Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday, 1/25: Buckwild and Out of Control

Movieweb, Alan Orange

Pittsburgh lies only 221 miles from Sissonville, WV, site of MTV's new reality show Buckwild. New stars like Shae Bradlee and Shane "Redneck McGyver" Gandee say they are not happy about comparisons to Jersey Shore stars, nor about their own Senator's concerns over "rednecksploitation".

Meanwhile the Pittsburgh Penguins' 2-0 start got slashed down to size at home at the Iceburgh against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who took advantage of Penguins miscues and penalties.

“I was really mad,” [Evgeni] Malkin said. “But it was my fault.” (MD, Will Graves)

Showing how it's done, on and off the ice.

The biggest news is that Police Chief Nate Harper will remain off duty until Monday, it today being 10 days since the death of a family member and one day since a city employee who plead guilty for taking bribes appeared before a grand jury investigating the Chief's own possible involvement. Harper denies that the Police Bureau had any role in any payments or decisions related to bribes and awarding contracts.

"The Police Bureau," he says. The Police Bureau. Who was acting as the Director of Public Safety around the summer and autumn of 2006? What kinds of things were going on in city government, during the sad, unfolding transition from one mayor to the next? Did anyone ever perform any extensive accounting or audits of city business during that painful period -- or did we figure there are some things better left untouched?

Since 2005, meanwhile, Pittsburgh had been instructed that we need more police sergeants on the streets supervising the force, so that incidents such as failing to consult a 911 complainant and discharging weapons in an ill-advised manner can be minimized.

ICA Executive Director Henry Sciortino said the body can’t tell the city how to run its police force.

“We rely heavily on our partnership with the city to focus on the execution of good police tactics and strategies and the things that surround law enforcement,” Sciortino said. (Trib, Harding & Bauder)

Where I Went & How I Got There
However, is it fair to expect Mayor Ravenstahl to have acted within the past 6 years upon practical recommendations and warnings issued by the ICA, without first having state legislators and governors take time off to wage a protracted political and legal spectacle? Even if the police union has been in agreement with the findings? No wonder the mayor's office doesn't have any comment -- forcing a mayor to do things isn't the mayor's job.

The board of the Port Authority postponed an expected decision on whether or not to part ways with its CEO Steve Bland at the behest of ACE Rich Fitzgerald, who finds himself strained in some way with the progress of public transit. I am not hearing any defense of the Bland era at PAT yet, but of course people feel sorry for him over the coverage and the possible departure. It's a competitive field, being a CEO -- investors demand value-added leadership and dynamism. The Port Authority gig is a rough hand to be dealt, no doubt, but the cards have seemed crummy for a while now. Is it strategy? Is it a bad fit? Who knows.

Justice Jane Orie Melvin, charged with using her public office for political gain, better hope she has a winner in the "I didn't do it" defense. Because the "I was too busy to do it" defense is just the unfortunate, laughable kind of thing one's attorneys need to say when one is hauled in front of a jury.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Open Thread.


It's an explosive day out there. Calls for further property tax millage rate cuts, GUY COSTA (background), spiteful development haters... oh, and it looks like Sam Hens-Greco, the community activist and attorney, is going to join the conversation in District 8.

What have I missed? Oh, look at that: Bakery Square 2.0 just became more official.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rich Fitzgerald: Wildling Executive


We'll start you off with this this morning:

Standing along Smallman Street in the Strip District, [Allegheny] County Executive Rich Fitzgerald eyeballs the cars and trucks speeding by. And then, after a moment's hesitation, dashes across, through the rain — and nearly into the path of an oncoming car.

"We call that ‘the Fitzgerald'," says his spokeswoman, Amie Downes, with a laugh. "When you just go for it." (CP, Lauren Daily)


On everyone's deepest concern:

Boards and authorities, in his view, simply lend advice and expertise. "Where directors and folks are running things in an efficient manner, I'll be hands-off as much as I can be," Fitzgerald says. Still, he says, "None of the boards are independent," and as the elected official, "I'm the one who has the interest of the people." (ibid)

... Got it.

*-UPDATED: So this story would have us believe that Our County Executive truly has the heart of a rebel... and is a politician. This checks out by everything the Comet can see. Green infrastructure, airport drilling, being tired of Mayor Luke, rhetoric, autonomy... everything. Heart of a rebel, soul of a politician.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mon. 1/25: SEEN: Cuban & the Scientists Drop Fresh Political Beat

Nicki Minaj and her wigs debuted as judges on American Idol to rave reviews *-UPDATE: Some say not so much. Did you know she mentions Pittsburgh in her song Beez in The Trap featuring 2 Chainz? According to it the Steel City is "on deck" together with Ohio and St. Louis. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

The Guardian has the Pittsburgh Penguins as the likely NHL Team of the (coming) Decade; easy to credit so long as they're still undefeated whilst holding back on Crosby and Malkin like they're Inigo Montoya pretending to be left-handed.

The race for Mayor (sort of like the President of a city) is right around the corner, and public opinion polling firm CivicScience released some early findings based on a hypothetical head-to-head match up between Luke Ravenstahl and Bill Peduto. In addition to a very close race, we find such gems as:

People who regularly read entertainment/celebrity blogs like or TMZ are much more likely to support Ravenstahl. Meanwhile, people who read local Pittsburgh blogs regularly are 3X more likely to support Peduto. (CivicScience)

As always, correlation does not imply causality. Side effects may include thoughts of suicide.

Chris Potter makes a valid observation, which has a valid counterpoint, only underscoring the need to compare multiple and differently gathered sets of data. Pittsburgh deserves to know what Pittsburghers think about Pittsburgh. Besides, I'm a cat person who loves Mad Mex, so something must be screwy.

Darrell Sapp, P-G
Michael Lamb, lest anyone forget, has also announced a bid for mayor, and has since joined his voice to those calling for an investigation of the School Board's 2008 decision to close Schenley High School -- based on new information that recently came to light only last July. According to an e-mail I received from Schenley organizers, Bill Peduto is also on a sizable list of public officials now "opposed to selling or calling for a review," yet at the same time has taken some pride in what he helped to accomplish in getting a much better offer for the building. All of this now begs a question of whether Ravenstahl has an opinion.

Jim Ferlo gets some support for his proposal to levy a payroll tax on UPMC et al from the Post-Gazette, citing "sweetener". I found it odd that the editorial did not mention the earlier proposal to simply move forward with legal challenges as necessary. Would a new state tax involve "informally" abandoning such an idea?

*-UPDATE: Indeed, Rich Fitzgerald has the right idea on this: Let's call it the "Just do it" plan. P-G, Andrew McGill

Speaking of Sen. Ferlo, I don't believe I've yet linked here to my ponderous history of the billboard wars at the Occupy Pittsburgh Now, available in print wherever anarchists use iPads.

Finally we have the preliminary results of Mayor Ravenstahl's public safety blitz (everything is a blitz) of the South Side Intoxication District (TM) in the wake of an unfortunate series of events
originating in Homestead.

Bill Wade, P-G
On one hand, it's hard to see what the implementation of Councilman Kraus's Responsible Hospitality initiative could have done to prevent or to improve the outcome of that non-nightlife related car chase -- even more officers to shoot at the speeding vehicle on a crowded street and at other vehicles? On the other hand, it's true that having more public safety personnel on hand in that crowded environment might also have meant improved chances of a better prepared rapid response.

On the first hand, we all remember how long and how furiously Kraus had to fight to get his initiative funded and implemented, so we must make note of this coming election's probable impact. But back to that other hand, after the ceasefire in the parking and pension wars finally settled in, Ravenstahl seemed to warm to the idea and is now taking the results of the study seriously. Is it not the very foundation of our democratic system to expect good results stemming from electoral pressure? At the very least, the car chase on Carson St. seems to have served as an effective wake-up call.

My only real question is whether we are going to get the Responsible Hospitality Plan or a series of Ravenstahl Blitzes. The Hospitality Plan called for the reintroduction of a drunk tank, for specially selected and trained loitering enforcement patrols, and for scrupulous enforcement of building occupancy codes. Are we going to see these things? 'Twill be interesting.