Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thursday: All Together Forward

"Certainly, the governor and his vocal support of Hillary Clinton is something that will be taken into account, but it won't make my decision for me," said Ravenstahl, who said both campaigns are lobbying him but he hasn't met either candidate. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

The mayor comes off as totally reasonable in this article.


Allegheny County is kicking around its air-quality standards.

City Councilman William Peduto, in a statement read by his spokesman, Dan Gilman, said the county needs a local program to ensure the clean air and water resources that are "a necessary part of developing a new economy for the 21st century." (P-G, Don Hopey)

So he's just going to continue being right, and everybody is just going to continue piling on him. Is that the plan?

(Trib science beat writer Allison M. Heinrichs covers the same important story, sans the Peduto angle.)


Great news:

In recognition of Pittsburgh's 250th anniversary and the Pittsburgh Public Schools' efforts to boost academic achievement, the Senator John Heinz History Center is admitting city school groups for free through Dec. 31.

School Superintendent Mark Roosevelt and Andrew Masich, history center president and chief executive officer, will make the announcement at 11 a.m. today at the Strip District museum. (P-G, Joe Smydo)

Speaking of which,

Another in a series of community forums on the Pittsburgh Public Schools' high school improvement efforts will be held at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow on the 31st floor of the Regional Enterprise Tower, 425 Sixth Ave., Downtown. (P-G, Team Effort)

If you care about the whole Schenley thaing, you should probably go.


A scheduled vote on Councilman Ricky Burgess' legislation to cut the number of take-home cars from 59 to as few as eight was postponed. (P-G, Team Effort)

Well, we can all afford to cool off a bit.


The Penguins are exploring the potential for a hotel to serve as a line mate [ugh] to the planned $290 million arena.

Team officials have requested proposals from hotel developers to gauge interest in such a project. It would be built on the east side of the former St. Francis Central Hospital, which is slated for demolition.

"We're exploring a number of options to develop a piece of land adjacent to the new arena. One of those options may potentially be a hotel," Penguins President David Morehouse confirmed yesterday. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Respectfully, sirs and madams of the Penguins -- how about a large-scale parking facility?

This would eliminate the need for quite so much surface parking -- which in our opinion can be tantamount to topographical blight. To house more of the requisite parking spaces within the same multi-level structure is surely to open up some intriguing possibilities.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

E-Mail to Teacher. Spinmeister. Madman.

Figure we had better carbon copy all our little Cometmaniacs out there, since there is no option to leave comments.


1. Less posts about media bias.
2. Less posts making fun of Obama for being well-liked.
3. More posts about why it is exactly you prefer Clinton to Obama.

Otherwise, it just seems like you're trying to distract from the issues.

Bitterly yours,


Since we sent that, we noticed his line where he admits he doesn't know who he's going to vote for if anybody at all, but I do know that the last thing our Democratic process (such as it is) needs is a double-standard-bearing mainstream media cheerleading for one candidate.

Okel dokel. Curious thing to be exercised over if you're not a Hillary supporter, but to each his own.

In that case, all we can offer is, it's a huge, overblown, mostly manufactured distraction.

The Comet thinks the nation is bright enough to withstand even the most brutal manipulation by the Post-Gazette in not putting Hillary's name in bold enough typeface this morning.

The Comet also thinks the nation is far more concerned about who stands a realistic chance of reaching out to independents and moderate conservatives...

... who has a modest record of legislative accomplishment vs. who has naught but a sixteen year track record of overreaching and abject failure...

... who has shown they will cave in to the warmongering patriotism machine when it's politically expedient, and who will campaign (govern?) with an exclusive rather than an inclusive message when that also is politically expedient.

The polls show it -- right wing talk radio is admitting it -- Barack Obama is to be avoided if you are a Republican. If the Comet was at all ambivalent before, that fact pretty much seals the deal.

BillboardGate for Total Dummies

Bill Peduto IS Balky Bartokamus.
Pat Ford IS Cousin Larry.
Zoning approvals ARE Bibbi-Babkas.

Really, just an excuse to play the videos (h/t PittGirl).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dan Onorato: Hopeless Idealist (UPDATED)

(Photo credit Agent Ska)

Mr. Onorato said he wants any potential development to restore the grid from the Hill District to Downtown that stops now at the parking lot for Mellon Arena. He said the arena acts like a wall separating the neighborhood from Downtown.

"Once you do that, the Hill District becomes part of Downtown again," he said.

Post Gazette, 3/15/07: Hill District has its say on arena development. Hat tip goes to Onorato 2007: Leading Our Region's Renewal.

It was the very first news article to appear on his campaign website.

Onorato's complete Cometesque remarks can be found at WTAE.

"My whole goal of today's meeting was, really, to figure out how do we develop the 28 acres, and how do we have that development spin up the hill to get more benefit outside the 28 acres and to have the input from the community all at the same time?" said Onorato. "And to do that at the front-end of the project, that's my goal. To make sure development happens and we reconnect the Hill to Downtown."

"There was a time those roads came into town," said Onorato. "You've got to reconnect that grid. Once you do that, the Hill District becomes part of Downtown, becomes part of the city again."

What exactly happened to diminish both the County Exec's role and expectations? Was it pressure from the contractors posturing as sports fans, who demanded of him "Mr. Onorato -- put up that wall!"?

Or was this only a matter of securing reelection and moving on?

UPDATE: Or was he, like so many others, simply at a loss?



"I'm not sure what it is that the city can do except ask the Penguins to come back to the table," said Councilwoman Tonya Payne, who represents the Hill. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

Figure no one is in a better position than Tonya Payne to do just that.

If Payne is not at least seen to be doing everything she can, we all know that Sala Udin and his henchmen will use this to attack her, and probably unseat her. Payne will need to make a move eventually, as One Hill is in no mood to hold any more upbeat press conferences, and both factions of Hill District residents are uniting around the idea that they will require a different kind of political leadership moving forward.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Hill District CBA Hearing

More than 35 people, many from the Hill District, testified before City Council this morning in support of a community benefits agreement around the proposed replacement for Mellon Arena. (P-G, Mark Belko)

That's what happened.

Marimba Milliones specifically asked the body to pass a Sense of Council Resolution in support of a community benefits agreement before development continues.

"The community's interests were not included in the lease at all," Redwood said. "Once that lease was signed, (the Penguins) walked away and have not been back to the table." (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

Redwood was overheard to state that one more negotiation session with the city and county is scheduled for later this week -- and then "that's pretty much it."

As we write this, it just occurred to the Comet that for the first time in this process, there was absolutely no daylight or sense of division between the Hill Faith and Justice Alliance and the One Hill CBA coalition -- not even an undertone.


Council President Doug Shields and Councilman Bill Peduto each spoke out after public comments in favor of community benefits agreements, and in favor of Council involving itself in the process moving forward.

Councilwoman Tonya Payne, who represents the Hill District, did not speak at all. After the hearing, Dr. Kimberly Ellis expressed some displeasure to the Councilwoman that her representative had chosen to offer nothing to the discussion. The Councilwoman countered that she has been and continues to be very involved.

Peduto mentioned to the Comet after the hearing that Council will provide "a check and a balance", but declined to elaborate.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Pittsburgh Penguins Throw the Gloves Off

During a Feb. 22 meeting with the New Pittsburgh Courier’s editorial board, Morehouse and senior consultant Ron Porter essentially said they are not the bad guys they’ve been made out to be, bent on bulldozing the Hill District—again—for their own enrichment.

“That’s the construct that’s out there,” said Morehouse. “Fifty years ago, the Penguins built the arena and kicked everyone out—the same as now. First of all, the Penguins didn’t exist 50 years ago. (Courier, Christian Morrow)

We're not blaming you. We're blaming ourselves.

We're blaming our own out-of-control Urban Redevelopment Authority -- which did in fact exist 50 years ago, and was directly implicated in the tragedies of arrogance at that time.

We blame the very same nexus of developers, contractors, consultants and a certain set of city planners and administrators -- who collectively have botched development after development after development in the City of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Penguins -- we only desire to see you avoid the old mistakes. We want you to break the mold, break our old civic patterns, and be a huge success story.


"Secondly, no person or business has been forced out. We even bought out the synagogue. And the new arena is closer to the business area than to homes in the Hill.”

Yes, and that is precisely the tragedy. Downtown and the Hill District need to be virtually as one, if either are to realize their potential.

The perception of the deal as publicly financed, using “taxpayer dollars,” is also flawed and being used against the Penguins he said. “Half of that is coming from (Majestic Star Casino owner) Don Barden, because he wanted to help improve the Hill, and half is from gaming revenue,” said Morehouse. “So the only people being ‘taxed’ are the gamblers.”

We are the gamblers. The "gaming revenue" is revenue derived from taxation upon gaming. So it is taxpayer dollars, that would otherwise have gone towards other public functions.

As to Don Barden's contribution...

The $15 million received from those two sources annually for 30 years will pay the debt service on the bond to build the $290 million facility.

So it's only going "to help improve the Hill" in an indirect manner?

The Penguins also negotiated all the parking revenue from its lots, and they also will receive development tax credits for the 28 acres where the current Mellon Arena now stands. But for each year the land remains undeveloped after the new arena is complete, the credits are lost.

There again! The unavoidable 28 acres!

All that public land -- right smack up against Downtown -- was it really given to the Penguins carte blanche? Government officials surrendered absolutely all normal responsibilities for civic design and critical infrastructure, simply by handing over development rights upon that land?

Porter, however, said despite the teams efforts, the “arcane and thick” politics of the Hill community may remain difficult to work through.

“The mentality of entitlement is a tough one to crack.”

Provocative terminology from Penguins senior consultant Ron Porter -- who until recently chaired the Hill House Economic Development Corporation, and before that the Hill House Association (CORRECTED).