Monday, April 14, 2008

Billboard scandal, go away ...

I thought the billboard issue was resolved. Sure, Ruth Ann Daily (who apparently doesn’t like any billboards) wants it taken down. Given the cost apparently already sunk into the project, I think Lamar would fight that as hard as they could. Otherwise, though, Friday saw a suspension of the Lamar law suit against the city council members, as well as Lamar agreeing to suspend construction and submit to public hearings. And I have no idea where the public will come down on this. On the one hand, the public does not seem to mind LED billboards in general. On the other hand, an LED billboard would clash with the old fashioned motif the city has created on Grant Street. On a third hand (?) New York’s Times Square has embraced lighted advertising for how long? My only stake in this issue is that the process needed to be followed, and now it is. Of course, that partially constructed billboard is a problem, in that if it does have to come down it will be a big punishment for Lamar. Frankly I am ok with that too, but I don’t think it will go that way.

Meanwhile, we hear from Char that Pat Ford wants to fight this thing, or at least complain about his treatment. I think he is making a mistake (probably the latest in many). Right now, the atmosphere in Pittsburgh is that small gifts are in fact ok. Surround sound systems may be problematic, but the whole neckties and cigars thing is probably fine. At least fine enough that he will escape indictment, although I suspect he will lose his job.

In this town, though, the corporations realize that we are far from Harrisburg, that Philly is likely to grab a lot of the attention, and that while the farmers in T part of the state don’t like us, they are inclined to leave us alone, as long as we don’t ask them for anything. So in that spirit the State Ethics Board is likely to give Pat Ford a token investigation and ultimately just a reprimand, to avoid having to look into Luke Ravenstahl, who has his own sets of gifts he has not documented. But if Pat Ford kicks up all sorts of trouble, all bets are off.

Actually, I would like to know how many Steelers, Pirates, Penguins or golf course tickets/admissions have been given to the Mayor and by whom, how many times someone else has picked up the tab for dinner and who they are, all sorts of things. But unless Pat Ford has inside information about mobsters from Youngstown hanging out with the Mayor, the State Ethics People will not likely broaden the investigation to include Ravenstahl. The most Ford could do is embarrass/irritate the Mayor, and make his suspension permanent, but without pay. So I guess I am saying that all the roads I see lead to Ford being gone.

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