Monthly Archives: February 2008

Schenley: The Fallout

Jen Lankin, Schenley parent and volunteer organizer within the Save Schenley movement, distributed a letter so moving on recent School Board actions that the Comet must reproduce it in near-entirety.

I guess it took this vote to really crystallize what I find wrong with dividing up Schenley, both the building and the kids. It’s not only broken the kids apart, it will, by design it seems, pit the schools against the other.

I chose the magnet program because I believed in the idea that different kinds of kids could learn things from each other. I chose it because when I asked for changes or better choices, I wasn’t asking just for my kid(s), but for the whole school, the whole concept. I wasn’t in it just for my kids, but for all of their cohort, their peers.

Now, I’m in a position where fighting for the best interests of my child (in particular my 8th grader) pits me against those kids who would have been his class, his cohort at Schenley.

To demand the best teachers teach at Frick next year is to lessen the possibility of the kids at University Prep having those same teachers.

To spend the money to make this staying behind palatable is to spend money that could have been better spent on a unified school, guidance counselors, mentors, improved programs.

To demand a range of classes (CAS, PSP, mainstream, electives) at Frick is to ask for resources that will take away from the kids at University Prep and Reizenstein.

To have programs move with the Schenley kids to Reizenstein (Youth and Government, the musical, band, chorus, etc.) is to deny other kids those same opportunities or to require duplication (likely impossible with only a small school).

This division guarantees that the good and great teachers have to make choices about where to be — and right now there’s not much room for them at University Prep! I can’t see how they can be fairly split in the future, either.

I don’t know how to ask for what’s right for my kid when it’s going to hurt other people’s kids, because that’s not right.

Jen Lankin can be contacted at

Interview: Marimba Milliones

(Now included are three CORRECTIONS — search below.)

“I don’t think we’re much farther along than that letter,” she said.

We had just asked Marimba for her take on the current state of negotiations between the city, county and Hill leaders.

That letter is the one Tonya Payne called a good document — and that One Hill proceeded to burn.

“Per the Mayor and County Executive’s commitment made in September, the Hill Faith and Justice Alliance will review the CBA before it is made official.”

The alliance, formerly known as the minister’s group (of which Marimba Milliones is part) acknowledges that the One Hill CBA coalition is taking the lead on the string of negotiations with government officials.

“It is our expectation that One Hill will make sure that the CBA is fair and substantive,” Milliones continues. “In which case, we will happily join them in signing off.” This is the substance of the joint sign-off that was discussed here.


The differences between the two groups of concerned Hill District residents are legendary and boring. Suffice for now to know that the minister’s alliance arose in Jan 2007 (CORRECTION: It “arose” as early as May 2006 and was quite active by November 2006). One Hill came about later.

Milliones is quick to highlight the essential points of agreement between the two groups.

“The problem is that the Penguins are not even at the table.” This dovetails exactly with the most persistent message of Carl Redwood, chairman of One Hill.

“I support One Hill, and many residents and community members who are involved in it.” However, she fears that too many of them are fighting for a perceived victory.

There is a lot of pressure, as Marimba describes it, on some of the component constituencies of the One Hill CBA coalition — unions, foundations, elected and party officials, certain institutions — to just sign something already. To claim a victory and be done with it.

“Which in essence is a failure for the community benefits effort.”


What is so objectionable about what the city and county are offering thus far? Isn’t it mostly a matter of tightening the legal language?


“Reinvestment. First of all, it dictates how any ‘$1 million investment’ will come back to the community.”

She refers to URA and Penguin money for a grocery store, the major piece of progress unveiled on that day of the city and One Hill unity. Milliones acknowledges that the Hill needs a grocery store — but questioned the need to lead with that exact item.

“Did that do that for a media victory?”


On the subject of being dictated to, we ask whether her group’s initial “terms sheet”, including its demand for $10 million in development funds, was not overly unspecific and in need of tighter oversight.

She happily referred us to the original document.

5. In addition to the Hill District CBA, an amount of $10 million and an annual contribution for a minimum of 30 years shall be directed to the Greater Hill District community’s development interest. These funds shall be used as seed money for land banking, business and economic development. This contribution may be contributed from various sources ranging from tax credits or other public means to expected revenues from the arena and proposed development.

“Land banking,” underlined Marimba. “Our estimation based on costs of vacant lots was about $9 million.” Most of this fund, therefore, would be used to purchase parcels of developable land for community initiatives — i.e. right back to the government or the Penguins.

Who gets to decide what gets to be done on that land, and who gets to own it?

“The Greater Hill District community’s development interest was left purposefully vague,” answered Milliones. “We didn’t feel it was appropriate to steer it to any one interest.”

In its original conception, according to Milliones, the investment resources would be steered from a community development corporation — with five seats from city and county government, and four seats to represent the Hill District.

(CORRECTION: Marimba writes to us: I have never made this statement, and it wasn’t a part of our original conception. I think you are confusing the development fund with the Masterplan discussion. In fact, this is the configuration that One Hill is proposing for the Masterplan. The HFJA believes that any steering/oversight committee must be fairly monitored and directed by the appropriate Hill stakeholders. This requires participation from One Hill and the HFJA, perhaps even others.)

One Hill has fought for the same arrangement, she says, which is good — but One Hill wants to appoint all four spots. Milliones characterizes such a thing as irresponsible and divisive; the four seats should be as wholly representative as possible.

Yet One Hill presents itself as a wholly representative group in itself, owing to its internal processes. Milliones along with several others were once full members of One Hill, but were officially excluded for having “negotiated outside” of the group — an infraction the Comet was informed by One Hill that every member was made to forswear in writing upon joining.

Marimba shakes her head. “We never signed a document. We were never shown any rule.”

(CORRECTION / CLARIFICATION: Marimba writes to us: I may have signed a membership document, and I certainly submitted one electronically. BUT that rule was not a part of the membership form. Understand, One Hill was brand new and had very loose rules and little documentation at the time. They were trying to find their way. In fact, One Hill didn’t pass an action regarding negotiating *outside* of One Hill until we joined. That was a very divisive action because they were fully aware that HFJA was working on this issue with the City, County and Pens long before they were conceived. Indeed, HFJA was responsible for securing the commitment for a CBA from all parties by April 2007. One Hill was formed in May of 2007. We could not drop the issue cold and leave it in the hands of a fragile new organization with heavy political, union and foundation influences. They were really struggling to find their way. They are a bit more stable now, but still struggle with managing these varying interests.)


Milliones does not relish having to explain any of this. She knows full well that most outsiders are viewing this as a squabble over resources and power.

However, that does not deter members of her Hill Faith and Justice Alliance from making a strong case for the concepts and initiatives of their own members — which they insist are valid examples of genuine public benefits.

“Look — 75% of the development corporations [in the Hill] are faith-based,” she points out. “They didn’t fall out of the sky.”

Within the black community, the church has been the institution that has most often stayed, survived, and gotten involved. You use the resources you have.

“You want to talk about separation of church and state? What’s with all the YMCA’s?”

This gets us back on the topic of city and county executives “dictating” the terms of reinvestment, instead of any set-aside development funds for the community to influence. As an example of a community center, for example, Milliones asks what’s wrong with utilizing the New Granada Theater.



“At one time, the Granada had 1500 seats. Our plan moving forward will be to create it into a mixed-use space: commercial, office, cultural and maybe residential. We will need to do further evaluation on what this emerging market demands.”

We have a hard time wrapping our brain around this. We had always imagined the Granada Theater was an adorable and somewhat rinky-dink old theater, much like the Kelly Strayhorn in East Liberty.

“Oh no.” Marimba stares at us in the eye for a long beat, and starts shaking her head. “Oh, no no no. Get that out of your mind.”

She goes on to describe a huge space and community asset, that was once a vibrant locus of activity and culture in the Hill District — that is waiting to be adapted to different uses. She says there is already a lot of foundation money pledged towards its restoration — but it must be unlocked by additional outside investment.

Milliones offers tours of the Granada Theater — she calls it the very heart of the Hill District. If there is going to be any significant reinvestment at all in the Hill, the pursuit of this one, in her opinion, should be a no-brainer.

The bulk of the civic development strategy, coinciding with this vast reshuffling of the landscape brought about by the Penguins, should be geared towards populations of “mixed income — allowing more people to return” and reinvest.

Thursday: Minding the Civilization

City Solicitor George Specter stopped short of saying the arrangement complied with the city code. Trading old billboards for new “has a long history going back a number of years,” he said. “And quite frankly, I’m still trying to unravel most of it.”

He said he’ll be able to produce a legal opinion in a few weeks. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Wow. A stumper!

“This is a process that actually began under Mayor Tom Murphy’s administration, continued through Mayor O’Connor and then obviously now in my administration,” [Ravenstahl] said.

Objection, irrelevant.


Mr. Roosevelt, who in October proposed closing Schenley, said that new data warrant another look at whether the building can be saved. The board last night said it wants the superintendent to make a recommendation on the building in May. (P-G, Eleanor Chute)

What new data? Really, it’s very interesting.

Long story short, either way the band is breaking up for at least a couple of years.

The 174 students now in the robotics technology magnet at Pittsburgh Schenley will be included in the move to Reizenstein in Shadyside, but their magnet courses will be given at Pittsburgh Peabody High School in East Liberty.

Incoming ninth-graders in the magnet will be assigned to Peabody. Instead of moving with the Schenley group, students entering the ninth grade in the international studies program this fall will be assigned to Pittsburgh Frick, which now serves grades six through eight in an international studies magnet.

The board also agreed to open University Prep 6-12 at the Milliones building in the Hill District this fall, starting with ninth-graders who previously would have been assigned to Schenley as their feeder pattern. This new school is not expected to be temporary.

Other grades will be phased in. The following year, grades six to eight will be added.

Everybody got that?

If the building that housed Schenley High School is to be saved, will anything like it still be preserved? Will it continue to be governed by the liberal egalitarian underpinnings that make up its DNA?

That is, will they continue to be Spartans? Will we choose to enhance or strengthen its legacy with more modern ideas?

Or will it all become a monument to something else entirely?


Four Pittsburgh Public Works supervisors collected more than $26,400 in overtime pay they weren’t entitled to in 2006 and 2007, city records show. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

One set of problems at a time, Pittsburgh.

Rev. Burgess: Pretty Much Running Things

Every night, 60 city of Pittsburgh employees drive home cars bought with taxpayer dollars. Legislation proposed yesterday by Councilman Ricky Burgess would compel all but seven of those employees to prove they need the city cars for legitimate work functions, or turn them in.

Mr. Burgess presented a list of employees, from the mayor to the facilities maintenance supervisor, who take Chevy Impalas, Dodge Intrepids, Ford Explorers and other city vehicles home.

“Some of the people on the list were not necessarily on call 24 hours,” he said. If cars are sometimes just perks, he suggested, they should be reassigned.

“We have a shortage of police vehicles. We need to put the emphasis on public safety first.” (P-G, Rich Lord)

This is certain to upset X number of city employees; we do not yet know how much they will be upset. (RELATED UPDATE: WPXI, Rick Earle.)

Meanwhile, in a city that seems to have difficulty getting its hands on enough police and emergency vehicles, this seems like a good idea.


This is more controversial.

Pittsburgh City Council gave final approval yesterday to an ordinance launching a new effort to ensure that some city contracts go to minority- and women-owned businesses.

The legislation, by Councilman Ricky Burgess, requires that the city update an 8-year-old study on fairness in contracting and produce quarterly and annual reports on the success of efforts to get work to a diverse set of firms.

The study update, to be done this year, would cost as much as $150,000 and is necessary to provide legal justification for minority contracting measures, Mr. Burgess said. He wants the city to request proposals from researchers to conduct the updated study, but said he expects California-based Mason Tillman Associates would likely have the lowest bid, since it performed the 2000 study. (P-G, Team Effort)

Councilman Burgess questioned the strength of the legal underpinning of the city’s current “sheltered market”-style program and other programs to benefit women and minority-owned contracting businesses.

He said that without updated studies demonstrating continued significant disparities, providing a compelling case for a municipal interest in remediation, all such programs are left vulnerable to inevitable legal challenges. Furthermore, he asserted that current city efforts are grossly underfunded and under-performing.

Meanwhile, Councilwoman Tonya Payne and others argued that further studies would be no more than a waste of time and money. She defended the current program — and on the issue of its legality, went so far as to ask, “Who cares about the Constitution?”

Rev. Burgess is expected also to have a hand in forthcoming legislation.


The Comet recently had an opportunity to ask the Councilman whether there is any legitimate Councilmatic role in managing a harmonious settlement in the Hill District.

“No, I really don’t,” he said.

He precisely echoed the thinking of Councilman Motznik — that this is properly an issue for Tonya Payne. He went on to express grief that on the question of this development, everybody seems to be “piling on and piling on” one another.

We attempted to make our case to the Rev., expressed best here and here, on a compelling city-wide interest in restoring some portion of a street grid between the Hill and Downtown, on the Mellon Arena and / or Melody Tent site.

We repeated our assertion that such an organic connection would provide a much-needed lifeline to the Hill District — and would in turn benefit Downtown by providing a nurturing residential partnership.

We floated the idea of a temporary “penumbra of protection” around some of the land at issue, only involving those processes and approvals which ultimately must come before Council — for the purposes of fully reaching out to the Penguins and arranging mutually beneficial civic design accommodations.

At the words “penumbra of protection,” Burgess gave a start, and his eyes flashed in keen interest — but it passed quickly.

Although he did not correct his previous statement on the necessity of deference to Councilwoman Payne, he did begin framing the locus of civic responsibility at a different source.

“This is City Planning issue.”

Wednesday: Rise and Shine

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority board did not get to vote on whether to allow an electronic billboard on the Grant Street Transportation Center, adding a possible Sunshine Act violation to the sign-related issues that will be the subject of a special Pittsburgh City Council meeting this afternoon. (P-G, Rich Lord)

If this is what a Sunshine Act does, we want more of it.


In a 3-1 vote with one abstention, the [Planning] commission decided to take no action on the proposed nomination of the former Workingmen’s Savings Bank on East Ohio Street as a city historic structure after North Side groups and residents offered mixed views of the designation, with some favoring it and some opposed. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Trust us. This one only gets better and better.


Nine of 10 speakers at a public hearing yesterday on proposed city of Pittsburgh campaign finance reform favored the idea, but the lone opponent was a representative of organized labor, a powerful political force. (P-G, Rich Lord)



The show at Carnegie Science Center uses flayed, dissected and posed bodies from China without consent from the deceased or their relatives. Premier Exhibitions of Atlanta, the show’s promoter, says the corpses were unclaimed and legally obtained in China, and that the people died of natural causes. But a recent ABC report alleged that some of Premier’s cadavers came from executed prisoners and linked the shows to a global market of body trafficking. (P-G, Sally Kalson)

If museums are supposed to make us think, well done.


Frankly, I blame our younger generation. These kids, with their hip and their hop, their iPods and their energy drinks, don’t play these games the way their parents and grandparents do. (P-G, Brian O’Neill)

That was awesome.

“Ooh, We’re Afraid to Go With You, Bluto!”

Reckless Spending VS Reckless Blogger

City government whistle blower, Ravenstahl administration critic, Bruce Kraus enthusiast and Barack Obama supporter Matthew Hogue (D-Extreme Makeover) raised concerns about questionable spending at the Housing authority — concerns which prompted our Mayor Ravenstahl to respond.

The mayor was “surprised” that HACPmay have authorized expenditures that could be considered inappropriate,” (emphasis ours) in light of the fact that “we’ve tightened our belt all across city government.”

Matt H officially gives Mayor Ravenstahl kudos for taking “quick action.” At the same time, he is pressing his case upstairs to the Federalies, and printing the name of Housing authority Executive Director A. Fulton Meacham Jr. in boldface type.

The Comet is less impressed and more confused by the Mayor’s response. How can he claim authoritatively to have tightened our belts “across the board,” and at the same time be caught off guard by a rash of frivolous expenditures going back two years?

The whole thing reminds us of Plowgate and Promotionsgate. “We are frustrated and upset. We were unaware of it until it was reported. Now thank you for reporting how frustrated and upset we are. Harrumph.”

Thing is, Hogue is up on his social justice horse — we don’t see him letting HACP off the hook with an overly broad, interminable and ultimately inconclusive investigation. Stay tuned.

Thursday: The Dissonance Continues

Solicitor George Specter said he had not seen that code provision invoked in his 21 years with the city, and people could balk if asked to testify under oath, potentially leading to contempt proceedings. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Why balk?


“Political pettiness has been surrounded around me since the day I got here,” she added. Who’s behind it? “If any of us don’t believe that Sala ain’t still behind the scenes … You’ve always got him, behind the back, trying to maneuver, whatever.” (Early Returns)

Bloggers can be so ungenerous.


During a meeting last week with state legislators, bar owners and restaurateurs, Mr. Onorato said he would consider legalizing poker machines and other gambling devices in Allegheny County bars and taverns to create tax revenue that would allow the county to eliminate drink tax. (P-G, Karamagi Rujumba)

Tavern owners are our hero.


“How can we compete?” said Westman, who will serve his last day as director on Wednesday. “We can’t fill positions and if somebody does come to work for us, they may be at the bottom of their class and have some problems getting a job elsewhere.” (Trib, Allison M. Heinrichs)

We could start taxing property based on current assessments.


Board member Sherry Hazuda questioned whether it would make more sense to keep Schenley open while fixing it as opposed to shutting it down. (Trib, Bill Zlatos)

Way to move the chains, Sherry Freaking Hazuda! That May ’07 primary is looking better and better every day.


COMET CORRESPONDENCE: You know the Comet agrees with you, Ruth Ann, it’s just that we are so much more concerned about the skullduggery occurring slightly to the south and east. Run those colors up your mizzen-mast, and there’s a whole fawning blog post with an Ella Fitzgerald video in it for you.

Liveblogging the Wednesday at City Council

As we entered at 10:00 AM, Tonya Payne was addressing a room full of 3rd graders from Allegheny Traditional Academy about what’s involved in working in city government. Jim Motznik popped in to ham it up for the kids as well.

10:42 Okay here comes the billboard investigation. Kraus motions to approve. Didn’t catch who seconded.

10:45 – Peduto: “We are in violation of five different parts of the city code.” The importance of swearing in those who will speak before council. “Those three inches are what separate us from Soviet-era Russia.”

10:48 – Peduto: “We can’t close our eyes tight enough to make this go away.” We must protect the home rule charter. This is problematic of a much larger problem. (Pat Ford’s deputy is sitting in the back of the room.)

10:51 – Shields: “It is about recognizing the standing of the representatives of the City of Pittsburgh to carry out the law.” He clearly sees this as the latest step of a continuum. Shields and Peduto did not like hearing about this first in the P-G.

10:53 – “I think we have come to a point where the administration must recognize the authority of Council.” He wants the administration to “rescind what they have done.” Seems to think an investigation is “serious and weighty”; would like to offer the admin. a way to get this right.

10:55 – Shields: “We have larger issues” ie why has the ED of the URA taken on such powers, including City Planning? What is the thinking of the administration about a merger? “If Mr. Ford is going to be defacto planning director, we might as well let the mayor of Wilkinsburg be our planning director.”

10:57 – Dowd: “I think this is incredibly weighty piece of legislation.” It’s also important to view this in terms of development, which Council agreed to look at. “I think that before we escalate…” Not investigation, but conversation. Concerned about deep structural questions.

11:00 – Harris: Would prefer to call for an agenda review and a public hearing.

11:00 – Kraus: “It’s very clear this sign was denied [in 2004], and it’s very clear there were strong reaons.” Process set aside. Also goes after the 3 inches of rules comment. “Concerns me greatly. That is the law. That is the code, and it is a standard of conduct that we’ve all agreed to hold ourselves by.” Doesn’t know who is running City Planning.

11:04 – Kraus: “The conversation today is more about what is the process of the investigation, rather than whether there is an investigation.” (Confuses us.)

11:05 – Motznik: Doesn’t approve of the bill as is written. In favor of a post-agenda. “I don’t personally believe you just jump in to Council conducting an investigation. I think there has to be a process to get to an investigation, and this is part of that process.” Not sure Council is set up to conduct an investigation. We referred the Carlisle thing to the district attorney, who is trained and staffed.

11:09 – Motznik: “I’m not going to support an investigation that’s not going to be full, and thorough.” Reiterates that he’s concerned about process issues.

11:10 – Deasy: “Are there problems with what happened? It looks that way, BUT…” would prefer a post-agenda and a public hearing. “Possibly the 3rd step is an investigation.” Again, says Council shouldn’t do it.

11:11 – Burgess: “First I’d like to thank Councilman Peduto for his leadership on this matter.”

11:12 – Burgess: “It seems to almost any objective person that the process behind how this sign was approved is broken.” “I believe Council has authority and is a co-equal part of government.” His interests are the institution and its rights, and will never concede responsibility and authority.

11:13 – Burgess: Agrees with both Motznik and Kraus. We need to exhaust the other options; post-agenda and council is in order. Disagrees with Motznik that Council does not “have the authority or the wherewithal to conduct a professional investigation of matters that rise to that level.”

11:15 – Payne: “Councilman Motznik is right.” Argues, what if we investigated Councilwoman Carlisle, then she could have lobbied her colleagues to affect that investigation? “We may be getting too far out there. We may need to reign this first.”

11:17 – Payne: Council investigations would become to political. It’s incumbent on us to do the right process ourselves. Spoke out against URA – Planning merger during election. “Everybody was abuzz” about it last year. “I hope this kills that idea.” Wants to hold post-agenda and hear from people in our districts.

11:20 – Payne: “I respect the work that you do Mr. Peduto, and staying on top of the issues.” But you don’t want to “jump into a political battle…” You don’t want to start getting political with your colleagues.

11:21 – Peduto: Doesn’t want to use position as a bully pulpit; wants to be stopped if he starts doing it. It’s not about Luke Ravenstahl, it’s not about yada yada.

11:23 – Peduto: We are not a weak council government. We are actually a strong council government. We just don’t use it. (News!) Tells a story about a hockey fight. Council is the hockey player that won.

11:25 – Peduto: It wasn’t just me who put this together. “It was city employees that called me. It was PAST city employees that called me.” Ties it in to the importance of council members.

11:26 – Peduto: Will hold bill. Will ask for post-agenda on Wednesday of next week. Warns that a 27-day clock is ticking. “I still don’t think we have to go this route if the administration withdraws its permit.” Warns if we keep going down this road, we will inevitably lose a lawsuit and lose money; still thinks an investigation is the best way to go.

11:28 – Dowd: Would like formally amend the motion to hold to make two specific request. Wants the post-agenda to be held through Planning Zoning & Land Use (Burgess), also wants discussion not narrowly tailored to the sign issue, but to broader URA / Planning issues.

11:29 – Deasy: Wants it televised.

11:30 – Pat Ford enters and sits next to Solicitor Specter in front of room.

11:32 – Specter steps up to podium as Peduto is talking. Peduto finishes his sentence, then clarifies that persons and officials are only able to approach the table when they are invited, and if they need legal advice they will ask for it. Specter returns to his seat.

11:33 – Kraus: First says he’s proud to sit on a council that can have such civil convestaions. Then compliments Payne in particular on her “common sense.” Then clarifies that this is never about politics, and City Council is not a “comfort zone” and should not become one – we need to deal with issues.

11:35 – Kraus: Supports holding bill until post-agenda, but reiterates his urging of the adminstration.

11:37 – Harris: Agrees with Kraus on process, with Payne on URA / Planning distinction. Wants to know what is going on. Will vote to hold.

11:39 – Shields: Points out this is a civil matter, not criminal. Likens it to firehouse closings under Maslof, and Ferlo taking it to court of common pleas. Administration had to go back and change what it did. Administration must withdraw, or do the same thing. Civil, civil, civil investigation.

11:41 – Shields: “Biggest fear is that people will have to be put under oath. And I think that scares the HECK out of some people in this building.” Again, this is a civil matter, and there will be civil remedies to anything uncovered. Carlisle investigation was criminal, so there’s a distinction.

11:45 – Peduto: Okay, so a hold on the investigation and a post-agenda next week? Ayes all around. 9-0.

UPDATE: There is now a discussion proceeding regarding a ten-year old Disparity Study, and the lack of follow-through on any initiatives like a “Sheltered Market” system when it comes to minority contracting.

After grilling the administration’s Mr. Petite of the Equal Opportunity Review commission as to why no new studies have been published for so long, and why so few of their recommendations from ten years ago have been implemented, Councilman Burgess recommended holding new legislation until we have an updated Disparity Study; otherwise we could get sued and possibly be working with bad data.

Councilwoman Payne wants to act on the legislation, because we’ve done nothing for too long. It’s getting pretty heated, but since we’re not that familiar with the issue we’ll cease liveblogging for now and catch up later.

The “Steelers Fever Forums” Phenomenon

There is another blog out there.

Not so much a blog, but a bulletin board with a discussion thread entitled “New Arena Discussion.”

It started up on March 5, 2007; several weeks before Rendell, Onorato and Ravenstahl inked their deal with the Penguins.

From Page 1 out of 51 and counting:

I truly do not understand why this cannot be ironed out. The politicians need to quit talking out of their behinds and get something done.

Fat Eddie is a moron. I wouldn’t even trade Haley Barbour for him.


Back to the Pens: Clearly Ed Rendell cares nothing for the west half of the state, and the local politicans around here need to figure out how to get this arena deal done without much held or leadership from him—because if they don’t, they will lose their jobs.

Yep. And in 2010, we can make up for an idiotic mistake. I’ll be part of that group of voters that send the idiotic Democrat(Rendell) out of office.

Sounds like these guys really, really wanted the state, county and city to give the Penguins everything they want. Ah, sports fans.

Dan Onorato is rumored to be interested in running for Governor when Tubby Tuba’s term is up and Ravenstahl is now in a heated mayoral race with Peduto – this will not bode well for their future in PA politics, as there are Pens fans across the state. I just fired off an email to our Lt. Governor, Catherine Baker Knoll, whom I worked for over 11 years.

A more in-depth story on the arena negotiations from today’s PG, which sheds more light on the situation. A “table-pounding” outburst from Fat Eddie? Confrontational negotiations from public officials? More evidence that the state and Rendell don’t care about Pittsburgh or the Penguins.

This is going to get interesting.


It continued like this through the roller coaster public and private negotiations. One might learn a lot about the Pens deal from this thread, but we’ll pick it up when the deal is struck on page 13:

Bob Pompeani just reported on KDKA TV News that a deal has been reached between state and local officials and the Penguins! WOOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!

I never lost the faith that a deal would get done. I didn’t believe for one minute that Mario wanted to take the Pens away from us – he played hardball and more power to him!

A New Arena benefits Pittsburgh greatly. Everybody wins. Except for Kansas City…Lol.
-New Shiny Arena for concerts
-Penguins are saved
-Those crappy houses in uptown will likely be torn down.
-Opens the way for businesses and new housing projects to open along side our New Arena (I hope). Just like Heinz and PNC revived the North Side.
-Luke and Dan save their jobs
-Rendell becomes less of a Philly fathead
-NHL keeps a team in a great hockey market with a rabid fanbase who care deeply about their team.
-The ownership makes a killing. Just watch them rake in the profits.

Thanks for the breakdown. That’s actually quite accurate, except for their definition of “everybody.”

Luke just won the election for mayor. They might as well not even hold the election because it would be a hige waste of taxpayer money.

That is very clever and ironic.


Okay, so hockey is saved in Pittsburgh! All’s well that ends well! Good day to be a sports fan! Thing is, they keep following the intricacies of development — for months upon months.

For example, in response to some criticism that slots money was being used to fund the new arena in addition to property tax relief:

Oh for God’s sake, quit whining people! We’re still more than likely going to get property tax relief from the money we get from the slots parlor here. Do they actually think every single dime the city, county and state makes is going toward the arena? What about all of the money that the new arena itself is going to bring in? Dunderheads!

Well, it is entirely debatable whether or not sports teams and stadiums generate net revenue for a municipality. But um, the Penguins are staying! Why is this getting to them?


This is a key section. The following excerpt was reproduced in this Steelers Fever Forums thread from a Post-Gazette article about Onorato meeting with the community:

Neighborhood leaders complained late last year that the Penguins and Isle of Capri Inc., the team’s partner in a failed attempt to win a slots casino license to fund a new arena, didn’t involve them in possible development plans.

The thread responds to this news bite:

I shall take the Fifth here. That is all.

Ditto. You know where I stand on this issue.

Good luck Dan. God knows you must keep silent when it comes to this topic. We all know what your pegged as if you speak your mind/opinion when it comes to this situation…….

Yeah – like not building anything in that area worth a hill of beans because it will be defaced and destroyed by some of the same residents (and/or their offspring) who are doing all of the BAM-BAM’ing. I say – Mr. Onorato – put up that wall!

MR. ONORATO. PUT UP THAT WALL! Priceless. Now from Page 22:

The new arena is going to bring some growing pains. I see. Pain is the price of progress. But it’ll be worth it.

Possibly, I think I said something about this a few posts back, but I guess we’ll wait and see. Either way I almost threw a party when I heard about the contracts, lol.

Contracts? What contracts? Why party?

Speaking of new arenas… How about them devils with the new newark arena. what a magnificent architecural structure. I hope the pens get the same designer.

Later on (page 30), in reaction to a P-G article about the Pens and ICON Venue Group and HOK Sport:

Sounds like a pretty reputtable group to do the construction.

Does it now.


You see where this is going. The same people who were demanding public money and public land from the state, county and city at the top of the thread — “whatever it takes” to keep the Penguins in town (and line their own pockets) — are now demanding that the neighborhood have zero influence over the shape of this development in their midst.

I just simply laugh and shake my head at them. It’s not like I will be giving anybody in that area my business when I go up there for games. My buddies and I will continue to drive down there, watch the game and leave the area for a bite to eat directly after the game.

You put yourself in this situation you *******s. NOT THE PENGUINS! You could have joined us in supporting IOC during our first pitch for an arena, but no, you had to go whine your asses off to the Gaming Control Board leaving ALL OF US who are Penguins fans pissed off.

The hill residents that don’t work or go to school need to GET A CLUE. Those of us who go to work to make a living or those of us like me who go to school to help build for our futures so we can make a living would like to have something that we can look forward to after our day at work and school are over.

As I’m sure you understand, Eric- these people don’t know how to get anything other than by forceful means (and playing the race card, of course).

They um … they just want their city to restore their street grid, and would also like some development assistance from through URA to seize on this opportunity just like any other Pittsburgh neighborhood.


Speaking of money, when these guys’ free money from the state looked like it could get held up for a moment in state budget negotiations, everybody got distracted and flew into a panic (Page 35).

I swear to God, they had all better get their f’ing asses in gear and get this bill passed ASAf’nP, so that the arena can be built. It’s already been delayed due to several project impact studies and the design process – there cannot be any more lengthy delays because of government dick-waving. The money’s there – GIVE IT UP, HARRISBURG!

Grrrr! Project impact studies! Design process! Sounds like a good time to call Pat Ford!


Voted “negotiators”: “No, we want the money!!!!”
Ministers: “No, we want to pocket the money. It’s for Jeeeeeeeeesus!!!!”
Voted “negotiators”: No, we want to be the ones to shake them down and pocket the money!!!”
This is too funny. They can’t even agree on who decides to shake the city down. Priceless.


I can’t wait for when we move into the new arena and I have to wait 25 minutes in line to get a beer and a dog because we don’t have the most capable people doing the job, but the one’s who were simply given the job. I don’t spend the money on season tickets in section B to miss half a period of hockey during each home game.


Yeah right! The majority of the people there are not paying the taxes they should be paying to begin with and the majority of the same people complaining are already getting their tax dollars worth of money from the goverment. It comes from my paycheck and is delivered once a month to their front door. Once again, all it boils down to in my book is “Bitch, bitch, bitch, give me, give me, give me, we are owed, we are owed, we are owed.”. Nothing but a cheap shake down for handouts.


Screw them. They want the City and the Pens to pay for their revitalization so they can graffiti it all up and destroy it in a year or two? How about getting a J-O-B and spending some of your “hard earned cash” revitalizing your own damned neighborhood instead of spending it on Wild Irish Rose and crack?


And the first homicide of 2008 goes to……………
The lovely part of Pittsburgh known as the Hill District!!!


We posted a link to this Steelers Fever Forum thread in the comments section of this Comet post on January 10, 2008.

The thread went dead for four days. It took them an additional two days to start posting scintillating commentary again.

They probably want a grocery store/market just so their wonderful residents can shoplift the hell out of it. Or maybe they’re just lazy to travel to other parts of the town to shop.

And so it goes…

Doesn’t the city realize that by giving in to their “demands”, a precedent is now being set for residents in other areas of the city to make demands because of the One Hill coalition getting their hineys kissed? If the Pens raise ticket prices again next season, I’ll be the first in line B & M’ing. I’ll be damned if one damned dime of my money is going to go to those bloodsuckers.

Now we know how the Penguins are being kept on the reservation.


That one is scary because it might be true.

Finally, just a few days ago (Page 51):

The Penguins should ask the One Hill Coalition to go inside the building and pull it down by hand. Kill two birds with one stone for the city, the Penguins and the people who actually work for what they get in life.

Well aren’t you nice 83?

Hey, they said they wanted jobs with no questions asked!!!

Well Said.

Why thank you. I’m just bowing to the ‘demands‘ of those who are owed so much in life from me, my friends and my family. Afterall, it is our fault the Hill is in the condition it is in today. Who do you think supplies the crack up there? Yep, your looking at him yo. I think it’s only fair that I give back in a positive manner, like basically giving them my check book.

Your money? Your friends and family? Your checkbook?

This is where we have a misunderstanding. It is our money and land. That is why we have boards, commissions, authorities and a City Council that is in control of the decision making.

Our money and land. OURS. To invest however we choose.

If any executive of government led you to believe you are entitled to unfettered access to this whole pot of cash — if they led you to believe we require your services around the new arena in any way you want, geared only to maximize the size of your contracts — you have been grievously misinformed.