Monthly Archives: February 2007

Wednesday Afternoon: The Rest of the Story

Today is the deadline for the Penguins to take a one-year extension option at the Mellon Arena. The P-G’s Mark Belko tells us why that is not going to happen. (One would think this is totally unrelated to a Rich Lord piece in that same paper.)

As of midnight tonight, the Comet Style and Usage Guide will be amended. In the future we will make reference to the “civic arena.”

Twofer! Mark Belko also reports on County Councilman Jim Burn, D-Millvale, getting all up in David L. Lawrence’s and Mary Contruro’s grill. Meet the man!

Finally … if somebody would patch together a Grand Unified Theory of this Burgh Report post, this Rich Lord piece, this other Rich Lord piece, a three-part series by the Admiral beginning HERE, the implications of the legal standoff outlined by the Busman, one of our own seminal works HERE, including a comment left by reader Grant W. Stapleton [warning: his website contains offensive material] … we would be much obliged!!!

We’re looking at you, Jeremy. We have a Masters of the Universe character picked out for you and everything.

Commitment 2007

The latest exclusive WTAE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Keystone Poll of people across Pennsylvania has been released.

Initial surprise: Rendell’s proposal to tax oil company profits enjoys 62% approval.

It also would appear Hillary Clinton is not doing so hot.

The Comet can find no WTAE on-air, or on-web, coverage on the state of the invitation by ‘TAE to mayoral candidates for a televised debate. Update: Although the Busman has some.

The Few, The Proud

Only .39% of teachers in Pittsburgh Public Schools are black males. That’s point-three-nine percent. The Courier’s Christian Morrow profiles teacher Brandon George.

Ravenstahl vs. The McNeillys

Bob Mayo has updated information.

Jack Kelly: Quandary in Iraq

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret who was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan administration. He is presently a columnist at the Post-Gazette, and can be described as a reliably hawkish unilateralist and free-market fundamentalist. As a special feature of the Comet, we will attempt to debunk the dangerous and foolhardy ideas put forth by Pittsburgh’s most prominent ultra-conservative.

First off? Jack Kelly? Totally blogging. Totally accepting comments, instantaneously. Website’s called Irish Pennants. Have at it, lads!

Secondly, 2 Political Junkies is obviously using the new Jack Kelly Fisking Software package freely available on the internet. So easy, and just seconds to download.

This week’s column: Quandary in Iraq. Quandary, not a quagmire. 🙂

“Many Democrats in Congress believe the war in Iraq is irretrievably lost, or that it would redound to their political advantage if it were lost. But they don’t want to be blamed for the consequences of defeat.”

Inelegant, and incomplete. Democrats believe the war in Iraq will not be won in this current battle. In order to prevent a defeat, they are advocating a strategic withdrawal, in expectation that the true enemies will be exposed during the interval, while democracy (and security) takes root in the period of non-aggression.

“Although barely begun, the troop surge already is producing positive results. Al-Qaida operatives are reported to be evacuating Baghdad, and Moqtada al Sadr and senior commanders of his Iranian-backed militia, the Mahdi army, are lying low and may have taken refuge in Iran. As a consequence, the number of attacks in Baghdad has declined by 80 percent, the Iraqi defense ministry said last week.”

Kelly calls it the Surge working; we call it the Withdrawal working. If the bad guys are holing up and waiting us out, because of gutless surrender-talk by liberal bleeding hearts, so be it. They won’t be staging sorties, and those monkey bars have to get old after a while. They’ll have nothing to do but politick.

It is urgent for them that they find common ground, now that the British are leaving, and now that we are clearly leaving in steady stages, until spring 2009 at latest. Nobody who has power wants chaos. This withdrawal gives the factions the illusion of stability. Let us see what they work out.

The very worst thing we could do is adventure with Syria or Iran, or get too excited policing the provinces. If Iraq’s nefarious neighbors are meddling, let them meddle. The Iraqis are no fools, and the Bush administration can still bring a pretty fair diplomatic game. (Unless you listen to John Bolton.)

More on the Convention Center

Dan Onorato makes it clear to KDKA radio’s Fred Honsberger, and to the rest of us, that he is standing by Sports & Exhibition Authority ED Mary Contruro.

The Comet wonders one thing. A P-G article today by Mark Belko and Rich Lord confirms that the 2005 incident was blamed on overtightened bolts, NOT the weather-related expansion or whatever that caused the 2007 collapse.

Our question, is really? Really really? It seems to us that the same sort of mind who might fail to report such an event to superiors, might also be the sort of mind to latch onto a quick and easy solution when under duress, bypassing due diligence.

However. For now, the Comet is trusting in Dan Onorato’s bloodthirsty tone in demanding investigations, and we are not calling for Mary Contruro’s ouster. If she was going to get any of those bonuses this year, she probably should not. If she has perks, strip them. But she seems too valuable to too many people to throw over the rails. We hope she has learned some lessons.

Just because we’re all still upset at Condoleeza Rice, we shouldn’t up and martyr Mary Contruro.

About those investigations. Both Onorato and Ravenstahl seem to suspect the designers and engineers. They most certainly are suspects. But let’s be frank: did we hire the same contractors that built the levees in New Orleans?

Fort Pitt Farts In Our General Direction

The Tribune-Review does a wonderful job with the gas leak emergency, evacuation, and emergency response at Point State Park. Justin Vellucci gives us just the facts, man, and Allison M. Heinrichs frames it in terms of continuing bad karma over the disturbance of the Fort Pitt area.

The Hilton Hotel came out partially against the renovations … not so much because they had to order an evacuation yesterday, but because of the downing of old trees.

By all accounts, the performance of emergency responders and repair crews was superb.

On the television, KDKA’s John Schumway provided good coverage, ending with his report that mud, having collected over weeks working through poor weather conditions, covered up a warning line that would have prevented the ram hoe from impacting the gas line.

Now that bad winter weather has degraded the safety and efficiency of construction, the Comet recommends this is a good time to take pause.

During which time we might finally discuss … many things. For example, the transfer of those power lines, and the businesses they would service, to another venue; maybe some sort of grand outdoor public square, or circle, further inland, but still convenient to Downtown …

Civic Duty: What Have We Learned?

1. The science, art, and dance of discussion moderation is an important and subtle work, which will require deep and specific examination of the works of Chris Moore, P.J. Maloney, Phil Donahue, Charlie Rose, and yes, even Oprah.

2. Nonetheless, I dropped 300-small on this microphone, and I’m going to hold it, thank you very much.

3. The resentment within the black community of police officers runs both deeper, and closer to the surface, than I would have expected. And I expected some already. Some sort of reaching out, or reinvigoration, is imperitive in this crisis, on both sides.

4. Our sad, semi-conscious, zombie-like plodding through the construction of flagrant public-works boondoggles is not a good thing. How many times will the trumpet-call of “You’re a nay-sayer! You hate progress!” prevent us from realizing this in time?

5. The Pittsburgh League of Young Voters did yeoman duty to promote and support this event. Next time, we will recruit five or six more civic groups like them, to do my dirty work. As Jesse Jackson once said, “I’m a tree-shaker, not a jelly-maker.”

The next Civic Duty will be held in about a month, either back in Slibberty at the Shadow Lounge, or else at the New Garden Theater, or the New Granada Theater. Anyone with the access, or the skills-of-a-hustler, to help make this happen please contact me. Look alive.

Liveblogging the Monday Morning News Check

10:56 – Joseph S. Mistick, left out of the He-Man analysis, looks at the mayoral race through the space-opera of his own generation, Star Trek. (Pictured: Sex & the City’s Kim Catrall, and Mr. Spock, in a Vulcan Mind-Meld)

It remains a mystery whom Mistick supports, until someone discovers whether he considers himself a policy wonk, or a sycophant.

The Comet wonders whether the “chicanery and skulduggery” has been limited to one-upsmanship, as in the tax-abatement tango, or if Joe is referring to something lying elsewhere … elusive.

11:03 – Battle Cat fiercely savages the downtown YMCA, who we suppose occupies some sort of midpoint between UPMC and the Little Sisters of the Poor. Ravenstahl plans to enter negotiations with nonprofits by declaring that he does not expect very much, wheras Peduto has some sort of 20-to-40-year plan.

11:09 – We of the Comet do not think that Luke Ravenstahl intends, or expects, to reap any political gain from his stance — or rather, feelings — on contraception and abortion.

11:14 – The P-G’s Elwin Green has a lovely thumbnail history of Homewood. A surprise to us: Homewood used to be an Italian community, until those displaced from the construction of the Civic Arena arrived to cause a bout of “white flight.” Which was followed by a round of “black flight.”

11:17 – Hallelujah! Early Returns has updated!

James O’Toole says Ravesntahl “appears to be the favorite going into Sunday’s committee endorsement.” Agreed. He certainly appears that way. Is there any evidence? Besides that everyone sort of knows that? We wonder. We wawawawa wonder.

He gives The Comet a plug in his list of recommends. He rightfully asks to be told of any “rabidly pro-Ravenstahl blog ” out there.

11:29 – The Trib has an Associated Press summary of the nonprofit tax contributions. There is much talk of inconsistency. Surely, nobody likes inconsistency?

11:34 – Hey Trib Whisper-People – If (#10) Ron Francis is such a peach, why doesn’t he run against Onorato? Sure he ruled that out some time ago … but the collapse at the Convention Center! The North Shore connector! The Mon-Fayette expressway! Property taxes! Won’t somebody please think of the children?

The Blogging Sabbath is Upon Us

Expect the return of a re-tooled Jack Kelly Countercolumn by Wednesday at the latest. Click through our blogroll; we’ve put a lot of effort into it, and we think it’s finally where we want it to be. Have a wonderful weekend. See you on Sunday.