Monday, February 05, 2007

Counting the beans & counting on pots of gold - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Political story pointer.
Counting the beans & counting on pots of gold - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Counting the beans by Joe Sabino Mistick
Joe wrote of a slugfest of blog attacks, but neither Ravenstahl nor Peduto have opened any blogs. Go figure.

Of interest is the mention of the kid's story, Jack and the Beanstalk. I like parables.

The main character in that story made a bad decision and traded, (gambler), his precious asset (cow) for some magic beans. He was tricked.

Sounds like selling off the water authority for cash to help build a stadium to watch 'roid enhanced ball players (S.F. Giants).

But Jack in the fairy tale doesn't really count the beans. He chucks the investment out the window. A real controller might be a bit more tight fisted.

Stealing happens in the story with poor Jack going elsewhere, perhaps suburbia, to rip off the slumbering, and wealthy.

Bandit Jack returns to his senior citizen home after burning the bridge to prospertity with a bag of gold, magic hen and golden harp. Mistick says that those are the kinds of things that it will take to save Pittsburgh.

Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum. Watch for would-be controllers on the run.

The story doesn't work for me. I'm not interested in promoting politicians who have a history of making bad decisions and think that they have to rip off others to get ahead. By that standard, Doug Shields and Mike Dawida are OUT.

As for Lamb, Pokora and Macklin -- well -- I've yet to see ANYTHING from them.

Perhaps the watch-dog media types in Pittsburgh can spin another yarn of another fairy tail soon. Weave the names of candidates into a saga of psuedo-news based on hype and smoke. Replay to the voters how the building blocks of democracy come from the bedrock found in the book of Mistick.

Joe, the golden harp might be out of tune.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Counting the beans & counting on pots of gold

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By Joseph Sabino Mistick
Sunday, February 4, 2007

Pittsburgh never has been a town of bean counters. We have our faults -- like remaining loyal beyond reason, sometimes selling ourselves short or returning to work on Monday, miserable, when our team loses. But we have never engaged in the nitpicking that leads to bean counting for its own sake.

In culinary terms, Pittsburgh is that passionate cook who throws in a handful of basil or a few extra garlic cloves as the moment moves him. Pittsburgh would fail as the baker whose success depends on precision. Pittsburgh is a town of spirit and kindness and the generous, spontaneous gesture, civic virtues that defy measurement.

We can be inspired by a single word. "Pete!" and "Sophie!" worked well in past political campaigns. A crowd of yellow towel-waving Pittsburghers can work us into a frenzy of positive energy. And while the risks can be high, we always choose to walk the walk rather than to talk the talk.

Our leaders often have painted in broad strokes. David L. Lawrence and Richard King Mellon brought us the Golden Triangle and the Renaissance. Richard S. Caliguiri brought us Renaissance II and a fistful of skyscrapers for our second act. And although Pittsburgh's mayor reigns over only the hub of the regional wheel, whoever has been mayor has spoken for the region.

2007 Academy Awards Contest

In part, that has changed with the advent of the position of Allegheny County chief executive. The influence of the former board of commissioners was fragmented by the often-dissonant sounds of three inharmonious voices. Both the public and the media had to work too hard to discern a single voice and an official message from that trio.

In past political seasons, the Pittsburgh mayor's race has been the centerpiece and it still promises to please this year. Luke Ravenstahl and Bill Peduto are sure to treat us to a slugfest of blog attacks, text messages, e-mail and all the more traditional weapons of political warfare.

But this year, the race for Pittsburgh controller will hold its own when it comes to political excitement. Suddenly, now that we have very few beans left, there is more interest in counting those beans than figuring out how to spend them.

Acting City Controller Tony Pokora wants to win the job in his own right to count the beans. Michael Lamb, currently the prothonotary and a former mayoral contender, has decided he would rather count the beans. Doug Shields, City Council president and current bean spender, now wants to count them instead of spending them.

DaMon Macklin of Highland Park, a property manager, wants to try bean counting. And Mike Dawida, once a county commissioner who spent the county bean cache, now wants to count the meager beans of the city.

This is a distinguished crowd of would-be bean counters, each of whom would be faced with little to do once the beans are counted. The winner of this race would be wise to remember the fable of "Jack and the Beanstalk."

Jack was sent to market with the family cow in order to get some food in very meager times. On the way, he traded the cow for five magic beans that his mother angrily threw into the yard when he got home. The next morning, a towering beanstalk reached to a castle in the sky.

Jack made three perilous ascents to the castle. After dodging the dangerous and angry giant, Jack made it back to his mother with a bag of gold, a magic hen and a golden harp.

Which are the kinds of things that it will take to save Pittsburgh.

Joseph Sabino Mistick is a lawyer, law professor and political analyst. He lives in Squirrel Hill. E-mail him at: