Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Guide To Distinguishing Braddock Mayor John Fetterman From InsolvenCity Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

These pointers for distinguishing Braddock's John Fetterman from Pittsburgh's Luke Ravenstahl could come in handy if the two busted municipalities ever merge (perhaps arranging an interesting race for mayor):

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Federal Appeals Court Grants Highmark The Day In Court Judge Schwab Attempted To Prevent

A federal appeals court has overturned Judge Arthur Schwab's denial of a day in court for Highmark with respect to disturbing claims of decidedly uncharitable conduct (a case Western Pennsylvanians should watch with care).

A Visit To Church Would Be Worthwhile Today

Virginia's place is looking especially spiffy today.

Perhaps she will spur a professional newsgatherer or two to check the rules (and the compliance) on when police officers are on or off duty, how many shots they're permitted to consume on duty, any limits to what officers are permitted to do on "special detail," any recordkeeping requirements concerning officers' location or actions on duty, and the like.

Rick's place is worth a stop, too.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Reading: Same Old Same Old Edition

Reason: The missing element of abortion 'debates'.

Kabul: Mission Accomplisheder.

Port Authority: Dumb and Dumber (good film, failed public policy).

Baghdad: Mission Accomplishedest.

Tom Joad's Place: Buy that ticket yet?

Oklahoma: Nothing says 'patriotism' quite like pasting a flag on a can of crappy beer.

Yinzer Admission Test: Current Events Section

3. When someone in InsolvenCity writes, "The sooner Pittsburgh gives up on this ghost, the sooner it can get on with the future," the obvious subject is:

(a) the city Democratic Committee;
(b) the pre-bankruptcy City of Pittsburgh;
(c) the Allegheny Conference;
(d) the Not-So-Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale;
(e) the Civic Arena;
(f) the pre-indictment Ravenstahl administration;
(g) Iron City Beer;
(h) the Urban Redevelopment Authority;
(i) the Pirates;
(j) the defined benefit public pension system;
(k) the Port Authority;
(l) Steelers exceptionalism;
(m) the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette;
(n) all of the above.

Please explain your answer.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Buy A Ticket: Take A Stand For Anne Feeney With Billy Price, Joe Grushecky, Justin Sane And Tom Joad At Mr. Smalls Funhouse On December 12th

An especially praiseworthy point about certain artists is that they (with those they entertain and inform) pay their own way in performing, operating on the admirable end of the curious American principle that the more well-heeled an audience, the more likely its amusement is to be subsidized by the public.

When symphony-loving conservatives criticize John Fogerty's left-leaning lyrics, or opera-fan Republicans complain about Bruce Springsteen's political involvement, or ballet patrons sneer at punk rockers for . . . well, for being punk rockers, these upper-crusters reveal a low-class lack of self-awareness concerning their high-society socialism. Unlike their critics' favored artists, Fogerty and Springsteen have earned every step up to their soapboxes -- and paid the taxes, too.

The lines blur at times -- it is always disheartening, for example, to watch a street-level rebel such as John Mellencamp descend into a gilded-caged attraction at Heinz Hall. In general, however, the rockers and punkers and rappers stand on their own two feet while the lecturers on free markets and self-sufficiency and the evils of socialism revel in collectivism when it funds their entertainments.

Perhaps it is unsurprising, then, that musicians such as bluesman Billy Price, rocker Joe Grushecky and punker Justin Sane -- accustomed to accountability for their own tab -- are willing and able to carry a little extra load for a colleague whose strength has been sapped.

Local treasure Anne Feeney, who has long sung for workers and rights and justice -- her first public performance (left) opposed the Vietnam War, on the Cathedral of Learning lawn in 1969 -- is ill. Some outstanding local musicians (Liz Berlin of Rusted Root, Hermie Granati, Mike Stout and the Human Union, Newlanders, Tres Lads, Joe Munroe) will join Anne Feeney and Friends (and Billy, and Joe, and Justin) on the Mr. Smalls Funhouse stage on Sunday, December 12, to help Anne Feeney.

For less than the cost of a cummerbund suitable for a RAD-subsidized night at the Benedum, attending Take A Stand: Rock For Anne could benefit a good cause, your ears and your soul. If you can't attend, buy a ticket anyway and consider it a non-corporate sponsorship of the ghost of Tom Joad, who will be outside Mr. Smalls that night but might be short the twenty bucks to get in.

Infinonytune: Have You Been To Jail For Justice?, Anne Feeney

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Unsolicited Advice Series: Luke Ravenstahl

A couple of points to ponder with respect to your upcoming discussions with state legislators concerning the City of Pittsburgh's financial position:

Proposing five-figure raises for certain of your advisors seems unlikely to persuade anyone in Harrisburg that city government has become corrigible.

Your published declaration of unwillingness to consider any property tax increase puzzles some legislators, particularly those representing municipalities whose rates exceed those currently imposed in Pittsburgh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Milestone ... A Tombstone ... Or Just A Millstone?

LAZ-Morgan indicated that its offer to conduct the Not-So-Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale would expire today. Is that the latest information (given that 4 p.m. is quite late on government's official business clock)?

Infinonymous hereby withdraws its offer to provide to LAZ Parking advice at least twice as good as the advice LAZ purchased from other local sources.

Here's hoping Alan Lazowski calls Rich Lord soon to unload. Ideally after a few stiff Scotch-and-more-Scotches.

OK, That Was Fun; Time For The Epilogue?

As the calendar assumes control and the center of gravity meanders east, attention begins to turn toward sorting the flotsam, which includes the aspirations of law firms that expected to be paid from a torrent of cash at the consummation of the Not-So-Great InsolvenCity Parking Garage Sale.

Could one local firm be looking at a $4 million loss? Several other firms seem to be in line for smaller but nonetheless large hits. All of those firms may be looking at alternative sources of payment for their work, or at prospects concerning retribution. (If they were UPMC doctors rather than lawyers, of course, the partners could label the unpaid invoices "free care" and categorize the amount as a charitable contribution to the community.)

It is too early to wonder whether citizens will ever learn which local levers were assisting which business and political interests during the parking-and-pensions wrangling?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Reading: Reality-Based Edition

The Battlefield: Doing one's duty, with honor (or not?).

McKeesport: Volunteers at the front lines.

Myanmar: The opposite of honor.

The Radical Middle: When blinking is unaffordable.

The Yearbook Photo: The reality-based world, now for suckers?

Sam's Pen: Not-so-current but noteworthy events.

OK, Time For The Sunday Matinee . . .

The penultimate day of action places the Easterner with his new local braintrust (now including "the Loner," whose allegiances seem to have shifted), juggling telegraphs and ledgers and last-ditch ideas, trying to conjure the basis for the last stand set to occur tomorrow, if at all.

The local business interests that aligned with the Eastern financial interests earlier, when the situation seemed simpler -- K.L. Gates, the Irwin gang, Cohen -- can only watch, anxiously, as their prospective fortunes teeter. Even old man Morgan, who always has the angles in his favor (with an extra angle in reserve), is tense.

The mayor, no longer welcome at the Easterner's conference rooms, simmers his resentment alone (well, maybe with a saloon gal or two).

As the afternoon progresses, calculation turns to cursing. Cursing the missteps and misplaced allegiances. Daming those do-gooders who had inexplicably organized and developed a spine. Cursing the suddenly needed time that can't be had. Cursing the unlikely confluence of circumstances that had turned a sure thing -- a damned profitable one -- into a trainwreck. Cursing, as nightfall approaches, a sense that destiny will be anticlimactic, with the best traveling gunslingers money can buy reduced to packing popguns.

The foreshadowing is nearly one-sided, and nearly complete, but both sides remain nervous. The great fortunes at stake recede from focus as the story line pans, as always, to studies in human character.

Infinonytune: Once Upon A Time In The West, Dire Straits (part 2)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

InsolvenCity Recovery: Dramatic Reenactment

It is difficult to forecast precisely how or when InsolvenCity is to be extracted from electoral ineptitude, administrative mismanagement and fiscal ruin, but when it occurs, it should look something like this:

Infinonytune: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place, The Animals

Police Exercise Uncharacteristic Restraint As Horde Of Amnesty Activists Invades InsolvenCity

It appears Amnesty International dodged a bullet -- rubber, of course, with a tear gas chaser -- downtown this afternoon, when a rally commemorating five decades of advocacy for peace and rights concluded without trouble.

Why no trouble? Mayor Ravenstahl has been so despondent lately he must have forgotten to order the sonic cannons, pepper bags and riot gear he customarily prepares for gatherings of peaceful civilians in InsolvenCity.

At right: Two dozen armed-and-armored imported headbusters from Chicago, deputized by Mayor Ravenstahl, establish order in Oakland by expertly subduing a single college kid long enough to take a trophy photo in front of Pitt's school of law.

OK, We Now Return To The Pictureshow As Our Weekend's Main Feature Continues . . .

The stirrin' about town commenced Friday, when number four -- until that moment knowed to be a loudly self-proclaimed upright citizen -- was a-seen in the company of them three outlaws whose incorrigibility had been assumed from day one.

The real street-clearin' started when word spread that a fifth gun might be ready to swing the balance of power. So far, though, after some nervous head checks and a few tense conversations, the count stands at four black hats, no more.

But that out-of-towner, visiting from the East -- with the fancy suits and pocketwatch, with his East Coast lawyers and sketchy landed interests, tryin' to angle how to fix his claim to a big local stake on legal papers down at the courthouse -- is makin' it known he's still recruiting. That fella's making his own moves now (done learned the hard way that the local muscle he hired wasn't up to the task at hand) . . . and he'll keep angling right up 'til the stagecoach takes him back East. Reckon that'll be sometime next week.

Dr. Dowd, of course, is number four. Always has been, for anyone attentive from the opening credits. Same with Mrs. Harris, five. So far, though, looks like Mrs. Harris still plans to walk the townfolk side of the street come Monday. But not, of course, before a few final turns of the tumbleweed.

How will the townsfolk finally count five at the showdown? Will Mrs. Harris still be wearing that star when it's guns, not words, what's being counted? Even after Mrs. Harris sets foot on the street, of course, we'll still wait to watch a couple of other characters leave the sheriff's door -- or not. Will there be a surprise defector walking instead through the hotel door, with the Easterner smiling through an upstairs window?

Probably not. Everyone knows Wyatt and Doc tend to be the ones standing after the smoke clears. But the suspense nonetheless makes it worth watching the story take us there, does it not?

By the by, for them's what's still a-puzzlin' over Camillus Fly and Claiborne and huckleberrys and whatnot, a codebook is here. OK?

Infinonytune: Time Warp, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Same Old Drip . . . Drip . . . Drip At InsolvenCity's Water And Sewer Authority

Is this the Water and Sewer Authority's way of disclosing that Iron City Brewing never made that September payment?

Might it have been better for ratepayers had the Ravenstahl administration changed bill collectors rather than solicitors at the authority?

Infinonytune: Dirty Water, The Standells

OK, Showdown Set For Monday (Or Not, Unless A Necessary Vote Can Be Corralled)

Looks like the Clantons and McCraurys have aligned, but still need Claiborne aboard to make the move.

Number four is apparently meeting with number five this afternoon. Hard to figure how that one will go, but some folks are already saying 'told ya so.'

If Claiborne is in, showdown -- two showdowns, if you want to be technical -- should be Monday, outside Camillus Fly's place. Doc (left) and the others are getting ready.

One way or the other, it appears next week will be the crucible. In other words, it's huckleberry season:

UPDATE: Our story recommences here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

To 'Revel' Properly, Allegheny County And InsolvenCity Should Party Like It's 1929

A word of caution if, as the Early Returners describe, Western Pennsylvanians are stepping forward to "revel" in their "capture of leadership posts across the state Capitol":

Please step back, InsolvenCity. You, too, Allegheny County.

Anyone expecting or even seeking a Commonwealth bailout -- pension, transportation or otherwise -- for Pittsburgh or Allegheny County lost substantial ground during the recent overhaul. One of Tom Corbett's earliest moves has vividly confirmed this setback.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the Democrat who puts the "I" in "team" (must be how they spell it at North Catholic), uncharacteristically invested $50,000 in a fellow Democrat, House Appropriations chair Dwight Evans -- just before Democrats lost the House and budget bully Evans became former leader of that committee's Democrats. Bonus failures: The horse Ravenstahl bet on was lame, and the horse he bet against is from Monroeville.

(Can anyone else imagine how hard it must have been for the JP Morgan crew to keep up with this guy during lease negotiations?)

In general, Ravenstahl's strongest relationships in Harrisburg are the nonexistent ones, before and after the leadership changes.

Dan Onorato's influence in Harrisburg is now to be measured by the thimbleful. He not only lost the state; he lost Allegheny County (several laps behind Joe Sestak, indicating substantial alienation of the Democrats who know him best). Everyone knows the county budget has been held together with gum and Post-Its for several years, with Onorato assuming he and his family would be zipping past the Turnpike EasyPass reader at Monroeville, heading east for the governor's mansion, just as the county's finances collapsed. Instead of thinking about working with Onorato concerning Allegheny County's serious issues (let alone how they might help), Harrisburgers are wondering how Onorato plans to live up to a mid-six-figure salary as a law firm rainmaker.

Gov.-elect Corbett set an ominous tone for those expecting state cash by inducing Liquor Control Board members to refrain from approving a hundred-million-dollar increase in fees. It would have been easy for Corbett to allow a Rendell-appointed board to enact a Rendell-arranged revenue increase yesterday, just in time for the new administration to use the cash as a salve for a bad balance sheet, but Corbett instead sent a signal that should sober InsolvenCity.

Jay Costa, Joe Markosek and Frank Dermody have titles but little power. Mike Turzai, Tom Corbett and Sam Smith have power but little respect for the governments of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.

Perhaps, if boozing in solitude at a Carson Street bar while your ostensible political allies are gathered at a reception a few blocks away constitutes "revelry," the Early Returners have it right: Revelry it is! Four Loko for everyone!

Just put it on the tab.

Infinonytune: 1999, Prince

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Palin Has Confidence (And That's About All)

Will there really be enough resentful, bigoted, superstition-addled, xenophobic Caucasian males in America to elect an incurious, haphazardly educated, semiliterate quitter to the presidency in 2012?

Former half-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's answer: "YOU BETCHA!"


UPDATE: Mrs. Palin's mom-of-the-year resume just got even better. Let's hope she taught this one how to operate a condom.

UPPERDATE: The Palin family's looniness has apparently become so intense that it not only is contagious but also can be transmitted by television signals.

Infinonytune: Over My Head, Fleetwood Mac

The Political Parables Of Dan And Luke, Pat And Luke . . . And, As Of Today, Darlene And Luke

As Dan Onorato and a bought-and-paid-for crowd at the IBEW Hall watched a political career capsize on Election Night 2010, former pal Luke Ravenstahl was sitting in a darkened room a dozen Carson Street blocks west, without a crowd.

What was InsolvenCity's mayor contemplating as he paid the Onorato drink tax at Jimmie D's, his location and isolation reflecting the circumstances that had merged and then distanced two local political careers, neither of which appears to be worth much on the current market?

This, apparently.

Any imbecile would have learned from the Pat Ford-begets-FBI interviews episode that politicians who live in indictable houses should not throw stones. Any imbecile . . . but not, apparently, an imbestahl.

The List-Makers, no doubt, already have dibs on the popcorn concession.

New House GOP Leader: Republicans Screwed Up National Security Far Worse Than We Thought

Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently, issued this statement recounting the discussion:
Eric stressed that the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration and what has been, up until this point, one party rule in Washington. He made clear that the Republican majority understands the special relationship between Israel and the United States, and that the security of each nation is reliant upon the other.

The United States relies on Israel for American national security? Why would an adult say something so stupid? Is it in some right-wing Biblical interpretation? Did Rush Limbaugh announce it recently? Was it part of a Glenn Beck chart?

If Rep. Cantor does not believe what he said, he should recant. If he believes it, he should explain so our nation can correct the problem.

Either way, Rep. Cantor should check lost-and-found for his principles concerning "usurp[ing] the executive branch’s time-honored foreign-policy authority." It appears they have been abandoned.

Local Democrats' Biggest Helpers: Republicans

Which is worse . . . Democrats who have wrecked the Pittsburgh region, or Republicans so lame they can't even beat those losers?

Today's answer: Republicans. A hyperpartisan Tea Partier has announced plans to challenge the sole Republican on Allegheny County Council who attempts to accomplish anything worthwhile.

So the Republican plan for Allegheny County is: The spirit of Sharron Angle, Sarah Palin and Christine O'Donnell to the rescue!

Yeah, that'll work.

Best Police Work Since G20 Siege Of Oakland

Wild guess: These officers were visiting Pittsburgh for the first time since their G20-related duty.

Infinonytune: Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (Police Tribute Performance), The Blues Brothers

Prominent Pittsburgh Cases Generate Curious Connections Of Geography To Magisterial Justice

It is becoming difficult to determine which is stranger -- the decisions of some magistrates concerning high-profile criminal charges, or the associated geography.

When a city firefighter from a politically connected family was arrested, after storming into a South Side home to assault an elderly resident who had objected to the drunken firefighter's unlawful use of his hose, the defendant received kid-glove treatment from magistrate Ronald Costa. That's Upper Lawrenceville-Highland Park-Stanton Heights (wards 8, 10 and 11) magistrate Ronald Costa, whose jurisdiction is about as far from the South Side Flats as one could get without departing city limits (but exceptionally handy for residents of Upper Lawrenceville and Stanton Heights, such as the defendants).

Magistrate Kevin Cooper raised severe doubts about his judgment by swallowing laughably incredible police accounts of G20-related arrests with gusto -- then,more recently, dispelled all doubts by sending a prisoner back to the county jail after failing to observe, during the court proceeding, that the inmate's face (right) had been pummmeled to a bloody pulp at the jail. The G20 injustice occurred in Oakland (ward 4), the beaten inmate had been arrested in Polish Hill (ward 6), the jail is located in ward 1 -- and Cooper's jurisdiction is wards 12 and 13.

After ferocious defensive lineman Jabaal Sheard responded to police commands to stop beating a man by hurling that man through a glass door, then continuing the assault as police officers struggled to restrain him, felony charges against the Pitt football star were dismissed by magistrate Robert Ravenstahl, who ordered the defendant to a write an apology. That's north-of-North Side (wards 26 and 27) magistrate Robert Ravenstahl, handling yet another case from the South Side Intoxication District (ward 17).

Yesterday, a magistrate dismissed a felony charge against a police officer who drunkenly smashed a pedestrian with a vehicle. The incident occurred on the South Side (the driver was departing the Intoxication District, along Carson Street), the officer is employed by Kennedy Township, the victim was from the West End, so the case was adjudicated, naturally, by magistrate Robert P. Dzvonick -- of Etna.

Who is arranging these geographically curious matches of high-profile cases and low-quality judging -- and why?

Marcellus Mouthpiece Klaber Is Full Of It

Her resume indicates that Marcellus Shale Coalition mouthpiece Kathryn Klaber should be recognized as an authority on ossified deposits of dinosaur-era organisms, but when she rails indignantly about "straighforward attacks on individual property rights" she demonstrates that she's full of more recently deposited organic matter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

InsolvenCity Council Continues Confident Course

InsolvenCity Council's surprisingly steady walk toward independence and leadership (and it is becoming reasonable to dare imagine a day when effectiveness might be added to the list) passed a couple of milestones today.

First, a candidate emerged with respect to council's prospective engagement of independent legal counsel: Council President Darlene Harris asked her colleagues to consider Shannon Barkley (right), former contracts lawyer in the InsolvenCity law department. (A point that should not necessarily be held against her; sure, she worked there, but she also quit.)

Second, councilors countered forcefully (and unanimously) when the well-paid hacks of the Marcellus Shale Coalition issued vague threats concerning council's well-meaning (but imperfectly executed) efforts to ban in-city drilling. The Coalition raised jobs, spending and other economic benefits as a reason to permit drilling near schools and playgrounds; Mrs. Harris responded: "There's going to be a lot of jobs . . . for funeral homes and hospitals. That's where the jobs are. Is it worth it?"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Church + Popularity = Power, Then . . .

Ginny's Place would be even better if she would slow down on renting space long enough to find room, in a report such as this one, for an update on this story (or this one).

When Pitt Craved Credibility, Professors Adolf Grunbaum And Kurt Baier Put Their Minds To It

Much of the University of Pittsburgh's current academic credibility can be traced to two men, Adolf Grunbaum and Kurt Baier.

Post-Gazetteer Mackenzie Carpenter uses the occasion of Dr. Baier's death to remind (or inform) readers of important men and events in regional history. Pitt's doctors, lawyers and footballers attract more money and headlines, but only because scholars such as Drs. Grunbaum (left) and Baier (right) established a foundation their beneficiaries would struggle to comprehend.
I suspect that many who reject the scientific outlook . . . confusedly think that if the scientific world picture is true, then their lives must be futile because . . . man has no purpose given him from without. These people mistakenly conclude that there can be no purpose in life because there is no purpose of life; that men cannot themselves adopt and achieve purposes ..." -- Professor Kurt Baier

Infinonytune: Bruce's Philosophers Song, Monty Python's Flying Circus

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Reading: When Republicans ... Edition

Colorado: When Republicans prosecute (or, inexplicably, do not).

Fifth Circuit: When Republicans judge (as judges).

Texas: When Republicans execute.

Salt Lake City: When Republicans hire.

Washington, DC: When Republicans wish.

Dallas: When Republicans decide.

Washington, DC: When Republicans get their way.

California: When Republicans are less popular than dope.

Illinois: When Republicans are dopes.

Infinonytune: Have A Cigar, Roger Waters

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Former Hilton's Operators Eschew Extravagance

The financial interests fighting over the dissipating remnants of the hotel at InsolvenCity's front door have announced agreement concerning financing terms designed to sustain the hotel through winter.

The scene apparently depicted at right -- workers using a step ladder on a ledge, hundreds of feet above ground, while wrestling into submission the 10-foot-high letters that for decades marked the property as a Hilton -- suggests that not a dime is being wasted on harnesses, cranes, or other safety equipment.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

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; a day of leisure for some, another workday or schoolday for others. Even when mentioned by a colleague or a newspaper article or a radio broadcast, it can be 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, others have been sent on fools' errands, some were issued immoral orders. 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.

Corbett Campaign Introduces The New Boss

Tom Corbett not only labeled himself the reform candidate who would clean up Harrisburg but also (through his political mouthpiece prosecutorial spokesman) derided critics who 'only talk about reform' while Corbett ostensibly walked the walk.

Those critics had observed, aptly, that Mr. Corbett's record with respect to fighting public corruption was suspect not only with respect to results but also in the degree to which his prosecutorial judgments followed the trajectory of a gubernatorial campaign rather than any sense of justice.

Mr. Corbett's first substantial announcement as governor-elect -- identifying the leaders of his transition team -- vindicates the critics. Tom Corbett's idea of a clean-up crew: Tom 'Mr. Clean' Corbett also chose, as co-chair of his inaugural committee, a legendary Republican Party fundraiser (and convicted public corruption felon).

Legal counsel for the Corbett transition operation? A guy whose law firm describes him -- in the first paragraph -- as a "well-known political insider and Republican fundraiser for many years."

This is the "new tone", Tom? What's next? The Candy Man as your ethics counselor? Ms. Toretti as your advisor on PLCB issues (or perhaps as family values advisor)?

Infinonytune: Won't Get Fooled Again, The Who
Infinonytune: The Punk And The Godfather, The Who

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

'Twas More Than The Drink Tax That Caused Dan Onorato To Lose Allegheny County's Democrats

Stuff like this helps explain how Dan Onorato failed to win in the county for which he is current executive, trailing a Democratic Senate candidate from Philadelphia by tens of thousands of Allegheny County votes. Even if they don't have command of the details, some voters can sniff out that pay-to-play scent.

Unsolicited Advice Series: LAZ Parking (Again)

Ever wonder, while lying awake at 3 a.m., what might happen if the elected official on whom you have relied in structuring a huge deal devised his political strategy from a Jimmie D's barstool at 3 a.m.?

Wonder no more.

Your need for (and, consequently, the price of) Infissistance is increasing daily.

Defending United States (And Its Allies) Has Become Matter Of Luck -- Dumb Luck

An accidental glimpse into the performance of the modern American drug enforcement/national security apparatus generates questions:

(1) Does anyone continue to wonder why the United States government has been so insistent on expanded secrecy for the past decade?

(2) Should the Drug Enforcement Administration be dismantled tomorrow by 9 a.m. . . . or would that not be fast enough?

(3) Why does any court in the United States give the government the benefit of doubt, particularly when "national security" is used as a justification for exemption from standard procedures?

(4) After torturing shackled prisoners, holding innocents in secret prisons and killing uncounted civilians (as part of attacking the wrong country), why is the United States government protecting the genuine terrorist it freed, funded and enabled?

(5) What is the purpose of a million-name "terrorist watch list" that includes Mikey Hicks (age 8, right) but not a guy mentioned by name in at least a half-dozen documented warnings?

(6) Feeling safer?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Reading: Legacy Edition

Canton: A legacy worth of emulation.

Connecticut: A legacy worthy of estimation (and imagined annotation).

Dallas: A legacy worthy of consternation.

Brighton Heights: A legacy worthy of introspection.

Washington: A legacy worthy of appreciation.

Infinonytune: Happy, The Rolling Stones

Maybe We Could Pretend Victims Are Banana Executives, Or Gun-Running Mercenaries?

Would it be too much to ask of America's foreign service to take a couple of people off the "advance interests of multi-national oil companies" desk, or maybe the "topple democratically elected leaders for sympathizing with workers" desk, long enough to look into this?

P-G Editorialists Find Religion On Taxing Booze

The Post-Gazette editorial board says it opposes government jamming its hand further in the pockets of those who purchase alcohol in Pennsylvania.

This position is not based on principled reason, of course -- the editorial board was for drink taxation before it was against it.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

So That's What Jeff Koch Has Been Doing At The Public Works Department For Two-Plus Years?

InsolvenCity's tips for residents apprehensive about the confluence of (1) snow, (2) insolvency, and (3) the Ravenstahl administration: Put some jerky in a duffle bag and throw the duffle bag in your new Hummer.

The best part: Spending six figures on mailing these gems of wisdom to city residents.

Mini-Rave Caught With His Hand In Turzai's Cookie Jar At Polls -- Paging Tom Corbett!!!

A natural impulse would regard Adam Ravenstahl's self-promoting (and apparently unlawful) at-the-polls cookie bags as yet another rookie mistake, but some veteran local politicians -- including the soon-to-be majority leader of the Pennsylvania House Of Representatives -- have been pulling similar stunts for years.

Maybe Tom Corbett will prosecute Mike Turzai for election improprieties in Mr. Clean's last weeks as attorney general?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Joe Grushecky Delivers For Pittsburgh, Again

Pittsburgh has plenty of proud past, and two elements of it -- Joe Gruschecky and Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall -- cooperated to bring a rare and welcome shot of glory to Pittsburgh's present Thursday night.

Joe invited Bruce Springsteen, and the hundred-year-old Hall was a grand host to the first show of a two-night stand. The band -- Joe and his current Houserockers with Bruce and, at times, Rick Witkowski -- was outstanding, the songs superb, the evening magically reminiscent of The Decade.

Some of the work was just unfamiliar enough -- as the Houserockers nailed Darkness On The Edge Of Town and The Promised Land, and Bruce relived his days as a teenage guitarslinger -- to intensify the experience for everyone. Bruce sang about Pittsburgh, Joe about Homestead, then both sang about Pittsburgh (perhaps Friday's show will be Johnstown's turn, or Youngstown's, or Johnstown's again).

Joe Grushecky, one of Pittsburgh's treasures, delivered another gift to his hometown tonight. Thanks, Joe. For everything.

UPDATE: The second show was equally great.

Infinonytune: Homestead, Joe Grushecky (from the Pittsburgh G20 soundtrack)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Unsolicited Advice Series: LAZ Parking


If you wish to induce InsolvenCity councilors to consider (let alone approve) any revised form of parking asset lease, refrain from enlisting Rev. Ricky Burgess as a co-sponsor of the associated council bill. Also, try to avoid circumstances in which councilors in the to-be-persuaded category learn of the proposal by reading a newspaper.

The fee for this indispensable advice is a bargain: One-tenth of whatever you're paying the local geniuses who guided your interactions with the mayor and council so far. Please use e-mail (center column) to indicate where to send the Infinvoice.

Greater Pittsburgh Loses Two Tough Guys

The Pittsburgh region has lost two tough men -- one who fought to escape the hard streets of the Hill District, another who waded into the Mon Valley to help the needy when most people with a choice were headed the other way.

Paul Lodico and Maurice Lucas traveled in different directions and different worlds to become parts of Pittsburgh's story.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Forecast: Partisan Puffery, Pointless Political Overreaching And Fierce Fiscal Reckoning

In Washington, a two-year gridlock seems inevitable. Regardless of whether voters share Tea Partiers' appetite for intense but inconsequential partisan puffery, Pres. Obama is strongly positioned to win another term.

In Harrisburg, Republicans will control the major levers of power, with one exception: The United States attorneys in Pennsylvania will be Democratic appointees, and, in the wake of Tom Corbett's record of vigorous but slanted prosecutions, those federal officials likely will have shorter fuses than are customary with respect to investigation and prosecution of state-level corruption.

In Allegheny County, Dan Onorato will sleep for a few days, then close a deal with a law firm, leaving county government to scramble to overcome the long-term consequences of short-sighted decisions.

In Pittsburgh, long-delayed days of reckoning seem nigh. The mayor's shortcomings at the helm are likely to fade in importance as it becomes clearer the city no longer controls its fate.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Keith Rothfus: Strong. Conservative. Lies.

Keith Rothfus' faith-based walk with his Lord has strayed into the garden of false witness today: The Rothfus campaign reportedly is distributing literature indicating that the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review have endorsed Mr. Rothfus, who is attempting to end Jason Altmire's term as Representative for Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District.

The Post-Gazette, however, has unambiguously endorsed Rep. Altmire as the "better choice" than Mr. Rothfus.

The Rothfus campaign might attempt to defend this flyer by pointing to a six-month-old editorial in which the Post-Gazette endorsed Mr. Rothfus -- when he was challenging Mary Beth Buchanan for the Republican nomination. The endorsement claim therefore is not only stale, but obsolete.

Are any canon lawyers willing to opine concerning whether Jesus would approve the misleading of voters in this manner? Is there a little-known "Candidate On Mission From God" exception to the commandment?

UPDATE: A Democratic state representative, Bryan Barbin, blames a similarly misleading advertisement (for U.S. Rep. Mark Critz) on a "misprint," compounding dishonorable conduct with a lame excuse. Barbin boasts of being "active in his parish," so maybe there is a special exemption for the faithful with respect to Election Day lies.

UPPERDATE: It appears God prefers Jason Altmire to Keith Rothfus. This does not necessarily reflect upon Mr. Rothfus personally so much as it concerns his choice of playmates; God might abhor Pat Robertson and George W. Bush so much that some of the scorn rubbed off on Mr. Rothfus.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Infindorsement: Sestak For Senator

Of the four major candidates seeking a major Commonwealth-wide office tomorrow, one -- alone -- has earned an enthusiastic vote.

Joe Sestak.

Infindorsement: Joe Sestak for United States Senator.

One, Three Dog Night