Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do Not Trust Politicians With E-Mail Addresses

Infitip: Never provide an e-mail address (at least, not an e-mail address you intend to use) to an elected official, a candidate or anyone employed by or associated with an elected official or a candidate. Campaigns have learned that the cost of sending innumerable fundraising pleas electronically is essentially nil, and demonstrate no regard for the time, effort and aggravation of recipients. They also, apparently, sell or trade lists.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Harrisburg Council Rejects Municipal Parking Privateers' (And Ravenstahl's) Financial Advisor

As it becomes increasingly apparent that Pittsburgh's city council will not approve The Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale, Harrisburg's council has flashed a "Do Not Enter" sign at Scott Balice Strategies, the Chicago firm that has acted as the Pittsburgh privateers' financial advisor.

As in Pittsburgh, Scott Balice's promoter in Harrisburg has been the mayor (and a shadowy group of puppeteers). Harrisburg's council not only rejected Scott Balice but instead established a process to select other professionals to provide information and advice concerning Harrisburg's financial meltdown.

City Solicitors Deserve Taste Of Own Medicine

One might have expected InsolvenCity's in-house lawyers -- and in particular relatively new solicitor Daniel Regan (left) -- to be among the attorneys least likely to invite scrutiny of conflict-of-interest and liability-for-bad-advice issues, but that expectation would have been based on the assumption that Mr. Regan and his colleagues are capable of translating the self-preservation instinct into effective action.

The league in which a city solicitor operates differs substantially from the world in which someone can, say, submit a sketchy liquor license application and, if anyone starts asking questions, simply withdraw the documents without further inquiry or penalty. City councilors -- who occupy a position from which they could teach that lesson -- should consider these points when dealing with InsolvenCity's law department, regardless of whether a city lawyer (a) claims to be offering legal advice to council or (b) acknowledges advocacy for the mayor's interests rather than those of the city.

Infinonytune: Eve Of Destruction, Barry McGuire

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chrissie Hynde: New Hazlett Theater, Tonight

Why just sit around waiting for InsolvenCity to capsize, an inconsequential mediocrity to be elected governor, another Republican recycling of discredited ideology, or President Obama to announce another disappointing diminution of civil liberties when Chrissie Hynde is in town?

New Hazlett Theater, 7 p.m. tonight, thirty bucks.

Infinonytune: Back On The Chain Gang, Pretenders (Live Aid)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Only Thing Standing Between You And A No-Knock Home Invasion: The Honesty Of Cheaters

When considering this story, recall that a naked statement by any of these cheaters would be adequate to trigger a no-knock invasion of your home by government agents (and the seizure of just about anything in that home), because our system of safeguarding civil rights against government abuse relies unquestioningly on affidavits provided by law enforcement personnel.

The examination on which hundred of federal law enforcement agents reportedly cheated tested their understanding of rules governing government surveillance of citizens.

Infinonytune: Your Cheatin' Heart, Hank Williams

Rothfus, Robertson, Regent: Not Newsworthy?

The Post-Gazette publishes a 20-graf examination of Keith Rothfus without mentioning a three and one-half year employment association with Pat Robertson and Regent University (successor to scandal-wrecked Oral Roberts University's law school)? Rothfus' campaign staff, which is strenuously attempting to conceal the candidate's extreme right-wing religious views and background from the public, is doing its job, in this case with help from the P-G.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Reading: End-Of-Summer Edition

Harrisburg: Tom Corbett is going to need head-to-toe Depends by the time Signor Ferrari is through ripping him new ones.

The White House: We don't need no stinkin' Constitution.

The Molecular Level: Pentacene never looked so good.

China: What a country could do if it weren't trying to become the first invader since Genghis Kahn to tame Afghanistan.

Washington: More brilliance from the keeping-us-safe Department.

Chicago: The Morgan Stanley-LAZ connection.

Tribune-Review Outlines How Rendell, Onorato And Ravenstahl Passed Public Hat For Rooneys

Jeremy Boren's masterful deconstruction of the Lot 6 transaction -- by which elected and appointed public officials conveyed invaluable land to a well-connected private interest for less than 10 percent of the apparent market value -- evokes concepts such as shame, dishonesty, incompetence, fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty.

It also should provoke prosecutorial scrutiny. That aspect of the situation is complicated, however, by the new United States Attorney's longstanding relationships with more than one interested party and by the district attorney's practiced disregard of corruption cases that do not benefit the List-Makers.

This might be another case for the Public Integrity Section.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Casablanca Deftly Fillets Corbett's Prosecutorial Record, Exposing Candidate's Flawed Character

Over at Rick's place, Tom Corbett's record is receiving last rites and his character is being autopsied.

Anyone else wondering whether Pennsylvania Democrats wish they'd nominated a Democrat to challenge Corbett?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nation's Most Trusted Newsman Explains Why Every Republican's Eyes Are Brown

While Dr. Stephen Colbert was educating Congress concerning migrant farmworkers, Jon Stewart -- America's most trusted news source -- was explaining why the only Pledge any American should want from Republicans is a can large enough to clean up the mess that remains from when conservatives broke our country (and a couple of others). Watch.

Infinonytune: "You Know You're No Good, Winehouse/Ronstadt

Nation's Best Conservative Media Figure Schools Congress On Farmworkers (And Corn-Packers)

It was hard to believe someone would go along with this: A comedian called to testify -- in character -- before a Congressional committee concerning proposed legislation.

But Dr. Stephen Colbert was willing to go slumming in the service of his grateful nation today, testifying formally on Capitol Hill concerning federal treatment of migrant field workers (after Colbert's day as a vegetable picker with the United Farm Workers):

Although Dr. Colbert's opening statement is impressive, his most insightful point might have been expressed later, during questioning, when Rep. Steve King (of Iowa's Lower Jesusland district) asked why a YouTube video depicted Colbert unloading (instead of filling) crates of corn. Colbert responded that he had indeed picked corn -- "I was a corn-packer, sir" before informing Rep. King: "I know that term is offensive, to some people, because corn-packer is a derogatory term for a gay Iowan."

Colbert drew applause -- in a room of Democrats (constantly attempting to hide smiles and giggles) and Republicans (easily maintaining their pursed-lip stoicism) -- with the conclusion of his opening statement to members of Congress: "I trust that following my testimony, both sides will work together on this issue in the best interest of the American people. As you always do."

UPDATE: Colbert answers Congressional questions (left). FOX's Megyn Kelly, meanwhile, shows why she is a pro (right), struggling to pull the stick out of her ass long enough to get through a probing interview of Rep. King concerning Colbert's testimony.

Infinonytune:Ironic, Alanis Morissette

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Candidate's Mouth Gets Him In Trouble; Luzerne Judge's Sudden Talkativeness Imperils Others

So many candidates have said so many stupid things that it has been impossible to catalogue all but a few of them, but Thomas Marino, candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 10th District (Lehigh Valley), demands attention for a pathetic whopper in defense of an apparent whopper.

Marino, who vouched for a casino applicant (and soon-to-be employer) while serving as a federal prosecutor, has failed to produce a promised letter confirming his claim that the Department of Justice approved his unusual appearance in a casino application.

Why? Because the candidate is "not authorized" to release the ostensibly exculpatory document.

Why? Because "While I am confident that the release of certain documents would end this matter, I understand the sensitive nature of these documents and the important role that the Department of Justice has in keeping us safe."

That's right. Marino must respectfully refuse to dispel the impression he is a liar (if not worse) because . . . exoneration would threaten national security!

(A Department of Justice source has indicated that the department has no record of the asserted permission.)

But that unfortunate report from the east is more than tempered by other justice-related news: One of the two Luzerne County judges who accepted million-dollar bribes in the jailing-children-for-profit scandal has reportedly ended his silence, speaking with prosecutors to the point at which one source reports that the former judge was close-mouthed when pleading guilty but 'just won't shut up' while preparing for sentencing.

Those who desire justice will welcome an insider's testimony, but the former judge's sudden garrulousness could be bad news for anyone who benefited from the highly profitable but extremely repulsive scheme.

The List-Makers' List, Inscription The 21st

The forty-first name written by The List-Makers is Kevin Joyce, decorated downtown purveyor of victuals and libations, inscribed as skewerer of Dan the Tax Man's untruths, cuffer of Dan the Spendthrift's hands, and likely among the cookers of Dan the Candidate's goose.

The forty-second name written by The List-Makers is Charles McCullough, at-large county councilor, listed as chronic jouster with Dan the Ambitious, frequent litigant against Dan the Tax Man, and vexer of Dan the Authoritarian.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Budgeting As Fantasy, InsolvenCity-Style

The Ravenstahl administration has proposed a 2011 budget that immediately tests reason in two respects:
  • It assumes the black hole of pension funding will be solved kicked down the road pointlessly for a year or two by The Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale

  • It envisions no major tax increase and no major service decrease
In other words, one more year of fantasy in avoiding a formal recognition of bankruptcy -- or any serious step to correct the problem. Instead, the city will follow its unsustainable trajectory by maintaining its lifestyle, making minimum payments on the credit card and hoping it can pawn enough to scrape together those minimum payments.

This development suggests rumors that this might be Mayor Ravenstahl's final term -- by choice, if not by verdict or consent decree -- might have substance.

Infinonytune: Fantasy, Earth, Wind and Fire

Where Are The Two Votes Separating The Skimmers From A Billion Dollar Leechfest?

As of today, the available evidence indicates that three -- of an ostensibly required five -- city councilors intend to vote for the Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale.

The three in-the-bag councilors -- Lavelle, Smith, Burgess -- have little to no influence over their colleagues. (Patrick Dowd has exhibited minor, tentative movement toward an alliance with Rev. Burgess with respect to certain issues but evinces no respect for Rev. Burgess' thinking or position on the parking transaction.)

That leaves three potential persuaders -- the mayor's office, the privateers and the public -- and six candidates for two votes. Four members of council -- Shields, Peduto, Kraus and Rudiak -- dislike or despise the mayor, for varying reasons and in varying degree. Patrick Dowd has moved from shouting details of the mayor's corruption on streetcorners to merely thinking the mayor a dullard controlled by objectionable puppeteers. Council President Darlene Harris doesn't dislike the mayor but is a fan of neither the mayor nor the proposed transaction.

Several councilors have been angered by the city administration's failure to seek an accommodation from Harrisburg that would enable the city to defuse the "it may be ugly, but it's the last chance to avert doomsday" deadline that appears to be the bulk of the privateers' argument. Several people -- in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg -- have expressed astonishment that a plea from InsolvenCity for reprieve was not advanced during Tuesday's legislative caucus meetings in Harrisburg. Pile that focused anger atop the general (and deserved) disdain for the Ravenstahl administration and it becomes difficult to see Luke or Yarone or John or Bill or anyone else persuading any councilor to vote to unleash parking hell.

As more details of the winning bid -- how rules were bent, which List-Makers are involved in lobbying and skimming -- emerge, the privateers are likely to become even less attractive to the skeptical councilors.

Public voices? City residents are demonstrably incapable of recognizing a logical argument, let alone advancing one, and emerging evidence that the Post-Gazette takes advice from a cog in the parking deal wheel should render the editorial page even more impotent than usual.

How, then, do the privateers secure the Dowd and Harris votes?

If an answer exists -- a seemingly big "if" -- it likely begins with a dollar sign.

Infinonytune: Have A Cigar, Roger Waters
Infinonytune: Money, Pink Floyd

Couldn't Have Said It Better Ourselves

The Slagger exhibits Rockettes-quality legwork concerning the publicly funded, privately consumed, nonprofitly produced "intelligence alerts" that should cost several state employees their jobs.

Illyrias advances a worthwhile proposal about separating meters from garages in the Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale.

The Returners recount a strange exchange at the conclusion of an ACLU press conference at the scene of last year's crimes at Schenley Plaza.

The Church Lady raps the Boy Mayor's knuckles for acting his age.

UPDATE: The dinosaur media (or, to Christine O'Donnell's fans, the "our great-great-great-grandparents' pets" media) also shows up, courtesy of an alert city councilor:

The Parsonage has early chapter-and-verse on a grand jury investigation of -- sitting down? -- a Ravenstahl-era city contract. (Hat tip to the producer who put the mayor in the video.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Puzzler From The Haberdasher's Department For Post-Gazetteers In The Executive Suite

A petulant politician pitted against a probing publication, with a sketchy public assets transaction and a close-to-home investigative series in the background.

Anyone wondering how Frederick Frank might come down on that one?

Infinonytune: Sharp Dressed Man, Rick K. & the Allnighters

Infiquery: Can anyone confirm whether the drummer is Rich Fitzgerald?

It Can Happen, With An Able Prosecutor: Elected Officials Taken From Their Homes In Handcuffs

It appears Heinz Field is not the only place at which municipal officials can be found in handcuffs.

How's the new job, Mr. Hickton?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pittsburgh Parking Partners' Familiar Face

J.P. Morgan!

J.P. Morgan?

J.P. Morgan . . . J.P. Morgan . . . where -- and with whom -- has that name come up before?

Infinonytune: Oh No Not You Again, Rolling Stones

Feds Provide Hope Where Local Yokels Fail (Then Fail Again, Then Fail Again, Then . . .)

No one genuinely expects the relevant district attorney to do his job (unless, of course, it's a family matter) but today's announcement by the Department of Justice (involving Bush Jr.-era FBI misconduct in Pittsburgh, and associated government lies) generates hope that a federal prosecutor may call InsolvenCity to account for its G20-related misconduct.

G20, Jordan Miles, The Network . . . Mr. Hickton has quite a combo platter in front of him. Unless headquarters pulls rank.

At Least We Can Always Be Sure Which One's Tina Fey (Because She's Articulate And Sane)

Republican Christine O'Donnell, nominee for Senator from Delaware (and Tea Party favorite), has more in common with Sarah Palin than merely a checkered academic record, a vague resemblance, or an unhealthy relationship with superstition: Turns out she's a quitter, too.

Infinonytune: Only The Good Die Young, Billy Joel

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday Reading: "Looks Like" Edition

Harrisburg: What cowardice looks like.

Philadelphia: What cluelessness looks like.

Washington: What weakness looks like.

Afghanistan: What a mission accomplished looks like.

Washington: What national intelligence looks like.

Chevy Chase: What good government looks like.

Afghanistan: What bad government looks like.

The English Channel: What triumph looks like.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Bipartisanly Bashed State Surveillance List Should Put Some People In Prison -- The Listers

Republican state Senate leader Joe Scarnati deserves credit for promoting an investigation of the "watch the environmentalists and gays" program conducted by Pennsylvania's Department of Homeland Security, just as Democratic governor Ed Rendell deserves credit for vigorously denouncing and terminating the program.

The more that is revealed about the program to monitor non-violent dissenters, the more it appears that not only should DHS administrator James Powers join the contractor at the departure ramp, but also someone should be prosecuted.

By the way: Were anti-abortion protesters monitored, or was this surveillance list born exclusively of right-wingnuttery?

With Bids Open In Closed Loop, Information Is Power Money Available (Within The "Network")

Does anyone care to propose an over-under line on how many List-Makers know the details of every active bid for the Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale by now?

Infinonytune: "I Heard It Through The Grapevine," Marvin Gaye

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shields About To Do Constituents A Disservice

It is becoming increasingly disappointing that Doug Shields is pointing toward leaving InsolvenCity Council to spend a couple of years on the witness stand, testifying against The List-Makers and their puppets chase a magistrate's position. He seems to be coming into his own as a member of council.

Luke Ravenstahl's InsolvenCity: Progressing At The Speed Of A Parked Car

It is entirely fitting that the two big issues on Pittsburgh's plate today -- bidding for the Great Insolvency Parking Garage Sale and the vote on whether to make the entire Civic Arena site a street-level parking lot for many years -- involve the act of parking . . . going nowhere.

Infinonytune: Expressway To Your Heart, The Blues Brothers

The Takeway From Sophie's Parking Video?

Top takeaway from former mayor Sophie Masloff's celebrity endorsement video for the proposed Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale:

(1) Sophie Masloff is being held captive in Iraq, forced to read propaganda at bladepoint?

(2) It is impossible to understand how the private sector has not snapped this woman up by now to evaluate complex financial transactions?

(3) Sophie Masloff is Mr. Bill's mother?

(4) Mr. Bill's mother has become Sophie Masloff?

(5) Pittsburgh is a really small town?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Question For Trib Editors: What's That Word For "Arrogant For No Discernible Reason?"

Trib Total Media has commissioned a new billboard in its inexplicable "we dominate" series:
"Our Elevator Only Goes Up."

(or something similar).

What's next?
"Our vehicles only turn right."

"Our lights only flicker intermittently."

"Our sun rises and sets in the east."

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Walk Along List-Maker-Memory Lane

One of the Listed reminded us today of this walk along memory lane. Enjoy!

Extra credit: Identify the member of the List-Makers' List depicted at right before following the link.

Infinonytunes: Meeting Across The River, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Laying Down The Law For The P-G Newsroom

The plan was to note a recent and curious mind-boggling hire for the Post-Gazette newsroom today, but Rich Lord's densely packed deconstruction of the List-Makers suggests another day would be more fitting.

A lesser note along that fugue, however, involves the fine contribution of Christine Spolar to the P-G's Sunday op-ed page. Ms. Spolar's background (former Baghdad correspondent for the Chicago Tribune) is noted, but something is missing. Spolar . . . Spolar . . . that name seems familiar . . .

One might have expected recent events to reemphasize for Post-Gazetteers the importance of disclosing associations relevant to editorial work. Not all baggage is a problem, but all backage should be checked. That ought to be the law in a newsroom, right?

Getting Led Around By Nose Seems To Have Made The Mayor Of InsolvenCity A Mite Sore

The boy mayor (far right) appears exceptionally sensitive about inquiries concerning the events and relationships underlying Rich Lord's report in today's Post-Gazette.

Getting led around by the nostrils long enough, apparently, can make one extremely sore.

A few questions prompted by today's installment (and a couple of sidebars):
  • Who is Jeffrey Thomas, and will we be reading more about him (and his playmates)?

  • After today's trip to the Lehigh Valley, could the next leg lead to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre?

  • Was the Allegheny County Democratic Committee's recent removal of Edward Grattan's name (as finance director) from its website related to the Post-Gazette's inquiries?

  • Was Grattan's name removed because he is no longer coordinating fundraising for county Democrats, or merely as window-dressing?

  • Is Jack Cambest (currently listed as Democratic Party solicitor, and also currently starring in several of the Post-Gazette's investigative reports) next to be depixelated?

  • How much longer will 225 Ross Street seem like a good place for Democratic Committee headquarters?

  • Who is Scott Balice Strategies, and will Rich Lord be mentioning it (and The Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale) before his work is done?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Courtesy Too Far For Billboard Bonehead?

Journalists' traditional practice has been to polish quotations -- revising poor grammar, for example. The benefits range from avoiding alienation (or embarrassment) of sources to creation of better-reading copy.

The Post-Gazette's Cutting Edger today provides an example, however, of when the customary courtesy seems inappropriate, by "quoting" a billboard:
"Flight 93 -- Born Heroes -- Gave Their Lives to Save Lives / Life is a Precious Gift -- Save God's Unborn Heroes -- America Must End the Terror of Abortion."
That is not, however, what the billboard's author wrote. This is:
Flight 93
Born Hero's
Gave Their Lives To Save Lives
Life Is A Precious Gift
Save God's Unborn Hero's
America Must End The Terror Of Abortion
The author made a grade-school mistake, made it twice, made it in writing, and placed it on a billboard. Plus, some readers might wish to know that the formulator of that billboard's message lacks a seventh-grade education. In this case, accuracy seems more important than courtesy.

Sunday Reading: Network List-Makers Edition

Today's Post-Gazette brings the first installment of what could be a 50-part series on The List-Makers (whom the P-G calls "The Network," although any Inficlaim to trademark or copyright concerning "The List-Makers" would have been relinquished to the P-G by license for the asking).

Rich Lord's article (which is accompanied by excellent, but incomplete, art, plus a bibliography) is this Sunday's reading. Discussion will begin after everyone has had a chance to complete the reading.

The List-Makers have compiled a List (a small-town version of Nixon's Enemies List). An in-progress listing is available at the far right column; each name features a hyperlink to additional information. Rich Lord's was one of the first two names inscribed, following only that of List-provoker Michael Lamb.

(Revelation of The Listed -- which had been suspended as an unsolicited courtesy to examiners of List-Maker activities -- will resume shortly, consequent to the public confirmation that Charles Zappala's "rising star" Dan Onorato (left, with aide) is, indeed, a List-Maker.)

The Rich Are Different (And Their Children Apparently Are Dumbasses Because Of It)

Are trust fund teenagers dumbasses whose cluelessness becomes dangerous when they leave the sheltered circumstances of their parents' fancy (and, in Allegheny County, tax-advantaged) homes to attend college? An industry appears to be built on that premise.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Palin's Endorsement: A Sorely Needed Stimulus Package For Senatorial Candidate O'Donnell?

Former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has endorsed Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell, news so exciting it might even have caused the 41-year-old candidate (right, displaying her microphone-handling skills) to experience the first orgasm of her pathetic, repressed, superstition-based, failure-laced, never-married, never-even-touched life.

Perhaps Miss O'Donnell could return the favor by offering some "family values" counseling to Bristol Palin (before Bristol and her Dancing With The Stars partner start doing the tango)?

Infinonytunes: I Touch Myself, Divinyls

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Roddy's Soap Opera Script: As The Dice Tumble

Dennis Roddy's mastery of understatement is paraded at the Post-Gazette front page today, leaving enought breadcrumbs to intrigue political junkies for months, yet spelling out enough to identify several questions to be answered as events unfold over a course of months.

Among those questions to be answered is one that might appear, to the untrained eye, to have been answered already: Has the vacancy in the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania been filled yet?

Other questions Roddy deftly raises:

  • Why would big Pennsylvania casinos a former Supreme Court Chief Justice the district attorney's dad wish to sue small Pennsylvania casinos?

  • How many Zappalas did the funders of the Pennsylvania Casino Association hire?

  • Did the district attorney disqualify himself from more than one prosecution by labeling people targeted by then-current investigations (targets with whose family his extended -- and complicatedly so -- family is engaged in a long-running political feud) as "evil" and mean" ?

  • Are there any other ties -- other than money -- that associate the Zappala family with the Pennsylvania Casino Association industry?

  • What the heck does "whatever the heck that is" mean?

UPDATE (8:30 a.m.): For the moment, change the first sentence's "is" to "was." Mr. Roddy's article appears to have departed the P-G website. (It might not have vanished completely, however.)

Orie-Zappala go-between has central role in probes
Thursday, September 09, 2010
By Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UPPERDATE: The report is back at the P-G website.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Who Needs Lawyers, Accountants And Experts To Evaluate The Parking Deal? We Have Sophie!

Sophie Masloff (right, in pink) is a nice, well-meaning woman -- the kind who asks the clerks at Kaufmann's where she can find a National Record Mart because she wants to buy some Bruce Bedspring records (45s, not albums, because she's on a budget and, besides, all those songs just make one big racket anyway) for her grandchildren, or maybe tickets to "The How" concert.

Mayor Ravenstahl The mayor's puppeteers trotted her around council chambers today as a celebrity endorser for the Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale. Mrs. Masloff certainly qualifies as a local celebrity. (The photograph indicates, for example, that she is one of the few elements of the natural universe able to relax, at least temporarily, the repellent forces that separate Bill Peduto and Patrick Dowd in all other observable settings. )

But Pittsburgh hasn't had an adequate mayor since . . . well, it suffices for current purposes to note that it was before Sophie Masloff's accidental ascension to mayor -- and her days of competence to opine concerning complex, high-stakes, long-term, politically sensitive financial transactions are behind her never existed.

So why send an incompetent out to shill for the administration? No points deducted for the obvious first thought -- "She's dating someone in the mayor's inner circle?" -- but the better answer is that the List-Makers figure many Pittsburghers are daft enough to be influenced by a Masloff endorsement.

And the List-Makers are likely correct. Most Pittsburghers are excited by the prospective arrival of Google Fiber, if they are aware of it, because they hope it will taste better than Metamucil.

Infinonytune: Bedrock Rap/(Meet The) Flintstones, Bruce Springstone (Live At Bedrock)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Sheriff In Tax Town? Obama Opposing Budget-Buster Tax Breaks For Top Incomes

Because his predecessor broke our country (among others), President Obama has been forced to devote most of his time in office to attempting to stop bleeding of worldwide magnitude.

One of his predecessor's more serious mistakes involved mindless tax-cutting while buying wars on credit, effected in a way guaranteed to engender uncertainty at the conclusion of the tax holiday. Today's signal that President Obama intends to work to ensure that the budget-busting party is over for the nation's most affluent citizens is a welcome development.

The natural next step will be to fight to restore reasonable taxation of billion-dollar inheritances.

Exhibition At Rick's: The Dots Connecting Candidate Corbett's Politics To His Prosecutions

Over at Rick's place, Signor Ferrari is connecting curious dots to illustrate how Tom Corbett's prosecutorial decisions intersect uncomfortably (for justice and the citizenry, not for thecurrent Corbett campaign or a string of Republican skaters) with partisan politics.

Rick's is almost always worth a visit, if only for the manacled midgets show.

Infindorsement: For governor, reload.

Infinonytune: As Times Goes By, Frank Sinatra

Anti-Flag, Mr. Smalls, October 8th: Be There

Anti-Flag, the energetic heart of Pittsburgh's G20 Soundtrack, has scheduled a hometown concert at Mr. Smalls Funhouse in Millvale -- Friday, October 8, just before a European tour.

Tickets are inexpensive, so living in InsolvenCity is no excuse. You should go. Piercings optional.

Infinonytune: One Trillion Dollars, Anti-Flag

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Look At Pittsburgh Past, Toward Greatness

It was quite the memorable scene along the Allegheny River, near the confluence, this weekend. At the temporarily docked LST 325, men such as Stanley Barish evoked the Pittsburgh that was the nation's muscle, strong enough to flex worldwide. A few yards to the northeast, meanwhile, champions such as Dick Groat (perhaps the finest athlete in the history of Pittsburgh sports) honored teammate Bill Mazeroski, men exceptional enough to rekindle glory associated with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What Time Is Last Call For The Liquor Board?

It should not surprise anyone that a citizenry that nominates Tom Corbett (left) and Dan Onorato (left) for governor would settle for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

The obvious solution to the Liquor Control Board's latest maneuver with its wine-and-liquor monopoly?

Drink beer.

Infinonytune: Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?, Jimmy Buffett

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sunday Reading: Labor Day Weekend Edition

The union hall: An apt rejoinder to the people who would have rooted for Frick at Homestead.

The campaign trail: It appears Dan Onorato has his work cut out for him.

The classroom: Note to Duquesne Law's recently welcomed new dean: the curriculum needs work, in particular on making Constitutional Law a required course, because some grads appear to be unfamiliar with the Constitution.

The courtroom: Our society needs to do a better job.

Infinonytune: Homestead, Joe Grushecky and Bruce Springsteen

Does Lord's Lineup Start With An Overweight, Over-The-Hill -- And Perfect -- Leadoff Hitter?

Most managers (and fans) would scoff at an overweight and over-the-hill leadoff hitter, especially in a big game.

If, as appears likely, however, today's detailed and highly educational examination of Pat Risha's friends-and-family approach to public education school district contracting -- featuring the curious connections between a Republican bundler and the Democratic Party's lawyer, the curiouser case of the approved-without-approval Carson Street strip club, and a series of extraordinary contracts and coincidences -- is merely the beginning of a series of reports from Rich Lord's enterprise assignment, the Post-Gazette picked an outstanding leadoff hitter.

Patrick Risha is not a big hitter (his influence on public affairs has been limited to the backwaters of the Mon Valley), and is past his prime, but he can work the count (an uncanny knack for 5-4 votes), get on base and set the stage for the sluggers at the middle of the order. Some of the names and themes from today's story may reappear as Rich Lord and the P-G wade past the small-timers and into the heart of the order.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Blackwater's Cowardly, Arms-Smuggling, Jesus-Talking, Immoral Mercenaries Exposed Anew

Some people at the fringe of reasonable opinion might argue that recent revelations establish that it is time a number of Blackwater executives go to prison.

The more reasonable position, however, is that it is past time.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Right Questions About A South Side Wrong

Illyrias asks the right questions about a wrong whose circumstances make it worthwhile to watchdog the entire law enforcement process.

Someone should check on where the driver was drinking (to help InsolvenCity's public safety crew decide whether the South Side Intoxication District is a problem yet) and whether he was served while visibly intoxicated (to enable not only the victim's lawyers but also the Liquor Control Board to respond properly).

Shocker: No-Bid Shale Deals Shortchange Public

Ed Rendell has always been oily, although merely in a figurative sense -- until now.

And -- surprise! -- the Marcellus Shalers were involved in the transition.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Well-Positioned Life Of Joanna Doven

As commenter Jim Lange (of Dating Game fame) has observed, it is especially strange that mayoral mouthpiece Joanna Doven is so strikingly ignorant about InsolvenCity's unacceptable South Side situation -- and in particular about Council Member Bruce Kraus' energetic work toward solutions -- because Ms. Doven's unique vantage point regularly places information about Public Safety issues at her . . . fingertips.

Infinonytune: So Young And In Love, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Judge Might Be On To Something Here . . .

If federal court judge Arthur Schwab were to recuse himself, as threatened, from every case involving a law office whose lawyers objected to his injudicious (or inappropriate, or substandard, or inexplicable) ways, he might never hear another case within 100 miles of Pitsburgh.

Not that there would be anything wrong with that.

The Poorly Worded Life Of Joanna Doven

Mayoral mouthpiece Joanna Doven deserves a bit of sympathy with respect to her attempts to defend Luke Ravenstahl's approach to the South Side's severe problems, because when she asked her hard-partying boss for details of his South Side plan, he likely replied: "Tonight? Pretty much same as usual. Free drinks at Diesel, stop by Town Tavern because they keep Happy Hour open for me all night, over to S Bar for most of the night, probably wind up back at Diesel because I like to pass out watching that cool light show. Cops drive me home. Why, J? . . . you wanna come along tonight?"

Even with such a lack of substance available to her, however, Ms. Doven's liberties with language went too far when she described the mayor's drunken groping of toasted tarts as "targeted public safety outreach."

Because Mayor Ravenstahl runs interference for his frequent hosts the irresponsible bar owners who have fashioned the Carson Street corridor into a reeking, violent, lawless cesspool, several council members have suggested revision of the mayor's "deliberate sense of indifference" to the problems. Evoking Otter's courtroom performance in Animal House (right), Ms. Doven dutifully attempted to redirect the debate, labeled council's requests that the mayor do his job "personal attacks." (She also noted that the mayor had placed along Carson Street the same garbage cans -- decorated with his campaign slogan -- he had distributed in other neighborhoods.)

Ms. Doven ascribed Councilor Bruce Kraus' concerns to re-election considerations rather than to the steady stream of savage beatings, home invasions, shootings, drunken driving deaths (and maimings) and mob streetfights in his district.

Ms. Doven culiminated her performance with a complaint that Mr. Kraus -- who arranged an all-day conference conducted by the Responsible Hospitality Institute featuring national experts and local community leaders, and prepared a detailed, researched and comprehensive written plan to address the South Side's problems --"had not brought us anything by way of recommendations, solutions, a white paper . . ."

It shouldn't be this difficult to avoid spouting nonsense about the South Side. Doug Shields, for example, distills the issue to 25 words or fewer: 'Mr. Shields said Mr. Ravenstahl should stop "hanging out in the VIP lounges" of nightclubs and take responsibility for the South Side's problems.'

In fairness to Ms. Doven, she might not be as practiced as other city officials in handling liquor, so perhaps she was too hung over to speak coherently.

Infinonytune: Crawling From The Wreckage, Dave Edmunds (@ 2:30)