Saturday, May 9, 2009


Dateline, Pittsburgh: SEC may sue city bond deal adviser.

"This should send up warning signals," said City Councilman Patrick Dowd, an authority board member.

"We'll certainly look into this SEC filing," said Joanna Doven, spokeswoman for Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Authority officials are "evaluating" JPMorgan's role in light of what happened in Alabama, said authority spokeswoman Melissa Rubin. "We just got this information." (Trib, Mike Wereschagin)

The Securities and Exchange Commission filings of which they spoke are examined here:

JPMorgan Chase & Co. said U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission officials approved filing an enforcement action against it for securities law violations involving bond and swap sales for Jefferson County, Alabama. (Bloomberg, Darrell Preston)

Governments that have been misled and ripped off in bond swapping arrangements can absolutely seek redress in the judicial realm -- and can absolutely use that potentiality as real leverage -- if and only if those cities are in some way interested in taking simple steps to stand up for themselves.


According to PWSA Resolution #55 of 2009, passed yesterday by a 6-1 margin, board chairman Don Walko and executive director Michael Kenney are pre-empowered to "negotiate", "consummate", and "execute" further agreements, and to "to do or cause to be done any and all acts and things necessary or proper" to fix a mess that just cost the city $46 million worth of needed infrastructure improvements, and is likely to do more harm.

Let me be as clear as possible: there is no earthly reason anyone should believe that the very individuals who subjected us to this peril will act in the optimal interest of City of Pittsburgh taxpayers and ratepayers without total transparency and public deliberation.

I mean cameras in their faces at every juncture as they explain the many options available to us.

There is no earthly reason to trust that these individuals will do anything that might in any way discomfort their campaign contributors, the contributors of the politicians who hired or appointed them, and *the powerful go-betweens* who profit from our loss and may conceivably be found partially culpable if confronted -- not without the public leering over their shoulder.

Administration and PWSA leaders claim Resolution #55 was necessary in order to execute negotiations with "swiftness". Speed means absolutely nothing if the solution they will imperiously hand down amounts to settling for minimal, insufficient half-concessions which they will then explain are the best for which we could have hoped.


I do not believe this issue is going to swing any kind political contest. Absolutely not. I do believe this is going to bring grievous harm to the City of Pittsburgh if we do not alter our course.

Pittsburgh deserves better than to be slowly bled for profit at a rate calculated to barely keep us alive, in a vegetative state in which we cannot make basic infrastructure improvements and move forward. This city deserves to have its leaders fight back against any and all loathsome parasites. Yesterday's abhorrent action by the Water & Sewer Authority assures this will not occur. This is a very big deal.

*-UPDATE: There is some more discussion and some good links HERE.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Soloist: Sungha Jung

The Arrangement: Wolfgang Vrecun

Bond Deal Robs City of $46M in Infrastructure*

That is, so far, according to today's news. (P-G)

Someone remind me why we're not trying to exit this deal as quickly as possible? Politics?

*-UPDATE: The next-to-last paragraph in the P-G article is an understatement. The Water Authority board just said, "You don't need us anymore, and you certainly don't need the public processes and discussions entailed in board governance anymore". Pursuant to PWSA Resolution #55, Don Walko of pay-to-play fame has just been made Emperor of Water.

Friday: Down the Stretch They Come

I'm not sure how to comment on this story:

"I said [to the caller], 'I'd like you to give Mr. Ravenstahl a message that I don't appreciate him supporting a non-endorsed candidate,' " she said. "Where's the loyalty to the Democratic Party?" (P-G, Lord and Carpenter)

I actually want Mayor Ravenstahl to be able to support whoever he wants. I want everybody who chooses to get involved in Democratic Party politics to be able to support whatever Democratic candidates they desire. And I definitely don't want Karen Waight of Beechview to confuse The Democratic Party with her non-transparent, incestuous clique.

Hopefully this is just another in a long series of death rattles for 19th century politics.

Mr. Coghill, the mayor added, "would be a great ally of ours as we continue to grow the city," so he's backing him with calls. (P-G, ibid)

That I happen to have a handy response for.


Cry me a river: the nonprofits used last night's candidate forum to grandstand over how they should continue being treated like the Lords of Dogtown.

"Nonprofits make a contribution every day to the city and fulfill critical services so that government doesn't need to," Bucco said. (Trib, Bill Zlatos)

Yes, and a select few of them accumulate tens of billions of dollars in revenue without contributing to the schools systems, infrastructure systems, and public safety systems which support them. You know who else contributes to the city every day? Lots of people.

I have zero sympathy. The economy is just as bad for the public sector. People who want "respect" should pay their taxes.

Mr. Ravenstahl said his administration is considering reviving and increasing a little-noted provision in the city code that requires developers to spend 1 percent of the budget of large building projects on public art. "We'll commit to increasing it," he said. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Wait, we have a community benefits agreement baked into our city code? And nobody's suggesting it's extortion? What else do we have hiding in our city code that is wonderful and completely ignored?

Aside from the Zoning Code, that is.

Ms. Robinson pointed to the April 4 Stanton Heights shootings of three police officers, before which a call-taker at the merged countywide 911 center failed to pass on information that there were weapons in the house, as an example of the downside of consolidation.

"When you consolidate services just to save a buck, you wind up with a debacle like April 4," she said. (ibid)

WHAO! That's ... well, for starters, I don't at all mind consolidating services to save a buck if it's managed well. I'm not into the Onorato-Ravenstahl-Nordenberg vision of consolidation either, but Carmen's proposed of rule-of-thumb is way too change-averse.

That's for starters. I don't want to prejudge the connection she has drawn in that statement because she might know, but jeez louise.

I think Jalapeno Hanna just blew the P-G endorsement with that one.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

District 6: Someone's Going to Lose, Finally

"If Lavelle wins, you might as well put Udin's name on the door."

... Tonya Payne, CP, Chris Young

To call my candidacy "an act of revenge" completely ignores the hardships facing the people of District 6. They're not interested in Ms. Payne's personal feuds, her paranoia or her fascination with "power."

... Robert Daniel Lavelle, P-G Letters

In a previous post about an RFP release party, I may have unintentionally left the impression that the meat of the feud between the Payne camp and the Lavelle camp has to do chiefly with disagreement over the Isle of Capri casino project. That's really only one flash point.

The crux of the issue seems to stem from Payne's electoral defeat of her former employer, Councilman Sala Udin, and whether A) Udin's minions have been irreconcilably intent to hound her off the edge of the earth ever since, or B) Payne is simply profoundly paranoid and in some respects an unskilled politician.

This was most famously addressed at the culmination of a controversy about a historic designation bill for the childhood home of August Wilson -- a bill which went missing in Councilwoman Payne's office for so long, despite numerous inquiries, that it may have legally expired. (P-G; 1, 2 , 3, 4, 5)

The greatest playwright of the 20th century was involved, so the Law Deptartment and City Council found excuses to approve the thing anyway. Payne apologized profusely -- in a manner of speaking:

It started off as a tardy but totally classy apology -- then veered into condescension and passive aggression -- swerved around to a legitimate-sounding claim of undue persecution -- shifted bizarrely into what sounded like a completely off-topic attack on Sala Udin for making her commit the mistake and an accusation of his "hurting the District" in so doing -- and finally straightened back out into an apology.

Make what you will of all that, but it does seem like Payne has an uncommon number of "adversaries" -- Udin, Lavelle, Jake Wheatley, Joe Preston, Kimberly Ellis, Paul Ellis, Marimba Milliones -- and these are only the ones I know about.

For his part, Lavelle is doing the best he can to build a substantive phalanx of criticism of Tonya Payne's leadership that has as little to do with politics as possible (see "The Record" and "Top 10 Mistakes"), while Payne is putting forward her own story through the novel "The Tonya I Know" video series on her campaign website. Here's an example:

Thursday: Real Short Blog This Morning

The Allegheny County property assessment system is a joke, a pinball machine purposely stuck on "TILT." It is far more likely to shaft the poor than the rich. (P-G, Brian O'Neill)

Whell! This is why I like it when our columnists cover issues of timeliness and importance. They're generally extremely good at it.

Also excellent is the City Paper's cover story on just about all the local races. (C-P, Potter and Deitch)

The authors identify three major themes in the mayoral contest: Ethics, Violence and Finance. That's probably an accurate assessment, although it underscores my frustration that development strategy never really broke through as a campaign theme. I don't think ethics and finance are sufficiently palpable to enough voters in themselves, and though violence is extremely palpable it can be easily filed away by many under "Life is hard -- what's a mayor to do?" When it comes to plunking down large objects across town, though, often at taxpayer expense, I really think that was a winner waiting to happen.

Anyway. I have no idea why Patrick is depicted wearing denim overalls and Converses.

Oh yeah -- the Internet can be neat sometimes, because we get to peer in and see how this article submitted 2:00 PM or so Wednesday turns into this article in the Thursday print edition.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dowd Takes to the Air; Fires SCUDs

As you know, Pittsburgh voters will be treated to this on all three major networks this evening:

If you freeze-frame it at 0:06, you'll see some blurry headlines about Ravenstahl's 2005 Heinz Field altercation with a police officer and his 2007 Tiger Woods stalking jag at Oakmont. Yet clearly the thrust of the ad is the overpriced garbage cans, the Water Authority bond deal, and false claims of tax-cutting prowess.

I asked some folks on the Dowd campaign gingerly whether this was the most serious artillery they might have fired at crunch-time, and the responses I've received have been variations upon, "Luke has done so much awful stuff over the past three years, it was impossible to fit it all in to a 30 second spot."

True -- but not "true enough". The ad was 30 seconds long, yet the campaign has lasted three months and we're still getting a steady diet of garbage cans and bond swaptions.

The rapid series of promotions of three police officers dogged by domestic abuse allegations obviously enraged Patrick Dowd on a personal level (I've got to get that footage of the public safety forum up eventually). And the Pat Ford thing, not to repeat myself, was kind of a big deal. Just to pile on, I think the Mayor's grossly cynical handling of Hill District development and his support of a wrong-headed North Shore land giveaway are overripe for criticism as well.

I suppose the three explicit charges and the two charges that only a blogger would notice all build upon the theme of "embarrassment", which is after all the title of the ad. It could be that the Dowd campaign has calculated that it's futile to inundate the public with new and complex information at this point, and would rather harp on a user-friendly theme that might resonate.

If "embarrassment" was the way to go, one might have photoshopped Luke's face onto a picture of an infant or juxtaposed it with a picture Alfred E. Newman, or maybe utilized something like the Baby Elephant Walk in lieu of the Generic Negative Ad / Law and Order Denouement music, but that's not the point I'm making.

The point I'm making was offered by a very generous commenter:

However, you suggest that if the facts of [the Pat Ford] mess were brought to light, it could pull support away from the incumbent and to one of the challengers. In fact, it could be argued this scenario is the ONLY way for one of the challengers to win ... I think this says a great deal about the quality of the challengers and an indictment of the campaigns they are running. That's why the mayor wins in a landslide.

I don't know about the "quality" of the challengers -- my criticism extended explicitly to the media, who after all is permitted and somewhat obligated to raise issues of their own accord -- but it does raise questions about how serious they are. There are certain places they evidently do not feel comfortable going for whatever reason.

Case in point -- during the WPXI debate, Ravenstahl's budget again came under attack, and the incumbent this time proudly and extensively used the state oversight board's "lauding approval" of his budgets as cover. This time Dowd finally attempted to interject, "and that's something we're going talk about, that's..." But he was cut off for time.

Will we in fact hear it? I'm interested to find out. There are rumors that State Sen. Jim Ferlo may be retiring after this present term, and I'm interested in whether Dowd is playing things safely in anticipation of that opening.

TANGENT: You want negative? This is some pretty awesome negative.

Wednesday: Hands Down ... MA' PANTS!

Good news: Pittsburgh soon will become home to the winners of the 2009 Darwin Awards.

Steve Shaw planned to spend this afternoon like he does every other -- at his Woods Run Avenue home near the Davis Avenue Bridge in Brighton Heights.

Despite warnings to evacuate, Shaw insists he and his wife, Christine, are staying put today when the span is demolished.

"We're not going anywhere," said Shaw, an unemployed ironworker whose home of 20 years sits about 50 yards from the bridge.
(Trib, Cherry & Santoni)



Moving right along...

On the way out are sky's-the-limit campaign contributions, clandestine lobbying, unreported gifts and the hand-picking of awardees for lucrative contracts, if the ordinances are enforced. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Emphasis ours. C'mon, Rich, tell us how you really feel. :)

Separate legislation that council approved would require lobbyists to pay $100 a year to register through the city Controller's Office. They also must report the names of their clients. Those who don't register, but try to influence city officials on behalf of their clients, could face fines of up to $2,000. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

That answers one question.

However, knowing who is a lobbyist and knowing for whom they lobby reveals precious little about who they are lobbying (follow along here) let alone how often and what precisely it is they lobby about.

This brings us back to the issue of public officials making their public schedules public. I at first thought that to be a bit of an overbearing demand, but then I reflected more upon it.

Controller Lamb is tearing down walls in his office so he can see what his employees are doing. Many offices have glass walls so that the boss can look in and see what's going on. When you think about it, why shouldn't We the Bosses know with whom our Chief Executive Employee is spending time on official business? It would be great for government.

Too bad we never even received a trademark fatuous rationale for why that's not going to happen in a Ravenstahl administration.


There are statistics, and then there are similar things:

Last year, reports of the most violent offenses -- homicide, rape, arson, aggravated assault and robbery -- fell in the neighborhoods that make up five of Pittsburgh's six police patrol zones, on average at 5 percent each below 2007 numbers. (Trib, Carl Prine)

So a five percent decrease in 5 out of 6 patrol zones merits an announcement and a subsequent headline that "violent crime is decreasing". That seems a little tenuous.


This Onorato guy is more creative than Spielberg.

Allegheny County may file a federal lawsuit that would seek to force a change in state law concerning property assessments if a statewide legislative remedy can't be found, according to a spokesman for Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. (P-G, Amy McConnell Schaarsmith)

OMG. Just give us justice. Just fix a problem.

"Because Allegheny County residents are being treated differently than residents in the other 66 counties, we're tackling the problem on the local, state and potentially on the federal level," Mr. Evanto said. (P-G, ibid)

I think Allegheny County residents are being treated differently because several of them sued and won. I encourage residents of Butler and Beaver counties for example to act similarly, but in the meanwhile think of it like this: you haven't had to deal with investigative journalists and bloggers demanding campaign finance reform and an end to no bid contracts. So you see, we all have our particular crosses to bear.

My counsel: solve the problem in your own backyard, hold it up as a model, become Governor -- and smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Some of you are probably too young to remember this movie...

A Victory Lap of Biblical Proportions*

One of the more amusing press releases we've received in a while:

Peduto to tack Reformation Theses to Council Chambers Doors

PITTSBURGH – Today, City Council is expected to approve a package of reform bills that will forever change the way campaigns are financed and contracts are awarded in the City of Pittsburgh. Councilman William Peduto's package of five reform bills will set into motion a New Reform Movement in Pittsburgh. Although City Council will have taken the largest step to ending pay-to-play politics since the adoption of the Home Rule Charter, Peduto plans to take it even further.

At a 1:30 today, Councilman Peduto will hold a special press conference at the doors of Council Chambers to announce the 10 point plan to reform local government - the presentation of the 10 theses will proclaim today as the pivotal day in Pittsburgh's First Reformation of local government. (Bill Peduto)

Mark Rauterkus provides some "technical content" to the various measures being passed by City Council today HERE.

Since the idea that City Council and the Mayor might unanimously be approving meaningful political reform goes over about as well in my brain as, say, a giant glowing blue man who can teleport and alter the chemical composition of objects, here are some questions I would ask:

1. Campaign Finance Reform: It has been further amended such that if a "millionaire" declares his or her intention to spend X amount in a political contest, the caps for the other contenders get lifted entirely. What is to prevent an incumbent from prevailing upon a wealthy ally to declare their candidacy and their intention to spend big bucks one moment, thereby dissolve the caps in the race, and then withdraw by the filing deadline?

2. Lobbyist Disclosure: What are the penalties for failing to register as a lobbyist, or failing to disclose certain lobbing activities? What are the penalties to lawmakers for knowingly allowing themselves to be lobbied repeatedly under-the-table?

3. Ethics reform: Does it still suck? Are any gifts at all off-limits, or are lawmakers simply "encouraged" to seek advice from the Ethics Board at certain points and then "declare" what they've done? Are tickets still an especially protected class of gift because Pittsburgh is different? Where are these "bright red lines" we keep hearing about, anyway? And perhaps most importantly, Pittsburgh already had ethics laws -- more stringent ethics laws -- and they were stringently ignored for many years. What will make this round different?

4. Overall: Did Happy learn how to putt?

At the press conference, Peduto will also re-launch the Political Action Committee “Reform Pittsburgh Now” giving the citizens of Pittsburgh the tools to learn about, advocate for, and keep track of the votes by elected officials to bring about these needed changes. (ibid)

I can't wait!

UPDATE: New site is up, see theses. See also P-G, Rich Lord and Trib, Team Effort.

Monday, May 4, 2009

I Will Make You Talk About Pat Ford If It's The Last Thing This Blog Does

"So this administration, this mayor, appointed Pat Ford as the head of the URA and then began to systematically dismantle the Department of Planning"

... Patrick Dowd, KDKA debate, 5:00 mark of Part 3

And so, with 18 days remaining until Election Day, the most controversial, mysterious and persistently explosive aspect of the incumbent's record finally entered the public conversation.

And as of today, that's the totality of what's been said.

It is true that the "systematic dismantling" of the Department of City Planning is actually the most troubling aspect of Pat Ford's reign of terror over the City of Pittsburgh -- an aspect which curiously has in no way been abated or reversed.

Department of City Planning: Frequent public meetings, public processes, and legislated rules for procedure.

Urban Redevelopment Authority: Meets once a month publicly to enact a short, scripted tableau of decisions that have already been settled.

Department of City Planning: Decisions made by a number of boards, commissions and officials, most of which must win confirmation through City Council, and whose decisions frequently also must be vetted in a public setting by the Council.

Urban Redevelopment Authority: Decisions made by five individuals who are appointed at the discretion of the Mayor, the present chairman of which is the Mayor's chief of staff.

Almost every issue regarding the development of our city -- Allegheny Riverfront development, Hill District renewal, the construction of new hotels and supermarkets and neighborhoods -- is now routinely conducted through the URA. This has never really come in for discussion.

It is well-documented that the staff of City Planning has either been raided by the URA or the mayor's Finance Department, or has been purged entirely out of jobs. City Planning used to be populated by individuals called "city planners", and used to be funded and outfitted for the task of planning a city. Now it is handcuffed, emasculated, brought to heel.

However, the implications and the importance of such an organizational shift is a little advanced for our city's capacity to examine issues. I'll count Pittsburgh extremely lucky if we ever get around to revisiting for the electorate the major scandals pertaining to Mr. Ford -- scandals which on two or three occasions briefly caused the Pittsburgh media environment to resemble that of Washington, DC, and which caused the Ravenstahl administration to react in a manner of trouser-soiling panic.


After a short and contentious tenure with the Murphy administration, Pat Ford was recruited back to Pittsburgh by Mayor O'Connor and given the job of Director of City Planning.

Mayor Ravenstahl notably latched onto Ford as a manager and as a kind of personal and professional mentor, "promoting" him first to a new position called Director of Economic and Community Development (which strangely resided beneath Planning Director on official organizational charts) and thence to Executive Director of the URA.

Simultaneous to the last move, Ravenstahl also promoted Mr. Ford's wife, Alecia Sirk, to the position of mayoral press secretary -- claiming a "nationwide search" had been conducted and that "we found the right person working right here at the URA". That may or may not be relevant, but it does lend the whole affair a sordid and amateurish air.

Ravenstahl also appointed Ford to chair the Parking Authority and the Housing Authority. It was these synergies of effort which brought such things as an expensive electrical nightmare of a bus terminal with a halfway-constructed advertising screen in front of it, and the wrath of the federal department of Housing and Urban Development who complained of conflicts of interest and demanded Ford's removal.

Ford could credibly have been termed the City's Number Two Official. However, the City already had a Number Two Official in the person of mayoral chief of staff and URA chairman Yarone Zober. This is where the real troubles may have begun.

For you see, when word leaked that Ford had accepted some gifts from a development official at Lamar Advertising, sources suggest it was Yarone Zober who prevailed upon Ravenstahl not to take definitive action to discipline Ford, nor to definitively brush off the allegations as nonsense or political, nor even to conduct his own investigation -- but rather to suspend Ford with pay and pass off the responsibility onto the State Ethics commission.

Our wonderful state government.

The proceedings dragged for the better part of a year. Perhaps the plan was to issue some sort of whitewash, but as more troubling details of that which Mr. Ford had been tasked by Mayor Ravenstahl to execute accumulated (Exhibit A, Exhibit B) that became impossible.

At the time when Mr. Ford's attorney accused the Ethics Commission of playing politics and hanging his client out to dry, we all laughed. In hindsight, we can apprehend how Gov. Rendell and other State leaders would not want to do anything to jeopardize Mayor Ravenstahl's quiescent leadership of the city. Again, why kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

When their "investigation" resulted in a minimalist statement of no consequence to issues about special favors and influence peddling that had been raised by the initial scandal, Mr. Ford deduced that he had become a liability to his employer, his employer's emboldened advisers, and to his employer's patrons in state government. He resigned before he could be fired, and he shared some thoughts.

To this day, my wife and I are being persecuted with no support from the administration I served, for no real reason whatsoever. Although I was cleared nearly two weeks ago by the State Ethics Commission, no discussion has occurred in regard to my future. Today, I want to set the record straight that I do not support the actions of what I believe to be a failed administration and no longer desire to return to a position where I will again be forced to serve as a scapegoat ... I have no desire to perish along with Luke Ravenstahl's Pittsburgh. (Busman's Holiday)

One would have guessed that such a crisis would have merited the attentions of both the mayor's challengers and of a hungry, concerned media.

The coup de gras was the handsome and completely spontaneous severance package that Mr. Ford was inexplicably awarded after this vengeful missive -- inexplicable except for the "No Disparagement Clause" ensuring that neither party say bad things about the other. This is what led to its popular description as "hush money".


So this is what just occurred to me, and this is what I don't understand: if Candidate Ravenstahl is pressed during a debate, or by the media, or by one of his opponents, to explain exactly what occurred with Patrick Ford -- why the administration did not discipline him itself, whether the Lamar or Liberty Pacific billboard permits were awarded by the code and by whom, what was the impact of gifts, contributions or friendships, or why Mr. Ford was appointed to so many simultaneous roles in city government and what that says about his judgement and maturity -- what exactly does Mayor Ravenstahl say?

He can't disparage Mr. Ford. I would not expect him to stand there dumbly and get stuck in the gut -- Ravenstahl is a better political animal than that -- but the answer would have to be awful interesting at this juncture.


To some, there may be a nagging issue of whether or not going down this road would be rude to Mr. Ford or Ms. Sirk. Don't these people deserve to get on with their lives, you ask? Oh, but they are.

Mr. Ford is still getting paid by the URA -- yes, yes -- and is already well-ensconced with another fascinating-sounding development job, leading the Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia.

We know this because Mr. Ford and the BDC sent out press releases, replete with that photograph of Mr. Ford wearing his cat-that-ate-the-canary grin.

He is also educating a new generation of development gurus about civics and leadership -- these are real, go follow the links -- for the West Virginia Governor's School.

And finally, he is commentating as a world-weary expert on planning and zoning for whomever is interested:

Ford, who most recently was the executive director of the Pittsburgh Urban Renewal Authority, likes the idea that the Commission would keep the meetings public.

“You can’t do this process in a vacuum. It has to be done with input because, ultimately, you’ll need the approval of the people it would protect,” Ford said. (Exponent Telegram, Jeff Toquinto)

Patrick Ford dwells in the realm of the Richard Floridas now. Although he himself would no doubt be advised to keep his distance, I strenuously doubt he would be at all discomforted to find his name arise in discussions back in Pittsburgh, PA.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh electorate would greatly benefit -- as would, very likely, Mayor Ravenstahl himself. Although there are only two weeks remaining until our election and voters deserve a long-overdue reexamination of that tumultuous period which was the hallmark of Ravenstahl's tenure, we have also seen the Mayor responds well to suggestions and criticisms offered during political season. That's how we got campaign finance reform and a host of other reforms, and I'll take it.

If we all were to see Mr. Ford's name surface in some headlines between now and May 19th, only good things would come out of it. The only question is: given Ford's clear significance to the Mayor's record and to development issues which are still before us, why in peace are we all failing generate this discussion already?

Monday: Mine That Bird

They look good together, no? (P-G, Jerome L. Sherman)

This is a good article, a fair article -- with one absolutely freaking glaring omission which we will address later. (P-G, James O'Toole)

On the other hand, I'm not sure this one was entirely necessary. Sorry if that sounds blunt or heartless, but it's just so much fluff in an era and in an area in which we are experiencing surfeits of fluff. (P-G, James O'Toole)

Yes there is a School Board race in this election. Yes we have a preference. Sorry but that's a state secret for reasons I don't entirely understand (and don't entirely not understand), but I'm just taking cues. (P-G, Team Effort)

I'm shifting my position toward police rifles toward being probably a good idea. Unless Carmen Robinson would like to object for some reason. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Michael Lamb says the Water Authority deal has begun performing better? Is that a relative term, or were we exercised over little, or what? (P-G, Rich Lord)

Speaking of which, weren't we supposed to see a Housing Authority audit by now? Am I missing it entirely? It doesn't appear to be on the website.

I'm still struggling to compute most -- if not all -- of what happened on "Reform Wednesday". It would help if I knew more about Mr. Ravenstahl's and Mr. Peduto's "different approaches to requiring competitive processes for nearly all city contracts". (P-G, Rich Lord)

Be that as it may, this is our cue to turn up the heat on County Council. Let them have it, Burghosphere style. (Trib, Tim Puko)

This is new news to me. I am pleasantly and appropriately surprised. (Trib, Mike Cronin)

No. (Trib, Rick Wills)

Oh hey, look: the Trib's version of the City audit story is better-rounded and more probing. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times and will happily say it a thousand more: the Judicial Branch is my favorite branch of government. (Trib, Mike Wereschagin)

You guys all read this blog post, right? It's pretty remarkable, given the source and the likely connotations. Things that make you go hmmmmmm. (Null Space)

John McIntire releases his "semi-annual anti-Opie rant". No big secret that I can understand how he got burnt out a while ago. One way or another this genre will soon be put on extended hiatus at the Comet as well, but to underscore previous remarks, not before addressing an absolutely freaking glaring omission. (MacYapper)