Monday, July 30, 2007

A bit about transit, incomplete

Again, I am falling behind posting, and there are things I am interested in. Did anyone catch Chelsea Wagner’s opinion piece in the PG from last Wednesday ( As far as I can see, she is saying she opposes any taxes as the county’s contribution to match the state funds for public transit in Allegheny County, the contribution the legislature says the county has to make. So, it’s nice that she doesn’t want us to pay more taxes, but I have to say it strikes me as not unreasonable for the legislature to expect the county to pony up a little more for transit. After all, we benefit from public transit, and from the state money. And her opinion piece seems to leave us with no option but to forfeit the increased state funds.

Dan Onorato, on the other hand, seems to be threatening to torpedo the state funding in a similar fashion, unless he get concessions from the driver’s union and the Authority ( This is an entirely different thing. The Authority’s board has shown it is only barely capable of implementing cost savings measures. Now the that state legislature has given the Authority money to cover its deficit, what incentive will it have to save money? Very little. It is entirely appropriate that the County Executive steps in and assumes the role of bad guy. If the state legislature attempts to force PAT to save money, it looks like people far away are trying to control Pittsburgh’s future. Better that Onorato take that role, since he can be held accountable from close range. There’s other things to say here, but I think I will do some work instead.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Again I have fallen behind a bit on posting, although I confess I am not sure I would know what to post. Certainly I have said as much as I could and likely too much on Mario-gate (the ethics biz). We will find out what will happen in early August, I should think. And it looks like my Steve Austin reference failed to generate enough amusement to comment on. Meanwhile passing in front of our eyes are the euthanizing of the geese, the resignation, for real, of the URA’s director, the question of local taxes to pay for mass transit, the kitty follies in council and a host of other local and national issues as well (terrorist dry runs? Jesus Christ, Chertoff’s gut was right on).

My picture of Ted is gone because the Wikipedia changed its picture. Its possible its because of me that they did, though I recieved no email on that (and it would be nice if they shared). There is something called a fair use doctrine or statement. I should take some time and examine that in detail before trying another or the same picture. Or I could post a picture of (the real) me, as soon as I figure out where I should put it on the web.

Not that its any of your business, but in the interim I have been trying to work, we have had an in-law in, part of a steady parade coming because the mother-in-law is very frail (but finally lucid), and this was a freaking Harry Potter weekend. We (meaning my wife) bought the book, and through a variety of circumstances I ended up getting to read it first. We also saw the new movie Monday afternoon, in a corwded movie theatre of 7. I inhaled the book Saturday night and most of the day Sunday. I shan’t reveal anything about it, although I suspect anyone who truly cares has already picked one up and read it. Well, I will say two things, only one related specifically to the book. Did anyone else get a distinct Jonathan Livingston Seagull vibe in that one chapter towards the end? You'll know the one I mean if you've reached it and read JLS. Of course, the majority of Potter readers are too young to get the JLS reference, and no one has ever accused Rowling of originality. I do think the last sentence of that chapter at least acknowledged the (even for Rowling)silly-ness and also redeemed the chapter somewhat. The other odd vibe I come away with is how improbabble it is that these books are set in modern day. Even if you come from another country, you are somewhat aware of what is going on in other countries. The Virginia Tech shootings were the apparently the fourth item of the day on Al Jazeera TV, but they were there. The Brit-o-centric emphasis is a bit jarring to us yanks, and the absence of the internet and cell phones makes the whole thing a bit too seventies to me. I know fiction involves suspension of disbelief, but let's face it, it is always selective suspension. I think I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

100 hour a week Mayor seeks upgrade for bodyguard, cites budget surplus.

Noting the police chief reports ( the Mayor works from 6am to 2am some days, Luke Ravenstahl asked for an upgrade for his bodyguards, citing the need to keep up with him and also stating "we can afford this upgrade becuase of my successful efforts in creating a budget surplus". Mayor Ravenstahl stated "There must be, going forward and looking upward, a bionic tech firm somewhere on Second avenue, we should proceed in actualizing a vigilant effort upon it and that we have always done." The Mayor requested the police recruit this gentleman:

The Act 47 and ICA groups told the Mayor the city could only afford this:

(With sincere aplogies to Lee Majors, whose did nothing to deserve this, his only sins being growing old, as we all do, and being an easy target. Also with apologies ot the Mayor's bodyguard officers, who probably earn every penny with this Mayor.)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ethics update (not what you think ... well actually ...)

The Burgh Report points out that Chad Herman has also gotten fed up with Raven-Speak (, FWIW. He does more than let the thing speak for itself, editorially speaking. He does say something I thought of in my previous post, but did not mention: even prepared, written missives from the Mayor, his office or campaign are filled with the silted language. Even when they have time to consider, they go ahead and choose some whoppers.

Chris Briem of Null Space ( joins a the growing chorus of bloggers (Tube City Almanac, the Conversation) who are saying, in effect, the burghospree’s obsession with the Mayor and … well with the Mayor ignores really important other issues; specifically the Duquesne City School District. He is, of course, right, they are right. On the other hand, as a guy who does accounting full time (at a low level) and taxes part time, I’m interested in ethics, so I am going to stay with that story for at least one more post.

That story being the Mayor’s possible breach of ethics at the Lemieux tournament. But I want to look at a sideline of that issue, the city’s ethics code. The ethics code is the guideline the ethics board should be using, yet in my impression they seem to be floundering a bit. The Mayor, on the other hand, seems fairly clear and may have valid point, even taking dollars amounts into account. The City Law department seems to concur.

The Mayor appears to be claiming an absolute exception to any ethical impropriety based on the part of the city’s ethics code that is an exception to not accepting anything of value from an interested party. The relevant exception reads: “e) Admissions to charitable, civic, political, or other public events; “. The next exception has a dollar figure listed for cultural or athletic events (no more than $100 per event and no more than $250 per year). So apparently there is no limit on the value of admission to charitable events, and that is where the Mayor and the City Law Department are headed. He hedged his bets, though, mentioning that he is returning the gift bag he received.

Still, there is a part of the code that gives lie to the Mayor’s argument. In the back of the city ethics handbook is a FAQ, a frequently asked questions section. On the very last page of the handbook, a relevant question and answer reads this way:

” Q. Can a City employee accept complimentary admission to charitable, civic, political or other public advents?
A. Yes, with limitations. No City official, City employee or agent of the City may accept more than $250.00 per calendar year in the aggregate nor may they accept more than $100.00 per calendar year from any single person, agent or other interested party. (City Code § 197.07)”

This could be a problem for the Mayor, linking, in the ethics handbook, the $100 limit and charitable events. On the other hand, Laurel Valley’s greens fees are a reasonable $27 during the week. The value of breakfast and lunch (I believe the meals provided) might not exceed $50 for the two days, so by returning the gift bag the Mayor might pull off staying within the $100 limit.

Keep in mind the value of the Oakmont Country Club event the Mayor went to was advertised as $900. Perhaps the ethics board should ask about that.

I think the totality of the circumstances of the Lemieux charity event are such it is possible to talk about the propriety of the Mayor’s attending it, but it sounds like Danny Schiff is grasping at straws when he talks about the perception of impropriety because of the $27,000.

I do think it is time to update the city’s ethics code, to better deal with these issues (especially if this Mayor is going to be around for a while). I (and one other: Bruce Ledewitz, think the $100 single/$250 yearly limits are too low. I think $200/$1000 is much more reasonable, and the higher limits would encourage better record keeping by the Mayor and others. I think there could also be more explicit language in the exceptions, such as clearly having all events covered under the dollar limitations, or alternatively, explicitly excluding charitable events from the dollar limitation. It could be more explicit about whether the exceptions are only for admissions to charitable events, or also participation.

I would doubt my current councilman would look too favorably towards me, but perhaps I can approach Pat Dowd in January on this. But the ethics board might look at the handbook itself. I guess that it can do that, but then all bets are off for council (and by extension, the public) getting a voice in ethics code updating.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


These are the words of the Mayor (

"I am happy to participate in the Ethics Board's request, I think it's appropriate, and more than willing to participate myself, in person, which I plan on doing. I have no problem discussing what happened, and I'm confident that once the process is completed, the Ethics Board will find what I believe is the case -- that I was at a charity event, and there's nothing in the ethics code, or the city code, that prohibits that. I was warranted to be at the event, and supporting a worthy cause. ... The truth is there, and that is what, at the end of the day, we're going to reveal."

I believe these are also the words of our Mayor, though this is represented as coming from his campaign (

“It is our hope and desire that this campaign can be about the issues, rather than just election year campaign tactics. The Mayor is very disheartened by what we’ve seen from our opponent thus far.

"If our opponent does not know, the City of Pittsburgh is required under Act 47 and Act 11, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, to have a five year budget and recovery plan. We have that already. The major difference between our opponent and Mayor Ravenstahl is that the Mayor has already been a part of making that plan and bringing it into existence. Mayor Ravenstahl is the first Mayor in years to implement a structurally balanced budget. Mayor Ravenstahl has cooperated with the ICA, Act 47 and Pittsburgh City Council to put forth a plan to balance the City’s budget. Our opponent has not.

"With regard to our opponent attempting to offer a policy that differs from the existing law relative to the City Ethics Code, Mayor Ravenstahl complies fully with the existing law and will continue to do so. No amount of election year antics will change that.

"Mayor Ravenstahl has served for over ten months now. He has demonstrated that he always treats the voters and residents of the City with the highest degree of respect. In fact, he has stood election twice before and has always done so. Our opponent has not.

"Our opponent exclaimed in his announcement that no candidates should misrepresent his own or his opponent’s past business or political experience. On this we can agree.

"Finally, our opponent asks now, in the form of his pledges, to call on the candidates to agree to debate. Our opponent should be reminded that on June 20th, Mayor Ravenstahl was the first candidate to call for and offer specific debates. To date, our opponent has not responded to our offers. Now our opponent is using campaign tactics to rewrite history. Mayor Ravenstahl looks forward to debating his opponent vigorously. ”

Res ipsa loquitur. The Burghospree is taking notice( This man is representing our city incoherently. “Warranted to be there”? “stood for election twice before and has always done so”? The Mayor is acting the part of a young man in over his head. It will be interesting to see him wilt on the debate stage.

During the primary I was happy to let anonymous commenters run on with fairly lengthy, fairly incoherent comments on my blog. While Mr. Bodack had some eloquent defenders, many were closer to closer to mean and crude. I believed the value of allowing those of Mr. Bodack’s self appointed defenders to show the world all their poorly worded fury outweighed the value of removing some occasionally caustic remarks. I would hate to think that people in other cities will hear or read the remarks of our Mayor and think him a typical Pittsburgher.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Cost Recovery Program savings, er, spending

A couple of local blogs in the Burghospree noted the PG story ( on the Cost Recovery Program (Burgh Report and Pittsburgh Comet). That program is a surcharge on off duty policeperson’s wages when working security at a bar, a Steelers game, the Giant Eagle or what have you. Since its start in early April, the program has raised apparently close to 175,000 dollars. So you think the city would be sitting pretty if there is another lawsuit like the recent one that involved a cost to the city of two hundred grand.

Well, actually, it turns out the city, or at least the cops, are spending the money. If a cop arrests someone while working the second job, his overtime for the time he has to be in court is paid from this pool. Apparently some of the money is also being used for training and uniforms.

Really, you can hardly blame the Department of Public Safety, although someone will. In the city’s cash strapped environment, a hundred and seventy five thousand extra dollars is like a gift from heaven. But that sort of short-sighted thinking may leave the city having to dip back into general fund for the settlement of brutality lawsuit. I don’ know if it was the executive or legislative branches of the city that decided it is ok not to save for a rainy day, even if that’s what the fund is for. My guess is the city administration itself made a tough decision and spent the money. Council needs to step up here, spell out why the program exists and then pass a rule that the money should be saved.

Merger Mania

The Burgh Report reports a fact finding trip by the County Executive and the Mayor to Louisville to look at an example of a relatively successful city-county merger (, among other things. The actual story is here: I like how the Trib called the Mayor's office and got a "no comment"; I think at this point the Trib is just playing with the Mayor's office. And the obligatory snarky remark: how are the links in Louisville? What's Nordenberg's handicap?

I myself have long thought a city county merger would be a great idea. Sure, the city would save money, but I think of all those little towns which would save a huge amount of money. The policing, fire and ambulance duties would be more complicated, but I see no reason the city fire trucks would have to stop at the city limits. Admittedly sending city fire trucks to Cheswick would leave them out of place for Lawrenceville, but some arrangement could be made. And the Pittsburgh school district could have another name change and become the Allegheny district.

I think the depth of the city’s problems call for a solution like this. I fact, I think the city’s coming near bankruptcy will force some changes, the only question being what sort of changes. A merger would be like a controlled landing. It is clearly not in the county’s interest to have a bankrupt city in its center. But the question of what sort of government would exist remains a problem. I don’t know Louisville’s history, and I guess it would be worth finding out.

Meanwhile, the fact the Mayor golfed with the County Executive at the Mario charity event and is now in Louisville with Onorato gives lie to the line in Fineman’s Newsweek piece about the Mayor’s Office being in a “constant tussle” with Onorato ( And final snarky thought, rather than be in town to face the fallout from Friday’s Ethics Board meeting, the Mayor has turned around from his Mexican Vacation and got out of Dodge.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Second look at the question of value

You know, I have to tell you, in a way I am backpedaling on the Mayor’s ethical breach in attending the Lemieux tournament. I see no logical way to see how he benefited excessively from his attendance at the charity tournament. He clearly did not pay, but he did get admittance to a private event. Whether the particular 27,000/9,000 was paid for by UPMC corporate funds or an individual’s money, the value of the donation is likely to be accounted for in tax terms as either evidence of UPMC’s corporate charity or on someone’s tax return. So the lion’s share of the value of the charity event, the tax write off, is denied to the Mayor. The Mayor got to meet celebrities (again), and was fed and got to play golf. I don’t know what the value of that is, but the Lemieux charity people could tell us, since this event is going to show up on people’s tax returns and they need to get it right. The tournament organizers almost undoubtedly have a fully prepared tax document to submit along with attendees tax returns. That’s who the ethics committee should be talking to.

I guess the city’s law department would argue that the non-donation value of the golf outing is covered by the value to the city of maintaining or enhancing the profile of the Mayor with wealthy Pittsburghers and other wealthy people. Maybe there is something to that, I would want to see a reasoned argument on it (so far there have only been a few sound bites in the media). Similarly, I wonder if the exemption for charity in the code assumes the Mayor is being “comped” into the charitable event, or precisely because the tax value of the Mayor’s admission was used by someone else. They may be history on the code, or someone could research past elected officials behavior (hint: avoid Sharpe James).

Yeah, the Mayor’s attendance at the event was kind of insulting because average Pittsburghers are not welcome there, and especially since it was on the day of the Council’s hearing on suspect police promotions. But it probably does not make it to the level of corruption (see Sharpe James), merely (once again) bad judgment. That the city or state ethics board can make something of this one event seems unlikely to me. But as a pattern of casual ethical behavior, well, someone needs to talk to Luke “Cheney” Ravenstahl, before he does implode.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Port Authority annonunces additional cutbacks ...

The Port Authority annonced an additional cutback of a forgotten trolley route. The 375-D route serving Southwood and Make Believe, seen above in a photo that caught the exact instant before the tragic 2003 accident, is to be cut entirely. Weekend runs had already been cut, causing consternation among elderly residents who had to do without scheduled visits from home health aides. There was an incident when neighbors had to call in Officer Clemmons because Lady Elaine Fairchilde had been too long between doses of her meds (something about a Purple Panda).

I couldn’t resist after I made the Trolley/Make Believe reference below in “Debates”. Sorry if I offended anyone, and be sure to look for the (very) little Easter Egg ( I left in the first paragraph.

Well, the post I made last Sunday “Ramifications” had 25 comments and my post from Tuesday “How many of you are there, Anyway” had 10 comments. My readership shot up to 77 visits on Wednesday and Thursday each. Must have been those Google cookies working overtime (heh). Really, I’m gratified and flattered by the uptick in readership. Cynical to the last, my guess is that people wondered if I was really packing it in and wanted to see the train wreck.

Speaking of Easter Eggs, I have agonized over what to say about the new site ILuvLuke ( Let me just say this, I am convinced they left us all an Easter Egg on their blog. If you want a hint or want to compare notes, email me.

Debates ....

Without meanig to take away from the value of the discussion of Mayoral ethics (which I suggested I want to take seriously, as I hope the Mayor does), I found the discussion of how many Mayoral debates there should be and what form they should take interesting too, so I just kept a copy of a comment I made on the Burgh Report, and I am posting it here. The Burgh Report broke (to the Burghospree anyway) the news that Mark DeSantis is asking for eight debates. I edited my comment from the Burgh Report a bit for grammer and clarity.

Asking for 8 debates, or to a lesser extent 5, allows DeSantis to agree that one debate have high school kids ask the questions, one or two debates have all the candidates on stage (perhaps the first, so the third party candidates can follow Mark (Rauterkaus)'s plan and say what DeSantis shouldn’t about the Mayor), then a debate could (be) filmed at the Duquesne club, or on a golf course, in front of a union audience, in the neighborhood of Make Believe (they could take the trolley, but no longer on weekends, the route’s been cut) … Well, I jest just a bit, but asking for eight debates is DeSantis’ way of saying he takes the job of being Mayor very seriously. Eight debates in a Presidential race would be reasonable, and who’s to say the Mayor of Pittsburgh doesn’t affect the residents of Pittsburgh any less than the President (well, apart from the whole “war” thing the president can do)?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Taking Ethics Seriously ...

Pittsburgh's ethics board met today, and took up the questions that have occupied the attention of the Burghospree and the media, the Mayor's participation in the Mario Lemieux charity tournament. The PG story ( doesn't mention the hearing the Mayor missed, but that's as it should be. The voters can and should consider that action in the fall, and of course the voters could consider the ethical questions as well. But it is also responsibility and the charge of the ethics board to enforce the parts of the city code that apply to ethics and ethical behavior.

Now this Mayor has showed a disregard for strict adherence to ethical considerations in the past (, so it is about time that Mr. Ravenstahl be forced to consider the consequences of his behavior. On the other hand, a city attorney raised a reasonable point in today's story:

"City attorney Kate DeSimone argued to the board that no action should be taken that would chill mayoral involvement in charity. "He is the public face of the city, and he does need to attend charitable events," she said."

Rabbi Danny Schiff suggested that these events should be limited to events the public can also easily attend. George Specter disagreed, although the Rich Lord didn't say how. But *I* want to say I can see the point of the Mayor of our distressed city having access to rich people willing to give money away. Now, we all know the Mayor was in hog heaven golfing with Sidney Crosby and Joe Thiesmann, as well as rich executive adults. But it is hard to say what the actual value of the event is. It would be interesting to know what any individual will write off to the IRS, the full value of the 9,000/27,000, or maybe only 8500 (what is the value of the meals and the rounds?). Of course, there is value in being able to write off income on tax returns (subject to income limitations that all those executives are subject to, what with the AMT and all), but the Mayor wouldn't have access to that part of the favor anyway. You could make the argument that the city itself has gotten a favor from UPMC, that might come back to haunt the city if it tries to ask UPMC for a higher "voluntary" contribution (in lieu of taxes). So while the Mayor's administration can make the argument that the Mayor needs to be in proximity to people who want to relieve themselves of money, he should stay away from be sponsored by people who don't pay taxes to the city. Of course, those were the very people who made the offer to the Mayor who has been identified as by the press as reluctant to refuse tickets to this type of event. The ethics board may have its work cut out for them.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So, all right, I'll give it a shot ...

I have modified the settings on this blog to no longer allow anonymous comments. The obvious inspiration for this move is Pat Dowd’s comments in the last couple of days. I know Jonathan Potts “The Conversation” blog does not allow anonymous comments (he says he set it up that way because he mistakenly thought it would limit spam), but for the life of me I can’t think of another blog with this setting, although I must have run into one or two over the last year. A couple of blogs have moderated comments, where I would have to approve every comment. That seems a little too much like I could censor views I disagreed with (although I can understand the need for Bob Mayo to moderate comments on his blog, for example). As a practical matter this new setting means commenter’s will have to sign up for a “Google” account. All you need for that is an email account (as far as I know; that’s all I needed) and it need not be a gmail account, it can be yahoo (what I use) or what have you. I suspect Google would frown on someone setting up multiple accounts, though it may be possible. And I don’t know what effect having a Google account has on your internet travels and whether Google or anyone can track your activities (we all know Google records your Google searches with your IP address, and is willing to turn that information over to the government).

Long time readers of this blog will remember the early days of the primary, when one (or more) anonymous commenter’s made multiple pro-Bodack (and anti-Dowd) comments on this blog. Now, this is a matter of opinion, but the comments seemed grammatically challenged, and I tended to think that spoke for itself, so I never felt the need to delete, ban or take away the right to comment anonymously. On the other hand, at some points there were several long, rambling comments that were hard to respond to (charitably or otherwise).

So this will be an experiment in the transparent democracy that Patrick spoke about in one of his comments (sorry there are so many comments this time, that is at least half my fault). ( I argued with Patrick that blog anonymity is a fait accompli, something we can do nothing about. But I have to agree that by requiring at least “handles” (whatever nickname you might choose), commenter’s can take on a history, so that we can know where that person is coming from. Your handle can be gender neutral is that is important to you. And this will cut down on some of the waves of comments from anonymous posters that could be five people, ten people, or one tireless person (that is something I could probably check on now anyway, but exposing a set of anonymous posters as a fraud might risk retaliation of some sort). Patrick talks about building alliances, working on understandings, crafting policies. Wow. Maybe. I am (sort of) setting my blog apart (a little) with this new policy. And I would be absolutely pleased to facilitate such activities. But Jonathan Potts’ "Conversation" has been there all along, and we haven’t taken advantage of it.

On an entirely different note, there was a PG story about the records of the FBI agent who investigated Cyril Wecht being released ( I have no dog in this issue, but I have to say, this story read like an unfunny version of The Office. This guy has nothing but my sympathy, but even I wouldn’t do some of this stuff.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How many of you are there, anyway?

So in the comments to my last post (which were great, by the way, thank you all), jtogyer mentioned checking his server logs and seeing the same people over and over again. I’m not that literate, I do not know how to do that. What I do check is my site meter. It’s not worth it telling you how many people have visited my blog, because it looks like ninety five percent stay zero seconds. A computer literate acquaintance suggested what I also suspected, these are pings from servers belonging to people who once visited my blog, to see if I am still there. Probably a blogger dot com cookie thing, all automatic and distorting our site meter stats. There is probably a way to filter through that, but I’m up too late already. I can see I get maybe five or six visits a day, including the time I am spending now to post (I’m my best visitor), and my mom reads my blog I think daily (what can I say). So a couple of people read my blog, possibly a few different people with some new people coming in and no doubt some longer time readers dropping out. If I posted religiously every day I would probably have more readers, and if I range far and wide in the *blogosphere* (not just the Burghosphere) and commented intelligently or at least controversially I could attract a few more readers. To what end? If my infrequently posted logic is not enough to persuade you to my point of view, or at least cause you to wonder if my questions have merit, why would I want more of you? (I apologize if that question seems offensive; but I certainly read blogs based on how interesting the material is to me, and I expect my readers hold me to that standard). Chris Briem mentioned preaching to the choir in his comment, and boy does that hit home. That is a constant worry for me, because it is worse than useless, certainly for the reasons he mentions. But it also stifles debate and/or discussion. We’ve all seen boards where the dissenters can be turned on by the preached to choir, and subjected to relentless efforts to make them see the “light”. Of course, there does seem to be something about being an anonymous commenter that makes some people quite rude. And I say that as an objective judge.

Well, that’s all for me tonight. It is, after all, only ten minutes now until tomorrow morning.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


There is occasional flirting with reality going on around the Burgosphere recently, a few voices wondering whether the general public cares about what gets the Burghospree amped up. Of course, the answer is probably not. The Burghosplat is supposed to be like a 30 minute Sunday pre-primary visit from Pat Dowd, a chance to learn and interact. But the persistence of the same voices makes me think its not even like an Ellis classroom where the same 5 smart people raise their hands, its more like the same five people are all that are out there in the Burghocube universe. Few or no lurkers here, I think.

Instead very little of the general public is reading blogs, and it’s likely the general public isn’t convinced by the main stream media that Luke's antics are much ado about anything. It will remain to be seen whether any ethics committee will deal with this. “Any” ethics committee? It will be interesting to see whether the *County* ethics committee will look at Mr. Onorato's behavior. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had gone to the Mario tournament for years, and no one batted an eye. But still, someone may look at it now, and there is some likelihood that the city ethics board will follow suit based on what the county committee does.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Long time, no post...Now, to be fair to the Mayor ....

Well, things do move fast in and out of the Burghosphere. So the Mayor didn’t attend City Council’s hearing (which they invited him to), won’t rescind the promotions (one daughter already dropped charges), turns out to have been golfing on the hearing day, golfing turns out to be the Mario celebrity thingie, turns out the bill was footed by UPMC, turns out Dan Onorato was there for the first of two days too, also paid for by UPMC, and I think that’s about it. Today’s paper has an article where the Mayor writes the outing off as business meetings, I'm not making this up “"I have discussions with all major stakeholders and business owners and businesses in the city of Pittsburgh, and UPMC is no different in that regard," Mr. Ravenstahl said. "It just so happens that our discussions took place on a golf course, rather than my office."”(

That’s actually a pretty impressive attempt to explain away an ethical dilemma. The Mayor is ignoring the surrounding circumstances, the $9,000 value. Of course, we really shouldn’t ignore Dan Onorato (on the line for maybe $4,500). I wonder if the county ethics board will take this up.

But, to be fair, UPMC has not benefited too much from this administration. They won on the sign thing but lost their piece of the city contract for health insurance. The thing is, the negotiations on how much UPMC contributes in lieu of property taxes are going to be on-going. Now every deal the administration strikes with UPMC is going to be suspect.

The Mayor needs to tell us of a time when he turned down as offer of something because he thought it inappropriate. After all, he has said he doesn’t remember how much in the way of free sporting event tickets he has accepted. He needs to start letting the voters know he actually has some restraint.