Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mixed Fruit: Georgia Blotzer, Mt. Washington, Mike Veon, and U.S.A. Buchanan

First: Maria posts a very good breakdown of most of the fallout from Council's initial stab at campaign finance reform.

I'm partial of course because it leads with Georgia's statement to the press -- but don't overlook anything, particularly the chart by Bob Mayo comparing other cities' CFR ordinances.

More Blotzer activity: The Mt. Washinton blog posts the text of the candidate's presentation to City Council regarding intractable property vacancies along Grandview Avenue. Citing a section of the City Code in regards to Public Realm Districts, Blotzer implored the Council:
I would hope that council and the planning commission would be more vigilant in monitoring developments and in this case specifically, LACK of development or maintenance in areas designated as a Public Realm District. I would also hope City Council would consider reviewing or creating new legislation to enforce development timelines for all such speculators/developers. (

Note for Georgia: You may well be right about new legislation, but my worry is, who is going to come along to enforce legislation that is supposed to help enforcement elsewhere? If enforcement is a problem we have identified -- we may require new enforcement procedures, or a different kind of leadership.

However, the Council (including Councilwoman Smith) seems to be with you on the need to tighten up the code's language and maybe make it more actionable, so we'll see.

15211 also posts some observations on the public hearing, and on the issue of underperforming Grandview Ave. in general:

As people fought to retain control of their neighborhood, they didn’t anticipate that their success in doing so would result in an overcorrection of sorts. Mt. Washington developed a reputation for being “anti-development” and the developers that did purchase land were less than motivated to do anything with it. So here we sit. MWCDC Executive Director Chris Beichner brought a petition to Councilwoman Smith and City Council is finally taking a look at how to get us out of development limbo responsibly. (

Now. On to another subject...

What about that Big Beaver Initiative?

A statewide grand jury sitting in Pittsburgh said the pair essentially used the Beaver Initiative for Growth, ostensibly an agency designed to improve communities in Mr. Veon's district, as a cash reserve from which they paid bills for political work, gave bonuses to state employees who worked on Mr. Veon's campaign and directed millions of dollars in salaries and contracts to family and associates of Mr. Veon. (P-G, Dennis B. Roddy)

So it really was a non-profit. Mike Veon simply was the Big Beaver Initiative for Growth. All of BIG's efforts, allegedly, went to further the cause of Veonism.

Mr. Veon told John Gallo, Beaver Initiative's onetime executive director who resigned over expenditures he viewed as illegal, that "since Edward Rendell had just taken office as governor there were going to be millions of dollars coming to BIG." After Mr. Rendell took office, the grand jury said, Beaver Initiative received more than $9.9 million in grant money from the state. (P-G, ibid)

Given everything we have learned about the scope of "Fumoworld" and given these new charges regarding Veonland -- do you think it's possible the Governor never knew about any of this, as his government was helping to strengthen these respective citadels? It's starting to feel like WHAT DID YOU KNOW AND WHEN DID YOU KNOW IT season.

Rendell spokesman Michael Smith and Community and Economic Development spokesman Mark Shade said the governor has no role in awarding grants. (P-G, ibid)

Up until a few days ago, he didn't have any role in supervising the Turnpike Commissioner, either.


A very good cover story about the life and times of Mary Beth Buchanan appears in this week's City Paper. On a scale of one to ten -- one being an outstandingly fair and balanced piece of journalism, ten being the usual ill-informed gut reaction that passes for analysis from many well-intentioned leftist writers -- I give this article about a three.

I think the "controversy" about the case surrounding the pill-distributing doctor is pretty thin, for example; I had thought only one of the six witnesses recanted her testimony, and even then who knows when she was telling the truth, and what difference would it have made. And as usual, I think there is too little cognizance not only of the role Attorneys General play but the roles everyone between that officer and a U.S. Attorney play in decision-making -- when it comes to "pulling the trigger" on certain potential charges, for example.

For more of my thoughts on the matter, SEE HERE, but the C-P did a fairly informative job.

The cover is very cute -- it depicts Ms. Buchanan mounting heads on a wall with one space remaining for Dr. Cyril Wecht, with Rush Limbaugh and National Review literature on the coffeetable and a signed photo from A.G. Ashcroft on the mantle.

One thing that caught my eye was the Constitution burning in the fireplace -- that is a very serious charge and would need to be backed up with something! -- but then I remembered, this is satire! Just like the Barack and Michelle cartoon on the cover of the New Yorker! The City Paper is actually lampooning how certain less-informed liberals view Ms. Buchanan. All in great fun.


  1. I just remembered something I meant to include today: City Council has scheduled a post-agenda on Ethics reform on Monday, March 30th at 10:00 AM, and public hearing on Monday, April 6th at 1:30.

    I'll be posting that more officially soon but in the meanwhile, way to go guys.

  2. Pgh City Council's initial stab at campaign finance reform was in 2004.

    What is unfolding now is perhaps Mayor Ravenstahl's stab. But even there, it isn't initial as that would have been his veto in 2008.

  3. I have to agree with Mark. It is disingenuous for Luke to take a stab at campaign finance reform after you made sure you built a war chest. For this voter, it is the continuation of corrupt political games that have plagued this city and the not the vote I will cast for "change".

  4. Bram,

    I realize you are clearly unfamiliar with the case against Dr. Rottschaefer; however I ask that you please become versed in the case before you casually dismiss it. By doing so, you are demonstrating a bias towards Ms. Buchanan. As with anyone, Ms. Buchanan has faults and made errors in her career and Dr. Rottschaefer’s case is a clear example. Unfortunately having made errors (or her subordinates made errors), Ms. Buchanan has been unwilling to correct her errors and instead has casually dismissed the case even though a man’s life was ruined per her team’s incompetence.

    Here are high level details of the case, to date. It is tough to follow since there is a lot of new information uncovered every few months that further demonstrates the case is pretty flimsy.

    Actually all five of the witnesses in the case against the physician recanted. Only one made the paper since her recanting was detailed in pretrial correspondences in which she outlined how the DEA and US Attorney's Office representatives had enticed her to lie under oath through a pre-arranged plea agreement that was only later executed after the doctor's trial. The letters were some of the most telling documentation of the inner workings for witness enticement/tampering ever documented. Unfortunately since the letters were not sworn statements and the DEA investigator at the center of them denied the documented interactions, the judge refused to overturn the conviction. In addition, Mary Beth Buchanan argued before the court in a winning argument that the conviction had to do with prescribing for no medical purpose regardless of the sex allegations. The appeals court agreed since not all the patients made the claim of sex and ruled the sex allegations were non-controlling to the conviction.

    After the trial and in-between the first and second appeal of the case, the five witnesses all filed civil malpractice lawsuits that were successfully defended by the doctor. During these civil cases, the witnesses released their medical histories that documented that they were independently diagnosed with the same ailments that Dr. Rottschaefer alleged he was treating. Not only were they diagnosed with said ailments, they were receiving the same medications (although in stronger dosages) from other physicians that Dr. Rottschaefer was criminally guilty of prescribing for no legitimate medical purpose. Even up to the day of Dr. Rottschaefer’s trial, these patients were still being diagnosed for the ailments and treated with these medications. Of course, they all denied such at the criminal trial where they testified the ailments never existed and they were no longer seeking treatment for them.

    Confronted with the records, the witnesses all recanted their stories. They testified that they lied in the criminal proceedings when they denied the existence of the ailments and that they received no medical benefit form the medication. Now they claimed the medications were instrumental in treating their medical ailments and that Dr. Rottschaefer was guilty of malpractice for referring them out to pain clinics for treatment and what they deemed was under prescribing the medications or undertreatment by Dr. Rottscahefer who would not increase the dosages. One witness actually stated on the record that she lied in the criminal case outright.

    With this information via the records that were sealed before the execution of the malpractice claims, Dr. Rottschaefer’s legal team appealed the conviction on the basis that the witnesses confirming the existence of the ailments and confirming the medications were working to treat the ailments were more than enough to overturn a conviction based on a charge of prescribing for no legitimate medical purpose.

    In response, Mary Beth Buchanan now argued before the court that the sex allegations were controlling. If you recall, this is a 180 degree turn from the previous argument that she won on in which she argued sex was not relevant to the conviction at all. In response, the judge and later the appeals court went along in contrast to the earlier ruling.

    To date, the sex allegations are only based on the word of four of the witnesses (one never claimed them). The allegations surfaced only after each of the witnesses ran in trouble with the law themselves. In fact, all the witnesses had given statements to investigators prior to the inflection point where they were in trouble with the law in which they stated that sex had never occurred. It appears that once they were in trouble with the law and the same DEA agent showed up, the sex stories just happen to come pouring out of their mouths. It is important to note that two of the patients were given probation for multiple counts of selling drugs in exchange for their testimony, one patient was never charged with either manslaughter for facilitating another individuals death, and another patient had an armed robbery charge disappear, all after they agreed to testify.

    So when you write “even then who knows when she was telling the truth, and what difference would it have made”, I respond simply with the words as follows:

    “Our criminal justice system depends on truthful testimony. The system cannot work if witnesses lie." – Mary Beth Buchanan during the investigation of Sheriff Pete DeFazio.

    Dr. Rottschaefer is guilty of prescribing a low dose of a legally approved medication to treat chronic pain and a low dose of a legally approved medication to treat panic disorder/anxiety to patients that have been diagnosed by Dr. Rottschaefer and other physicians independently to be suffering from both chronic pain and anxiety. These same patients continue to be treated with the same medications (although in stronger dosages) even today. Dr. Rottschaefer is in jail though and every time someone asks Ms. Buchanan to explain the two stories of conviction coming out of her office in relation to the case, she offers up nothing except additional slander against Dr. Rottschaefer. Now it appears, we have individual such as yourself weighing in on the case and dismissing everything without even reading up on it. But hey, what does it matter.

  5. Bram,

    Here is one of many articles on the Rottschaefer case:

    I do not fault you for being unaware of the facts of the case. I just request that you attempt to become conversed in it.