburgh.

We'll I'm going to steal a line from a character in a scary movie, JASON. -- “I'm back.” But fear not. I'm going to run a positive campaign that talks about real solutions – again. And this time, with the help of the local voters, we'll win in a landslide.

Oh no, landslides are scary too.

Here is what is going to happen. Before you pass along this CD to a friend, and introduce him to myself, Mark Rauterkus, feel free to pop this disk it into your computer. There you'll find a free and open source software installer for is version 2.0 and it runs on a modern Windows PC. It has a word processor, spreadsheet, database, drawing program and presentation program called IMPRESS. OpenOffice is a lot like Microsoft Office – but better – and FREE.

In the weeks to come, I'll have other CDs available with other types of messages, music and high-tech content and tools.

For now, see my website at, and be sure to frequent my blog, Mark Rauterkus and Running Mates at – my platform – – and my campaign headquarters at 108 South 12th Street on the South Side.

We can visit and have a cup of tea – and I'll get you a copy of the next CD. Some will have pictures of our trips to China and illustration tools. Another CD is going to have another of Amy Carol Webb's song – the campaign theme song called, Lay the Shovel Down. You gotta hear that one.

You see, those guys on Grant Street have dug a hole for our great city. In Pittsburgh's political circles it is important that we stop digging in that hole. We are getting deeper and deeper into a stickey, messy and scary situation. We need to lay the shovel down and use common sense. Time to think again. And, let's hear that song one more time.

Thomas Jefferson Think Tank bring in Hop K

The Thomas Jefferson Think Tank (TJTT) meets at 7 pm on Wed, Nov. 2, 2005 at Silvioni's, 2125 Babcock Boulevard in the near North Hills. Dinner will be served until 7:00 pm. The meeting will start at approximately 7:15 pm.

This months topic is Solutions to Poverty and the Family and the speaker is Hop Kendrick. Expect a lively discussion of the problems within the black community. For directions or RSVP, kathleenstewart -at- comcast -dot- net

TWO POOKS - Cricket and Samantha

TWO POOKS - Cricket and Samantha

Our Boston-based extended family has a blog that features their twins.

This comes from a 'stay-at-home dad.' I've been a 'stay-at-home dad.' Plus, this month is the 10th Annual Stay-At-Home Dads Convention in Chicago. They'll be holding a big celebration there. I've been to the event in the past. It is at a Community College.

At-Home Dad Conventions Oakton Community College, Saturday, November 19, 2005, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 1600 E. Golf Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016

I'll celebrate here by getting more aggressive in my give-a-way efforts of Hogan's CD on Parenting. Hogan Hilling of the San Diego area was in Pittsburgh to speak to the International Lamaze Organiztion. He gave a great talk on the 'dad's perspective.' He offers great advice to moms and dads who are starting a new chapter in their lives with younglings.

Ask me for a copy of this CD if you or your loved ones are expecting or with a baby in the home.

He works to put Pittsburgh on high-tech map

I'm interested in hearing Bob O'Connor say anything at all. He works to put Pittsburgh on high-tech map 'To help create these industries, leaders in the city have to say, 'This is our vision for the future.'
First, let's look at that statement in terms of leader in the city. The mayor's office is one place you'd expect to find a city leader.

The mayor has ducked leadership. Last week he didn't choose to be transparent with leading a charge against the fix in the pending gambling sale. The mayor stepped to the courts to lead efforts in many cases that cost the city dearly. The mayor even stepped to Harrisburg for leadership in bailouts. Plus, the mayor rolled out the red carpet to bring in the Act 47 team and the ICA (two overlords).

So, let's look at the next leader of the city, as we all expect that next mayor, Bob O'Connor. Oh boy. I'm ranting to get Bob to say anything. His vision is self-preservation and defense. Getting on the right track isn't going to impress the high-tech sector.

Furthermore, I'm not sure Bob O'Connor knows how to spell email. I know I can't spell well, but I do know how to hit the blog's 'publish' and email's 'send' buttons.

The classic line.... "The beauty of high-tech law is that it's not pigeon-holed." Have you heard the campaign song from my CD, "Don't Put Me In a Box?"

That pigeon-holed approach is a killer for Pittsburgh. We need to 'think again.' We need to have wide perspectives. We need to speak and build relationships. We need to go beyond labels.

Costume trend: Winging it in a fantasy.

Winging it.

I always look for trends and this Haloween season has one. I share the insight with you today, so you can test the theory tonight as the kids parade around the neighborhoods. And, be super safe on foot and while behind the wheel today and tonight, please!

I've seen a bunch of wings this season. We don't want any of them to show up on the front of your windshield, like a squashed bug.

Wings are 'in' for sure.

I live on the South Side and we saw a lot of tall winged figures this weekend along the streets in the wee hours too. So, it isn't just a tyke or kiddie thing. The grown ups are getting into the fantasy.

It would be nice to have wings -- just as it would be nice to see pigs fly and the city have a budget that made sense. Oh well, I better stop now. Just don't eat too much candy -- or you'll never get off the ground with those tiny wings. Lift-off.

Youth Football winds down for the season.

Our friends who have kids playing youth football are just about finished with their seasons. Sounds like a good time was had by all -- consider just how that football bounces. :)
Great season South Side Sabers.

Etymotic Research had a booth at the art educators event in Pittsburgh this past weekend. Our kids in bands, and their teachers, need to wear hearing protection, just as those who work in the Chem Labs need to wear eye protection and the football players need to wear helmets.

Fighting privatization - Quiet please.... we are straining to listen for a heartbeat

Fighting privatization - For a man who would inherit a city with mounting debt and sinking revenues, Bob O'Connor is oddly calm and quiet about the specifics of what he'd do if elected mayor.

Speaking of playing defense. Bob O'Connor is playing defense. Has been throughout the primary and general election cycles.

Ballots & access: Party crashers - ringing endorssement from Trib

Ballots & access: Party crashers -

There would be no need for the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition, composed of political 'third parties' like the Libertarians and Greens, if the General Assembly respected the commonwealth's Constitution.

Article 1, Section 5, states clearly, emphatically -- and yet ironically -- that 'Elections shall be free and equal; and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.'

The Constitution's framers would be appalled to see how the state's two-party monopoly, a duopoly of Republicans and Democrats, has rigged election laws to guarantee that no one can crash their party by being competitive.

Republican and Democrat statewide candidates typically can gain ballot access by collecting about 1,000 or 2,000 signatures on their petitions. But other parties and independent candidates need obscene multiples of those numbers.

In 2002, third parties needed roughly 21,000 signatures. In 2004, 26,000. And in 2006, 67,070. And since each must be valid, third parties might need more than 100,000 to withstand the inevitable court challenges from the Gang of Two.

The Ballot Access Coalition only wants a level playing field. And for the duopoly controlling this Keystone Kleptocracy -- and milking it dry by giving itself unconscionable pay raises in the dead of night -- to obey the law.
Thank you Tribune Review.

Getting access to the ballot is one serious hurdle that needs to be fixed, locally, and statewide. PA is in the dark ages.

I've got a number of "democratic" planks in my agenda, and this is right at the top. Sure, the democratic planks, often ignored by big "D" Democrats are not that "sexy" -- but they are important. One reason we don't have better politicians is because we make it nearly impossible to run for office. Too often the Democrats are playing DE-FENCE. Scream Deeee-Fence at Heinz Field. Don't push defence as a way to advance our region and have it be pervasive in the approach to our political avenues with candidates and voting.

These laws can be fixed. We must do it together. Think again about ballot access.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

AntiRust: Questioning the Unquestionable: Pittsburgh Redevelopment

Love it. And the rant takes a shot at Point State Park too.
AntiRust: Questioning the Unquestionable: Pittsburgh RedevelopmentQuestioning the Unquestionable: Pittsburgh Redevelopment
There was some conference types who were trying to do a re-do of Point State Park. It failed to get me jazzed. The real heavy lifting will need to come about after we change the system a good bit -- say with the creation of a PARK DISTRICT. Then we'd get real engagement and volunteerism. Plus, we'd have a connect that matters among citizens and our RAD money, state park, and parenting concerns.

Thanks for the plug and pointer -- back at ya.

The Panyard Report #2 - rant about election of judges and NO on retention vote

Mr. Panyard sent out this email. Panyard is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania.
Sent: Friday, October 28, 2005 10:59 AM
By Jim Panyard

Pennsylvania's judicial elections have, based on voter turnouts, meant very little to the state's voters. Traditionally a turnout of 12 to 15 percent of registered voters, or about 6 or 7 percent of those over the age of 18, has determined who will dispense truth and justice from state benches.

The system for selecting judges is deeply flawed. It politicizes those who are supposed to dispense "blind justice" and objectively interpret state law.

When judges are beholden to the money and voter turnout mustered by special interest groups such as labor unions, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers, state lawmakers and political parties, they cease to be "citizens above suspicion."

Controversial rulings by Pennsylvania courts, up to and including the state Supreme Court, are always colored by a deep suspicion that
someone or some group "pulled some strings." Those suspicions are warranted.

Lawyers seeking to become judges aren't picked by an Act of God. They have been politically active, party loyalists, significant contributors to Republican or Democrat candidates and parties and have shown a willingness to, if "not rock the boat", then to at least "play ball" and be aware of "how the system works."

One is reminded of the classic film, "The Godfather." Don Vito Corleone tells a subject he has just granted a favor, "Perhaps, some time In the future, and that time may never come, I will call upon you for a favor."

Imagine a lawyer, desirous of becoming a judge, asking a Regional or statewide political Don for his favor and help in securing election to a judgeship.

The words may not be the same as those of Don Vito, but do you imagine the message is any different?

This November 8 Pennsylvanians will again have the opportunity to select judges, but the scene is slightly different than the typical "off year", low turnout, apathetic voter judicial election.

Two state Supreme Court Justices, Russell Nigro, a Democrat and Sandra Newman, a Republican, must stand for "retention" to secure another 10-year term on the state's high court. They are both from the Philadelphia region of the state.

What makes this year's election different is that taxpayers are still enraged about the mammoth, unconstitutional pay grabs for the governor, state lawmakers - and state judges - that was passed on July 7th, at 2 a.m.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, Ralph Cappy, who, fortunately for Ralph, is not standing for retention this year, was the original designer of the pay hikes ranging from 16 to 54 percent.

That makes Nigro and Newman potential targets of voter wrath on Nov. 8. The Republican Party that carried the pay raises through the state House and Senate, both of which it controls, has already said it will put up Significant dollars to defend Newman. In all likelihood, the Democrats will do the same for Nigro.

On the other side of the financially imbalanced scale are angry taxpayers who may or may not get up off their duffs on Nov. 8 to sacrifice Newman and Nigro as symbols of their disgust with "business as usual in Harrisburg."

There is no well funded, statewide organized campaign to set the upheaval in motion. Just a glowing hope that people still care enough about their freedom to use what is left of it in the voting booth.

Pittsburgh to disband fire unit that inspects alarms, sprinklers

Skip McCrea, fireman, is also on the school board for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
AP Wire | 10/30/2005 | Pittsburgh to disband fire unit that inspects alarms, sprinklers 'If I can prevent the pain and agony someone goes through to survive a fire, it's worth my effort,' said Floyd McCrea, the bureau's education officer.

McCrea has been the department's most powerful messenger for fire prevention in the last 10 years. As Sparky the Dog, McCrea has donned a Dalmatian costume, complete with helmet, to teach elementary school children how to escape from a burning home.

Neighborhood groups would like the bureau not to send Sparky away."

Beaver County Times Allegheny Times - Sports - Too many goals coming way too easy

Beaver County Times Allegheny Times - Sports - 10/30/2005 - New NHL: Too many goals coming way too easy Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy claimed the fix is in as far as awarding a slots license for the area.

This relates to sports since the Pittsburgh Penguins plan to apply, with the idea of using slots profits to build a new arena. Pressed for details, Murphy offered none. His Honor seemed to be shocked politics operates this way.

Wasn't he the one who got the 'stealth bill' through the Pennsylvania legislature when he was seeking funding for stadiums? Murphy helped hide that provision in routine legislation, knowing most representatives wouldn't notice.

He may have gotten away with it if he hadn't gloated afterwards. Then-governor Tom Ridge had to veto the legislation.

Murphy's narrow re-election in 2001 may have been helped by a last-minute deal with the firefighters union. In exchange for union support, it's alleged Murphy promised help in getting the firemen's no-layoffs contract approved by a state arbitration panel.

And wasn't the 'fix' in when new venues for the Pirates and Steelers were publicly financed after a referendum had been soundly defeated?

I love to see ink from the sports pages devoted to politics. Wonderful.

PG Editorial: The next mayor / Only through change can Pittsburgh survive

O'Connor gets the endorsement. Lots of blame is heaped upon the Republican party by the Post-Gazette.
Editorial: The next mayor / Only through change can Pittsburgh survive: "Alas, 2005 found Republican leaders fast asleep."
I remember four years ago when I ran for Mayor along with a loyal opponent within the same party, James Carmine. We didn't get any help from the Republicans. Zippo. That lack of help was not because we didn't try. And, as it seems, it is not because we were not worthy. Joe Weinroth's lack of support from his own party proves that the party does not care about Pittsburgh. Joe is a 'worthy' candidate in their eyes. Joe is a state Republican committee person. Neither Carmine nor I were in state Republican leadership, like Weinroth has been.

The Post-Gazette rips the Republicans, and the rip is deserved.

Many Republicans from around the city, not in it, would like to see the city of Pittsburgh crumble and decay into nothingness. That's not my attitude.

The city matters to me. We can't give up on the city. Churchill said, "Never give up."

I'm a Libertarian. I've not given up. We need viable opposition to the party machine. The Libertarians offer a base to do the good work that needs to be done in fighting for the city, with smarter plans and better solutions.

The point of Joe Weinroth having a hard time as Mayor, because he is a Republican and all of City Council is from the D's party has two big flaws. First, the PG endorsed Bob Hillen, Republican, for City Council. That means Hillen could be on city council -- elected on the same day as Weinroth. So, we could get one, two or three new members on council from the Republican party. (Alan P and Sam B, two others running for council with R designation did not get the PG endorsement.)

The other flaw is the fact that the mayor has little to do with city council now that there are two oversight boards. We have both the ICA and Act 47. Those bodies are more and more important to the dealings of the city while city council is diminished.

'The fix' - Trib editorial

When do we get to stop picking on Tom Murphy?
'The fix' - 'The fix'

Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy says 'the fix is in' regarding who will get the lone city casino license.
'It's no secret,' Mr. Murphy said Thursday during a Press Club of Western Pennsylvania forum. 'The word is out. The fix is in in Pittsburgh.'
And not only that, Murphy said, three potential slot machine suppliers also have the inside track.
What does Bob O'Connor say about "the fix?" Is this going to be like the great gambling scandal of the Black Sox. The Sox won the World Series this year in a 'sweep.'

Michael Lamb put the questions about donors to O'Connor in light of this gambling bid. Is there a connection there too?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Just Say No to Newman and Nigro

The Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania strongly urges voters to vote NO to the retention of State Supreme Court Justices Sandra Schultz Newman and Russell Nigro.

November 8th, presents the first election opportunity for Pennsylvanians to express their outrage over the pay raises passed in the midnight hours by the General Assembly. Voters will have an opportunity to send a clear message by supporting the grass root efforts of Pennsylvania Clean Sweep (

Justice Newman and Nigro both ignored the pay raises’ violations to the State Constitution and then opted to take their pay raises immediately. Article III, Section 4. states that “every bill shall be considered on three different days in each House.” Yet, the Supreme Court did not challenge the constitutionality of the pay raise which began as a 24-line proposal to limit salaries, then morphed in minutes into a 22-page law to increase salaries that was passed in late hour voting. Nor, did they question the use of “unvouchered expenses” to bypass Article II of the Constitution which states “No member of either House shall during the term for which he may have been elected, receive any increase of salary, or mileage, under any law passed during such term.”

"Pennsylvanians have a tremendous opportunity this election to demand accountability from all branches of our government,” states David Jahn, Chair of the Pennsylvania Libertarian Party. "It is time to make Harrisburg realize they have lost touch with voters."

LP spokesman John Haley adds "It really has come down to Us versus Them. It is time for us, the good people of Pennsylvania, to start getting rid of them, the arrogant and out-of-touch politicians in Harrisburg. On November 8th, we need to just say NO to Newman and Nigro!"

For more information contact:
Doug Leard (Media Relations) or David Jahn (Chair) at 1-800-R-RIGHTS

Mayor says 'fix' is on -

Mayor says 'fix' is on - Besides the casino operator, he said, three suppliers of slots machines already have the inside track as well -- and none of them are owned by minorities or women. I think he said three vendors to the casino were already picked, not necessarily suppliers of the slot machines. It's a minor point. But, it goes to the overall trickle down with the economy. And, it plays a mighty force for reminders to the minority contractor saga.

When the construction of the stadiums and convention center was happening -- there were pass-through contracts. The minority contractor elements were a joke. And, the whistleblowers had a hard time.

Back when the entire stadium and convention center deals were being sold to the public in political circles, the black communities were promised lots of 'jobs' and 'opportunities' if they would only give support to 'the vision.' Well, the promises were broken.

Now the promise comes crashing down on those who work as ticket scalpers.

Meanwhile, ground is being cleared in downtown for the new African American Cultural Center. A picket was there yesterday. The union guys were upset as the demolition company was off contract.

'Ban hurts profits' -- Scalped by City Council's ordinance

City council passed an ordinance in the spring that is now before the judges. The public is taken to the courts again. The legal bills mount.

The same saga is sure to play out again with the issue of 'aggressive panhandling.' The folks are council will tighten the noose of freedom around a group of 'little people' so as to help the 'bigger people.' The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The scalper smack down was to benefit the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins. The more recent smack down aids those who own curbside cafes, symphony goers, and the cultural district.
'Ban hurts profits' - 'From a public safety standpoint, we need to make sure it's a controlled environment out there,' DaPra said.
Solution: We need to craft city ordinances that make everyone happy. And, this does not mean we'll get everyone "at the table" to be happy as I understand that everyone is never able to get to the table.

Furthermore, and most of all, the laws need to made so as to extend freedoms, not curtail them.

Finally, we have real troubles with the understandings and enforcements of freedoms. With freedom comes responsibility in equal measures.

So, we'll have guys on the street with 40-plus citations racked up for bad behaviors. The law enforcement is lax to a point of hopelessness.

Draper Triangle Ventures gets $5M from PA to invest in start-ups. We do the math: $30-million+ stays in deep freeze. Slanders "jump starts" everywhere

Two years ago, a $60-million fund was created by state government. Our tax money was put into that fund so as to "jump-start" the local (i.e., Pennsylvania) economy. In October, $29.5 million of that money, a little less than half, was given out to seven venture capital firms. One firm was in the Pittsburgh area.

The aim is to make more money available. However, it seems as if $30.5-million is still frozen and sitting idle. It took two years to handle the first round and that only went to venture capital firms.

What part of 'jump start' is not being understood?

I'd say that Harrisburg and the business incubator weenies have made another great illustration of failure and folly.
Draper Triangle Ventures gets $5M from Pa. to invest in start-ups - 2005-10-19 The Commonwealth Financing Authority divided $29.5 million among seven venture capital firms to invest in young Pennsylvania research and development companies.

The money is part of a $60 million package created two years ago to jump-start start-ups by making more capital available.

The remainder of the money will be assigned at a later date, said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the Department of Community and Economic Development.

The sole Pittsburgh recipient was Draper Triangle Ventures, one of the most active investors in companies in Southwestern Pennsylvania, which drew $5 million.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


My blog is worth $129,279.66.
How much is your blog worth?

Channel 4 News - Mayor Murphy: Issue Of Slot Licenses May Be Corrupt

This was a great exchange. Classic Murphy.

Furthermore, there was a moment when my jaw hit the floor. This one time I was in complete agreement with Tom Murphy. Oh my gosh. I was in full agreement with Tom Murphy. I started to smile. This heartfelt appreciation came over me like a glow -- and it lasted about 45-seconds.

Tom Murphy said, "You're not doing your jobs." At first I thought he was talking to the citizens and voters. But quickly I came to understand the "YOU" Tom meant was the media. You in the media are not doing your jobs, mentioned Murphy. Okay now. I was grooving. But Murphy would go on and speak some more. And then it was very clear. Tom Murphy wasn't doing his job. Tom Murphy was going to do nothing. Tom Murphy was going to bit his lip and say nothing so as to cover himself. Tom Murphy was going to float through a leadership void and let the city suffer. - Channel 4 Action News - Mayor Murphy: Issue Of Slot Licenses May Be Corrupt: "PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Mayor Tom Murphy raised eyebrows Thursday at a luncheon for the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania after insinuating that the process of issuing slot machine licenses may be corrupt.

He chastised Pittsburgh journalists for not digging hard enough to find out what backroom deals are being made with the state gaming commission.

He was then challenged by Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter Andy Conti to disclose what he knows publicly.

'You and I have had conversations about it, Andy,' Murphy said.

Conti asked him to talk on the record.

'Who's going to say on the record that the fix is in, and somebody already won the license?' Conti said. 'What evidence is out there?'

'And get sued?' Murphy said."
For the record, I played a bit of a role in that -- from the sidelines. Murphy was saying that this dealings with the gambling should be "TRANSPARENT." Then he got into this bit about corruption. Meanwhile, Murphy wasn't being transparent himself. He wanted to have others be transparent, but not him. So, I spoke up when there was a silence, "Be transparent."

Then Murphy said, "And get sued?"

Then under my breath -- at my table -- I said yes. Say only what you know to be true and defend it. Be a leader. Be right. Don't just cover your backside and let the city slide into corruption, afraid to talk.

If Mayor Murphy has something to say about corruption in the gambling process, he needs to say it, in public, like the public official he was elected to be. Otherwise, he should resign. I've said that before. But this is different. This is a new month. I have not said it in October 2005. There. It feels good too. Resign Tom.

Here is the rest of the story from WTAE TV 4's site.
Murphy never said what he believes is evidence of backroom deals being made for casino licenses in Pittsburgh. However, he warns the public that the state is attempting to strip the city of local zoning authority of where gambling establishments should go up.

"Who gets the license? Where does the license go?" Murphy said. "If that power is stripped, then there will be no local control at all. It'll be forced on us by a gaming commission that may or may not be connected to the values of this community."

Murphy also cautioned the public about the perceived windfall of revenue. He said the challenge is to determine where revenues will be placed.

"Is it an arena? Is it more money for the arts or community organizations? What does it do to the basic values of Pittsburgh?" Murphy said.

The state has pushed back its deadline for issuing gaming licenses. The time frame now is summer 2006.

News at 11. We'll see what the papers bring in the morning.

Gambling discussions at The Press Club of Western PA

Lots of interesting things happened with a lunch discussion today hosted by the Press Club. Great event with lots of information for the typical citizen. I'm was keen to discover a few things that are 'in the margins' of the story that might come today from the standard outlets.

The Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Vistors Breau, a group that is funded by tax money, holds CLOSED Board Meetings. And, the Chair of that organization didn't even know it.

B.J. Leber (Chair of the Vistors & Convention Breau) and Senior Vice President and Station Manager of WQED Multimedia, also didn't know that WQED isn't going to host a Mayor's debate.

Through all the discussions, I still have yet to hear a valid objection as to why the Convention Center should not be home to the new gambling casino that is sure to come to Pittsburgh in the future. Mayor Murphy said, "We can't do that." But I think he is really saying, "I don't want to do that."

Murphy also put his abrasive personality into high gear as he scolded the locals for not doing their job. I think he was speaking to the media for its less than full-monty coverage of the associated gambling stories. Murphy wants more "transparent" elements -- for everyone else but not him. Murphy would NOT talk about some of the back-room deals that are rumored to be cut. Murphy would not name names. Murphy said some matters are 'no secret' -- but he just did so with a tease and wink and a shrug.

The state put in $150-million for the building of the Convention Center. That is money out of our (PA taxpayers) back pocket. Plus, there was to be another $150-million put in from other, local sources. But, they over-runs ran an extra $70-million or so. So, it is safe to say we paid nearly $400-million on the convention center. Or, we've paid more than $300-million and we still owe that amount.

Annually, the convention center's operation runs into the red and costs the S&A (our authority) about $3.4 million. The annual operation deficit for this one year that was not able to be covered by the annual budget was $1-million. So, annually, if this year is any proof, the convention center is a drain on the local public budgets of about $4 to $5-million.

The Vistors & Convention Breau got a good bit of money from the state at start-up, decades ago. Plus, it runs on the hotel tax.

Remember, the Vistors and Convention Center has closed board meetings. That sucks.

Furthermore, at the next board meeting, all the big hitters who are expected to put in a bid for the Pittsburgh Gambling License have been invited to present to the board. This is to consider how the gambling might impact on the convention center.

The Convention Center has a lot of religious groups. There are certain populations that are NOT interested in going to a convention city and needing to deal with gambling. They'll not want to use Pittsburgh as a destination for their events in the future.

The value of the Convention Center, according to my way of thinking, is going to go lower and lower. The Convention Center is a white elephant now that costs a lot of money from various public sources. In the future, after gambling arrives, it is going to be less viable than it is today. The Convention Center's expenses might double from their highs of today.

In his statements and presentation, Mayor Murphy talked about the 'footprint' of the new gambling casino. It is going to be huge, he said. It will take up all of Point State Park -- as a reference. It will be as big as the footprint of PNC Park -- as another point of reference. Jeepers. That fits within the existing Convention Center. Mayor Murphy supports the thinking and logic of putting the casino within the vast, under-utilized Convention Center.

Mayor Murphy also expressed some finance needs. The new casino operator is going to pay $50-million for the license (that does not expire). About another $40-$60-million for the slot machines. And, about $300-million for the building. Jeepers. We'll sell them the Convention Center for $300-million.

There are many other points and counter-points to make about this gambling saga. All points lead to a logical conclusion when you 'think again.' Put the casino into the existing, well-designed, river-front, non-neighborhood, parking rich, hotel accessible, green, CONVENTION CENTER. Then the public can profit in many ways -- to cover some of the sins of the past and get out from many of the anchors for future budgets.

If we make a push for this -- the gambling casino could open as soon as the departure of the All Star Game -- in the Convention Center -- July 2006. That's the challenge. Do it now. Do it quickly. Do it with the best property we have that is not performing well. Turn the weakness into an asset for the private operator.

United Press International - Student told to write essay as punishment -- NO HE DIDN'T. Big error in the article.

This seems to be getting national news, and perhaps it should. But, the story isn't accurate as posted below. I heard the young man, (the DU student), on a radio interview with KQV today. He did not call anyone 'subhuman.' However, he did use that word as a description for certain actions.
United Press International - NewsTrack - Student told to write essay as punishment: "Student told to write essay as punishment

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- A student of Pittsburgh's Duquesne University has been told to write a 10-page essay on homosexuality as punishment for his blog remark on gays and lesbians.

Ryan Miner says he's willing to risk expulsion rather than write the essay that must discuss the pros and cons of homosexuality, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

The newspaper said the 19-year-old had called gays and lesbians 'subhuman' in a blog."
If they are going to make a mountain out of a molehill -- or blow something into the mainstream discussion -- start with factual coverage.

Now, where is that blog in question? Any pointers are welcomed. This isn't a mountain, nor a molehill. But, it is a bit of hot air that bubbles up from time to time in a faithful kinda schedule. That's me and my son, Grant, standing in front of Old Faithful just before she blows.

Film: Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, 7 pm Friday Nov 18

Presented at First Unitarian Church in Shadyside, come find out why Wal-Mart needs to be held accountable for unjust practices that impoverish workers and threaten ommunities.

The controversial new film, by director and producer Robert Greenwald (Outfoxed and Uncovered: the War on Iraq), debuts in Pittsburgh in November as part of Wal-Mart Premiere Week, an unprecedented grassroots effort that will see over 3,000 screenings
across the nation from November 13-19, 2005.

This free public event is being hosted here in Pittsburgh by UUs United for Faith in Action. The screening will take place at 7 p.m. on November 18 at First Unitarian Church in Shadyside. Immediately following the film, there will be a brief presentation by two local groups and a discussion about the effect Wal-Mart is having on Pittsburgh and the nation.

The film takes the viewer on a deeply personal journey into the everyday lives of families struggling to fight against a Goliath. From a small business owner in Missouri to a preacher in California, from workers in Florida to a poet in Mexico, dozens of film crews on three continents bring the story of an assault on families and American values.

At The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania meeting. M. Ross and Dr. Davis, both from Pitt.

Gambling discussion.

Dr. Larry Davis, Mayor Tom Murphy, Tonya C. Andrew C. Gary R., Dr. Evan Stoddard of the South Side and past leader of No Dice.

Flashback and Housekeeping

Elephant envy.

Because some have asked, my photos are going to go into the public domain. They are being organized and are go be released shortly on CD and DVD. This way, others could use the photos as they wish, in commericial and noncommercial works, in multimedia and for posters, whatever. You'll need to buy the CD or DVDs and this will be part of a funding efforts for other things we do.

So, a campaign manager for a republican candidate, say John Pierce who lived in the city and then moved to suburbia and now is seemingly in Harrisburg, could use these photos freely.

Don't overlook this endorsement

Bob Hillen's endorsement in the Post-Gazette is huge.

Bob's endorsement was not mentioned at the conservative site,

The PG made another fine endorsement with Doug Price for County Council too.
Editorial: Price in District 4 / The Republican has been dedicated to reform Price in District 4 / The Republican has been dedicated to reform

SPORTSHAVEN comes crashing down in downtown Pittsburgh. This block was cleared for the building of the African American Cultural Center. It is on Liberty Avenue. The workers on the job with the demolition company faced a picket. I don't think that they were on 'contract.' A day care, a cleaners and a few other small businesses were in the various buildings in that triangular block.

City likely to keep all-Democrat council -

Dogs are cats and cats are dogs. "Gatekeepers" gone gonzo.

What's up is down!

The Trib, the newspaper that should be friendly to Republicans, slams the three hopeful GOPers in their quest for city council seats. Meanwhile, the Post-Gazette, endorsed the City's GOP Chairman, Bob Hillen, over the Dem in yesterday's editorial.
City likely to keep all-Democrat council - Three of four Pittsburgh City Council seats are contested this election year, but none of the races represents a significant threat to the city's all-Democrat council.
PG Editorial: Hillen for council / The city can no longer afford business as usual
The print media's ying and yang are fussed these days.

Get Out The Vote advice and pollworking advice from Tim

Unofficial Advice for Operation Clean Sweep or No to NN poll workers on Election Day, Nov 8, 2005.

I've worked the polls for several Libertarian candidates before. Here is my (Tim C's) unofficial advice.

1. Go to and download some No to Newman and Nigro flyers. Especially the one that is cut into 8 small flyers per sheet. Also a few that are an entire page, with tear-off phone numbers on the bottom.

2. Put the full sized sheets up in places like grocery stores, community bulletin boards, campus bulletin boards, on poles when no one is looking, etc. Bring thumb tacks and a good stapler. It is against the law to stick them in mailboxes, though.

3. A few of the full page NNN flyers can also be stapled or taped up at the polling place. There are somerules regarding how close to the actual polls your signs can be -- just put yours where eveyone else has theirs. Cut the llittle strips at the bottom in case anyone wants to join OCS. They can tear off the phone number instead of the entire sign.

4. Cut the ones that are eight to a page into individual mini flyers. These can be handed out at the polls. You can ask people where the best polling places are. Figure out the most convenient photocopying places too. Also the mini NNNs look better on colored paper than white. They still cost about one cent apiece since there are eight to a sheet.

5. If anyone calls or emails you, just give them this same advice. Ask them where they vote. Have them either download the NNN flyers or photocopy some of them and take them over to the volunteer.

6. When it comes to volunteers, you want to keep it simple. Have them go to their regular voting place. If they are computer literate, they can download the NNNs. If not, take them over, or have them meet you at Starbuck's, Behive, etc. They will need about 80 little ones (ten photocopied pages) and about four of the full page NNNs. You can go back inside and 'recycle' the flyers. The 80 little NNNs can be given to about 200 people.

7. Also advise them to wear comfortable shoes, take a water bottle, umbrella, and put a folding chair in your car -- there might be room to sit down outside the polling place in between voters. Repeat several times that the election is Tuesday, Nov 8th.

8. Try to figure out who will hand out mini NNN flyers and which polling place they will commit to. Make a chart of the 3-4 local polling places and the times that people will commit to. It pays to drive around to the different polling places and see how they are doing. Bring extra flyers, tape and staples in case they haven't posted any signs in the designated area. Get their cellphone numbers and give them yours, in case they have a problem. Call them on Nov 8th to remind them. Go with them if necessary and spend a few minutes with them.

9. Come up with something short and sweet to say to the voters as they enter. The old standby is "Would you like some literature, sir/maam?" But you might want to say "Defeat the Pay Raise, Vote No to Newman and Nigro" If you say that over and over, the people coming up next will hear part of it too. Just repeat it endlessly and give them a small NNN flyer. If they have questions, answer them, and say that the web site is on the little flyer. Remember to make eye contact and smile.

10. Obey the election laws. You can't stand within 15 feet of the doorway, etc in most places. For the most part, be courteous, don't block anyone's path, stand where the other political volunteers are standing, and remember that you have as much right to be there as anyone. Don't argue with those who disagree with you. Just wish them a good day and wait for the next person.

7 district judge slots still open -

I don't think so.
7 district judge slots still open - Martini, who is chief of staff for State Rep. Thomas Petrone, wants to make the office 'more user friendly' and start evening hours one night a week.

'No one knows the district better than me,' Martini said.
Arrogant statement. I guess he must know that many people in the district despise his boss too, Thomas Petrone, long-time state rep. And, I guess a lot of people know too about the folly of the West Pittsburgh Partnership.

Who wants to have lunch on Oct 27 and support Evan

Chris Moore, WQED Multimedia's host of Black Horizons and co-host of OnQ, will moderate a panel discussion featuring:

The Honorable Tom Murphy, mayor of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Patricia Beeson, professor of economics and public policy at the University of Pittsburgh, where she is also vice provost for graduate studies.

Dr. Evan Stoddard, past president and current board member of No Dice, an anti-gambling lobby. He is associate dean of McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University, where he is also associate director for community outreach in the Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy.

Reporters Andrew Conte of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Gary Rotstein of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

WHEN: Thursday, October 27, 2005.

WHERE: Engineers' Building, 337 Fourth Avenue, downtown Pittsburgh.

WHAT: Lunch will be served at noon. Program ends by 2 p.m.

HOW: $20 for Press Club members. $25 for nonmembers. $200 for table of 10.

For reservations, please send your check by October 21 to The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, Engineers' Building, 337 Fourth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222. Questions? Linda Parker at 412-281-7778.

Update: Chris Moore missed the event, but another from OnQ was the moderator.

The social worker on the panel is a friend, Dr. Davis from Pitt. That meant I knew all the people on the panel.

I should join The Press Club. It was a great event. I should also join The Economic Club of Pittsburgh too. They also have wonderful speakers and programs. Any running mates interested???

Badminton brews here.

More news shortly.

This photo shows my children among those from Chengdu, China, with a coach at a Recreation Center. The coach had played for the national team of China. The real irony of this photo: It was taken as all the rec centers in Pittsburgh were closed. So, we went to China to play and research what they do. Plus, we didn't come back empty handed. The ideas are being revealed in behind the scenes challeges to establish some new endeavors locally. (By the way, that's Erik R., the tall kid in the middle of the group with the Pitt t-shirt and Grant R. on the far right.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

School Board Member to give a talk on Thursday night

Patrick Dowd, will be at Tazza D'Oro on Thursday, 10/27 from 7-8:30PM. He will be there to give a "State of the School District" address. Please come to hear about the new direction that we are headed in the Pittsburgh Public Schools as well as the hopeful "age of accountability" for our school board and superintendent. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Keep city school closing plan whole, board told

Keep city school closing plan whole, board told Mr. Matthews is taking the novel step of proposing that board members vote on the plan without additions or subtractions when Mr. Roosevelt puts it before them.

I and about 40 others went to a meeting with Mark Roosevelt last night in Oakland at Frick Middle School. Great session, not like the one the prior night in Banksville -- so we were told.

The more novel idea came up in the conversations. Why not have the board vote on the plan without even reading it. They can't tinker with the plan by makng any adjustments at the board table, so is the hope of Matthews. Why not just vote it up or down based on its looks from the outside. Don't even read it -- just vote for it.
Standing tall behind a fence to deal with those who might tinker.

That would remove horse trading.

Some honeymoon!

I agree. We should not cut up the plan. Don't butcher it! Keep it whole.

Comments before city council

Statement before Pittsburgh's City Council
My name is Mark Rauterkus. My family and I reside at 108 South 12th Street on the South Side. My home on the internet is at Please check my blog frequently. My email address is simple:
A supporter of mine emailed me with tragic news while my family and I were in Hong Kong for two weeks in early October. That's how I learned of the death of your son, Sala. I want you to know that we all payed. We were not able to attend the funeral – but my heart breaks too with all of this violence and shooting. You know I've got two sons. I think that must be one of the worst fears in life.

Welcome back to council. Count me and my family as one of the many who really care.

The other night's meeting about gun violence that was organized by Ms. Carlisle is another that I did not attend – but was there in spirit. I did listen to the proceedings the next day on the internet at the Post-Gazette site. The PG gets a welcome nod in its recording of the meeting. Well done, by in large.

My brief hope and observation goes to the matter of guns. Our Second Amendment and the US Constitution – as well as the PA Constitution still matter. I wish the Constitution had more weight – but this is American. That meeting was NOT a beginning. We are with this legacy of rights and guns are here. It is my hope that we don't start to bark up the wrong tree and get into an impossible situation where advancements can not be made.

We can't ban guns from the streets of Pittsburgh and expect that legislation to hold up, be enforced, and really work. Let's not fool ourselves. Nor, try to fool the public.

Even the weed and seed program, something I respect, is like two legs of a chair. That formula, with two prongs, isn't going to be the entirety and be expected to stand up to make a platform for prosperity and wonderful places for raising our children. Weed and Seed needs a third leg to work. If you just weed and seed, weed and seed, -- who is going to harvest? We are going into Thanksgiving season. The fruits of the seeds don't just plop onto you tables to feed ourselves.

I worry about that third leg, most of all. I think that is the missing part in our government. You can't (as government officials) manage how one should flourish. But, you can, and you have, managed to mess up the capacity for allowing others to flourish.

You can crack the back of freedom, pathways to prosperity, and kill the harvest.

You can let the field turn to seed – prevent the harvest – and be rotten by blocking and bumbling and taxing and subsidizing and sustaining the floundering ways.

That's scary. And the fact of the matter is that some around here (Mayor's office mainly) just don't get it.

Halloween, -- a scary time of year. I want everyone to come to my hose for trick-or-treat. I've got CDs as our treat.

This is like 'candy for the mind.' You'll be able to play this on a CD and hear music and a message from myself. Plus, put the CD into your computer and get A free-and-open software package that is now at version 2.0.

Furthermore, if you'd like to give-away these treats to those that come to your house – or your circle of friends – that can be arranged.

We've never given out candy at our house for Halloween.

You can give out CDs – and they'll only cost you fifty-cents each. Or, come to the house with your spindle of blank CDs and we'll burn them for you while we have a cup of tea.

I live at 108 South 12th Street, South Side. You can place an order by sending me an email: Give me your phone # and I'll get back to you right away.

Voters: Please vote “NO” on the retention vote for the PA SUPREME COURT. Retention votes are being called for because the bench played an important role in getting the pay raise. And, the bench ignored the fact that the raise (unvouchered expenses) is unconstitional. The raise is not legal in terms of the PA Constitution. But the judges wanted to get a part of the pay-raise cash grab.

My (Rauterkus) advice to Ludwig and others in the Whack Pack: Pick your time and bail!

Today I talked with Les Ludwig in a hallway on Grant Street as city council was in session. On Saturday I talked with David Tessitor at the meeting at CMU. On both instances, I asked these candidates for mayor to resign their race. The wise thing for them both to do is to make an exit statement and toss their support to another candidate who has a chance of getting more than 1,000 votes.

My generous predictions say that Tessitor will get less than 1,000 votes and Ludwig will get less than 50.
G.W. and David Tessitor in front of news cameras with efforts on the North Side some years ago.

This same advice was given by me to Ludwig as soon as I heard that he was not going to quit his race for the general election after his poor showing in the Dem's primary. I feel that Ludwig is doing the wrong thing.

I am a realist.

These two, Ludwig and Tessitor are not helping the city's discussion in the final weeks and are not going to have any impact at the polls with voter results.

I am going to make a rash statement as well about the Socialist Party candidate as well and put him in the same category. But, so what. That's their history of being harmless, once every four years. The Socialist Party has a long-standing practice of running a candidate for Mayor, City of Pittsburgh. It happens all the time. Four years ago the Socialist candidate was a coal miner. Frank has since moved out of town. To some degree, the Socialist does not get under my skin because he is on the ballot, nor on the debate stage. Likewise he was full of national views.

I think that Ludwig and Tessitor could make more noise and have a bigger impact for the good of the city as they exit the race than they could if they were in the race. They both have some decent ideas -- be they hidden under a mountain of other burdens. But the ideas are not catching on in the minds of the voters when it comes to election day. The election avenue, at this time, for them, is a dead end!

On another matter, the Green candidate won't cave to the Republican.

Finally, sadly, I don't think Joe Weinroth has done much waving an olive branch of peace in the directions of his loyal opposition on the ballot, yet alone the masses of voters in the city.

Pittsburgh Media Has Done It's Job With "Whack Pack"

In today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette there is a story about the "debate" among all six candidates for Pittsburgh Mayor.

First off, Les Ludwig shouldn't have been there. He's NOT on the ballot, AND he lost in the Spring. The folks who invited him to Tuesday's debate were extremely generous.

Then there's a candidate who talks exclusively about things national...and wants "to end capitalism" from the Pittsburgh landscape. Again, above and beyond acceptable levels of generosity.

Bob O'Connor, the presumptive next Mayor of Pittsburgh, did all the right things to make these candidates look even kookier: he talked about the "basics" like keeping the city clean and safe. Bob's plan is overly simplistic and in some ways naive, despite his years in office.

Joe Weinroth, the Republican candidate who on paper should be the next mayor, was in debates in the spring despite having no opposition, received similar generosity. However, Joe earned his place on the spring ballot AND fall ballot.

The media in Pittsburgh has featured all of the characters on the ballot--and with Ludwig--those who aren't. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to continue this trend.

Any future TV debates should only include candidates who could win (and truly deserve to be on the ballot)...O'Connor and Weinroth.

This mayoral race is about the future of Pittsburgh and not liberal showbiz.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Utility talk

ACORN, a nonprofit political group, is doing work on utility matters. They are worried about the high price of gas, electric and such for residents.

See that comments below for more insights and to leave your comments too.

Techies meet with Damian Conway: Sufficiently Advanced Technologies

Pittsburgh Perl Mongers meet with Damian Conway: Sufficiently Advanced Technologies on Saturday Oct 29, 2005 at 18:30

CMU, Wean Hall Room 7500, Pittsburgh, PA

In module design, interface is everything. Going one step beyond this
dictum, Damian demonstrates and explains several practical applications of
Clarke's Law ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable
from magic") by presenting a series of useful modules whose interface

Aviary asks state to help feather much larger nest

Stanley and Grant.

We love the aviary. Love it. But here comes some tough love advice.
Aviary asks state to help feather much larger nest The aviary is not releasing details of the proposed expansion until it is known how much funding the state might provide. The capital campaign pitch to the public will begin after state officials make a funding decision, she said. Ground breaking could be as early as spring.
Heard enough.

Don't put plans under a basket and release them only in Harrisburg. That is like putting your head in the sand.

You can't be afraid to ruffle some feathers by releasing plans and hopes to the public, the taxpayers, the neighborhood activist -- FIRST. Don't run to Harrisburg first.

No sheep. because taxpayers are not sheep!!!

Hundreds rail against violence at meeting in Homewood - Chief does a classic CYA routine.

Hundreds rail against violence at meeting in Homewood Police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr. says statistics show violent crime is falling in Homewood.

Zone 5 leads the city in the reduction of crime, so says the chief of police. Unreal.

Hundreds rail against violence at meeting in Homewood -- and break out web page from the PG

Hundreds rail against violence at meeting in Homewood Wonderful web page. This is what we've been looking for in terms of coverage of community meetings.
Check out the audio buttons! Well done editors of the PG.

Rosa Parks Passes

Rosa Parks, the woman whose refusal to move to the back of a segregated bus helped launch the civil rights movement, dies.
Musical friend, Amy Carol Webb, a singer/songwriter, has a great, great song about Rosa. It plays now.
Amy Carol Webb sings about many, strong women, including Rosa. She did the song, "Think Again" too.
Amy Carol Webb and I were on a radio show together with Chris Moore of KDKA.
Radio gig with Amy Carol Webb and Chris Moore. Both have roots in Oklahoma.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bugging for a name. Help with research, please.

Name this bug, if you can. I can't, but would like to.

Another view. Click photo for larger view.

The Speaker and the Limo Kids deserved an honest answer

This letter comes to Pittsburgh from Philly -- city to city.
Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/23/2005 | Editorial | The Speaker and the Limo Kids deserved an honest answer Editorial | The Speaker and the Limo Kids deserved an honest answer

A public apology to the fourth-graders of Pittsburgh:

It has come to our attention that Rep. John Perzel, a Republican from our hometown of Philadelphia, visited your fair city recently to deliver books to Beechwood Elementary School. The speaker even stopped by a class of fourth-graders to read stories to you. These were good things for him to do.

That's why, boys and girls, we didn't think anything bad could happen while the speaker was sitting on a bale of hay, reading stories. But we're sorry to say the speaker did a bad thing. He told you a white lie.

Have your parents explained to you about white lies? They are like a 'fib.' Lies are bad and lies are wrong, but white lies are not quite as bad as other lies. They can be defended if, for example, their goal is to protect children from things they're not ready to deal with. But it's bad to lie to a kid to protect yourself.

When the speaker finished reading stories, a little girl asked him a question: 'Did you come in a limo?'

This would have been a good time for the speaker to tell the truth to you fourth-graders. He could have said, 'I came here in a chauffeured Lincoln Town Car, which is a really nice, big car. It's not a stretch limo, but it does have limousine license plates, so you could say yes, it is a limo. This is why my job as speaker is way cool.'

Instead, the speaker got huffy with the little girl. 'Did I come in a limo? I came in a car,' he said dismissively.

To your credit, boys and girls, the speaker's little white lie didn't fool you. Your next question to him was: 'Could we go see the limo?' Some of you would make good journalists. An important rule of journalism is: When the speaker tells you there is no limo, ask to see the limo.

But then the speaker told you another white lie!

'Yeah, if there was a limo out there, we could go see it,' he said.

There was a limo out there, boys and girls! We're sorry that the speaker did not take you out to see it. Maybe he was afraid that you would get chewing gum on the seats.

Please forgive the speaker, boys and girls. He has been having a bad year. He keeps getting grief for giving himself and his friends in Harrisburg a big pay raise in a really, really sneaky way. The attention has him frazzled. He's been telling weird stories about dairy cows.

We are sad that the speaker felt the need to tell white lies to kids.

But, in a way, we are also glad. The speaker is one of the most important men running our state. If a class of fourth-graders can match wits with him, and win, we are very hopeful for the future of our great state.

So, kids, thank you. Go Steelers!

Sincerely, Philadelphia
This is the team Diven is playing with now. No back bencher any more.

By the way, the speaker got into another car for the ride away from the school.

Today, I was in my kid's school. We were not there to give away books, but I've got a basement full of them. Rather, I pushed the buttons as my son made an audio-visual presentation of our recent trip to Hong Kong. The 99 slide presentation is now in a PDF (3 megs). If you want it, I'll send it to you in an email attachement. I'll try to get it onto my web site in the next 24 hours.

Perhaps I should go back to that Banksville school, on a bus or bike even, and pass out CD-ROMs with photos from China? That might make for a good handout and a offer a good contrast to what the Harrisburg Republicans do when they come around.

Free workshop on WED - International Network of Schools - Advancement of Arts Education Conference

Please get this information out ASAP, to as many parents as you can. A “FREE” workshop that parents can attend is slated for 9 am to 4 pm on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel – 1000 Penn Avenue – Downtown.

WORKSHOP TITLE: Advancing the Language of Youth Development: Facilitating the Developmental Process to Complete And Maximize Achievement

PRESENTER: Y. Mustafaa Madyum, Director, Washington, D C - B.E.S.T. Program (Building Exemplary Systems for Training Youth Workers). The workshop will provide an overview of the youth development framework, a way to think about young people that focuses on their capacities, strengths and developmental needs.

This last minute request comes because registration is low. Whatever we can do to increase participation for this workshop would be helpful. In addition, if one of us are interested, we can also attend for free, even if we can’t stay all day.

Where's Wilma's Ice?

Wilma's wrath is weaker than what was delivered from Katrina and Ritta, thankfully. Now we're left to wonder: Where's the ice? Do you think that some of that ice that started in St. Louis and went to Cayjun country and ended up in Maine -- yes Maine -- some weeks after Katrina -- is headed south of Atlanta?

Many taxpayers, myself included, knocked on the doors of the US Representatives and US Senate to insist upon a Hurricane Katrina No Pork Pledge. For a spell it seemed as if we were going to spend every nickle in the world -- and then go to the mints and make more. The aftermaths of hurricanes should not be a chance to write big checks.

The new trend shows the introduction of some legislation to offset the cost of hurricane relief with tens of billions of dollars in spending cuts.

Speaker Dennis Hastert has put forward a four-point plan that would find at least $50 billion in savings in mandatory spending programs; hold the line on spending in appropriations bills; bring forward additional spending cuts or a rescissions package; and permanently eliminate 98 duplicative, wasteful, and unnecessary government programs. Source, CAGW.

The arrival of the hurrican has changed the rules and the game the politicians have been playing. We finally have leverage and a new sense of priorities. Waste-cutting is mandatory -- otherwise we need to NUKE the Gulf Region.

While it seems like common sense to you and me, offsetting the costs of hurricane relief with cuts in wasteful and non-essential spending faces powerful opposition - from the special interests who benefit from this spending, the big-government advocates who oppose any and all spending cuts, and those in Congress who want to raise your taxes to pay for the hurricanes' cost.

Operation Clean Sweep visits South Side on Nov 14

Clean mop, clean sweep -- same thing. Photo from a park in Chengdu, China.
Come on at 7:00 p.m. on Nov 14, 2005, at the Brashier Assn, 2005 Sarah St., Pittsburgh PA 15203 to hear from Bruce Krane (local advocate) and Russ Diamond (Operation Clean Sweep) for an informational evening about the PACleanSweep effort and what you can do to help.

PCTV show from Bruce Krane that features Joe Weinroth

The show schedule for PCTV21 (community access TV). I'd love to get a full transcript of this long interview show.
PCTV21 viewers can also catch the inaugural effort of "Finding Our Voices" this month - this is the pilot project for a soon to be formalized non-profit corporation. The first episode features Joe Weinroth, Republican Candidate for Mayor of Pittsburgh. Mr. Weinroth is saddled with a 5 to 1 Democratic disadvantage in terms of registered voters in his quest for the mayoral office. Hopefully, that fact alone helps explain the concept behind "Finding Our Voices".

Air dates/times are as follows:

Thursday 10/06/05 12:00 PM
Wednesday 10/12/05 1:00 PM
Friday 10/14/05 3:00 PM
Tuesday 10/18/05 7:00 PM
Friday 10/21/05 11:00 AM
Monday 10/24/05 4:00 PM
Friday 10/28/05 7:00 PM
Friday 11/04/05 7:00 PM

Great word finally mentioned: "Stewardship"

I love that word: Pay raise adds to benefits - 'When you see the private sector struggling every day to renegotiate and make modifications to plans, this raises questions in my mind about stewardship,' Dreyfuss said.

Crossing guard in Chengdu, China.

Colaizzi and Baker get ink in school board race -- that covers South Side

I know each of these two. I'm not sure what is going to happen. And, for now, I'm not going to say much else. Election 2005: Colaizzi has challenger for District 5 school board seat

Your feedback is welcomed.

Candidate not giving up yet -

Candidate not giving up yet - ... he wore a black necktie blotched with white stains.

Say what?

O'Connor, Weinroth debate -

When we had a poor mayor, we needed good councilmembers to do administrative duties. Otherwise, nothing would have happened. Now, next to nothing happens. But, in an ideal world, we'll have a strong and good mayor. Hence, those on council should be legislatures. They'll write the laws (ordinances). But, it is up to the mayor and the administration to carry out the policies.
O'Connor, Weinroth debate - O'Connor wants to keep nine council members, saying neighborhood residents and businesses rely on the representation to handle local issues such as rundown streets and safety concerns. Still, O'Connor said council could cut its costs by 20 percent.

'They're the eyes and ears of the community,' he said. 'A lot of neighborhoods have been neglected. They want basic services. That councilman is on top of it.'

We've had mission creep on Grant Street for a long time. That is why we have two oversight boards.

Furthermore, the budget is set by city council -- but the mayor has been able to ignore it. Council says 'hire rat control experts and spend $x.' But no. The mayor does what he wants.

Bob is aware of how things work now. But, he's not aware of how things should operate in the future.

Bob wants to go out an 'inspect' matters in the city's neighborhoods. Well then he does not need to have nine councilmembers as his eyes and ears. What is it Bob?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

PCNC Hosted Mayoral Debate

How do you think Bob O'Connor and Joe Weinroth did in the debate today. I think I would have loved to debate David Johnson. - News - PCNC To Host Mayoral Debate: "PITTSBURGH -- With the November election just a few weeks away, former City Council president Bob O'Connor and Republican mayoral hopeful Joe Weinroth will debate on the Pittsburgh Cable News Channel Sunday, October 23.

Channel 11 News anchor David Johnson will moderate the live debate between the two major candidates.

The hour long debate will begin in the WPXI-TV studio at 11:30 am."

Weinroth gets extra points for mentions that he wants to get votes from Libertarians! That was part of his closing statement.

I've never seen a debate that allowed one extra question AFTER the closing statements. Clock managment in the last segment was weak on both candidate's part.

I don't like hearing Joe Weinroth speaking of himself in the third person. Joe said something like, "If you want the status quo, vote for Bob. If you want to change Pittsburgh, vote for Joe Weinroth." The examples that were distinctions were fine -- but Weinroth should have said 'vote for me.'

Bob said that this is a healthy debate -- and Joe replied that he wished that there were more of them. I'd say it wasn't healthy to leave candidate out. It could have been healthy to have more voices on the debate stage so as to have some real drama and new, diverse ideas.

Tom (a blog buddie) called the other candidates, the whack pack. Good name. But, I'm not sure they'll even have the footing to whack without injury to oneself. It could be a mighty push into thin air and splat. We'll see Tuesday, I hope.

Is it an asset or a liability to say, "I've lived all my life in Pittsburgh." ??? I think that presents a limited vision. They both said it.

Good to hear Joe Weinroth speak against Eminent Domain in the debate. It only got a super quick mention, but it was heard by the techie listeners (all six of us). The "I'm against it by the way" mention of eminent domain isn't going to present a package that is going to win any votes. Joe could spend two-minutes on eminent domain in the next debate, perhaps as an opening or closing statement. He needs to open that can of worms, put it on the podium, and let O'Connor shrink, if not melt. Bob won't have anything to say on the issue. Joe should lean upon his legal background, law school experience, understanding of courts and real estate.

Bob said, after I'm elected, you'll see big changes in the first 100 days. Joe should have said, after I'm elected, you'll see bigger changes in the first 100 minutes. And, these minutes will start to tick as the 11:00 News reports on our election night victory. We won't have to wait 100 days after January 3 to send a message of change -- like a new pea in the same pod. Not with me. Pittsburgh, we can dance in the streets on the night of November 8, 2005. My election day victory becomes a front-page headline in the USA Today and Wall Street Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer. The whole world isn't going to be looking at us at the All-Star Game. They'll be packing up and moving in by then. We'll have a new-resident block parties in all 88 neighborhoods on All Star Weekend, if I'm elected. And I expect us to welcome -- and INSPECT -- 5,000 new Pittsburgh residents. This will make a mid-summer classic to remember.

The biggest opening in the second half of the debate was when Bob O'Connor talked about the wrong forumla for downtown's revitalization. He said that you have to have the customers first, and then retail will follow. Without the people, i.e., shoppers, the stores are going to not have the sales. Mayor Murphy was building retail thinking that would keep the people here. Bob O'Connor, who helped with most of Murphy's punishing actions, said he had a different forumla.

Yeah, right.

Bob is going to flip-flop the process from (Retail + Residents) to (Residents + Retail).

Joe Weinroth should have stepped in -- after Bob's set up -- and said something like this: "Bob's calculated formula of customers and retail is but a small element of the bigger solution to our city and region. A few new dorms might work to beach a thousand college students within downtown, but that tactic isn't going to bring back prosperity and opportunities to city residents. People vote with their feet. People choose freedom. People are not going to go anywhere if they feel unsafe and if justice is a hit-or-miss factor. Pittsburgh is not going to thrive again with retail, nor with housing -- until citizens have insurances concerning the most important factors, freedom and justice for all."

I think Pittsburgh needs mature, adult solutions and not some hipster coolaid, rebranding bunk. Bob's been a part of that lifestyle, funky approach that has sent us farther in a back-slide. I want no part of their approach. Their formulas are going to result in more failures.

The right track for Bob is a loft apartment and glorified dorm with a bike rack. Then you build the expresso bar and follow it with retail. All these people in Bob's vision are going to stay downtown and stay in our city -- IF they are wearing a ball and chain. If we continue to run a city that crushes people, day-in and day-out, as we've done for the past decades, nobody in their right mind is going to want to shop here, live here nor work here. We'll continue the downward spiral until we change our approaches to justice, freedoms and earn trust with saavy citizens, from here and afar.

We know what's going on. Now we have a chance to vote to end the same-old, same-old.

Toss in some examples... cars being towed, senseless killings in the streets, police brutality at protests, corporate welfare, etc., etc.

I feel that Bob painted himself into a corner with the consumer and retail formula. Joe should have exploited it with a hard-hitting big picture observation. Bob's formula would have been reduced to 1 (consumers / residents) + 1 (retail) = negative 300,000 in the past decades. Thanks Bob for being a big part of the reason the city is half of its former self.

As to this 'right track' stuff -- give us a break. Any road will take us there if you don't know where you want to go. We need to be realistic with where we are. We need to have stong vision of how to fix our systematic governmental implosion. And, most of all, we need ask those who have made the mess to leave the scene because the one's who make the mess are the least qualified at clean-up.

Then there is the O'Connor them of bringing people together and that mega cooperative ring-leader. We have been bending over and have been cooperative with the two oversight boards and with the governor. These new found helpers match the bailout from Harrisburg -- pittyful. People are not going to rush to Pittsburgh and fix our problems. The past two years, coupled with the past decade, have proven this. We're on our own. We're going to need to pull ourselves up with all our might -- from within. We know best. Those that want to run to saviors from afar are only going to foil the progress that we need to strive for first.

When city council goes to Harrisburg, they have no idea what to say, what to beg for, how to threaten, nor why they are fruitless. City council members have not been able to think it through. And, neither have you.

Finally, Pittsburgh did change the tax structure in serious ways in the year 2000. And, this was with a push from Bob and a quick nod from Tom. They worked to toss out our legacy of affordable housing in the city. They let the county muck up the assessment process back in the Sabre Systems day. And, we're still paying for the sins of the past -- big time. And, Bob is clueless as to the ramifications, his role in the decline, and how to resolve these issues.

The deed transfer tax is sky high. That should be the first tax to cut. How about a deed transfer tax holliday for the next three years? Joe Weinroth, the attorney who works in real estate, should have nailed Bob O'Connor on this issue.

Urban hike goes into a scavenger hunt on the South Side

We'll be busy with the kids, and sadly, can't play this game. But, perhaps some of you might like to give it a whirl.
Join Urban Hike for its annual scavenger hunt this Saturday!

So you think you know the South Side, super sleuth? Then meet us at Caribou Coffee in the South Side Works (2729 East Carson Street) at noon, Saturday, October 29th. You’ll have three hours to track down the hidden gems we’ve found in the neighborhood.

Come with a team of four people or on your own. We’ll match people up where needed. If you have one, please bring your digital camera and the cord that allows it to connect to a computer. Some of the clues will require photographs, and we’ll all look at them after the hike concludes.

All teams must be at Taco Loco (2700 Jane Street) by 3 pm in order to compete for valuable prizes and exciting merchandise. Click comments for directions.

Questions? E-mail

As a teaser question, can you explain what is going on with the photo below? Click the image to see a larger version showing better details. If you know or want to place a guess, put it into the comments. Or, look for the answer there in a day or so. Take a guess. What do you see?

Signs still stink. Click for a bigger view of some recent sign sightings.

Click on the image and see a larger version of the same photo, as is the case with most of the photos in this blog.
Please do not spit. Sign posted in Hong Kong at Ocean Park. Perhaps it should be posted in suburban Pittsburgh for school board members to read.
Election law charges draw police attention ... Signs were erected that read 'Esterly = Higher Taxes.' A worm was crawling out of the red apple.

Mrs. Esterly is not nearly as concerned about the rotten apple implication as she is about the sign's fine print that read, 'Paid for by the candidate.'

'Obviously, I did not pay for that sign,' Mrs. Esterly said.
Please do not cross in front of bus.

Thought that the transit advocates would get a kick out of this sign. If there isn't anyone working on transit, perhaps there won't be any bus to walk in front of -- in the months to come.

Controller's race, should he win, would not occur until 2007

The City of Pittsburgh is going to elect a new controller in 2007, so it seems.

Tom Flaherty, Dem, Pgh's Controller, is running for judge on Nov 8 -- election day. If Tom wins the judge seat, (OMG) he'll resign from his elected, multi-term office as controller.

I assumed and expected that there would be a special election for that post -- along with the special election I'm to enter for the city council (District 3). However, I've talked with Bill Robinson, Dem, County Councilman. Robinson and I have talked at the gala/auction hosted by WPSD (Western PA School for the Deaf).

Bill Robinson is interested in the race of city controller for himself, by the way. So, he looked into this. Robinson thinks that there will NOT be a special election. Should Flaherty move to another office (judge), then the next in line to be the controller is the assistant contoller, Tony P. The assistant will serve as controller until the term expires. So, the next election for controller in the city will be as scheduled -- in this case in 2007.

I had given some bad advice and was starting to talk to a few possible candidates for the city controller race in 2006. Well, the timing is wrong. A run for city controller's job could make a good exercise for a political rookie so as to gear up for a race for PA House the next year. Perhaps it is good to start thinking about a run for controller in 2007 anyway. Flaherty has said he doesn't want the job he's in now, as he is running for another office.

Unless I hear otherwise with other news -- say from the election office directly -- there won't be a race in 2006 for a special election for controller.

Insanity's example -- THINK AGAIN slogan might be best as "think at all!" Land isn't able to be hidden.

This is nuts. On one hand we have an elected official who says the answer is 40. On the other hand we have some of the most powerful institutions in the region saying the right answer is 14 percent.

What gives between 40 and 14?
Just who owns that doggie in the limo? - Doug Shields criticized Mayor Tom Murphy for saying 40 percent of the city's land is controlled by nonprofits. The nonprofits contend that figure is much lower, perhaps 14 percent.

It would be great is someone did the necessary homework so we know where we are. You can't get to where you want to go if you don't know your present location and course. Hey, we can't get on the right track even -- to use Bob O'Connor's pea-brained slogan -- if we can't find the rail yard.

The rail yard was taken out and replaced with a jail that is over filled.

Seems like the region is behind bars now -- too dumb to know better.

How much land is occupied and owned by nonprofits?

How much land is occupied and owned by the city?

How much land is owned by the URA?
Playground, school, apartments. Figure out the space of each is just a matter of math.

We need to know. I've called for those audits in the past. They need to be done.

And, what about the watchdogs? How about if the Trib does some homework too. Put up the chart and research. Do some more investigative reporting.

As a citizen I can make some educated assumptions. I think that half of the 'nonprofit land' is owned by the city and the URA. That's way to much. I think that the city's URA owns more than 7,000 parcels of land. The URA should liquidate that land, even selling some of it on eBay.

I also have called for a moratorium on land expansion by the nonprofits.

Finally, we need to know the trends. How much land was in the ownership of the nonprofits in the past, year by year, for the past 50 years. And, where is it going in the future.

The Salvation Army wants to purchase a 34 acre park in Brighton Heights for $100. I don't know if it is wise to give up so much land for so little when the nut of getting past this year's budget is so hard to crack. The city expected $5-million from the nonprofits and much less is to arrive. And, we're at November and little or nothing has come in so far.

Criminals generally rob from the poor. The city is poor. Lock the doors as the next wave of institutional thieves are arriving.

I don't want my city to be desperate.

I don't want my city to be dumb.

I'm not going to raise my family in a dumb, desperate landscape. So, I'll do my best to fix the situations. Let's 'think again.'