Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pirates Fans Walk-Out Fizzles

4th Inning Seats Filled To Capacity

Businessman Andy Chomos had planned to embarrass Pittsburgh Pirates management by organizing a fan walkout after the third inning in Saturday night’s game with Washington. But as the above photo clearly shows, the Chomos protest fizzled when seats remained packed during the fourth inning and beyond.

“No way!” shouted angry fan Bill Mafesky. “That picture was a set up. Management packed that section with dummies and didn’t allow pictures in any other area.”

“It’s true that some loyal fans were unusually quiet and hardly moved, but that’s not a good reason to stoop to name-calling,” said fan William Nutting who has no relation to team owner Bob Nutting.

“I’m not saying them dummies are stupid," Mafesky continued. "I’m saying those dummies are real dummies. You know, like mannequins in store windows. I mean, just look at 'em …. They got no shirt, they all got the same hair, they’re wearin' eye makeup for Chrissakes and besides, not a one of them guys drank one beer all night long!”

One person standing close to Mafesky quickly disagreed. “Oh my God, you conspiracy people are something else. Pirates management would never do anything so silly and callous. They’re all about the team, not their own profits,” said fan Bob Nutting Jr., also no relation to team owner Bob Nutting.

The unusual controversy came about when Chomos and other angry fans finally tired of the Pirates’ 15-yr losing streak. They’ve accused management of being miserly when it comes to hiring top player talent, therefore dooming the team to loser status for the foreseeable future.

“Not so,” said team owner Bob Nutting. “Just because we demanded that taxpayers build us a new stadium, and just because our profits have soared since PNC Park was built, and just because we put those profits into our own pockets instead of team salaries …. that doesn’t justify calling us ‘miserly’. Besides, the fans still love and support us. That stadium was packed all night. No one left. Not even those quite guys in Section 108.”

Lost Opportunities

Mayor Looking to Improve His Batting Average

In a world where “you win some and you lose some”, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is nonetheless frustrated with the number of opportunities he’s lost lately. The Pist-Gazette sympathizes with Ravenstahl’s loss. But we’d like to point out that it may just be a recent run of bad luck since the young mayor has been able to seize upon so many good opportunities. Let’s take a quick look back at some of his triumphs as well as disappointments:

Opportunities Lost.....
On Police Promotions: “Had I had the opportunity to examine their cases, or look at the issues prior to the promotions, perhaps we would not be sitting here today."

On the McNeilly Demotion: "The decision [to demote Cmdr. McNeilly] was made because the rules were broken. I stand behind those rules." As far as Mr. Regan's actions were concerned, "There was no rule broken, no law broken. If anything, maybe bad judgment was used." The mayor said no decision has been made on whether to defend the case at trial or try to reach a settlement. If it goes to trial, he said he would “welcome the opportunity” to testify in the case.

On the Party Plane to NYC: "[Burkle] being one of the more influential national Democrats in this country, it was an opportunity that I thought was a good one. In hindsight, certainly I do wish I had the opportunity to just tell the story right then and there, but it didn't work out that way."

On Stalking Tiger Woods: “I just wish I would have had the opportunity to discuss the issue prior to the story being run, so I could have given my side of the story.”

Opportunities “Seized”.....
On Becoming Mayor Upon The Death Of Bob O’Connor: It wasn't luck that got him there, [Ravenstahl] said. He was prepared for the job and he seized the opportunity when it arose.

On Peduto Dropping Out: "This will just give me the opportunity now to focus more so on the future of the city, economic development, clean, safe streets, the financial situation. ... Quite candidly, the next two months would have been consumed by campaign-related activity."

On His Own “Young and Fresh” Persona: "Certainly, somebody as young and fresh as I am, I think has an opportunity to show leadership and be a leader. I believe I'm a good mayor, and the more chances and the longer tenure I have to show that, the more successful I'm going to be."

On Stalking Tiger Woods: “It was a life long dream of mine. It certainly was and it was a great opportunity."

Opportunities Not Recognized As Opportunities.....
On the Heinz Field Incident: “Myself and everybody else that was in the front of the line at that point simply had no control over our bodies or anything.” (No realization of the "opportunity" hidden in this incident, but possibly our favorite mayoral quote ever.)

Opportunities Yet To Be Classified.....
On Firing 3 Staffers: “I have given them the opportunity to take the day off and consider the positions."

On Firing 10 Department Heads: Mr. Ravenstahl said he has offered all of the directors the opportunity to reapply as part of a national search for candidates.

We certainly wish Mayor Luke luck improving his batting average. But as the mayor is quick to point out, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." Since this mayor is so very well prepared, we are certain he will seize every opportunity lobbed in his direction. How lucky for the City of Pittsburgh!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ugly Rumor Confirmed!

And If We Do Start Walking, They WILL Tax Our Feet

I caught the tail end of a Friday afternoon radio broadcast whereby some state representative warned the general public that the legislature planned to enact a tax which would be levied on citizens when they parked their OWN car in their OWN garage or driveway. Nope, I'm not talking about the 50% parking tax on Downtown garages. I'm talking about taxing you and me when we park our own cars at our own homes at the end of the day.

Not believing my own ears, I sent this email to every representative (both D and R) in Allegheny County on Friday night:

"I heard something on the radio news that I cannot believe. Please, tell me this is not true. And if it is true, please tell me that each of you .... to a man ..... is as horrified as I am and intend to have NOTHING WHATSOEVER TO DO WITH THIS CRAZY NEW TAX.

Since our state plan seems to be one of taxing us into prosperity .... the media reports that there are 22 "new taxes" under consideration so as to "balance" our new budget. Is one of these new taxes a parking tax so broadly defined that it can be levied on a citizen parking their own car in their own garage????? Not a parking garage downtown or wherever. But actually being taxed, ON TOP OF THEIR PROPERTY TAX, when they drive home from work and are foolish enough to park their own car in their own garage.

I hope there are howls of laughter on your end of this email. I hope this is some wacky urban legend that hurricaned its way unchecked through today's news cycle. I hope there is not SHRED nor a KERNEL of truth to this disgusting rumor.

Trusting that even our state legislature cannot be this insane, please set me straight on what the real provisions of this proposed tax are.

Assuming in advance that you have not all lost your minds....."

It is now midnight on Sunday and I've received just two replies to my email. From Rep. Mark Mustio:

"I believe that can be the interpretation of the Democrat's bill. I am going to fight that wording and the tax. Sincerely, Mark

T. Mark Mustio 44th Legislative District District Phone 412-262-3780 Harrisburg Phone 717-787-6651"

From Rep. John Maher:

"I am afraid that you have heard correctly. The McCall amendment seeks to add a "parking space" "surcharge" that he confirmed in public during House debate Thursday night not only could apply to spaces at private homes but worse could be UNLIMITED in amount........The new amendment that McCall refiled since then with some "corrections" has the same unlimited tax - ur, "surcharge" that counties AND municipalities could each impose on parking in your own driveway or garage. Unreal!You are the only person I have heard from in opposition so far. The debate is scheduled to resume Monday morning at 10 am with a vote expected later in the morning..... sound the alarm!"

I guess it is in fact time to storm the Bastille ....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Elaine Catz: A Person Of Amazing Conscience

"Bodies ... The Exhibition" is coming to the Carnegie Science Center in October 2007. It is a display of actual human beings whose bodies were “plastinated” after death. These bodies will be posed and splayed to expose various organs and body parts …. all done very artfully and scientifically of course.

Plastinazation is a process whereby the bodily fluids of dead people are replaced by polymers. The resultant plasticized mummy is one of intricate detail, especially with the skin removed to show all muscles and tendons. The Science Center “bodies” have come to us from Premier Exhibitions in Atlanta, which procured the bodies from China’s Dalian Medical University, which in turn acquired the corpses from China’s police. And where did China’s police acquire the deceased individuals? Well, here are some sobering facts …..

o 60 plus offenses in China are punishable by death. Many of these offenses are solely political or economic in nature.
o China accounts for 80% of the world’s government ordered executions.
o Even though China has no voluntary organ donation system, organ transplantation is a huge industry in that nation. The Chinese deputy health minister acknowledged its booming illegal organ trade and confirmed that most transplanted organs are taken from executed prisoners.
o To streamline the acquisition of viable prisoner organs, the convicted are executed by lethal injection in mobile vans en route to hospitals so the harvested organs can be of the highest quality.
o Further improving on the efficiency and profitability of their transplant industry, Canadian parliamentarian David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas documented the braggings of Chinese surgeons who procured organs from LIVE prisoners.

How fortunate for the Chinese that the aftermarket for organless carcasses is nearly as profitable as their black market for the organs themselves! Premier is paying $25 million to China alone for the rights to parade just 15 of those bodies around the globe, the Carnegie Science Center being just one stop on this “educational” tour.

The brutality and barbarism of the human species is often times beyond comprehension and is unsurpassed in the animal kingdom. Even the deadliest predatory beast stalks, hunts and kills its prey as sustenance to live. We, on the other hand, make soap and lampshades from the skin of Nazi Germany Jews because their race is inferior. We slit the throats of bound infidel captives because they are not godly enough for the likes of Allah and the peaceful religion of Islam. We are slaughtering hundreds of thousands in Darfur as we speak for who-knows-what reason.

While we Americans may not be able to put an end to every senseless, blood lusting venture of every beastly, demonic despot and jihadist …. Must we allow even the fringes or “aftermarkets” of this kind of brutality within our borders? The Carnegie Science Center, a venerated Pittsburgh institution, seems to think so. They plan to display the ghoulish remains of persons whose deaths and butchering appear to be heinous crimes in and of themselves, all in the name of “art and science”.

We remind the Science Center that “art and science” could have been as effectively promoted with the use of realistic mannequins and statues. That their decision to exploit real human beings for the sake of making a buck is deplorable and makes them no better than traveling freak show hucksters. That they may as well light the exhibit with Jewish skin lampshades while they are at it. Who knows how many additional paying customers that might draw in.

As the Science Center worries about what impact increased casino traffic will have on the safety of school children bussed to their site, they might also take a minute to consider the exhibit’s impact on these same children as they view the dead bodies before them, forming their own opinions and moral beliefs regarding the sanctity, worth and respect for life. All life. Human and beast alike. However interchangeable those terms appear to have become.

Elaine Catz, education coordinator for the Carnegie Science Center for the past 11 years, has tendered her resignation in protest of their decision to host the controversial exhibit. The Pist-Gazette applauds this woman's courage and sense of decency. This world could use more people like Elaine Catz.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hopefully An Ugly Rumor

The Beatles Warned Us Back in ‘66

As part of our state legislature’s frenzy to tax us into prosperity, 22 new taxes are presently under consideration as part of a “balanced” 2008 budget. One of these new taxes would be a parking tax so broadly worded that citizens could be taxed for parking their cars in their own garages. Yes, this would be in addition to the property tax already levied on said garages. And yes, that is what the Pist-Gazette heard yesterday, with our own ears, coming from the mouth of a state representative on an afternoon radio broadcast.

Thinking that we must have been suffering from an auditory hallucination because our state legislature cannot possibly be THIS insane….The Pist-Gazette immediately emailed each state representative in Allegheny County, in both parties, imploring them to confirm that we were in fact the crazy ones and that they were still in possession of all their faculties.

As of this writing, the Pist-Gazette has not received one response confirming or denying the Personal Parking Tax scheme.

Let us remember the sage words from that visionary George Harrison in 1966 as we wonder what in the heck happened to bring us to this pathetic point in space and time:

“If you drive a car I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit I’ll tax your seat,
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk I’ll tax your feet.”

If this “rumor” turns out to be true … It might just be time to storm the Bastille.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"She's A Good Mother. It's A Freak Accident."

Friends Shakita Mangham and Fuhara Love left their seven children home alone, well past midnight, while they had drinks at a neighborhood bar. Authorities think the two oldest children, both only eight years old, set the house on fire while playing with matches. The 8-year-olds were able to escape the burning house. The five younger children were not as fortunate and all perished. They were trapped behind a bedroom door which may have been locked from the outside.

As the women returned home to find the house ablaze and their children dead, Mangham had the presence of mind to lie to authorities about a non-existent babysitter who was supposed to be watching the children. Neighbors immediately discounted the babysitter story, telling police that the children were often left alone while the “mothers” frequented the bar.

Absolutely heartbreaking but unfortunately nowhere near the end of the ugliness:

“Who is responsible? This city has been responsible for people living in poverty for years and years. How can you arrest and prosecute these women for neglect, and you won’t prosecute the past leaders of this city for neglect? It’s a shame on the whole of Pittsburgh.”
--- Jibril Abdul-Hafeez, community activist

“What does it matter? Five angels died! Who cares what happened and how it happened and when it happened? It’s our children who have died …”
--- Rev. William H. Curtis, addressing mourners at the funeral for the children.

“She’s not responsible for what happened. A fire broke out. She didn’t set that fire. She may have wanted to be there when the fire started, but even if she were there, the children might not have lived. In other words, just because a parent is in the home doesn’t mean the children can’t be in the basement doing some mischief. You have a loving parent who did something she regrets, but she didn’t kill the children.”
---- Ernest Sharif, Love’s attorney on why his client should not be charged with homicide.

“She’s a good mother. It’s a freak accident.”
---Sheila Ward, Mangham’s mother and owner of the burned house.

Ms. Mangham is a certified nursing assistant. Ms. Love is a senior student of criminology at Point Park University. Both must therefore have the intellect to know better. As should those who've made the appalling excuses on their behalf.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Peduto Says Cool Hand Luke Out In Left Field

He Might As Well Ask For (Dan) Onorato's Resignation While He’s At It

During today’s City Council session, Councilman Bill Peduto read the City Charter rules as they pertain to the firings of department heads and directors. Something Mayor Lukey should have done prior to waving his hand, trying to get most of the 5th floor to disappear.

A couple of embarrassing points for an administration which is building its legacy on embarrassment ……

o The mayor must provide City Council with a specific “reason” for terminating a department head. That city government is not “running well enough” is not a “good enough” reason.

o Directors of Authorities are out of Lukey’s reach. Authorities are created by the state and their directors serve at the will of their board members. Luke has as much authority (no pun intended) to ask for an authority director’s resignation as he does Dan Onorato or the Mayor of Cincinnati for that matter.

Of note, even though Yarone chairs the URA and Yarone is Luke’s right hand guy, the majority of the URA board must vote to relieve URA Director Detorre. He cannot be removed by a Thursday afternoon Ravenstahl whim.

Even City Council President Doug Shields was perturbed that he heard about the mass firings from a press release. He reminded Luke that City Council and the Mayor's Office are partners in city governance and chided him for not acting accordingly.

The Pist-Gazette is beginning to believe that the boy is on meds of some kind. If they’ve been legally prescribed, we respectfully ask that someone adjust them "accordingly."

Mayor Not Satisfied With Condition Of City Government

A Look At Those Who Appear To Have Displeased Him

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl asked for the resignation of ten top city administrators, citing his dissatisfaction with “the condition of city government”. Ravenstahl has suggested that the ten re-submit their job applications for a fresh re-appraisal in order to prove they are the best person(s) for the job(s). Who are these people, what could they have possibly done to get the ax and will they ultimately remain? We take a look at these and other questions below.

Duane Ashley, Citiparks Director
Responsible for all park operations such as farmer’s markets, cinemas in the parks, festivals, walks and runs, community centers, swimming pools.
What went wrong?
Don’t know. Seems Mr. Ashley has been proactive in addressing problems. He led the selection process of hiring a firm to bring advertising dollars from city parks into city coffers. He was part of the effort to have city and county collaborate on park projects. He's a small speck of color in the mayor’s mostly white administration. And he tried valiantly to keep as many city pools open as possible in face of Act 47 cuts.
What does Ashley have to say?
He will re-apply for his job.

Guy Costa, Director of Public Works
Public Works is one of the largest city departments. It is responsible for street resurfacing, park facility and public structure maintenance and rehab, garbage collection, animal control, ice salting, flooding, landslides, and other natural disasters.
What went wrong?
Much easier to list what might have gone right. A very abbreviated, partial list of recent problems with Public Works: 1) The lapse of the city’s contract with the Animal Rescue League and Costa’s efforts to replace them with controversial Triangle Pet. 2) City Redd Up crew was caught wearing campaign T-shirts promoting Councilman Jeff Koch while working on the job. 3) Accusations that only the politically connected get their streets paved. 4) Possibly fast-tracking and therefore steering a lucrative contract to CLT Technologies whose founding investor is District Attorney Stephen Zappala’s uncle. 5) Inability to properly salt city streets during snow storms even though neighboring municipalities are successful under same conditions. 6) Playing fast and loose with pay raises not included in department budget. 7) More contract shenanigans. And the list goes on ….
What does Costa have to say?
He will re-apply for his job but has declined to discuss his relationship with Ravenstahl.

Jerry Dettore, URA Executive Director
The Urban Redevelopment Authority is “more than a redevelopment authority – it is the City of Pittsburgh’s economic development agency.” (Maybe that’s the problem right there)
What went wrong?
Again, the list is way too long going back way too far. The most recent flaps are … 1) Possible abuse of monies in the URA’s Streetface program. 2) Disregarding Hill District concerns when giving Melody Tent site development rights to the Penguins. (Even though it appeared to have been done with Luke's blessings) 3) Fifth & Forbes developer is now dawdling.
What does Dettore have to say?
Feels Ravenstahl has the right to have his own people in key spots. Has not decided if he will reapply for his job.

Ron Graziano, Bureau of Building Inspection Chief
Regulates the construction, demolition and occupancy of all buildings and structures within the City of Pittsburgh.
What went wrong?
Maybe the bureau has not been diligent enough in enforcing city anti-dumping regulations? Did Graziano originally inspect and approve the collapsed convention center beam? And then there was the horrible Hazelwood fire started in abandoned buildings that the bureau dragged their feed in demolishing.
What does Graziano have to say?

Robert McCaughan, Emergency Medical Services Chief
Heads up 175 Paramedics who provide advanced life support pre-hospital care, medically directed technical rescue from accidents and entrapments, river rescue and community safety education.
What went wrong?
It might not be a case of any wrongdoing or incompetence. After all, Ravenstahl just honored McCaughan for being the longest-serving member, with 32 years of service in the bureau. It may just be that city EMS personnel and city firefighters have duties which overlap. Since our city does not have the money to pay for many of its basic services, much less duplicative ones, these organizations will eventually have to be consolidated. Both continue to jockey for turf as each fights for survival. One will wind up losing out in the end and odds are it won’t be the firefighters. Maybe McCaughan’s resignation is Luke officially casting his lot with the firefighters.
What does McCaughan have to say?

David Onorato, Parking Authority Executive Director
The Parking Authority’s mission statement on the city’s web site touts they go “a dimension beyond the basic responsibility to provide and maintain spaces for vehicles.” Their mission also includes “supporting the efforts of City Departments and agencies to ensure the economic progress of our region.”
What went wrong?
There has been one small disagreement. The mayor and City Council wanted parking rates to be lowered in January by an amount equal to the decrease in parking tax. Rather than going “a dimension beyond” their basic responsibility by passing along the savings to the parking public, David Onorato decided that the rates would remain unchanged.
What does (either) Onorato have to say?
David was surprised by the resignation request. He said he’d talk to Ravenstahl about it.

Phillipe Petite, Equal Opportunity Review Commission Manager
The commission places subcontractors with prime contractors through a system of tracking and referral to assure inclusion actually occurs. Additionally, the commission develops opportunities for minority and women owned businesses.
What went wrong?
Not a clue.
What does Petite have to say?
“I definitely think I’m the most qualified.” He plans to reapply for his position.

George Specter, Acting City Solicitor
Specter heads the City Law Department which acts as attorney for the City of Pittsburgh and its officials.
What went wrong?
Plenty. Either Specter gave Ravenstahl bad advice which blew up in the mayor’s face or Ravenstahl disregarded Specter’s good advice and then had things blow up in his face. Either way, it appears the mayor is holding Specter personally responsible for the hits he took during the McNeilly and Regan debacles.
What does Specter have to say?
He’s probably taking the Fifth.

Howard Stern, City Information Services Director
CIS plans, acquires, installs and supports the City’s proprietary and open computing environments as well as develops software programs for Public Safety, Finance and other departmental initiatives.
What went wrong?
Not typically a high-profile position prone to controversy, the worst we can say about Stern’s approach to the information age might be that it was more “dial-up” than Comcastic. In an attempt to “professionalize” the city workforce, Stern placed time restrictions on each employee’s use of the internet. Not much thought was given to the fact that extended internet access might be necessary to perform one’s job. Worse yet, this faux pas was jumped on by Mark DeSantis. And then there was the fact that the City’s new 311 line worked very well at first except for cell phone users. But maybe the straw that broke the Ravenstahl’s back was the city’s computer-driven pavement management system which appeared to have been abandoned in favor of “eyeballing” road conditions by the likes of Motznik and other unbiased parties.
What does Stern have to say?
Not a bit nor a byte.

Greg Tutsock, Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority Executive Director
PWSA produces and supplies the water for City of Pittsburgh residents, maintains and operates the water infrastructure as well as the City of Pittsburgh sewer system.
What went wrong?
The federal government is finally getting serious on compliance with the 1970 Clean Water Act. Yes, nearly 40 years later, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are just about to start the necessary sewer system repairs and upgrades that are needed to clean up our rivers and streams. We’ve racked up millions of dollars in fines and penalties for doing nothing about it. Literally nothing. Tutsock and company should have acted years ago. Then of course there are all the embarrassing water main breaks.
What does Tutsock have to say?
The s**t may have hit the fan.

It appears the City of Pittsburgh might be better served if many of the above administrators find employment elsewhere. The mayor is undoubtedly correct in cleaning house, but since this is do or die time for our fair city, it is crucial that each position be filled with exactly the right person for the job. Pulling this off once or twice in 90 days would be a job well done. Batting 10 out of 10? Good luck, Mr. Mayor. You will need it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Local Reaction To The Latest Purge

From the Post-Gazette:

"One of the advantages of getting older is that you get a little perspective on life. I appreciate that the successes that I might have had were built on the efforts of people like Sophie Masloff and Dick Caliguiri. Luke was 15 [years old] 12 years ago. So maybe he needs to recognize there's a certain perspective he needs to get.
--- Former Mayor Tom Murphy

"I guess it's becoming a pattern. It's now three purges in less than a year. That's greater change than the Italian government."
--- Councilman Bill Peduto

"I definitely think I'm the most qualified."
--- Fired Director Phillipe Petite

From the Trib:

"Just chopping heads is not management. I don't know what that is."
---Republican Mayoral Candidate Mark DeSantis

"I think it's great."
--- Councilman Jim Motznik

The Blogs:

"Any attack made by the Rebels against this Administration would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they've obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the region. I suggest we use it!"

"When the ax swings and no agenda is reflected in the swinging -- it is a hatchet job. And, when the ax swings and the no agenda is reflected, it is just a power play."
---Mark Rauterkaus

"When he launched his first multi-player shakeup, I blogged that "the mayor hints he's not done, saying there could be 'perhaps a reshuffling of the entire fifth floor.' "
--- Bob Mayo

"I can understand -- even this late in Luke's so far indefinite transition process -- seeking to replace officials that are central to the policy-making and planning for the city's growth, but it is a bit troubling as a bystander to see names such as Emergency Medical Services Chief Robert McCaughan, Bureau of Building Inspection Chief Ron Graziano and City Parks Director Duane Ashley on the chopping block without scandal or glaring deficiencies in their performance."
--- Lie Lie Luke

"In organizations and companies I am familiar with, one reviews the job performance of an individual against the responsibilities and goals of that position to see how that individual adds up. You don't ask for resignation letters and then review their application for their job."

Mayor Diagnosed With Rare Disease

Results Just Preliminary, Prognosis Uncertain

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s physician, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, held an afternoon press conference to announce his preliminary diagnosis of a malady which has troubled the young mayor since he took office in September 2006. “We think it’s a rare case of Political Munchausen Syndrome but we’re still trying to confirm this” Dr. Gupta reported.

Munchausen Syndrome—named for Baron von Munchausen, an 18th century German officer who was known for embellishing the stories of his life and experiences —is the most severe type of factitious disorder. Munchausen sufferers are also known to fabricate illness so as to garner attention and sympathy from others.

Dr. Gupta went on to explain that Political Munchausen varies only slightly from the core syndrome. “Yes, Poli-Munchers fabricate and embellish their political accomplishments with fantastically impossible tales knowing very well that no one within earshot actually believes them. They do this because they enjoy the attention. But in addition, these individuals will purposefully place themselves in politically disastrous situations just for the thrill and challenge of trying to wheedle themselves out of it.”

The mayor was first suspected to suffer from the disorder when, as a councilman, he got into an altercation with a police officer at a Steeler’s game and later denied the incident although it had been witnessed by hundreds. After taking office as mayor, Ravenstahl immediately laid claim to accomplishments not his own, even those which occurred when he was still a young boy or on another continent. He proceeded to hire the wrong people, fire the wrong people and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and penalties for doing so. He flew to New York City, in public and amidst scores of people who could easily attest to his whereabouts, but denied going nonetheless. “This is all typical behavior of a Poli-Muncher,” Gupta elaborated.

Concern for the mayor escalated when he crashed a private party at the Oakmont Country Club in an attempt to meet golf great Tiger Woods. The sand trap dust had not even settled from that flap when Ravenstahl abruptly fired ten of the city’s department heads. “We knew we had an unstable situation on our hands,” Gupta continued, adding that a full-fledged intervention was not possible until the mayor marched into a televised City Council session demanding the resignation of each councilperson. Hostilities nearly spiraled to the point of physical blows when a quick-thinking cameraman abruptly cut the picture to black, sparing the viewing public the worst of the melee.

Some people with Political Munchausen Syndrome suffer one or two brief episodes of symptoms. In most cases, however, the disorder is a chronic, or long-term, condition that can be very difficult to treat. Mr. Ravenstahl appears to have a very aggressive form of the disease, one that does not respond well to treatment. Even with treatment, it is more realistic to work toward managing the disorder rather than to try curing it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

He Is "Master Of The Universe" After All

I wonder how long it will take before Mayor Luke Ravenstahl finally crashes and burns? Twanda is well on her way. Motznik has simply gone to the dogs, cats.

And as for the Mayor’s apologists …..I thought even they would have a hard time redefining what the meaning of “is” is. Or with this incident, the difference between invited and uninvited, dignified and shameless, a citizen of Earth or just completely Off Planet.

But I was wrong.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Commentary: Let's Force Those Seniors To Downsize!

So much Ravenstahl nonsense has peppered the news as of late that I put off commenting about a Post Gazette commentary regarding the need for and value of property taxes. This is such an important without an easy answer .... I thought taking a late look at writer Mark Dixon’s point of view still seemed apropos.

While reading Mr. Dixon’s article, my mind immediately went back to a significant lesson I unwittingly learned from my high school geometry teacher, Mr. Humphrey. Yes, Mr. Humphrey was incredibly boring. And yes, most every day his monotone voice hypnotized me into a near stupor. But I did come away with a valuable message from that class, one which surprisingly had little to do with angles or shapes. After reading Mark Dixon’s PG property tax commentary, I wonder if Mr. Dixon could have missed something vital in his own geometry class.

Mr. Humphrey relentlessly drove home the importance of logical thinking. Arriving at the correct answer was not as important to him as the route you took to get there. If it took a dozen or more successive theorems and postulates to solve a problem, and if my logic was just the slightest bit off somewhere in the process, I learned that my “solution” could end up being wildly wrong, glaringly off the mark.

A corollary to the above lesson was just as important to learn albeit harder to appreciate: Sometimes two or more wrong turns did coincidentally lead me back to the right answer. But oh how I howled when Mr. Humphrey still marked my “correct” answer as “wrong” because my reasoning was flawed!

Post Gazette writer Mark Dixon would have benefited greatly from a semester of Mr. Humphrey’s stern grading practices. In his commentary, Mr. Dixon veers from the “logical” path early on and often as he tells us why property taxes are necessary and good. Following Mr. Dixon’s “logic” we find HIS doctor father was able to afford a four-bedroom colonial with “French pretensions.” That HIS parent’s Frenchly pretentious home is far too big for their current needs and their ability to care for it. And that if HIS parents sold their too-large home, they’d net enough money to either pay for a small condo with affordable property taxes and monthly fees or a stay in a decent senior’s facility.

From here Mr. Dixon somehow leaps to the conclusion that property taxes remain “the best way to fund schools”, that the “quest” to reduce property taxes is “demagogic” and “destructive”, that Pennsylvanians should stop whining, and that seniors should sell their homes and just be done with it.


Maybe some/all of Mr. Dixon’s conclusions are valid, and then again, maybe they are not. Unfortunately we will never know based upon the colorful, anecdotal family experiences he puts forth as the rationale supporting his position. Maybe he is unaware that many Pennsylvanians raised their families in small ranches which were too crowded at the time but are now just the right size with the children gone. That these same seniors have no “need” to downsize, rather just a fervent desire to be able to hold on to the home they worked hard to pay off. In essence, maybe Mr. Dixon doesn’t realize that HIS particular family’s past experiences and current situation may not be typical or the norm for the majority of Pennsylvanians and therefore may be a moot if not irrelevant point in the property tax debate.

Maybe, just maybe the “whining” Mr. Dixon hears has nothing to do with cheap, socially unconscientious seniors selfishly denying the next crop of children a good education. Earth to Mr. Dixon: Many seniors are already “downsized” as far as they can go. They are not concerned with sheltering their “wealth” so they can “enrich” their heirs. No, they simply worry that their “wealth” will last long enough to feed, clothe, shelter and yes, pay for property taxes until they die. Maybe the “whining” is actually all Pennsylvanians, not just seniors, asking school districts and local governments to exercise a little fiscal restraint when considering pork projects and patronage bloat, demanding that our children actually learn something when they go to school, expecting basic services like navigable streets, bridges and highways for the taxes they already pay. These are NOT the outlandish demands of selfish seniors bellyaching for “public subsidies”. They are just reasonable expectations from taxpayers who are tired of being duped, scammed and robbed.

Now maybe things are different in Wayne, PA, just outside of Philly where Mr. Dixon resides. Maybe roads there are more than a patch-quilt of potholes that have been strung together with disappearing asphalt. Maybe most of the kids in Wayne who finish high school can actually read and write by the time they graduate. If so, we congratulate Mr. Dixon on his good fortune and wholeheartedly join with him in calling on his folks to be socially conscious and sell their posh digs by golly!

But if life in the east half of the state is anything like it is here in the west, I have to wonder why the Post Gazette saw fit to burden the folks in our region with the “whinings” of the son of a retired physician who lives in a four-bedroom colonial with French pretensions, who can afford to sell and move into a retirement community but whose wife would prefer to remain caretaker to the “shrines” of her children’s bedrooms and won’t listen to her son and husband when they tell her it is time to sell.

Around here, the “big problems” facing the Dixon family might be referred to as “blessings”.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Snapshots From The Mayor's Photo Album

Ravenstahl Announces Discovery Of Monongahela River
"Who's The Smart One Now?" He Taunts Peduto

Ravenstahl Impresses Sarah Jessica Parker With Tales Of Letterman Visit
Mayor Hoped It Would Be His Best Pick-Up Line Ever

Ravenstahl Impresses Dennis Quaid With Tales Of Letterman Visit
Pick-Up Line Reportedly Fizzled With Quaid Also

Ravenstahl Entertains Elderly With Tales Of Letterman Visit
Letterman Anecdotes Fall Flat As Pick-Up Lines But Prove To Be Pure Gold Garnering Senior Vote

Ravenstahl Challenges Mario To A Little One On One: "Mano y Mano"

Ravenstahl Announces Results Of His First Heart-Lung Transplant

Ravenstahl Busy Inventing The Internet

Ravenstahl Starts "Houses For Humans"
Jimmy Carter Steals Idea, Changes Name to "Habitat For Humanity." Ravenstahl Decries New Name As "Pretentious."

Ravenstahl In "Time Out" Session

Ravenstahl Poses With Twins He Personally Delivered In Back of City FlexCar
Proposes Trial Use of FlexCars To Supplement EMS Vehicle Fleet

Kick-Off Meeting Of The "I Like Luke" Fan Club
Club Members To Be Used As Alternates For Ethics Board "As Needed"

Ravenstahl and ARL Employee Beat The Streets Looking For Stray Cats

Ravenstahl's Last Year As City Councilman

Ravenstahl Press Conference: "Mom Unhappy With Mean-Spirited Bloggers"
Mayor Told To Go Straight Home From Work; Not To Talk To Any Strangers Wanting An Interview

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Our Own Forrest Gump

Wake up, Pittsburgh. We’ve got a veritable demigod in our midst and haven’t been paying proper homage. The Honorable Luke Ravenstahl’s life has paralleled that of William Jefferson Clinton for all these years and we backward Burghers have not even taken note. Like our very own Forest Gump, Luke has been right smack dab in the middle of every important juncture in this city’s recent history and we owe him big-time for his stellar public service.

Ravenstahl has been mis-underestimated and misunderstood since 1989, when at the tender age of nine, the young master counseled the URA to declare the area around the Garden Theater blighted. His brilliance went unreported and unrecognized at that time because Pittsburghers are loathe to recognize a political prodigy when they see one. Thankfully, Luke has been able to put his name on the Garden coup. Sadly, too many of Luke’s exploits still remain unacknowledged.

The Pist-Gazette therefore intends to do the right thing and set the record straight. The following list of “Accomplishments Luke Has Seized” is extremely abbreviated. There just isn’t enough space herein for all this young wonder has already done:

* Wi-fi Downtown Pittsburgh? Forget that small stuff. It was Luke, not Al Gore, who invented the entire internet.

* Only Ravenstahl was wise enough to vote against Act 47 before he voted for it.

* Ravenstahl invented the “Thank You Pittsburgh” sign. In fact, it was Luke dressed up as O’Connor who flashed the famous signs at various intersections giving the impression that “Bob O’Connor was everywhere”.

* Ravenstahl’s baby bib was the inspiration for Myron Cope’s “Terrible Towel.”

* Ravenstahl was the ghost writer for all of Sophie Masloff’s speeches. He wrote them during recess breaks and after his evening homework was completed.

Amazing. Simply amazing. All of this and "Most Livable" as well. We Pittsburghers are truly blessed.