Fluke twists spice up stories

| Sunday, Sept. 30, 2007

Time to throw you a curve. Several of 'em, actually.

Today we'll dissect several recent news stories and note the startling and unpredictable turns each of them took last week. Some of these curves were so serpentine, they could have easily upended the Olympic bobsled team were those fellows not so darn gifted.

• News item: Seventeen months after Indiana County dentist John Yelenic was stabbed to death in his Blairsville home, police on Thursday finally arrested a suspect -- state police Trooper Kevin Foley.

Serpentine curve: Foley was charged with the murder even though no obvious connection exists between the two men -- other than Foley living with Yelenic's estranged wife, and Yelenic predicting shortly before his death that Foley was going to kill him.

Given the apparent randomness of this ghastly crime, no wonder investigators took so long to piece together the deadly puzzle.

• News item: Introduced as the Pirates' new general manager, Neal Huntington vowed the thoroughly awful team will emulate successful small-market franchises and improve by building a consistently productive farm system.

Serpentine curve: No one could have predicted the Pirates' ship soon will be steered in such a dramatically different direction.

Huntington's bold vision for the team bears little resemblance to the tired template followed by his predecessor, David Littlefield. When Littlefield was hired in 2001, he vowed the thoroughly awful team would emulate successful small-market franchises and improve by building a consistently productive farm system.

• News item: More than a year after a massive landslide occurred at the construction side, Wal-Mart finally abandoned plans to redevelop the old Dixmont State Hospital property in Kilbuck.

Serpentine curve: Everyone expected the nation's largest retailer to continue spitting in the face of basic physics, rudimentary geology, public opinion and common sense.

The conventional wisdom was that Wal-Mart would indeed open in one of Allegheny County's most landslide-prone areas once the troublesome hillside with the consistency of quicksand was stabilized -- in, say, 60 or 70 years.

• News item: Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl invited North Side residents to attend an important meeting with him regarding the development of the Majestic Star Casino.

Serpentine curve: Ravenstahl's failure to attend Tuesday's meeting because he previously arranged to meet with developers in Boston was completely out of character.

In little more than a year in office, Ravenstahl has consistently proven that he makes interacting with city residents his top priority.

This priority is disregarded only in times of extraordinary circumstance, such as Ravenstahl's presence being required for an emergency meal in a swank Manhattan restaurant or to alleviate some crisis occurring on one of the region's finest golf courses.

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