Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thursday: The Nuisances Strike Back

Post-Gazette, unknown graphic artist

1. Holy cow, what a story!

On one hand you have a private security company and individuals therein accused of grossly overexerting their jurisdiction and authority in a way redolent of what has become an issue at public housing developments, and belligerently to boot.

But on the other hand you have a City police chief accused of being friendly with one company's owner to the point of reassigning a sergeant for interfering with that company's "contract".

This will take a little while to shake out.

2. On the merits of accusations of reckless mayoral disregard for everyday business:

Mr. Dowd said solicitor Daniel Regan told council during an executive session that a complaint about the tree had been lodged with the city in 2007 but that no pruning ever was done. Mr. Dowd said he knows of at least one other case in which complaints about a tree have gone unaddressed for two years.
In all, Mr. Dowd said, the city has received 2,500 complaints about tree problems since 2009. That includes nearly 500 so far this year, half of which remain unresolved, he said. (P-G, Joe Smydo)

To reference things discussed during closed-door "executive sessions" with the city attorney, is to get serious. One hopes Dowd's zinger about "just doesn't come to work" wasn't one of them.

See also the Trib's Bob Bauder for notes on tree density and specimen diversity.

UPDATE: The Blogh timely notes that Tree Pittsburgh is a nonprofit which conducts tree plantings and "ongoing care" of our "urban forest." It has has a board and a staff which organizes volunteer events.

3. Adding to accusations of disinterest are those of pettiness...

At 7:13 a.m., 8:54 a.m. and 9:02 a.m. Tuesday, [Peduto staff] Gilman received emails from Mr. Kaczorowski. Mr. Kaczorowski doesn't deny sending the emails.
In the first email, part of a string that had "paper street article" in the subject line, Mr. Kaczorowski said, without elaborating, "Another BS statement ..." He then said, "On another front, sorry to inform you but after second thought Sellers may not be paved this year until the catch basin issue is resolved." (P-G, Joe Smydo II)

The emotional content of e-mails -- sarcasm vs. sincerity -- is often very easy to misinterpret.

4. Post-Gazette editorialists stump for character, charm and "the produce business" in regards to Bunchervania. One hopes they are not by-implication stumping for the present derelict emptiness. Buncher holds most of the cards [i.e. deeds] along the Allegheny Riverfront and can play the long game, waiting out this whole historical epoch entirely.

Read that again because that's very important.

5. According to this Trib account, the dispute over previous Penn State fracking research had to do with its projections of economic benefit from natural gas drilling -- not from measuring environmental dangers. It is noteworthy that the Marcellus Shale Coalition is saying that we can rely on government data. We note this so you don't come across as ignorant in your dealings.

6. Presidential politics!

The breakdown from 2 Political Junkies begins like so...

1. Romney kept his answers detail-free but full of lies.

Over at A Spork in the Drawer, we find a centuries-old primer with implied contemporary relevance on how to swindle Americans.

Chris Potter at the CP Blogh actually questions whether the POTUS's heart was in it.

I'm really not sure who is locally blogging national politics on the conservative end of the spectrum these days. Carbolic Smoke Ball highlighted the fact that things seemed more than a little rough last night for President Obama.

The best analysis in terms of political stage-management might have come across my Twitter feed:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Trees of Politicians must be Pruned with the Shears of Primaries


A day after making certain everybody understood the potentially deadly stakes, Councilman Dowd launched a critique of Mayor Ravenstahl's inattention to urban forestry:

"This is not a sexy issue," Mr. Dowd said. "It is not a glamorous issue. It is, therefore, not an issue receiving the attention of this mayor." (P-G, Joe Smydo)

In related news, Michael Lamb has quietly launched an electoral Twitter account (which features the only known image of Michael Lamb.)

I had once calculated that the best indicator as to whether or not Our Controller would seriously pursue a run at the Mayoralty this year, would be whether or not his ally Dowd adopted a discreet consensus-seeking approach or fiercely aggressive tone in regards to Port Buncher. Likely I was right all along, but this seals it.

Speaking of Donzi's Landing, that development appears to be in the process of being dropped in the slow, slow, sloooow cooker if not the pickler. Give it about seven months, trust that Peduto and Rudiak will evaporate out, add a dash of Electoral Landslide and it should be ready to serve cold.

BONUS CONTENT, MARCELLUS SHALE NATURAL GAS DRILLING ENERGY #JOBS: We are informed that this is big news out of Penn State.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday: The Promises of Yesterday (are the Taxes of Today)

deviantART, kedemel

Cheer up, Pixburgh, the grey skies just turned blue!

1. Attention, citizens. There is a new litmus test for whether or not you love Pittsburgh, as former schools superintendent Mark Roosevelt helpfully informs us from beyond the grave. A certain think tank is failing this litmus test miserably.

2. I can pinpoint the exact moment the Pirates' epic slide began. By which I mean this year's epic slide, not that of last year or the full score of mud sliding years. Serious question: if the Pirates' seeming futility is indeed the byproduct of a successfully executed business strategy, and that strategy is made possible by certain incentives, can institutions like the Stadium Authority and the Sports and Exhibition Authority act in ways which might impact those incentives?

"Fair warning," Mary Conturo, the executive director of both authorities, might say. "You have four years to win the NL Central, or we are going to begin doing everything in our power to inconvenience you and erode your precious bottom line, such that you will have no choice but to sell off to an owner more willing to pursue a business model appropriate to the City of Champions."

3. The Post-Gazette tartly inclines its head towards Peduto's announcement, still wroth that in 2007, as Pittsburgh was mournful and fearful, he ought to have had the political cojones to lose by 50 percentage points to the late Mayor Bob O'Connor's adopted son, County Executive Dan Onorato's daughter, the Lord Protector of UPMC and Crown Prince of the Realm --  thereby obliterating his own career instantly and totally, all while making sure that the triumph of 26-year old Ravenstahl would be viewed as not only legitimate but impressive.

Of course, come to think of it, in 2007 did not newly elected city Controller Michael Lamb choose to bide his time under the impression that Peduto (who had narrowly bested Lamb for a distant mayoral silver versus O'Connor only in 2005) would take the field? So there must be legitimately felt grievances all around here. Jack Wagner could probably mount a campaign based around, "No more soap opera politics!"

At any rate, the P-G goes on to demand that the Republican party and its donors send forth a "credible" Republican candidate -- these editorialists demand more sacrifices than heathen gods! -- although evidently there was not enough space to stump for City-County consolidation and to demand continued fealty to state overseers. Though that is coming.

4. Patrick Dowd is encouraging us to imagine the old Produce Terminal as a hustling, bustling fruit and vegetable emporium. I'd like that too, but most people (the ones not already boldly buying fresh fruit in the Strip at Stan's Market or the Market Outlet) are a-scared of Downtown and the Strip, a-scared of paying for parking, and much more comfortable in air-conditioned Giant Eagles or Whole Foodses off of highways. In order to re-produce the Produce Terminal, it seems like we'd have to sculpt the land and development all around it very carefully towards encouraging that outcome -- and these guys, Buncher Co., they own all the land, and they just don't feel like being in the damned fruit business. And I don't feel like there is anything much we can say about it. We can tell them, "Don't make your building so high," but we can't tell them, "Make it your purpose in life to help us sell fruit." So I don't know how this is going to go. He probably has an idea, though.