Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Band: The Band

The Domain: Never tell me the odds

Ex-Police Chief Harper sentenced to 18 months; InvestigatePGH continues.

Despite moving pleas for mercy…

Harper’s attorneys have said that he met with federal investigators 10 times. Those meetings, though, do not seem to have resulted in any further prosecutions to date.While a federal grand jury heard intermittent testimony from people involved with Pittsburgh government or with former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for about six months last year, no one has been indicted in relation to city business since Harper was charged March 22. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Reading between the lines, it sounds like prosecutors may not have been fully satisfied with Harper’s level of cooperation, although later statements made deny this.

US Attorney Hickton hosted a press conference this afternoon. He said in regard to the ongoing investigation which spun out of this one, “We are still in the evidence-gathering phase, and we have not begun to deliberate on the evidence.” He said they are working “aggressively” and “rapidly” to conclude this phase and answered little else.

If Hickton spoke with precision in twice indicating that the newer investigation is based on things learned in “March”, that might better describe the valet permits angle rather than the bodyguards’ debit cards angle.

Mayor: A sad day and a chance for rebirth… UPDATE: and also, dude jacked our stuff.

Land Bank rumble tonight: Who Makes the Calls?

Seems like there are lots of community leaders who truly want a City land bank to get to work, yet are also anxious that their communities understand they also share grave skepticism over “land grabbing”.

Also, there are a number who do not particularly want this (“her?” “his?”) land bank to pass, but are anxious not to get pegged as obstacles to civic transformation or reinvestment, and who prefer the present pattern of neglect, chaos and red tape.

So let the no-holds-barred face saving begin! A second public hearing begins at 6:00 PM this evening in City Council Chambers, broadcast on City Channel Comcast 13 and online.

Buses are Bridges has a 20 minute interview online with land bank bill sponsor Deb Gross. She characterizes the crux of public concern as Continue reading

Repairing ‘Burgh Public Schools: Getting Organized!

The thing about organizing is, things get even less organized before growing more so. Four news items capture the present drama:

Report says Pittsburgh schools should be the heart of the community, by the P-G’s Eleanor Chute. Sounds like we will be cheering on this new GPS-Pittsburgh in many respects, and fighting them on a couple.

Action United, One Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, SEIU Healthcare PA and Yinzercation are teaming up to comprise GPSPgh — basically that means Labor, Labor, Labor, community friends of Labor, faith-based friends of Labor, and a blog. Sounds like this outfit will be to Labor what the A+ Schools are for the foundations — that is, a counterweight opposed to teacher evaluations and “consolidating” facilities, and in favor of a sharper focus on increasing state funding.

Mayor Peduto puts new focus on Pittsburgh Public School System, by the P-G’s Eleanor Chute. With all of the organizations wrestling over the course of the District, Continue reading

Governor threatens “Serious Legal Remedies” for Parody

When Democrats noticed that the web site address was available, they decided to have a little fun.

That site now displays a banner reading, “Corbett: One-Term Governor,” along with criticism of Pennsylvania’s track record under the Republican in regards to job creation, education and fiscal responsibility. A footnote reads, “Paid for by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.”

But the former state Attorney General was not about to take it lying down.

Corbett campaign attorneys sent a letter to the Democrats claiming that the website violates the candidate’s trademark rights and right of publicity, and that a “confusing similarity” with Corbett’s actual campaign website reveals a bad faith intent to profit. They warned that they are considering “serious measures” to pursue “all available legal remedies” if the perpetrators do not “cease and desist.”

In response, attorneys for the Democrats wrote that the name “Tom Corbett for Governor” is not a registered trademark nor could it be made a trademark, that their website is legitimately protected parody, that Corbett’s claims are without merit and that they “respectfully decline” to take the material down. State party chairman Jim Burn confirmed to the Comet the Democrats’ intent to continue use of the site.

“On the one hand, American traditions of political expression give candidates and parties pretty broad discretion to use humor to attack their opponents,” says Professor Michael Madison, who writes and teaches about information law at the University of Pittsburgh.   “And of course, if you can’t attack your opponents by name, even to raise money for yourself, then the game is pretty much over.”

“On the other hand, trademark law and related things, like the law of domain names, is a broad, flexible, and often-expansive thing,” says Madison. “If the Governor can get past the requirement that his name is ‘a mark’ (‘marks’ must be used in commerce), and if the Governor can get past the requirement that the Democratic Party is using ‘the mark’ commercially (only commercial use of marks is improper), then the Governor has a non-silly argument.”

Neither Corbett’s campaign manager nor digital director replied to voicemails seeking an update. An email sent to the campaign’s contact address bounced back. A tweet inquiring about communications elicited no response.

This is not Corbett’s first dust-up at the intersection of information, power and politics.

In 2010, Attorney General Tom Corbett subpoenaed representatives of Twitter to appear before a grand jury to divulge the identities of anonymous bloggers critical of Corbett’s allegedly “political” and “hypocritical” handling of major cases in his office, such as over corruption in the Legislature.

More recently, Corbett’s selected replacement as interim Attorney General upon becoming governor, William H. Ryan Jr., is being criticized for changing the period for retaining that office’s emails from five years to six months. That move came to light as newly elected AG Kathleen Kane attempts explore her predecessor’s handling of a child molestation case involving Penn State.

Modern Pittsburgh and Gentrification

Part 3 in a series.

If one leaves food out for the animals — off to the side, in a regular spot — they are a bit less likely to invade one’s domicile, refuse or garden. Is one way to look at it.


Reviewing all the community building, place-making, historic preservation and cultural accessibility we have charged the City of Pittsburgh to enforce on the marketplace amidst our riven neighborhoods, the question might reasonably be asked, “Does anybody ever get to make any money?”

The new Mayor — the one who is making all the contentious, equity-driven demands on behalf of the common good in regards to stress points at the Lower Hill, the Strip District and Homewood — would answer: “Yes! Yes, please come in from outside and invest! Right there…”   Continue reading

The Artist: Carly Simon (+ links)

The title song off her album on the tensions and ravages of love.

We are chopping the bottle at its neck and Loading for before the St. Patty’s party, or we’re a monkey’s uncle. Meanwhile, open thread. Get it out of your system.


At What would Vannevar Blog: Lyft, BRT, Bikeshare: Transit and Regionalism in the Sharing Economy.

At the Pgh City Paper Blog: For the first time in recent memory, the Port Authority has money.

PITTSBURGH, CITY OF: Year One Device Enabled

That’s gin…

A series of budget amendments that were approved by Pittsburgh City Council this morning were rubber-stamped this afternoon by a state financial overseer. (P-G, Moriah Balignit)

Mission One complete! Spend coins on gear and upgrades.

A sage note: Continue reading

Monday Controversies! Land, Jobs & Transportation, and Employees

You were expecting something else?

Care of Busses are Bridges: The City’s proposed Land Bank legislation, in an interactive format where you can leave commentary.

At What Would Vannevar Blog: Lyft, your Internet jitney. UPDATE: Cabbies say there ought to be a law.

At the Post-Gazette: On City Solicitor Sanchez-Ridge and on OMB nominee Ed Keily.

On the last: Continue reading

Meanwhile, in the August Wilson Community…

Yesterday afternoon, Carnegie Library, Downtown.

MORE: P-G, Elizabeth Bloom