Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Wednesday: Almost Nobody Knows Anything

Riverlife attorney Cliff Levine said Mr. Barden sold his project to the city and the gaming board in part "on the basis that they were going to create a unique riverfront site."

"They are cutting every single amenity out that was part of the incentive that was presented to the planning commission and the gaming board," he said. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Where can this possibly be going?

Our guess is that we are about to embark on the great Who Can Appear Perfectly Tough But Fair On The Casino Contest of 2008 & 2009 -- yet in the end we can only influence the development on the margins, because things are as they are.

(Note to all hand wringers: Hindsight is 20/20, there's no sense crying over spilt milk, stiff upper lip and all that. Had the commission based its decision solely on depth of pockets, we would have accused it of one-dimensional insensitivity to complex local intangibles et cetera, yet still we would be confronting economic climate change, not to mention bait-and-switchery. Lord, we've already been subjected to monumental bait-and-switchery*, yet nary a peep. But boat docks! Our precious North Shore! Oh the humanity!) * -- link recommended

The planning commission will formally consider the proposed casino modifications in two weeks.

When deviating significantly from a duly approved Project Development Plan, one must return to the Planning Commission for resubmission. This rule applies to almost everybody.


The city Law Department agreed yesterday to pay half of a contested legal bill four City Council members incurred fighting a billboard permit. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Formally agreed, yesterday. This has been fairly settled business for some time. Yesterday is foggy in terms of hows and whys.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo e-mailed council, offering to pay $1,000 of the bill and to help raise money for the rest.

You. Make. The Call.

A. Ferlo believes the Lamar Four are correct on the issue of attorneys fees.

B. Ferlo believes the Lamar Five or Six are correct on the larger issue of public processes.

C. Ferlo believes many of us are correct on the even larger issue of the appropriateness of the electronic advertising sign, and/or finds opposing it to be safely and unavoidably within his brand.

D. Ferlo believes he is safeguarding Ravenstahl from digging himself into a hole that reaches all the way to China and up the inside of Mt. Everest.

E. Ferlo is hedging some pretty major bets.

F. Some combination of the above.

"Having struggled hard in the past to get a sane and reasonable zoning code as it relates to billboards and outdoor advertising, these are laws that I want to see preserved, protected and hopefully enhanced," Ferlo wrote in an e-mail message sent to council members. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

We can say C for sure -- but that was the gimme.


The House Judiciary Committee on Friday issued a subpoena to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting, by 2 p.m. Monday, documents and electronic information related to six different concerns, including the identification of former CIA agent Valerie Plame and the department's decision to prosecute former Allegheny County Coroner Dr. Cyril H. Wecht.

Chairman John Conyers Jr. is seeking information on selective prosecution, specifically related to the cases involving Dr. Wecht and former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman. (P-G, Team Effort)

[#groan#] Alright. No more avoiding this thing.

First off, the Siegelman case sounds like a truly heinous tale involving a highly prominent, politically powerful and doggedly intransigent Democratic power broker (in what would otherwise be a Republican bulwark) having been not merely prosecuted but sent up the river (he has since been released) upon what at least some evidence suggests was the personal orders of Karl Rove.

If Rove and Our US Attorney conspired to kneecap our own local Democratic party establishment, they are either going about it in a circumlocuitous fashion, or are a couple of decades behind on their news. One cannot rule it out of hand, but to lump these two cases together seems to us a stretch.

Second, we learn from this Bob Mayo joint of "fake invoices from an out-of-business travel agency" that comprise an actually uncontested fact of the trial. The excuse of Wecht's ignorance as to that repeated fraud does not seem to wash -- heightening to a degree our ill disposition towards the rest the de minimus benefits Our Coroner allegedly arranged for himself.

Our friend the MacYapper has been flying the FREE CYRIL flag proudly for some time. However, unless we have missed something or misunderstood, his issue is that this has been an unnecessary and wasteful federal prosecution, not a politically corrupt one. His is more of a value judgement, and a tough one -- but an issue fairly distinct from that which Chairman Conyers is investigating in Washington.

As far as that issue does go, what gives the Comet pause is this: if the defense really comes down to, Come on, this is a bunch of nickel and dime crap that nobody should care about, well -- does that not sound awful Pittsburgh? Might it not be useful to remind local officeholders at this time that de minimus perks piled upon de minimus special favors are to be avoided as a whole, lest they be become de maximus or even de pandemic?


  1. I've always found Ferlo to be a really odd mix of earnest liberal activist and political machinist. (The man arranged for Tom Flaherty to speak at a Kucinich-for-President fundraiser a few years ago -- that almost perfectly sums up Ferlo's place in Democratic politics.) For that reason, I'm going with B, C, and D.

  2. If there were an earnest liberal political machine around, that would be a wonderful thing. It would be a feather in Ferlo's cap if he were to help accomplish it.

    It would no doubt lead to the genesis of a creditable local conservative opposition party, which would also be a wonderful thing.

    Instead we have this muddle of banal expediency. Never can a voice of any kind foment progress -- nowhere is anyone thinking of else but political calculation. So we lie in retrograde.

  3. Ferlo is the man!!!

    The planning commission should reject these new plans by the Casino folks.

  4. KGC says..

    I know who and what Ferlo is (a sneaky little sh*t politician), but who's the cute little number in the picture?

  5. That, my friend, is CBS News war correspondent Lara Logan. We recommend starting by clicking here,

    and then clicking through to the 2nd Huffington Post article, if only to play the embedded video from her segment on the Daily Show. Fabulous.