Friday, April 30, 2010

Huge Lawsuit

News out of the Office of Municipal Investigations:

Ms. Sabina alleged in the complaint filed in U.S. District Court's Western District that [OMI Director Kathy] Kraus and city Assistant Solicitor Wendy Kobee failed to act on complaints, halted investigations, and on one occasion ordered her to remove from a file... (Post-Gazette)

We don't know the cases specifically at issue. I can think of three public safety snarfus right off the top, but this could include any or all departments.

Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, come on Pittsburgh, it's NARFU time!


Then comes Extended Narfu:

h/t's @nataliarudiak and Agent Ska respectively.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sestak Wipes Off Muck, Summons Volunteers

As many of you know, Senator Arlen Specter recently embarked upon what can only be described as a very negative ad campaign against his challenger in the PA Democratic senatorial primary, Congressman Joe Sestak.

At the Pittsburgh office of the Sestak campaign, staff and volunteers say they aren't bringing up the attacks during their own outreach -- but they do have some talking points available for voters who ask.

To the charge of being "relieved from duty" in the U.S. Navy (Sestak was busted down to 2 Star Admiral from having been a 3 Star Admiral) for having fostered a "poor command climate", the campaign is sharing a quote from Adm. Vernon Clark in response, head of the Navy at the time:

"[Joe] did what I asked him to do; I wanted straight talk, and this put him in the crosshairs. People are going to say what they want to say, but he challenged people who did not want to be challenged. The guy is courageous, a patriot's patriot."

As to the allegation of missing too many votes as a congressman, Team Sestak differs sharply. They assert rather that he has "a strong 94% voting record and a well-earned reputation as the hardest worker in Washington", something they have long been boasting upon.

While admitting that the congressman missed some votes this past year because he was traveling throughout Pennsylvania "to make sure staying in [the Senate race] was the right thing to do", the memo also at one point mentions that other votes were missed "during the long illness of his father, who was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in October."


"Truth is, Joe was there for every important vote, and made sure Democrats had all the votes they needed"


"Specter doesn't want to talk about votes that actually matter, like his deciding to vote for the trillion dollar tax cuts for the rich -- votes that we're all living with today."

Meanwhile, especially for this blog, the Pittsburgh field director of Sestak for Senate whipped up a call for volunteers.

When: EVERYDAY from now until May 18th,
For However Long You Can Stay
Open 9am to 9 pm- 7 Days a Week

... is what it says. See LINK for more details. They do seem to be very focused on the ground campaign.

Now, I wouldn't be playing straight with you if I didn't pass along that President Obama today sent out an e-mail (through OFA) in support of Arlen Specter. Read it.

As to that dynamic, Congressman Sestak said during a conference call earlier this month that back when Democrats were hungry after a 60-vote "filibuster-proof" majority in the Senate, Barack Obama probably "spent about seven seconds deciding" whether or not to accept a deal with Specter to switch parties in exchange for boisterous party support. The difference is, in Sestak's opinion "that was the wrong deal for Pennsylvania."

UPDATE: Potter thinks the negative ads either will be effective or backfire. (Slag Heap)

A Few Questions About What I'm Hearing About the Arena Land Disposition Issue

Let's read today's P-G article by Mark Belko. Whom I've never been moved to nickname.

1. Is the lead fair -- or so cleverly artistic that it can get away with begging the entire question as it does?

2. Did it occur to anyone that Oxford Development Co. might be telling the SEA exactly what its political masters -- the Mayor and the County Executive -- want to hear and have resoundingly verified?

3. Was anyone aware that the "Hill District / Downtown street grid connections" are almost identical in the Penguins plan as in the Pfaffman plan? Same number of connections at the same places. One street becomes a pedestrian concourse in lieu of auto traffic. Another street curves slightly instead of going straight. The grids follow the same general layout. Same exact vagueness and submission to the obstruction that is the Crosstown Expressway. No magical improved "connectivity".

4. "Oxford did not give a reason for the difference" in its revenue estimates. Important, no? Possibly lead-paragraph important. And it so easily might have been, "Oxford had no comment on the lack of supporting evidence" or even "Oxford did not respond to inquiries as of press time"?

5. How the heck does Oxford know exactly how many permanent jobs and how much tax revenue is going to be generated on this site over 10 years under both scenarios? Are they wizards? How many "permanent" jobs was Lazarus supposed to generate? And all things being equal, isn't one development a bit more an exciting, eye-popping, out-of-the-box attraction than the other? What with the giant retractable semi-art-deco dome over this one development notion, that being kind of a "Wow" factor.

6 How many times did Pfaffman mention "historic tax credits" exactly? Every time his lips moved? If not, I feel like I understand that piece of information way, way too thoroughly.

7. Was anyone curious what were the "numerous issues" of installing a hotel in the arena? Did it not strike people as comical that the "report" glossed over this key finding?

8. Did anyone try asking anybody who was not Rob Pfaffman or the spokesconsultant at Oxford what is their take? A third party? A neutral or disinterested economic development or city planning expert of some kind?

9. Someone gunning for a spot on the ed board?

We'll pause there for now as we begin to understand this issue.