Boil of oozing puss.

First, have you donated yet?  The button is right there ———–>.


We’re over $2,500 now.


Newsweek has an article called “How Pittsburgh is Managing Population Decline” and the gist of it is that instead of rebuilding every faltering structure, or allowing uninhabited or uninhabitable structures to sit and rot and serve as breeding grounds for drugs, animals, or transients, Pittsburgh, under Lukey’s administration and borne out of ideas in the O’Connor administration, instead will demolish structures and replace them with parklets, grass, or other natural uses of the land, also called “returning the land to nature.”

You can go read for yourself the pros and cons of this so called “right-sizing” but my opinion is in favor of it.

Right-sizing, returning land plots to nature, parklets sprouting here and there, does not signify that Pittsburgh has given up on attracting population, it signifies that Pittsburgh isn’t turning a blind eye to the effects of population drainage and is doing what it can to manage the unsightly aspects of  it while still working to create ways to attract additional population.

That said, the tuition tax is a HORRIBLE counter-measure to efforts to attract and retain population and I honestly think that deep down, Lukey and Zober are starting to realize that the tax isn’t the best idea in the world and they’re really hoping the colleges will step in at the last minute and eat the tax by way of additional contributions to the city.  Good luck with that, guys.

The head of the URA said this to Newsweek:

And while The Washington Postand The New York Times have covered Pittsburgh’s economic face-lift in recent months, lost tax revenue and a costly pension program for city workers have kept it flirting with bankruptcy. It’s been “like watching a limb die,” says Rob Stephany, executive director of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

I can’t tell from that context what “it” is.  Population decline?  Lost-tax revenue?  The pension?  Bankruptcy?  All I know is that the head of our local authority on redeveloping the city, the head of the agency charged with expanding the tax base, told a national publication that SOMETHING about our city was “like watching a limb die.”

Wow.  Next time why don’t you say, “It’s been like watching a boil fester until it explodes and green puss slowly oozes out and then your cat comes up and licks it.”

That sounds good, too.


Pittsburgh’s right-sizing effort has accelerated under Luke Ravenstahl, the city’s lantern-jawed young mayor.


I had to look it up and Webster said:

Adjective: 1. Having a protruding jaw giving the face a gaunt appearance.

And then it suggested I also might want to use one of these synonymous ways of writing lantern-jawed:

Emaciated, lean, meager, gaunt, macilent; lank, lanky; weedy, skinny; scrawny slinky; starved, starveling; herring gutted; worn to a shadow, lean as a rake; thin as a lath, thin as a whipping post, thin as a wafer; hatchet-faced.

Yeah, no.  Our mayor is NONE of those things.

Also, I cannot wait to insult someone with a fast-fired, “You starveling, herring-gutted, hatchet-faced macilent son of a bitch.”

Where’s Marian Hossa?

(h/t carpetbagger)


  1. Jagoff
    December 1, 2009 1:28 pm

    Hossa will be here on Saturday. Get your insults ready.

  2. parkingchair
    December 1, 2009 1:34 pm

    The URA has to step up to the plate and not just comment on things but make things happen. There’s a great book on all this and I think it’s a must read for anyone who wants to see Pittsburgh return to prominence as a great, successful city. Put it on your Christmas list. Here it is:

  3. bluzdude
    December 1, 2009 1:39 pm

    The Macilent Bastards would make a good punk rock name.

  4. Jen
    December 1, 2009 1:54 pm

    I read that article yesterday, SNORTED at the lantern-jawed thing. I didn’t look it up, but I’ll admit- I had NO idea what the heck it meant.

  5. Carpetbagger
    December 1, 2009 1:55 pm

    Lantern-jawed is one of those words that doesn’t mean what people think it means. They think it means a strong, square jaw. Google image “lantern-jawed” and that’s what you get. Nothing gaunt or macilent. Mostly super-heroes and Jay Leno. (Don’t worry, no dump trucks.)

  6. Craig
    December 1, 2009 1:56 pm

    Here Hossa, Hossa, Hossa, we’ve got some new insults lined up, you ravenstahlish little man.

  7. Chris
    December 1, 2009 2:08 pm

    I always thought of the Crimson Chin on the Fairly Odd Parents as “lantern-jawed.”

  8. Pensgirl
    December 1, 2009 2:47 pm

    Am I the only one for whom the concept “a protruding jaw leads to a gaunt appearance” does not compute?

    I mean, who is the first person you think of when you see “protruding jaw?” Would you describe said person as emaciated, meager, lanky, scrawny, or thin as a whipping post?

    To wit

  9. Sooska
    December 1, 2009 3:37 pm

    HAHA Pensgirl! I was just going to post Bill Cowher is lantern-jawed. He’s there in the dictionary as the definition. Luke is decidedly not lantern-jawed.

    Weren’t the casinos going to solve all of our real estate tax problems and make room for other creative taxing methods? oh yeah.

  10. papergirl
    December 1, 2009 3:42 pm

    Deceased Mayor O’Connor correctly recognized Pittsburgh as a “city of neighborhoods. . .”
    The population has declined, we don’t need all the buildings, and replacing some of these with green space is a great solution.

  11. Beth
    December 1, 2009 3:48 pm

    I live across the street from three boarded up, abandoned houses and you can bet your bottom dollar that I would MUCH rather see some green space!! I think it’s a great idea. Or even better, generate some income for the city by offering those lots to the neighbors. I’d just about kill someone for a garage.

  12. Pghlove
    December 1, 2009 3:56 pm

    What in the world was the exec director of the URA thinking when he said it’s “like watching a limb die”. Thoughts…

    1) Gross
    2) Who actually says that?!?
    3) You are in a position of power and speaking to a national media outlet, take the opportunity to say something positive!

    Get that man some media training, ASAP.

  13. Bojack
    December 1, 2009 4:24 pm

    OK, I can’t take it anymore, the hiding, the shame,…..


  14. burgherboy47
    December 1, 2009 4:45 pm

    Hey Beth turns out you may be able to buy those vacant lots. Check this out…

    I think Ravenstahl is a terrible mayor and I don’t look for anything but comic relief from him for the next 4 years, then we get Zober for 8 more…. and the beat goes on.

  15. Kacie
    December 1, 2009 5:36 pm

    I’m waiting for the progress bar to show up before I donate. I just love seeing progress bars inch a little closer to the goal!

  16. andrea
    December 1, 2009 6:00 pm

    @burgherboy47, Zober will never, ever get elected to the mayor’s office — I mean, not any more officially than he is the mayor right now — and if events prove me wrong, I will be leaving Pittsburgh. And I’m not kidding.

    He and Lukey and the third man in their little frat-boy troika are so corrupt — and so STUPID about it — that if their reign-by-voter-despair continues — please, please, come through, FBI — this city would have moved past the point of salvage.

    PS — The URA guy, while too colorful in his speech, is actually honest and gives a damn.

  17. Chris
    December 1, 2009 6:19 pm

    I believe that Herman Munster could be described as having a lantern jaw.

  18. westindya
    December 1, 2009 8:01 pm

    it’s interesting that most comments were about the “lantern-jaw” and not the actual issue. furthermore, why are you bashing the ura guy? he spoke the truth. maybe if the city/region would look at the problems honestly then there wouldn’t be such a gross decline.

    if you cannot say anything “bad” about the city and the steelers without being “unpatriotic” to pittsburgh, then there is no hope for progress and revitalization.

  19. Virginia
    December 1, 2009 8:29 pm


    I too believe it’s necessary to take an honest look at Pittsburgh’s problems so that we can fix them. Now tell me the part where the head of the URA using that terminology to a national publication has ANY impact on improving Pittsburgh?

    No one called him “unpatriotic”. My point is that there’s a time and a place to speak negatively about the city’s problems in order to effect change and he did it in the wrong place and he used the wrong words.

    It was poor PR.


  20. Bram R
    December 1, 2009 8:50 pm

    @Beth – I like “green space” also, what I don’t like is overgrown weedy jungles. Which is unfortunately what a lot of those vacant-house-turned-“green spaces” become in a matter of months. Not that I have a solution to that particular problem for a cash-strapped city — not at all! But it’s worthwhile to recognize that some of the reasoning behind “aggressively” demolishing old buildings (is how its described) is an attempt to demolish a bunch of them together, form a “monopoly”, and start building houses and hotels so to speak. Which can be good or bad, depending on how thoughtful the URA feels like being in your neighborhood.

    @Virginia and others: The “limb” quote may not make it into the PR Hall of Fame, but he was having an honest discussion with a national magazine. I can respect that. Maybe it will spark a discussion to really consider and solve our actual problems. Besides it made it sound as though he has a heart, which for this administration ain’t bad PR at all.

  21. NW Joe
    December 1, 2009 8:59 pm

    If Pittsburgh keeps taxing the hell out of its citizens, the whole city will be a parklet.

  22. Beth
    December 1, 2009 9:19 pm

    @Bram – I see your point. Someone (I don’t know who’s responsible, but I could kick them) tore down a bunch of buildings on Peebles St in Point Breeze, emptying a whole block. Then they threw up five cookie cutter houses on it within two months and slapped $100,000 price tags on each of them. I don’t have a solution either, but I think demolishing the condemned/blighted buildings and selling the vacant lots to the interested neighbors is a great thing. The article mentioned that the going price was $200. That way, there’s someone to maintain the property and the blight is eliminated.

  23. Pa-pop
    December 1, 2009 10:17 pm

    “Right sizing” is a particularly good philosophy no matter who gets, or steals, the credit. A fellow by the name of David Boehlke helped develop this concept in other cities, and residents of my town, Youngstown, Ohio, are embracing this idea. Believe me, in this particular economic climate, our good neighborhoods need secured and our iffy ones need these measures to prevent the proliferation of blight, crime, and drug havens.

    In recent presentations to community groups here in Youngstown, my wife has shown a picture of a parklet that we literally stumbled across a couple months ago on the Northside. It runs between Veto and Archer just a few blocks north of, er, North. It’s an incredibly pleasant oasis in the midst of a gritty urban area. The photo is now my wife’s wallpaper on her cell phone. Progressive use of vacant land like this does indeed show the Burgh’s proactive stance on the continual shrinking that afflicts our cities. You should be proud.

    Speaking of shrinking, I fervently hope Luke’s wick is retracting into that lantern where his abominable notion of a tuition tax is concerned. Tuition tax: Bah! Humbug!

  24. Pa-pop
    December 1, 2009 10:27 pm

    I’m sorry to drop another comment so quickly but I forgot to mention something about Rob Stephany’s irritating quote. It reminds me of a local councilman here in Yo-town that was quoted on the front page of the Vindicator saying this about the Christmas parade he’s helping to organize: “It’s not going to be a big grandiose thing…” followed almost immediately by “We don’t have major expectations…” Jay-zuz! Rob? Mr. Councilbutt? I’d like to introduce you to Baltimore.

  25. jen
    December 2, 2009 9:35 am

    And yet, they won’t “right size” the structure of city council & city offices to reflect population loss..

  26. Mary
    December 2, 2009 9:41 am

    Can you provide info on That’s Church and/or on the first page of the donation site so we can get matching gifts from our employers to go to MR4K?

  27. Jill
    December 2, 2009 11:34 am

    “Right-sizing” is a good policy and very very necessary. Just look at Braddock. A once large, mostly steel mill employed, population has dwindled and the the place is full of abandoned dilapidated buildings and tax delinquent property. The Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority has a program where adjacent property owners can, at a minimal cost, purchase adjoining vacant property – but it’s almost too late, there just aren’t enough remaining property owners who want the vacant properties to make a dent in the problem. The City should take a hard look of this and be aggressive with their programs now – before there are city neigborhoods that look like Braddock.

  28. Mark Rauterkus
    December 2, 2009 11:51 am

    Rather than kill someone for a garage, why not buy the boarded up property with your own money and turn it into a garage you so greatly desire? That isn’t the city’s job to get you a garage.

    But, it has been for years. Need the pavement too? That can be provided with city workers if you know who to ask. (Has been done in the past.)

    Frankly, I’m happy when the URA folks just comment and do NOT act. The deeds of the URA have done much harm here in the past. That’s why the guy won’t buy the land and build his own garage.

  29. Brighton Heights Jim
    December 2, 2009 1:09 pm

    PittGirl –
    I agree that the tuition tax on students is completely bogus. What Lukey should do is tax the college(s) on their endowments (have you seen any of the figures of Pitt / CMU endowments? The numbers are in the Billions!). It will be difficult to keep the schools from back-chargring the students, but there’s got to be a way…

    Sooska –
    From my understanding, the Casino’s were supposed to solve [some] of Pittsburgh financial woes, but Lukey won’t make them pay…hence the Pens are losing out too.

    Beth –
    I’ve heard similar stories about the city demolishing buildings and planting grass etc. and then not maintaining the land. The neighbors complained to the city until they did something about it – which was to spray some industrial strength weed-killer, which in turn infuriated the neighbors!
    I think that neighbors buying property is an awesome idea, but maybe only demolish the building *if* there is a buyer for the property.