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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Half-Baked Holiday Fare, Part 2: Police-Paid Expert Claims Training Is Reliable Evidence In Jordan Miles Case (Except When It Isn't)

Local newspapers are putting big headlines on stories spurred by an "expert report" filed by InsolvenCity's lawyers in their continuing attempt to defend the seemingly indefensible police officers who beat an honors student senseless over an illusory plastic soda bottle. Why?

The report exonerates the people who engaged a hired-gun, police-favoring "expert" to write it. This is news?

The report concludes that Jordan Miles (left) "must" have known that the three nonuniformed men who chased and beat him for no apparent reason (in this case, no reason apparent before or after the brutal beating) were police officers. Why? Because the officers were trained to identify themselves, and performing as trained is a reflex, making the training adequate evidence of conduct consistent with that training.

The power of training led the expert to describe (and rely on) a remarkably specific narrative: "It is my opinion that in order for Jordan Miles not to have known that the males who attempted to stop him and whom he eventually struggled with were police officers . . . He would have to have not heard any of the constant repetition of 'Police. Stop. Police.'" Training is, in this expert's opinion, so strong it supports reliance on inferred and detailed dialogue in contested circumstances.

If this training-based inference helps InsolvenCity concerning the issue of shouted warnings, it surely creates a problem for the officers concerning their failure to produce as evidence the plastic soda bottle that ostensibly triggered the savage attack, right? Police officers are trained to preserve important evidence, so the absence of the bottle, in circumstances in which that evidence would be not only important but indeed crucial in a case involving a severe beating, suggests the bottle never existed, right? Especially in a circumstance in which the officer allege that they found the bottle but nevertheless "discarded" it (which would likely eviscerate at least a chapter in the training manual), right?

After considering these points, the expert concluded that the officers' inability to produce the bottle as evidence in these circumstances means . . . nothing.

The expert deems this disregard of training a "mistake" attributable to "human nature," but claims the officers are nonetheless to be excused, and the existence of the bottle to be presumed despite the "training equals conduct" theory, because the officers were acting in the wake of "what they believed to be a life or death struggle."

In other words, the city's expert proposes, the point that excuses the officers' disregard of training is the very point that made the evidence so crucial and therefore, by training, required to have been preserved.

We won't know whether the expert for Jordan Miles is any better for a couple of days. But neither side's lawyers seem particularly sharp in this case. One of Miles' lawyers called the report "kind of racist-based," which doesn't even sound like something a law-talking guy (right) would say (hit soundboard #39):
Lionel Hutz, Esq.: I move for a bad court thingy.
Judge Snyder: You mean a mistrial?
Hutz: Right!! That's why you're the judge and I'm the law-talking guy.
Judge: You mean the lawyer?
Hutz: Right.

For Jordan Miles' (and justice's) sake, we hope the judge and jury devote more attention to the facts and witnesses than to the experts and law-talking guys.

Infytune: Message In A Bottle, The Police

Half-Baked Holiday Fare, Part 1: Marty Griffin Putting The "Asses" Back In Assessments

Even before the wonderful store of Christmas cookies has been exhausted, 'tis the season for half-baked arguments in InsolvenCity.

KDKA Radio's Marty Griffin (left) is self-righteously railing about Allegheny County assessments this morning, spreading stories of scary tax increases that, he says, are soon to confront residents of downtown Pittsburgh and the Strip District. Griffin's claims -- that owners of Strip District homes will soon experience ten-fold increases in property taxes, for example -- turn out to be more slapstick that scary, however, if examined even briefly.

The reason tax bills in the Strip District are certain to increase in general is that luxury condominiums have supplanted abandoned warehouses. The (rare) owner of an unimproved Strip District home may encounter a slight tax increase because of the Strip's general rising tide (which makes that home more valuable), but Griffin is conflating granite-and-mahogany penthouses with siding-and-spackle tenements. A (subsidized) $1.2 million loft will -- and should -- generate a far greater tax obligation than did the broken-window rathole it replaced. The outrage is that the loft-dweller has been permitted to shirk civic obligations for years by Dan Onorato's Reverse Robin Hood Theory Of Low-Rent Politics Taxation.

Griffin's half-cocked rant also overlooks the crucial role of tax rates in calculation of tax obligations. Most assessments will increase, because values have increased, but an increased assessment does not necessarily signal an increased tax obligation. To the contrary, an increased assessment could generate a reduction in tax obligation, because Pennsylvania law will obligate taxing agencies to reduce tax rates in proportion to the increased assessments.

Reassessment does not involve the aggregate burden of real estate taxation nearly so much as the identification of which property owners are forced to shoulder that burden. Dan Onorato, Rich Fitzgerald, and Marty Griffin prefer that average (and below-average) property owners subsidize discounts for the affluent.

Griffin's statements could support an inference that he doesn't even know what he doesn't know, but we believe it more likely that Griffin is aware of the factors that render his simplistic analysis so misleading. Which, for him, is worse; profound ignorance would reflect far better on Griffin that any of the other conceivable explanations.

Infytune: Take The Power Back," Rage Against The Machine
Infytune: The Great Pretender," Freddie Mercury

Friday, December 23, 2011

Time For Some Christmas Music! (And More)

Time for some Christmas music!

Infytune: The Chanukah Song I, Adam Sandler
Infytune: The Chanukah Song III, Adam Sandler

Early Wagering Lines: InsolvenCity Council Presidency And Finance Committee Chair

The initial line on InsolvenCity's city council presidency:
(1) Darlene Harris: 4-1
(2)Theresa Kail Smith: 40-1
(3) Bruce Kraus: 3-1
(4) Natalia Rudiak: 7-2
(5) Corey O'Connor: 12-1
(6) Danielle Lavelle: 40-1
(7) Patrick Dowd: 40-1
(8) Bill Peduto: 25-1
(9) Ricky Burgess: 40-1
Lukefecta (2, 6, 9 vote together): 1-3
The initial line on InsolvenCity council's finance chair:
(1) Darlene Harris 3-1
(2) Theresa Kail Smith: 40-1
(3) Bruce Kraus: 4-1
(4) Natalia Rudiak: 5-2
(5) Corey O'Connor: 25-1
(6) Danielle Lavelle: 40-1
(7) Patrick Dowd: 40-1
(8) Bill Peduto: 8-1
(9) Ricky Burgess: 40-1
Daily Double (1, 3 in either order): 7-2
Infytune: All The King's Horses, The Monkees

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pitt Football Interviews Pulling Double Duty As Research On The Definition Of Insanity?

A bizarre report concerning the Pitt football coaching search from today's Post-Gazette:
A third candidate, Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell, who was made interim coach after the forced resignation of former coach Jim Tressel, interviewed for the job but Chryst made a good impression with a strong interview.

Who was impressed? The three administrators who signed Dave Wannstedt to an extension, then fired him less than a year later? The proven losers who arranged the Michael Haywood era? The Three Stooges who were impressed by Todd Graham's interview? The guys who chose Keith "This Infytune's For You" Patterson as interim coach?

If Steve Pederson does not depart before another football coach is introduced (or before Khem Birch returns to campus, whichever occurs first), Pitt's trustees should stop indulging Mark Nordenberg's desire to limp to the capstone of the current capital campaign.

Instead, however, those trustees will enable Steve Pederson, Jerry Cochran, and Mark Nordenberg to treat Pitt fans to a double feature: "Back To The Future" -- Parts I and II. (Perhaps the Pitt band could develop a special musical presentation for intermission.)

Infytune: By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Glen Campbell
Infytune: Galveston, Glen Campbell
Infytune: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry/Southern Nights, Glen Campbell

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Picture Is Worth A Number Of Questions

This photograph, circulated by Todd and Penni Graham as they flew to Arizona to swindle Arizona State University's top administrators, prompts several interesting questions:
1) Todd Graham was contractually obligated to the University of Pittsburgh when he obtained the maroon-and-gold necktie and when he distributed this photograph. Is this guy being advised by the lawyer who sent Jerry Sandusky into the Bob Costas interview?
2) Todd and Penni Graham circulated this photograph before some Pitt players had been informed that their faith-commitment-and-integrity coach had abandoned them like a snake impersonating a weasel. Would Pitt players be charged or congratulated for spitting on Graham if their former coach makes good on his pledge to return to Pittsburgh for a final meeting with those players?
3) Which one of these two sanctimonious God Squadders was hitting the Bud at 8 a.m.?
Infytune: Back Stabbers, The O'Jays
Infytune: East Jesus Nowhere, Green Day

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pitt Learns The Hard Way That Todd Graham's 'High Octane' Was Fueled Mainly By Methane

Todd Graham left Pitt the carpetbagger's way: After a short spell of bragging, empty promises and failure -- and with bags of flim-flam cash. Graham demonstrated his character by informing players with a notification big on personal touches -- God and family -- that was delivered by text message and indirectly, through the e-mail account of a mid-level functionary employed by Pitt's foundering football program.

Graham's slinking departure was not -- or at least should not have been -- unexpected among the men (Steve Pederson, Mark Nordenberg, Jerry Cochran) ultimately responsible for mismanaging Pitt's football program and leaving the Big East in much the manner Graham ditched them. Todd Graham's disenchantment had been reflected by short-termer behavior and increasing insubordination for some time.

One example: Graham (or, more accurate, Graham's wife, Penni) wanted to indulge one of Graham's children by enabling the child to dance in a Panther costume along the Heinz Field sideline during home games. The idea met resistance among several elements of Pitt's athletics department, for several reasons. Penni Graham persisted, until the mini-mascot issue reached the athletics director, Steve Pederson, who ruled the child off the field.

During Pitt's final home game, however, Graham's child -- wearing a tiny panther costume apparently purchased independently by the Grahams, and a Pitt jersey labeled "GRAHAM" -- nevertheless appeared along the Pitt sideline, dancing near the student section. One person familiar with the associated events pointed at the dancing child and said, "See that kid in the costume? That kid on the field today means Graham knows either he is gone or Pederson is gone. Not sure which, but it's one or the other."

Pitt fans should hope that this observer was wrong, and that Pitt will soon be rid of Pederson, too.

UPDATE: It is becoming common currency among substantial Pitt boosters that Graham was pursuing several prospective employers for weeks if not months. Many influential Pitt supporters -- and a number of trustees -- are focusing on dumping Pederson, and some are expressing an inclination to reconsider Nordenberg's fitness if the chancellor attempts to protect the athletics director.

Infytune: Stray Cat Strut, The Stray Cats
Infytune: Midnight Special, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Infytune: Flim Flam Man, Laura Nyro

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Occupiers Of Pittsburgh, Unite (Effectively)!

For months, Occupy Pittsburgh has been surprisingly successful, refreshingly resourceful, pleasantly persistent, and intensely worthwhile.

Every American who recognizes the injustice (and chronic, unsustainable trajectory) of accelerating income inequality, every citizen who chafes against undeserved privilege embedded in our system, everyone who believes our society would benefit from diminution of greed and corruption should be grateful to the Occupiers, many of whom have sacrificed comfort for the worthy purpose of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

Pittsburgh's Occupiers -- based at a Sixth-at-Grant camp, conducting periodic field trips (left) carrying a message to scattered neighborhoods -- have been especially admirable. They have avoided most of the problems -- some self-inflicted, some provoked, others ascribable entirety to thuggish politicians and police -- experienced elsewhere.

Others deserve ample credit for working with the Occupiers to arrange a good situation. Most prominent are BNY Mellon, which has graciously cooperated with protesters squatting on property (right) that it at least largely private, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, which has exhibited a civic-minded restraint it has often lacked in spotlighted situations.

Most of these noble circumstances could change today, however. That would be unfortunate, and avoidable.

BNY Mellon has informed Occupiers that it has withdrawn its permission for an encampment, effective at noon today. It has declared that it would seek an injunction tomorrow if the park is not cleared today. BNY Mellon likely is entitled to enforce its wishes in this regard, and the Pittsburgh police would possess a duty to protect BNY Mellon's rights.

Some Occupiers have promised to resist an effort to clear the park. We hope those voices have been the loudest but not the most numerous among the Occupiers; that the Occupiers who have expressed defiance will reconsider; and that the Occupiers' collective body will choose sound strategy over counterproductive tactics, for the sake of preserving and expanding the good their altruistic actions have accomplished.

The history of populist movements is not encouraging in this regard. The wealthy and privileged customarily win these battles, even as the majestic arc of our nation's progress has traced toward justice over the long term. One important reason for the elites' enviable record is that they select strategy over tactics, and an important reason for that choice is that they have better advisers.

The wealthy have strong lawyers, astute financial consultants, effective lobbyists, smooth mouthpieces. Those counselors have excellent support systems, and their clients are well-organized.

The common man is not so fortunate. Unions have leaders and advisers who permit pension plans to submerge members' interests under decades of underfunding and mismanagement without so much as a modicum of inquiry, a moment of recognition, or a murmur of objection. Average Americans must rely on small legal offices to counter the privileged interests' huge, powerful law firms. The wealthy are served by financial magicians who enable billion-dollars companies to evade taxation, while the blue collar worker puzzles his own way through the 1040 to a higher tax rate than a hedge fund titan pays.

Occupiers choosing counterproductive tactics without regard to finances and other resources, legal issues, and other factors would be destined to follow a predictable path to futility. They would squander public support, splinter their organization, disserve their message, and lose.

Their ideals and accomplishments deserve -- and can be served -- better. They could devise and implement a long-term strategy that inclines success. For example, they could thank BNY Mellon for its hospitality, then negotiate with public officials for another location. (Several public parcels in or near downtown seem suitable.) They could try to persuade another private owner to provide another location, perhaps involving indoor accommodations. They could attempt to arrange an invitation to return to BNY Mellon's property after winter breaks.

To engage in legal jousting with BNY Mellon and/or a physical confrontation with law enforcement personnel would be to succumb to short-term and longshot tactics when long-term and effective strategy is indicated. There is still time for Pittsburgh's Occupiers to avoid the temptation to rely on emotion, to take the low road, to play into the hands of their opponents.

We hope our Occupiers find leaders, advisers, and strategies able to guide them to continuing success.

Infytune: Before The Deluge, Joan Baez and Jackson Browne
Infytune: Strange Fruit, Billie Holliday
Infytune: Only A Pawn In Their Game, Bob Dylan
Infytune: This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land
Infytune: Occupy (We The 99), Jasiri X

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Obama vs. Conservatives = Walk vs. Talk

President Obama's response to conservatives who snipe that he is 'leading from behind' and 'appeasing America's enemies' is a concise masterwork: "Ask Osama bin Laden":

We can hear Dick Cheney's teeth grinding from here.

Infytune: I'm A King Bee, Muddy Waters
Infytune: Got My Mojo Working, Muddy Waters
Infytune: Mannish Boy, Muddy Waters

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Death Of Blues Guitarist Hubert Sumlin, And Other Losses Sustained By Our Music

Two musical tragedies have been reported this week.

More important is the death of Hubert Sumlin (far left), groundbreaking guitarist for Howlin' Wolf (pictured with Sumlin) and Willie Dixon and idol of many strong musicians, at age 80.

Less important are the Beastie Boys, Guns 'N Roses, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers -- each of which has been granted what has become a deeply discounted admission to the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Who's next? Kenny G?

Infytune: Smokestack Lightin', Howlin' Wolf
Infytune: Smokestack Lightnin', Hubert Sumlin (instructional)
Infytune: Killing Floor, Hubert Sumlin with Eric Clapton, Robert Cray and Jimmie Vaughan

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Panther Footballers Learning Hard Way That Mouthy + Stubborn = A Giant Sack Of Pitt

As Pitt and West Virginia abandon regional rivalries for far-flung, far-from-green conferences -- Pitt, State Penn Penn State, and West Virginia wind up in three conferences, spanning from Boston to Lubbock and Miami to Nebraska? -- it seemed fitting that the game that might have concluded a century of Backyard Brawl football turned out to be a sack of coal.

West Virginia produces coal. Pitt's offense mass-produces sacks.

(Or, as Todd Graham might boast, "We're number one!")

Pitt's mediocre performance this season was predictable, yet apparently blindsided Todd Graham, whose devotions to system and to bragging overrode reason synergistically. Graham inexplicably stuck with a complicated offensive system long after experience confirmed the smart-money predictions that Pitt's personnel could not succeed with it.

No later than September -- when Pitt proved proficient at being sacked even in maximum-protection formation -- it was obvious that a pass-happy offense would be pass-sad for this year's Panthers. Fortunately for Pitt in these circumstances, the Panthers had one of the top runners in college football, Ray Graham. The only things that stopped Ray this season were Todd's play-calling and a knee injury.

Graham instead stuck with an intricate, fast-paced offensive strategy that relied on the quarterback's arm and head. What Tino Sunseri lacks in instinct and judgment, he makes up for with being short, slow, and flutter-armed. (Has Pitt ever won a game in which it trailed in the second half and had Sunseri at quarterback?) During yesterday's second half, Sunseri played like a young man whose mother was being held hostage by Mountaineers and whose father had bet the family's souls on West Virginia.

Graham's self-promoting mouth compounded his operational failures. He promised a "high octane" team. His image, more than Ray Graham's, was placed on tickets, programs, promotional materials, and the like. He predicted strong performance. Worst -- because it exposed a lack of honesty or competence -- Graham repeatedly endorsed Sunseri:
"I have full confidence in him as a quarterback."

That's millions of dollars in football insight talking, at least as measured by Steve Pederson and Mark Nordenberg. Those tempted to discount Graham's words as puffery should recall that Graham moved his most experienced backup quarterback to another position.

As Pitt limps home to play Syracuse and pursue a 6-6 record (and invitation to the Beef O'Brady Bowl), Steve Pederson and Mark Nordenberg should recognize that they will have competition new and old as the Graham Era unfolds. The new competition will come from Atlantic Coast Conference programs. The old competition will come from Ed Bozik.

There are increasingly strong signals that Jamie Dixon may be considering an expansion of his employment horizons. If Dixon leaves Pitt, he may take Ed Bozik's aging crown of thorns with him.

Infytune: Run Like Hell, Pink Floyd

Friday, November 25, 2011

Save Your Money And The Date: Bruce Springsteen Could Be Back In Pittsburgh!

Forget big-screen televisions, Ipads, and the other Black Friday junk! Save your pennies and hold your holiday gift-giving plans open, because Bruce Springsteen will bring his rock-and-roll revival hour (three hours, some nights) and the E Street Band to America in a few months, and tickets will be available soon.

At least a half-dozen of the tentative dates involve shows within road-trip proximity to Pittsburgh and -- despite InsolvenCity's decline to third-tier status for concerts that don't involve country and doo-woop -- Bruce and the E Streeters are scheduled to play for Pittsburgh in March.

Tentative dates near Pittsburgh:
Philadelphia / Wed. and Thurs., March 28, 29

Pittsburgh / Saturday, March 31

Nassau / Sunday, April 1

D.C. / Monday or Tuesday, April 2 or 3

Detroit / Thursday, April 12

Buffalo/ Friday, April 13

Cleveland / Tuesday, April 17

The tour also will visit New Jersey, probably in late April or early May. Clearances and other logistics are in progress; dates could change.

Infytune: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Bruce Springsteen with Joe Grushecky (Flood Aid, Pittsburgh, 2004)
Infytune: Incident On 57th Street, Bruce Springsteen (Soldiers and Sailors Hall, 2011)
Infytune: The Wish, Bruce Springsteen
Infytune: We're Having A Party, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes with Bruce Springsteen (The Agora, 1979)

JFK New Frontier Award Signals Happy Days For Mayor Ravenstahl And The Kennedys

After ascending from somewhat modest (and sketchy) beginnings, reaching rarely matched levels of power and honor, tracing a memorable arc through American public culture, and experiencing the inexorable and inevitable erosion of dynasty from generational decline and historians' analysis of previously concealed information, the Kennedys finally jumped the shark on Monday.

The Post-Gazette has the local angle.

Infytune: Sweet Caroline, Neil Diamond
Infytune: Abraham, Martin and John, Dion
Infytune: Sympathy For the Devil, The Rolling Stones
Infytune: Happy Days Theme, Pratt & McClain

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An InfiCollection Of Holiday Movies

For many, the holidays reunite families and provide a break from normal schedules, creating opportunities for movie-watching. Some worthwhile holiday films:

It's A Wonderful Life (1946): It's a wonderful film. Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed.

Planes, Trains And Automobiles (1987): This Thanksgiving film is one-holiday-fits-all great. Steve Martin, John Candy (left).

Trapped In Paradise (1994): Best crime-as-comedy holiday film you've never seen, set in Pennsylvania. Nicholas Cage, Jon Lovitz, Dana Carvey.

Bad Santa (2003): Funny as hell, but not before the children are asleep. Billy Bob Thornton (right).

Die Hard (1988): John McLane survives the worst holiday party ever: "Come out to the coast [for Christmas], we'll get together, have a few laughs ..." Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman.

Home Alone (1990): The rare, if not unique, kid-outsmarts-adults movie that works. McCauley Culkin, Joe Pesci.

Trading Places (1983): Hilarity with a sociology lesson. Eddie Murphy (left), Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Jamie Lee Curtis.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989): The Griswold formula -- strive, fail, recover -- at Christmas. Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo.

A Christmas Carol (1984): George S. Scott (right) as Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens at the pen.

Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). So cute most don't notice Burl Ives is preaching tolerance.

Your recommendations invited.

Infytune: "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!", Vaughn Monroe

Monday, November 21, 2011

They Are . . . Penn State!

One of the victims of the Penn State-related sexual abuse of children is reported to have been driven from high school during his senior year by bullies who blame the 17-year-old for the firing of Joe Paterno.

Infytune: What's The Matter Here?, 10,000 Maniacs

Why Not Do It Correctly On Thursday?

Why not removed sliced fingers, bruised feelings, and mangled bird from Thursday's menu?

Infytune: Wish You Were Here, David Gilmour
Infytune: Wish You Were Here, Roger Waters and Eric Clapton
Infytune: Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd

Saturday, November 19, 2011

(Soccer Champion) Women Are From Mars

The young ladies from Mars produced an out-of-this-world result in the Pennsylvania high school soccer AA championship game, defeating traditional powerhouse -- and nationally top-ranked -- Villa Joseph Marie of Bucks County, 1-0, at Hersheypark Stadium on Friday.

The lone score -- in a game in which Mars did not place a single shot on goal -- was an own-goal precipitated by a crossing ball from the left foot of Crysta Ganter (second from left).

Congratulations, Fightin' Planets!

Infytune: Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves, Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin
Infytune: Just Fine, Mary J. Blige
Infytune: Respect, Aretha Franklin

Friday, November 18, 2011

Onorato To Highmark? It's Over -- UPMC Wins!

If KDKA has it right, and Highmark is going to rely on Dan Onorato's post-executive connections and persuasiveness in its government relations and regulatory affairs, it's over (technical knockout). UPMC has won.

Infytune: Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival
Infytune: It's Over, Boz Scaggs
Infytune: Money For Nothing, Dire Straits with Eric Clapton

Penn State's Eerily Perfect Self-Protective Pitch Continues To Sound Wrong Notes

Penn State's insularity, self-centeredness, and lack of self-awareness has begun to approach absurdity.

Which of these would be the least apt legal counsel the school's trustees could engage to assist with the Official Penn State Investigation of how the entire Penn State community -- from janitor to emperor, from police to board of trustees -- failed to protect children from rape:
a) a Penn State graduate whose legal practice focuses on investigation of wrongdoing "syndicated and commercial lending/bilateral finance" and "corporate and securities mergers and acquisitions"

b) a Penn State insider with a history of advising Penn State and its trustees

c) the law firm that helped Frick, Carnegie, and other powerful interests dodge all accountability to the victims of the Johnstown Flood (and is still boasting about it, even from the grave), or

d) all of the above?

Infytune: Still The Same, Bob Seger

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parsing Ravenstahl's Play Against Franco Harris

InsolvenCity Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, demonstrating a new and uncharacteristic concern regarding the character of people participating in Insolvencity's public affairs, has called for Franco Harris to resign from the board of the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship operation. The mayor (far right, with advisor on problem nightclub issues) employed strident terms -- taking the friend-of-the-enemy-of-my-enemy's friend approach customarily restricted to anti-abortion zealots -- in assailing the former Steeler running back's character and judgment for expressing support of Joe Paterno, Harris' (and Penn State's) former college football coach.

Some have ascribed Ravenstahl's unusually energetic response to Harris' pro-Joe statements to family history (Harris' son Dok haplessly challenged Ravenstahl in a mayoral election).

Others might claim Ravenstahl's move against Harris is based on the mayor's heartfelt outrage concerning systematic child sexual abuse, a point we might consider plausible if someone produces evidence that Ravenstahl denounced the Catholic Church for concealing and facilitating sexual abuse of children at a level that makes Penn State (at least so far) look like a bunch of altar boys. (Make that an exceptionally large group of altar boys.) Did Ravensthal murmur even a word of disapproval concerning the shameful misappropriation of public funds for Catholic Church use in North Park?

We also suppose it is possible that Ravenstahl is dumb enough to conclude that Harris' statements betray a lack of concern for the victims of Penn State's depravity.

Each of those explanations, however, seems less likely than our hunch: Ravenstahl doesn't like Harris simply because Franco is a Democrat.

Infytune: Be True To Your School, The Beach Boys

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Time To Shun And Expose Penn State, Which Is Still Looking Out For Itself (And Football)

It seems reasonable to conclude that unless and until Penn State cancels a football game, the university's reactions to the revelations of institutional facilitation and concealment of sexual abuse of children constitute a self-serving (but perhaps more polished) continuation of the cover-up that consigned children to molestation.

Is no one connected with Penn State, State College, or Centre County capable of self-awareness, or of recognizing the need for an independent review of every element of this entire moral meltdown?

The district judge who slashed prosecutors' bail request, gave Jerry Sandusky a no-money-down bond, and sent an accused serial child rapist home to a residence that abuts an elementary school? Leslie Dutchcot (right) (1) was the beneficiary of a fundraiser conducted by a Second Mile foundation executive, (2) was a volunteer for Sandusky's child access program, (3) did not disclose her relationships with Sandusky's child molestation operation, and (4) might have an opportunity to explain all of this to the State Supreme Court soon.

The university trustee selected by Penn State's board to lead the investigation of how the school reached its current level of depravity? Kenneth Frazier is the attorney who masterminded Merck's multi-billion-dollar, scorched-earth effort to avoid responsibility for harm caused by Vioxx.

The lawyer defending Sandusky (although not necessarily effectively) with respect to sex-with-minors charges, and declaring he would leave his child alone with Sandusky? Joseph Amendola reportedly prepared for this assignment by impregnating a 17-year-old client -- at age 49. (That woman recently posted on Facebook, "OMG did Joe just say he would leave my kid alone with Jerry Sandusky?")

No reasonable observer would take the university's investigation seriously. For several reasons, the prosecutors who seem to have placed gubernatorial ambitions above warning central Pennsylvania's parents are poor candidates to provide a comprehensive, independent review.

That leaves lawyers for the victims as the best prospect for a credible illumination of the circumstances that protected Penn State and its football team at the expense of many molested children.

Until fundamental changes at Penn State are confirmed, every Penn State football player should leave the team; every Penn State student should transfer (excepting those who proximity to graduation would make transfer impractical); every high school senior should choose a school other than Penn State; every parent should refuse to approve a child's enrollment at Penn State; every sponsor should abandon Penn State football; no bowl should invite the Nittany Lions; and every Penn State graduate should implore the school to develop self-awareness and a moral compass.

Until Penn State cancels a football game, every time Penn Staters yell "We are Penn State," the rest of the world should hear "We are Penn State football!"

Infytune: Judgment Day, Method Man

Sunday, November 13, 2011

For Some Fans, It Is Time To Re-Evaluate Your Taste In Heroes And Associations

For anyone who rooted for the Nittany Lions yesterday (perhaps after a stop to have a picture taken at the Paterno statue, left), and will devote this afternoon to cheering for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, it is time for some soul-searching.

If, between games, you visited a Catholic Church, you might have a hard time finding a soul to search.

The rest of us can contemplate the thought of Jerry Sandusky out for a bit of shopping this week --at Dick's, of course.

Infytune: Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen
Infytune: Cathedral, Crosby, Stills, and Nash

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Nittany Credulous

Penn State students and alumni tend to be loyalists. Followers. Traditionalists.

(The skeptics, independent thinkers, and creative minds among Pennsylvania's college applicants generally have chosen other institutions, such as Pitt, Penn, and Carnegie Mellon. This is changing in Oakland, as Pitt abandons it traditional mission -- offering a big-league education to striving students from the local middle to lower classes -- and pursues the more lucrative role of backup school for Ivy League rejects from New Jersey, New York, and the Philadelphia suburbs whose applications are augmented by parental ability to pay full freight.)

No change in credulity, however, is apparent in State College, even as the endowment becomes the Victims Of Penn State's Immorality Compensation Fund.

Observation of a stubbornly faithful herd (right) supporting the 20 or so Penn Staters who concealed and facilitated the rape of children -- for more than a decade, and for the purpose of protecting the image and finances of a football program and its university auxiliary -- is, therefore, not entirely surprising.

Some reported comments from fans assembled at State College for today's football game are nonetheless jarring.

Fifty-something Penn State alumnus Tom Lowe, for example, wore a "Thanks Joe" sweatshirt for the game (and preparatory tailgating).

"I still love Penn State." said 1991 Penn State graduate Dave Granski.

Most Penn State fans not only did not permit the scandal to interfere with today's entertainment, but indeed "were supportive of Mr. Paterno," the Post-Gazette reports.

For Tom Lowe, Dave Granski, and others drinking, socializing, and cheering at Beaver Stadium today, this weekend would have been better devoted to having their moral compasses adjusted.

Infytune: Luka, Suzanne Vega

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today is 11-11-11, a once-in-a- . . . well, somewhat rare occurrence.

Infytune: Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight/C.O.D., Spinal Tap
Infytune: Don't Lift That Kilt (Instrumental and Interview from Dennis Miller show), Les Paul and Nigel Tufnel

Veterans Day 2011

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.

Infytune: The Wall, Joe Grushecky
Infytune: The Wall, Bruce Springsteen
Infytune: Shut Out The Light, Bruce Springsteen

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Penn State's Child Rape Problem Progresses

The pro-Joe holdouts among Pennsylvania State University trustees and influential alumni are reportedly being wrestled to submission by donors, public officials, and others. President Graham Spanier possesses even less support, and seemingly no chance to survive in office as he awaits criminal charges, but some trustees apparently fear a short-term leadership vacuum could aggravate a situation already marked by institutional paralysis and staggering liability exposure. Disgraced coach Joe Paterno (smiling with chanting supporters gathered outside his home, right) is said to be nearly delusional with respect to the scandal and his position.

(Until evidence overcomes the probability that Tom Corbett's political ambitions influenced the timing of state prosecutors' handling of this matter, Penn Staters would be smart to exclude Pennsylvania's governor from anything beyond an ex-officio trustee's position during these deliberations.)

Those attempting to salvage the football program (and hold some recruits) appear to be pushing defensive line coach and recruiter Larry Johnson, at least informally, to accept a promotion. Given the toxicity to be associated with Penn State and its athletics program throughout the foreseeable future -- the situation seems likely to worsen as revelations emerge -- the prospect of persuading an accomplished head coach to move to University Park seems remote.

Infytune: Ball Of Confusion, The Temptations

Why Were Registered Democrats Permitted To Vote For The Non-Democratic At-Large Council Position?

Why were registered Democrats permitted to vote today for candidates for the unexpired Republican (or, for the fastidious, non-Democratic) at-large Allegheny County Council position?

If the opportunity a number of Democrats have reported -- to vote for Heather Heidelbaugh, the Republican nominee, or to cast instead a vote for another candidate -- was a proper, intended circumstance of ballot preparation, the prospect for mischief is plain. Having already selected Jumpin' John DeFazio, a Democrat, for one at-large position, Democratic electors could have arranged today for someone other than a Republican (a Libertarian, perhaps, or a Republican more attractive to Democrats, or a non-partisan) to complete the term Ed Kress relinquishes after being selected by county council Republicans to replace Chuck McCullough as the non-Democratic at-large member.

Devious Democrats seemingly could have even arranged for a Democrat to switch registrations (to Republican, or non-partisan, or Green, or something else other than Democratic), then challenge the Republican nominee for the second at-large position.

Anyone who believes such low-grade political cheating involving disingenuous party registrations would be beneath public officials (and partisans) must be unfamiliar with the sordid recent history of the United States Commission On Civil Rights.

[Note regarding second Infytune: If Todd Gaziano and Gail Theriot can masquerade as non-Republicans, why can't Henry Famborough pull off XX-chromosomed vocal chords?]

Infytune: Lowdown, Boz Scaggs
Infytune: Games People Play, The Spinners (dude ridiculously masquerading as Barbara Ingram version)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Infindorsements: Hold Your Nose, But Vote!

Residents of Greater Insolvency may be excused for exhibiting a lack of excitement with respect to candidates set to appear on Tuesday's ballots, but lackluster candidates should not be enough to disincline a citizen to exercise a hard-won entitlement to vote. So hold your nose and push the pixels in these directions:

Allegheny County Executive: The best news associated with this Election Day is that citizens will soon be rid of Dan Onorato (left, with junior aide), under whose lack of leadership the County of Allegheny is in shambles, acutely failing nearly everyone who comes in contact with county government and chronically violating the United States Constitution and fundamental decency. The sole consolation for those who will elect half-heartedly Infindorsed Rich Fitzgerald to succeed Onorato is a slim hope that Fitzgerald's coziness with Onorato policies and playmates will be cast aside in January, when Onorato is to become an unproductive lobbyist collecting a six-figure reward for eight years of favors funded by taxpayers. Republican Raja, an unattractive candidate, deserves sympathy -- he has paid dearly for being duped by Republican Party leadership and by a sleazy set of campaign consultants -- but not votes.

Allegheny County Controller: After overcoming a familial connection with ugly InsolvenCity politics to become a worthwhile legislator, and overcoming her most worthy competition by defeating Valerie McDonald Roberts in the primary, Chelsa Wagner has earned the Infindorsement.

Allegheny County Treasurer: A small-town pol of the type that has shackled our region for decades, but a likeable and relatively effective one, John Weinstein carries the Infindorsement with him to victory on Tuesday.

Allegheny County District Attorney: Jordan Miles merits the Infindorsement; incumbent Steven A. Zappala Jr. is far too conflicted to deserve the additional term of office oblivious voters will provide on Tuesday.

Allegheny County Council: Infindorsed candidates are John DeFazio (Democratic at-large), Edward Kress (Republican at-large, although Republicans were silly enough to nominate tiresome but loud ineffectiveness embodied by partisan flamethrower Heather Heidelbaugh), District 2's Jan Rea, District 5's Vince Gastgeb, District 6's John Palmiere, District 10's William Robinson, District 11's Barbara Daly Danko, and District 13's Amanda Hawkins Green. In the sole contested race, in which Republican Michael Dell offers unsophisticated but well-meaning opinions against Nick Futules' proven insipidity, the Infindorsement belongs to Michael Dell, largely because Futules chose cowardice over conviction (an easy call for someone who lacks conviction) in ducking the drink tax vote.

Pittsburgh City Council: Infindorsees Darlene Harris (District 1), Bruce Kraus (District 3), and Dr. Patrick Dowd (District 7) are a flawed and fractious bunch, but they appear to constitute the principal hope for averting catastrophe in InsolvenCity until a competent mayor takes office. With Natalia Rudiak, Bill Peduto, and District 5 rookie Corey O'Connor (who holds an Infindorsement crafted entirely of hope), they possess a responsibility to forge a durable coalition against List-Maker predations and parking privateers.

Pennsylvania Superior Court: David Wecht was chosen for the bench too young, primarily on name recognition, but needs only outpace a lame Republican to get the Infindorsement and easily meets that standard.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court: Kathryn Boockvar is too young for an appellate position, but is nonetheless plainly preferable to her opponent and therefore takes the Infindorsement to the polls.

Judicial retention (Pennsylvania): Voters should consider retaining Infindorsed judges Renee Cohn Jubelirer and Mary Hannah Leavitt (Commonwealth Court). Voters should push the "reset" button and create vacancies with respect to the judicial positions currently entrusted to Michael Eakin (Supreme Court), John Bender and Mary Janes Bowes (Superior Court), and Robin Simpson (Commonwealth Court)

Judicial retention (Allegheny County): The Infindorsed candidates for retention are Kathleen Durkin and Randal Todd. Voters should thank David Cashman, Guido DeAngelis, Michael A. Della Vecchia for their judicial service with a vote to return them to the pool of local pols.

Library funding referendum (City of Pittsburgh): Although a county-wide funding mechanism -- such as Regional Asset District revenues, which would be adequate for this purpose were relevant board members to refrain from self-promoting, hypocritical ass-kissing in the form of iniquitous subsidization of entertainments preferred by the tuxedoed corporate class -- would be preferable, we encourage InsolvenCity voters to recall the wisdom of Emil Faber ("Knowledge is Good") and support public libraries by voting to enact a modest tax.

Infytune: Salt Of The Earth, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger
Infytune: Electioneering, Radiohead
Infytune: Won't Get Fooled Again, The Who

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Nittany Lions Reportedly Played In Catholic League With Respect To Criminal Sexual Abuse Of Children

One of the essential foundations of Penn State's football program has been careful management of information and image. Assisted by small-town circumstances and horribly misplaced loyalties, university officials and compliant (perhaps cowed) locals -- including law enforcement personnel -- controlled investigations and imposed secrecy with respect to unflattering events for decades.

Recent revelations indicate that Penn State has been no better than the Catholic Church with respect to concealment and facilitation of sexual abuse of children, relying -- as has the church -- on undeserved pedestal and privilege to promote and protect self-interest at shocking cost to victims and morality.

Why did Penn State officials refrain, for more than a decade, from alerting officials to evidence that defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky had been observed molesting children on university premises? Why did they enable Sandusky to continue to operate a program for at-risk children, and to use his affiliation with Penn State to arrange access to children?

Long-overdue criminal charges will provide an opportunity for Penn State's athletic director and a Penn State business executive to answer those questions, but it seems probable that the circumstances and motivations resemble those associated with campus police officers who extended unwarranted courtesies to Penn State footballers over the years, or midstate journalists who pulled punches (what are the career prospects of a Centre County sports writer who publishes information damaging to Joe Paterno?) with respect to Penn State. Cowardice, poor judgment, flawed character, and a warped environment appear to have enabled pressures to build, and wrongdoing to compound, until an explosion occurred.

For too long, protecting the football program at whatever cost has been the Penn State Way.

Penn State President Graham Spanier (who, like Mark Nordenberg, appears to have outlasted his institutional usefulness some time ago) has promptly gone all-in with respect to defense of his administrators. Unless those Spanier has vigorously defended -- perhaps from self-interest -- are exonerated without qualification, Spanier will deserve to be fired, scorned and ruined.

(Important point: The worst to be said about Nordenberg is that his period of effective leadership ended some time ago, and that Pitt's performance and mission have deteriorated in recent years.)

We applaud the law enforcement personnel who have disregarded decades of small-time, small-town protocol by filing criminal charges against Penn State royalty. We hope any victims of Penn State-promoted predations will advance civil claims against every person and institution that engaged in, concealed, and/or facilitated selfish destruction of children's lives; the facts, long submerged, should be illuminated.

This episode could provide a few pointers with respect to Pittsburgh's relationship with sporting royalty.

Remarkably, Jerry Sandusky's autobiography (right) was entitled "Touched."

Infytune: Universal Child, Annie Lennox
Infytune: Covered In Cowardice, Billy Talent
Infytune: Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! (Hold The X-Rays)

Halloween is a great holiday. Parents preparing to agonizingly scrutinize children's collected treats -- and anyone considering how much they should fear their fellow citizens, tonight and in general -- might benefit from some good news: There apparently has never been a documented case of poisoned treats.

So enjoy a wonderful night of community for children of all ages!

Infytune: Monster Mash, Bobby "Boris" Pickett (pictured, right)
Infytune: Spooky, Atlanta Rhythm Section

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mylan Continues Response To Creative Resume Scandal Of Its Vice President COO Director Chief Executive Officer

Quit wasting money on tuition, future CEOs of America! Mylan Inc. (parent of Mylan Pharmaceuticals) today provides vivid proof one need not earn an MBA to reach the summit in corporate America. Being the child of a governor senator and riding that to a gig as loyal lieutenant to an asswipe obviously suffices.

(Any chance the Bresch controversy figured in the Southeastern Conference's apparent conclusion that West Virginia University's academic reputation falls short of the educational standard established by such luminaries of learning as the University of Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State University?)

Infytune: The Great Pretender, Freddie Mercury

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

For Those Who Would Rely On The Judgment Of The Republican Primary Election Voter

For anyone taking comfort -- while watching Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich speak at podiums -- from the thought 'there's no way the Republicans would actually nominate someone like that,' a sobering point of evidence from the ongoing review of the Nixon White House recordings, which continues to embellish the record of the first beneficiary of the Southern Strategy:
President of the United States Richard Nixon: Well how about announcing Powell this afternoon?

Attorney General of the United States John Mitchell: I wouldn't do that until we've first --

Nixon: Heard from Walsh?

Mitchell: Yeah, we want to program that committee so we can blame the woman on that. ...

Nixon: Well, I get your point ... Incidentally, what is Rehnquist? I suppose he's a damn Protestant?

Mitchell: I'm sure of that. He's just as WASPish as WASPish can be.

Nixon: Yeah, well, that's too damn bad. Tell him to change his religion.

Mitchell: All right, I'll get him baptized this afternoon.

Nixon: Well, get him baptized and castrated -- no, they don't do that, I mean they circumcise -- no, that's the Jews. Well anyway, whatever he is, get him changed.

Mitchell: All right, let me pursue this further ...
Infytune: Ohio, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Infytune: Watergate Blues, Gil Scott-Heron
Infytune: Line 'Em Up, James Taylor

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bin Laden, Gadhafi, Iraq -- Three Ugly Chapters Closed During Fine Foreign Policy Year For America

The announcement that all nearly all American troops will leave Iraq by year-end (a couple of hundred soldiers are to remain posted to guard a billion dollar monument to U.S. stupidity) is welcome news.

A number of people -- most prominently, those whose pursuit of the Republican nomination for president appears to have impaired their memories of a longstanding commitment to withdraw by the end of this year -- are criticizing this decision, joining the column of embittered, discredited warmongers who contend the United States should still be bombarding Vietnam (and Laos, and Cambodia, and Thailand) and mutter that decent Americans should have 'Kent Stated' all of the anti-war freaks when they had the chance.

With the deaths of Osama bin Laden (who had inexplicably eluded America for nearly a decade) and Moammar Gadhafi (deposed at a cost to American taxpayers approximating the amount paid each day for pointless, fatal failure in Iraq), the departure from Iraq marks a fine year of foreign policy accomplishment for President Obama.

Infytune: War, Edwin Starr
Infytune: What's So Funny (About Peace, Love And Understanding), Vote For Change tour version
Infytune: Last To Die, Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Short Poem Concerning The Occupiers: Millions + Minions < Credibility + Substance

We intend to commend and counsel the Occupiers (and to needle some naysayers) in an original manner, but until then:
All Dick Scaife's millions,
And all Dick Scaife's minions,
Couldn't withstand the force,
Of Slag-Heaped opinions

Infytune: The Dirty Jobs, The Who with David Gilmour

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gadhafi's Time To Die Arrives, A Bit Overdue

A bit overdue, but Moammar Gadhafi's time to die arrived shortly after the fugitive former despot was discovered cowering in a sewer pipe.

One less selfish, brutal bastard on our planet.

Infytune: Beautiful Day, U2

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

InsolvenCity Future, Behold InsolvenCity Present

To glimpse The Ghost Of The All-Too-Real InsolvenCity Future, one may gaze eastward, toward InsolvenCity Present.

Infytune: All I Want For Christmas Is You, Mariah Carey
Infytune: Christmas In Hollis, Run-D.M.C.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupiers Provide Primer In Ineffectiveness

Here is a vivid demonstration of why the Occupiers seem destined to be a group of well-meaning but low-functioning people unlikely to be effective (despite the availability of outstanding advice):

Were celery sticks, raisins, and juice served shortly after this performance concluded?

Infytune: Mockingbird, Carly Simon and James Taylor (No Nukes)

A Couple Of Suggestions For Occupy Pittsburgh

As the Occupiers attempt to establish position in Pittsburgh, we fear that two factors could predictably interfere with the group's effectiveness. The first is inefficiency (counterproductive egalitarianism of the type that generates 90-minute discussions concerning whether to mention God in a mission statement), the second ineffectiveness (amateurism can be endearing but also hapless).

We therefore offer a couple of suggestions, developed without a seven-hour meeting but with an aim of message, publicity, simplicity, lawfulness, and feasibility:

1. Occupy the privileged portion of Sixth Avenue fronting the Duquesne Club (325), public property which Pittsburgh and its police enable a tycoons' social club to use as a private parking lot for the pampered. Surround a scofflaw Benz or Bentley and chant "Why Do Millionaires Park For Free? The Answer Is Luke And The FOP."

2. Occupy the lovely, leafy stretch of Devonshire Street fronting the University of Pittsburgh chancellor's residence (718), using sleeping bags to illustrate that Devonshire is an especially comfortable street -- for the privileged and subsidized. Chant "Why Is A Millionaire's House Tax-Free? Ask The Guy From Pitt and UPMC."

Can anyone explain why the parcel occupied by the Pitt chancellor's residence is listed out of order at the county real estate website, making it unusually difficult to find, or why so little information about the property is provided?

If Occupiers would like other suggestions, let us know.

Infytune: Power To The People, John Lennon
Infytune: For What It's Worth, Buffalo Springfield
Infytune: Revolution, Beatles

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Raja Campaign Makes An Iffy Candidate Look Good -- But That Candidate Is Rich Fitzgerald

It is not surprising that an immigrant named Raja running for office as a Republican in Democrat-dominated Allegheny County would encounter difficulty in assembling a good campaign staff, but the shoddy work of D. Raja's campaign is nonetheless striking.

A current Raja television spot derides Rich Fitzgerald as a "career politician." Fitzgerald has never made politics his career. Fitzgerald's livelihood has for more than 25 years derived from a company he founded, Aquanef. Fitzgerald has been a county council member -- a part-time position that pays roughly enough to cover parking at the Grant-at-Forbes lot during council meetings -- for half as long as he has worked at Aquanef. These circumstances make Raja's "career politician" assertion a lie.

We would like to know more about Aquanef and its operations -- and, in particular, its relationships with government agencies and entities positioned to benefit from a county executive's decisions -- but Raja has ignored substance and instead chosen disingenuous cheap shots.

That advertisement also accuses Fitzgerald of imposing "the highest tax in the history of Allegheny County." This is either an intentionally misleading claim or a falsehood. If Raja refers to a tax increase, imposition of the Regional Asset District tax generated a multiple of the revenue associated with imposition of the drink tax. If Raja refers to gross revenue, county property tax revenues dwarf drink tax revenues. Again, Raja is working fertile ground -- Fitzgerald chose poor policy and procedure in imposing the drink tax -- but he ignores the hay and ventures into the weeds.

A candidate who resorts to lies a month before the election is desperate and, in this case, likely doomed. Raja's campaign staff seems incapable of arranging victory for its flawed candidate, but the Raja campaign is succeeding with respect to one tough task: It is making Rich Fitzgerald look good.

Infytune: Lies, The Rolling Stones
Infytune: La-La-La Lies, The Who
Infytune: Little Lies, Fleetwood Mac