Monday, November 19, 2007

Monsters Among Us

It’s hard to fathom a monster, masquerading as a 30-yr-old human being, who would bite and rape a 10 month old baby.

Except for cases of self defense and to protect others from imminent harm or death themselves, Ms. Pist does not believe any of us has the right to kill another. This includes a mother taking the life of her baby inside, outside, or almost outside of the womb. This includes the state punishing monsters such as Clinton Smith who will be charged with raping Daniyah Jackson to death.

Daniyah (pictured above) died from multiple organ failure when she was penetrated by someone 10 times her size. And while Ms. Pist’s emotional side cries out for her attacker to be killed in exactly the same manner, Ms. Pist still believes “life without parole” should be the sentence for the most worthless pieces of excrement among us. “Without parole” should mean just that. No chance whatsoever to leave their cell no matter how many times the monster has “found Jesus.” The monster should stay in his cell, 24/7, with only brief excursions to eat and take a shower. No TV. No computer. No My Space Friends. No conjugal visits. A complete and total removal from the world he raped to death. This should be the “life” of Clinton Smith.

A final word to our young ladies: Understand there are monsters among us and that you must live your life with this reality in mind. DO NOT create life unless you are able to provide and care for that life. DO NOT bond with another to create life until you know that person inside and out for a long, long, long time. DO NOT bond with another to create life unless that other person has legally committed (marriage) to caring and providing for that newly created life. If you are a single parent, DO NOT expose your children to any “love interest” until you have known them, inside and out, for a long, long, long, time.

Fair or not, convenient or not, this is the reality of the world we live in.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bankruptcy Watch: Shields Wants End To Oversight

Council President Doug Shields wants council to pass a resolution telling the Act 47 overseers to go away. He says we’re in fine enough shape. (He must be talking to Jim Rohr)

“The city has, in large measure, met the requirements of the recovery plan and the conditions that led to the distressed status are no longer present,” Shields opined.

Hmmm. What a difference one month makes. It was just October 17th when Mr. Shields noted that city finances were on track largely due to empty positions going unfilled. He warned the city must fill those posts and also cautioned that several union contracts will open up in the next two years. These circumstances alone could change the current rosy picture.

What could have happened to change Doug’s outlook? After all, did he not see Joey King and Luke Ravenstahl standing shoulder to shoulder, grinning from ear to ear, just a day after the mayor’s election, both anxiously calling for an end to state oversight? Doesn’t he know Ravenstahl will wind up giving Joey King whatever Joey wants if state oversight is removed? Doesn’t he realize a return to outrageously bloated union contracts will send us straight into a tailspin of bankruptcy?

Of course he does! Doug Shields is no dummy! Doug must have come to the same conclusion as the Pist-Gazette who feels bankruptcy is not only inevitable, it is actually the only way out of our mess. And Doug, bless his heart, is obviously doing everything he possibly can to get us to the bottom, get us there quick, so we are able to rise from the ashes and start once again.

Doug! You are the man!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

PA Dept of Agriculture: Ignorance Is Better Than Confusion

Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff has come to the rescue of we Pennsylvanians who are too stupid to understand labels printed on our dairy products. Mr. Wolff, appointed to his post in May of 2003 by Gov. Ed Rendell, has issued an edict banning “absence labeling” on milk effective January 1. Wolff feels labels such as “hormone free”, “contains no artificial hormones” and the especially dreaded “rBGH-free milk” are misleading to consumers. His ban also applies to “pesticide free” and “antibiotic free”. Basically any label which informs the consumer that a particular product is free of unnatural substances will now be banned in the forward-thinking Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

According to the New York Times, Wolff is a “former” dairy farmer but his bio on the state’s web site says he currently owns a 400-head dairy farm called Pen-Col Farms. Not that Wolff’s status as a present or past dairy farmer would have anything at all to do with his decree. Of course not. Also of no consequence are the complaints he received from PA dairy farmers who use hormones, pesticides, antibiotics and rBGH in their milk. These substances increase a cow’s milk production by a gallon or so a day….. a margin the dairy farmers are not willing to give up. No, his ruling was borne solely from his humanitarian concern for his fellow Pennsylvanians who he feels would be better off uninformed than confused.

“It confuses [the public],” Wolff said. “[The labels] seem to imply there is a safe, nonsafe dimension.”

He elaborated further saying “no-rBGH” labels can’t be verified by scientific testing. Additionally, the labels incorrectly “infer” that there is a difference between milk from hormone treated cows and cows free from such substances because no study has ever proven there is a difference much less a harmful difference. Besides, “hormone free” is a very misleading statement, Wolff reasons, when you consider that cows produce hormones naturally.

Dean Foods, the nation’s largest milk bottler, has told suppliers it’s time to dump the hormones. Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) remains illegal in many countries around the world including our northern neighbor Canada. The general public has grown increasingly skittish about the flood of chemicals and genetically engineered substances which proliferate in the food supply. Even so, the federal government maintains rBGH is perfectly safe and Mr. Wolff appears to agree.

Nonetheless and in response to public concern, certain dairies have told farmers they will no longer buy milk from cows treated with the suspect hormones. This didn’t sit well with Pennsylvania farmers using the hormone. Sure, they could sell to other dairies that weren’t as picky. But if this silly anti-hormone sentiment was left to grow unchecked throughout the consumer world, their profits would surely take a hit at some future date. Market forces could dictate they discontinue the hormone use, which would put an end to their extra gallon of milk per cow per day and whatever extra profit came with that gallon. Couldn’t something be done to help them out? Couldn’t these hyper-sensitive consumers be reigned in before it was too late?

Yes, something could be done and something was done. PA dairy farmers ran to their friend and former(?) dairy farmer, Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff. Wolff listened, Wolff deliberated, Wolff gave the matter the full measure of his unbiased consideration. Wolff decided Pennsylvania consumers are not sophisticated enough to appreciate the non-difference between natural foods and those containing pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. He spared the consumer the angst of choosing between products they thought were different, but were really the same, except for a few additives. He’s done all this by making sure the labels on both products are the same. No mention of any differences. After all, what we don’t know never ever hurts us.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Winners, Losers, And A Few Honorable Mentions

Much, much sadness in having to acknowledge you live in a city where 70% of the population joyously elects a total moron for mayor. Not an “alleged” moron, mind you. But a tried and true, tested and certified moron for mayor of Pittsburgh.

Other melancholy stats jump out as one browses the carnage. A few notables:

Worst Voter Turnout
The 1st Ward (parts of Downtown & Uptown) had the smallest voter turnout in the city. Only 7% of those registered to vote actually did. The award for the “Worst Voter Turnout in a District” goes to Ward 5 (Upper Hill), District 8, where 443 were registered to vote but only 1 (that’s right … ONE) did cast his vote. The other 442 must be fine with the concept of disenfranchisement.

Highest Voter Turnout
44% of the registered voters in Ward 31 (Hays/Lincoln Place) came out to cast their ballots. Many of our police and firefighters live in this area. A lot of them have a lot at stake. (Like the rest of us don’t? So why don't we vote?)

Highest Percentage of Non-Thinking Voters
Again, Ward 5 (Upper Hill) tops the charts once more. 67% of the votes cast in this ward were straight party votes. 67% treated the voting machine much like a slot machine. They walked in without much forethought, pulled one lever, walked out, and then hoped for the best.

Strongest Showing For Ravenstahl
No … It wasn’t his own neighborhood (Ward 26 – Perrysville/Riverview) where Ravenstahl received “only” 75% of the vote. There were actually five wards where Luke’s support was 80% or better: Ward 3, Lower Hill, 83%; Ward 5, Upper Hill, 82%; Ward 12, East Liberty, 84%; Ward 13, Homewood, 86%; Ward 21, Manchester, 80%. All of these wards are predominantly black. Maybe there is some kind of “abusive boyfriend, low self-esteem girlfriend” syndrome at work here. You know, that’s where the worse he treats her, the more she wants him.

Strongest Showing for DeSantis.
Yes ….The only wards DeSantis carried were Ward 7 (Shadyside) and Ward 14 (Point Breeze/Squirrel Hill). Both wards are predominantly white, educated and affluent. More telling is the fact that the little “pockets” he carried in other wards were exactly the same demographic: Dist 2 in the Strip (Ward 2) has the upscale warehouse loft conversions. Dist 7, 10, 12 & 13 in Oakland (Ward 4) encompasses historic Schenley Farms and the “mid-rise” condos of the northeast sector. Dist 7, 8 & 11 in Bloomfield (Ward 8) are in fact “Friendship” where folks are flocking to reclaim old mansions previously cut up into rentals. Dist 7, 8, 9, 10 & 12 in Highland Park (Ward 11) are those areas closest to the park with the largest homes. Dist 3, 4, 6 & 28 in Ward 19 are the sections of Mt Washington which have the view or Chatham Village. Dist 2 (Mexican War Streets) in Ward 22 (North Side) is where many of those “uncivil” unions reside.

So what does all this say? In two words ….We’re doomed.

I’m seriously toying with the idea of becoming a “Bankruptcy Advocate”. That’s where I actively support folks like Ravenstahl, Motznik, Bodak or any of their relatives for any office with the hopes of bringing this city to its knees as quickly as possible. That’s where we're headed anyway. Might as well get there quickly, get it over with, and get on with the business of rising from the ashes.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Man On The Street Poll: Bloomfield

DeSantis Tops At Tessaros

Two waitresses and sixteen patrons were polled at Tessaros on Liberty Ave in Bloomfield. The owner was also asked about his preference, but he deftly deferred saying no matter which way he went, he would alienate one segment of his customer base. So, he was going to steadfastly remain without an opinion.

Of the 18 polled, 3 were going for Ravenstahl (17%), 12 supported DeSantis (67%), 1 was undecided (6%), and 2 were not registered to vote (11%).

I had the Gourmet Burger with Provolone and a tall Guinness. That's what I have every time I go to Tessaros. It may be the best burger on the planet.

The details:

Ravenstahl Supporters:
- Female 1: 20-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Having a young mayor is a good way to try to draw young people back in to the city.”
- Female 2: 30-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I like his youth and his enthusiasm.”
- Male 1: 30-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “There was a landslide in my backyard. Ravenstahl showed up in person to give us support. He did that with the flood victims too. I like his straight-forward manner. I think he’s being torn apart just because he’s young.”

DeSantis Supporters:
- Male 2: 60-ish, Independent. Reason for vote: “The Democrats have done a lot of damage to this city. It’s time for a change.”
- Female 3: 40-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I want you to know I am not only a Democrat, I’m a far left Democrat. I will be voting for DeSantis because there is no comparison between what he would bring to office and what Luke does not have. It’s almost like Luke is running for Student Council President or something.”
- Female 4: 40-ish, Independent. Reason for vote: “Its time to get the Machine out.”
- Male 3: 40-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke does not have the judgement necessary to be mayor. My vote for DeSantis will be a vote against 70 years of one-party rule.”
- Female 5: 40-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke is too young. DeSantis has a great education. I think it’s time to mix things up.”
- Male 4: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I’m voting for DeSantis! The young guy is just a disaster.”
- Female 6: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I was for him at first. But now, I don’t think he’s ready to be mayor.”
- Male 5: 60-ish, Republican. Reason for vote: “This city needs a change. The time is now.”
- Wife of Male 5: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I have to agree with my husband. It's time for a change.”
- Male 6: 70-ish, Republican. Reason for vote: “This city has been run by Democrats for 70 years. 70 years of corruption. Patronage beyond belief. We need to get rid of all the brother-in laws, all of the sister-in laws. We need to get every relative of every politician off the payroll. We need to have the best and the capable, not the connected.”
- Female 7: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I am voting for DeSantis because it’s our chance for integrity.”
- Male 7: 70-ish, Republican. Reason for vote: “DeSantis is very educated. Luke has the same old people around. He didn’t clean house and we need to clean house.”

- Female 8: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I am a very liberal Democrat. I don’t like George Bush. I think Luke has tried to do a good job. But I just don’t know. I’m undecided.”

Will Not Vote:
- 2 Waitresses: Both not registered to vote, both will not be voting.

I shared my results with Tessaros owner before I left. He was very, very surprised

Man On The Street Poll: Allegheny East

Ravenstahl Reigns At Max’s Allegheny Tavern

One waitress and ten patrons were polled at Max’s Allegheny Tavern on Suismon St in Allegheny East. Of the 11, 5 were voting for Ravenstahl (45%), 1 was voting for DeSantis (9%), 3 were undecided (27%), and 2 were not voting at all (18%).

I had some kind of German thingie. It was bland and German. Thank God for Guinness.

The details:

Ravenstahl Supporters:
- Male 1: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “Luke’s done a good job. He’s young, but he’s learning. We don’t need another Republican in office. Just look what Bush has done.”
- Wife of Male 1: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: She agreed with everything her husband said.
- Male 2: 40-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “I don’t want cops out of the neighborhoods. And I don’t want City/County merger either. Luke is the lesser of two evils.”
- Male 3: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “My union has backed Luke.”
- Wife of Male 3: 60-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “He has great ideas to revive Pittsburgh.”

DeSantis Supporters:
- Male 4: 40-ish, Democrat. Reason for vote: “We haven’t learned yet that a one-party system is real bad. We need to know that now. I met Ravenstahl a few years ago when he was running for Council. I asked him at that time what he planned to do about revitalizing our economy. He started telling me about this big idea he had about Pittsburgh picking up the trash for the surrounding municipalities. I was not impressed with him or his answer. And now look what’s happened. He’s mayor, and what happens? By God, he’s still on that trash thing ….. picking up Wilkinsburg’s trash like that’s the answer to anything.”

- Waitress: 20-ish, Democrat. Hasn’t paid attention at all but will before election day.
- Male 5: 50-ish, Democrat. Hasn’t decided yet who he will vote for. He has no problem with Luke. But he hasn’t decided for sure.
- Male 6: 20-ish, Democrat. Not given it any thought at all.

Will Not Vote:
- Friend of Male 2: 40-ish, Democrat. Thinks system is corrupt. Thinks people pick on Luke because he hasn’t worked his way up through the ranks.
- Friend of Male 6: 20-ish, Democrat. “I’m not registered to vote, but if I were, I’d be voting for Ravenstahl just to spite a friend of mine who is presently the right-hand-man of a certain City Councilman who doesn’t get along with Ravenstahl. And also because I was never invited to the Masquerade Ball.”

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pittsburgh: America's Most Livable City (Not!)

"Almanac" Publisher Says Its Not Just The City

Pittsburgh: America’s Most Livable City.

Have you ever wondered how we ever got that designation? Even with all of our problems and idiosyncrasies, I do love this city. But I am a realist. We are bankrupt, we’re near or at the bottom of most every economic indicator one can think of, our bridges are failing, our water mains explode monthly, our fish have turned androgynous, and we have a mayor whose grand plan for economic revitalization centers around garbage pick-up for Wilkinsburg. So how in the world did we ever make it to the top, winning the coveted title of “Most Livable”?

Well, my curiosity got the better of me. I decided to contact David Savageau, author/publisher of Places Rated Almanac, whose tabulations placed Pittsburgh at the top of America’s most desirable places to live. Did David use stats and indicators JUST from the City of Pittsburgh, or did he include, as I suspected, the neighboring suburbs as well?

Turns out it’s even worse than that. Per Mr. Savageau’s reply:

Thanks for writing.

Pittsburgh is one of 370 officially-defined metro areas in the United States. When we use “Pittsburgh” in PLACES RATED ALMANAC, we’re talking about the metro area surrounded by 7 counties, containing 441 cities and towns in NW Pennsylvania, and named after the largest city in the area.


David Savageau
Places Rated Books LLC
Washington, DC

So ….. What is the big deal here you might ask? What is my point?

My point is our esteemed government leaders should not be hiding behind the “Most Livable” banner. When we cry out about the miserable conditions which surround us and the miserable choices they have made, they continue to deflect responsibility and culpability by saying, “We can’t be doing so bad …. After all, we’ve been named Most Livable!” Additionally, many citizens continue to look to this ranking as vindication that our weaknesses must in fact be strengths, and "strenghts" are things we should not try to change.

Well, WE have NOT been named Most Livable. It is the REGION which has been named Most Livable. The REGION filled with evil Republicans and suburbanites. The REGION Mr. Ravenstahl wants no part of except to usurp its title.