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Viable Third Party Runs

There can be viable third party runs at the local, state, and federal levels. We need 300000 people giving 5 bucks a month to change the world. You can give here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

WhereWilkinsburg Code Enforcer Jim Frank lies about blackmail attempt and runs away from me like a little girl.


Well, I think its time I update my private little war with Wilkinsburg code enforcer Jim Frank. Four things have happened since July 21st, or the publication of my last story:




Jim Frank: Wilkinsburg Code Enforcement or sleazy 70s

Mafia-style goon demanding payment "or else".



1. I had a less than sedate encounter with Mr. Frank the morning of July 21st where I confronted him and told him that threatening to evict me over a messy lawn (that I don't own as a tenant) was a criminal act. He denied that he ever did it which I could sort of believe if he hadn't told me to my face and on my porch that he was going to "going to getcha out of here." He was even nice enough to explain his tactics: trumped up code violations. He was supposed to walk me through the local ordinance but instead pouted, said "I don't want to talk to you, sniff" and ran away, or walked away as fast as a broken down old white man can move. He's plus 50 at least...


2. After informing Mr. Frank that I was an online writer (with many outlets for publication) on July 21st, and yes his jaw did drop, I received what could only be called a "warning of a possible citation" in the mail Friday, July 23rd. This is not unlike receiving "warning of a possible traffic ticket". The only time they give you warnings is when law enforcement officials are in a charitable mood (rare) or when they're not sure you're actually guilty. Well, being that Jim had already threatened me with eviction (for someone else's messy lawn) let's rule out one. I might also note that this citation had no compliance date and he lied to me again (Or was it incompetence? Probably both...) about how many days I had to appeal this decision to the Board of Appeals.


I must confess that I found this "warning of a possible citation" somewhat weak. It certainly isn't the trait of a true tough guy. Its almost like another kind of running away...




3. I sent Jim Frank, Wilkinsburg solicitor Pat McGrail and Wilkinsburg Mayor John Thompson a "Formal request for a board hearing on the matter of violation number 627 and the accusation that a renter can be in violation of section 302.4" by way of email and fax. I haven't ruled out mail and personal delivery, either. I'm going to publish the entirety of this request for a formal hearing here.


4. This morning I had a very civil chat with representatives from the Allegheny County District Attorney's office, Mike Ball and Courtney Butterfield. Short verdict: Not enough for a criminal claim, yet. I will try to provide them with more.


I'm going to comment more on 1, 2 and three here. I'm going to save 4 for yet another story.


By the way, if you're going to research your own case law at the state level and you're fighting against the Wilkinsburg code enforcer you want to concentrate your initial efforts in two places.


I looked at the record of WIlkinsburg city ordinance they had at the Wilkinsburg library but those records aren't complete. I was, however, able to find a complete record over at the Wilkinsburg borough website, or here. And yes the Wilkinsburg ordinance does say that a landlord or tenant is responsible for the lawn. But does that reflect the state's landlord tenanct act? No it doesn't. I might also note that its not a very attractive slogan for the city: "Come to Wilkinsburg where we'll sue you for the crimes and misdeeds of your landlord. Because, you know, you're working class and poor and you'll buy anything code enforcer Jim Frank says."


It has to do with the responsibilities of landlords vs. tenants and which group controls "common areas".


You can find a copy of the landlord tenant act here. But what about the case law? Is there a state case where the tenant has been found by either a judge or a jury to be responsible for the landlord's property, absent an express agreement within the original lease? I couldn't find one and I challenged and still challenge Wilkinsburg Solicitor Pat McGrail to find one. You can research Pennsylvania commonwealth court decisions here. Its not as good as Westlaw or Lexis Nexis but its a start.


Here's the formal request I wrote:


Attn:



Jim Frank

Pat McGrail

Mayor John Thompson



FORMAL REQUEST FOR A BOARD HEARING ON THE MATTER OF VIOLATION NUMBER 627 AND THE ACCUSATION THAT A RENTER CAN BE IN VIOLATION OF SECTION 302.4



First, I believe that this is the appropriate law where I'm allowed a board hearing:



"F-106.9 Application for appeal: Any person shall have the right to appeal a decision of the Code Official to the Board of Appeals. A written application for appeal must be filed within 10 days after the day of the decision, notice, or order was served. An application for appeal shall be based on a claim that the true intent of this code, or the rules legally adopted thereunder, have been incorrectly interpreted, the provisions of this Code do not fully apply, or an equivalent form of construction is to be used."



My anticipated defenses will include but are not limited to:



Defense one: Citation order improperly filled out.



There is no compliance date listed in the two orders that I've received in my mail therefore there is no proper way for me to be in compliance.



Defense two: Bad faith and/or incompetence by Code Enforcer Jim Frank, part one.



Jim Frank gives the wrong time frame for when I can appeal. According to the law that I've found on Wilkinsburg's very own website I have but 10 days to request my board hearing. Yet in both letters sent to me by Mr. Frank he gives me the date as "20 days". Let me guess: if I didn't know that Mr. Frank is a liar and a blackmailer and I had actually taken his word for it (ha) and filed a request for appeal on the 19th or 20th day then I would have been notified, probably sarcastically by Mr.Frank, that my time had run out. (Just for the record: the date on both of the letters I've received is July 21st. This means that I have at least until July 31st to request a board hearing. This is being written on July 26th, well within the deadline.)



Defense three: Extreme Bad faith by Wilkinsburg Code Enforcer Jim Frank, part two.



What Jim leaves out, somewhat inexplicably, is that he threatened to try to evict me if I didn't play ball. He made it very very clear that other code violations would miraculously appear (He even was nice enough to show me how this would work by pointing out that he was pretty sure that a cable going to the upstairs was a violation...) His exact quote in a face to face meeting with me on my porch was "I'm going to getcha out of here." I take that as a threat. In fact, I take that as a criminal threat and severe misuse of Mr. Frank's office that would certainly rise to the level of justly depriving him of both his job and pension.



While I'm not certain of what civil complaints I shall make, I can guarantee you that criminal complaints will be made, probably no later than the end of the business day this Friday. The preliminary claims would seem to include blackmail, extortion, threats, improper influence in public matters and malfeasance.



Defense four: Wilkinsburg code is in open and blatant conflict with the state's Landlord Tenant Act.



The landlord tenant act clearly defines the responsibilities of both tenants and landlords. Tenants are not responsible for "common areas" under the state's landlord tenant act. Here is a definition (a common definition actually) of "common areas".



"common area in landlord-tenant law, a common area is shared by all owners of a condominium or cooperative housing unit or owned by the management organization, rather than being owned by an individual owner. Common areas may include recreation facilities, outdoor space, parking, landscaping, fences, elevators, laundry rooms and all other jointly used space."



I believe the key word there is "landscaping". Please don't try to pin this on me. By the way, just as a common sense defense, I'm not responsible for other people's crimes, period.



Defense five: Landscaping not consistent with original lease or with any oral agreement I've made with the owner of this property.



Landscaping and lawn maintenance is nowhere to be found in the original lease that I signed with my landlord. Furthermore, if you can take Mr. Frank's word for it (and you can't) he has expressed the opinion, on the morning of July 21st at the Wilkinsburg public library when I told him that his attempted blackmail of me was a criminal offense among other things, that I'm now living under an oral contract. Under an oral contract, according to the case analysis I've read, all responsibility falls to the owner, not the tenant. Not a good counterargument. This means that Jim doesn't read the case law for himself or that his comprehension of reading materials is severely limited. Either way Wilkinsburg borough loses.



Defense Six: I have offered smarter and friendlier solutions that don't involve blackmailing me.



In a story published online July 21st I offered these counter proposals. These aren't as much fun as threatening me but they'll solve the problem.



First, there's the perfectly legal one: Wilkinsburg can cut the grass and cite my landlord for the expenses and send her the bill, which is perfectly legal under state law. Yeah I know Jim said he couldn't find her even though I have her email address and phone number but tough luck. This is her property. I'm not liable for that BP spill, either.



Two, Wilkinsburg has a Weed and Seed program. I would have no problem if someone came over and cut stuff and planted pretty flowers, not only in the front, but also the backyard. I'm sure my landlord wouldn't mind, especially if it got her out of yet another fine and citation/arrest warrant. I'll email the coordinator right after having a chat with the DA about the wonderful tactics of Wilkinsburg Code Enforcer Jim Frank...



Three, or the city could just pay me a hundred bucks to cut the lawn twice a summer. (By the way, it would probably cost no more than 100 bucks, each time, to do that. Or I could find somebody through Craigslist. I might note that there have been almost a record number of demolitions in Wilkinsburg over the last three months. Each one costs, I believe, around 13 thousand dollars each at least--I'm guessing this is stimulus money. You would think they would have the money to cut the landlord's lawn...)



By the way, for three, this would be conditional upon the borough, in writing because we just can't believe anything that Jim says, noting that I'm not responsible for landscaping on the property or major repairs that involve the city. I would be doing this out of the goodness of my vast and generous heart.



I look forward to my day in front of the board or in front of an appropriate court of law.



Sincerely,



Philip Shropshire

www.threeriversonline.com



PS: I challenge the Wilkinsburg solicitor to name a single case where a tenant, absent specific direction from a written lease, has been found liable for the upkeep of the landlord's land. I make this challenge not out of hubris but humility because I can't find a single case with a judge or jury where that decision has been reached in a Pennsylvania courtroom. And no people who don't fight back or can't read case law or miss filing deadlines don't count. I hit back.






Sign the petition: Stop the Stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Thanks to religion we still have to worry about bronze age solutions to these kinds of things. There's also a lot of evidence that she was wrongly convicted. I should point out that I don't think that bombing Iran is a solution to this kind of problem. The hallowed out shell that we would leave would make it easier for the usual Fundamentalist nutjobs to rise and conquer.Before we bombed that country into oblivion the country that treated women the best in that region was Iraq, where women had the magic right to drive and receive an education without acid being thrown in their faces. Now its run by the usual religious wackos. Afterall, the Holy Books of the Big Three were pretty much engineered for tribal warfare and killing people that don't agree with you. That's not a good recipe in a world where too many people have too many nuclear weapons.




Here's the word from Pharyngula:


If you do nothing else. Please take a moment and sign the Petition.



http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/stop...

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/s...



Contact information for e-mailing the White house.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/



And the President of Iran

http://cp.president.ir/en/



His e-mail (possibly)

dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

http://www.siawi.org/article882.html



And some other details that might help

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/s...

Currently there are only 427 signatures on this site. I am sure there are other Petitions out there. I think making people aware is the most important thing. That and voicing our condemnation of this sentence.



This woman needs to be released.


Related: Here's a video that describes the situation.









Religion is not harmless.

Toon explains why the Pittsburgh Catholic can't write critically about women priests. (Update.)


I criticized the Pittsburgh Catholic for not having hardly any stories about the somewhat sexist decision by the Catholic Hierarchy/Patriarchy to not ordain women priests. There's a chance that the story may have happened after their weekly deadline. Then again, such a story would no doubt extoI the church's infinite wisdom, direct red phone to God's cell, his Popish perfection and so on...


I actually think the church's position on this can be captured perfectly with but a toon:


I still don't know why this cartoonist hasn't been condemned to death. He or she does great work!


UPDATE: We get comments. Did you know calling me an "IDIOT" in all caps is the worst thing you could say to me? Oh how will I recover:


But I'm going to get back up and fight again. First up Str8shootr says:



Sexist decision???? Already one knows the writer is an IDIOT. I mean, some of the dumbest people on the face of the earth are so-called journalists. Uh, pardon me, genius, but did Jesus choose any women to be apostles? Uh...why not? What are you going to do, Einstein? Thrill us all by calling Jesus a sexist? Women do not ascend to the level of men in spiritual or intellectual matters. The greatest philosophers, engineers, painters, scientists, chess players. athletes and just above everything else you can name that represents a career or a hobby, including cooking and the design of fashion, are dominated by men. Women have what they have because men gave it to them. Get that, Einstein? (Oh, yesh, he was a guy, too.) The concept of a woman leading a mass is laughable and a perversion of the church founded by Christ. If He wanted women as His apostles, He would have chosen women. So just shut the hell up, you dope.



First up, the Catholic point of view on women isn't even consistent with other kinds of Christianity. Other somewhat saner (relatively) Christian organizations allow for women to serve in the clergy as leaders and bishops and so forth. They don't even need ex Nazi Popes to tell them how to cover up for the crimes of child rapists. Who knew. And "women do not ascend to the level of men in spiritual or intellectual matters." Sez who? And no I won't "just shut the hell up, you dope." Of course, as an alleged follower of Jesus I don't remember him ever encouraging his followers to tell people who disagree with him to "jus shut the hell up"...what's next: You'll issue a fatwa against me? Threaten to kill more women or throw acid into the faces of little girls who dare to go to school like your Taliban fellow travelers....? Whatever happened to turning the other cheek...but then you're just a theocratic chump. Of course you revert to force when you can't argue your way out of a problem. Its the mark of the beast and the bully.


Frak you.


Next up Jim says:



Exodus 21:22 does not say killing an unborn child requires only a fine. It is a fine if no harm follows; meaning, the mother and child live. In verses 23 and 24 it says, if harm follows (i.e., either injury or death to either mother or child), then it is eye for eye, life for life, etc. In addition, the breathing of life into Adam was a unique, unrepeatable event in history. When Elizabeth was pregnant with John and the pregnant Mary entered the room, John leapt in Elizabeth's womb due to the presence of the enfleshed God. Regarding being born again, keep in mind that the Spirit of God first prepares the soil, then plants the seed, and then the seed sprouts and bears fruit. This is a process, but the proof is in the pudding; meaning, the final result is the fruit. To stop that process at any point is to kill the fruit.



I have to admit that most of this just sounds silly with all the sprouting and seeds and fruiting and such. It also makes the usual mistake the religious make when debating atheists: I don't buy that the Bible or the Torah or the Koran is divinely inspired. I think they're books written by devious people meant to exploit and frighten naive and, well, mentally weak people. You might as well worship the "bible" that is Frank Herbert's "Dune". "Fear is the mindkiller" don't you know...


And as far the "breathing of life into Adam was a unique, unrepeatable event in history" well what history is that? I thought it was just a nice little myth. Unless you think God really really created the world in six days...Oh I shouldn't have even asked that....


And for those commentators supporting me thank you. Its not just me...

The Pittsburgh Catholic seems to miss all the real juicy stories.

I read the Pittsburgh Catholic only because I need material for this column. I certainly wouldn't read it to get news about the Catholic Church, although if you read this essay about The Propaganda Model you would definitely conclude that Ownership matters.

Here are some of the hard hitting articles you can read in this week's Pittsburgh Catholic.


Family business rides on smiles


Reinharts carry on tradition of “simple childhood pleasures”

Golf tournament’s operations manager seeks area volunteers


Catholic woman foresees boost for charities


What has the church done to address the tragedy of the sexual abuse of children and to provide a safe environment for children in Catholic environments?



Well, I suppose that last one is an attempt at some valuable news. Of course, the headline could have read: "What has the church done lately to stop the rape and abuse of children by apparently not so celibate priests?" Darn the luck I think that's another corporate media job that I won't be getting: headline writer for the Pittsburgh Catholic.


By the way, if you read the story apparently the Catholic Church is doing a great job at self policing itself, a sentiment that perhaps doesn't jibe with reality, although that wouldn't stop the Catholic Church if even recent history is a judge, let alone, say, The Crusades...


I found some slightly better and more informative stories in about five minutes on Google. Oh look here's one:


Australian Catholic Church agrees to compensate victims


Here's the first graph:



The Australian Catholic Bishop Bill Morris is doing what the Pope and the Vatican seems unable to do. He is taking responsibility for the injustices which occurred under his watch and has agreed to compensate all the victims of child molestation and rape which fell under his jurisdiction.


In 2007 and 2008, Catholic teacher and child protections officer Gerard Vincent Byrnes raped and molested thirteen 9 and 10 year old girls multiple times. Byrnes has pleaded guilty to 46 counts of sexual assault and 10 counts of rape.


Bishop Morris has accepted responsibility and liability under the Australian Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002. He made a personal statement to the families of those molested that the Church will pay compensation not only to the 5 girls who have launched legal proceedings but to all the girls assaulted. Apparently, the school principle and Catholic Education failed to report Byrnes crimes to authorities when complaints were made.



The other really big story has to do with how the Catholic Church, in its actions anyway, seems to come down harder on ordained women priests than child rapists within its clergy. Here are some opinions that you won't be reading in the Pittsburgh Catholic.



Catholic Church Equates Sex Abuse With Female Ordination


U.S. News & World Report (blog) - Bonnie Erbe - ‎Jul 16, 2010‎

I had to reread the first paragraph of the following story three times until I was sure I'd read it correctly. The Vatican believes that ...


How to create a PR disaster


BBC News (blog) - ‎Jul 16, 2010‎

The Vatican has done it again. In their effort to show that they are dealing seriously with clerical abuse by priests, they have managed to provoke a storm


Outrage After Vatican Declares Ordination of Women a 'Grave Crime'


ABC News - Jim Sciutto, Enjoli Francis - ‎Jul 16, 2010‎

The formalized rules were billed as the Vatican's tough new response to abuse -- now targeting priests who possess child ...


You can find more stories like that here. Apparently, my old friend Phil Taylor doesn't know how to use the magics of the "Google".



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jim Frank: Wilkinsburg Code Enforcement or sleazy 70s Mafia-style goon demanding payment "or else".


You know I can't say I have much respect for the Tea Party and their openly racist fellow travelers. But there is a kernel of truth to some of the arguments that they make against the evils of big government. I agree with McGovern that the only thing that can countervail Big Business is Big Government, although I would be interested in his opinion when Big Business essentially owns Big Government. I am horrified about the relationship that BP has with our current government. And that has to change.




(that's an artist's rendition of Jim Frank...possibly.)


However, there is some truth to the idea that government officials, pretty much with a casual malicious glee, can pretty much ruin your life if they decide to enforce rules that you've never heard of before or if you tell them that their interpretation of the law is wrong and that both contract law and settled state law overrides the Wilkinsburg ordinance.


I'll give you a personal story of how this works. Several months ago Wilkinsburg code enforcer Jim Frank had told me that I needed to cut the lawn. I told him that I was a renter and that cutting the lawn was my landlord's responsibility. I mean, I'll take out the garbage, clean up loose trash and in the winter I'll even remove the snow. But as a renter, for over 26 years even going back to college and through several towns, I've never had to cut the lawn and my current lease is very clear that lawn care isn't one of my responsibilities. I might also mention that I hadn't been approached about the lawn the previous several years that I had lived here, which makes me think that there might be some outside forces at work. (I've made enemies, powerful....) My money is on the rich landlord right across from me or it might be the black church...Who knows. I will destroy you all.


By the way, for all you legal beagles out there, landlord-tenant contracts are considered mostly contracts of adhesion. That's a fancy way of saying that as an average tenant that you don't have much say over the average landlord contract. You usually have to take it as is. What this also means is that if there's a laundry list of responsibilities within the lease agreement then that's all there is. The landlord can't later say "Oh, and I wanted him to cut the lawn as well..." The landlord gets one shot at the apple because they're considered the powerful person in this relationship. I'm also sure the code enforcement officer can't say it after several years especially as a Third Party without standing, and super especially after ignoring the problem for the previous three summers....


Now, and this was either Friday morning of last week or Monday morning of this week, he knocks on my door again. He gives me the same spiel and I tell him that I am within the law of my signed lease (and also, as I discovered later, well within the law of the state's Landlord Tenant Law, which trumps local ordinances, especially if they're in conflict and I'm talking to you Miss or Mrs. Wilkinsburg Borough Solicitor Pat McGrail...) and this is where it gets interesting. I don't mind him for doing his job. He certainly has a right to point out what the code is. What he doesn't get to do is play favorites or make it very clear that if I don't cut the lawn he's going to look for code violations in order to evict me. Now, I don't remember the exact sequence or words spoken in the next minute afterward but then he pointed out that he thought he was pretty sure that a cable going to the upstairs was a violation (what he didn't know is that it wasn't plugged in and that I've received no complaints from my landlord since moving here in 2007.). Then that devolved into we'll talk about this in a week. And then, after that, and I took this to be a threat he said, and I quote: "I'm going to getcha out of here."


So let's review. The penalty for not cutting my lawn is a citation and maybe a fine if I don't obey the citation. There's also penalties for having a cord run up to the upstairs. I don't know I guess I'll find out. I don't think there's anything in the Wilkinsburg book of code, that I have since browsed through and made some copies of, that declares that Wilkinsburg Code enforcer (much like Al Capone enforcer Frank Nitti) Jim Frank has the right to threaten and blackmail me with eviction if I don't cut my landlord's lawn, in accordance with the original intent of my own lease. I felt like that some poor shop owner being told about "consequences" and "We wouldn't want anything to 'appen to your nice military base now would we?" if I didn't pay the mob's protection money.


Well, Jim, I'm not paying you the racket money. I didn't run from the Klan and I don't run from the gang leader who lives four or five doors down from me. Take your best shot.


I'll see you in a court, probably as both a defendant and a plaintiff. I'm filing a criminal charge of extortion and blackmail against you in the next ten days. Civil claims will probably follow. I can write my own briefs. Sometimes I even win.


I'll see you in court. I'm also going to send this to the Wilkinsburg Solicitor tonight by way of her website.


Respectfully but without fear,


Philip Shropshire


www.threeriversonline.com


Related: Just for the record, there are some intelligent and law abiding solutions to the lawn problem, as opposed to blackmailing me with eviction if I don't cut my landlord's lawn or manicure her toes or whatever.


First, there's the perfectly legal one: Wilkinsburg can cut the grass and cite my landlord for the expenses and send her the bill, which is perfectly legal under state law. Yeah I know Jim said he couldn't find her even though I have her email address and phone number but tough luck. This is her property. I'm not liable for that BP spill, either.


Two, Wilkinsburg has a Weed and Seed program. I would have no problem if someone came over and cut stuff and planted pretty flowers, not only in the front, but also the backyard. I'm sure my landlord wouldn't mind, especially if it got her out of yet another fine and citation/arrest warrant. I'll email the coordinator right after having a chat with the DA about the wonderful tactics of Wilkinsburg Code Enforcer Jim Frank...


Three, or the city could just pay me a hundred bucks to cut the lawn twice a summer. (By the way, it would probably cost no more than 100 bucks, each time, to do that. Or I could find somebody through Craigslist. I might note that there have been almost a record number of demolitions in Wilkinsburg over the last three months. Each one costs, I believe, around 13 thousand dollars each at least--I'm guessing this is stimulus money. You would think they would have the money to cut the landlord's lawn...)


I know these are all civilized and imaginative solutions and not nearly as much fun as threatening to break my knees if I don't pay Fat Tony the weekly "tribute" money but that's just how I roll.


More Related: Just to end with this government thing: when you see government abuse by arrogant government officials for god's sake write about it. Bring their evil into the light of day. That's the one major weak link with "Evil Big Guvmint" types. You can at least vote these guys out, for now anyway. You'll never have a say over what multinationals like BP do.






Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Let's prevent Gasland! There's an Allegheny County Council hearing today on "fracking" at 5 pm.


If you haven't seen Gasland, then make it your business to go out and see it. I suppose you could also download it by using Bittorrent but that would be wrong so don't do it...And don't do drugs! Or have sex, ever!




The premise of the documentary, and I'm trying distill the horror of this in 25 words or less, is this: We might be destroying all or most of our fresh water supplies by digging up every single drop of natural gas reserves that we can find. Turns out that it this plan and these incredibly damaging environmental techniques were developed by Dick Cheney, one of the most evil men ever who seems to be turning into General Grievous of Star Wars fame.


Here's the trailer for Gasland:






The Documentary specifcally mentioned the Marcellus Shale project but if the film is right it would affect water tables throughout both Pennsylvania and New York.


Pittsburgh City Council is holding a hearing today at 5 PM where they will be taking testimony.


Here's the story from 2 Political Junkies:




Allegheny County Council will hold a public hearing tomorrow "to allow the opportunity for public comment regarding Marcellus Shale-related natural gas drilling within Allegheny County" (more here).



WHEN: Wednesday, July 21, 2010, beginning at 5:00 p.m.

WHERE: In the Gold Room, 4th Floor of the Allegheny County Courthouse, 436 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219




Please note that in order to speak at the hearing, you must register with the clerk 24 hours prior to the meeting:


Individuals wishing to speak must register with the County Council Clerk online at www.county.allegheny.pa.us/council, via e-mail (rtc@county.allegheny.pa.us), in person at Room 119 Courthouse, or by phone (412-350-6490), no later than 24 hours prior to the scheduled beginning of the hearing. Each registered speaker will be allotted a maximum of three (3) minutes.



Written testimony will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on July 23, 2010.

Also note that while Pittsburgh City Council is thankfully skeptical of urban drilling, County Council seems to be decidedly more gung ho (I base that assessment on a recent appearance by County Council President Rich Fitzgerald and City Councilor Doug Shields on a local TV show).

.





Monday, July 12, 2010

Four groups that could fund viable third party efforts and one fantastical Green Party way.

(This was something that I also posted over at Firedoglake. I originally wrote it as a comment to a post by Jane Hamsher. I've come to the conclusion that you can't really change the country without a viable third party movement. I've been repeating that, like, eight thousand times now....)


Not having a third party means Nancy Pelosi can say “Who gives a frak what you think Jane? You gets two choices: poke in the eye or kick in the groin. Die slow or die fast. We love those choices…did I tell you that me getting closer to the Catholic church means betraying women on choice? I’m going to heaven with Santa and all his friends…”


Not an actual quote. I made it up would you believe…


Four ways you could get to a viable third party by 2012. (Viable candidates means you raise Bill Halter like 2.5 million for senate races, at least 200000 for house races as I keep stressing to our pie in the sky Green party friends….you have to ask for it, too….):


1. Labor gets some sense, namely the teachers unions over the Arne Duncan charter school sellout, and they start their own party. But doubtful considering the limited vision of labor’s leadership and the terrifyingly bad performance of North Carolina first…But if they talked about it today, they could have five house candidates and one senate candidate up by 2010. If only they had a brain…


2. Rich people like George Soros recreate America Coming Together as per the Nader book. The problem: rich people aren’t in a crisis mode and why did he stop ACT anyway? Confession: I worked for ACT in 04 and loved doing it. The other problem is that they’re rich. Very seldom, if ever, do rich and successful people change the fundamental rules that allow them to be rich and successful. That’s just the way it is. But there is a left that has more empathy, incredible talent and they’re good looking in front of a camera:


3. The Hollywood Left. My personal favorite and the most likely of the four. You need 100 Hollywood millionaires to give a million dollars each. You and Ariana have the initial discussion and you’re both pissed off about choice among other things. You have that big party. You find 100 Hollywood liberals who have figured out that the Democrats don’t represent liberal or progressive values. I still have the 5/25 plan. You need 5 senators–


(actually only one senator…and if a progressive senator used those procedures like Jim Bunning then those procedures would be gotten rid of quite quickly, if we had a progressive senator who wanted to get rid of those procedures…)


–and 25 house reps. They need to act as a block and they all need to sign contracts that they won’t take lobbying positios after serving in office.


No I have no idea if you have contacts like that…but it’s not unlike raising money for a movie…except you would be making every life in the United States better…


4. Small contributions from an angry public turn my 5/25 plan into a national party. I think 3 has a better chance…


Philip Shropshire

The 5/25 Plan


PS: There is the Green Party plan, from what I can tell from reading the Green Party members here, people will just realize that we’re right without ads on tv or internet, without an articulated national plan, and we’re certainly not going to ask for enough money to actually win…

The top seven anti-BP stock images that exist on the Internets

There are a number of really striking images that have come out of the BP environmental disaster, probably the only good or creative thing to come out of that disaster. I have used some of the more entertaining ones--while commenting on Pittsburgh, state and national races-- here and here.


I thought the reading public might be interested in the most striking images that I've seen. This is completely personal and arbitrary. You can suggest your own in the comments section.


I think the most effective image I've seen is the one that combines a famous Vietnam era photo of an execution with BP. It combines an anti war attitude with criticism of BP. Nice job.


I thought this second one had a nice artistic touch and considering that BP doesn't like respirators it also has the touch of truth.

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I liked this one because of its originality.


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The rest are all kind of slams against Republican Joe Barton's incredible apology to BP and the GOP proclivity to stick up for the well connected rich guy and that rich guy's lobbyist.


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Read the rest of this story here.