Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Unpolished Thoughts on the State of the Union

Here are my final, uninhibited thoughts on the State of the Union:



3) fear

4) These guys teaching the Iraqis how to fight corruption is like having the Italians teaching the Iraqis how to run a government.

5) Arlen looked... enthusiastic.

6) Troop levels will be decreased by commanders... not commanders-in-chief.

7) Yes, we have changed tactics in Iraq... if you call "quagmire" a tactic.

8) Two! Two Bin Ladens! Ha Hah Hah! [thunder and lightning]

9) Stand behind the American military by... you know... sending them into a quagmire.

10) Democracy leads to love, puppies, sunshine, and, if you are in Palestine, Hammas.

11) Dear Iran: Sleep with one eye open, friend.

12) Opposition to Isolationism is not Interventionism.

13) Regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption, and despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking, and the drug trade...but enough about Washington DC.

14) NSA Surveillance keeps away tigers.

15) LIAR!

16) WAR! [Good God y'all!] What is it good for? [Jingoism?]


18) While the growth of the US economy is impressive... it lags behind China.

19) Deficit? Didn't we eliminate that in, like, 1999?

20) Um... Didn't they also pass the Line Item Veto? Wasn't it also struck down?

21) Glad to see that the AMA was able to free up a few speechwriters for tonight.

22) Bush asking for us to cut back on oil is either like Nixon going to China, or like Courtney Love telling us to cut back on the blow.

23) Clean coal? Great. Does this mean 24hrs of "lost miner" coverage on CNN now?

24) Whoa... he talks about math and science... aaaaaand cut to the Asian (Elaine L. Chao, secretary of Labor)

25) A life of personal responsibility is a life of fullfillment... a life of irresponsibility leads to the presidency.

26) Laura's doubled her Xanax prescription tonight.

27) You know, I know if shouldn't feel wrong that the Party of Lincoln invoke the memory of Dr. King... but it does.

So... those are the unadulterated, unfiltered, unpolished, unplugged thoughts.


Bonus: Tonight! One Night Only! Gov. Tim Kaine is Spock!

State of the Union Update pt. II

Oy vey.

You know, I don't that I shouldn't call the President a liar, but I could definitely see his pants on fire.

State of the Union Update

About halfway through... and I'm buzzing, mostly through the strength of Freedom, Terror, and Democracy.

And was I halucinating, or were the Democrats showing some collective balls there for a minute?

More soon!

Pittsburgh Love Songs, 'n'at

Just an interesting article from a Detroit development E-zine by a Pittsburgher, about Pittsburgh and Detroit. 
Worth a read.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bureaucracy, Salary, & Overtime

OK, the PG ran this article on the effect of overtime on the City Budget.

I do not have access to their data... I only had the Business Times' Big Book of Lists for 2006. Their data was a bit... erm... less current, but it's pretty much the same as what the PG reported:

The Top 50 City Salaries, including bonuses and overtime, ranged from $135,893 (a Fire Battalion Chief) to $102,244 (a Fire Captain). Out of the top 50, four were EMS employees, four were police employees, the rest were fire employees.

For the record, O'Connor makes (or at least the City Budget says he makes) $94,157.

Also for the record, yours truly is not on the list.

Also also for the record, the County list is on the opposing page. The top 50 salaries ranged from $122,911 (the District Attorney) to $86,112 (a County Police Officer) and were generally mixed between departments. Onorato is on this list, but he falls in at $88,735.

Just thought I'd mention those facts for your consideration and hint that I too could do with some much needed overtime pay.

Square Dance

Marcus Rauterkus linked a few days back to this article by Patricia Lowry on the Mayor's proposal to turn Market Square into more "open space". From the article:

Earlier this month, in one of his first volleys as mayor, Bob O'Connor said that Downtown doesn't have enough parks and green space. He wants to create more for the many new residents it will be getting when about 3,000 apartments and condominiums are built Downtown over the next few years. For one thing, O'Connor wants to eliminate the crossroads through Market Square -- Market Street and Forbes Avenue -- and turn its four quadrants into a small park....

O'Connor is right, though, in suggesting that buses be rerouted out of Market Square. With brick and Belgian block streets and lined mostly with historic and low-rise buildings, the square has a relaxed, pedestrian feel -- until a bus bears down on you, catching you unawares. Removing them would go a long way in improving the ambience and air quality.

But O'Connor also wants to close to vehicles McMasters Way and Graeme Street, which connect Fifth Avenue with the square, and eliminate Market Street and Forbes Avenue through the square. It's almost never a good idea to close streets to cars where businesses are located, as the failed pedestrian malls of the 1960s in East Liberty, on the North Side and in many other American cities proved. Cars bring people, and people bring their shopping dollars and watchful eyes to the street. Closing Forbes through the square would have the domino effect of turning the blocks adjacent to it, between Stanwix and the square and between Wood and the square, into dead-end streets, making travel by car there difficult and jeopardizing those businesses as well.

And what, really, would be gained by turning Market Square into a grassy park? It already provides shade trees, a stage and plenty of seating, thanks to the low granite walls that surround three of the four quadrants. Most people don't sit on grass, but it does provide comfortable bedding for vagrants and the homeless, as the edges of Point State Park attest...
The same thought had been running through my mind when I heard the proposal. Unfortunately, I, being the social butterfly that I am, had no time to comment before my thunder was stolen by Ms. Lowry. But, whatever, I mean, she's getting paid, and I'm not... yet.

My initial reaction was exactly which streets were going to be closed. Clearly if vehicular traffic is to be closed to the entire square, you're going to have great difficulty with the block of Forbes between Wood and Market, and the block from Market to Stanwix. This would create a "dead area," like the fantastically successful East Liberty Mall. Moreover, if you are hoping to, say, bring in commercial establishments to the area, you're going to need some sort of loading/unloading area. That's not very easy if all the access points are cut off.

I agree with Ms. Lowry on the bus issue, although I must say it's really, really cool to walk to the front of the bus while you're traversing the square; the experience is like an old funhouse ride. What can I say? I get my kicks when I can.

If there has to be any road closures, I would suggest it should be the streets within Market Place, diversion of any trucks and busses, with the exception of local deliveries, away from the Square, allowing a bit more pedestrian friendly area in the middle. Local traffic can be diverted around Market Place, not through the Square.

That's a compromise thought, however. I really see no real reason to change it.

State of the Union Drinking Game

Well, we're now less than 24hrs away from that night that makes my liver ache: The State of the Union Speech. Used to be that I watched it out of "civic duty"... now it's just more of an excuse to see how drunk I can get and how loud I can yell at the TV.

I can't stand that man.

Anywho, for those of you who are currently beyond disolutionment, and that wish to drink deeply from the River Lethe, you might want to try the official 2006 SOTU drinking game, currently here.

And may God bless my liver.

Baltic Avenue Hotel

Jonathan Potts has an article in the Pittsburgh Business Times on the proposed new convention center hotel. Voila:

Most of the time, Downtown hotels have only about a 60 percent occupancy rate, which to Strunk means that the city doesn't need any more hotels -- least of all a publicly subsidized one adjacent to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. But some officials continue to push for a convention center hotel, and the legislation that authorized slot machines includes $34 million in state subsidies toward the construction of such a facility.
Heavy stuff.

I've been in favor of a convention center hotel for the reasons described in the article, namely, that the convention center will only be successful with enough rooms to support it. JP raises an interesting possibility: we may already have enough space to actually support the facility without having to create (via subsidies or the private market) more. If that is the case, the city agencies responsible for the hotel project should cut their losses and more on.

Of course, the obverse of the quesiton could be true too: the convention center may be performing only at 60% because it doesn't have enough hotel space. If there were more hotel rooms, would the convention center be more successful?

Chicken? Egg? Chicken? Egg?

In any case, JP brings up a good point that mandates further inquiry and a good start would be to find out what conventions we didn't snag, and why.

Besides, we can use the extra money to pay for city overtime.

Down the Memory Hole

Those of you who read this blog will undoubtedly have noticed my affinity for Wikipedia, the online, free encyclopaedia, editable by anyone.

Did that sound like a plug? Hmm.

Anyway, those of you that love random information will also love this:

Apparently, according to the Lowell Sun,

The staff of U.S. Rep Marty Meehan wiped out references to his broken term-limits pledge as well as information about his huge campaign war chest in an independent biography of the Lowell Democrat on a Web site that bills itself as the "world's largest encyclopedia," The Sun has learned.

The Meehan alterations on Wikipedia.com represent just two of more than 1,000 changes made by congressional staffers at the U.S. House of Representatives in the past six month.
[Insert trombone Waa Wah here]

If you want the whole discussion, check out this, which details the behavior of the United States Congress.

Representative Meehan apparently believes, if it doesn't show up in the records, it didn't happen. He that controls the information can control the past.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I Shot the Sheriff (After My Property Was Put Up For Tax Sale)

Pittsburgh's Other, Other, Other, Newspaper of Record has this story on the recent move by the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department to advertise Sherrif's Sales in the Tribune Review, instead of the Post-Gazette. A clip:

~According to a Post-Gazette advertising official, the sheriff’s office never called to ask for a better price before withdrawing its ads.

~The Trib’s own general manager says his paper was just handed the deal by the sheriff’s office.

~While the Trib and the P-G have given similar amounts of coverage to recent indictments in the sheriff’s department, the P-G’s commentary has been more forceful and its investigative pieces more frequent. On Dec. 12, for instance, P-G columnist Ruth Ann Dailey wrote in a column, “Whatever the psychological motivations in the sheriff’s office, there were no checks and balances at work -- nothing to make potential wrong-doers think twice.” The P-G has even investigated whether the sheriff’s vehicles were washed too often, and asked in a Dec. 11 story about the office’s scandals, “Did the sheriff know what was going on? And if not, why not?”

~The sheriff’s office took an admittedly dumb gaffe personally, and the Trib was glad to gloat about it. A Post-Gazette letter announcing changes in ad rates was addressed to the late sheriff Eugene Coon and not Sheriff Pete DeFazio, who has been in office since 1997. “Gee, is that a slap in somebody’s face, too,” Fersch says. The letter was featured in the Trib’s Sunday Whispers column on Jan. 8.
The article then goes on to talk a bit more about how the Sheriff's Office is denying that politics played any part of it... yadda-yadda-yadda.

Those of you not familiar with Sheriff Sales can get this definition from Law.com:
n. an auction sale of property held by the sheriff pursuant to a writ (court order) of execution (to seize and sell the property) to satisfy (pay) a judgment, after notice to the public.
Usually this means a foreclosure on the mortgage, although I suppose that tax liens and water & sewer liens would also fit the bill.

I had heard about this change, and figured that the Sheriff was going to a cheaper provider (as is usually the case), although the article above indicates that price was never really a factor. The Sheriff's office is also required to notify you via certified mail, but that doesn't always work.

So, what's my point here? This: the Trib's subscription is decidely less than the Post-Gazette, although I find no reason to thoroughly back up this assertion. Therefore, tax sale announcements are going to be less widely distributed. Therefore, fewer people are going to show up at tax sales or be even aware that such sales are going on. Ergo, more property is seized and, more than likely, sold to an outside agency like GLS.

I'm also going to guess that the areas most likely to be seized aren't going to be in Fox Chapel or Shadyside, but rather the Hill District or Duquesne. Delinquency rates in low income municipalities and neighborhoods are appalling.


So words of advice: pay your mortgage, your taxes, and your water bills. If you don't, you may end up evicted... unless you read the Trib.

Pick your poison.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Future Lawyers of America to Gonzales: Suck It

This almost makes me want to give up my hobby of hunting lawyers with an atlatl.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Things I'm Not Going to Write About Today

I'm not going to write a post today.

I'm not going to write about Mario Lemieux hanging up his skates; I kinda figured this was going to happen once he announced that he was gong to sell the team.

I'm not going to write about UPN and the WB merging to form the new network CRAP.

I'm not going to write about the impending confirmation of Samuel Alito; instead I'm going to plan my immigration to Canada.

I'm not going to write about my impending plan to immigrate to Canada, mostly because of yesterday's election and my change of plans.

I'm not going to talk about atlatl hunting, mostly because I'm already a certified atlatl enthusiast. I use them to hunt lawyers... well, corporate lawyers anyway.

I'm not going to talk about the donation of a bone field to UPitt.... I've seen their board of trustees, this is nothing new.

Meh. I'm done not talking.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Nuit d'élection spéciale, eh?

Je peux être le seul type dans la ville de Pittsburgh qui observe les retours entrent pour le Canada, mais en ce moment le CBC réclame un gouvernement de minorité (conservateur).

Il est l'une de ces choses que nous vers le bas des Sud juste ne comprenons pas : vous ne gagnez pas la majorité de voix, mais vous gagnez la commande du gouvernement.

D'accord, Al Gore comprend.

La chose intéressante, naturellement, est que, à la différence d'ici, il sera que les parties multiples forment un gouvernement et, vrai à la nature canadienne, un compromis.

Imaginez si elle était comme celle ici.

Bien, de nouveau aux équitations.

Election Night Special, eh?

I may be the only guy in the City of Pittsburgh that is watching the returns come in for Canada, but right now the CBC is calling for a minority government (Conservative). It's one of those things that we down South just don't understand: you don't win the majority of votes, but you win control of government.

OK, Al Gore understands.

The interesting thing, of course, is that, unlike here, it will be necessary for multiple parties to form a government and, true to Canadian nature, compromise.

Imagine if it was like that here.

Alright, back to the ridings.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Danger! Falling Memes!

I've been hit by a meme. Thanks Sue; now I have to rinse meme out of my hair.

Here's the deal:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.

My 23rd post was on January 27, 2005:

Who still hasn't made up his friggin' mind: The Silver Fox.
I think I heard that the Silver Fox became mayor of some Butt-Ugly city somewhere.

So, selecting the next suitable victims from the Blogroll...
Amos and...
Let's say PittGirl. You're it!


Friday, January 20, 2006

The Man Who Knows Where the Bodies Are Buried

I must say I'm shocked and appalled by the indictment of Cyril Wecht. I mean, Cyril is usuall such a laid back, reserved guy... hardly the kind of person that would do something brash. I find it hard to believe.

Actually... I'm torn by this case:

First, this is such a dull charge for Cyril. Fraud? Pish-posh! That's not really worthy of an indictment. I would have hoped that Pittsburgh could have come up with a better crime. The Firefighter/Murphy scandal is far more interesting; now THAT is good fraud, and collusion, I think. I was hoping for so much more.

OK... there's that whole "swapping corpses for work space" as reported. in the Trib. That was good.

But really, and this is my second point, this is just a case of someone taking their work home with them. I mean, would it be fraud if he took home Post-It notes? Why are a couple of dead people any different?

So, Cyril had a couple good moves, but the Hungarian judge is going to knock him a few points. Best he can hope for now is a Silver medal.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Buttin' Uglies

So if you read Pittsblog you would have noticed this article from the Rocky Mountain News regarding Pittsburgh.  Peter Leo in the PG noticed it; I can only assume that Peter Leo reads Pittsblog.  A selection from the article:
First impression: [Pittsburgh] is a hard town, filled with hard people who bop around their gun-metal gray burg with nothing but football on their minds...I will tell you this, something I would never tell one of the locals. Pittsburgh is one butt-ugly town...
It is precisely the type of town that would name its professional football team the Steelers. Old mills, long stilled, dot the town. Weeds spill from smokestacks.
Across the Ohio River from where I write this rises downtown Pittsburgh, as dark and forbidding a skyline as you will ever encounter.
Just to the north, right on the river, Heinz Field, home of the Steelers, rises almost cathedral-like, a bright-yellow behemoth that casts shadows on all that surrounds it.
It is, too, a town of bars. I have been here only a short time, but if there is a city block without a bar I haven't driven by it yet...
Alright, let's stop there...
If you're from Pittsburgh, you already know that this guy didn't actually visit here; he's slapping together some old copy from, say, 1980, and repackaging it for his editors.  I do not know these "long stilled, old mills" of which he speaks.  Perhaps he dreamt it; dreams are true... in a sense.  Perhaps it was ghost written by Jayson Blair... I don't know. 
But, to be fair, I have spent some time in Denver, so I can speak with some level of authority on that City... and do you want to talk about "Butt Ugly"?  Sheesh!
Denver is a festering taint stain at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.  It's not so much a City, as it is a place where civilization has splattered to the ground, like a hefty bag filled with meat, tossed out of a passing 747.  It slouches outward, block after block of strip malls and subdivisions, all looking the same, devoid of life.  It oozes outward, unconstrained by topography until it gets to the foothills and it lurches backwards; hell of a flat place for being "mile high".  It is a place upon which people from Texas cast scorn.  It is a 40-year old-housewife-on-Xanax of a City, content to wallow in its vacuousness. It is ugly, bereft of soul.  I wouldn't allow my dog to take a crap there, in the off chance that it might improve the City's image. 
In conclusion, Denver can get bent.

FOLLOW UP: Author turns tail after Pittsburgh ex-Pats gang up on him. Still no idea where this 19th Century mill is.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This is How the Republic Falls

In one of the message boards I was perusing today, I found this link about Hillary and the rebuttal about Newt. Apparently one of them is racist and the other is more racist. The boards lit up in rivers of flame.

And then there was the whole thing about Mayor Nagin calling New Orleans "Chocolate City." More flames.

And then there was more stuff... too inane to mention.

Meanwhile... the prescription drug plan is in shambles, Iraq is still a mess, the environment is degrading, oil companies are gougin us, the debt is increasing, the Chinese own more and more of this country, and we're running out of copper.

But seriously, the Nagin thing is important too... that and Scarlett Johansson's breasts.

Is this really what we've come to? Are we really so blinded by trivialities and minutiae that we allow it to interfere with the functioning of our political system? Is American Idol more important than the 4th Amendment? Do we really care anymore as long as we have a lottery and Victory Gin? Janet Jackon's areola got more public scrutiny than Haliburton's no-bid contracts.

Our attention span wanes with the next news cycle; we forget, we get distracted, and things don't get better. Frankly, I don't think we care.

I'm tired of not caring; I hope you are too.

Eternal Vigilance and whatnot.... until then, I'm on the soapbox.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tnah na nah nah nah! HEY! T-nah t-nah! ...

[Yes that is my best phonetic impression of Rock 'n Roll #5.]

Let there be dancing in the street, drinking in the saloons, and
necking in the parlour!
And thank goodness tomorrow is reserved the inevitable hangover.

I'm going to go have a lie down for a bit, as I seem to be suffering
from a Cheney.

Go Stillers!

Friday, January 13, 2006

TIFs, etc.

JP had this post on this article. I was posting to his comments until I realized that I got a little... ahem.. verbose. So here's what I was thinking:

The important point in the article comes from former Fort Worth City Councilman Clyde Picht:

The original concept of TIFs was to help blighted areas come out of the doldrums and get some economic development they wouldn’t [otherwise] have a chance of getting...
Local areas such as, say, Robinson Township fail the "but for" test cited with Chicago: with rising property values and a demand for development, the TIF is just a political ploy to an areas that doesn't really need it. My opinion: Pittsburgh should have TIFs, the Mon Valley should have TIFs... but that's about it. Sorry South Fayette.

Further, the value of the TIF, ideally, is to bring some competive advantage (or at least leveling) to truly blighted areas in which development is truly difficult (for physical reasons). If East Bloodynowhere, WI starts using TIFs, the value of the incentive decreases to the point where development in the blighted areas is no longer competitive to the "blighted" areas. And we're back in the same position as where we started.

The result is a bidding war is an escalating game of chicken, in which rational actors make themselves worse off than if they did nothing.

Now, the question becomes: how do you make everyone happy within, at least a region, and end the insanity.

The only solution I can see is sort of what they did at The Waterfront, in which three municipalities (Homestead, West Homestead, and Munhall) agreed to revenue and service sharing. Basically, if development happened on the West Homestead portion of the site, Munhall would share in the revenues. This idea works in small areas, but not at the regional scale... and someone smarter than I needs to think about it hard, before the competition overwhelms us all and we pour zillions of dollars into developments that are just going to cancel each other out.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Pointless Milestones

Those of you who pay attention to these things may have realized that this is the one year anniversary of The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat.  If you are not one of those people, well, shame on you, but thanks for reading anyway. 
Although, perhaps you are one of those people that look at hit counters and realized that we are rapidly approaching 10,000 visitors... like really rapidly... like by the time you finish reading this post, I hope.  So call your friends/neighbors/fellow bloggers/Jerry Lewis, and help push us to 10K! 
I'd like to thank all the people that made this possible and all the people (both real and virtual) that encouraged this little excursion into the seedy underworld that is The Bureaucracy. Without all of your emails, postings, rants, raves, and so forth, I wouldn't have had the will to carry on... and would have been in some virtual gutter somewhere soaked in virtual gin and tonic. 
Here's what I've learned so far from this blog: 
(1) The actual workings of government are enigmas to most people.  
(2) People, nevertheless, have very strong feelings about the way things ought to be, and will freely and loudly offer them to you. 
(3) Blogging while drunk, while not recommended, is highly entertaining to read.
(4) "Commiseration" has two m's.
(5) The distance between the people in charge of this City and the people reading this blog is smaller than you think. 
(6) Blogger doesn't like Apple's Safari browser.  
(7) There is no "I" in "Team," but there is an "Eat Me."
(8) Never go back to read old posts; yes, they are as bad as you remember.
(9) No pooftas?
(10) Writing using dependent, independent, and subjunctive clauses is a lost art form, as are sentences using semi-colons.
(11) Lists are good ways of extending short posts into lengthy ones.
So that's it from here!  I'm off to celebrate in my own particular way, which, as you may have guessed, involves liquor and paperwork. 
Thanks again everybody. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Do Not Read This Post!

Don't say I didn't warn you. You're going to be disappointed, seriously. There's nothing good in this post at all; I'm fresh out of ideas today.

I was thinking about writing about the change of the proposed election date to more suit the needs of Pitt students, until I realized that (1) this is not my council district and (2) I don't really care what Pitt students think anyway. And before anyone says it, yes, I am part of the problem; I'm comfortable with that.

I was thinking on commenting about how absolutely gushing the Trib article on the proposed PNC Skyscraper sounded... well, gushing for the Trib, anyway. Then, I realized that was all the comment I had.

I was thinking on commenting that the fact that Jim Ferlo and Jane Orie agree on anything, let alone a plan for a new arena, is the greatest accomplishment in recent SWPA political history. Then I realized that they both once threatened to kick me in the crotch, so I suppose this isn't the first time they've agreed on something.

I was thinking of ranting about the Kabuki show that is the Alito confirmation hearings, but it's far too difficult to raise my hackles on a man who currently has unformed every opinion that he's ever had.

I was going to ask who's the black private dick that's the sex machine to all the chicks... and then it turned out to be Shaft. I can dig it.

I was going to lend my comiserations to Charles Kennedy, who was ousted by the LibDems this week for, what was purported to be a drinking problem. Instead, I realized that no one reading this blog would know who I was talking about. So I had a shot of Jack instead.

I was going to check to see if I spelled "comiserations" correctly; I decided not to.

See, now aren't you disappointed? I totally wasted your time. You should stop reading right now. There's nothing more. It's pointless to go on further. Don't even bother scrolling down. There's nothing down there.

So, was this really worth scrolling this far? I didn't think so.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Coincidence or not, you decide:

(1) I was in Phillie a few weeks ago, on various sundry missions, and happened to be in and around the U. Penn Campus. I remarked to my traveling companion that "the neighborhood looked better than I remembered."

(2) A while back, I had written about the contraversy between Pitt and the Residents of the Allequippa Housing Project.

(3) In what had to be a fever induced delerium, I found myself wandering around downtown and noticed rubble where there hadn't been rubble before. Turns out that Point Park University is building new dance studios. This sounds similar to what Duquesne University proposed about a year ago.

(4) Yesterday, the WaPo did this article on the transformation of the area around Penn's campus from industrial wasteland to vital retail neighborhood.

This means something... this is important.

Kinda got me thinking: there's a lot of discussion surrounding tech transfer and the ability of the universities to bring products developed to the open market (all of which is good and I'm not criticizing), but aside from the downtown housing component, there has been little discussion, it seems, about the role of universities when it comes to traditional economic development activities.

Of course, it's not the job of the universities to be developers... but it is their job to ensure that the appeal of their environs remain a net positive to students. As Penn discovered, it's hard to attract students when your perceived to be in the ghetto.

[And of course, at least two of the major universities around here have schools that purport to be interested in Public Affairs; you'd think that they'd be able to create a less theoretical and more practicable impact on the economic development community 'round here. Public service? Bollocks! We need more lawyers and consultants!]

So, I guess the question, viz the article on Penn, is the following: how can Pittsburgh Universities be economic development generators with respect to the neighborhoods in which they are located? And, as a follow up, if they are impacting their surrounding neighborhoods, are any of them currently doing it correctly and with respect to the existing conditions?

Off the cuff, I can think of several opportunities:
(1) University employees need housing and receive certain savings in time and transportation costs.
(2) Employees that live nearby will need services.
(3) Captive students need services.
(4) Start up spinoffs need a physical, off campus but nearby, location with adjacent related facilities.
(5) Well travelled public space provides certain security advantages to Universities.

But that's off the top of my head... I'm rusty on my Jane Jacobs. Perhaps I need to go back to University for Economic Development.

We Appologize for the Inconvenience

I'm currently suffering from a mild form of death.  Symptoms include: coughing, aching, sneezing, runny nose, light-headedness, incoherence, vomiting, a burning sensation when I pee, and the loss of my left lung.  I think it could be Rockin' Pneumonia or the Boogey-Woogey Flu.
We hope to resume real postings when my condition improves.  Until then... 

Friday, January 06, 2006

Fun with Federal Fraud

Word of advice to Tom Cousar, don't f' with the Pentagon. Voila:

A prominent McKeesport contractor who worked on the Pentagon rebuilding project, PNC Park and the Petersen Events Center at the University of Pittsburgh has been charged with 39 federal counts of defrauding all three projects by padding bills and labor costs for more than $1 million.

Named in the indictment were Capco Contracting owner Thomas J. Cousar and two top employees, Catherine L. Bradica, who oversaw the company's finances, and Daniel D. Monte, project supervisor. Also indicted was Joseph Arena Jr., senior project manager for AMEC, the Maryland-based main contractor on the Pentagon project.
I remember Capco from this article and this announcement.

Seriously, what the f' were they thinking trying to defraud the Pentagon? This people have GUNS! MISSLES! HATS! LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO IRAQ! DON'T THINK THEY WON'T FUCK YOU THE SAME WAY!!

Second word of advice to Mr. Cousar: cover your cornhole in federal prison.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Don't Drink the Kool-Ade at the 700 Club

Wow... wow...

Robertson suggests God smote Sharon
Evangelist links Israeli leader's stroke to 'dividing God's land'

(CNN) -- Television evangelist Pat Robertson suggested Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine retribution for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, which Robertson opposed.
Of course, Robertson only wants Israel to exist at its biblical borders so that the Fnal Judgement (tm) can be brought about and Christ can reign supreme... unfortunately, this also means the eradication of the Jews. So, bad luck there for Sharon either way.

Obviously Pat is crazy... everyone knows that Lesbians and Abortionists caused the Gaza withdrawl! Duh! IT'S IN EZEKIEL PEOPLE!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Swann Song

Allow me to add my voice to those that are unimpressed by Lynn Swann's candidacy for Governor.  [Yawn]
Swann's credentials are as follows: Inductee into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame, which, to be fair, reads better than Bill Scranton's credentials.  Sure he was Lt. Governor, but how many receptions did he make? 
But on the other hand, Swann's candidacy kinda pisses me off...
Jesse Ventura
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Fred Thompson
Sony Bono
Ronald Reagan
That Dude from "Love Boat"... I think that we should just make it obligatory that you have to first be famous to run for anything. 
City Councilman? Not a chance.
Political Scientist?  No thank you.
Bureaucrat?  Fuck off!
Movie Star?  Congratulations Congressman!
Think of the millions of dollars campaigns could save in advertising alone!  No need anymore to "get your name out there."  Now all you need is some 8mm, a shitty soundtrack, and some Indie Director willing to let you expose a nipple on camera and you are a CANDIDATE, BABY!  No boring positions, no platforms, no issues, or ideas... just a good face or name, and probably some weird sex tape.
While we're at it, why don't we just write it into the frickin' Constitution?
Article 28: No candidate for elected office may serve if he has a Q-Rating of less than 5 or has appeared on E! less than 25 times. 
On the plus side, however, this would allow me to capitalize on my, well documented, tawdry escapades with Tara Reid.   I hope to pull at least 336 E!-lectorial votes. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Blistering Speed of teh Intarweb

Back on January 21, 2003, I happend to be on the Commonwealth's website at around 10 AM and noticed that Mark What's-His-Name was pictured as Governor of Pennsylvania... which was fair, as he was Governor at that time. That made me wonder when they would update the site and put Eddie's picture up.

Upon reload, they replaced the photo at noon... just as Eddie was being sworn in.

So I did the same with the City of Pittsburgh this morning, to see when Tommy-boy's picture would be replaced.

Imagine my shock when I logged in at around 10 AM and saw this:

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Obviously someone was really, really anxious to bump Mr. Murphy out.

Although, the joke's on them: as of 5PM Tom Cox was still listed as Deputy Mayor for Policy & Development.

It's Morning in Pittsburgh

Did go down to see the O'Connor swearing at... er.. in.   Here are some reflections:  
  • Prior to getting downstairs, I heard the choir warming up, but because of the echo downtown, it sounded like the "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" sequence from 2001.  Very, very strange and eerie.   
  • I'm tired of the "bridge" metaphor for Bob O'Connor; even the Bishop used it.  Everything is a damned "bridge" over something, across something, or through something... although I suppose in that last case it would be a "tunnel," but whatever. 
  • Dang! Murphy got a cold reception.  I could feel my nipples perk up.  It sounded like O'Connor was Tommy's only friend in the crowd.   
  • I appreciate Bob's optimism; I can only hope he has follow through.  He does seem motivated to "get things done," but I wonder how long it will take before he hits a major road block.  
  • He seemed to stumble over the math analogy: "suppose you have to manage your household with $100... and $30 of that goes to public safety and firefighting."  I don't know about Bob's personal household budget, but I spend way less than $30 on public safety and firefighting at my house.   
  • The new mayor launched into a litany of all the people he was going to work with (Governor, Oversight Board, Act 47 Committee, Onorato, etc.), which may be indicative of some of the problems he's going to face in the coming four years.  
  • Bob wants to motivate city employees.  Here's a free hint: pay them better
  • Bob wants more talent in city government.  Here's another free hint: pay employees better. 
  • I fucking hate the expression "redd up" to describe cleaning.  Makes us yinzers sound like morons.     
  • Rendell came out swinging like he was at a fundraiser.  When's Eddie running for Governor again...?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?
  • There are advantages to working in and around local government.  Primary among them is that you know where all the shortcuts and secret passages are... specifically when it involves getting to the front of the free food line. 
So... it's Bob's baby now.  He's the big man.  The top gun.  The numero uno. The big cheese.  The head honcho... etc.    
Five hours in so far, and not much has changed, but I'm waiting for the pink slip to come in.
To be continued...