Category Archives: convention center


VisitPittsburgh says in the Pgh Business Times that we didn’t lose a step with the Convention Center collapse, and:

[CEO Joe McGrath] said he believes revenue generated once Don Barden’s casino opens in 2008 will lead to a hotel adjoining the convention center in the future.


P-G columnist Brian O’Neill is irritated by the county property tax assesment appeals process. Editorial Aside: Pay your taxes and enjoy your home.


The TRIB’s Jason Cato reports that we’ll still definately get to elect a county sheriff. There are three Democratic candidates: Acting Sheriff William Mullen, Anthony “Tony” Costa, and Damon J. Brown.

We met Damon Brown, ever-so-briefly, at a candidates meet & greet at the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters. He handed us a small card that highlights his experience:

* University of Pittsburgh Police Dept
* Pittsburgh Police Dept
* United Nations Civilian Police in Kosovo
* Police Trainer in Iraq, Dept of State
* Police Trainer in Afghanistan, Dept. of State

According to the card, his priorities are efficiency, accountability, safety, and continuous training. In the photograph, he is looking smart in a United Nations military beret.

The Millvale Factor

Jim Burn (D-Millvale) of County Council takes a pretty hard line with KDKA’s Larry Reichart in regards to the collapse of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Burn is calling for Council investigations of the imbroglio, over top of those by the Chief Executive; and those of the contractors, both original and outside.

He paints a discouraging portrait of Sports & Exhibition Authority chief Mary Contruro, not simply for failing to report the 2005 incident, but for continuing to be out-of-the-loop and unspecific. He makes some reference to accountability.

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?

“Lack of Monitoring, Lack of Inspection, Lack of Seeming Concern”

That is how Dr. Cyril Wecht now describes the reaction to his 2002 report on safety issues at the new David L. Lawrence Convention Center, following the death of iron worker Paul Corsi.

KDKA’s Fred Honsberger had to ask our civic treasure some awfuly leading questions, but Wecht seemed glad for the help.

Fred: “You’re saying it was a rush job to get this open?”

Cyril: “Yes.”

Fred: “These people knew they were using the wrong stuff, but they went ahead anyway?”

Cyril: “Exactly.”

Humble and lawyerly as always, Dr. Wecht was careful not to claim that the problems highlighted by his engineers in 2002 can directly correlate to the building’s recent collapse.

What really steams Dr. Wecht has been the non-response to that scathing report. He describes a culture of haste and expediency surrounding the opening of the convention center, and clearly states that this did not bode well for safety issues in general. His original report went so far as to recommend criminal inquests, yet there has been no motion over the last year.

Surely, Dr. Wecht can be seen to have axes to grind in the region, but he also has a sterling (professional) reputation to protect. We look forward to observing the tone our civic leaders take in response to these serious allegations.

Off-Q, Off for the Weekend

Nothing against Jim Roddey, or Dan-O for that matter — but we think it’s now clear that we of Allegheny County really missed an opportunity, when we passed over Wacky Uncle Cyril for the post of “Grand High Commissioner.” Woah, momma.

On a related note, the Comet would like to apologize on behalf of the entire blurghosphere (save AntiRust) for not having mentioned the debacle at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. We must have been navel-gazing in the wake of the C-P cover story.

Let the record show: this is bad. And will get worse.

We were not entirely alone in our inattention; we refer you to yesterday’s “report card” of public officials in the Trib. Still fresh, still spot-on.

That’s it. See you on Sunday.