Monthly Archives: February 2013

Slushiegate 101: The CliffsNotes Version

It’s a mess.

A big mess.

Grant Street is in turmoil, painted with muted shades of Detroit in a color Sherwin Williams would call Grey Ethics or Shady Shenanigans.

If you haven’t been following the story, and I know many of you are just now paying attention as it’s just getting good, let’s quickly recap what has happened and why it matters and what questions are left to be answered. This is what I understand to be true and to be the timeline. I am not a journalist. REPEAT. I AM NOT A JOURNALIST. I have never claimed to be one and I will never become one. This is simply what I understand to be true based on media reports. If I’ve got a detail wrong, let me know in the comments. Don’t freak out. Chillax.

Here we go. There will be a quiz.

— In 2010 Mayor Ravenstahl came under fire for the exorbitant cost of his security detail. $200,000 in overtime in two years alone, not to mention salaries, expenses, etc. No mayor before him had ever managed to rack up such costs. It was exposed. I wrote about it in an open letter to Lukey as I often did.  In response to the scandal, I understand the mayor shrunk his security team a bit.

— In the past week, the FBI raided the special events office of the Pittsburgh Police. This is the office that handles, assigns, and bills for side work of members of the police force. When you go to a Pitt game or whatnot and you see officers? Side work. They get paid for that outside of their regular police wages. There is and has been a whole lot of controversy surrounding the special events office. That’s nothing new.

— The purpose of the raid was an investigation into the discovery that Nate Harper, police chief, or his office, had opened an account at a nonprofit police credit union and into this account, tens of thousands of dollars were being deposited — money that should have been deposited into one of the official, valid, legal city accounts. For instance, the force invoiced Pitt for side work to the tune of several thousand dollars. The payment check was then deposited into this off-the-books account no one knew about. That’s not good. That’s basically theft. Nate Harper closed the account a few weeks ago.

— Unknown figures in the city had debit cards linked to this account. Expenditures were for things like airfare, hotels, restaurant bills in places like DC and Denver and locally as well. At first, we were not told who had those debit cards.

— Luke, who originally stood by Nate Harper’s side, met with the FBI this week and on that very day, based on information he learned, asked for Chief Harper’s resignation. That was a good thing. That made me happy. Luke took new information and used it to make a new decision. A+!

— Luke stated he was not a target of the investigation, that he had no prior knowledge of the account or who had debit cards associated with the illegal slush fund. Slush fund. That’s what it was.

— Yesterday it was revealed by the Post-Gazette that it was the mayor’s bodyguards who had debit cards for the illegal slush fund account. [thud] I honestly didn’t see that coming. I’m so naive. Luke claimed he had no idea that they had the cards or that they were linked to the illegal account.

Today, it was revealed by the Post-Gazette, that a former member of Luke’s security detail claimed and would take a lie detector test to prove that Luke did indeed know of the account and the cards, and that their purpose was to avoid the scrutiny on the spending that would surely come down on Luke’s security detail in light of how much he came under fire for it in 2010. Luke says these are all lies. Then apparently someone, possibly on Grant Street, turned the Post-Gazette on to the accuser’s ex-girlfriend to lay waste to any claim the accuser might have to being an honest individual. And she did a really good job.

Who knows who to believe?

It’s a mess.

Thoughts:

1. We’ve taken a ding here. And if you love Pittsburgh, no matter how much you may personally dislike or distrust the mayor, you’ve got to want these allegations against him to be untrue. You’ve got to not want Pittsburgh’s name hanging out with Detroit’s and other cities we see as corrupt. Not that politics, and city politics, aren’t already by nature corrupt as we have only an inkling of what really goes on, but such a public smear on the name of the Office of Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh is a terrible thing. Want not.

2. If you love Pittsburgh, if the allegations turn out to be true, you’ve got to take that smear and be thankful for it because it will mean something harmful to our city has come to an end. It will be a small scar that we can learn from, rather than an internal injury we aren’t aware of until it grew out of control and became too late to repair without permanent damage.

3. You’ve got to ask yourself the questions.

Is it possible the mayor really didn’t know? If not, who would put illegal debit cards into the hands of his security detail knowing very well the resulting scandal could deeply risk the mayor’s position? If he didn’t know, is someone out to get him? To bring him down? Is he just a puppet taking a fall because someone decided to cut the strings? Very John Grisham-y.

Is Michael Lamb really in a position to criticize at this point? He’s running for mayor and he’s also the current lead overseer of all things financial when it comes to the management of Pittsburgh’s money.  My advice to the mayoral candidates is to lay off a bit. We are well aware of what this could mean for Mayor Luke without it being shoved in our faces all “NEENER NEENER NEENER!” Here’s your comment, “I love Pittsburgh, and for Pittsburgh’s sake, I hope these allegations against the mayor are false. I’d prefer to win the office of the mayor standing on my good name and my strong platform and ethics, rather than on the crumbling remains of Luke Ravenstahl’s administration.”

Is Nate Harper the fall guy? What benefit at all did he really derive from the illegal slush fund? I couldn’t think of one. Can you?

It’s a mess. And it’s going to get messier because this isn’t a city investigation capable of being swept quietly away; it’s the FBI and we are just at the beginning of this bumpy road.

One thing is certain … the mayoral debate on March 17 is going to ROCK.

I cannot freaking wait for the verbal sparring. I bet it gets so great at one point that the moderator involuntarily goes all…

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Bon Jovi Autographed Poster Giveaway

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My husband and I don’t have one of those agreements that states should either party have an opportunity to have sexual relations with a famous person, these are the three people, AND THE ONLY THREE PEOPLE ON EARTH, we are permitted to … well … do.

This post is already fun!

I’ve never really thought about it, but now that I’m sitting here doing nothing but thinking about it, I’d have to say for certain my list would look like this, in no particular order of desirableness to … well … do.

  1. Adam Levine, of course. 
  2. Ryan Gosling, of course.
  3. One Direction.

HAHAHAH! You should see the look on your face.

Actually, my last pick? Easily Jon Bon Jovi.

Not Jon Bon Jovi back in the 80s:

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No. No to the frizzed out hair. No to the eyeliner. No to the “come do me” look. Which isn’t it ironic that he’s BEGGING me to go and have sex with him and “lay my hands on him” and I’m like, “Um. EW?”

No, I never really loved Jon Bon Jovi until he became this:

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And then I was like, “I will lay my hands on you in a blaze of glory on a bed of roses, HOT STUFF.”

When he became THIS, I took notice and started buying his CDs and listening to them nonstop.

It was then that I loved him. Every song. Every note. Every “lay your hands on me” look. Maybe I was too young in the 80s to appreciate the hair and the tight jeans and the yell-iness. I preferred the smooth locks and faint wrinkles and deep soul that came with maturity. That’s when he became … well … doable.

THIS POST IS SUPER PANDA FUN TIMES! And it has a point.

I was contacted by AEG telling me that in honor of the Bon Jovi: Because We Can concert happening at the CONSOL tomorrow, Thursday, they’d like to offer my readers a gift. And boy, if you’re a Bon Jovi fan, this is a fantastic gift.

What: The entire Bon Jovi band, including Jon, will autograph two of these tour posters in silver or gold Sharpie and two lucky readers will be chosen at random to receive them.

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AEG will mail the posters to the winners.

Concert info: If you’re wanting to see Jon’s “come lay your hands on me” face in person, you’ll want to get your tickets through Ticketmaster via this link.  The concert is tomorrow at CONSOL Energy Center. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.  

How to enter: Well, you can just shout out your favorite Bon Jovi Song, or you can be brave and tell me the three people that are on YOUR list. Or do both.  You have until noon tomorrow to enter, at which time Random.org will pick the two lucky winners. Imagine one of these autographed posters framed and hanging in your office or man-cave!

Go enter and good luck.

Fine print that’s the same size as all the other print: In exchange for posting this, AEG has provided me with two tickets to this concert. I was going to give them away to one of you, because I feel super awkward at concerts, but my husband indicated that it would be solid grounds for divorce. SORRY! Also, I’m pretty sure this is what I look like during rock concerts:

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Random n’at

1. It was at PF Chang’s recently, in the Waterfront, celebrating my sister in law’s birthday, that my kindergartener daughter began to experience some stomach discomfort. And by “stomach discomfort” I mean “a sudden onset of explosive diarrhea.” Or if you’re my sister Ta-Ta the Giant Breasted Poobah reading aloud in the fifth grade, you say “Dye-ah-hare-ah.” I probably shouldn’t make fun of her though, because in fourth grade while reading aloud I said “Mardi Grass” and boy, kids are cruel.

Anyway, as we prepared to leave the restaurant, my son pointed to his younger sister and asked, “What’s wrong with her?” to which I replied discreetly, “She’s just not feeling well. We need to go home now.” And my daughter shouted at the top of her lungs in the crowded PF Chang’s dining room, “YEAH! I HAVE DIARRHEA!”

So my point is, if you were trying to enjoy your dinner last Sunday at PF Changs and some half-Mexican whippersnapper started shouting about diarrhea … she’s mine.

You can’t have her.

2. Mayor Luke’s campaign communications director was wanted. And I don’t mean wanted to be hired. I mean he was wanted by the LAW.

Someone should hire me as a campaign consultant so I can impart wisdom such as this: “No member of your staff should have outstanding warrants for their arrest unless they were charged with killing pigeons, in which case, GET ON WITH THEY BAD SELF.”

Also, this guy is 24. What does a 24-year-old know about running the communications for the re-election campaign of a mayor of a major city?! Get off my lawn and go buy me some Werthers, gosh darn it. The adults are talking. [shakes cute little cane]

3. Everyone who donates from now until $6,500 is entered to randomly win my Geno bobblehead! Geno wants you to help the sick kids.

genobobbleheadEmail proof of your recent donation to virginia[at] thatschurch.com to be eligible.

4. Here’s the VCR the kids and families of the Children’s Home share. That’s right VCR. It looks like it’s a combo, but as you can see almost all of their movies (and there aren’t many!) are on VHS. We have got to fix that for them. They need bigger TVs! More movies! More smiles! And come April when we install all of the new technology, you’re going to want to be able to say you pitched in a few bucks to help.

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That’s not even Ice Age 2 or 3. That’s the FIRST Ice Age movie. And there have been like three new Disney princesses since Pocahontas! Ugh. We need to fix this, you guys.

5. DVE’s Randy Baumann is putting on a show at the Thunderbird Cafe on March 1, and since he’s my fake radio boyfriend, I’ll be there. You should support him too. Tickets are hella affordable.

6. Pittsburgh has a new downtown comedy theater and tonight Pittsburgh Dad himself is cutting the ceremonial ribbon along with director extraordinaire Chris Preksta. Wish I could be there to give Pittsburgh Dad and his boss big yinzer hugs.

Learn more about the Arcade Theater here. There’s a whole bunch of awesome kickoff events happening!

7. Warren Buffett’s group bought H.J. Heinz for upwards of ALL OF GOD’S MONEY and all of Pittsburgh is asking, “BUT WHAT DOES THIS MEAAAAAN?!”

But I’m asking, “Does EVERYTHING need its own Terrible Towel?”

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8. Lost historic buildings of Pittsburgh.

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You know I’ll be sucked into an internet wormhole researching some of these. BRB never.

(h/t JJ)

9. Jamie and Ali are up for a $5,000 grant from Tell Us World. Please click the “Love It” button if you love them like I do.

10. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

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(source)

Wish is was a pigeon, but no matter what, Car Grill Owls is a great band name.

11. Pittsburgh is getting a new area code because we’re almost out of 412s and 724s. Welcome the 878s.

I already don’t answer my phone for 800s or 888s or 877s or 866s. So if you call me from the very similar 878s, you are SHIT OUT OF LUCK.

Your calls are never getting answered.

12. Pittsburgh getting an NBA team maybe?

Can they be called the Bees?

Black and yellow black and yellow black and yellow.

12. Now go donate. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. Throw the karma boomerang out there loaded up with positivity and just watch what it brings back to you.

 





Fallingwater as cake.

It’s Valentine’s Day! Please give some love to the sick kids at The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh by donating via the “DONATE” button in the sidebar. We’re so close to our goal!

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I was invited by the Carnegie Museum of Art to judge their first ever CAKEitecture competition, which teamed up five local bakeries with five local architecture firms or organizations to create amazing cakes that pay tribute to architecture in some way, as the event was a celebration of the Heinz Architectural Center’s 20th anniversary.

I have got to show you these cakes!

1. This is Fallingwater, as cake.

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LIT FROM WITHIN.

The cake was done by Prantl’s and Loysen + Kreuthmeier Architects.  The stones and cake? Prantl’s almond torte. It was the unanimous choice as the winner among us three judges because it was equally a stunning tribute to architecture and super effing delicious.

2. However, this was my other most favorite. Dozen Bake Shop/Young Architect’s Forum’s Mister Rogers/Pittsburgh cake that took 100 man-hours to plan, bake, and assemble. Trolley really worked and played the familiar Trolley tune.

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3. This is the Sydney Opera House done by one of my most favorite bakeries Gluuteny, partnered with The Design Alliance:

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The only thing I didn’t like on this was that the cake was chocolate, and I just don’t like chocolate cake. But the other two judges tried it, died, went to heaven, came back and said, “You can dock it if you think it’s ugly and you can dock it if you think it generally tastes terrible, but you CANNOT DOCK POINTS FOR IT BEING CHOCOLATE.”

FINE! [pouts]

4. This is the Motor Square Gardent/Market Building in East Liberty. The dome had stunning detail work on it, and the other two judges, both architects, really favored this one more than I did. Also, there was chocolate in this cake too. DOCKED. [gobbles some almond torte]

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You can see a picture of the building here.

5. And finally, this one we called “The Modern House”. Wait, maybe this was the other one with chocolate in it. DOCKED.

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I had planned to go through and take additional and better photos of the cakes, but the crowd arrived and holy crap, there were like a thousand people in there:

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After the judge’s choices were announced, with Fallingwater taking first, the East Liberty building taking second, and Mister Rogers/Pittsburgh taking third, the People’s Choice was announced to be the Mister Rogers/Pittsburgh cake, which made sense as there were people 20 deep around that cake all night.

It was a great event, and FREE. If they have it again next year, be sure to visit the cakes.

And if they ask me to judge again next year, I hope my name tag will say “The Chocolate Docking Judge.”

Man, The Chocolate Docking Judges would be a great band name.





What’ll it take?

What’s it going to take to get you to donate to this year’s Make Room for Kids effort to bring distractions and gaming to the patients and families at The Children’s Home and Lemieux Family Center? 

Do you need to see a cat that will haunt your nightmares until the day you die?

We got that!

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Do you need to see a baby monkey riding backwards on a little pig?

We got that!

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Shirtless Fleury?

Got it!

Mayor Straight G. Lukey Cube with a giant light bulb?

Got it!

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My minister father wearing a construction hat and doing the YMCA dance at my sister’s wedding? GOT THAT.

BONKERS!

He really partied hard every time he managed to marry one of us five girls off to unsuspecting men who were in for a lifetime of whatever it is my sisters and I dish out on a daily basis.

Me as a teenaged cheerleader for the local church group?

GOT IT!

cheerleading

Let me explain what’s going on here. Insanity is going on here.

This is a very dangerous, utterly precarious, bold church cheerleading pyramid that could falter and tumble to the ground at any moment, injuring all of us and possibly displacing our carefully Aqua-netted mall bangs. I can’t believe that we’re not breaking any rules on what is allowable at sanctioned church cheerleading events. I mean, WHERE ARE THE SPOTTERS?! I am in there, straining under half of the enormous burden of the 65-pound Pens Fan. My glasses are askew. My hair drooping. My sparkle spirit flagging. This pyramid’s difficulty … its complexity … is only rivaled by this one’s:

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As you can see, this pyramid is in such danger of falling at any moment that two strategically-placed cheerleaders must prop it up like two-by-fours holding up a rickety porch in the backwoods of West By God Virginia.

Without those feet holding my butt up, I would surely drop the third of Princess Aurora’s 65 pounds I’m holding up.

I still remember some of the cheers we cheered.

“S-P-I-R-I-T! What’s that spell?! SPIRIT!” And not the Holy Spirit. Just spirit. We wanted our team to have SPIRIT. Gasp! Or maybe we WERE cheering about the Holy Spirit and they weren’t telling us. Sneaky. I hope the Holy Spirit appreciated our cheering.

“Be! Aggressive! B-E agressive! B-E-A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!” which was our most violent church spelling cheer.

Surprisingly, we didn’t have one single cheer that went like this … “GoooooOOOOOOO, JESUS!”

What’s it going to take to get you to click the donate button? Tell me and I’ll do it. We’re almost halfway there in 24 hours, and if we all do our part, donate a bit, spread the word, we’ll reach our goal faster than you can spell dork.

“D-O-R-K! What’s that spell?! DORK! Who’s a dork?! GINNY! When’s she a dork?! ALWAYS!”