Saturday, September 22, 2007

[412] Ethics, Schools, my P-G editorial board meeting, and a standing date to start "33 plan" (Thursday at 3:30 pm)

I sent out an email blast on Saturday afternoon. This took some time to compose, and it is longer than usual.
[412] Ethics, Schools, my P-G editorial board meeting, and a standing date to start "33 plan" (Thursday at 3:30 pm)
If you don't get my email blasts, sign up at
Also, check your spam filter as the message might be sitting there.

One goal of the campaign is to double the size of this 412-public email outreach. So, if there are others that you think might enjoy reading these messages, invite them or let me know.

Open tread follows with replies and talkback loops.


Mark Rauterkus said...

Media and News Alert

Hi All,

Talk of ETHICS has begun within local political discussions.

+ Republican candidate for Pgh mayor, Mark DeSantis, nice guy, great first name, has called for the hiring of a new city employee, a retired judge perhaps, to serve as an "ethics czar."

I object.

The city does NOT need ADDITIONAL employees. Nor should a 'retired
judge' be hired for that role. The last thing this city needs is a
sole person to shoulder the load and responsibility for the management of 'ethics.'

The burden of ethical behavior must be shared by EVERYONE. Those with
government jobs and ambitions must be held to higher standards.

My counter proposal blends with my philosophy:
-- I want to "pile on." Let's sustain significant discussions.
-- I want changes for our communities. Let's overhaul what exists.
-- I want INFRASTRUCTURE improvements throughout the region in many domains. Often, infrastructure improvements leading to effective results do NOT need to include expensive bricks and mortar
--- I want improvements our kids will come to appreciate.

The next step for more distributed ethical awareness comes with a
re-tooling of existing elements, such as the Pittsburgh's Ethics
Hearing Board. Yesterday, I formally called upon Pittsburgh's Ethics Hearing Board to strike down its confidentiality clause imposed upon citizens who file complaints. Whistle blowers should be encouraged to speak up, not be silenced.

It is nearly impossible to recruit citizen candidates to run for
public office. The Ethics Hearing Board should work to block
employment threats, present and future. Existing government workers
and nominees should not be blacklisted. Those impressions should not be tolerated. We need people to be free to run races without fear of retaliation, retribution, demotion and termination. The Ethics Hearing
Board can act in proactive ways in these jurisdictions.

Approaching the Ethics Hearing Board:

+ + + + schools + + + +

Pgh Public Schools is toying with the possibility of a opening a
"Science and Technology High School." Eureka!

I went to a meeting this week organized by A+ Schools, the big time, rah-rah, nonprofit boosters of the School Superintendent's 'reform agenda.' My level of disappointment is hard to measure.

A+ Schools board members should not run for the elected office of
controller. Trust in the financial watch dog of the Pgh Public Schools
is necessary. Michael Lamb needed to resign months ago.

I'm going to release a position paper concerning schools at 3 pm on
Monday, Sept. 24, 2007, outside the Pgh Federation of Teachers
building, 10 South 19th Street, on the South Side, 15203. I'll inject
new ideas, not only for the union's consideration, but for everyone.
I'll be free for interviews then and there.

Monday night, parents of gifted students gather for a school event at the Pgh Gifted Center (now at Greenway Middle School). I expect that population to smile upon hearing a few of my points:
--- It is time that Pgh Public Schools make available the long-awaited findings of a 'gifted task force' of past years. Release the documentation and minutes of those meetings already.
--- The trend to smaller "learning communities" is fine. But let's
build upon what works well.
Since the Gifted Center is a splendid program that keeps residents living in the city, insure and expand it. Building upon its success. A new gifted high school is a natural evolution that should occur.
--- Pittsburgh should open a regional gifted high school. It would retain residents and, one-day, attract other families.

+ + + + dates + + + +

On Tuesday I'll address City Council (between 10-11 am) about the looming push for security cameras to be installed throughout the city. We don't need cameras pointed at citizens until all the politicians and public treasury is fully monitored.

On Wednesday I'll address City Council about schools (10 am) and at 11:30 am, I interview with the Post-Gazette's editorial review board. As always, if you want to share any suggestions in advance of that encounter, send them to me via email, If you'd
like to accompany me, please call, 412 298 3432.

On Thursday at 3:30 pm, at Carol's Restaurant, Rout 60 - 410 S. Main
Street, West End, 15220, join me for a 'press conference" to kick off my campaigns leading to the Nov. 6, 2007, general election. I'll unveil a stump speech, campaign strategies, priorities and an ambitious "33 plan."

This email announces a weekly press conference at 3:30 pm every
Thursday. New people, topics and challenges will be presented. Note
the time (3:30 to 4 pm), day (Thursdays) and location (Carol's
Restuarant, 410 Main St in the West End) as a standing meeting and
press conference until December.

Blog pointer, and don't be blogged to death!
Subscribe / view to my public calendar

Anonymous said...

Rich emailed:

Thanks for this email and your 2 cents. Now, as a fellow and former Whiskey Rebellion Toastmaster plus PRIVATE CITIZEN and "GOP freshness" letter guy, here's my 2 cents and recommendations. They are good to read here plus on your blog. Always excellent, interesting, informative and a delight.

Firstly, I know as a Libertarian that you go after the right and left or Democrat and Republican. However, for the City of Pittsburgh, my feeling is that you and everybody possible MUST GIVE MARK DESANTIS AS MUCH POSITIVE
SUPPORT AND FEEDBACK AS POSSIBLE. He's getting good publicity and notice for a non-Democrat so this should not be stopped by needless backbiting or criticism. Realistically, short of an act of God, he's one who won't have a
chance to dethrown Luke BOY OPIE Ravenstahl. John McIntyre of would sue the pants off me and more
since I've embraced his term. hahahahaha Remember, it's a 5 to 1 Democrat vs Republican registration edge. The last time a Republican or non-Democrat was Mayor or anything else in Pittsburgh was back in 1932. IOW or in other words, 75 YEARS AGO. If we can't change that NOW, it won't happen in our
lifetimes. As a reminder and quoting my letter, Democrat comes between DECEASED and DINOSAUR in the dictionary. lol Therefore, direct all your diatribes, harsh words, and criticisms where they belong, namely at incumbent Luke Ravenstahl. Mark DeSantis must be encouraged and promoted as the BEST SHOT we have to get Pittsburgh actually into the 21st Century and
not living in a super bygone era. Better Mr. DeSantis than 2 more years of PUKE Ravenstahl(that's my own term and interpretation based on recent events hahahaha)and continued ancient times.

Secondly, what a full plate and incredible amount of things to come. You are doing yeoman's work as a candidate and citizen. It is a delight to see and read, even though I don't always agree. However, as one who reads
mainstream and other non-mainstream online plus offline sources, I enjoy being a challenged, intelligent and well-informed citizen. Besides the mentioned blogs herein, I do periodically check out the or Jon Delano's blog. It is excellent too.

Finally, congratulations to all your online, offline, and person efforts. God bless and all the best in every endeavor. Do feel free to comment and keep in touch. Also, thanks for promoting Edgewood Toastmasters(see my
signature)in your Google Calendar.

Rick Hays (Richard M. Hays, Jr. and 'Rick from Mt. Washington')
412-512-9564 cell phone email Edgewood Toastmasters web site District 13 Toastmasters online Metro Cities Communications worldwide

"The way you see people is the way you treat them and the way you treat them
is what they become." Goethe

My reply in next post.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I do give props to Mark DeSantis.

He is doing well. But, I need to ride some of the wave he is able to create.

He talks ethics -- then I'll talk ethics. He might reply. He might endorse my idea.

Heck, I didn't file any complaint to the Ethics Hearing Board against DeSantis. He was spared.


Anonymous said...

D.N. wrote:

Hey Mark, I appreciate you contacting me and I agree with your platform.

The only problem is I am not a resident of the City of Pittsburgh, if I were, you would have my vote !

I agree...we have too many Czars already....power corrupts.

Good luck to you, I am pulling for you !

Mark Rauterkus said...

+ + + + schools + + + +
A+ Schools pre-dates Roosevelt by years, and is a pretty tough organization. They have done some impressive work, and should not be poo-pooed as cheerleaders. That makes you seem ungrateful for an appreciated nonprofit. Is that a position you wish to own?

Yes. The work of A+ Schools is huge in this district. But when taken with a contrast to the mission ahead, it is but a joke.

A+ Schools does not do nearly enough.

A+ Schools, given its current track record, is going to be around while another 5,000 kids drop out of the district.

A+ Schools is sustaining the downward spiral of the school and the city.

When a family thinks about what school to attend, the decision is NOT either Pgh XYZ -- or -- Pgh ABC. The real decisions being made is stay in the city or move away.

The entire A+ Schools book is a waste as it does NOT do anything to answer the real questions familys face. How does Pgh ABC stack up against Baldwin, Brentwood, and Blackhawk.

They don't want to do the heavy lifting to report upon that.

Mark Rauterkus said...

My opinion is to keep nonprofits in your favor, otherwise folks will look to government to pay for what the nonprofits were paying for.

The nonprofits should be in my favor. I'm fine with that. I want them on my side. But, my side is the side that the kids and students are on.

If the nonprofts are going to be for and about the kids of Pittsburgh, then they can join with me.

I am not certain that the nonprofits have the kids of the city as the #1 priority.

The nonprofits have a lot of self-interest and institutional relationships to worry about. I don't. Each of those big-shots at the nonprofits have contracts to give and get -- and assets to protect and preserve.

I don't.

When the nonprofits pulled the money from Pgh Public Schools in the days of Dr. Thompson -- the nonprofits HURT the kids. They took their toys and went home, in an abrupt way. Kids and programs suffered, in mid-stream.

That was a political move too.

The shame of the nonprofits that they caused to their nonprofit image won't be forgotten for a long time.

I don't care to have friends like that.

I want our schools to operate as they must without needing to rely upon the nonprofits. Mission critical things should be in the realm of the school budget -- not linked to some allowance from nonprofit wire pullers.

I don't want our schools to beg.

Mark Rauterkus said...

What does this even mean? It seems just not nice. Lamb is allowed to run, and also gained his party's endorsement (something I personally detest, but there it is). He's also allowed to donate time to a nonprofit.

It isn't nice. It calls him out on a conflict of interest. The controller needs to be an INDEPENDENT watch dog. The controller can audit finances and performances. The city schools and city government have put TRUST at an all time low.

The right thing for him to have done is resign from that post on the nonprofit booster group before he ran.

Conflicts of interest are NOT nice.

Mark Rauterkus said...

If you want the office, then state what you would do.


My school planks are going to the PFT on Monday at 3 pm. These planks and positions can't fit in this simple email.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Look back over what Doug Shields said he would do in that office - he usually makes fiscal common sense, even if he lost the popularity contest.

Doug is Doug. I do do homework.

IMNSHO, the depth of what Doug proposed is nothing to what I offer.

Hang in there. Let's keep drilling.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The Gifted Center has been at Greenway for at least a decade, no? Or did it go away and then come back? My son went there.

The Gifted Center went away and then went back. It was in The Hill Dist at McK. The move back to Greenway was only 2 years ago.

Is there something specific wrong with the gifted program as executed in high schools that we need a separate high school?

Yes. The High School Gifted Education program is NOT a magnet to bring people into the city, nor keep them in the city schools.

At the Elem and Middle School grades, the Gifted Center works to retain families in the city.

The Gifted Education program in regular High Schools cost more than it would cost to give a different only gifted High School.

The AP programs seem to mesh well with the gifted folks, and taking the same kids away from the rest of high school seems counterproductive.

Gifted does not equal AP.

AP is AP. That is as much hard work. Not raw grey matter talent.

AP should still be in high schools.

They are going to take artistic kids away from regular high schools. They are going to take science and math kids away from regular high schools. They are going to take IB kids away from regular high schools. --- hold the phone. These are REGULAR High Schools.

There isn't really a take away. It is a new learning community. The district wants smaller, more controlled, safer, better mentoring, learning communities. It is not away from -- it is just different. And, different slices are being made. I say make the slice in ways that make sense. Otherwise, the district wants to make slices and have the lottery decide.

Why take them away from decent sports programs, for instance, or try to build one at a new "gifted" high school?
First of all, NONE of the PPS High Schools have a decent sports program. That is a big problem. There are some fine teams. But they generally suck. I'm a coach. I hate what the city does with interscholastic athletics.

We need to re-build all our sports programs. And, they are going to build new schools. I want the schools to have sports, good sports. That is the wish of yours as well, I think. I think we agree as to the outcome.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Maybe I'm jaded because my son and our friends went to Allderdice and Schenley. Maybe other schools have other issues that I haven't heard about yet.

Well, you are right that The Dice and Schenley have the better sports teams. There is some normalcy there. And, they are the exceptions. Exceptions exist, for sure.

Mark Rauterkus said...

As per cameras pointed at public officials and cameras pointed at citizens....

One thing has nothing to do with the other. Unless you specifically (and not figuratively) want cameras pointed at politicians and the treasury, this makes no sense. What specifically is wrong with security cameras? What would you do to make that not be wrong and still have them, if the public wants them? I personally feel very safe in the cultural district after dark, because I know all the characters in the night, but at the same time I am extremely wary in Market Square.

Speaking of nothing to do with one another.... as per Cultural District and Market Square -- vs -- cameras.

I want cameras pointed at politicians and critics of politicians ALL THE TIME. Really. Too much of what they do is unknown. Too much of what they do isn't documented and understood. Too much of what they do is done to spread FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).

When the cameras are on, we'll see it for ourselves and use their folly to get them tossed out of office.

The public wants what I want more than the public wants to be watched by the government. I want to watch the government. That should be the #1 priority. After we do that, then I want to be able to watch everything that the government watches on me and others. This goes to point #2, open source cameras.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Until we get buses to make sense downtown, folks in the cultural district after dark still have to cross in the nether regions to get transit to get home. What are the real issues here? A basic opposition to big brother doesn't do it.

My opposition is MUCH different than a basic opposition to big brother.

As for transit, we need buses downtown that go on back and forth routes to HUBs. We should put in more pedestrian bridges and get the walkways off the street (cars/auto) level.

Mark Rauterkus said...

One small point here, about your speaking to City Council. It gives you a decent, televised platform. You ought to include something that interests the Council - something they can and may want to do something about. Or praise something that they have done. Address the actual Council. They give you the time because they are mandated to do so. On the other hand, you could make them glad that they do so. Temper your voice, don't shout to them, and notice them and their actions once in a while as a body. Surely you do not object to everything that they do.

I don't shout like the others. I try to be calm, cool and collected. I talk with them. I generally mention one person by name each time I speak. Perhaps that person is another in the audience or had just got a proclamation.

I could give dozens of examples:

- offered to coach water polo, not polo after Family House was there.
- talked of the DU hooper sent home after joint in friends pocket after Yavonne talked about the Pitt hooper after meeting a taser.
- talked of summer recess ending and hoped they spent good times with their kids as I had done.
- talked to Len B about giving his baby 3 minutes of time for public comment.

I always do what you suggest, come to think of it.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Suggestion: Don't shout. It makes them take what you say not as seriously as they might if you delivered it calmly. Mark DeSantis is doing that part pretty well, I note. Leave your outrage at home - no one wants a constantly outraged leader. If you are to be a leader, act like one that folks would want at the helm.


Don't shout. If it's only your already-supporters, you can shout. If the press is there, exclaim rather than shouting. Mention the reporters by name, thank them for coming, mention something they've written recently. Show gratitude. Then exclaim if you want.

Good points.

I don't shout. I can. I've got a big coaching voice.

I gave good props today to the Trib for the cover articles and cover photos of L.R. and M.DeS. Splendid.

I try my best to be both positive and negative.

I have many relationships with journalists in Pgh. They hear from me on a wide range of subjects on a frequent basis.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Another A wrote:

hi, I read your stand on A plus schools. The gifted program is funded by the Special Education Program of the State. The guidelines are the same at both ends. So as you cannot put all special needs in one class, you can not put all gifted together. People fought very hard for mainstreaming. The State and most people have no regards for the gifted program and would like to eliminate funding. Often threaten this. And have raised the eligibility. The Science and Math Center may be a way to get around this separation. I have not looked into all of this but want you to before you take a stand. A gifted High School could never happen.

Yes, you are 100% correct. The state and the city school leaders are wanting to eliminate the gifted programs. They want to cut them. They are NOT insured. We worry that they will be cut all the time.

That has to end.

I want to INSURE that the Gifted Center does NOT go away. It doesn't need MORE -- it just needs assurance. It needs to be fortified. Trust is missing and called for.

Make a promise -- get that, a Pgh Promise -- to keep the gifted center open and viable for the next 10 years.

They don't want to eliminate fears. They want to spread FUD. (fear, uncertainty, doubt)

A gifted high school could happen -- because -- in part -- they want to open new schools. That is the trend. That is their desire. That is going to help all students -- more controlled learning communities.

Furthermore, when you put gifted education into its own school, you don't need to have a second set of teachers for this diverse student population. The real school is the gifted school. This saves money for the district.

A gifted high school would offer school choice and would NOT be funded by the state, rather, it would be the kid's own home school. Hence, special funding is LESS for the district.

And, it would get more people to live in the city. They'd need to get a promotion from the Gifted Center -- if space was not available. It would help city residents.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Email I got: I don't think that they (Ethics Hearing Board) have jurisdiction over people who are candidates for office and are not currently city employees.

So, candidates for public office in the city don't need to be ethical? That would be wild to ignore endorsed candidates because they have not had a pay check.

Lobbyist are often a focus of ethical boards when they are NOT employees.

Also, it's city council that would have to make the changes to the code. The ethics board doesn't have that authority.
The authority to enforce ethics is the domain of the ethics board. They can do defacto moves. And, they can write letters and ask for the city council to adjust the code.

It is one thing to tweak an employee handbook. It is another to ask for changes to the code / body's constitution -- I agree.

City council would not be proactive in being the place to make the suggestions. They'll defer to the Ethics Hearing Board. Should the Ethics Hearing Board want a change, and agree with me, then it could more easily be accomplished.

Once they
decide what changes they'd like to see in the rules governing
acceptance of gifts, they won't be able to implement them on their
own. The changes would have to be sponsored by a council member or
submitted by the administration to council.

It will be interesting to hear the city law department's advice to
them when you attempt to raise these issues.

Mark Rauterkus said...

And I pointedly don't want to hear that you object to the post-agenda hearing on Domestic Violence, Policing and the Community. It turned out well and will certainly prove productive in the near term.

Okay then....

I objected to the post-agenda being only a "POST AGENDA." It could have been everything that the post agenda was PLUS it could have been a PUBLIC HEARING too.

All of the speakers at that post agenda (recently) did a great job. Cheers to council and the parade of individuals. It covered a massive set of topics of major importance. I wish I had it on DVD / tape. It was too long to fit on one gosh darn tape. It was SPLENDID.

But, it could have been better.

After 3 hours, it could have been suspended (no need for an endurance fest) and resumed the next day to allow for the public to give 3-minutes of testimony.

City Council uses POST AGENDAs too much. They could get the bang and discussions in the post-agenda -- AND not silence the public.

Do both. Do a post agenda first. And then do a public hearing.

= = =

Fact. What ever is said at a post agenda is one thing = 1. But 1 + X is always more complete. X = public comment on the spot after the post agenda unfolds.

If one can move a mountain by yourself, that is great. But the public can do better. Have one to move the mountain and then have the public pitch in another rock. There -- on the mountain that was just moved, making the total mountain taller.

Government is for the public. None of us are alone in this public realm. Invite the public. Post agendas don't go far enough.

I can -- and the public is great -- at piling on. (to pile on)

For domestic violence -- we need to pile on. I want to make the case more monumental -- a bigger mountain, with my mole hill.

Mark Rauterkus said...

You might weigh in on Domestic Violence - unless you feel family members beating other family members is an inate right.

I think I did weigh in. I gave high marks to the hearing. I was there in person as well.

I am with what was said at the hearing with best practices, power, etc.

By the way, my opponent for the city council race has some first hand knowledge about 'power' and 'PFAs.'

Mark Rauterkus said...

A person wrote, in part, in email exchanges:

Some comments and questions within, below. I am saying this stuff because I like seeing alternate candidates with something to say. If I sound mean, please read it again with a smile on your face, because I don't want to seem mean.


NOTE: Laudable goals, but you don't directly address the actual issue of ethics among elected officials and other public servants.

Mark Rauterkus reply:

Well, I do address the actual issue of ethics among officials if you go to read the documents at:

What was in my blast 412-public- email was but a breath of what is in those other documents.

Since you yourself cannot fill all positions, there must be some way of addressing others' ethics.

I try to address others' ethics. See those complaints mentioned above.

The recent issues revolve around needing clearer definitions in the ethics code. Apparently it needs to be specifically stated that a third party (nonprofit or not) paying for attendance at another nonprofit's charitable event may be slightly unethical, for instance. I don't know why this is so, but there it is. ... In letters to the ethics board members, a great cases was made why this is against the intent of the rules, but apparently honing is necessary.

I would love to see various letters that are sent to the Ethics Hearing Board.

The nonprofit conflict of interest is of interest.

What would you say if Luke Ravenstahl was on the board of UPMC rather than just played golf with them. Do you think that would be a conflict of interest in that the mayor and the nonprofit are cutting deals among the public sector dealings.

To me, this is an instance where we need the Press - the Fourth Estate - to be on the "side" of the public, outing folks who do questionable things.

Yes. I'm always up for picking a fight with the Fourth Estate. We need real watchdogs in office, -- elect me to controller. And, we need real journalist in media outlets. -- Report on me too!

I mention this because this is how the Ethics folks are getting into the news lately, and I note that they had been inactive until now. They did some earnest deliberating, and came up with some interesting output. Your coming in and turning the plot into having the Ethics board "work to block employment threats" only makes you seem to be off point. The ethics folks should be our eyes and ears, the representatives of the citizens. How can that possibly relate to "employment threats"?

No, no, no. We agree. I'm not off point. I'm on the same point as you.

First, I agree the Ethics Hearing Board has been in a deep slumber for 15 years. So, we have to wake them up. We have to give them something to do. I am going to do that, I hope. I want an Ethics Hearing Board revival. Let's breath life into it by giving it complaints.

I ask for earnest deliberating too. That is necessary in considering the self-reflection of the confidentiality clause. I want to be prudent, earnest and effective.

The ethics hearing board SHOULD be our eyes and ears, as you say. And, that can include job threats. Those are some of the worst as they work to cut out challengers at the knees. But, they can't be the eyes and ears -- really. Citizens should be the eyes and ears -- without fear of liabilities. And the Ethics Hearing Board has to remove liabilities and keep those eyes, ears and MOUTHS able to stay engaged and empowered.

I am the eyes and ears -- and mouth -- while the Ethics Hearing Board is the conscience. They can only act on what I tell them to look at. I (or other citizens) MUST lodge complaints. Then I ask the Ethics board to act -- as in look in aggressive ways, interview, be proactive to listen to hear what I heard.

You question to me about the "HOW" of employment threats are more simply understood after you read at

aquabot said...

I wish I had mom here to answer this. She is a PHD in philosophy and doing a post research since 10 years. She is specialized in Kant.