Sunday, September 30, 2007

Flotsam & Jetsam

I've been spending some time off hanging around with Boston developers dead for tax reasons recently and I missed one or two or five things. Here's where I try to catch up:

I'm obviously not the one in charge of the Mayor's schedule, but if I were that person, I would definitely upgrade to Microsoft Outlook instead of Post-It notes strewn randomly in the direction of a calendar. Surely such a change would result in fewer conflicts between Sporting Events and Community Meetings.

Mark DeSantis (French for "of Santis") has released his proposed economic development plan which, sadly enough, does not included any mention of Scotch. One of the more interesting bits includes a proposed support of Minority, Women, and Disadvantage Businesses through guidance, training and help in raising startup capital.

That's not a particularly bad idea, considering that the City mandates that a certain percentage of contracts go to these businesses and qualified contractors are sometimes hard to find.

If the Mayor was smart, he might consider moving his bugging devices from Bill Peduto's office to DeSantis'. Unless he wants to know the drink prices as Cappy's.

The Post-Gazette is asking people to submit their questions to a Mayoral candidates forum. Personally, I am interested in what their position on the Picard vs. Kirk debate. Of course, Tony Oliva will probably say "Sisco" and Ryan Scott will say "Janeway."

This, more than anything, is the reason why third party candidates can't be trusted in local political races.

Oh, and the Mayor released a copy of his $423.8 Million budget proposal last week. Curiously absent from the proposal are line items for Swedish Fish, banjo lessons, and the entire Department of City Planning.

Bishop Dave Zubik was formally installed as the 12th Bishop of Pittsburgh on Friday, and immediately declared Steely McBeam as heretical and anathema.

And, I missed "Blogged to Death" last Thursday, because I am not a fan of Greek Tragedy. [Turns out that Ruth Ann Dailey is Tim Menees' sister and mother.]

And so on.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pirates Name Hutington Bank as GM

The Pittsburgh Pirates today officially announced that Huntington Bank has been hired as the team's new General Manager. The anticipated announcement was made by Pirates President Frank Coonelly.

"The Banks's hiring is the result of a comprehensive search for a baseball executive who could restore the culture of success within the Pirates organization and make money," said Coonelly.

"Huntington Bank is extremely intelligent, analytical and driven to succeed. It shares my vision on how to transform the Pirates into an organization that can consistently compete and make boat loads of money for me. Equally important, Huntington knows how to implement the changes, systems and philosophies required to accomplish that goal. Huntington is absolutely the right choice to lead our baseball operations department."

Huntington Bancshares Incorporated is a $50+ billion regional bank holding company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Huntington has more than 141 years of serving the financial needs of its customers. Huntington’s banking subsidiaries, The Huntington National Bank and Sky Bank, provide innovative retail and commercial financial products and services through over 700 regional banking offices in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

In July 2007, Huntington entered the Pittsburgh market with its acquisition of Sky Bank. The Pirates will now be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the four letter stock symbol LOSR.

"Pittsburgh is a proud sports city and the Pirates have a long and storied tradition. It is a tremendous honor to name a Bank general manager of this great franchise" Coonelly said in a statement. "We will systematically work to change the culture of this organization by making it a cash cow so we can all retire early without investing anything into the organization. Heck, if it returns to a consistent winner for the city of Pittsburgh, so much the better, but we aren't counting on it. We just want to buy Rolls Royces."

"To achieve our goal, we will thoroughly evaluate and aggressively seek to acquire elite talent internationally and domestically, and sell them off as soon as we think they will make us a quick buck. We will diligently cultivate that talent on and off the field in a process-oriented player development system that demands accountability and excellence from all staff and players, and systematically sell everybody else off too. Lastly, we will utilize that talent to build our major league roster and put our team in the best possible position to succeed, and, you guessed it, watch them flounder like a pork barbecue joint in Saudi Arabia."

Monday, September 24, 2007

Richard Mellon Scaife Demands "You Can't See Me!"

If you've been following the soap opera that is the divorce of Mr. & Mrs. Richard Mellon Scaife, you're probably under a court order not to. From the respectable, if childishly giddy, Post-Gazette:

Attorneys for Tribune-Review publisher Richard M. Scaife have filed court papers demanding the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette return documents related to the divorce of Mr. Scaife and his wife, Margaret Ritchie Battle Scaife.

In response, the Post-Gazette, arguing that no court has the right to force a newspaper to surrender documents lawfully in its possession, has posted those documents on its Web site, with some personal, financial and third-party information removed...

Mr. Scaife's attempt to make court documents inaccessible is unusual for the head of a news organization. Historically, newspapers and television stations have fought for greater rather than more restricted access. In fact, Mr. Scaife's Tribune-Review joined other organizations in seeking to unseal the estate records of the late Sen. John Heinz during the presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry, who is married to Sen. Heinz's widow, Teresa...

But the Post-Gazette countered that the story is newsworthy, given the Scaifes' high profile in the community and the large amounts of money involved, particularly the enormous monthly support payments. The newspaper argues that Mr. and Mrs. Scaife have already put their divorce in the public domain with arrests for trespassing and assault, accusations of dognapping, and derogatory yard signs.

Mr. Scaife's attorneys contend that further dissemination of the information "would not merely serve to embarrass the parties, but could endanger their security." The filing does not specify how the Scaifes would be endangered.

Mr. Roddy's story was based on court documents retrieved from the publicly accessible Allegheny County prothonotary's Web site...
Unfortunately for Mr. Scaife, unlike The Shadow, he is unable to render to himself invisible to the eyes of mortal men. At this point, he might as well close his eyes, stick his fingers in his ears and shout "LALALALALALA! YOU CAN'T SEE ME! I AM INVISIBLE!"

Frankly, I think that would make for a better editorial for the Trib.

Speaking of which, apparently Mr. Scaife considers the Tribune-Review to be "a hobby."
Mrs. Scaife, 60, contends that the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, one of a half-dozen local Tribune-Review Publishing newspapers owned by Mr. Scaife, 75, should be considered a hobby or personal cause rather than a business investment because the paper has lost $20 million to $30 million annually since it began publishing in 1992.

The IRS defines a hobby or not-for-profit activity as an activity not pursued for profit. "An activity is usually considered a business if it makes a profit during at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year," according to the IRS.
Now, my hobbies are limited to gardening, model railroad building, and limited cat confusing. Certainly non of these activities cost $20 Million. If it were me, I would plop down that $20-30 Million, buy the Mellon Arena and turn it into a kick arse model railroad... with like, real people and stuff.

Of course, non of my hobbies have ever been tied to a vast right-wing conspiracy.

Well, except for that one time when I helped G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt with that lock...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Supreme Court Upturns Right of Habeus Grabbus

(AP) Washington - In a rare late night ruling, the Supreme Court today upturned the previously held right of Habeus Grabbus in the National Football League.

The ruling, which was largely split on ideological lines, marked a stunning defeat for the American Football Liberties Union (AFLU) and a tacit support of President Bush's policies towards defensive holding.

The case stems from a 2005 incident between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Diego Chargers where running back LaDainian Tomlinson was hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison prior to a reception. Harrison was charged with defensive pass interference, although Steelers' coach Bill Cower argued that it was only incidental contact.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, "There are two kinds of holding: offensive holding, illegally blocking a player from the opposing team by grabbing and holding his uniform or body; and defensive holding, called against defensive players who impede receivers who are more than 5 yards from the line of scrimmage, but who are not actively making an attempt to catch the ball."

In a minority dissenting opinion, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with the Majority's definition of holding, although added that a player "is not necessarily guaranteed exclusive right to the space."

In a separate part of the ruling, however, the Court ruled that the Bush Administration does not have the right to indefinitely detain players suspected of pass interference without trial.

AFLU officials were saddened by the ruling.

In a prepared statement, Executive Director Bill Hillgrove remarked, "Harrison really put the clamps on Tomlinson, and had a little habeus grabbus action on him... but that's no reason to charge him with more than 10 yards or loss of down."

The Court is expected to hear arguments regarding Bill Belichick's warrantless surveillance case later this term.

The case is Cope, Hillgrove, Illkin, et al v. National Football League.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My $.02 ($.019986 Canadian)

If you're hanging out with all the cool economists, you're obviously aware that the U.S. and Canadian dollars are flirting with parity. From Bloomberg:

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Canada's dollar traded equal to the U.S. currency for the first time in three decades, capping a five-year run on the back of booming demand for the nation's commodities.

The Canadian dollar rose as high as $1.0008, before retreating to 99.87 U.S. cents at 4:16 p.m. in New York. It has soared 62 percent from a record low of 61.76 U.S. cents in 2002. The U.S. dollar fell as low as 99.93 Canadian cents today. The Canadian currency last closed above $1 on Nov. 25, 1976, when Pierre Trudeau was Canada's prime minister.
Fester has been tracking this for some time... of course he also made fun of me back in May when I dumped Ontario Amalgamated Syrup in favor of Vermont Maple Products. Who's laughing now smart guy? Huh? Huh? As of today, I'm making a $.04 profit on ever unit they sell...

Er... $.03...


Anyway, the collection of Loonies and Toonies that I've managed to... er... collect over the years have proven to be a small boon in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, the tiny increase in value for the Canadian Dollar has been more than offset by the decreased the value of Canadian Dollar jokes. It's hard to make "Monopoly Money" jokes when the cash in your own purse can barely buy penny candy.

[Of course, the U.S. Mint ain't doing us any favors either. Add Uncle Moneybags and you could pay your rent on Oriental Avenue* (almost).]

Despite all the jokes, however, this is a serious problem for the North American economy. Both the U.S. and Canada have a vested interest in keeping Canadian products affordable to the U.S. and to keep the U.S. purchasing power in Canada high. People and companies who would otherwise buy Canadian products are now more likely to buy American. Both economies suffer, devolving into increased tensions and hostilities throughout the continent.

The end game is inevitable: a Canadian invasion of the U.S.

Now, it might now happen all at once. In the 1980s it was the Japanese who were buying up the U.S., then it was the Chinese. Now it's Canada's turn... and the sneaky bastards look exactly like us so we'll never suspect it.

Before you know it, hordes of Mounties with fist fulls of Loonies will be gallivanting over the border, buying up everything in site and we will be too weak to stop them because of our inferior medical system and our fat asses.

Then, we will be inundated with hockey and unnecessary "u's" stuck in our favourite words. When the "Canschluss" is finally complete, we will all be sent to internment camps and subjected to French, curling, and Molson Lager.

The horror, eh?

*$6... $30 with one house.

Mes $.02 (Canadien $.019986)

Si vous traînez avec tous économistes frais, vous vous rendez évidemment compte que les États-Unis et les dollars canadiens flirtent avec la parité. De Bloomberg:

Septembre 20 (Bloomberg) -- Le dollar du Canada a commercé l'égale à la devise des États-Unis pour la première fois en quelques trois décennies, couvrant une course de cinq ans sur le dos d'une demande éclatante pour les produits de la nation.

Le haut rose du dollar canadien aussi que $1.0008, avant le retraitement à 99.87 cents des États-Unis chez 4:16 P.M. à New York. Il a monté 62 pour cent d'un bas de disque de 61.76 cents des États-Unis en 2002. Le dollar des États-Unis est tombé aussi bas que 99.93 cents canadiens aujourd'hui. Le bout canadien de devise s'est fermé au-dessus de $1 le 25 nov. 1976, quand Pierre Trudeau était le premier ministre du Canada.
L'abscès avait dépisté ceci pendant un certain temps… naturellement qu'il également a fait l'amusement de moi en arrière en mai où j'ai vidé le sirop amalgamé par Ontario en faveur des produits d'érable du Vermont. Qui rit maintenant le type futé ? Huh ? Huh ? En date d'aujourd'hui, je fais des $.04 bénéfices sur jamais l'unité qu'ils se vendent…

Heu… $.03…


Quoi qu'il en soit, la collection de Loonies et Toonies que j'ai contrôlés… heu… se rassemblent au cours des années se sont avérés être un petit avantage en dernières semaines. Malheureusement, l'augmentation minuscule en valeur pour le dollar canadien a été plus que compensée par diminué la valeur des plaisanteries du dollar canadien. Il est difficile de faire des plaisanteries « d'argent de monopole » quand l'argent comptant dans votre propre bourse peut à peine acheter la sucrerie de penny.

[Naturellement, le monnayage des États-Unis ne nous fait pas aucune faveur non plus. Ajouter oncle Moneybags et vous pourriez payer votre loyer sur Avenue* oriental (presque). Ça alors cette traduction est terrible.]

En dépit de toutes plaisanteries, cependant, c'est un problème sérieux pour l'économie nord-américaine. Les États-Unis et le Canada ont un droit acquis en maintenant les produits canadiens accessibles aux États-Unis et pour maintenir le pouvoir d'achat des États-Unis dans la haute du Canada. Les gens et les compagnies qui achèteraient autrement les produits canadiens sont maintenant pour acheter l'Américain. Les deux économies souffrent, incombant dans des tensions et des hostilités accrues dans tout le continent.

Le jeu d'extrémité est inévitable : une invasion canadienne des États-Unis

Maintenant, ils pourraient maintenant se produire d'un seul trait. Dans les années 80 c'était le Japonais qui achetaient vers le haut des États-Unis, alors il était le Chinois. Maintenant c'est le tour du Canada… et les bâtards sneaky regardent exactement comme nous ainsi nous ne le suspecterons jamais.

Avant que vous le sachiez, les hordes des Mounties avec des fulls de poing de Loonies gallivanting au-dessus de la frontière, acheter vers le haut de tout dans l'emplacement et de nous sera trop faible pour les arrêter en raison de notre système médical inférieur et de nos gros ânes.

Puis, nous serons inondés avec l'hockey et les « u » inutiles coincés dans nos mots de favori. Quand le « Canschluss » est finalement complet, nous tout serons envoyés aux camps d'internement et soumis à français, au bordage, et à la bière blonde allemande de Molson.

L'horreur, hein ?

*$6… $30 avec une maison.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Mike Tomlin Announces Candidacy for Mayor

Fresh off a division leading 2-0 start, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin announced today his intention to run for Mayor of Pittsburgh. Flanked by Steelers President Dan Rooney and buoyed by recent polls which put his approval rating at nearly 93%, Tomlin said that he was "disappointed" at the direction the City has taken and vowed to use his candidacy to put Pittsburgh on the right track.

Tomlin said he intended to run as an independent in the upcoming election, but privately joked that that he would run on the "Black & Gold Party" ticket. While the Democratic Party has traditionally held the reigns of power in the City, Steelers Fans outnumber Democrats almost 3:1.

"I truly think that my candidacy reflects what is best about Pittsburgh, and, as Mayor, I would take each day one day at a time, but we need to step up and bring our A-game."

Mr. Rooney was asked if Tomlin's candidacy would effect his coaching abilities.

"Yes, well, it would be inappropriate for a head coach to actively campaign for mayor during the football season, so I have asked Mike to submit his resignation to me effective Friday."

Tomlin will remain as "acting" head coach until a national search is completed for a qualified replacement, or for 90 days.

Duquesne Law Professor and Political Analyst Joseph Sabino Mistick called the announcement "a challenge to the powers that be."

"What you see here," continued Mistick, "is a young, smart coach who can use his leadership skills and bring it to a new level."

The announcement was denounced by both major candidates.

Republican candidate Mark DeSantis called the Tomlin Candidacy "a stunt" and a "deliberate ploy by the Rooneys to influence the development of the North Shore Casino."

Mayor Chief of Staff Yarone Zober called it "a ploy to sway strong base of potential voters" as he emerged from a closed door meeting with Fire Fighters President Joe King.

Mayoral Spokesperson Joanna Doven remarked that Tomlin lacked experience and that Mr. Ravenstahl had been a football kicker in college.

Also, on an unrelated note, Ms. Doven announced that Troy Polamalu had been appointed Chief of Building Inspection.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


To: Luke Ravenstahl, Mayor, City of Pittsburgh

From: Yarone Zober, Chief of Staff

Re: Departmental Appointments

Date: September 12, 2007

At your request, I have undertaken a nationwide search for qualified applicants to fill the departmental director spots left vacant by your resignation request memo of June 15, 2007. By sheer coincidence, many of the most qualified persons for these positions happen to be people from the Pittsburgh Region. By an even more staggering coincidence, most of those that are most qualified are the people that are in the positions currently.

Per your instructions, however, I have done additional background research on some other candidates that, in our prior conversations, you felt may be qualified for these positions:

City Information Systems Director

  • Bill Gates - I personally contacted Mr. Gate's office regarding a job offer and his assistant assured me that he would probably be unwilling to take the 100,000% salary cut.
  • My staff did some investigation and, despite the claims of the ads, the information systems of a major metropolitan area cannot be managed by an iPhone.
Department of Public Works Director
  • Jim Motznik - While staff does appreciate your close relationship with the Councilman, he still hasn't completely gotten over the "blog meltdown" he had earlier this year.
  • Ron Jeremy - As I said before, it's the Department of Public Works.

Equal Opportunity Review Commission Manager
  • When you said that you wanted "That Black Guy from TV" I assumed that you meant Jesse Jackson, Kayne West, or Bill Cosby. None of these gentlemen are available. Dr. Cosby threw a pudding pop at me for asking.
  • I was unable to find any handicapped African-American, gay, French-speaking, Buddhist, midgets anywhere. You may have to settle for a Mexican.
  • Michael Richards - Despite the wacky adventures Kramer is sure to get in, this is probably a bad idea.
Public Safety Director
  • Batman - It turns out that Batman is actually a fictional character of the DC Comics Universe and would, therefore, be unable to serve as Public Safety Director.
  • Bruce Wayne – Bruce Wayne is Batman.
Bureau of Building Inspection
  • Steely McBeam - Mr. McBeam is a man in a costume. The man in question lives in Ambridge and would be unwilling to relocate to the City of Pittsburgh.
URA Executive Director
  • Robert Moses - Despite the work that he did to shape the face of New York, Mr. Moses has been dead since 1981, which will partially limit his effectiveness. That being said, it is well known that John P. Robin served as the head of the URA well after rigor mortis set in.
City Solicitor
  • I spoke with several doctors at UPMC and they made it quite clear to me that it was impossible to create a clone-hybrid of Matlock, Ally McBeal, and Judge Judy.
  • Jim Ecker is available, but selection of him as Solicitor may raise more questions than we are prepared for.
PWSA Executive Director
  • Swamp Thing - See "Batman," above.
  • Mr. Waterheater – Mr. Waterheater is a catchy marketing ploy.
HACP Executive Director
  • Blue - This is a color.
  • Pink Floyd – This is a band.
  • Heywood Jablome, Hugh Jass, Ivanna Tinkle - I made repeated calls to the number you gave me (412.321.6460), but to no avail. They were awfully rude and hung up repeatedly.
If worse comes to worse, Dennis R. is still available for any of these positions, I believe.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ravenstahl Announces Pending Announcement

Lukey sure is kickin' up a whole lot of press for himself today. From the P-G:

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today announced that he was going to make an announcement some time next week which would add to the progress of moving the City of Pittsburgh forward.

At a press conference today on Grant Street flanked by County Executive Dan Onorato, Ravenstahl said that the announcement would be the first of additional announcements that would announce other things to be announced.

The announcement is tentatively scheduled to be about downtown housing, although sources close to the Mayor's Office indicate that it could be about tax increment financing or about further announcements.

The Mayor's Staff expects the announcement to be ready sometime early next week.
Of course, this is typical of the Ravenstahl administration: announcing the announcement rather than announcing the actual announcement. In previous administrations, the announcements were never preceded by preemptive announcements, except in cases where the announcement was preemptively announced before the announcement was to be announced.

In any case, this announcement only furthers to underscore that the Mayor's Office is not prepared not willing to effectively wield the power of announcements.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ravenstahl Announces Interdepartmental Merger

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced today a new initiative aimed at consolidating City of Pittsburgh administrative departments by combining the Department of Public Work's Bureau of Environmental Services and The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Referring to legislation to be offered to Council, Mr. Ravenstahl said this administrative move "will save hundreds of dollars for [Pittsburgh] by streamlining similar organizations within the City Government."

When asked which particular aspects of these departments made them suitable for consolidation, the Mayor responded by saying, "Well, you have the Environmental Services Department which deals with garbage and you have PWSA which deals with sewage, so in my mind, it just made sense."

Local pundits on Grant Street see this as a deliberate counter-move to Republican Mayoral Candidate's proposal to merge the City's Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Department of City Planning.

The Mayor dodged questions regarding the purported savings, saying that a full accounting will be released to Council with the legislation.

Department of Public Works Acting Director Guy Costa and PWSA Acting Executive Director Greg Tutsock could not be reached for comment on the proposed merger, but spokespersons for both organizations offered the Mayor "Good luck with that."

Joanna Doven, the Mayor's Communication director said that this would be the first step in a series of mergers which would see not only the PWSA & Environmental Services and the URA and City Planning merged, but also the Department of Finance Merged with CitiParks, Building Inspection Merged with the Law Department, Marshall-Shadeland merged with Overbrook, and Peanut Butter merged with Chocolate.

Duquesne University Law Professor Don Pelligrini, an expert in municipal governance, remarked that the plan seems to be a non-starter.

"It really shows a naiveté of this administration to think that you can just combine different departments willy-nilly. Setting aside the personnel and union issues, you have two very different organizations that do very different things, despite their superficial similarities. It would be just like combining oil and water."

Mr. Ravenstahl sees it differently and has already begun the process to merge the City's fleet fueling depot within PWSA.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

ADB Releases Plan to Fund City Pensions

If the the mere thought of watching paint dry gives you "the vapors" and the possibility of watching grass grow is just too much for you, perhaps you might want to step it down a bit and pay attention to the Pittsburgh '07 Mayoral Race between Luke Ravenstahl and Mark DeSantis. This event has all the thrills, spills, and excitement of the classic 1928 Parisian Snail Grand Prix 500, which, I believe, is still going on, despite last years "salt" accident on lap four.

The race is so boring that we should be at the center of the Earth by now... at least then the Molemen or the Warlocks could enter some viable third party challenge.

Now, in an apparent attempt to up the excitement level to "Beige," Republican candidate DeSantis has thrown out his first daring policy proposal: Municipal Pension Reform.

Republican mayoral candidate Mark DeSantis took on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's handling of the city's wheezing pension fund today, in the first salvo of the traditional post-Labor Day run to the election.

Mr. DeSantis claimed Mr. Ravenstahl, a Democrat, is not taking the pension's problems seriously and forwarded his own plan to fund it with payments from casinos and city nonprofits.

The city's pension fund is $469 million short of the funds in needs to pay all its obligations to current and future retirees. That is part of the reason for the city's huge debt load, which consumes a quarter of its yearly budget.

Mr. DeSantis promised to double the city's yearly pension payments to tamp down that debt. To do so he would shift $23 million in yearly gambling and nonprofit payments into the pension fund. Nonprofits -- which are due to end their voluntary payments to the city at the end of this year -- would likely support the funding, Mr. DeSantis said, since it would be used to specifically address an urgent city budget problem.
Excuse me while I recover from the sheer thrill of it all.

Now obviously the incumbent mayor was "baffled" by the plan, probably because he didn't steal the idea from Bill Peduto first or because it involved "numbers", but also because it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to begin with.

First, DeSantis is using the payments in lieu of taxes that the non-profit community is supposed to chip in to the City. This hasn't happened yet and Lord knows if we'll ever see a dime of their money.

Second, he's shifting gambling... er... casino revenues to help fill the gap in the pension fund. This money has already being used to pay for the arena, the redevelopment of the Hill District, a parking garage, property tax reductions, forty acres, and a mule that gives hummers. Now, Mr. DeSantis is surely aware that the Hummer Giving Mule lobby is especially strong in this region, especially in Oakland after CMU's Carnival, so I doubt he's seriously considering this as an option.

And of course, he's setting aside some of the real problems: that the municipal pension scheme is based on current, not former, employees, and that there is no legal mechanism or incentive for municipalities to pool resources.

So, once you set those things aside, you have a nice space for what I call "The ADB 2-Part Pittsburgh Pension Plan."

Part 1: The retirement age is bumped up a scooch to 101.

Part 2: Anyone who does get to retire is shot or rehired. This is retroactively enforced.

My plan, if I may be so modest, is brilliant in its simplicity. First, you reduce projected future expenditures to nearly zero and second, you reduce future expenditures completely to zero. In exchange for lifetime employment, rigorous structure, dental plans, and comradery, employees are now given the opportunity to die "with their boots on" in service to their municipality. The City, on the other hand, gets a core of highly skilled employees with vast accumulations of organizational knowledge, completely loyal to their overseers. And, here's the best part, if they quit the Municipality prior to the retirement age, they aren't at all vested in the pension.

While it doesn't have all the sexiness of "bike trails" or "Downtown redevelopment" or the good sense of rewriting the State statutes on Municipal Pensions it does provide for the use of elderly citizens as target practice.*

It is a plan without a downside... unless, of course, they quit and find a better job...

*If this disturbs you, we'll just send our retired seniors up to a nice farm in Wexford where they can play.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ravenstahl's Vision Thing

Those of you that have been on the couch all weekend for Labor Day will, no doubt, have seen this report on Bob O'Connor's recently discovered "vision" for the City of Pittsburgh.

Eleven weeks after his inauguration, Bob O'Connor and key staff met with a consultant and began summarizing the vision critics had said he lacked and setting a course for the city during what they hoped would be just his first term as mayor.

That meeting started a behind-closed-doors process that resulted in a one-legal-size-page statement of 45 goals and strategies for the new administration. It was to be made available to all Pittsburghers in an effort to quiet the critics and give voters the means to decide if he was fulfilling his promises.

The final version arrived in the mayor's office in early August 2006 when Mr. O'Connor was in the hospital suffering the effects of a rare central nervous system lymphoma. He died on Sept. 1.

The vision statement, not released until now, reflects a novel attempt to plot the city's recovery on a single page. It also provides the clearest indication of what the late mayor was trying to achieve, and a means of gauging the legacy of his short-lived administration.
Well, it turns out that Bob's successor also has a Vision Statement which has been surreptitiously smuggled* out of 414 Grant Street and posted here for your viewing pleasure:

Free Image Hosting at

He really needs to work on that "Monkey Butler" thing.

*I believe the proper term is "keistered."