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A full stream for Friday

| Friday, Oct. 8, 2004

The following pre-emptive strike against local persons of interest, having just passed a global test in Paris, is internationally approved of as today's stream of unconsciousness:

  • Help me understand why taxpayers should subsidize the losses of flood victims who did not bother to get flood insurance. While empathy is understandable for those whose homes or businesses were damaged, why should taxpayers reimburse them, since taxpayers already are subsidizing the cost of flood insurance• E-mail me your insights, pro or con, using the address at the end of this column.

  • How much worse would the University of Pittsburgh football team have been this season if Walt Harris, head coach at my alma mater, were not the offensive genius that he supposedly is?

  • As I channel surfed from the hideous Pitt Panther loss last week (to the University of Connecticut) to the presidential debate, President George Bush certainly looked to be on his game, at least by comparison to the Pitt game.

  • Memo to the Republican Party of Pittsburgh: You could do worse than nominating Highland Park's Dick Skrinjar, former PennDOT spokesman, as your mayoral candidate. He has great name recognition, is media savvy, and knows how to fix a pothole.

  • When it comes to holding public officials accountable, Wilkinsburg's Gary English has the tenacity of a bulldog with an acute case of lockjaw. When English saw political signs last fall urging a "yes" vote on changing the Allegheny County Home Rule Charter -- allowing council members to eat their cake and have it too by allowing them to run for another office without having to resign from council -- he noticed the disclaimer indicated that it was paid for by council members. But not which ones.

    He believed that ambiguity violated the law. After contacting state and county officials for the better part of a year (surely appearing to be a major annoyance to those who preferred ignoring the issue), his efforts resulted in the county Board of Elections assessing the maximum fines allowed, $250 per candidate -- for Jim Fenton and Ron Francis -- for not properly filing campaign reports.

    When County Council members again try to weasel through this self-serving change, and you know they will at some point, note who is funding the backdoor effort to circumvent the home rule charter. And if that disclaimer looks suspicious, sic English on it.

  • Notice that as the City of Pittsburgh's fiscal mess worsens, metropolitanism is the so-called solution proffered by Grant Street apologists. Former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh recently suggested that consolidation of county municipalities into one metro government supposedly will solve the so-called problem of the county's many little communities. Yet most of those supposedly inefficient towns are more solvent and run more efficiently than Pittsburgh.

  • The same PennDOT people who had a role in firing Dick Skrinjar now are admitting the I-79 work near Carnegie is about $14 million short. Oops! Said local PennDOT boss Karl Ishman, "Clearly, the project came in over budget, and a decision as to what happens now has not been made yet." Clearly, what should happen now is for PennDOT to decide to terminate the incompetent who made the multimillion-dollar mistake. Speaking of local persons of interest.

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