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Crickets chirping for Rick Santorum

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By Pittsburgh The Tribune-Review

Published: Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011

Rick Santorum isn't someone you easily picture cutting the rug on a dance floor.

So we were surprised that the Republican presidential aspirant and former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania held his "Santorum Summer Dance Party" to entertain participants in Iowa's Ames straw poll on Saturday.

On the bill for the event were The Crickets , late music legend Buddy Holly's backup band, as well as The Big Bopper Jr. While neither is a dance act along the lines of Rihanna or Britney Spears , having them play Rick's party was appropriate — in two ways.

First, anyone who has a rudimentary familiarity with popular music knows rock pioneer Holly and singers J.P. Richardson (the original Big Bopper ) and Ritchie Valens died in a February 1959 plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa — and during their "Winter Dance Party" tour.

Second, there's the sound of crickets chirping — which traditionally signals that summer is nearly over. Given his lackluster fundraising and poor performance in polls leading up to the Ames event, Santorum has to hope the sound of The Crickets playing his party wasn't sending the same signal regarding his White House campaign.

BATMAN 1, WHEELCHAIR VETS 0. Some people associated with the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, held Aug. 1-6 in Pittsburgh, were privately irked that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl failed to appear at the event.

They also were upset over the lack of current Steelers who made it to the games. Former Steelers running back Rocky Bleier was honorary chairman and former stars Franco Harris and Robin Cole were spotted, but apparently, no active players attended.

Was Ravenstahl too busy running the city to attend even the opening or closing ceremony?

Were today's Steelers too preoccupied with training camp?

Perhaps.

But their full schedules didn't prevent Ravenstahl and a bevy of Steelers superstars from participate in filming of the upcoming Batman movie at Heinz Field on the last day of the wheelchair games.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Hines Ward were among Steelers who played members of the Gotham Rogues in scenes shot for "The Dark Knight Rises." Ravenstahl even suited up for his bit part as a kicker.

These guys had enough time to play make-believe for Hollywood, but not enough to pay tribute to men who lost limbs for our country• Seems like misplaced priorities to us.

OF BUSES AND BUTTS. Contract talks — and related acrimony — between Port Authority of Allegheny County management and the transit agency's largest labor union are off to an early start.

After reviewing management's initial proposal, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President Patrick McMahon had this to say: "My members wouldn't even wipe their butts with that offer."

The union's current contract expires June 30, 2012. We wouldn't bet the house on an "early bird" agreement.

WECHT'S TICKET TRIBULATIONS. Cyril Wecht was none too happy about the $55.50 parking ticket.

The famed forensic pathologist and former Allegheny County coroner was perturbed about recently being ticketed for illegal parking after 6 p.m. on a Squirrel Hill street. Pittsburgh Parking Authority ticketers used to stop work at 6 p.m., but enforcement hours recently were extended to 10 p.m. to raise additional money for the city's ailing pension fund.

Wecht wasn't shy about voicing his dissatisfaction in a letter to authority Executive Director David Onorato that he copied to authority board Chairman Scott Kunka and Pittsburgh City Councilman Patrick Dowd , who in January proposed abolishing the authority.

"As a lifelong resident of the city of Pittsburgh, I am comforted by the knowledge that these vanguards of public safety (ticketers) are providing vital services that ensure the physical safety of our citizenry and contribute to social welfare and general enjoyment of life for my family and me," Wecht wrote.

"In some other cities in the U.S., there is so much time, effort and resources being spent in foolishly attempting to improve education, housing, roads, health care facilities, recreational programs, etc., that they lose sight of truly important endeavors like issuing tickets after 6 p.m. to people whose vehicles are perfectly parked and not obstructing anyone on a street in a residential community."

Is it just us, or does Wecht's missive seem slightly sarcastic to you, too?

THE LITTLEST SPOKESWOMAN. Congratulations are in order for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's press secretary, Joanna Doven , and her husband, city Public Safety Director Michael Huss .

Doven, 27, gave birth to the couple's first child, a girl, on Aug. 5. Mother and daughter reportedly are doing fine. Marissa Doyle , mayoral communications specialist, is handling media inquiries while Doven changes diapers on maternity leave.

THE RESULTS ARE IN.
Tony Atwater , former president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, didn't exactly get a vote of confidence last month, when he became president of Norfolk State College in Virginia.

He resigned last year from IUP, where the faculty had delivered a no-confidence vote over his leadership.

In an online poll by The Virginian-Pilot newspaper, 65 percent of participants thought hiring Atwater was not a good choice.

One even called the hiring "a PR disaster."

Atwater lived in Virginia as a child and returned to reside there again as a teenager.

BUSINESS TRIP? It's that time of year again.

With Congress on its August recess, lawmakers are boarding airplanes for junkets to faraway places.

U.S. Rep. Mark Critz , D-Johnstown, returned last week from a trip to Israel and the West Bank, where he discussed the "U.S.-Israel relationship and international security" with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas .

Critz, a member of the House Armed Services and its Small Business committees, is among Capitol Hill's 55 Republicans and 26 Democrats visiting Israel over a three-week period. Joining Critz on his visit were House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. , D-Illinois.

What Critz's press release failed to mention was that his trip was sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, which is linked to the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbying group, according to the Jerusalem Post.

After returning home, Critz did find time to visit such less-glamorous places as Johnstown, California (Pa.), Waynesburg, Pittsburgh, Uniontown and Monessen.

— compiled by Tribune-Review staff

Have some dirt to dish• A tip to flip• E-mail the intrepid Whispers desk at: whispers@tribweb.com .

 

 
 


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