Saturday, September 30, 2006

Are you now or have you ever been?

I briefly discuss this book and this post at my other blog.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Breaking news

PITTSBURGH—In response to zero reports linking him to Anna Nicole Smith, local blogger Jonathan Potts today denied that he was the father of the former Playmate’s newborn daughter.

Two men, photographer Larry Birkhead and Smith’s attorney Howard K. Stern, have claimed to be the father of Dannie Ray Hope.

“No, I’m not that baby’s daddy, and if you keep asking, you are going to get me in serious trouble,” Potts said, referring to his wife of nearly four years, Maggi. The couple recently celebrated the first birthday of their daughter, Lucy.

Under a barrage of questioning from reporters gathered on the lawn of his home in the city’s Brookline neighborhood, Potts conceded that both he and his wife were once viewers of Smith’s reality show on the E! television network.

“We couldn’t help it. It was a train wreck. We couldn’t look away. But personally, I haven’t even found her (Smith) attractive since at least 1994,” Potts said, declining to elaborate further.

Potts also denied that he had fathered, via artificial insemination, Suri Cruise, the baby daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

“No, I didn’t do it any other way, either, smart ass,” Potts said in response to a reporter’s question. “Seriously, do you want me to have to sleep on the porch?”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

This just in

Due to the ongoing expenses of maintaining my household, I am today announcing that my wife, daughter and I are merging with the UPMC Health System. Our home will now be called UPMC Potts Residence. We will continue to live there, and daily operations will be unaffected for the foreseeable future.

Talks also are underway for the health care giant to purchase this blog and operate it under the name The UPMC Conversation. The Dead Tree Blog will remain independent.

Every girl's crazy about a sharp-dressed man

I went inside Jim Roddey's closet for Fanfare magazine.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

From my mouth...

This is what I've been talking about:

Pittsburgh hasn't been choked by smoke for decades.

But the local civic-minded, again as they have for, uh, decades, proclaim the region can grow once we disabuse folks of misperceptions that discourage businesses from locating here.

Chief among them: Pittsburgh is the "smoky city."

Was it the nonexistent smoke that has halved the population of Pittsburgh in the last 45 years? Just as the smoke disappeared, so did the jobs and the people. And this was all because, for 45 years, we didn't get the brand right?

Might there be other reasons the region has not grown like the rest of the country -- or do top companies bypass Pittsburgh because it is not properly "branded"?

Gery Steighner, who wrote this editorial in the Trib, ticked off some of those reasons, which include "a business-unfriendly tax-and-regulatory climate exists..that the region's central city -- Pittsburgh -- is in state receivership because of its captivity to labor unions..."

And while we're on the subject, can we dispense with the nonsense that it is Pittsburghers' own pessimism that drags the city down? Yes, Pittsburgh is a great place to live. But it is not without problems--real, substantive problems that have nothing to do with whether people do or do not cling to outdated stereotypes. All the sunny talk and public relations in the world aren't going to help us get back on track unless we also address the real conditions that hobble our growth.

Yes, we should love our city. But not blindly.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Hey, leave Grandpa alone

Poor Dick Skrinjar:

“He’s a young guy too, you know,” Mr. Ravenstahl said, pointing to the number 7 and referring to Ben Roethlisberger, the 24-year-old Steelers star who last year became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl ring. By his side, Mr. Ravenstahl’s press secretary — a white-haired man at least 30 years his elder — nodded quietly.

That comes from the New York Times via Rauterkus, who has a good discussion about something that Bob O'Connor, bless his soul, did wrong: When he was still on City Council, he lead the charge to eliminate the city's two-tiered property tax system, in which land was taxed at a higher rate than buildings. I doubt it's an issue the new mayor will revisit, but one can always hope.

Wait until we get that Gene Kelly statue

It's hard to believe that American cities still have so many problems:

The 2,000-pound statue, a movie prop for Rocky III, once stood at the top of the steps made famous by the original movie but was moved to the Spectrum, where it stayed for most of the last 25 years before coming down in December for filming of Stallone's sixth installment in the series, Rocky Balboa. ...

"This will be a huge attraction for the city of Philadelphia. One that will bring jobs, economic development, and will be a huge impact on the city."

(From the Philadelphia Inquirer.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Let the games begin

City Councilman Bill Peduto, an unsuccessful candidate for mayor in last year's election, appears to be steeling himself for a challenge to the city law department's ruling that Luke Ravenstahl should serve out the remainder of the late Bob O'Connor's term. The conflict lies in language that calls for a vacancy election to be held during the next municipal election, which would seem to contradict a provision that prevents a mayoral election and the election for controller from taking place in the same year. From the Post-Gazette:

City Councilman William Peduto, an unsuccessful Democratic mayoral candidate who lost to Mr. O'Connor in last year's primary election, said he does not believe there is a conflict if the mayoral election is held next year at the same time as the controller's race. His reason: because the mayoral election is not a normal race, but a special election to fill a vacancy.

"The [home rule charter] provision under the controller's office has nothing to do with a vacancy election, otherwise there would not be a vacancy provision for the mayor's race," Mr. Peduto said.

"It doesn't make any sense."

Mr. Peduto and Ms. Ernsberger agreed with others who said the final resolution of the election decision will no doubt be left up to a judge after a legal challenge.

Peduto was no doubt asked for comment by the Post-Gazette, and with O'Connor's body still lying in state in the City-County Building, he does not want to say that he'll be the one to make that legal challenge. Given that the chairwoman of the city Democratic committee also appears to question the city's ruling, one wonders if the party itself will make the challenge--assuming it has the legal standing to do so--and allow the individual candidates to keep their hands clean.

That just might put the committee at odds with the new mayor, who if he is smart, will try not to appear too vigorous in defending the law department's decision. A simple "I respect the decision of the city's law department" will be sufficient. His age and lack of experience is going to make it all the more important for him to appear statesmanlike while his potential rivals look like ambitious politicians.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Remembrances of a friend

Dave Copeland has a nice tribute to Bob O'Connor at his blog. Dave, by the way, is running in a marathon in October to raise money for cancer research. Dave lost his father to cancer in 2004. I'm embarrassed to say I've yet to donate, but I plan to do so (now I have to, since I've written it on the Internets) and I'd urge all my readers to do the same.

There, Dave. I just asked three people to donate.

Goodbye, Mayor

The Trib has a nice, simply state front-page obituary for Mayor Bob O'Connor. It's one time when the traditional, just-the-facts newspaper style serves the occasion well.

I don't envy Luke Ravenstahl, but I will say that he struck just the right chord in his brief remarks after his swearing-in last night:

It's really difficult this evening to find the proper words to express my emotions at this difficult time. Today is certainly a day of great sorrow and grief for the entire city of Pittsburgh.

Bob O'Connor is a beloved friend and colleague, and his words and actions and deeds will serve as a model to my tenure as mayor of the city of Pittsburgh.

"I ask all of Pittsburgh this evening to join Judy O'Connor and the O'Connor family in our time of grief and offer prayers and support as we mourn Bob's passing and also celebrate his life and career of helping others.

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose. The time will come for Pittsburgh to continue on with its mission.

"Now is a time for us to look back and reflect on what Mayor Bob O'Connor has meant to Pittsburgh. He will be dearly missed.

"God bless the O'Connor family and God bless Pittsburgh."

And finally, while I hate to bring up anything negative, I feel I must bring your attention to the words of former City Councilwoman Barbara Burns, who was defeated by Ravenstahl in an election in 2003. In a Trib story that does not yet appear to be online, she gave the new mayor the following words of encouragement:

"What I understand is nobody else could get a plurality (as City Council president), so (Ravenstahl) won because he was the lesser of two evils," Burns said.

She insisted she holds no ill will toward Ravenstahl but questioned his ability to guide the city because of his youth.

"It's not his fault he got elected without any experience," Burns said.

If memory serves, Burns got elected based on the fact that she had been a member of the Pittsburgh School Board--a body that has rarely brought distinction to itself--and because she was a crony of Mayor Tom Murphy. With those qualifications, it's no wonder she's mystified that Ravenstahl beat her.

What she said about Ravenstahl's ascension to the presidency of City Council is no doubt true. But what purpose was served by crapping on the guy a few minutes after he becomes mayor on one of the city's most difficult nights? He may come to enjoy the job, and there's nothing wrong with that. But I'm sure he doesn't enjoy getting it the way he did, and I'm sure he never envisioned when he ran for City Council president that this is what would happen. A little time to let him catch his breath would be nice.

If nothing else, Babs gave her former constituents a reminder of why they gave her such a richly deserved exit from City Council.