Friday, March 27, 2009

The War of Fog: Ethics Reform, the Lamar Appeal, RRZ Public Markets

City Council will be discussing proposed changes to City ethics legislation at a post-agenda session this coming Monday, March 30 at 10:00 AM. A public hearing is then set next week for Monday, April 6th at 1:30.

Not that much time to get up to speed. The Pittsburgh Comet's last significant post on ethics reform is available HERE; those are still more or less our thoughts.

The history of Pittsburgh ethics is interesting -- when Mayor Luke Ravenstahl accepted the request of Board Chair Patrice Hughes to appear publicly before the Ethics Board on August 21, 2007, it was the first significant activity of City ethics infrastructure in the City's history. It was also the last.

Following that hearing, there was a stated consensus that the city's Code of Conduct would need to be improved or tightened, and that doing so was important. There also seemed to be a sense that the City's existent Code of Conduct had been ignored for too long for anybody to take entirely seriously. The matter was eventually taken up by a "working group" involving some members of the Council and the City Law Department.

After 19 months of research and consultations, the resultant proposal appears to my eye at least to be best described as a relaxing of our Code of Conduct, with particular respect to the issue of "tickets" as a protected class of gift. However, the whole of Council has yet to apply its legislative elbow-grease to it.

As City Council President, Doug Shields deserves the credit for committing the Council to these two public discussions. To do so in such close proximity to a conversation about campaign finance reform is both bold and I think sensible.

After these are held, the Council will have the opportunity to amend the proposal before them and to pass something. However, they will be under no particular obligation ever to do so. What will occur over the next two Mondays are required steps along a legislative process, but they do not in themselves guarantee completion of that process. So we still have a shot of getting into the Guinness Book of World Records for lengthiest municipal ethics deliberations.


Speaking of ethics (not!), Bob Mayo fills us in on the next round in the billboard battle.

It the Lamar brief, attorney Sam Kamin argues that "this is not an appeal from the issuance or denial" of the sign permit", but instead ""the action requested of the zoning board was the revocation of Lamar's Sign Permit". The Lamar brief cites past court cases to argue that the zoning board's tie vote constitutes a refusal to revoke the sign permit, not a refusal to approve the electronic billboard. Lamar also argues that the split vote means the status quo should be maintained -- and it considers the status quo to be that the sign and its permit remain. (Busman's Holiday)

Wowee zowee!

In the immediate aftermath of the Zoning Board's decision to reject Lamar's applications for the variances and special exceptions they did not have to suffer through during their original run, we asked Patrick Dowd, who protested that original permit, whether Lamar was likely to appeal the ruling. He said that would be like "two kids who killed their parents, and then went before a judge pleading that they're orphans."

The City of Pittsburgh also hired outside legal counsel to argue its own position. What is its own position?

Like Lamar's Kamin, Lucas argues that a tie vote of a governmental body constitutes a negative decision and preserves the status quo. Where do they part company? They differ over what exactly the status quo is in this case. Implicitly, the city is arguing that the status quo is that there is no permit for the electronic billboard. It also argues that the Mitinger opinion (against Lamar) is the one that controls the court's review. (ibid)

Curious. I wonder if the City is trying its very best here. I hope someone is present to represent those who actually have been protesting the sign permit. The City, as it were, is brand new to that position.

On behalf of the city, Lucas opposes Lamar's wish to reopen the record to include public statements by a senior planner with the city's Planning Department about earlier informal city agreements about replacing non-conforming signs. Lucas writes "the only thing that requiring the testimony of Mr. Sentz would open is the proverbial 'can of worms'. (ibid)

Knee-jerk reaction: might as well start popping open cans of worms. Right?


No time at present to delve into the continuing stooooory of municipal bond-swap deals turning all maggoty. Pittsburgh's situation and Patrick Dowd himself are mentioned in this new Bloomberg article (h/t NullSpace), and once again the Butler Area School District and other Pennsylvania entities are mentioned along with Greg Zapalla of RRZ Public Markets in this previous Blooomberg article (h/t Pgh Comet).

We know it's not easy to be that closely associated with AIG right now, but pretty soon I don't think it's going to be pleasant to be seen as an enabler of J.P. Morgan's worst proclivities either. Or at least it shouldn't be.

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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Band: Culture Club

The song: Karma Chameleon

Wednesday: Yeah, There's News*

Today's charges grow out of the operation of the Beaver Initiative for Growth, a Veon-organized economic development program that was funded through state grants. (P-G, Dennis B. Roddy)

That's gold, Jerry.

In response to what he termed a “complete failure of leadership” on campaign finance and eliminating the appearance of impropriety in contracting, Dowd outlined his campaign finance reform agenda: (Dowd press material)

7 points. Try not to be overwhelmed.

*-UPDATE: More...

Mr. Wagner, who has described the deal as a "fire sale," said at a news conference today that he has asked his office of special investigations to determine the full cost associated with the transaction, which involves the relocation of more than 800 state employees to three other office buildings Downtown.

"This is a bad deal. Every taxpayer will pay for it," Mr. Wagner said. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Wagner's review of the sale of the State Office Building will take 60 to 90 days, and is intended to generate "public outcry" in order to "pressure" Gov. Rendell and his department chief.

Let's Get Real, with Darlene Harris

Months ago, Councilwoman Darlene Harris and I had a wide-ranging conversation about city ethics and campaign finance reform. My desire to see strict legislative limits on political contributions along with full transparency did not impress her.

"You don't think people take cash?" she asked.

She shot me a look like maybe I was from another planet. Then she looked around as though to check to see that she herself was still on the right planet. Then she resumed looking at me like I had just fallen off the turnip truck.

(Photo cap h/t Pgh Hoagie)


So we have an issue. Campaign finance reform is not perfect.

Point conceded. However, let's start with simple things first. Today our politicians accord themselves a fair amount in the way of so called pay-to-play because it is so fairly ingrained in the system, and because it is so easy.

It makes sense to take action to demonstrate that selling out is not acceptable.

If the ship leaks, we can look to where it's leaking. I'm sure there will still be lobbyists and financiers, not to mention rogues, who will continue to excel at circumventing the system and enriching the coffers of politicians. Yet by turning down this road, we would be establishing some mutual standards, and encouraging those middlemen to disappear into the hinterland.


Harris offered another jewel to the Comet, this one regarding all the excitement the pay-to-play angle tends to stir in the media. This must have been just a short time before the Superbowl, because sports event tickets and trips were very much in the news.

"Do you know what would make a really fascinating expose?" she began, caustically.

She then wondered aloud how many trips sports journalists and all other print and broadcast journalists and personalities accept to attend professional sporting events and sports-related events throughout the country. Home games. Road games. Playoff games. All-Star games. Drafts. Exhibitions. Planes. Hotels. Restaurants. Et cetera.

"Do you know the food they have at those things?" she asked.

"Now, see here," I thought for a moment. The media doesn't get to vote on public contracts. The media doesn't get to hand out taxpayer dollars. The media doesn't....

But then I thought about every new stadium we've ever built.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Regulating Selves = Hard. Selling Property = Easy.

City Council's efforts to regulate campaign contributions are shaping up to be a ghastly twisted shipwreck, which may not get sorted out for months.

"I will support a plan for campaign finance reform, because I do think we need one, but I don't want it to begin and end with the city of Pittsburgh," said city Councilwoman Theresa Smith, a potential swing vote on any amendments. City-level campaign limits are just "a Band-Aid on the situation." (P-G, Rich Lord)

If reform begins in the City of Pittsburgh, why should it end there? One government at a time, guys!

If Theresa Smith, for example, were to vote differently on this issue than did her predecessor, Dan Deasy, then campaign finance reform would become a veto-proof, signed sealed and delivered historic reality.

However, Smith and others describe City-wide reform as a "Band-Aid" -- whereas County-wide reform is somehow completely beneficial and desirable. Meanwhile, the county, we will be told, is not amenable to sensible caps on political donations. So our only recourse will be a watered down bill that accomplishes little towards the purposes of reform -- and not until much further down the road.

Let me try to present a different reality. Campaign finance reform is good in and of itself. Campaign finance reform is healthy for Pittsburgh.

Why should we be forever burdened with the influences and the suspicions surrounding such huge gobs of money, distributed in so pedestrian a fashion?

City officials shouldn't worry so much about taking on some kind of "disadvantage" compared to county officials. They should be proud to do so!

This is about reestablishing some trust and some proportion between city residents and city leadership. It is about eliminating a lot of needless waste and many real, unhealthy pressures. Please reconsider.


Meanwhile, the state has sold our State Office Building for $4.6 million, to River Vue Associates / Millcraft Industries, who plan to turn it into appartments or a hotel or maybe a giant lazer tag arena.

State Auditor General Jack Wagner has questioned the savings. He has argued that the state may end up losing money by having to lease space elsewhere Downtown. He urged the state to ditch the idea of a sale until the economy improved, describing a $4.5 million price as a fire sale. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Can anyone really vouch for this argument, i.e. does anyone know what he's talking about? This sure sounds like a tasty issue, but it all sounds so surprisingly legit and above-board right now.

Tuesday: Links, Fellow Babies!*

YES!!! (P-G, Tony Norman)

Go baby, go baby, go! (P-G, Ruth Ann Daily)

This is a bold one. I don't know much about State Rep. Bill DeWeese, except his name is usually associated with evil. I guess that's what he's protesting. Unless someone wants to draw me a map with a big red X over it, I'll present this link without much further comment. (P-G OpEd, Bill DeWeese)

Illegal Search, Question Mark? It is true the judge is now questioning into how the feds searched for evidence. Guilty, innocent or something in between -- I am sure Dr. Cyril Wecht would in any event be arguing that certain evidence must be thrown out. And as Mr. Wecht is doing the arguing, I am sure any judge would be compelled to examine that contention very thoroughly. (Trib, Edit Board)

And now, the electronic media...

Maria ties some events together in an enlightening and entertaining way. (2 Political Junkies)

Also she posts a truly great video. (2PJs)

D-6 candidate Robert Daniel LaVelle has a nuanced, almost must-read position on no-bid contracts and campaign contributions. He seems heavily into the green economy and environmentalism. Additionally, he would not particularly recommend the Hill District CBA as a model. (View from BurghChair)

The Allegheny Institute has actually been on fire lately. Too much to link to separately. Just read it for a while. (Allegheny Institute)

A major-league chronicle of development efforts on Mt. Washington broke out over here! It sounds like a classic tale of Lucy taking the ball out from under Charlie Brown again and again and again. The story continues tomorrow. (15211, 15211 and 15211)

Schultz presents us with an interesting chart:

Luke almost tripled-up Dan Onorato in terms of contributions with paper trails? That's unpossible! (Thoughts on Government & other stuff)

Speaking of our County Executive, the question we must ask ourselves is: is our governments saving? (Pgh Conservative)

Very important: Patrick Dowd addresses the shuttering of Schenley. [LINK]

* UPDATE - Two more electronic essays of today trip the light fantastic. (Pgh Is A City; the HUDDLER) Also, Patrick Dowd and Darlene Harris agree on something. (P-G, Rich Lord)

And now...

[Dowd] said he'll detail his stance on campaign donations today. Council meets at 1:30 p.m. to discuss Mr. Ravenstahl's proposal to put a $4,600 cap on contributions by individuals and partnerships to any given campaign, and a $10,000 limit on political action committee donations. (P-G, Rich Lord)

No where in the article did it state that Patrick already voted in favor of strict regulations on contributions as part of Councilman Peduto's prior excellent campaign finance reform package.

No where in the article does it point out that $4,600 / $10,000 caps are ludicrously high by the standard of commonplace reform legislation for major metropolitan areas.

Cringer, anyone? I thought we were past appeasing authority.

The debate on the mayor's contribution bill now shifts to council, where Councilman William Peduto plans to amend it. He wants lower contribution limits, a legislated ban on no-bid contracts of more than $25,000 and an online database of contributions and contracts.

"I will not vote for a bill that does not contain all three of them," he said. (P-G, ibid)

Good man.

We trust that greater clarity will emerge on Mr. Dowd's position during today's proceedings. It seems about that time, or at least it will.

Meanwhile, Carmen Robinson came off sounding very well in this piece. I hope the print edition ran a photograph of her as well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Voice from the Other Downtown

Today I encountered a Downtown merchant. He noticed the button on my shirt.

He asked, "Do you think he has a chance?"

I told him I sure hope so.

"Tough to beat an incumbent," he warned. And then he got started.

"We haven't had a good mayor since..." he began, and then paused to dig around the memory banks.

"Murphy sucked. Sophie sucked. O'Connor sucked. This guy sucks," he continued. "We haven't had a good mayor since ah, since Caliguiri. And Flaherty."

"Pete Flaherty." he emphasized with a sly grin. "He had the [redacted] to take on the unions."

Had a lot to say. Claims he's not alone.

Newsvalanche: Money, Politics, Wow.**

A swiftly executed change of leadership:
The Allegheny Conference on Community Development announced today that Chief Executive Officer F. Michael Langley has resigned immediately and will be replaced by Dennis Yablonsky, former state secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development. (P-G, Tom Barnes)

In re Dennis, I've heard he is a good sort, but I don't really know.

In re the Allegheny Conference, I'll relay that Pat Dowd made a crack recently that it is "great, but the business world has changed since ... since 1940." He said basically we should be bringing others in, expanding it, maybe like NATO.

"[Yablonsky] is a great choice and will do a great job for the conference," Mr. Rendell said. (P-G, ibid)



Gov. Ed Rendell today removed Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairman Mitchell Rubin from the five-member panel. (P-G, Tom Barnes)


Mr. Fumo was found guilty of giving Mr. Rubin a "ghost job" that paid $30,000 a year for five years. (P-G, ibid)

Ew! Did he lounge around in a deck chair with a sun mirror on his chest, like on television?

He is married to Ruth Arnao, a former Fumo aide who also was convicted last week on corruption charges. (P-G, ibid)

Power couples, man. Gotta be careful.


Issuing what he termed "a wake-up call for Pittsburgh" and passing out cups of coffee on the sidewalk below the mayor's office, Pittsburgh Councilman Patrick Dowd turned up the heat on his electoral challenge to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today, charging that his "administration is for sale" to government contractors for campaign contributions. (P-G, Rich Lord)

We know. Hey, does anyone find this whole "City for Sale" concept awfully familiar?

Mr. Ravenstahl has argued that he is already implementing solutions to any perceived problems with contracting and campaign finance. His legislation, he said last week, "will put a cap on, and perhaps deal with perceptions that exist right now around campaign contributions.

"It will also give challengers, for example, perhaps a better opportunity" by limiting the big checks incumbents can get, he said. "In some ways, it would put me at a disadvantage." (P-G, ibid)

Mm. We can expect him to be refunding most of this mess, then.

*-UPDATE: The Busman has another Ravenstahl response in press statement form. It also sounds somewhat familiar.

** - UPDATE: Twitter response to that statement:


[Dowd] also blasted the administration's purchases of trash cans and firehouse ventilation systems from a state joint purchasing system, rather than through competitive bids at the city level, saying both resulted in higher-than-necessary costs. (P-G, ibid)

So the state has a trash can racket and a ventilation racket to go along with its asphalt racket? How about if more of these were more like Allegheny County rackets? At least that they would be our rackets, in our hands, to our benefit. Not to the benefit of, let's say convicted state Sen. Vincent Fumo and the such.

Monday: The Best Part of Waking Up**

On Wednesday of last week, Patrick Dowd scored what might have been a tidy little legislative coup for his election prospects:

Longtime city of Pittsburgh homeowners with low incomes would no longer have to apply annually for a property tax break under a bill tentatively approved by City Council yesterday.

Instead, under Councilman Patrick Dowd's legislation, residents 50 and older would only have to fill out the city's Act 77 tax relief form once. Then they would have their assessments frozen until they moved or reported an increase in income.

"We hear from folks that it is unfair that they have to fill this out every year," said Mr. Dowd of the Act 77 form. (P-G, Team Effort)

The vote was not unanimous.

Councilman Ricky Burgess abstained, because he had questions about how the city would know if, say, a senior homeowner won the lottery and no longer qualified for the benefit. (P-G, ibid)

That seemed like a reasonable counterargument. Dowd's immediate response was that "we should assume honesty in the taxpayer", which is not something I think it's ever necessarily that wise to assume when it comes to money.

By Friday, however, the thrust of Burgess's objection had shifted.

Councilman Ricky Burgess yesterday floated legislation, to be introduced Tuesday, that would bar budget-busting spending or tax cuts unless they were offset by cuts elsewhere, or driven by emergencies or court orders. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Sort of like pay-as-you-go budgeting.

"I do believe the recent legislation sponsored by Councilman Dowd unintentionally ... creates a deficit without showing how that deficit will be addressed," said Mr. Burgess. "When we pass it, we must also discuss how we're going to eliminate $1.2 million from expenses."

That figure is based on Finance Department estimates that 4,000 more seniors would get about $300 off their tax bills under Mr. Dowd's proposal. (P-G, ibid)

The rationale for this extreme budgetary sensitivity is the razor-wire thin, low five-digit surpluses projected in the outlying years of our five-year budget projections. Any modest shrinkage in revenue would seem to totally upset the applecart in 2012 and 2013.

That strikes me as a less compelling argument for two reasons. Firstly, there is Dowd's position that the $1.2 million is "not properly city money" anyway, seeing as how the city code already affords the tax break, and the annual paperwork is an unfortunate hurdle to receiving it.

More interesting, however, is the very nature of these present five-year projections. Dowd contended at his rally on Thursday that in response to other kinds of queries, City Finance Director Scott Kunka informed him, "The five year plan is just a piece of paper!" -- a real boo, grumble and hiss line, meant to further illustrate Dowd's longstanding point that the Ravenstahl / ICA plan is based on cosmetics and folly any darn way.

We'll see how it all shakes out.

Burgess publicly floated other legislation last week calling for voter referendums to approve any pay raises for elected officials in the future.

**-CORRECTIONS: However, that had to be may well be reeled back, as the Law Department had may have concerns that it would violate the Home Rule Charter.

Months ago, Burgess also pushed legislation that would have compelled a speedy completion of a new Act 47 Revised and Amended Recovery Plan. This was passed by Council yet vetoed by the mayor -- a veto that was accepted because it did have legal issues.

Aside from these, the Reverend has most frequently been in the news advancing legislation reconnoitering historic designation statutes vis a vis property rights.


Bad boys bad boys, watchagonna do?

* - UPDATE: Updated Dowd press release here: [Google documents] A snippet:

This sort of governance hurts us all. Think of the businesses. They look at the city and say, "No way. I don't want to do business with them. No way. I don't want to locate in a city that operates like that." When city government is for sale, businesses leave.


Mr. Ravenstahl, whose campaign is significantly funded by firms that do business with the city, said he allows "no quid pro quos. ... I would argue that the time frames of when these contributions are being made, if they would happen to be around the same time [as contracts], are coincidence rather than something that is planned. Oftentimes [contributions] are made around fundraisers." (P-G, Rich Lord)

Mr. Ravenstahl, Mr. Walko of the Water Authority and others seem to favor leaping directly into the "no quid pro quo" argument when it comes to defending these patterns.

That always struck me as a cynical and legalistic argument. As long as the characters around the table are careful not to enunciate or write down, "I'll give you this, DUH, if you give me that", then supposedly everybody is in the clear -- even if it is obvious there is mutual backscratching going on to a degree that it would not be occurring if the backscratching were not so conspicuously mutual.

By lunging for the quid pro quo line, it's like people are already preparing themselves for court, without pausing to consider that it could be just plain wrong.

Though the article seems to amount to a lot of new prose about an old issue, the meat of the drama is contained in this "Pay to Play?" chart. I'm not sure which contracts and contributions should stand out most strikingly therein, but the information is all nicely assembled for figuring that out.

Chad Hermann has some interesting thoughts about the article's placement in the print edition. I'd find it hard to justify an above-the-fold banner headline -- there's little new news here except Post-Gazette Newsroom Completes Data Entry -- but at the same time the tiny bottom left hand corner treatment seemed to do the work a real disservice.

Don't overlook...

The Trib examines Carmen Robinson's tumultuous history in the Pittburgh police department. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

And finally...

What in blazes was the Trib's Joseph Sabino Mistick talking about?? I mean, really? Could it possibly have been similar matters to which I had alluded from the Bloomberg piece contained within this post?

I can be intentionally unclear at times, but if Joe set out to be any more cryptic he'd have to use a cipher and employ an albino monk.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Public Transit = Public Safety

It's worth repeating:

Drinking and driving is not acceptable. There should be harsh penalties in place for those who do and plenty of alternatives for those who choose not to. I'll re-iterate my plea from Saturday - cut back on a few billy-club-shaking overtime cops in riot gear and instead, let's have some real leadership in Pittsburgh broker a deal with Port Authority that all buses after 10pm are free. And make sure there are actually buses running until after the bars close on Friday and Saturday nights.
(Pgh Is A City)

I hope the riot gear has been simply a St. Patrick's Day / Superbowl / stadium Implosion show of force. Aside from that, Pittsburghers do enjoy a party, and we need to make sure people get to where they're going safe -- including all the innocent bystanders.

Georgia Blotzer: Listening N'at Tour!!!

Democratic City Council candidate Georgia Blotzer is kicking off her Listening N'at Tour (official name: Listening Tour) this week with appearances at four locations across District 2.

Come meet Georgia, tell her your own ideas and concerns, and quiz her about her platform for how to move Pittsburgh forward (h/t CP).

80 Wabash St.
Pgh, PA 15220
Monday, March 23 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

1821 Broadhead Fording Rd.
Pgh, PA 15205
Tuesday, March 24 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM

122 Virginia Ave.
Pgh, PA 15211
Thursday, March 26 10:30 AM -12:00 PM

720 Sherwood Ave.
Pgh, PA 15204
Friday, March 27 10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

This Listening Tour is also intended to help establish the rhythm for one-day Councilwoman Blotzer's "Council on the Move" (on the Move!!) series -- a key part of the process of pulling the knowledge and resources of city government off of Grant Street and directly into neighborhoods, where people live, work and play.

Hopefully, ideally and ultimately, Georgia intends to cajole some City departmental staff [DPW, BBI, CP] to join her on some of those excursions, so that they can gain better first-hand understandings of constituent concerns -- and resolutions can be organized right on the spot.

NOTE: By publicizing these campaign stops, Georgia realizes she is leaving the door open for her opponents to stage little ambushes. It's a free country, but they'd better have eaten their Wheaties!