Friday, February 27, 2009

Weekend: Where Are We?*

The forthcoming Dan Onorato Cyberhall write-up is not in this post, nor is Edmund Fitzgerald, nor is something else that we might have promised directly to you.

Everything else is.

What's going on, [Patrick Dowd] said, is "robbing Peter to pay Paul," manufacturing razor-thin surplus predictions without disclosing how they'll be achieved, and a steady worsening of the pension fund's woes with only "liquidation" of the parking garages offered as a solution. (P-G, Rich Lord)

It would be illustrative to see the balance sheets of all our City Authorities and whether or not they have worsened over the same three years that Ravenstahl has been either A) rescuing the city from the abyss or B) cooking the city's books with the ICA.

In a related story at the Trib, it looks like increasing employee contributions to the pension fund is absolutely off-the-table, Lukewise. The administration is focused on massive "infusions".

More on mayoral politics later.

The next overseas project for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will be a hospital on a beachside property in Paphos, a tourist town on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, officials will announce today. (Trib, Luis Fabregas)

I'm sure this is going to be a very useful institutional amenity to show off and increase the medical center's global stature, and attract the very best of personnel and collaborators. It's also another excellent example of why we need to tax these guys.

"The implications of not having a well-educated and trained work force to meet future demand [have] the potential to create a lasting negative impact on the region, and it is inspiring to see our community rally to support this worthwhile program," R.K. Mellon Director Scott Izzo said in a statement. (P-G, Joe Smydo)

Is this program really the highest and best use of so much of the region's charitable capital? It seems like it's going to be a splendid benefit for middle-class families whose children are already prepared for college -- but it will do nothing to improve educational outcomes for the masses who do require investment, and it will do very little (in reality) to tempt affluent suburbanites back into trusting public schools, given alternatives available to them. The whole shebang seems designed more for popularity than effect.

The district administration has touted the University of Pittsburgh's involvement with the University Prep High School as a key to this school's success. To date, the exact nature of this collaboration has not been clearly articulated. (P-G OpEd, Kathryn Fine)

Oy vey, Patrick! Are you reading this? Somebody explain to us what all is going on in our public schools. It seems one must either be with Roosevelt or against Roosevelt. I would like to hear from someone (Heather?) how the School District is ensuring safeguards for transparency, public process and accountability -- particularly in reference to "University Prep" schools.

Ignored for five years, the city of Pittsburgh's curfew will be back on May 1 in a form that will be both stricter and more kid-friendly than it was in years past, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said yesterday. (P-G, Rich Lord)

I grew up in Squirrel Hill. I get the feeling me and my friends circa 1991 could shortly be on the streets at midnight smoking cigarettes, playing blackjack and taking cellphone pictures down our trousers yet we'd NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS get swept up. Yet equally rambunctious young ruffians from other parts of town are going to get hauled into a pen and told, "You are the bad ones!"

Political note: Our new Curfew Center is due to go online May 1, a couple of weeks before election day. Not incidentally, the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime in all likelihood is due to begin taking effect tentatively and approximately around that same enchanted period*.

*UPDATE/CLARIFICATION (3/01) - Or maybe not; it is in flux.

The Allegheny County Community Infrastructure and Tourism board, which will dole out $80 million in state gambling revenue over the next decade, approved a $91,000 grant to the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation to help stabilize the dilapidated structure on Centre Avenue. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Although this is state money, this is almost certainly the kind of thing where it's appropriate to say, Way to Go Dan Onorato! And mean it. Now can we start talking about the fun part -- actually developing the site.

"This isn't a blind populous screed, and there really needs to be a measure of equity," [Mayor Fetterman] said. "Somebody needs to explain to me why AIG gets over $140 billion over a couple weekend powwows and we can't get a Subway franchise or a youth center." (P-G, L.A. Johnson)

Is it too early to start looking forward to the year 2019 and County Executive Fetterman?

It looks like McArdle Roadway did not make the cut on PennDOT’s ambitious project list for 2009. Check out the bridges and roads that will be repaired here.

I’d be interested to hear how these decisions were made. Perhaps McArdle Roadway repairs can be paid for via some other funding vehicle. For those of us that drive it regularly and for the millions of tourists that see a road, barriers, fences and a hillside in various stages of decay and disrepair, this is confusing and disappointing news indeed. (Mountain Girl, 15211)

That's just interesting.

Guests at the fundraiser were treated to the stylings of DJ Omar Abdul and delicious cabbage rolls and peirogies prepared by Helena Rudiak, Natalia’s mom. There is only one way to talk about this Cross CIty Fundraiser and that is as a booming success. (NR.com, Lizandra Vidal)

Everyone from the HUDDLER to President Obama seems lately to be coming out for Natalia Rudiak.

"I don't have any comment," Wheately told me last Friday when I confronted him with allegations that he ordered his office staff to perform political work on the public's time.

The allegations were brought to me by Brad Young, Wheatley's former campaign manager. (KDKA, Andy Sheehan)

Ouchy and possible complications for Danny LaVelle. Since these allegations were brought directly to KDKA and not part of any official investigation, this hasn't come in for much further scrutiny.

##

Back to politics. Patrick Dowd got his radio feet wet during an interview on the Mark DeSantis Show with a bunch of bloggers.

Chad Hermann asked something along the lines of, "How will you package your nuanced message and policy prescriptions in a way that will be effective in today's media environment?" The first thing Dowd said was that he's not into negative campaigning, because "that's not what wins elections".

I would politely refer Mr. Dowd to Barack Obama, who talked a big game about taking the high ground, yet at the same time could (and can still) get snarky, sassy, indignant and outright angry when discussing the policies and the performances of those who preceded him. How many times has he laid down the, "I won't take any lectures about X from somebody who Y?" And remember -- Iraq was a "dumb war". Barack Obama called for Change, and one way he did that was by tearing into the Status Quo in no uncertain, allusive terms.

Then again, when discussing the budget, Dowd said we should examine the city's real situation and "not put lipstick on it" so he's probably gearing up for all that. He also said there is a financial "crisis upon us", which differs pretty strikingly from what may be implied by someone having presided over a "$100 million surplus".

Julie Gong was given the floor to ask a question, and you just knew it was going to be the best question of the program because that's how these things work.

"So what have you heard when you go doorknocking?"

Dowd answered, believe it or not, garbage cans. He said he must have heard about those cans 20 or 30 times. When put on the spot, Dowd (it seemed rather spontaneously) pledged on the Mark DeSantis Show that never as mayor would he put his name on any city stuff.

When talking about retaining our young people, Dowd asked Julie, "What more than anything else would keep you in Pittsburgh?" Julie answered, "Jobs, I guess". Dowd replied, see? Jobs. Job growth. Jobs blabity blabity blah. In the absence of any fleshing out of what it means, "job growth" sounds downright platitudinous and Republican, unfortunately.

Now. Speaking of which:


Against my better judgment (why talk about what the other guy wants you to talk about?) at one time I thought I'd spend further posts critiquing the top portion of that campaign mailer. On first reading, it was impressive and even a little daunting. By the second reading it seemed somehow less daunting. By the third reading it was an outright joke document.

I am however deeply grateful (and maybe a little honored) that the official Ravenstahl campaign slogan is, as of this moment... GETTING IT DONE.

Where to start? Here? Surely there are even greater treasures to be uncovered further towards the back of the closet.

20 comments:

  1. Getting it done? Just what exactly has the Mayor done? He's stuck on the Bob O Autopilot and running out of gas.

    I would have preferred DeSantis, but I hope Dowd kicks his ass.

    And you are a pretty good writer BTW Bram. You should do that for a living.

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  2. The slogan, "Getting it done" needs to be turned into "Luke is done." It is going to take a masterful campaign to materialize to deliver that message. Dowd can say, "As to the getting, I get it. Luke, you're done."

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  3. OH MY FREAKING GOD!

    How many times was I told that very same thing - by Tony Ceoffe, by Jim Ferlo's office, by the URA, when asked about.....
    JOE EDELSTEIN!!

    And here I thought it was machine-talk, kinda like "out filling pot-holes".

    Pat: Get Snarky. Now.

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  4. Well, Luke is "getting it done." He's getting the Pittsburgh Promise done, with the inside deal promise of kepping UPMC city tax-free and letting them put their logo on top of the steel building and pay for his golf trip.

    He's getting it done, bringing in the amiptheater and other developers who won't sign CBA's and instead, rob the tax payers and repay Luke.

    He's getting it done all right. Waiting until the last minute to do Pittsburgh's stimulus request and not asking a soul to help.

    Can't wait to see what more he can get done.

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  5. Looks like Ravenstahl's left shoelace is untied in the photo.

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  6. The funniest comment I have heard in a long time. This guy lives in Sligo, PA and knows what a tool Luke is. Why can't we figure that out?

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09053/950863-52.stm

    Mr. Steiner said that maybe Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the youngest mayor of a major American city, can provide some valuable lessons.

    "He's educating all of the young mayors in the U.S.," he joked. "His mistakes let them understand what they can't do."

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  7. Upon further review, this is from the Dowd press release that shortly preceded that P-G article:

    "All around us the signs of the City of Pittsburgh's looming financial crisis are calling out for honesty, common sense and leadership, qualities which the Mayor has failed to demonstrate."

    I'm not trying to run a negative campaign here. I'm just saying my opponent lacks honesty.

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  8. I hope that Mark Belko article gains some traction. The Allegheny County Community Infrastructure and Tourism Board? Tourism funding for a retaining wall in Shaler? WTF!

    I happen to know of a landslide instance last summer which deposited soil into Girty's Run, blocking the flow of water and lead to a house or two becoming nearly flooded on Walters Avenue - all of which occurring on private property. As I can recall, Shaler Township attempted to remove the material and the DEP stopped them due to the lack of permits. Shaler was then directed to Allegheny County Emergency Services, and I never heard anything more since then.

    I am utterly fascinated that a tourism board has broadened their scope to include funding public works projects. Considering that their one page website cites no metrics as to how the Board awards the funds. Simply fill out the form, and viola...

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  9. More to come on the Wheatley story very soon...

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  10. tony ceoffe is lukes wipping boy..

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  11. I imagine this is what is must be like reading politically-oriented republican blogs in South Carolina, Mississippi or Alabama. If this is what passes for "tough talk" about candidates, then the two party system really is dead. Everyone will get worked up about Dowd, a few zingers will be delivered and Ravenstahl will win by 30 points. Great.

    The level of discourse or expectations regarding politics in this town is downright depressing.

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  12. Anon of 11:22 - Well, in regards to conservatives, the aim of these two Democrats is fundamentally the same. Spend government money to get the economy moving and improve people's lives.

    In regards to how to aggregate those government resources, how to economize them, how to allocate them and how to proceed about the business of executing it, I would submit that we have major differences amongst our candidates.

    I will throw in that it would be nice to hear Patrick Dowd and Carmen Robinson talk about how we can lay off building the giant boxes, domes, and forts for a while.

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  13. So is "getting it done" the Pittsburgh way of saying "Git'er done"?

    What was Murtha saying about rednecks around here?

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  14. I miss "redd up".

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  15. Ed speaks the truth as awful as it is.

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  16. I see what Ed is saying. Git'er done, Steelerstahl... etc. It's all pretty funny when you look at it via the hillbilly angle.

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  17. Feh. I'm not into it. Luke's messaging has a populist thing going, I'll give you that, but that's not a bad thing and I don't even like the words "hillbilly" or "hillbilly politics". Of course I'm not the lord over these things that's just my opinion.

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  18. Paphos has done wonders for property values in the area.
    Property For Sale Phapos

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