Monthly Archives: April 2007

The Power of the Commonwealth Compels You!

Last Monday, in a remarkably bloggy-style post entitled “Just Askin‘…”, the gang at the P-G Early Returns reported on an official information request that Patrick Dowd filed against Len Bodack, mostly dealing with campaign expenditures.

“Because of your hesitance to appear publicly, and because the taxpayers have a right to learn the answers, I file the request for the following information in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law, which compels you to reply within 5 business days.”

We were asked nicely to “Stay tuned for Mr. Bodack’s response.” How’s that coming along?

Stonewall Democrat Endorsements

District 3: Kraus
District 7: Dowd
Controller: Lamb
County Exec: Swartz

This may not be an exhaustive slate. For example, Ricky Burgess appeared as of last night to have narrowly won the endorsement for District 9. This would have been a bit of a shock, as the Reverend is first and foremost a Reverend, and was reportedly frank and honest with the GLBT group. However, there has since been some confusion; there will soon be a re-vote for District 9.

The selection of Rick Swartz will shock no one, as Dan Onorato not only declined to answer four of their questions, but somehow deleted them from the questionnaire. The questions were about gay marriage, sex education, and abortion. In light of a widely speculated gubernatorial run by Onorato in 2010, the Comet must classify this as An Issue.

Luke Ravenstahl did not return the questionnaire at all, although this did not result in an endorsement for the Pirogi.

The Race for Sheriff

A P-G article by Gabrielle Banks reads as well-nigh an endorsement of acting Sheriff Mullen, in the three-way primary for Sheriff of Allegheny County.

Anthony Costa: PROS – Wants to review overtime violations, pursue a less hostile work environment. CONS – Named Costa.

Damon J. Brown: PROS – African-American with international military experience as a police trainer, describes self as “humanitarian.” CONS – Yucky allegations of domestic violence.

William P. Mullen: PROS – Wants to restore honor and dignity to the sheriff’s office. CONS – Hand-picked by predecessor, who wears ankle-bracelet as a condition of house-arrest.

Smoke ‘Em if you Got ‘Em

Today could be the last day for smoking in bars and restaurants, reports the P-G’s Anita Srikameswaran. The injunction against the county-wide ban expires at midnight.

“Until we hear otherwise, we’re going to enforce it and treat it as the law in the county,” said Kevin Evanto, spokesman for Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato.

But don’t throw out those ash trays just yet. Legal efforts spearheaded by Mitchell’s Restaurant and the Smithfield Cafe, and bankrolled by Big Tobacco, will continue through the 11th hour. The Comet will be following the story all day long.

County Solicitor Michael Wojcik expects that today Judge Della Vecchia may grant the request to extend the injunction. But because there is no timeline in which the higher court must issue a decision, the ordinance, at least with respect to bars and restaurants, could be in limbo for a while.

Establishments with fewer than 10 employees and less than 10% of food revenue are exempted from the ban; some feel this dilutes and confuses the law beyond workability. However, those businesses need to have applied in advance for the exemption; the list of successful applicants will be released later today.

The Comet is more concerned about simple compliance; surreptitious primary research has indicated that many tavern owners feel they have some scheme, or the right connections, to defy the ban.

Smokers themselves are more philosophical about the new law; it is well known that they enjoy feeling miserable and persecuted. KDKA quotes an Elaine Price of Hazelwood:

“I’ve already been pushed outside, and treated like a leftover shoestring so to speak, so it doesn’t bother me at all.”

Meanwhile, Eat n’ Park reports an increase in sales at those locations that have already gone smoke-free.

Ultimate in the News

Ultimate frisbee superstar Acadia Klain is featured in a P-G article by Mark Roth.

He spends way too much time on Frisbee physics, golf, and freestyling. We would rather have seen more on the 25th anniversary of summer league, and on the reigning summer league MVP herself.

P-G video of Acadia teaching throws.
CMU Money Mellons team roster and bios.
Pittsburgh Pounce team roster and bios.

You are most welcome.

Womens League starts this Saturday and you can still register, HERE.
Co-ed Summer League opens registration soon, details HERE.

The Ultimate Cop-Out Post

Mayoral spokesman Dick Skrinjar has been transferred either to parks and recreation, or to the seniors department, depending on who you ask. Neither would be a promotion.

Marlene Cassidy and Anna Dobkin: similar stories.


How’s your city? It’s livable.

We remember 1985, when we first won the honor of America’s Most Livable City. We were like, really? No way. Really? Cool!

Of course, we were ten. But it was a great feeling, and it lasted years.

This time around, it doesn’t come as a shock. Yes, we know this is a great place to live. It’s utterly obvious. That’s not the problem.

Unfortunately, many of the things that distinguish us — low cost of living, light traffic — don’t exactly dazzle. It’s like we have a “great personality.” Not exactly what the young professionals are looking for.

Also, we won by being above-average in all their little metrics, yielding a high composite score. In a game of “Fantasy Country,” we’d be everyone’s capitol and first-round draft pick. Even though our defense is lousy, and we always choke in the playoffs.

Yes, yes. Low crime is great. A high score in “recreation” is great, too.

The real problem is: NO ONE ELSE KNOWS IT. And when they find out, no one ever believes it.

Some light Googling suggests this little Rand study didn’t get covered anywhere outside of Pittsburgh. And why should it? Who died and made them Judge Judy?

And even if we wind up on Good Morning America again, we’re still Pittsburgh. Smokestacks. Grime. Bessemer converters. We know that reporters will dig up archival footage of live steel mills, if that’s what it takes to “get the story.”

Years ago, the Comet had an inspiration that what we really need is a name change. Pittsburgh has the word “Pits” in it, for heavens sake! That blows it for the children even before they learn about heavy industry.

The best we could come up with was “Hydropolis.” Not great. But you get the idea.

Our reputation is so bad, that being a great place to live is entirely beside the point of getting people to live here.

P-G to Planning Commission: Do Something

Oh, inscrutable P-G editorial board. What are you getting at, exactly?

The citizens of Pittsburgh are in no position to judge the validity of a traffic study on the impact of the Majestic Star casino. But the sharp minds on the city planning commission are.

The Steelers are forecasting nightmare traffic scenarios. PITG and some of its allies disagree.

The editorial urges the planning commission to “take the time they need” — but what does that mean? Ordering Don Barden & Co. back to the drawing board, for a more comprehensive traffic study?

Say they do that. And let’s say, instead of another measured conclusion that’s easy to interpret either way, the answer actually comes back, “Yeah, it’s going to suck, bad!” What next?

The state awarded this casino the license, in significant measure, because it was deemed the least problematic in terms of traffic. This assesment was close to indisputable.

Are we going to tell Mr. Barden that unless his outfit arranges for massive new roads and bridges, he can hit the road? Are we going to tell Pittsburghers that we can’t give them a casino after all?

Of course not. But the real danger is, if we coerce Mr. Barden through more delays and studies, he will be less inclined to cooperate on other serious issues: not just the Science Center, but redevelopment strategies throughout the western North Side, and the Hill District.

And for what? The Steelers Nation will find a way to pack Heinz Field, even if it has to privateer teams of horses. And on the return trip, there is every reason to suspect a casino will ease traffic concerns; more football fans will elect to stick around the North Side for another hour or three.

We suspect the Steelers are really worried about the impact on certain “luminaries” who will have just touched down at Pittsburgh International Airport. A 90-minute limo ride, and missing the first quarter, would spoil their buzz, and perhaps ruin their perceptions of our most livable city.

We sympathize. We promise to meditate on it. Maybe a Black n’ Gold HeliTaxi of some kind?

But at any rate; let’s not irritate a great new civic partner for no good reason. Like the P-G, we also trust the Planning Commission; in this case, we trust it will focus on issues that truly merit attention, and are a bit less high-profile.

Wednesday Roundup

The TRIB’s Eric Heyl, donning his consultant-to-the-mayor hat, is entertaining as always.

Editorial Aside: But this time he’s way off base. The Comet sees no need for holding up the Planning Commission any further, on account of traffic studies. We would, however, strongly urge Don Barden to mitigate the Carnegie Science Center’s legitimate lighting concerns.


Meanwhile, the P-G editorial board strongly endorses Mike Dawida for city controller. We know this because they used the word, “strongly.”

Editorial Deconstruction: Some members of the ed-board were no doubt taken in by Dawida’s rowdy maverick shtick, of which we are also a fan. However, we wager that other members calculated that endorsing Dawida would not hurt Michael Lamb — but would rather hurt his rival Doug Shields — all while putting some daylight between themselves and the froofroo progressives.


The P-G’s Rich Lord submits a tiny little article about city automobile repair, with huge implications — not just for the race for controller, but for city-county consolidation.

On the same pages, Joe Smydo reports that Pittsburgh Public Schools are “re-thinking special ed logistics,” all without mentioning the words “Roosevelt,” “Tezca,” or “Cave-in.”

The President: For The Hour

The best interviewer on the planet, Charlie Rose, soothes the savage beast that is George W. Bush, transforming a 20-minute session into a 60-minute in-depth extravaganza.

We found that it strongly resembled conversations between fictional mob boss Tony Soprano, and his therapist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi. Yet at the very least, the President demonstrated that he’s on top of all the salient details in the world, in his own way.

Pour yourself a brandy, settle into your favorite chair, and enjoy. Thank you, WQED, for keeping us connected.