Friday, November 19, 2010

Decision Point

I realize how sick you all are of this -- but I want you to LOOK at what we're turning up our noses at:

  • $355 million now
  • $6 million a year extra in parking tax
  • $97 million to fix up the garages
  • $800 to $1,000 million over 40 years in revenue sharing
  • Neighborhood rates lifted straight out of Council's vision
  • 100% of the advertising revenue
  • Fully executable in 42 days

Pittsburgh has done a truly phenomenal job as a team doing its due diligence, negotiating, walking straight out of the dealership, making JPMorgan chase after us for weeks and extracting a price for which we should all be very proud. After one final round of total engagement in which we surreptitiously demand the leather upholstery and undercoating, we should take the deal and absolutely pole-vault over the long, hellacious public pensions disaster which will mire most others in impossible misery for decades.

If we choose not to, it is the dictionary definition of cutting off the nose to spite the face.

54 comments:

  1. If Council turns down $1.5 BILLION dollars and a lease based on rates set BY Council, the state should forego taking over our pension and do what the State of Connecticut did in Central Falls, RI when ITS' Council was equally recalcitrant - remove them.

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  2. Can't decide which is harder to watch, Bram, renting space like a common pigeon-hater for the price (although assuredly not the cost) of a plate of diced vegetables (OK, honey-drizzled vegetables), or pushing for the privateers without getting even so much a crab-and-avocado pile for your trouble.

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  3. Infy:

    I don't know what's worse, that Bram is advocating so hard for the future of Pittsburgh when clearly it seems more enjoyable (and more delectable) to fawn over the honey-drizzled veggies (which, by the way, sound scrumptious), or that I can't find 5 members of Council willing to do similarly.

    Perhaps he should invoice the taxpayers, the privateers, Council and the Sonoma.

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  4. .....do what the State of Connecticut did in Central Falls, RI when ITS' Council was equally recalcitrant - remove them.

    Starting in May, 2011....yeah right....

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  5. Rex:

    Curious concerning which local "connectors" stand to profit (and how) from proposed privateering before deciding which advocacy is in the public interest?

    Interested in knowing the assurances and disclosures that were made to (some) bidders?

    When was the last time one of these fancy financial contraptions (WSWA, Murphy bonds, school swaps etc.) was anything other than a comprehensive disaster for the public?

    Those questions -- and a few similiar ones -- generate an agree-to-disagree situation, at least until the answers are disclosed.

    But why get bogged down in a bunch of complicated, aggravating wonkery? Let's just pass the Char Su Duck and party like it's 1929!

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  6. The faceless anonymous cabal raises an ad hominem objection. Shocking.

    It's been months already, you guys, and you've writen merely about what we should NOT do (or more accurately, whom we should NOT SUPPORT). Here now, Infinonymous, at the end of all things, can you flip that rusty switch to "productive" and tell us what we SHOULD do? On the topic of the pensions crunch, the takeover threat and MMO's?

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  7. We should do the council controller-plan. The only people who who are against it are those who stand to benefit from a lease agreement.

    Since we are repeating ourselves,the Council Controller plan does the following:
    -gives us the necessary upfront payment for the pension fund
    -keeps public assets public
    -cuts out JP Morgan who has burned the public countless times already
    -covers all necessary capital improvements
    -keeps control of parking assets so that when the pension fund dips below 50% in the future we still have a source of revenue to work with

    Here are a couple of questions for you Bram:

    1.What are we going to do if we enter a lease agreement and the pension fund dips under 50% again?
    2.Why do we need a third party to extract the future value of the parking revenues when we can do it ourselves?
    3.Why is JP Morgan/LAZ scrambling to get their hands on our parking assets?
    4.Why is it that Ravenstahl and Kunka are always pushing exotic solutions with JP Morgan?
    5.Why did Ravenstahl pull the police out of the Southside (Kraus) and tip off KDKA (Harris)?

    BTW, I agree with Infi Bram. I liked it better when you wrote this blog.

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  8. Infy:

    I'm always curious about who profits from what.

    How else does one connect-the-dots?

    I think I've been fairly consistent in my concession that the bond swaps were bad and PWSA and multiple school districts and their rate and taxbases will pay the bills.

    If by Murphy bonds you mean the pension bonds of 1996 and 1998, I think it is equally safe to say that in hindsight, we probably had little other choice, even though the compound disaster that was state law that made us assume a rate of return on the proceeds of the pension bonds at 10%, which we never earned, and no other PA municipality, and seriously, the Fund was in the teens, where it is apparently headed back to short of an act of philanthropic magnanimity from the likes of Warren Buffett or an act of good grace from the Legislature.

    Now if by Murphy bonds, you refer to the razing of Three Rivers Stadium (which we still owe money on) to erect The Big Ketchup Bottle and The World's Finest Minor-League ballpark, I'd say the Steelers have paid their share off (two SBs, 3 AFC Championship games, and multiple wild-card and divisional playoff games), and we should kidnap and imprison the Nuttings (a la the Romanovs circa 1916- although I'd stop short of Vladimir's Final Solution)

    I'd be willing to bet we agree on far more than we disagree on, btw.

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  9. The Nutting should be imprisoned for a variety of reasons.

    I still don't see how the council-controller plan works. The main (public) force pushing against the parking lease was people who didn't want their customers to have to pay more to park. The big advantage of the lease, for people who want to win elections in the city, was that once the lease was done, the parking rates were out of their hands and couldn't become a continuing political issue.

    The council-controller plan is basically us promising (cross our heart) to keep the parking rates high and spend that for the pension.

    Has anybody ever explained why the state would buy that or how we could promise that in such a way as to be convincing? Or did the council-controller plan go back to bonds? Because I don't see how bonds are very different from the lease as it is now being offered.

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  10. You dang me with backhanded praise, Teddy, but I'll answer your mostly legitimate questions anyway.

    1. Looking at the projected MMO's and the other revenue sources available, it doesn't look like there should be any real problem as far as heading south again.

    2. We just preliminarily voted to begin a self-admittedly critical study the CC concept what, last week? There are real concerns about how much we have the ability to raise and need to raise through the bond, what that'll do to/for the Authority and how we're supposed to do it so quickly. Might have been different if it was fleshed out over the summer, I've no clue why it was not. Could have been done on the down-low without mucking up those bids that Council was so concerned over not tampering with.

    3. Probably because it's a good deal for them, just as I believe it's a good deal for us. If we had your outlook, all trade and commerce would cease as every transaction would entail a ripoff somewhere. Which by the way Council's consultant attested the original lease was ANYTHING but.

    4. I don't know. I'm not Ravenstahl's hack. I'm really not. I can't believe I have to point that out. But for the record if Kim Jong Il could get us out of this mess I'd thank him for it, so JPMorgan really don't confront me.

    5. If he leaked the Harris info, it was because the Council President is going around town accusing him of being a stooge of Wall Street vampires, and obstructing the vision he campaigned on. I hope the Carson St. patrols were yanked for more legitimate funding or manpower reasons but I have no idea. You'd think as far as Kraus's full hospitality plan proposal goes a deal could be worked out but I'm not sure the Mayor and Bruce have been introduced.

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  11. As for Infy's,"Interested in knowing the assurances and disclosures that were made to (some) bidders?"

    Yes, I am. I'm also interested in knowing what happened with that FBI stuff you were going on about earlier in the year. I thought people were being arrested any day now.

    I understanding wanting to be pseudonymous and hearing things from sources you trust but that you can't name. I also understand spouting random things you think are true on the internet without supporting evidence. To a reader, they look pretty much the same.

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  12. MH - I assumed the "Council-Controller" plan is still the revenue bond. Ted's been consistently fond of it. The other plan, the infusion of value, doesn't have an official name yet as "The Pittsburgh Promise" is unavailable.

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  13. The time for what should have been done has passed. Between a basketball game and pre-Thanksgiving activity, there isn't enough time at the moment to provide a worthwhile response beyond that, but tomorrow (or Sunday) may be another day for that.

    Regarding the FBI question, most such investigations are slow, and complications appear to have developed -- and anyone with exposure caught a break -- when the only prosecutor in town who would touch a genuine city scandal had her box-of-matches privileges revoked for cause. Then the replacement was delayed, another break (although not as big a break as having Cliff Levine decline the job).

    Currently, there may be some debate about whether the reins should primarily be pulled locally or at headquarters. But ther eis no need to take any anonymous (or pseudonymous) word for it: this is a small town, small enough that you probably known someone who has been interviewed by agents. Just ask around. Witnesses are under no obligation to be quiet.

    Finally -- and this is being stated publicly rather than privately to dispel any misapprehension that might have developed in this thread -- the issue of subsidized reviews is a minor point, wince-worthy rather than anything major. It's just a sandwich, even if a very nice or even fancy one. Which is sort of the point. It doesn't seem worth it.

    If the forced choice were to read just one of the P-G or the Comet each day, it would be a toss-up. You usually do good work, Bram. Other times, better.

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  14. If I sound touchy, Infin, it's only because you've been outdoing the Comet all this week. And if anyone reads me instead of the P-G it can only be because I link to them far more often than vice-versa.

    It's nice to write and to think about something other than this for a change. When I assert that the beet salad is great, nobody answers with "Blaggard! Beet salad should go to jail!" So if that doesn't answer the 'why' question I don't know what will.

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  15. 1. Looking at the projected MMO's and the other revenue sources available, it doesn't look like there should be any real problem as far as heading south again.

    Other revenue sources? What are we going to do? Tax the college students? Ravenstahl and Kunka cant even submit a balanced budget to the ICA, Please identify these phantom revenue sources you are referencing.

    2. We just preliminarily voted to begin a self-admittedly critical study the CC concept what, last week? There are real concerns about how much we have the ability to raise and need to raise through the bond, what that'll do to/for the Authority and how we're supposed to do it so quickly. Might have been different if it was fleshed out over the summer, I've no clue why it was not. Could have been done on the down-low without mucking up those bids that Council was so concerned over not tampering with.

    JP Ravenstahl brought in a financial advisor tied to the lease to delay the honest examination of the CC plan and then had the guy he appointed to the Parking Authority shoot it down.

    3. Probably because it's a good deal for them, just as I believe it's a good deal for us. If we had your outlook, all trade and commerce would cease as every transaction would entail a ripoff somewhere. Which by the way Council's consultant attested the original lease was ANYTHING but.

    JP Morgan has a solid track record of ripping off the residents of Pittsburgh

    4. I don't know. I'm not Ravenstahl's hack. I'm really not. I can't believe I have to point that out. But for the record if Kim Jong Il could get us out of this mess I'd thank him for it, so JPMorgan really don't confront me.

    Im sure all these school board and members had a similar thought process.


    5. If he leaked the Harris info, it was because the Council President is going around town accusing him of being a stooge of Wall Street vampires, and obstructing the vision he campaigned on. I hope the Carson St. patrols were yanked for more legitimate funding or manpower reasons but I have no idea. You'd think as far as Kraus's full hospitality plan proposal goes a deal could be worked out but I'm not sure the Mayor and Bruce have been introduced.

    She was right. Pulling the cops out of the South Side because of the way Bruce Kraus voted clearly shows how this mayor operates.

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  16. TED, TED, TED........

    It appears that fuzzy math runs rampant on the 5th Floor of the CCB.

    As for "the guy he appointed to the Parking Authority..." who voted it down, didn't he either appoint or re-appoint all 5 current members?

    As for my thoughts on the Council-Controller Plan, recently declared "dead" by the latter half of the collaboration, please refer to my treatise in three parts of exactly two weeks ago, TED. The facts haven't changed in 14 days. But a brief reminder: "No matter how many times you click your heels together and say I wish it were so, very few people believe your precious Council-Controller Plan is viable merely because you wish it were." Especially when substantive evidence remains nonexistent and the financial and legal experts both nameless and faceless.


    And obviously you've chosen to ignore this, but even a high school graduate can figure out when they're overleveraging themselves on the front end, especially with examples like the PWSA/JP Morgan bond swappage you never fail to choke up (can I suggest a stronger cough suppressant?)

    The irony here is you constantly remind us of the woes of bondage while crying that the Parking Authority won't willingly accept ae set of chains.

    I think President Harris probably would have been better off not attacking Andy Sheehan for reporting a true story, regardless of its' source. How many times does the Mayor find himself answering these questions? It's what comes with notariety. She should view it as a badge of honor, a scar of distinction.

    "Haters gonna hate...." Jeff Reed, former Pittsburgh Steeler, hours before he was released......

    And can we please stop talking about Councilmembers as if they're innocent victims here? No one in the squared circle qualifies at this point as either a victim or an innocent one.

    The only victims here are the residents of InsolvenCity, 98% of whom don't even know why this is so critical an issue.

    And "plausible viability" doesn't necessarily equal "plausible deniability" because as I'm sure you know all too well, plausible means "possible, but most likely not true."

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  17. The irony here is you constantly remind us of the woes of bondage while crying that the Parking Authority won't willingly accept ae set of chains.

    Im sorry Rex, but comparing a JP Morgan designed swap to a fixed rate revenue bond shows a lack of understanding.

    As does your belief that the City of Pittsburgh will benefit in the long run by handing over key sources of revenue to a highly questionable third party in exchange for a short term infusion of cash.

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  18. Coupla few points here...

    The South Side patrols were not pulled to spite Kraus. They were pulled because the Bureau of Police does not have unlimited resources (yes, I know that is hard to believe) and those resources were needed for the PIRC program.

    Policing is not as simple as many would apparently believe - something that we should not lose sight of, particularly when glibly stating that we should "just let the state take over". Have any of the advocates of that "strategy" really understood what it would do to policing resources? It certainly doesn't seem so.

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  19. TED, in response to your coda at 1:12am -- yeah, you're probably right. I can't credibly imagine that Pittsburgh police are actually being pulled in very many different directions. It's been so quiet.

    And the fact that the S. Side saturation patrols began only after the Councilman formally and assertively opposed the Mayor's lease? All part of the master plan -- first build him up, just to let him down (and mess him around).

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  20. Minuteman, looks like you beat me to it, and with less sarcasm to boot!

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  21. To his credit, Councilman Kraus has advocated more enforcement on the South Side.

    To his credit, Mayor Ravenstahl has responded. With policing, need always outweighs availability. Police will tell you, when one is kind enough to ask them, that drug and gang-related violence are the biggest crime problems we face in this city. Of course we need to counter moronic activity on the SS, but unfortunately that's not all we have going on.

    And...I say 'we" not because I'm a cop, but because public safety is OUR shared responsibility. Cops aren't there just to spatula drunks off of the SS streets when directed to - they are there to assist us in the effort to make our lives safer. Should you look around, you might see that there's a lot going on(1) (2)

    To this observer, no advocate of increased policing has any business pursuing any "strategy" which might result in public safety and public works cuts...really and truly, it's that simple.

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  22. The only victims here are the residents of InsolvenCity, 98% of whom don't even know why this is so critical an issue.

    How are InsolvenCity residents culpable? Let us count the ways . . .

    They elect fools.

    They stand by mutely as those fools (often with the help of Democratic machine cogs) engage in petty graft.

    They elect more fools.

    They swallow extra helpings of severe mismanagement.

    They elect more fools.

    They skate on taxes, preferring to consume more services than they pay for.

    They elect more fools.

    They rely on inept union officials (tempered only by corrupt union leaders) for "leadership."

    They elect more fools.

    They may be victims, but they also are perps.

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  23. Before handing out any conduct medals to Carson Street's No. 1 Customer, let's recall that he ran interference for the Intoxication District's saloonkeepers as long as he could (until their customers started shooting, knifing, running over and beating people a bit too ostentatiously).

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  24. And...I say 'we" not because I'm a cop,

    Sure you are Minuteman, and Im a navy seal, no wait Im a green beret....

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  25. Ted, I think you may have read Minuteman wrong on that. I read it as him saying he wasn't an officer.

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  26. Pittsburgh has done a truly phenomenal job as a team doing its due diligence, negotiating, walking straight out of the dealership, making JPMorgan chase after us for weeks and extracting a price for which we should all be very proud

    Whatever Bram, if it was left up to you Pittsburgh would walk into J&P Auto, not ask any questions, and pay the full sticker price without a carfax report or even a test drive.

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  27. Anyone who thinks that the administration didn't pull the rug out from under Kraus for political purposes is smoking something.

    As of 7am that day the saturation patrols were to continue for the foreseeable future, then after Kraus meets with the Mayor they get canceled until further notice?

    What happened between 7am and like 2 that afternoon that led to the cancellation of then?

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  28. Anyone who thinks that the administration didn't pull the rug out from under Kraus for political purposes is smoking something.

    There is no doubt about it.

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  29. You disappoint me Bram. (you too Zober)

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  30. Jim Gott, the 90's Pirates relief pitcher? That hurts.

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  31. Minuteman (not a cop)November 21, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    If you (or Kraus) know differently, then feel free to tell us, and try to back up those assertions, if it isn't too much trouble.

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  32. Nothing seems to rise above the "assertion" level (beyond the points that saturation patrols were commenced, they identified a remarkable volume of illegal activities, and were stopped).

    The field therefore offers questions and judgments (not so unusual, in a reality-based world in which evolution and gravity are theories).

    Did the administration run interference for (at least some) South Side bar owners on zoning, parking, building codes, law enforcement and other fronts during the period preceding the saturation patrols?

    Who decided to start the saturation patrols?

    Who decided to stop them?

    What caused the decision to start them?

    Was the decision to stop them unrelated (or related) to the mayor's animosity toward Bruce Kraus?

    Should the mayor's record of rewarding friends and punishing enemies factor into that judgment?

    Was the decision to stop them unrelated (or related) to competing demands for police resources?

    Did PIRC demands on police resources change (perhaps unexpectedly) during the period in which saturation patrols were started and stopped?

    What advice did the police command staff provide to the mayor's office with respect to the saturation patrols?

    Was the decision to stop them unrelated (or related) to the mayor's relationship with South Side bar owners?

    Did South Side bar owners complain to the mayor's office about the saturation patrols?

    Did the mayor's office inform anyone along Carson Street (as an Inficommenter or two mentioned before the end of the saturation patrols was announced) that the saturation patrols would be stopped?

    The situation appears to present a number of issues that merit attentin, but no explanations that currently appear to rise above the level of assertion.

    That is where judgment comes in.

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  33. I guess you feel differently, but for me judgement can only come when you are able to verify a list of assertions. What I do know is that as a part of the PIRC program, they promised that if there was one violent incident, response would be swift and strong. That is exactly what happened...and as police resources are finite, some of them had to be reallocated.

    Are you going to allege that the Mayor's Office asked kids to shoot each other up that weekend and thus prompt the PIRC response, thereby foiling Kraus? I sure hope not, but I will not be surprised.

    As for the Mayor's animosity towards Kraus...any chance that can be substantiated? If that animosity truly is there, then why did they commence with the saturation patrols at all? Is Ravenstahl really the first Mayor to turn something of a blind eye to enforcement on the SS, and is it really that or more of a focus elsewhere (i.e. drug and gang violence)?

    Let's say saturation patrols are resumed on the SS - as drug crime and activity increases in District 4 territory, how shall you attribute neglect in that case?

    Let me close with an assertion of my own - there is more to the equation of policing with limited resources than you seem to be willing to acknowledge or evaluate.

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  34. TED:

    It dawned on me during the Steelers' dismantling of the Raiders this afternoon what your real problem is:

    Your steadfast and blinded support of the Council-Controller plan, absolutely devoid of a definitively sourced evaluation on either the part of Council or anyone else must be akin to something I've heard people say about ugly babies:

    "A face only a mother could love."

    But it also dawned on me that you suffer from the same rosy-eyed failure to perform the requisite cost-benefit analysis which has now straddled the Water Authority with those variable-rate bonds via the now-infamous bondage and swappage.

    The sole reason the state created public Authorities, bodies both corporate and politic, is precisely so municipalities have the means to use the assets in the best interest of BOTH the municipalities AND the assets.

    It doesn't necessarily make good sense to bankrupt an Authority in the name of rescuing the City. The members of the Authority have a fiduciary responsibility to exercise their duties in a way that doesn't expose their Authority to unsustainable debt.

    But sadly, I think both Bram AND Infinonymous are right.

    Bram is right about all options being dead, and as much as I would prefer NOT to agree with Infy on this point, the voters (and the voting-age who choose to constantly sit it out) are, in fact, culpable for the state of affairs.

    But Infy, please, shed some light on this situation, since you must be alleging that the mayoralties of Ravenstahl, O'Connor, Murphy, Masloff, Caliguiri, Flaherty, Barr and Lawrence were all tragic mistakes, who exactly would have made a BETTER Mayor?

    And Infy, please, when you answer this, I'd appreciate it you could actually focus on the question, because I'm taking bets this answer should be an absolute CLASSIC!!!!

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  35. I guess you feel differently, but for me judgement can only come when you are able to verify a list of assertions.

    It appears the standard has changed since this unverified assertion was posted, not so long ago, on scant evidence and without acknowledgement of ample contravening points:

    The South Side patrols were not pulled to spite Kraus.

    With respect to gauging the mayor's animosity
    toward Kraus, a transcript of their meeting (which occurred during the few hours separating confirmation and cancellation of one weekend's saturation details) might be useful.

    Or one could just check with Jeff Koch.

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  36. who exactly would have made a BETTER Mayor?


    Paul O'Neill.

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  37. There were ample contravening points? I must have missed them, and none seem forthcoming...as for support for my assertion, I have explained the PIRC sweep, any comment there?

    Are you suggesting that the Mayor interrupted the saturation patrols because Jeff Koch lost a few years ago? Retribution cometh not so swift, eh?

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  38. Infy, did he run ever?

    Also, since restaurants with cloth napkins appear to push the wrong buttons here, I will take the opportunity to note that the new IHOP on the way to the Waterfront is very nice. Good service, fresh eggs, hot coffee, and nobody knows from beets.

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  39. With the focused answer aside . . .

    It seems difficult to argue that Ravenstahl, O'Connor, Murphy, Masloff or Caliguiri was a qualified, competent mayor. O'Connor seems the only one who can not fairly be termed severely flawed and inept (although, in fairness to the others, he was just getting started). Judging the predecessors is a job left for others.

    Better candidates? There is at least one better candidate to administer the City of Pittsburgh along the windowed side of essentially every hallway in Pittsburgh's top law firms. One on every floor of the top accounting and consulting firms' offices. Plenty among the corridors of local manufacturing, financial and retail firms (including some small businesses). A substantial number from the region's non-profit and academic communities.

    The criteria: Civic-minded, empathetic, educated, experienced, accomplished, sensible, smart.

    By the way, it probably would have been adequate to have someone along those lines operating in a strong No. 2 position under a mayor who recognized his or her limitations.

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  40. Minuteman:

    First, the original explanation provided involved money, not PIRC.

    Second, the saturation patrols were confirmed early one morning, then pulled early that afternoon. The mayor met with Kraus between those events.

    Ravenstahl plans to run Koch against Kraus. If you were not aware of that, or of the obvious and longstanding animosity of the mayor toward Kraus, or of the mayor's relationship with several Carson Street booze barons, it might be worthwhile to adjust that trigger a bit.

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  41. Infy:

    I'll accept that answer, but since he was the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, I'll have to ask for another selection.

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  42. Since the following two Secretaries of the Treasury have been Wall Street tools (plus a tax cheat for the current one), I'm going to guess we were all better off he was where he was.

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  43. Paul O'Neill was Secretary of the Treasury for a couple of years. Why does that require another selection.

    On the other hand, many other candidates were identified. (The bar -- set at the height of the likes of Murphy and Ravenstahl -- isn't too high.)

    Hank Paulson means Pittsburgh is better off for the lack of Paul O'Neill in the mayor's office? That kind of thinking could provide serious competition for Bristol Palin on Dancing With The Stars.

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  44. Doesn't it cost like a dollar or so to vote for in Dancing With the Stars? Who has that much extra money?

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  45. Infy:

    Upon further reflection, we might have to have an off-line discussion about your current selection.

    Can I have your second-place choice"

    Thanks,

    Rex

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  46. The uncertainty concerning O'Neill's candidacy prompts two questions:

    Is gainful employment a disqualifying factor?

    Which particular qualification was O'Neill's problem -- education, experience, civic-mindedness or achievement?

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  47. I know very little about Paulie. I assume that he's very fond of his hometown. Has he ever shown a particular interest in its politics?

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  48. Here is the problem. Why would any smart, dedicated, civic minded, hard working person ever want to be mayor? Anyone with those qualities can have a much better life outside of the 5th floor. Why would any person with those qualities and a family ever subject their family to the hateful crap spewed on the blogs, the papers, etc? You could do everything right but then agree that one initiative favored by the Rudiak crowd and you are scum. The Paul O'Neill's of the world and anyone like them say no thanks.

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  49. That's exactly what Zober wants you to think. Who are you? What's the watch word? Spreckenz Dutch? Who won the 1938 World Series?

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  50. Anon 9:39 - I hardly think the number one aggravation of being a public officeholder is hateful blog crap (unless it is?), as up until 10 years ago politics was still politics and very bruising in its own right -- and who needs enemies in the media when you have mortal enemies in the next cubicle? -- but I take your point certainly.

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  51. If Paul O'Neill was willing to serve as Secretary of the Treasury -- which meant associating with the people of the Bush Jr. administration -- how would it compute that he would consider the Pittsburgh mayor's office too daunting?

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  52. Infy:

    I think "daunting" is the wrong word. Try "unfufilling"

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  53. Life is short. Paul O'Neill is not a young man. He has operated at much higher levels...what satisfaction might he derive from the tussles he'd be involved in as pgh mayor? Not a chance.

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