Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday: Milking It.

1. Somebody ordered a wild card? ORDER UP: Bond Buyer, Jennifer DePaul c/o Null Space.

I can't imagine any amount of plain English and basic Arithmetic is going to rouse the Commonwealth of Pa to seize responsibility for managing the City's pension fund (they already turned craven and ran for the hills), nor do I imagine we are going to rack up any $35 Insufficient Funds Fees within the next eleven months. Nor do I even imagine Our State will forcibly discomfort ensconced city leaders within that time frame. But if you happen to be in the market for an atmosphere of peril and uncertainty appropriate to the theme from Halloween, this is legitimately, surely, and exclusively it. Though the Jaws theme might be more appropriate.

2. Hats off to the City Paper for a tremendous story and cover image.

3. The Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program is more universally celebrated and well-endowed than ever. Now, some students will receive college scholarships named for its foremost corporate donors, though hopefully not tattoos and politically triggered microchips. But will the scrumptious carrot of a subsidized secondary education prove popular enough to convince families to engage with the school district after the system releases over 250 teachers -- even those objectively demonstrated to be the best at teaching children? How are we evaluating all these claims about the impact on students and residents in a way that approaches thoroughgoing science? I'm not dismissive of the program by any means, but there's no mistaking that as an educational program it's a Rube Goldberg device underpinned by conservative principles about behavior and about how to support a community while circumnavigating the government.

4. Air rights? Did somebody say, "air rights?"

5. What's so special about Bloomfield that its reapportionment amongst one, two, or three Council members has become such a flash point? And is Burgess really advocating a map which would leave only one African-American district? That seems awfully counter-intuitive. Perhaps his plan rolls the dice on the present two with an outside chance on three, but a possibility of one? The School District seems to have managed three.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Powerful stuff. It's not every day that two university heads, a mayor, a major developer and freaking Google come at you this hard. An impressive work by a strategic integrated video communications firm.

What's the message?

  1. Walnut Capital is the shiz.
  2. You should set up shop at Bakery Square, or at least in Larimer.
  3. Bow down and thank your lucky stars for our universities.
  4. Luke Ravenstahl gets it; he has things well in hand.
  5. The thing to do in city redevelopment is work hard and collaboratively with stakeholders to obviate zoning, regulatory and other "red tape" whilst facilitating public subsidies and other lubricatory opportunities.

RELATED: I posted it to my Facebook, but I don't think I ever here mentioned my own brief surreptitious interview with Todd Reidbord.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Parking Meter Barons Hope Pittsburgh is the new Portland -- in a Bad Way

Yup. Every contract.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority's award of a $7 million contract to a Florida-based firm in April elicited surprise, disappointment and questions from rivals in the highly competitive parking meter business, according to documents the authority provided in response to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Right-to-Know request. (P-G, Joe Smydo)

So what? The losers are complaining.

Years of allegations and complaints from city staff and competing contractors that Portland's parking manager was accepting bribes while steering multimillion-dollar city contracts to a Florida parking meter supplier culminated Wednesday in a federal raid on the manager's Portland office and home. (The Oregonian, Maxine Bernstein; and Much More and Background)

Uuhhhh -- it could be that Cale's business competitors are just fishing around for a wished-for legal knock-out blow against a rival that finds itself on the ropes because of one overly-aggressive executive. Failing that, the competitors may hope that another spate of ugly headlines will keep Cale uncompetitive a bit longer.

Cale Parking Systems USA, the entity that expressed interest in the Pittsburgh project last fall, was an independently owned distributor of metering devices manufactured by Cale Access of Stockholm, Sweden. In December, after Cale Parking Systems USA was tied to a federal corruption investigation in Oregon, Cale Access purchased that company's assets and created Cale America to take over distribution. (back to Smydo)

Got to wonder why they couldn't just call the new company "Schmegeggi's Parking." Does anybody know if "independently owned" literally has to mean "has nothing to do with"? If Cale Parking Systems USA was giving bribes to municipal officials apparently as part of their business model, does that mean stepdad Cale Access necessarily did not know about it, or was not part of the same corporate culture? By purchasing that company's "assets", could that mean "people"? By replacing the "management", could that just have been shuffling fresh names on a chart to replace tainted ones?

Yet the Pittsburgh process began two months after the raid in Portland. That means either the whole industry has a perniciously corrupt culture (and by "whole industry" I might mean either "parking" or "municipalities"), and/or Cale Gang are phenomenally arrogant slow-learners, or else this really is a desperate fishing expedition by the folks who failed to win our contract.

Was our Parking Authority caught flat-footed by the entirety of this? Sounds like.