This item appears in today's Trib Whispers column:
Hill District opponents of a proposed community benefits agreement offered by Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato were up to some tomfoolery last week.
They attempted to manipulate a KQV radio poll asking listeners whether they thought the city should delay approval of the master plan for the Penguins' new arena until consensus is reached on the community benefits agreement.
With callers rejecting the idea of delaying the master plan by a 3-1 margin around midday, an e-mail was delivered to undisclosed recipients from Carl Redwood, chair of the One Hill Community Benefits Agreement Coalition.
The e-mail implored people to "vote yes and vote often" to delay the master plan approval. The message noted that callers could vote up to eight times in the poll and conveniently provided KQV's phone number.
We pause here to point out that in this context it is negligent not to report that a city employee designed a program to bombard a KDKA Online Poll, about the mayoral race and other matters -- a tactic which was endorsed by Ravenstahl's office as all-in-good-fun.
So to fail to mobilize in one of these situations is to invite defeat. Moreover, our Whisperers do not investigate the possibility that the other side was canvassing to maximize votes as well.
Embarrassingly, the move backfired.
The final numbers: 178 in favor of postponing the master plan, compared to 552 in favor of proceeding. That's a 76 percent-to-24 percent margin -- about the same margin as when Redwood's e-mail first was sent.
That was quite a surprise. The Comet checked the KQV website at the end of the day, seeing that YES to postponing the master plan won by a margin of 52%-48%, with well over 500 votes voting to postpone.
Pittsburgh United provides us with a screen capture:
Click on it for a larger copy. The polls appear in the shaded right-hand column -- the bottom one reads "Yesterday's Poll", which means results are final. You should clearly see the blue "YES" bar (yes to postponement) defeat the orange "NO" bar (no to postponement) 52%-48%, with over 1,000 total votes.
What cheeses us off is not that KQV News and the Tribune-Review are capable of playing reindeer games. We'll try to pick up the pieces of our shattered innocence.
What gets us is that after reading this post and then especially this post, how anybody from these two organizations could still prefer that the Penguins continue to filter money through the wasteful, overly politicized local government infrastructure, instead of encouraging the Penguins make some direct investments with willing and capable neighborhood residents.