Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Band: Dire Straits

The song: Why Worry

Harrisburg still Calculating Level of State Act 44 Pension Legislation Seriousness

Put these together for yourself:

The Comet: The Three (3) City Money Problems

3 Murky Rivers: An Asset You Have to Believe In

Null Space: Paper Chase

Pittsburgh Business Times: Pittsburgh pension loses out on millions and a follow-up Letter to the editor.

And what should you get?

BOTTOM LINE: If we were lots of different people, we would already be describing in epic terminology to everyone who could be made to listen, what life was like in Pittsburgh all the way from autumn through Christmas, so people might better understand the mere footnote coda trivia of that which transpired as a consequence on New Years’ Eve.

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Does anybody else smell Napalm?

Shorter Rich Fitzgerald today:

“You call it ‘unethical’ of me to have sent that campaign email to Marcellus Shale drillers? Why you LONELY, BORING, VAPID, BACKWARD, LYING, HACKNEYED, CRIMINAL, CALLOUS, EXPLOITATIVE FAILURE — how dare you go negative!” (P-G Early Returns, Tim McNulty)

That’s all for today. I just feel too disenchanted to engage in the political process. 🙁

Happy Labor Day, Pittsburgh!

That one day every year we take an interlude from honoring job creators so that we might appease job doers.

The United States Department of Labor provides its own online History of Labor Day.

PBS’s News Hour with Jim Lehrer fills in some blanks regarding such things as the Pullman Company strike, Eugene Debs, President Grover Cleveland and over 12,000 federal troops and US Marshals:

But now, protests against President Cleveland’s harsh methods made the appeasement of the nation’s workers a top political priority. In the immediate wake of the strike, legislation was rushed unanimously through both houses of Congress, and the bill arrived on President Cleveland’s desk just six days after his troops had broken the Pullman strike. (PBS)

Better make it count, then.


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Council Sends Frank & Open Letter to Ravenstahl

In the letter, Council members Harris, Kraus, Peduto, Rudiak and Shields make clear that they will merely be temporarily suspending expanded parking meter enforcement (sorry, Ginny) until such time as the Parking Authority comes around to Council’s way of thinking.

*-UPDATE: Mayor Ravenstahl and Finance Director / chief administrative officer on financial matters Scott Kunka each respond in short statements.

Further, the Harris majority is setting out to transfer $1.3 million from the city’s 2011 general fund balance [which we all hope will exist] to the pension fund.

That “further” part has us a mite confused. As part of its New Years Eve deal, Council already diverted money from the parking tax (which winds up in the general fund) over to the pension fund. The difficulty has been that this general fund revenue has not been replaced by Parking Authority revenue as Council had intended. Is Council here saying that the Powers That Be have refused also to move the parking tax money over to the pension fund to begin with? Because otherwise, why send more money over to the pensions than previously arranged?

The timing of the nastygram makes this all the more curious. The fact that Councilman Patrick Dowd, a leading architect of Council’s New Years’ Eve plan and critic of the Mayor’s alternative, did not cosign today’s missive is only mildly curious.

Meanwhile, just to stir the pot a little further, check out how folks from Harrisburg are seeing these machinations:

The City of Pittsburgh this morning submitted its new municipal pension shortfall estimates to the state, hoping to avert a state takeover of the fund. The submission was the culmination of a two-year battle between council, which wanted to dedicate future parking revenue to the fund, and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who preferred shoring up the fund through leasing the parking facilities. Council ended up getting its way; now we get to see if it actually worked. If it doesn’t, expect the mayor (after a hearty round of “I told you so”) to re-submit his plan to lease the city’s parking garages. (Triadvocate)

That ain’t necessarily so. But it ain’t necessarily not so.

Thursday: Department of Innovation Department

62%! Wow! A large number, m-hay! (P-G, Joe Smydo)

Acceptance of this calculation is going to turn on a point such as why the state settled on the figure 50% as being determinative of “severe distress” to begin with. Was it arbitrary? Did it seem like a good round number, or what? Had to draw a line somewhere?



Township commissioner D. Raja (R-Mt. Lebanon) thinks a Department of Innovation is the kind of thing for which we all might clamor. (

County Council President Rich Fitzgerald (D-East End Pittsburgh) responds to this news by painting Raja as a failure, a phony, a liar and vaguely absurd. (P-G, Timothy McNulty)

NOTE TO RAJA: You might want to try critiquing your opponent’s record on Allegheny County Council. Call it a random neuron.


New poll: 65% of Pennsylvanians favor the natural gas industry; 23% are opposed to it. (PoliticsPA)

Whatever that question is — and it’s admittedly a different question than, “Are you opposed to drilling in your city, the one that is dense and noisy already?” — much like the Civic Science survey it should give people a certain amount of pause just to see those numbers. Not everyone is out there all, “It’s the People vs. the Corporations!” People like their royalties and signing bonuses and idea of jobs and economic activity. To not take that into account is to appear as something of a weirdo.


Do you count yourself as still confused over what happened in Bloomfield involving gay activists, City police officers and at least some anarchists? Me, too!

In addition to a City Paper article on that incident and a follow-up Slag Heap blog post, blogger Thomas C. Waters was there in the flesh. He has published many ruminations already, which in turn have garnered many comments. The first of five personal dispatches from the rally is right here; his latest, a report on some follow-up with the City is here. Lots to digest in between.


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