September 27, 2007

I don't see what all the fuss is about

Both Bram and the Burgher have provided excellent coverage of the "Luke to Boston Scandal" so there's no need for me to include the various media links, but I would like to discuss whether these kinds of personal snafus will really pay off in the end for DeSantis.

Though many folks are losing support for Mayor Ravenstahl, I am still unconvinced as to whether this will add any points to the DeSantis column. Don't get me wrong, MD is playing his cards quite well so far, but he's still lacking the "man of the people" interaction that would push him over the edge.

My feeling is that many of those who decide not to vote for Luke will likely just not vote at all, hoping that the right fit emerges by the 2009 election. In this case, Luke will still win, albeit by a small majority, and be given at least two more years to prove he can learn from his mistakes.

Going back to DeSantis, he is showing the first steps towards becoming a populist with his Walt Davis anecdote, but he still seems too wonkish and not enough drinkin' buddy. Furthermore, his intent on selling off city-owned property will likely disrupt the community planning process put forth by CDC's all over the city, and his start-up support plan sounds like a home run for outsiders but does little for many of those of whom he is asking for votes. His policies comprehensive, but he must convince people to vote for him compared to just not voting for Luke.

For Luke, stop going anywhere outside the city limits until the election is over. And just tell the truth. You went to Boston to learn about mixed income housing strategies and how they might apply to Pittsburgh. You missed a meeting because your overbooked and didn't catch the error, but you'll have another meeting in the North Side where you will be sitting front and center to listen to every single comment until all voices have been heard. Don't run from criticism, fight back with actions and counter-successes.

September 14, 2007

Downtown Dan

A little-recognized article flew through the PG yesterday about the conversion of the Century Building into new prix fix condos.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato said Downtown will be "the place for the next decade or two where activity" will be growing. He said the county is committed to making sure the Golden Triangle, as the hub of the region, continues to move forward.

"We're on a roll. You can easily fall off that roll if you don't pay attention to what we have here and the assets that we have. So Downtown Pittsburgh's going to remain a focus for the next several years for all of us involved here," he said.

I'm interested in what's between the lines for Donorato here. Part of the reason why the city is in such peril is because of the lack of county focus on development within the city limits - could this be a shift towards redeveloping Pittsburgh?

Don't get me wrong - I understand downtown by no means equals the city, but that doesn't mean the city couldn't use a little tlc from big buddy Dan. Understandably, his sights are set elsewhere, but the City and the Mayor could benefit from some county attention.

Focusing on redeveloping the parts of this city which are barely held together by boarded up windows and crumbling roads seems a better investment than promoting suburban development. Growth in the "greater Pittsburgh area" is ultimately dependent upon the health 0f the city - a strong Pittsburgh will do more for Allegheny County than growth corridors isolating the urban core.

September 10, 2007

And we're back

Sorry for going missing folks, you never know what's going to happen in the turbulent life of the intern.

I've come to the conclusion that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is one of the best things to ever happen to this city.

Bear with me on this one, it has merit.

I've said in the past that I've doubted his experience (who hasn't), that I've been disturbed by his antics (fore!), and that I've been perplexed by his ethics (snicker). While these attributes prevent me from thinking him the best man for the job, his actions have brought more attention to city government and necessitated a attitude of watch-doggedness sorely lacking.

Everywhere I go, from Grant Street to Penn Circle to Brownsville Road, people know Luke's name and have an opinion. Perhaps the city has lost enough population that everyone's voice actually has a chance to be heard these days, but I'm thinking that there finally might be enough competition to challenge the hand-me-down politics that have guided our gradual decline.

I don't attribute Ravenstahl as the inspiration, but I think the attention he brings to local politics is promoting a feeling of publilc investment. People seem to once again have hope - hope that things are changing, hope that elected officials are listening, and hope that all this attention will necessitate intelligent decisions that promote the right kind of growth (and reduction) that this city needs so desperately.

Now whether or not this feeling will translate into easy victory for Luke is anyone's guess, but I'm of the mindset that a healthy challenge to the young incumbent (gasp) is good for everyone. DeSantis might even win on a fluke, and really shake things up. The takeaway is that this upcoming election, attention sponsored in part by Luke Ravenstahl, Mayor, will be the telltale indicator of this city's health. If things go as planned, and neither candidate bombs, a score of 35% or higher for DeSantis would mean that this city may actually turn the corner and correct some of its problems. If not, then my thoughts on hope, change, and intelligent decision making will go the way of the 30-40 year old demographic.

August 21, 2007

As if things couldn't get worse on the transportation front...

So it seems nobody picked up on this sunday pg story about the State footing the bill to repair roadways damaged by underground mining:

"Our roads are taking a considerable beating from longwall mining," said Jim Kleissler, executive director of the Center for Coalfield Justice, a grassroots nonprofit group concerned with coal mining. "It's incredible that they can keep doing this at taxpayer's expense."

Each panel of coal undermined beneath the interstate is costing Pennsylvania taxpayers $1 million to $2 million in repairs, due to a 1962 decision by the state Mining Commission not to purchase the mineral rights beneath Interstates 70 and 79 when they were being built.

How did nobody at the time think it might be important to preserve the ground under which our ROADS PASS OVER??!?!

So far, seven coal panels from the Pittsburgh coal seam have undermined I-79 in Greene County, costing taxpayers between $6 million and $12 million in repairs, and it isn't stopping any time soon.

Foundation Coal Company operates the Emerald and Cumberland mines, which are located next to each other, and together are mining 17 panels of coal 400 to 500 feet beneath the interstate. The panels cross underneath the roadway, and nine more are to be mined during the next two years.

The speed limit was reduced and two lanes of traffic were recently closed because the Emerald Mine is removing the eighth panel of coal, which is more than two miles long.

When the first panel was mined in 2004, the roadway cracked and heaved in both the northbound and southbound lanes, and guide rails were bowed and twisted. During the next three years as panels were removed north and south of the first panel at a rate of two a year, more of the same damage continued.

This State, and particularly southwestern PA has a huge looming transportation problem, and not just mass transit - might as well throw underground threats on the pile.

Just wait until ten years after 80 is tolled and see how much $ has to be thrown at repairing the PA Turnpike due to increaseed truck traffic, along with the focus that will be upon retrofitting our bridges.

Not only is the infrastructure crumbling - look at the logistical snafu that literally brought traffic to a stop during the February snowstorm.

Come wind, rain, sleet or hail, nothing can stop PA transit authorities from failing to deliver - or our officials from really understanding the scope of the problem.

August 15, 2007


From yesterday's trib op-ed about open records:

Among requested exemptions: 911 recordings, autopsy reports, salaries of mid- to low-ranking workers at state-related universities and applications for opening casinos. Says committee Chairwoman Rep. Babette Josephs, D-Philadelphia, "We all understand this is a balancing act, and we're looking to find the right fulcrum."

No refutation in this worthless editorial – what is the Trib’s argument for having these matters become public?

But hey, who doesn’t want their loved one’s autopsy report as part of the public record.

I’m all for open records, well mostly – though more discussion is necessary to solve the problem of open salary access (it’s already hard enough for government to attract the best people) and personal privacy (in matters like the one mentioned above).


From today's PG -

"Our bridge engineers use these numbers to manage our system and help us decide on prioritizing bridge needs," PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler said in a statement accompanying the release. "The numbers should not be viewed as a measure of whether a bridge is safe or not. If a bridge is open, it is safe for travel." Mr. Biehler has said all 54 steel deck truss bridges in the state -- 28 owned by PennDOT and 26 others owned by cities or counties -- will be inspected by the end of November.

Brilliant. Just brilliant. Since the I-35W was open, I guess it was safe for travel.

How do these people get cabinet level positions? Does it require a removal of the brain-mouth filter?

August 13, 2007

Goings-on of interest

Just when you thought all the mills around here had closed, the PG finds this...

When Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle came under scrutiny last year for authorizing $27,000 for a controversial study written by her mother's boyfriend, she defended the study and its author saying, "He's a Ph.D. He's qualified." Lee Otto Johnson, who submitted the 85-page report on city health issues that consisted of reports written by other agencies and an essay on race and religion, does list a doctorate on his resume from Columbia State University.

But it's a school that never existed except as a company that sold phony degrees to people willing to buy them.

In another case that made headlines, the Pennsylvania attorney general sued the owners of a diploma mill called Trinity Southern University in 2004 after state employees paid $398 to obtain a master's of business administration for a cat named Colby Nolan.

Now everything makes sense. I understand where Tawanda was coming from - I’d be frightened of a cat with an MBA.


I’m just glad there wasn’t any rioting by the poor folks who still didn’t have power last night. Though this person sounded quite upset:

"I can't breathe. It's just horrible, horrible," said Sandi Pickering, who has been without power in her Squirrel Hill home since Thursday. "It's getting dark now and I'm freaking. I'm a nervous wreck."

Has anyone else ever been downtown the Duquesne Light customer service center?

Poor Sandi probably just got back and was emotionally damaged.

The best way to describe it is…jail. There is a big plexi-glass box at the reception desk surrounded by safety glass, accompanied by a security guard. No employees in sight. You sign in, and fill out a form, then hand it to the security guard. An employee emerges from the back, and presses a release to open the box from their side of the security glass. You wait until your name is called. You head back into a narrow room with four windows. You pick up a phone, and stare through more safety glass into the soulless cold eyes of the Duquesne light customer service representative who looks at you as if you are some kind of ferocious Mon River-creature.

Moral of the story, don’t let your roommate pay the electric bill so late that you are forced to go to electric jail to get it turned back on.


A sad day for Shadyside food and beverage connoisseurs .

Anyone who has ever been to Harris Grill (and perhaps, had the Cheeses of Nazareth) will agree the sooner it can be reopened, the better. Nice people, great outdoor seating area and atmosphere. A real shame.


For those involved in the Burgher’s comment area on this post - a timely musing in the PG:

Here's a quick snapshot of men's thoughts on their professional pursuits, according to an upcoming survey in the September issue of Men's Health magazine. A full 60 percent of men said they work 41 to 60 hours per week, while 82 percent said they take work-related calls after hours. At the same time, 24 percent said they spend half of their day or less actually working. Employees feel more entitled to breaks during work hours because they're tethered to the office round the clock, said David Zinczenko, Men's Health editor-in-chief. "Our definition of work has changed," he said. "We're much more likely to be connected to the office 24-7."

I’m wondering if someone from the Mayor’s office wrote that…


From The Comet’s headline…everyone should read this .


Way to go Bram.

Robin Hood Rendell steals laptops from weed n’ seed, gives to classrooms for the future

At least that’s my theory in response to this article in Today’s PG from Rich Lord.

While others may be at odds on the severity of last week’s storm, I think everyone can agree that misplacing 55k worth of computer equipment isn’t beneficial when trying to procure dough from the Feds.

As staff swirled, Washington expressed concerns. A six-page November letter to Mr.Ravenstahl from a Justice Department accountant indicated that Pittsburgh hadn't kept track of time staff spent on Weed and Seed, had failed at "monitoring of equipment and inventory procedures" and had used $31,145 that wasn't authorized on TV ads, computers and other expenses."

The administration has submitted revised budgets and new procedures, but hasn't heard from the Justice Department on whether its reply was adequate.

From February through April of this year, there was no full-time city staff dedicated to Weed and Seed. Ms. Buchanan shifted Mr. McLean into the program full time to try to hold it together. "You don't even want to know what people in the neighborhoods say" about the program's status, said Mr. Chatman, now working on Erie's Weed and Seed effort but living part time in Pittsburgh. Community leaders tell him communication has suffered. "It's kind of hard to talk when there's a revolving door."

The real loser in this isn’t as much the Mayor, who can plead “transition”, but the communities who already face an uphill battle in convincing residents that this program is good for their neighborhood.

Recent successful dialogue by community leaders in Sheraden and the West End neighborhoods and by community leaders in coordination with the Coro Center in the hilltop communities have demonstrated that the locals really do have a vested interest in repairing these once - thriving neighborhoods now rife with abandoned properties and crime.

When a community is finally able to turn the corner on popular support, the city should be right there and prepared to respond. Delays only reinforce the downward spiral sentiment that has these citizens so frustrated in the first place.

August 8, 2007

If it's not cats, it's golf

For the longest time, my favorite city council quote has been:

Ms. Carlisle said that's an outdated perception. "That was yesteryear," she said. "In 2007, cats are more aggressive than they used to be."

But today I rejoice, for Kim Lyons from the Trib has given us a new gem:

The golf course is as much a city property as the zoo, which also is run by a non-city agency, Shields said. "We own the monkeys, and we own the golf course," he said. "We should take care of them."

It's nice to know that in the midst of handing out a contract lacking any competition whatsover to a firm that just happens to be majority backed by a major democratic supporter, city council has time to stop and care for the monkeys.

Does anyone else get the impression that the Trib finds Mr. Motznik a little off target in this case?

Shields pointed out that under the provisions of Act 47, the city can't use capital funds to reopen city pools.


Motznik said that amount of money could be used to reopen two city pools in his district, although capital funds can only be used on improvement projects.

I bet Jim is just doing this for the votes. It's hot outside, and Burghers need their pools. I also hear there is quite a bit of overlap between the anti-cat crowd and the anti-golf crowd. He's probably trying to make up for lost support. That damn Koch.

August 7, 2007

Goings-on of Interest

Though I do enjoy the drinking and driving line at the end, this PG ed misses the bus (see, anybody can do witty half-assed puns). They skipped right over the good stuff. In my recollection, the assembly authorized these new taxes as "options", potential taxes that would be considered over long and thoughtful candlelit council meetings. Need a memory jog?

Not so fast, countered state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill.

"It's not imposing a tax. This is enabling legislation," said Mr. Frankel. "We need to provide alternatives for county government to be able to raise revenue to support the county effort on transportation." Right now, the only means of raising that money is to increase property taxes, he said, and "the property tax is the last thing we want to raise."

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato said: "My commitment to the public is that we're going to fix the cost structure at the Port Authority first" before pushing for any new taxes. Mr. Onorato said that other urban counties, including Philadelphia, have per-drink, car rental and other taxes available to come up with required matching funds for their transit systems. He wants Allegheny County to have a similar menu of items as other cities when it goes looking for the $25 million it needs in matching funds. Combining a 10 percent drink tax with a rental car tax, total expected revenue would come to about $38 million.

County Council President Rich Fitzgerald cautioned against assuming that a 10 percent tax is imminent or inevitable. If the bill passes, the possible tax would be considered in the mix of the normal budgeting process next fall, with public hearings "just like we did with the smoking bill."
If the county adopted an alcohol tax it would not necessarily be the full 10 percent. The key point, he emphasized, is that it would be up to the county, rather than the Legislature. Those who oppose it "don't want Allegheny County to be a home rule county. That's what it sounds like."

Frankel-y, I don't think anyone is suprised. In tax-happy Allegheny County, Donorato will achieve Steeler-like adoration if we see a property tax cut while saving the PAT buses. I also enjoy how the ed board throws a soft little jab at Dan and then follows it right up with a complement. You would think Donorato and the PG have been dating long enough that they could just say what they think without having to sleep on the couch.


What is wrong with some people? Stories like this make me sick. Though I'm not sure why the PG found it important to share with us that the drive through assailants were "hooting". I hope they catch this knucklehead and dunk him the fry-o-lator.


Totally awesome. I'm a believer that a new stream of business bearing support from within the community will go a long way in the Hill. As a new student I was told to stay out of the Hill District and don't drive there after dark. Hopefully the new arena / Pitt athletic fields / business development will bring new people into the Hill - based upon location alone it should be seen as the most important investment in city redevelopment, not to mention its contribution to the Burgh community.


This one got me thinking of how many normal household items could end my life. Honestly, who throws a drill? My childhood memories of Philadelphia are so pleasant, filled with Independence Hall, a big crack in a Bell, a giant walk-in heart at the Franklin Institute, a whiz-with from Pats...

and now it seems like somewhere that Kurt Russel should be dropped in and told to escape from. Snake Plissken for mayor of Philly.

August 6, 2007

Climate Change

Interesting articles in the Post-Gazette today and the Trib yesterday continue the media inquisition of local government - albeit haphazardly.

In response to the Trib, The Pittsburgh Comet asks how our local Democratic big guns are working to transform their party - I see it as savvy politicians (i.e. not Luke Ravenstahl) reacting to a changing attitude within Pittsburgh, mixed with a little ambition.

All signs point to Donorato having a go at Governor in 2010, barring he doesn't order the continued wholesale slaughter of geese (any further mass killings would likely result in war with Canada). As a result, to win a statewide election Dan is going to need a strong majority of Allegheny County on his side - better than the 54% and 59% that Ed Rendell carried against Fisher and Swann respectively. And though the city holds a 5 to 1 registration advantage for the D's, the county is only 60/40 D vs. R.

So not only will Onorato potentially have to beat out Jack Wagner, who already has State-wide election experience (and a local base), but the Philly crop as well, where D registration is at a whopping 75%. Allyson Schwartz, Lynne Abraham, and the mayoral losers should be primed for a run. Bob Casey Jr. shouldn't be counted out either. On the Republican side there is Tom Corbett, PA AG - another guy with a local base whose tough on crime stance will gain support considering the murder rates and violent crime in Pittsburgh and Philly.

Considering all these factors, Dan will need big support from ALL of Allegheny County - which entails middle of the road policies that are Republican-friendly (if only for the next 2 years).

The more theoretical aspect of this is the changing climate in Pittsburgh (the political one, not the Al Gore one). As many have already debated at length and likely will for quite some time (as they should), this city is warming up to kind of moderate reform ideology personified recently by DeSantis. This shift is the result of numerous factors -

1. Turbulence in the Mayor's Office/ City Council -

As we saw in the primary, endorsement by the democratic committee no longer equals sure victory. Three new city council members later, there may just be enough opposition to the mayor to have some real objectives accomplished around here.

Equally alarming is the failure of the party generals to muzzle young Luke. His inability to answer questions truthfully and perceived (likely real) lack of professionalism and experience is a black eye upon the stability of the Democratic party. These kind of events also lead registered Democrats to doubt their party, especially when the opposition is a sound pragmatist. Though Luke may have fired every single unelected person in the City County Building, his actions are not those of a reformer. They are more like those of a wayward official drunk off of power failing to realize that 3+ years of government experience does not mean you know everything.

Ravenstahl comes across less as a young man with “fresh” ideas and more as a young man filled with the teachings of old politics. I am disturbed by young people supporting Ravensthal “because he’s young like me, and will support things that I want.” Sorry Charlie, the youngest-thinking candidate around here was Bill Peduto, and DeSantis would still win out vs. Luke. Acting young is not thinking young, and Mr. Ravenstahl has not read his Corinthians.

2. New industry will bring a new ideology

I find it interesting that there are few comments about the potential ideological shift that may take place in the ‘Burgh as we invest in new industry and economic revitalization. Unlike other places in the country where the Republicans are the old, stodgy, keep the power in the same hands party, Pittsburgh is quite the reverse.

While some parts of Allegheny and surrounding counties are booming, the city is flailing under Democratic control. Not that this is a cause and effect mind you, but young, successful, and energetic people want change. So unless the candidates on the left want to lose their grip, they’re going to have to at least shimmy a little bit more to the right – something savvy Dan has figured out.

3. Emerging Consensus that change must happen NOW

Again, the influx of forward thinkers and young people concerned about the city’s future are necessitating action. Mark DeSantis is riding this wave, offering to provide concrete solutions to the city’s budgetary problems by Oct. 1st with the intent of pulling the city out of its hole and back on its feet. Don’t think Onorato and Doyle aren’t recognizing this impatience.

August 3, 2007

Dahn there at City Cancil

While I was perusing the mugshots of our Pittsburgh City Council Members, my mouse furiously a-clickin', I found this page, eloquently titled "City Council Function". As I read the text against the nice salmon colored background that really brings out Jim Motznik's eyes, the words slowly resonated through my skull, and quickly encouraged my brow to furrow and the lyrics of Van Morrison's "What's Wrong With This Picture" over the music of Slipknot's "Duality" to play in my head.

Not a pleasant experience, and certainly not the song I would choose if I had the "procedure".

"City Council is the legislative branch of government. It carries out duties in accordance with the Home Rule Charter and the laws of the state, and is primarily responsible for making laws which govern the City of Pittsburgh. City Council proposes, debates, and votes on legislation governing and/or affecting the city. This body also approves appointments as provided by the Charter, regulates revenues and expenditures, incurs debt, and approves the final operating and capital budgets for the city. Council is responsible for the introduction of legislation generated by the administrative branch of city government. Council may also introduce legislation generated by individual Council Members or Council as a body."

Though some of the statements in this text are debatably true, I want to focus on 2 items.

1. "regulates revenues and expenditures, incurs debt, and approves the final operating and capital budgets for the city"

I'm wondering then why there is little if any critique of city spending by the council. I'm sure theres grumbling, and the off-comment from Peduto or Shields, but it feels like city council is merely rubber stamping Luke's initiatives. As Ravenstahl frequently proclaims, being the progenitor of the city's "best budget in years", his administration is single-handedly turning things around.

Where, o where is the criticism? No good leader, or reformer for that matter, was without myriad opposition to tell him or her exactly where they were wrong. Frequently. Loudly. And not with the intent of usurping office - it seems Burghers are quick to read dissent as intent.

Outside of city cops asking for a license and registration next time you pet your cat, or perhaps limiting the sidewalk square footage eligible for vomit on Carson Street, the critique is not there. Shields should catch heat for delaying the police promotion hearing. People should be asking why the ethics hearing hasn't been held yet. Citizens should wonder where their officials stand. Frequently. And loudly.

2. (...................).

That is the space where something about "representing their districts" should be found. Lame text on my behalf, but for real. I realize things used to be different, and perhaps the mission statement hasn't caught up with the times, but this is representative of a real problem with our city council members.

Why do none of them have a website? Somewhere their respective communities can post upcoming events, organize community block watches, identify sex offenders, arrange block parties, name their village idiots, whatever the community leaders deem necessary. I'm not saying that redistricting has done the best job of homogenizing our districts to encompass constituents with similar needs/concerns, or that they should be homgeneous in the first place, but it could work.

Take a look at all the press Pat Dowd is receiving. He's not old school, doesn't have any relatives once in Pittsburgh politics (from what I know), and has made people feel like he is bringing together their community. And beating an incumbent is no small feat in this tahn'.

To sum this whole diatribe up, I'm excited for the new blood that will be coursing through the 5th floor of the City County Building. With an absence of experienced leadership down the hall, it will be up to these 9 brave individuals right the ship.

Or steal whatever they can find and ride the submarine out of tahn'.

August 2, 2007

The solution to the Pittsburgh Parking Problem

As a lowly tour guide in college, part of our script was emphasizing the beauty of Pittsburgh, the "city of bridges", ranked second only behind Venice. Directing focus on the view of Pittsburgh from the incline would distract the parents and students from noticing the "character" of South Oakland (i.e. vomit, burned couches, empty kegs, dangling side mirrors) where Brutus or Candy would be living as soon as they realized it is a bad idea to pass out drunk in your Tower A hallway when you could just as easily do it without university repercussions in your Atwood Street dive.

But rental oversight being an entirely different matter, that stream of cognitive dissonance relates to a dream I had last night in which I solved all of the problems that Pittsburgh has with parking. All of them. I call it "Venice".

So let's say we flood the Mon into Downtown. Think of all the benefits:
  • Clean energy - no car exhaust from gondolas, only accordions and singing
  • Port Authority - all of the bus routes that would be "submerged" would give the PA the opportunity to renegotiate the contracts that would "sink" the city anyway (pun!)
  • No need to build a T line to Oakland anymore...or the underground line to the North Shore. Think of all the savings...I say we put those benjamins towards buying the Pirates no less than one good player
  • Tourism bucks! Act 47 would be "washed away" (pun!) with the "flood" of $ (pun!) coming into the city as a result. awesome.

I don't know about you, but I think my idea is just the kind of farsighted thinking that has inspired city government for years.

But seriously. I've always considered myself to be a solutions oriented kind of guy, and in this case the solutions being offered are not addressing the problems.

Why hasn't anyone looked into why this program costs so much? I personally have contributed about $244k in parking fines to the city, so they can't be doing that badly. But operating costs over a half a million dollars? How much do those little stickers cost? I don't know what the enforcement officers are getting paid, but this current system is absolutely inefficient.

I'm not for intra-neighborhood enforcement, but Mark Rauterkus makes a good point. There is a beast of a Buick that is ALWAYS on the street out front of my place, no sticker in sight, and I don't see a stack of tickets under his wiper, while at the same time my girlfriend was helping me move and got a ticket for exceeding her one hour (9:06-10:11) even with her four ways on and a heaping pile of ikea in the back. Sigh. So many people are residential parkers, and yet there are no small scale lots. I know plenty of students who brought their car out merely so they could go home when necessary and/or not have to wait 45 minutes at the Waterfront for the 59U to pick them up.

My final gripe is an extension of the spin analysis offered by the Burgh Report this morning. Every time I watch Ravenstahl take credit for something that 1. BOC did 2. Donorato did 3. anyone else did, an angel loses its wings somewhere. Please please please, Luke, honestly, stop taking credit for things you didn't do. He claims in the "fresh and hip" Youtube spot included with the BR post with a grin that in this year's budget, he actually sliced the parking and business privilege taxes - BOTH STATE MANDATED. Perhaps I'm naively misunderstanding this as "politicking", but moves like this are just adding more shells to DeSantis' bandolier.

I'm enthused I was able to use bandolier in a post.

July 11, 2007

Once upon a time...

I was still in college when Bob O'Connor died, and while I was sad for the man, the fact that I'm not a Burgh native left me with a lack of perspective on how greatly this would impact the city.

At first I figured, a 26 year old mayor? That's awesome! Not awesome in the sense of keggers in the city-county building, but in the sense that there would be a young voice amongst the power-brokers, someone who could address the very issues that I had with the city, and inspire the kind of committment that would see Pittsburgh reinvent itself after the manufacturing meltdown.

And then I met the Mayor in front of the William Pitt Union, as he handed out cans of some energy drink on behalf of a girl who had worked in his office that was running for Homecoming Queen. Naively, I thought to myself, wow, this guy is really humble, taking some time out of his incredibly busy schedule to do something for a lowly intern (props) who had slaved away over filing and data entry without the slightest appreciation.

And then I learned more about how Pittsburgh was trying to keep the young people here, and develop new industry, and build Southside Works, and, and, ....

You can imagine my disappointment over the recent string of events.

It seems as though Luke doesn't really want to be the Mayor of Pittsburgh. Simple as that. Many outlets have suggested that this could be a launching pad to bigger and better things, and it's hard not to get that vibe. For a city with SO many problems, being mayor is a twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week kind of committment - not just when campaigning. Ask Sophie.

Whether this is the result of unchecked single-party hubris, the mayor's leadership style, or a lack of experience - or all three - something has to give.

To be fair, these aren't life-threatening mistakes:
  • Getting cuffed at a Steelers game +5 awesome points
  • Skipping a city council meeting that you were invited to -20 stupid points
  • The police promotion fiasco -50 stupid points and 2 dunks in the Mon
  • Firing EVERYONE -50 jerk points, especially when you later hire the guy who tapes your ankles
  • Lying to the media, especially when you're golfing thanks to UPMC, causing even the left to be critical of you -100 stupid points and 3 dunks in the Mon
  • Lying to marty griffin = a wash
Which makes me wonder who will come out and support Ravenstahl from the D machine. City Council certainly isn't pleased with him, he fired a Costa and an Onorato, and the previous mayors are bashing him in the media. I bet Peduto wishes he hadn't given up so early. It will be interesting to see what Mr. Desantis can offer, or at least if he will cause Luke to debate questions not authored by high school students.

At least I'm willing to admit that my youth caused me to see things from a skewed perspective, a practice that the mayor may want to try.

Failing trig? Can't read? Here's a laptop!

I'm confused.

I understand that Ed wants to run for national office seeing as his reign as Emperor of Pennsylvania will soon be at an end, but platforms which appeal to the national base are not necessarily in the best interest of our glorious Commonwealth.

Take this for example.

I see the argument for mandatory pre-k, but laptops in all classrooms? What? Apparently we need to teach our children earlier in life how to avoid work. I can still somewhat remember high school after a four year collegiate blitz of alcohol and rapidly infused knowledge, enough to know that my nice new state-funded laptop would be used for:
  • Playing games (see "avoid")
  • Sending instant messages to my high school girlfriend (see "avoid")
  • Looking up inappropriate materials (what, it was 9th grade)
  • Staring longingly at the island desktop scene, wishing I could throw my book at my calculus teacher

But honestly, aren't "young people" already fully inundated with technology? Take our fixation with the iphone - who doesn't get subliminally aroused when that magic hand watches a movie and then orders seafood.

I know Ed Rendell will sure be using that feature ....