Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pat Dowd for something ...

So, something of a gearshift from my usual nationally oriented posts. Last week I got a flyer saying Pat Dowd is running for City Council in my district. Being who I am, I noticed right away there was no website address. There was an email for Mr. Dowd (not his campaign, supposedly, him), something like Patrick @ No “h” on Pittsburgh. So I tried and there it was. There were other problems, though, in email addresses on the website itself that bounced.

But what was sort of cool was that Pat Dowd went door to door in my neck of the woods (Stanton Heights) on Sunday, so I got to meet him. And he remembered me from one of the emails I had sent. And he had already fixed at least the flyer.

So we chatted for a while, he got going and then suddenly exited himself (I expect he had a lot of ground to cover and couldn’t afford to stay any one place for too long). What we chatted about was not that impressive. He is running in part on his record on the school board. I gotta to say I don’t see the connection. He talked about the level of long term debt the city has (its high, I’ll take his word for it). He didn’t mention a specific solution, but referenced the notion that outside entities are more likely to help you when you have a more professional council. He made the connection between the school board before he came in and its troubles with the foundations and now. This is the way he is running on his record. He talked about metrics, about getting more information out about the city. And we talked a bit about the 311 number. He agreed Mayor Luke had done some good things, but maybe we need to do better.

I have to concede, I may not have gotten all or any of the points Mr. Dowd was making, or where he was going or trying to tie things together to. He may have been more subtle than I was ready for.

So I’m not totally convinced, but I’ve never even met Len Bodack, he has not gone door to door in my neighborhood. I don’t know that I agree with all of Mr. Dowd’s positions, actually I don’t know hardly any of them. But I don’t know any of Mr. Bodack’s at all. Dr. Dowd has a doctorate, I believe Mr. Bodack did not finish an undergrad.

What I would like to see Dowd do is step up to some politically neutral but technically smart *policies*.

Let’s see the city alter it’s healthcare plan by requiring employees, retirees and any family covered to get a yearly physical, and also to participate in a healthy lifestyle program that examines health factors like cholesterol, weight, exercise and whether you smoke, and rewards those employees with parameters considered healthy. The reduction in absenteeism and possible increases in productivity would be well worth it.

Let’s see an expansion of the 311 lines hours, and expand it to take non-emergency police calls.

Let’s look at whether adopting the European style of road work, where the road bed is more extensively prepared than it is here, might yield a long term cost savings.

Let’s have the city set what examples it can, with maybe hybrid cars (maybe just the Ford Escape, since we need to buy American) and what ever other green technologies can be found. CMU and Phipps could provide input.

So there’s stuff Pat Dowd can do, and I will do my part to nag him, if he gets elected. But it seems pretty likely he is going to get my vote anyway. I hate politicians because they always break your heart, but in the end I can’t claim to be any better of a person (and usually a worse one). There might be high expectations for Pat Dowd, and that might mean a bigger letdown. But at the end of the day he is still preferable to Mr. Bodack.


Anonymous said...

Len Bodack resides in Stanton Heights and while I cant speak for the residents living there I can comment on the benefits that Lawrenceville and the city has gained due to his leadership.

Len had the vision to think outside of the box and allocated funding to a public safety effort that had a large impact on crime reduction in the community of Lawrenceville. Due in part to his actions, the neighborhood was able to secure over a million dollars in funding by way of becoming a Federally designated Weed and Seed site.

Additionally, this calming of crime in Lawrenceville allowed us to be successful in securing another 3/4 million in Elm Street funding to eliminate blight and preform beautification efforts in the neighborhood. This effort persuaded Rebuilding Pittsburgh to infuse an additonal 500k to make homes clean safe and dry for our elderly.

Recent legislation introduced by Bodack will make it much easier for communities like Lawrenceville to battle blight and address quality of life issues in the community.

Along with those accomplishments Bodack came through with funding dedicated toward eliminating known drug houses and led to the community group purchasing a home in Almond Way freeing the good residents of all of the terrible elements that are associated with drug houses.

Please think hard and do more research before making your decision, for the first time in a long time the train is on the track and moving forward. If you just want to give your vote to Dowd before doing so I suggest you ask him why he voted to waste over 200k of our tax dollars to pay off a Deputy Superintendent for a do nothing consultant job.

EdHeath said...

Well, first, Anonymous (may I call you Anonymous?) thanks for your comment, obviously I don’t get a lot of them, but I think it is good to get differing points of view presented to my two or three readers. Esepcially in election season. And unlike some posts on other blogs, yours was not only polite but well and extensively argued.

And yes, I often don’t do a whole lot of research. I did try to Google Mr. Bodack, to see if he had a campaign site up, and didn’t really find anything. I didn’t try searching the PG, although I have subsequently (most of the first two pages were taken up with election stuff, I woild/will have to dig deeper).

Part of the point of my post was that Mr. (Dr.) Dowd was reaching out to my community, even to me specifically (also randomly) in the form of a personal visit. I could have grilled him on taxes or police force levels, but I was interested in what he wanted voters to know about him. I mentioned Mr. Bodack specifically in the context that I haven’t met him and can find no campaign website for him. Mr. Dowd’s campaign site is filled with accounts of his school board, but that is more than nothing.

Your comment is very interesting to me in its focus. In your opinion, Mr. Bodack has done quite a bit for Lawrenceville, being part of the reason the “for the first time in a long time the train is on the track and moving forward”. I’m certainly not disputing that, and I am assuming that Mr. Bodack has done more in his time on council. What struck me about Mr. Dowd was that he wanted to stress a view of the city as whole. Part of the problems the neighborhoods are having is that the whole city is straining for resources. Your focus on Lawrenceville is understandable, its where you live and it has been quite a troubled neighborhood.

It’s a classic issue, legislator’s represent a part of a whole, and have to decide on how best to serve that whole. Clearly, the best, no, most successful federal Senators and Representatives have made careers bringing home benefits to their states or districts, Robert Byrd being a great example. You may say that the mayor is the person who serves the interest of the whole. But of course the mayor is an executive, not a legislator.

So based on your post, your first presentation of Mr. Bodack’s accomplishments versus Mr. Dowd’s presentation of his goals, I would say one difference between them is that Mr. Dowd seems to be interested in city wide problems, while Mr. Bodack might have a narrower focus. I expect in reality both are simultaneously interested in both city and district, but there may be some difference in emphasis or philosophy. Incidentally, you can point to Darlene Harris’s record on the school board versus Mr. Dowd’s (who replaced her) as perhaps an example of what I am talking about.

I am out of time, so I will have to let your last point go for now.

Anonymous said...

I did notice that Bodack has had an impact on other communities such as downtown with his pan-handling legislation. I assume his work on shutting down Nuisnace Bars has also had a positive impact in Garfield (Horoscope), the Strip (H20), Lawrenceville (J&K'S) and most recently (Mick McGuires) in Market Square. I know he played a part in the Sandy's sandwich shop situation in Highland Park too. Shutting down nuisance bars cant be bad.

Recent proposed legislation would seem to address a timely city-wide problem of vacant houses. The burned-out people in Hazelwood probably wish someone would have introduced the legislation sooner.

That said, it seems Bodack is a doer that looks for workable commonsense solutions. I think he was given the responsibility of heading the Public Safety Committee for the City and has taken his role as seriously as anyone in that position has in my memory. His results oriented approach seems to reap tangible results. I think I relate to him because he comes off as a regular Pittsburgh guy.

I like people that solve problems, thinkers are great, but roll up your sleeves and produce results people need to be in charge.

I agree with you after reading the Dowd website, really not a relevent resume for a City Council position. I did speak with someone today that is infuriated with the fact that the same principle that did not produce the desired results at Fort Pitt Elementary was allowed to remain at the school for another year. As expected, his words, the school is not reaching expectations and in his eyes the blame fell at Dowd's feet?

I imagine that Dowd is/was hearing the same type of stories all along that are now making their way into the public for our consumption. Having just announced his candidacy I imagine he is concerned with prior seemingly bad decisions.

I must admit I really did not understand the decision making power afforded to a school board member and the ramifications of not making the correct choices in that position can have on an entire community.

Your Harris argument is a good one, but I think as soon as the foundation money was being pulled a new blood candidate was a shoe in.

Regarding your regional argument, I agree that global issues are important but no so much in this race. If that were truly the case we would elect Council persons on an At-Large basis. I think it is Council's job to first represent their constituency and bring home the bacon, and then build concensus that raises all ships.

Well Im burnt on this issue but I will check in from time to time for some lively conversation. And yes you may refer to me as anonymous!! Go Bodack!!

EdHeath said...

Well. Clearly we are unlikely to agree, which is fine (with me) because we really do live in a democracy (a democratic republic, to be clear). I am neither in a position to criticize Mr. Bodack nor defend Dr. Dowd, nor am I inclined to. I do have to say that Fort Pitt Elementary issue you raise doesn’t strike me as a fair criticism. Legislators are not usually involved in tactical decision making or personnel issues (except for obviously in choosing the superintendent, or if the superintendent fails to make an obviously needed change). I don’t know anything about what results were desired at Fort Pitt Elementary and about the Principal there, but I am very suspicious about laying it at the feet of Dr. Dowd. He does, in fact, have only his school board record to hold up as a record of accomplishment, yet for all the world it seems a good record. I would like to see more of his specific plans, but I can’t argue that one of the broad concepts he is advancing, of documenting the progress of government, is a pretty good one. This is one he claims to have acheived with the school board, and wants to extend to the city. Now, you are saying that while thinking is a good thing, someone who “rolls up his sleeves and produces results” is who needs to be in charge. Isn’t that the definition of an executive instead of a legislator? In fact, I think the legislators, the council, should be thinkers. It should be the job of the executive and his employees to address neighborhood needs, to allocate resources to reduce crimes in various neighborhoods. For a council-person or his/her staff to spend time looking at specific situations in neighborhoods or even to work on grant-proposals is for the councilman not to be looking at the impact of tax proposals or city employee health plans, thinking about city issues. Of course, council needs to be voters too, they need to end debate and produce legislation. But I can’t agree that careful consideration of legislation is a bad thing (which is not what you said but I am making an inference). And I think your statement about the responsibility of a council person to their district is inherently a short sighted one. Jobs or crime in any district are going to affect surrounding districts to their benefit or detriment, and council-persons need to think that way. If building consensus to raise all ships is their second priority, no ships will raise.

We’ll see how this goes. How will the entrance of Fallon into the race affect things? To the extent Ferlo is popular in Lawrenceville, it may pull some Bodack voters, but any who might want change (between Dowd and Fallon). Generally I think a crowded race is supposed to be bad for the challenger(s).

Anonymous said...

I think Fallon no longer works for Senator Ferlo and that Ferlo supports Bodack's campaign.

Anonymous said...

dear anonymous -

you're obviously on your talking points, kudos to you. I couldn't help but notice, though, that you failed to address the one of the main points of Ed's post - Lenny Jr. has failed to represent even the most basic interests of the residents in the neighborhood where he himself resides!

EdHeath said...

Well, to be fair to Anonymous #1, in my neck of Stanton Heights we don't have many pressing city-related needs that I know about. We don't have much of a crime problem (that I know of), and I feel safe here pretty much all the time. I don't know where Mr. Bodack lives in Stanton Heights, so I don't know if his part of the neighborhood has any particular issues, or whether he addresses them or not. The worst I can say about the city is that our roads get salted about a day later than everyone else. But since I have long noticed that parts of Shadyside also get salted long after everyone else, I can't really complain … about the city.

On the other hand, I still have not met Mr. Bodack. Obviously he has no obligation to meet his constituents, and it has not affected his elect-ability to date. I know he is not within two houses of me around here, but otherwise he could live anywhere around here.

Why do I find it impressive that Pat Dowd walked up and down my street to visit with us? Because I remember how Rick Santorum won his first race, for the house. He visited every house in Mt Lebanon and at least most of the rest of the district. This was a particularly bitter pill for me because I had interned for Doug Walgren and I think he is a good man. But I see the power of actually putting yourself out there in person, and I respect Dowd for doing it.

EdHeath said...

Oh, and thanks for commenting, anon #2

Anonymous said...

Len Bodack is not a visionary. He is a party hack who has not - and will not - use the power of a council seat for the greater good. If re-elected, he'll continue doing the least he can get by with while benefiting his friends and cronies.

From what I can tell, Bodack has only sponsored one bill while in office and co-sponsored another.

Regarding the nuisance bars listed by anonymous, I don't see how Lenny had any doing in getting them shut down. In all the cases, there were major crimes committed on the premises and it was the District Attorney that shut them down. Bodack still hasn't been able to close the (former)Candlelight on 44th Street.

Butler Street has long had a problem of prostitutes and the whole time Bodack has been in office, they have continued to walk back and forth right in from of HIS OFFICE! On two occasions I have mentioned the problem to him and he has giggled the topic away.

You are lucky up in Stanton Heights with not having many problems. Down in Lawrenceville, we have had to live with the same problems during the entire tenure of Bodack because he hasn’t addressed any of them.

Thinking outside the box? Ha Ha. Anybody but Bodack.

Anonymous said...

I guess the truth is starting to come out

Post Gazette

Cash waste

Patrick Dowd, candidate for the District 7 council seat, says on his Web site that "I promise to use your tax dollars transparently and efficiently. I will ensure that tax expenditures always benefit the constituent."

Well, this has got to be some kind of record in promise-breaking.

As a school board member, Mr. Dowd succeeded in not only voting to waste our money by giving Lynn Spampinato, ousted as deputy superintendent for instruction, a $213,000 payoff for a do-nothing consulting contract, but doing so without any explanation to the public whatsoever. Under his watchful eye, the school district also failed to properly bill the state for 572 children it educated, costing the taxpayers an additional $220,000 ("City Schools Urged to Nail Down Buyout Costs," Feb. 17).

Talk about empty promises.

Anonymous said...

June 2006

"I love what's happening. Actually, something's getting done," he said. "Something is finally getting done."

Nobody was happier than Mr. Burns and his neighbors on Almond Way in Lawrenceville yesterday when U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced that the community was getting a $175,000 federal grant as part of its recent designation as a Weed and Seed site.

Councilman Len Bodack co-sponsored the bill for bi-annual inspections and the bill to hold vacant property owners accountable for their blight.

August 5 2006

More than two dozen men were arrested during a two-week reverse prostitution sting in Lawrenceville -- dubbed "Operation Sweatpants" for the popular attire for prostitutes in the area. Police focused on the men who solicit prostitutes -- the "johns" -- instead of the women who peddle sex throughout the city

The Candlelight has been closed for over 6 months now and is scheduled to be reopened as an a alternative lifestyles establishment. Your misinformed about Lawrenceville

EdHeath said...

Well, Anon, first, you might do better to comment on a more recent post of mine, even if you are off topic.

The Post Gazette piece you reference is a letter from February 27th. For all I know you wrote the letter; or someone else. But I am not sure that a letter to the paper qualifies exactly as the “truth starting to come out”, although it is certainly opinions coming out.

Apparently there was a council meeting recently where a $200,000 settlement was to be voted on, a settlement for the resolution of a lawsuit regarding actions of a police officer working a private detail. Apparently Bill Peduto wanted to discuss a cost recovery plan for private details that would cover the costs of lawsuits in the future, and apparently Len Bodack was one the councilpersons who did not want to discuss any plan. Perhaps I am taking this out of context, perhaps the letter writer to the Post-Gazette took Dr. Dowd’s vote out of context.

I think that there has been an unfortunate trend in public education to adopt the “all-star” treatment that CEO in business are getting, albeit at a lower scale. I would agree that Lynn Spampinato didn’t deserve 200 grand just to leave. I guess there was a real fear that a jury would award her more (for what, I don’t know), or maybe there is some collusion among school boards around the country. And I have said that I expect politicians to let me down.

But the idea of transparency in city government is appealing; what has Mr. Bodak done on this?

Anonymous said...

I was making comments on Anon's post not yours. I do know however that he was one of the first council members to post his expenditures on line. I remember this happened around the same time that Carlisle's problems came to light.

I dont know how much more transparent the council body can be. The meetings are on TV for all to see and Bodacks expenditures are online. I guess there is always going to be some stuff going on that we are not privy to but I am satisfied with the transparency.

The problem I have with the Spampanato deal is that we will never know why she was let go and given this windfall. Ed, do you see the possible problems here. Say we know each other and I bring you here to work for big bucks, keep you here for 6 months and then make up some reason why you dont fit and then suggest we give you additional money to avoid a lawsuit. Then hide behind federal laws regarding disclosure of personnel information so I dont have to answer the public for wasting their money. Just stinks of something not being right. And then, voting to eliminate among many other programs to help our children, after school programs to save money.

Patrick voted 100% of the time with Roosevelt, thats not representation, that is a rubber stamp. Even Santorum only voted with Bush 99.3% of the time.

Anonymous said...

More opinions come out, this from the Admiral.

You folks sure have a real hard-on for Pat Dowd, and I'm also unimpressed with many of his votes on the school board. But we still are one hell of a lot better off having him in there than we would have been with Darlene Harris.

Richmond K. Turner

Anonymous said...

Grass Roots meeting for nominating a school board rep to replace Dowd. Because you care so much about transparency I give to you Ruterkis remarks from PR of Pittsburgh. Now on those lines of transparency can we begin the conversations on Marxism. What are Arnet's feelings towards Marxist views?

Open meeting: Was audio taken at the event? Video? You Tube? Text of comments/transcripts? I did hear about the pow-wow, word of mouth, but notice of the meeting didn't show up on the internet, to my knowledge. Even the neighborhood email list in Highland Park said nothing (but it is moderated). Door opened, but transparent proceedings -- even minutes -- would be nice.

Anonymous said...


Here is something you might want to get out there.

I want all Pgh Public School Board Members to NOT run for other offices — as a part of our city’s charter, if need be. They use the position for power grabbing, not for serving the needs of the kids and education. I’d rather require that the school board offices be terminal roles then we’d have a different quality of discussions and self-interest of the people on the board.

Patrick Dowd

Anonymous said...

Thats all I needed to hear

EdHeath said...

Ya know, what amazes me is that people are still commenting on something I wrote over a month ago. And the other thing that strikes me is the irony in complaining about Pat Dowd's or anyone's transparency in an anonymous comment. Although you my simply find Blogger's rules too burdensome. But I am losing track, I think there have been two anonymous people commenting, but the last few have been one person.

I don't doubt the last quote that was attributed to Dr. Dowd. I can even see it as a defining issue for a voter. I can only say that Dr Dowd strikes me as a more qualified candidate than Mr. Bodack.

Anonymous said...

I wrote about the transparency issue and Dowd quote regarding the School Board seat. The reason I did so is the fact that it speaks to Dr. Dowds crediblity and intergrity. He has made a serious assertion and now chooses to do exactly what he pledged not to do.

How can anyone seriously consider a candidate for a public position that has made such a fatal error as this. Backing candidates like this one is what keeps the cause from PROGRESSING. If I were anti-progressive I would be pleased as punch that this was the best could come up with.As for why people are commenting on your post of a month ago. I suspect people will be commenting on your post all the way up until the election.

As for the rules of your website, if you dont like them, change them.

KingBliztburgh said...

Go to the new comments...

new comments

PghRich said...

You said Mr Dowd is running on his record as a member of the Pittsburgh School Board. In view of his dismal record as it relate to Black Folks does this mean that he Do not want the vote of Black Folks in that Dist.

Anonymous said...

I live in Larryville. Lenny has done NOTHING for us. He's introduced only one piece of legislation in all these years. FURTHER His office is a few blocks from my home. At the end of our street, there was rampant prostitution and drug use. Lenny could literrally SEE it from his legislative office and did NOTHING. In fact, he giggled and told us, "I know that one. We call her Patty Lay, heh heh." Neighborhood crime is no joke but Lenny acts like it is. Please do something about a do nothing and get this guy out of office.

EdHeath said...

Because of the position of this particular post on Google, it is still getting comments almost four months later. pghrich, let me suggest you take a look at a more recent set of comments: ( Dr. Dowd himself responded to a charge of racism (as detailed in a Post Gazette article) in relation to the exit of Dr. Thompson. Dr. Dowd did so by referencing his statements at the time. For what it is worth.
And in general if y'all find yourself wanting to comment on this council race, might I suggest y'all look at more recent posts and comments to see how things have developed.