Thursday, December 31, 2009

Naughts List

Top 10 disasters of the 2009 Obama administration (in no particular order):

1. Cash for Clunkers
2. War escalation in Afghanistan
3. Giant government health care expansion bill
4. Post office loses money hand over fist
5. Stimulus package
6. Expansion of "state secrets" doctrine
7. Big increase in unemployment
8. "Bailout" Geithner as Treasury Secretary
9. Skyrocketing federal spending
10. Huge federal deficits

Top 10 disasters of the 2001-2008 Bush administration:

1. Cash for Car Companies
2. War in Iraq
3. Giant Medicare expansion bill
4. Post office loses money hand over fist
5. Stimulus "rebate" checks
7. Big increase in unemployment
8. "Bailout" Paulson as Treasury Secretary
9. Skyrocketing federal spending
10. Huge federal deficits

Note similarities to previous administration.

Wes Benedict, Libertarian Party Executive Director, commented, "Republicans and Democrats keep expanding government and creating more and more problems. We're encouraging as many Libertarians as possible to run for Congress in 2010. In Texas, the state with the earliest filing deadline, Libertarians have already filed for 31 of 32 Congressional seats."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Flash Back: And a new invite for Jan 1, 2010

Those were the days. Last year we did it, again. This year's invite follows a refresher.

Original post from 1/1/09

I'm grasping for activities where I can still compete with Erik -- and win. The cold water is a great equalizer.

R, our lead off swimmer, like this was a relay, is next to me. She is still wearing her t-shirt. I'm in the green swim cap with the black Speedo robe. Erik, with grey hat and head down, is next to Rene and Mike, (Running Mate, dad, ex-college swimmer at Duquesne) is behind Erik at the far left of the frame.

The middle of the Frick relay - T, M, Erik.

The action gets hot. T in his leap. M and Erik on deck. The big guys, Mike and I are anchors.

Photo shows Erik in the water and on the way back to the wall.

Did he take a breath after his flip turn?

T and B scramble to the new year ahead.

Four photos from Greg Blackman. Thank you.

We did it! After the jump I'm putting on my shoes and can't feel my toes.

Photo from a cell phone on the edge of the Mon about 9:31 AM on January 1, 2009. Thanks Mike.

We passed out an invite that said to arrive at 9 am, jump in at 9:30 and depart by 9:31. Seems I wasn't too clear. There was some question about that minute when people were required to stay in the water. Wrong. you don't need to stay in the water for a minute. You don't even need to get your head wet. Sorry if I wasn't so clear. Our gang, mixed in the crowd, was all in and out in less than a minute.

None of us signed the official book, by the way. We waited in the line for 20-minutes or so, but then got ready for the jump.


Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club Takes Annual New Year's Day Plunge Into Icy Mon River - "Pittsburgh Polar Bear Club Takes Annual Icy Plunge"

Start 2010 out with a splash. Visit the Mon Wharf on or before 9:30 am on Jan 1, 2010, and jump in the river with us. Get there before 9, really. It takes some time to mingle and prepare and sign the book. You don't want to linger after the dip.

Then at or around 9:30 am, there are few hundred folks that jump into the river. This year we'll be able to check out the new sidewalk and bike path too. Wee!

After the swim, friends, (wet or dry, but not drunk) can come over to our house, 108 S. 12th Street, South Side Flats, Pgh 15203, and enjoy some whaffles. There is a tweet up as well, and those folks are headed over to Hard Rock Cafe.

The Trib is interested in getting some photos, of course. Look for us in the red and black swim caps that read Schenley Spartans.

Last year some running mates of mine, and my son's, had a wonderful time.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Three-time mayoral candidate gives council an earful - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Who belongs?
Three-time mayoral candidate gives council an earful - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "'I told him from the beginning he doesn't belong in politics,' she said. 'He doesn't know anyone; he doesn't have anyone backing him. He doesn't have any money.'
Les knows plenty of people.

It is oppression that knows not of who it tramples.

Do more with Les! Most of the other candiates in the past elections have said those same words, often in the heat of a candidate debate. They should have been paying Mr. Ludwig some sort of royalty.

I'm glad the gentleman got some ink -- beyond the pages of my blogs and YouTube sites.

I too want to make a better world for everyone, as does Les Ludwig. And, that is a great way to leave your mark on history.

In other news, where in the heck did the spell checking button for Blogger go???

This happened at the swim pool today -- not

Sadly, these are not kids from Point Park University.

Baden Academy Charter School - Welcome

Baden Academy Charter School - Welcome: "With tentative plans to open next year for grades K-3, Baden Academy Charter School will eventually offer a comprehensive, arts-infused elementary and middle school program (K-8) based on a classical education model."

Good luck! The effort has its own Facebook page too.

City Council possessed by presidency politicking

City Council possessed by presidency politicking The last two years have seen the city's nine lawmakers swing wildly between those poles.
That isn't wild.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Olympics lesson: First step, show up.

First things first: Show up!
Olympics: Kohn ... Bobsledder on a mission: "And just like that, the soft-spoken Kohn was given the chance he has longed for since he was recruited to the team in 1990 after starring in high school football and track in Chantilly, Va.
'I put the beer down and got back in the gym,' the 37-year-old Kohn said with a smile. 'Every night for the last 20 years I've been dreaming about this. I guess there's a little flame inside of me that said, 'Hang in there, you never know.' That's what's always driven me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Was on. Wax off.

We had our own Karate Kid moments in China at a Rec Center. I'll look for that video footage soon.

Top 10 Internet Moments of 2009

Top 10 Internet Moments of 2009

Merry Christmas

Our Christmas letter has turned into a Happy New Year letter.

Click the above -- as it is only 14 seconds long. Taken from my fuzzy, but new, Blackberry camera phone. I think I'm going to get another one as the camera is not working at all now.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Foundations help schools pay Roosevelt's $200,000 tax

Bad decision.

Foundations help schools pay Roosevelt's $200,000 tax: "The board also voted last night to name its new International Baccalaureate school in Shadyside the Barack Obama International Studies Academy. Officials said other cities already have named schools for Mr. Obama."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bye Fred

One of the last bits of news that would have come to Fred, the Honz Man, was that Pittsburgh Public Schools had a board meeting and is selecting to name a new school after Barack Obama. B.O. High is going to be a part of the landscape of schools.

Then Fred expired.

He died early this morning. The school name decision was made and reported upon among insiders last night.

There is some question in my realm as to if the name was just too much to bare, or bear, if you are on radio.

Wacko, not Waco, Texas, a former home town of mine, is what Fred called me.

Then Bernanke gets man of the year. OMG. Let's End the Fed. Ugh. Pittsburgh would be better served to name the International High School as the Fred Honzberger High and not Obama High.

People are outraged at the school now designated with the Obama brand. It isn't going to be accepted as it is a tragic mistake that must be corrected. Not prudent at all.

What a day to name Tiger Woods the athlete of the decade.

Monday, December 14, 2009

$240K Needed For New South Side Dogs Park - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh

Ken Wolf does not work for Bruce Kraus any longer.
$240K Needed For New South Side Dogs Park - News Story - WPXI Pittsburgh: $240K Needed For New South Side Dogs Park
PITTSBURGH -- South Side dogs could have a new place to play by next spring.
Ken Wolfe, chief of staff for Councilman Bruce Kraus, said the idea for a new dog park is preliminary, but Kraus is optimistic the $80,000 line item will survive the city's budget process.
The dog park would cost about $240,000 but the $80,000 allocation would pay for the fence, which is the biggest hurdle, Wolfe said.
According to Wolfe, a third of the cost would be absorbed by the city's Public Works and another third would have to be raised.
I am glad that the dogs have been removed from the traditional parks. But, there are more things that can be done for the dogs than what is being offered here.

We've got a closed park behind South Side Hospital. What about that?

Even with the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, I hate that there are more investements for sharks to swim than our kids. They've got a nice new pool. Not so much for people.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

IB School in Pittsburgh

From US News & World Report:
The International Baccalaureate program is globally recognized for its ability to prepare students for a college education. High school students enrolled in IB classes can earn college credit two ways. They can take individual IB subject tests, for which they can earn credit at some colleges if they score high enough. Students also can opt to earn an IB diploma after completing a series of IB courses and writing an extended essay. Many colleges grant students credit for the IB diploma. This chart spotlights all the IB schools in the America's Best High Schools rankings sorted by the percentage of 12th graders that took at least one IB test at some point during high school.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Taxing Students is still foolish

Luke is on the wrong path with this.

My solution is different. He should focus on land. The city is mostly just a place. Pittsburgh has borders and only so many square inches. The land-grab over the years of Pitt taking over Oakland, and so on, have been huge. The main tax, and the one tax with the most "fairness" and best sense of justice, IMNSHO, is based upon land ownership. The nonprofits do NOT pay taxes on their land holdings. So, the total footprint of nonprofit land holdings should shrink. If they want to grow, force them to build upward, on less land, but with higher buildings. IF nonprofit land holdings (from stadiums to churches to universities to schools to jails to empty lots and all else in that realm) contracted, then more land gets taxed. Then values for all increase. A win-win for the economy and citizens / ratepayers occurs once Pittsburgh gets a grip on its nonprofit properties.

They own too much land. Shrinking nonprofit land is what Pittsburgh needs most of all. Nonprofits can manage their assets, and they can increase their cooperation -- without being taxed. They can start by putting more offices into leased and taxed spaces.

A 38th birth day. Guess

Venture a guess....

Hint: Not me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Judge tosses Pittsburgh law aimed at limiting South Side bars - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Judge tosses Pittsburgh law aimed at limiting South Side bars - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "An Allegheny County judge Wednesday struck down a Pittsburgh ordinance aimed at stopping new bars from opening on the South Side."
Another huge defeat from the realm of poor solutions championed by Bruce Kraus. I never liked this law. I spoke against it in the past. It is short-sighted. It is illegal. It is an over-reach that fails in many regards.

What if a bar opens on the top of a building. Do you measure from door to door going up? Can two bars open in the same hotel, one on the first floor, such as in a hotel lobby, and another on the top floor? Go figure.

There are plenty of other things that can be done.

Furthermore, no bar ever came to my sidewalk to take a leak. The bars are not the one's that do the dirty deeds. It is the drunk patrons. And, if there are some at some bars that are doing bad things, those laws can be and should be enforced.

Tuition tax debate gets personal

Tuition tax debate gets personal: "Tuition tax debate gets personal"

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Coaching: A Unique Bond

Coaching: A Unique Bond The relationship is so complex, both in and out of the pool.

Talk to any swimmer, and invariably a very memorable coach is brought up - current or past - and the impact that coach has had on the swimmer’s life.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Jazz Time

To enjoy, before her visit to Pittsburgh this weekend.

Speaking tonight at Pgh Public Schools Board Meeting

The public hearing begins at 5:30 pm. But, there are three sections. First and second are devoted to speakers concerning charter schools. There are 27 signed up for that portion. That will take an hour or more.

Then Erik, my son, is speaker 11 and I'm speaker 12 at the third part -- general statements to the PPS Board and Administration. That will take 30 or more minutes.

To speak, call 412-622-3600.

Our topic, the name of the I.B. school.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Up to 28 swimmers on the girls squad at Schenley High School

Love it.

Welcome to the WPIAL to Erie McDowell

Great step.
Erie McDowell to join WPIAL in '10: "Erie McDowell to join WPIAL in '10"
We really need the Pittsburgh Public Schools to begin to blend into the WPIAL and make the city league a great tip-off tournament and holiday classic setting. We have to get the iron curtin that encricles the city to fall. We need more interactions among city and suburban kids, families and school events.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Message to Obama: You Can't Have Muhammad Ali

By Dave Zirin
Message to Obama: You Can't Have Muhammad Ali

On November 19th, President Barack Obama wrote a stirring tribute in USA Today to the most famous draft resister in US history, Muhammad Ali. On Tuesday, Obama spoke at West Point, calling for an increase of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, with a speech that recalled the worst shadings of George W. Bush's "war on terror."

On November 19th, Obama wrote about why Ali's photo hangs over his desk, praising "The Greatest" for "his unique ability to summon extraordinary strength and courage in the face of adversity, to navigate the storm and never lose his way." On Tuesday, Obama showed neither courage nor strength but the worst kind of imperial arrogance. He asserted America's right to go into a deeply impoverished country that - from Alexander the Great to the USSR to today - has made clear to the world's empires that it wants to be left the hell alone.

On Tuesday, Obama summoned the spectre of 9/11 and said, "It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united--bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear." He didn't mention how many innocent Afghans had already died in eight years of "horrific attacks" on their homeland or how many would die in the months ahead, defending their own homeland.

On November 19th, Obama praised Ali as "a force for reconciliation and peace around the world." On Tuesday the Nobel Peace Prize winner, reconciled himself with war.

Would that Muhammad Ali still had his voice. Would that Parkinson's disease and dementia had not robbed us of his razor-sharp tongue.

Today, Ali has been described as "America's only living saint." But like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, both postage stamps before people, Ali has had his political teeth extracted.

But in a time when billions go to war and prisons while 50% of children will be on food stamps for the coming year, we can't afford Ali, the harmless icon. Maybe Muhammad Ali has been robbed of speech, but I think we can safely guess what the Champ would say in the face of Obama's war. We can safely guess, because he said it perfectly four decades ago:

"Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No, I'm not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here..... If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people, they wouldn't have to draft me, I'd join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I'll go to jail, so what? We've been in jail for 400 years."

Replace Vietnam with Afghanistan and it's a message Barack Obama and our troops need to hear. But we shouldn't wait for some celebrity or athlete to make that statement for us. Muhammad Ali may have helped shape the 1960s, but those years of resistance also shaped him. We need to rebuild the movement against war. We need to revive the real Muhammad Ali to inspire draft resistors of the future. We need to reclaim Ali from warmongers who would use his image to sell a war that will create more orphans than peace. This is the struggle of our lives and we have the Nobel-minted President of the United States on the other side of the barricades. Barack Obama can have the fawning media, the oadring generals, the RNC, and the liberal apologists on his side. But he can't have the Champ. Remove that poster from your wall Mr. President. Your Ali privileges have been revoked.

[Dave Zirin is the author of "A People's History of Sports in the United States" (The New Press) Receive his column every week by emailing Contact him at]

Swimming a cat and hitting lawyers

We are not talking about a swinging cat, err panther, with a Duke at its tail.
Pittsburgh solicitor nominee claims no conflict - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review'I don't think you could swing a cat in this town and not hit a lawyer who hasn't sued the city,' Dowd said. 'What's important here is that we have a solicitor here who can uphold the law and advise the city.'
It is one thing to have that cat hit a lawyer who has ever sued the city in the past. It is another thing to have that cat hit a lawyer who is presently bringing a suit against the city -- and seeking to be the city's attorney -- at the same time. The suit is in the present tense, not the past.

If a conflict of interst exists, and I think one is present, then the way to fix it is to have the law firm of Mr. Reagan, drop the case.

City Council postpones Fair Share Tax vote | The Pitt News

City Council postpones Fair Share Tax vote The Pitt News: "City Council postpones Fair Share Tax vote"
My solution follows as a comment to that news article, reposted:

Pitt needs to make its land grab end

Pitt and the rest of the nonprofits could do something that would be very positive.

I'd love to see a pledge from Pitt and the other nonprofits (UPMC, Catholic Church, etc.) to shrink the land holdings of the nonprofits over the course of the next years.

The nonprofit land grab has been the biggest killer.

Nonprofits can expand upward. And, nonprofits can work in better harmony with others. And, nonprofits can lease spaces in other properties, not designated nonprofit.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Diversity and Swimming -- and community leaders

George Houston, Senior Director at the Center for Creative Leadership, spoke at USA Swimming's Diversity Summit, Nov. 12-14 at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. His topic: Leadership in a Diverse World.

One of the swimmers on the high school team came to me yesterday and said that she didn't want to compete in swim meets. Humm. I said I'd think about it and we'd talk again. That's a moment to educate -- but -- as the coach it can be a move for an new step to diversity and keep the swimmer engaged in the team, but not in the meets. My counter offer is pending. But, the team might have a new head timer. That task is going to be with a bigger burden, perhaps, than that of swimming in meets.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Pittsburgh's help line gets 116,000 messages - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pittsburgh's help line gets 116,000 messages - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Pittsburgh's help line gets 116,000 messages
I'm glad I suggested it.

Still waiting for the reverse 9-1-1 capacity.

A reverse 9-1-1 would be able to make outward calls. This way, public officials could notify citizens if a train with CLORINE GAS went off the tracks.

Panel to analyze secondary schools in the East End

Single gender schools get a mention, but I'm not invited again, as expected.
Panel to analyze secondary schools in the East End: "Mr. Lopez's e-mail said the group will discuss grade configurations, feeder patterns and the possibility of single-sex 'academies,' extended hours and year-round schooling. He said another topic will be a timetable for the 'transformation and integration of the East End schools.'
Where is my invite?

The option for the establishment of one, two or more, single gender schools is much more than an east end issue, but I welcome that discussion. It is something that I've been wanting for some years and have mentioned in public statements many times.

Central Catholic and Oakland Catholic are REGIONAL high schools in the city operated by the Catholic Diocese. Boys attend one school. Girls the other. They work. They are successful options for families of both the city and beyond of many religions.

Pittsburgh Public Schools should make single gender schools to compete with Central and Oakland. These schools could be city-wide magnets. Then, any boy from anywhere in the city could choose to go to the boys high school in Pittsburgh. Same with the girls.

At one time I suggested that the boys school could be at Peabody and the girls campus could be at Westinghouse. Then every three years, the campus settings would flip from boys to girls. These schools need to be built with a goal of beating the private schools in all realms of being -- from academics to sports to service and to behaviors. Then there won't be a pressing need to beat up on each other, under the same roof.

Now, the locations are more of a moving target. One school could be at Oliver. The other might be at Reizenstein. Then the IB program could be put into Peabody.

But, back to the pressing need. We've got to have global conversations about single gender schools as city-wide magnets. That conversation needs to spill beyond the east end task force of hand-picked folks.