Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Week in Comments

The facts are that during the heat of a political battle much is said and much must be forgotten.
Tony Ceoffe, on the Burgh Report, reacting to criticism of his son's letter in the P-G.

All the cat-fighting, the snits & snipes, the embarrassing disarray and airing of laundry … These are all good things. They mean an earthquake DID shake Pittsburgh on the Tuesday primary. I'm uplifted.
Char, on the Comet, inspired by the leaked e-mail from Mayor Ravenstahl

Luke wasn't there? But he was just in Harrisburg! Please, tell me that you are wrong and that he made it to this one. There is nothing -- nothing -- more important than getting a handle on gun violence right now.
Richmond K. Turner, on the Comet, referencing the recent PA mayor's conference on gun violence

The problem is that each time something is dangled in front of Doug for his personal benefit (e.g. the promise of the machine endorsement or council presidency), he completely loses his mind and dives into shark infested waters head first, abandoning his sense of what's right.
Anonymous, on the Burgh Report, about Councilman Shields

The animal control contract was on Councils agenda for next week. COSTA AND KLIMOVICH tried to push it through without council approval. THE PRICE PER ANIMAL WOULD HAVE WENT UP TO $182 an animal. MAYBE THERE WERE KICK BACKS INVOLVED???????????????
Animal Lover, on the Burgh Report, in reference to Puppygate

Look down along the left-hand side of your keyboard. See that one labelled "Caps Lock"? Hit it one time. Then remove it from your keyboard so that you are never tempted to use it again.
Richmond K. Turner, on the Burgh Report, on blurghosphere decorum

Right, so apparently actually there might be a level of agreement that it might be nice if Mayor Ravenstahl were to place some images of Mayor O'Connor around the city. The teen employment program might be a perfect opportunity; Bob O'Connor's picture should be on those Redd Up t-shirts. Just my opinion.
Ed Heath, on the Pittsburgh Hoagie, on respecting the O'Connor legacy

In a weird way I think that this is one arena being a woman does help - men get to wear navy or grey or black or pinstripe suits, basic ties, buttoned down shirts and that is about it. We get to have a bit more creatiivity with what we wear and I think because of it more personality actually gets to shine through to the voters.
Heather A, on the Ideas Bucket, on politics and fashion

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Let's Over-Analyze!

The prickly e-mail sent from Mayor Ravenstahl to Councilman Shields and his colleagues has already been reported upon by everybody from Rich Lord to PittGirl.

For the record, our favorite part was the subject header: a caps-locked "WELCOME BACK!"

Our first impression was if Doug really had been M.I.A. for a few months, then maybe Luke was not really so out-of-line. It even occurred to us that maybe the mayor's office itself leaked the letter.

However, whether or not the sentiment was warranted, there is little doubt that the missive was -- for lack of a better word -- snotty. Gratuitously snotty, considering that Luke is the nation's youngest big-city mayor, and he should be anxious to demonstrate his gravitas.

This morning's P-G described a "feisty" council "rebuffing" the mayor on a couple of items, so we are left to conclude that Ravenstahl is alarmingly unaccustomed to feistyness and rebuffery.

Surf over to the Busman's Holiday and listen to the podcast of Councilman Koch reflecting on his own election defeat. He muses that maybe council turnover will be "good for the city," and will provide more "checks and balances" for the mayor.

If this thought occurred to Koch -- who would have every reason to be bitter -- then a mood of indignant resurgence must certainly be prevailing throughout council chambers.

Besides which, that kind of frustrated sarcasm can not have arisen simply from a car-sharing bill and a dog bill alone, IOHO. Something boiled over.

Seeing as how Luke carbon-copied his snit to the rest of council, we are guessing that it was Doug's office that released the e-mail: it (and his measured response) only reflects well on his image as a council leader and stander-upperer.

Smoking Ban Fails on Appeal

Allegheny County was dealt another defeat yesterday, when a three-judge state appeals court ruled that we do not have the authority to enact and enforce our own smoking ban.

No, this did not already happen. The courts had previously filed injunctions against the ban, until a future ruling. This was the appeal at the state level, and Allegheny County lost.

From the P-G's Ward and Srikameswaran:

"If it's a statewide ban that includes everyone, including casinos, I don't have a problem with that," Mr. Mitchell said. "Everyone knows smoking is bad for you. We're just trying to protect our livelihood here."

From the Trib's Justin Vellucci:

"This is a victory for all citizens, because it means our rights haven't been eroded," said James Mitchell, who owns Mitchell's Restaurant & Bar. "Do we want more government? Most people would say a resounding 'No.' "

Which is it?

From the Comet:

"We enjoy the atmosphere of gritty, nihilistic rebelliousness that smoking affords us," thought Mr. Mitchell. "We don't want to have to look at those prissy Highland Park types. Plus, the dump trucks full of cash provided by R.J. Reynolds are a nice bonus."

Allegheny County can still appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Last Chance City Paper!!!

The cover may have said Summer Guide 2007, but this last edition of the City Paper was all about violence.

Charlie Deitch took a dimmer view of the mayor's Homewood press conference than most of the mainstream media. Ravenstahl's emphasis on law enforcement contrasted with the community's demand for jobs, sometimes in the form of heckling and counter-heckling.

Chris Potter columnitated on the need for tighter gun control legislation, and was hysterical about Republican attempts to cast widespread gun ownership as a solution.

Dr. "Kimberly Ellis" Goddess bemoaned the casualties of "an economic war and the lost war on drugs" -- but calls only for some "new civil rights movement," not daring to directly voice support for an absolutely necessary and extremely overdue withdrawal from this insane drug war.

Finally, Violet Law chronicles some bizarre and alarming random acts of violence against city bikers, making us wonder if our whole culture in general has gone to pot.

This all would have dovetailed nicely with today's mayors conference on gun violence, organized by the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities. However, our own Mayor Ravenstahl seems to have spent the day in Washington, DC, building relationships to shore up city finances.

We hope his eight-point plan turns out to be a real corker, anyhow.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Can't Find Good Help

You are no doubt aware of this article by the P-G's Rich Lord about hanky-panky in the Department of Public Works. We do not care to discuss it today because:

The politicization of public works is likely to emerge as a top issue in coming months, as Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration attempts to computerize city management, Councilman William Peduto pushes for reform legislation, and new council members take office.

Instead, we return to an earlier article involving other men with big tools and big machines for building stuff (h/t Cog Dis):

The Pittsburgh Housing Authority's process in awarding a $20 million-plus contract to improve energy efficiency is coming under fire from two firms that say it gives another company the inside track on the potentially lucrative work.

The ironic thing is, one of the losing bidders, Carnegie-based CLT, just weeks ago took heat for having been given a sweetheart deal for a streetlights contract.

What is the plot here? Is it that CLT is a bunch of whiners who think they deserve every city contract by manifest destiny?

Or is it that the City of Pittsburgh does not have strong enough processes for soliciting and evaluating bids? That they enter into the process with a clear idea to whom to award the contracts? And that this leaves them open to criticism, then to over-compensation, and then to still more criticism -- to say nothing of cost inefficiencies?

Though the Siemens study is a thick binder of analysis of the authority's many properties, firms interested in the job were provided with just a 33-page section describing the wiring, insulation, heating and other features in the buildings. Mr. Morgan said he complained to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees the authority, saying that since Siemens has access to its entire study, all potential bidders should get a copy. He said he was told there's nothing HUD can do.

Or is it that all of these contractors play dirty pool? That would be a newsflash. But what to do about it?

Party People

There are people called "ADP's," or Anti-Democratic Party people.

We are not clear on the definition, but we know they mean people in the Democratic party.

We are listening to Diana Wentz interview Jim Burn and Ian Harlow of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee. They are inviting ADP's to call in and discuss the endorsement process.

Before her guests arrived, Wentz avowed that Chairman Burn and the new leadership of the ACDC are pursuing wondrous reforms, but alas, these things take time. We would like to have heard specifically what problems they think they have -- we actually don't know, and the P-G op-ed did not make that clear.

There was some rote argument on how the recent primary was not so bad for endorsed candidates (deconstructed already on the Burr Reporr), and also on how the endorsement as it stands today must be tactically important because it is widely sought.

As to whether the endorsement is necessary or beneficial, there was only an oblique suggestion about the role of committee members in a endorsement-free world. We ourselves assume that committee people will still be needed to inform their communities, and advocate for Democratic principles.

But the way it was phrased seemed like a threat and a warning -- you don't want to give up your power, do you? How's your street gonna get paved?

The first caller supported endorsements, but wound up opposing the rule that committee people are blood-bound to support only endorsed candidates in thought, word, and deed. Jim Burn sounded open to the notion, suggesting a debate may open to amend the by-laws. He did not advocate one way or the other on the air.

A certain Maria from the south side (?) called to raise an inside-baseball seeming question circulating on some choice websites, and again the chairman made some open-sounding sounds -- before cutting her off (maybe due to time) and promising a debate.

We can not help but wonder whether there will follow a series of dog-and-pony reform debates in which the fix is in, and members inevitably vote to retain their power and insularity, but the party can claim there was a vote! There was transparency! We took calls on talk radio!

Just before the hour was up, Burn delivered a shot across the bow of bloggers, who are invited to call the committee, instead of continuing to be "part of the problem by blogging anonymously."

1) We may just do that.
2) We blog under our real name, as do the 2PJs.
3) We hardly think the Burgh Report, for example, is part of any problem.
4) We have a comments section. You are invited to join the discussion, Mr. Chairman, and stop being part of the problem.

Let's Roll