Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I don't know what to make of the Burghosphere ...

(the point of this post comes in the last paragraph)

I don't know what to make of the Burghosphere ... I mean, I hang out at and no doubt annoy about six to ten different blogs or so, commenting like I’m part of a conversation (, trying to find a null space ( in the chatter to jump into.


But it is really hard to take the whole thing seriously (credit to Bram for that phrase), because I see it as a group about the size of a classroom just talking to/at each other. This does not appear to be a significant part of the electorate, for example, and likely not representative of the electorate. Most everyone else in the Burghosphere is very well prepared and well read, and I don’t mind being taken as opinionated and probably wrong. So, my views are my own and if my logic doesn’t persuade you then its not strong enough and that’s my fault. I’m open to being persuaded myself, except not really. I’m vain enough to think that unless someone shows me I’m wrong, I’m not wrong. ‘course it is embarrassing how often people show me I’m wrong …

So this is leading in the direction of the on going Bodack/Dowd debate within the Burghosphere. I think I joined it early, posting about errors in email addresses and URL’s in a flyer I got from Pat Dowd. There were also errors on the web page. I posted on that. A few days later on a Sunday Pat Dowd knocked on my door and chatted to me and my step daughter about what he wants to do. I was frankly impressed, and I posted on it. I picked up a commenter who was clearly a Bodack supporter and we commented back and forth for a while. Now, I can’t say whether the accusations he has leveled at Dr.Dowd or his claims for Mr Bodack’s record are accurate or not, though I have no objection to his making them. Since my commenter has chosen to remain anonymous, I have made the assumption that it is one person. There have been a variety of anti-Dowd and pro-Bodack posts around the part of Burghosphere I read, many with similar writing styles. So I wonder if/kind of think it is the same person.

Regardless, I am a Patrick Dowd supporter because I have been persuaded by what I have seen. Currently my support is a bit like those yellow support the troops ribbons on cars, almost entirely in name. And that is fine with me (if not with Dr. Dowd), that is the real world of work and obligations. But I have been willing to talk about why I think Dr. Dowd is the better choice, and I will continue to talk about it. Once again, I don’t think many people read this site (and several have already abandoned this post), so even if I’m wrong I probably haven’t done much harm. I kind of like Barack Obama too.

I think Dr. Dowd put in an appearance in the comments of my last post. I say “think” because there really is no way to verify, and I noticed the poster who is pro-Bodack has started appropriating names, including the name of this blog, while commenting on other blogs. Anyway, the commenter Dowd answered very neatly an accusation made by an anonymous commenter, who had selectively referenced an ’05 PG story. And the real point of *this* post (there’s a point?) is to note that the commenter Dowd referenced, a website used by Dr. Dowd for his school board work.

Which leads me to this: the Dowd campaign came out early with a web presence, and Dr. Dowd already had a considerable web presence. Although DowdforPittsburgh initially was quite light on issues, it has filled out considerably. It has a blog which I wish Dowd or his handlers would delegate to someone else, because it’s never been updated. But it also has video and pictures, press releases and so on, really as much as you could ask of any candidate. And existed prior to this campaign, and also has a huge amount of information. When Dr. Dowd talks about wanting to put transparency into government, well clearly he has already walked the walk. And once again, I can not find a Bodack campaign website, using Google on “Bodack”. My anonymous commenter has done yeoman work (that’s supposed to be a compliment) in filling in for this lack, with recent comments on the Burgh repore on a week old post, listing Mr. Bodacks accomplishments, and blasting the PG for endorsing Dowd. And I should note Mr. Bodack is one of a minority of council persons who have put there finances on the web. But the lack of a campaign website is, for me, enough to keep me from voting for Mr. Bodack, at least versus Dr. Dowd.


patrick dowd said...


Just a quick note to verify that it was me. We met in the colder days of the year. You invited me into your house which is on the corner of...well, I better not reveal that without your permission. Your porch is green, if I remember correctly. Your front door opens directly into a carpeted living room.

Please note that I tried to publish regular updates to constituents. These can be found under "comments" at Because I have no budget or staff as a school board member, I funded this with left over campaign contributions (see financial filings for Citizens for Patrick Dowd). I also tried to keep newslinks up-to-date. I intend to keep up this connection plus would mail to folks not interested in electronic newsletters. There is a cost issue here that would need to be addressed but I would certainly maintain a non-government funded website for this kind of connection.

EdHeath said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EdHeath said...

Just getting the spacing right ...

Well, I was pretty sure it was you, but didn't want to assume. Shouldn't you be grading papers? I can see a lot of work went into, and I believe it is a clear model for what we could expect from you as a councilman. But I am even more impressed with dowdforpittsburgh, just because I have been so disappointed with other candidates' websites in this campaign. Oh, and I was wrong about the blog on your website, it is absolutely updated. Only with the contents of the emails your campaign puts out, but it is up to date (I don't know if my browser was having some refresh problem or I just misread).

If I have your attention, a brief thought. Isn't there a Pittsburgh based healthcare initiative? It was in the paper in the last couple of weeks, I believe. I think they should be approached. If city workers and retiree's could be put on a healthcare plan that really emphasized prevention, rewarded good behavior and nagged/punished bad health behavior, the benefits in regained performance might pay for the additional cost. I'm pretty sure I have blogged on this before, how the guy who invented the South Beach Diet turns out to be a cardiologist whose patients have almost no heart disease. It's not (just) because of the famous diet, the doctor's practise loses money (he can afford it) because they are so aggressive with their patients in monitoring their health. There has to be a way to help patients self monitor and help them to take action, a "sweet spot" for budgetary purposes.
This might be part of suggestions the city could make to reduce PAT's labor costs. This might be a one time savings, but having a work force in optimal health would be a big plus for both the city and the Port Authority. Of course, you would have to find an insurance company willing to under-write such a plan.

Anonymous said...

The city has no power but to make suggestions regarding the "county" transit system. Setting a framework for a vision for a transit system where all stakeholders have a say in the elimination of routes is the city's responsibility. City Council has the legislative jurisdiction to leverage the county into making the tough choices while ensuring everyone is happy with the cuts because we are the regional hub for all activity, Jeeze, does this say anything? The city has no legal jurisdiction over county operations, we are a seperate entity. If you have one, make a suggestion, you dont need to be elected to office to do so. Dont you think there are intelligent people working on this issue or do you think Patrick Dowd is the only person with a brain. Case in point the 17 million in cost savings revealed today. This decision wasnt made in a vacuum, Onorato and the Port Authority are aware of this. Did you ask yourself if the drivers union would agree to this change? Should the working man be made to accept less because of the abuses of management. Those gains were won through hard fights, on a picket line, while management types wasted millions. Your republican attitudes and values dont fit here and you'll never understand this viewpoint because you have never walked in those shoes. If you want real change ask the non-profits to pay their fair share and get your friends at the Post-Gazette to agree to do the same.

Anonymous said...

I know Dowd frequents this site so I come here for an honest answer. Is it true that you agreed to a compensation package for Mark Roosevelt that will allow him to make $240,000 in his last year?

smallstreams said...

The Burghosphere is out there (here?) and paying attention. Councilman Bodack, where are you?

EdHeath said...

I expect these things are a matter of public record. You could also check, and decide for yourself. Which again is part of the point, that this is a model for city government. For what it is worth.

Matt H said...

It would be nice to see the question answered.

EdHeath said...

Matt, you don’t want the “did this happen” question answered, we all know it did ( You want the “how could you waste our taxpayer dollars” question answered. This was a 7-2 board decision, but Dr Dowd is the only school board member running for city council in the 7th district, making him a target for this question. Still, I think Dr. Dowd would say that Mr. Roosevelt met the goals set for him by the school board. The increase in superintendent’s pay nationwide seems fairly well documented, like the increase in college president’s salaries. I guess the PG opinion piece I reference above makes a good point about the school district being in the middle of change and needing stability. Still, maybe the board should for a local person for the next superintendent.

patrick dowd said...

If you look at my 2003 campaign promises I said I would focus on bringing the board together, on building a better relationship between the board and superintendent and holding the superintendent accountable for the performance of the district. If you ask my colleagues at the Pittsburgh Board of Education about my role in crafting a new superintendent contract, they will likely tell you that I was at the center of that reform driving important changes that ultimately helped solidify a stronger, more cohesive relationship between the board and superintendent. For purposes of comparison, check out the following links and compare contracts.

John Thompson’s Contact

Mark Roosevelt’s Contract (August 2005)

Mark Roosevelt’s Contract (March 2007

You can also review Superintendent Roosevelt’s first year evaluation and the board resolution approving the change in his salary between Year 1 and Year 2.

Superintendent Roosevelt’s Year 1 Self-Evaluation

Resolution on Superintendent Roosevelt’s Year 1 Performance

Board Established Performance Priorities for Superintendent Roosevelt’s Year 2

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