Friday, March 9, 2007

Finally Got Around to These Guys

"My personal beliefs are what they are," Ravenstahl says. "The use of contraception is an individual right to choose. I would never challenge that. I have nothing against the use of contraceptives."

This care of the C-P's Melissa Meinzer, who also has him saying, ""I'm a pro-life Catholic, but I do certainly as mayor of Pittsburgh enforce the laws on the books."

There still seems to be a little confusion as to what laws he'd like to see on the books, but Planned Parenthood agrees that the bubble zone for protesting around abortion clinics has not suffered under Ravenstahl.

Also, editor Chris Potter practically endorses his challenger by attesting that "Peduto is as knowledgeable as any public official I know, and no politician has ever bullshitted me less."

He gently chides the councilman for having sought the party endorsement, instead of rousing rabble on public transit and other outside-the-triangle issues.

Get a Piece of Laraque

KDKA's Larry Reichart speaks with Mike Dawida about his idea to get a judge to grant the people of Pittsburgh the "right of first refusal" to purchase the Penguins, if the current owners try to relocate. Maverick enough for you?

Dawida was introduced as former Allegheny County Commissioner, and current professor of public policy at CUP. No mention was made of his candidacy for controller, for fear that KDKA would have to start paying attention to the other four guys.

His idea was inspired by the Green Bay Packers, a franchise thriving in a smaller city because the team is owned by local stockholders. Reichart explains Dawida by saying "It is ultimately the threat of leaving that is the fulcrum that teams use to get what they want."

Dawida says that it is only an NHL rule that disallows joint stock ownership of teams, not any government law. The Comet wonders where in blazes we can find one of those notorious "activist judges" to issue such a ruling, simply because it's good public policy. But we are entirely in-favor.

Friday Mid-Day Briefing

Penguins: significant progress, very constructive, yada yada. Conte & Rossi of the Trib somehow divine that "League officials favor keeping the team in Pittsburgh with a workable arena proposal."

The Allegheny Institute implies that the Convention Center is a sad, wasteful white elephant of a boondoggle. Joe McGrath of VisitPittsburgh says no, it's more like a jet airplane, or a sportscar that just needs new transmission, or some metaphorical jibberjab. (Ron DaParma, Trib)

District 9's Rachel "Winnie" Cooper: The dog ate my paperwork. (P-G)

PA Sheriffs Association sues to continue electing sheriffs in Allegheny County, rather than changing it to an appointed position. They claim an appointed sheriff would be held less accountable; they do not directly address if electing major law-enforcement personnel is too big an invitation for electioneering abuse and corruption. (Kane & Banks, P-G)

Who is that mullet-headed skeezbag, anyway? Why, it's British Prime Minister Tony Blair! Krokus rules, mate!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

News. Jazz. Untouchable stories. NPR.

90.5 FM WDUQ is actually condescending to cover the stealth Big Story, every hour on the half-hour. For those of you who are on the Internet for the first time, use the "scroll buttons" to the right and learn more:

In 2004, an off-duty police sergeant providing security at the "O" in Oakland -- as part of a city-sanctioned supplemental program used commonly at bars and sporting events -- apparently snapped and brutalized somebody. The officer was suspended for just five days. The city was sued, and City Council yesterday approved a $200,000 settlement.

Mayoral candidate Bill Peduto was the only city councilman to vote against the settlement. He wanted to use the council session not only to question the officer's quick reinstatement, but also to illustrate the necessity of a "cost-recovery plan" for these secondary security programs -- charging the employing facilities a percentage of the officers' take, to help cover costs for equipment, administration, and the odd major liability.

Mayors Murphy and O'Connor had made ready just such a plan, but acting Mayor Ravenstahl pulled the plug. He cited concerns that the new charge would discourage venues from hiring off-duty officers, and thereby diminish public safety. Ravenstahl's critics say he caved in to politically powerful officers; the entirety of the secondary employment program had been their own turf for decades.

Anyway, Councilman Peduto apparently couldn't get a word in edgewise, because the his fellow councilmembers shouted him down, accused him of grandstanding, and said it was inappropriate to have these discussions in public. Commenters, tell us if we're wrong.

What we have is a complex issue, with good arguments and bad arguments on both sides, and with considerable repercussions for the city finances and public safety. So of course it's hardly being mentioned on teevee -- and not a peep from print editorials, op-eds, or columnists.

The Comet would like to give some props to our favorite serious-faced radio station LINK -- but we're still getting Error Code 605 when we click on the Local Newsroom. It's been months, DUQ! Fish or cut bait! You're the best in town in so many ways; just poach that cribsheet from Nootbar's hands and hammer it into the keyboard! You'll spare us scores of Fred Honsberger posts in mere weeks!

Big Deal: It's Thursday

Rendell. Onorato. Ravenstahl. Lemieux. Burkle. Bettman. Six white dudes, trying to build an arena for a very white sport, in a black neighborhood. Because it was such a smash hit last time. We're just saying. (Belko & Barnes, P-G, or if you prefer, Conte & Rossi - Asti Spumante, Trib)

"Back then, the Plan B engine was driven by Pittsburgh ... This time around, the dynamic is different in a lot of ways." (Dvorchak, P-G).

(You know that Republican talking point about how Democrats are hoping we lose the war in Iraq? We anticipate Team Peduto will be accused of being happy the Penguins are leaving.)

Brian O'Neill of the P-G gets his snark on, translating the Penguin's letter: "A small but vocal portion of the populace cares intensely about this and we can play those sports-talk shows like fiddles."

The Trib editorial board is not amused, suggesting a name change to the "Kansas City Ingrates."

Finally, KDKA's Fred Honsberger held a rapid-fire forum, in which callers had just ten seconds to express their opinion on the Pens. The majority said they should stay, and a good number of those said, "We should keep them, no matter what," which TOTALLY strengthens our bargaining position, y'all! We could only stomach about a third of the segment before we had to sweep our Dell computer clear off the desk, like we were about to hoist a girl up there or something.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Wednesday Afternoon: Wha' Happen?

Ravenstahl on the impasse with the Penguins: "Numbers are numbers, and they present numbers perhaps in a different way than we present numbers." (P-G, Belko)

Gov. Rendell: "If (the Penguins) don't take it, we're going to be up in New York asking the NHL to bar the Penguins from moving." (Trib, Conte & Rossi)

Headline: City Council approves settlement for case against off-duty police sergeant (Trib, Boren). Peduto is the lone no vote on the $200,000 settlement.

The Burr Reporr dubs the privately-debated settlement a cover-up, while commenter Shields is Wrong says, "A City that suspends someone for 60 days for speaking out against Luke's boneheaded attempt to promote Regan gives a cop accused of serious brutality just 5 days."

Gov. Rendell's tax on oil company profits would be the first such tax in the nation, meaning the companies would file lawsuits to prevent other states from enacting one, snarling up our mass transit proceeds for months at least. (P-G, Barnes)

Matt H Blogging

It is with great joy and some tiny amount of pride that we get to provide you with this LINK.

We wonder, did he have to get special permission to do this? Because Master Luke put the kibosh on Councilman Jim Motznik's blog toot sweet.

Screw Wheel of Fortune

Tonight at 7:30 on WQED is Roddey Vs. Mistick! We loves the Roddey Vs. Mistick!

Last week, we were disappointed in the Roddey Vs. Mistick. Somehow they failed to touch upon any of the political contests. It was like they were afraid of offending anybody. Which is not good, when you're the only intelligent political discussion in town, on primetime anyway.

The closest they got: they both came to a thunderous agreement that any suggestion of Pittsburgh having a budget "surplus" is really, really bad, awful, awful, horrendous. Awful.

The promo this week promises discussion of "the mayor's race, which may be getting ugly." Cited already was Peduto's charge (paraphrasing here) that if the Penguins go, it's Ravenstahl's fault.

Which may not play well for Peduto, because in the Comet's own humble opinion, that charge is pretty #cringe#. But since Roddey & Mistick have to cover it, we hope they also opine upon cost-recovery, abortion / contraception, tax abatements, and tax increment financing.

And please remember, boy-o's: It's called the blurghosphere. BLUR. GUH. SPHERE.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Know Your Pittsburgh History pt. I

We don't know what the heck the spooks lurking in the Burr Reporr's comments section are talking about.

But it reminds us a lot of this gem of an article by Lincoln Steffens from McClure's magazine in 1903, in a gem of an online exhibit called Bridging the Urban Landscape, maintained by Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh.

Ravenstahl: 602-163

This is how WTAE reports it:

"Acting Mayor Wins Nomination In Landslide"


"At the end of the day they decided to back acting Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who took over when former Mayor Bob O'Connor died of cancer in September."

This is how the P-G's Early Returns breaks it down:

"... while Mr. Peduto may be the better talker, the mayor seemed to be listening to them. And there was an element of payback involved for committee members who are also city workers. Mr. Peduto supported the budget trimming that resulted in job losses and pay cuts, while Mr. Ravenstahl as a councilman opposed them until the final vote."

Care of the Trib's Jeremy Boren, here is pundit extraordinaire Joe Mistick:

"Every vote that a challenger gets is really an accomplishment ... Ravenstahl was supposed to win. The fact that (Peduto) came up with 163 votes means he has some credibility within the committee."

Further throwing the curve of the average age for AC/DC endorsees, Rachel "Winnie" Cooper, 22, of Homewood, won the nod for the District 9 council seat held by the embattled Twanda Carlisle.