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Pittsburgh City Council candidate brings honest cents to campaign

| Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pittsburgh Public Schools director Patrick Dowd came clean last week with a scandalous revelation that may doom his bid for City Council.

No, not really. Dowd, who is challenging Democrat incumbent Len Bodack for the District 7 seat, 'fessed up that he had erred in calculating his city and school wage taxes and underpaid them.

By a total of $2.12.

Dowd let people know that he no longer is a scofflaw, though. Not only did he pay the back taxes, he also paid the two-cent penalty for the overdue levies.

We'll see in the Democrat primary on Tuesday whether district voters hold that two-buck mistake against him.

Kerry's people 'steal' Al Gore's buzz

No one is immune to identity theft these days -- not even a former vice president.

An e-mail purportedly sent to various book editors by former Veep Al Gore solicits buyers for the new environmentalist tome "This Moment on Earth," authored by Democrat Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and his wife, Pittsburgh pickle heiress Teresa Heinz.

"I was inspired by their work, and I know you will be too," Gore supposedly wrote. "You can purchase a copy of (the book) by clicking here."

But as the Wonkette political Web site noted last week, the correspondence was sent from a Kerry e-mail address.

Now why would that be• The Wonkette folks offered a theory:

"Because (the e-mail) is a spam selling some book 'written' by Kerry and Frenchy McCatsup. Because Al Gore did not write this e-mail! John Kerry has stolen Al Gore's identity in a desperate, amoral attempt to get some of that global-warming Oscar-winning Al Gore buzz."

A small disclaimer at the end of the advertisement reveals that it actually came from the Kerry for Senate Campaign Committee.

Why the hard-sell for the book• We're not sure, but it's interesting to note that its publisher, Perseus Books Group, announced last week it was laying off 24 employees.

FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL ... THE MAYOR• We've said it before and we'll say it again: Elected officials should always make a point of purchasing all possible Internet domain addresses bearing their names.

Otherwise, you run the risk of what happened last week to Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Making the rounds on several Pittsburgh blogs was the fact that the site would not provide you with the mayor's biography or his stand on the issues. Nor would you find a link to the city's official Web site.

Instead, a scantily clad blond woman was coyly placed next to a variety of links for adult videos. Seems some rascal was using the mayor's name domain as a portal to various porn sites.

By week's end, the clever cyber-squatter had dropped the adult content in favor of a months-old newspaper column regarding the now nonexistent mayoral race.

SCRANTON IN '10• Speculation is growing that Bill Scranton, the two-term former lieutenant governor who last year briefly mounted a gubernatorial bid, might run for governor again in 2010.

The Republican last week certainly sounded like a candidate as he bashed Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell's budget proposals while testifying before the state House Republican Policy Committee.

Scranton also heads a new organization, GrowPA, a government reform group designed to bring about improvement in state government ethics and transparency and better the way your government spends, regulates and legislates.

We could be mistaken, as the governor's race remains a long way off. But it appears to us that the Scranton campaign is under way.

POLITICAL PREDICTIONS. Proving once again how we aren't afraid to go out on a limb, we're going to offer our educated guess as to how the two most important Western Pennsylvania primary races will turn out on Tuesday.

We're betting Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato will triumph over his opponent -- admit it, you weren't aware that he had one -- Richard Swartz, executive director of the Bloomfield-Garfield Corp.

We'll also forecast that Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl will find a way to eke out a primary victory over his challenger on the ballot, which would be, er, no one.

Yawn. Don't think we'll be tuning in to the scintillating election analysis on TV Tuesday night.

SOAP BOX. It was supposed to be a City Council meeting but Jeannette officials turned it into a campaign rally complete with speeches and standing ovations.

Mayor Mike Cafasso and Councilmen Mike Minyon and Robert Carter, both up for re-election, decided they had read enough about investigations into the city's police department concerning whether police looked the other way on a drunken driving arrest in exchange for a contribution to the city.

The Westmoreland County District Attorney's Office is investigating the department after receiving a complaint about the incident that occurred last fall.

An emotional Minyon, citing the memory of his father, said he was clean. Wiping tears from his eyes, Carter placed his arm around Minyon's shoulders for support.

Then Carter got on his soap box and told the small crowd how his third-grade teacher hugged him on the street and said how proud she was of him. Then he launched into a tirade about the lack of news coverage of redevelopment projects in the city. He also complained about the placement of stories Jeannette receives in the Trib.

"We have Jayhawk pride in this damn town," Carter said.

Cafasso warned that people who spread these rumors about the city will have to face the wrath of God.

"God will punish you. That's all I have to say," he said.

YANKEE CLIPPED. California University of Pennsylvania has one of the top graduate athletic training education programs in the country, but don't tell that to the New York Yankees.

With a slew of Yankees suffering muscular injuries this spring, General Manager Brian Cashman decided Wednesday to eject the team's new strength and conditioning coach, Marty Miller, 34, CalU class of 2004.

The last straw was 12 days ago when the Yanks' phenom pitcher, Phil Hughes , suffered a left hamstring injury after keeping the Texas Rangers hitless for 6 1/3 innings.

Miller earned a degree in exercise science from the Washington County school and is scheduled to appear at the university for two sports "performance enhancement" camps in July. Miller had been in the position only a couple of months.

LEANING LEFT . Readers of Westmoreland County Commission Chairman Tom Balya's blog must lean to the left ... way left.

Balya asked readers to choose which Democrat presidential candidate for 2008 they currently favor.

Of the 343 votes cast as of last week, Hillary Clinton garnered just 5 percent, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards had captured 3 percent and Barack Obama polled zero percent. The leader is ultra-liberal Ohio U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich with 90 percent of the votes cast.

-- compiled by Tribune-Review staff

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