Saturday, August 11, 2007

Better than playing "Fire in the Hole"

Blame julie-gong from Bloguvagoo for tagging the Comet with this meme:

1. Post these rules before you give the facts.
2. Write eight random facts/habits about themselves.

3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.


1. We cannot bend our toes. Never could. The medical professions have been baffled.

2. We were hard-core into Meat Loaf for about six years. Yes there is such a thing. We were a fan of the already retro Bat out of Hell in high-school. So when Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell came out in college, we went straight over the edge.

3. Related: We are a recovering karaokeholic. Each day is a new day -- just last night we blew our one-month chip at JD's in Harmarville. It all began with our formative karaoke experience at the Pittsburgh Rib & Music Festival, outside of Three Rivers Stadium. We sang Paradise by the Dashboard Light with a buddy. Kansas was performing on another stage, and by the end of the set we outdrew Kansas.

4. We studied public relations, political science, and philosophy in college, but over the years we forgot about that. Until we started blogging. We are now inspired to look for gainful employment in the political and/or media spheres. If you need a gunslinger, drop us a line.

5. We are fine with spiders, but we are afraid of slugs. We will have nightmares for days any time we are forced to confront something sluggerific, and in the dream the slugs will be flying on mosquito wings, and the size of your head.

6. When it did not interfere with ultimate frisbee, we were very much into theater. We played a baseball player in Damn Yankees and a Nazi captain in The Sound of Music; two more masculine roles you will not find. We also played the starring role in an Ellis School senior play.

7. We are an only child of an only child.

8. Bernard Reichbaum's once offered all manner of deli meats, canned goods, and other culinary staples at 1221 5th Avenue. That's right, a grocery store in the Hill District! We were one of the first grocery stores in the country to offer wheeled shopping carts. We never met our grandfather Bernard.


The Comet hereby tags:

Agent Ska
Mark Rauterkus
Pittsburgh Hoagie
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
The Burgher

Friday, August 10, 2007

Good Laurels, Good Lances

Laurels to the City Planning Commission for approving casino construction.

Editorial Comment: Agreed!

Lance to the Block Bugler, which is really a lance for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Editorial Comment: Interesting to juxtapose this with the next item.

Observations on Paul Skoutelas, formerly of the Port Authority, which is really a lance.

Editorial Comment: The P-G, the Trib and the Comet all seem to be in accord.

Observations on the Port Authority in general, which also is really a lance.

Editorial Comment: Who should have been providing the leadership and oversight all this time?

Spotlight on the URA

URA gives SouthSide Works developer 3 more years (Mark Belko, P-G)

What would be so awful about allowing the unruly masses to lease that vacant property they helped to finance? Competition is awesome, and a deal is a deal!

East Liberty's Bakery Square project will receive $10M (Sam Spatter, Trib)

Yet somehow, Concord Hospitality and its hotel project was frozen out. Cameo appearance by City Planning Commission member Todd Reidbord.

And don't you worry yourselves, Allegheny Institute -- this TIFF is totally gonna pay for itself!

The URA is also purchasing a $20,000 study from Point Park University on how to improve Downtown, and we have no problem with that. We are eagerly anticipating our newest university's scholarship!

Note: Technically, the URA didn't do any of this stuff yet -- City Council, and others in some cases, must first sign off on it. Look alive.

Pittsburgh agency might offer new business breaks (Bonnie Pfister, Trib; h/t MR)

This headline speaks for itself. But the story includes this morsel:

Releasing the parcels from TIF districts would make those properties available for tax abatements, the document states, and allow TIF status to be bestowed on other properties that are declared blighted.

Any particular "blighted" property they might be eyeing? Any ideas at all?

Finally: Don Kortlandt steps in as acting Executive Director. Jerome Dettore is off to write his book.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

CometWeather: Standing Down

This batch is from KDKA, and it describes "a triple dose of flooding headaches."

Millvale once again took a beating; Girdy Run Creek again was a big problem. The Army Corps of Engineers has been clearing this creek for over two years. Impatience is boiling over into frustration.

Uptown had a harrowing day, and as of now is still totally without power. Did anyplace else get hail?!

Mayor Ravenstahl declared a state of emergency, along with a number of local governments. He says the City of Pittsburgh seems so far to have fared better than some of its neighbors.

Repair crews are doing some awfully dicey work atop the Carnegie Science Center, even at this hour. Only one injury in the museum today, though. "A girl with a scratch."

Countless cars got submerged in water. Power lines were severed. Trees fell on houses. Again, things look worst in Millvale. Police shut down the main drag, and the whole borough is on curfew. County Councilman / ACDC Chairman Jim Burn (D-Millvale) is getting upset at the federal government.

County chief Dan Onorato has agreed to hold a meeting to explore the idea of bailing out property owners who live on the flood plane.

It should stay clear throughout the weekend. In fact, we should be getting some lower humidity.

CometWeather: The Calm Before the Storm

WTAE is now reporting that another wave of brutal storm activity (a 3rd wave) is headed our way.

Windows at the Carnegie Science Center were broken due to flying debris. Paneling on the side of the building was stripped, too.

According to officials, the Science Center will be closed on Friday for cleanup and repairs.

It was a bit of a horror show (or awesome) for 1,000+ children, other visitors, and staff in the Center at the time. Imagine if the casino scaffolding was just going up.

Millvale and Etna residents and public officials are frustrated at the lack of new flood prevention measures since Hurricane Ivan. Apparently, federal money would be on the way to help, but President Bush is threatening to veto the measure (they do not say why).

At least a half-dozen homes have caught fire from lightening strikes. 90,000 customers are without power.

Mike Tomlin loaded his Steelers onto a bus beforehand, and sent them to their indoor facility on the South Side. After a three hour bus-ride, the power inside went out, and strong rains soaked a portion of the practice field anyway.

Max Stark exhibited a wry sense of humor about usefulness of the day's practice, although Hines Ward was the perfect soldier.

WTAE meteoroligists are reporting this is a "bowing" storm, having to do with the sharp bow shape of the leading edge. And that's bad.

CometWeather Storm Coverage.

Significant thunderstorms have wracked the area.

Ch. 11 News reports a "juicy air mass" set off this storm.

A red alert of some kind was placed over Pittsburgh International Airport. There were reports of funnel clouds on the West End. The rain was coming down at 13 inches per hour.

Very strong and awkwardly "wafting" winds were prevalent over the Allegheny River, as we ourselves witnessed upon the 16th Street Bridge.

It appeared from our vantage that the Gulf Tower was struck by lightening. However, the lack of any spectacular aftermath suggests either a well-constructed lightening rod, or human error.

Mike Marcus from the Carnegie Science Center says the worst seems to be past us, but there's going to be a lot of cleanup.

Not a Joke

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said a marketing campaign showing a cartoon of him chipping a golf ball onto a putting green is a hole-in-one.


The promotion promises people who stop by VisitPittsburgh's booth a chance to compete in a putting contest with Ravenstahl during the American Society of Association Executives Annual Meeting & Exposition, set for Saturday to Tuesday in Chicago.


"People really do like to meet these semi-celebrities," Davis said. "(Ravenstahl) will help draw people into the booth, and give them something fun to do."

So reports the Trib's Jeremy Boren. You've almost got to admire the kid's nerve.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bagpipes III

Bagpipes II

This one is for the unit of the Pennsylvania National Guard that is preparing for a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. At one point, it sounds a little like Camptown Races.


Wednesday: Business as Usual

State Rep. Chelsa Wagner talks to KDKA's Marty Griffin about her opposition to new county taxes for funding mass transit.

She accuses Dan Onorato of shepherding the legislation only behind closed doors -- and his minions of suggesting that his $5,000 campaign check ought to have purchased her support.

The P-G Ed Board came out in favor of those drink and car-rental taxes for public transit, with some qualifications.

Meanwhile, the League of Young Voters -- which had championed the cause of transit funding all winter and spring -- seems to have moved past the issue. Where are our rascally rabble rousers when we really require them?


The Tribune-Review, in an article nobody dared to sign personally, examines the $2.2 million city lighting contract being awarded to CLT Technologies ...

... whose principal investor is Charles R. Zappala, a well-connected Democratic contributor and the uncle of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.

Rich Lord got us exercised about the bidding process underlying this contract some time ago: here and here.


More eerie language eminates from the City Planning Commission, in this P-G piece by Mark Belko about the casino. Board Chair Wrenna Watson:

"We're moving forward because that's what we're supposed to do."

We hope she means they are moving forward because it is the right thing to do. We were not aware the Planning Commission is supposed to do anything, that it does not itself judge to be wise and correct.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Monday Needs-To-Know

City hall hobbled by brain drain, reads the headline of a P-G article by Rich Lord.

Although many city offices are feeling the squeeze, the Law Department is really operating on a skeleton crew: fielding a team of 11 where there was once 17.

Ravenstahl is interviewing candidates for a long-overdue permanent City Solicitor -- though presumably, that appointment must wait until an Equal Opportunity Officer comes on-board. That is just this close to happening.

Two years of tumult and austerity have prompted a flight of professionals from Pittsburgh government.

The article focuses on the austerity of budget constraints and oversight boards, while overlooking the tumult. It could be that working for some city departments is getting to be like playing ball for the Pirates.


Nevertheless, and damn the torpedoes: the city plans to hire a full-time "bike and pedestrian coordinator" early next year, says the Trib's Kacie Axsom.


The Penguins and the City hosted a tour of the new arena development site, reports the Trib's Andrew Conte.

"We recognize 50 years ago a project was done here with the Civic Arena that didn't have community input and that had some devastating consequences for the community," said Penguins President David Morehouse. "We want to make sure we don't repeat those mistakes."

Rather than simply avoiding new mistakes, there are many who believe this new project must seek to actively remedy the historical ones.

The P-G's Bill Schackner version has this:

Penguins President David Morehouse, among those at yesterday's tour, said he understood residents' suspicions. He said the previous development "was a travesty for a neighborhood that was thriving." But he said the new project would create thousands of jobs without dislocating people.

Again, stroke stroke stroke, and nothing affirmative. No assurances that those jobs will be decent union jobs, nor that any Hill residents will be offered them.

We remember an episode of On-Q during which Dan Onorato spoke convincingly of the need to give the Hill District a serious piece of this pie.

We wonder, is the County Exec going to be involved in this process moving forward? Because believe it or not, the Comet cares about people even more than geese.


The Trib's Joseph S. Mistick serves up some red meat for the Luke-bashing base. He accuses our Mayor of being -- um, how to paraphrase -- oblivious. It's a fun read.

He also offers confirmation of the Luke vs Dan feud, suggesting that the former is wrong on consolidation -- without suggesting that we must resort to the extreme Louisville model.

But seriously, Joe: how exactly are Onorato and Doyle "working hard to transform their party?" Transform it into what? Inquiring minds want to know.

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