Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thursday: The Politics Down Here

Businesses might need to prepare for a possible strike or service cutbacks before mid-September, when Port Authority and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 must accept or reject a fact-finder's findings about ongoing contract talks. (Trib, Justin Vellucci)

Yikes. Not good. Every once in a while, a back-burner issue sneaks into the foreground and scalds you.

Soo... if the Port Authority does not append some disclaimer to their posts on that site explaining to the reader that it represent management's viewpoint only, I may need to start up an independent "Fact of the Day" web site to respond to their postings. Just in case someone thinks I am not serious, I think I have enough fodder... (Nullspace)

Gooooood, good. I can feel the anger flowing through you. Now, call the County Executive out by name, and your journey to the Dark Side will be complete.


Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said Wednesday he wants proof that the state Ethics Commission has exonerated Pittsburgh's suspended Urban Redevelopment Authority chief. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

This KDKA report from Andy Sheehan (who apparently did break the news on Tuesday) makes pretty clear that Team Ford arrived at its conclusions regarding exoneration via sheer deduction.

Commission Executive Director John Contino could wait until the next regularly scheduled meeting in September to officially close Ford's case and notify the URA, Fisher said.

"I think for whatever political reasons this guy wants to let Pat dangle in the wind until September," Fisher said. "There's no reason for us to wait for this foregone technical conclusion."

Fisher called Contino a "lazy bureaucrat who doesn't want to resolve this matter expeditiously."

We did not seriously just read that, did we? What's he going to do if this does get more serious? Moon the grand jury?

Mr. Ford's attorney, Lawrence Fisher, said he received a fax Tuesday from the ethics commission saying it had "not acted with regard to my client." He then issued a statement to reporters yesterday saying Mr. Ford had been exonerated, the window for investigating him had terminated "and no further investigation of this matter will follow." He also called for the URA to reinstate him.

Mr. Fisher did not share the commission's letter with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (P-G, Timothy McNulty)

Summarily, we don't know much more than we did last week.


For the first time in Pittsburgh's almost 30-year cable TV history, the stage is being set to give city customers a choice between providers. (P-G, Diana Nelson Jones)



Arlington, for instance, one of the newly created Accelerated Learning Academies with a 58 percent African-American population, for instance showed a 135.5 percent improvement in third grade reading proficiency over last year.

Similarly, over a three-year period, 11th grade Westinghouse High School students, 98.5 percent Black, improved 135.3 percent in reading proficiency and an astounding 223.9 percent in math -- all the while reducing the number of student scores below basic in both categories by 48.5 percent and 29.6 percent, respectively. (Courier, Christian Morrow)

Alright. If these numbers turn out to be legitimate, meaningful and not misleadingly cherry-picked, we'll ... we'll do something nice for Mark Roosevelt. Or we'll do something mean to ourselves, whichever he'd prefer.

Right now, we're not entirely sure what a 223.9% improvement in math means. (Yes, yes. Irony.) Does that mean over three times the proportion of students at those schools and in those grades are scoring proficiently in math? Or that the math scores, as measured on a conventional scale of one to 100, are over three times as high? You know what they say about statistics.

The complete data is due to be released to the public soon / now.


  1. Pat Ford is a snake, he's managed to drag the URA's name and reputation into the mud. IMHO he should grab an empty box and leave town, take his game of "payment for services" act to another city. To come back now will only tarnish this city's efforts in the future...I mean come on, how the hell could you trust this guy?

    The current interim URA head should stay, there's been nothing but positive results in the last 4 months from the URA's actions, let's keep it that way.

  2. Pat has to come back (by at least August 11th) as his other BFF "Wylie Joe" needs him to get out of another batch of trouble...apparently he forgot to take down that burned out building in Polish Hill and if not down by August 11th, supposedly "Wylie Joe" faces a grand/day fine. Also, looked on Wylie Holdings website and they only have a few shabby/crappy condos to sell.....


  3. The P-G "Cutting Edge" published this editorial blurb at the top of its page on Sunday:

    "The New York Times Magazine last week featured a terrific but scary story by Mattathias Schwartz about Internet trolls -- anonymous online anarchists who wreak havoc with people's lives. He details how they torment countless innocents, including the family of a boy who killed himself and epileptics (by posting on epilepsy sites images that can trigger seizures).

    "These trolls are an awful, alienated bunch who justify their predations by claiming to provide a public service: They cull the weak from our ranks. The main defense against them: Believe nothing, zero, less than zero, of anything posted about you or anybody else online unless you absolutely, positively know who they are."


    We find this advice to be sound, well-measured and timely. The Comet urges all of its readers to take whatever happens to crop up in our comments -- especially anonymously -- with more than a grain of salt, and we beg our readers' indulgence not to participate in a way that could 'wreck havoc'.

    We aim to continue providing a lively and productive forum with which to explore many thorny local issues that require exploration. Please use good judgment in order to help us continue to do so.