Wednesday, February 11, 2009

weblog 2.11

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Greetings, Pittsburgh Comet readers and friends:

Hope this finds you well. We're now 97 days away from primary day:

May 19th.


Today's Pennsylvania politician is reduced to arguing that there's nothing all that wrong with corruption. (P-G, PI, McCoy & Lounsberry) UPDATE: Doubly-recommended.


It's interesting that the necessity of draconian budget cuts was revealed exactly as the federal government announced it would be dispersing mad money to states. (P-G, PI, Angela Couloumbis)


Another grassroots community group coincidentally settles upon "good, stable, family-sustaining jobs" as the solution to its problems. (P-G, Team Effort)


Remember the good old days, when we bloggers helpfully pointed out on an hourly basis what an immature 'shnozzle His Lukeness can be? I feel like that stuff doesn't faze anybody in these parts anymore -- we've long given up, given in, moved on to things like political cronyism and a total lack of follow-through on any stated goal project or intention ever ever ever EVER. Yet in recent days it seems to have dawned on the P-G that Our Mayor lacks a certain gravitas. Well, better late than never! In another few years, their disapproval may grow to such an extent that it will appear somewhere in the print edition, where it can be noted by persons other than bloggers. (P-G Early Returns, McNulty & Norman)


It doesn't seem like these fancy audits intimidate anyone. (Trib, Tim Puko)


Although they may pull it off anyhow, please tell me someone put this project on their Obama list? The project is slated to receive a fraction of the subsidy that the Steelers will no doubt receive for their hotel. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)


I'm not calling for a halt to objective coverage and analysis -- praise the incumbent, question the challengers as necessary -- but the eagerness of Pittsburgh's pundit class to prematurely talk-down expectations of a competitive mayors race is bad for the City and the textbook definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Slag Heap.) If it is genuinely your opinion that Pittsburgh is incapable of change, first of all I think you're wrong but more importantly keep it to yourself -- who are you impressing and why exactly? In the future, any writings or utterances by any actor that discourage the good citizens of Pittsburgh from taking a keen and excited interest in this last opportunity to alter our civic destiny will be met with the kind of furious, rude, uncalled-for barrage of ad-hominem insults that can only be generated by the Pittsburgh Comet any underemployed blogger.

And, scene.


See, somebody thinks it's a good message. (Courier, Christian Morrow)


  1. "If it is genuinely your opinion that Pittsburgh is incapable of change, first of all I think you're wrong but more importantly keep it to yourself -- who are you impressing and why exactly?"

    >>> Ahahahahahahahaha. Way to commit to a robust public debate, Bram: "If you can't say stuff I want to hear, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF." That's the blogging spirit!

    You might also note that I've written about the prospects for genuine change at the COUNCIL LEVEL. Yeah, I see a grim picture on the mayoral front -- and believe me, I'm not alone in that, or else Doug Shields would be running. (Speaking of which -- just the other day, you praised Shields for dropping out. But somehow me writing a blog post crosses the line? Doug's getting out of the race has done far more to limit the debate than a freaking blog post ever could.) But clearly I don't think Pittsburgh is "incapable of change." I just don't think that change begins at the mayoral level. Not this year.

    You can disagree if you want. Argue the merits, if you can. But the notion that my voicing doubts widely held among the potential challengers themselves constitutes a self-fulfilling prophecy ... I only wish I had that kind of power. But I don't, and neither do you. Otherwise, Georgia Blotzer would be picking out carpet samples. So a little modesty is called for, it seems to me.

    If if it makes you feel better, you can unleash whatever insults seem necessary. But the question is, who are YOU trying to impress?

    -- potter

  2. Fumo had a butler! Who paid for that?

  3. Mr. Potter-

    1. I could have made it more apparent, but I was using your post as a jumping-off point to air some grievances I've been accumulating for months now. You just happened to provide me with a timely excuse. Given my theatrics, I certainly don't begrudge you the sharp response.

    2. That having been said, I don't think arguing the likelihood of a competitive election falls into the category of what we usually mean by a "robust public debate". I'm happy as always to enjoin public policy and even political strategy opinions that differ markedly from my own; however I'm not sure what that is productive can possibly come from handicapping a horse race -- especially prior to the first breath of the campaign narrative. All things considered I think it definitely diminishes the potential for substantive public debate.

    3. Despite how Shields framed his calculation in his statement, there is a small galaxy of other specific considerations which may have (and I feel definitely) impacted his decision not to run than those which he described and which you echo.

    4. Council? Yes, there are some interesting Council races. However, one thing I think we've all learned is that this is a strong, strong, STRONG mayor government. Not only does the mayor appoint all the board authority & commission members which spend all the money and plan all the development, but he or she can pretty much decline to execute any directive issued from the Council. There are no penalties in the Charter for when the mayor refuses to do stuff, or even when he or she does stuff differently.

    5. Modesty called for, mwah? Operation Blotzer was a week-long, low-intensity dalliance. Should Georgia decide to give it another go, we'll find out for sure how modest I ought to be in the future, and in the meanwhile I'd suggest to her Prizant's Carpets.

    5. Is there any way I can prevail upon you to get a Google/Blogger account? Or at least type in your name manually under Name/URL? I find the anonymous intros just a tad inconvenient.

  4. I like the phrase "All things being equal".

    All things being equal, I can't see how Pat Dowd or Carmen Robinson turn this into a competitive primary. Pat Dowd is a decent speaker, but I am afraid he is not motivational enough to get past Ravenstahl's everyman appeal. I think we need to talk about this around the Burghosphere precisely because a Dowd/Robinson loss will go that much further to perpetuating the myth of Ravenstahl's invulnerability.

    You know who could win: Dwayne Woodruff.

  5. Seems as though the P-G is reaching. I've noticed that Tony tends to miss the mark every couple of months with knee-jerk commentary laced with cross generational slang like "outa sight" and "dope". I'm still holding fingers crossed for a mudkips or a 4chan reference, Tony! Thank goodness it's on the innerwebz, where it can do no harm...

    I'm hopeful - and worried, but hopeful nonetheless - that this younger crop of natives working local politics will not think of public service as a career. I whence when I hear it from the old guard. As if it's a good thing to have been "working" local politics longer than most mortgages. "Working" is synonymous with the "sausage making" that Congress likes to openly joke about, lately. You do it for too long, your countenance degrades to the likeness of Forrester. Thats. Just. Icky.

    It'd be alright if everyone was Billy Peduto, or an early Jim Ferlo (An original Mosque Avenger), but most are not.

  6. Judge Woodruff lives far outside the City limits....

    He would have to overcome the carpet bagger label.

  7. > You know who could win: Dwayne Woodruff.

    > He would have to overcome the carpet bagger label.

    Nevertheless, I think Ed is on to something. The only person that could beat Steelerstahl right now is a genuine Pittsburgh Steeler. I think we still have a few living within the city limits.

    An outlandish thought, yeah, but I think it's all we have. (Sorry for the despondency, Bram, but dude does have a million dollars and the implicit support of every important Democrat in the state.)

  8. Folks, the Steelers vote was never more strong than in the fall of 2001 -- upon the opening of Heinz Field.

    Now there is plenty to point too -- especially for 2009 in the fall.

    Under river tunnel is where?

    Heinz Field is not yet purchased by the Rooneys.

    Outdoor theater / concert venue is where?

    Stealers options on land use with the authority has long-since passed.

    And the 2009 season could be with the team with a 4-and-4 record. Imagine that!

    All in all, it could be a November landslide for ABL.

    May 09 is less of a factor than Nov 09, IMHO.

  9. Woodruff is living a nice comfortable life in McCandless.

    He would be nuts to move back into the city limits and to leave his judgeship.

  10. "I'm not sure what that is productive can possibly come from handicapping a horse race"

    >>> I think tactics are important, and it's worth talking about which races are worth investing time and money in and which aren't. You're calling for contributions to be made to Dowd, which is fine. But there may be other worthy candidates out there, in other races, and most folks I know have limited resources. If you had a choice between door-knocking for a candidate who, though admirable, has no prayer of winning ... or a candidate who could really benefit from the help ... well, which would you choose?

    Pundits and hacks can concentrate too much on the horse race, I agree. I'm sure I've done it myself. But when you're taking on powerful people who have money to burn, you have to invest your own resources carefully. That's the spirit in which I'm contrasting the mayoral and council races. (Though as I said in my counter-revolutionary blog post, I think a strong challenge to Ravenstahl will be good for everyone, Ravenstahl included.)

    And while we have a strong-mayor system, an active council CAN make a difference. Just ask Tom Murphy about the role Ferlo, O'Connor, and Hertzberg played in Fifth/Forbes.

    (In the spirit of moving forward, I'm acceding to your request to use a Name/URL identity.)

  11. Dowd/Robinson loss will go that much further to perpetuating the myth of Ravenstahl's invulnerability.

    I couldn't disagree more Ed. Here are my reasons:

    1. Dowd can and has motivated people. He was speaking at Obama events all over the region throughout the primary and general election, so, to the people who actual vote in these things, he is more well known around the city than some of us think.

    2. As long as Dowd runs a hard fought, competitive, and clean campaign, assuming he does not winhe'll be the favorite to challenge again in 2013, assuming he does not win.

    3. The biggest reason why he should run now instead of waiting 4 more years is that the door is wide open. None of the big guns in city politics want to take on an incumbent with a million in the bank. Even if they had the money, none of the "big guns" - Lamb, Peduto, Shields, are capable of running a good enough campaign to defeat the mayor. Their past campaigns have proven this. Dowd, on the other hand, has proven that he can run an insurgent, grassroots campaign, and win. The only question now (besides will he go for it) is if he can replicate his city council campaign on a city wide level in a little more than 3 months. I happen to think that with our help together, he can

    4. Oh, and then there's the selfish reason. We bloggers need something to over analyze and obsess over day in and day out between now and May 19th.

  12. Schultz said:

    4. Oh, and then there's the selfish reason. We bloggers need something to over analyze and obsess over day in and day out between now and May 19th.

    Yeah, only we're not that good at it. On the other hand a lot of you paid-type personages are talented. You guys come up with something. What exactly would have to happen for Dowd to capitalize on this narrow window of his in 2009 (excepting the obvious)?

    My first instinct? Key endorsements.

  13. We're not good at overanalzying and obsessing over local poltical races? Don't sell us so short!

    Besides the ACDC, there are endorsements out there for the taking. Sierra Club, Firefighters, FOP, Stonewall, just to name a few - these groups are not exactly solidly behind the mayor.

  14. I'd try for the 'ALOB' endorsement (Association of Laptop Owning Butlers). See first link.

  15. Thank you MH.

    * Admitted that his youngest daughter and his butler used state-purchased laptops. Mr. Fumo defended it, saying his house was akin to a "research- and development-type" facility full of new devices being tried out for the Senate." (Philadelphia Enquirer)

    Wait, the state paid for the butler's laptop or the state paid for the butler? And what's with these tens of thousands on dollars on "tools"? Are we talking hammers and screwdrivers? Giant moon lasers? What?