Sunday, August 30, 2009

CCAC hosts a town hall of sorts with Bob Casey on Setember 1. Back to school and sick already?

On Tuesday, September 1st, one of PA's U.S. Senators, Bob Casey, ishosting a public forum to discuss the Affordable Health Choices Act, the Senate's Health Care Bill. Arrive early. Doors open an hour before the event and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.
Tuesday, September 1 at 10:00 am, Community College of Allegheny County, Allegheny Campus, Foerster Student Service Center, Ridge Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Doors open to the public at 9:00 am. Seating is first-come, first-served.

Friday, August 28, 2009

PA wastes money on special election - with few to vote anyway

PA Senator Scarnati (R) ordered a special election to fill Senator Wonderling's seat. It is costing the state of PA hundreds of thousands of dollars and there is a real election five weeks later, so what's the rush? It's a bogus political move by a man who ended up Lt. Gov, an elected position, without being elected himself. I called to ask why a costly special election was needed right before the real election and was given attitude about it because "no one else is calling to complain." So let's change that.


He is Lt. Governor Scarnati, 1 (717) 787-7084. Do it now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blackhawk needs a swim coach

Part Time Head Coach
Blackhawk Cougar Aquatic Team
Listed July 2, 2009

The Blackhawk Cougar Aquatic Team is seeking qualified applicants for the position of Head Swim Coach. The BCAT Swim Team, located 25 miles NW of Pittsburgh, is a year round program training the majority of the season September-June at the High School. During the summer long course season June-July they train at two local outdoor pools. The position is part-time with potential to grow to full time position with significant growth of the team. BCAT is a growing club with 50-60 year-round swimmers. Swimmers have competed and excelled at the local, district, state, sectional and national levels. The coach will have authority to develop the swim program, train assistant coaches into his or her system, and will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the team. The Head Coach is responsible for managing age group and assistant coaches while directly running the senior and national level training group. Other duties include running team practices, workout design/implementation, practice scheduling, assisting with team registration, fundraising, attending swim meets, and hosting at least 3 meets per year. The position will also require working with a dedicated and active parent volunteer booster group. Successful candidates must currently be ASCA Level 2 or 3 or be willing to obtain, USA certified, CPR/AED/First Aid certified, American Red Cross Lifeguarding certified. Applicants must have 3 years experience as head or assistant coach in a year round program, either club or college. Experience with Hy-Tec Meet/Team manager is desired. The position will be filled by August 20, 2009. Visit Interested candidates should submit a letter of application, resume and a list of three references with current addresses and phone numbers to Tom Marshall, President, Blackhawk Cougar Aquatic Team, PO Box 1651, Beaver Falls, PA 15010. Email 724-650-4643.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Water Polo Practice -- update -- Highland Park Pool now from 10:30 am to noon, T, W, Th, F

Water polo practice is happening at Highland Park Pool, with Citiparks help, from 10:30 am to noon on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week.

New players are most welcome.

On Saturday we go to IUP for an early morning series of matches.

Get a taste of open water swimming

Outside the box promo video.

Spoke at City Council

On August 24, 2009, Erik and I went to Pittsburgh City Council and made some simple statements. Sadly, the video format from Viddler is no longer supported.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Water polo action -- not highlights, just final moments of practice

We played polo with 22 kids at the practice today. Five were from Seneca Valley and 17 were from the ones we've been playing with in the city. One new Citiparks player arrived, Goda! A few of the SV kids were in college too! One guy swimmer is slated to be a sophomore at Central Catholic.

Getting the visitor was a great boost to our play and spirits. Many of our players are young -- and that is good for the future, but seeing the strength and speed of the older kids provided a great lesson. To protect and control the ball became much more of an issue.

The video shows the final moments of more than 30-minutes of scrimmages. The players were split (not so evenly) into three sides. Games to three goals and winning team stays in the pool. One team did not win them all. About six or so games were played.

This is something you can do too.

Recap of activities:
Exercise routine: Ankle spins, wrist flex, gentle neck rolls. Full range of motion arm swings: right-arm forward, left-arm forward, right-arm backward, left-arm backward, up the side, up the fronts, horizontals, opposities, opposite-opposities, right-arm 8s, then reverse with right-arm, left-arm 8s, then reverse with left arm. Trunk twists with kick on one leg then the other. Right leg swing front and back. Left leg swing front and back. Right leg swing left and right. Left leg swing left and right. Squat. Squat jumps with one arm up. Squat jumps with 2 arms up.

Self Intoductions: Name, year in school, school.

Swim 4 lengths (25 y) with shaddow / partner. Easy warm-up.

Swim with ball / dribble to other side, 4 times.

Swim / dribble to other side, at whistle, reverse direction.

Ball up in one hand and scull / tread to other side.

Swim to goal and score. After you drive and shoot, turn to defense. Shoot to 2nd goal and then defend. Then to third goal.

Mega take-a-way game. All but 4 start with ball in the air. Defense is without the ball and swim to player and take the ball away. Then ball exits pool. Down to last couple of players with a ball in the air and work to take it away from that player. Defense attacks. Offense needs to twist with arm extended yet keep control of the ball under pressure.

Three groups: (5 minutes each group, then switch)

Group 1 with Tom to do rear-back shots on goalie.
Group 2 do drive shots on goalie with defender 5 seconds behind.
Group 3 do dry passing and shots on goalie.

Scrimmage: White, Purple and On-Deck (45 minutes)

Group photo.

Pretzel, thanks to Grant.

Coach Tom Fletcher and the SV players hope to come back to join us again, perhaps on Tuesday. But, we also learned at the practice that the last day of swimming at Ammon is slated for Sunday. Then they will drain the water out of the pool. So, we'll have to re-locate the sessions and the equipment, hopefully to Highland Park Pool. Stay tuned.

Getting Ready for School. Refresh where we last left off. Erik's Promotion Speech

On the last day of school, Frick Middle School closed. The city-wide magnet was shutting its doors and packing up for a new home, out of Oakland and its 6, 7, and 8th grade setting to the East End, Reizenstein Building and a new configuration of grades 6 to 12.

At the 'promotion celebration' held at Pitt, Erik Rauterkus gave this speech.

San Francisco launch city data website,
To: Open Government

Mayor Newsom Launches to Improve Access to City Data

Challenges San Francisco’s technology community to create new software applications from city data

08/19/09 - Today, joined by technology leaders, Mayor Newsom announced the launch of, an initiative designed to improve access to government data. The new web site will provide a clearinghouse of structured, raw and machine-readable government data to the public in an easily downloadable format. For example, there will be updatedcrime incident data from the San Francisco Police Department and restaurant inspection data from the Department of Public Health.

"By bringing city data and communities together on, we hope to stimulate local industry, create jobs and nurture San Francisco’s creative culture," said Mayor Gavin Newsom. "We imagine developers taking apartment listings and city crime data and mashing it up to help renters find their next home or an iPhone application that shows restaurant ratings based on the highest health code ratings."

The initial version of includes more than 100 datasets, from a range of city departments, including the San Francisco Police Department, Department of Public Works, and the Municipal Transportation Agency.

"We’re excited to see San Francisco embrace President Obama’s call for transparency through the launch of," said Beth Noveck, Federal Deputy Chief Technology Officer leading President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. "We encourage other state and local governments to recognize the value of open data as Mayor Newsom has." is part of a larger Open Gov Initiative for the City and County of San Francisco, which focuses on open data, open participation and open source. The City’s effort to improve access to government data has already led to the creation of new software applications. Earlier this summer, the Department of Environment released recycling data that was used by a third party to create EcoFinder, an iPhone application that helps residents recycle based on their location.

"The Department of Technology is excited by the opportunity to work more closely with the technology community to lower costs and drive innovation in government," said Chief Information Officer for the City of San Francisco, Chris Vein. "The success of civic tools like the EcoFinder iPhone app clearly demonstrate the value of opening government data."
I've been talking about open source as a platform plank for years. This key point is not yet been understood nor deployed in Pittsburgh, even with the so-called maverick, Bill Peduto.

Years ago I started a Google Calendar for public meetings held at City Hall. That's a no-brainer that has still not been deployed. Often, they don't want the public to know when the meetings are going to occur.

End the software license agreements with Microsoft and turn to Linux and and the Open Document format as a standard.

Stream the audio of the city council meetings, ethics board meetings, planning board meetings, citizens police review meetings, and such onto I want to listen to those meetings on the telephone when I'm walking downtown, as they are happening. I want to listen to the meetings as podcasts after they occur.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Challenge this! Jag offs!

Ballot access is the worst sin of PA's political landscape and those that side with that cancer are clueless.

Bram, posted in another blog's comments, "I don't have the slightest problem with candidates trying to knock other candidates from the ballot."

Well, Bram, shame on you for that.

Court costs are part of the quagmire. So, when a candidate goes before the judge, rather than campaigning, to defend his/her right to challenge the status quo and appear on the ballot, the judge can slap a $1.5M fine onto the candidate as has happened in another courtroom same building when I was challenged.

Remember 2006 and the Green candidate for Governor. Remember Titus North too.

Talk about a dangerous, long walk on some very THIN ICE. That's why Pittsburgh seems to have its three choices for mayor brewing in this election. Sigh.

Most ballot challenges are UN-DEMOCRATIC. Here is an idea: Let the voters decide.

Of course this latest challenge to Dok Harris for Mayor is a "R" challenge. And, of course that doesn't matter if it is "R" or not, on the basis of the "R". But because it is from Kevin Acklin -- it sucks and smears Kevin Acklin.

Seems as if this challenge is from KEVIN ACKLIN's camp. Right? If that is the source, that is what matters. That's what sucks the most.

I did not sign anyone's nomination paper. I wasn't asked to do so.

Finally, the funding for the challenge does NOT need to be reported on campaign finance records. Court expenses are not to sway voters in a campaign. It can all be swept under the rug according to the old rules we must sadly follow.

comments to the Pittsburgh Board of Education

Public Hearing August 17, 2009 (lifted from the PureReform site)

Testimony of Kathy Fine:
Good evening to all of the dedicated school board members and district staff of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. I am here tonight to discuss the PSSA results from the 2008-09 school year. As noted by Superintendent Roosevelt, the PPS district has made AYP for the first time since No Child Left Behind mandated that our public schools meet certain benchmarks on the way to 100% proficiency in the year 2014. Congratulations go to everyone that has contributed to raising our students’ scores.

Now that the celebration of this accomplishment is done, let’s look at the scores in depth and from different perspectives in order to can get down to the task of preparing our students for the future. At the last Education Committee meeting, School Director Skip McCrea asked a very pertinent question: What are the longitudinal results of the current PSSA test scores?

In other words, instead of looking at the 3rd grade in 2005 and the 3rd grade in 2006 and the 3rd grade in 2007, etc., let’s look at the 3rd grade in 2005, then follow them to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade and see how one group of students fares over a 4 year period.

The charts that you have in front of you titled “PPS PSSA Scores Over Four Years” look at the results from this perspective. These charts represent the growth of four distinct classes from 2005-06 to 2008-09. These charts give a somewhat different picture of the 2009 PSSA results. In both Reading and Math, only the class of 2015 showed any growth from their 2005 scores. This growth was attained by the current 8th grade class whose results were very high both district wide as well as state wide. In fact, a majority of students lost ground over the four year period. Although we have been able to get certain individual groups of students to perform at the proficient level in Reading and Math at certain points in time, these gains do not follow them through the year.

Recently, the current PA secretary of Education stated that "Six years ago it appeared as though Pittsburgh schools were in an irreversible downward spiral." This comment piqued our interest and led to the compilation of the second set of charts titled “PPS PSSA Scores From 2000-09”. These charts clearly indicate that the PPS were not in an “irreversible downward spiral”, but in fact were in an upward trend on which the current administration has been able to build. We point this out because while the current scores have shown some improvement, there was already a trend toward increasing scores when the current reforms were started and that much more must go into educating our children than teaching them to perform on a particular test. Using a holistic approach to education, modeled after successful programs like the Geoffrey Canada’s “Harlem Children Zone”, creating “safe havens” at each PPS school buildings, with extended hours for the most vulnerable among us, and striving for true parent engagement are a few of the crucial reforms that will produce the sustainable educational gains that are necessary to prepare our youth for a productive future.

Testimony of Annette Werner:
PURE Reform is back from summer break, refreshed and ready to work to further our core values of transparency, effective public participation and parent engagement. Today I’ll be focusing on transparency.

Transparency is crucial for the District as a unit of government. While urging its high school students to “Be the change you want to see,” the District needs to be a strong proponent of the transparency that is necessary to make real public participation possible.

To make the discussion about transparency easier to follow we have organized the material by topic and will be posting it on our website under “Transparency Watch." Progress has been made in a number of areas, but there is still more to be done.

Outstanding items from previous public hearings include the following.
Committees- We requested previously that the formation of committees be announced in advance, that people with a wide range of perspectives be included, and that meetings be open. The district responded that every effort is made to ensure “appropriate representation” and that meetings may be open or closed depending on the nature of the work. Today we ask whether there is any reason not to announce formation of committees in advance, and what exactly is “appropriate representation”- does it include those with opposing viewpoints? What situations require a closed committee? Why for example were meetings of the Pittsburgh Peabody committee closed and when will that committee’s report be released?

EFA Goals- What is the expected date for a report on EFA goals? Since the four year period for EFA PSSA goals has now passed, will updated EFA PSSA and other goals be established and if so, when?

Pittsburgh Milliones- In response to our request for the Memorandum of Understanding between the District and the University of Pittsburgh we received a memorandum with a draft date of 7/3/08. As the school is now entering its second year, we would like to know when the arrangement with Pitt will be finalized and signed. Also, the memorandum has few programmatic details. When will the programmatic details be worked out?

Stimulus funds- The District has provided general information focusing on Title 1 funds. We are requesting that the PPS follow the example of the State and Federal governments and post all expenditures that utilize ARRA money online. Also, information is still needed regarding what the district is doing to maximize school construction funding and efforts to seek funding for the renovation of the Schenley building.

New issues this month are as follows.

Facility conditions index- The District is using the “predecisional” exception of the RTKL for its consultants to withhold information on how it has calculated the cost to renovate specific buildings. However, just because it can withhold the information doesn’t mean that it should do so. Waiting to release information until a decision has already been made prevents the public from examining and verifying information prior to the decision.

Graduation rates- Many people have expressed interest in an update on changes in graduation rates over the last four years using the RAND method rather than for example a method based on the percentage of incoming 12th graders that finish out the year. Are there plans for such an update?

PPS/ State PSSA Gap- Has the district investigated how changes in PPS PSSA scores over the past four years compare to changes in PSSA scores statewide and if so, what were the findings?

Reentry Programs- Where can a student who has dropped out of school find information on reentry programs? What outreach or publicity is in place to attract dropouts to reentry programs?

We look forward to obtaining more information on these important issues. Thank you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Public Schools - Stimulus $ - Summer Enrichment RFP for 2010

Pittsburgh Public Schools is Seeking Activities Providers to Submit Proposals to Provide Students in Grades 6-8 with unique summer activities in Summer 2010.

In summer 2010, the Pittsburgh Public Schools will launch a premier summer camp for all Pittsburgh Public Schools students in grades 6-8. The summer program will offer each student a comprehensive approach to literacy, life skills, high school and college readiness, and summer fun.

Pittsburgh Public Schools is determined to give students the ability to enhance their literacy skills and develop new and unique passions through this innovative camp. We are looking for partners with that same determination.

Seeking Activities Providers
Pittsburgh Public Schools wishes to partner with multiple organizations of varying sizes and experience in providing quality and fun extracurricular activities. Activities Providers submitting a proposal must demonstrate an outstanding commitment to students in grades 6-8 and have the interest and capacity to provide students will unique summer activities such as kayaking, ceramics, drama, debate, urban gardening, and more. Providers will be expected to provide activities to students every afternoon Monday – Friday during this exciting 5-week program.

Proposals will be accepted through October 2, 2009 at 5 p.m. Organizations will be selected based on their ability to meet the criteria outlined in the Request for Proposal and possibly interviews. Please visit our website ( for additional information.

To Learn More – Attend a Pre-Bid Conference
You are invited to attend our Pre-Bid Conference on Tuesday, August 25 from 4:30 – 6 p.m. at the Board of Education Building located at 341 S. Bellefield Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213 in Conference Room A. Please RSVP to Eddie Willson, Activities Project Manager at or by calling 412-622-3985 by Friday, August 21.

Eddie Willson
Activities Project Manager
Pittsburgh Public Schools
(412) 622-3985

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Water polo practice on Tuesday

We still have room for you and your friends.

On Wednesday, we had 40 kids playing water polo up in The Hill. I was too busy to take any photos then.

I have been coaching this squad throughout the summer at the Kingsley Association:

Been there. Done that. Welcome on Green Signs. Big Hair Hello.

How unoriginal can the city and county leaders aspire to be?

For the G-20, if we really wanted to welcome folks, we'd construct one of these out by the Parkway West from the airport:

From Water Town in East China

As as we are cleaning up around town, what about this as a redd up item.

Building used to sell tombstones. Go figure. And, it sits between Oakland and Downtown as well as between Oakland and South Side. It is next to a highway. Put a big sign to cover that!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Dear D, put me on the air

I could help you with a 20 or 30-min segment on Saturday night. We are going to play WATER POLO in the HILL DISTRICT starting on Monday at 11 am to 12:30 pm. This is a new program with the support of citiparks at Ammon Rec Center. It goes 5 days per week. Costs $0.

Plus, we'll also play in the evenings at the JCC in Monroeville. Fees apply. And, we have a game in 3 weeks with a New Jersey Prep School -- The Lawrence School (google it) at IUP.

I need players and coaches and helpers and MORE PLAYERS. We can talk about swimming and socio economic things too -- like Michael Phelps and the body suits.

My cell: 412 298 3432

I really would like to get the news about about this new program of water polo. Plus, it will be a Schenley High School sport in September.

Plus on Sat & Sun I'm doing a Triathlon at North Park. Grass roots summertime fun expert -- Mark Rauterkus -- at your service. Summer isn't over yet!

Fishing for water polo players.

Two of my children are in the PPS IB program. I'd love to invite youand your kids to these activities.

We are trying hard to get the word out to all that a new activity isstarting on Monday at 11 am. Water Polo. And, it is going to continueas the principal at Schenley High School recently wrote a letter tothe PIAA saying that water polo will be a non varsity sport there!

I am most excited about these opportunities for fitness and fun in sports.
A one page PDF is attached.

Morning Sessions are with Citiparks support at the outdoor, 50-meter,swim pool at Ammon Rec Center, 2216 Bedford Ave. This winter thosefacilities had a $600,000 fix up. Times in the water from 11 to 12:30.Cost is $0. The successful swim coaches at Frick are both going tohelp with the program from time to time.

Evening Sessions are at the JCC Monroeville, outdoors, at their FamilyPark. There is a fee if you take part in those sessions.

We are looking for kids ages 10 and older who are with comfort in thewater. We are especially interested in high school kids too, at thistime. Both boys and girls, and even adults.

More insights: email blast)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Hey IOC, We don't want the Olympics in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh can't even host the Keystone State Games.
I worry about Chicago hosting the Olympics in 2016, if that should come to pass.

We have to worry about the G-20 in September. They have yet to cancell schools for then. Nor have they even picked a slogan to put on the signs that are going to adorn the highways from the airport by September 1.

Heck the nonprofit foundation that was started two years ago by Dan Onorato, The Parks Foundation, has yet to hold a blasted meeting.

I love the Olympics at many levels. I went to Beijing in 2008 as an independent sports fan and blogger. We travel. We coach. We play hard.

Holy Cow. Let's focus on Chicago. Good job with the distance on the Pittsburgh idea.

Next big sports moment for us is The Great Race the same weekend as the G-20 in September. Then we need to change the rules of Major League Baseball so that the teams that suck are relegated to the minors.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Big dead line and anniversary

Today is the day that people from outside of the D and R political parties must complete the delivery of nomination papers to get onto the November ballot. So, the final signatures and sheets from Kevin Acklin and Dok Harris are due -- signed, sealed and delivered.

There are always a few folks we come to meet on this day. Is there going to be a candidate from the Socialist Party? Remember Frank?

Tomorrow starts the period where political operatives begin to search in earnest for the dead people who have been known to sign those papers. Challenges may or may not appear for the mayor's opponents. In general, Luke's camp is going to be happy to have two opponents so knocking one or the other out of the race would be a dangerous move. To focus the ABY (anyone but Luke) vote in one category is a tiny fear.

The real fear of politicians is not something that ever appears on the ballots in Pennsylvania and one that should be part of every election: NOTA (None of the above). All elections should have a choice called, 'none of the above.' That way the ones who are unhappy with the state of affairs in that specific race could raise their outrage without lifting a brick, fist or worse.

And, frankly, it is too much work to run for office yourself to make a point. Rather, the point of 'none of the above' should be handy for us all to make on election days.

Two years ago, an ex Division I football player, a former service man who had jumped out of airplanes, Pitt student, and Libertarian, Tony Oliva, filed papers to appear on the ballot for mayor. He had worked throughout the summer to get a bulk of the signatures.

That year, 2007, I ran for public office too -- for both city council and city controller.

Mark DeSantis got onto the ballot in 2007 with a write in campaign among Rs in the primary. In 2009, Luke Ravenstahl won the R primary, blocking any possible charge from another via that avenue.

In 2008, we were packing to head to Beijing, China, to enjoy the Olympics. It was a quiet election cycle for me as Obama was pounding on McCain and my guy was Ron Paul, R from Texas. He was out by then, just holding a counter convention in Minnesota, larger than what the GOP was able to stage.

In 2006, I filed papers to run for State Senate, district 42 against Wayne Fontana. Before the judge in Harrisburg, on the day before I went to Canada to coach a swim camp, I put into the public record the fact that my challenge of campaign nomination papers came from the office of my state senator. Political work had been done in the public office to eliminate any and all opponents from the ballot. The judge found it interesting that the fax header of papers delivered to me had both law office stationary and the faxing fingerprints of PA Senate District 42's Harrisburg name and number clearly at the top of the pages of one of the summons that called for me to appear in court.

Later, we'd see lots of folks in Harrisburg get arrested for miss-use of staffers. Bonus-gate.

At the same time, PA's Green Party candidate for Governor was racking up legal bills and court charges so he could appear on the ballot. He was hit with charges from the judges / courts for hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, the case went to the top court of Pennsylvania as well.

I knew when to fold em, as the country and western song lyrics go.

In 2009, something might happen soon. But not with me in terms of election day participation. For me, I looking to make some swimmers and water polo player and open a new front in the battle against couch potatoes and obesity.