Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pittsburgh City Council Greenlights New "Webisodes"

The new online only content will focus on minor characters, including Tonya Payne and Linda Johnson-Wasler, with regular guest star Mark Rauterkus.

The only opposition to what is being called "the most exciting change to Pittsburgh Government since they installed the flag of Slovakia in Council Chambers" came from Councilman Jim Motznik, who believed that the content would eventually be uploaded to Napster, where it could be viewed without royalties. Mr. Motznik was later commended by his colleagues for his keen grasp of current new media issues.

Producers are hoping for some sort of mid-season crossover with Waffle Shop, with former Councilman Len Bodack returning to play the part of the Waffle.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Years Resolutions

Our industrious moles, spies, and assorted whistle blowing, stool pigeons have infiltrated the diaries and email accounts of several prominent local figures, and have sent us their personal, private New Years Resolutions for the up coming... er... new year:

[Pittsburgh Mayor] Luke Ravenstahl - Resolves to find some inexperienced sucker to run against him in May, maybe a fetus.

[County Chief Executive] Dan Onorato - Resolves to do absolutely nothing that would in any way stand in the way of him running for Governor, and to rebury that hooker somewhere other than in his backyard.

[Pittsburgh Councilman] Jim Motznik - Resolves to find a job that is cushier and involves less "brain thinkin'" -- possibly as some sort of magistrate.

[URA Executive Director] Rob Stephany - Will Resolve (tm) the awful Pat Ford smell out of his office.

[Mayoral Chief of Staff] Yarone Zober - Resolves to exceed everyone's expectations.

[KDKA News Reporter] Sonni Abatta - Resolves to stop spitting in co-anchor Stacy Smith's coffee.

[KDKA News Reporter] Stacy Smith - Resolves to stop stealing Jeff Verszyla's coffee.

[Pittsburgh Pirate's General Manager] Neal Huntington - Resolves to find out what this "winning" thing is everyone's talking about.

[Pittsburgh Steeler's Kicker] Jeff Reed - Resolves to bring the creepiness factor down to a seven.

[Casino Owner] Neil Bluhm - Resolves to squeeze every last penny from every pensioner within a three county radius.

And finally,

[Lamar Advertising executive] Jim Vlasach - Given the economic circumstances, resolves to invest less money in Ford.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Trains, Trains, and Train-a-mobiles

OK, and there's this:

Tomorrow, Mr. Peduto plans to introduce legislation to spend $9,000 to study turning a freight line that runs from Hazelwood through Oakland to Lawrenceville into an artery for people. The study would lead to a proposal, submitted to U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills, in the spring, for federal funding for the project...

That new economy, he said, is causing Oakland to bulge at the seams. A study drafted within the Allegheny Conference on Community Development in 2006 predicted a need for 3 million square feet of buildings in Oakland, and room for just 1 million square feet.

Already, many of the community conflicts in Shadyside, Bloomfield and Friendship stem from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's expansions.

A rail line operated by the Allegheny Valley Railroad cuts through the heart of Oakland. One end is conveniently near Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center in Lawrenceville, and the other is right by the brownfields of Hazelwood's former LTV Coke Works site, now owned by a development entity backed by four local foundations.
Five complaints from this article and its cursory description of the plan:

First, this isn't a new idea. I'm pretty sure that either CMU or PAT still has the conceptual drawings from the 80s showing where a subway line was supposed to connect to Wean Hall.

Second, OK, it's great that someone is trying to connect Larryville to Hazelwood and all, but you'll have what amounts to a third public transit system (after buses and light rail) that you'll have to maintain. That doesn't seem all that efficient to me. Wouldn't it be better to integrate the system so that you could get from, say, the Northside to Oakland via Downtown without having to change buses/trains (I mean, without getting on any of the 500s)?

Third, what about that bane of Hazelwood's existence, the Mon-Fayette Excessway... er... Expressway? Obviously, the right-of-way of the Mo-Fo is going to impact the any existing or proposed rail right-of-way. Now, this may be a silly point, but until PennDOT and the Turnpike Commission crap or get off the pot, transportation development (and indeed any real development in the neighborhood) is a non-starter. Otherwise, you're going to end up sinking millions into a rail system, only have it ripped out for the Mon-Fayette... or not.

Fourth, no rail company is really going to want to share their line. Seriously. They're bastards like that.

Fifth, and this is my big point, as nice as it is to connect across the City, the line, it seems to me, doesn't really serve people the people that serve Oakland. Sure, you'll be able to get Doctors, Professors, Students, and Investors from one "New Economy" site to another, but you're not getting Janitors, Secretaries, Maintenance Workers, or even Phlebotomists from where they live to where they work. My sense is that those people are either coming from outside the City or from other neighborhoods that are not Lawrenceville or Hazelwood. Anybody who rides any of the 61, 71, or 100 bus lines would understand this.

Moreover, from what it sounds like, you're providing the residents of East Liberty, Homewood, Wilkinsburg, Swissvale and Rankin with the busway, but providing Lawrenceville, Oakland, and Hazelwood with heavy rail. That seems to be, well, discriminatory to me: one system for one set of neighborhoods, another system for the other.

[And, of course, Uptown, West Oakland, and the rest of the Hill District, all of which would seem to be logical places for the universities to expand into, are completely ignored.]

So, don't get me wrong: an integrated system that services Lawrenceville, Oakland, and Hazelwood is a good idea, however, a more foresighted approach would integrate the existing busway and the downtown lightrail systems, expand to include areas out towards the Turtle Creek Valley, and provide a non-highway alternative to the Mon-Fayette Expressway, possibly taking the line as far as the airport.

Or, alternatively, we can run a water taxi service to Oakland... but only during heary rain periods.

"Open Season" Declared on Feral Municipalities

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato has begun rounding up "feral municipalities" and has engaged state and federal help on thinning the regions burgeoning herd of public bodies. The move has sparked outrage among some who see the flocks of municipalities as part of the regional culture.

Workers in the County clean up nearly 400 tons of municipal droppings every day, and neighbors complain that the most municipalities are dirty, smelly, and a nuisance to the area.

"Just last week we had two of them right on my front yard," said Irma Fuocco, a resident of Ben Avon. "Ben Avon Heights was right up there with Emsworth, going through my garbage. I chased them away, but they were back within an hour."

Officials have counted over 130 municipalities, although the real count may be closer to 1000.

Mr. Onorato has said that the cull will be calm and humane. "Officials from the US Department of the Interior will put them carefully into cages, load them onto a truck and take them away to be euthanized humanely in Harrisburg." Reports indicate that the County has already trapped Wilmerding, Pennsbury Village, and Glen Osborne.

Researcher Dan Bowden from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Local Municipalities (SPCLM) say that even though the methods seem extreme, the cull is necessary for the health of the species.

"Well, you see, if you have too much of any species... deer, beaver, armadillo, what have you... you're going to have a competition for resources. So the more that they go unchecked without a natural predator, the more their numbers are going to increase. Eventually, the species won't be able to sustain itself and you're going to have, effectively, a mass starvation. That's something we don't want to have happen."

Still, members of the Save the Townships, Boroughs, Cities, Authorities, School Boards, and other Public Bodies Network (STBCASBOPBN) are protesting what they consider to be a government sanctioned kill.

"We were assured that non-lethal methods would be used: mergers, sterilizations, introduction of more old people," said STBASBOPBN President Rebecca Baechle, "and this method goes far beyond what anyone would consider 'humane.'"

Despite the protests, however, Mr. Onorato said that the cull will go on.

"Frankly, if we don't do something about this problem, we're going to be overwhelmed with dysfunctional, unnecessary municipalities that serve only a handful of people, while the resources of the region get diverted away from where they are really needed because of petty power politics. Let's hope that day never comes."

Mayor's Office Reopens After "Santa Incident"

Activity resumed on the 5th floor of the City-County building today after a five day holiday standoff between the Mayor and members of his own staff over the existence of Santa Claus.

According to sources within the Mayor's Office who wish to remain anonymous,* the incident began during a Christmas Eve meeting in which the Mayor's Chief of Staff Yarone Zober casually asked if the Mayor had bought his newborn son anything for Christmas. The Mayor responded puzzled, saying that, like every year, that was Santa Claus's duty, and he would wait until his arrival.

After an awkward exchange, Mr. Zober finally revealed to the Mayor that Santa Claus is, in fact, a fictional creation and that the exchange of gifts was done by others under the guise of a fat man in a red suit that lives at the North Pole surrounded by elves.

The Mayor abruptly ended the meeting, stormed into the conference room in tears, and locked himself in. Staff members tried for several hours on Wednesday to coax him out, but to no avail.

Unbeknown to the rest of his staff at the time, the Mayor had visited over 14 mall Santa Clauses asking them for, among other items, "a chunk of the Obama economic stimulus package, a new Ford Excursion for concerts, and a Nintendo Wii." He also interrogated them as to the definition of "naughty" and "nice." Staff also discovered freshly made holiday cookies on the Mayor's desk and milk in his personal refrigerator.

The standoff continued throughout Christmas, despite impassioned pleas from the Mayor's family and staff.

A breakthrough occurred this morning, however, when a member of the City's Legal department forwarded on a copy of the famous 1897 New York Sun editorial "Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus" to the fifth floor. Mr. Zober was able to convince the Mayor that, while Santa did not exist, per se, the spirit of what he represents was real. The Mayor left the conference room at 3:21 PM, and went home to spend what was left of the holiday with his family.

When asked for comment on his way out of the building, the Mayor responded that, although St. Nick isn't real, "at least the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and my 2009 Budget are."

---
* Thanks for the tip "Mike"!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bush Pardons Hamburglar, 18 others

(Reuters) Washington DC - President George W. Bush, today pardoned nineteen convicted criminals including notorious McDonaldland felon The Hamburglar.

The Hamburglar was convicted in 1989 of armed robbery of a Salt Lake City Arby's. The arresting officer Big Mac, admitted under oath that he had tampered with evidence, although the prosecution managed to convince a jury that the evidence in question was immaterial to the case. The Hamburglar has maintained that, while he was involved, the real masterminds of the crime were the Happy Meal Gang, who remain at large today.

Since his conviction, The Hamburglar has renounced violence and has converted to Islam. Many Hollywood celebrities including Ed Asner and Mike Farrell have championed The Hamburglar's cause, and petitioned the Department of Justice for a pardon.

Sources inside the White House would not comment on how many more pardons will be issued or who they may not be issued to, although there is much speculation that the President may pardon former Vice Presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Domino Pizza nemesis "The Noid."

The Presidential pardon list is being closely monitored this year in the waning days of the Bush administration. President Bush's father pardoned Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird, who was convicted of possession with intent to distribute and was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment under Kellogg's harsh "Two Scoops" law. President Clinton issued a blanket pardon to Uncle Pennybags who had been found guilty of insider trading, and subsequently had his monopolies on Baltic Avenue and Park Place broken up by the SEC.

Re: Temperature

Gosh it was cold out today!

How cold, you ask?

It was so cold, Yarone Zober triple dog dared the Mayor to stick his tongue on Darlene Harris' ass.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Democrats Choose [Candidate] for Council District 2 Seat

Eighty-five members of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee gathered at the Banksville Pool community building to pick their nominee to fill the seat vacated by former Pittsburgh City Councilman Dan Deasy. A majority of those assembled chose [Candidate] to represent their party during the special election to be held February 3rd.

[Candidate] beat out three other contenders, and will enjoy some advantage in a district that is predominantly Democratic.

Over the last few years, [Candidate] has been intimately involved with the [Issue 1], supporting measures at a local level and [Issue 2], which has been judged as a great concern to members of the District. These issues made [Candidate] the clear favorite among members of the Party

ACDC member [Member] said that the [Candidate] "best represented the values of our local party including [Value 1], [Value 2], and [Value 3]. We think that [Candidate] will be able to work with the Mayor on [Issue 3] and [Issue 4] while [Platitude to the Voter 1] and [Platitude to Voter 2]. This just goes to show what an issue based, focus campaign can do for this City, backed up by a Local Party that believes in [Platitude to the Voter 3]."

Members of the Party were generally pleased with [Candidate] and were happy with the high quality of candidates who turned out for the nomination.

Former Pittsburgh Councilman Dan Deasy was elected in November to the State House, on a platform of [Issue 5] and leaderhip.

The local GOP committee has also nominated a candidate, who will be revealed on February 3rd.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quis custodiet...

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Mark Felt Slain by Zombie Nixon

(Reuters) Washington D.C. - The body of W. Mark Felt, who in 2006 was revealed to be the mysterious "Deep Throat" informant who brought down the Nixon White House, was found in a small Western Pennsylvania farmhouse surrounded by the corpses of deceased Watergate accomplices, including former President Richard Milhouse Nixon.

"We're not quite sure what happened here," said Presidential Zombie Historian George Romero, "but we believe that Nixon, in his quest for revenge against Felt, had somehow reanimated and tried to eat Felt's brain."

Police responding to the seen believe that Felt, along with several unnamed companions, had barricaded themselves in the farmhouse, lighting fires to scare off the oncoming horde of the undead. One companion, however, seems to have been bitten by a Zombie Gerald Ford, and later died after falling down a set of stairs.

Mr. Felt himself was attacked by both the former President and his dog checkers, but managed to put up a struggle. Nixon's teeth marks were found in Felt's left thigh and buttocks.

Experts, scientists and military are not sure of the cause of the reanimation, but one scientist is certain that it is the result of radiation emanating from a Venus space probe that exploded in the Earth's atmosphere and landed, in part, in Yorba Linda CA. The FBI has surrounded Congressman John Conyers's home and Paul Newman's grave, in case of another outbreak.

A CIA agent managed to slay G. Gordan Liddy, who turned out not to be a zombie after all.

Funeral arrangements for Mr. Felt have not been announced, although local zombies had reported that his brains were "delicious." He was 95.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Bureaucrat's Aside

Any day now, I expect to see a TV ad for "Crazy Dollar Days" at Uncle Bernake's House of Fed, advertising interest rates so low "you'd think Ben's gone craaaaaazy!"

I only hope they throw in a free toaster, 'cause, well, you know...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dean of Electoral College Resigns Amid Scandal

(Reuters) Washington D.C. - On the day that electors from all 50 States gathered to cast their ballots for President of the United States, the Electoral College was rocked by scandal today as its dean stepped down amid rumors that he improperly awarded a degree to the daughter of a high level Kerry contributor.

Mark Garrison, PhD resigned from his post after the College learned about the school’s approval of a master’s degree for a student who had more than the prescribed amount of independent study and transfer credits in place of regular coursework.

The irregularities surrounding the degree, awarded in 2004, was only brought to the attention of the College administration last Tuesday, said spokesman Ken Lang.

"We always take any issue regarding political integrity very seriously," he said. "This is something where, when we find out something like this, we review it immediately."

A hastily assembled College panel has begun to review the circumstances of this incident. Preliminary reports indicate that the awardee had completed only 22 of 44 credits, although the College transcript had been altered to reflect completion of all 44 credits.

Citing federal privacy laws, the College is not releasing the name of the student who received the 2004 degree, or exactly what type of master's degree the student received.

Dr. Garrison joined the College in 1993 and had been Dean since 2003. He did not return a phone call to his home today.

This is not the first scandal to hit the Electoral College. In 1824, the school was accused of vote rigging by Tennessee Senator Andrew Jackson, although Senator Jackson had been also accused of extreme hazing of incoming freshman as part of his Fraternity Alpha Kappa Alpha.

In 1987 the College suffered an embarrassment when Playboy released a "Women of the EC" issue.

More recently however, however, is the highly publicized doping scandal during its 1999 Men's Basketball championship against the College of Cardinals. Five collegians were expelled in that instance, and three were placed on political probation.

Many in the political community have repeatedly called for the College's dismantlement, citing the above scandals, the low testing scores, and its reputation as a "party school."

No evidence has arisen that suggests that President-Elect Barack Obama had any knowledge of these events, however, National Review Online has opined that the lack of evidence does not mean that there was no crime committed.

Nevertheless, Senator Obama was elected as President today by the College with 365 votes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Business Casual Friday

Because you don't really have the time to be inspired:



Enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blagojevich Unmasked as Supervillain

(Reuters) Springfield, IL - New papers released by Britain's Security Service indicates that embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was really the head of an international criminal organization bent on world domination.

MI5 has revealed to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald that one of its agents had infiltrated a plot by Blagojevich to capture two nuclear weapons from NATO for a ransom of 200 million dollars. Papers indicate that the Governor intended to escalate conflict between the United States, the United Kingdom and China hoping that they will exhaust themselves and be vulnerable when Blagojevich finally moves in to seize power.

In transcripts from wiretapped phone conversations with staff, Blagojevich said:

This missile will be launched towards Beijing, where General Chang has already called an emergency meeting of the Chinese High Command. Unfortunately, the general will be stuck in traffic and the missile will already hit the compound. However, the general will be too late to stop the Chinese Air Force form sinking the Royal fleet. I will then negotiate a truce, and emerge as a world leader with the Nobel Peace Prize!
Investigators were unable to determine why exactly he would be chosen to negotiate the crisis.

Elsewhere in the report, there is indication that Blagojevich had intended to corner the Gold market by using force to infiltrate Fort Knox and irradiating the country's gold supply.

Officials in the Illinois State Legislature have pointed to these incidents, his belief that he could be appointed to a cabinet position in the Obama Administration, and his attempt to extort campaign contributions from a Children's Hospital as evidence of his dangerous megalomaniacal delusions of grandeur. "I think, perhaps, [crazy] is sort of a clinically appropriate word," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D), in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

CIA sources have also indicated that the Governor had developed preliminary plans for a giant moon based "LASER" and the evacuation of "genetically superior" humans to an orbiting space station.

The Governor's office did not return phone calls today, saying that he was busy spending time with his white Persian cat.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

For Sale: One [Bleeping] Valuable Thing

Because you want to be the Junior Senator from Illinois, but you don't want the hassle of dealing with Patrick Fitzgerald:

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[Click to view]

Monday, December 08, 2008

Intense, Non-uniform Cans of Worms Etcetera (On)

From Hizzoner, via the P-G:

We also now realize the can of worms that we opened because of the intensity of that, the amount of contracts we issue, etcetera, and our lack of uniformity across city government.
He continued:
As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border.
No word on whether the Mayor can see Russia from his home in Summer Hill.

A Treatise on Weather and Public Works Proposals

In which the author

"O"

the self titled

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat


discuffes the intracacies of the recent

Changing Weather Patterns


in and around the

Pittsburgh Region


and their relationship to the

Physical and Economic Well Being of its Citizenry


Fit the First

WHY THE FUCK HASN'T THE CITY PLOWED MY FUCKING STREET 48 FUCKING HOURS AFTER THE LAST SNOW FALL? EVERY OTHER FUCKING ROAD IN THE CITY SEEMS TO BE PLOWED, EXCEPT FOR THE FOUR BLOCKS IMMEDIATELY ADJACENT TO MY HOUSE. DO THE FOLKS AT PUBLIC WORKS ASSUME THAT WE'RE ALL GOING TO TRAVEL BY FUCKING SLED DOG TO WORK?

HEY OBAMA! IF YOU WANT A PUBLIC WORK'S PROJECT THAT'S GOING TO PROVIDE IMMEDIATE ECONOMIC IMPACT, SEND LUKE RAVENSTAHL OUT TO MY HOUSE WITH A SHOVEL. I'LL PAY HIM $5.

Fin.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Rule #33

Rule #33:

It's not real until it has its own acronym.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

And... Drink Tax

It find it scary when Monsieur Briem and I have similar reactions to the reduction on the drink tax by County Council.

Now, the reduction on the drink tax should mean that you unwashed masses can enjoy your Natural Light, your Bud Light, or your (God help you) Pabst Blue Ribbon for 30% less than you do now. Although if you're drinking any of those things, you're drinking less already... at least qualitatively.

However, as we've seen from the partial parking tax repeal (you remember that right?), just because the city decided to lower the parking tax, doesn't mean that the benefits will accrue to the consumers. The Parking Authority itself had to be dragged kicking and screaming to reducing its prices.

Of course, Monsieur Briem has also elsewhere mused on the elasticity of the demand for parking, i.e., people are willing to pay pretty much any damned price for parking downtown.

Now, high class drunks like myself would probably consider the hootch to be similarly inelastic, but, there are those that may decide that a drink at a bar is far too much money and would choose not to spend money going out. Indeed, this seems to be nub of the argument by F.A.C.T.: increasing taxes means that fewer people will spend money at local businesses, resulting in business closings, job losses, cats and dogs living together... you know, end of the world stuff. So, I can only assume, by F.A.C.T.'s argument, that if the drink tax goes down and prices therefore go dowm, more people will resume patronizing local eateries, bars, taverns, strip clubs, etc., and all will be well.

Unless, of course, (1) there's only a small, small marginal segment of the population that wasn't willing to pay an extra $.25 for their bottle of sex-in-a-canoe, and therefore the real impact to business is negligible or (2) the restaurateurs are aware of the stickiness of these the new drink, inflated prices and are not going to bloody well change them.

As for yours truly, the drink tax never really affected me much as I only ever drank alone, at home, in the dark anyway.

URA Official Resigns

Sort of. *Former* URA Official, I should say. Your blast from the Murphy administration comes courtesy of Crain's Detroit Business:

Mulugetta Birru has resigned as director of the Wayne County Department of Economic and Neighborhood Development effective Dec. 31. He joined the county in June 2004 from the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority.

Birru said in a statement he is leaving his full-time position for personal reasons, but will work with Wayne County as a part-time consultant.
Apparently the "personal reasons" were that he finally realized he was in friggin' Detroit.

Breaking News: Canada Descends into Polite, Clean, Civil War

(Reuters) Ottawa Ontario, Canada - At 12:01 this morning, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that his minority government was at an impasse with a coalition made up of the NDP, Liberal, and Bloc Quebecois parties, and would be formally ignoring them and the Canadian constitution.

"This is not a step I relish taking," said Harper, "I recognize that the democratic process has strong roots in this Federation, but desperate times call for desperate measures. As such, I am investing myself with full executive, legislative, and judicial powers for the foreseeable future."

Immediately, all streets in and around Parliament Hill were barricaded and Royal Canadian Mounted Police were dispatched to enforce a nighttime curfew, gently encouraging opposition supporters home, if they didn't mind too much. Members were sent out to roundup fugitive independents and minor party leaders, including Green Party Elizabeth May.

Around 12:30 AM, the sounds of opening cans of Labatt Bleu from an unarmed, but drunk Parliamentary militia was heard from across the Ottowa River. The Prime Minister's staff, assuming a counteroffensive by the remaining MPs, immediately evacuated the Prime Minister back to his stronghold of Calgary, Alberta, where they have reestablished the Federal Capital.

Remaining bands of Loyalists held back the MP offensive led by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty until around 3 AM, when the invaders began to play hockey on Parliament Hill. In response, the Conservatives changed their plan to now have Flaherty present a federal budget on January 27, 2009, instead of late February or early March.

Governor General Michaëlle Jean, interrupted a trip to Europe and returned to impose English law on the province of Quebec.

NDP leader Jack Layton and Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion reportedly barely made it to a Private Corporate Jet and have established what they have termed a "Government-in-Exile" in Binghampton NY.

Speaking on Voice of Canada airwaves: The destiny of the world is here. We, Jack Layton and Stéphane Dion, currently in Binghampton NY, invite the officers and the Canadian loyalists who are located in our Federation's territory or who would come there, with their poutine or without their poutines, we invite the brewers, and the special workers of maple syrup industries who are located in Canada's territory or who would come there, to put themselves in contact with us, eh.

Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe sent a similar message from Burlington Vermont, but in French.

Large streams of refugees have already been reported making their way to up state New York and Michigan for the high unemployment and poor health care system.

An unidentified group calling itself the People's Front of Newfoundland have allegedly captured Minister of Justice Robert Douglas Nicholson. Their leader, who identifies himself as, "Il Newfie" has demanded the release of prisoners taken by the Newfoundland People's Front, who were later determined to be very frightened sheep. The Newfoundland Popular Front released Transport Minister John Baird after realizing that no one really wanted him anyway.

When asked for comment, Michael Chertoff, the United States Secretary of Homeland Security was quoted as saying, "We consider this matter to be an internal matter for Canada and will not get involved at this time."

Leader Harper has offered rebel leaders a chance to comply with his orders stating it is they "that are mistaken aboot a great many things."

Breaking News: Canada descend dans de la guerre civile, polite, propreté

(Reuters) Ottawa, Ontario, Canada - À 12h01 ce matin, le Premier ministre Stephen Harper a annoncé que son gouvernement minoritaire a été dans l'impasse avec une coalition composée des néo-démocrates, des libéraux et du Bloc québécois parties, et serait officiellement les ignorer et la constitution canadienne.

"Ce n'est pas une étape I relish prendre», a déclaré Harper, «je reconnais que le processus démocratique a de fortes racines dans cette fédération, mais désespérée fois appel à des mesures désespérées. En tant que tel, je suis moi-même d'investir dans le plein exécutif, législatif, et pouvoirs judiciaires pour l'avenir prévisible. "

Immédiatement, dans toutes les rues et autour de la colline du Parlement ont été barricadés et de la Gendarmerie royale du Canada ont été envoyés à l'exécution d'un couvre-feu nocturne, doucement d'encourager l'opposition à domicile, s'ils n'ont pas trop de l'esprit. Les membres ont été envoyés à tour d'horizon en fuite mineure indépendants et les chefs de parti, y compris le Parti Vert Elizabeth May.

Vers 12h30 du matin, les sons de l'ouverture de canettes de Labatt Bleu d'un non armés, mais ivre parlementaire de milice a été entendu à travers le Ottawa River. Le Premier ministre du personnel, l'hypothèse d'une contre-par les autres députés, immédiatement évacué le Premier ministre à son fief de Calgary, en Alberta, où ils ont repris la capitale fédérale.

Bandes restantes de loyalistes tenue le député offensive dirigée par le ministre des Finances, Jim Flaherty, jusqu'à environ 3 h, lorsque les envahisseurs ont commencé à jouer au hockey sur la Colline du Parlement. En réponse, les conservateurs ont modifié leur plan de Flaherty ont maintenant présenter un budget fédéral sur 27 Janvier 2009, au lieu de la fin ou au début de Février Mars.

La gouverneure générale Michaëlle Jean, a interrompu un voyage en Europe et est retourné à imposer la loi anglaise sur la province de Québec.

Chef du Bloc Québécois Gilles Duceppe aurait fait à peine à un Corporate Jet privé et a mis en place ce qu'ils ont appelé un "gouvernement en exil» à Burlington, Vermont.

S'exprimant sur la Voix du Canada ondes: Le destin du monde est ici. I, Gilles Duceppe, actuellement à Burlington VT, inviter les officiers et loyalistes du Canada qui sont situés dans la Fédération de notre territoire ou qui y viennent, avec leur poutine ou sans leurs poutines, j'invite les brasseurs et les travailleurs du sirop d'érable industries qui sont situées dans le territoire du Canada ou qui y viennent, à se mettre en contact avec moi, hein.

Leader néo-démocrate Jack Layton et le chef du Parti libéral Stéphane Dion a envoyé un message similaire de Binghampton NY, mais en anglais.

Grand flux de réfugiés ont déjà été signalés se rendant à l'État de New York et du Michigan pour le taux de chômage élevé et les pauvres système de soins de santé.

Un groupe non identifié qui se fait appeler le Front populaire de Terre-Neuve auraient capturé ministre de la Justice Robert Douglas Nicholson. Leur chef, qui s'identifie comme, "Il Newfie» a demandé la libération de prisonniers de Terre-Neuve par le Front populaire, qui ont ensuite été déterminés à être très peur des moutons. Le Front populaire de Terre-Neuve a publié le ministre des Transports John Baird, après la réalisation que personne ne voulait vraiment lui de toute façon.

Lorsqu'on lui a demandé de commenter, Michael Chertoff, le secrétaire américain de la sécurité a été cité comme disant, "Nous considérons que cette question soit une question interne pour le Canada et ne sera pas impliquée à ce moment."

Leader Harper a offert les chefs rebelles une chance de se conformer à ses ordres en indiquant ce sont eux "qui se trompent aboot un grand nombre de choses."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Details of Transit Pact Released

From the good folks over at the P-G:

A tentative agreement between the Port Authority and the union representing bus-trolley workers largely mirrors recommendations made in August by a state-appointed fact-finder.

But it's a four-year contract, instead of three, and provides fully paid, lifetime health-care benefits for a number of employees who, because of their age and years of service, were caught in the middle and would have been forced to work longer or pay their own premiums...

The tentative agreement calls for Local 85 members to incrementally increase their contributions for health, prescription, vision and dental insurance from the current 1 percent to 3 percent of base wages, the same as non-union employees at the authority already pay.

The agreement also calls for wage increase of 3, 2, 3 and 3 percent, respectively, for each of the four years, ultimately raising hourly pay to more than $26 an hour for bus-trolley operators and more than $30 an hour for first-level supervisors...


Union members will be allowed to yell at particular rowdy passengers, passengers that talk too loudly on their cell phones, and passengers that won't move to the back of the bus.

Management will be allowed continue to waste money on useless capital projects, including, but not limited to the North Shore Connector, a parking garage on the top of the US Steel Building, and an incline that only goes down.

Drivers will be encouraged, but not mandated, to be surly and brusque. Senior drivers will be permitted to remain completely silent or mumble inaudibly when asked questions...

Routes will be cut within five years to the point where buses will only run between Downtown, Oakland, Squirrel Hill, and between 12th and 17th Street on Carson Street.

The 54C will change routes and time points randomly and without warning. Anyone who actually manages to catch one of these buses will be removed and made to walk.

All union members will be allowed one free kick to Steve Bland's crotch once a year, growing to twice a year within five years...

And finally, Dan Onorato will be made to shut up until his run for Governor.

Neither authority Chief Executive Officer Steve Bland nor Local 85 President-Business Agent Patrick McMahon returned calls seeking comment today.

Obamureaucracy

NPR's Morning Edition had a pretty decent piece on the role of contractors in the Federal Bureaucracy.

Part 1

Part 2

In short: the Government is quite literally being run by private interests with little or no oversight by actual Federal employees.

With the 30 year trend to portray government employees as slovenly, lazy, inept, and stupid (not to say that those folk don't exist) and to portray government as the cause of all of our problems (instead of just some of the problems), without a real change of attitude and without a new crowd of publicly minded civil servants, the new administration is going to have a hard time trying to reverse the decline of the US Federal Bureaucracy.

And the report doesn't even talk about the oncoming wave of retirements that are just going to exacerbate the problem.

Breaking News: Dan Deasey Resigns Council Seat

Residents of Council District 2 shocked to discover he was still alive.

A Bureaucrat's Aside

Part of me secretly believes that the only reason Hillary Clinton accepted the job of Secretary of State is that she was fed some erroneous information on the Presidential line of succession by Al Haig.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Football Aside

I'll admit that he's a talented reciever, but I never really thought of Plaxico Burress as a team player. It takes a special kind of stupidity to shoot oneself on the thigh.

One can only hope that the No Fun League (NFL) fine him for shooting his team in the foot and at least as much as they've fined other players for shooting their mouths off.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Bureaucrat's Aside

I'm trying to decide if the Treasury Department's move today to purchase an additional $800 billion in loans is akin to (1) robbing Peter to pay Paul, (2) cutting off your nose to spite your face, or (3) building a castle in the middle of a swamp, having it sink into the swamp, only to build another castle that will burn down, fall over, THEN sink into the swamp.

If #3, we can only hope that someone comes to rescue us in their own particular...uh...idiom.

---
No singing!

A Bureaucrat's Aside

This inane and self indulgent post was created without compensation to the author, and is provided free of charge and without any editing.

Critics of this post will have their names attached to one excretory organ or another.

A Bureaucrat's Aside

Is the city's transfer tax on property sales really what's driving young folk out of the City of Pittsburgh, as suggested by the Propel Pittsburgh Commission or, as I suspect, (a) a zero sum game to be played with the rest of the region, which itself is losing youth and (b) a tragedy of misguided groupthink?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

An Open Letter to the People of the Pittsburgh Region

In the morning and probably throughout the coming days, you will probably notice a phenomenon that may leave you worried, scared, or even panicked. I am here to reassure you that this phenomenon is nothing to worry about, as it has been an annual occurrence for this region, although its impact has seemed to diminish over the last few years leading some to forget about it. Indeed, there were years when this phenomenon was a threat to life and limb, whereas today it is merely an annoyance.

I am, of course, referring to snow.

For those of you that appear to be unfamiliar with the concept, snow is frozen water crystals that fall from the ground in the form of precipitation. This occurs primarily in the winter months, but generally whenever the conditions are cold enough to support this weather event.

A typical snow event is not on par with earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorist attacks, or giant squid like aliens from another dimension. It's more like rain that's cold and hangs around longer on the ground.

Many people from the region, however, seem to believe that every time it snows, the world is coming to an end. So, in an attempt to assist the populace, here are some simple rules for the upcoming winter:

(1) Drive carefully. This means that you can't drive 50 mph in a 35 mph zone. Well, I mean, I suppose you can, but I cannot guarantee that you will be able to stop before you crash into a snow drift, bank, or plow.

This also means, however, that you don't have to drive 5 mph in a 35 mph zone, riding the break wherever you go. Crank the car down to a lower gear and let the car work for you. If you can't do that, stay home.

(2) Shovel your walk in front of your house. I don't mind traipsing through fresh snow on my way to wherever, however, if snow hasn't been cleared in days it turns into that other water form: ice. You may not care that I slide past your home at 25 mph, but my lawyer does.

(3) If you even utter the phrase "the white stuff" in reference to snow. I will find you and cut you. I'm looking at you Jeff Verszyla. You better watch your ass.

(4) Yellow snow is to be avoided. At all costs. It does not taste like lemonade. Trust me.

(5) You can go for 1 day without milk and toilet paper. Please, for the love of God, you are not stocking up for the end of civilization. If you can't go without milk for a day, you'd better be a calf, and if you can't go without emergency toilet paper, you'd better be on an all Taco Bell diet.

So, those are five points for dealing with this "snow" thing. If I have to explain it to you again, me and my Eskimo posse are going to show up to your house with a Polar Bear on meth.

It won't be pretty; Polar Bears on meth are mean.

Sincerely,

O
The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PAT, Union Agree to Thunderdome

Following increased pressure from dozens of business and community groups, both the Port Authority and its drivers' union leader agreed to a tentative plan set forth by a federal arbitrator to resolve their dispute in a post-apocalyptic "Thunderdome".

The negotiated mediation resolution was pushed forward by the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the African American Chamber of Commerce; and the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, and Australian actor Mel Gibson.

The authority's board accepted the terms outlined by PA Labor Relations Board mediator Jan Rigler, which recommended that one union leader and one PAT board members be placed into a steel cage and fight to the death. Participants will be tied with bungee cords so, and weapons placed around the cage. Two men will enter, one man will leave.

PAT Board Chairman John A. Brooks, in a statement to the media said "Listen on! Listen on! This is the truth of it: fighting leads to killing and killing leads to warring. And that was damned near the death of us all.... but now when we get to fighting, it happens here. And it finishes here."

Union leaders have criticized County Executive Dan Onorato, who had initially proposed the Thunderdome plan, as merely wanting to beat the crap out of a couple of random union guys.

The original fact finder's report was officially rejected by the union because of proposed changes to healthcare coverage, however, union members have unofficially said that the rejection was the result of a lack of stabbing and fire.

In case of a service shutdown, Pittsburgh residents have already begun to plan carpooling rides, alternative modes of transportation, and have devised post apocalyptic vehicles made to traverse the vast expanses of the Australian desert.

The cost of the structure is expected to result in a fair increase of $2 per trip. The Thunderdome will be built on a vast unoccupied stretch of uninhabitable land inside of Parkway Center Mall.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Business Casual Friday

In case you were in a cave, with your fingers in your ears, on Mars last week, here's the 2 minute summary of Election Day.

Get the latest news satire and funny videos at 236.com.


Enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Ye Olde Garbage Can

You may not realize this, but there are sometimes posts, half posts, quarter posts, and single sentences that I start writing, give up on, get distracted on, or throw the computer across the room and never actually finish.

For example, I started writing this post which I tentatively entitled "Big Yellow Taxis" in June 2005:

OK, so they're not ripping out the parking lot to regrow paradise, but the WaPo has an article on the proposals to bring the sprawling Tysons Corner development down to a human scale. For those of you unfamiliar with the site:

Route 7 is one of the central traffic arteries of Tysons Corner, a place that has most of the raw ingredients of a traditional city -- it's the Washington region's second-largest jobs center -- but lacks a city's physical setup. Buildings are separated by berms, side yards, parking lots and wide roadways that sacrifice pedestrian ease for vehicle convenience.

The vast drive-through operation at the McDonald's on Route 7, for example, is a marvel of auto-oriented convenience: To keep the cars moving at lunchtime, five headset-wearing clerks roam the pavement outside, taking orders and delivering food.
The biggest problem, of course, is that Tysons Corner was originally designed for the automobile, not the human being. The set up is one that encourages driving, while punishing pedestrians. This is quite literal; two pedestrians were killed in January and April 2004 trying to cross the roads.

Of course, the broader philosophical discussion is whether the Automobile actually has caused us to redesign our entire way of life. Now, I'm not one for technological determinism


And that's as far as I got. Not sure where I was going with it. I could have been heading towards how the automobile effects our way of life, or I could have been setting the stage for the Transformers movie.

Other half posts are bizarre. The following was a "Metablogging" post (August '05), that I didn't really have a punchline for:

I like to see how people find my site. A lot of the references come from the fine folks over there on your right. A few people get here via Pittsburgh Webloggers. Some people seem to have me bookmarked. Othertimes, I just seem to be in the queue on Blogger.

And then there are the Search Engines. I often wonder about some of these searches:

"steve gutenberg" silver "one piece"

breeders o cinamon point breeders


I must admit, however, "breeders o cinamon point breeders" is pretty funny.

With all the flack from the AP, regarding bloggers quoting the AP *gasp* for free (shock and horror!), I wrote this post:

(AP) New York - The Associated Press is reporting
The Associated Press is reporting
The Associated Press is reporting
The Associated Press is reporting
The Associated Press is reporting
The Associated Press is reporting
The Associated Press is reporting
The concept, I think was better than the execution.

And then there are those posts that have no content, just a title. For example from the last 12 months or so, "Do You Feel Lucky, Fluffy?" and "Peduto Action Committee". Frankly, my friends, your guess is as good as mine on those.

You all should feel lucky that most of the really shitty posts do, in fact, get deleted with extreme prejudice.

And From the "Who Didn't See That One Coming" File

Looks like Mario Lemieux and Mary Conturo are going to be passing around the hat:

The city-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority Board came together Thursday to agree on a final cost for the new Penguins arena and settled on a figure $31 million higher than previously estimated.

The original budget for the project was $290 million, a 2005 estimate. On Thursday, the Authority board, the Commonwealth and the Penguins approved spending $321 million to open the venue for the 2010-11 hockey season.

The additional funding will be split between the Penguins’ $15.5 million contribution, the state’s $10 million kick-in and $5.5 million from the sports authority.
Some of you may remember from back in March of '07 when the P-G nicely laid out how cost overruns were going to work:
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.
So, I'm confused: The Penguins are to pay anything over $310 million, which would come up to $11 million, plus they're kicking in an additional $4.5 million, which leaves $15.5 to be paid for by the Public bodies. That doesn't seem very well "split" to me. Perhaps it's a philosophical thing, but I think I would have liked to see the Penguins share in the marginal cost increases until they got up to the $310 million mark.

Be that as it may, however, it should come as no shock that the budget for this project is all messed up. What with increased fuel surcharges, a financial sector in the crapper, and an economy that is generally going all Tom Joad on us, the Arena project is in dire straits.*

The SEA is saying, apparently, that part of the sports authority’s contribution, due in 2010, may come in the form of two equal-part loans from the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the county’s Redevelopment Authority. Which is fine, except that with the stifled economy, you sort of wonder where these organizations are going to get the borrowing capacity to make these kinds of loans.

And the project still has a negative return on investment... that is, unless the Penguins win about ten Stanley Cups in a row.

---
* Strike that. "Money for Nothing" is the absolute opposite of the Arena situation.**
** Or is it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Katherine Baker Knoll

The Governor's Office has announced that Lt. Governor Katherine Baker Knoll has succumbed to cancer at the age of 78.

We have no wish to speak ill of the dead, but it seems appropriate for us to roll out our chance encounter with the late Ms. Knoll from back in 2006.

We had just finished voting in our nondescript polling place in Pittsburgh and pushed the door open, only to find an elderly tiny woman, who had obviously just stepped out from the stretch limo that was parked in front of the senior center, with a rather large body guard right behind her.

"Oh! Hello," we said holding the door for the Lt. Governor, "Nice to meet you."

She returned our greeting, with a mixture of shock and surprise that anyone in this Podunk polling place would recognize a Lt. Governor if she came up an bit them on the ass.

And that was that. We went on our way and the Lt. Governor went in to visit the poll workers.

It's not much of a story, but it is our brief brush with the Lt. Governorship.

Our Senator Carper (D-DE) story is far superior.

In a more cold, calculating vein: Ed Rendell will not be accepting a position in the Obama administration until his term is up, lest Republican Joe Scarnati, now Lt. Governor, take his office.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lest We Forget


They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Hot Air from the HACP

The Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh is digging itself into a giant hole,it seems:

Big drills roared at Northview Heights last week, their truck-mounted bits boring 300-foot-deep wells in the rocky earth, seeking neither oil nor gas, but only access to the subterranean temperatures that promise to warm, cool, and save money.

The drilling of geothermal wells is part of the transformation of the 501-apartment Northview, plus its 91-unit high rise, into models of energy efficiency.

Eventually, the Pittsburgh Housing Authority's 3,300 occupied apartments, plus 200 that are now empty, will get an energy overhaul. It's a $25 million project run by Minneapolis-based Honeywell that involves everything from weatherstripping to new refrigerators, and is guaranteed to pay for itself.
OK, fine so according to the report (and unless I'm reading this wrong), this translates into $800,000 a year in savings -- or up to $9,600,000 in today's dollars -- for the geothermal wells. Now, that means that the rest of the savings, or a maximum of $28,800,000 is from other mechanisms, like weatherstripping, new refrigerators, low flow toilets and shower heads, etc., etc. There's no indication in the article how much money it costs to dig and operate geothermal wells and how much it costs to do low tech solutions.

My question, therefore, is whether the geothermal heating actually is providing a net benefit to HACP or whether it only works, financially speaking, if it is wrapped up with the low-tech stuff. And, if the latter, why are we going out of our way to do the geothermal work... unless it was the only way that Honeywell could make money off of it.

Our good buddy Fester argues,
Geo-thermal air conditioning will significantly reduce peak demand for expensive summer time electricity and geo-thermal heating provides a much higher and thus cheaper temperature base for winter heating. Maintenance will be needed, but ongoing costs for fuel for these base heating/cooling needs will be massively lower. And it is damn hard for an apartment to lose access to the earth for non-payment of a bill, so it provides for a bit of a fiscal cushion for some tenants.
Ah, and you'll notice that I emphasized a bit there, what does that all mean in the context of HACP's long term public housing strategy?

It means, quite frankly, that Northview, Homewood North and Arlington Heights aren't going anywhere. This means that communities that are currently cut off from the rest of the neighborhood and away from jobs and services, will continue to be cut off from jobs and services for the foreseeable future. It means that there is no indication in HACP's plans that there are even considering anything else beyond the current isolation model of public housing... models that they are taking equally great pride in destroying up in the Middle Hill and West Oakland. It means that we've quite honestly given up on integrating public housing into the larger community, and are OK with segregating people in low-income ghettos.*

And this all says nothing, by the way, about the waning and waxing need for public housing in this city, and how that plays a part in HACP's long term facility needs.

So, while I appreciate what HACP is trying to do, I get the feeling that it's fundamentally messed up.

---
*Too much?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama to Reverse Bush Executive Orders

The Washington Post is reporting today that now-President Elect Barack Obama had secretly ordered teams of lawyers to review Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies.

A team of four dozen advisers, working for months in virtual solitude, set out to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could implement soon after his inauguration. The team is now consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs to prioritize those they regard as the most onerous or ideologically offensive, said a top transition official who was not permitted to speak on the record about the inner workings of the transition.

In some instances, Obama would be quickly delivering on promises he made during his two-year campaign, while in others he would be embracing Clinton-era policies upended by President Bush during his eight years in office.

"The kind of regulations they are looking at" are those imposed by Bush for "overtly political" reasons, in pursuit of what Democrats say was a partisan Republican agenda, said Dan Mendelson, a former associate administrator for health in the Clinton administration's Office of Management and Budget. The list of executive orders targeted by Obama's team could well get longer in the coming days, as Bush's appointees rush to enact a number of last-minute policies in an effort to extend his legacy.
The team discovered several Executive Orders that were found to be objectionable:

- Executive Order #4518 which changed the definition of a "human" to include a fetus, an embryo, a dog, and several types of lawyer.

- Executive Order #831 which removed the E before I except after C rule in the Department of Commerce.

- Executive Orders #34 and #9305 which revoked Dick Cheney's death certificates.

- Executive Order #746 which renamed the Department of Education "The Department of Fancy Book Learnin'".

- Executive Order #24601 which called for the arrest of an unidentified French fugitive who was accused of stealing a loaf of bread and his immediate transportation to Guantanamo Bay.

- Executive Order #8675309 which ordered Jenny to not change her number.

- Executive Order #8008135 which banned dirty "l33t-speak".

- Executive Order #7895 which sold Yosemite National Park to Halliburton in exchange for $24 of beads.

- Executive Order #6723 which canceled Arrested Development.

- Executive Order #68903 which renewed, in perpetuity, The World According to Jim.

- Executive Order #1293 which correctified certain stratergeric minunpronouncementations of the President.

and finally

- Executive Order #4769 which makes everything the President says truthful, if he has his fingers crossed.

"Barack Obama" Enters Spell Check Dictionaries

Barabbas Obadiah, Barrack Obadias, Backtrack Bamako, and Bareback Alabama disappointed.


Above: A disappointed "Bareback Alabama" courtesy of Hustler.com.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Coming Out From Under That Bureaucracy You've Been Living Under

I don't know what the Wicked Witch of the East did to those poor Munchkins, but the sudden application of a Kansas domicile to her person certainly seemed to bring out the best in them.

The WaPo had an interesting article on the potential effects of an Obama Administration on the culture of the Washington Bureaucracy. In short, the last eight years or so haven't been that great for Federal employees in the same way that being forced to cut off you own fingers does not improve ones overall body image.

Federal employees said that they are not a passionately partisan group, but some are hopeful about an Obama presidency, assuming that their lot will improve. Several took heart from Obama's campaign trail statements that he wanted to make federal government work "cool again."

John Kamensky, a senior fellow and transition expert at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, said that in tracking the Bush administration's recent work and searching for any new initiatives, his center noticed the business of government had slowed to a near crawl over the last year.

"We've been saying that for a year: the administration checked out early," Kamensky said. "I am hearing people [civil servants] are demoralized and waiting for some leadership."

White House spokesman Tony Fratto said regulatory agencies have a bias in favor of more regulation, and he suspects workers voicing frustrations with the Bush administration's opposition to excessive regulation are now those clamoring for new leadership. "There's no support in the surveys for a demoralized workforce," he said noting that 58 percent reported being satisfied with their agencies and 68 percent with their jobs overall.
To be fair, old G.W. Bush wasn't the first President to undermine or destroy the Federal Bureaucracy and its Public Servants, but he certainly seemed to be very effective at it. Whether it was the mismanagement, the spate of early retirements, or even just the Conservative predilection towards subcontracting pretty much every job to private contractors (read: Haliburton), Georgie done screwed things up might good.

Of course, at the end of January next year, Senator Obama will become the boss of over 2,000,000 employees. There seems to be some hope, to use a word that has almost been rendered trite by the last two years of campaigning, that the Federal Government could once again be populated by smart, civicly minded individuals that take pride in their work and their profession... or as I like to call them: adults.

Or Munchkins. Either is appropriate.

Stephen Hess and the New Obama Administration

Noted presidential organizational historian (as if that title somehow can be purchased with a handful of cereal box tops from ASU) offers the incoming President some advice on his transition team and how he should form his administration. [It's an interesting read, and one too long to quote.]

Now, I've mentioned Stephen Hess in other contexts, but I'll repeat one of his major themes: Republican Administrations are hierarchical (which are efficient but don't always allow for full dissemination of information) and Democratic Administrations are collegial (which allow for multiple points of view, but can get bogged down in decision making).

So far, what we know is this: (1) Obama ran a very tight ship during his campaign, (2) the appointment of Rahm Emmanuel indicates the desire for a very strong hand to manage this Administration, (3) as a community organizer, Obama would have embraced consensus building techniques, and (4) anecdotally, we've gears that Obama felt the need to challenge his staff on things like striking Hillary off the VP shortlist.

Does any of this mean anything? Well, it certainly seems to indicate the possibility that Obama's organizational style could go either hierarchical or collegial.

Now, that being said, the only modern President that was able to pull off a hybrid hierarchical / collegial model was another Democrat that faced economic troubles at home and a two front war.

Methinks that Obama needs to look closely at FDR's example here... that is, apart from the whole dying in office on vacation with your mistress thing.

Yeah. Note to the President-elect: don't do that. Or get polio.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

FEC to Break up Republican Party

(Reuters) Washington D.C - Fresh on a resounding crash at the polls, the Federal Elections Commission has ordered the breakup of the Republican Party on the grounds that it is "too big to fail".

The announcement came after a surprise early meeting of the independent regulatory agency. FEC Chairman David M. Mason said that the party situation was "untenable" and that "drastic measures must be taken."

"The GOP has had a long and dignified history in this country, but current circumstances dictate that we must both protect individual investment and the nation's political economy by controlling what would otherwise be a disastrous free fall."

The Commission has proposed dividing up the party into three distinct parties: the Theocratic Party, the Neo-Conservative Party, and the New Republican Party. Another share of the existing party will be bought out by the Libertarian Party, who will receive Ron Paul.

Senator Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader of the Senate, said that the move was "positive" for the country. "The United States can ill-afford a party set against itself. With yesterday's crushing defeat, it is time to start afresh with new ideologies."

In the 1990s, the GOP had attempted to nationalize the party, but had met with stiff resistance from competitors. Massive speculation during those years had led to a political bubble, which suddenly popped in 2006.

The former Republican Party had found itself in a precarious internal position even before this most recent election. The Party has heavily invested in emerging markets such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Shareholders in the Bible Belt, however, believed that the management was not diversifying its investments enough, by investing in anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion funds.

The selection of John McCain over rivals Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson, or Rudy Guilliani was seen as a compromise between various shareholder factions, who were promised a return of over 270 points. The inclusion of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin in the management team was seen as a positive move towards alleviating shareholder consternation.

In recent weeks, however, it was revealed that the Company had wasted large amounts of money in things like $150,000 wardrobes for senior management, at the expense of turning out production in their facilities across the country. Over 56 Million voters suddenly found their investments in peril.

The FEC proposal will reduce the individual voter's return on investment, but it should stabilize the returns over time.

The proposed break up should be finalized within the next thirty days. No word yet as to which persons will be appointed to lead these new parties.

And from the Dead Tree Media

These may have not been the best front pages in this country today...









...but they certainly felt like the most satisfying.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Countdown...

Like most of the folks round these parts, we will be glued to the TV Tuesday night with giddy (or if you voted for the losing candidate, dread) anticipation. As of this moment, Obama seems to have a pretty sizable lead in most of the important tracking polls in the critical swing states. Of course, that don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing... er... that is, if people don't go out and vote.

Iowa and Virginia are the two big keys to an Obama victory at this point. These two states, combined with the states that Kerry, er, carried in 2004 would be enough to secure a victory. Everything else would be gravy.

Much has been made about McCain trying to take Pennsylvania, but we seem to be firmly enough in the Blue column. We don't think that he'll make a dent in the Commonwealth, barring some sort of shenanigans.

Here's what we'll be looking at over the course of the evening:

During the 7 PM hour, we'll see the results of Georgia, Virginia, and Indiana coming in. Virginia should be an Obama win, Georgia should be a McCain win, and Indiana would usually be a McCain win, but has vacillated back and forth. The way we see it, if Obama wins Virginia, we're going to relax for the rest of the evening; again, if you take all of Kerry's 2004 states plus Virginia and Iowa you have an Obama victory.

Indiana, as everybody has said, should be a reliably red state, but over the last few weeks, it has gone back and forth. If the folks in Lake County (who are primarily Democrats) turn out en masse and the Republicans in the state pretty much stay home, you could see this state swing blue. We think the state will go red ultimately, but if it doesn't or if it is close, Obama will ultimately win the night. We'll crack open another beer.

Now, Georgia should be a reliable red state, but if you have a very high African-American turnout, you could have a swing to blue. We doubt that this state's going to swing, but in the unlikely even that it does go, the evening is over. We're opening up a case and coming in to work sometime next Wednesday.

Officially, if things go badly and Obama loses most of his swing states, we won't find out until after 11 PM when California puts him over the top. If things go well (and Indiana is in the blue column), we'd have an official win around 9-9:30 EST when Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York and/or Rhode Island gives him +270. Without Indiana, Wisconsin is needed to go over 270 between 9 & 10PM.

Chances are you're not going to hear a real announcement declaring a winner until after 11 PM EST, after California closes

We'll be watching the Coleman/Franken, Chambliss/Martin, Dole/Hagan, and McConnell/Lunsford Senate races. Wins here would pretty much guarantee a 58 Democrats + Sanders + Lieberman majority.

Of course, locally we'll be looking at PA-18 (Murphy), PA-3 (English), and PA-12 (Murtha). Murtha's going to be the tough one. Personally we think, if you're a strategic voter and if you really want to bring home the bacon to your district, you may want to opt for a very senior Congressman in the majority over a very junior Congressman in the (presumptive) minority. Of course, you could also be a bitter redneck outside of Johnstown.

So, those are our hotspots.

Our final electoral vote prediction is 338 Obama and 200 McCain. We're giving McCain Indiana and North Carolina. We're giving Obama Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and, of course, Pennsylvania.

In 2004, we were wrong: we had Kerry taking Ohio, probably out of some sort of misplaced optimism. We hope our predictive prowess is better this time around.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Special Message from the ADB: Voting and Whatnot

I've been encouraged by the 12 people that read this blog to say something a bit more serious in regards to the upcoming election. Now, as I purport to be an employee of the Government, I try to stay clear of actually telling people who they should vote for. If you're a regular reader of this little bit of foolishness, however, you can probably guess my political leanings and could therefore assume that I would encourage you to vote for that person.

With that said, I seriously encourage you to vote for that person.

Seriously. Get the fuck out there and vote.

More importantly, however, you should get out and vote period. Elections are one of those kinds of things that we certainly take for granted, this being a mature democratic republic and all.

If you're reading this, though, I'm hoping that you're one of those people that are already engaged in the political process, and will dutifully vote on Tuesday (or before, if you were so lucky). If you're not going to vote, however, I've always maintained that you're absence at the polls means that you've lost the right to complain about the direction of the country/state/city/school board for duration of the term. I figure if you're involved enough to hold an opinion, you should at least put your opinion where your mouth is and go cast a ballot.

Even if you go out and select no one, at least you've done your civic duty.

I would encourage every voter out there to make sure that they make sure that their friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, and random acquaintances vote. [And if they vote for the guy that I'm supporting, so much the better.]

So, don't make me come over to your house and drag you to your polling location. 'Cause I will, and I know where you all live.

[ Find Your Polling Place | Voting Info For Your State | Know Your Voting Rights | Report Voting Problems ]

McCain Releases Devistating Attack ad on Obama

With only hours left until election day, John McCain has unleashed a blistering attack ad on his opponent Barack Obama.

The ad, which is running in several key swing states, attacks the Senator from Illinois for his ongoing relationship with a controversial and embattled Senator, John McCain:

In times of crisis, people are known by the company they keep. Barack Obama has had a long term relationship with John McCain, a Senator who was involved in one of the biggest financial scandals of the 1990s.

Senator Obama and Senator McCain have appeared together in public no less than 4 times in recent months, despite Senator McCain's underhanded, spurious, and duplicitous attacks on his opponent. Does Senator Obama support Senator McCain's tactics?

Senator McCain even called his wife a c*nt in public. A c*nt. Can you believe he called her a c*nt?

Is this the kind of person that Senator Obama should be "palling around with"?

John McCain is different: he's palling around with a gifted, articulate, Harvard educated lawyer, and famous charismatic Senator. That's the kind of person you want a President to be around.

On November 4th, vote for John McCain: the right choice for America.
No word as of yet as the the effectiveness of this ad, although internal polling by the McCain campaign indicate that it has gained traction amongst those with grade school education and those with recent blunt force trauma to the head.

Monongahela Incline closed for computer problems

From the P-G:

The Port Authority's Monongaghela Incline between Carson Street and Grandview Avenue is closed today due to computer problems.

A Port Authority spokesman said shuttle buses are being used to transport passengers who normally take the incline.

The incline also is expected to be closed on Monday and shuttle service will be provided.
I can only assume that the Port Authority is using this time in an attempt to resurrect Charles Babbage in order to have him help clear some jammed punch cards.

But computer problems? Seriously? This thing used to run on friggin' steam, right? This is basically the same amazingly complex principle as a wheel and pulley, right? Where exactly are the computers entering into this?

Does this mean that there's some evil HAL 9000 like computer managing some complicated "car go up/car go down" program that the mission is too critical for humans to be in charge... or is it more likely that some PAT employee downloaded some sort of malware program while surfing for porn on the machine that's supposed to log their time sheets?

If the latter, I'd recommend not touching anything when you ride that thing next time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

McCain Nixes Planned Vintage Halloween Costume


Arizona Senator will instead go as scary 6' 2", volunteer assaulting imaginary black man.

Uh oh...

Why do I get the feeling that even Fox News has given up on the McCain Campaign?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

McCain Campaign Announces Major Shakeup

(Reuters) Norfolk, VA - In a surprise move that supporters are calling "bold" and critics are calling "insane," Senator John McCain has announced, in the waning days of the campaign, that he is replacing his campaign manager with the ShamWow! spokesman.

Speaking in front of a crowd in Sandusky OH with his trademark head microphone and faux-hawk, "Vince" energized those assembled with his testimonial of John McCain.

"John McCain will clean up this economic spill fast. He holds 21 times his weight in water... ya following me camera guy? He'll last for years! He's machine washable and bleachable! He's great for drying pets."

An unnamed high ranking campaign official, speaking off the record, said that McCain was "troubled" by the Obama campaign's 30 minute T.V. infomercial, which garnered over 20 million viewers yesterday. The hiring of a new campaign manager reflects a need to reach out to average voters who are up late watching TV and are gullible.

Infomercial expert Billy Mays says that this move is a super powered epoxy that does it all.

"This new approach is great for home projects big and small. Fill surfaces holes and cracks, instantly seal leaks, repair China, tools and more. Molds to any shape, adheres to most surfaces. No messy mixing needed. Just apply and let dry. Can be painted, sanded or drilled."

John McCain is available for three easy installments of $19.95, but if you order today you get the Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin *FREE*.

Call (703) 418-2008! ORDER NOW!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

On Coordinators, Green and Sustainable

Interesting to see that the City has finally hired a sustainability coordinator for greening and whatnot around Pittsburgh. That's great and all (we here at the ADB are big supporters of the green movement in general), but we noticed some fundamental problems in this hire:

(1) The Title of Coordinator is poisonous. Imagine you've been given a position, with no staff, no budget, but an objective that absolutely, positively must be met. Being a coordinator means that you don't really report to anyone, but no one actually reports to you. You can't really boss anyone around and can't demand that anyone do anything. Usually, that "anything" is vital to your job. It's a no win situation, but it'll make your boss look good because he's done "something."*

If I had a Guide for Bureaucrats rather than Rules of Bureaucracy, one of the pointers I would give would be "Don't be a coordinator."

(2) People are territorial. By definition, the coordinator position is supposed to tell multiple bureaucrats across multiple departments what to do. People don't like being told what to do to (and the people that are early adopters are going to be few and far between). True, if the coordinator has the support of the mayor in all of her programmatic decisions, it's going to be a lot easier... but really, let's be honest, the mayor is not really going to be taking a really active role in any of this.

(3) Age. Now, there's nothing wrong with young people in City Government; some of my colleagues are very bright, but don't remember things like Duran Duran or "stagflation". That's OK, seriously.** However, there are a lot of people in City government that will go on endlessly about their age and experience and how "we've never done it this way before, so it's obviously bad". To make it worse: a lot of those people are Directors and Deputy Directors. They hate young people and will make Ms. Baxter's job miserable.

(4) $45,347/year is not nearly enough money for putting up with the crap. Seriously.

So, yeah: Good luck.

---
* By the way, multiple "coordinators" are know as a "commission."
** Unless your name is an anagram of "Shaven Talk Rule"

Why'd They Put Halloween So Close to Election Day?

If you're like me, you're probably scrounging around to come up with a Halloween costume for Friday. And, if you're like me, you're probably trying to find a costume that doesn't leave people baffled, like last year's Thomas Pynchon costume, which only made the neighborhood kids egg you as you passed out candy.

Also, if you're like me, you're waiting with baited breath for the end of the campaign season, so you can get back to watching commercials for movies that have explosions, instead of Presidencies which will cause terrorists to explode you and everyone you love. Although, to be fair, the McCain campaign could only improve by taking on Michael Bay as director.

Moving on.

Our intrepid moles and spies have traveled the length and breadth and depth and heights of this land to examine what candy the current Presidential & Vice-Presidential candidates will be giving out at their houses, you know, in case you want to hop on a plane to go from Delaware to Alaska on Friday and hit all the homes in between.

Barack Obama - The Obama campaign initially considered Snickers or Reese Peanut Butter cups, but ultimately decided those would be off message. In what shows that Sen. Obama is both disciplined and a literalist, Trick-or-Treaters will receive a handful of change... which I suppose you can use to go out and buy real candy.

John McCain - Senator McCain initially wanted to give out candy cigarettes, Clark Bars, or Necco Wafers to his guests. His campaign informed him, however, that out of those choices, only Necco Wafers are still being made, and no one really likes those anyway. McCain decided instead to give out cans of Ensure. BONUS: if you're really ambitious, the Senator will be giving out different flavors of Ensure at each of his seven homes.

Joe Biden - Senator Biden, despite the insistence of the campaign, will be giving out Pop Rocks and Cola. Trick-or-Treaters are advised not to consume the two together.

Sarah Palin - In an old throwback, Gov. Palin will be giving out candied apples, a more traditional treat that looks good, is sweet, but hard to bite into. Later you find out that the apple isn't really that tasty, and you're left with an nasty fruit on a stick.

Bob Barr - The Libertarian Candidate will not be giving out candy, but will gladly exchange money or labor for candy. We believe he has Pixie Sticks.

Cynthia McKinney - The Green Party has traditionally given out fair trade, shade grown, organic chocolates to the kids. This year, however, Ms. McKinney is eschewing tradition and giving out pipe wrenches and handfuls of gravel.

Charles O. Baldwin - Mr. Baldwin, as a member of the Constitution Party, does not believe in Halloween. His lights will be turned off and he will not answer the door, even though you know that he's at home.

Ralph Nader - Nobody really goes to Mr. Nader's house anymore. Back in 2000, he said he was giving away a boxed assortment of Swiss chocolates, but when you got home and opened the box, it turned out to be a dog turd. Mr. Nader isn't giving away treats as such this year, although if you happen to be within two blocks of his house, he may jump out and try to force "candy" in to your bag.

Former Congressman Mark Foley - While not a Presidential Candidate, he is forbidden to give out candy and is required to publicly announce this under Megan's Law.
So, to all those trick-or-treaters out there, and try not to accept treats from write-in-candidates.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

McCain Sells Soul for Emergency Cash

(Reuters) Arlington VA - Facing an significant cash disadvantage to his opponent, John McCain today took drastic measures to close the gap in the closing days of the 2008 Presidential campaign.

"My friends, today we have forged an arrangement that will bring us victory on November 4th," said Senator McCain to an audience of around 660 supporters in northern Virginia.

"After a night of incantations and a few sacrificed goats, the Dark Lord Satan himself came to me and offered my campaign unlimited financing in exchange for my immortal soul. After consultation with my running mate, we both agreed that this was the right tactic for this campaign.".

Supporter of the McCain campaign were initially taken aback by the move, however reactions from the punditocracy were generally positive.

"This is the kind of an Alpha Male action that this country needs," said Fox News fixture Ann Coulter. "Wimpy arugula eating traitorous Muslims don't even have a soul to sell for America."

The terms of the deal with Satan were not immediately available, but spokesman Richard Cheney said that the press would be given 20 minutes to review the nearly 9,000 pages, probably sometime during the next full moon.

The Evangelical wing of the GOP may not embrace this move by McCain, although it is expected to endear him to the party's backers on Wall Street. Still, representative of Satan say they have received the endorsement of the late Jerry Falwell.

Former Bush administration spokesman Scott McClellan said that the deal may not be a good long term strategy for the campaign. "Well, you see Satan's a tricky guy. He offers you eternal life, but he pulls a fast one on you and you find yourself living forever in Scranton PA. Not sure what Satan has in mind with this one. Chances are, he'll give John McCain a whole lot of money, but make it so Obama gets more."

The Obama campaign released no response to Sen. McCain's announcement.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sarah Palin to Swing by Beaver

Vice Presidential Candidate going to Intercourse Pennsylvania Next
Larry Flint furiously takes notes


True Scotsmen Removed from GOP Roles

(Newswire) Columbus Ohio - In a surprise move, the Ohio GOP has requested that thousands of Scottish-Americans have their registrations changed as they no longer represent the views of Republicans Party.

At a 10 AM press conference, Ohio GOP spokesman Antony Flew stated that the party became concerned with the matter after recently released opinion polls showed that Ohio Scottish-Americans favored Barack Obama over John McCain by a staggering 10 to 1 majority.

John McCain was sitting down with his copy of the the Columbus Dispatch and saw an article about how "GOP Hibernian-Americans are Flocking to Obama in Record Numbers." McCain was shocked and declared that "No Scotsman would do such a thing." And then, the very next day he sits down to read the same Columbus Dispatch again and this time finds an article about Angus MacDonald, a long time Republican donor, hosting an Obama fundraiser. Mr. McCain came to the conclusion that, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing" and promptly ordered an investigation into activities of "un-Scotsmanlike behavior in the Republican Party."
The Ohio GOP has requested that the identified Republican Scottish-Americans have their party registry changed from Republican to Independent. This change, it is expected, would cause mass confusion amongst Obama leaning Republican Scottish Americans in Ohio.

The move comes on the heels of several statements by Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin, Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Radio personality Rush Limbaugh, and McCain spokeperson Nancy Pfotenhauer all of whom spoke at length over the weekend regarding the support True Americans for the Republican Party.

Some from the left have argued that such statements are both a logical fallacy and a divisive, reprehensible mischaracterizations while others from the right have argued that no True American would ever disagree with the Republican Party.

The Ohio GOP had issued arm bands to True Americans, to show members that they are not alone in an America hating America. The Party has also called for "False American" Americans to wear similar identifiable markers such as iPods, eye glasses, or other pieces of flair.

The US Scottish-American Society has roundly condemned the GOP purge request, which was subsequently condemned by the Republican Party as something no "True Scotsman" would do.