Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Song For A Cold February In Pittsburgh

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

Every word is true.

UPDATE (February 18, 2013):  Every word is still true.

UPPERDATE (February 22, 2013):  Propositions Board (far right column) continues to be revised -- place your bets! [nudge]  [wink]  [another wink]

UPPERERDATE (February 28, 2013):  We tried to tell you.  Also, new Infytunes (middle column).

UPPERERERDATE (March 1, 2013):  Anything posted in the foreseeable future will be a Snapchat-like post, with a limited shelf life.   Get 'em while they're hot. 

Infytune: American Pie, Don McLean
Infytune: Vincent, Don McLean and Chet Atkins
Infytune: American Pie (annotated), Don McLean

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whitney Houston's Soaring Voice, Stilled

Whitney Houston, whose stunning voice was eroded by poor choices concerning lifestyle and marriage, has died, aged 48.

Infytune: The Star Spangled Banner, Whitney Houston

Yinzer Admission Test: Art Section

The self-promoting parasites at VisitPittsburgh have chosen as Pittsburgh's new slogan:

1) InsolvenCity

2) BankrupCity

3) The Birthplace of Pop Culture

Hint: Truth-in-advertising laws do not necessarily apply to this promotional campaign.

EXTRA CREDIT: Connect each Infytune to the new campaign.

Infytune: Sweet Jane, Velvet Underground
Infytune: Walk On The Wild Side, Lou Reed
Infytune: Brown Sugar, The Rolling Stones (Paris 1976)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Hopeful Day Brings Happy Music

Against a persistent background of partisan strife and paralysis, we have witnessed three acts of conciliation in a 24-hour period, perhaps providing a welcome opportunity for Americans to learn, improve, and benefit.

First, President Obama presented a call for cooperation during his State of the Union address; a number of legislators in the audience again broke party seating lines. Both parties' focus on electionyearing is likely to interfere with many opportunities for collaborative progress, but President Obama pulled some partisan punches and there seems reasonable hope that some Republicans could respond productively were the President to offer some consensus-friendly initiatives. The situation in America's government has deteriorated to a point at which even needed legislation on which nearly all can agree is difficult to enact. We experienced a flicker of optimism as some Republicans and some Democrats commented after the President had described the state of our union as "getting stronger."

Next, again on the House of Representatives' legislative floor at the Capitol, a politically ecumenical program this morning celebrated Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' recovery from a horrific, targeted attack by an armed madman -- to a point at which she could deliver her resignation in person -- suggested that members of Congress might be people, too. For a period, it appeared that legislators saw each other not as Republicans or Democrats or liberals or conservatives but instead as fellow Americans.

Those events were scheduled, perhaps even predictable. But then ...

From Harrisburg, this afternoon, arrived the unexpected news that one member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court -- the chief justice, Ronald Castille -- had broken partisan lines to reject this decade's grotesquely contorted legislative reapportionment map.

Let us hope we are detecting the new pattern. Please listen, and enjoy:

Infytune: People Get Ready, Curtis Mayfield and bandmates
Infytune: Peace Train, Cat Stevens (Yusef Islam)
Infytune: Higher Ground, Stevie Wonder (a blind man, alone)
Infytune: What's So Funny ('Bout Peace, Love, And Understanding), Elvis Costello and bandmates

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Springsteen Tour Bypassing InsolvenCity, But Fans Can Still Pull Out Of Here To Win

Bruce Springsteen has announced an E Street Band schedule that does not include a March 31st concert in Pittsburgh. Anyone desiring a respite from the persistent and lamentable local infestation of country acts could consider these dates for a "pulling out of here to win" trip:

March 28 – Philadelphia – Wells Fargo Center (on sale Jan 28)
March 29 – Philadelphia – Wells Fargo Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 1 – Washington DC – Verizon Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 3 – East Rutherford – Izod Center (on sale Jan 27)
April 4 – East Rutherford – Izod Center (on sale Jan 27)
April 6 – New York – Madison Square Garden (on sale Jan 27)
April 9 – New York – Madison Square Garden (on sale Jan 27)
April 12 – Detroit – The Palace of Auburn Hills (on sale Jan 28)
April 13 – Buffalo – First Niagara Center (on sale Jan 28)
April 17 – Cleveland – Quicken Loans Arena (on sale Jan 28)
May 2 – Newark – Prudential Center (on sale Jan 27)

Infytune: Thundercrack, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Infytune: Rosalita, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Infytune: Detroit Medley (Devil With The Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly/CC Rider/Jenny Take A Ride/, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Fine Pun Is Detected Today In Null Space, But InsolvenCity's POS Is No Laughing Matter

Null Space, switching from the reassessment beat to a bad situation, has unveiled (and aptly named) the huge POS that the City of Pittsburgh, apparently addled by delusions of solvency, is presenting to financial markets.

Mainly, it is InsolvenCity's mayor (or at least the leeches who wind his spring) and the city council president (who doesn't even a have a spring to wind) who are responsible for this return to an unsustainable financial trajectory. For the mayor, this offering is designed to promote re-election by funding a bunch of paving projects and (if history guides) self-promoting trashcans. For the city council president, this spending spree was the cost of doing the business of obtaining the mayor-controlled votes among city councilors for her re-election. For everyone else in Pittsburgh -- well, you voted for these knuckleheads, so reach for the Vaseline and hope for the best.

InsolvenCitiers should hope this POS is the final payment by Darlene Harris on her account with the mayor's office.

Infytune: Can't Buy Me Love, The Beatles
Infytune: Gold Digger, Kanye West with Jamie Foxx
Infytune: I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas

Erin Molchany Dips Toe Into 27th's Murky Water

Despite her association with the Pittsburgh Urban Magnet Project, we perceive Erin Molchany's expression of interest in the campaign for state representative from the 27th District as a positive development. The seat is currently occupied by Dan Deasy, known principally for using his water authority position to steer profits to List-Makers at ratepayer expense. (With Deasy's help, reptilian scavenger RDM seems to be preparing to rise again from PWSA's brackish pool shortly.)

Infytune: Dirty Water, The Standells

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Infinonymous Calls South Carolina's Republican Presidential Primary For President Barack Obama

Infinonymous declares with confidence, with nearly all precincts reported, that the decisive winner in the 2012 South Carolina Republican presidential primary is President Barack Obama.

Infytune: Let's Stay Together,
Al Green

Monday, January 16, 2012

Reassessment Reminiscences: An Album Of Dan And The County's Greatest Hits Misses

As sentient citizens begin to sense that Dan Onorato (right, comparing political dreams with Hillary Clinton) sabotaged the most recent reassessment project (at a cost of millions of taxpayers dollars) for selfish political gain, and Judge Wettick regrettably rewards the immoral recalcitrance of fat-cat-feeding conservatives masquerading as Democrats, this seems an appropriate point at which to review (bold type signals the better bits):

Allegheny County's Inaccurate Assessments Violate Constitution, Court Rules

Dan Onorato Foreshadowing County Secession?

Has Judge Wettick Reached His Limit Yet?

Where's The Burning Sense Of Justice?

Synonym For Donkey Found In Assessment

Finding Asses In Assessments

County: Dog Ate Our Copy Of Constitution

Time To Reassess (The County's Legal Position)?

Wettick Gives County One-Month Reprieve

Onorato To Allegheny County Homeowners: If You Want Any Help From Me, Move

Unsolicited Advice Series: Dan Onorato

The Dan Onorato Record On Property Taxes, In Photographs, Video -- And An Elegant Tea House

Beware The Campaign Criticism Boomerang

Fitzgerald Launches Candidacy By Asking Governor To Declare Martial Law On Assessments

The Reassessment Watchdog That Hasn't Barked

Infindorsement: Allegheny County Executive

Apt Assessment: Post-Gazette Pinpoints Perfect Platform For Onorato's Next Political Campaign

A trip to the Null Space archives is always worthwhile for those who like information and insight. Or for city editors wondering how a newspaper would cover this situation.

UPDATE: After reports such as this one, if anything happens to Chris Briem, Rich Fitzgerald and the rest of the gang that couldn't assess fairly will need a strong alibi.

Infytune: Redemption Song, Bob Marley and the Wailers

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Couple Of Questions About Allegheny County's Courtroom Strategy For The Assessments Case

A couple of questions:

Which law firm recently hired two former clerks to Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick?

Which law firm was hired by Rich Fitzgerald to defend the indefensible in the assessment litigation assigned to Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick?

It might be worthwhile to determine when that firm became aware it would be engaged to represent the new Allegheny County administration in Judge Wettick's courtroom, and how many former clerks of Judge Wettick that firm had employed before the assessment litigation commenced.

BONUS QUESTION: Has anyone informed the public about how much taxpayers will pay a law firm to help Rich Fitzgerald try to dodge a unanimous Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling?

Infytune: With A Little Help From My Friends, Joe Cocker
Infytune: With A Little Help From My Friends, John Belushi
Infytune: Feelin' Alright, Joe Cocker and John Belushi
Infytune: Back Door Man, Howlin' Wolf

Allegheny County Democratic Committee Declares "You're On Your Own This Year, Mr. President"

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee today announced the appointment -- not the election, the appointment; anyone have a set of bylaws handy? -- of several new officers.

(One curious change involves the treasurer's position; unless a resignation by Edward Abes was not publicized, why was a new treasurer appointed?)

Maintaining tradition, the county committee's statement did not address the long-ambiguous status of Edward Grattan (right) or Jack Cambest (left), which suggests any attempted housecleaning did not involve the sub-basement.

The lineup announced today -- unproven show horses -- sends an unmistakable message to the Obama campaign preparing for the November election: You are entirely on your own, Mr. President, in Allegheny County.

Organizing for America and MoveOn were already doing most of the substantive lifting for Democrats in Allegheny County, but the press release from the Allegheny County Democratic Committee suggests "most" has become "all."

UPDATE: A couple of sources claim that the reorganization did not comply with the committee's written rules ("for a reason," one wrote -- without identifying that reason). Another correspondent states that the average age of the four announced officers is 70, suggesting "somebody out there does not want this Committee to be very active." Our preliminary hunch: the county Democratic Committee just became a redhead's stepchild.

Infytune: Where The Party At, Jagged Edge with Nelly

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Perhaps A Child Should Lead Them: In Praise Of Pitt's Standout Safety, Andrew Taglianetti

Andrew Taglianetti, with a brief and unscripted display of instinctive character, yesterday provided a moral example for the adults who have so calculatedly diminished college football and educational institutions in recent months.

Taglianetti (left), a fourth-year junior at Pitt, spent the first week of this semester's academic calendar not in class but instead in Alabama, learning that football trumps academics at Pitt. He was in Birmingham to participate in low-grade television programming masquerading as a bowl game, a farce whose result was not only deemed unworthy of mention on the Post-Gazette's main online sports page this morning but indeed was listed fourteenth -- of fourteen stories -- on the P-G page devoted to Pitt athletics.

Long after it had been determined that Pitt would lose to an unranked team from a lackluster conference, Andrew Taglianetti was still playing hard in the fourth quarter against Southern Methodist University. He tackled SMU runner Jared Williams with a clean, low, shoulder-first hit that, by gruesome happenstance, snapped Williams' femur. Taglianetti knew immediately that Williams had been severely injured; the break could be heard along the sideline. Taglianetti was responsible, but not culpable, for Williams' injury, but that distinction did not diminish Taglianetti's vividly displayed anguish. Taglianetti did not calculate; he immediately put his hands to his head, fell to his knees, touched his forehead to the ground, and rose to curse fate. Despite the apparent emotional devastation, Taglianetti approached Williams in an obvious expression of regret as trainers assisted Williams for several minutes. When Williams, prone on a gurney, was ready to leave the field for a hospital, Taglianetti stood with Williams (right), empathetically tapping the injured man's chest. Taglianetti seemed shaken for several minutes after play resumed.

Taglianetti's exhibition of sportsmanship, accountability, perspective, and decency would deserve credit in any circumstance. Its purity and context, however, created a striking, instructive comparison with the self-serving, substandard conduct of the grown-ups overseeing the seedy business of football at Pitt and Penn State. Penn State administrators, who focused on public relations and money after it was revealed that their institution's deplorable conduct had concealed and facilitated the rape of children, and Pitt officials, who have poorly served the student athletes they are ostensibly educating, could learn much from Andrew Taglianetti.

There is scant evidence that Penn State or Pitt has learned the appropriate lessons yet, but so long as our Andrew Taglianettis -- who deserve better from their elders -- are better than their elders, we are hopeful.

Infytune: Young Man Blues, The Who

Friday, January 6, 2012

Unsolicited Advice Series: Judge R. Stanton Wettick

We hope Judge Tony Wettick (right) recognizes that he -- like the victims of unconstitutionally unfair taxation looking to him for vindication -- has been rope-a-doped by disingenuous and morally bankrupt elected officials for some time.

Dan Onorato and Rich Fitzgerald have relied on delay and chaos for years and, with Judge Wettick's acquiescence, have succeeded. Some observers have suggested that Judge Wettick must choose today between 1) jailing Fitzgerald for the most recent cynical maneuver or 2) rewarding the rope-a-dopers by delaying the delivery of justice for another year (while providing another year for more maneuvering).

We humbly wonder whether Judge Wettick might chart a different course. Why not forbid Allegheny County to collect another dime of taxes based on the unfairly inaccurate assessments? We suspect such a ruling would induce the appropriate public officials to find a prompt and just solution.

Infytune: How Soon Is Now?, The Smiths

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Bride Of Lukenstein

The expressions of InsolvenCity's council members revealed more than did the votes and appointments that set the stage for another year of dysfunction among the City of Pittsburgh's elected leaders.

In quintessential fifth floor fashion, the mayor, his minions, and nine city councilors alienated allies, roiled relationships, and forged faithless allegiances to accomplish not even a feint at progress but instead the maintenance of a mediocre status quo. Another improbable broken-field run places Darlene Harris in the council president's chair, this time leaving an even more broken field. A recipe for a combination of free-for-all and free-fall.

Accepting her colleagues' affirmation, Harris (left, reaching for swearing-in Bible) looked every bit the Bride of Lukenstein she had become, jolted into a tortured approximation of political life by strange applications of power and chemistry. She has her presidency, but is not quite sure how or why it came to creation, and even her flickering faculties sense there is something unnatural and doomed about it.

Patrick Dowd, who bartered his vote for . . . who knows what? Not even a hackneyed horror script could devise a plot lurch in which Dowd received anything worthwhile. On this day, his was the pivotal vote (except in the fantasy world of the Post-Gazette's local political coverage). But his expression indicated that he knew not one of his eight colleagues would ever consider him reliable again. If there was a strategy or benefit associated with this vote, it is known, or perhaps exists, only in the mind of Patrick Dowd.

Ricky Burgess looked like a student whose forged hall pass just fooled one teacher but is not expected to carry him all the way to the parking lot. He has the finance chair, but can not count on anything after today.

Theresa Kail Smith, maid of honor for a day, had the look of an outsider who had maneuvered her way into the "in" crowd, but who realized she would probably be back to her customary level of popularity tomorrow.

Corey O'Connor displayed the genuine smile of someone who was overwhelmed, mostly by good things like inauguration and a marriage proposal, but also by the recognition he was now responsible for voting on public policy despite barely understanding what he had gotten himself into. He looked much like fellow Central Catholic graduate Tino Sunseri in a collapsing pocket, two long seconds after the ball should have been thrown.

Bruce Kraus, Bill Peduto, and Natalia Rudiak tried but could not hide shell shock. Three faces, one expression, evoking Jon Lovitz in a Saturday Night Live presidential debate as Michael Dukakis, who, when asked to comment on the inane mumbling of Dana Carvey's George Bush (the older, competent one), offered concise rebuttal: "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!" Watch:

Daniel Lavelle just looked happy that his first day of this year's council term could not be as face-plant disastrous as his first day one year ago.

We will leave it to others to perform the detailed autopsy on this year's council, a body decomposing less than one hour into its new life. Divided government has its virtues in some circumstances, but this council is too divided to stand or crawl. Two men put Harris back into the president's position; one hates her, the other dislikes her. As of today, those sentiments are shared by the council colleagues who stood by Harris as the mayor attempted to whack her. There is no discernible majority for anything; not for good government, not for mayoral sycophancy, not for ham-handed corruption, not for any identifiable strategy, not for any sensible tactic.

Can InsolvenCity, still failing after a sustained period of decline, afford the year of paralysis precipitated by today's exhibition of fifth floor dysfunction? What spooked the largely intact majority into splintering? Does anyone other than the List-Makers (and, perhaps, Jeff Thomas) stand to benefit from today's events?

Some (such as Trib headline writers in distant counties) may infer that the animation of the Bride of Lukenstein indicates that Mayor Ravenstahl has regained control of the levers of power. But most people forget that the beneficiary of the bride's creation was not Frankenstein but instead Frankenstein's monster. Frankenstein was the guy who threw the switches and pulled the levers -- and that still is not Luke Ravenstahl, not by a long shot. Far more likely, Pittsburgh will spend this year traveling downhill with no one at the wheel. That's right, another horror movie.

Infytune: Frankenstein, Edgar Winter Group

Friday, December 30, 2011

Adjusted Odds On Tuesday's Voting For InsolvenCity Council President, Finance Chair

A series of recent developments -- including a telling vote, a few hushed assignations, and at least one inchoate backstabbing along a fifth-floor hallway at the City-County Building -- incline adjustment of the no-longer-early betting lines for InsolvenCity's council presidency and finance chair, and we have reached the point at which favorites are published in bold type (with former odds in parentheses):
Council president
(1) Darlene Harris: 2-3 (4-1)
(2) Theresa Kail Smith: 40-1
(3) Bruce Kraus: 8-1 (3-1)
(4) Natalia Rudiak: 15-1 (7-2)
(5) Corey O'Connor: 5-1 (12-1)
(6) Daniel Lavelle: 40-1
(7) Patrick Dowd: 99-1 (40-1)
(8) Bill Peduto: 15-1 (25-1)
(9) Ricky Burgess: 40-1
Lukefecta (2, 6, 9 vote together): 1-8 (1-3)

Council finance chair
(1) Darlene Harris 40-1 (3-1)
(2) Theresa Kail Smith: 40-1
(3) Bruce Kraus: 15-1 (4-1)
(4) Natalia Rudiak: 15-1 (5-2)
(5) Corey O'Connor: 25-1
(6) Daniel Lavelle: 40-1
(7) Patrick Dowd: 2-1 (40-1)
(8) Bill Peduto: 10-1 (8-1)
(9) Ricky Burgess: 40-1
Daily Double (1, 3 in either order): 25-1 (7-2)

Infytune: Waiting On The World To Change, John Mayer
Infytune: This Time It's For Real, Southside Johnny, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and Little Steven Van Zandt (that makes four, for those who are counting)
Infytune: Five Jive, Elmo