Friday: αυτοκράτωρ ***

Here we go again:

Amid a reshuffling of city boards and commissions this week, the Ravenstahl administration dismissed the author of a Zoning Board opinion that blocked a controversial electronic billboard proposed for the city’s Grant Street Transportation Center with the support of the administration.

Alice Mitinger, a lawyer with expertise in zoning issues who had been appointed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment by the late Mayor Bob O’Connor… (P-G, James O’Toole)

David Toal, the ZBA member who had removed himself from the Lamar proceedings in order to avoid a conflict of interest, has also been replaced.

In light of the fact that the zoning board’s decision against Lamar was upheld in the Court of Common Pleas this week, this may be a good time to ask Mayor Ravenstahl himself whether it is now appropriate for the half-constructed digital billboard on the public building to begin coming down — and if not, at what point would that become appropriate.

No, I do not know whether Lamar Advertising simply may reapply for the same zoning variances and special exceptions it sought previously through this newly constituted panel.

In terms of precedent, I know UPMC initially had its application for beautiful signage atop the USX Tower formally rejected by the Planning Commission — yet successfully reapplied for it the following week, after He Who Must Not Be Named delivered a strident presentation in its favor. However, that instance of reapplication for an identical project may in fact have been less-than-perfectly permissible.

I can practically see the attorneys warming up in the bullpen.

Here is Judge James’ minimalist 5-page opinion. Click to enlarge:

Below is the Zoning Board decision now affirmed by the ruling above. It is comprised of Alice Mitinger’s decisive 17-page rejection preceded by Wrenna Watson’s 2-page dissent in favor of an approval.

Contrast Watson’s two references to “the totality of the circumstances” on document pages 1 and 2 with Mitinger’s item #10 under Conclusions of Law and Decision on page 14. (Item #9 on the same page is also worth a gander.)

APROPOS: “Autocracy Accusations”, KDKA; “Boogeyman Politics”, WPXI

*-CHIMING IN: Madison knows Mitinger and is still ticked; Infinonymous analyzes some of the replacements.

**-UPDATE: Lamar is weighing its options. Isn’t everybody? (P-G, James O’Toole)

***-ADDITIONALLY: Dok Harris gets his statement on. (P-G Early Returns)

11 thoughts on “Friday: αυτοκράτωρ ***

  1. ElementaryMyDearWatson.

    The foregoing findings and conclusions are very well written. – Wrenna Watson IHNSHO.

  2. Anonymous

    “well written” But my bff Yaronne called and told me to disagree with the real attoney on the Zoning Board of Adjustment so that his bff can put up thier billboard that they paid off luke for. Hey a deal is a deal, right?

    Wrenna Watson
    Chair, Zoning Board of Adjustment
    &and Chief Tool of the I like Luke Committee

  3. Monk

    If Acklin wins, would any of you expect him to exercise Mayoral prerogatives?

    Luke is doing exactly what you hope Acklin would do if elected…

    Spoils of war.

    Thinking that Residents of Alpark Terrace would be better represented by newcomers,,,

    Thinking I might appeal decision on ZBA Case #109-09 if it is not favorable to Residents of Alpark Terrace.

    At hearing on June 11th, I thought David Toal's nameplate should have read David TOAD.

    Alpark Residents could not have done any worse with new appointees, regardless of alleged Rooney connections…

    Remember: if Acklin gets in he will do same…it is hypocritical for him to imply otherwise…

  4. Bram Reichbaum

    Ms. Watson was referring to Mitinger's opinion as “well written”, which I believe everybody must agree that it was. However, she said in effect that it did not take everything into account; if you look at the law “as a whole”, there are other considerations.

    What I cannot understand is why Watson did not state or even allude to the specific legal issues she was talking about. The effect of mentioning “circumstances” and speaking of “the law in pari materia” was about the equivalent of setting off a smoke bomb and escaping through a window. I hope that information to which the public is entitled (it formed the basis of her opinion as a public official) is not being treated as privileged.

  5. Bram Reichbaum

    Monk – I thought we both were agreed that Mitinger and Toal were both affirmatively correct as a matter of law regarding Alpark Terace, and respectful and appropriately attentive to residents' concerns.

    Although, since we're getting new board members, and if we are allowing people second chances, I say go for it. Make your phone calls and attend your events, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

  6. Monk

    The Law always offers Second Chances…(it's how lawyers earn their keep)

    May not be able to appeal before ZBA…did consider June 11th hearing, Kangaroo Court.

    Money talks, Union or Billboards..@ ZBA.

    Maybe Mayor has put an end to it…lol.

    The laws are not written by poor…I agree State Law pisses on trailer trash…laws are crafted with money at Local and State Level.

    ADA (law), requires reasonable accommodations…the City has yet to prove that they are in compliance…

    I could fade into sunset and I am torn in that direction…but my being says fight.

  7. Bram Reichbaum

    Monk – Then you need to address the law at the state level. I think you had some atrocious Act from the 50's at hand, and some failed relief legislation that was attempted in the 80's and 90's. Got those?

    Chelsa Wager, David Levdansky … those are the only ones I can think right now that might be interested, FWIW. From some of their other positions on things.

  8. Monk

    Can not find Paper Work …so I will do by memory.

    The PA Tenant Rights Act 1951 may have protected Nomads living in houses with wheels…has been called Squatters Rights here @ Alpark, Pittsburgh’s Oldest Mobile Home Community. Incidentally Alpark was established in 1951.

    Governor Milton Shapp eliminated gray area (1970’s) contained in Tenent Act of 1951. Law he signed gave complete rights to Landowner at expense of Nomads.

    In 2008 there was push in PA that mimicked Laws in Oregon and Florida… It acknowledged life's most vulnerable needed protection against unscrupulous Land Barons…

    It recognized leases signed by Nomadic Tribes were not worth the paper they were written on..

    Trailer Trash died with House Bill xxxx of 2008.

    It's an ugly mess, and politicians at all levels have planted heads in sand.

  9. Monk

    Lots of Hand-Wringing going on over at Heinze Field and over Billboards…

    Not a single Soul has been displaced on either occasion.

    Everyone concerned with both issues are the same Muckity Mucks they profess to abhor…

    To young to appreciate History, until History bites ass…

    Alpark Terrace


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