Friday, July 11, 2008

Rolling Rock: Green Lighted

A Rolling Rock beer sign should never have been hung in a Downtown historic district without the required approvals, and should be removed or at least reviewed, advocates of the Penn-Liberty corridor have told city officials.

Their 6-month-old effort has spent two months stalled in the city Law Department. There, attorneys face a conundrum: If they order removal of the sign, which was permitted without public hearings or votes, they face a lawsuit that might hinge on a meeting Mayor Luke Ravenstahl attended. (P-G, Rich Lord)

It is unclear what exists at the other end of the alleged conundrum. We suppose the Law Department could find a way to rationalize continuing the permit, prospectively, and leave the city exposed to a different lawsuit that might hinge on a meeting Mayor Luke Ravenstahl attended.

Meanwhile, city leaders appear to be taking their standard Walt Disney approach to crisis management -- store the issue in deep freeze until such time as science finds a cure.

Its site was discussed at a November 2006 dinner meeting between then-city Planning Director Pat Ford and executives of Liberty Pacific Media and Capitol Outdoor Inc. Mr. Ravenstahl stopped in at the meeting.

Washington, D.C.-based Capitol Outdoor executives left the meeting confident that sign permits for 960 Penn Ave. and 220 E. General Robinson St., on the North Shore, were valid. They bought the rights to the sites from Seattle-based Liberty Pacific for $750,000, and launched Pittsburgh Outdoor Signs.

Liberty Pacific executives later gave Mr. Ravenstahl's campaign $27,000 in contributions, placing them among his top 10 donors. The mayor said in April interviews that he didn't solicit the contributions, nor get involved in the sign permit process.

Mr. Ford's lawyer said in an e-mail yesterday that his client was not involved with the sign "in any significant manner."

Who was involved with the sign? Has permitting grown so streamlined that applicants now enjoy immaculate approvals?

Is our zoning code atrocious when it comes to signs that are unplugged, yet large? Is the code unfortunately silent on the issue of how to deal with applications from folks who write big checks?


  1. Dude, no one cares.

  2. ford would just order the approvals over the phone, concerned that others might take notes like he did

  3. "Dude, no one cares."

    Actually---plenty do.

  4. ok pat dowd what next?

    Luke is dirtyy in this and your k now it.

    Payola, signs, looks as if the fantastic 4 have their work cut out for them doesn't it?

  5. If there is a pattern of confusion when it comes to our zoning code and advertising signs, council has an obligation to deal with that problem.

    If they focus on the matter at hand and not a million other agendas -- important ones, in their own way, but separate agendas -- council has the ability to do this and do it in the RIGHT way. But that will take five, no really six council members, and they all are going to have to look DEEP WITHIN THEMSELVES and purge that which is too cute.

    They are all capable of this. It's just are they all capable of doing this at the same time, and for long enough?

  6. This is so clearly a case of quid pro quo .... it is blinding.

    Two out-of-town OREGON guys blow in, have dinner with Pat Ford, Luke welcomes them at the dinner, they give Luke $25,000, "the city" gives them an illegal permit for 2 illegal signs, they turn around and sell these illegal permits to a 3rd party for $750,000!!!!

    You bet there will be lawsuits. That 3rd party is truly the only clean party in this mess. They bought PERMITTED sign space from the Oregon company. The Oregon company is not even liable. The City of Pittsburgh issued them a permit!!!

    Luke is dirty, dirty, dirty on this one. Plain as day. In big, black and white print, stated clearly in the newspaper by the city's own "Law Department".

    So yea, what is city council going to do about this one? There is no middle ground on this one.