Saturday, October 25, 2008

Barack Obama is Comin' to Town!

This just arrived hot off the bandwidth:

Please join us Monday, October 27th, for a rally with Barack Obama in Pittsburgh:
Change We Need Rally with Barack Obama

Mellon Arena
66 Mario Lemieux Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Monday, October 27th
Doors Open: 3:00 p.m.

Looks like this is him dropping the big elbow!

The event is free and open to the public; tickets are not required but an RSVP is strongly encouraged:

Parking is very limited; please carpool or use public transportation if possible.

Think there will there be tailgating?

For security reasons do not bring bags or umbrellas and please limit personal items. No signs or banners allowed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday: Let us read this List from Red Core to Black Sky.

Random Updates:

PittGirl covers the Santonio beat.

Bob Mayo has generated 25+ comments on the Ashley Todd story. (See what going to Podcamp does for you?)

Messiah posts on Hank Williams Jr.'s electoral activities.

Correction at bottom.

Port Authority strike looming ever more loomily.

CEO Steve Bland may "declare" a "formal impasse" at today's board meeting. It is unclear what if anything this would trigger.

Perhaps mass hysteria, looting, cats juggling pies in the street. Perhaps another round of haughty newspaper editorials, op-eds, and Pat McMahon effigies dressed in clown suits. (P-G, Joe Grata; Trib, Jim Ritchie)

Patrick Dowd all worked up over police station shift.

Announced by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in July, the shift of the Zone 3 station from South Side Flats to Allentown was to occur by Jan. 1 but now seems unlikely to happen before late March, because of the need to get waivers on accessibility rules. (P-G, Rich Lord)

If it gets delayed another couple of months after that, it might have an interesting effect on the election map -- but that's not really today's story.

Councilman Patrick Dowd wrote to Mr. Ravenstahl saying the project "clearly falls well outside of the scope of the URA's mission" and demanding that he "immediately bring this question before City Council."

"Before a dollar is spent, council must approve," Mr. Dowd said yesterday. "There'll be people who will claim that council is petty, political and unfocused. ... The easiest solution is coordination and communication."

Mental note: suggest that members of council may be carrying water for the Mayor more often.

Mr. Dowd said that failing to consult council on such a major project, and then putting it into an involved budget, is "a tactic that's unacceptable. ... In a world where the council and mayor are working collaboratively, those kinds of decisions and conversations would occur before the submission of a capital budget."

This begs the question -- is this a wholly procedural objection, or does the Councilman bear some specific reservations about moving that police station up that hill and into that building, which would have to undergo certain restorations pursuant to some specifications?

Kuhn's grocery option in the Hill appearing a bit shaky.

It's hard to tell what's going on ... but it's starting to look like Councilwoman Payne and Radio Talker Meachem et al might have been right after all. Yet it might be gamesmanship. We'll see in a month or less. (Courier, Christian Morrow)

Pubic officials still thickheaded about public employees and resources.

A wealthy, powerful state senator deployed staffers as personal assistants who spied on his ex-lovers, chauffeured his children, oversaw mansion renovations and performed myriad other chores, federal prosecutors said yesterday. (P-G, Maryclaire Dale)

The scary part is, Fumo sounds like he's offering his explanations sincerely.

Channel 11 to broadcast special on violence this weekend.

It's amazingly refreshing to see a local TV outfit undertaking productions of this seriousness. Saturday at 9:00, Sunday and next Friday at 8:00. (Courier, Nikki Coffee)

Channel 11 website doesn't look like crap anymore.

Just noticed. (WPXI)

Judge Rufus Peckham gavels down the P-G's Tony Norman.

We'd like to say we understand what Our Columnist was getting at, but it did come across as an awful glib dismissal of Clinton supporters. Meanwhile, everyone should prepare for racial discourse on all sides to get substantially more choppy before it gets better. (Pgh Men's B.S.)

Bob Mayo is a Twit.

This means we'll have to learn how to do that. (Busman)

Here is a picture to make you happy:

OH FREAK!! CORRECTION: The Wagner + Peduto shindig is not this evening. Consider this hype...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday: Listo Numbah Five!

Citizen Police Review Board attempts relevancy.

A group of local activists petitioned for the hearing, hoping to bring new attention to the 1997 consent decree that allowed the federal government to oversee Pittsburgh police for five years.

The decree has since ended, but Ms. Pittinger and others want to make sure its core elements -- including better procedures to hold officers accountable and stronger methods for tracking the use of force, searches and traffic stops -- are still being followed. (P-G, Jerome L. Sherman; see also Trib, Jill King Greenwood)

The P-G paints a portrait of a relatively stand-offish Police Bureau. However, the Trib includes quotes from Chief Harper that makes it sound a bit more like some kind of accreditation is being sought.

Change is in the air at the Bureau, and most of it is mutually agreed upon. It would be comforting to all to bring the department up to code while we're at it. Everything out of the way at once.

Opinions differ regarding Costagate.

Pittsburgh Hoagie: Costa claimed to the media that he had an idea as to who leaked the information from the Mayor's office. Costa has promised retribution for that person saying "payback's a bitch." Costa should have never said this. This could possibly cost him his job.

414 Grant Street: A Mayor simply cannot allow a director to stay in place after he makes the type of remarks that Guy Costa made publicly late last week, even going so far as to threaten to run against his boss the Mayor.

P-G Edit Board: We think the mayor should have made up his mind about discipline in this case a lot sooner, and he should have notified the affected parties through proper city channels.

Well, everybody's in agreement that the Mayor laid an egg on this one. It's a question of what, if anything, was revealed, and of cleaning up the mess. In the meantime, Mr. Costa presumably still mulls over his future in the city or whatever.

Pittsburgh Promise scores more foundation mulah.

In all, the program must raise $135 million within a decade to leverage all $90 million of a challenge grant from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. To leverage the first $10 million of the UPMC challenge, the Promise must raise $15 million this school year.

So far, the Promise is about $5 million toward the $15 million goal -- counting the initial $3 million from the Pittsburgh Foundation, an initial $300,000 from the Buhl Foundation, a $1 million gift from the Massey Charitable Trust announced in June and smaller donations from other groups. (P-G, Joe Smydo)

And you thought qualifying for a scholarship was complex!

Breaking local ornithological news

The National Aviary next week will reveal plans for a $23 million expansion that will revitalize the 56-year-old facility, including interactive programming, improved visitor amenities and a stronger connection to surrounding Allegheny Commons park land. (P-G, Team Effort)

House of ill repute seeks entree into West End.

Patrick Risha, 26, of Belle Vernon, asked the Pittsburgh Planning Commission Tuesday to approve his plan to open a club on West Carson Street near the West End Bridge because it meets city zoning requirements and would not touch any residential areas. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

26 year-olds should not operate strip clubs. We will not argue this point.

OVERLORDS approve Mayor's annual budget.

That is, after they lobbied to put the budget's ostentatious fund balance to constructive use, paying down the debt and paving streets. The amended budget now goes to City Council for approval or further amendments. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Public officials traipse through Homewood, promise change.

(P-G, Rich Lord)

City Paper runs massive cover story on Councilman Burgess.

It begins and ends on excruciatingly ecclesiastical notes, which should serve to make all frequent readers of Savage Love comfortable. (CP, Adam Fleming)

Another PittGirl post invoking race earns bocu comments.

I don't know if we're "a racist area", but we have racially sensitive buttons. (Burgh Blog)

P-Diddy's street renaming legislation passes 9-0.

(P-G, Team Effort)

Jack Kelly gives 2PJ's David DeAngelo an engagement present?

Columnist issues correction at the very top of Sunday's piece, citing fear of a mistake becoming "part of Internet lore". (P-G, Jack Kelly)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Are We Kidding Ourselves?

We all talk a big game about how to turn Pittsburgh's fortunes around.

Moments after a man with an AK-47 sprayed gunfire down Race Street, killing another man just feet from her front porch steps, Chala Johnson overheard something that still shakes her with fear.

"After the shooting, people were hollering, 'This ain't over,' " Chala, 15, said. "These kids said there was about to be a war on Race Street." (P-G, Sadie Gurman)

Sometimes we talk about reinvigorating Downtown with more rental units and condominiums. Sometimes we talk about developments like restaurants, hotels and office parks, and the jobs they bring.

Sometimes we talk about mass transit. Sometimes we talk about making the city more bike and pedestrian friendly, or greener and more energy efficient.

Sometimes we talk about "school choice" and the Pittsburgh Promise. Sometimes talk about tapping into our universities more efficiently and better leveraging our tech-savvy human capital. Sometimes we talk about political reform.

The two were Pittsburgh's 55th and 56th homicide victims of 2008 -- only one fewer than last year's total, putting the city on pace for the highest number of homicides in a decade.

[UPDATE: This looks to be number 57 already.]

At the same time, police have seen a sharp drop-off in the number of arrests connected to homicides. The Pittsburgh Police Bureau's clearance rate was 46 percent for January to September, down from 75 percent for all of last year. The rate was 96 percent in 2004, when 43 of 45 homicide cases were cleared. (P-G, Jerome L. Sherman)

What sort of suburban or exurban families are going to move to Pittsburgh to take advantage of a scholarship, when headlines like these warn that their children could just as easily not survive through graduation?

What self-respecting leading edge company, in the age of globalization and infinite options, is going to move to a city in which about half of the surface area is regarded as some sort of no-go no man's land?

The city has been engaging in a lot of creative theoretical conversations about "solutions" and "game-changers" that might bring about a much-awaited Pittsburtopia -- but are we all failing to properly address some totally obvious, right-in-front-of-our-noses problems to which we're utterly desensitized -- and for which there are no trendy, easy, or comfortable solutions?

In short: is Pittsburgh actually yet constituted to play the game of a 21st century city, or is it still mired in 18th century problems without quite realizing it?

There is a new policing strategy on the way. That is good, though frankly, at $200,000, we wonder if it is being well-enough resourced. We routinely spend far more money on needs that seem far more trivial.

There is new legislation being proposed that would curtail the sale of black market handguns. We do not pretend there are not some legal question marks around it, but we feel we're at the point where making some noise and rallying to a cause might un-glue more or better state action. It's kitchen sink time, or it should be.

It also feels like there's something we can be doing at a private, citizenship level to help assist with the crisis. If a call to action is forthcoming, we feel about ready to seize upon it.