Sunday, May 12, 2013

A quick message to the forces of justice

A Wiki of Ice & Fire

To our friends on the Potomac,

Press accounts suggest that Federal law enforcement authorities are in the midst of a "wide-ranging" investigation into City of Pittsburgh operations or into City dealings. We thank you for your efforts in pursuing public corruption as a high priority.

Before this round of investigations "winds down," I see it as my duty to forward to you a concern that has arisen among Pittsburgh's online community. This blogger reserves judgment on the theory's veracity and will claim no smoking gun, but finds it indeed suspicious.

It all started (as these things tend) with an anonymous alarm:







I relayed that concern to the Comet Thousand-Strong, and responses began arriving:






Six persons to my knowledge claim they have received this e-mail unsolicited and without provocation from Friends of Jack Wagner, all on the same date.

Some say they have never subscribed to any political candidates' email list, ever.

Each of them further alleges that they had in fact subscribed to one or more City of Pittsburgh e-services: either a Dept. of Public Safety newsletter promoted in 2010 and/or one or more officeholder's City newsletters. Additionally, some of them suspect the "Mayor's" 311 help line.

None of these respondents can recall -- and I personally cannot recall -- ever having received political candidate mass-emails out of the blue. Although the experience is commonplace for direct mail, and more rare but not unheard of via telephone, those I have spoken with simply do not have the experience of receiving surprise candidate e-mails.

I inquired to Wagner campaign spokesperson J.J. Abbott how they might have received these e-mail addresses. After "checking around" he "confirmed" that e-mail addresses were purchased from "national email list firms," selected by zip code; or else handed over from candidates' campaigns publicly endorsing Mr. Wagner. He denied that any could have originated from City records.

That provides a solid explanation for what seemed like the odd 7th-complainant out:






Coucilwoman Rudiak alone among our respondents received a different, later Friends of Jack Wagner e-mail than the others. Abbott was able to quickly confirm that Rudiak came to be on Wagner's list for having subscribed to Chelsa Wagner's campaign for Controller. Wagner is publicly supporting Wagner.

No similarly specific explanations were available from the Wagner campaign for the other six, aside from reference to "national e-mail list firms."

People for Peduto is also running what is by all accounts a modern and well-funded campaign, but no allegations have arisen about unsolicited People for Peduto e-mails. Again, to my knowledge, nobody yet claims to have received unsolicited campaign e-mails from any other candidate, ever.

Given the record of illegal and unethical actions and dismissive attitude of a City leadership which has forfeited accountability, and given its aggressive disposition towards this election and away from governing, I trust you understand our reasons for raising the specter of government resources being utilized to aid a political campaign. We are all confident you have the resources and interest to dispose of this concern.

Valar Morghulis,

24 comments:

  1. Valar Dohaeris

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hold the phone.

    I have never nicked the 3-1-1 email list from the halls of Grant Street, nor have I tried to be jag off on the web and with my 412-public email messages to those who request to "UNSUBSCRIBE" after I have picked up their digital scent along the intranets, ... but it is hard to have faith in this statement from the posting:


    "NOBODY yet clams to have received UNSOLICITED CAMPAIGN email from any other candidate, EVER."


    Golly. As I go around town I often hear the comment, "Mark, I recognize you from your emails."

    So, if you want to open the can of worms, fine. But perhaps we can compare lists by you sending me your email lists of those favorable to getting Yinzer Spam N@. I think it is a fair trade as I was the one to give birth to the 3-1-1 idea in Pgh via a P-G editorial meeting pre-redd-up era.

    Recycled electrons are cheap. Damages in digital dust don't make much of a federal case. But, we all have to understand that some spam smells worse than others, no doubt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark, I've never received a campaign email from you either (and why not? holding out on me?) and neither have the folks I've spoken with. I don't know what to say about that. Sorry. This seems like a more of a mass-communication operation than your independent campaigns. In the last hour I've already received a 7th, and very interesting, tale that would not seem to be explainable by the "zip code" theory, but did indeed sign up for City newsletters.

      Delete
  3. I started getting the emails after attending the Brookline Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidates event. I assumed they got the sign-in sheet but maybe the timing is just a coincidence and they got it from a different source.

    ReplyDelete
  4. There are lots of ways you could end up on one candidate's mailing list long after having signed up for another. Both Jack Wagner and his statewide political ally, Bob Casey, were prominent backers of Obama in the 2008 primary, when most of the Democratic establishment statewide (e.g. Rendell) and locally (Ravenstahl, Onorato) were backing Clinton. So it's very possible that if you're on Casey's list from when he was running against Santorum and then for re-election last year, you then ended up on Wagner's list. Or maybe you even came to Wagner via Obama's list. Starting on Chelsa Wagner's list and then ending up on Jack Wagner's is only the most obvious possibility.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My cousin and his wife worked the worked the Obama campaign at a high-ish level in Colorado... he described that as exceedingly unlikely, that Obama is already selling / sharing his lists, especially for a local race among two Democrats. Casey / Santorum was 7 years ago, and most ppl's e-mail addresses have changed.

      Delete
  5. I think Natalia doth protest too much. I get unsolicited emails from her all the time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. LOL. I've tried to sign up for Peduto's list twice and I still haven't received any emails!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They must think that you are a Wagner supporting trying to get info---LOL

      Delete
  7. Much ado about nothing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a popular epitaph around here.

      Delete
  8. I received emails from Peduto because I was on Rich Fitzgerald's list.

    I also have signed up for the mayor's newsletters and used 311 (many, many times) and have never received an email from the Jack Wagner campaign.

    ReplyDelete
  9. city resident and Peduto supporter with numerous submissions to 311 over the last few years and i have not received any Wagner emails, so i dont think the source is 311

    ReplyDelete
  10. The new poll numbers probably explain why the Wagner-people who aren't Wagner are running such negative ads on the TV. I'd guess there are internal numbers that the campaigns had before.

    ReplyDelete
  11. no big deal bram, grow up

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is that "no big deal" in terms of it's not happening, or "no big deal" in terms of if it is, who cares? Because not only would that establish an operational tie between Luke and Jack, but I could have sworn I once read something somewhere about using state resources for political campaigns being a semi-serious offense.

      Delete
  12. I still don't know who I will vote for.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My PA state senator, Wayne Fontana, used his state office fax machine in Harrisburg to deliver paper that tossed a political opponent off the ballot. That went before a judge as evidence, was directly tied to Bonusgate but from another chamber, and was worse than what Orie sisters did, IMNSHO.

    By Gones.

    No big deal.

    Even with physical evidence.

    In no way would I hold that against Peduto. And, I never complain about the underhanded utilization of state assets against a citizen by a PA senator, .... too much.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Don't care who dunnit. If we want a functioning democracy, complaining about misuse of our info and breaches of the laws meant to protect fair elections is crucially
    constructive. The deck is already weighted very heavily against real democratic representation. At all levels of government.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I wrote that I still don't know who I'll vote for. The thing is I like Bill Peduto but I'm not all in on a progressive agenda. I'm more moderate and have reservations about extreme politics on both sides.
    The thing about Wagner that I don't get is the ad with Darlene Harris and Rev.Burgess. Is Wagner down with this or is that Lukey? The saying goes " The enemy of my enemy is my friend".
    This troubles me. Is this also on a bigger scale the reason for picking sides in this race? I find this kind of politics troubling and not helpful but rather obfuscating and divisive. I'm looking forward to having better insight in the coming day's but I find you Bram, to be lacking in wrapping around the big picture. I have followed this blog for weeks but I am still at a loss to see my worries included. I'm a middle aged widow trying to hold on to a little bit of money and stay in the city (Oakland). All of these pie in the sky promises for everyone makes me want someone more fiscally conservative. Is that so wrong? So greedy? Where do I fit in? I'm probably not alone. Do more taxes ruin me and make me poor? I scrimped and saved and now I should give it all up for the big picture? My property taxes in Oakland have gone sky high. Am I the only one wringing my hand?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the feedback. It and a few other things have convinced me (reminded me) in the coming days to do more wide-angle stuff and for a politically centrist audience. Too late at night for me to dive in now, but I'll tell you all of Peduto's proposals come with identified funding streams - though there is a sizable reliance on partnerships with universities, foundation grants, and other grants, there is also a willingness to channel some redevelopment money away from big-ticket items by developers and more towards the "pie-in-the-lower-lower-atmosphere" ideas. I'd be shocked if there were tax wage and property increases (though parking rates, I'm afraid everyone agrees, need to be hiked to deal with the pension issue).

      Thanks again.

      Delete


  16. I respect Peduto's fiscal responsibility - here are his own words at the website: http://www.billpeduto.com/2013/05/08/14-pittsburghs-path-to-prosperity-a-roadmap-out-of-act-47-status/

    Coverage by the Trib:

    Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Peduto vows clean sweep of City Hall

    http://triblive.com/politics/politicalheadlines/3788635-74/peduto-pittsburgh-hall#axzz2TIvGDBBT

    And more about the Ravenstahl ads:

    http://earlyreturns.post-gazette.com/home/early-returns-posts/5518-brabender-behind-ravenstahl-ads

    Hope these links are helpful.

    ReplyDelete