Friday, January 29, 2010

A Difficult Lesson in this UPMC Minute

Allegheny County and Braddock learned a difficult lesson in today's UPMC minute. Judge Eugene Strassburger decided that despite much paperwork passed between the county and UPMC, UPMC has no legal obligation to keep the Braddock hospital open. The lesson? When the county enters into an agreement with UPMC, make damned sure there's wording in the piles of contractual paperwork that insists UPMC not close local hospitals.

Say your good-byes. The hospital will be closing on Sunday January 31.

As a side note, once again, County Councilman Chuck McCullough has stepped up to the plate to represent the disenfranchised. He really is a guy you hate to hate.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Let's Say No More to the Abuse

Obviously, I'm upset about the alleged beating of a high school student (Jordan Miles) by 3 undercover cops in Homewood. I'm upset that the Fraternal Order of Police doesn't see anything wrong with the "aggressive" arrest of a boy with a bottle of pop. It's especially trying to believe that the boy deserved this treatment when he's a senior at one of the best city schools, CAPA (Pittsburgh's Creative And Performing Arts High School).

The Fraternal Order of Police on Tuesday praised the officers for their efforts at removing guns from the streets and said their actions in arresting Mr. Miles were "correct and law-abiding."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pittsburgh Wages Need Some Redding Up

From the Post-Gazette (via the PGH Comet):

In 2001, council approved legislation mandating a $9.12 an hour wage plus health insurance, or $10.62 without, for virtually every worker whose job was paid, supported or subsidized with city money. "Everywhere that our shadow falls, we will ensure that workers receive a living wage," Mr. Burgess said yesterday.

But City Council then added a caveat that the rule would only take effect after Allegheny County adopted similar rules. County Council narrowly rejected an ordinance, rendering the city legislation dormant.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Feel Good Post

There are times when it seems bloggers are just a bunch of whiners. Then there are times when bloggers accomplish something great. Special thanks and shout-out to That's Church and PGH Comet for their hard work. Welcome to the USA to the 53 Haitian children who arrived this morning at the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Increased PWSA Smarminess In the New Year

Maybe you, like I was, were busy around the holidays. Maybe you, like I did, let this little snippet of PWSA (Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority) news slip by:
Board member Patrick Dowd said better news is the introduction of optional insurance that will be added to customer bills as of Jan. 1.

"It's the best news of the day, of the year, perhaps of the decade," said Mr. Dowd, chairman of the authority's finance committee and a Pittsburgh city councilman.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

City Council Plans Death of South Side

As is said, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I firmly believe that Councilor Bruce Kraus has his heart in the right place. He wants to make life better for his South Side constituents. He constantly receives complaints about rowdy drunken revelers pissing on lawns, damaging private property, and generally wrecking havoc in the South Side neighborhood.
"[T]this morning in council, Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus reintroduced a bill to limit bars on the South Side, after a similar bill was rejected last month by an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge.

Mr. Kraus said the new version of the bill would change city zoning rules to prohibit all new restaurants in the Carson Street corridor, whether or not they offered alcohol. According to the city Law Department, he said, if the bill is "alcohol-neutral, it will be held up by the courts.""

This latest legislation is intending to prohibit all new restaurants from opening on the South Side. Because of the previous limit on alcohol licenses, many previous restaurants had already discovered that it was more profitable to move and sell their alcohol licenses. The most recent and egregious example is Bruschetta which shuttered its doors to re-open as Villa, quite possibly the largest square footage of physical bar in all of the South Side.

If this legislation passes, not only will no new restaurants open, many restaurants will close to follow the suit of Bruschetta. The South Side needs a balance of restaurants, bars, shopping, grocery stores, etc. Without excessive punishing legislation, this will happen.

Instead, I recommend that Councilor Kraus follow the results of the hospitality study that he commissioned. Work with local businesses instead of attempting to squash new business, and we will have a vibrant community.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Important Pittsburgh Events of 2009

2009/2010 is having a rocky transition in Pittsburgh Politics. With about 8 hours to spare in 2009, Mayor Ravenstahl vetoed city council legislation that had passed unanimously 10 days prior without so much as making any opposition public knowledge in said prior 10 days. Then in the first session of 2010, everyone had an agenda for council president (including Mayor Ravenstahl yet again), and Councilwoman Harris emerged as the new president within moments of the public knowing she was a candidate.

But let's look further back on 2009:
1) Mayor Ravenstahl handily won both the Pittsburgh democratic primary and mayoral election.
2) Pittsburgh hosted the G-20 Summit.
3) 3 Innocent women and 3 police officers doing their jobs were heartlessly murdered.
4) The city became ever more bike-friendly with bike racks and more trails.
5) Unfair property assessments were rejected by the courts yet again.
6) The Pittsburgh Promise helped pay for tuition for lots of Pittsburgh students.
7) Grocery stores in Pennsylvania are starting to sell 6-packs. Is this the beginning of the end of the PLCB?
8) I had a good time in Cleveland.
9) The Steelers won the Super Bowl, and the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, celebrated by much destruction and parading.
10) I went to Peru, Argentina, and Alaska over a period of 4 months this year and still managed to keep this blog alive.

All in all, it wasn't such a bad year, but here's to hoping next year is better.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

To Table Games Or Not

"Some think live table games are a bad hand." Some think over-legislation is bull shit. In particular, me. Either make live table games legal and tax them, or don't. Don't make certain live table games legal and others illegal so that an electronics game vendor can make an extra buck.

Not surprisingly, Rich Orlando, President of TDN Money Systems, "the largest supplier of electronic table games to the state's nine casinos", does not want live table games.

But Mr. Orlando also believes the demise of electronic table games could end up costing the state money. He argues that the games -- in essence slot machines -- produce on average more revenue than will the live versions, which are more labor intensive and will have a far lower tax rate.