Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday: A Fool's Errand


Eleven people were arrested Downtown this morning after blocking traffic at Fifth Avenue and Wood Street while protesting proposed cuts to public education funding near Gov. Tom Corbett's Pittsburgh office... Most of the protesters were members of SEIU Local 32BJ. (P-G, Jon Schmitz; see also Trib)

Traffic congestion and street theater in Pittsburgh! That will teach those conservative Republicans. Actually wait -- they have a plan prepared for us.

The mayor said Tuesday he has had "good discussions" with a number of retailers and brokers at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas this week as part of the city's bid to improve Downtown retail... Joanna Doven, the mayor's spokeswoman, said the URA is paying for the trip. She did not have an exact cost Tuesday. (P-G, Mark Belko)

See? Just so you're aware that SEIU aren't the only 'burghers fighting for justice.

A year after PNC Financial Service Group announced plans to build a $400 million skyscraper Downtown, another office tower could be in the works less than a block away.

Oxford Development Co. is considering the construction of an office high-rise in the block of Smithfield Street between Forbes and Fifth avenues if it can find a tenant to partner in the venture. (P-G, Mark Belko)

What does Pittsburgh think about that?

Around this time next year, we will probably see three work sites Downtown with towering scaffolding and giant cranes busy, our still-new hockey arena with elements of the Hill District Master Plan in the works, Bakery Square 2.0 coming along in the East End, crime down seven years running, our eds and meds content as ever, state officials obediently whistling past our financial time bomb and the fountain shooting off at the Point. Cherubim and seraphim are in the early planning stages.

[smash cut]

Councilman Peduto To Be Named Common Cause PA's "Champion of Good Government 2012" (2PJ's Maria)

"This is the first time since 2009 that this statewide recognition has been awarded," according the press release. Checks are to be made payable to "William Peduto Champion of Good Government Committee".

We are delighted to have the opportunity to bestow this special award on an extraordinary public servant, whose tireless efforts to reform Pittsburgh city government have elevated the city's standards for open, honest and accountable government to previously unseen levels.

The package of government integrity laws enacted under Bill's leadership may be the most far-reaching the city has seen since the dawn of home rule 35 years ago.

This truly will be a special evening for an exceptional leader. (Press release)

Gotta get a look at that bill of particulars, assuming they wrote one. It appears there will be no turning back on this front now.


  1. It's a tale of two rallies! Last week an estimated 200 people gathered to rally in support of the proposal brought forth by the PPS to conduct teacher layoffs based on proficiency rather than seniority. The assembled masses were connected only by their unified support for what in any other profession would be considered a sensible process. The speakers, by all account were cordial, but firm. There were no troublemakers present and no arrests.

    This morning, hundreds of people gathered downtown to protest the education cuts propsed by the governor. Most of those gathered are from the SEIU, which is not likely a conicidence. The speakers were firm, often touching on the same themes as those who attended the A+ Schools rally last week: "This is about the children". At this rally, however, a dozen people were reportedly arrested.

    So we have two rallies. Two groups - one organized by a grass roots coalition, the other organized by one of the largest labor unions. As a signal of solidarity with its PFT conterparts who are desperate to redirect attention away from the self-inflicted public relations damage they have sustained in the wake of their poorly considered seniority only position, they are now trying to make this about budget cuts.

    Has the governor proposed significant cuts to education? Yes, but what state hasn't (not to mention the previous governor)? I see right through this nonsense. The PFT and its members cannot be out there on the street, so the SEIU organized on their behalf.

    Two groups of concerned citizens. One group had the class to be articulate and resolve and to organize from the ground up. The other brought trouble and dishonesty.

  2. Luke was part of a five-mayor panel at the shopping center convention. Here's the talk description from the convention program. Wonder what Luke had to say ... going forward, of course.

    General Session
    4:00 – 5:00 pm
    America’s Cities –
    Rebuilding, Revitalizing, Redeveloping
    America’s cities and their partners in the retail
    real estate community have been dealing with
    recession aftershocks in recent years. To ensure
    continued prosperity in their communities, mayors
    are implementing a wide range of innovative
    economic development programs and approaches
    to align with the new focus of the shopping center
    industry – the modernization and revitalization of
    existing assets. In this session some of America’s
    best known mayors will share with you their
    success stories and plans for the future. Come
    hear their effective strategies for the new realities
    of successful public-private partnerships.

  3. Anon 2:48 - I'd like to hear that panel discussion, wonder if anybody will YouTube it. "Revitalization of existing assets."

    Embattled Southaven Mayor Greg Davis took a little heat for hitting the conference; I wonder if the two world-weary politicos commiserated.

    Anon 12:09 - Rally for the next few years in favor of proficiency-based attrition (and you might have to!) and you'll probably also need to get arrested to grab any kind of media attention. But do you really think SEIU was cahooting with PFT in re their issues with A+ et al? I hadn't thought of that...

  4. @ Bram,
    You asked if [I] really think SEIU was cahooting with PFT in re their issues with A+ et al?

    I do. I bet if you dug deep enough you'd find some kind of connection. Ask yourself this question: why would the SEIU suddenly care so much about public education?

  5. @anon,

    A+ Schools a grassroots organization? That statement is as laughable as their claim that they have an objective standard for evaluating teacher effectiveness. A+ and their partners are funded by Bill Gates and the Koch brothers. Gates gave money to ALEC to promote the same kind of anti-teacher, anti-public education nonsense that A+ is pushing on people in Pittsburgh.

    Corbett and his pals are the problem. Why not focus on that?

  6. Corbett and his pals are the problem. Why not focus on that?

    Because PPS wasn't working well enough back when Corbett was still safely putting the legislature in prison.

  7. @Anon 6:11 - Thank you for providing the excuse to circle back to A+ to talk funding. That's been on my mind on and off a long while anyway. I would be as alarmed as you to discover the Kochs and their ilk lurking about Bellefield, but I also have a duty to note qualifying phrases like "and their partners", "the same kind of" and "Anonymous."

    Corbett and his pals are the problem. Why not focus on that?

    Because there can be more than one problem and more than one focus.

    Although Corbett is clearly a problem for those of us who believe urban Public education is an irreplaceable and high priority, he's not a problem because he's failing at anything or has tricked his constituents. He's succeeding at fulfilling a campaign promise. Odds are he'll be reelected for it.

    As for our present crop of students, I feel like we have more and plenty control over what we do on our own side of the street. And I feel like we all do better as Progressives when we are frank, self-critical, focused on the whole of policy and institutionally selfless.

    If our problem is that not enough Pennsylvanians feel urban public education is worthwhile place to put resources since urban public schools are so structurally unmanageable -- and I believe that is the problem we both confront -- then we have to address that perception people have of public schools. Admitting that individual teacher caliber is fairly important, and that humans can in fact gauge teacher caliber at least somewhat, would help Progressives a ways toward seeming credible and solutions-oriented rather than as obtuse and political as the next guy in the newspaper.

  8. Corbett has been governor for a year and a half... pps have been crap since superintendent Thompson...looking for blame start with parents end with Teachers Union...oh yeah OWS PGH /one PGH still shills for Obama Podesta Soros and their ilk... and you take umbrage at the Koch brothers... take off the blinders Bram

  9. OWS ... OPS (Obama Podesta Soros). Coincidental nearly identical acronyms? I think not!!! Take off your Koch-bottle glasses Bram and smell the cat food!

  10. OPS (Obama Podesta Soros).

    OPP is also very close, acronym-wise.

  11. I love how Bram, after cocking an eyebrow at the prospect of collaboration between the PFT and the SEIU, was so easily distracted by the baseless suggestion that funding from the the Gates Foundation and Koch Brothers has somehow corrupted A+ Schools.

    Nearly 400 teachers are going to be let go in a few weeks and their only fault is they are last in line. Never mind that some of them might be effective or how much their students have improved academically, or how disproportionate the cuts will be in schools with the lowest income students, or that there are proven ways to determine an effective teacher from an ineffective teacher. No, none of that is important. What is important is this absurd conspiracy theory that A+ Schools is advocating the right wing public education reform priorities. Good job, Bram. If this blog were a newspaper, it I'd use it to paper the floor of my dog's cage.

  12. But I like John Podesta. He supports UFO research. I wear my Koch blinders at night so I can so I can.

    I just find it really interesting that we're comparing ideological bogeymen. Whether you find Koch or Soros to be a shadowy malefactor is simply a function of whether you are more right wing or left wing. What I'm in search of here is a "children-wing" agenda that is irrespective of the baggage of the all-consuming binary ideological holy war. That doesn't make me an Americans Elect schnoz, it just makes me a liberal with a sense of proportion (and maybe humor).

  13. Anon 11:11 - Glad to entertain you.

    Asking "where do you get your funding?" is Life 101. I was curious about it with Pittsburgh United, I'm curious about it with A+ Schools, I'll be curious about it with Luke Ravenstahl and Bill Peduto.

  14. OPP - Other Peoples' Paranoia?

  15. Ontario Provincial Police.

  16. So Socialist Canada is working with Gates, Koch and ALEC to take over PPS. Why am I not surprised?

  17. How did Peduto's Common Cause thing go last night? Was the mayor there? Any dirt to report?

  18. Anon 10:00 - 1) I don't know. 2) I would think not. And "dirt" from that shindig, I don't see how? Did Doug Shields attend, get lost in his cups and interrupt the acceptance speech with, "It should have been ME!!!"?

    If I were Peduto I would have videoed and posted the whole thing. Maybe it will surface, maybe at an appropriate time.

  19. Doug's cup always runneth over as does his speeches