Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Final Count Down

Thirty Days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have 31.
Bob has 32 to get shit done.

OK... Today (or tomorrow if you are reading this in the future) is nearly 30 days until the next mayor is sworn in for the City of Pittsburgh.

On January 2nd, there will be a new administration... but who, other than the big Bobby O, is actually a PART of that administration is anyone's guess at this point. Rumors are perculating throughout The Bureaucracy and its sister departments: some good, some bad, some terrifying.

But they remain rumors.

I'd heard previously, through random chance encounters, that Bob really didn't shift into high gear until the election was over. OK, I'll accept the argument that he didn't want to seem "presumptuous" before he was officially elected, but still. You'd think he'd be ready to name the Deputy Mayor, City Manager, or whatever the heck he's calling it, right off the bat. Bob can sort through the thousands of applicants for the prestigious seats on the Comprehensive Municipal Pension Trust Fund Board later. As Luke pointed out, this is either the best kept secret in the City, or a ginormous management blunder.

Frankly, it has a lot of my fellow Bureaucrats in the City of Pittsburgh and related agencies a wee bit nervous.

Feel free to post rumors and innuendos... I long for rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Our Collective Attention Span Seems to be Waning... OOOH! A Squirrel!

"Downing Street Memo."

I haven't written those words in awhile... if I ever did to begin with, which I don't think I did. I'd remember something like that. It means something; this is important.

Of course, only 20 people in the last day wrote about it too, at least according to, so I suppose that I'm with the silent majority on this one. Twenty is not a whole heck of a lot of postings when you consider the vast universe of blogs out there [80 gagillion bagillion, roughly]. From June 19 to June 20, 2005, however, there were 370 posts in the same universe. A big decline there. The Associated Press first issued a story about the memos on 7 June. There was network news coverage by NBC on 14 June. After that I don't recall.

I barely remember what the whole damned thing was about. Something about Iraq, Bush, and maybe yellowcake uranium... although that sounds wrong. I can't even remember if the subject got dropped, resolved, debunked, or whatnot. As far as I know, the matter is closed and the good guys won.

Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty... and so on.

I suppose that other things came up in the last six months: hurricanes, earthquakes, indictments, leaks, slipping poll numbers, casualties, Paris Hilton's romance troubles, the cancellation of Arrested Development; we've been busy. There's been a lot going on.

Our national consciousness stirs, wakes, rolls over, presses the snooze button, and goes back to bed. And the process repeats.

  • Perhaps we're lazy: sitcoms can be solved in 30 minutes... 60 tops... why can't Iraq?
  • Perhaps we're overwhelmed: hard to care about minutiae of an obscure British document when Brownie is messing up Louisianna.
  • Perhaps we're being flim-flammed: send in the clowns and spn doctors.
  • Or, perhaps we've lost our fundamental attention span and we now rely on bullet point nuggets of fact rather exploring a greater and more complex vein of truth.

    Perhaps the next blog you visit will fill you with enlightenment and truth; there is none to be found here.

    Oooh! A squirrel!

  • Monday, November 28, 2005

    Fun with a Parliamentary System

    Those of you who are up on your Canadian politics will know that there is a No-Confidence Vote pending in the House of Commons against the Government of Prime Minister Paul Martin. [Currently scheduled for 6:45 PM EST] If passed, the No Confidence Vote will effectively dissolve the House and mandate new Federal Elections in January.
    This is largely the plot of Star Wars Episode I... without that midichlorian bullshit. 
    I've often found this pecularity of the Westminster System to be particularly intriguing.  Actually, I suppose that our system here is the pecularity; I mean, the British System was around long before ours.  [Don't even get me started on the French!]
    I suppose that it's a trade off as we do kick out and reelect 468 (or so) of the same bozos every two years, while theirs may last a full five.  Of course, they get Question Time, while we get Spin Time. 
    Anyway, I long for the day that a sitting President (or his/her representative) is called to task by the opposition on the floor of the House.  Sad that the Founding Fathers didn't keep this little bit of drama, and instead opted for a separation of powers. 
    Of course, we don't have Le Bloc-Quebecois either, so there you go.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Flotsam and Jetsam

    With Thanksgiving creeping up on me like some giant creeping thing, I haven't been able to put together a coherrant thought in about three days. So much the better, I suppose. Here are some uncoherrant thoughts and blatent misspelings:

    Thank you Dennis Skosnik for single handedly upping my sitemeter count by about 25%. I hope those of you that were brought here because of an indicted #2 man at the Allegheny County Sherrif's Office will stay around for the brutal mockings of local public figures and the damn good pie.

    I suppose I have to start serving pie now.

    Get well wishes to Public Works Director Guy Costa who is recovering from a brain tumor. Early rumors were that Guy was to either stay on in his role at DPW or was going to take over the highly sought after role of City Manager. We shall see.

    Speaking of which, as everyone heard, O'Connor asked for the resignation of all City Department heads. No word on whether this included Authority heads or not. This move, while not unexpected, is unusual in that O'Connor requested the resignation outright. Typically, I recall department heads "offering" their resignation out of courtesy rather than it being demanded of them. No word either on how this affects pension or unemployment benefits.

    Actually I could really go for some pie, now that I think about it... I wonder if there is any in the fridge...

    The neat thing about Pittsburgh is that if you know the people in charge, you see them all the time just hangin' around. Saw Bobby O outside the USX building the other day on a cell phone, looking semi-mayor-electish... but a lot shorter than I remember.


    And, of course now us Pittsburgh Political Junkies can get our own Trading Cards. Be sure to get your Dan Deasey rookie card; it'll be worth more than the Johnny DeFazio. [I already have three packages and, sigh, 3 Michael Divens. Anyone want to trade me for a Cyril?]

    That's all for now... time for pie.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Burying Caesar

    An interesting article in the Trib, here on O'Connor's silence about the top post in his administration.

    OK, so the article isn't that exciting, but this quote was:

    "It's an experience that I don't think any of the rest of us had," [David] Donahoe [former aid to Mayor Richard Caliguiri] said. "We were in much more control. I mean, if we wanted to adjust tax rates, we did it. Now you can't do it -- no one will do it -- and you've got oversight. If the mayor said we were going to save the Pirates, that's what we did. There wasn't a question."
    Donahoe is right; that era is over.

    We're currently entering a new age in Pittsburgh politics, in my opinion, ending the Strong Mayor period. We'll never see the likes of a David Lawrence, a Pete Flaherty, a Dick Caliguiri, or, dare I say, it a Tom Murphy. At least through the next few years, we're going to see a weaker form of Mayoral governance for a variety of reasons:

    (1) The overall decline of center Cities in general;
    (2) The decline of Pittsburgh in relation to the suburbs;
    (3) The fiscal crisis (the proximate cause) and the related apparatii; and
    (4) The decline of the Democratic political machine.

    These are systemic factors, with their roots in both local and national politics and policies.

    The absense of these factors allows for:
    (1) Federal & State money being sent to Metropolitan areas;
    (2) Federal & State money being sent to Pittsburgh over the suburbs;
    (3) Unlimited (or nearly so) spending;
    (4) Patronage and credit claiming for projects at all levels.

    A Strong Mayor can get shit done, but can only do so if s/he has access to money, people, and power. That is no longer the case. The Mayor will now find himself bound to at least 2 oversight boards, and by extension the Governors and Legislatures, and more so to Council.

    Without a strong mayor, I predict that we will see an increase in consensus and coalition building. More people will be trying to share power; fewer big things will get done. Collaboration has its own perils; as I'm fond of saying, Rome didn't conquer the world by holding meetings, it did it by slaughtering all that opposed them.

    Like Murphy or not, he's left an indelible mark on this city, both in buildings and in our pocketbooks; it is unlikely that O'Connor and his successors will rise to the same level.

    Of course, that may not be a bad thing.

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    A Bureaucrat's Aside

    Despite what the local media seems to think, we at The Bureaucracy never do anything unethical, immoral, or illegal. This last one seems to be a bit of trouble for some of our clients, who want us to break, not the laws of the Commonwealth or the Federal Government, but the laws of Mathematics.

    Let me try to explain this last one:

    Despite what the clients seem to think, 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 does not = 3... no matter how hard you may try.

    OK, we can make 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 = 6, that's easy: just add in a larger value of 1.

    But 3? Ridiculous.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Of course you know, this means war...

    I can't go into details, but it has recently become necessary for me to wage war on certain parties.

    We have determined that the best way to accomplish this is to blast them out with sound, taking a page from that eminent warrior George Bush... no, no, no the first one, not chowder-head. If you recall, a similar tactic was used on Manuel Noriega and in the Gulf War. Our objective is the total annoyance and capitulation of the enemy... because basically, at heart, I'm a bastard and they deserver it.

    I have begun to select songs that, in my opinion, after 40 to 50 times on repeat, will drill themselves into the enemy's skull, causing insanity.

    So far, the list includes:

    Jingle Bells (Barking Dog Version)
    Barbie Girl (Aqua)
    I Want Candy (Bow Wow Wow)
    If You Steal My Sunshine (Len)
    Wannabe - Club Remix (Spice Girls)
    Cotton Eyed Joe (Redneck)
    The Hampster Dance - Club Remix
    These Boots Were Made for Walking (Nancy Sinatra)
    Can't Get You Out of My Head (Kylie Minogue)
    Breathless (The Coors)
    Don't Worry, Be Happy (Bobby McFerrin)
    Rock the Casbah (The Clash)

    Now, we turn to you, the loyal blog reader, to suggest additions to the playlist.

    The Rules are:
    (1) It must be a song... no nails on chalkboard or such.
    (2) The song must be available, preferably, legally.
    (3) It can't be just a bad song; it has to be irritatingly bad.

    Now go do the voodoo that you do so well! Have fun.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2005

    Who Lives Dahntahn?

    AntiRust alerted me to the new Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program Report on national downtown living trends.

    The Highlights:

  • During the 1990s, downtown population grew by 10 percent, a marked resurgence
    following 20 years of overall decline.

  • From 1970 to 2000, the number of downtown households increased 8 percent—
    13 percent in the 1990s alone—and their composition shifted.

  • Downtown homeownership rates more than doubled during the thirty-year period,
    reaching 22 percent by 2000.

  • Downtowns are more racially and ethnically diverse than 20 years ago.

  • In general, downtowns boast a higher percentage of both young adults and
    college-educated residents than the nation’s cities and suburbs.

  • Downtowns are home to some of the most and least affluent households of their
    cities and regions.

  • OK... that's cheating... I pulled that off the cover sheet. Digging deeper:

  • Mostly, as cities grew or shrunk, so did the downtowns. Pittsburgh, from 1970 to 2000 overall was, unsurprisingly, one of the double down cities. The effect of the new County Jail, however, did bring up the overall downtown population from 1990-2000. [Whoo hoo!]

  • Downtowns are not traditional single family neighborhoods; 71% of the population of downtowns are "non-families."

  • Pittsburgh is the only downtown with a high percentage of black residents not in the South.

  • Hispanic and Asian immigrants have helped to drive downtown population growth.

  • Young people and Empty-Nesters make up sizable portions of downtown populations.

  • Pittsburgh is classified as a "Slow-Growing" Downtown, meaning that, while it seems to be growing, it is doing so at a pace that lags behind the region as a whole.

  • OK, now AntiRust threw down the gauntlet, challenging Pittsburgh's redevelopment officials not to say:
    This report supports our current efforts to create a cooperative atmosphere among people dedicated to breathing life back into downtown Pittsburgh. It calls for all of us--local government, state government and the private sector--to come together in creative ways to create an atmosphere conducive to business and cultural amenities, and to build on Pittsburgh's historic success in reinventing its downtown.
    I'm probably the closest thing we're going to get on this blog to a redevelopment official (and even that's a stretch), but I'll gladly take the proxy fight, even though this is not my forte.

    Here's what Pittsburgh's Redevelopment Officials should read into the report:

    (1) This reports supports the, heretofore unchallenged ancedotal, assertion that there is a growing market for downtown living. That's good news; if nothing else it means that this is not a batshit insane idea and that developing Downtown is a reasonable and positive goal.

    (2) Based on the findings of the report, it is unlikely that Downtown Pittsburgh will ever become a "Fully-Developed" Downtown in the near future. By the Brookings metric, there are only five existing today (Boston, Midtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan, Chicago, and Philadelphia). Pittsburgh cannot be those downtowns, and should, instead, aim lower.

    (3) The original 5th & Forbes plan, and probably the second, third, and whatever the one before the current one, were all misguided; the strength of Downtown lies in its intrinsic "Downtown-ness" (i.e., interesting architecture, density, diversity, etc.). Let the thing grow as naturally as possible without imposing an overarching Development, all the while cognisant that certain market (and governmental) failures need correcting.

    (4) The report makes some key points about the rental market in Downtowns in that it is the predominent player. This will be difficult in Pittsburgh where it is cheap to buy a reasonable house. There will be a social and economic tradeoff in either providing homeownership opportunities or fostering the rental market. This also touches upon the social and economic implication of social stratification within the downtown.

    (5) Metrics. Create some. With Census data, at least you can compare how you are doing in various aspects against other census tracts or other Cities' downtowns. What is the shift in population from the suburbs to downtown? What is the share of educated workforce downtown? In all these metrics should measure at least population, household type, education, income, and race and compare them across census tracts in the City and across cities. At least you'll know where you're standing.

    (6) What types of pre-existing programs can be currently exploited to take advantage of the market segment that seems to favor downtown? Should Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation be putting more grant money into downtown to improve facades? Should the Urban Redevelopment Authority expand 2nd mortgage programs to capture homeownership opportunities? What do we currently have that is working elsewhere that we can import to this neighborhood?

    (7) Are we actually tailoring these programs and projects to meet the needs of those that seem to want to live downtown (the young, the empty-nesters, the immigrants, etc.)?

    So, if I was a redevelopment official for Pittsburgh, I would look at this report not as support to our downtown initiatives, but a chance and a challenge to re-examine the choices that have been made in an attempt to more narrowly focus on areas of potential success and to find ways of objectively measuring that success within the context of the region.

    Oh and subsidies for loft housing mixed with retail... and transit sucks. No charge for those.

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    Memo to Bob O'Connor

    The Post-Gazette ran a feature this Sunday: memos from various people, providing advice to Bob O'Connor.

    Here's my 300 word nugget of advice:

    Congratulations, Mr. O’Connor on your recent election to the office of Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. I wish you much success during your term of office.

    I would like to warn you, however, that you have just found yourself elected to what could possibly be one of the most difficult jobs in this country: Mayor of a Declining Urban Area. Pittsburgh fares better than its Mid-West counterparts, in some cases, but in large you have inherited a declining urban area and all the social and economic problems associated therewith.

    Don’t expect to solve all these problems; it is impossible.

    You will quickly find yourself hamstrung by the State Legislature, the Governor, the City Council, the oversight boards, various community groups, private citizens, the press, special interest groups and, yes, even your own bureaucracy. These actors will not make your job easier and their competing agendas will stymie your own ambitions.

    Still, you have an advantage over all of these groups: you are the one who can set the agenda... should you choose to do so.

    Should you wish the best and success for this City my advice is simple: first, find out what we are doing well and continue to do it. Second, find out what, if we made some marginal improvements, we would be doing well, and make those marginal improvements.

    There will be those that will try to convince you that we can be everything, but they are wrong; stick to what we can do, not what we should do.

    Finally, and this is personal, take time to listen to those within the bowels of 414 Grant Street and mine their experience; they are the ones who really know what’s going on, and can help you with what is going right in this city.

    Good luck.

    Friday, November 11, 2005

    Allegheny Conference on Community Development Review

    Let's get down to it:

    Generally, when Murray Gerber, President and CEO of Equitable Resources, has to ask you to stand up and stretch before his speech, the conference has gone on too long. Also the people in the back rows and the upper balconies somehow managed to find their way into the reception at least an hour before those on the ground floor... but we'll get to that in a minute.

    As I mentioned before, and true to my expectations, The Bassmaster Classic was a highlighted feature of the Conference presentation; the word "Bassmaster" was mentioned 8 times during the 2 hour and 6 minute presentation. This did not include the near half-dozen times they showed the word "Bassmaster" on the screen. The only consolation was that I came closest in the pool: I bet that they would mention "Bassmaster" 10 times.

    Anyway, here are the Conference's 2005 Accomplishments:
    * Aversion of the City of Pittsburgh's Financial Crisis
    * Row Office Reform
    * Elimination of the State's Capital Stock & Transfer Taxes
    * The Sun Coming up in the East and Setting in the West

    Well, OK, not the last one.... but the way that they were talking, you'd think that it would be the next logical accomplishment.

    Of course, the "Alanis Morrisette Memorial Award for Irony" went to the call for the Conference to "embrace change". Of course, in the next breath they exhorted the media, rather than being negative, "to be part of the solution." Can't imagine what that might have been in reference to.

    Big focus this year is on Cluster Development Strategies, namely Advanced Materials, Information Technologies, and Bioscience. The Advanced Optics Cluster in Armstrong County got a big video shout out, as did the creepy "Quasi," an entertainment robot out to find Sarah Connor.

    The strategy is to develop the capabilities of Oakland to capture this cluster development through:
    * The Schenley Plaza expansion
    * The Improvement of Transit
    * Connecting Oakland to the Second Avenue Development Sites

    Oh, yeah, and tech-transfer and public sector support.

    For some reason, they showed slides of their vacation to Boston. I think they went on a 54 hr. benchmarking binge. Turns out that since 1998, Boston's cohort of 20-24 yr. olds only grew 4% as compared to Pittsburgh's 12%. More on that later.

    Of course, the big thing that everyone was talking about before the meeting was the 250 Anniversary "Rebranding"... which wasn't so much of a "Rebranding" as it was a deadline. By 2008 The Conference will:
    * Change Government in Southwestern PA
    * Make Taxes More Competitive
    * Improve Infrastructure
    * Improve the Workforce
    * Achieve Growth in Strategic Sectors
    * Solve Fermat's Last Theorem
    * Change Water into Wine
    * Become Love

    But back to workforce development, which is only slightly less exciting than that Wine thing.

    Turns out that the Children are Our Future; risky investment there. And though it has been rarely asked, "Is our children learning?" The Conference has asked, and the answer is, "No, they isn't."

    The Conference has been on this kick for the last few years to make every fifth grade in the region proficient in reading and math. Turns out that we've had modest improvement in reading, which is tracking well against the trendline, although math is lagging behind.

    So they bring out the Superintendent from South Fayette who's had success in improving her district. Her plan:
    * High expectations (everyone can succeed);
    * Create a culture of learning, driven by data;
    * Create a Common vision for Board & Staff and reinforce it with shared accountability.

    I distinctly heard a "BULLSHIT!" coming from behind me when she got to point 1.

    Taxes and government need to be reformed. Their studies indicate that the SWPA region ranks high in municipal "stress," i.e., too many complicated layers of government in too small of an area. Nothing was said about "Bureaucrat Stress"... although judging by the amount of alcohol served at the reception, I think they found a way to relieve it.

    Oh, yeah, and the Corporate Net Income Tax is high. That's bad, apparently.

    But back to Pittsburgh 250... no, let's not.

    But, and this is at about the 1 hour and 45 minute mark, incoming Chair James E. Rohr had a few (15) minutes to talk about his "vision" for the region. Simply stated, his first point was this: since 1983 we've come a long way. His examples were the transformation of the Cultural District, the North Shore, the South Side, and Homestead... all of which were decimated after the final fall of Steel in 1983. His statistics to prove that we are improving: Since 1983, job growth is up (See! There ARE jobs). Since 1998, the 20-24 year old cohort has increased 12% (See! Young people ARE coming here). Secondary schools are performing well (See! The Schools aren't completely F'd up!).

    His plan, and he has consultants for this, is to
    (1) Reform Taxes and Government
    (2) Improve Transportation (including the Mon-Fayette and increasing access from the Airport to Oakland & Downtown)
    (3) Sell the Region (We're apparently too negative about ourselves)

    OK, Jimmy... you just spent 30 minutes telling us that the schools are underperforming, and now you're telling us they're fine...

    You spent the last two years telling us that Young People have been leaving the city, and now you say that they're staying in droves...

    (And, as a side point, you used a stupid statistic: 20-24 yr olds are a ridiculous example; how are we doing with people that, you know, have jobs? Say, 25-35 year olds?)

    You constantly say "we need more jobs" and then say, "hey, job growth has been good for the last 20 years"...

    You say, there needs to be a transit link from Oakland to the Airport... but you've obviously never ridden the 28X bus. $2 to the airport... perhaps your staff is familiar with that route?

    You say, we need the Mon-Fayette Expressway to create jobs in the Mon Valley, but then say that all those jobs disappeared 20 years ago...

    You talk about Direct and Indirect Influence of the Conference... but you don't ever explain what that means...

    And frankly, you seem to take a lot of credit for stuff you may, or may not, have done.

    This is what I came away with from the meeting: The Conference needs to re-image itself as a touch-stone for businesses. Screw all this Community Development bullshit; come to terms with the fact that The Conference is in it for the Benjamins.

    This is not a bad thing: the region needs jobs, it needs businesses, it even needs people to organize this kind of stuff... just don't pretend that you are the be all and end all of growth and development in the region. Focus, instead, on what seems to be your core competencies: lobbying, data collection, and booze.

    So add me to the negative voices.


    The Conference reception is, by far, one of the great ugly people conventions in Pittsburgh. It's a chance for Everyone and Anyone to forget they are No One, and pretend to be Someone. And there are a lot of ugly people. Including Larry Dunn.

    And, because all the people in the peanut gallery decided to sneak out at about 1 hr 12 min into the presentation, the hors d'oeuvres were picked clean.

    It took a lot of drinking to undo the evening's damage to my psyche, but I hope to go next year as well.

    Wednesday, November 09, 2005

    Allegheny Conference Teaser

    Movie studios do "Teaser Trailers" so, I assume, so can blogs...

    At the Allegheny Conference on Community Development Meeting, the word "Bassmaster" was uttered 8 times.

    And Michael Madison got needlessly burned.

    More later, as the copious amounts of alcohol burn off.

    Bob Wants YOU, Mother****er

    Fresh from his victory last night, the Silver Fox wasted no time in soliciting candidates for the various boards, authorities, and commissions.
    Those of you that have always dreamed of being on the Comprehensive Municipal Pension Trust Fund Board now have your chance to be considered for this exciting position that combines the thrill of Pensions with the passion of Municipal Governance, mixes with a dash of Comprehensiveness and a hint of Fund. 
    Woooo hooo!
    Anyway, something struck me:
    (1) A car.
    I got up from that accident, exchanged insurance, and had some additional thoughts:
    (1) Honestly, do you really think that YOU are going to be chosen for any of these boards?  You think Bob's going to just give away powerful and influential seats to, say, that guy in Oakland with the Sombrero?  I don't think so.  These jobs are going to go to Friends of Bob, except for the Sinking Fund Commission, which will be going to Enemies of Bob.
    (2) Is Bob sure that he really wants to post these things on the Internets?  I mean, *anybody* could apply for them...
    (3) ...unless this is some sort of faux populism that Bob is purveying. 
    (4) Seriously, YOU?  I have a feeling that Bob knows who he wants already.  Don't delude yourself.
    Anyway, I thoroughly hope to enjoy an appointment to the Commission on Naming Public Properties.  I intend to name everything "Steve" and call it a day.  Should be easy.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Final Thoughts on the 2005 Pittsburgh General Election

    It feels a bit presumptuous to have "final thoughts" on a topic on which I've barely had first thoughts.  I, however, have never let presumptuousness stand in my way, so her goes:
    First, I predict Bob O'Connor to win the mayoral election.  Big shock there.  In order to make it interesting, however, the question should be reframed as "how much will O'Connor win by?" or, if you want to be a stickler for grammar, "by how much will O'Connor win?" 
    The Trib is predicting that about 60-70% of the electorate will stay home, which could mean that the outcome may be decided by about 40-50,000 people or less.  I'm going to assume that patterns are going to be similar to the 2001 election, in which Murphy trounced James Carmine 39,257 to 12,175 (or roughly a 3:1 ratio).  I'll compare that to the supposed 5:1 advantage Democrats have in the City (although a reputablesource for this elusive statistic has been difficult to find).
    Anywho, Bob needs to do better than 3:1 over Weinroth in order to be a real "winner"... or at least claim more of a mandate than Murphy's last win.  I'm going to be comparing the actuals throughout the City to the 3:1 and 5:1 benchmarks to see in which wards the Republicans are making in-roads, if at all.  If Bob does worse than 3:1, we may see the Republicans take a closer look at the City of Pittsburgh as a viable target.
    Second, how many Peduto, Lamb, Ludwig, etc. supporters are going to sit on their hands today?
    Third, I think you'll see a huge turn out for Bob in Greenfield, Hazelwood, and the neighborhoods with a higher percentage of African-American voters... all of whom have a vested intered in an O'Connor Administration.  Or at least the ward chairs do.    
    Fourth, the Democratic Party in Pittsburgh has become like a caged bear: slothful, obese, and moribund.  I hate to say it, as my Democratic Ward Chair Grandmother will rise from the grave and strangle me, but without natural competition ( i.e. viable Republican challengers), the Democrats have gotten lazy, and more so in recent years.  I think we've nearly reached a point that people vote Democrat, not because they truly like the party in Pittsburgh, but because (a) the alternative is philosophically worse and (b) the alternative would be fundamentally disruptive to the status quo.      
    So, here's my bit of advice for the Republicans: run Elsie Hillman. 
    OK, not necessarily Elsie, but some Republican with high visability and invovlement in the community and who is perceived as "non-threatening".  You need someone who understands the status quo and can move slowly towards change, rather than radical revolution.  You can't advocate upsetting the apple cart when everyone has their apples there; you can, however, advocate offloading the apples.  You may call it selling out; I call it pragmatism.
    Alright, with that: go vote.  Or die.  Preferably vote. 

    Monday, November 07, 2005

    Victim #7

    Last one. I swear.

    In case you missed them:
    Victim #6
    Victim #5
    Victim #2

    and for those of you that remember when the race was actually interesting:
    Victim #1
    Victim #3
    Victim #4


    David Tessitor

    OK, Bill Peduto's flashing caused me to have an epileptic seizure...
    Bob O'Connor's hair scared me...
    Michael Lamb's head looked like a bucket...
    Joe Weinroth wouldn't stop shouting...
    Titus North was green...
    Les Ludwig was minimalistic suckitude.

    But none of these pages made my head hurt as much as Tessitor's.

    Here's a sample:

    David Tessitor's guiding question is: "Who do we have here and what do we need to do to take care of us?" It means taking care of what we have, both in terms of people and the built and natural environment. It also means not trying to be something we aren't and not foresaking everything in hopes of courting favor with people who couldn't care less.

    In case you're confused: guiding question effectively underlies all decision making, whether it is expressly stated or vaguely conceptualized and unspoken.

    Look, I don't like to admit this, but I've read Aristotle, I've read Kant, I've read St. Anselm ("That which a greater cannot be thought cannot be thought to be greater than a that which a greater can be thought.")... but Tessitor's page is so full of aethereal vagaries and solopsistic syllogisms that it makes my head hurt. Add a few ispo factos and QEDs and you'll have the beginnings of a Political Philosophy PhD dissertation.

    I need a drink to continue.

    Mmm... beer.

    Dave (I) reminds us that two of the last four mayors of Pittsburgh were Independents (Caligiri and Flaherty). He doesn't mention, of course, that these guys were basically disaffected members of the Democratic machine... and that Flaherty was first elected in 1968.

    You don't want to know how old I was at the time.

    Anyway, on to Dave's page:

    404 Not Found

    Hmmm... Someone should call their webmaster.

    404 Not Found

    OK... Someone should fire their webmaster.

    404 Not Found

    Seriously? The webmaster needs to be beaten.

    Current Efforts
    404 Not Found

    People! C'mon! WTF?

    404 Not Found


    Dave's Writings
    404 Not Found

    BAH! To Hell with this!

    Ooh! Found something.

    Let's look at Dave's Strategy for Education:
    Apparently, and I am not making this up, Dave believes: The primary reason Asian immigrant children excel in school is that up to three or more generations of the family may gather around the kitchen table to go over the day's lessons, the elder family members learning and teaching themselves along with the children.

    Hear that Black people! Stop smoking those menthol cigarettes and eating ribs and start teaching your children! You Honkeys: Stop watching reality TV and wearing plaid! And you Hispanics... well... you're hopeless. And let's not even mention those greaseball goombas, those micks, or the Krauts. Fuck the Dutch.*

    I'm going to say that Dave's Educational Strategy needs a bit of tweeking.

    But let's not even start on the Neighborhood Integrated Services Committees.

    Dave... Dude. Seriously. Dude. Have you ever looked at your hands... I mean... really looked at your hands. OOOH! Taco shells!

    * This, of course, is all satire. I love people of all races, creeds, nationalities, sexual orientations, and genders. 'Cept the Dutch.**
    ** This, of course, is also satire. I don't even know any Dutch people.***
    *** This is a lie.

    Victim #6

    As much as it pains me to do so, here I go, once again putting life and limb on the line for you, the loyal blog readers so that we can communally mock those that dare to run for public office.

    Here's one such thrashing, and another.

    And on we go...

    Joe Weinroth








    JOE IS...

    Sorry, let me start again.

    Joe is Jewish, a Lawyer, and a Republican or a Jewish Republican Lawyer or a Lawyer who is both Jewish and Republican. I think he's also the Mr. April in Republican Jewish Lawyer Magazine. Check out the centerfold where Joe shows us his briefs.

    Yeah. I think you need bleach to burn that image out of your mind.


    I did try to contact the Citizens for Weinroth office, but apparently they don't respond to carrier pigeon... or people visiting during working hours.


    Joe has more Promises than, say, five, but they are all unintersting. Personally, I'd like to see some of the following "promises" incorporated into a Weinroth platform:

  • Eat weight in M&Ms;
  • Gratuitously use the word "winkle" during all addresses to City Council;
  • Learn to Yodel;
  • Forbid hats under two feet in height;
  • 10% Cut in Mayor's Salary; 10% Bonus to Strippers;
  • Sell URA & City Real Estate to that Apprentice guy with the bad toupe;
  • Once and for all, figure out who shot Ted Kennedy; and

    Here's a sampling of Joe's Links:
  • Republican Committee of Pittsburgh
  • Republican Committee of Allegheny County
  • Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania
  • Republican National Committee
  • Young Republicans of Allegheny County
  • University of Pittsburgh College Republicans
  • Teen Age Republicans
  • Young Conservatives of Pennsylvania
  • Pennsylvania Republican Assembly
  • National Assembly of Irish American Republicans

    I sense a pattern... until, that is, I get to:
  • Allegheny County Legislative/Duquesne Light

    Um... Que?

    Joe is a Jewish Republican Lawyer, who is Republican and Jewish with a volume management issue... and a 5:1 handicap.

  • Friday, November 04, 2005

    Bush to Congress: Confirm Now; Congress to Bush: No

    El Network de News Centralio has this article, which, while it doesn't add much, sets a few dates for the confirmation hearings of Judge Alito. Basically, Bush wanted before Christmas; Congress said January 9... which, according to my calendar is even after Orthodox Christmas.

    Either this means (a) Congress is not thrilled about Alito, (b) Congress is exercising its seperation of powers (as opposed to "jazzercising" the seperation of powers), (c) Congress wants to punt until after local elections to get a sense of the way the elctorate is blowing, (d) Congress wants to put it off until after the New Year's Vacation and Hangover is gone, or (e) all or none of the above.

    Personally, I just think that they want to put it off as long as possible and cram it all at the last possible minute and finish it all at 5 AM; like in college. Perhaps they'll be stoned out of their minds too.

    Ooooh... taco shells!

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    Special Prosecutor Indicts Scooter


    WASHINGTON (AP) — The investigation into who leaked the name of a covert CIA agent in an apparent effort to punish a critic of the Bush administration's justification for war in Iraq took a shocking turn when Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicted Scooter, the long-time gofer on The Muppet Show.

    The indictment of the 43-year-old muppet — long the right-hand man to Muppet Show host Kermit T. Frog — sent shockwaves through both Washington and the Muppet Theater, as the investigation moved closer to implicating other muppets, including Dr. Teeth, Sam the Eagle, and George W. Bush...

    Read more.

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005

    Victim #5

    Less than a week to go, and here I am with a slew of Mayoral Candidates' Web Pages to mock, in my own smarmy way.

    Well, maybe not a slew... more like Five.

    And I already did one candidate for the primary. Just FYI, and in case you were wondering: Bob is STILL a True Son of Pittsburgh with now added emphasis in Yellow.

    But, speaking of other colours:

    Titus North

    Take a wild guess what colour the GREEN Candidate for mayor used on his website.

    Go on... guess.


    Give up?

    The Answer is mauve.


    No, it's GREEN. F'ing GREEN! NO originality here. Titus probably named his dog "Dog", his children "Son" and "Daughter", and his blue plaid jacket "an abomination unto humanity."

    Actually the photo of Titus (in the plural, "Titii"), isn't too bad, athough he looks like Grover's bastard love child, probably conceived during a hot orgy with the Letters Q, T, and the Number 5. If THAT statement didn't ruin your childhood innocence, you've obviously not read this blog before.

    The Titus North Issues Page are chock full of relevant, local public policy decisions that need to be made by the next mayor, including improving public schools, saving public transportation, and ending the occupation in Iraq.

    Errr... wha? [Seriously? That's what it says? Huh.]

    Um... dude? You realize, of course, that... um... you're running for Mayor of Pittsburgh, right? And that your authority wouldn't even extend into Mt. Oliver, right? I just think we should be clear on that matter before you try to reinstitute the Smoot-Hawley tarrif, mkay?

    Moving on.

    Here are some ideas (or, as the President likes to say, "eye-dears") from Titus' Issues Page:

    * Renegotiate the contracts governing the operation of the stadiums to provide the city with more revenue, and end the corporate welfare going to sports franchises;
    * End the huge executive salaries of UPMC by making them pay city service fees;
    * End the War on Drugs;
    * Stop Police from being racist or brutal;
    * Maintain viable public transit;
    * Improve schools;
    * Build the Green Party.
    OK, I lied. There really were no ideas, just statements.

    Searching further, I see that Titus is for gouging the Salvation Army, putting Police in Boxes, giving disabled people abandoned buildings, sad songs at midnight, and kicking puppies.

    I could be wrong about that though.

    The Events Page is pretty sparse. Someone might want to think about inviting Titus out for a drink or a hummus sandwich.

    Here's a little snippet from the Volunteer/Donate page:
    You are also welcome to join us for campaign meetings every Saturday morning at The Quiet Storm, 5430 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh 15206 (Friendship/Garfield) beginning at 9:30 a.m. It's best to email first in case there's a change in plans.
    I think this means either
    (a) The meeting is cancelled if Steve's mom won't let him borrow the Camry,
    (b) The campaign may, and with out warning, be cancelled, or
    (c) The Green Party is seriously toked on Friday nights.

    The Bio Page is also pretty sparse. University of Pittsburgh adjunct (read: "not a real") professor, blah, blah, blah, political and financial analyst, blah, blah, blah, Japanese translator, blah, blah, blah, banjo, blah HOLY SHIT! Dude is a friggin' karate instructor!

    I take back all the horrible things I've said above, in fear that this peace activist will kick my ass all over the City.

    Needs more Greene. Also, spellcheck keeps autocorrecting 'Titus' as 'Tits'; I'd vote for "Tits North," by the way.

    Titus is a whack job, not qualified to be mayor of Pittsburgh; nominate him instead to the Supreme Court.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005


    I'm suffering from a horrible case of exhaustion because of the weekend's activities... and yes, I realize that it is Tuesday.

    Thursday through Sunday could be blamed on the drinking. Monday could be blamed on the Steelers' (near) loss and a lack of sleep from Thursday through Monday. Tuesday is definitely blamed on The Bureaucracy, and all the related trials and travails.

    I'll pick up tomorrow after I have myself a little cry under my desk and find my binky.