Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Building Up, Tearing Down

This morning's DUQ local news report reported Councilman Bill Peduto proposed a bill limiting construction near residential areas to between 10 PM and 6 AM. Peduto, whose principled leadership dampened the panties of hundreds of youthful activists, thinks his constituents are unduly impacted by "...all the construction going on in the East End!" Standard sort of take from a City Council myopically focused on residents and skeptical of businesses: "You can make money here, just play by our rules."

I agree with Peduto that we should make demands of those looking to build in Pittsburgh, but councilmen like Peduto have had hundreds of equally great ideas over the past 250 years of our city's existence. The city has hundreds of small (often onerous) rules governing design review, use of funds, labor costs, minority participation, sewer/water line taps, lead paint remediation, historic district designations, material uses, placement of dumpsters, placement of air conditioners, types of landscaping material, etc. Rules are enforced by unresponsive, jaded bureaucrats who often dont know the rules, but are willing to fine for what they perceive as a violation. The "you need to play by our rules," isnt a bad theory unless you have too many god damned rules to play by, you enforce them haphazardly and disporportionately, and you dont help businesses follow them. Time is money, and rules are time. Do the math, and you see why construction is going to Wexford.

Peduto took a strong stand against suburban sprawl in the election, playing rock-star to his lefty supporters. If he really wants to tackle the issue of suburban sprawl, he should be trying to figure out how to make the city business friendly. But then again, how sexy is remedying a charged problem like sprawl with pro-business functionality. Something tells me our political rock-star won't dampen too many panties in the movement with a pro-business bent.

Construction Ruins a Good Nite's Sleep

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sheriff, Accomplice to Murder, Kingpin

In the grand tradition of Party cronyism, Allegheny County Democratic Committee helped carry two of its best and brightest in the last election. Pete DeFazio and Tom Flaherty both won their respective seats for Sheriff and Judge, instantly transforming two of the most corrupt, inept bastards in county politics into Guardians of Justice. Good Controller, Good Judge? eh.

But today the scythe passes a bit closer to the neck of dirtbag Pete DeFazio, as his right hand man is led downtown in shackles. Chief Dennis Skosnik, pictured right, was brought in on "...Bribery, Case Fixing and Abuse of Power." As the cancerous abuse that wracks the sheriff's office becomes increasingly apparent, maybe Rich Fitzgerald will drop his "principled opposition" to eliminating this essentially worthless office. Fortunately, the trial is being brought in Federal Court: Judge Tom Flaherty won't have the opportunity to preside, and Sheriff Pete DeFazio won't be given the opportunity to lead his comerade to his cell.

The Face of Justice in Allegheny County
Former Chief Sheriff Skosnik

Friday, November 11, 2005

France in Flames

France and America share precious little common ground in our approaches to race and poverty. The famed French Architect Le Corbusier introduced the 20 story ghetto-tower and resultant urban rot to America in the 1960's. French and American approaches to poverty there diverge.

An egalitarian wave of 1960's American optimism built tower in the hearts of our greatest cities. The 21st century wave has struggled to reintegrate those former tower residents back into contextual neighborhoods. We have struggled to provide employment through affirmative action, and urban gentrification has sparked policies allowing poor residents to benefit from appreciating property values. We have addressed issues of racism head-on, and we have worked to identify points of improvement. Our cities are growing wealthy, multi-cultural and multi-racial without flashpoints of fury. Our efforts are far from perfect, but our progress incredible.

France opted to keep the great unwashed at arm's length, isolating the poor in suburban tower-parks. There they remained, forgotten until this month. America prospers, France burns. The reasons for the flash of fury in France's ghettoized pockets of poverty are simple: abnormally high unemployment, resultant low standards of living, and a resultant lack of hope. The noxious racist Frenchman himself, who heretofore only ruined dinner party with his unbearable arrogance, was enough of a spark to blow this powder keg of societal ills to high heaven. Head firmly planted in the sand, Frenchie insists there is no reason to consider race: Societie, Egalitie & Fraternitie is enough to ensure a level playing field.

The short of it is, this isnt going away anytime soon. Though our approaches are different, the results of indifference have always been the same. The United States is still rocked with periodic racial unrest 50 years after Rosa Parks stood her ground in Montgomery, Alabama. France has a long way to go.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


First game of cribbage... my oponent was skunked.

I know this is newsworthy... brush up on your cribbage skills dear brother. I will see you at christmas.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Good news!

My sister told me that my Grandma is now doing better, completely lucid.

Dad, you better call me soon!

Diane Johnson

On this day, as I prepare to commence with some research, my thoughts are with my grandmother, who lies ill in the hospital unconscious after suffering the latest of three bone-breaking falls in less than two years. I’m not sure that she will recover, and having seen the pain the first two put her in, coupled with dialysis, I’m not sure she wants to. Whatever she wants, I hope she receives.

I spoke to my grandmother a couple days before she fell, and she seemed in good spirits, a joy to speak with as usual, being largely more knowledgeable and likely smarter than me. And then I received a package of clothes from her a day or two after my dad told me she fell, which felt sort of eerie. Our family’s matriarch may soon pass away, but she accomplished more than most will in a lifetime. She helped my grandfather build an oil pipe company employing over 140 people, went to college at 40 years old, buoyed by the feminist revolution, raised three children, and kept my grandfather in line. Diane Seelye Johnson doesn’t put up with any crap.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Zombie Zombie Zombie

I took two Benadryls this morning and felt like a zombie.

Then I drank two cups of coffee.

Still zombie.

Then Maura gave me some Advil with Pseudoephedrine.

Now I'm a twitchy zombie.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

This is part of my view of which you are also jealous. Posted by Picasa

This is my office of which you are jealous. Posted by Picasa

This is me at my new weight in my new office with my new tie in the PR wing. I had green tea that day. Posted by Picasa