Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday: Is Disinfectant the Best Disinfectant?

Mr. Ravenstahl said the revelations of gift-giving are "very difficult" for him personally, because he considers both Mr. Ford and Mr. Vlasach good friends.

"But when issues arise like they did [Wednesday], and the acceptance of gifts is now something he's acknowledged, I have real concerns with that," he said. (P-G, Lord and Fitzpatrick)

We can imagine how uncomfortable it can be when things like this arise and must be acknowledged.

On Dec. 21, Lamar inked a lease with the parking authority that would have it pay $3,000 a month in rent for the sign. Mr. Vlasach negotiated the lease, and Mr. Ford was the authority's board chairman. There was no public bidding or board vote on the lease.

$3,000 a month? Could that be considered low for a Jumbotron (tm) in the heart of Downtown? We wonder what are the industry standards.

The key, Mr. Cox said, is disclosing anything you receive and decide to keep.

Ahem, no. The key is to refrain from going out of your way to subvert the city code on the gift-giver's behalf.


The billboard must come down.

It really is that simple. The electronic billboard that Lamar Advertising almost finished erecting last week at the north end of Grant Street, despite a legal appeal filed in early March, is nothing more than a symbolic middle finger extended toward Pittsburghers and the principle of representative government.

The billboard is in every possible way an obscene digital salute.

If it stays to bathe the elegant Pennsylvanian building in its garish light, it will be a monument to corporate arrogance, craven local leadership and, quite possibly, government corruption. (P-G, Ruth Ann Daily)

It will be interesting to see if the Planning Commission is amenable to this argument. It should be. The billboard would overlook the heart of Grant Street, where many of our civic leaders young and old pass everyday. They will either be reminded of one lesson, or another.

Yet there is nothing in the city code that specifically forbids developers from flipping us the bird, and the Planning Commission has taken an extremely narrow view of its powers under the watchful eye of Pat Ford -- so narrow that it would seem to have reserved for itself virtually none.


[There've been unsubstantiated rumors that the Sirk departure was already well underway prior to the news breaking and that this was merely a convenient and politically opportune time to dump her. I can't confirm that rumor.] (Angry Drunk Bureaucrat)

The same could be said of the other departure.

Leaving billboard companies and/or the State Ethics commission aside -- you may be wondering which if any other bodies and offices may be investigating which of the dynamic duo for which if any other dealings on behalf of the city.

The answer is yes.

The issue then becomes a matter of scope. Where will any of this lead, and what sorts of transactions will come under scrutiny?

Obviously, to a large extent this will be determined by the facts as they emerge. Yet to a not insignificant degree, this must also become a question of geist and its impact on the prevailing political climate; what is Pittsburgh fundamentally in the mood to see happen?

Will there be an outcry for further inquiries, as a trickle of gory details emerge? Or will all of us reach a point where we have seen corrections made and actions taken, and be eager to continue the work of the city with a mostly clean slate, given the fierce urgency of now and the need to move forward?

That depends on many things, we suppose. In the short-term, it would appear that there are only so many civic jackpots our government is in a position to deliver.

People's memories being what they are, our climate will have to be very well reestablished by the middle of next week, at the very latest, for better or for worse. Absolutely.


  1. Bram, the KEY is the elimination of all NO BID CONTRACTS.

  2. It's not just about no bid contracts.

    It's about following the process, the laws.

    Edelstein with almost 1/2 mil in development funds, allowed to circumvent zoning code for his Sandbox Lots project in Lawrenceville.

    Walnut Capital/Reidbord and their 'air rights', so the Bakery Sq. project's hotel wouldn't have to hire union workers.

    As for the Planning Commission investigating this, are you kidding me? All nine of them are appointed by the mayor & Reidbord himself is on it, even if he does leave mtgs. early. Planning Commission members:
    Wrenna L. Watson, Chairwoman
    Barbara Ernsberger, Secretary
    E. Paul Dick
    Lynne Garfinkel
    Barbara K. Mistick
    Monte Rabner
    Todd E. Reidbord
    Mary Lou Simon

  3. Hey Bram,

    The mud splatter is now coming your way ...

  4. Knock wood, I shouldn't get anything on me.

  5. There is so much more:
    A City Planning Department that has been gutted..

    Parking lot deals and other "overlooked" zoning violations that may have contributed to loss of last two zoning admins....

    departmental staff hiring their own lawyers to protect themselves...

    no citing or public coverage of illegal parking lot at Church of Epiphany ...(look at that $3.4 million deal!)....

    The process failure in the billboard issue is only the tip of the iceberg....