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Pittsburgh Laurels & Lances

| Friday, March 17, 2006

Laurel: To Bob O'Connor. Pittsburgh's new mayor continues to show he means business. His latest initiative involves the demolition of abandoned buildings near schools that could aid in the commission of crimes. Indeed, there was a lot of theater surrounding a well-orchestrated media event on Monday that resulted in abandoned Knoxville slums being demolished in short order. But sometimes a little theater is what it takes to spur the community at large to action.

Lance: To the lawsuit against the Upper St. Clair School District. Voters knew what they were getting when they elected a new school board in November: a majority slate that, and for whatever reason, planned to eliminate the International Baccalaureate Program, which it did. Thus a lawsuit against the board, filed in concert with the American Civil Liberties Union, smacks of the fine whine of sour grapes. That said, the loose-lips board majority did itself no favors with remarks that more than suggested the program was cut for reasons other than commonsense fiscal prudence.

Laurel: To Mark Roosevelt. The Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent continues to show there's action behind his words. After winning approval of a plan to right-size the district's bricks and mortar to the student body, he's aiming the paring knife at a bloated administration. More than 100 positions will be cut resulting in millions of dollars of savings that will be redirected to better educating students. It's elementary.

Lance: To voters. There are more than 24,000 registered voters in Pittsburgh City Council District 3. Fewer than 14 percent bothered to vote in Tuesday's special election to choose a successor to Gene Ricciardi, now a district justice. The winner, with about 1,500 votes, was Jeff Koch, a city public works employee. We wish Mr. Koch the best of luck. Perhaps he can figure out a way to boost voter participation.

On the "Watch List": That humongous $29 million, nine-story, 1,200-space-plus parking garage on Pittsburgh's North Shore is scheduled to open in time for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game this summer. Pirates fans will be charged $15 to park there. This fall, Steelers fans will be charged $25. The real question is if beverages, beds and retirement plans will be provided to those attempting to exit this monstrosity after the games.

Best of luck: To the Pittsburgh Panthers. They take on Kent State (25-8) in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament tonight in Auburn Hills, Mich. Tipoff is 7:10 p.m. The 24-7 Panthers weren't happy with the No. 5 seed. But they know the easiest way to prove the bracketers wrong is to win. Best of luck to Coach Jamie Dixon and the Panthers.

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