PittsburghJack's Place: February 2007

PittsburghJack's Place

an outlet for political animals to share news, views and expose truths.

The "Green" Factor

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Is it possible that in it's quest to be the first 'green convention center' and incorporating green elements and technologies, basic construction and engineering safety may have been overlooked when building the David L. Lawrence Convention Center? I hope this wasn't the case.

The "Green" Factor

Green is glorious, both from an environmental - and marketing - perspective. As the world's first green convention center, the David L Lawrence Convention Center boasts elements that make a huge difference to both meeting planners and visitors. No other convention center in the country incorporates so many green technologies. The use of natural ventilation, daylight sensors and carbon monoxide sensors, a water reclamation system that reduces potable water use by nearly 60 percent, along with substantial use of recycled and nontoxic materials makes this Convention Center unique. Roof skylights and walls of glass produce diffused light and uniform temperature, admitting natural daylight into the exhibit space and pre-function areas. Seventy-five percent of the Center's exhibition space is naturally lit. Blackout shades are available for exhibitors who require a low-light environment. The shape of the building captures natural airflow from the Allegheny River to help ventilate and cool the building. This, combined with other features to minimize energy usage, such as occupancy and daylight sensors, creates an annual energy savings of about 35 percent. The Convention Center also maximizes use of nontoxic materials, such as paint and carpets that do not emit harmful fumes, thereby establishing a more wholesome indoor environment for meeting attendees. The Convention Center was awarded a Gold LEED certification for its excellence in building environmental performance. According to Teresa Heinz, chairman of The Howard Heinz Endowment and a national leader in the green building movement, "Achieving this high LEED certification shows every community that it is possible to have a world-class design with a huge expanse of space and still do justice to the people and the environment."

Friday, February 09, 2007

Pittsburgh City Paper to offer campaign contribution database

Thursday, February 08, 2007
Beginning later today, the Pittsburgh City Paper is scheduled to unveil a searchable online database of campaign contributions made to this year's mayoral candidates and city council candidates seeking reelection. Contribution information for candidates for other offices are to be added in the weeks leading up to the election. Fresh data is to be added as it becomes available.

Gathering campaign contribution information used to be a rather laborious and sometimes time consuming undertaking of making a trek to the county board of elections and having the campaign expense reports photocopied. Now, the information will be available simply by stroking a few keys on your computer.

This database will prove to be a useful tool for those who have an interest in tracking campaign donations and will be a real time saver.

Corridors of Opportunity: Cultural District

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
March 12, 2007
Omni William Penn
11:30 a.m. - noon (networking)
Noon - 1:30 p.m. (lunch and program)
Join us on March 12 as we explore opportunities in Pittsburgh's Cultural District, a 14-block area of downtown Pittsburgh that's undergone an amazing transformation in the last 20 years. We'll focus on the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust's upcoming $460 million project, bounded by Fort Duquesne Boulevard overlooking the Allegheny River, Penn Avenue, and Seventh and Ninth streets, which will be the country's first master-planned "green," mixed-use, arts/residential neighborhood, providing approximately 700 new residential units and 9,200 jobs for the region. Other panelists will include developers and others involved in the Cultural District's amazing transformation in the last two decades.

The program begins with networking at 11:30 a.m., includes lunch and finishes with the panel discussion. It will be a great place to meet the primary players making the Cultural District so vibrant, and to meet others interested in business opportunities in this important corridor. These events have consistently sold out, sometimes weeks before the final registration date, so make your reservation early.

The panel will include:
Eve Picker, president, no wall productions
Dave DiSimone, senior vice president of Operations/General Counsel, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
Richard DeYoung, AIA, president & CEO, WTW Architects
Aaron Stauber, president, Rugby Realty
Neil Barclay, president & CEO, August Wilson Center for African American Culture
And will be moderated by Alan Robertson, publisher, Pittsburgh Business Times

The presenting sponsor for the Corridors of Opportunity series is Alpern Rosenthal. Other sponsors include Burns & Scalo Real Estate, Desmone & Associate Architects, Gateway Engineers, Meyer, Unkovic and Scott and NAIOP.

The open ticket price is $50. Business Times' subscribers and NAIOP members pay $45. Tables of 10 are available at a cost of $475 and $425. Payment must be received prior to the event.
Reservations close on March 5, 2007.

No refunds will be given for cancellations less than 48 hours prior to the event.
A limited number of walk-ins will be accepted at a cost of $50 at the door.

*If you are not a print subscriber, you may purchase a special package that includes a one-year subscription and a reservation to this event. Contact Michele Broda at 412-481-6397 or by email at mbroda@bizjournals.com for more details.

Fumo indictment

Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Text of the Fumo indictment (267 pages, pdf)

U.S. Department of Justice press release on indictment (9 pages, pdf)

Federal grand jury indicts Sen Fumo on 139 counts

Grand jury indicts Fumo

"Fumo stated to a close confidant his philosophy that a person is best advised to spend 'other people's money,' " the grand jury said. "Fumo often referred to this goal by the acronym OPM."

Pa House employee salaries to be made public

I am not quite sure why this is news, as the salaries of public employees should have always been easily accessible to the interested taxpayers who foot the bill for the salaries. But it is, as State House Speaker Dennis O'Brien, acknowledging that getting such public information was made "difficult and arduous" in the past, announced that within two weeks the salaries of all 1600 House employees would be made public within two weeks.

O'Brien's announcement comes on the heels of the disclosure last week of the millions of dollars that legislative leaders spent on secret staff bonuses.

It is time for our public officials in Harrisburg to stop working beneath a cloak of secrecy and change the way they do business. Our representatives have to finally come to the reality that they work for us - the taxpayers with a stake in the future of this commonwealth - and that they are being sent to Harrisburg to serve at our will and are to be held accountable to us. There will be no more tolerance for the way they're used to doing business.

Evidently the wake-up call that was sent after the pay raise fiasco wasn't enough to awaken them all.

Senator Fumo steps down, to be indicted

Monday, February 05, 2007
Under FBI scrutiny for several years and anticipating indictment this week, State Senator Vincent J. Fumo today resigned as the Democratic Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Full text of Fumo's speech

Blog here.

Reluctant witnesses in Carlisle investigation

We now have an indication of the reason for the delay in the Twanda Carlisle investigation. The Post-Gazette is reporting that due to reluctant witnesses in the probe of her spending of city funds and campaign practices, it is unknown when the investigation will be completed.

Over the course of the investigation, there have been calls for Carlisle's impeachment. And there are already nine announced challengers for her council seat, which indicates a widespread dissatisfaction with Carlisle.

The concerned citizens with a future in the stake of the city of Pittsburgh can hope that the council district 9 community is able to mobilize behind one strong candidate in the race and that the others will drop out. That is unlikely to happen, though and with so many entrants in the race, the vote is likely to be splintered, allowing for a Carlisle victory.

It is even unlikelier that Twanda Carlisle will decide to do the right thing for the first time since she's been in office - resign. But since that's not going to happen, those with a stake can also hope that the district attorney's investigation is completed soon, ensuring that district 9 will have a new representative at the council table next year.

And she wants to be president?

She has GOT TO BE KIDDING! She wants to TAKE THE PROFITS of a private corporation??? I know who I won't be supporting next year and urge everyone else to do the same. This woman is dangerous!

You paid for it, part II - Pittsburgh style

A peek at how some of Pittsburgh's politicians are spending campaign funds.

You paid for it

Sunday, February 04, 2007

This report outlines some of the wasteful spending by the Pennsylvania state legislature. A recent audit found that the legislature's spending on itself increased 9% to $308.1 million last year. This includes the $1.9 milliion in bonuses that was doled out to democratic staffers last year.

Gene Stilp of the citizens group Taxpayers and Ratepayers United filed a lawusit last week targeting the special bonus payments.

The public should be as outraged over these bogus bonuses as it was over the legislative pay raise.

New Blog: Grant's Street Report on Pgh Police Crimes

Saturday, February 03, 2007

There is a new blog in the Burghosphere. Grant's Street Report on Pittsburgh Police Crimes can be found here.

No money for controller candidates

The PG is reporting in its Early Returns political blog that word on the street is suggesting a shortage of campaign donations for the candidates for city controller. This is supposedly due in large part to donors being tapped out from last year's state races and partly because Luke is scooping up what's left.

Obviously, the candidates with the most cash in their respective coffer would be the favorite to win the seat. It appears that Mike Dawida is struggling, having received only one single donation, and will have an especially hard time raising the cash needed to fund a campaign. The Doug Shields and Michael Lamb campaigns were both better funded than Dawida. It is also interesting to note that Lamb's largest donor was Dawida-buddy, Robert Lewis of Orbital Engineering.

Save Fort Pitt

"RESTORATION is rehabilitation of an existing thing to its previous condition; RECONSTRUCTION is the remaking of a thing that had existed. There is a tremendous difference between these terms within the realm of preservation law."

--Richard Lang, Crew Chief during the original bastion excavation in 1965

What's being done to Point State Park is not an improvement at all, unless, of course, you're a funnel cake vendor. To bury such a significantly historical site such as the Music Bastion wall and moat to create a larger lawn area isn't preservation - it's devastation. It is a travesty to allow this $35 million project to continue without substantial public outcry. Has everyone already just given up on our city to the point that it doesn't matter to them what is being done down at Point State Park?

Fortunately, The Fort Pitt Preservation Society has organized to protect the only two remnants of Fort Pitt at Point State Park. Sign their online petition and voice your opposition to this project to the contact persons listed on their Website.

Preservation Pittsburgh, an advocacy group formed to preserve the region's landmarks, has urged the state to stop burying the bastion and instead offered to mediate a solution aimed at preserving the site.

G.C. Murphy memories

Friday, February 02, 2007

Now that the old G.C. Murphy store in downtown Pittsburgh and the area around it looks like it is finally going to be redeveloped, this Website is sure to bring back memories of the good old days.

Also see these Tribune Review and Post-Gazette articles.

While the plans for downtown will certainly be a welcome improvement over the current state of despair, I am not very optimistic that high-end condos and a couple of upscale restaurants are what is needed to move our downtown area forward. More affordable housing would be a start, but for our downtown to thrive, the golden triangle once again must be a destination for shoppers. Of course, that is unlikely to happen, especially considering the cost of parking and since Pittsburgh relies so heavily on towing fees.

In addition, Pittsburgh needs a draw to attract people into the golden triangle and to keep workers there after office hours. I just don't see it in the plans I've seen and read about.

Mayoral campaign contributors

Early Returns, the Post-Gazette political blog, lists all $1000 + contributors to both Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Councilman Bill Peduto's campaign committees through the reporting period which ended on December 31, 2006.

In this most competitive of races, expect both campaigns to have a flurry of fundraising activity in the coming few months.