Friday, August 3, 2007

Things Pushed Back, and Other News

The Ethics Hearing Board meeting concerning Luke Ravenstahl and the charity golf tournament was pushed back to Tuesday, August 21, for some obviously nefarious reason (P-G).


The Penguins are delaying the opening of their new arena until the 2010-11 season (P-G).

He said the additional time would allow the Penguins to check out more arenas for ideas and continue to participate in the process set up by the city to get public comment on the project and the development expected to take place around it.

Again, obviously nefarious.


So long as the Commonwealth does not enact a very muscular smoking ban, Don Barden will allow smoking in his casino. Rebecca Flora of the Green Building Alliance seemed to go kind of easy on him. (P-G)

Ms. Flora acknowledged the casino had incorporated green building techniques into the design but said she was saddened it chose "not to go that extra step" toward LEED certification.

"I think his design team is doing a good job integrating a variety of green building technologies. Unfortunately for us, if he's not going for LEED certification, particularly with a building of this scale, it's hard for me to validate it as a green building."


The computerization of police cars for the purposes of automated and expedited reporting sounds great (P-G), but ...

The city also is exploring a possible network of security video cameras that officers could access from their mobile computers.

Look us the eye and tell us this is not going to be used primarily for ogling women -- and occasionally for tracking young black men with Starter jackets until they do something suspicious looking.

Of Wild Geese and School Students, Part II

Hola, amigos. We know it's been a long time since we rapped at ya', so here are some audio links to KDKA's Marty Griffin, with copious commentary.

1. Duquesne School District: The Comet did not have the slightest inkling that this was about race. Zero. Nada. The only time we travel to Duquesne is when we go to Kennywood, where there are always plenty of white people.

Jasiri X makes it abundantly clear during a long interview that this was a race issue. We had thought it was about class -- we were initially more worried about the crumbling of Duquesne's civic infrastructure, and how much worse the community would fare without a school district, than about specific injustices to a population.

Also -- does anybody know exactly which long-time local black leaders Jasiri X is calling out towards the end of the interview?

2. Goose Auschwitz: You will not find a more cogent case against the actions (and inactions) of the County than during this segment.

Stephanie Boyles from GeesePeace basically pwns Andy Beckley from the Parks Department. She says that county workers were never trained to find eggs, failed to follow-up the egg-addling procedures with an egg-moving procedure, and generally phoned-in the whole effort.

We are also curious -- does anybody in the Comet viewing audience happen to work at a food bank? Could she maybe ask around, on the down-low, whether or not homeless persons have any use at all for 30-day old gassed goose-flesh?

The thrust of Dan Onorato's response on WTAE seems to be:

If you're looking for who made the decision, I'm the chief executive of the county ... If anybody has a problem with anything the county does -- regardless of who actually pulled the trigger and who actually said, 'Let's go ahead' -- the buck stops on my desk.

This is a very healthy message to send to other local executive officials, but nonetheless our editorial comment must be as follows:

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Wednesday Links

Early Returns has Doug Shields taking heat for some good reasons and some silly reasons, and also has Bill Peduto making use of his political capital.

The P-G as a team has Mayor Luke Ravenstahl conducting "focus group meetings" concerning the Hill and replacing the Civic Arena. We wonder how that input will mesh with that of One Hill CBA Coalition.

The P-G ed board says Luke & Dan-O should find a way to work it out. (Matt H has a good discussion going on consolidation.)

The Allegheny Institute notices a possible lack of diligence at the Sports and Exhibition Authority. (And while we're on the subject, did we all decide to give Mary Contruro a pass?)

The P-G's Diana Nelson Jones has Old Timers getting fed up with the up-tick in violence on the North Side.

The P-G's Mark Belko reports on the "new Downtown grocery store", by the people who brought you Metropol and Bossa Nova:

To meet the needs of such residents, the new 3,100-square-foot grocery store will offer fresh produce, fresh and frozen seafood from Wholey's, prime cut meats and poultry, Boars Head deli meats and cheeses, baked goods and prepared foods. It also will sell flowers, magazines, pet food, coffee and other grocery items.

This sounds like the kind of grocery from which we might make a couple of monthly novelty purchases -- that is, if we have not already done so in the Strip.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Forget Hilllary ... Biden's on Letterman

Joe Biden was on the Today Show this morning. He was good on the war, and extremely frank on politics, as always.

Tonight, Biden is scheduled to be on David Letterman. So we know he's at least as cool as Luke Ravenstahl.

I Suck at Life: The Early Works of H.R.C.

P-G columnist Tony Norman was as charmed as oursevles by recently revealed college-age letters of Hillary Rodham Clinton. (NYT, Mark Liebovich)

Anyone who still does not realize exactly who we are in the process of electing President, doesn't have a very good imagination.

“Since Xmas vacation, I’ve gone through three and a half metamorphoses and am beginning to feel as though there is a smorgasbord of personalities spread before me ... So far, I’ve used alienated academic, involved pseudo-hippie, educational and social reformer and one-half of withdrawn simplicity.”

“Sunday was lethargic from the beginning as I wallowed in a morass of general and specific dislike and pity for most people but me especially,”

“Can you be a misanthrope and still love or enjoy some individuals? How about a compassionate misanthrope?”

That's right. It's Winona Ryder from Heathers.

Unfortunately for us, she makes only the briefest mention of having "met a boy from Dartmouth and spent a Saturday night in Hanover.”

Note to Tony: We all know why Clinton voted for the war, along with so many other good Democrats. She was no hero, but we understand the circumstances of the time.

Hopefully we've all learned something about "presenting a united front at the U.N. Security Council."

If she prefers not to revisit the initial authorization for the war, and if she focuses only on the continued lying and bungling at hand, so be it. We're over it.

Second Note: We see now that wasn't really your point, but whatever. When you have an opponent like Barack Obama the ropes, you keep hitting him.

Monday, July 30, 2007

One Hill: Unanimity Emerging

At the Hill House Kaufmann Center [this last Sunday], the coalition unveiled 37 preliminary recommendations for a benefits agreement.

The recommendations hung on the wall, and the 100 or so people in attendance indicated their preference by placing colored circular stickers by them.

That's what Ron DaParma at the Trib says happened.

If there are any forces within the One Hill CBA coalition that wish to drastically tamp-down or amp-up community demands, this is the last week for them to operate.

Jennifer England, communications coordinator for Pittsburgh UNITED, says that One Hill plans to spend about a week analyzing the data, and probably doing some horse-trading.

What will emerge will be a white-hot phalanx of community consensus, which will be regarded as a blueprint for contract negotiations with the city and other stakeholders.

"A huge public subsidy for the Penguins requires huge public benefits," says Carl Redwood, leader of One Hill. (P-G, Milan Simonich)


The Comet has some reason to suspect that these eleven items out of the 37 represent a sort of rock-bottom, line-in-the-sand nucleus around which Pittsburgh UNITED (the faction of the movement that draws roots from organized labor) wishes to arrange a CBA:

Revolving Loan Fund
Home Preservation Fund
Economic Anchor (Grocery Store)
Tourism Path / Historic Preservation
Community Economic Development Fund
Financial Literacy (Homeownership / Credit Repair / Foreclosing Counseling)
First Source Hiring
SEIU keeps jobs and contracts
Unite Here keeps jobs and contracts
First Source Hiring for Post-Construction Jobs in SEIU and Unite Here job areas
Job Training to increase access to Apprentice positions in construction jobs

Of course, there were many other items on the ballot, and not all of them were economic in nature. Here is a sampling:

Scholarship Fund
Youth Support Systems
Hill District Uptown Cultural Assets
Monies for Drug Rehabilitation
Integrated Holistic Human Service Delivery System

Cheese and crackers! If somebody is ready to roll on an integrated holistic human service delivery system, let's find some different money for them.

Landowners who operate against wishes of the community barred to participate on 28 acre development.

Ah, that's interesting. Some negotiators within One Hill are feeling aggressive. How the Penguins could have won sole possession of those 28 acres of parking lot, worth maybe a billion dollars over the life of the arena deal, is beyond us.


Here is how the Trib described the outcome of the stickering:

Recommendations getting the most votes included a grocery, which has been long-sought as an economic anchor in the Hill. Other ideas finding favor included funding for community groups to provide tutoring and mentoring programs for young people and for rehabilitation for people with drug problems.

Voting was heavy for giving Hill District residents preference for job openings created by the development.

Pittsburgh UNITED also told us that the grocery store did well, as well as "a lot of the union labor issues."


We asked Kimberly Ellis aka Dr. Goddess about Pittsburgh UNITED, and if there was a problem of differing agendas within One Hill.

After acknowledging "obvious commonalities," she says:

Pittsburgh United wants the Hill CBA to be the first in a regional model and they have been pushing a Union model. I would like to push a Hill model because this is not just about a labor negotiation. It really isn't. It's about the accountability of the entire city, county and the Pens to our collective history, something that can't be quantified in terms of jobs.

Pittsburgh United is welcomed, as far as I'm concerned, to assist. But they are not welcomed to lead in my book.

Of course, Pittsburgh United does not lead.

Carl Redwood is the executive director of the One Hill Coalition -- and more importantly for our purposes, he is a respected and long-time convener of the Hill District Community Consensus Group.

Who among you has as a respected and long-time convener of a consensus group in your own community?

For that matter, who among you has an Alma Fox, whom we all know "won't jerk anybody?"

No Offense to the Pedutoistas ....

It just occurred to us that THIS is what was taking place during that Dmitri Vassilaros column in the Trib this morning. Cameo appearance by Burt Young as Joe Weinroth.

Monday Quick Hits

The P-G's Lord and Belser seem to be of the opinion that the love-fest between Ravenstahl and Onorato is over.

"A year from now, when you ask the question, 'Should the city merge with the county?', we'll have the answer," Mr. Ravenstahl said then.

Nine months later, that answer seems far off, because the relationship between the mayor and chief executive has apparently cooled just as differences in philosophy on city-county relations emerge.

Note the lack of a causal link in that formulation.


The P-G editorial board comes out in acquiescence to the drink tax / car rental tax solution for public transit.

The idea of this tax already has drawn a lot of complaints, primarily from bar and restaurant owners who fear it will be the add-on that breaks patrons' backs. But similar dire predictions did not come true in Philadelphia, where a drink tax was enacted 13 years ago.

The editorial does not directly address the counterargument that we are not Philadelphia.


Trib columnist Dmitri Vassilaros has some very, very good advice for Mark DeSantis.

When a question is lobbed about what Mayor DeSantis would do in the first 100 days in office, the electorate won't be electrified to learn that you'd want city employees to school you about how the government works.


Mark, you can win. But you must play hardball just to get to first base.

Then we have an accord.