Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Punctuality is the expression of COMMITMENT".   "If you're 5 minutes early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're LATE!"

Three Rivers Interactive Trail Map

Can also be used w/ smart phone technology:

Please sign an online petition to "stop the billion dollar cut" of education.

From: Ron Cowell <


Please.  We need you to take action, today!

EPLC continues to support an unprecedented coalition working together as the Pennsylvania School Funding Campaign.

The budget proposed by Governor Corbett will reduce state funding to school districts by more than $1 billion for the 2011-2012 school year.  The implications of this huge cut are being felt throughout the state as school boards are considering very serious program cuts that will significantly reduce learning opportunities for students.  This billion dollar cut is bad for students and ultimately bad for local taxpayers as well.

You can help to send a powerful message to Governor Corbett and members of the Pennsylvania Legislature.

Please sign an online petition to the Governor and members of the General Assembly opposing the billion dollar school funding cut proposed for 2011-12. 

The website address is

And please share this website URL with your family, friends and co-workers as soon as possible and urge them also to sign the online petition.

It only takes a couple of minutes, and the more signatures we get from across the state, the more persuasive we can be in our advocacy on behalf of public school funding for next year. 

Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Thank you.


Ronald Cowell
The Education Policy and Leadership Center
800 North Third Street, Suite 408
Harrisburg, PA 17102

One people, one movement, freedom for all

Those were the words of patriot and filmmaker Aaron Russo. Aaron
set brush fires in the minds of millions in 2006 when he released
his final film "America: Freedom to Fascism." There is a very good
chance that you may have seen that film.
One of the lasting legacies of that film was an organization he
co-founded with Gary Franchi known as "Restore the Republic." We
lost Aaron to cancer on 2007 but today that organization lives on.
RTR provides patriots, from all corners of the political spectrum,
a place to congregate, share new ideas, organize actions, or just
simply keep in touch with each other.
It's been 5 years since the film's release, so I'm emailing you
today to invite you to come back and visit our new website. Come get
acquainted with old friends and ideas that are still working
everyday to make this nation a greater place for our children.
Here is the link to sign up and get started:
If you're already active, log in and say hello with this link:
Thanks for taking the time to read this email. I look forward to
seeing you at our new online home at
Forever in Freedom,
Gary Franchi
RTR National Director
PS. There are over 14,000 videos and 7,000 blogs on the site, each
packed with important education on a variety of issues that you may
find relevant. The links to them are on the front page of the site

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chelsa Wagner, candidate

Meet School Board Candidates, Lisa Jones and Sherry Hazuda

Last night the good people in Brookline hosted a candidate meeting, just as the Pens were in a battle for game 6 of the first round of the playoffs. The pressing bits of video are from the school board candidates, challenger and school teacher, Lisa Jones, and the present school board president, Sherry Hazuda.

Lisa Jones is a chem teacher at Carrick and has been an assistant track coach.

Part 1.

Same clip but served from Viddler:

Part 2 on YouTube:

Part 2 on Viddler:

Also see the FixPA wiki pages, and edit them as well:


When you have no sense of purpose, you have folly like this from Bruce Kraus

Councilman Bruce Kraus proposed the ban in 2008 after saying constituents frequently complained that the leaflets were a significant source of litter, particularly along East Carson Street in the South Side.

Two anti-abortion activists, Kathleen A. Ramsey of Ross and Albert A. Brunn of Pittsburgh, sued the city in federal court last year, arguing that the ordinance was an unconstitutional restraint on freedom of speech.

Brunn, 81, of Stanton Heights said he wasn't surprised by the proposed settlement.

"According to records, this has gone to the courts many times and the First Amendment has always won, so I expected it would happen," he said.

Read more: Pittsburgh council moves to repeal ordinance banning leaflets - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Pile on Trump

Donald Trump's path to the GOP nomination may have a road bump in Pennsylvania. It turns out Trump donated $32,000 to Pennsylvania's own Ed Rendell, going well with his previous donations to Rahm Emanual, Chuck Schumer and Charlie Rangel.
In other news, I heard today on the TODAY show that my favorite, Ron Paul, is forming a committee to explore a run for US President.

Women's cycling clinic on May 7

The Steel City Endurance team is hosting a clinic for women interested in cycling and racing on May 7 from 9 am until noon at the Bud Harris oval.  The Clinic is designed for women who are interested in learning more about bike racing, giving bike racing a try, or who just want to learn a few skills.  We hope to see you there!

A flyer with all the details can be sent else, contact Barb Grabowski.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Official "Right To Know" request sent to Pittsburgh Public Schools from Kenneth Miller about sports reform

An official right to know request from April 22, 2011, from Kenneth Miller to Dr. Linda Lane, Superintendent of Schools has been delivered concerning Athletic Reform efforts.

The letter requests all documentation associated with this committee, its mandate, participants and recommendations. For example:

* I want to see the budget through which this committee's work and the time committed to this committee by the chair.
* I want to see what Mark Roosevelt asked of this committee.
* I want to see the biographies and contact information for everyone who was asked to serve on this committee.
* I would like the minutes from all committee meetings.
* Finally, I am requesting the complete list of recommendations that this committee has made to the school districts administrators.

He writes he has been waiting for this information for a very long time.

"I hope you dissovle the city league immediately and send Pittsburgh Public School students all over Western Pennsylvania on buses. I am really sorry to hear that the state has cut your budget by millions, please dissolve the city league right now anyway."

My understanding from our last task force meeting (December 2010) and a few phone conversations and chance meetings in the stands at a few sports events was that the suggestions from Jake House, the hired administrator dealing with this task, would go to the PPS Board's Education Committee Meeting on May 10, 2011.

PA Senate Voucher Update

Ø  On April 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported as amended Senate Bill 1, which establishes the Opportunity Scholarships and Educational Improvement Tax Credit Act to make tuition vouchers available to low income students in persistently low achieving schools to attend participating nonresident public schools or nonpublic schools.  Under the proposal, a low income student is defined as a student with household income not greater than 130% of the federal poverty level, the same amount as eligibility for the Federal Free Lunch Program ($28,665 for a family of four).  The bill also expands the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) from $75 million to $100 million beginning in Fiscal Year 2011-2012.  

Senate Bill 1l was amended in the Senate Appropriations Committee to expand voucher eligibility in the fourth year of the program to middle-income families.  SB 1, as amended, would make tuition vouchers available to students with family income up to 300 percent of the poverty level ($67,050 for a family of four.   The amendment places a cap of $250 million in the third year when eligibility expands to include all low-income students.  The amendment also changes the attendance criteria from residing “during” a school year to “as of the first day of classes.”  The amendment would require schools to administer a nationally normed standardized achievement test in math and reading to voucher recipients and require the aggregate results to be posted online.  SB 1, as amended, requires the Education Opportunity Board to set procedures to determine the eligibility of homeless students for opportunity scholarships.  It also establishes a Public School Choice Demonstration Grant Program in Fiscal Year 2014-2015.  Grants of up to $500,000 would be awarded to school districts to provide tuition for students to attend a nonresident public school regardless of income.  The school district would be required to provide a $3-$1 match.  Twenty-five percent of the money from the Excess Scholarship Fund would be used to support these grants.  The bill was also amended to require participating public schools to accept transfer students by a lottery system.  Private schools would not be subject to the lottery provision and would be allowed to set enrollment criteria.

The Senate may vote on SB 1 as early as April 26, although action may be delayed while waiting for suggested amendments from the Corbett Administration.

To view the Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Note for SB 1, click here.

This weekend is Junior Golf Weekend. Be there!

I hope you are able to join us at The Bob O'Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park for some of the great family activities we have planned:

Friday, April 29 from 4 - 7 PM is Family Golf Night. We want to encourage all families to spend time together so we are offering discounted foursomes with special family tees. All golf equipment will be provided for free.

Saturday, April 30 from 9:30 - 10:30 AM The Greater Pittsburgh Golf Course Superintendents Association will present a free "Care of the Course" clinic. This will be followed by a free golf instruction clinic hosted by World Golf Hall of Famer Carol Semple Thompson from 11:30 - 1:30.

Sunday, May 1 from 10:30 - 11:30 AM the West Penn Golf Association will present an interactive Rules Clinic for juniors. From 12 - 2 PM The Tri State PGA will lead a free instructional clinic.

Both Saturday and Sunday will also include many free golf games and skill contests presented by our teen Junior Activity Board. Junior Golf Weekend is our chance to show you how The First Tee of Pittsburgh promotes positive youth development through golf based on nine core values such as sportsmanship, honesty, courtesy, and respect. Please join us.

Google did a great job at migration from Google Video to YouTube, on the second attempt

Way to go Google. Well done. It took two attempts, but the final migration from the Google Video asset (closing) to YouTube was fantastic.

I've moved 17 videos from past years to YouTube.

Back in the day, YouTube videos had to be 10-minutes in length or less. Now I can upload longer videos there.

There was a simple button that was put onto the Google Video dashboard and bang, the videos jumped to YouTube.


Be sure to visit:

Meet your School Board Candidates from Northview Heights: Brentley, Freeman, Gilliam Rue

If this does not load, it is because the video is still in processing at YouTube. Check back soon.

Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: About teachers.

Part 3, only Mark Brentley's closing:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Decent article - I don't think they even used the word "quixotic" which might be a first: 

also some love on the Esquire politics blog forum:

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

PPS Election, candidate video, now live.


They spoke at an event at Northview Heights.


The Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania announces that economist Bill
Still will be the speaker for the April 30 Liberty Banquet, the
highlight of the 2011 Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania State
Convention, which will be held at the Quality Inn and Conference
Center in Franklin, PA on April 29 and 30.

Working in conjunction with Nobel Prize winning economist Milton
Friedman in 1996, Still produced and narrated the highly acclaimed
documentary, The Money Masters. It predicted the economic events that
are just starting to befall this country.  Along with his more recent
work, The Secret of OZ, Still offers a unique perspective not only on
what has caused America's economic woes but how we can solve them.

His work in the field of economics has been endorsed by Milton
Friedman and by the libertarian-leaning Congressman Ron Paul.

An acclaimed economist, Still has written 22 books on subjects ranging
from health to music and even a 7th grade history book that is used in
many schools today.   Additionally, this enthusiastic and talented
former newspaper editor has been published in many newspapers and
journals including USA Today and OMNI Magazine.  He is also known for
producing a syndicated radio program, Health News.

The Liberty Banquet is open to the public.   For more information or
to reserve tickets, contact Jim Fryman at (814) 432-4275 or Vance Mays
at (814) 437-9236.  To register for the Libertarian Party of
Pennsylvania annual convention, visit

Erik Viker, Media Relations
Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania
3915 Union Deposit Road #223
Harrisburg, PA 17109


Mark Rauterkus
412 298 3432 = cell

Cycling season starts for us on Tuesday. Rain kept us away last week.

At the Bud Harris track, the cycle begins anew

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Chris Popovic laughed while explaining the first cycling race of the year.
"Watching boys come back to the bike track is like watching girls show up to
the prom," said Popovic, president of the Allegheny Cycling Association --
the area's oldest and largest cycling club. "Everybody wants to see the new
bikes, the new kits, who's been training hard, who's gained a few pounds.
"But it's a good time because everybody gets back to what they love to do."
The boys -- and girls -- officially got back to the Bud Harris Cycling Track
on April 6, which marked the recurrence of one of Pittsburgh's greatest
cycling traditions: the weekly criterium races at the 12-year-old oval off
Washington Boulevard in Highland Park.
Whether young or old, cyclists gather in early April for 22 weeks of racing
at the half-mile oval, named after a key figure who lobbied the city to
convert the former driver testing center into a cycling venue.
The cycling association sponsors the races and uses them to promote bike
Each Tuesday there are races for women and juniors, along with a "C" class
race for both men and women. Wednesdays are the "A" and "B" classes -- more
advanced -- men's races. And, starting the first week of May, races expand
to Saturdays for new rider clinics, skills training and make-up dates.
While Pittsburgh-area cycling is hardly confined to this particular track,
located next to the Zone 5 police barracks, the Bud Harris Cycling Track
serves as a weekly gathering spot for cycling enthusiasts, a neighborhood
bar without the beer and nuts.
"Racing at the Bud Harris track has become the centerpiece of the Pittsburgh
racing community," said Mike Carroll, a local race promoter.
"A lot of people will go as far away as Oklahoma and South Carolina, but
having that weekly competition to work with your friends and get faster
really positions riders to do better at events on a national scale. They
challenge each other every week to train, and that extra bit of motivation
really helps."
*On the right track*
A night of racing costs $10 for adults, $5 for juniors, and all participants
must be licensed through USA Cycling. Rider without a license can buy one on
race night.
On a typical Tuesday after registration, the festivities begin with a short
instructional segment -- touching on safety, nutrition or bike maintenance
-- before riders take to the track for a few warm-up laps.
"Years ago, it was assumed that if you came down to race, you knew what you
were doing," Popovic said. "But it can be a very intimidating experience to
get out on a track, so we try to ensure the riders are educated."
Nathan Clair, a seventh-grader in the North Allegheny School District, has
been a regular at Bud Harris for the past three years and finished first in
the Junior Point Series last season.
The pack-style races have helped Clair improve on some technical aspects of
the sport.
"Whenever I'm at Bud Harris, it helps me because it's not a huge, important
state race," Clair said. "It helps me focus on drafting, keeping a steady
line instead of swerving and getting used to being in a close paceline."
Tyler Mower agrees. An eighth-grader in the Plum School District, Mower has
been racing since he was 12.
Recently, Mower added Wednesday night races -- a testament to his growing
level of talent and bike control -- to his weekly training regimen and will
travel to Augusta, Ga., for Junior Nationals this summer.
"The Bud Harris track got me used to the race environment," Mower said.
The city's most popular youth cycling club is one to which Clair belongs:
Team Citius. Formed last year by Fred Gohh, Citius members -- especially
those who aren't yet mature enough to ride with the adults -- use the weekly
races as a way to get accustomed to competition.
"This year, I have five or six kids who are 10, 11 or 12 years old," said
Gohh, whose group started with about 18 riders and now has 25. "They might
not be strong enough to ride with the adults, but you can see that they're
excited about going out."
A big part of cycling's growth here -- many high schools are incorporating
the sport into physical education classes -- has been the Bud Harris Cycling
According to Suzanne Atkinson, who owns her own cycling coaching company
called Steel City Endurance, it's something that makes Pittsburgh special.
"It's a unique venue for a city to have," said Atkinson, who also runs Club
Velo Femme, a women's cycling club. "In talking to friends around the
country, there are not a lot of places that have a dedicated biking oval
that's also traffic-free. It's really outstanding."
Read more: At the Bud Harris track, the cycle begins anew - Pittsburgh

Thursday, April 21, 2011

From Marc Field, golf instructor at First Tee of Pgh, and Schenley's Golf Course

The First Tee program is one of the best things in Pittsburgh -- ever, anywhere. It rocks. And I hate golf. These guys are great. The program is first class. Everything there is splendid. If you are in the city and don't get your kid golfing there -- then shame on you. And, it goes year-round as they have indoor simulators as well.

Grant, 13, is a fine golfer now. Both Erik and I, not so much. So, if you ever want to play a round of golf, contact Grant (through me of course).

Feel invited.

The First Tee of Pittsburgh would like to invite you to join us for The First Tee of Pittsburgh Junior Golf Weekend, April 29 – May 1.  As part of our 10th Anniversary Pittsburgh City Council, Allegheny County Council and the PA House of Representatives have all issued proclamations to help us officially celebrate.  The purpose of Junior Golf Weekend is to promote golf as a great activity for area youth and families while helping everyone learn our code of conduct  -  respect yourself, respect others, and respect your surroundings.

I hope you are able to join us at The Bob O’Connor Golf Course in Schenley Park for some of the great family activities we have planned:

Friday, April 29 from 4 – 7 PM is Family Golf Night.  We want to encourage all  families to spend time together so we are offering discounted foursomes with special family tees.  All golf equipment will be provided for free.

Saturday, April 30 from 9:30 – 10:30 AM The Greater Pittsburgh Golf Course Superintendents Association will present a free “Care of the Course” clinic.  This will be followed by a free golf instruction clinic hosted by World Golf Hall of Famer Carol Semple Thompson from 11:30 – 1:30.

Sunday, May 1 from 10:30 – 11:30 AM the West Penn Golf Association will present an interactive Rules Clinic for juniors.    From 12 – 2 PM The Tri State PGA will lead a free instructional clinic.

Both Saturday and Sunday will also include many free golf games and skill contests presented by our teen Junior Activity Board.   Junior Golf Weekend is our chance to show you how The First Tee of Pittsburgh promotes positive youth development through golf based on nine core values such as sportsmanship, honesty, courtesy, and respect.  Please join us.

TSPGAweb  11_wpga_mast_navy_text    gpgcsalogo
03_STACKED_RED_RGB  pic13882  dicks_logo  gianteagle 

Marc Field
The First Tee of Pittsburgh
5370 Schenley Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

412-682-2405 (fax)


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Libertarian monthly meeting tonight at 7pm at Ritters

Why participate?
It is simply the right thing to do. When you see a great wrong occurring, you are complicit in that wrong if you sit back and do nothing. I would acknowledge that there are other ways of participating in politics besides the LP - other ways that may be more effective in promoting change, at least in the short run. However, I see the LP as the most clear and direct way to challenge the political establishment, and so in that sense it is it's own reward.
Wednesday meetings happen once a month. Open to all.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fwd: Policy Brief: Education Employment Grows by Leaps and Bounds

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Allegheny Institute <>
Date: Friday, April 15, 2011
Subject: Policy Brief: Education Employment Grows by Leaps and Bounds
To: Allegheny Institute <>

Policy BriefAn electronic publication of The Allegheny Institute for
Public PolicyApril 15, 2011

                 Volume 11, Number 23  Education Employment Grows by
Leaps and Bounds School districts around the region and across the
Commonwealth are grappling with the realities of the coming fiscal
year and exploring methods of cost-savings and revenue enhancements.
In recent weeks the possibilities of furloughs, pay freezes, tax
increases, school closures, mergers, and student fees (either
separately or in combination) have been mentioned.  In a visit to
southwestern Pennsylvania last week the Governor said "We're going to
work with school districts and see what they can do…" He went on to
say that there might have to be some consolidations or mergers. This
came on the heels of his request to reopen labor contracts and
negotiate pay freezes. To date the Pennsylvania School Boards
Association has reported that 56 districts across the state have
negotiated a wage freeze with some or all of their employees
(teachers, administrators, or staff).

It is worth exploring what happened in the past decade in Pennsylvania
to assess the current situation. While school enrollment fell,
employee headcount in elementary and secondary education grew.
Employment outpaced the growth in population and local government
employment by a wide margin. The U.S. Census Survey of Local
Government Employment and Payroll provides data on nearly thirty
categories of local personnel, everything from police and fire to
water and sewerage. Elementary and secondary education employment is
the largest category in Pennsylvania, representing 60 percent of all
local full time equivalents (FTE) in 2009. It has two sub-categories
(instructional employees and other employees) that totaled 265,620
FTE. All other local government employment FTE in Pennsylvania
amounted to 176,404. From 2001 through 2009 the education category
grew 24 percent, from 214,968 to 265,620. That was eight times as fast
as local government employment excluding elementary and secondary
education, which grew only 3 percent. It also rose much faster than
the state's population (3%), and greatly exceeded the change in public
school enrollment, which actually decreased (-2% from 1.821 million to
1.780 million). Another way of looking at this is to examine
employment to population. In 2001, there were 175 education FTE per
10,000 people; by 2009, the rate was 211 per 10,000. On a per 100
student basis, the FTE rate grew from 11.8 to 14.9. Category20012009%
ChangeTotal Local Government FTE386,907442,02414%Elem/Sec
FTE214,968265,62024%Non Elem/Sec FTE171,939176,4043%State
Population12,281,05412,604,7673%Public School
Enrollment1,821,6071,780,413-2% At the same time, Pennsylvania's
performance on the SAT exam showed no improvement. The math score was
essentially unchanged while the reading score slipped slightly.
Clearly the enormous growth in education employment and spending is
the result of the belief that education will improve with more
resources. And just as clearly the data for the last decade proves
once again the fallacy of that belief.  The 2011-12 state budget
together with a proposal to begin a limited voucher program are likely
to dramatically alter the employment and spending trajectory in
elementary and secondary education in Pennsylvania. Eric Montarti,
Senior Policy Analyst
                                              Jake Haulk, Ph.D.,
President For updates and commentary on daily issues please visit our
blog at If you have enjoyed reading this
Policy Brief and would like to send it to a friend, please feel free
to forward it to them.


Mark Rauterkus
412 298 3432 = cell

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bruce Kraus raves about his trip to San Francisco. Worry reasons here.

Bruce Kraus raves about his trip to San Francisco. Worry reasons reside in ideas in this news.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Civic Arena: Petition and its easter is just around the bunny trail!

Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

From: Melissa McSwigan <>
Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2011 17:35:54 -0700 (PDT)
To: <>
Subject: Civic Arena: Petition

After the Sports and Exhibition Authority and Planning Commission voted to demolish the Arena this past summer/fall, Eloise McDonald of the Hill District nominated the Civic Arena for local historic designation. Preservation Pittsburgh and Reuse the Igloo co‑authored the nomination.


To date, the Historic Review Commission and Planning Commission have both rejected the nomination even though the Arena clearly meets several of the preservation ordinance criteria, only one of which needs to be met in order to qualify. Thus, the final decision on the nomination rests with City Council (vote could happen in May or June).


Demolishing the Civic Arena will have environmental, economic, and aesthetic impact, and once it's gone it can never be brought back. Why should we tear down this marvel of modernism only to build something ordinary on the site or, even worse, use the area for surface parking? We believe a re-purposed Arena as part of the Lower Hill redevelopment could be an exciting centerpiece and a renewed icon for Pittsburgh.  It could be a win-win situation for all parties –the Penguins, Hill residents, and the region at large.


Despite the odds, there are still reasons to be optimistic.


But we could really use your help by:


-Signing the following petition to government officials at the local, state, and federal level (including City Council):


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.





Melissa McSwigan

Board Member, Preservation Pittsburgh



For further information, please visit:


Dave mixes sports and politics in a movie

Chuck Half wrote in an email that landed here:

Thank you for expressing your opposition today to a Special Exception being granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for a social club with liquor license at 2214 E. Carson Street. Clearly, the will of South Side property owners, residents, businesses, and community organizations is to be granted a reasonable legal voice in zoning and permitting business options in the South Side. The ZBA will be making a decision based upon its very limited sphere of influence within 30-days.

Mayor Ravenstahl has supported this specific concern since March 2009 when he instructed the Law Department to defend any court action challenging the City’s 2007 Ordinance limiting the number of liquor licenses in a Pittsburgh Local Neighborhood Commercial (LNC) Zoning District. His agreement to support your wishes evolved from lessons learned during 15 meetings of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for the South Side (MACSS).

In mid-March 2011, PA’s Commonwealth Court upheld the decision by Allegheny County’s Court of Common Pleas reaffirming the unlawfulness of City of Pittsburgh’s “liquor saturation” ordinance. The ordinance was judged to be “an infringement upon the power of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). The Pennsylvania Liquor Code vests the PLCB with exclusive power to control and regulate the business of dispensing liquor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. By limiting the number of restaurants with bars in the area surrounding East Carson Street, Defendants [Planning Department and City Permitting Process] are impermissibly seeking to regulate the business of dispensing liquor in the areas so designated in the ordinance.”

Does the PLCB have too much power and impact in determining the balance of businesses in our South Side neighborhood? What do you want? Should the PA state government be operating wines and spirits stores in our neighborhoods? Should a robot kiosk be selling you wine in a grocery store? Should you be able to purchase beer, wine, and liquor in a single location? Should a South Side neighborhood improvement district (NID) be allowed to assess each restaurant with bar a fee based upon occupancy, or gross revenues, to pay for additional police protection, parking enforcement, and neighborhood cleanliness? Are any of these questions inter-connected?

Mayor Ravenstahl has requested, and the City’s Law department has agreed, to carry forth an argument of appeal of this anti-South Side decision to the PA Supreme Court. Until an appeal is officially filed by the City, however, any zoning applications and permits for restaurants with bars to the East Carson Street LNC can not be delayed. When the appeal is submitted, and until a PA Supreme Court determination is made, the liquor saturation ordinance will, again, be temporarily in effect. If the lawyer side of you is interested, go to

Chuck Half

South Side Comminity Representative, and City Performance Manager - PittMAPS

Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

512 City-County Building, 414 Grant Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

412.255.0819 -office

412.287.2650 - mobile

I did NOT go to the public hearing nor make comment about this issue.

What does the city do well?

One slide in Bill Peduto's presentation says, "Best Practice Review: City does some things well." Really. To speak the concept, even many times, does not make it true.

What, exactly, does the Pittsburgh city government do well? Why not list them in the presentation?

City government does not keep track of its finances well, at all.

City government spends too much, as shown by the pension liability. Perhaps the inverse could be made to be true in that the city is GREAT at over-spending on workers who don't work for the city any longer. The city is great at trading votes for political favors: political paving, jobs and patronage, firefighters contract details, etc.

The city had been really good at giving away TIFs and other tax breaks in super creative ways. Remember how clever they were with the hotel developers at Bakery Square and "air rights" so as to not use the ground floor of buildings to skirt union employees.

To be fair, I do think that the city does a fine job at trash collection.

Here is Bill's slide show:

Before you talk about Barry Bonds, read up about jury nullification

This is a great place to start:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Pgh Public Schools parent meeting April 28th

Hello Parents - Please join Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane for a discussion on the 2011/12 budget and beyond!  This truly affects every family…don’t miss this one – bring a friend!

EVENT:   Excellence For All Parent Steering Committee

DATE:     April 28, 2011

TIME:      Dinner to be served at 5:30p.m.
               Meeting runs from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
            *Childcare is available*

WHERE:  Barack Obama Academy of International Studies / Schenley
               129 Denniston Avenue  
   Pittsburgh PA 15206

TOPIC:    $$$ Budget $$$  Please join Superintendent, Dr. Linda Lane, CFO Mr. Pete Camarda, and Title program coordinator, Mrs. Tamiya Larkin, for an all things budget conversation including:
·         The governors proposed cuts in education spending
·         An overview of it’s impact on the District’s finances
·         A look at the overall district budget
·         Site-based budgeting process
·         Title 1 budgets and parent involvement set aside  
RSVP: IMPORTANT: Please e-mail Wanda Spencer at to let her know how many are attending, including children. 
The Excellence for All parent steering committee is about parents from every school receiving information and engaging in two-way conversations with the Superintendent and other staff members so they can become more effective in helping their student succeed.  This comes along with the burden of helping other parents become more involved so their children can benefit from their involvement.

We need your help in reaching out to parents in your school or other schools.  Please share information with them.  Please recruit other parents to become a part of this group as well.  Remember we are looking for 1 to 4 parents from each school.

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday, please remember to RSVP

Mark A. Conner
Director of Family and Community Engagement
Pittsburgh Public Schools
341 S. Bellefield Avenue, Ste 359
Pittsburgh, PA  15213
Phone:  (412) 622-3941    
parent hotline: (412) 622-7920

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sports Headline: Lucky to get zero. These guys got ripped!

I love the sports reporting abroad. Here is annalysis of a rugby game between my old home town of Christchurch / Canteberry Crusaiders of New Zealand and South Africa's Blue Bulls. The Bulls are defending champions from last season. Those Bulls didn't do so well, it seems.

I get a kick out of the tone of the reporting. (pun), all within a single article:

+ Lucky to get zero
+ No threat of All Star players. All teams have their best players get lifted for stints on national teams. That's a good thing, generally.
+ Guys throwing away their names.
+ thrashed
+ Darkest day
+ thrashed
+ pathetic performance
+ unable to catch, unable to tackle, unable to think
+ showed about as much heart as a French soldier during the opening weeks of the Second World War.
+ Players have completely lost the plot.
+ Simple ease of making mistakes.
+ Senior players can't point fingers after his own poor effort
+ Not showing enough courage and passion.
+ display a shocking inability to master the basic skills of the game.
+ we could not keep hold of the ball
* It’s nice to read about a new living room set or a snazzy garden from a player in family magazines, but to gain respect from fans, you should as least be able to catch a ball and wear your jersey with pride. This characteristic is absent among the current crop of players.
+ did not belong on the same field.
+ Best ever example of simply cannot perform worse.
+ half-hearted attempted tackles
+ it was one-way traffic.
+ one handling error after the other halted them from posing any real threat
+ harsh reality: urgent introspection from every member is surely required.

Full article:

Bulls lucky to get zero

Pretoria - The one positive the Blue Bulls Company should take from yesterday's woeful Bulls performance is that they probably won’t lose any players for the Currie Cup competition.

It is incredibly hard to envision them producing any Springboks for the World Cup if they keep on performing like they did against the Crusaders.

The Crusaders thrashed the (current) champions 27-0.

It is not often that you see guys throwing away their names in 80 minutes of rugby like we saw yesterday, which is probably the Bulls' darkest day in recent Super Rugby history.

You would have to go back to 2005, when they also scored zero points (against the Higlanders), to find a more pathetic performance like the one in Timaru yesterday.

The Bulls were unable to catch, unable to tackle, unable to think, and showed about as much heart as a French soldier during the opening weeks of the Second World War.

Yes, they were lucky to get zero.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke simply cannot continue ignoring the reality of the performance from some of his players.

Pierre Spies, Wynand Olivier and Fourie du Preez, to name a few, have completely lost the plot.

And, if they want to have any chance whatsoever against the Reds next week, Ludeke has to make some drastic changes.

Every player makes mistakes, but the simple ease with which players like Spies and Olivier knocks the ball on, is simply unacceptable.

A clearly frustrated Victor Matfield admitted that those mistakes are unacceptable, but he could hardly point any fingers after his own poor effort.

Chris Jack taught him a lesson at lineout time, and his own handling error just after halftime resulted in the second Crusaders try at a crucial juncture in the match.

But, this is their problem. The senior players are not showing enough courage and passion and display a shocking inability to master the basic skills of the game.

"Not once could we build phases, simply because we could not keep hold of the ball," Matfield complained afterwards.

It’s nice to read about a new living room set or a snazzy garden from a Bulls player in family magazines, but to gain respect from rugby fans, you should as least be able to catch a rugby ball and wear your jersey with pride.

Unfortunately, this characteristic is absent among the current crop of Bulls.

However, one should not take away anything from the Crusaders, who currently play top-notch rugby, even without the likes of Dan Carter and Ritchie McCaw.

Sonny Bill Williams is the all beast he’s been made out to be, and the disregard he showed for the Bulls defence to score his team’s first try, shows exactly just how much better he is than the Bulls centre pairing.

The Crusaders completely dominated their opponents in every aspect of the game.

The Bulls simply did not belong on the same field.

If there’s ever been an example of one team giving it as good as they’ve got, and one who simply cannot perform worse, then yesterday’s match was just that.

Williams’ try, after he easily broke through half-hearted attempted tackles by Morne Steyn and Wynand Olivier, and three penalties from flyhalf Matt Berquist, gave the Crusaders a handy, though not unassailable lead at halftime.

Matfield’s blunder though, resulted in a try by Israel Dagg, and after that it was one-way traffic.

The Bulls tried to get momentum, with guys like Zane Kirchner, Francois Hougaard and Dean Greyling giving their best, but one handling error after the other halted them from posing any real threat to the Crusaders line.

The Bulls only chance for points came in the first half, when Morne Steyn missed a penalty.

This is the harsh reality for a team, where urgent introspection from every member is surely required.
And Bruce Kraus thought I gave him a hard time. Ha.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Meet the four Dem Party candidates for nomination for Pittsburgh City Council, District 3. March Debate Videos

From my camera to your brain, thanks to the efforts of the South Side Community Council and the Brashear Assocation, from March 2011.

Each of the 12 parts has the replies from the four candidates, with one miss due to a different camera angle need. The order is mixed among the four with each question.

My opinions are being curbed in this blog post.

Hint: The Viddler video server software is especially valuable as mini-notes can be put into the video along the timeline button. But, to leave a note, you'll need to use a Viddler account and log in.

Part 1: Opening statements:

Part 2: Two problems, quality of life, and realistic solutions:

Part 3: Proposed Neighborhood Improvement District, NID:

Part 4: Saturation of bars on the South Side and the failed attempt to restrict them:

Part 5: Cooperation and relationship with the mayor's office:

Part 6: Cooperation with East Carson Street Business Owners:

Part 7: Best asset of the South Side and its protection:

Part 8: South Side Slopes and Flats distinctions:

Part 9: Parks plans:

Part 10: Bad boy city employees:

Part 11: Keeping tax incomes in the South Side:

Part 12 and conclusion:

Your comments are welcome as part of this blog posting, or at, or best of all, within the timeline of the videos. Click the bead that scrolls along the horizontal timeline and insert your tidbits. Then those remarks show up for others to see as they watch.

Feel free to email this URL to others to have them check out the videos on the Pittsburgh group at Viddler: .

The direct link to this blog posting is:  .

Kites for KidsVoice

I'd love it if you and/or your spouse/significant other might come to the KidsVoice gala, Kitetails and Cocktails, on Thursday, April 28th at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.  Your fellow POP, Randy Tracht, is on the host committee, along with his wife Annie. It promises to be a fun night out with plenty of good food and libations, live music from Tres Lads, and some sweet auction items from sports memorabilia to meals and whiskey tastings to a week's stay in Barbados or at Siesta Key.  There's even the chance to have your kid help coach the Steelers players charity basketball team this Spring.  Kitetails and Cocktails tix are $100.
The second part of our April events (in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month) is Kites For Kids, a community event at the zoo on Saturday, April 30th from 11am-3pm. There will be kite themed goings on, and the awarding of a $5,000 educational scholarship to the winner of the American Eagle sponsored kite decorating and design contest for children ages 5-21.  Entries can be dropped off at the Southside American Eagle store.  Other than the usual zoo admission (and many of you have memberships), there's no cost to participate in Kites For Kids.  So please bring your families out to show that you support and believe in the 4,000 abused and neglected children KidsVoice represents in Allegheny County each year.  Many of our clients will be there anonymously to experience that.  Thanks. 
There's an electronic version of the Kitetails and Cocktails invite below for your consideration -- and to pass along to others if you're so inclined.  If you're company is interested in possibly being a sponsor for the events, or if you'd like more info about the scholarship contest or events, visit

We've been watching the TV series, "The Event."

This is a 25 minute video. It has nothing to do with "The Event." But -- you can connect the dots.

Nice music too if you are into that New Age swing.

Not in Boston -- home of the ZERO win Red Sox.

National Conference for Media Reform is live! More than 2,500 people are in Boston through Sunday to attend panels, plenaries, parties and more. 
Head over to our conference site to watch live video and join online chats throughout the weekend (more details below).

Heather Heidelbaugh's invite for a fundraiser with US Senator, Pat Toomey

Have a good time!
Heidelbaugh Fundraiser with Special Guest Pat Toomey

Heather Heidelbaugh Attorney at Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir, P.C.

Date: April 7, 2011

Dear Friend: You are invited to my Friday, April 29, 2011 Fundraiser Lunch with Special Guest United States Senator Pat Toomey. The luncheon is from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. at The Duquesne Club and the contribution is $300 per person. The Election for County Council at Large is May 17, 2011 and therefore this Fundraiser is the culmination of one (1) year of campaigning and raising money for the Election. It would be my honor if you would attend the fundraiser. The campaign has assembled one of the best Host Committees I have ever seen to sell tickets to the event. In addition, we are sending out hard copy invitations. You are receiving this electronic invite for a couple of reasons: a.) you are my friend and I’m hoping you won’t mind receiving an invitation in this manner, b.) an electronic invitation saves the campaign precious dollars to be used for literature to the voters. If you can attend this event, please reply in an email and I will send you the formal invitation and an RSVP card.

If you have an email database, and can send this email to your friends, I would be forever grateful! Hope to see you on the 29th.

Also, the campaign had a really good day on Tuesday! We received the endorsement of Jim Roddey, Chair of the Allegheny County Republican Party.

Thank you so much for your support.

Heather Heidelbaugh

Sports are For the Betterment of the human condition

This is an important time and an important story. I've posted before that football, as we know it, is on the downward slope. Its peak has been realized. A long march to the fringes has begun.
Former high school football player sues Highlands School District over head injuries

Friday, April 08, 2011, By Vivian Nereim, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A former high school football player who still struggles with symptoms of brain trauma sued the Highlands School District Thursday in U.S. District Court, alleging that his coach and trainer improperly sent him back into games after violent, damaging collisions.

Zachary Alt, 19, of Fawn, also claims in the lawsuit that school administrators shuffled him through classes after a particularly severe head injury, allowing him to graduate though he was barely able to do schoolwork.

"It has been a nightmare, to say the least," said his mother, Megan Alt, at a news conference Thursday. "It has changed my whole family."

In a written statement, school district officials declined to comment, saying they had not yet reviewed the lawsuit.

"When the lawsuit is presented, the district solicitor, Mr. Ira Weiss, will respond through the court system," said spokeswoman Misty Chybrzynski.

The issue of young football players sustaining head injuries -- particularly concussions -- has gained traction across the state recently, spurring legislative bills and awareness campaigns.

At least two Western Pennsylvania boys have received fatal concussions during high school football practices during the last six years.

Mr. Alt's head injuries were life-altering, his mother said. Since a helmet-to-helmet collision with a linebacker in 2007, the young man has experienced hot flashes, depression, insomnia, nausea, dry heaves and vomiting, she said.

"I don't want to stop football..." Ms. Alt said. "But I do want to stop this from happening to other kids. He's never going to be the same again."

Mr. Alt sat silently through the news conference, his face somber. His lawyer, Robert Peirce III, said the young man's mother would speak on his behalf.

Ms. Alt said her son began playing football at age 8, and later joined the varsity team at Highlands High School, often playing fullback despite his smaller size.

"He really was known as being tough as nails..." Mr. Peirce said. "He was proud that he was able to do it."

The injuries the lawsuit details stem from the fall 2007 season, when Mr. Alt was a 15-year-old sophomore.

According to the legal complaint, he sustained a serious hit to the head during an Oct. 12 game, but continued to play. He was not evaluated by staff, his lawyer claimed. The same thing happened Nov. 2, according to the complaint.

Then, Nov. 9, during a playoff game against Knoch High School, Mr. Alt collided with another player helmet-to-helmet.

"Clearly disoriented," Mr. Alt jogged off laboriously, then began to "aimlessly" walk on the sidelines, the complaint alleges.

Mr. Alt was not removed from the game, despite teammates' worries, according to the complaint. Instead, he was instructed to go after the opposing team's middle linebacker, the complaint claims.

"He went to make the block, went as hard as he could, and that's the last thing he remembers," Mr. Peirce said.

After the game, Ms. Alt took her son to the emergency room at the Alle-Kiski Medical Center, where staff diagnosed a substantial head injury, according to the complaint.

Throughout the year, the boy's schoolwork and attendance declined, his mother said. But despite missing much of the spring semester, he received nearly straight A's that year, the complaint claims. He eventually graduated.

Mr. Alt's lawsuit also names the school's principal, assistant principal, football coach athletic trainer as defendants.

The suit was filed federally because Mr. Alt's lawyers believe the school's actions violated his constitutional right to an education, they said. The complaint seeks damages in excess of $75,000, the standard for federal court.

"He is unable to work an eight-hour day." Mr. Peirce said of his client.

"He tries to work," Mr. Peirce added. "His mother is an operator with a local cleaning business. He tries to clean when he can. Other times he will clean a local office building and will have to lie down after an hour."

Ms. Alt's younger son, a student in the same district, has since asked to play football, she said. She refused.

Vivian Nereim: or 412-263-1413. Staff writer Malak Shaher contributed.

Read more:

Zachary, I hope you have a good day today, and every day. I expect that that wish is not possible, but your care and health are a worry.

Most of all, I wish that Z and his family do not suffer any other pains and harm that stems from anything else in the community about this 'whistleblower' acts that are now stepping forward in the courts. The court case is going to take a life of its own and it might be a monumental or else trivial set of events. I'd hate to see more hardships heaped upon the situation from any party from coaches, trainers, medical folks, peers, district, community and media. The politics might make this football a hard one to handle. Many will try to get this to go away and 'drop the case.'

Marty Griffin of KDKA radio had a show segment devoted to this case yesterday. I posted a reply to his question, "Would you let your son play football?" Marty has a gimpy knee due to his 'playing days' at Central Catholic. He is reminded of that often. My two sons won't play football. Perhaps when they are in college and out from under my roof, that might be an option. But not before then, I'm certain.

Football is the worst. But soccer, with the plays of the ball off of the head, is also very bad. If that element of the game could be removed from soccer, then they might be permitted to play that sport.

I am not ready to launch a crusade against football, just yet. But, it is something to keep under consideration. Too much good comes from the sports experience to remove it fully as an option. Who am I to say that others can't do this or that -- like play football. I won't lead that charge. I'm too much of a libertarian to think I know what's best for others. If there are others that want to play, coach and watch football, and I'm a big fan at times, then so be it.

I don't have any need to see the sport expand, however. I was sad when Robert Morris and Duquesne University put football into their athletic departments. As they put 80 or so guys into football pads, they take the spots that other Olympic sports players could have. The Title IX reality means football is bad news. Since DU offered football, it was able to cut baseball, wrestling and men's swimming. That's 'wrongheaded.'

Remember boxing? These days you need to be someone like Wayne Fontana, D, to support it. One day football will be as popular as boxing is today. And sadly, there won't be heros in this struggle.

In sports, you win by addition. If any victory can occur, in this long trend, it will come with water polo, cycling, ultimate (Frisbee), golf, lifesaving, kayaking, and the grad-daddy of them all, rugby 7s. Toss in eco races as well.

They don't play American Football, or "gridiron" in Australia and New Zealand, for example. It isn't missed. It is played in some instances, but it is a minor sport. That's fine. That might be its destiny here too, even in western Pennsylvania.

I have no problem with a high school not offering football, as is the case at Vincentian High School.

Schenley High School, set to close as part of Pittsburgh Public Schools, as well as Peabody High School, had football teams. Now that those schools are closing, they won't have football teams come 2011, of course. New to the scene will be a football team at U-Prep. (U-Prep is part of PPS and is to have grades 6-12.) There won't be a team at Pgh Obama, 6-12. But those students, as well as the ones at Sci-Tech will play with the U-Prep football team.

With the low number of boys slated for Pittsburgh Westinghouse, I expect it will be nearly impossible to field a team there in the fall of 2011. Time will tell.

Langley football is a stretch too. There are so few kids at some of the schools.

I suggest we consider making a couple of "Football Factories." Put all the players into a couple of schools and then let the other schools pass on football. If you want to go to a school and play football, enroll at one of the few schools that offer the sport.