Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bureaucracy U

I saw this post over at the P-G's Early Returns "Blog," in part talking about a proposed Public Service Academy*

modeled on the country's prestigious military academies.

It would provide a four-year, federally-funded college education for students who are willing to give a five-year commitment to working as public servants (teachers, police officers, elected officials) after they graduate...

The first class would have about 1,300 spots for students from across the country, using the same congressional nomination process that secures recruits for West Point.

The curriculum would combine "a broad-based liberal arts education with an emphasis on public service and leadership development."
You can read the PSA's mission here.

Now, this proposal pisses me off, and here's why.

First, Public Service is not rocket science... unless you work for NASA, then it's not Brain Surgery. Public Service is so easy that the ancient Athenian basically pulled names out of a hat to fill slots. Of course, your average Athenian citizen was probably a bit more educated than a lot of the yahoos that fill government today.

Which brings me to the second point: all you really need to be a successful public servant is to have a decent liberal arts education, back up with robust math and writing, a bit of law, some rhetoric, and get a booster shot of interpersonal relationship skills and BAM! instant public servant. Hell, I'm sure that you can probably find one or two schools in the region that might just be able to offer those kinds of skills.

Which pretty much covers the third point: why build an entire school? Wouldn't it be more efficient just to set up some sort of ROTC program for Bureaucrats? Couldn't you just set up some defered student loan program, payable only if a student doesn't complete the required 5 years of service?

More importantly, can this be retroactive and applied to, say, me?

And finally, I know it's popular to blame the Bureaucrats, but wouldn't it make more sense, to educate, say... elected officials? Or are you just saying that the Bureaucracy is too stupid to immplement all these "rules" and "regulations" politicians have to offer? Like, say, Net Neutrality.

But if this does move forward, I'd like to offer my services up to teach Sarcasm, Disdain, and Political Theory. Until then, I'm rushing Pi Sigma Alpha and Upsilon Sigma Chi**.

* Go Fightin' Triplicates!
** One of these may be real; the other is a marginally funny pun.


Rock Hard, Throbbing Subpoenas

No doubt everyone has heard the news that Congress is ready to issue subpoenas for Prince of Darkness Karl Rove and professional "Madame" Impersonator Harriet Miers. I'm personally hoping for blood, but a good Congressional inquiry rarely makes for interesting television; although the Executive Privilege episode of Gilmore Girls had me in tears.

On that note, if you have a second, check out this article by John W. Dean (yes, *that* John Dean*), regarding, of all things, the "Unitary Executive Theory." In it, Dean argues discusses how the "Party of Limited Government" has, ironically enough, embraced the necessity of an all-powerful President as almost an article of faith.

More practically speaking, Dean draws parallels to the 1982 conflict between the Reagan White House and Congress over EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch. In the end, the White House backed down in order to preserve Executive Privilege for another day. Dean does not believe that Bush will do the same, leading to an inevitable clash between the two co-equal branches.

Check it out.

* No, not the sausage maker! That's Jimmy Dean.**
** And James Dean was in Rebel Without a Cause. Idiots!

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Mayor! (Huh!) What is one good for?

I spent all weekend trying to come up with an answer to Prof. Madison's assertion over here that

the who's in / who's out / who's playing by the rules / who's not details of Grant Street are largely irrelevant to the future of Pittsburgh as an economically viable community.
To a large extent this is fairly true, and the recent proliferation of Pittsburgh Political blogs seems to be akin to such hobbies as Fantasy Football or Dungeons and Dragons.* Pittsburgh politics in my opinion is just an agreeable pastime, or, more accurately a disagreeable pastime. To blatantly steal from Mark Twain, politics is a good conversation spoiled.

But Prof. Mike has a good point: as strange as it may sound, the Mayor of Pittsburgh is basically irrelevant to the survival of the Pittsburgh Region.

But why?

Well, first, unlike the polis of ancient Greece,** the job of the Mayor of a metropolitan city is not to rightly guide its citizenry towards Aristotelian civic virtue. The immediate benefit is that you neve have to ever see Luke in a toga. Nowadays, more practically (and relevant to today) I would say that the Mayor's job involves (a) being the chief advocate of the City, (b) providing for its public safety, (c) distributing services, (d) managing its accounts and employees, and (e) enforcing regulations and collecting fees (including taxes).

This is a fairly broad job description, but it encompasses the fire bureau, city parks, police, building inspection, finance, real estate, etc. etc. etc. Very little of it, however, has to do with Economic Development, per se. In fact, one of the most important items tied to economic development (I would argue), the school system, is not even under the mayor's purview.

[The URA, HACP, and SEA, I would argue, can and do provide economic development services, but only so far as they can provide land and financing. They cannot create, let's say, a biotech or IT cluster on their own. Moreover, the Mayor can only encourage these Authorities to push policies and projects and, even then, only within the City of Pittsburgh and potentially at the expense of other parts of the Region. But that's another discussion.]

So what *can* the Mayor do to encourage Economic Development in the Region? Well, he can provide Land, low taxes, easier regulations, some services (including development grants), and so forth. This, however, is deceptive.

See, in my opinion, the real economic development struggle is between Regions. If Cleveland had gotten Westinghouse instead of Cranberry, it would have been a net loss for the Pittsburgh Region. A move from one end of Allegheny County to its outskirts is a break even situation. While I am a big supporter of agglomeration economics, however, I doubt the Pittsburgh Mayor's Office did or could have done anything about this move. The real competition was the potential loss of Big W to anywhere else in the country, not to Cranberry.

My point is this: because of the fragmentary nature of the Pittsburgh Region, the Mayor of Pittsburgh is only one of many players in the Economic Development world. Those players that have the potential to provide opportunities for real, sustainable economic growth work off of Grant Street. Pittsburgh can't grow if the Commonwealth business taxes are too high or if talent isn't being churned out of the universities, for example. Aside from going to other people and begging/encouraging/crying, there is little the Mayor can do to affect these groups. Even still, the Mayor of Pittsburgh is elected to work for the benefit of the City of Pittsburgh, not necessarily the benefit of Aspinwall.

In a sense, the Mayor can always make things worse: high crime, high local taxes, high debt, etc. all make us look bad, but the opposite won't necessarily attract anyone to the Region. More likely, it'll just attract from within the Region, breaking even again.

So while the Mayor might be good for something, in such a fragmented system where the real opportunities to attract sustainable growth exist ourside his control, it doesn't seem like he's good for much.***

* You dealt my Peduto 30 points of damage!
*** And that's before you take into consideration the oversight boards, the State legislature, city-council, the controller, and everyone else with their hands in the pot.

Tag(s): ,

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Winners Never Quit, BILL!

Alright, now that everyone's settled down a bit, here are some real thoughts about the whole Peduto withdrawal thing:

I'm with JP in that I don't believe that Otis dropped out because he didn't want the campaign to go negative. Democrats are intimately familiar with and painfully aware of the power of negative campaigning. To say a politician is above "going negative" is like saying the sea is above the sky.

Dayvoe's interview with Doug Sheilds, however, presents a more nuanced picture: Bill doesn't want to go negative because it will affect his image and his ability to run for office in the future. Indeed, when so much of the Democratic establishment lines up against you, it may not be a wise move to twirl up a wet towel and whack their boy in the love spuds. Anybody with an older brother on 'roids will tell you that much. If Bill was hoping to count on the support of some of those establishment funders later down the road on another campaign, best not to enrage them now.

Or as the first vulgar saying goes: "Don't shit in your own bed."

More subtly, however, I would argue that the effectiveness of negative campaigning at this point also had something to do with Bill's decision. With only (Um... September... January... February) seven months in office, it was difficult for Peduto to argue that Ravenstahl conceived policies were bad. If Luke had been in office for twelve years, a la Tom Murphy, Bill would have many more defective policies to target. Unfortunately, without a good, solid, broad issue to hang his hopes on, the campaign had to basically rely on the old chestnut, "Anything you can do I can do better."

So, perhaps this is a tactical manoeuvre on Bill's part: give the kid a bit more rope and let him hang himself with it in '09.

But this brings me back to the efficacy point. The number of Ravenstahl scandals seemed to multiply every day; from the first "Arrested at a Steeler's Game" to the "RonAir Trip" and everything in between, there was enough ammunition for the Peduto camp to work off of. Unfortunately for Otis' campaign, very little of it seemed to stick to Opie. Considering some of the blistering missteps made, one would have thought that Luke would have been a dead duck; but that was not to be. Perhaps Bill just felt that at this point, if the kid can weather these political storm nothing (short of a dead girl or a live boy) is going to turn the campaign around with only one and a half months to go.

Or, as the second vulgar saying goes: Don't piss into the wind.

Bill's major disadvantage was that he was running against a blank slate incumbent. Luke could decide what he wanted to be and force the apparatus of government to enact policies that would be popular, knowing full well that they only have to effective until right after the election. That may be cynical, but I don't think that it's coincidental that after blowing off the Lower Hill last week and alienating members of the Black leadership, the administration resurrected and resolved the lingering Oak Hill residents/University of Pittsburgh problem in the former Allequippa Terrace housing projects.

Although, if they had waited a couple days until after Bill's withdrawal, they wouldn't have had to rush around to get something accomplished.

I doubt that Otis is going to sit back and pull an October surprise, jumping into the Fall race, partially because that will just possibly tick off those all important Democratic funders, but mostly because I'm pretty sure that switching parties is illegal at this point. Chris Briem has the same hunch.

But them's my thoughts for now. Hopefully I can slough off the local politics for awhile and get to stuff that really matters to my readers:

Federal reductions in CDBG allocations to Cities and the benefits of a land/building split real estate tax.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bill Peduto Withdraws From Mayor's Race

Hundreds of Pittsburgh Peduto supporters commit mass suicide.

Councilman Peduto at 3PM press conference.

Message from the Great Leader: "All is well! Peace will be with you. Kool-Aid line forms to the left."

More Details Inside:
  • Peduto Shadyside compound alight after ATF raid (Page 2);
  • Burghosphere dark; several prominent bloggers missing, presumed weepy. (Page 4);
  • Drink Specials half off at Cappy's (Page 5);
  • Sarin gas attack in North Shore Extension foiled by lack of North Shore Extension (Page 7);
  • Bill Peduto's face seen in local tortilla (Page 10);
  • Luke Ravenstahl giggles uncontrollably (Page 1138).
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Fair und Balanced - Part II

Nice to see that I was slightly ahead of the curve, raising the issue of Luke's whereabouts during the Hill District Community meeting and the Mayor leaving poor, defenseless County Executive to fend for himself (and during a re-election cycle, for shame!)

Glad to see that someone else out there had the common decency to report that he was out drinking.

I, obviously, can't descend *that* far into hypocrisy and condemn a man for shooting back a few with some buds on a 757 en route to NYC. Hell, when I was Luke's age, I was doing just that.

Only without the 757... or the friends... but you get the drift.

Anyway, the rabble has decided, and I agree, that this is bad, bad, bad, and there is no excuse for letting drunkards into our Government... or at least in the elected bit. [No problems with civil servants getting hammered, right? No? Fantastic!]

Of course, there are always some lingering items:

First, the Pittsburgh African-American/Black Community has traditionally supported the Democratic Party endorsed candidate, but considering that it is currently Luke's race to lose, one might reconsider alienating one's base. It might not have won him votes to have shown up at the Hill "leadership" meeting, but it could not have hurt him.

Second, this is obviously an application of Rule #4 over there to the right: this is about the money. Burkle has it; Ravenstahl wants it. Maybe Burkle sees something in the kid that will help him out in the future; maybe Ravenstahl sees a fat checkbook. In any case, Luke has done right by following the money. However.

Third, perhaps this is just inexperienced hero worship. While Luke's family is kind of a big deal around State politics, it's hard to ignore the guy that comes in, sweeps you off your feet, drops a load of cash on you, flies you to NYC, and wines and dines you. Usually in this case, however, you end up the subject of a Lifetime Original Movie.

Fourth, Luke needs to learn how to lie better. Heck, he's been married long enough that this should come as second nature to him by now. If you were at a strip club, you were "out with friends." If you were at the bar, you were "working late." If you were flown out of state by a billionaire who just bought your hockey team, you were "maintaining valuable connections with potential investors in the Region"... you know, like the Allegheny Conference does.

And finally, given these recent developments, this drunkard is having a hard time chosing between mayoral candidates now. But, hey, that's just a bottle of Merlot talking.

Tag(s): ,

Fair und Balanced - Part I

As I was flipping through the headlines on the P-G's headlines last
night, I came across this little article:

In 2005, Tony Montano denied he was the person who had spray-painted the graffiti tag "MFOME" throughout Lawrenceville, Schenley Farms, East Liberty, Bloomfield and Shadyside.

Last year, he admitted to being the tagger after his arrest by Pittsburgh police and got five days of jail time and a fine of $1,001.

Late Saturday, Mr. Montano, 21, was arrested again, this time in Oakland, after a witness called 911 to report a vandal was spray-painting several buildings...
Fine. Nogooder apprehended by our vigilant law enforcement, blahblahblahblah.

But something caught my attention and seemed, let's say a bit "askew" to me:
According to City Councilman William Peduto, new graffiti with Mr. Montano's tag -- "MFOME" -- began appearing in recent days on Melwood and Centre avenues.

"We're asking the district attorney now to go for full prosecution," said the councilman, who used funds for his council district to purchase digital cameras used by the police bureau to document graffiti.

"The district attorney has sought to get stronger penalties but has not been successful in the county courthouse. Right now, we need to set an example."
In the original online positing, these two pieces were pretty much the whole article, which seems unusual as it implies the question: why is Peduto being interviewed about the arrest of a graffiti artist?

Does Otis have some keen insight into the criminal psyche, gained from years of experience in the rough and tumble streets of Pointe Breeze?

Is he particularly attune to the basest desires of the artistic underworld as a result of his time served as chair of City Council's Committee on the Art & Technology?

Or perhaps he, Doug Sheilds, and Jeff Koch team up to fight crime onalternating Saturdays as "THE COUNCILMEN," pitting their superskills against such supervillains as "The Jay Walker", "The Right Turn on Redder", and the "Left-Your-Trash-Out-Five-Days-Before-Pick-up-er."*

Or maybe, just maybe, Billy-boy is running for mayor and wants to stand in front of a camera. It's a long shot, I know.

*And if so, is Jim "The Gas Theif" Motznick allied with the heroes orthe villains?

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Arena (Site) Development

We're living in an information age where news now becomes "old" within hours. Indeed, the Oh-my-God-the-Penguins-are-staying story has, in my opinion, pretty much played itself out, and we've now moved on to the sobering realization that the development of the new Arena is going to have some significant impacts for the City.

Well, OK, I've moved on, but that's only because I don't really care all that much for hockey.

But let's start off with a major concession against my own intellectual pursuits: for all of its faults and short comings, the deal is the deal; I'm not going to go into a deep analysis of what should or should not have happened and whether this is a good deal or not... at least not yet. Indeed, there are some big public finance issues (SEA bonds) and some question of the supposed populism of the project (how many Pens fans actually live within the City proper?). I'm going to set those aside so that we can focus instead on what is to come.

With that said, let me continue moving on: the development of the Arena site is going to be one of the biggest changes to the Hill District since the Crawford Square development in the 90s. While there will be only (relatively) minor site clearance for the Arena proper, certainly not on the same scale as the original construction of the Civic Arena, there will be significant development opportunities for the old arena site.

Big question: who decides what goes there?

I realize, of course, that this is looking down the road a bit as the Penguins aren't scheduled to occupy the new Arena until the 2009 season. However, in terms of real estate development, this is barely enough time to anything substantial, let alone plan something in a "culturally sensitive area."

Lord knows that with all the history to the site, including the failed redevelopment experiment, many people are going to want to have their say as to what eventually happens to the Lower Hill... and I'll bet anyone a million gazillion dollars that you're not going to have a consensus on what that is.

So who exactly is to say which groups do or do not have standing in this process and which groups would need to be satisfied to declare a "consensus" has been reached? Should it be the residents of the neighborhood(s)? The businesses in the neighborhood(s)? The residents of the City or the County? Self appointed arbiters of history and culture? Schizophrenic State legislators? Churches? City Council Persons? Community Development Organizations? Outside development organizations? Don Barden? The local Government? Mario?

Do any of these groups have the capacity and knowledge necessary to meet the needs of the Community (however you want to define that word)? And, if so, can they do it without descending into a community development clusterfuck?

Indeed, I think that it's interesting that the first major discussion about the future development of the Lower Hill site occurred between the members of the local clergy, community leaders, and the County Executive... and not community leaders and the Mayor. One can only speculate, by the way, why the Mayor didn't personally show up, or what signal that sends to community residents. If nothing else, it seems to indicate that Onorato will be arbitrating whatever fight is sure to transpire and that the City has, basically, given up control of that part of the Hill to the County

Anyway, my prediction is that the development of the Mellon Arena site will be less than smooth, fraught with public fights, political posturing, yelling, some blood, and very little real development.

What's the old saying about cooks and soup? I'm assuming that it applies to publicly funded sports venues too.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Kiss me, I'm vomitting in Market Square

I don't really like partying with amateur drunks, even those that claim a Hibernian legacy, but, as it was chilly enough outside to forgo the necessity of a beer cooler, I and a contingency of the ADB posse* made our way down to the St. Patrick's Day celebration downtown yesterday. Needless to say, we received our fill of obnoxiously drunk frat guys and totally trashed sorority chicks. This is why I drink alone, at home, in the dark.

They announced repeatedly that Pittsburgh's St. Patrick's Day party is the second largest in the country, behind New York City; our own yinzer Mardi Gras. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your view on the subject, it was too cold for anyone to flash people for a set of beads. Alright, I did flash Doug Shields, but that was just to stop him from talking.

Anywho, as my wardrobe is limited in "green" articles of clothing, I decided to go as James Joyce, a costume which was apparently lost on all the people that were puking on my shoes. Next year, I'll go as Oscar Wilde... which, by the way, is a fabulous costume.

Which brings me to my main point: as has been mentioned before, a movement has been underway for some time to redesign Market Square to provide for more "functionality" of the public space. That's find and all, but perhaps, like parking lots around Christmas, the City should look at how the space is being used at the busiest days of the year. For example:

  • Increase gutter sizes so that vomit, garbage, and drunks can be flushed out into the sewage system;
  • Install an air horn/sprinkler system to disburse rowdy crowds;
  • Remove anything that can be urinated on;
  • Create a parallel Detox Square equipped with coffee houses, gatorade houses, and Advil & B Vitamin House.
Well, that's just my thoughts anyway. Now if only these Green Elephants would stop pestering me.

* T-Shirts available.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Treatise on Weather

In which the author


the self titled

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat

discuffes the intracacies of the recent

Changing Weather Patterns

in and around the

Pittsburgh Region

Fit the First





Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Arena Number Crunching

Fester started some work on this, and as they don't let people like us look at the nitty-gritty details on Arena financing, we'll have to make due with what the P-G tells us:

The team will no longer have to pay $8.5 million up front. Instead, the state will pay $10.5 million from public development funds.

In addition, the team will only have to commit $2.2 million of its own in annual lease payments, a reduction, but will have to make up the difference by seeking $2 million in naming rights, an increase.

Mr. Rendell said public officials agreed with the team that the previous $270 million construction cost estimate might be too low, and the funding calculations were increased to consider a $290 million pricetag.

The team and the state will split the costs of any increase in construction cost between $290 million and $310 million. The team will cover any cost overrun above $310 million.

The governor said Kansas City had offered a great deal to the team. But what "tipped the balance" toward Pittsburgh was the strong support of the local fans.

And once again, Mr. Rendell said the deal could not have been done without the revenue expected from new slots casinos...

He said the Penguins have been offered a $15 million credit as incentive to spur development around the arena, rather than leaving it as parking. He said officials have set a goal of developing 2.8 acres a year, with the whole area developed in 10 years.
Additionally, PITG (the Don Barden's casino group) will chip in $7.5 million/year over thirty years and the State will match that.

Assuming an interest rate of 5.25% (which also assumes government bonds/municipal insured bonds), we come out with the following values:
Public Development Funds (one time): $10,500,000
Penguins Lease: $32,876,581
Naming rights: $29,887,801
PITG: $112,079,254
State Slots Revenue: $112,079,254
Total: $297,422,891
So, just back of the envelope calculations there, but the deal comes in over the $290M price tag.

HOWEVER, a couple of questions left unanswered:
1) Is Mario's purchase of the former St. Francis Hospital included in the Pen's "credit" even though it is a sunk cost?
2) How are the "development rights" for the Mellon Arena Site to be handled?
3) Are these municipal bonds? State bonds? SEA bonds? If it is the first or last, is it fair to say that "no local money" is being used if it eats into the City's debt?
4) How is the Arena going to support itself over the long run?
5) Where will the cost overrun money come from, really?
6) Is this a wise use of taxpayer ("local" being irrelevant to the conversation) money?
7) What, exactly, do you have to have as an existence value to get the NPV of the project to be positive? A zillion-bagillion dollars?

Most importantly, does the good of a small, vocal minority outweigh the good of the region?

Or is that blasphemy?

More to come, I'm sure...

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Flotsam & Jetsam

The early Daylight Savings Time change hath wrought bad stuff in my head with other things no concentrating OOOH! A SQUIRREL!

Until my sleep cycle resets, don't expect coherent postings. But for now, here's some stuff I jotted down while I still had my wits about me, elephant shoes, THEY'RE STEALING MY FEET!!!

I was down in the Strip District on Saturday, rummaging around the Wholey's Fish Market garbage cans in anticipation of May sweeps, and noticed that the Buncher Company is building a brand spankin' new hotel opposite the Pittsburgh History Center. Has anyone noticed that the clamor for a new publicly funding convention center hotel has died down recently? Perhaps the market was, in fact, strong enough to draw private investment without substantial public support.

A big hearty endorsement to LV Dem, who is running for something or other out East. Although I have not received any campaign materials, I can say with full confidence that LV Dem is the most qualified candidate for this post and will represent the district with the utmost integrity.

I'm looking to do some regular maintenance to the Blogroll to the right there. Anybody who thinks that they should be on there and isn't, anyone who is on there and shouldn't be, and any other links you think I should know about, please feel free to submit them in the comments or in the email, if you're modest. This is your chance; don't be shy.

And finally, from the Daily Scaife Non Sequitor Desk:

Jerry McGuire had only one good line. "Show me the money," Mr. Rohr.


BREAKING NEWS: Moses Invests in Penguins

Jewish prophet promises "arena flowing with Milk and Honey" following 40 years of wandering through last place.

More Details Inside:

  • Five players die as new owner parts training rink (Page 2);
  • All Friday night/Saturday games cancelled (Page 4);
  • Ten new rules of conduct issued; back checking to be punished with "stoning" (Page 7);
  • Minor arboreal fire reported at Crawford Street and Wylie Avenue (Page 10);
  • Local Blogger carries running gag to groan inducing, predictable and ludicrous conclusions (Page 1138).

Saturday, March 10, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Jesus Saves Penguins

New Jersey Devils thrown to the fires of Gehenna. Miroslav Satan condemned to icey 9th circle of hell to chew Judas, Casius and Brutus for all eternity.

Frozen afterlife considered to be an advantage during playoffs.


Friday, March 09, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Rendell Saves Pens

Resolution on Pencils, Crayons expected imminently. Markers to remain indefinitely consigned to servitude.

Rendell signing statement freeing pens with pen, later freed.

Other emancipated pens.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On Ice

I will not be modest here: I am a master of prosaic bureaucratic prose. With a quick turn of phrase, I can drive the recipient of one of my letters to the depths of despair or to the heights of ecstasy.

OK, maybe not the "heights" of ecstasy. Maybe twice the height of "Meh". But the "depths of despair" bit is true, as this is The Bureaucracy and with our dark gray suits, bad comb overs, and absent senses of humor, we do despair very well.

But anyway, there's a skill involved in calling a letter recipient an asshole, without calling him/her an "asshole." Besides, it's much more satisfying to say that "your lack of collaboration with our organization has led us to believe that you put your needs above the needs of the public."

Which is why Mario's letter to Rendell, Onorato et ux. is so much fun to read: it is a very polite throwdown.

When Mario says, "The risk has been magnified by what we perceive as a lack of collaboration from the public sector in the negotiations. That does not bode well for the public/private partnership necessary to successfully navigate the multiple issues of an arena development of this magnitude," he's really saying "you guys are jerks for not giving us what we want."

Words like "seem," "appear," or "it can be perceived that" can all be substituted for "are". It is much nicer to say "One may perceive you to be a jerk," over "You are a jerk," even though they mean the same thing.

At least, they appear to be the same.

Anyway, those kinds of words are hedge words; Mario seems to be bluffing: for whatever reason, he's interested in keeping the Pens in Pittsburgh. If he wasn't, he wouldn't have been negotiating for all these months, he would have moved to Kansas City.

He wants to see if he's squeezed out every last dime he can from the deal; for whatever reason, he believes that there is a bit more money to be had, a better interest rate, or some more development rights that can be had for free.

Even though he's flirting with Las Vegas and Kansas City, I think the Governor thinks Mario's bluffing too... at least it appears that way. Unfortunately, there's no betting in hockey.

Or is that baseball? And crying?


Two Hour Delay - No Morning Kindergarden

Ya know, I remember a time when the Pittsburgh Public Schools didn't close for a foot of snow, much less one or two inches.

I also remember a time when toys were made of metal and it was a ten foot drop from the top of the slide to the cold, hard concrete below. And Polio! Those durn innoculations really took the fear of God out of our children.

You kids better stay off my LAN!


Monday, March 05, 2007

ACDC: You Shook Me All Night Long

After spending seven and a half hours in the holding cell of the IBEW* for trying to break into the Allegheny County Democratic Committee nominating meeting disguised as a six foot five, 230 lb. Sophie Masloff, I come to find out that the incumbent Mayor bested his nearest (and only) competitior 602 to 163 votes. A couple thoughts sprung to mind:

First, never try to break into the ACDC meetings dressed as a 90 year old Jewish woman, especially if you try to cast a provisional ballot for "Heywood Jablome."

Second, this little tidbit over at Pittsburgh Guy about Councilman Otis:

For such a smart, experienced and savvy politician why, days before the endorsement, would [Bill Peduto] go out of his way to alienate Party leadership? Also isn't a bit insulting to think you have to tell elected committee people that they can make their own minds up. Instead of insulting, why didn't he take the high road, explain why he thinks he is the better candidate and ask for their votes.
And then there's this bit over at 2 Political Junkies:
Yes, the Old School won, and by "old" we mean that the Allegheny County Democratic Committee members decided to vote for that nice young man who reminds them of their favorite grandson. (And, don't cha know it's considered bad form to run against a current ACDC member even if they have one foot in the grave...)
Personally, I consider the "I Like Luke" slogan to be a deliberate nod to Eisenhower, which was, coincidentally the first vote cast by the average ACDC member.

However, taken together, the two quotes show a real strain between the "progressive" and "conservative" wings of the ACDC. Let's take the margin of loss by Peduto: 439 votes. That's a pretty good spanking. Let's also take the quote from Pittsburgh Guy. That's a pretty heavy indictment of Peduto's feelings about the ACDC.

[Still, let us neither discount nor over emphasize the roll of the party in the race. The party endorsement isn't the be all and end all and people have won without it, but it does save a ton of money in printing and volunteer costs. It will get you a leg up, but it doesn't guarantee a victory.]

Which finally brings me to my point: if the average age of a typical conservative ACDC member is... well... dead, why hasn't the progressive wing done more to try to oust the old guard? Wouldn't it be prudent to try to slide in a more liberal leaning committee from the ward level, rather than trying to run a candidate so contrary to the naturally conservative bent of the existing members?

Or perhaps they have, and it hasn't worked? The answer may be found in 2PJ's swipe at everyone's favorite Grandson, which isn't too far off the mark: Rachel Cooper (endorsed candidate for the 9th Council District) is the daughter of Judge Kevin Cooper. Is blood merely thicker than politics? Can our politicians even get any thicker?

Perhaps a breeding program is in order

* Who knew that the IBEW had a holding cell. I figured they they would have gone straight to the electric chair.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Steelers Release Joey Porter, the Hounds

Pittsburgh (AP) - Confronted by an angry mob of drunken football fans at Gate A of Heinz Field, the Steelers released Joey Porter and the Hounds on the unsuspecting rabble. Four people were mauled, three were taken to Allegheny General hospital with severe Porter bites.

Witnesses reported seeing new Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin cackling in a fit of cartoonish, super-villainous laughter and shouting "FOOLS! I'LL CRUSH YOU ALL!"

As a precaution, Joey Porter had to be put to sleep pending the result of rabies testing.

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