Saturday, June 30, 2007

Amy Carol Webb gets some buzz with her songs and music in competitions

Great news today comes from a singer/songwriter and dear friend, Amy Carol Webb.
From Amy Carol Webb
She posted:
Unisong International 11th Annual Songwriting Competition just announced its 2007 winners and I'm THREE of them! Yep -- finalist in two categories and third in another. Here's the scoop!

"With You Without You" -- finalist in AAA/Americana
"Narrow Places" -- finalist in Topical/Political

and ...

"Lay the Shovel Down" -- Third Place in the L.U.N.C.H. category.

The L.U.N.C.H. category is for social issues songs, which is teamed up with the L.U.N.C.H. Project [Local United Network to Combat Hunger], which continues the legacy of Harry Chapin! Doncha love the synchronicity!

Upcoming, there will be a "People's Choice" award on-line, so I'll send out that link and info when it's launched!

Here's to a wonderful weekend -- and I am ever grateful for your support, encouragement and enthusiasm for this music we love so much! reports on Tom Murphy's latest antics

Look out Iowa. Tom Murphy, Pittsburgh's mayor who nearly killed the city of Pittsburgh, is pushing for the cultural elite and new taxes. Ex-Pittsburgh mayor pushes for 'Destiny'
A tax increase would help cultural attractions flourish and would keeps jobs filled with young Iowans, he says.
When king's and their kingdom's covered the lands, the arts were able to flourish at the bequest of the throne. Court jesters, chamber music, salon musicians, and other cultural benefits thrived with a subsidy of the king. In turn, the kings, queens and people of the city enjoyed these cultural attractions.

However, consider the outcome when "cultural attractions" are put on a scale and measured next to another important attraction, i.e., "freedom." There is no comparison.

People will choose to die for the cause of freedom. Freedom and liberty rock the will and the spirit all people everywhere.

Great culture can happen along with oppression. Culture can go hand in hand with taxes. As taxes increase, freedom declines. In turn, the people notice and vote with their feet. They leave.

Tom Murphy has nothing to offer the people of Iowa, or anywhere else. As government chooses to back the arts, cultural attractions and regional elitism, expect one-way tickets to despair.

The Yes to Destiny sales tax is a joke. Don't fall for it. Tom Murphy is nothing but a court jester for hire.

Tom Murphy knows nothing about what really moves American society -- freedom.

Back the arts all you want -- with private efforts, not government supported taxes.

We love the arts. We back the arts. Music runs through to the highest degree.

Pittsburgh has a ballet that plays to recorded music. The orchestra was all laid off. Now the Nutcracker is danced to CD. There are a couple of productions where there is an orchestra. The "cultural district" in Pittsburgh has been more interested in doing real estate deals than really working on the arts. When the government officials play cultural gatekeepers, the cultural gatekeepers have to fill the void and become policy makers. When governmental officials play developer and use their master plans to try to impact what should occur in the marketplace, then the developers are the one's who pull the strings for public policy, again filling the need.

Public officials need to focus on freedom, liberty, defending the constitution. Everyone has a role to play. Don't let the public officials stray into arts funding. It is wrong. And, it doesn't work.

Tonight they'll play a major league baseball game in a public ballpark. The Pirates play at PNC Park -- a venue built and owned by the public -- not the baseball team. And the fans are staging a walkout in the third inning. Everyone in the region is disgusted with the baseball team, its ownership, the amount that they 'invest' into the operations. The team is a joke in terms of competitiveness. The team is one of the most profitable ones in baseball. However, the fans are getting a giant rip-off.

Tom Murphy gave sugar-daddy deals to the sports teams in Pittsburgh. This was justified, in part, to keep people in the region. Well, it didn't work. More people are moving away. The population decline continues in its downward spiral.

People move to places without baseball teams, without cultural attractions, without taxes. People move to places where government officials have their priorities straight and worry about public matters -- not the elite, cultural and unimportant.

Iowa should tell Tom Murphy to exit. We did. His type isn't welcome here any longer.

Iowa should go listen to Ron Paul. He'll make mention of a few more pressing matters that need the attention of elected policy makers and stewards of public matters.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Pirate walk out on Walk's Bobble-head night

We've been talking a bit about what we'd do if we were at the game and a walkout was called for by the fans.
From family - travels
I told my sons I'd be out of my seat.

The entire buzz about the game and protest is interesting to witness. Reactions welcomed.

My wish -- have the Pittsburgh Pirates buy PNC Park. Have the Pittsburgh Steelers buy Heinz Field. Sell those venues to the teams. Get ownership off the backs of the public.

From Grant

Text: Mayor's letter on police promotions

Text: Mayor's letter on police promotions The promotion of these police officers and the resulting controversy has provided us all an opportunity to see how flawed the City's long-standing system is for officer promotion.

Today I will start implementing several reforms to address this situation in the future. I am announcing a new policy that will set a standard of zero tolerance for domestic abuse.
The buck stops there.

Zero tolerance is for those who don't want to think.

Those who can't think again are not well suited for public office.

This is wrong on many levels.

For starters, the reform and future fix resides within the present, mandatory domestic violence. Great double-speak. A supplement to the mandatory training goes an extra inch, perhaps. Relief is sure to come from all concerned now.

Next, they'll conduct actual reviews of candidates. Before they must have just drawn straws. Could not have pulled names from a hat as then there would have been a 'written record.'No written recommendation by the review panel is submitted to the Chief now. That's why they must draw straws -- or else flip coins. The "rock, paper, scissors" options would have counted as documentation to them I imagine.

A list of "disqualifiers" is going to be made. Even Santa Claus checks his list twice to find out the naughty and nice. Our new reforms are going to bring us in line with North Pole like scrutiny. These disqualifiers COULD eliminate a candidate from consideration for promotion, or they could NOT. Sounds less like a disqualifier and more like a finger wagging.

Even eight-year-old swimmers in a competitive team understand what a disqualification means. When police could look the other way, then it is fair to say we've got a resounding enforcement issue.

Enforcement is always a top concern, along with parking, at community meetings these days. Enforcement could be a problem because what could occur and what should result is never clear. Crooked ways dominate.

An internal panel of senior supervisors are going to be the one's to examine themselves. This is peer review. This is just what we don't need from the Police. This would sustain bad behaviors. This is why we have a citizens police review board -- because the police are often at odds with reality when it comes to the management of each other in police affairs. The police gang have a code. The police networks are complicated, deep and standard for the job at hand.

Again, the mayor is passing the buck by putting more weight onto a panel of senior supervisors. The mayor is the city's most senior -- err -- top supervisor. The guy or gal at the top needs to be 'in charge.'

These are LUKE's works, not the reporter's transcriptions of things that may or may not have been said. Luke's letter has serious holes in each paragraph. The logic and outcomes are worthy for the trash.

What procedure is going to more closely track all Police Officer incidents?

The whole holistic approach sorta falls flat with mandates, when necessary.

The shift of burden onto the officers to avail themselves to this and that is but another way to say that the mayor is passing the buck to them. This is Luke's problem now. Luke didn't do the oversight when it was needed. The domestic violence is bad but the cluelessness from the mayor is worse.

Once again, Luke gets the city into a legal problem. Prudence is not on Luke's side.

Look, Luke looked at the rules of the city! Did he listen to the 'acting city solicitor?'

So, again, we have some enforcement here -- and some lack of enforcement there. Works for them, but not for others. This is ignored while that is followed.

If the city rules are obsolete, why didn't Luke change them when he was President of City Council? Why didn't the obsolete rules get fixed in the first weeks of the mayor's new administration. Why are we only here this as an excuse now -- when there is little else to put the blame other than on himself.

It is time that all zero tolerance policies be revoked.

It is time that all leaders (especially the mayor) take deliberate steps to manage, promote and demote people with integrity -- without needing to make 'hard decisions.' This is another 'no win' opportunity. We've got too many no-win choices because there is a lack of wisdom on Grant Street.

It is time that the city embrace pro-active leadership that goes beyond the same, stale Dem. Party Machine.

National Fatherhood Initiative Job Posting - DC based

Looking for a cool job with a nonprofit? Here is a posting that might catch your attention.
National Fatherhood Initiative ::: NFI Jobs Position Title: Director of Corporate Relations (DCR)
Status: Full-time, Exempt
Location: Gaithersburg, MD (National Fatherhood Initiative Headquarters) strongly preferred, although tele-commuting is possible
Hours: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays, as well as occasional evenings and weekends
Travel: Variable -- might average 15-20% of time

Ravensthal will not reverse police promotions - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Ravensthal will not reverse police promotions - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Full speed ahead.

Meanwhile, the building of the new arena took a stumble today on the air with Marty Griffin. Seems the funds are not as available as they were hoped. Such a scam and mess of public trust and purpose.

OpenOffice Sports All-Around Improvements

OpenOffice Sports All-Around Improvements Time to get or update the WIN software called

Scorched Earth. To the victor goes the spoils -- NOT. Blowback of Pgh Dems with envy and attitudes.

The weekly free newspaper called the South Pittsburgh Reporter had a rather long article about the recent behaviors of lame-duck city councilman, Jeff Koch. Mr. Koch is a Democrat who lost his bid to resume as the party's endorsed candidate for the general election. A four-year term goes up for election on November 6, 2007, for city -council district 3. Jeff Koch won't be on the ballot.

But some of the groups that were expecting some cash from the city council's office -- think WALKING AROUND MONEY, have been given a snub. And, the snubbing is clearly because of Jeff's recent loss at the polls.

Go figure. We've got Dems who promise and don't deliver. We've got Dems who are quick to spend money that comes from the taxpayers. We've got citizens who are silenced -- or else. We've got nonprofit groups that show their greed.

Councilman pulls funding for area community groups
Councilman Jeff Koch has changed the funding to nearly a dozen community groups receiving money from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

For at least the second time in his short tenure, Councilman Koch has used his discretion with CDBG funding to withdraw promised money to some community organizations and award those funds to others.

On Wednesday, June 13, 2007, the councilman proposed legislation that rescinded funding from: Allentown Community Development Corp., $4,000; Beltzhoover Citizen�s Community Development Corp., $2,000; Federation of War Veterans, $2,000; St. Clair Athletic Assoc., $2,000; South Side Local Development Co., $2,000; and, the Urban Mountain Gathering Place, $2,500.

The same legislation increases CDBG funding to the Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council, $2,000; the Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council Cheerleaders, $1,000; My Brothers Keeper, $2,000; the South Side Athletic Assoc., $3,000; and, South Side Saber's Youth Football Assoc., $3,000.

The additional amounts increase the amounts for each of the athletic associations to $8,000 for this year, a total of $7,000 for the two Beltzhoover neighborhood groups and $5,000 for My Brothers Keeper.

When questioned about the changes last week, the councilman admitted that at least two of the reductions in funding were related to the organization's board members supporting Mr. Koch's opponent in the last election.

When Councilman Koch was asked about the changes he said that the Beltzhoover Citizen's CDC owed "$80,000 in back taxes" and he wasn't giving them any more money.

According to the Allegheny County Website, the BCCDC owes approximately $3,900 in back taxes on three vacant lots and three buildings including the Hilltop Health Center on Climax Street.

Connie Wellons of the BCCDC explained that some of the back taxes are a mistake that they are working to clear up. She said the organization has paid some of the taxes in the past to "keep (the properties) off the sheriff�s block."

She said one of the properties in question, 121 Climax Street was originally purchased to be used for the Hilltop Health Center. It was later found to be too small for the center�s purposes.

Ms. Wellons said the building is now slated to be demolished by the city, with the BCCDC reimbursing the city for the work.

"What he's trying to do, is divide two organizations in a small community," she added.

Ms. Wellons said she would have preferred that the councilman has come to the organization and "help us" instead of reducing the funding.

"Jeff Koch is not the most honorable of politicians that we know," she said.

In reducing the South Side Local Development Company's allotment from $2,000 to $0, Councilman Koch said the Mayor�s Office was providing money to the organization and he didn't feel the need to give them any more.

According to SSLDC officials, the organization is receiving funding from the Mayor�s Office this year in the amount of $10,000. It was noted that this was the first time or at least in recent history, that the mayor has provided funding for the 25-year-old South Side organization.

The councilman's explanation for cutting the funding to the Urban Mountain Gathering Place, a non-profit gathering place on Mount Washington whose mission is to support at-risk children in the neighborhood, was simply that he "didn't think they benefited the community."

Mr. Koch said he reduced the Federation of War Veterans grant of $2,000 down to $0 because they hadn't used the money and it was just sitting there.

The councilman also increased the grants to several organizations. When questioned about increasing the grant for My Brothers Keeper, an out of district organization, from $3,000 to $5,000, Mr. Koch said the organization would be operating a program in Beltzhoover this year.

Last week, the largest increases for the biggest total came to the South Side Sabers Youth Football Assoc. and the South Side Athletic Assoc.; both had their grants increased to $8,000. Mr. Koch explained that he increased their grants because they worked with kids and the previous councilman didn't provide funding to the groups.

A check of records indicates that during Councilman Gene Ricciardi's tenure, he provided the Sabers with $5,966 in CDBG funding and the South Side Athletic Assoc. with almost $17,500. In addition, the former councilman provided support for the organizations for South Side Park Baseball Field and Quarry Park through Public Works and Neighborhood Needs money.

The biggest surprises came when Councilman Koch admitted that the reductions to the St. Clair Athletic Association and the Allentown CDC were politically motivated.

Mr. Koch at first said that he cut funding for the St. Clair AA because the organization recently received $30,000 in city money. When it was pointed out that there is a difference in what CDBG funding could be used for compared to Neighborhood Needs money the councilman elaborated further on his decision.

He said that on Election Day, members of the St. Clair AA Board of Directors were working the polls when an Arlington resident whose mother had recently died came into the building. At this time according to Mr. Koch, one of the SCAA directors said that, "his mother would be turning in her grave if he voted for Jeff Koch."

Mr. Koch said the comment just wasn't right and gave it as the reason for cutting the funding.

Questioned about the $4,000 reduction in the Allentown CDC�s funding the councilman said that the group "had a lot of money sitting there for a long time and they were just recently starting to spend it."

Without prompting, Councilman Koch added that, "a lot of their board members worked against me in the last election�so I cut them."

The week prior to the election Allentown CDC vice president Ken Wolfe took photographs of a city Redd Up crew wearing political t-shirts on the job, a violation of the rules. In addition, Tom Smith, editor of the South Pittsburgh Reporter, serves as an officer on the A-CDC board and endorsed Mr. Koch's opponent in the primary election.

Neither man was acting on behalf of the A-CDC when they took their respective actions. The A-CDC took no position for any candidate in the election.

A-CDC president Judy Hackel reiterated that the organization took no position in the last election. She said that it was "inconsiderate" of Councilman Koch to take away the funding after the A-CDC had planned and budgeted for using the money.

Further review of the boards of directors for the organizations that had their funding cut turned up similarities, including board members who individually supported Mr. Koch�s opponent. The organizations that had their funding reduced didn't support one candidate over another in the election.

However, some of the organizations that received funding increases seemed to have ties to supporting Mr. Koch's reelection bid. The South Side Sabers and South Side Athletic Assoc. were both listed as having made contributions on campaign financial documents the councilman filed in his election bids. In addition, one of Mr. Koch�s staff, Dawn Jones, is a board member with the Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council.

CDGB money is used by community groups for a variety of purposes including but not limited to paying for utilities, supplies and equipment. In order for the funding to be utilized, the organizations must submit a budget, have that budget approved and submit receipts showing the organization has already spent the money before it is reimbursed.

Each of the nine city council representatives receive about $75,000 in Federal funding each year to distribute at their discretion using the CDBG guidelines. Although city council approval is needed to disburse the funds, generally the funds are distributed according to the individual council representative�s wishes.

Occasionally the funding is rescinded if the organizations leave the money "sit" for a long while without spending it. This process often takes years before the council representative acts.

According to city officials, the council representative must submit the requested changes for the CDBG funding to the director of the program in City Planning. The director drafts the legislation and submits it to city council for approval. After city council approves the changes the only notification that is required is for city planning to publish the changes in a legal notice. It is not required for the community groups to be notified that their funding has been changed.
- South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor

Great news reporting to the South Pittsburgh Reporter. But, make no mistake, the South Pittsburgh Reporter has been happy to endorse the D opponent of Jeff Koch. Before the special election in March of 2006 a "news" / "editorial" ran that was suspect in my opinion.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pittsburgh - Police Statement - For Ravenstahl, trust wearing thin on policing - Views - Potter's Field - Pittsburgh City Paper

The Told Ya theme is played again, this time with Chris Potter at Pgh City Paper concerning the police management folly.
Pittsburgh - Police Statement - For Ravenstahl, trust wearing thin on policing - Views - Potter's Field - Pittsburgh City Paper “Here’s a tip: If you want to prove you are your own man … hire a woman as [police] chief. ... If you want to rein in the cowboys, it can’t hurt to hire a few more girls.”

The Liberty Card - The Most Powerful Tool in the Freedom Movement.

The Liberty Card - The Most Powerful Tool in the Freedom Movement. Get the message out about Ron Paul!
Anyone can order these and help a Pittsburgh product. Representative Kathy Manderino to introduce 'THE FAMILY AND BUSINESS HEALTHCARE SECURITY ACT' in the Pennsylvania State House Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Sentinel Online talks of Pens, ticket sales and arena

The Sentinel Online : State: The Pittsburgh Penguins set a new season-ticket sales record after making the playoffs for the first time in six seasons.

The team has sold nearly 13,500 season ticket equivalents to fans who have bought either full-season (43-game) or half-season (21-game) plans.

The team announced Thursday that it stopped taking season ticket deposits for next season. It created a waiting list for fans who want to deposit $200 per seat for the right to purchase season tickets that become available for future seasons.

The Penguins' previous record was 12,350 full-season tickets sold for the 1992-93 season after the team won two consecutive Stanley Cups. Forty-six-year-old Mellon Arena, the oldest in the NHL, seats 16,940.

The Penguins stopped selling full- and half-season ticket plans so fans who can't afford them will still have a chance to buy seats, team president David Morehouse said. The Penguins plan to put six- and 12-game ticket plans on sale Aug. 8 and sell individual tickets starting Sept. 15.
Humm. Good for the Pens. Now there is no need to build a new arena. Or, if the Pens really want a new arena, they can build it with Penguin money, not taxpayer funds.

Bike on Friday

We'll try to join Critical Mass on Friday afternoon. Then there is a bike party.

I offered to lead a presentation about our adventures on bikes in China and New Zealand. But, the proposal didn't even generate a 'no thanks' from the organizers. So, it is on the back burner.

We're in the market for a new bike with gears for Grant. He rode a 26 inch mountain bike in New Zealand. His bike is without gears and needs to go.

We are looking for friends who want to join us for That Dam Ride in early September. The ride is 70 miles on Saturday and 70 miles on a return trip on Sunday. Erik and I did it two years ago and had a great time.

Forum Urban Parks: Study Criticizes NYC Parks Dept. Management | Project for Public Spaces (PPS)

Forum Urban Parks: Study Criticizes NYC Parks Dept. Management | Project for Public Spaces (PPS)
See the NY Times article, the real report, and reactions too.

One way to better insure 'equity' in the parks is to use a 'park district model.'

I think Pittsburgh should have a new "Pittsburgh Park District." In Illinois, they have Park Districts.

The park district give democracy and accountability to operation and management of the various parks.

Relay Carnival -- eeks

Our summer swim league has five teams:

Crafton, Scott Township, Green Tree, Mt. Lebo and South Fayette.

Each summer the teams have three big meets:

Relay Carnival, All-Star Meet, Championships.

I hate the relay carnival meet format. The meet is to be fun. But, sadly, it turns into a big 'sink' that doesn't do a good job at developing the swimmers, teams, and experiences that should come about from that meet.

So, I've offered an alternative meet format. Last year I passed about a position paper on how I'd love to see the new meet come into being.

This year at the league's rules meeting, among coaches, I raised this concern again. However, I was NOT able to attend this year's pre-season meeting among teams. So, the chance to change the meet was lost.

I'll be passing out this handout again at this year's relay carnival.

Perhaps we can, as suggested, host another meet in 2008. Perhaps the existing relay carnival can happen on one day and this relay celebration could happen on another day.

One of the best benefits of the structure of the new relay meet format is that everyone (as much as possible) gets to swim in three events. Because the 'extra' swimmers are relegated to the conference squad, there are extra relays.

When we were in New Zealand, there were plenty of opportunities for the boys and girls to swim against each other. This was good. Our winter swim league has only one gender of relay -- say 11-12 age group. You can have boys and girls in the relays. No need to have 4 boys only in a boys relay and 4 girls only in a girls relay.

DeSantis for Mayor site arrives

Mark DeSantis for Mayor of Pittsburgh | Mark DeSantis for Mayor of Pittsburgh
A new web site is now live.

It has copyright notices.

Transportation blog and the call for accountability for board members

Transportation I've been worried about the fact that these boards are hand-picked and never accountable for years.
See my other blog on my thoughs about Authority Board Members facing retention votes.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

JetBlue marks anniversary with free travel offer

Here is a free market come on that needs your attention.
JetBlue marks anniversary with free travel offer As an enticement, Mr. Barger announced a 'gift' of free travel to any Pittsburgh-area resident who books a flight on the Forest Hills, N.Y., carrier by Saturday. To qualify, you must be a member of JetBlue's frequent-flier program, TrueBlue, and the flight must take place between June 26 and Nov. 15.

Travelers who book flights through will receive 100 TrueBlue points at the conclusion of their travel, which can be redeemed for a free trip anywhere JetBlue flies. JetBlue serves 54 cities with up to 575 daily flights. The TrueBlue points will expire in one year from the date of issuance.
I've never flown with JetBlue. So, I'm not a JetBlue frequent flier. So, I guess I can't take them up on the offer.

In run for White House, Giuliani stops in the Strip

In run for White House, Giuliani stops in the Strip With businessmen Jimmy and Nino Sunseri as his tour guides, the former mayor picked up some pasta and peppers before heading out onto Penn Avenue for a brief walking tour.
I feel better about him already. Why didn't he go to a downtown department store too?

Rudi kissed a baby. Didn't he also pucker up to Mark DeSantis?

Mitt is next.

DeSantis should be with all of these guys on every visit. Locals should be cutting checks to the national guys -- AFTER they cut one for the local guy.

Beijing weather leaves Oly officials in haze - Wednesday June 27, 2007 8:22PM - Olympics - Beijing weather leaves Oly officials in haze - Wednesday June 27, 2007 8:22PM Even by Beijing standards -- the city is one of Asia's most polluted -- Wednesday stood out. By early afternoon, a thick haze significantly reduced visibility. At street level, soot and humid air produced a fog of pollution.

After several days with temperatures hovering near 100 degrees, a rainstorm cooled but further darkened the city with vehicles using headlights most of the afternoon.
This is sorta funny to me. When we were in China, mostly in another part -- the southwestern part -- the drivers didn't use their headlights in the evening or nights. It makes no sense for the drivers in China to turn on their car's headlights at night when there are streetlights in the city.

The act of shutting down the factories in the period of the Olympics will work wonders.

I've blogged about this before somewhere. When we first arrived in China, it was in the first week of May. They have a major week of holiday the first week. Everyone is encouraged to travel to different parts of China. The schools are shut and so too are the big factories. It is a national holiday. May Day and beyond. This is a new holiday as well.

On May 8, I awoke in the middle of the night and it seemed as if there was a house fire down the street. The air was dirty -- like that of a not too distant fire.

There was no fire. The vacation was over. People were back to work.

Throughout our months there, we could generally see the moon two to four times a month. These were on windy days. Otherwise, the smog was such that the moon was not visible.

Beijing's filthy air is one of the biggest concerns of the International Olympic Committee and 2008 Olympic organizers, who worry that elite athletes may be unable to perform under such conditions.
My worry would not be for the elite athletes. There will be a 'level playing field.' Everyone gets to compete in the same 'air.' The top level athletes will be fine.
From china - foods

Clothing Drive

Network of surveillance cameras proposed for Pittsburgh

Network of surveillance cameras proposed for Pittsburgh Councilman William Peduto said there must be a 'transparent set of rules on who views [video data], who's authorized to view it, and that it's not being specifically targeted' to given groups or institutions.
We've got transparent rules that are not enforced.

We've got news about the CIA and FBI and family jewels too.

The video cameras need to be pointed at the government officials, the police, the budgets, the tax collectors. Until those folks are documented and really transparent, we should not point anything at the citizens.

Here are the numbers DeSantis needs to consider

Mark DeSantis is a Republican who wants to run for mayor. I asked him before his kick off in our personal meeting who he liked for President. I pointed out that the mayor's race and the race for county executive is going to take a back seat, sadly, to the race for the White House. We nominate and elect a president/vice-president in 2008. But, we've got lots and lots of coverage already devoted to that race. We've even had a hand-full of debates for the 2008 races and none for the 2007 general election.

So, the race for president is going to, at times, overshadow the race for the city's and county's top executive.

In no uncertain terms, I favor Dr. Ron Paul for president. Dr. Paul is a former Pittsburgher, former Libertarian and presently a Republican in the US House and from Texas. I love what he has to say on most issues and I love how he says it. Plus, his is a real grass-roots and internet driven campaign.

Since Ron Paul is a Republican, I figured I'd ask DeSantis what he thinks of him and who he likes in the GOP race for the nomination for President.

Perhaps DeSantis didn't want to hurt my feelings, or perhaps he hasn't thought about the issue. But, it is sure to come up.
President Bush's Approval

Pennsylvania voters disapprove 67 - 29 percent of the job President George W. Bush is doing, his lowest score ever in the state.

Voters disapprove 70 - 26 percent of the President's handling of the war in Iraq and say 60 - 34 percent that going to war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do.

From May 22 - 28, 2007, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,318 Pennsylvania voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percentage points. The survey includes 575 Republicans, with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points, and 585 Democrats, with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points.
Getting voters in Pittsburgh, in November 2007, to vote for DeSantis, R, is going to be nearly impossible. The impossible becomes probable as Luke Ravenstahl does further damage to the city and continually acts in ways suitable for 'moron status.' However, this isn't the year to be a Republican running for office because we'll still have George W. Bush as the most powerful man in the world.

On another blog in another discussion, one wrote that a vote for DeSantis could be considered after he would renounce his party affiliation and become an Independent, not a Republican. That sentiment is real and pervasive.

I would have ever thought we'd find our political landscape with these compounded situations:
  1. Our city is on the brink -- as it is and has been -- with no end in sight.
  2. Our mayor acts in nearly worthless ways.
  3. Our city council is fully marginalized by its own doings.
  4. The biggest political problems loom in the nation's capital, not on Grant Street.
This is not the year for DeSantis to run for mayor as a Republican and expect to sway many voters.

I'm never going to say it is impossible. I think in positive ways. I'm optimistic. I'm a realist. I've seen the tide turn in a number of ways in a number of instances throughout life. I've helped turn the tide in a number of instances as well. It is fun going downstream after going for a long time against the current.

DeSantis can win if he is brilliant and if Ravenstahl is arrogant.

Arrogant is neither 'good' nor 'bad.' I predict that Ravenstahl can be bad and responsive or else good and responsive and this will work well enough for Ravenstahl to keep voters on election day. A responsive Ravenstahl, even should he fill his resume with repeating blunders, is still going to trump a brilliant, Republican DeSantis.

Basically, we're screwed locally until 2008. By the end of 2008, Bill Peduto should announce that he's switching his party from D to independent. Furthermore, by 2008 Dan Onorato's ambitions are sure to buffer the harm he can cause to Allegheny County. In 2009, there will be another mayor's race as well.

With better planning, the 2009 mayor's race will occur in the fall. And, by then, the guy or gal running for the GOP won't need to carry the weight of the world on every step.

Tips for navigation of the landscape in 2007 follow:

Mark DeSantis needs to talk in candid ways about who he supports in the unfolding 2008 GOP Presidential Primary.

I would love to hear that Mark DeSantis loves Ron Paul too. That would be great. But, I don't know that.

I figure Mark DeSantis is not a 'small government advocate.' Rather, he is a 'good government advocate.' That's what he told me, and I take him at his word. But, there are plenty of ways to read that between the lines.

'Tom Ridge Republicans' like John McCain. Melissa Hart liked McCain too. It is fair to say that I don't get along with the typical 'Jim Roddey Republicans'. Jim Roddey Republicans voted for Dan Onorato in May 2007 and are not far from the Tom Murphy Administration. Hillman and hundreds of others love to wheel and deal with government money, corporate welfare, contracts from DC (even defense department contracts) and central planning actions.

Those folks are "bad" in the eyes of many die-hard Dems. I'm not that judgmental. But, it is fair to say that I'm not excited by the typical Republican directions and policies put forth from those in power in Allegheny County and Pennsylvania.

So, it is fair to say that we need to size up Mark DeSantis and his Republican Roots. He should do that for us in public in an urgent way.

Should DeSantis likes George W. Bush and like the idea of a first strike against Iran -- then ouch.

I think that the DeSantis campaign would double in size and strength in one week should he announce that he'll serve as an "Independent" as mayor of Pittsburgh. Within a month, that message will allow his campaign to grow tenfold.

Jumping from a BLUE State to a RED State -- yet alone a BLUE to RED city -- is a big leap. DeSantis needs to meet the city and region half way.

The other day as we talked about party stuff and this issue of liabilities with being a Republican he said it was like he was half-way on a journey in a row boat. He is crossing the ocean. He is way out there. He can't turn around now. It is what it is.

But, I think that there is more to that story. If a smart guy is half way between England and the US in a row boat and a cruise ship or sail boat or freighter comes along -- he's out of that row-boat. He'll 'jump ship' because that row boat is now a liability. He'll pick up a larger crew. He'll keep the row-boat as a great memory, but he'll look to the days and weeks to come. His chances for survival are greatly increased when he's is pushed along by the company of many others.

"Our City is Not Fulfilling Its Promise."

That was a sign at the DeSantis kick-off. I think it is fair to say that our nation is not fulfilling its promise too. And, DeSantis should 'de-cloak' and make a promise as to what kind of politician he supports and wants to stand with in the years to come.

The promise of doing nothing is bad news for the city. Do something makes for a good theme as long as DeSantis himself does indeed talk and make deeds occur.

Calling Penn Hills High School - class of '77 - reunion invite

I'm a grad of Penn Hill High School, class of 1977. We're gearing up for our 30th reunion. This will be the first reunion I've attended. Others are going to return home from the corners of the world.

Details here:

Change would limit time acting directors can serve

Here is a move that is nothing but a power grab.
Change would limit time acting directors can serve City Council President Doug Shields said yesterday that he will introduce legislation today to change the city code to prevent acting department heads from serving indefinitely without council approval.
It is funny to watch a power grab play out when there is nothing else to grab upon. City Council is worried about directors on the totum and cats running at large in the city. They are working on things that are nearly meaningless. This is why they've become meaningless. They've not looked at the various situations with keen insight and figured out a way to do something otherwise.

I've called for the removal of George Specter as the 'acting city solicitor.' But I think he should be fired.

So, a member of city council wants to put together new legislation that will prevent an acting department head from serving for more than 90 days in that role. But, we have a mention in the city charter that says that it should not occur.

How about this instead: Enforce the city charter and then you don't need to make new legislation.

Doug Shields should NOT approve the invoices on city council until George Specter is terminated. That's the only bit of power those on council have. Stop paying the guy. Stop paying everyone until this is resolved.

I'd be fine if the city stopped paying the entire law department until it had a director. And, as a member of city council, the body that approves the invoices, that could be accomplished.

Doug Shields could also stand outside the law department offices with a stack of cardboard boxes and offer to move George Specter's personal belongings OUT of the city's building. That is another positive move, a media ploy, that would begin to offer up solutions to this nagging problem.

DeSantis says no to city status quo

DeSantis says no to city status quo Four years ago, Republican nominee Joe Weinroth managed to raise only about $20,000 in the face of a million-dollar war chest raised by the late Mayor Bob O'Connor."
Since DeSantis has to hurdle history, let's not re-write it in the process. The Weinroth campaign wasn't four years ago. It was two years ago.

How many votes did Bob O'Connor get with his $1-million war chest in 2001? What about in 2005?

It is a mistake to say how much money one hopes to raise. The newspaper says that DeSantis said he EXPECTS to be able to collect more than $250,000. Nuts to that.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Survey Results of an internet based e-democracy forum effort by Steven C.

Survey Results As a participant (or future participant) in an E-Democracy.Org forum, how important are the following to you?
Nothing jumps out at me from this.

One day, my goal is to establish a Pittsburgh-based issues forum.

Humm. Now what?


Two birds taking a long walk on a long pier on a fall day. These are birds of a feather. One may decide to be free and fly away.
Posted by Picasa

Trip to Promote UC's China Strategy�Pays Off�in First Comprehensive Agreement With Chinese University�

Trip to Promote UC's China Strategy Pays Off in First Comprehensive Agreement With Chinese University Trip to Promote UC's China Strategy Pays Off in First Comprehensive Agreement With Chinese University

A two-week trip in April by high-level UC academic leaders resulted in discussions about future involvement with 14 universities, as well as an immediate agreement for creating a multi-faceted relationship between UC and Shandong University in Jinan, China.
This is how others go to China and score big results for home. Meanwhile, Onorato's trip to China was without such rewards nor new relationships. - DeSantis Officially Kicks Off Mayoral Campaign - DeSantis Officially Kicks Off Mayoral Campaign
Doing nothing is the worst.

Latest Pittsburgh GOP hope dreams large - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Latest Pittsburgh GOP hope dreams large - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Although Ravenstahl has been in office under a year, analysts say he's made several blunders that DeSantis can use against him:
This race won't be about Mark DeSantis. It will be about Luke Ravenstahl. It will be about one-party rule. It will be about rookie mistakes in a time of crisis. It will be about the city being on and over the brink.

If that is the case, then the challenger has some opportunities to edge out better than Carmine's typical 23% of the vote on the election day.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Break a leg, cowboy. Call us if you need to kick-up some dust and hold a round-up!

Photo caption: "Mark, we're about to saddle up and get ready for a 9:30 am meetin' N@. Call us if yinz need some back-ups for the round-up."

Hint: That "Mark" isn't this Mark. Two Marks have the same name and nearly the same age.

Vandals among us - Trib and tonight's yack fest

Vandals among us - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Rende and detectives Daniel Sullivan and Alphonso Sloan are the Pittsburgh Police Bureau's graffiti task force, three men policing a citywide graffiti problem.
Some gathered at a meeting at the Brashier Assn tonight to talk about this issue. I went.

It was nice to see all three officers of the new task force in the room at the same time. However, I hope that the three don't make it a habit of going to the same meetings. Send one. The two others can be working on the streets. And, send different ones each time.

I don't have a problem with the paint spilling on the Jail Trail. The area was given a green light by Tom Murphy's administration. Fine. On the other hand, I have problems with the paint and vandals in other areas beyond the jail trail.

The worst thing to do is to put the crap onto the news and into the newspapers. Don't show it again.

Zero tolerance is not going to work. It didn't work in the past. It isn't working yet. It won't work in the future. When I hear "zero tolerance," it makes me wonder if the person standing for such opinions has a matching amount of wisdom.

I then hope that my kids and their friends won't be arrested one day in the future for possession of a magic marker. Then, among other times, "zero tolerance" sucks.

Little to no talk was devoted to a citizen's depot of materials for fix up. We all don't need buckets of red, black, white, gray and other colored paint, brushes, gloves, scrubbers, pressure washers, ladders, drop cloths and so on. We could use a centralized clearing house for pick-up and perhaps for delivery of tools and supplies.

Morph Blog � Blog Archive � Snow on the way?

Morph Blog - Blog Archive Snow on the way? It has been bitterly cold for the last few days, so the conditions are defiantly right to snow. The MetService is also predicting that it might possibly snow for the next 3 days.
We left Christchurch on June 9 -- just in time for the arrival of their winter. Meanwhile, we're about to get into some hot summer days.

In other New Zealand swimming news, see the comments for updates on the NZ swimmers who have come to California for some big-time swim meets.

United Way offers nonprofits grants to help teens

Updated below:
United Way offers nonprofits grants to help teens: The United Way of Allegheny County is seeking grant proposals for $470,000 to support up to three, two-year grants to help teens and young adults.

The funds are for general operating support to help organizations address the problems of academic failure and unemployment for youth 15 to 24 years of age.

Applicants must be nonprofit health and human service organizations in Allegheny County that are not current United Way Impact Fund partner agencies.

To download the request for proposals, visit the United Way Web site at Proposal summaries are due July 23. An information session for applicants will be held July 11 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Eat'n Park training facility at the Waterfront in Homestead. To register for the training, e-mail

Subject: Before We Can Register Your Agency for RFP Training

Thank you for your interest in the United Way's RFP- Helping Teens and Young Adults. We recognize how extremely busy you are and how time consuming responding to an RFP can be. Before we register you for the training workshop we ask that you please take a minute to review the following eligibility criteria. To apply your agency must be:

* A 501(c)(3) organization located and providing a health or human
service in Allegheny County and not currently a UWAC Partner agency

* In full compliance with all federal, state, county and local requirements and laws pertaining to non-profits, including the USA Patriot Act and other counterterrorism laws

* Meets the requirements of the Solicitations of Funds for Charitable Purposes Act passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in December, 1990

* Is able to provide all documentation as noted in Step 1 (copy of 501(c)(3) determination letter and Step 2 (Audit(s) covering 2 years, Board List, IRS Form 990

In addition, please note that all funded applicants must be prepared to document their results in achieving at least one of the following required outcomes:

* Out of school youth return to school and graduate with proficiency, or complete a GED

* At risk youth stay in school and graduate with proficiency

Finally, you should have a track record in serving one or more of the target populations of 15 to 24 year olds for this RFP:

* Youth who are not in school and not working

* Youth with poor school attendance or other risk factors for dropping out

* Youth with low grade point averages and low scores on standardized measures of academic proficiency

* Youth in areas of the city or county with high rates of poverty and low rates of high school graduation

If after reviewing this information you feel that your agency meets these minimum requirements for RFP applicants, please complete the form below and email it to to register for the applicant training. Registration Deadline is Friday, July 6th. Thank you for helping us make the best use of your time.

Yes, our agency meets eligibility requirements and I would like to attend the RFP Training Workshop

Agency Name
Name of Staff Person Attending
Email of staff person attending.

Sicko stuff

The movie is about to open in local cinemas. Read more about efforts in the comments.

Historic Stables

City slicker on four legged friend.


Notice is given that Bill No. 2007-1552 has been scheduled for a Public Hearing in Council Chambers (ADA accessible), 5th Fl, City-County Bldg, Pgh, PA 15219, as follows:

Tues., July 17, 2007 at 1:30 P.M. on Bill 2007-1552: providing for designation as a Historic Structure known as Allegheny City Stables, located at 836 West North Ave., 22nd WD, Pgh.

Citizens wanting to testify must contact the City Clerk at 412-255-2138 prior to the hearing date to have their name placed on the speaker’s list. Speakers are limited to 3 minutes.
Say what? So we have an historic horse barn? Is this on the North Side. I bet it is. The folks on the North Side are still up in arms that they were forced to merge with Pittsburg -- and that's how we got the "h." Is that what this is about?

Could someone with clean shoes enlighten us on this petition and the need for historic designation?

Is UPMC trying to buy it?

Is this where we send our studs?

Is this like the Garden Theater, but different?

Online Fundraising: Howard Dean's Night School. Class in session tomorrow night

Four years ago this week something changed American politics forever. Howard Dean introduced "The Bat," and his campaign upended the conventional wisdom about how campaigns are financed.

Four years later, we take it for granted that campaigns will use the Internet for fundraising. But guess what? There's more to it than putting up a webpage and sending out an email. Tomorrow night, DFA's Night School will focus on online fundraising as part of our 2007 Summer Semester on campaign fundraising.

Fundraising: Online and Email
Tuesday, June 26th -- 8:30pm Eastern

We will be joined by experts in online fundraising.

Zack Exley was the Director for Online Organizing and Communications for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004. He has also worked with and the Dean for America campaign.

Since its founding in 2004, ActBlue has helped raise over $23 million online for Democratic candidates across the country. Karl-Thomas Musselman and Erin Hill will join us on the call.

Tuesday night they will be sharing their knowledge of online fundraising with you and everyone who signs up for Night School.

RSVP today:

Night School is DFA's no-cost online training program. After you sign up, you will receive the information for a nationwide toll free conference call where we'll discuss online fundraising tips and strategies. The presentation includes a slideshow you can view in your internet browser or download and print out beforehand.

All this month Night School is focusing on how to raise money for your campaign, and it won't cost you a thing.

Talk to you Tuesday!

Arshad Hasan
Training Director

P.S. If you haven't already done so, you can get DVD copies of previous Night School sessions (including the newly released 2007 Spring Semester) online at:

Every purchase helps us continue to keep Night School free for everyone. Order your DVD today!

An Open Letter To Mark DeSantis

Dear Mark,

We don’t know each other. But I hear that you’re running for Mayor as a Republican in our city. Good luck, as you are up against remarkable odds.

Pittsburgh is a city that tolerates a lot out of its elected leaders. Our current Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, is only there because Pittsburgh City Council couldn’t pick a City Council President out of a roster of slightly more qualified candidates. Almost every “veteran” member of City Council thought that the job of President should be his or hers.

How embarrassing would it have been had Council selected spendy Twanda Carlisle as its consensus leader, instead of Ravenstahl? When Bob O’Connor died tragically, the then 26-year-old Ravenstahl (plunked down as North Side's representative by his politically-connected parents) was ushered in as Mayor.

Ravenstahl has led with an under-the-radar, unspectacular style. There have been a few youth-enhancing flubs (admitting to David Letterman that the city fixed Ben Roethlisberger's tickets in that near fatal motorcycle crash of last year and something about crashing a Tiger Woods party), but nothing that would make the city’s underground power hierarchy flip the termination switch.

Mr. DeSantis, you are up against an incumbent (without actually being elected in a citywide race) with virtually no kinks in his political armor. It’s time you hit the grass roots campaign trail running.

I’ve heard that your official citywide campaign kicks off tomorrow, Tuesday, June 26. I have yet to get a phone call or mailer concerning this announcement. I fear that you’ll be standing in front of a podium with no one behind you, responding to your every positive statement. There should be dozens, nay thousands, of warm bodies at this announcement. If there isn't, you should just stay home.

I don’t know when the fundraisers are set to begin, but I should have already been called and asked for a donation in any amount. Asked if I could host a weenie roast on your behalf.

Tomorrow when you kick off the campaign, I’m not sure what local celebrity you’ll have behind you, but there had better be someone, even if it’s that Pirate and Steeler vendor who jumps into the Mon with all the other Polar Bear club members on January 1st. Have you been on America's Morning Show with Pittsburgh-based Quinn and Rose? Have you lined up the rest of your radio talk show appearances yet?

There better be an exciting website and telephone campaigns. Mailers should be showing up in my mailbox all the time.

I offer an opportunity to chat on TalkShoe; I’ll host. Let’s do it often if you’d like. Closer to Election Day, let’s have a regularly-scheduled once-a-month talk show. If you want, we can do it daily as we near the big day.

What have you done to post on YouTube, MySpace and other exciting sites? Some of these venues don’t cost a dime. Assuredly, you’re going to be spending some cash, or a man of your accomplishments wouldn’t be in the race.

I look forward to an exciting summer with Mark DeSantis, Republican candidate for Mayor, city of Pittsburgh, charging against the unstoppable Chosen One. Joe Weinroth ran a decent campaign last time out, but Bob O’Connor was “tapped” by the unseen powers that be.

Mr. DeSantis, do something to keep the name out there and float new ideas. I’d hate to see another Republican candidate not catch on, especially when there’s the possibility for an exciting campaign.

Luke Ravenstahl, a nice young guy, hasn’t done anything that merits leading our fine city for the next 10-12 years.

Your pal,


Interesting Job Opportunity, half-time for "nonpartisan" political person

Tim C sent me this notice.
Half-time Job Opening for Nonpartisan Political Program

$12-16/ hr, depending on skills and experience. May lead to full-time executive director position. The goal of the Proof Through the Night Program is to create an informed and active American electorate. Interested individuals should go to to learn more.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Wired Lawrence Lessig's Supreme Showdown

Wired 10.10: Lawrence Lessig's Supreme Showdown Lawrence Lessig's Supreme Showdown

Lawrence Lessig helped mount the case against Microsoft. He wrote the book on creative rights in the digital age. Now the cyberlaw star is about to tell the Supreme Court to smash apart the copyright machine.
We don't need to have the court smash down copyright. Rather, we just need everyone to put their content into the public domain.

Well, there is a little more to it. But, keep it simple. Keep it public. Share. Play well with others.

Concept Map software goes commercial

Dear CmapTools User,

IHMC is glad to announce that it has signed an agreement with Ceryph Inc. to develop and commercialize Ceryph Insight, a program suite based on the IHMC CmapTools and CmapServer programs, to commercial companies, not-for-profit companies, and individuals using the programs for business purposes.

Ceryph will be able to offer the type of customer support and training that is expected for a commercial product, and for which we have been receiving an increasing number of requests and which IHMC cannot provide.

CmapTools will continue to be free for educational institutions, federal employees working for the US Government, and individuals not using it for business purposes. Not-for-profit companies with documented revenue below $1M are encouraged to inquire about Ceryph's in-kind donation program.

All other CmapTools users should contact Ceryph at to obtain copies of Insight software.


Institute for Human & Machine Cognition
40 S. Alcaniz St., Pensacola, FL, 32502

Airport developer sues Allegheny, others - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Airport developer sues Allegheny, others - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review As a result, Ferrone filed an eight-count suit alleging these violations: civil rights, conspiracy, neglect to prevent conspiracy, defamation, commercial disparagement, conversion, invasion of privacy and civil conspiracy.
Wow. This is sorta big news.

I send out blast emails. Do they get to all the parties I am sending them to? I hope so.

Airport developer sues Allegheny, others - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Stop! In the name of emails.
Airport developer sues Allegheny, others - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review While being sued by two banks that claim he defaulted on loans for improvements at his airport, Rock Ferrone is suing Allegheny County; its executive, Dan Onorato; a few other county officials; and several people in the private sector.

Ferrone's two lawsuits allege the defendants violated his civil rights. He is suing for compensatory damages and an injunction 'ordering the government defendants to cease their unconstitutional conduct.'

Ferrone claims in one suit that Onorato blocked e-mails Ferrone sent to various county officials, including county council members.

To PIIN and friends of PIIN: about Pgh Police and stops to brown skin folks seeking 'papers'

This is a call to action in solidarity with our immigrant sisters and brothers who have been the victims of some of the most reprehensible, immoral, and illegal actions by local law enforcement.

Just in this month alone:

Two times in the last month, workers at a house in the Pointe Breeze section of Pittsburgh were approached on private property by City of Pittsburgh Police officers and asked for “identification and papers” and were further asked about their immigration status.

A woman was stopped in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh where she was walking and a City of Pittsburgh patrol car drove up next to her and asked her for identification and she was asked about her immigration status. No suspected crime whatsoever.

Three men were working at a house in Braddock which because of bad electrical wiring caught fire. These 3 victims of this fire were never asked by the County Police if they needed water, medical attention, or any other kind of help, but were only asked for their ID’s, papers, and questioned about their immigration status. No crime suspected, they were victims of a fire. And all three were detained by police for over 8 hours and 1 remains in jail on an immigration hold.

This week, in the North Side of Pittsburgh, a car with 3 children, 2 mothers, and a man was stopped by the City of Pittsburgh Police with no traffic violation, 6 other patrol cars converged and all occupants were demanded to show their documents. The women and children were crying and all felt terrorized and intimidated.

One common thread in all these is: all were Latinos; all had brown skin; all were residents of our region; all were never suspected of a crime; all were victims of intimidation and fear; all of them are our sisters and brothers.

Sadly, these are only a few of many incidences we could relate. Yesterday it was racial profiling for African Americans (and even today), today it is racial profiling for people with brown skin, tomorrow you may be asked for your papers while working in your yard or walking the street. IN THE NAME OF OUR US CONSTITUTION AND IN THE NAME OF GOD, THIS ILLEGAL AND IMMORAL BEHAVIOR MUST STOP, NOW!

Last October, at the PIIN Public Action, City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl committed to meet with PIIN leaders before the end of January 2007 to formulate an immigrant friendly policy for the city. After being shown a similar policy adopted by Philadelphia he said, “It’s a shame you need to have a policy to say these things.”

Since that time, PIIN has met with Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala who have been supportive of our efforts for a new policy. We have even met with the Chief of Police as well as the mayor’s policy manager and assistant solicitor. The goal was to create a policy for Allegheny County as well as the City of Pittsburgh so immigrants would not have to live in fear.

It was agreed that a meeting with all three officials (Onorato, Zappala, and Ravenstahl) would accomplish a comprehensive immigrant friendly policy for our region. We have been trying in earnest for this meeting since March and while Onorato and Zappala have been ready to meet, Ravenstahl has never given a date to them or us.

It is tragically ironic to us that the mayor had time to run to Oakmont uninvited to cajole Tiger Woods for a picture and cannot meet with us when families are being separated, people’s basic rights are being ignored, and some on his police force are instilling fear in an immigrant community that wants to help our city and region, just like most of our parents and grandparents did.

THE ACTION: Nonviolently, we will all meet on Monday, June 25th, at 9:30 AM on the 5th floor of the City-County Building (located at 414 Grant Street) to demand a reasonable date from the mayor to meet with us regarding the creation of an immigrant friendly policy for our city and county. Go directly to the 5th floor of the City-County Building.

As many people as possible are needed for this action. If the mayor refuses, then a number of PIIN members and friends of PIIN intend to make a public act of civil disobedience, or rather Divine Obedience. Those wishing at that point to retreat to the steps of the City-County Building or other point of safety are most welcome.

If you are planning to attend this action, please call or email anyone from the list below:

Alfonso Barquera, 412-715-1750,

Sr. Janice Vanderneck, 412-578-0402,

Scott Fabean, 412-398-4000,
Put this into the report card rankings, P-G Or, perhaps because this is an agenda item that is beyond what Luke wants, it can be ignored. The P-G graded Luke on what he wanted to be graded upon.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

PA CleanSweep Opinion: Who Is Really In Charge?

When most Pennsylvanians think of government, a certain image comes to mind. They imagine policemen protecting us from violent criminals, clerks diligently processing paperwork to administer justice in the courthouse or green-vested highway workers heading out to fill potholes in the spring.

Others think of the continuous struggle of ideologies under the dome in Harrisburg. They imagine their conservative or liberal heroes going into battle on the floor of the House and Senate to win the privilege of steering the Commonwealth on new paths of righteousness.

While these elements of government in action do exist, a closer examination reveals that government is actually an industry, providing profit and investment opportunities to anyone willing to adopt the proper business model. The payoff can be massive. After all, what better way to guarantee a return on investment than by putting the force of law on your side?

There are plenty of experts to help you on your way to success by stepping on the backs of average taxpayers and short-circuiting the lawmaking process. For a price, of course. Two stunning examples of such modern-day privateers have come to light in the past week.

You may remember one Michael S. Long. The former chief of staff to Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer and brother-in-law of former Senate Majority Leader David "Chip" Brightbill wrapped up his career on the inside by pocketing $41,000 in taxpayer-funded bonuses in his last two years and collecting a $95,000 severance package on his way out the door.

While Jubelirer and Brightbill were ultimately tossed from office for their big spending ways, Long was a master engineer behind the scenes crafting their "conservative Republican" game plan. Also a prominent member of the Lebanon County Republican Committee, Long was perfectly situated to take on the "liberal Democrats" at every turn.

And you may also recall one Ray Zaborney. As 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate Lynn Swann's campaign manager, Zaborney was eager to bash Ed Rendell on any issue whenever a microphone or camera was nearby. In his effort to get a Republican in the governor's office, Zaborney even contacted this writer in an attempt to lend anti-pay raise and reform credence to Swann's campaign after an independent gubernatorial bid was sideswiped by Pennsylvania's ridiculous petitioning requirements.

But the "conservative Republican" ideologies of Long and Zaborney seem to have taken a back seat to personal profit of late.

Long is now lobbying Harrisburg for the environmental and renewable energy causes, working under the guise of a lobbyist for PennFuture, an organization closely tied to Rendell's vision for greening up Pennsylvania. This plan could arguably give Rendell front-runner status for the position of US Department of Energy Secretary in a future Democratic administration in Washington.

Zaborney, who has long been politically linked to Long but is not listed on the state's lobbyist disclosure website, was witnessed this week arriving at a Senator's office in the Capitol "to advocate for a sensible environmental plan for the Commonwealth." When asked to clarify exactly what he was pushing, Zaborney replied, "the Governor's plan."

Widely reported in headlines recently was PennFuture's CEO John Hanger touting a poll claiming that Pennsylvanians support renewable energy. (The same poll likely would have revealed they also support puppies, Mom and apple pie.) A bit less reported was Hanger's odd tirade earlier in the year defending Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis - both Rendell appointees - on the issue of ethics questions surrounding public dollars and their spouses.

The government business model is pretty straightforward. Place your investment dollars into campaign contributions and/or lobbying fees, make a few public statements revealing whose team you're really on, and soon enough you too can enjoy the profits of social policy backed by the force of law.

Such programs are not only lucrative for recipients of the resultant taxpayer funded state grants, but also for the lawyers who deal with bond issues, the lobbyists who help push them through and of course, supportive incumbent legislators who may receive special consideration from program backers during the next election cycle.

The ability of citizens to influence their government is a good thing. The notions of protecting the environment and making Pennsylvania energy independent are good ideas that markets just might support someday. But if these issues truly warrant the power of governmental force, wouldn't they already be at the top of every legislator's priority list rather than needing a constant barrage of monetary influence to get there?

Rendell, in a recent bizarre twist on morality, claimed that Jesus himself would support some of his bold initiatives that use force to generate the resources required to fund them. One could more easily imagine Jesus, upon glimpsing the pillage and plunder of the common man by the speculators and lobbyists controlling Harrisburg, angrily tossing these moneychangers from our temple.

What Long and Zaborney are doing is not illegal. In fact, it's sanitized by laws currently in place. But let's not be confused about their ideologies. Their former cover under the umbrella of "conservative Republicanism" appears only to be due to its ability to put money in their own pockets.

This is the ideology of self interest, not public interest. For true believers in the causes of conservatism, liberalism, republicanism, democracy and even environmentalism, Long and Zaborney serve as sad case studies in gaming the machinations of government for personal benefit. How many other proponents of the ideology of self interest are currently lurking about in Harrisburg, eager to prey on the common taxpayer in search of personal treasure?

Pennsylvanians would do well to think about this government-as-industry model the next time they find themselves waiting for a crime to be solved, a legal case to be heard or a pothole to be filled.

Russ Diamond is the founder of PACleanSweep and an avid believer that government should do what's best for all citizens, not just the privileged few.

About PACleanSweep

PACleanSweep is a non-partisan effort dedicated to reforming state government in Pennsylvania. For more information, please visit

[412] Summer invites from Mark at Rauterkus dot com

Email blast, 412-public-campaign, message archive: [412] Summer invites from Mark at Rauterkus dot com

Hi All,

We are home and thankful for a wonderful trip to New Zealand. Lots of our photos are on the web. Come over on the evening of July 4 to check out the scrapbooks.

My blog, Mark Rauterkus and Running Mates, was recently named the 7th most influential political blog in Pennsylvania.

There is plenty to do. Hope our paths cross soon. Consider yourself invited to:

  1. Our 4th of July house party. (more)

  2. Water polo clinic and shoot out, July 1, 2, and 3 in the evenings. (link below)

  3. A new Biathlon = 5 K run and 1 K swim on July 4 (with Crafton Celebrates) (link below)

  4. Water polo clinics starting July 30 to August 17 (drop in any time for three weeks) (link below)

  5. Help with getting signatures so we can field candidates for the November 2007 general election.

  6. Introduction to Dr. Ron Paul, a native of Pittsburgh, and a member of US Congress who is all about peace and common sense -- and his run for the White House in 2008.
It is too soon to talk at great lengths about presidential politics because we still have some work to do for 2007's general election. However, I'm loving what presidential candidate, Dr. Ron Paul, former Libertarian, is saying. How he is delivers his message and the grass-roots energy is nearly as impressive as what he stands for. Take some time to understand his positions as Ron Paul bring a needed and most welcome change to the national political scene. Google "Ron Paul" or check out his videos at

My efforts to stand for office in 2007 and get onto the ballot for multiple offices as a 'stand-in' are in full swing. But, ... we need more signatures. Some have been very encouraged at the opportunities and messages I'd bring to the campaign trails. However, hundreds of signatures on notarized forms are needed to help make this occur.

I'll be meeting with Mark DeSantis tomorrow to talk with him about his views, campaign and community engagements in issues in the weeks to come. It takes two, or more, to tango. I'm at a cross-road. We'll have plenty to talk about, in person, by our 4th of July gathering. Arrive at 6 pm in the park to play badminton, Sarah and 12th Street. Or arrive at the house by 7 pm. More at my blog.

PDF handouts for other events I'm organizing are attached.

We're hosting a Biathlon: 5 K run + 1 K swim on July 4 in the morning. I'm leading water polo for 3 nights with Crafton Celebrates, July 1, 2, and 3 from 7:30 to 9. August features three water polo clinics, M-F, 9:30 to 11:30 am. Everyone is welcome.

Links to one-page PDFs of various events listed above:
Stay safe.

New study from Pilots for 9/11 Truth: No Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon - Yahoo! News

New study from Pilots for 9/11 Truth: No Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon - Yahoo! News 'The Pentagon has become a kind of litmus test for rationality in the study of 9/11,' Fetzer said. 'Those who persist in maintaining that a Boeing 757 hit the building are either unfamiliar with the evidence or cognitively impaired. Unless,' he added, 'they want to mislead the American people. The evidence is beyond clear and compelling. It places this issue 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. No Boeing 757 hit the Pentagon.'
So there.

Meeting of the Marks, plus, Bits & Bytes in Biz: DeSantis and Mobile Fusion's fulltime boss, now

Mark the occasion. I was able to visit with Mark DeSantis today. Two Marks. Two with strong political opinions. We agree and understand that our city, the City of Pittsburgh, is on the brink.

I took a few notes. But, a real interview with all sorts of fact-finding can unfold elsewhere. Mine, now, is a hype posting. We gathered. We talked. Little else is going to come of this update posting. We didn't do any 'Vulcan Mind Melt' nor even 'Have a Good Sandwich Tuna Melt.' Our schedules merged with face-time for an hour. Discussions began.

I ran for Mayor in the primary in 2001 in the GOP party. I gave him some of my insights. Meanwhile, I listened to what he had to bring.

We agree that the present mayor is out of time. The sky is falling. The city is half of what it used to be. He predicted that the city would be legally bankrupt in two or three years unless something is done. And, he doesn't see anything being done from Luke Ravenstahl's administration.

I said that we (naysayers and I) had been talking about the financial distress of the city since 1999. When Dr. Carmine and I were running (2001), we predicted the financial collaps of the city. Ours was a near term warning as well. But, it didn't resonate. We got oversight, thanks to Tom Murphy and the city's one-party rule, as we predicted, two short years later.

The city is going to go bankrupt. It already, nearly, has. Nothing is better. Ho hum. That prediction and situation is grave -- but it isn't going to win an election.

The city doesn't have any more tricks. Phantom budgets and phantom revenues are, we hope, a thing of the past.

We agree that things are bad. But, I'm not sure that the message of "Oh My Gosh -- Life Sucks for City Government" is going to convert to changes on Grant Street in the Mayor's office. It counts. Some votes will flip with the understanding that 'enough is enough.'

DeSantis is confident that he offers a range of experiences and maturity that isn't within our young mayor. Luke being Luke coupled with the condition of the city presents a formula for getting more voters. The mayor's office, in a time of pressing crisis, is not the place for on the job training.

I agree with DeSantis: Luke Ravenstahl will make serious mistakes every month. These blunders, big and small, will be visible and drag down his popularity. This city can't afford mistakes. City voters will tune into the trends from this administration's tenure.

Furthermore, doing nothing is perhaps the most serious mistake Luke Ravenstahl could make.

Thank goodness for the forward thinking City Council and its cat legislation, said DeSantis. (That's his joke. It was funny. Guess you had to be there. Having a sense of humor and history helps.)

He'll use history in his statement on Tuesday while launching his campaign at the central train station, The Pennsylvanian. Trains are important to me. He likes the rotunda. He'll announce that his race is 'on' then and there. I'll be at swim practice so I can't attend. I'm working with future voters, I guess.

My reflection of history puts today's Pittsburgh in the same situation as the people of Poland in the mid to late 1930s. Hitler was to the west. Stalin was to the east. There was no place to hide. Poland had no place to go. Change was bad. Mark DeSantis needs to convince the people of Pittsburgh that he is neither Hitler nor Stalin and moving his way will be a change for the better.

Mature managers with a sense of political duty in our beings are called to act. We both feel that we've got to do something. As a coach, I understand that the mind leads and the body follows. Well, there are many things to think about. Junctions ahead. Decisions are looming. Time will tell.
Bits&Bytes: Big-name investors betting on BubbleMesh GOP mayoral candidate Mark DeSantis confirmed he's taken over South Side-based startup Mobile Fusion in the absence of former CEO Ric Castro, who left the firm recently to 'pursue other business interests.'
Prior to becoming Mobile Fusion's president, Mr. DeSantis was an adviser to the young firm, which is developing a prototype for a softball-like device equipped with a camera and sensors that when tossed into potentially dangerous situations acts as the eyes and ears of "first-responders" and soldiers.

"We decided that it was time for a reorganization," Mr. DeSantis said of the shake-up at the year-old firm.

Mobile Fusion experienced a growth spurt earlier this year, securing an undisclosed amount from private "angel" investors in addition to roughly $300,000 from startup generator Innovation Works.

Mr. Desantis' quest to unseat Mayor Luke Ravenstahl won't distract him from manning the six-person firm, he said. "Mobile Fusion is my full-time job. My spare time is running for office."
This gadget that DeSantis and others are working on is a probe. It provides detatched eyes and vision in unsafe places.

I say that the mind-leads and the body follows. Humm. It would be nice to have a softball like device to toss forward to sense what the future holds. That's an extension of the body. The mind still has to think and understand when and where to chuck sensory devices.

On the campaign trails in the weeks and months to come, DeSantis might wish for the functionality of Mobile Fusion. He'll be walking into some awkward situations. But mostly, he'll be in a sea of nothingness. Community groups are not going to have debates. And, should Luke get put on the ropes in public, so to speak, I expect Dan Onorato to quickly rally to Luke's defense.

DeSantis sees a great divide between Onorato and Ravenstahl. Ravenstahl is baggage that Onorato doesn't want, he feels. Mergers are a wedge issue too. Ravenstahl is against mergers and Onorato is for them. So DeSantis sees the two going their own ways. I don't agree.

I see Onorato and Ravenstahl in morph mode. And, a third character in that mix is Rendell. I expect DeSantis is going to see a lot of tangled relationships as he tries to battle Ravenstahl. Ravenstahl won't go toe-to-toe, one-on-one because others will swoop in just as the bell sounds. And, the stage won't be set with the voters in their seats.

Oh, the webs we weave.