Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Join tonight's talkcast -- Electronic Voting -- while the NH results begin to arrive

Podcast Announcement:

Join our PodCast Tue, January 8, 2008
Time: 10:00 PM EST

You have been invited to join a live Talkcast.

Listen to or Join a Talkcast - Episode: Electronic Voting Machines
Host: Rauterkus - Mark@Rauterkus.com

The article in the NY Times magazine asks: Can You Count On These Machines?

By CLIVE THOMPSON, Published: January 6, 2008 is required reading
before the discussion.

We'll talk about that article in this talkcast, hosted by Mark Rauterkus, with a special guest from Utah, Kathy Dopp. Kathy Dopp's fact-finding and investigative efforts puts her at the head of the class nation-wide. Dopp is a Mathematician and expert in election audit mathematics and procedures. She resides in Park City, Utah and has sites on the web:

Local Pennsylvania experts have been invited as well. Open to all citizens, voters, advocates, candidates and even our friends in New Hampshire.

Talkcast ID: 3181

Scheduled Time:

Date: Tue, January 8, 2008
Time: 10:00 PM EST

How to participate:

Call in:

1. Dial: (724) 444-7444
2. Enter: 3181 # (Talkcast ID)
3. Enter: 1 # or your PIN

or Join from your computer:
Go to http://www.talkshoe.com and sign up

1. Become a TalkShoe member
2. Download and install TalkShoe Live client
3. Click here to join the Talkcast

Listen to the Recording:
If you missed this event or want to hear previous recorded episodes click here.


The NY Times Magazine article heavily quotes Pittsburg Carnegie Mellon
University's Michael Shamos

A rebuttal to CMU's Michael Shamos was written by Arthur M. Keller,
Edward Cherlin, and David Mertz.

As noted in their paper: "During those years he [Shamos] personally
examined more than 100 different computerized voting systems for
certification purposes. In the 2000 election, machines for which he
participated in certification (which did not include Florida) were
used to count more than 11% of the popular vote of the United States".

As David Webber notes, 'One can therefore attribute a large chunk of
the problems with current voting systems to the fact that Shamos
singularly failed to identify those during his "certification".'

Webber adds, "Shamos has all kinds of academic qualifications - but
absent from his resume is actual production implementation of systems.
His comments read like those of someone who has never actually built
real systems himself and deployed them for public use in mission
critical environments."

As the NY Times article notes: "IF YOU WANTED to know where the next
great eruption of voting-machine scandal is likely to emerge, you'd
have to drive deep into the middle of Pennsylvania." and "21
electoral-college votes, a relatively large number that could decide a
tight presidential race" where Michael Shamos has certified
touch-screen voting systems with no paper ballot records.

Another excellent response to the New York Times Magazine Article on E-voting
January 06, 2008
by Dan Wallach


Kathy Dopp

The material expressed herein is the informed product of the author
Kathy Dopp's fact-finding and investigative efforts. Dopp is a
Mathematician, Expert in election audit mathematics and procedures; in
exit poll discrepancy analysis; and can be reached at

P.O. Box 680192
Park City, UT 84068
phone 435-658-4657


History of Confidence Election Auditing Development & Overview of
Election Auditing Fundamentals

Vote Yes on HR811 and S2295

Voters Have Reason to Worry

"Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body
and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day," wrote
Thomas Jefferson in 1816

Monday, January 07, 2008

More planning meetings about schools -- Sunday at 2 pm -- and my TalkShoe.com conference call on WED at 10 pm

We are planning another strategy meeting for 2 pm next Sunday, Jan. 13, at the Panerra on the Boulevard of the Allies. The next board hearing is January 14 and we would like to coordinate some talking points and strategy.

Tentative topics:

1. Schenley building, status of current information regarding repair costs and extent

2. Schenley population: IB/IS, neighborhood, freshman class, segregation

3. High school reform: Think it through before committing further funds.

We are going to try to come up with a list of questions/concerns that we would like to have answered. The board hearings give us the opportunity to express our concerns but they do not give us any means to get answers to these questiosn or concerns. If you are unable to join us on Sunday, there are several ways to stay involved. Check out the telephone conference info listed below, send an email to me with questions/concerns and I will add to our list, write to your school board member expressing your thoughts, sign up to speak and the next hearing, write a letter to the editor. Most important: STAY INFORMED. Change is constant; know how it will affect you and your child(ren).

amy moore
(her phone # zapped by blog owner)


You are invited to a telephone conference call to ponder the possibilities of Schenley High School and School District Reform. Parents are gathering to organize efforts and insights. This TalkShoe.com "talkcast" uses either a telephone OR a computer (or both).

Topics include Schools in Pittsburgh. Parents and community members, get a grip on the proposed changes. Join the fellow parents who have been gathering to talk about the Pgh Public Schools on global basis. Politics, School Reform, Action-plans for Activists are fair game. We are NOT interested in individual concerns about specific kids. Rather, focus on the community, the schools, the agenda!

Meet at 10 pm (eastern) on WED, Jan 9, 2008. The meeting will conclude by 11 pm. After the conversation, the recorded conversation is available for download as a podcast.

No need to pay anything or RSVP. Just show up.

Host: Mark Rauterkus - Mark@Rauterkus.com
Talkcast ID: 3177

Date: Wed, January 9, 2008
Time: 10:00 PM EST

How to participate:

Call in:
1. Dial: (724) 444-7444
2. Enter: 3177 # (Talkcast ID)
3. Enter: 1 # or your PIN

Join from your computer:
1. Become a TalkShoe member
2. Download and install TalkShoe Live client
3. Click here to join the Talkcast

This is our first meeting with this forum / technology. Now is the time to join and be stronger advocates for the sake of the kids in the city.

Messages from the front lines of the PRESIDENTIAL race: First up, Ron Paul

In Iowa, many hundreds of volunteers worked day and night for our campaign. College kids took their Christmas vacations in the snow for freedom. Thousands of people donated to make it all possible. We had many phone calls, brochures, mailings, advertising. Revolutionaries from all over the country sent handwritten letters to every voter, and despite national media attacks and censorship, we got more than 10% of the vote. We also soundly beat a certain ex-mayor who started off the first debate by attacking a pro-American foreign policy and the explanatory doctrine of "blowback," the CIA's term for foreign intervention that causes trouble for us in return. The Golden Rule applies to nations as well as to individuals.

And speaking of debates, FOX blocked my participation in its last New Hampshire debate, but I think that hurt FOX more than us. We had a terrifically successful townhall meeting at the same time, and Jay Leno invited me on the Tonight Show again to discuss it. Many members of our movement were galvanized to overcome the bias, including me!

In our Iowa campaign, since it was a caucus, we were dealing with party activists for the most part, not the people. And some of the activists were very unhappy to hear our views, trying to scream them down! Others thought that peace violates Christianity. But New Hampshire is another story. There is a state and a people tailor-made for us. Live Free! Then there are Michigan, South Carolina, and Super Tuesday and its nearly 20 primaries. Frankly, we need $23 million more to have a chance of beating the establishment candidates.

I am working hard for our ideas, as I know you are. The attacks and even smears will increase as we do better. But they will not defeat our ideas. They cannot defeat out ideas. At this moment of urgency for America, with spending, taxes, spying, inflation, and wars out of control and threatening all we love, let us rededicate ourselves to freedom, prosperity, and peace. Already, I owe you all my thanks. Join me in this great endeavor in New Hampshire and beyond. Please make your most generous donation now: https://www.ronpaul2008.com/donate



See the comments for a rant from a supporter about some other supporter.

I just wrote to the volunteer, "Please don't fight one temper tantrum with another. Hit em between the eyes, but with class.

Record high -- and I'm not talking about city council

Go Ohio State!

My first son loves two football teams. In the college ranks, he pulls for the Ohio State Buckeyes. In the NFL, he pulls for the New England Patriots. This is a good week for him.

My second son and I are going to ride our bikes to swim practice tonight. It is so warm. Will be great. And, his team won the geography bee in his classroom today. At the end of Friday, there was a two-team show-down / overtime. The winning answer had something to do with a lake in a North American country -- and the video image I uploaded today to this blog (scroll lower) shows Grant, in CANDADA, ringing the bell after a day of swimming in a lake in ONTARIO.

It is easier to win the Geography Bee when you've traveled the world. Perspectives.

To my friends now in New Hampshire -- safe travels home.

The image below says "IOWA" in the sign. But, it might as well be Pittsburgh City Council -- today -- as the Dems took the oath of office.

I heard the word 'freedom' once in all the speeches. Ricky Burgess gets the prize. I heard 'free elections' one other time, from Doug Shields. The word "liberty" was not mentioned at all.

A+ Schools calls for the avoidance of a teacher strike

Join A+ Schools in urging the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers to resolve the issues related to the teacher’s contract in a way that avoids a strike and ensures that education our children progresses without interruption.

We expect all parties will do whatever is required to ensure that kids are never used as a bargaining chip, and that all negotiations will be conducted in a way that reflects compassion and commitment to the future of our city’s students.

What you can do:

* Call or email John Tarka, President of the PFT and Mark Roosevelt, Superintendent of PPS to urge them resolve the contract issues without a strike. You can leave a message – it still has an impact.

1. John Tarka: john_tarka@pft400.org or 412 431-5900

2. Mark Roosevelt: mroosevelt1@pghboe.net or 412 622-3600

* Send a letter to the editor of the Post Gazette and Tribune Review– urging both sides to find a resolution to the contract. letters@post-gazette.com and opinion@tribweb.com.

* Send a post card to both leaders! A+ Schools has produced post cards that can be signed and mailed to both leaders. If you would like these post cards please contact us at info@aplusschools.org or 412 258-2660. If you would like to help distribute post cards please let us know that as well.

Let our leaders hear from you!
That is one approach. Another action point -- join our telephone conversation on WEDNESDAY night at 10 pm to talk about schools. We'll talk about this as well.

I didn't hear A+ Schools Board Member Michael Lamb say that he was going to resign from the A+ Board now that he is a city employee who is charged, by the city charter, to do independent audits of the school district.

Where is Dr. Thompson these days?

From people & vips

City may limit campaign donations. Great. Peduto lurches ahead again

Ring the bell for change. Come and get it.
A bell to start the new year on Grant Street.
View Video

This is good news. It is the lead story in the Post-Gazette.
City may limit campaign donations City may limit campaign donations
State Supreme Court ruling clears the way
The State Supreme Court was NOT a road-block. Bill Peduto was.

Now, with the state court's recent decision, Bill Peduto does NOT have an excuse for ongoing delays to the discussion about this topic.

I'm able to beat up a bit on Bill Peduto because he didn't do what I felt he should have done in the past. He fumbled. An important conversation was started -- but -- he didn't have the follow-through to give it full consideration as it deserved. I'll get this rant out of my system and then we can move along.

First off, Philly should NOT be the tail that wags the dog. What Philly does is up to them. They can prove a negative, or fight a specific negative with the courts. But, that is just one element as to what could be done.

Awareness, education, politics, and discussion on our elections are critical. I want to settle differences without going to the courts. Judges never provide the best solutions. And, most of all, I want to settle differences without the need of going to the streets. Aggression and violence are not desired.

Our democracy is frail.

When people ignore serious problems and refuse to meet, act, discuss, and work on those serious problems -- and use a court case at the other end of the state as an excuse, then I'm disappointed.

Now, the log jam is broken.

Will another 'threat' or 'bump in the road' send this Peduto initiative back into the bunker for another two years?

The video is a blast from the past. The speaker is S.B., head of the League of Women Voters. She is speaking at a public hearing that I called after Bill Peduto introduced the first campaign finance reform bill, a few years ago.

League of Women Voters - you got to start somewhere. Agree with Mark.
View Video

Will the next campaign cycle wait while these matters get sorted? New rules are on the horizon -- and that means that the old rules are still in play. So, will there be a gold rush for candidates and campaigns now -- because of the lack of restrictions?

Pittsburgh politicians take $10,000 checks.

Pittsburgh is corrupt.

Pittsburgh is famous for back-room deals.

The political landscape in Pittsburgh needs a lot of help. Doing nothing, as the case lingered, harms our public life and cripples the hope for open, honest public service for the region's citizens.

Now let me take a few deep breaths and I'll get to the history of what was done, what could be done, and where Pittsburgh needs to go in the weeks ahead.

Bill Peduto -- run like the wind. You can streak if you wish. But, thankfully, you don't need to. The P-G is putting this story, this time, above the fold and on the front page as the lead story.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Why Lisa Bennington is abandoning Harrisburg

Brian O'N of the P-G wrote in the Sunday paper about Lisa Bennington, presently on the PA House. She represents parts of Pittsburgh.
Why Lisa Bennington is abandoning Harrisburg Maybe Harrisburg is not the place for anyone who already has a fulfilling career, as our statehouse demands an acceptance of accomplishing not very much. That leaves an open seat in a district straddling the Allegheny River, ...
Lisa is going to retire from the state assembly. She will NOT leave an open seat. When her term is finished, another will fill it.

Seats change. Terms end. Life marches on.

I posted in that thread mentioned at the Burgh Report. My opinions are reposted here, too:

Three cheers for L.B. (woops, had better be more specific) -- Lisa Bennington -- for doing a term in the state house and getting out.

I love term limits.

I love the concept of a citizen legislature.

I love that she got into the fray and can walk away.

That's P-O-W-E-R.

Yes, there is something more to her decision. It is called 'life.' The political realm is nearly life-less -- like a pond covered with scum.

I wish the OVERLORDS, as well as a cadre of others in office, would leave town as easily and with such grace as well.

I'd suggest that all terms in city gov. posts under any type of "OVERLORD" status (Act 47, ICA, etc.) be cut in half and be paid 50% less.

Newsmax.com - Fox Under Fire for Excluding Ron Paul

Newsmax.com - Fox Under Fire for Excluding Ron Paul This past Thursday, the Manchester Union Leader, New Hampshire's major newspaper, published a front-page editorial blasting news organizations that do not invite all candidates to their forums.

One hour LIVE web interview with Ron Paul from NH -- tonight!

Tonight on local New Hampshire television and simulcast on our website at http://www.ronpaul2008.com/snippets/127/manchester-townhall/, Ron Paul will take questions from an audience of undecided voters in the Granite State.

With the New Hampshire primary just two days away, Dr. Paul will bring his message of liberty and constitutional government directly to the people-real questions, real answers, as fair and balanced as politics gets.

Sunday, January 6, 2008
5:00 - 6:00 PM ET
Manchester, New Hampshire


Fox Loses GOP Debate Support

FOX News is pond scum. David Rhodes, vice president of Fox News, is like Wayne Fontana to me.
Newsmax.com - Fox Loses GOP Debate Support Fox Loses GOP Debate Support

The entire article:

Saturday, January 5, 2008 3:11 PM

The New Hampshire Republican Party dropped their affiliation with a Republican debate sponsored by Fox News tomorrow night because they have limited the number of candidates that can participate, according to a report in Boston.com.

"The first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary serves a national purpose by giving all candidates an equal opportunity on a level playing field," said Republican chair Fergus Cullen. "Only in New Hampshire do lesser known, lesser funded underdogs have a fighting chance to establish themselves as national figures."

The Fox debate is excluding Texas Congressman Ron Paul even though he polls higher in New Hampshire and has raised significantly more money, and is campaigning more in New Hampshire than Fred Thompson who is invited.

"We look forward to presenting a substantive forum which will serve as the first program of its kind this election season," David Rhodes, vice president of Fox News, said in a statement.
The other GOP candidates should not go to the debate without Ron Paul.

And, Ron Paul should show up at the debate anyway. But, you know, I think Ron Paul has better things to do in NH -- and that's hang out with the guys at the Liberty Fest.

One of the other bloggers had two words of advice for Ron Paul: "Show up."

I agree.

Furthermore, the motivation to the other candidates to get Ron Paul onto the stage with them is to get the good karma. There is a very small chance that Ron Paul could eventually bolt from the GOP rank and run for president as an Independent. If Ron Paul runs as an Independent, all Republican hopes for 2008 are down the drain.

Here is another bit of advice for FOX News. If I'm the network / news executive, I'd fire the moderator and put RON PAUL in his place. Have Ron Paul ask the questions. Have Ron Paul do the follow up.

They say that there isn't room in the pop up camper that Fox News uses as a studio. Make room. Subtract the journalist. Fox won't be doing real news anyway without the full field represented.

Live Free or Die. Fox News, and all who work there, and all who have invested money into that corporation, must be prepared for the worst. To crumble is ugly. Fox News is dead to me. The stench is sure to hit the eastern states shortly.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

It is bad when the presidential debates on ABC, without audience clapping, makes for better entertainment than the NFL playoff game

The 4th quarter of the game arrived as and the presidential debates ended. Perhaps the Steelers can turn up the heat and make it a good night for the home team.

By the way, Ron Paul did very well, again.

We could use that official from the Subway commercial to make another appearance.

[412] Happy New Year -- now let's get back to some serious community work.

My email blasts -- after a 2-month vacation -- have returned.
[412] Happy New Year -- now let's get back to some serious community work. [412] Happy New Year -- now let's get back to some serious community work.
Click there to read from the archives.

Talking about our Pgh Public Schools -- Invite: 10 pm on WED, Jan 9 via TalkShoe.com

You are invited to a telephone conference call to ponder the possibilities of Schenley High School and School District Reform. Parents are gathering to organize efforts and insights. This TalkShoe.com "talkcast" uses either a telephone OR a computer (or both).

Topics include Schools in Pittsburgh. Parents and community members, get a grip on the proposed changes. Join the fellow parents who have been gathering to talk about the Pgh Public Schools on global basis. Politics, School Reform, Action-plans for Activists are fair game. We are NOT interested in individual concerns about specific kids. Rather, focus on the community, the schools, the agenda!

Meet at 10 pm (eastern) on WED, Jan 9, 2008. The meeting will conclude by 11 pm. After the conversation, the recorded conversation is available for download as a podcast.

No need to pay anything or RSVP. Just show up.

Host: Mark Rauterkus - Mark@Rauterkus.com
Talkcast ID: 3177

Date: Wed, January 9, 2008
Time: 10:00 PM EST

How to participate:

Call in:
  1. Dial: (724) 444-7444
  2. Enter: 3177 # (Talkcast ID)
  3. Enter: 1 # or your PIN
Join from your computer:
  1. Become a TalkShoe member
  2. Download and install TalkShoe Live client
  3. Click here to join the Talkcast
This is our first meeting with this forum / technology. Now is the time to join and be stronger advocates for the sake of the kids in the city.

Rudy G Floats Dick Cheney For Vice President Again

Think Progress -- Rudy Floats Dick Cheney For Vice President Again Rudy Floats Dick Cheney For Vice President Again

In an event in New Hampshire last night, Rudy Giuliani suggested that — if he were to be elected president — he would like to choose someone like Dick Cheney to be his Vice President.

The Onion:
Giuliani To Run For President Of 9/11 | The Onion - America's Finest News Source: "'Sure, he has no foreign or national policy experience, and both his personal life and political career are riddled with scandal,' said Hammond. 'But in the key area of having been on TV on 9/11, the other candidates simply cannot match him. And as we saw in 2004, that's what matters most to voters in this post-9/11 world.'"

Friday, January 04, 2008

Dear New Hampshire,

My name is Mark Rauterkus. I am a swim coach in Pittsburgh, PA. I have been
married for 17 years and have two children. I have never supported a presidential candidate before with such a letter to those outside my state. I have decided to back Dr. Ron Paul for president, a 10-term Republican congressman and here's why:

1. In Congress, Dr. Paul has never voted to raise taxes.
2. He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
3. He has been married to the same woman for 50 years.
4. He served in the Military as a flight surgeon.
5. He is the ONLY candidate in either party who is a Medical Doctor.
6. He strongly support of civil liberties.
7. He views that individuals should be self-RESPONSIBLE.
8. He is consistently named the "Taxpayer's Best Friend".
9. He is the only candidate who unfailingly supports the constitution.
10. He is a former member of the Libertarian Party.
11. He is experienced in standing against the tide and sticking to his principles with an honest devotion like none other.
12. He is prudent with finances.
13. He is a gentleman and 'down to earth.'
14. He is never going to tax the internet.
15. He is riding the wave of a grass-roots revolution as a candidate that understand the people are upset with business as usual in Washington D.C.
16. He understands that working for peace is going to be hard as America's image to many around the world is in poor condition. Ron Paul can fix the outlook of the USA for fellow Americans as well as for those who we deal with internationally.
17. He is a swim dad. One of Dr. Paul's kids was a nationally ranked butterfly swimmer!
18. He is an ex-college athlete and swimmer himself.
19. He grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, my hometown.
20. He won political elections in the past, as a member of US Congress for 10 terms, but needing to beat both Republican challengers, opposition candidates and incumbents many times. He has proven he can win elections.
21. He is not a media darling and is running with good success despite the unbalanced coverage he has received.
22. He is from an entrepreneurial family. The guy worked as a 'milk man.'
23. He is smart as he went to Gettysburg College and then to Duke for grad (medical) school.
24. He understands economics, currency, money supply, inflation, and debt.
25. He has a lot of YouTube videos and support from others on the web, see sites such as http://RonPaulMedia.com. Just Google Ron Paul!
26. He is able to raise money as a candidate from tons of fellow citizens, like me, who want to expand liberties and freedom.

I would love to hear what you think of Dr. Paul. Please email me
your thoughts to: Mark@Rauterkus.com

Very truly yours,
Mark Rauterkus
412 298 3432

In my political dreamworld, RON PAUL gets attacked on all sides by neo-cons in Feb and March

Over a 2PJ's blog, I posted a playbook for the primary season that navigates Ron Paul to a victory in the months to come. Reasoning and motivations are put out to kick around.

Tip: Kick the reasons, not the shins.

The Richardson supporters of Iowa could have been "Indies" except for one fleeting moment.

What Dem candidate is MOST against the war in Iraq? Richardson? Of course, D.K. too. But D.K. even released his supporters pre Jan 3.

What political party is MOST against the war in Iraq? Not Rs (with the exception of one candidate). Not Ds even. But the Indies -- especially the subset of Is, like me, the Libertarians.

Generally, those that don't vote - or had not voted - are more "I" than "D."

Anyone can participate in the primary voting in many states, including Iowa, by showing up and making a declaration that s/he is now (for that moment) a "D" or a "R."

Lots of Indies participated in the events of Iowa on Jan 3 by saying that they wanted to be a "D". Opt in to the D side -- No wait. No fuss. No worries.

Many were in the D ranks on Jan 3 in Iowa to insure that HILLARY didn't win.

Richardson's folks, mostly, got skunked in the first round -- by not reaching a level of 15%. (Weird Iowa D rules.) They were then 'free' to go elsewhere -- on the D side.

Richardson's support was beyond 2% in the first vote -- but -- that was NOT part of the final score.

Many of the freelance voters in Iowa went to the D side on Jan 3, handing Hillary 3rd place. Voters are victors.

If Hillary is kept in check and kept out of the winner's slot, and if Richardson and D.K. are kept far from the pack -- then the free radical voters will show up to work against the neo-cons.

The upside potential for Ron Paul is great.

In the states with the most repressive voting ways (like here in PA) -- that spur of the moment capacity is diminished.

Finally, the Richardson and Obama supporters in Iowa that depend upon farm subsidies -- were happy campers in the D caucus, even if they were strongly against the war.

Ron Paul doesn't like gov handouts -- even to farmers. So, he had a tough road to hoe (pun intended) in the cornbelt / bio heartland.

My hope is for more 40-40-20 D party results with Hillar in a distant 3rd and Richardson and D.K. on the sidelines soon.

In the R race, I want all the neo-cons to stay in and self destruct / self absorb -- landing blows at each other.

Then they'll all need to turn against RON PAUL in Feb and March.

PS: Sorry if I got a "IF was/were typo" mixed in the rushed ranting above.

Subscribe to my calendar. And, send in your events.

Another option, get your own Google Calendar. Then you can put your events in your own calendar. But, then let me know about your calendar and I'll embed it within mine. It is easy to put all your events on this calendar, or just copy each event with two or three clicks.

Revelations: City, County and Pens Propose No C, No B, and No A for Historic Hill District

Revelations: City, County and Pens Propose No C, No B, and No A for Historic Hill District Similarly, they pledge their support for a new YMCA in the 2100 block of Centre Avenue, and offer to help win state money toward its development.

Yes, that's right. The YMCA that is not even a member of One Hill, the one organization that is nationwide, already in the middle of a capital campaign and, you guessed it---not what the community asked for. The community asked for a recreation center that would be for the elderly and youth---like the Kingsley Center in East Liberty. Maybe, just maybe, the YMCA could come close to that but it still means that the community cannot control the kinds of programs, services and recreation in the community, not necessarily shaped or defined by an overarching, national organization with its own agenda and priorities.

Reach out to squash the REAL ID in PA -- please

PA Senate bill 1220 (SB 1220, P.N. 1673), opposing the REAL ID, was referred to the Communications and Technology Committee on December 27, 2007 and is now posted on the PA's legislative bill site. It is a much stronger rejection of the federal REAL ID than its counterpart, HB 1351, in the PA House.

Your action is needed to encourage support of this bill!

The full text of the bill can be found here:

Name: The "REAL ID and Biometric and Economic Privacy Act"

Web Link

The bill is thankfully short and shows no tolerance for the 2005 federal Real ID Act. It rejects the Real ID and even rejects other laws and regulations that would put compromise economic privacy. Here is its operative wording for Sections 3, 4 and 5 respectively:

** "Neither the Governor nor the Department of Transportation or any other Commonwealth agency shall participate in the compliance of any provision of the REAL
ID Act of 2005."

** "Neither the Governor nor the Department of Transportation or any other Commonwealth agency shall participate in the compliance with any Federal law, regulation or policy that would compromise the economic privacy or biometric data of any resident of this Commonwealth."

** "Either the Governor or the Attorney General may file an action in a court of competent jurisdiction to challenge the constitutionality or legality of the REAL ID Act of 2005."

This bill needs additional sponsors and support to ensure it is adopted without amendment. Please contact your state senators, particularly if they are committee members, and encourage their support of this bill. Thank them if they are already a sponsor.

Current sponsors of the bill are:




Five of these sponsors are Committee members:

Constance Williams, D-17, Minority Chair; Edwin Erickson, R-26; Bob Regola, R-39; Vincent Fumo, D-1; and Leanna Washington, D-17

Remaining Committee members are:

Robert Wonderling, Chairman, R-24; John Gordner, Vice-Chair, R-27; Lisa Baker, R-20; John Eichelberger, R-30; John Wozniak D-35; and Joseph Scarnati, President Pro Tempore & ex-officio member of all committees, R-25.

You can find your legislator by zip code or county by using the "Find Members By" box in the upper right of the page at this link:


The PA Senate will be back in session on January 14, 2008, so let them know what you think.

Additional information on the REAL ID Act of 2005 can be found in Sen. Folmer's press release on the topic:


Letting your federal representatives know what you think of the REAL ID would also be a good idea.

Thank you for taking the time to help limit government expansion and protect the rights of the citizens!

In Liberty, Michael J. "Mik" Robertson, Chair, Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania

Text of Dan Onorato's speech on Jan 3, 2008, day 1 of second term

Download the original attachment
Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "To Dan Onorato. Speaking of the drink tax, the Allegheny County chief executive didn't mention the new levy -- or the new $2 daily rental-car tax -- during his second inaugural on Wednesday. 'I didn't think it needed to be mentioned because it's mentioned every day of the week,' he said. The real reason more likely is that he knows what an oxymoron it is to promote higher taxes out of one side of his mouth while touting the need to be 'competitive' out of the other side.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obama, Paul Win MySpace Primary

Obama, Paul Win MySpace Primary Obama took in 46 percent of the Democratic vote, trailed by Sen. Hillary Clinton's 31 percent. Meanwhile, Paul's surprising win came with 37 percent of the MySpace Republican vote, with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee taking the second and third place slots at 18 and 16 percent, respectively.

The MySpace Presidential Primary started just after 3:00 a.m. EST on New Year's Day, and concluded just before midnight on Jan. 2.
I didn't even vote in this race.

Ed Rollins, Huckabee campaign manager -- made me sick

The interview on CNN with Mr. Rollins was a hoot.

He is talking Revolution. New way. Anti-establishment. Earned media. Not Bush's thrid term. Send money. OMG.

Why? Voters for CHANGE.

Huckabee may tank in NH.

Ron Paul got em right where he wants em.

Reason Magazine - Scenes from the Ron Paul Revolution

Reason Magazine - Scenes from the Ron Paul Revolution The Paulistas delight in their independence and fervor. At a press conference after the Ames talk, a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter asks the candidate about all the Paul signs he sees around Pittsburgh. “You guys must have a big operation there,” he says.

“If we do,” Paul says with a small smile, “we don’t know about it.”

Did you notice the HATCHED pie showing up at CNN

Iowa is talking numbers.

But, at CNN there is no slice of pie for my guy -- Ron Paul. But, there is the hatched, MacPaint-like, slice. And, it isn't tiny.

His Turn -- to everything there is a season - turn, turn turn

MY TURN With instant gratification.
Is that a sentence?


A 'real blog' is rEally nonsensical.

The thing that bothers me the most within his rant was the fact that Mike W got a (free?) lunch date (I hope he didn't have to pay) with Pittsburgh-Post-Gazette-hosted bloggers. Did he have a good sandwich? I give Mackenzie Carpenter and John Allison credit for making one obvious mistake, and not two, by inviting me as well.

I posted similar thoughts in a tread below moments before this was discovered.

Free Audiobook called: The Market for Liberty

Free Keene � Free Audiobook a free audiobook, “The Market for Liberty”. This brilliant book explains why government is an unnecessary evil and how the Free Market is superior in every possible way. You may download it in two ways.

Secrecy News covers changes to FOIA and the OPEN Gov act siged by GWB

Secrecy News On December 31 President Bush signed into law the 'Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National (OPEN) Government Act of 2007,' which amends the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The new FOIA law is a very mediocre law that will do little...


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FOX sucks

*URGENT* National protest aganist Fox News Jan 3rd

Ron Paul Grassroots Campaign News Release
For Immediate Release
Contact Andrew Panken for more information

On the evening of, January 3, 2007, Ron Paul supporters will be protesting the exclusion of our candidate from the Fox News candidate forum debate. We will be protesting at local Fox TV Stations across the country and at the Fox Forum Debate location in New Hampshire.

According to numerous recent professional pollsters, such as American Research Group, Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll, Rasmussen Reports, USA Today/Gallup Poll and Boston Globe/University of New Hampsire Survey Center, Ron Paul clearly polls higher than some other candidates, who are invited to the Fox debate forum. These polling results may easily be checked at http://www.usaelectionpol... . The exclusion of Ron Paul is not based on polling results or funds raised, which may in fact surpass all other GOP candidates. Final fundraising totals for Ron Paul have reached 20 million dollars for the fourth quarter.

The Fox Broadcast network has systematically excluded Ron Paul from their coverage. Numerous post debate polls conducted by Fox, have shown Ron Paul to be favored by most conservatives, over the pro-war candidates. The Fox network is showing their obvious bias against a candidate that disagrees with their commentators pro-war stance. We are protesting, to inform Americans, that Fox is unfair and unbalanced. Let all GOP primary voters decide, not the Fox network. The Fox network is attempting to manipulate this process, by excluding a now top tier candidate, Dr Ron Paul.

End Of News Release

Note to Local Meetups:

All local Meetup groups should setup protests at your local Fox Station on the evening of 1/3. Then, fax this news release with local contact information to all media in your area, including your local Fox station.

Fox Affiliate Stations:


Fox Owned and Operated Stations:


On a side note – please use the phrase “Not broadcasting in the public interest” in chants, on signs, etc. That's FCC speak for “your broadcasting license is in jeopardy”. Follow through and file a complaint with the FCC against the stations if Dr. Paul is excluded from the forum on the 6th.

Mayor agrees to development around new arena - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Mayor agrees to development around new arena - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Ravenstahl agrees to development around new arena
Would love to see the details of the entire deal. Anyone got a URL?

South Side Neighborhood Plan is on the web in a PDF

Welcome to the South Side - Pittsburgh: "Neighborhood Plan Update

Draft Now Available

South Side Planning Forum has made available for review a draft version of the South Side Neighborhood Plan Update. Click here to access a pdf version: 2007 NP Update Draft Final

China to track food safety at Olympic Games

SI.com - More Sports - China to track food safety at Games China to track food safety at Games
So will we.

Missed Boxing Day? Let us help. I've got a bunch of boxes 4 U


Do you need some boxes?

We've got a bunch of boxes that I'd love to get to a new home. Some are gently used. Some are nearly new. Many are from Budget Truck Rental.

Our need for boxes is much less. We've been moving about within our house. Next up -- move these boxes to you. Partial orders welcomed.

Giggle at the PG: Invisible Men feature on the home page

Check out the P-G home page today. There is a link about 'Invisible men.' If you click on it, it goes to a page with an invisible article.

The link is on the right, down past half way. Look near the Steelers 75 link.

Screen shot art:

Home page:

Points to this invisible page:

Should Ron Paul lose weght?

The following comes from an advocate group, Downsize DC. It concerns the looming moronic decisions of FOX to hold a debate among Republican candidates for US President and exclude the one candidate who RAISED the MOST MONEY from the MOST PEOPLE who has been in Congress for ten terms and has run for PRESIDENT in the past!
Subject: Should Ron Paul Lose Weight?

Tonight's the night. The Iowa Caucuses happen this evening. We're about to get a real-world market test of the popularity of the downsizing message. Meanwhile . . .

We are seeing the power of the Downsize DC strategic approach: pressure works! The Ron Paul Army is proving the concept.

As of this hour Fox News is still planning to exclude Ron Paul from their pre-primary New Hampshire candidate forum. They don't like the small government message. They're afraid of it, and they don't want it to be heard. But their justification for it has had to change, because of . . .


First Fox News claimed it was a decision of the New Hampshire Republican Party, but the NH GOP asserted otherwise, and called for Ron Paul to be included. The Republican Party felt . . .


And so, Fox News now claims that the forum will be held on a bus, and there isn't enough room to hold all the candidates.

Should Ron Paul lose weight so there will be room for him? They could save even more space if they exchanged small Paul for fat Fred (sorry Senator Thompson, I couldn't resist the alliteration). It's a silly excuse, and for daring to be so lame Fox News needs to continue to feel . . .


Hit Fox News with more messages. Here are some talking points you can use to turn up THE PRESSURE . . .

* Fred Thompson is expected to drop out of the race tomorrow. Now there's room for Ron!

* Zogby reports that Ron Paul is now in double digits in Iowa. He's at 10%, and tied with the media's favorite candidate, John McCain. Poll numbers will no longer work as an excuse to exclude the small government message.

* NewsCorp, the parent company of Fox News, is taking a major financial hit because of the exclusion. Ron Paul supporters are dumping the stock, causing the price to plummet, and the Ron Paul Army is putting pressure on Fox News advertisers to drop their ads on the network. You can see what people are saying about the NewsCorp stock here.

Send your message now. Keep up THE PRESSURE. Send your message here.

And thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Perry Willis
Communications Director
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.
By the way, Dr. Ron Paul is fit. Meanwhile, Mike H, once was a blip. Meanwhile, Paul supporters have launched a blimp. If you want to talk wellness for the nation -- included Dr. Paul in the debates.

Lamb eager to take over as city's new controller

Culture shock.
Lamb eager to take over as city's new controller: "'Our first issue is changing the culture of that office,' Mr. Lamb said Monday. 'We will change even the day-to-day things, such as what the hours are going to be and what the dress code is.'
Great news. Matching uniforms. Just what Pittsburgh needs. The dress code in the controller's office is sure to make a huge difference.

With the new dress code, we (citizens) might be able to tell who are the paid employees and who are the consultants. Consultants are ones we pay too, but they have checks from some other person. And, those checks are paid back to campaign accounts.

The PG says: Police continue to investigate at least nine stolen city checks. The probe has been slowed by the difficulty of getting banks to turn over records. No arrest has been made.

So, the banks are not helpful. Imagine that.

I've called for 'transparent accounts' such as 'open trust funds' for all banking of public money. If those measured had been implemented, there would be NO PROBLEM with the bank slowing the records. The records should be OPEN SOURCED RECORDS for anyone to witness.

And, if my solution had been in place, the act of 'stealing checks' would be able to have been seen by anyone as it happened. There would be little need to call in the police -- as the investigation could be done online by everyone.

Open records and transparent trust accounts would work wonders. This is our money. We should be able to tell what's what at any given moment.

And, most of all, we need TRANSPARENT PAC ACCOUNTS for campaign accounts.

Of course Lamb wants to get present employees prosecuted -- as he only has a staff of three new hires. To the victor go the spoils -- in the D-mindset.

I'm glad to know that there are "controls" in the "controller's" office -- so says Tony Pokora. What has become of the bid to be named city treasurer, by the way?

Lamb has high standards. Do an audit once every four years. Shiver my timbers.

Lamb is very insightful with his expression that "city council has its issues." No Shit Sherlock! But he does NOT say, or the article does not report, that there will be an audit of city council. Perhaps we'll have to wait three and a half years for the audit. Got to get the uniforms first.

Might as well just size them all up for 'jump suits' -- if you know what I mean.

Lamb wants to increase the role of the controller at the Schools. Well, Mr. Lamb, have you resigned from the position as a board member of A+ Schools yet? A+ Schools is a nonprofit that aims to monitor Pgh Public Schools. A controller should NOT be on the board with that booster group and be an independent official.

Lamb's school thrust is to look at contracting. That has little to nothing to do with teaching our children. How many families are pulling their kids out of the schools because the competitive bidding done by the school district is just no up to par with expectations? I know that when I take my kid to school that there is a great demand on the playground for oversight in the change orders among contracts. We don't even talk about the minority contracting these days -- as it just gets too emotional for too many to even go there. Lamb to the rescue.

Then comes the grand daddy of them all -- the big naval gaze. Lamb wants to audit the auditors. And, he can't do it himself. So, he goes and beggs the overlords for the power and the money to go out and hire outside auditors to do the job that he was elected to do himself. Don't hire an accounting firm with our money to worry about what has gone 'down da river' and 'over the dam' already. Fix what needs to be fixed for the future.

Lamb should go into the new job and manage that office -- with what he's got.

PeopleSoft! Yes. Of course PeopleSoft is antiquated. All closed source code software is antiquated. Lamb should move urgently to all open source software solutions. Lamb could even hire an computer programmer with open source experiences to help manage the migration.

Lamb can get grants, write grants, go to Sourceforge, go to CMU, go to Pitt, go to Ice Land. Go to where the open code is being used now. And, it is free. It is gratis too!

Of course the state is paying two firms to review the city's needs. Firms have employees that make kick-backs and campaign donations. I would rather hire a few open-source programmers to coordinate the migration to open-source ways.

Update: Tony won't be hired by Luke as Treasurer.
Trib article.

Historical understandings of a one party town -- and the carpet

Dan Sullivan uploaded an article by Frank Chodorov in the July 1940 *Freeman*, based on his interview with William McNair, who had been mayor of Pittsburgh from 1933 - 1935.

People will probably need some background to fully appreciate this article, so here goes:

Pittsburgh was a one-party town. Every mayor but one had been Republican from 1856 through 1932. Serious Democrats didn't want to even try a race there, so McNair became a "perennial candidate" in order to have a soap-box for his Georgist and libertarian doctrines.

The previous non-Republican mayor, elected in 1906, abolished a corrupt assessment system and ushered in a change in property taxes, so that land values paid a tax rate twice as high as the rate on improvements (buildings). McNair wanted to abolish the building tax altogether and put it all on land. There were no other city taxes at that time.

In a strange alignment of forces beyond McNair's influence, he was swept into office. Part of it was that the coat-tail effect of FDR's tremendous popularity carried down to McNair, even though McNair was denouncing FDR's proposals as socialist and totalitarian.

Another was that the Mayor Kline, the Republican incumbent, had just been indicted on an issue that would be considered trivial by today's standards (or lack thereof) but was scandalous at the time. It seems that Kline had the city pay his brother-in-law to recarpet the mayor's office with a very expensive oriental carpet. (That carpet was still looking good in the 1980s, and Democrats would stand on it and say, "Buying this carpet was the best thing old Kline ever did.")

Anyhow, Kline resigned under pressure and was replaced, as both the mayor and the Republican candidate for mayor, by a politically weak councilman named Herron. McNair beat Herron to become mayor, and not one non-Democrat was ever elected to a Pittsburgh office again.

Chodorov, who had taken over the editorship of *The Freeman* from Albert Jay Nock, was, as Nock had been, a proponent of Henry George's land value tax as the foundation of a free-market libertarian system. He was also the director of the Henry George School of New York at the time of this article, but shortly thereafter was fired from the school because he was opposing our involvement in World War II, and opposing related policies like the draft.

Anyhow, that's the main cast of characters, and all the background information one would need to appreciate the article. However, I do want to call attention to the last eight paragraphs, which contain McNair's advice that reformers should educate the public rather than seek office. That advice comes near the bottom of the article. The following URL will link to it directly:


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

On Foreign Entanglements: The Ties that Strangle

On Foreign Entanglements: The Ties that Strangle: "This is the problem with our government involvement in the internal affairs of other nations. Our friend one day is our enemy the next. And all our friends' enemies become our enemies. How many times have we armed BOTH sides of a conflict because of this? There is little for us to gain from this policy, and simultaneously a lot of trouble we get ourselves into. It is not a rational or intelligent way to interact with the world.
Then there is the "underdog" status.

They say that Iowa is going to have 60% of the people going to the caucus meetings who have NEVER been to one before. And, they are saying that 45% of the participants are non Dems. Humm...

Parks, small businesses top Onorato's agenda - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Parks, small businesses top Onorato's agenda - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Efforts to bolster local businesses and renovate and privatize some Allegheny County park facilities will top the second-term agenda of county Chief Executive Dan Onorato, the Democratic leader said during his inauguration today.
The only time Onorato talks and leads a discussion about parks is around a geese killing.

The way to fix parks is to merge Citiparks and County Parks and Rec into a new Pittsburgh Park District. And, leave the foundations to private efforts -- not parks.



The worst satire on the web -- or your money back!
New blog with comments enabled and a blog roll that links to my blog as well!

polishlinux.org -- Free software in Polish schools

polishlinux.org - Free software in Polish schools Thousands of Polish high school students now have a chance to learn about GNU/Linux and the benefits of using free software as Polish FLOSS foundation together with school headmasters, supported by local authorities organize a series of lectures on free software in education. PolishLinux.org has a report — summary of the first 3 months of the campaign.
We are going to get pounded by the rest of the world. Our schools are not using open source software as they should.

The proposed Science and Technology school slated for Pittsburgh, in the future, perhaps, should have everything centered upon open source software. Everything. All the majors would have to have to have understandings into this type of technology.

Pa. official explains plan for high school graduation exam

Pa. official explains plan for high school graduation exam: Pa. official explains plan for high school graduation exam
Wednesday, January 02, 2008

By Joe Smydo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pennsylvania high school students would take a graduation exam in stages under a proposal state Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak discussed this morning with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board.
So, what do you think of this? Reactions welcomed.

The exam would come into play when the present 6th grade class gets to graduation. That's a long time away. I would think, and hope, that the timeline for a district wide exam could be put into place much sooner.

Who gets to speak at the 'hearing?' Is there any public comment? Or, do the experts get to do all the thinking and grading?

Would the need for an exam be something that the PA Board of Ed can do without any legislative action on the part of those that are elected?

To pilot a program sounds a bit like being 'lab rats.' I'm not sure I want our kids being 'test testers.'

Again, the 'officials' have proposed a graduation exam. That's a local aim from 'officials.' But, the officials are not the customers, the parents, the taxpayers nor the ones who need to be 'consulted.'

If the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship depends upon the performance on a test -- why is it important to have the kids in school for a certain amount of days to qualify for the scholarship. If this is a test for performance sake -- then set that as the priority. If this is a scholarship for good behavior and attendance -- then performance and test taking should not matter.

The real 'test' for the kids comes in both getting into the college or university of their choice. And, next, they need to not flunk out once they are there.

Striking Teachers in Pittsburgh -- now without a contract -- loom larger for early 2008

Here is some dirt about an important player in the Pittsburgh school landscape. I don't find this to be too, too, too bad. Union workers have a long tradition of being part of the 'company' and being on 'leave.' Railroad, steel workers and others in other unions and in other industries have been working on behalf of the members while NOT doing the day-to-day job of the rank-and-file.

John Tarka might not be elected by his union members. If that was the case, he'd go back to the classroom, I'd assume.

John Tarka should be getting the same benefits, such as retirement, as the people he represents. Then his deal is like their deal. So, I'm not as outraged as the dirt digging from Simon. But, this is worthy of general knowledge.
Message from Simon (part 1, but not in timeline order)

Dear members of the media (covering the Pittsburgh teacher contract dispute),

With the assistance of Union President, John Tarka, strike authorization was recently issued by the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT). If there is a strike in the Pittsburgh school district it will be the biggest teacher strike in Pennsylvania in over 15 years (28,000 students, 2,600 teachers). In response to this threat, StopTeacherStrikes, Inc. has publicly posted the individual names & salaries of all Pittsburgh teachers, alongside census data and teacher union campaign contributions at its web site (www.stopteacherstrikes.org). Direct link:


There is interesting new information emerging about PFT President, John Tarka. Below is communication with Pittsburgh school district officials. Christopher Berdnick is the Business Manager & Ira Weiss is the district solicitor - please feel free to verify this information with these sources.

John Tarka is listed as a Pittsburgh public employee being paid a salary of $77,800 while on "special assignment". As seen below, his special assignment is working for the private organization called the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. And he's been on this "assignment" for the last 24 years. Here is how it works:

- Tarka is paid his salary every year by the school district and gets annual raises per the union contract (CBA) just like any other teacher

- Tarka receives pension benefits and accrues years of service from the school district just like any other teacher

- Tarka puts in for annual leave every year which gets automatically approved

- The Union reimburse the school district each year for the cost of Tarka's salary/pension benefits while he is on leave

- The Union separately pay Tarka an additional $20,000/year as reported on their federal LM2 disclosure form

So we have the amazing situation where PFT Union President, John Tarka, is able to "use" a public school district while actually working for the union ... thus moving towards a fully vested, taxpayer-funded, guaranteed defined-benefit pension for the rest of his life. At retirement he'll go straight onto the taxpayer's dime, even though he hasn't taught in the Pittsburgh school district in 24 years. It is outrageous.

It is one more example of the abusive power of the teachers' union in Pennsylvania. If John Tarka is not working for the school district then he should be on union payroll and his pension should be private and linked to his work for the union, and not to his non-work for the school district.

PFT union president, John Tarka, has no moral authority to be involved in issuing strike threats inside the Pittsburgh school district. Because Tarka stands to personally gain from additional public monies spent on teacher benefits, yet he is not even teaching at Pittsburgh.

Simon Campbell
President, StopTeacherStrikes Inc.
668 Stony Hill Rd. #298
Yardley, PA 19067
Tel: 215-586-3573

--- Original Message ---
From: "Berdnik, Christopher"
To: Simon Campbell
Cc: Weiss, Ira
Sent: Wed, 2 Jan 2008 08:54:36 -0500
Subject: RE: Question about John Tarka

1. Yes
2. I do not believe so under the language in the CBA
3. Yes
4. Yes

-----Original Message-----
From: Simon Campbell [mailto:SCampbell@stopteacherstrikes.org]
Sent: Friday, December 28, 2007 1:41 PM
To: Berdnik, Christopher
Cc: Weiss, Ira
Subject: RE: Question about John Tarka

Wow. Does it require school board approval each year to keep his annual leave going? Does the school board have the legal right to say "no" to his leave request and require that he return to the classroom?

My presumption is that Mr. Tarka has been getting annual raises per the CBA as an employee since 1984? And I also assume that his years on leave count as years of service for the purpose of calculating his pension benefits?

Simon Campbell
President, StopTeacherStrikes Inc.
668 Stony Hill Rd. #298
Yardley, PA 19067
Tel: 215-586-3573

On Fri, 28 Dec 2007 13:36:02 -0500, Berdnik, Christopher wrote:

Mr. Tarka has been on a leave for union business since 8/23/1984, and applies every school year to be on a leave for that period.
As a side note, I don't think that Pgh Public Schools has that many students in the district as stated above.


Pittsburgh talk radio, Marty Griffin, discusses Pittsburgh Union President John Tarka's "sweetheart deal" (Tarka calls in to speak!):

Central PA talk radio, Bob Durgin, on same topic:

Pittsburgh Hires N.C. Company To Find City Surveillance Cameras - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Hires N.C. Company To Find City Surveillance Cameras - Pittsburgh News Story - WTAE Pittsburgh A North Carolina firm is helping Pittsburgh find a surveillance system that will suit the city's security needs.
Start by pointing all the cameras at the public officials and public treasury.

Look for the missing checks in the controller's office.

See and hear what the questions are in the County Treasurer's office about the new drink tax.

Watch the daily income for PAT on each bus route, now that it costs each rider an extra $.25.

See the now hidden deals of who gets what in the halls of city council as a new president politics for a post among peers.

Look into the parking spaces on Grant Steet to see who is showing up for work and when they arrive.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Alan Greenspan Congressional Testimony on Gold with Ron Paul

Alan Greenspan Congressional Testimony on Gold with Ron Paul The Greenspan-Paul Congressional Exchanges
Next up, FOX News, a billion-zillion-corporation, is getting tanked by the Paul supporters.

Peoria Journal Star hosts a debate with three candidates, no cage, and 5-minutes per answer

I could live with this format in more debates.
PJStar.com - Journal Star News: "In a departure from traditional debate formats, each candidate will get to answer the panelists' questions and then alternate thereafter. From there, the three candidates will be allowed to discuss and debate the answer and the subject as they like for a total of five minutes without moderator interference. This format helps to ensure a combination of traditional debate questions and answers as well as a spirited exchange of ideas.

A pox on both their parties

I'm leaving the GOP, but not for the Democrats


Senior editorial writer and columnist

Last weekend, I announced my not-so-Earth-shattering decision to leave the Republican Party. In the era of George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger, I simply have had enough. While I've been pleased by the correspondence I've received, most of it from other disaffected Republicans who are sick of the party's abandonment of its stated "liberty" principles, I've left some readers confused about where my allegiances now lie.

Here's my chance to elaborate a little further.

The country has devolved so much into a two-party system that many folks believe that if you abandon one party, you must necessarily take up common cause with the other one. Yet if a restaurant gives you a choice between eating food laced with rat poison or with arsenic, you might want to eat somewhere else, even if it's a long drive until the next rest stop and even if the new restaurant hasn't gotten great reviews.

So ... no, I have not become a Democrat. I haven't criticized Democrats too much in recent months, mainly because it's so pointless.

Let me reiterate the obvious reasons why I will not return to the party of my youth. It's long been clear to believers in free markets and limited government that the Democratic Party is committed mostly to European-style socialism. Ever fearful of the free market and hostile to the free choices individuals would make if left on their own (with the sole exception being what they call "reproductive freedom"), the Democrats ceaselessly advocate for more government control of the economy, more far-reaching cradle-to-grave social programs -- never mind that such programs can't sustain themselves over the long term, and that government "services" are notoriously wretched compared with those offered by market-based companies in a competitive environment.

Listen to the Democratic presidential candidates argue over who proposes the most gigantic government-controlled health care system, with only one candidate (John Edwards) honest enough to admit such a scheme will require massive tax increases. Being a Democratic candidate means that good intentions are more important than rigorous analysis. The party expresses one constant concern: how to get "greedy" working stiffs to shift more of their income to the government sector. As that sector has gotten bigger, with more than half of all Americans receiving support from government or working directly for some agency, it's become easier to call for more government.

This "we know best" attitude also results in the party's constant embrace of the Nanny State -- the term applied to the endless laundry list of petty rules involving even our most personal choices. Because bans on, say, smoking at beaches or driving without seat belts or spanking children are for our "own good," a lot of folks forget that if you pass the above-mentioned rules, then you need lots of cops to arrest smokers, lots of jails in which to put non-seatbelt-wearers and lots of foster homes in which to put the spanked kids rescued from their "abusive" parents. The Nanny State squelches freedom.

I'm convinced that if many Dems had their way, there would be virtually no area of life beyond their prying eyes, no source of income beyond their prying hands (hence their hostility to property rights), no place where we could retreat to get away from their unceasing desire to regulate us, tax us, prod us, improve us, instruct us, educate us and control us. And, of course, there's nothing Dems love more than a good moral crusade (i.e., global warming) to bludgeon the rest of us into giving them more money and power.

That's why I stuck so long with the Republican Party, seeing it as -- in a two-party system -- the only counterbalance to the above-outlined lunacy. But the GOP has become just like the Democrats in pandering to special interest groups, advocating for large government, supporting new entitlements and social programs. Sure, Republican socialism goes only two-thirds as far as Democratic socialism. And, sure, Republicans are half-hearted about the new wasteful domestic programs they propose. But Republicans have their own agenda that truly excites them. It's even more expensive than the Democratic agenda, in terms of dollars and liberty.

Republicans seem to unite on one thing: support for war. Whenever America attacks a nation -- an increasingly common phenomenon, under either party's watch -- Republicans are in the front row, cheering. Never mind that the founders opposed a foreign policy devoted to slaying foreign dragons.

Republicans are the more zealous of the two parties about building up a security state with unbridled abilities to monitor and arrest people. Republicans, despite their blather about limited government, are unyielding in their support for government police agencies at all levels. They seem genuinely unconcerned about police abuses, government secrecy (unless practiced by a Democratic administration) and due process. To them, those are silly fixations of liberal judges. Republicans are so enamored of the "war on drugs" that they mostly oppose even the most modest reforms -- i.e., allowing sick people to smoke medical marijuana, allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp, focusing on treatment of drug-using offenders rather than hard prison time.

Many Republicans take an excessively punitive approach to life. They embrace the idea that everyone in prison is a hardened criminal, and continually pass new laws to ratchet up penalties for every offense imaginable. Hey, I'm all for keeping the really bad guys locked up, but the pendulum has swung too far in the "throw away the key" direction. Yet Republicans view any mention of injustices in our criminal justice system as tantamount to being "pro-criminal," and they seem perfectly happy just building more prisons to deal with the problem.

At the local level, by the way, Republican politicians have been just as hostile to property rights as Democrats as they seek to control everything that goes on within "their" city.

There are great people in both parties, and some good ideas that come from members of those parties. But, in general, I'd say a pox on both houses.

Now, for the answer to the question that most people have asked me: What party am I joining? Nothing wrong with registering as "Decline to State" and avoiding any new entangling alliances. But I'll hang around the GOP long enough to vote in the Republican primary for Rep. Ron Paul, the only consistent defender of freedom in Congress. Then I'll probably re-register as a big "L" Libertarian, if they don't mind having me. I've got some issues with the Libertarian Party -- i.e., I wish it were more serious about fielding winnable candidates in local races, and it has sported some weird candidates on the ballot at times. But it's filled with good, albeit cantankerous folks who love freedom. So I should fit in pretty well.

Video: Polar bear plunge

The P-G calls me, "NORMALLY SANE."
Video: Polar bear plunge: "These normally sane people delight in taking a morning plunge into the icy waters of the Mon.

How Dare You. Not a vote has been cast -- except by the big-time bigots within the media -- such as FOX NEWS executives

The first in the nation folks are not happy. The GOP in NH has sent its support that RON PAUL -- and all candidates -- should be included.
Ron Paul Furious over Fox Debate Snub

Tuesday, January 1, 2008 1:34 PM

Fox News says it has limited space in its studio, which leaves Rep. Ron Paul out of a weekend debate.

NEW YORK -- ABC and Fox News Channel are narrowing the field of presidential candidates invited to debates this weekend just before the New Hampshire primary, in Fox's case infuriating supporters of Republican Rep. Ron Paul.

Fox News says it has limited space in its studio, which leaves Rep. Ron Paul out of a weekend debate.

The roster of participants for ABC's back-to-back, prime-time Republican and Democratic debates Saturday in New Hampshire will be determined after results of Thursday's Iowa caucus become clear.

Fox, meanwhile, has invited five GOP candidates to a forum with Chris Wallace scheduled for its mobile studio in New Hampshire on Sunday. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee received invites, leaving Paul of Texas and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California on the sidelines.

The network said it had limited space in its studio -- a souped-up bus -- and that it invited candidates who had received double-digit support in recent polls.

In a nationwide poll conducted December 14-20 by The Associated Press and Yahoo, Thompson had the support of 11 percent of GOP voters and Paul was at 3 percent. Paul's support is at 6 percent in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted in early December.

Paul was tied with Thompson for fifth in New Hampshire in the most recent Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, each with the support of 4 percent of likely voters. Among all New Hampshire voters, Paul led Thompson 6 percent to 4 percent, but that was within the poll's margin of error.

Jesse Benton, Paul's spokesman, said it was a "big mistake" not to include Paul, especially given Paul's recent success in fundraising. He said the campaign has been trying to reach Fox News to get an explanation for the decision, but its calls had not been returned.

"There very well might be some bias," Benton said. "Ron brings up some topics that aren't very popular with Fox News, as in fiscal responsibility and withdrawing from the war in Iraq ... that does leave us scratching our heads a little bit about whether it was deliberate. Based on metrics, I don't see how you can possibly exclude Dr. Paul."

Some livid Paul supporters are distributing e-mails calling for a boycott of Fox advertisers.

A Fox representative did not immediately return calls for comment about the complaints.

Paul has been invited to a GOP forum that Fox News is sponsoring in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on January 10, Benton said.

To participate in ABC's Saturday night debate, Republican and Democratic candidates must meet at least one of three benchmarks: place first through fourth in Iowa, poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major New Hampshire surveys, or poll 5 percent or higher in one of the last four major national surveys.

ABC News anchor Charles Gibson said the criteria were actually quite inclusive. He defended the network taking the initiative in effectively narrowing the field at a point when no actual voters had cast a ballot, except for Iowa caucus-goers.

"You will have had a year's politicking," he said. "You will have had, I think by count, about 641 debates. You will have had national polls and state polls and one state's vote. I think that's pretty indicative."

Gibson said ABC explained the rules for participation in a conference call with all the campaigns and "nobody said, "How dare you!'

N.J. abolishes capital punishment - The Boston Globe

N.J. abolishes capital punishment - The Boston Globe Governor Jon S. Corzine signed into law yesterday a measure that abolishes the death penalty, making New Jersey the first state in more than four decades to reject capital punishment.


Ron Paul Supporters Donate Nearly $20 Million in Fourth Quarter — Ron Paul 2008

Ron Paul Supporters Donate Nearly $20 Million in Fourth Quarter — Ron Paul 2008

January 1, 2008 9:55 am

Message of freedom, peace and prosperity rallies record support

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA –Texas Congressman Ron Paul’s presidential campaign had a record fundraising quarter, exceeding its original goal of $12 million by over 50 percent when it raised nearly $20 million during the months of October, November and December.

“Only Dr. Paul has the ability to inspire Americans to contribute and take action that is necessary if Republicans want to defeat the Democrats in November,” said campaign chairman Kent Snyder.

In two 24-hour periods on November 5 and December 16, the campaign raised over $10 million dollars. The total of over $19.5 million represents an increase of nearly 300 percent from its third quarter total of $5.28 million.

For the quarter, the campaign had over 130,000 donors, including over 107,000 new donors. The total was reached with an average donation size that was just under $90.

Of the other Republican candidates, only Mike Huckabee – who reported $5.04 million this quarter – discloses his fundraising total online. However, Dr. Paul’s total is over $9 million more than any Republican candidate raised in the third quarter.

new ebook about Open Ways

The Libre Labyrinth -- Navigating the Maze of Free and NonFree Licenses

School stuff - recaps in two parts -- same meeting

I promised a report from the weekend meeting:

We had 8 adults (and 2 IB/IS students) meet and a chance appearance by someone whose architectural firm is doing some pro bono work looking at Schenley, as well. Better than we expected for a short notice, during vacation meeting! If there is interest in further informal meetings like this, let me know and I'll see what I can set up. There may be something for next weekend planned as well, details as I get them.

I'm putting this in order of length, rather than choosing some other way to organize it!

-- Before the meeting I spoke with someone from the Building/Fundraising group and was told that they "are in ongoing discussions with the district (administration) about saving the building." Overall, the impression is that they feel at least as positive as negative, which seems in the larger scheme quite positive!

-- We discussed the problem of the public hearings: we can ask questions and demand answers, but there is no mechanism for getting those answers. One suggestion is to come up with a list of specific questions that have already been asked /should be asked and present it to the administration, board and media, with a specific request for information and answers.

Questions may need to be divided into the easily answerable (who's in charge of..., who has been contacted, what are the research studies used, etc.) and those that can't be given short answers (what do you envision the district looking like in 2, 5, and 10 years? type questions). The goal of this list would be twofold -- getting answers and perhaps spurring a general meeting (or series of meetings) with board members, administration, program directors, etc. available to answer specific questions in an open house type format (rather than a one speaker/one topic type meeting).

It was suggested later that if this list were formed by January 14th (next board meeting) we could ask for volunteers to sign up and use their 3 minutes to read the list into the record.

If you have questions of this sort, send them along (or if someone wants to compile them, let me know!).

-- One of the contractors in our group spoke about the documents he's been able to look at -- the reports on the condition of the building and the estimates for repairs. Quickly, the 60-65M figure is the number that guts the building to the bare bones and remakes it -- including a 900K skylight for a gym. It's not (and never has been) the asbestos removal figure.

The asbestos removal figure is somewhere up to 8M. There is also an estimate of 38-42M (the higher number gets air-conditioning). That figure abates and/or removes asbestos, but doesn't gut the building. It takes advantage of the structure as it is (very wide hallways, etc.) and basically does all the needed changes (plumbing, electrical, technical), keeps the systems that are already new/newer (security/fire), and puts the new mechanicals above in front of the walls and puts new walls in front of them. That way, there's access to all needed systems, without having to gut the building. [Bear in mind that this is my translation of his simplifying for us!]

Anyway, there's more to it than I've been able to summarize and we still don't have all the information that was requested. But, it's at least enough to be able to explain to people you might talk with that we're not all crazy and that 60M isn't the asbestos figure! If you'd like more details about asbestos in the building or other building topics, let me know and I'll forward the email to someone who can answer you!

-- I reported some from the "Alternative Options Committee" which met with Derrick Lopez about high school reform. Generally, our meeting, while very informative, raised as many or more questions than we went in with. There are a lot of ideas (plans?) in the administration for reforming the high schools, but it's still very unclear what the overall plan or goals for the district as a whole are -- short or long term. It's also unclear how or when parental/community input will be integrated into planning. We did learn that there are four new committees (north, south, east, west) which will all be visiting and studying the high school "triads" (north of the rivers, south of the rivers, between the rivers, I think) over the next three months, planning reforms for three months and then asking for parent input after that (over the summer break, it would seem) before presenting a big plan in September 2008. We didn't get an answer as to who was on the committees or how they were chosen.

[warning: next paragraph is almost entirely my editorializing]
There are lots of reform ideas being kicked around (university partnerships, separate gender schools, more theme schools, more 6-12 schools) and some or many of them may be good, even great. However, it seems like the process being used is one we've become too familiar with already -- plan in secret, big announcement, shock and disdain that there are questions or concerns, last-minute cosmetic changes or tweaks. I'd love to see the district embrace a policy that comes up with a better process. No plan will ever satisfy everyone, but a plan that's had input from the beginning has a much better chance of building consensus -- or even becoming something that most people really want to see happen!

The Sunday Panera group also discussed the lack of vo-tech options in the city and how this seems to be still unaddressed in the high school reform plans we've heard so far.

Sorry for the length, summarizing is not my strong suit!

Jen Lakin

Another parent wrote about the same gathering:

A really quick report on our meeting Sunday at Panera -- Jen will be sending a more in-depth report (she actually took notes on her laptop!). Eight of us met for 2 hours at the Boulevard of the Allies Panera, sharing information and discussing what our next moves should be.

Nick discussed the engineering reports that the board has released so far so that we have a better understanding of what really needs to be done with the building to make it safe and useable. Complete information still has not been given to us.

The next board hearing is scheduled for Jan. 14 with sign-ups beginning Jan 7. Someone suggested that we try to coordinate our speeches somewhat so that we are sure that we hit the main talking points.

We would like to have a meeting with someone who can actually answer questions. The board hearings are good for us expressing our thoughts, but no one has answered the questions that are proposed.

We will continue to have meetings of interested parties until the final vote is made. If you want to become more involved, attend one of the meetings. Jen and I (and others) will attempt to keep parents up-to- date on the information that we have. Some of the information concerning funding cannot be disclosed yet but there are some people working very hard to try to save the building.

Now that the holidays are over, it is important that we keep pressing the issues. IF you are happy with the proposed plans, speak out. IF you are not happy with the proposed plans, or if you think that we have not been given enough information, speak out. Changes will be made next year whether or not we agree with them. If we make enough noise, maybe we can be part of the decision-making process. I am not confident that Mr. Roosevelt or Mr. Lopez or many of the board members understand the needs of our program (and our children) well enough to be making the changes that they have proposed.

If you wish to be removed from this email list, let me know. Hopefully, it will one day go back to being a communication mode for the IS/IB program. If you know of anyone who is interested in getting more information, please give them my email address and I will add them to the list.

amy moore

Pittsburgh has a "president" -- of city council. Yawn....

Background from another post here and another blog post elsewhere.

Mark Rauterkus & Running Mates ponder current events: Comments from another blog as to a post from another person as to what Patrick may have written Get a grip on this concept, that came from, so we are to think, Patrick Dowd, a new guy due to take the oath to uphold the consitution, on Jan 7, 2008.
My distilling of Patrick's email about decision that might come about on or after Jan 7, 2008, as to the picking of a president of city council.
First, reversing population decline.

Improving the quality of life.

Financial challenges. Debt. Pensions. Not leaving these problems unresolved.

Look at other governments, the Pittsburgh Public Schools, to see where operational efficiencies can be achieved.

Examine the question of city-county merger.

Move from patronage to performance.

Determining how to utilize data in decision making.

Green up the city.

Transportation and parking are core issues yet council has no committee dedicated to examining these.

Housing and economic development need a clear agenda.

Leadership brings together individual concerns of the members and articulates and acts as a body.

Beg for “The Pittsburgh Agenda.” If ... not policy, then popularity. Hence, population shrinks.

My top priorities, the advancement of the constitution (and laws) and an expansion of freedom isn't even hinted upon. Enslaved people will depart. Many vote with their feet. Pittsburgh is shrinking because liberties are not valued.

Pittsburgh's population decline is a result of governmental employees (especially mayor, council members) pressing their quality of life action agendas onto that of the public.

Their approach as illustrated by Patrick Dowd doesn't wash with everyone.

In 2008, the goal is to 'green up' the city. 'Redd up' is so 2006.

Sure, city council lacks specific committees concerning transportation and parking. However, authorities do the same. PAT (PORT AUTHORITY TRANSIT) and the PARKING AUTHORITY have boards and a mission that tackle those issues. By the way, I hate the authority mindset and the specific authorities. Authorities are without accountability. Authorities zap freedom.

But worse than the parking authority and the transit authorities would be TWO entities with those missions. I don't want city council to focus on authority duties while those authorities exist. That's an expansion of government.

Get rid of the Parking Authority. Then make a parking committee on city council. I've been calling for reduction of authorities, such as the PARKING AUTHORITY, for many years.

More over-reaching comes as he calls for city council to jump into the business of the school board. I don't want city council to look at other governments. Look within. Look at what council is to do. If he was worried about Pittsburgh Public Schools operational efficiencies -- Patrick Dowd should have stayed on the school board. And, as a school board member he he did plenty to hurt operational efficiencies when he moved to hire consultants to dismantle better performing schools (Schenley, Frick, Rodgers) and ignore troubled schools (Oliver, Vo Tech, etc.).

On the topic of city-county merger, the aim is to "examine the question."

Navel gazing AND over-reaching. My oh my. It is going to be a long year.

Tell me about your pending Steelers' party

Time to plan that party for the Steelers game, next weekend.
Penguins switch time for Saturday game - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review The Penguins game against the Florida Panthers at Mellon Arena on Saturday has been moved to 3 p.m.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at 7:30 p.m. Team officials sought permission to push the game to an earlier start to accommodate fans that might also wish to attend the Steelers' AFC wild-card playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field at 8 p.m., Saturday.

Pittsburgh controller's personal woes grow - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Here is an example of "TRIB Math" -- or is it "Boren Math?"
Pittsburgh controller's personal woes grow - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review If Pokora wins the job, it would mean a pay cut. The post pays $76,837 a year. Pokora makes $86,629.
That is not how the rest of the world sees it. If Pokora wins the job as city treasurer, it would be a pay raise. He is about to get $0.

Pokora has been without any angle of a government job since mid-May.

With Boren's reporting, a number of other wives of ex-city hall employees just got a new number one task for the "Honey, Do" lists of their respected spouse.

Mrs. Koch, Mrs. Boadack and Mrs. Pokora are now wondering about the opinions of Mayor Ravenstahl and that $76k job.

Who will Luke hire? Will he do a NATIONAL SEARCH, again?

Would you hire Pokora for the Treasurer post?

Would Len Boadack, Jeff Koch be a 'good fit' for the job?

Since Luke is always seeking diversity in the administration, perhaps there are others who might be suggested? How about Melissa Hart? Or, what about Lynn Swann?