Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday: Happy Campers *

Capitalism has been taking it on the chin lately, but we're about to see just a bit of the upside:

"You will see us shortly," said Gale Givens, president of Verizon Pennsylvania, as she stood outside of council chamber after a unanimous vote allowing her firm to compete with Comcast. "We fully intend to be out in force in the very, very near future.

"When we come into a city, we come in with lots of initiatives and approaches," she said, declining to detail them. (P-G, Rich Lord)

That almost sounds titillating.

[G-20 demonstrators] also want to build "tent cities" in four parks, an idea city officials have already rejected.

Government attorneys say free speech rights don't give the protesters an unfettered right to gather, or to overrun parks which are for everybody's use. (Trib, AP)

The Tent City thing is big -- it is something that protest groups are trying internationally to establish as usual and expected. I heard Marty Griffin barking at them yesterday to "get a hotel room" like anybody else. I wonder, though, especially in a city without a youth hostel, whether Pittsburgh will stand out as a place that Bohemians and travelers of modest means ought to avoid -- the curmudgeonly old "Get offa my lawn" neighbor of the globe -- if we are going to be the only one that doesn't allow camping in parks even for huge global events. And then there is the issue of where these people are going to go exactly if they can't stay there.


Fifth, the National Media should keep the coverage of Pittsburgh's steel history to a minimum. Yes, it was a big deal. Yes, it impacted the region. Yes, we have a football team named after it. However, it's over. Framing the discussion about Pittsburgh in terms of Steel is for lazy reporters, NFL stock films, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. (ADB)

Right. And I'm assuming there's going to be gavel-to-gavel coverage of this Summit on all the major networks, right?

The Mayor's LGBT Advisory Committee had their first meeting on Tuesday around 8:30 AM. I had previously contacted the individuals I had been advised (ha ha) would be serving and they basically sent me the exact sentences back in their various confirmation email messages. We can expect a press release "soon" with all the juicy details. (PGHLesCor)

I was trying to figure out why the Top Secrecy. I guess there's a chance that some of the Committee's preliminary invitees may not "click" with the administration's "vision" for the panel, and so guarding the roster of members until everybody is sure they want to be involved will save both sides the embarrassment of quote-unquote "quitting early" if that happens.

So what? Just this: To date, Acklin's campaign looks a lot more sophisticated than Harris's. (City Paper Slag Heap)

Glad he said it not me. I don't want to deal with throngs of belligerent anonymous commenters threatening lawsuits.

“But your honor! I pooped into an outdoor planter!” (That's Church)

Time to go re-write that legislation, folks! (*-UPDATE: Almost forgot: The Artist Formerly Known as PittGirl really wants you to go to this site and vote ten times for Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh to receive one of three state-of-the-art game rooms. What she hasn't told you is that each time you vote, you personally get entered into a contest to win an XBOX-360. So go vote, there are only three days left.)

FINALLY: Did the Post-Gazette take down a particularly inaccurate Jack Kelly column from its online edition? Did Dayvoe DeAngelo finally scale the walls of Troy? (2 Political Junkies)


  1. Yes, they did take it down. I was told by a member of the PG editorial board that it was taken down.

  2. Can the protesters (or you) support the position that Pgh is being curmudgeonly?

    In other words, which cities have allowed protesters to camp in facilities that are otherwise illegal to occupy at night and have never been opened under any circumstances?

    There certainly may be some. I don't know. That's why I'm asking.

    NYC denied camping during the GOP Nat'l Convention a few years ago
    (regular camping is illegal there, just as it is here):

  3. I'm not leveling a charge of curmudgeondom so much as raising the specter of post-summit chatter, or take-away impressions. Within your construct, the clause "in facilities that are otherwise illegal to occupy at night and have never been opened under any circumstances" hardly matters; the question would then become why IS Pittsburgh so uptight about its public parks, as opposed to say Amsterdam or Munich?

    Issues of comparative evidence and law are being sorted out by a judge as we speak. But as to the City's reputation, one could make the argument that it is the duty of Pittsburgh (if it is to optimize the G-20 opportunity) to pro-actively become as accommodating, impressive, and flat-out cool as possible for every single one of our audiences, even if we were not that way before.

    Besides let's face it, the protesters are bound to be more easily impressed with small local niceties than are G-20 principals and finance ministers, who I'm sure hear song-and-dance routines like ours everywhere they go.

  4. why IS Pittsburgh so uptight about its public parks, as opposed to say Amsterdam or Munich?

    What you're actually saying is why is the *United States*
    uptight, as most U.S. cities have similar rules.

    So what you're saying is that Pittsburgh should go "above and beyond" and be a trailblazer. Which is fine. But NOT doing so will not negatively affect the "takeaway impressions" of American protesters or foreigners familiar with our rules and regs.

  5. Here are three excerpts from the Busman's notes from court this afternoon which may turn out to be salient. Vic Walczak is the attorney representing with the ACLU; Jules Lobell with the Center for Constitutional Rights:

    Radley back on stand. Testifying that camping in city parks is
    prohibited "for the most part".

    Lobel: let me read what you said in your deposition. "In a rare
    situation". Is that correct?
    So the director has the ability to grant permission to camp in a city
    park? A: "He does, by code".
    Section 473.04 of the city code: "no person in the park shall camp,
    except with the permission of the director".

    Lobel: Are there any regulations to guide the director as to which
    people are allowed to camp and which are not? A: No regulations.
    Q: Do you know that in 2007 a group of students requested permission
    to park in a city park? Was it granted? A: It was.

    Walczak introduces application from February 25, 2009 for an April, 2009 date, from 10 AM to 10 AM in Schenley Park. Estimated participants, 200 to 300.

    Officer acknowledges document.

    Walczak: Special events committee granted this permit, did it not? Officer: it was reviewed but not issued because group did not pay the fee.

    Walczak: Shows document with checkmark by "Status: approved" for overnight use of Schenley Park. Was approved March 31st of this year, is that correct? A: Yes.

    Walczak: the process used for Senator Ferlo's permit application was never used for the applications from CodePink or 3 Rivers Climate Conversion? Officer indicates it was not.

  6. I don't live in the City, but I agree 1,000% that there should be NO overnight camping in City parks. None. Zero. Zip. Nada.

    You allow that and no telling what happens next... homeless "campers", vagrants, etc.

    Get a room or stay home!

  7. In my defense, at least Ms. O'Toole didn't reference Steel until well after the fold.

  8. At the very least, there will be no camping in Schenley. Not with Phipps within rock throwing distance.

    Have any of the "progressives" considered that a real covenant prevents certain activities from taking place in the parks and not, as you are want to believe, "the man" keeping you down? I doubt that Mary Schenley said, "The land is yours, but I don't want any damn rock throwing, rabble rousing, anarchists there."

  9. Ideas for Kevin and Dok at my blog: Cross paths daily - with gusto!

  10. Entirety of quick Busman update:

    "Permits to march to, rally on 7th St Bridge, camp in Schenley Park
    denied. Permits for Point St Pk Sun 7pm to Tues 7pm during reg hrs
    OKed. More later."

  11. What if 5,000 Steeler fans want to camp out in our parks for every game? What about 10,000 religious conservatives want to have a vigil for 7 days and camp out in the park? Or, do you only support tent cities when it is being done by a bunch of protestors that support your views? Give me a break.

  12. Anon 12:03 - I support tent cities when we host events at which protests like marches and tent cities are an integral part of hosting any such event. I would like Pittsburgh to emerge with a better reputation for facilitating effective civil discourse than say Beijing.

    And I'm completely unaware that any of these protesters support my views, though I'll keep a look out for banners that read, "Down with the Dread Lord".

  13. It's amazing to me how ridiculous this has become. Bram, where is it written that providing a campsite for protesters is essential for hosting the G20? Do you know what is essential for the G20? Hotel rooms and a large meeting area. End of list. The G20 is a meeting of leaders, not a march for anarchists. The protests are part of it, but they are NOT the event.

    I also question the legitimacy of these "protesters". Who are these people anyway? How many of these people who will be exercising their constitutional rights are actually committed to or know anything about the cause for which they are marching? I'll bet it's lower than you think. It not all that different from the thousands of people who attend sporting events amd are there just to be there and have little to no understanding of the game itself or the participants involved save for a few marquee names. It seems to me that most of the protests I've seen during the past decade share this dynamic, and I suspect the same will be true during the G20.

    I'll bet that if hit the scene with a video camera during the G20, I'd find that many good-natured defenders of the first amendment know next to nothing about their cause. But they will be glad to stir things up to get on YouTube. Fortunately, I have a job and I'll be working during the G20.

  14. Yay! No camping in Schenley Park. Thanks Judge Lancaster!!

  15. Bram, where is it written that providing a campsite for protesters is essential for hosting the G20?

    Where is it written that it's not? There is literally essential and then there is advantageous or desirable. It might have been nice if the thousands of protesters left Pittsburgh impressed that it let them camp in Point State Park and that many of the City's leaders mixed and mingled right there in it.

    As it happens, the judge just agreed with you, Anon 1:43, and ruled that camping is not "expressive speech".

    I'm not surprised and I can't say it's an outrage, but I'm a bit disappointed. What can I say, I like camping, I like the idea of tent cities popping up around political causes ... and in regards to some these issues I think the idea of cooperative outdoor living is indeed quaintly and saliently expressive. Oh well, score one for other places.

    Note however that the Judge did support a permit for Code Pink for certain days on the grounds that the City can't discriminate who is granted similar permits for what.

  16. For every fifty people you find that would suggest allowing camping is advantageous, I can find fifty who say it's a bad idea. Neither side is incorrect.

    I just moved back to PA from a city (Portland, OR) where camping in the city parks, while not technically allowed, was tolerated in some city neighborhoods, but vigorously not tolerated in many.

    I experienced first hand numerous protests that were for the most part, peaceful. However, after home from work one day to find the windows of my car and pretty nearly every car on the block smashed in and death to corporate America soaped on the vehicles following an impromptu protest by masked and hooded "anti-capitalist" activists -- the vast majority of whom it was reveals after their arrest were bored 18-24 years olds -- I'm more than supportive of cities and law enforcement taking whatever precautions are necessary to protect people and property.

  17. "Where is it written that it's not? There is literally essential and then there is advantageous or desirable."

    Bring on the naked pole dancers on the Rachel Carson Bridge!

    As the great Talmudic scholar Rabbi Reichbaum once scribbled: As it is not written, so it is done.

  18. Bram;

    Thanks for the shout-out but it's spelled DeAngelo, not D'Angelo.

    And yes, they pulled the column.

    I can't say it's an event as mythological as scaling the walls of Troy, but it's gratifying to think that my near-weekly blog posts have had an effect.