Yearly Archives: 2006

Morning Line: Thursday afternoon works for (him).

Hallelujah. Mario Lemieux agrees to meet with Governor Ed Rendell in Pittsburgh next week in order to hammer out arena financing, according to the Gazette’s Tom Barnes. In response to Rendell’s overture (joined by Onorato and Ravenstahl), Lemieux actually said that he appreciated “the positive tone of your recent public comments.”

Meanwhile, the Courrier is enthralled with Don Barden and the Majestic Star casino. A piece by Christian Morrow flat-out proclaims that “for Barden, determination and delivering on promises-on time and under budget-are keys to success.” And a truly excellent piece by C. Denise Johnson wraps up the fallout in the Hill District, with pretty much everyone eager and optimistic. Except the Rev. Simms.

Speaking of the North Side, the Garden (Porno) Theater is almost out of options in its case against seizure by eminent domain, according to the Gazette’s Diana Nelson Jones. Although the present owners have a case — the developers plan to preserve the site as a theater, which may make it a free speech issue — neither the owner, George Androtsakis of New York, nor his attorney ever seem to make themselves available for comment. Which gives North Siders like me a good excuse to dismiss them.

A Trib editorial castigates the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for “burying the remnants of old Fort Pitt” and “flouting the rules regarding the treatment of human remains,”, proving this is one of those issues that can potentially unite liberals and conservatives. (The same editorial comes to the Garden Theater’s defense.)

With the Allegheny County Jail nearing capacity, judges are relying on alternative housing and home detention, according to the Trib’s Bobby Kerlik. Judge Donna Jo McDaniel reassures us, “We’re not talking about robbers, rapists, and murderers.” No mention of whether we’re talking about the drug users and petty drug traffickers that we’re told contribute to prison over-crowding.

Buried in another article by the Gazette’s Tom Barnes about a comical spat in the narrowly divided state legislature is this gem: Having Democrats control the House for the first time in more than a decade would likely carry benefits for southwestern Pennsylvania. Rep. David Levdansky, D-Forward, will likely become chairman of the House Finance Committee, which plays a major role on tax issues, and Rep. Joseph Markosek, D-Monroeville, would run the Transportation Committee, which will have a lot to say about funding for roads, bridges and mass transit.

Finally, you can read the pitch by the Republican Committee of Pittsburgh to shrink City Council on the front page of their website. However, those at the office may need to turn down your speakers, as the URL kicks into a rocking rendition of “Bush Was Right,” which highlights the many benefits of the invasion of Iraq.

Merry Christmas!!!

An unprecedented virgin birth is expected sometime near Christmas for Flora, a Komodo dragon like this one at the Chester Zoo in England. Reauters. ABC News. Well, a virgin laying-and-hatching, anway. The mother is expecting as many as eight nestlings.
Meanwhile in our part of the world:
I would like to include a link to a report from the WDUQ newsroom about city councilman Jim Motznik possibly stepping up to the plate in opening negotiations between Pittsburgh and the Penguins. At this time, the Pittsburgh Comet can only get Error Code 605.
The next item on the agenda is the written opinions by the members of the state Gaming Control Board.
Ta for now. Tune in on Tuesday Morning for regular and evolving Pittsburgh Comet coverage. A very Merry Christmas to all of you, and to Don, a very warm welcome to the community.

Thursday, Dec 21

The Story at Hand is:

Rob Rossi and Jeremy Boren, the Trib. Know it, love it be it.

Now: Is this just a matter of needing someone to talk Mario down? Can anyone do that?

Or: is this just a canny, aggressive bargaining posture going into negotiations for Plan B+++.

The Real Story is:

With lazer-like focus, as always, on the upcoming Tostitos / Bank of New York Ravenstahl vs. Pedutobowl:

Who shall speak for Uptown and the Hill? By what means shall Pittsburgh First reapproach with the Kim Ellis coalition? Will the Rev. Simms break bread with Dr. Goddess?

Who speaks for the North Side? Here we find some characters:

The North Side Chamber of Commerce.
The North Side/North Shore Chamber of Commerce.
The North Side Leadership Conference.
The African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania.
“The Mexican War Streets”
East Allegheny
Allegheny West
Central North Side
The A.R.C. House

Other News (technically)

“Point Park Bones May Be Centuries Old” Allison M. Heinrichs, the Trib.

Also … and I get this generically from 90.5 WDUQ Pittsburgh … have you gotten a load of Ed Rendell on this? He’s using our PITG casino as deflection as to whether or not some eastern licensees are too politically connected. If he can dance to this ditty all acrost Alabamma, can you imagine what he could accomplish with a majority?


Three persons are more important today than they were this time yesterday: Don Barden, Gladys Bettis, and Ken Sawyer.

Those of you getting your news from the sports guy on television got heavy doses of banners reading “PENGUINS UNCERTAINTY?” Sidney Crosby et. all were deployed to wonder and grieve at it all. Take a deep breath.

Nonetheless, the blue-ribbon for analysis goes this morning to Gene Collier at the PG:

The Penguins will get what they want, a new arena, at the site they want, adjacent to the old one, by the date they want, 2009. They just won’t get it on the terms they want, which was to have Isle of Capri, one of the two losing bidders yesterday, pay for it.

Mike Wereschagin over at the Trib has a stealth must-read called “North Side Neighborhoods Wary, Hopeful” which highlights three new players: CCAC, the North Side Leadership Conference; and the African American Chamber of Commerce of Western Pennsylvania (who knew?). Pres. Williams of the latter said:

“I’m being optimistic. I’m looking for procurement and employment opportunities,” Williams said. She praised Barden’s business acumen, and said the fact that the slots license was given to the only minority-owned company in the running in Pittsburgh was “icing on the cake. “It’s about who’s a good businessman, who’s got experience in the industry. And he happens to be African-American. That’s the context.”

His article mentions the Western Ave. business district, East Ohio Street, and the intersection of Federal St. and North Ave as places on the North Side that Barden is prepared to help develop … in addition to the Hill District.

Sidebar. If you are an Allegheny County parent who honestly believes there are no synergies and no conveniences to be enjoyed by having a casino nearby the ballpark and the science museum … raise your hand.

Final tip: there should be a bear market for #87 jerseys in the coming weeks. Watch who sets the trends.

-end transmission

You were promised liveblogging…

So that’s what you’re going to get.

So now we have two groups: the Moving Forward coalition, and the Heinz / Steelers / Penguins / Pittsburgh First complex. Particles within these camps may or may not find themselves more naturally in other camps as time progresses.

This puts Carnegie Science Center most particularly in the cat-bird’s seat.

We will be watching very closely the development of Mr. Barden’s schedule this Friday and Saturday.

People of all stripes will be staking out Max’s Allegheny Tavern, the Penn Brewery, the James Street Tavern (maybe), U.G.L.Y. … and that last new bar out west, where the geese graze.

And sometime before you go to bed tonight, clear your mind a few seconds and think of Mario Lemieux on the stump.

Meanwhile, the renovation of Point State Park continues apace, including the moving of earth, the dismantling stonework, and the clearing of old trees. The PG had coverage, as did The Trib, KDKA, Point State Park

Tune in around 10:00 AM for the start of regular Pittsburgh Comet coverage.

Oh what a difference ten months make …

From Mike Wereschagin in the Trib:

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto went so far as to suggest Providence smiles on the Isle of Capri proposal.

“If God doesn’t want this to happen, why is it such a beautiful day?” Peduto asked the more than 500 Penguins fans who gathered in Mellon Square Park.

Across the street, in the Omni William Penn Hotel, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spent the day listening to public comments on the three casino proposals…

I guess Peduto could seize on Ravenstahl’s failure to ensure the Isle of Capri plan. Or Peduto could turn the heat up on PITG moving forward, and go further as a “champion of the little guy” than can a sitting mayor, who must make PITG work for him.

Disappointment among Teams

From Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer. This was better than expected:

“We congratulate Don Barden and PITG Gaming on their successful bid. Obviously, we are very disappointed that the Isle of Capri was not awarded the slots license.”

This was far worse, from the Steelers’ Art Rooney II:

“We are extremely disappointed in the decision of the Gaming Commission to award the casino license on the North Shore. It seemed it was a process that was designed to give little weight to local interests and the result is indicative of that. We will have to consider all of our options in determining how to respond to this decision.”

This from This sounds to me like someting which could be gotten over. But Don Barden needs to come over and have a beer with Art immediately. Hell, he needs a beer with the whole city.

North Side opposition

About six weeks ago, Darby Harris, writing for something called the Ascend Media Gaming Group LINK, takes us back through Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force daring to overstep its mandate by seeming to recommend the PITG / Majesty Star, in large part because it found them “cooperative and willing to work with the community.”

Then back in February, the PG’s Bill Toland LINK took the temperature of neighborhood groups toward casino incursions. Whereas Uptown and the Hill seemed atwitter with Pittsburgh Firsts, Seconds, and Thirds, “the North Side Chamber of Commerce plans to poll board members,” said board president Debbie Caplan, “while the North Side Leadership Conference is searching for a new executive director and in the midst of revamping its business plan.”

I’m not saying North Siders were ignorant of getting a casino. I’m saying they were cautiously non-exercised about the idea. Which is all you can ask if you’re a casino.

Wed Dec 20: It’s the Majestic Star

Occasionally, in civic discourse, there is a decision so final and of such reverberative power that one must stand in awe. Today, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board gave its blessing to the PITG / Majestic Star / North Side jalopy.

Now focus just a little on:

How gracious will Mario be? Will the Penguins make any rash decisions? And will the Canadian billionaire find his way back into the picture?

Now focus a lot on:

How might this change the conversation of Ravenstahl and Peduto?

Certainly, no serious people could have been surprised at the decision against the Isle of Capri / Hill District jalopy. Andrew Conte and Rob Rossi of the Tribune Review LINK have a still-fresh must-read story on the byzantine court politics within the NHL / Isle of Capri / Penguins triniverse.

Then, too, Monday’s last-minute plea by the Rev. James Simms a Post-Gazette op-ed, on behalf of Hill District residents by way of the well-named, early-to-the-table Pittsburgh First Foundation, didn’t seem to quiet the noises coming from the Hill.

Isle of Capri’s decision to use their final fifteen minutes can be credibly seen to be a sign of weakness.

So what were we left with? Surely, any serious person has long been familiar with the study by architects Rothschild and Donyo featured in another PG op-ed reflecting the thinking of Carnegie Mellon’s Urban Lab. A great big hat tip to Ruth Ann Daily on this one.

So. You’ve got the Majestic Star, who will have find ways to partner with the following interests in approximately this order:

Carnegie Science Center,
North Side neighborhoods
The Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Pirates
The Commonwealth of PennyslvaniaThe City of Pittsburgh
Allegheny County
Hill District neighborhoods
The Pittsburgh Penguins

Now that is done. Leaving aside the issue of whether the Carnegie Science Center is capable of acting gentlemanly and broadly cooperatively, I will now search internet tubes for signs of indigenous North Side opposition to a casino. I will earn points crazy fast!

CLARIFICATION (12/19/07): The photograph above remains as a technical artifact from the first time I uploaded it to Blogger. It was taken by City Paper photographer Heather Mull, and used in this Marty Levine article.

A special salute to all you Comet readers who remember Dr. Claw.