Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Bureaucrat's Aside

You know, if I was David Souter I would be really happy I actually had a job right now. I mean, with the economy the way it is, it's not like the guy can go off and be a Wal*Mart greeter like Sandra Day O'Connor.

And why do I get the feeling that under his breath Stevens is muttering "damned lazy kids today"?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Specter Defecates on Republican Party

(Reuters) Washington D.C. - Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter announced today that he was defecating on the Republican Party and would now caucus with the Democrats.

Specter told reporters that this was a "hard struggle for him and something that he strained over for a long time," but now he "feels a great sense of relief as if a great load has been lifted from him."

He said informed Republican and Democratic Senate leaders several hours after dinnertime last night.

Senator Specter has been a key advocate of the corn industry, as well as the bean, dairy, and logging lobbies. A keen supporter of science, the Senator has sponsored a NASA mission to Uranus.

It was clear that by this afternoon, however, Specter's actions had left a great stench in the nostrils of his former colleagues.

"This just proves that Arlen has just been floating around the party, without any real moral fiber," said Senator Jon Kyle, the Republican Party's #2 man in the Senate. "Frankly, I think that there are a whole lot of Pennsylvanians that hope his career goes down the toilet.

This is not the first instance of party defecation in recent memory. Former Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords also crapped out on the GOP in 2002. Similarly, Senator Joe Liebermann became an Independent following a primary loss; for his actions, Liebermann was repeatedly called a "loose tool" of the GOP by his Democratic opponents.

Some have speculated that Senators Snowe and Collins, both of Maine, may similarly release themselves from their party, but publicly they have stated their intentions to cling on as long as they serve in the Senate.

Said Senator Specter, "I wish my former colleagues well, but I dumped them for good reason."

A Specter Aside

Before I dig into Arlen, I just want to point out that throughout the afternoon the Trib lead "headline" on its website was not about the momentous switch, but rather a sour grapes editorial exhorting a Jack Wagner to run against him in the primary to punish his dirty traitorous ass.

I'm sure the Trib is high on Wagner's list of trusted advisers.

I'm also sure that Arlen has some advice for the Trib as well. (Here's a hint: the second word is "off".)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Planning to Plan

Well, this is just plan-tastic:

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and city Councilwoman Tonya Payne held a press conference today at the Hill District branch of the Carnegie Library to announce that the city is seeking a consultant to write the plan, which would guide Urban Redevelopment Authority investments and city Planning Commission decisions regarding the entire neighborhood, from Crawford-Roberts on its west to Oak Hill on the eastern end.

The plan is part of a hard-fought Community Benefits Agreement negotiated between neighborhood groups and the Penguins, city and Allegheny County related to the new arena.
Just so we're clear: this doesn't actually mean there is a plan yet, and it doesn't mean that anyone has been selected to craft a plan, and it doesn't mean that anything new is going to happen in the next year in the Hill, and it doesn't mean that even after the year of planning anything is going to happen, but it is going to be *something* which politicians will be able to point to in the Hill and say "look what I did."

I'm going to echo Rep. Wheatley's quote that this event was "not newsworthy" and say that it would have been more appropriate as a solitary Tweet on Twitter... right up there with "OK, poop's coming out."

I would like to say that it is a huge coincidence that both Ravenstahl and Payne are up for re-election this year, but I don't think anyone would buy that, with, perhaps the exception of my Uncle Bernie who collects both wooden nickels and bridges in certain New York City boroughs.

Now, don't get me wrong: an outline for where the City should be focusing its limited resources in this neighborhood is great, I just don't think that the announcement of the release of the document that will generate proposals for the formulation of a plan to allocate resources is all that big of a deal.

If you'll excuse me now, I must be off to the bathroom. I'll keep you posted on my status.

Your Millenarianism for Today

From the Book of Revelations, Chapter 23:

1 Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth. It was given the key for the passage to the abyss.

2 It opened the passage to the abyss, and smoke came up out of the passage like smoke from a huge furnace. The sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the passage.

3 And yea did locusts come out of the abyss, and there did they enter the market of the town and bring forth with them all manner of products made with wheat and yeast and water and hops.

4 And then an Angel cried out in a loud voice as an Eagle roars. When he cried out, the seven thunders raised their voices, too.

5 The Angel said unto me, "Behold! Let there be drinks sold in the same building as one may buy meat and cheese and other cereals with small prizes inside.

6 And from the multitude there came a great cry, the likes of which has never been heard by man. They shouted to the Angel "Surely this is the work of the Adversary. The Lord would never allow us to purchase drinks made with wheat and yeast and water and hops, except from distributors in packages of twenty-four or from innkeepers at an inflated price, but even then only in two boxes of six at a time."

7 But the Angel did grin opened the 6th seal. And forth did come all manner of Dogfish Heads, Magic Hats, Railbenders and Troeggs.

8 The the people did wail and rent their garments saying, "Oh look! Now you've done it! The rivers will turn to blood, the moon will turn dark, dogs and cats will live together. You've really fucked it up now, mate."

9 But the Angel went into the market and bought himself a six-pack to go with the frozen pizza and chips he had bought, as he had some friends coming over later that night to watch the game.

10 And someone said, "Do not weep. At least you can't buy wine."
Here endth the lesson.


A Bureaucrat's Aside

Anybody else think it's odd that the National Hockey League's most environmentally friendly future venue and potentially LEED Gold building is going to be named after a dirty coal company?

I would have assumed that the US Green Building Council would dock you a few point for that.

Might as well have a new Animal Rescue League shelter named after Michael Vick.

Ravenstahl Orders Demolition of Davis Avenue Metaphor

The Mayor today ordered the demolition of a 200 foot long metaphor spanning a Brighton Heights ravine and representing the current state of the City.

"We're going to do this as quickly as we possibly can, so we have some people out there to evaluate the metaphor and then come back to us and make a recommendation as to how quickly they can get this down," the mayor said.

The metaphor, built at the turn of the last century, was closed to all but pedestrian traffic since 2001, when it was determined that years of deferred maintenance had finally taken its toll. City employee had analyzed the metaphor and had reported its structural instability, but money for its repair or demolition were held up by political infighting or reallocations of resources to other "pet projects". Now, realizing that a crisis was indeed at hand, the Mayor acted.

This is not the first time that dysfunctional metaphors have plagued City leaders. Northsiders are keenly aware of the infamous Metaphor to Nowhere, which was held up for years by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The bridge eventually connected Downtown to Cranberry PA.

Professor of English Literature and Public Policy at the University of Pittsburgh Dr. Eric Stonestreet said that metaphors are a common occurrence in the Government realm. "Whether you're talking about a bridge in Alaska or giant flaming pit of government sponsored waste, all of them speak to the current condition of our republic. I mean, it's one thing to say that the City is old, dysfunctional and irreparably broken because of past neglect and poor management, but it's quite another thing to have a structure that does the same job for you."

It is expected that this emergency work on the metaphor will be done at the last minute, at great cost, done by someone who has made a campaign contribution to the Mayor, and probably ruin somebody's property.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Election 2009 Aside

Did anyone else catch that Luke Ravenstahl campaign ad that ran during the first period of the Penguins game on FSN? I don't watch a lot of local TV, so this was the first I had caught it. Two things I noticed:

First, Luke seems to be taking credit for a lot of programs in this ad that were either (a) started by his predecessor [neighborhood cleanup] or (b) mandated by law [balanced budget/budget surpluses]. It's almost like the campaign motto should switch from "Get 'er Done" to "Haven't fucked it up."

Second, and along those same vulgar lines, did anyone else think that the announcer was trying to sound a little *too* yinzer? Maybe it was me, but it sounded like the Ravenstahl is at least trying to pretend that it didn't hire a New York ad firm.

I guess I need to watch more local TV.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thoughts On Tonight's Mayoral Debate

OK, let me start off by saying that I haven't watched the debate yet and that it is on the DVR... that is to say, it is taking up space usually reserved for Inside Edition and Entertainment 'Night. I hope that the Mayoral Candidates and the Hearst-Argyle Corporation can live with the fact that they are depriving me of Lindsay Lohan's most recent goings on.

Considering that there's no BREAKING NEWS about Luke stabbing Dowd or Carmen and drinking their blood for sustenance, I'm going to say that the debate went something like this:

- Luke looked goofy and dropped some ridiculous catch phrase like "Moving forward," making him sound less like a big city Mayor and more like Billy Mays, Oxyclean spokesman.
- Dowd's hair took up 90% of the screen, as he tried to slyly slip in some sort of obscure technical criticism of the current administration, but needlessly slipped into jargon so dense that not even light could escape.
- Carmen took a whack at the other candidates kneecaps with some sort of lead pipe... either metaphorically or for realsies.

Now, as these debates are either mindless recitations of talking points or feigned emotions showing something that resembles leadership, I figure that there were a whole lot of questions that weren't asked, but who's answers would have provided more insights into the candidates.

Par example:
- If stranded on a desert island, which of your opponents would you eat first?

- How exactly does one "get jiggy" with anything? Can you provide examples of things you can not get jiggy with?

- Did you know that today was Hitler's birthday as well as the birthday of Star Trek's George Takei? What does that mean to you?

- Out of the City's 90+ neighborhoods, which one sucks hardest?

- Off the top of your head, what could you say right here and right now to doom your chances of being elected? Extra points for being racist.

- What is the current going rate for an eight ball and a half and half?

- Which of you three is the weakest candidate?

- Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes, or Montesquieu?

- What is the most environmentally conscious thing you've done today?

- Please explain in detail how a split on the valuation between land and building property taxes can encourage neighborhood development.

- Where the hell do you get off? I mean really, you've got some explaining to do.

- If you see the Buddha on the side of the road, do you kill him or not?

- Describe the citric acid cycle in terms of cellular respiration and how it differs from the Calvin cycle?

- If you actually had to get a real job, what would it be? Do you really think you'd be qualified for it?

And finally...

- Rich Lord: Hot or not?
Well, I doubt that anything during the debate was as exciting as those questions... maybe next time they should just take the physical challenge.

Now, back to Lindsay Lohan.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Business Casual Friday

And because you can't get enough teabagging...

For the record, I'd like to thank Central Catholic High School for putting Pittsburgh ahead of the teabagging curve, as it were.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Adventure Capital

And then there's this:

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said today that he expects the new funds to put nearly $4 million into the hands of new or expanding businesses...

The city's Urban Redevelopment Authority will run the Pittsburgh Entrepreneur Fund, which will start with $1 million in federal money and may soon be boosted to $2 million, Mr. Ravenstahl said. Geared toward start-ups in the information technology, life sciences and environmental industries, it will be able to lend against intellectual property, like patents, unlike existing URA business development programs.

Guidelines aren't final, but it will probably lend as much as $200,000 for around five years at interest rates that will depend on the level of risk involved...
Which is all fine and good and everything. I mean, it's nice to see that the City is taking an active interest in developing technologies in the Region. Two points, however:

First, not to disparage my fellow City Bureaucrats, but is the URA really in a position to judge "winners"? Put simply, you're (hopefully) going to have a bunch of entrepreneurs out there applying for these loans, the nature of which may not be immediately understandable to an organization that's comfortable with giving conventional loans. Is the URA going to be able to underwrite these loans correctly, or are they just throwing darts at a wall.

(For the record, I'm in favor of dart throwing.)

Second, the phrase "guidelines aren't final" stuck out in my mind, mostly because Hizzoner is announcing a new program, in the way that I'm announcing my brand new deck... which still is missing railings, stairs and a floor. Why do I think that the guidelines will show up mere days after the primary election and then be forgotten about forever?

Oh: cynicism, that's right.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles*

So, for those of you that are eagerly awaiting the next chapter in the continuing saga of transportation in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there's this:

President Barack Obama today announced an ambitious plan to develop a network of high-speed passenger trains connecting American cities, comparing the program to former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's push to develop the interstate highway system.

Ten corridors, including one from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg and Philadelphia, were designated as eligible for some of the $13 billion in federal spending authorized in the economic stimulus legislation or proposed by Mr. Obama for high-speed rail development.
Am I the only one that sees Governor Edward G. Rendell and President Barack H. Obama pull up next to each other at a stop light, make eye contact, and rev their respective engines?

Frankly, my money is on Fast Eddie, especially on those S-curves outside of Breezewood.**

* Sorry, we lied about the planes.

** Unless it's going towards Harrisburg. No one intentionally speeds towards Harrisburg. Ever.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Bureaucrat's Aside

You know, even if Al Franken really has finally won the Senate race up in Minnesota, it certainly does not excuse him for "Stuart Saves His Family".

If Coleman was smart, he would have run on that single issue and carried the State in a landslide.

A Bureaucrat's Aside

You know, I appreciate the fact that the Mayor didn't have time for a televised debate, but nowadays with TiVo there's really no excuse.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Yankees Defeat Pirates 3-1 in Blowout.

Pirates despondent after early season win against Mariners.
Team looks forward to home opener against the Indians.
Fans disappointed with sub-par performance against better equipped team.

Yankees fans celebrate victory over PIrates, dollar beer night.

Hundreds Turn out for North Shore Infomercial

Several hundred people jammed onto the North Shore yesterday for an event promoting the "newest technological advancement in home exterior gardening."

The keynote speaker was Vince "Offer" Shlomi, most famous for the ubiquitous "Sham Wow" commercials and for having his tongue partially bit off by a prostitute.

Prior to addressing the crowd, which carried signs reading "No Gardening without Landscapingization" and "Give me Liberty or Give me Dirt," Shlomi said that this was an indication of how strongly people in this country cared about exterior home maintenance.

Organizers said that several hundred people showed up to see a pitch on a petrochemical alternative to their front lawn, made possible by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and Chevron Oil.

Robert Beorn, Vice President for Chevron Oil, who organized the event, said that he had been interested in artificial lawn maintenance for several years. "This event is the culmination of my life's work and I'm so happy that several dozen people have shown up to share in my joy."

Shlomi said that many people can be blamed for the declining standards in home gardening -- Home Depot, Miracle Grow -- "but at the end of the day, you have to go back and look at your own, brown lawn and decide for yourself who's responsible."

The organizers encouraged those assembled to buy into new and improved "astroturf" which is available from fine mult-national corporations everywhere for a low, low price of $19.95 per square yard.

The event culminated by stripping the Allegheny Riverfront lawn, and replacing it with the grass alternative.

Shameless Plugs

And as these folks are blackmailing* me...

PITTSBURGH, April 12, 2009 – The Sprout Fund proudly announces the release of Making the Connections, a new book documenting civic innovation across all of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

This regional anthology tells compelling stories about civic leaders and citizen volunteers who constructed public art icons, cut environmental pathways, recorded regional lore, and heightened social responsibility in 2008.

Authored by Pittsburgh writer Justin Hopper and featuring vivid imagery from several local photographers, Making the Connections narrates the people, projects, and process of Community Connections over 10 chapters and 177 pages. The book was designed by the award-winning Pittsburgh-based firm Landesberg Design.

≡ At the special introductory price of $20.00, The Sprout Fund is now accepting orders for the book online at and via telephone 412.325.0646

≡ A five-minute video trailer featuring photos and brief stories from the book has been published online at this site

≡ Beginning Monday, April 13, 2009, Sprout will podcast interviews with project managers and release text and audio excerpts from the book each day on, concluding with a conversation with the author, Justin Hopper, on Thursday, April 16, 2009

≡ A book release party for participants and supporters will be held on Friday, April 17, 2009 from 4:00-7:00pm at the Shadow Lounge, 5972 Baum Boulevard, in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh

Making the Connections captures the stories behind the creative and diverse projects Community Connections catalyzed. Through Community Connections, an initiative led by The Sprout Fund over the last 30 months, 275 citizens from across the region participated in a decision making process that vetted more than 500 proposals to determine which best fit their community’s goals in celebrating Pittsburgh’s 250th anniversary. $1 million was distributed to 100 projects in all 14 counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Throughout 2008, hundreds of local leaders helped launch new initiatives that reached thousands of participants.

This diverse array of efforts ranged from lasting successes such as the Trail Town Public Art Project—which established a series of new iconic public artworks along the Great Allegheny Passage biking trail—to creative community projects such as Fisherman’s Tale, an effort to reconnect homebound African-American senior men with the abundant outdoors amenities surrounding Pittsburgh.

“Community Connections took a new approach to seeding regional change. We placed the decision making power in the hands of the communities being served and, by providing resources and assistance, enabled project managers to realize their aspirations,” says The Sprout Fund’s Executive Director Cathy Lewis Long. “Beyond the successes each project achieved, their captivating tales and vibrant portraits will be a lasting testament to the ingenuity and determination of this region’s people at this important moment in our history.”
We here at the Angry Drunk Bureaucrat heartily endorse this product and/or service, and I only hope that next time they'll accept my project** (George Washington Pooped Here: a multimedia, full sensory examination of Pittsburgh Regional Outhouses, Privies, and other Toilets), which has the full backing of both the Pittsburgh History Museum and ALCOSAN.

*"Blackmail" is such a strong word, though... threatening to steal my 5 cats and convert them into public art is much more accurate.
** Not to be confused with another project I'm secretly working on which involves floating magnetic support structures -- it'll be the future of art, people!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An Open Letter to Winter

Dear Winter,

What. The. Fuck.

I mean, seriously man, I thought we had a deal: you'd leave me alone for the next six months or so, maybe pop off to visit some friends in Australia or something, and I would spend some time trying to meet other people. But here you are, once again showing up on my doorstep unannounced, screaming at the top of your lungs that you love me and want me back.

You're crushing me and I can't deal with it any longer.

You see, I've met another season. It's filling my life with sun and flowers and little birds, and, frankly that's what I need after six months of your brutal dreariness and icy demeanor. I just can't take any of you dark negativity right now, and I need just a little bit more sunshine and warmth. I don't need any more of your childish drama.

You can take back the snowmen and the ice; I don't really have a use for them right now. I'm keeping the hot cocoa and the sweaters though.

Look, maybe we can still be friends at some point inthe future, but for right now I need you out of my life. I hope you understand and can be happy for me.

And if you don't leave I'm calling the fucking police.


The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat

Friday, April 03, 2009

Anthony Coghill Wants to Show You His Crotch

Image Hosted by

Please do not stare directly into the candidate's junk, as it may cause blindness and loss of appetite.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Local Blogger Struggles to Create "Value Added Content"

(Newswire) Pittsburgh, PA - Local anonymous blogger known only as "Frurster" on Wednesday issued a statement to his dozens of followers, saying that he was having "difficulty in creating value added content" for his blog.

"I started to write something about the audit of the water and sewer authority, and then I was going to Photoshop Luke (Raventahl)'s head on the body of a manatee, and then I was going to steal something from the Post-Gazette and add a few lines of commentary, but frankly, I just gave up. It was too hard."

"Frurster," who has written the blog "Frurster's Site" for the last five years has struggled in recent weeks to write posts that are topical, cogent, and witty. Despite recent re-printings in other media, the author has found his work pedestrian at best. His best post, an in depth analysis of potholes, received no comments. "Frurster" has become increasingly frustrated about his literary contributions.

"You know, I have all of these great ideas. For example, Yarone (Zober) would be great in a musical version of City Council... I even have the first two songs written, but I can't make it to the second act, so I've kind of given up on that. Now, I've resorted to calling the people at the County Department of Humans Services 'buttheads for a cheap laugh.'"

Writer's block is typical of long time writers. Stephen King has re-written several of his books under different titles. Washington Post sports writer Tony Kornheiser has been writing the same column since 1989. Even classic writers like Herman Melville have padded their works with chapters upon chapter of whale hunting filler.

Such examples do not console "Frurster".

"Dammit, I should be better than Melville. Perhaps I'll take the lyrics to 'I'm Yours' and re-write them to speak to the current condition of privatizing public parking garages. I don't know. Maybe I'll get around to it after the next episode of The Simpsons."

"Frurster" needs to write another post before 5PM today.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

An Announcement from the ADB

I don't really know what to say to you all, but I'll try to be brief as there's been too many of these things recently, OK?

First, the bad news:

Mrs. Angry Drunk Bureaucrat and I have been feeling the pinch from the economic crisis recently. She got laid off from her job awhile back, so we've been surviving on a paltry Bureaucrat's salary for some time. We also have two kids coming up on college age that, because of, what I can only assume to be a lead paint incident back when they were young, will probably not qualify for any scholarships, but even then only be able to get into Arizona State. So, we've been watching every penny and saving where we can, whether that means washing and reusing trash bags or me switching to Miller Lite and Nikolai Vodka. I've even taken extra menial work, first at National City, then at Circuit City, now at a GM dealership (we'll see how long that one lasts).

Last night, however, we had the conversation. After doing the calculations, I realized that this site is sapping away precious resources that could otherwise keep my family fed and a roof over their heads. The high subscription fees for Blogger are just too much, and we both agreed that, for the sake of the family, I must give up this site.

It makes me sad, as I've devoted a whole lot of effort to this (more than some may expect) and it's really been a labor of love. I will miss it tremendously.

This was not a decision that I was comfortable with, though, and I regret that it had to come out today of all days where it looks like a silly April Fools day joke.

Now, the good news:

This doesn't mean that I'm going to stop writing or even stop blogging. See, the way that I figure it, I can keep doing this thing for only pennies a day if I switch to an all hard copy format.

I've already talked to a few volunteers who are willing to take copies of my posts and mail them out to 10 other people, who will then send them out to 10 other people, and so on. I figure I can maintain my current readership levels as long as everyone passes these posts on.

I've even figured out a way to embed short 5 second video clips using a stack of paper, a pair of scissors, and a staple. Links, however, won't be that effective, although I will have footnotes, end notes, and culled text from other sources. So really, the whole change will be minor for you the reader.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a nice, tangible form of news that you can read at your leisure, that doesn't require electricity or a computer to access? I think it would be and I hope that my loyal readers do too.

So, goodbye to all my fans and I'll see you in my new papers.

-Frank M. "O" Arouet
The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat