Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Overtime hits city budget hard

P-G news: Overtime hits city budget hard
While not the #1 pay earners, Bob and Dan get to go to the Super Bowl. Is that a perk or overtime?

Just as long as the game doesn't go to overtime then everyone will be happy.

The scooter goes, even with some snow and ice.

The 2-on-2 game of football, on the beach. The setting is not near a Great Lake -- and Detroit. Rather that's the Atlantic Ocean and a beach in Maine. The gang is home from a trip to see Grandpa.

Hut, hut....

Part 2 -- footnote on whistleblowers

These are my words from the Platform.For-Pgh.org wiki:

Whistleblowers-plank - PittsburghPlatform Whistleblowers and whistleblowing get my respect, full attention, and as capable, protection.

Another major Bruce mistake, but this from Krane, from last night. Part 2 from City Theater

Bruce Krane, an opponent in the race for city council, made one silly mistake in his initial introduction and then fixed it at the end of the night in his closing statement. He said, "I've been a Democrat all my life. I'll continue to being a Democarat." Yet, Krane isn't even a Democrat now.

That's the way the night started. Krane gave the first introduction. Meanwhile, the real Democrat who had the endorsement and who was still a Democrate wasn't yet on stage. He was a late to the event.

Krane fixed his self-description in his closing statement. It is always a plus when those "I am..." statements ring true.

The story behind the story deals with the answers provided from Krane in the question about the police.

Krane didn't say "PASS" like he did last week when there was a question about the parks put to him. But Krane should have passed because he got it wrong, in my humble opinion.

Throughout the night there were questions put to us all that every candidate got to answer. Then there were other times when a question was put to just one candidate in a "rapid fire round." So, Krane got the question about the police, by luck of the draw. He got to answer, and I didn't. Thank goodness for blogs.

QUESTION: It seems that the word-of-mouth crime reports are more accurate than the published crime reports. How can we correct this?

Bruce Krane's answer, in full, retyped from transcript:

I don't know what the justifications are to say that rumors are more accurate than the police report, first of all. Could you please read the question again? That just struck me right away.

... Q again ...

Well that is assuming that the police crime reports are inaccurate, I have a hard time accepting that.

But obviously, anybody that lives here, there has been an increase of crime that people talk about. I think that there has been an increase in some violent crimes. I think it is very frustrating that there does not seem to be picked up by the media and the truth should be told. But, when I look at the statistics, and I'm as concerned as any resident is about crime, particularlly violent crime, but it hasn't been proven to me that the numbers did increase.

There have been some very colorful crimes. There have been some aweful crimes. There have been some crimes of violence that we haven't seen before. But I would still have to go with the police reports as opposed to rumor reports on the streets. That's my answer.

This is from the Sunday newspaper. It was from the day prior. And, the news of this article came out in council's chambers, mostly, in the prior week.
Peduto sells out Until a few years ago, the Pittsburgh police, as did police forces in other city's worthy of major status, made their reports available. They are now kept from public inspection. As a result, reporters and the public are told to wait for a 'news release' that might or might not answer all questions.

Anyone who reads the newspaper could have hit a homerun with this question. Someone from out of state could have done a better job with that answer by knowing what Dennis Roddy wrote about.

My answer would have been much different.

We have a serious problem with the reporting of crime. We have a serious problem with the PA Amber Alert program too. We don't have the horsepower to make a very effective and super efficient NAN (neighborhood awareness network). Volunteers, given the size and scope of this district, can't do all the heavy lifting. These great volunteers should be running their businesses.

And, the police reports are wanting. They are lacking. The details and the real fiber of the happenings are being sheltered from the citizens who live, work, and invest here -- for no good reason.

I don't want business owners to get one type of police report while residents get another type of report -- as is the case with our situation as of a few months ago. The police did not want to give the residents the same info that they gave to the business owners. That makes the network -- not work. Nodes in the network need to be filled by residents.

Pittsburgh is a great word-of-mouth town. And, this landscape is a frustration to the power-brokers. But, it is our hope. It is how we cope and win on many instances.

This word of mouth network that outs falsehoods is how I win the election on March 14, by the way.

The rumor generation machine that is our network of word-of-mouth, is a big frustration to Mark Roosevelt, new superintendent of Pittsburgh Public Schools. He has come to learn that in Pittsburgh he can't just close 20 schools and not pick the right ones. We understand and know what schools should be closed. We know what principals are really doing a great job and who is not.

The police need to be more transparent in certain aspects. And, this is a top-down policy struggle with them that can be fixed in the weeks to come. I hope we are turning a new leaf, as one is needed to be turned.

Furthermore, Peduto was wrong in his scolding of various parties in this flap with the approval of the new police chief. I wrote about this last week, as Roddy did. My comment went upon the Platform.For-Pgh.org wiki. The root of this issue is whistleblowing. A touch of it comes to the 4th estate -- that's media talk for watchdog journalism.

In the instance with the standoff of the past, the message isn't about the messenger. It is about the message. We can't give threats from council's table to the city's attorney to call the district attorney because an important secret is seeing the light of day. The backlashes for a whistleblower around here stinks. That is a sure-fire way to halt reform. That is a sure-fire way to end freedoms and liberty. That is a sure-fire way to breed more corruption.

The power brokers need to know that they can't hide anything. As things are hidden, as events are shielded, as the public and press is locked out, Pittsburgh becomes more and more of a "smokey city." We've had enough of the legacy of the back-room deals being cut.

I don't want a candidate that can't name names. I don't want a candidate who can't see what is really going on around here.

All the king's horses and all the king's men can not put Humpty together again. Humpty took a great fall, and so has the City of Pittsburgh. To fix Pittsburgh, we need everyone's input and help. This is a major networking problem and all the strength of the network is only as great as its nodes.

Last week I spoke at City Council on the day that new police chief Dom Costa got interviewed by City Council and got a vote of approval, 8-0. My words on the matter were in complete support of what Luke Revenstahl said. Luke is City Council President. He said that the greatest asset for the police are the residents of the city. The people are the source of the power of the police. Without the people, and that relationship among people and police, we are in big trouble.

The relationship is what matters most. And, that is what is lost upon the rest of the field. Talk all you want about the police station, the parking problems where firefighters get tickets from police officers and how enforcement is lame because the police have a locker in an antiquated station house.

The point is being missed. And, this question last night covers that point so well.

The police reports stink. We can fix that. Bob needs to fix it. But the trust and relationship among citizens and police and the system we live under is frail. We need to mend relationships. We need to get to the roots of the problems -- so that there is JUSTICE FOR ALL, not just for your buddies or for the buddies that know how to stroke some politician.

I did have a public safety question put to me and one of the first things that needs to be done as a city council member is to make sure that the city council appoints its full share of members to the citizens police review board. City council has been in a fumble mode for more than a year on making its appointments. Gene Ricciardi and the Grant Street Cronies screwed up the ability of the citizens police review board from doing its job by not filling the seats of the board. The board could not meet for months as there were dead-wood members who were never going to show up for a meeting -- by design and intent. And, open seats were left open -- because city council wasn't doing the job it was intended to do. Council was doing the wrong jobs.

These are recent facts.

Deadline missed - PittsburghLIVE.com

The people love to hear promises, even empty promises. So, politicians around here give me up like cake to seniors in a recreation center.

I think it is okay to be a politician who is idealistic, a dreamer and an out-of-the-box thinker. We need open-mindedness in all sectors these days. But, the distinction of being a promise breaker, un-accountable, and at odds with reality is another matter totally.

I am a candidate who is idealistic. I try to learn as much, come to grip with the facts and THEN I slave (with others) to craft the best solutions possible. We need to make Pittsburgh a place where we thrive, not just survive. So, I like ambitions. But, the way to get to the "promised land" has more to do with calculated goals in a real world setting and less upon good intentions. The road to hell is paved with "good intentions."

Beware of politicians who are attempting to be hallmarks of promises -- as promises get broken. The over-reaching around here has been, and still is, killing Pittsburgh.

Bob O'Connor should have released his budget changes to the court of public opinion. Negotiating budget adjustments could have been done in the open. His part of the bargain that he struck with the people, just after he swore to God, could have been saved.

The prior Mayor celebrated the arrival of the first oversight board. The old council (mostly still with us today) made the arrival of the overlords necessary by constantly giving away all of our tax money -- like it is theirs to give away. Meanwhile, Bob O'Connor didn't object to the arrival of the overlords.

I am not happy with the overlords continued presence in our once great city. I pushed city council to vote against the arrival of the overlords. My side lost. I wanted a NO vote on Act 47.

I want to be self-reliant. I want self-determination. I think if we get the right people in the jobs on Grant Street we'll know best, without overlord supervision.

Furthermore, and most importantly, I want NO part of the overlords' entry into Pittsburgh, but I didn't want all the overspending (from council and the administration) that necessitated the arrival of the overlords.

The city leaders needed to say NO to the overlords, by spending less, back in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and to the present times. I was at odds with the city's leadership then. The writting was on the wall for years -- and I'm not talking about the run-away-troubles with grafitti in these parts.

They over-reached. Today, we suffer. Today, we don't have "rodent control." Today, we see more people move out of the city. Today, we see certain sections of our city grow deeper and deeper into dispair.
Deadline missed - PittsburghLIVE.com Mayor Bob O'Connor missed a self-imposed deadline to tweak Pittsburgh's 2006 budget by today, the end of his first month in office.

Days after his Jan. 3 inauguration, O'Connor said he would make changes to former Mayor Tom Murphy's $418 million budget proposal 'by the end of January,' even though state law gives the new mayor until the end of March.
'The end of January wasn't a hard deadline,' B.J. Leber, O'Connor's chief of staff, said Monday. 'It was just a target.'
Leber said she's still negotiating budget adjustments with the city's two state-appointed financial overseers -- the Act 47 recovery team and the state oversight board. Both were created in 2004 after Pittsburgh was declared financially distressed in December 2003. "

Nine file for vacant council seat

We could have our own baseball team. There are nine of us in the race, as of last night and today.
Nine file for vacant council seat Libertarian Mark Rauterkus, 46, has run for mayor and state Senate. The Flats resident and swimming coach said he'd be 'the person on City Council in charge of youth policy and recreation.'
He'd fight against rolling local tax dollars into $18 million in aid for the proposed new PNC Financial Services Group tower Downtown. He wants land to be taxed at a higher rate than buildings.
Nine is a good number. It is a number that means "long life" in China. And, since this is now the year of the dog, it is fitting to say that every dog has its day in the sun.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Closing remarks. OMG: HE said: "I am sworn to represent your well being before the city of Pittsburgh." Think again!

These were my words from my closing statement from tonight's candidate forum hosted at the City Theater.

It is hard to strike up a conversation and do a mind dump in a minute-and-a-half or two minutes. One of the things that we've prepared with my campaign is a CD. It fits in 30 or 40 minutes. We'll be doing new ones as well. It has music and message. It has the Platform.For-Pgh.org on there. It is an internet web site with more than 300 pages.

My blog is very active. I publish a lot of my thoughts out loud. Finding out where I stand on issues from years ago to now is very easy.

A lot of the things that were said tonight I'll be blogging about in another half hour or so. I'd like you to take a listen to this (holding the CD in my hand).

One message is "Lay the Shovel Down."

It is not about constituent services any more. We are broke. No money is left. You can do a nice little hug, but that is about it. Okay? We have to "Lay the Shovel Down." We have to get back to the basics of being free, to have some liberty, and justice for all. And then we can take back our city and have more command of things.

It is not about, as I heard, "taking over properties." Having the city take over more properties is the wrong way.

I've called for a moratorium on all non-profit land expansion.

One other thing is that this week on Thursday, I'm hosting a house concert over at our house on 12th Street. Everybody is invited. There is a handout with the details. This is something we need to talk about. There is a lot of things going on. I hope to have a conversation with all of you. Keep your minds open as to the way this whole campaign is going to occur for the next couple of weeks. Thanks for all of your attention.

Bruce Kraus gave this close, and spoke these words. The text below is retyped from the transcripts.
Bruce Kraus said in his closing statement:

There is one thing that was said this evening that I disagree with vehemently. And that is that this is not about constituency service. This election is about you. Each and every one of you. I want to set the standard for constituency service. I want to be held up as the hallmark of constituency service.

It is easy to stand here and say what I would like to do. I would rather stand here and say what I have done. I have worked diligently my entire life in this neighborhood. This neighborhood is in my blood. It is in the air I breath..To serve this community and to make this community better for each and every one of us whether it be neighborhood cleanups, fighting for police protection, having my business here and investing in my home here, my neighbors here.

I am sworn to represent your well being before the city of Pittsburgh.

I would like to say that the date of the election is March 14. I hope each and every one of you come out. Please come out and vote. It is a very important election. This is a very important position. And we must exercise the utmost care in who we select to do this job before you. So I respectfully ask to vote for me, Bruce A. Krause, on November 14 and thank you very much for your interest in this election and for taking the time to be here tonight.

Bruce. Sigh. I do not want you to represent my well being. No thanks. For starters, I want to be self reliant. For closers, you got it all wrong as to the duty and the sworn oath.

This is a show stopper.

Listen to this .wav file. Listen well. There is a fundamental problem. The job of being on city council has an associated oath. The sworn duty isn't about what you claim it is.

Sworn duty is ... exactly this.

Deadline delivers Republican candidate

This is going to be fun.

The deadline for putting in the paperwork to the election department for getting onto the ballot was at 5 pm. The deadline delivered a new name to the mix and a number of new parties.

The Republicans put in a candidate.

I figure that there is still a bit of time for challenges and people to pull out of the race.

Furthermore, at this point in time, the fine officials at the election department don't even know if voters will see the old machines or the new ones. A meeting is slated for the morning to come to grips with what's what with the voting machines.

I'm sure we'll see an article in the Post-Gazette in the morning, if not sooner, about all the names and various parties. An interview was conducted with Rich Lord today. He was at the election counter at 5 pm as well.

Conventional wisdom says it helps me if there are plenty of people in the race.

More news after the debate / candidate night tonight. I don't think that the Republican is going to show up at the event at 7 pm at City Theater tonight. He's at work now.

Double M in ICU

Mark Madden -- get well soon.

A Running Mate, Mike, competed in the Mark Madden wings event on Friday at Sports Rock. I sent up some prayer for his health. He had a good time and didn't get sick, thankfully. Seems that those prayers should have been offered for the host!

I'm reminded of the great basketball movie, Hoosiers. The one hospital scene features the dad of a player in the hospital to dry out while his son's squad is in the state championship game. He tunes into the game on the AM radio and jumps around on the bed, so excited for the game. Wonder if Mark is going to be that way if he is stuck in the hospital on Sunday evening this week?

I just hope he has the energy for the jumping -- and that no nurses are involved.

Land rights, wetlands, eminent domain - Feb 4 meeting elsewhere

See the comments section for a meeting notice for 10 am Saturday, Feb 4 with Westmoreland County Concerned Citizens.

Editorial: Size matters / Paring the Legislature should be part of reform

The P-G speaks of reform.
Editorial: Size matters / Paring the Legislature should be part of reform What is needed, then, is a third wave of response from Pennsylvanians -- a reform agenda that includes, among other things, a lobbyist disclosure law, ways for the public to put questions on the ballot and a smaller General Assembly.
Real reform talk happens at the Platform.For-Pgh.org wiki.

However, I don't know if I agree with the notion that the size of the legislature needs to be reduced. I am sure a reduction is necessary, but it might be better to tell the state reps that they can only come to Harrisburg to work in a part-time basis. How about a part-time schedule that is just three days a month.

This is one of those reform measures that need to be considered from a number of different angles. To concentrate power with fewer people might be a lot worse for the citizens in the end.

Winter Olympics - 'Loudmouthed Texan' after gold medals

Hype for the Olympics and speedskater:
SI.com - 2006 Winter Olympics - 'Loudmouthed Texan' after�five gold medals - Monday January 30, 2006 12:12AM The Exception.

The exception.... sounds fitting.

Dems pick candidate - PittsburghLIVE.com

Coverage of the race from the Trib.
Dems pick candidate - PittsburghLIVE.com Mark Rauterkus, of the South Side, is running as a Libertarian.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ds decide. My chance of winning city council's seat just hit the fast lane.

The Democrats in the 3rd Council District voted to give its endorsement for the special election.

All in all, my chances as a Libertarian of winning the election on March 14, just zoomed to hyper-drive speeds.

My forcasting was accurate, as usual. I knew that Bruce Kraus would get 3rd. In a four way race, getting third, after running as he has been for 18 months already, is bad news for the Kraus ambition to council.

To be accurate, their D endorsement was a five way race. The fifth place guy on the ballot didn't score a vote. That's the other Bruce K. So, today was a very bad day, in my humble opinion, for Bruce K and Bruce K.

In the early cycles of an election, with rookie candidates, with a large field, the thing to watch for is the "show stopper." Various show stoppers have been visible at every corner so far.

The unofficial results:

Jeff Koch = 33

Pat Sweeney = 17

Bruce Kraus = 15

Eileen Conroy = 8

Bruce Krane = 0

Pat Sweeney has said that he is out of the race if he did not win the Ds endorsement. He was wise to say that. He is no fool. Sweeney lives to fight another battle in another time. He did well for himself. He had a good bit of support.

I'd love to get the supporters of Pat Sweeney to help me in my campaign. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, Bruce Kraus has been working all the angles for months. He's been meeting and greeting and taking cakes to senior centers -- to little avail. But, there is no love loss between Krause and the D's victor. Krause is going to ponder what to do next. It isn't clear if he is going to stay in the race or get out of the race. He has waffled on the issue and not made a clear statement on various instances. He is now at a fork in the road.

I would love to get the support of Krause on my side too -- with that of Sweeney.

If, and this is a big "IF" -- Sweeney, Kraus and Eileen Conroy all helped me for the next month and a half -- I'd win the election in a landslide. If they help me for the last two weeks of the campiagn -- then -- I might still win with a super-majority.

And, there are others still on the sidelines with bench strength. Two other guys are sure to have their paperwork in to the office for Monday's 5 pm deadline, plus the two that are already there.

A log jam is still brewing with the ballot. And, that's still good for my side as well. In a busy field, I can win the race and not get the majority of the voters.

I think I stack up well with Mr. Jeff Koch. Education and the youth are very important to me. Koch was, by far, well advanced with the others in terms of an association with kids, recreation and schools. The others are way behind in those populations. So, today was a good day for the kids.

And, with Jeff and I in a battle -- the kids can win out in the end. The kids issue and the schools issue are now a vital battle-ground matter for the final election victory. Bring it on.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Statement before City Council -- The Over Reaching Hurts

Notes from a talk delivered on January 25.
My name is Mark Rauterkus, My family and I reside at 108 South 12th Street, South Side. I'm a candidate for the now open seat for City Council in district 3. Today I'll turn in my papers to get onto the ballot.

I'm hosting a community concert on Feb 2 with singer and songwriter Johnsmith. He sings a song, "Don't Put Me In a Box" that is on the campaign CD. I hope everyone gets the opportunity to listen to this CD in the weeks to come. It has music and messages that I feel are important for Pittsburgh to flourish.
Today's message is about over-reaching.

As a coach, I understand that there are various roles in a team. The blocking back can't go into the Steelers huddle and always say, "give me the ball." But with a swimmer, I know that a backstroke in the middle of the pull can't over reach. There is a time and place for everything and we can't over-reach in the wrong areas.

I feel that the resolution from council that talks about the US Senate confirmation for the Supreme Court is wrong. On the other hand, I think it is great that Jim Ferlo organized the citizens to take out a full page ad in the recent City Paper to petition President Bush about our loss of privacy and personal freedoms. I didn't sign that petition, but many Libertarians did. Each individual could make the decision.

As individuals on council, I welcome your involvement in many issues that impact our community. As a body, I don't like those statements about foreign policy and areas that are an over-reach.

My planks within the Platform.For-Pgh.org are on the web on this topic and are handed to the Clerk for the record.

One week ago, another candidate in the race came to this podium and asked you to not meddle in the race. To have a hands off approach to the district. And, in effect, "Neb out."

I can't agree. That is wrong. I want your engagement in the race I'm waging for city council.

I am the type of person who has engaged in other races around town. I was at the kick off to Tonya Payne's campaign. I know many of council's past opponents to sitting councilmemebers from other parts of town, such as Mitch Kates and Renee who is now working at the Pgh Business Times. Bill Peduto spoke at an event I helped to organize, and his speech is on tape, before he was elected to council. I've heard Joe King speak to Brighton Heights neighbors, while in Brighton Heights.

I've been around town. And, this is an asset because when I get onto council I would like to be the chair of the committee that deals with youth policy and Citiparks. In that capacity, I'll care and do the administrative heavy lifting for kids all around the city -- not just in my own district.

I don't expect any of you on city council, (all are Democrats), to make a $200 campaign donation to my campaign. But I'd welcome it. However, each of you will benefit if I was to arrive to city council.

I play well with others in respectful ways. I will challenge some status quo concepts and be forceful in my beliefs as I communicate, teach and live with the results of the majority.

I know that the Paulson Rec Center has a new computer lab. That system is built so as to support other labs around town in other rec centers. Those need to be built right away.

I know that we can't and should not re-open all the 32 outdoor swim pools that had been closed. And I understand how we can re-launch the Pittsburgh Marathon, but not cause so much gridlock for the entire city. I want a prudent marathon, perhaps in an out-and-back course on a bus way that needs far less police overtime.

Listen to the CDs I gave to each of you last week. Engage, where you should, as individuals.

The campaign I'm in has already seen its share of goofy statements from the uninformed, yet well meaning. We heard one opponent's idea of moving the Zone 3 police station to Mt. Oliver. Go figure. It is outside of the district and the city. Another front runner assumes the entire internet is "non-profit" so getting the jobs from Google with an office here isn't with many real benefits. Your presence and open-minded attitude at these community meetings would be welcomed.

Thinking Again isn't within the Penguin's Capacity, Brainpower, or Freedom

It is do or die with the Penguins as they have lost the capacity to think again. That stinks. It stinks like a last place team in a league that didn't play at all last year. It stinks like a team in a league where fights on the ice are common -- but fights with ideas in the public realm are off the table.

Mario is now retired from the on-ice action of the NHL. He didn't hang up his skates. He won't get into another professional game, but he is still in the mix as owner and champion.

We need Mario and the Penguins to think again. We need everyone in this setting to have the capacity to think again. If they won't -- we need to demand it of them, repeatedly.

We can't let anyone just fall to the margins of life as we don't have anyone or anything to waste. We need all hands on deck. We need everyone to do a part. Sitting on your brains and limited our options isn't okay with me.

If the contract with Isle of Capri cuts off your freedom to think -- shame on you. Wake up. Think again.

Gig em. Is the opponent of my opponent my friend?

The 12th Man at A&M is telling the Seahawks to bug off its name turf. Go Aggies Go. Gig'em!

Pep Rally proves our FLOW stinks

The Friday night pep rally was a hoot!

Telling, a car-load of people left Washington, PA, and it took them 2-hours-and-thirty minutes to get to the North Shore. East Carson Street near Station Square was a five-light pass-through, as I had first person knowledge.

Our ability to handle a flow of people is horrid.

Flow is one of the four points of my campaign framework.

I'm not going to expect much better given the fact that the city fired its lone traffic engineer as it was shutting down the recreation centers and swim pools.

We need an aggressive approach to dealing with the basics. The basics need to be at the top of our priority list. Transportation is a serious issue and it has serious trouble spots.

Reopen West End station, residents urge - PittsburghLIVE.com

Zone 3, Zone 4, and police stations in general have been the topic of many discussions.

I wanted to attend this meeting mentioned in the article. We had a candidate conflict that same night. I did talk to a half-dozen people before and after that meeting to get the scoop. And, I talked to a few in the media as well.

Reopen West End station, residents urge - PittsburghLIVE.com: ".

'If you can't fill it properly, just leave it alone. Leave it closed, and we'll join our friends in the suburbs,' Norene Beatty, president of the West End Elliott Citizens Council, told Woodyard.

District 2 Councilman Dan Deasy, who represents the area, said officials also are discussing opening a mini-station or substation in the West End or moving the South Side station into the more accessible West End.

Although some in the audience said the idea makes sense, others said they don't want to shift their problems to another part of town.

'We're not here to pit neighborhood against neighborhood. We are not here to close Zone 3,' Romaniello said."
When a certain person in the race said he was fighting "vo-sif-er-os-ly" for the Zone 3 police station, I was joining the struggle with our neighbors to the west to save zone 4's police station. Imagine that.

There were not many from the South Side fighting for Zone 4 nor to de-rail the WEHAV program. I did my part. And, for payback, of sorts, is the great talk we hear from citizens there now. They want a full service station and they don't want to take the other station, such as zone 3's station.

Those are big words and big concepts. And, the idea of moving out is not an empty promise either.

Recap of my stances: Re-open the Zone 4 station. Move the Zone 3 police station to a part of the now closed South Vo Tech High School. Move the EMS back to the South Side after the Police are able to relocate. Perhaps, due to the size of the pending move from Schenley High School into South Vo Tech for one year, it might make sense to make some of these moves, other than a re-opening of Zone 4, in stages over a few years. There is no HUGE rush. Rushing into decisions is costly with overtime. And, if we didn't spend large amounts of money on silly development projects that don't really work, we'd have plenty of money left over for the basics, such as police, roads and recreation.

Main Page - PoliticWiki

A political wiki project as a research project is now finished. I was watching this with one eye. The study might have some merits. Time will tell. But, I'm more interested in real world interactions and results. The organizer of the site and study was not able to influence the discussion because of his role as researcher. In a couple of weeks he'll jump in as a participant. Then the action really begins.

The wiki is a neat tool. But, with a few upgrades, it would be astonishing. But, like most things in life, the technology isn't the clincher. Rather, the content is still what makes or breaks a project. The expression is, "content is king." Main Page - PoliticWiki: "THANK YOU!!! The PoliticWiki study has now concluded"

Democrats to choose City Council nominee - PittsburghLIVE.com

Today's ink in the Trib.
Democrats to choose City Council nominee - PittsburghLIVE.com Political activist Mark Rauterkus, of the South Side, is running as a Libertarian.
The news behind the news is that Ed Jacob is out, as I had assumed since Thursday when he was a no-show at the candidate event.

I am sure that there are two others in the race as recently switched former Ds.

The other buzz centers upon what Ds are going to do once they do not get the nomination. Both Jeff Kock and Pat Sweeney said that they'd pull out of the race if they don't get the endorsement from the closed secret ballot old-party choice. Krane is in regardless, so he says.

The ones who don't get the endorsement are going to need to get their signatures on their nomination papers on Monday, the day the papers are due.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Popularity of wireless ear pieces lessening the stigma of hearing aids

My wife got some ink in the P-G this week.
Popularity of wireless ear pieces lessening the stigma of hearing aids 'We have not seen a big change so far,' said Dr. Catherine Palmer, director of audiology at the Eye & Ear Institute at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. But she's optimistic that the growing popularity of ear pieces will help people with hearing losses be less reticent to use hearing aids.

Recent family snapshot

Our family. Erik and Grant both attend Pgh Public School's Phillips Elementary. Next year Erik goes to Frick for Middle School, in Oakland. In due time, we hope, Erik would go to Schenley.

Brian McKain and I at a school event.

Brian and I. Brian is part of the committee and offers plenty of advice.

New T-shirt design

Can anyone do better? Front of the T-shirt is to look like this:

Front of t-shirt

Back of T-shirt is to look like this.

back of t-shirt

Another candidate forum - in Allentown - part 1

We had another candiate forum, this was in Allentown. One of the other candidates didn't show. Perhaps he has pulled out of the race. He is a D and might not want to give up the $250 to the party.

I've got a lot of notes. But, here is just a bit to get started.

All in all, the night was filled with a small audience and typical remarks from the others in the race. They seemed to avoid the big show stoppers. For example, none had the wild idea to close the Pitsburgh Zone 3 Police Station and move it to Mt. Oliver. However, the Mayor of Mt. Oliver was in the audience. Candidate Bruce Kraus had that gosh darn dosie of an idea at our previous meeting.

One of the other candidates told me, and another on the street since then said much of the same thing, the meeting on Wednesday night, open only to Democrats, was a yawn without the presence of both the Green kid and myself. We are already on the ballot and it seems, we bring more spunk to the meetings too.

In my closing remarks, I did pick upon three statements from other candidates that didn't fit well with me.

The distinctions that I bring to the office, over the others start with a real reform agenda that has been thought about and published with the Platform.For-Pgh.org. I've got a willingness to tackle the bg problems with the massive over-spending on hair-brained projects, such as the tunnel under the river to extend light-rail to the stadiums. The school district's right-sized plan is something I'm aware of and it is a major issue for the overall health of the community. Put me on the front lines of those types of battles, where the others are unaware or choose to be absent.

Besides an eagernes to tackle the big problems, I want to be the one to tackle the smallest problems too. I want to worry about the babies. I have been a stay-at-home dad and know that having a child is often a great life-changing experience. My children should be able to grow and thrive in Pittsburgh, and I run for office to help them and their buddies. I want to be the memeber of city council who is able to chair the committee devoted to Youth Policy and Citiparks.

Now, to the distinctions in what we say and how we think.

Pat Sweeney, D, said Pittsburgh needs a better deal from Harrisburg. He is driven by envy. Philly got something that Pittsburgh didn't. He wants to go lobby Harrisburg. That's not my driving motivation. I want to be self-reliant.

Bruce Kraus said that we have such diversity in the district that one size does not fit all in terms of getting or giving help from a councilmember. He claims to have traveled around this district, 1/9th the size of the city. He says he listens to the needs of everyone.

I say, "Nuts to that mentality." I say, "One size does fit all." Kraus has missed the boat in terms of any assessment of what the community needs. We have something called the Constitution. I think it fits EVERYONE quite well. We have a cloak of freedom that should be able to wash and wear from old to young and tall to stout. Jefferson, Franklin and the founding fathers had this "American way" concept understood -- and it should fit us with idealistic simplicity. You don't NEED to know all the micro needs of each demographic group if you have a rooted framework of the constitution and real freedom.

I agree with Sweeney, who I just ripped above, in that we should NOT have a legal system that is one way for the poor and another way for the rich. So, that's one size fits all. Right on Sweeney. Wrong way Kraus. Kraus doesn't want one-size fits all as he wants everyone to put their needs on his plate.

I don't want Kraus to touch my needs. Kraus wants to be a hands-on, people person -- and that's the last thing Pittsburgh needs now. Enough is enough.

Kraus might have made a decent candidate before this financial crisis hit Pittsburgh. Perhaps he would have been good as people were out of work after the mills closed in the mid 80s. People like Krause who are more worried about cake and ice cream for seniors have killed this city. They are not able to fix it with more handouts. The needs exceed the system's capacity to keep on giving. Krause will be full of empty promises and has no clue on how to fix the mess they've created here.

Then Bruce Krane comes to say he wants to have a bigger view on the job and realize that Pittsburgh is a hub of the wheel. Then he cries about the extra burden of the nonprofits. He whines that we've not gotten our fair share of taxes. He wants to talk about the big problem -- but he doesn't really talk about anything big. Its like the big problem is this big wheel and this big hub and we've got these spokes of big envy and big miss-management that can all be fixed by watching a little more cable access TV.

Come and join us on Monday night at 7 pm at City Theater for the next go-around. After that event, I'll host the RUNNING MATES for tea at the office for a de-brief. A podcast might be in our future too.

By Monday night we'll have a better handle on who is going to stay in the race and who is going to call it quits too. Krane said he'll stay in for the duration even after he doesn't get the endorsement from the Ds. So, if he can bring his big wheel to the race, he might try to keep-on-rolling Proud Mary keep on rolling for the next 6 to 8 weeks.

I do want to tackle the big issues of our time and our place.

(This rant is editied slightly since last night's blog posting.)

Candidate forum in Allentown - part 2

At the candidate forum, a question came to all the candidates about the closing of the Knoxville school.

Knoxville Middle School is slated to close under the "right-sizing plan" of Mark Roosevelt, new superintendent of Pgh Public Schools. Knoxville should NOT close. But, to say otherwise is to just dream on.

I went to the Pgh Public School board meetings in the past months and have showed a lot of interest in this serious issue. The others in the race have been absent. Education has many elements that are important to our city's future. Many of our citizens move out of the city because of the schools. The school budget is larger than that of city government. The school taxes are larger than city taxes.

The school board is not off the hook for the tax breaks to corporations either. Just the day before, the school board approved the tax break for PNC Plaza, a downtown building. That project gets a $18-million TIF (tax break). That is wrong as it takes money from the school programs and gives it to PNC, the biggest bank in the state. And, PNC already got a $30-million grant from PA. (More of our money too.)

And, at the same time, the Pgh School Board approved the TIF for Second Avenue. The miss-managed city leaders want to put up new parking garages on Second Ave business park -- and ignore the established neighborhoods.

These two TIFs were not reported in the newspaper. People have to know what's going on. The big projects drain a lot of money and then there isn't enough left over to pay for crossing guards, rehab a school or pay for buses for high school students. We need to Lay The Shovel Down. But it is frustrating when they don't even see the hole that is being stepped into. Splat.

First, Knoxville is a nice school building. It is in a community that is on the edge. The building has a swim pool, great auditorium, a new playground. The performance of the students at Knoxville is about equal to the performance at the school they are headed to under the right-size plan. So, the kids get yanked from one school to another and there isn't really any upside to those kids. They are not going to go to an academy or get a 'better' opportunity.

But, the district needs to make some drastic changes, so the leaders feel. And, this is one such change.

Jake Wheatley, D, state rep, hosted a meeting at Knoxville with Mr. Roosevelt. I don't think Jake Wheatley really cares about the issues. I've called him six or more times. He is too busy to care about the kids and the students and the buildings to get back to me.

B-Pep is going some good things with a counter approach to the school. I've been to their meetings and have had behind the scenes conversations with them. I'd put more faith in B-Pep than anyone else, if I'm from the Knoxville area and wanted to raise my voice.

A-Plus Schools is a joke. Sorry to say, they are hopeless and not worth much in this struggle.

Rather, than asking for Knoxville to stay open, I'd suggest that the school become the new CAPA Middle School Magnet for the Performing Arts. Rodgers is moving from its present location in the far east end. Rodgers should move into the Knoxville Middle School.

If we are going to turn around our city, we need to do it with plenty of attention to education. The schools matter greatly. How we treat our kids matters greatly. But we can't be just keeping all the schools open just for the heck of it either.

I talked about some other problems and challenges to the right sized plan from the podium. I ranted about some of them on this blog the other day.

The Pgh Public School Board Building in Oakland should be sold. The administration office should then move to Langley High School. The administration offices in Connelley should be moved to Langley High School as well. Meanwhile, Langley High School students and teachers should be relocated to Greenway Middle School.

Greenway has ball fields. Greenway has a much better swim pool. Greenway is closer to those on the South Side too. Greenway is easy to get to from buses, both upper and lower. Greenway is okay to walk to if you are a high school student, but not so good for the younger ones.

A K-8 school should re-open in Chartiers. The building has been through an extensive re-do. That would be a great place.

Schenley High School should stay, with a one-year move to allow for a modest re-do. The students at Schenley could move to South Vo Tech, right near me, and Connelley if necessary.

If Schenley can't fit in South Vo Tech for one year, then the school should not have any freshmen in the year that it moves to the other alternative location. That class won't exist.

The rehab of Schenley, modest rehab, can be done in one year without the students there. Carrick had a major re-do, and the students where there throughout. The costs can be lower to have the work done without the students present.

We need to take South Vo Tech off of the for-sale list ASAP.

After Schenley re-opens, South Vo Tech should get its facelift. Then Phillips School can turn into a Pre-school and K. And South can turn into a K-8 school.

If there is a possibility of thousands of new residents at Station Square with the new developments -- a new urban development no less -- then we need a school for these folks to walk to with their kids. And, the new urban teachers and parents might like to send their kids to Knoxville too -- as a performing arts school as well. That is just up the hill from the new development (proposed).

Somebody needs a big view. I might as well start yapping about it as I don't see the tinkering from the Pgh Public School administators as I had hoped and written about months ago.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Panel says let County Council members stay while running

Panel says let County Council members stay while running Allegheny County Council members shouldn't have to resign from their seats if they run for higher office.


This gets my blood to a boil rather quickly.
The charter, now in its sixth year of existence, instructs council members to step down before becoming candidates for other offices, and the review commission's members have already agreed that voters should be given a chance to do away with that provision.

Voters already had TWO chances to do away with the provision. Both times, the voters said that they like this law in the county charter. The politicians don't like the law. But, the voters like it. I like it too.

"It doesn't serve any good government purpose," Don Linzer, commission chairman, said before yesterday's public meeting.

Who is Don Linzer?

This provision has many great reasons for being. It should continue because county council should not be a stepping stone to other offices. It should continue because county council was never meant to be a full-time job. It should continue because when one runs for other office, while being on county council, then the work of the people can't get done as it should. It should continue because we've had enough with corruption around here. It should continue because it is less drastic than term limits. It should continue because great candidates don't want to run against machine politicians for races and we get poorer, tainted, representation in other offices upstream. This law forces a more even election among citizen contestants.

The commission's final report, which will address a wide range of issues, won't be completed until mid-February.
They might need to think again.

At least four, not as many as four of council's 15 members may run for seats in the state Legislature this year. While they won't benefit from a change to the charter -- they will all ignore what the charter says and run as candidates and not resign. They'll all hold out and trash the law. They'll all kick off their campaign with a big fat cloud over their races. I hope to be proven wrong. An ethical candidate for another office would resign from council as soon as he or she starts to raise money for another office.

Fitzgerald said: "To me, it's a no-brainer," he said. "It stabilizes the institution." NO WAY. Fitzgerald wants stability for the politician. Fitzgerald wants to greese the pipeline from one office to the next. This measure is not about stability. This is about reversing the flow and putting it into a favorable direction for the people.

When a council member steps down, remaining members must appoint someone to fill that seat until the next election. That, Mr. Fitzgerald argues, temporarily disenfranchises the voters. The disenfranchised part comes because the member of council makes it so. If you are going to run for state office -- don't get elected to county council. If you want to run for county council, stay until your term is finished. If you want to QUIT your elected post -- you just screwed the voters.

If a person quits before his or her term is finished, then that term should NOT be filled until the next election. Then a special election can occur. The appointment of a member by the others on council is another slap in the face to our democracy. The other members of council -- who don't live in that area of the county -- get to make a decision for the residents that should not be theirs to make.

You don't need a warm body to fill the seat. There is no real constituent services that is being done by such a part-time person without staffing and without a budget.

Fitzgerald argues that state legislators insisted on including the provision in the county's charter to make it harder for council members to run against them. -- Ha, ha, ha. He's joking right? The state reps, some 10 of them who really care, are worth 10 votes. There were tens of thousands who voted for this element in the charter. The people have spoken on this issue -- not the state reps.

Fitzgerald -- we'll do better than an incumbency protection plan -- with a term limit then. The clean sweep can go to county council too if you whine such foolishness for your cronies.

Rich Nerone, Bill Robinson, Eileen Watt, and C.L. Jabbour all need to QUIT their seats on council NOW.

The charter is NOT vague at all. John Mascio, council's chief clerk, is being a kiss-butt if he thinks otherwise. It is clear -- but council members don't want clarity. They want a loophole. He thinks they don't have to leave their seats until the withdrawal deadline passes -- but he is making up fiction. The charter says when they are a candidate, not when the deadline passes.

The county solicitor's legal opinion is not needed when the charter is so clear. Common sense and 3rd graders can tell what's what and who's stroking who with this news and its coverage.

New audio page is on the Elect.Rauterkus.com site

You've got to visit this page.


Thanks for your feedback.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Halting the growth of state government -- letter sent

To: Representative Harry Readshaw
Irvis Office Building, Room 122
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020

Dear Representative Readshaw,

The PA House of Representatives is now considering several bills that will cap spending and help to limit the growth of government.

Pennsylvania posted one of the highest rates of spending in the 1990s, but nonetheless ranks 45th in the nation when it comes to job growth and 47th in personal income growth.  Big government has certainly not led to economic prosperity in Pennsylvania!

HB 2082 is a sound proposal to begin to slow the growth of government in our state.  This bill offers good options to cap spending and keep taxes low for individuals and businesses.  I believe the House of Representatives needs to follow the Senate's example and pass this bill as soon as possible.

Government should grow no faster than the rate of inflation or the average change in personal income for Pennsylvania citizens for the previous three years.  Any budget surpluses should be returned to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts and placed in a rainy day fund.  If the rainy day fund exceeds 7.5 percent of the General Fund, then the entire surplus should go back to taxpayers.

I also ask that you support a constitutional version of HB 2082.  Two bills, SB 884 or HB 2067, will provide constitutional protections for taxpayers so that some future General Assembly cannot simply vote away spending limits.  I ask that you support either of these bills.

Please support HB 2082 and a constitutional version of this bill. They are vital for our state's future economic growth and prosperity.


Running Mates -- who wants to go to Harrisburg

Here is a nice call to action from the league of young voters. I went to their meeting, for a bit, last night at the Union Project.

Protect Every Pennsylvanian's Right To Vote!
Come to Harrisburg on Feb. 1st and Voice Your Opposition to H.B. 1318

House Bill 1318 would require all Pennsylvanian's to present ID every time they vote instead of the current law which only requires this for first time voters.

This bill would disenfranchise an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 voters who do not have any ID including senior citizens and the poor.
If you forget your ID, your vote will not be counted until you present your ID to election officials.

The National Commission on Election Reform found that there is NO evidence that the fraud which voter ID REQUIREMENTS SEEK to address is even prevalent in the U.S.
House Bill 1318 if amended, would remove the right to vote from felons released from prison who are still on probation or parole.

Current Pennsylvania law allows individuals who have been convicted of felonies to vote while they are on probation or parole. In fact, in some states voting is considered such a basic American right that a person can not lose the right to vote even while in prison.

Disenfranchisement would affect thousands of Pennsylvanians and selectively impact African-American and Latino men.

Criminologists agree that the most successfully rehabilitated former prisoners are those who rekindle their sense of civic responsibility and become active, productive members of their community.

Join us in Harrisburg on February 1st and tell your Legislator to VOTE NO ON HB 1318!

Buses leave Wednesday 2/1/06 from: The Hill House, 1835 Centre Ave in the Hill District @ 5:30am & Allegheny County ACORN, 5907 Penn Ave. in East Liberty @ 6am

Buses return Wednesday 2/1/06 at 10pm

For more info contact: Western PA Voter Coalition (see comments for more info)

Schools and journalist and school newspapers

The Connecticut Post Online - News School journalism hits safety roadblock

Students' names removed for protection

GREG SHULAS gshulas@ctpost.com

Student journalist Peter Wiley finds it rewarding when he sees his byline atop articles he writes for The Advocate, the award-winning newspaper at Jonathan Law High School in Milford.

So when Wiley, the publication's editor in chief, learned that a school security policy forbids him from using his or any other student's full name on the newspaper's Web site, he was a little discouraged....
This is wrong.

Jonathan Law High School officials won't let student journalists use their full names on the school newspaper's website. J-prof Jerry Dunklee questions the policy, saying that identifying a reporter as simply "John S." could cause readers to make inaccurate assumptions about who has written a story. "This raises a whole series of questions. There should be no objection to a full byline on a story. In every school, there could be more than one John S. or Suzy Q. You don't know who to give credit to or to attribute responsibility."

We have some issues brewing with local school coverage too.

I endorse the concept of a monthly school newspaper, if not on a more regular basis, at every school (beyond the high school) with regular deadlines, budgets and printing contracts.

Too many of our schools don't have newspapers. The kids need to be able to be good writers of the news yet alone great consumers of news from many sources. And, the powers that be may want to see that the newspapers do NOT come out.

The School District's central administration should be able to establish a relationship with printers so as to take the electronic files of the newspapers and have them printed within a day or two, for every student, teacher, staffer, and community member around the school who wants a copy of the newspaper (paid mailing subscription of course, also via the central administration).

I'm on the ballot -- as papers have been turned into various offices

Today, I went to the Department of Elections and City Clerk's office to file the necessary papers to get onto the ballot on March 14, 2006.

Meeting on HIV with a school board member slated

HIV / AIDS is still a major health problem in the United States.

Fact: Minority Youth are one of the groups at highest risk.

Fact: Education is key to prevention.

So, what is the Pittsburgh Public School system doing to educate our minority youth population about HIV / AIDS?

Find out at the February Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh Meeting. Patrick Dowd and Thomas Sumpter, Pittsburgh Public School Board Members will be speaking.

The meeting is Thursday, February 9th at 7:00 p.m. at United Cerebral Palsy Association of Pittsburgh (4925 Centre Avenue).

For more information on the Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh visit our Web page at www.gertrudesteinclub.org.

Development taking flight near Pittsburgh International Airport

This is funny in light of my campaign theme song, "Lay the Shovel Down."

Did you get a copy of the CD? Get one. See me. Sponsor 100 and give them out yourself.
Development taking flight near Pittsburgh International Airport A simulated ground-breaking ceremony inside the Findlay Municipal Building -- they hauled in the dirt -- kicked off development of the 240-acre Clinton Commerce Park.

My statement before Pgh City Council @ No TIFs (again) and real help from PNC

My name is Mark Rauterkus. My family and I reside at 108 South 12th Street, South Side of Pittsburgh. I am a candidate for the now open seat for city council, district 3. That special election is slated for March 14, 2006.
Five years ago, I didn't like our great city's propensity of giving away large sums of land and money to corporations and non-profits. Mayor Murphy's economic plans were a sure-fire pathway to a large economic crisis.

Five years ago, I ran for Mayor. I said then, "NO TIFs." TIFs, as you all know, are Tax Incremental Fiance plans, corporate welfare, and tax breaks. The practice of TIFs should be abolished.

I said NO TIFs in 2000. I stand by the same statements today.

Last year, I ran for State Senate and a part of my plan was to change the law in Harrisburg to prohibit TIFs.

I've gone on the record with the county and the school district, speaking against the TIFs at places such as Deer Creek Crossing.

The PNC Plaza TIF should NOT be approved. I don't like TIFs because they do not work. Lazarus and Lord & Tayor are proof enough. We need to stop the bribes to get people to move or expand in the city.

We are on EMPTY. The city does not have the money.

A $30-million grant was aready given to PNC from the state. Harrisburg money is my money as well. Plus, local sources already built PNC Firstside a new T-stop and a new parking authority garage. They are under utilized. PNC knows how to play you like a fiddle.

I sing a different tune. I conduct my campaigns without money from gambling interests, developers who want to make speculations and engineering firms expecting kick-backs.

Presently, our school district is running into serious money troubles. Schenley High School -- a high performing school with a great mix of kids and academics -- is in an old building, laced with asbestos.

I'd rather take the $18 million and re-do Schenley High School -- now -- for our kids that are here. Don't rob from them.

The TIF takes money from some and gives it to others. Have everyone pay their fair share. Furthermore, TIFs hurt competition. Others won't want to move, build nor expand here because the playing field is not level. We need to cater to those who want to compete and perform. We need to be self-reliant.

If PNC wants to help the local landscape -- let's talk about Campaign Finance Reform.

Last week, my campaign issued a statement about campaign finance reform. I am interested in putting my campaign funds into a new type of TRANSPARENT PAC account. The financial institutions, such as PNC, are needed to establish this type of account so that everyone, using the internet, can see where and when public transactions are coming from and going to for races for public offices.

PNC, this is where you are needed.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Think Again! -- and again, and again! Like the song says.

The song says it well, Think Again. Now the research says it happens frequently.
Democrats and Republicans Both Adept at Ignoring Facts, Study Finds - Yahoo! News Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows.

And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that's contrary to their point of view.

Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects' brains were monitored while they pondered.

The results were announced today.

'We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,' said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. 'What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.'

Bias on both sides

The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

SI.com - NFL - Pa. student humiliated over Broncos jersey - Tuesday January 24, 2006 12:30AM

Let's talk about the Sports Illustrated jinx. We have a rule -- a darn good one too -- that you should not wear any clothing to school that has writting on it. I wish my kids did this always, but they don't. Oh well.
SI.com - NFL - Pa. student humiliated over Broncos jersey - Tuesday January 24, 2006 12:30AM Vannoy was wearing a No. 7 Broncos jersey on Friday, because he is a fan of John Elway, the Broncos' retired Hall of Fame quarterback.

Vannoy said he was so unnerved he left at least 20 questions blank on the 60-question test, and just wants out of Kelly's class because he's afraid the teacher won't treat him fairly now that the story reached the media.
In other news, there is now a push from a few to put a new uniform code into the schools. It calls for one day a week, Fridays, to be a "dress-up day" with good clothes. Not dress down, but dress up.

Democracy For America Training Academy Schedule

Democracy For America In 2004 Democracy For America, in partnership with Latinos For America and 21st Century Democrats, embarked on an ambitious goal to train thousands of grassroots activists for the upcoming elections.

An event is slated for Philly, another for Columbus, Ohio.

Final recap on the St. Clair event of last week

When I took the floor, I spoke after Bruce Krane. A question had just been raised from the audience to the prior speaker about the election specifics, being a Democrat, who could vote for whom and technical details. The answer from Krane included the mentions, "Do or die. One-shot deal. Game over."

I said, "My name is Mark Rauterkus and what was just said was wrong." I went right into the reply from Krane and how it was so at odds with what I stood for and with what the community was about.

This election on March 14, 2006, is to fill the un-expired term. Next year in the spring there will be another primary election where the one who holds the seat might not even get the endorsement of any party and could be a lame duck. Then in the general election that happens in the fall of 2007, that person could be packing.

The election this community faces on March 14, 2006, is for a short period of time. Game over my eye.

Furthermore, that attitude mentioned by Krane is just like the attitude that was often -- if not ALWAYS -- on display from our former Mayor, Tom Murphy. Tom Murphy thought he held all the chips. Murphy kept all the power and to hell with the rest of the people. It was Tom Murphy's boneheaded attitude that drove me to run for office starting in 2000 for the 2001 primary against him. He was bad for the City of Pittsburgh. His attitude was something we didn't need.

My heart fell to the floor when I heard another in the race start to spout the same B.S. -- stuff that I would have expected from Murphy.

I'm here for the long-haul, as are the good people of Pittsburgh who have weathered some serious storms in the past decades. I'm not going to go away -- and neither are they. Sure, one day we'll all be worm feed, but until then -- count me in as a foot soldier in the good fight and struggles for democracy, freedom and the less fortunate.

This city is too small to be so full of oneself to think that the others don't matter. We are a village and the nay-sayers matter. I'm a nay-sayer to what has gone on around here in the past. I'm a reform minded candidate who is unlike those others who have put the city into debt and oversight status.

I went on in the presentation, in just 3 minutes, to say why I ran for office in 2001 and 2005. We need to raise the discussions to talk about assessment buffering, the botched re-assessment process, the unified tax policy put forth by Bob O'Connor that tossed the baby out with the bathwater. Pittsburgh's legacy is about affordable housing, and that legacy is ending. We are not having a housing boom -- except in blight. We are seeing the effects of poor housing policies, poor taxes (like the deed-transfer tax), and poor management of available resources so as to over-spend, over-reach on foolishness.

I spoke about TIFs that night a bit too.

These times call for serious individuals to take a stand of serious duty.

Today I got to talk, already, with three of the other candidates in the race. While on Grant Street, I poked my head in to check out the ball and chain that is around the ankle of fellow candidate, public sector guy, Ed Jacob. He and I both worried about the lack of discussion on issues of subsidence. But our agreement ended there.

He is worried about the list of the 50 top wage earners in the city and how they are mostly firefighters and policemen. He has a little list of the names cut from the newspaper. The difference between what those 50 are getting paid contrasted to the amount that they should be getting paid ads up to what, exactly, I put to him.

I'll do a bit of the math for you Ed. If they (50 top wage earners in the city) all make $10,000 more than what they are worth -- that's $500,000 per year.

Frankly, I want a highly paid police force that is less vulnerable to corruption. Perhaps if the prison guards were making more they'd be far less inclinded to put the job on the line to push for tricks or drugs. But that is another matter.

Meanwhile, I'm worried about big issues, but of another category. How does the city pay PNC Plaza with a TIF for $18-million. Plus PNC got $30-million from Gov. Ed Rendell, D. That's our money too. I'm mad about that and none of the other candidates, hint to Ed, is talking about those outlandish give-a-ways.

The $30-million from Harrisburg is still my money. Coupled with the $18-million from city sources, I'll do the math for you, we get $48-million. That's 100-times greater than the pimple of a problem of paying top dollar for firefighters and police.

But Ed said that the $18-million was to be paid out over 30-years, so it isn't much of a big deal. First off, the TIFs are not that long. And, he didn't have a come-back as to the proportion of the momumental crisis that is being ignored by them.

We can't put people into public office now if they can't see the big picture. And, if you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, plus go to community meetings from start to finish, you still might never see the big picture.

Ed told me that I would "not want to hear his analysis" about being a candidate for the special election in a heavy D area. He thinks only a D can win the council seat. He thinks that the D who wins the seat is going to be the the D who wins party endorsement. I counter and say I hear him fine. But, the race is going to be about tiny issues UNLESS I'm in the fray. The conversation is about envy and neighborhood power and buddy-loyalty in the D camp, and that's about the best the Ds can deliver. We can fix that conversation's tone and topic points, after some of the Ds break ranks and support others from outside the party, should the wrong folks get the party's backing.

So, who wants to talk about 'big-issues?' I had just been to city council to give a 3-minute talk on TIFs and the PNC Plaza. I would not support any TIF while on council. I'll post that testimony soon.

Coverage in the South Pgh Reporter about the event in St. Clair

The next speaker, Mr. Rauterkus, ran for mayor in 2001. While he wasn't elected, he said he learned a lot and fought a lot of good fights.
He opposes any corporate welfare, such as the proposed $18 million in tax increment financing, or TIF, for a PNC Financial Services Group tower in downtown Pittsburgh.
If elected, he would be fiscally prudent, accountable, and beholden to only one special interest group: residents.

The coverage is okay except one point, at the very end.

Bruce Kraus said he'd move the Zone 3 Police station to Mt. Oliver, outside of the city. This was mentioned in the blog the night it was mentioned. The newspaper didn't seem to report that stinker of an idea. OMG, I still can't even fathom that statement, yet alone the character in the race.

Point State Park makeover starts with utilities, irrigation

This makeover of Point State Park leaves a lot to be desired. I don't like it. It is NOT good enough. If fails any "WOW" test too. The mainstage is going away. Gone. They are going to plant trees in its place. So, there will be no place for a temporary stage as they imply.

The one's in power do not want to gather the citizens, unless they have luxery boxes and the citizens are put in stadiums with seat licenses. Even the school district calls off an important meeting at an important time, right before the vote on the Right-Sizing plan. They don't want US to gather. Wasn't there something in the past about the right to assemble and free assocation??? (snicker)

You can't assocate if you have to first erect a temporary stage.

The mainstage in Point State Park is the only location in the region that allows us to gather as a city and fit 100,000 people. The Steeler celebrations should be at The Point -- and not at my front door steps. The ticker-tape parade should be at The Point -- with close contact to the stadiums.

The front end of Point State Park is not an ideal place for a major gathering. The people won't fit. The whole experience of looking to the west at the fountain and the historic view down the Ohio will be diminished.

The mainstage also plays to Mt. Washington.

Point State Park has been a less than ideal opportunity. But, it has stayed a park for the people, the common, the masses. Next they want to make the park into something for the elite who never want to rub shoulders with the masses on the Fourth of July.
Point State Park makeover starts with utilities, irrigation What planners euphemistically refer to as Downtown Pittsburgh's green living room will get a new carpet and utilities this summer, preparing it for the decorators to perform an extreme makeover in future years.

Point State Park, a national historical site, will undergo a $4.5 million upgrade to install new electrical and water lines and permanent utility hookups for vendors to use during major events.

The project also will change the design and use of the four-acre front of the park, nearest Downtown; replace existing asphalt sidewalks with terrazzo and bluestone edges; and eliminate the main stage in the larger part of the park closer to the Point.
I've always had my issues with Point State Park. There isn't even a swing set there. It is nearly impossible to find a swing set anywhere downtown. That is an obvious example of what's missing.

Another age-old sticking point about Point State Park is the bike policy. I can't go there and teach my kid to ride a bike. The park can be empty -- but mount a bike and the police jump on you. They'd rather you toss red dye into the fountain than teach a city kid how to ride a bike inside of Point State Park.

In the end, it boils down to people who don't know what they're really doing in elected office. And, then you have these engineering firms who lead the politicians around by the nose.

Don't worry -- we'll have more 'green space' in Market Square, so said Bob O'Connor. I agree with Patricia L of the P-G. Market Square isn't broken. Many of the smaller, neighborhood parks are totally ignored. Upkeep is absent. So, greening Market Square isn't where I'd put the priorities.

PPS calls off meeting with key communicators -- tonight -- in height of disucussions on Right-Size efforts

The Key Communicators’ Meeting scheduled for tonight-January 24th- has been Cancelled. It will be rescheduled on Tuesday February 21st.
This is very bad news. We need more communications -- not less. We need more interactions in one-to-many settings -- not fewer. We need to be community -- not simply taxpayers.

I've put solid positions before the superintendent and the school board at both the November and December board meeting -- as well as via other channels. I've heard nothing back from them. None of them.

At a meeting last week, the PRINCIPAL of Schenley High School mentioned that one option for saving that high-performing school would be to vacate the present facility for one year -- to South Vo Tech's now empty building. That's a fine plan. We need to look further at these options. We need to meet. We don't need to have meetings nixed.

I am in favor of keeping Schenley at its present location, with a modest building rehab, even if it means a one-year vacation to South Vo Tech.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Places: Market Square ain't broke, so please don't fix it

Right on. I've been pondering how to reply to the sillyness of O'Connor's statements. P.L. of the P-G does a good job in setting the tone for the discussion.
Places: Market Square ain't broke, so please don't fix it Eckstut's observation was a sound one, but his solution was flawed. And for much the same reasons, only part of O'Connor's idea is worth embracing.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Voters' Choice Act in PA gains in recent days

There's much good news for Libertarians and for Pennsylvania's voters regarding the Voter's Choice Act and ballot access reform.

On Wednesday, January 11th, 2006, members of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition (PBAC) met with the House State Government Committee in Harrisburg to talk turkey over the contents of a ballot access reform bill. Most of the twenty state representatives who sit on the committee attended the two-hour informal hearings, listening to testimony from Libertarians, Greens, Constitutions, Reforms, Naderites, Socialists, the League of Women Voters, and the public. There were about half a dozen reporters in the audience, and the hearings were subsequently well publicized. Selected articles are included at the end of this report, and photos from the hearing can be found at http://tinyurl.com/cgp3r.

From a historical perspective, the meeting went very well. The last round of hearings regarding ballot access reform were held in 1997, and at that time the committee members were hostile and argumentative. However, this time the atmosphere was cordial and friendly, and the dialogue was open and productive.

Several suggestions and compromises were discussed at the hearing, including:

1. Equalizing the number of signatures across the board for all candidates regardless of party affiliation. That means 1,000 or 2,000 signatures for statewide office, not 67,070. The PBAC accepted this compromise.

2. Equalizing the length of the petitioning window to three weeks for all parties rather than the current four-to-five month period for third parties. The PBAC also accepted this compromise, with the provision that the petitioning window for independents and third parties include primary day.

3. Including third parties in the primary process once their membership reaches 1% of the statewide voter registrations. While the PBAC accepted this compromise, it was noted that the Libertarians do not believe in a taxpayer funded primary.

4. The PBAC's proposed redefinition of a third party per the Delaware Model did not seem to raise any concerns with anyone. This change should make it into the reform bill intact.

In the end, the committee chair stated that the committee would be drafting legislation to achieve these goals. In the meantime, the PBAC will continue to keep up the pressure for the passage of a ballot access reform bill. At this time, the odds of that happening in the next few months appear to be excellent.

Concerned citizens can help the efforts of the PBAC by calling their state representatives and state senators immediately and urging them to push for ballot access reform this month, as outlined in the bill being authored in the House State Government Committee. For more information, refer them to the PBAC's White Paper on ballot access reform which can be found on the web at www.PaBallotAccess.org.

As things stand, the situation is both promising and urgent. There are only a few months left before petitioning for 2006 begins. The more pressure that can be brought to bear on the legislature, the better.

Ken Krawchuk
Chair, Legislative Action Committee
Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania

c/o PO Box 260
Cheltenham, Penna. 19012
215-881-9696 (voice)
215-Krawchuk (fax)

3915 Union Deposit Road
Harrisburg, PA 17109
1-800-R-Rights (voice/fax)

Question of the moment: How crazy will it get on the South Side?

Do the fans act like they are in Detroit or going to Detroit.

My S6.CLOH.Org gives details for the Community Concert on Feb 2

S6 Community Concert on Thursday, February 2, 2006

You must RSVP for this event. Space is limited. Your attendance is required once reservations are accepted. Please call, 412, 298 3432, or 412 904 2976 or email, Mark@Rauterkus.com.

Location: This 'house concert' is being held at our home, office, campiagn headquarters at 108 South 12th Street on the South Side. We are just two short blocks off of East Carson Street to the slopes. You're encouraged to walk to this event as parking is limited. We'll fix that in due time, however.

* Schedule: Media and press event slated for 5 pm. Invited guests and media only. To get included, call Mark.
* Family concert has doors opening at 5:30 pm with the music and program to run from 6 to 7 pm (sharp). This is a concert by a talented musicial artist with original songs and kids are welcome provided they sit, listen and enjoy. This isn't a children's concert. Rather, its is concert where family members can attend. Some food will be provided after the show. Eating while standing is expected.
* Doors open for the set for civic leaders at 7:15 with music and presentation slated for 8 to 9 pm. Mingle before and after. Some food provided.
* If demanded, a third set for the musical-minded could occur from 9:30 to 10:15 pm. Stay tuned and note your interest if so inclined.

Johnsmith, http://www.Johnsmithmusic.com, sings the song, 'Don't Put Me In a Box.' Its message goes against the use of labels for people, myself included. We need to step beyond labels and give respect to each other if we are to thrive in our community and in our political life in Pittsburgh.

Get the campaign CD and hear the song! CDs are available while on the campaign trails in single or bulk orders.

Johnsmith's other CDs of his music are going to be available for sale to those who attend the show. An artist contribution is welcome from those who attend, or those who can't attend.

Campaign contributions, payable to Mark@Rauterkus.com, for the efforts of the host, Mark Rauterkus, candidate for Pittsburgh's City Council, district 3, special election slated for March 14, 2006, are optional. More on the campaign is found at http://Elect.Rauterkus.com.

This is part rally, but more so, our event is a gathering for community that includes the creative, artistic, talented and civic leadership who find value in promoting freedom, the future and fitness of all types.

Thanks for your consideration. Hope to see you at the event, around town, or on the internet soon. Be sure to get a copy of the campaign CD even if you can't attend this community concert.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Monthly Review December 2005 Charles McCollester - Pittsburgh—The Glory and the Gutting

This is just a snip of the larger article.
Monthly Review December 2005 Charles McCollester - Pittsburgh—The Glory and the Gutting In the birthplace of American unionism, the collapse of steel has been followed by the collapse of government.

Cavalier disregard for democratic process and majority rule, the imposition of unelected authorities, and the blocking of popular participation by arrogant elites who define “freedom” as the power to rule in their own interest without restraint or restriction, these are characteristics of our age. Anti-democratic, selected-not-elected models are being developed in the heartland as well as abroad. Little noticed among the impositions of governing authorities in Iraq and Haiti and the assault on popularly elected leadership in Venezuela is the dismantling and usurpation of public authority and accountability in Pittsburgh. The banana republic comes to the rust belt.

The steel rust-belt area from Youngstown, Ohio to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, centered in Pittsburgh and strewn with once mighty but now financially broken towns like Aliquippa, Braddock, Newcastle, Steubenville, Sharon, McKees Rocks, and Duquesne, is sinking into spiritual and financial bankruptcy.

Navel Gazeing Bloggers.....

I got to this event last week, after another candidate forum. I was a bit tardy, but had lots to say with the die-hards who were still standing. J.E. and M.M. were there as were others.
Bits&Bytes:Innovation Works to add a little extra to competitors' coffers In the rare event that you missed last week's business blogging event jointly sponsored by local trade groups TiE Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Pittsburgh Bloggers (www.pghbloggers.org) co-founder Mike Woycheck, who moonlights as an information technology specialist at the tech council, repeated his advice for novice bloggers worried about how to promote their blog in the 'blogosphere.' Bloggers should rely on 'word of mouth,' said Woycheck, and list with directories such as his. Adding a key word or category that can be listed in such blog search engines as 'technorati.com' and 'blogsearch.google.com' also helps. Ultimately, commenting on similar or related blogs -- online Web journals for the uninitiated -- where you think your audience might be reading is an enormous boost. 'You can read blogs, watch them, create your own blog and engage others through comments,' Mr. Woycheck said.

One down, two to go.

Grand jury still investigating Murphy, DeFazio - PittsburghLIVE.com Grand jury still investigating Murphy, DeFazio
Two might be a bit conservative. The left to topple list includes the I.C.A. and Act 47 overlords, the PA House and PA Senate, and a few other power-brokers that are too high on themseves to do the work of the people and the constitution.

Invite to a house concert, Feb 2, South Side, hosted by Mark@Rauterkus.com

Hi Friends, Neighbors and Others in Black & Gold Nation!

You are invited to our home / office for a community concert that features the song, "Don't Put Me In A Box" by singer/songwriter Johnsmith on Thursday, Feb 2.

Doors open at 5:30 for the first set, a family concert and mini-presentation slated from 6 to 7 pm. The second set has doors open at 7:15 for adults and music comes from 8 to 9 pm.

Johnsmith did a concert for us last year -- and he is fantastic. The message, "Don't Put Me In a Box" is positive, respectful and aims to avoid the use of LABELS. Johnsmith has a number of great, original tunes -- Kicking the Stone (good to stress the pedestrian aspects) -- Rooks in the Castle (change is in the air).

This concert, mixer, and rally is to gather and chart our course for the special election now slated for March 14, 2006 --- Pi Day. We can win on Pi Day!

Space is limited. Please RSVP to reserve your space to the concert. We're opening our house to friends, family, students and supporters -- our treat. Artist contrubutions are welcomed. Same too with help with the campaign.

We'll be hosting more than 30 in-house TEAs and will release a complete line-up of events. soon. I hope we can mingle and talk about the city and our region very soon. But first, we want to ramp up with this evening (I know its a school night) of music on Feb 2 at our campaign headquarters, 108 South 12th Street, South Side.

You can hear Johnsmith on our campaign CD. The tune, Don't Put Me In a Box, is the third musical selection. You can get your own copy of the CD at any of the public candidate events. Check Elect.Rauterkus.com for the latest schedule.

HOT Press Releases:

Campaign Finance Reform

Penguins, Recreational Facility


Mark Rauterkus Mark@Rauterkus.com
http://Rauterkus.blogspot.com http://Platform.For-Pgh.org
Candidate for Pittsburgh City Council, district 3, special election,
March 14, 2006
412 298 3432 = cell

Today, Jan 20, is the feast of St. Sebastian, patron of the
athlete. As you get your game face on, put a few prayers in the bank. Take a knee, think wide-right, whatever. You know the drill.

The priest mentioned St. Sebastian as he presided over the MLK day funeral of two-time Olympic medalist, 400 IMer (swimmer), Butler native, Eric Namesnik.

Pittsburgh let's choose to think again and vote for Freedom, Future, Fitness and Flow. I want to go to work on Grant Street and make kids a priority. Pittsburgh's destiny is as a place for families to live and thrive, not just survive.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Pittsburgh's Air Quality is still lagging

PennEnvironment Clean air. Clean water. Open spaces. Of the largest metropolitan areas, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania experienced the most days with spikes in fine particle pollution, recording seven exceedances on seven different days. The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area in California ranked second among the largest metropolitan areas, recording 14 exceedances on six different days.

Gmail gets a new "DELETE" button

Fantastic. There is a new feature at Gmail -- one I've been begging for for months. The DELETE button. About Gmail Now there's an easy-to-find delete button for those messages you really don�t want.
If only we could hit DELETE to a few, if not all, of the other candidates in the race for city council. :)

Speaking of Google, two weeks ago on the Ron Morris show, I called in to talk with Ron and his guest about radio and the future of media. I expressed the fact that there is an industry trend and it would be in no time at all until we saw Google selling radio ads. This Wednesday's front page article on the Wall Street Journal had such an article. Google acquired a radio ad placement company and Google is going to sell ads for radio, just as is done for bloggs and Gmail.

Diven will not face a challenge from Hillen. E. Wagner passes on a run at Fontana.

There has been some speculation about future opposition from past competitors of mine, Diven, R, and Fontana, D.

Eileen Wagner and I talked recently in the lobby of the City-County Building. She said she was not running against Wayne Fontana for PA Senate.

On the phone with Bob Hillen he said he won't run against Michael Diven in the GOP Primary for State House. Hillen said others had been asking him about this and he had never said anything about that type of challenge. Hillen is with a much tighter focus on city dealings and isn't interested in working in Harrisburg at this time.

So, let's put those rumors to rest.

Party Endorsement Process Is "Undemocratic"

No joke.
Citizens group demands open primaries, calls upon political parties to “let the voters decide.”

ANNVILLE, PA [1.19.06] - Continuing their battle to return government to Pennsylvania’s citizens, the grassroots citizens group PACleanSweep has called upon party leaders throughout the Commonwealth to refrain from endorsing candidates prior to the May 16 primary election.

"2006 will see more contested legislative races than any year in recent history," said PACleanSweep Chair Russ Diamond in an open letter to the Republican and Democratic State Committees. "Voters are demanding real choices. Party leaders who interfere in contested primaries do a disservice to their party, its members, and the spirit of a free electoral process."

PACleanSweep maintains that primary elections should be decided by the voters and not by a handful of power brokers.

"Primary elections exist to allow the party's rank and file to choose the nominee," said PACleanSweep Strategic Director Mike Bergmaier. "The party endorsement process is undemocratic as it disenfranchises the vast majority of voters."

Diamond noted that Pennsylvania's current political climate makes the case for open primaries even more compelling. Public outrage over the legislative payjacking cuts across party lines, and voters increasingly feel that political elites are out of touch with the people they represent.

Sunday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review underscored the need for open primaries when it reported on the inexcusable conduct of a Mercer County GOP state committee member.

According to the report, Cindy Robbins said she was refusing to support gubernatorial hopeful Bill Scranton, "because Scranton publicly dissed the recent pay grab that the Legislature – including her husband [state Sen. Robert Robbins] – voted in favor of."

Robbins' out-of-touch viewpoint runs in stark contrast to public opinion and underscores the reason voters deserve open primaries where candidates face off on a level playing field.

"The people are waking up and demanding more say. They want choices and are understandably skeptical of backroom politics," said Diamond. "If party leaders meddle in primary contests, expect a backlash from the voting public."

"Pennsylvanians spend millions of dollars on primary elections, and we deserve our money’s worth," concluded Diamond.

Read the open letter...
Do you think the local Dems, given that there are nearly ten in the race for city council, could encourage them all to run as Indies and NOT offer an endorsement. That might be more democratic -- with a small "D."

Allegheny County councilman to challenge Diven for state House seat

Mr. Nerone, you need to resign NOW. You need to be off of the county council before the end of the next council meeting. Tell Fitzgerald to get you a plaque or a batch of flowers and leave. If you finish the next meeting, and you are still on the council, I'll be there to protest. And, the P-G is on my side. And, the people of Allegheny County is on this side too -- as we voted as such twice. You'll be kicking off an uphill campaign otherwise.
Allegheny County councilman to challenge Diven for state House seat Under a provision in the county's home rule charter, he will have to step down from his council seat to run for another office. He is consulting legal experts about when he must formally resign.