Monthly Archives: November 2008

Polamalu Clearly Inhabited by Beowulf Again, and Other News

The situation has become further complicated by financial issues, including County Executive Dan Onorato’s refusal to release $27.7 million being collected this year from the county’s drink and car-rental taxes until the authority increases operating efficiency and reins in long-term labor costs. (P-G, Joe Grata)

We were watching the panel on OffQ discuss this, and everybody was like no, no, no, the Port Authority workers can’t strike, not now, and besides which their demands are unreasonable. And perhaps they are.

Yet thus far, workers appear perfectly willing to work without a contract — they simply don’t want to be on-record “giving away” anything by sanctifying the imposed labor terms. That being the case, this withholding of county and state subsidies in order to “bump forward” a fiscal crisis and perhaps trigger a lockout seems too cute by half and as likely to backfire as not.

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Meanwhile also on OffQ, they discussed the new grocery store coming into the Hill District. Nobody had much to say about Kuhn’s having beat out Save-A-Lot for the contract (we are pleased and a little shocked!), but what was notable was that after blasting Wall Street bailouts and possible Detroit bailouts, uber-conservative local attorney Heather Heidelbaugh stated that unlike, say, stadiums and amphitheaters, this is what government should be doing — providing a few million here and there to make sure neighborhoods have things like grocery stores. It was absolutely grand.

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Meanwhile on OnQ, Chris Moore interviewed School District superintendent Mark Roosevelt for a full half-hour. There was way too much discussed to represent here, but we jotted some notes:

1) We keep hearing that the Schenley students are doing fine in their temporary home at Reizenstein. If we are not mistaken, only some of the Spartans made it into Reizenstein, no? Didn’t others get distributed elsewhere already — I think some of them to “University Prep” schools? Has anyone yet checked out how those kids are faring?

2) The “Managed Institution Curriculum” and the “Positive Intervention Behavior System” sound like good topics for further discussion — and as always, any coverage on Pittsburgh’s new CEP-managed school for disruptive youth (which may account for the “drop” in undisciplined behavior) is always welcome.

3) During a discussion about how what goes on elsewhere in a child’s environment is important to their performance, Roosevelt offered as an example, “there’s a lot of tough stuff going on in the North Side right now.” Question — really? Has there been a backslide we haven’t particularly noticed? That’s a good topic in itself.

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Friday is Light Up Night, the start of the holiday season, and the museum will have extended hours that evening. From 5 to 9 p.m. visitors can mingle with craftspeople, artists, musicians and re-enactors dressed in period clothing.

The following morning, the museum will be the site of a final “Hinge of History” seminar. The focus of the daylong event will be Gen. John Forbes. He led the British and Colonial army that forced the French to abandon and burn Fort Duquesne in November 1758.

Tuesday, Nov. 25, is the 250th anniversary of the date when Forbes arrived at the smoking ruins of the French outpost. Fort Pitt Museum, which ordinarily is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day for a celebration that includes cake for all visitors. (P-G, Len Barcousky)

You’ve probably missed all the Pittsburgh 250 hooplah so far, but it’s okay because the good stuff is just getting started.

Thursday: Your Local News

Tax Abatement
Myspace Glitter Graphics; h/t Trib, Andrew Russell

Lest we forget. Now today, here is the Trib’s take:

Pittsburgh’s strategy to lure people to live Downtown with the promise of 10-year tax abatements is showing signs of success, city officials said Wednesday.

Bearing a gift basket of Merlot, biscotti and bags of gourmet coffee, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl welcomed Todd and Dorna Palcic to their new two-bedroom condominium…

Darned if that isn’t the news. Now in the P-G’s take, compare this:

The 16 families that have bought at 941 Penn are the first to get the benefit Downtown; a handful of homeowners in other neighborhoods are enjoying it.

“We have to do a better job of marketing it,” said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, as he visited 941 Penn yesterday. “Long term, we’re going to have families living here in Downtown and some of our other neighborhoods that are eligible for the tax abatement.”

To this:

“We’re getting a lot of out-of-towners” who like the proximity to Downtown and the tax break, said Mr. DePasquale. “I don’t think it would move forward as rapidly” without the break, he added, noting that he’s now planning a 30-home project.

We’re getting the impression this was a lot of sound and fury signifying rather little in the grand scope of encouraging residential growth.

But wait!

Mr. Ravenstahl said there’s a “larger-scale development” under way in the West End that will use the program.

Smells like news.

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No mention here of gentrification and the apparently rapid transformation of East Liberty. It’s a complicated subject — a Target in town, taken on it’s own, does seem pretty positive. (P-G, Mark Belko)

PNC continues to be um … good. (P-G, Patricia Sabatini)

I’m already convinced. Now what about our many commonses that are not piled high on Wood Street? (P-G, Edit Board)

A sign of life on county council! (Trib, Jim Ritchie)

Oh, now I see why Ruth Ann Daily doesn’t get Barack Obama! And why the Post-Gazette seems so sullenly resigned to its fate! (P-G, Ruth Ann Daily)

AND FINALLY: Malik Rahim just came to town from New Orleans to receive honors from the Thomas Merton Center. So you think you know what to expect, right?

What was your reaction to Barack Obama’s victory?

None, other than to say that history was made. And now it’s: How we can really come up with a plan to clean our environment, and then second, do something to save our economy without just giving bailouts to the rich?

Read it. (CP, Adam Fleming)

The Band: Whispers

The song: Rock Steady

Hump Day

The cherry on top. (NYT, Susan Saulny)

Fortunately, some of the rest of us are blogging:

If you haven’t read and really thought about the Angry Drunk Bureaucrat posts here, here and here, you’re not processing events optimally. (ADB)

You want to start reading at, “If you want to be of value to local readers…” (Nullpsace)

These pictures are freakin‘ adorable. Freakin. Adorable. (Pgh Hoagie)

Pgh Is A City agrees with Michael Lamb. It doesn’t quote Michael Lamb directly, but it’s saying the same thing as Mike Lamb. Mike Lamb! (PghIsACity)

Maybe it is time for some hard questions. Maybe it’s time to move the FACToids onto greener pastures, like this stuff and more. (Allegheny Institute)

Our Lesbian terms it a “protest”, but the flier clearly identifies it as a “rally against”. We find nothing at all untoward about the prospect of showing up to this Rally. (PghLesCor)

“Making it ‘cool’ for our young people to be intellectual, articulate and poised” is a hopeful observation indeed. Glad to have seen it in the P-G. (Diondega 412)

Speaking out of turn and unasked for: the best thing bloggers can do to be of benefit to the region is to produce extremely excellent blogging. Not to go about PR-ing. (Burgh Diaspora)

Dear Matt Drudge: I can’t stay mad atch’ya. You’re out of the doghouse! (Slate, Jack Shafer; h/t AS)

Mayor Delivers Annual Budget Address

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl used his Budget Address to press the case for unity, optimism, unity, family-style governance and unity — while frequently invoking the election of Barack Hussein and the birth of Cooper Luke. (Video: P-G, Nate Guidry)

“IF WE ARE TO CONTINUE OUR SUCCESS AND OVERCOME FUTURE OBSTACLES,” said Ravenstahl, “WE MUST UNITE AS ONLY A FAMILY CAN. TOGETHER, WE ARE ONE PITTSBURGH FAMILY.”

“LIKE A PITTSBURGH FAMILY,” the Mayor continued, “WE WILL PUT PERSONALITIES ASIDE TO FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE OF A CITY THAT DEPENDS ON US. LIKE A PITTSBURGH FAMILY, WE WILL WORK TOGETHER IN THE SPIRIT OF THIS HISTORIC ELECTION, TO RESIST THE URGE TO SAY ‘NO WE CAN’T’ AND INSTEAD SAY “YES WE CAN.”

After touting past accomplishments such as improving some community and recreational facilities, demolishing vacant buildings, developing green spaces in their places and reducing crime to “40-year historic lows”, the Mayor highlighted initiatives for 2009 such as the relocation of a South Side police station, the installation of video surveillance cameras, a two-percent slimming of the city workforce by attrition, and the expectation of continued street paving and snow removal services.

“OUR PROGRESS IN RESTORING PITTSBURGH’S FINANCIAL HEALTH HAS NOT GONE UNNOTICED,” Ravenstahl said, in what is sure to become a familiar refrain as he approaches the end of Mayor O’Connor’s first term as chief executive. “FOR THE THIRD TIME IN MY TWO YEARS IN OFFICE, THE CITY’S BOND RATING HAS BEEN UPGRADED BY NATIONAL RATING AGENCIES.”

On the flip side, the Mayor says that the city budget will be “balanced” for the third consecutive year. The distinction between a merely balanced budget and our two consecutive structurally balanced budgets of years past is as yet unclear.

Council’s finance chair, Bill Peduto, urged Ravenstahl to develop a five-year financial recovery plan with state overseers that puts Pittsburgh on stable financial ground permanently.

“We cannot operate a city government the way that we have in the past and expect anything less than budgets that continue to go into the red,” Peduto said. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

There does seem to be general agreement that budgets will return to the negative in several years as pension obligations come due — but there is as yet no consensus on whether, when, how and to what degree anybody should concern themselves with that. As such, it’s hard to make it an issue.

Mr. Ravenstahl had planned to put $54 million in the fund next year, or 15 percent more than the state-mandated minimum. Now he’s scaled that back to $49.7 million, or slightly more than 5 percent more than the minimum.

“I wish they would have stuck with the 15 percent commitment,” said Mr. Lamb. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Elsewhere, Our Controller speaks of bank balances “getting crushed,” and of our not being out of the woods quite yet.

Although the mayor’s budget address, coming as it does after the oversight boards approve his budget proposal, lends his proposal the air of finality, that blueprint must still be ratified by City Council. It will be interesting to see if anyone finds room in this for improvement.

The Couple: Patch and Kayla

The band: Journey Survivor.

Love you, Mom.

Meanwhile…

Zeitgeisty Links

Pah! This is by many leaps and bounds the most satisfying and generously-offered election post-mortem we’ve seen written thus far: (NRO, John Derbyshire).

This is one local news article we will be writing about once it’s time for you to pay attention again: (P-G, Mark Belko)

Obama: Take that, Hillary! (Politico, Allen & Vendehai)

The contest for the Alaskan Senate seat evinced a polling failure of shocking anomaly. Was this due to Democratic voter stupidity, a comeback yet to be revealed, or SHENANIGANS? Or the Comet’s theory: terrain of which the challenges exceeded the skills (and attentions?) of the vaunted Obaman ground game? (FiveThirtyEight)

Concerned skeptics and right-wing theorists: This video will alarm you. (WPXI, h/t 2PJs Maria)

We are already looking forward to this. And does anyone else think Seth Meyers is starting to sound like Lorne Michaels? (Politico, Anne Schroeder Mullins)

RELATED: Special to GB:

Joedorable
Glitter Graphics

More Stalling for Time + Content…

Election Night Liveblog @ White Nerdy Wonks

Note: Jason is black. Note 2: High probability NSFW