Thursday, April 30, 2009

An Audit of the Federal Reserve is pending. Perhaps Lamb should run for the US Senate afterall.

As we reflect on President Obama's first 100 days in office, the hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street and the just passed budget, a staggering $3.4 trillion boondoggle, I wanted to share some good news with you.

As I write, H.R. 1207, my bill to audit the Federal Reserve, currently has 110 cosponsors in the House of Representatives. This piece of legislation is perhaps the most important of my career, and I thank you for your continued support in sending me back to Congress to fight for it.

A broad coalition of Representatives has joined with me in supporting your right to transparency at the Fed. For example, Rep. Tom Price (GA), head of the conservative Republican Study Committee, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (CA), former head of the liberal Progressive Caucus, have both cosponsored the bill. Americans from all over the political spectrum are demanding an audit of the Federal Reserve. And with good reason!

Since its inception, the Federal Reserve has operated without sufficient transparency or accountability to the American people. In fact, current law specifically excludes the Fed from audit or real congressional oversight. No government agency has such an utter lack of sunshine.

The Federal Reserve has created and dispersed trillions of dollars in response to our current financial crisis. Of course, I am among the most outspoken critics of the bailouts, but Americans across the nation, regardless of their opinion of the TARP program, want to know where that money has gone and exactly how much has been spent.

H.R. 1207 will open up the Fed's funding facilities, such as the Primary Dealer Credit Facility, Term Securities Lending Facility, and Term Asset-Backed Securities Lending Facility to Congressional oversight.

Additionally, audits could include discount window operations, open market operations, and agreements with foreign central banks, such as the ongoing dollar swap operations with European central banks.

By opening all Fed operations to a GAO audit and calling for such an audit to be completed by the end of 2010, the H.R. 1207 would achieve much-needed transparency of the Federal Reserve.

Times are tough, and we continue to hear a stream of bad news. But I will continue to stand up for you in Congress and fight for our American traditions, to protect our Liberty and for an Audit of the Federal Reserve.

Thank you again for your support. I could not continue my fight without you.

In Liberty,

Ron Paul

Excellence for All meeting with Mark Roosevelt

Parents meet with PPS' Mark Roosevelt, earlier this week.

The big topic seemed to be summers. New data shows that kids from different economic conditions have different levels of academic progress throghout the summer months. The children from the poorer settings slip in terms of schooling progress, ending the summer behind in benchmarks from the end of the prior school year. Meanwhile, other kids (with more wealth) with stronger enrichment opportunities still continue to grow in those benchmarks throughout the weeks of the summer.

Go figure.

Last summer, for instance, I took my boys to China and we soaked up the Olympics. Here is Grant in a Beijing sports store that simulates the Water Cube. Before we departed for our summer vacation, we spent two hours a day for two months crafting and editing wiki pages on the various athletes and countries with my Olympicpedia Cyber Camp at a commercial computer lab / cafe.

Go figure again.

From Beijing - sports play

The meeting was held at Frick Middle School:

Ammon Rec Center in The Hill District, re-opens after $600,000 spruce up

A for Ammon! P-G coverage.

They had a party, rally, ribbon-cutting of sorts with sporting superstars and politicians this week up in The Hill District, home of Ammon Rec Center.

They painted the place, put in a new floor, got weight equipment (so I understand). It does look good.

The "A" on the old floor, shown above, is used as a graphic on my wiki, "A for Athlete." The new "A" is blue -- and it had a carpet and podium covering part of it -- so I can't make a simple contrast.

The line up of superstars was long. The men and women were all great athletes -- and still are in the case of #45, D. Blair. However, they all have had a rich life in terms of being helpful to others in recreational and sports leadership. Many are teachers and coaches. All had wild stories.

The program was long. The sound was bad. But, here it is from my camera.

Of interest was the women speaker who said that sports are a way to get a college scholarship and a means to an end. She stressed over and over, "Earn your degree." (at :51.37) Next to speak was All American hooper, #45, Pitt sophomore, D. Blair. He is pulling out of college early, without his degree, to play in the NBA. Was there an exception to her rule and mantra?

Deep into the program, after about a 30-minute introduction, hear from Pitt's coach, Jamie Dixon. My gosh, that was the longest intro ever.

At the end, #45 speaks too.

I hope that Citiparks got good photos of the clebs and had a better sound source for the podium. It might run on cable TV too. That would be nice.

We love the Ozanam Program.

From Public Art
From Public Art
One of the big new attractions of the fix-up is yet to hit home, pun intended. The baseball field is getting a make over too. The Josh Gibson Foundation helped pay for the re-investment.

The swim pool is a gem as well. It is a 50-meter tank, and only the 2nd in the city. I swam there a few times last summer. More programs there, with my help, are very possible. Time will tell.

From Public Art
Speaking of multi-sport and basketball, check out this playground in Amsterdam. The basketball hoop is built upon the framework of soccer goals. To be sure, those are not regulation soccer goals, but rather team handball goals. Clever.

In China, we saw lots of kids with basketballs and lots of courts. Notice the kids on the bike have a basketball in a bike basket. (Click for a larger image.)
From china - bike

From Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events
Courts outside of a university campus. Wonder where the kids at Pitt and CMU and DU go to play basketball? Are there any playgrounds for them to hoop in the open air? Or, is their only option a trip to the food court and ride the merry-go-round?

Our city playground nearest to my home looks like this:
From playground - usa

The problem is routine maintence. They need to spend $600,000 on a total face lift as the facilities are left to weather year after year.

The Ammon situation is a bit different. That rec center was closed by Tom Murphy, when he was mayor. They all closed for some period. Then Ammond would be turned over to a next-door church to operate for a number of years. But, the church is more into saving souls and less into saving sports facilities -- so the facility was given back to the city. Hence, the re-opening and urgent needs to fix up.

I love this image from Beijing 2008 and Adidas. It shows the sports hero, a women basketball player, running in for a lay-up and the people of China are there for support -- holding her up higher and being the support for the hoop as well.

From Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events

ACORN, Maryellen Hayden, speak about forclosures

I'm not able to make heads or tails out of these two rants from ACORN delivered to City Council this week.

I do understand that stonewalling is a huge problem in the city. I hate it when people don't call you back. I hate it when the public officials lack simple curtosy.

If anyone can explain the plan from ACORN, then I'd like to know. Use the comments below.

We need -- and we all should want -- assessment buffering

I posted this message in a thread at Bram's blog about the property tax mess.

First the conflict: It was stated by a respected guru of sorts, in part: "IMHO, only the most mild form of buffering would pass judicial muster based on this ruling." Then it was stated by the same person, later, in part: "I think any form of buffering is made pretty difficult if not impossible by this ruling."


The perfect buffering method would work -- citizen appeal, political will and power, court blessing and constitution adjustments.

With assessment buffering, no property owners are ever left in the past -- as is always the case with a base year method.

I understand that the fight to gain the assessment buffering option for counties is big / "difficult" -- but it is much more simple and productive than the boondogle Onrato (mainly, recently) has planted for everyone for years.

The assessment buffering solution has one objection of the 'It can't be done' flavor / done deal / shoot the messenger flavor.

The 1, 2, 3, 4% solution is far different. When a property is 200-percent or 300-percent off the mark, it would take a lifetime to get to what is fair, even with 4% increases.

With assessment buffering done well, and much different than that other hokie keep the rich richer hoodwink attempt, all properties are spot in in 3 years. Math = 1/3 of difference each year for 3 years.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Technical Content to various reforms before City Council

Thanks to City Council staffer, Dan Gillman: Note that some of the amendments have been changed. These are how we introduced them.

01 15 09 Mayors Proposal AMENDED.doc viewable at:

Peduto amendments: viewable at:

No bid contracting legislation: viewable at:

Lobbyist legislation for City of Pittsburgh: viewable at:

Contact Lobbyist Disclosure Act: viewable at:

FAQ for all reform bills: publicly viewable at:

Campaign Finance Reform FAQs

Q) If I am running for City Council, how large a donation can I accept from an individual or a PAC?
A) You can accept $1,000 in the primary and another $1,000 in the general election from an individual. You can accept $2,000 in the primary and another $2,000 in the general election from a PAC.

Q) If I am running for Mayor or Controller, how large a donation can I accept from an individual or a PAC?
A) You can accept $2,000 in the primary and another $2,000 in the general election from an individual. You can accept $4,000 in the primary and another $4,000 in the general election from a PAC.

Q) Do these limits apply to me if I run for countywide office, statewide office, or a judicial position?
A) No. These limits only apply to people running for City Council, Mayor, or Controller.

Q) What happens if a wealth individual runs in the campaign against me?
A) If a person declares that they will spend more than $50,000 of their own money in the race, than your limits are doubled.

Q) What information will the online database contain?
A) The City Controller will maintain an online database that contains all campaign contributions as well as all contracts awarded by the City, all TIF’s approved by City Council, and all other applications of public dollars approved by City Council.
No Bid Contracts Reform FAQs

Q) Does this mean the lowest bidder automatically gets the bid?
A) No, the lowest responsible bidder wins the bid. Responsibility can include previous experience working with the City, expertise, etc.

Q) Do all contracts have to be bid?
A) No, a contract valued at under $30,000 does not need to be competitively bid.

Q) What about professional services that are specialized like engineers, architects, and lawyers? Will this reduce the quality of services we receive?
A) No, RFPs can include specific criteria so that the best specialized professional services can be received at best price.

Lobbyist Registration FAQs

Who qualifies as a lobbyist?
Anyone who spends more than 30 hours in any consecutive three-month period, with at least one direct communication with a City official or employee, for the purpose of attempting to influence municipal legislation on behalf of any other person.

Q) Are there exceptions to this?
A) Yes. Anyone who is not paid, but just volunteers time for a cause is not required to register. Also, any public official does not have to register.

Q) What does it mean to register?
A) A lobbyist must annually register with the City Controller and provide details of the company that they work for and the clients they represent.

Q) Does it cost anything to register?
A) Yes, there is an annual registration fee of $100

Q) What is the punishment for failing to register?
A) A person who knowingly this law can receive civil penalties of up to $2,000. If the court determines that a violation was intentional, the court may order that the defendant be prohibited from acting as a lobbyist.

Q) How does this registration handle nonprofits?
A) People representing non-profits that receive public funds to serve indigent persons are not required to register.
Lobbyist Disclosure FAQs

Q) What is the purpose of this legislation?
A) This legislation requires any company responding to an RFP to publicly disclose in their RFP response whether or not they have paid any fees to cover lobbying, finder’s fees, consultant fees, etc.

Inside Beltway: Tinkering with pending campiagn finance law in Pittsburgh

My letter to City Councilman Bill Peduto, as a result of discussions about the pending campaign finance laws slated for Pittsburgh:

So, the mayor's office is not warm to the idea that those who enter city races with millionaire status are dealt with by a doubling of limits imposed upon others in the race. The mayor wants to NUKE all limits, it seems.

My suggestion is to increase the limits from 2-times to 3-times as a counter offer. Go to 4, 5, and 10 if you must. But, even at 5 times the limit ceiling -- it is much better than NO LIMIT AT ALL.

Finally, I'd love to see all the bills and that FAQ so they can be posted on the web, either my blog or wiki. Can you send me copies of all that apply?

IOC opposes moves to restrict news coverage - More Sports -

In the title bar to this blog, I call myself a "non-credentialed Olympic photographer." This is an important issue then.
IOC opposes moves to restrict news coverage - More Sports - "The International Olympic Committee is concerned that moves to restrict media coverage of sports events will erode free speech, former IOC vice president Kevan Gosper told an Australian Senate hearing Wednesday.
Hey, Australian Cricket dorks, take that bat and put it where the sun doesn't shine -- and upload the photos.
From china - bike

City making plans for Allegheny riverfront

City making plans for Allegheny riverfront: "Toward that end, the city Urban Redevelopment Authority has hired Perkins Eastman to conduct the $350,000 master plan. It intends to hold three community meetings over the next year to gather input.

A 10- to 12-member steering committee that includes representatives from the city, the URA, Riverlife, companies like Buncher, and community organizations will oversee the effort. It will hold its first planning meeting today. An advisory committee also will be formed.
Is this another hand-picked, authority, without minutes, without accountability, without democracy, without spectators?

What's the name of this advisory committee, exactly? I'd like to add it to the list.

It makes me think of the aborted Fifth & Forbes plans for downtown.

And, was there a RFP for the selection of the firm, Perkins Eastman?

Who is on the 'advisory committee?' Names please.

Pittsburgh 'legends' help reopen Hill rec center

Pittsburgh 'legends' help reopen Hill rec center: "Some of the greatest names in Pittsburgh basketball history began their careers in some capacity at the Ammon Recreation Center on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District, and yesterday many of them gathered for two reasons -- to be honored as 'Ammon legends' as well as to celebrate the reopening of the historic building.

The building, which had been run by the city of Pittsburgh until 2004, had been kept open by a cooperative effort of a number of groups and spearheaded by Macedonia Baptist Church until last year when a lack of funds forced it to close its doors.

But thanks in large part to the efforts of Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation Director Duane Ashley and Councilwoman Tonya Payne and with the blessing of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, $200,000 in funding was secured within the budget to remodel the building and open it once again."
Stay tuned, to this blog, for video of the evening's events.

Crime, safety major topics at mayoral forum

Golly. I want to see this quote on tape. Youtube, anyone???
Crime, safety major topics at mayoral forum: "Mr. Dowd said an overnight holding facility is 'not what I would call a great way for the police to get connected to the youth culture in our community.' Rather, the city needs a 'truancy center' to hold youth during the hours immediately after school, when, he said, most student-age crime takes place.
So, Luke Ravenstahl wants to sweep young people without sins into police control just because of the time of night. Meanwhile, Patrick Dowd wants to sweep young people into police custody because of the time of day.

I'm in favor of the police sweeping criminals and evil doers off the streets, day and night, regardless of age. That is where all the attention of the police should be devoted -- and the innocent should be left for others, such as human service providers.

Pittsburgh may begin issuing permits online

Oh my gosh. This is very expensive. Very, very expensive.
Pittsburgh may begin issuing permits online Pittsburgh may begin issuing permits online
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 By Timothy McNulty, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

City residents and businesses would be able to get zoning permits and other government approvals over the Web -- instead of cutting through bureaucracy Downtown -- under a $1.3 million proposal submitted by the Ravenstahl administration today.

The mayor's office is proposing a contract with San Ramon, Calif., tech firm Accela to provide Web-based permitting for the city. The firm was one of nine bidders for the project, which would take 12-18 months to complete. Council begins debate next week.
Permits should be online. The process should be as easy and effective as ebay too.

However, the cost seem way out of place.

Furthermore, I want to know if this is an open-source application. If it isn't -- I'd reject it fully.

Government should only invest in open-source software solutions.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Running Mates -- Marathoners -- Check in here!

If you're going to run the marathon, relay, half, whatever -- check in with the comments with your name and/or bib number and we'll try to give some extra energy to you along the route.

Mike Sally, fellow dad and South Sider, as well as ex-swimmer, sends along this email:

As many of you know, I have been diligently training to participate and finish the 2009 Pittsburgh Marathon. May 3rd is just about here. While this is not my first marathon, its is the first one that I have seriously trained for and set a goal beyond just finishing. I have one more training run left and then its rest is history - a short run on Saturday - and yes - race day!!

It would be great if all of you could support me along the route. While I understand some of you are far away or perhaps are close and have previous engagements, and cannot attend, in any event it would be great for you to get me a shout of encouragement along the route course if you are able to do so.

Thank you for supportiing me during the long winter (for Pittsburgh standards - I understand up north, it was really cold!!) and I look forward to reaching my goal!

See you on May 3rd!!

Michael Sally
I'm not in the race this year. We've got a major conflict with church that morning and have known about it for nearly a year. Sorry. Perhaps next year.

So, you running? Tell us! Hit the comments here.

Just after mile 11, the Phillips Elem School community is going to provide a water table. East Carson Street will be buzzing -- more so than the uphill stretch of the Birmingham Bridge leading into mile 13 in Oakland.

moot wins, Time Inc. loses - Music Machinery

moot wins, Time Inc. loses. Music Machinery: "This morning published the final result for their annual TIME 100 Poll. Time reports that the new owner of the title ‘Worlds’s most influential person, is moot’. What TIME doesn’t say is that their poll was so totally manipulated that the results of the poll are not an indication of who is the most influential, but instead they stand as a monument to Time’s incompetence."

Diversity in Aquatics

Check out the Spring 09 issue of the American Red Cross’s Aqua’zine. This season's issue features DAP Co-founders Shaun Anderson and Jayson Jackson (pages 7 & 8).

Aqua‘Zine is a publication for aquatic professionals that is written and distributed by the reparedness and Health and Safety Services Division of the American Red Cross and its publisher, StayWell. Copyright ©2009 by the American National Red Cross.

Visit Diversity in Aquatics at:

An outsider, Robinson gets into the fight for mayor

Must read:
An outsider, Robinson gets into the fight for mayor 'I've come full circle,' she said. 'I've seen the system. It's not broken. It's a good system. But our focus is in the wrong area. We spend too much money and time responding to crime instead of preventing it.'
Rather than reform, more often we need to replace the people who are in there are not doing a good job. Then, we can review and perhaps re-tool.

The last thing we should strive to do is reform with the folly makers in office -- as then we'll be much worse off than when we started.

Reform can turn into deformed.

I like what Carmen Robinson is saying. I love the underdog.

Kites For Kids - Welcome

From texture - misc.

Let's go fly a kite. A perfect pre-marathon activity, if you are covered with sun screen.
Kites For Kids - Welcome Kites for Kids is Saturday, May 2, 2009
* 10 am – 5 pm
* at the Carnegie Science Center
I understand that they'll be flying -- or trying to fly -- kites on the river off of boats. I always wanted to do that from my canoe.

In Beijing, kite flying a long-standing recreational activity. The older men do it and use a bike wheel like take-up spinner for the string, often framed in hand-made wooden cases. While there in August 2008 for the Olympics, the city had put out an order that there would be no kites in the sky -- due to security concerns. The kites could have jammed the surface to air missles, I guess.

On a number of instances, we were able to see the 'kite police' come to tell people that they'd not be able to fly the their kites. Those suckers get airborne too -- very, very high.

From Beijing - sports play
We are hoping for good weather on Sunday, without any wind, so we can play with these birdies -- hardly a kite -- at Schenley Park.

Dates this week with candidates, including Dok

Harris for Pittsburgh is excited to share with you three chances to hear Franco Dok Harris speak publicly with the other candidates.

*1. Tuesday, April 28th at 7PM: Dok will join the other mayoral candidates on the topic of Community Safety. Please come out and hear Dok's position on public safety, gun violence, and how to keep our city secure. It's at the Kingsley Association, 6435 Frankstown Avenue (at East Liberty Blvd).

*2. Wednesday, April 29th at 6:30PM: PUMP is having a candidates forum and has invited Dok Harris to speak briefly - come hear what Dok has to say about entrepreneurship and retaining young professionals in Pittsburgh. It's at McConomy Auditorium, located in the University Center at Carnegie Mellon University

*3. Thursday, April 30th at 6PM:* Come watch Dok at the *Stanton Heights Community Organization's "Meet the Candidates" Night. It's at Sunnyside School, 4801 Stanton Ave.
On Friday morning, Mayor Ravenstahl will be at Phillips Elementary School on the South Side, where Grant still attends, at career day. That isn't an open event, but will give some extra time to make some points about kids and closed recreational facilities.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I like the reform packages headed to city council this week. Hope to see them passed.

This was a letter I just sent to city council at the urging of Bill Peduto's email blast:

In the past, I called for a public hearing when Bill Peduto first called for campaign finance reform. This was when Bob O'Connor was still on council.

Back then the plan from Bill seemed to fight pay-to-play by starting campaign finance reform. The real issue was no-bid contracts and it is GREAT to see that faced straight on -- with legislation about no-bid contracts. Frankly, the $30,000 limit is a lot higher than I want. NO bid contracts are not necessary, IMHO.

The database of givers and takers is a no-brainer. It should be done already. And, with the help of a couple of you we could begin TRANSPARENT PAC ACCOUNTS with a local banker. That would not require any extra work on the part of gov workers, even the controller's office personnel.

Finally, the Ethics Hearing Board is broken -- because of the people on the ETHICS HEARING BOARD. They won't do anything and considered cutting meetings by half and closing them to the public. If I was on the Ethics Hearing Board -- or if there were others there -- such as a Libertarian or two -- then that reform would get done (to use a campaign slogan).

Bill Peduto wrote to me after he got his copy of the note above saying:
You were instrumental in getting us to this point in ending no bid
contracts for all not just contributors and you said it from the beginning. The $30,000 limit is the same as the rules governing council approval. If Duane Ashley needs to hire a clown for a rec center anniversary, we shouldn't require an rfp and council approval. However, we will need to work on the rules for pre-selected contractors under $30,000 - more work is always needed.

Chatham Univ Athlete Awards and Water Polo Coach

Banquet talks about the Chatham University sports teams and the specifics from the water polo and swimming coach, Mike Meyers:

I made this video and injected a few film snips. Enjoy.

Same clip from Viddler.

Sad passing

Collegiate Water Polo Association: "Ian Johnson peacefully passed away at his home in Naperville, ILlinois in the early morning of Sunday April 26, 2009 after a long hard fought battle with cancer. Ian would be 22 in June."

Thread for Swine Flu and other vaccination articles:

From running mate, Dave Powell:
Hi all - I'm posing this to the message board, there have been some email requests re: swine flu, and I think that it's best to carry this on the Message Board instead of filling up mailboxes.

I don't like to spread some of the rumors around the Internet, and will try to provide mostly source material and allow you all to make up your own minds.

One issue is that logic dictates that this sort of combo-virus really shouldn't occur in nature...that doesn't mean that it *was* engineered of course, but the issue warrants investigation. I haven't seen any definitive articles on this yet (too early probably), but will post when available.

One of the other big issues I've seen is that vaccine maker Baxter erroneously allowed/"was caught" live Avian flu H5N1 virus in with human H3N2 strains. Their manufacturing plant in Czech Rep. caught the error. Apparently some middle-range nobody worker saved us all from a possible real-time mixing (called re-assortment) of the two viruses in a public host, which apparently is one of two ways pandemics result.

No real US MSM coverage that I've seen...

All I've seen so far is links about when Bayer sent HIV-tainted medicine overseas when found to be defective:

any other links are welcome!

Of course, Baxter isn't really talking because of "trade secrets":

The lack of investigation says a lot...oh but hey, who better to give the contract for the vaccine for the current swine fly vaccine? You get three guesses, but you know you'll only need one:,0,3579388.story

I'll post one of the comments from the TorontoSun article that says it all about the MSM reporting:
"And recently Baxter released a flu vaccine that contained live avain flu. But thats probably not worth mentioning." Diko - Australia

Even liberal bloggers are freaking out (also contains links to more conspiracy-oriented articles for those interested):

I don't exactly see evidence of foul play, but nor do I see any enthusiasm to get to the bottom of things.

Again, my aim here is not to alarm, but to seek facts which nobody in the MSM seems interested in.


PS: for the truly geeky, an .html version of a .pdf report on the 1976-77 doubling of swine flu immunizations, that had the side effect of 500 debilitating nerve disease Guilian-Barr Syndrome:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sharene Shealey for Pittsburgh School Board District 1

Tell me more!
Sharene Shealey for Pittsburgh School Board District 1: "Who is Sharene Shealey?

A successful environmental engineer who attended Pittsburgh Public Schools (“PPS”) before studying at Howard and Carnegie Mellon Universities on full scholarship, a mom of two PPS elementary school students, and an active participant in the school’s Parent Student Community Council."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Former Schenley star signs with Marshall - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Way to go DeAndre Kane!
Former Schenley star signs with Marshall - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review The up-and-down recruiting saga of former Schenley basketball star DeAndre Kane is over.

Kane, the leading scorer in Western Pennsylvania as a high school senior, signed a national letter of intent to attend Marshall.
Kane went to 13th grade, a prep school in North Carolina. Why in the world can't we have a prep year option, a 13th grade, in our city -- as part of the new Pittsburgh International School, the IB School?

We could. We should.

Principal of Milliones resigns for family reasons

There is more to this from my point of view:
Principal of Milliones resigns for family reasons: "The principal of the Pittsburgh Public Schools' university-partnership school is resigning.

Sito Narcisse, who joined the district about a year ago and oversaw the opening in August of Pittsburgh Milliones in the Hill District, will leave at the end of the school year for family reasons, district spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said yesterday.

Dr. Narcisse said he's leaving because his wife, Dr. Zania Narcisse, has accepted a residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Pittsburgh Milliones 6-12, a highly touted part of the district's high-school improvement campaign, operates under a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh. It opened with about 130 ninth-graders with plans to evolve into a school for grades six through 12.

'We've made a lot of progress,' Dr. Narcisse said.

I understand that the principal got in some trouble for giving us a tour and having me along with the video camera. Unreal.

So, a month later when a tour of Pittsburgh Peabody was held -- no video cameras were permitted. Homeland security was the excuse.

Pittsburgh Public Schools lost a good principal who had done the right things by me in terms of being open.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for another example with a email that came to me from a top administrator. I don't blog about it yet as it resides in a cooling off period.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Meet Mark Brentley, candidate for Pittsburgh City Council

Clips of only Mark Brentley, Sr, from the Uptown Partnership community meeting on April 22, 2009.

NRA files suit to overturn Pittsburgh's stolen gun law

Told ya.
NRA files suit to overturn Pittsburgh's stolen gun law: The National Rifle Association and four individuals filedsuit today against the city of Pittsburgh, its city council and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to overturn legislation passed in December that compels gun owners to report the loss or theft of their firearms to law enforcement within 24 hours of becoming aware that the weapon is missing.
Ignorance is bliss.

Fly a flag and do it with purpose

PRESS RELEASE For immediate release

For more information, contact: Dr. Al Graham (412) 460-1166

Mike Ference, The Brand Shop, Inc. (412) 233-5491 FAX: (412) 233-4765, E-mail: Web-site:
Fifth annual flag party, plants the seed for patriotism

West Mifflin, PA – April 24, 2009 – Plans for the fifth annual red, white and blue flag celebration – honoring our country’s birth – is being finalized by Dr. Albert Graham, West Mifflin Chiropractor, school board member and neighborhood flag raiser. What has come to be known as their family red, white and blue trademark – the American flag – is the result of the Graham’s annual July 4th celebration.”

Graham and his cohorts hope to take the promotion to the national level. “Every local television station has covered the event. Local radio and TV celebrity, Marty Griffin, from KDKA twice invited me on as a guest on his morning radio talk show, I told his listeners how we honor or soldiers and how we celebrate the fourth of July in West Mifflin. The event made the front pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Trib Media daily newspapers and several weekly and monthly publications did feature stories,” Dr. Graham proudly states.

“This is our five-year anniversary and we want to make it bigger and better than the last four years combined,” Dr. Graham predicted. With the help of local leaders, almost one-thousand flags were planted on West Mifflin lawns last year. “This year we hope to double that amount and expand into other Mon Valley towns,” says Dr. Graham.

Contributions to purchase flags came from State Senator Jay Costa, State Representative Bill Kortz Allegheny County Councilman Bob Macey and West Mifflin Mayor John Andzelik. Dr. Graham looks forward to their continued support and hopes to secure corporate sponsors, media sponsors and more volunteers to spread his rendition of a star-spangled-bannered-community throughout the Mon Valley.

“As a veteran of the armed services, my family appreciates what our men and women have done in Iraq and all over the world. We hope when West Mifflin residents awake on July 4th and see the American flags waving in their yards, they will feel the same way,” Graham proudly points out.

In the meantime, the Grahams continue to solicit family and friends for additional help. Besides his wife Cathy and three sons Matthew, Joshua and Ryan, plenty of friends and relatives from the West Mifflin area participate in the flag-brigade every year. “There’s not a better way to teach patriotism, than to live it,” says Cathy Graham, a teacher in the West Mifflin Area School District.

The flags used in the promotion are all USA-made. Anyone who would like to follow Dr. Graham’s lead and display 8 x 12 American flags may contact Dr. Graham at his office in the West Mifflin Borough building near the county airport at 412-460-1166.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Robinson, Dowd take on Ravenstahl, gun legislation

There is nothing unpopular about this message
Robinson, Dowd take on Ravenstahl, gun legislation “I feel we spend way too much time on legislation banning guns and not enough time putting money into the community,” Robinson said. “We are misplaced in our thinking of where we should be putting our money.”

Pittsburgh Controller Lamb considers run for U.S. Senate

Pittsburgh Controller Lamb considers run for U.S. Senate: "City Controller Michael Lamb is weighing a bid for the Democratic nomination in next year's U.S. Senate race."

Run Michael Run, because we need a controller to get a grip on the city. So far, I'm less than impressed. Perhaps you could take Wayne Fontana, D, PA Senator, with you as your chief of staff.

April 28 from 7 to 8:30 pm

All pro dad so hills flyer

Pittsburgh Public Schools

South Hills Chapter

Male/Father Involvement Program

Be in the picture

My wife recently told me about a boy who drew a family picture with himself, his mother and brothers and sisters, but his father was not in the drawing. When asked, the boy responded, "My dad's at work where he always is." That describes too many of us. Do you struggle with work/family life tension? You're not alone.

About Us

All Pro Dad is A Family First's innovative program helping men to become better fathers. All Pro Dad has 54 NFL spokesmen, including our own Mike Tomlin, multiple events with NFL teams, over 1,000 All Pro Dad's Day chapters, and Play of the Day daily emails that reach 40,000 fathers each day.

You Don’t Have To Be a Dad

You can be a grandfather, uncle or a big brother. What’s important
is male involvement. All children need a strong male role model in
their life, We want to know If you have any questions or would like
to get involved but can’t attend this meeting contact Chris
Waraks/Team Captain
at or 412-720-2051 or Mark Conner at or call 412-622-3941.

Join us Thursday May 7th at Pittsburgh Brookline k-5 from 6:30 to 8:00

will be served so please RSVP to Wanda Spencer at
or call at 412-622-3617.

Tonya Payne should have been in this chair.

Updated. If the video does not show yet, it is still in process mode at Youtube. Check back soon.

Part 1:

She was a 'no show.'

People at the neighborhood group were disappointed. People in the audience were let down too.

Tonya Payne, we missed you.

Video from the other candidates with the courage and courtesy to appear is going to be uploaded shortly.

The Uptown Partners quarterly community meeting candidate forum, hosted on April 22, 2009, at 6 pm at Miryams Place, 1410 Fifth Ave. The open was with Renee P. Aldrich, Co-President of Uptown Partners. Reports from Jean McNutt, Chair of the Economic and Development Committee of Uptown Partners. Leadership Pittsburgh was there to talk about Pop Up Pittsburgh, slated for May, 30, 2009 around Gist Street.

Moderated by Evan Stoddard, Acting Dead, McNaulty College of Grad Studies at Duquesne.

Candidates Mark Brentley, Sr. and Daniel Lavelle were there.

Reposted (same as above) of opening statements, but via

More to come, still.

Part 2: The pressing need for localized leadership:

Same on Blip.TV (part 2 of 3)

Final segment and highlight from Mark Brentley about crime, via

Final from Blip.TV:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 Ohio school bans teacher-student texting

Interesting. Ohio school bans teacher-student texting: "The fact that these issues have to be addressed is troubling enough. There should not be a fine line between professionalism and non-professionalism. These are your students. You should not have to consider them when you are choosing monthly cell phone plans.

Happy Earth Day

From Public Art

Mayor urges council to allow curfew center

You're schedule is blown, big time. You're reasoning is not clear as well.
Mayor urges council to allow curfew center 'We were on schedule to open the curfew center on May 1 of this year,' Mr. Ravenstahl said. Because of council's 'continuing delays, now we can't meet that deadline.'
The city works best when the typical process of spending money is followed. A bill that goes before city council must have a public hearing if it is requested. One is slated. Then, after the public hearing, the bill can advance.

If the mayor wants quick passage of the spending of $500,000 -- then he might be asking for a chance to pull the wool over the eyes of the citizens without due process.

There is no proof that the $500,000 is going to save one person's life.

Gun backers move to head off controls

Gun backers move to head off controls: "He said his bill is meant to 'financially deter and/or punish' municipalities that 'blatantly violate' state law. The state code doesn't let localities 'regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms.'

'This is ludicrous,' said city Councilman Bruce Kraus, when informed of Mr. Metcalfe's effort.

'This is just an attempt to bully municipalities into submission.'
The submission part swirls around and around in this saga. That's the only thing Mr. Kraus says that makes sense.

The oath of office for elected officials includes the pledge to uphold the PA Constitution. Way back when, I took candidate Kraus to task for saying he would go into office to serve the people of the district and that is where his oath would be directed -- and where his 'service' would be a slave to. He didn't know that the oath is really to the constitutions.

All in all, it is good that he is only cheerleading and not trying to introduce bills that are at odds with the purpose of city council.

Gun laws from local governments won't work.

Ravenstahl's statement about getting these types of weapons (assault weapons perhaps) out of the hands of criminals in the wake of the shootings in Stanton Heights is bogus. From what I know, the gag order is being broken by the mayor. And, at 6 am on the day of the killings the guy with the gun was NOT a criminal, rather a citizen. Furthermore, there are laws that exist today that make it illegal for convicted criminals to posses guns.

So, either Luke Ravenstahl is miss-quoted or miss-speaking or just goffy.

Perhaps he wants to get rid of guns from all citizens -- not just criminals?????

For your review:
"If [Mr. Metcalfe] and the entire General Assembly weren't moved by the events here on April 4, and don't realize that these types of weapons need to be out of the hands of criminals and we need to make sure that local gun laws are put in place, I don't know what will" move them, the mayor said.

Will I be able to bring my video camera to this event -- or NOT?

City Charter High School and Propel School
Two Pittsburgh Nationally Recognized Schools That Work? Find out WHY? RSVP....

Tuesday, May 12th at 8:30 am (Bagels and Coffee) with 9:00 am Presentations and Discussion Begins at BGC Community Activity Center, 113 N. Pacific Avenue.

RSVP to:
Websites of schools:

The issue of academic progress and student achievement is at the heart of most discussions related to education. A Plus Schools, a local non-profit monitoring public education, reports several Pittsburgh Public Schools struggle to increase academic achievement. As the district begins to make decisions about under-populated schools; academic achievement has become a community priority.

The part of the discussion that focuses on student achievement in these instances revolves around some poor statistics on grades, SAT and other standardized test scores; student retention and graduation rates in some of these schools. The District has implied that proposed and potential facility and curriculum changes would have a positive impact on these statistics.

Meanwhile, two Southwestern PA charter schools -- City Charter High School and Propel School -- were among the top 21 charter schools honored in 2009 by New Leaders for New Schools, a nonprofit that focuses on school leadership. The schools' programs have infused technology and educational supports to provide an environment of success.

Students at both schools have shown a dramatic increase in educational achievement, as measured by state test results in reading and math that factor the impact of a school on its students' achievement over time; and the progress students make from one year to the next, independent of proficiency targets.

Interested in learning what works and why? Representatives from City Charter High School and Propel School will present their educational models, curriculums, educational challenges/solutions, and approaches to community/parents engagement on Tuesday, May 12 at the BGC Community Activity Center, 113 N. Pacific Ave. in Garfield. Bagels and coffee at 8:30 a.m., followed by the presentation and discussion at 9 a.m.

Please RSVP to or call 412-441-9833.

Fixing economy, youth, schools -- the proper way. Wonderful presentation!

The business class with the NFTE text book is being taught at CAPA High School and Allderdice High School. So far, it isn't being taugh, to my knowledge at any other city high school. And, it should be an elective at every high school in the city. I want the class to be offered at Schenley / IB so my kid can take it.

My son, while in 7th grade, did take a couple of classes as part of his gifted education experience that are along these lines. One class called for them to write their own business plan. He loved that class. He has had excellent teachers there.

City Council candidates to speak at Uptown panel

Professor Stoddard is a friend of mine. I'll try to go and bring my video camera.
City Council candidates to speak at Uptown panel: "City Council candidates to speak at Uptown panel
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The three candidates for the Democratic nomination for Pittsburgh City Council in District 6 are expected to participate in a candidate forum at 6 tonight at Miryam's, 1410 Fifth Ave., Uptown.

Incumbent Tonya Payne and challengers Mark A. Brentley Sr. and Daniel R. Lavelle will participate a panel discussion and answer questions from residents during a program moderated by Dr. Evan Stoddard, acting dean of the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts at Duquesne University.

The forum is sponsored by the neighborhood group Uptown Partners."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Clean Water Action and School Bus Polution

Clean Water Action: "Protect Pittsburgh Kids' Health: Cut School Bus Diesel Pollution

Allegheny County Council head touts natural gas drilling

Allegheny County Council head touts natural gas drilling Allegheny County Council President Rich Fitzgerald plans to introduce legislation tonight that he said will establish a county policy on increasing energy efficiency and yield homeowners about $55 million in property tax reduction by tapping into the county's natural gas reserves.

Describing his proposal as a 'bold economic development initiative,' Mr. Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill, said the county should set in motion a plan to start extracting, using and selling the natural gas contained in the area's Marcellus shale, believed to be one of the biggest natural gas reserves in the country.

PNC pledges $6 million for pre-school science program

PNC pledges $6 million for pre-school science program: "The PNC Foundation, which already has a Grow Up Great program aimed at preschoolers, today announced a Grow Up Great with Science program that will expand science opportunities for preschool children in seven states and the District of Columbia."

Third Pittsburgh mayoral debate is back on

The internet is open and always on.
Third Pittsburgh mayoral debate is back on She said the two-day delay was necessary because the station 'can't preempt prime-time' and Saturday night was the first slot the station had open.
Rather than make news and then not put it on the air and out for the public to see -- put the debate onto the internet as it happens. Then air the debate program on May 2.

Talking about the Botique Schools of IB, U-Prep, and Sci-Tech

Some insights from another parent and education advocate.
PURE Reform - Parents United for Responsible Educational Reform... We should avoid settling for a makeshift arrangement and should instead strive for one that is logical, balanced and will stand the test of time as conditions continue to change in ways that we at this time may not even begin to imagine.
The idea is to form a central high school with different campus settings.

Rather than open new schools for smaller groups of students -- a financial boondogle perhaps when it comes to UN-Rightsizing and Re-Segregation as well -- join them.

They want to open a Science and Technology school, plus a University Prep school, plus a school devoted to the International Baccalaureate model.

The counter plan is to open one school that has all three of those as options for students. I see this as an IB wing or IB campus, plus a Sci-Tech wing / campus and an U-Prep wing / campus. But the overall umbrella of the program would be Schenley -- reborn.

Debate - Q by Q - from WTAE online video

Pittsburgh's Mayoral Candidates Debate At WTAE-TV - Politics News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh: "WTAE-TV Channel 4 hosted Pittsburgh's first debate Monday night among the registered candidates in the upcoming Democratic mayoral primary."
It is hard for me to watch debates.

First, a cooling off period, a personal habit of mine when things are so screwed up. might be necessary before I post. Second, I'm not of the D party, so I don't get to vote in the closed, D-party election in May. As a Libertarian, my vote comes in the general election. Third, I do have a voice, opinions and some resources, including this blog. Fourth, it is hard for me to watch the debates with local officials and NOT take the role of being a participant. What I would say and do comes first. Others can try to coach Patrick and Carmen and be a big-brother to Luke. I cheer for good replies, but generally, I'm trying to wedge my observations into the discussions. And, my views are unlike what I generally hear from the status quo politicians.

Just to be clear, I'm not running for mayor in 2009. But, I also know that our city is in a big mess -- still -- as it was in 2001 when I did run for mayor.

Luke: I'm not sure what Patrick is referencing (as to the condition of the long-term health of the city).

I think it is called the five year plan. It is a blasted shame the mayor is unsure of the city's finances with respect to its long view. And, it is worse that there isn't a published five year or ten year plan and vision of the city. Luke's uncertainty and Luke's guarantee insures that nothing concrete is available from the administration.

The mayor's slogan of getting it done is accurate only in the past tense. They've done what they've done and drive without a good view of the future. Looking forward must not be a part of getting it done. Uncertainty looms large for our future. Luke dwels on done-ness. We need a mayor to act in a way today so that our kids have better opportunities at home in the future.

Luke: Don't take my word for it, (being proud as to the financial condition of the city). We have an Act 47 team that approves the budget every year. We have an Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority that approves the budget every year. We continue to receive accolades from them about the strong financial management of this city. Don't take my word for it. Look at our third party verification.

Rauterkus: His third-party verification is subjugation. How does slavery feel for you Mayor? The overlords (ICA and Act 47 team) are not a feature -- they are a pox on this city and the American system of self-determination. The overlords have no intention of departing because the mayor has given them no reason to do so. There is no confidence in this city -- that's why his "third party verifiers" are parked here -- to watch city hall -- because the citizens have been robbed time and time again from (* wild card * ) one-party rule, the Democrats, the cronies, clueless appointees.

The overlords are expensive suits that drain the city without accountability. The citizens of Pittsburgh never get to vote for the overlords, nor authority board members for that matter. These 3rd party verifiers are the masters, and the mayor is with a vision that includes overlords to the right and left -- like a bike with training wheels.

Then I'd pull out a training wheel and put in on the table.

The training wheels on a bike don't verify smooth ridership, really.

From Public Art

To be continued.

A goat on a chain would do better than Wayne Fontana, PA Senator from 42nd District

News flash:

Monday, April 20, 2009


I have yet to watch the debate among the three D party candidates for Pittsburgh Mayor. However, I have seen a couple of posts and tweets.

As to the drinking game, and live blogging, well ... I am sorry I missed it.

When I watch, I'm going to be listening for the expression, "down the river."

Is the mayor going to say to a challenger, "You're going to sell us down the river N@?"

The more I hear, the more I like Carmen Robinson.

Democrat rivals take aim at Ravenstahl during debate

Democrat rivals take aim at Ravenstahl during debate 'We can't just keep throwing money at prisons and curfew centers and detention centers,' she said. She also opposed both investment in a network of security cameras and gun control.
Love it. Go Carmen.

Interviews with mayor candidates on blogs

Worthy reads:

The Pittsburgh Comet: Interview: Carmen Robinson: "Interview: Carmen Robinson"

Another important interview with two challengers: Another important interview with two challengers,

Italy Road Trip, anyone?

The deadline for the Creative Commons Technology Summit CFP has been
extended to Friday, May 1, 2009.

Creative Commons is a non profit organization that builds tools that help realize the full potential of the commons in the age of digital networks. Launched at the end of 2002, Creative Commons licenses have set the standard for sharing cultural works (i.e., "content", "media", etc.), following in the footsteps of free and open source software. Over the past five years we have also actively developed and contributed to technologies that complement its public licenses, with the aim of using software to enhance the discoverability and practical [re]usability of content -- to help users manage content, as opposed to software designed to help content manage users (i.e., DRM). In 2006 Creative Commons launched Science Commons, a project applying similar principles to science and research. ccLearn was launched in 2007 to help minimize barriers to sharing and reuse of educational materials.

Creative Commons holds its third technology summit on June 26, 2009 at Aula Magna Lingotto - Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy. Creative Commons Technology Summits are a forum for exploration of technology built upon and enhanced by Creative Commons licenses and work in the Semantic Web arena.

Call for Presentations

Creative Commons is seeking proposals for presentations or panels to
be presented at the Technology Summit. Topics of interest include:

* RDFa and ccREL implementations/deployments
* Creative Commons related applications (unique or interesting
integration of licensing, as well as reports on consuming or
repurposing CC metadata
* Provenance of information in Semantic Web applications
* Digital copyright registries ("copyright 2.0"), especially in
relation to the above technologies

Presentation slots are 30 minutes long; if additional time is required, email Nathan Yergler ( to discuss options. Send proposals in the form of abstracts to by Friday, May 1, 2009.

Travel funding is unavailable.

More details are available at

Sunday, April 19, 2009

City eliminates no-bid contracting

City eliminates no-bid contracting City eliminates no-bid contracting
I'd love to see all the details of this new policy. Can anyone send me a copy of the policy or have it posted in this blog - or URL?

Perhaps the policy can be put into law by city council. Then the policy can be put into effect for every authority too.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Capital Tweets

Stadium renovation plans approved in Montour

Stadium renovation plans approved in Montour: "The plan creates a main entrance by the gymnasium/pool building and a fine arts entrance on the back of the building, near the cafeteria and auditorium. The 9th- and 10th-grade gym will become the main one for competitions, with an entrance of its own."
In the WPIAL, the schools have separate gyms in high schools for 9th and 10th graders. In the city, we've got schools with one gym for those in 6th to 12th grades. So, Jr. High, JV and Varsity -- with both boys and girls teams -- all striving for time on the same space.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pittsburgh's own world changer, Jessica Flannery, gives address at CMU this week.

Jessica Flannery co-founded Grew up in Penn Hills. Went to Beulah Church as a child and came to have a first view of poor people there. Her high school days were at North Allegheny. Undergrad as a Bison at Bucknell. Recently, hangs with Bill Clinton, basket-makers, Oprah and other idealists using small investments to create entrepreneurs the world over.

No, that's not basketball! But she is a yoga instructor and surfer too!

Next, I gotta dig for that link to Kiva TV and the poll with Time Magazine for clicks to her as she is ranked as one of the top 100 women of influence this year. Plus, there were some nice interactions from the audience.

Feel free to embed the video into your own blogs and elsewhere. It is in the public domain. Ask if you want the large media files. This segment is 45-minutes.

Jessica and her parents:

Jessica with Erik Rauterkus, 14, 8th grader at Pittsburgh Frick. Erik cut some school and road his bike to hear the guest speaker. Erik has worked to raise money locally for efforts in a few different ways. As a student council member, the profits from a school dance are being put into a loans.

As a mmember of this year's Coming of Age Class at, a service project with a designated offering raised more than $1,000 for too.

License update vote - Wikimedia Elections

Wiki news and democracy.
License update vote - Wikimedia Elections: "The Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation invites the Wikimedia community to vote on this proposal to license Wikimedia material so it is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license (CC-BY-SA), while retaining dual licensing with the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

NYRA of Southeast Florida - Home

NYRA of Southeast Florida - Home We are the National Youth Rights Association of Southeast Florida, Inc., a youth-led organization committed to defending the civil and human rights of young people in the United States through educating people about youth rights, working with public officials and empowering young people to work on their own behalf. We believe certain basic rights are intrinsic parts of American citizenship and transcend age or status limits. We are a group of students, neighbors, and friends who want to attain for the youth of America the rights that they deserve.

Can't wait for summer!

Love this photo.

From phillips-swim
Dive on in. This is the start of a swim race at the city's Elementary School Championship Meet. Billy, here in the photo, is in 4th grade. He can walk on water as he is a splendid dancer.

Visit Diversity in Aquatics

Curfew Center

Pittsburgh delays action on proposed curfew center: "Pittsburgh delays action on proposed curfew center"

What is the cost-benefit break down of a curfew center in Pittsburgh?

Cost $500,000 for the first year. Picked up only a few kids in the past.

Look at city streets and see kids 10, 11, 12 at 11, 12, 1 and 2 AM. It is part of a deeper problem in their lives. Not criminalize. Goal of police is to address needs.

Say what?

Where is the packet of information?

RFP, 3RY, Arrests #, victimization, age groups, time spans of day, etc.

Learned about previous mistakes. Changed type of facility. Looks like a residential home, not a jail. Changes in policy and warnings. ??

Want to implement curfew ordinance but can't without the curfew center.

Proposal concentrates on other things in the day. Police are going beyond with a drop-in center, outreach, counseling.

Identify kids that need intervention! OMG.

What happens in year 2? (Kraus question about renewal of contract.)

$500K is a lot of money. Will review statistics. Enforcement. Placements happens. That 3RY does track the kids. What? They won't wait for young people to come in -- I guess they'll go out and nab and nag the youth.

Accountability model has 5 point system to measure affects. Permanency. Number of families. How to value. Looking to increase level of social functioning. Deterred from making at risk decisions. Education another metric. Not engaged in education when out of school. Follow-up 30, 60, 90 days. Concern of safety and life skills. Linking them.

Additional info is a resource index by type, just delivered today.

Have a continumem of services. Run a drop in and homeless center in Strip District. Yadda, yadda about all the other good things they do -- but way beyond the curfew center. You have to go to where they congregate. Not to be a night facility only. Intend to be a broad program.

It will be a program we will all be proud of.

Age group we are targeting is 16 and under, I think.

None from the mayor's office is at the discussion for this major policy discussion. Sheilds want to get to the thinking behind the program. Wants to know about the research of effectiveness and data. The police were asked to prepare the RFP, not a body of work. Others are higher up -- make the decision.

Curfew centers are not wise, IMHO.

Reduce crime and victimization. Address the needs of the kids. Get them in touch with the contacts that they need.

Nothing on gang suppression.

Shields: Curfews are popular. Sound wonderful. Public expectation is not

Numbers of 46 in 1996. Lesser in 97.

A public education opportunity. Accomplished by the outreach efforts. A different level of engagement.

Shields says you don't need a curfew nor curfew center to intervene. Curfew center is 16 and under. So, getting that age group needs to happen in the wee hours of the day??? Golly.

Every paper Doug Sheilds looks at does not support the curfew center. It is a feel good program that is politically smart where the people eat it up and it shows no benefit at all.

This is about a RFP response.

We've had no money. Nada. Loose bit of $500,000 that would be good to target at youth. But, not to curfew center. Not even marginally effective.

Crime stats show that juvenile crime, under 16, it is 10:30-11:30 am or right after school. The crime in that age group disappears in the late hours.

Truancy center is different and what 3RY is getting at.

Shields want to nix it. Put the $500,000 in parks and rec and do an outreach program. In the past, the police didn't do the outreach as it was a nuisance to them. Police say it isn't my problem and not what I need to focus on. Rather, worry about 18, 19, 20 year olds on the street.

Policy without analysis is folly. FOLLY. There is one of my favorite words! Thanks Doug. Finally, who took the biggest hit in the city's crisis? The kids. They saw reduction in crossing guards, closed pools, closed rec centers. Gone. My kids wants to see money invested in kids -- not in a curfew center. I'd rather open rec centers and help agencies. Not the suspension of civil liberties.

Jim Motznik will support the bill. The old numbers were a failure. But what was then and what will happen is much different. We are not able to pick up those kids on the street. There is a need for the curfew center? Sensitive matter. In the past it was jail-like. Police would give warnings. Give more warnings. Didn't work. Now there is no warnings.

Theresa Smith has lots of concerns. In the past, it was in the West End. It was not successful. The ones that needed to be picked up were 18 and older. So, the police couldn't pick them up. The community resource list is missing lots of names too. That is a lot of money. Not one rec center in West. What is the role of CYS? Lots of un-clarity. For me, parenting is huge. Work with the parents. Address them. Otherwise, putting a band-aid on the problem.

Darlene Harris asked lot of questions then. Still. How many hold? 24 over night. Undetermined number in the day. Bed capacity is up to 24. Don't think 24 is going to be necessary. Will take kids home if parents can't get them.

Policy is still under review. Command staff and FOP need to make input and get cheif's approval. City council does not have to worry about the police policy. City Council won't have a say, other than NOW, at the purse string level.

D. Harris wants to know what the policy is before voting. Good go! Policy is in step with the ordinance.

Police hand-off to curfew center after de-brief. Hungry? Phone numbers?

I would like to eliminate the curfew ordinance. That can be done by an act of city council. Darlene wants to see something more well rounded, for 17 year olds, for truency. I want to see something evaporate. A truancy center is not a curfew center.

Patrick Dowd talks about the amazing history of 3RY, of 129 years. Facility is already obtained. Would open in June. Lot of work has already happened. Mayor said it would be opening and city council had not approved it. The 3RY contract is for 1 year and then a review occurs and all bets are off. Burn the mid-night oil.

The RFP got only 2 bids. But only 1 qualified bidder.

They don't know how to anticipate the "demand." Depends upon the police.

What about crime reduction? Well, they'll look at interactions with services. This is public safety document not a youth policy effort. This is being billed as a curfew center that is going to reduce crime. Few crimes are with those ages and very few at those times.

Want to provide healthy alternatives and preventative measures. So, don't do a curfew center. Do recreation.

Homeless of youth in city? Trend lines? Population growing? Data is in the shadows of city.

Dowd: This should not be done by the city by itself. Use county, school, 3RY, and surround the kids. The others are not part of this RFP. Before we authorize this, we need to talk more clearly about the roles of others (school district, county) in this. Wants more people plugged in that is going to put kids in the center.

Dowd sounds like a 'no' vote.

Tonya Payne: What is the intent of the bill? Was there an increase in numbers of violators since we closed the old center? Perhaps there was some chatter in the community for it. We probably should be looking for collaboration with county. Often the actors are not from the city, but outside the city.

The $500,000 should be spent proactive to open rec centers and hiring more youth in summer. That's the track I want. Payne is perplexed about why they are down this path. Look at doing a public hearing. Hear from the administration. Where is Director Huff?

Great suggestion. Hold a public hearing. Holding for a vote for other long-winded comments.

Ricky Burgess: We have an ordinance on books that can't be enforced because we don't have a curfew center. The line-item is in the budget. Some $300K or more is just in the housing component of the yearly contract.

I'm interested in an engagement center for the youth. We need a 24 hour place to call to get social services. Wants to mold the curfew center into a youth engagement center with links to a complete, total program. He is not sure how to carve this out. Willing to offer his services to craft this. The curfew center is only one of the components.

We need a curfew center PLUS. Case management, educational concerns. Part of this can be shifted to the day part. Adjust it for social services.

Wants a public hearing. Wants to craft something that will be more effective for that population.

Bill Peduto: Yadda, yadda. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Peduto thinks it might help way into the future. Would be willing to vote YES for this right now.

Bill Peduto's accountability level will come one year later.

A public hearing is going to come.

Doug Shields is going to get exercised about this because there is no data to support the curfew. We put more analysis in how to tear down a house in Hazelwood than we put in to the decisions on care for our youth.

Nonsense to couch this as a curfew center.

Don't embrace the idea of a failed policy of a curfew in America.

Talk ends about 1 pm.

Technology Leadership Institute: Teachers

Looks like a great program for high school kids in the city.
Technology Leadership Institute: Teachers: "TLI is an opportunity for your student to get a head start on their career in computers and technology. Is your student interested in Web design? Robotics? or Computer Programming? Then TLI is for your son or daughter!
My son has swim practice to 9:15 am. So, he has a conflict. Oh well.

Getting geared up for the weekend trip to Bloomington

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why the $15K for a review of Water Authority Bond Deals was foolish and nothing about 'knowledge is power.'

City council voted 6-3 to not spend $15,000 to hire an outside firm to conduct a review (call it audit, investigation, whatever) of the recent bond dealings of the Water Authority.

I'm fine with that vote. But, I'm not fine with some of the thinking and statements that swirled around this topic. Time to flush.

Bruce Kraus said "Knowledge is power." That's funny.

First of all, city council does have power. But, power does not come with a $15,000 audit by some dis-interested party. Power, instead, resides upon the votes that empowered the water authority to advance with such deals. Months ago, council voted to enable the authority to extend its life which empowered them the opportunity to enter into bond deals with serious questions.

The power is in the vote. The power needs to be applied at the correct time. Power does not linger in a re-do.

Council needs to deploy its power, as keepers of the purse strings, in wise measures when the votes are cast. Council fumbled its chance at power when it entertained Don Walko, D, state rep and water authority board president, as he pulled the wool over the eyes of council then.

Want to talk about power -- let's talk about J.P. Morgan and other finance types who conduct these bond deals. They are able to steal by the millions from the public treasury. They can't be taken down by a $15,000 audit from some disinterested firm. Never go big game hunting with a pea shooter. That's not smart. It isn't powerful either.

The plain English explanation of these deals might be nice. But that isn't going to trip a giant in the slightest.

If that firm wants to work again in the finance sector, it isn't going to pick a fight for $15,000 fee with J.P.Morgan.

Furthermore, if the audit did provide real investigative eureka moments, it would be called 'spin' and would be discounted.

If you want power, turn to the controllers -- for the city, county (perhaps) and state. They have audit powers. And, they are the ones that are to review the dealings of government. Council is to legislate. Controllers audit.

If more muscle and power is necessary, then investigate with the state attorney. The subpoena has power. Call for that. When people steal money from the government, they should go to jail -- or worse. In China, the bureaucrats that cheat the system are killed. France gave the world the guillotine. Those are not the tools of power for Pittsburgh's city council.

The bottom line isn't passing a bond deal. The bottom line isn't complicated bond deals with windfalls by the millions. The bottom line is going to jail. Fix expensive mistakes with jail. If you want to look out for the public interest, even after being hoodwinked, the math that aids the interest of the taxpayers money should be part of the settlement of damages. There is the real bottom line.

Bram wrote in a comment thread on this topic that he does NOT care that the Council should have caught this the first time around. Plus, he does NOT care that it would be better if our Controller to do it. Jeepers. You should care. Purpose matters. Watchdogs need to stay awake and care. I care that we don't have over-reaching members of city council who stretch so much that they remain meaningless for decades to come.

Memo to Council: Get it right the first time. Don't squander your power. I knew that this was a sour deal from the get-go.

Memo to Council: Let the controller do audits.

Memo to Controller: Get moving already.

Memo to Jack Wagner, State Auditor: Hello!

Memo to Tom Corbett, State Attorney General: Hello!

Memo to voters: Don Walko isn't to be trusted and shouldn't be a judge.

Memo to gov reformers: All authority board members should be held accountable with retention votes as a regular part of our charter's framework, until the authorities are liquidated in full. (Pun alert.)