Friday, November 27, 2009

Inspiration From An Unlikely Local Source

Before reading this article, I would have bet against finding inspiration in anything related to the current or recent Pittsburgh Pirates.

On the other hand, anyone as smart as Ross Ohlendorf is unlikely to remain in Pittsburgh one moment more than the rules of major league baseball require, so anyone wishing to root for him in a Pirates uniform should hurry.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Curious Coincidence?

The Post-Gazetteer who contributed to the first extended article concerning Luke Ravenstahl's marital separation is (or was, at least until arrested by Luke's storm troopers on the Cathedral of Learning lawn) the police beat writer.

Separated . . . Or Connected?

Are these stories connected?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Beacon From The Cathedral Of Learning

Most of what has been occurring around here lately -- Ravenstahl on the city budget, Onorato on assessments, UPMC stabbing Braddock's heart, for starters -- has been too depressing for words, but this is not.

A triple threat (chemistry, history, French). Truman Scholar. Truman-Albright Fellow. Chancellor's Scholar. Rhodes Scholar. Eleanor M. Ott is a beacon.

I wish her well, wherever she moves after graduation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Today's Americans stand on the shoulders of those who strove before them, beneficiaries of centuries of ingenuity, sacrifice, intrepidity, investment and effort throughout the world.

For most Americans, Veterans Day is a relatively minor holiday; another workday or schoolday for most. Even when mentioned by a colleague or a newspaper article or a radio broadcast, it is a passing thought, particularly among those outside the relatively thin slice of America currently shouldering the military burden with sweat, anxiety and blood.

More than one million persons have accepted active duty in the military service of today's United States of America. All have been volunteers, pushed by patriotism, practicality and perhaps other factors in varying measures.

Millions of other veterans have completed their service. Some enlisted, some were conscripted. Some pursued danger, some had no choice other than to confront it. Some accomplished great missions, some have been sent on fools' errands. Some were required to overcome not only the enemy but also the ignorance and bigotry of their peers or superiors. Nearly all have distinguished themselves, whatever their orders, by simply doing their duty. Some returned as heroes, some (including heroes) returned to a society that treated them like dirt. Some returned in caskets, some never returned.

More than one million persons have died in the military service of the United States. At a technical level, Memorial Day honors the dead and Veterans Day honors the living. All, however, deserve a moment of reflection, a kind thought, a measure of gratitude today.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ricky: I Love Lukey

City council member Rev. Ricky Burgess has confirmed his desire to be Luke's bitch president of Pittsburgh's City Council. The Propositions Board (far right column) is leaning toward paying Burgess tickets in the "Motznik's Successor As Luke's BFF On Council" category.

Rev. Burgess (left, with a couple of sketchy characters, plus that guy at the podium) says that, because Ravenstahl was elected by a "vast majority" of Pittsburghers, Rev. Burgess is ready to "move the city forward" through collaboration with the mayor.

I suppose a reverend, by definition, must believe in fairy tales -- but are divinity schools not permitted to teach math?

P.S. A fascinating (non-scandalous) rumor is circulating along Grant Street about that guy next to Rev. "Ricky Loves Lukey." Should have more in a day or two.

P.P.S. Could this be the type of progess that causes Rev. Burgess to propose turning council into a "Ricky Loves Lukey" show?

An Amaz(on)ing List Of Literature

If you are easily amused, check this.

(If you know Luke Ravenstahl, send the link to him. He'll spend three hours, minimum, on it, and that will be three hours less damage inflicted on the city.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How Our Home Teamers Fared In The Big Game

As the first game of the National Healthcare Series unfolded, attention focused on a local angle -- how a local player would perform under pressure, especially if events placed him in an important position at a crucial time. This Pittsburgh-area congressman had not yet proven himself; even among fans, few knew much about him, and what was known generated questions concerning his motivations, his background, his reliability, his heart.

The stakes were high enough that teammates and fans disregarded the sketchy parts of his record and assumed he would come through when it counted. Suspense built as events moved toward a gripping late-night crucible, and it became apparent that his performance could determine victory or defeat.

And then he proved himself with the right vote at the right time (just before midnight). Stilling fears about his awkward background, his uncertain leanings, his creepy pals (some of whom he bunks with -- literally), he provided an invaluable vote for healthcare reform.

Never again doubt Mike Doyle (left) in the clutch.

Another local Democrat, however, has some 'splainin' to do. He dithered. He contributed nothing substantive to debate. He consumed the time, effort and spirits of Democrats for months. Yesterday, he voted for a nasty, overreaching amendment that pandered to anti-abortion absolutists -- but even that did not break his supporters, who were willing to see it as a distasteful but practical ('one step back, two steps forward') tactic.

And then, at the defining moment of his term as a member of Congress, Jason Altmire (right) inexplicably stood with Michele Bachmann, Joe Wilson, Steve King and Mike Pence, and voted against healthcare reform.

If a credible, persuasive explanation of Rep. Altmire's conduct exists, he should provide it promptly. His constituents deserve it and his legislative career appears to depend on it.

UPDATE: Rep. Altmire has issued an explanation, albeit one neither credible nor persuasive. (Whom are these collegues he expects to be "working with," now that the Democratic infantry has moved on without him? And what sequence of events toward a better bill could have been promoted by his "no" vote? Did he ask anyone to read this gibberish before he posted it?) Given the press of events and the likelihood he was shortstaffed on the weekend, Rep. Altmire should be given until the close of business on Monday to extend and revise these remarks, ideally working toward the "credible and persuasive" standard.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Proud Moments In Local Government

During a public meeting featuring "shouting, interruptions, profanity, insults and, at one point, the throwing of a copy of the amendment to the floor," Allegheny County council members gathered their composure and provided the leadership for which their beleaguered constituents yearn:
Amid the arguing, the members agreed that in the future they would not vote on amendments without reading them

Lest we discount this advance, note that some local public servants seem incapable of learning anything. Today's exhibit is Urban Redevelopment Authority mouthpiece Megan Stearman, who, for a City Paper article surveying the wreckage at the former Iron City brewery, said:
"The decision to grant Iron City Brewing money to upgrade operations was still a good business decision. They had up until that point provided jobs and tax revenue for the city."

It is difficult to decide which is worst: That she is dumb enough to believe this, dumb enough to say it even if she believes it, or disingenuous enough to say it if she recognizes that it is a crock.

Lest one conclude (on ample evidence), however, that there is no adequate public servant in these parts, an antidote is provided by Dr. Bruce W. Dixon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

McClintock Campaign Concedes Mayoral Election

The campaign of Dr. Jonas R. McClintock issued this statement:

The campaign of Dr. Jonas R. McClintock (affectionately known as "The Boy Mayor" during his first term as Mayor of Pittsburgh, 1836-1839) has conceded that Dr. McClintock has not been elected to a second term as Mayor of Pittsburgh.

"Although it was tempting to believe that a candidate with Dr. McClintock's record and credentials would be successful against the other candidates presented," a campaign spokesman said, "it was difficult to overcome a situation in which many of Dr. McClintock's strongest supporters have been dead for more than 150 years, and the others have been dead for more than a century."

"In a perfect world, a candidate of Dr. McClintock's caliber would have been the overwhelming preference among City of Pittsburgh voters today," the spokesman continued. "But if this were a perfect world, Dr. McClintock would not be inside a cold, dark, damp box."

Dr. McClintock will not be available for comment.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Infindorsement: Mayor Of The City Of Pittsburgh (The Argument For A Vote For The Boy Mayor)

No phony suspense here. Luke Ravenstahl will be re-elected. The City of Pittsburgh will continue to decline, amusing itself along the way with boastful delusions of adequacy.

Citizens should nonetheless vote. But for whom?

Kevin Acklin is a man without a party (at least, that's his story and he's sticking to it . . . so far). His campaign has been useful, if only for directing attention to the tip of the iceberg that is John Verbanac. He has no chance to win -- not because he carried several handicaps into a campaign relying on city voters (a strong education, professional accomplishments, correct pronunciation), but instead because he failed to avert a split-the-anti-incumbent-vote situation. Anyone who couldn't recognize and/or solve that problem is no choice for mayor of a decaying city.

Franco "Dok" Harris is a man without an adult resume. He seems altruistic, energetic and thoughtful, but his record is that of a strong candidate for class president. He, too, is to be faulted for failing to arrange a two-person race (even if that required a coin toss with Acklin). If Dok ever perceived a genuine prospect that he could win this race, the world is still one huge Dungeons & Dragons game to him. Dok's time may come . . . but not yet.

Luke Ravensthal is a boy who embodies another decade of avoidable decline (which makes him the "obvious" choice in the mind of Post-Gazette editorial writers). An apt fit for today's City of Pittsburgh, much as today's Iron City beer (brewed in Wisconsin for yinzers who failed geography) and today's Pirates (league-leading bobbleheads) are.

If these three were welded together, we'd still be short of one legitimate candidate to tackle the job of reviving the City of Pittsburgh. What is the rational voter to do? In this least-of-lesser-evils context, one candidate is plainly superior. That candidate: the Boy Mayor.

It would be disingenuous not to express some regret with respect to this endorsement. The Boy Mayor is not an ideal candidate; no one first elected in his 20s could be. It is difficult to identify strong points in his record as mayor. Plus, every reasonable person would agree he is brain-dead.

Which is not surprising, because he has been buried in Allegheny Cemetery for more than a century.

This Infindorsement belongs to Dr. Jonas R. McClintock, left, Pittsburgh's original "Boy Mayor." (Not to be confused with the city's Original Gangsta Boy Mayor, right). Elected at 28 after battling the cholera epidemic of the early 1830s, as a physician. Described as presiding over the first "cut" that turned Grant's Hill (a mound, at the east end of Pittsburgh's downtown, whose grade had prevented progress in developing the city) into Grant Street (a street whose current inhabitants prevent progress in developing the city).

Mayor McClintock's advantages over the incumbent seem obvious. Better education. Record of public service. No known relationship with John Verbanac, Yarone Zober, or Tiger Woods. Mayor McClintock's military record consisted of assembling a Civil War battalion rather than militarizing Oakland for an assault against hackey-sacking Pitt students. And Dr. McClintock seems incapable of hurting Pittsburgh in the next four years, being dead since 1879.

That final reason is enough to make a write-in vote for Dr. Jonas R. McClintock for mayor the most appropriate act by any City of Pittsburgh voter on Tuesday.