by Chris Potter
Here's a useful reminder: Voter ID may be forgotten, but it ain't gone. All that legal wrangling over the past few months merely put the law on hiatus; another series of proceedings will decide whether the law's requirements can be constitutionally imposed when there isn't a history-making presidential election just a couple months away.
Our friends at nonprofit journalism center PublicSource have a new piece out, documenting the ways in which the Port Authority got suckered by some suits on Wall Street. But thanks to ensuing legal action, the Port Authority did at least get some money back -- $256,000 from a settlement involving allegations of bid rigging. (Upper St. Clair, another apparent victim, got back even more -- I guess Wells Fargo knows who can afford the best lawyers.)
City councilor, and presumptive mayoral challenger, Bill Peduto has a new proposal: Use giant signs to shame absentee landlords who don't take care of their properties. Pittsburgh flirted with the idea -- suggested by Peduto's old boss, then-councilor Dan Cohen -- back in the late 1990s. Other cities have also used it. The idea is to advertise the property's owner's name and contact information; the signs would be erected the property itself. Which beats paying our local billboard concessionaire to mount the campaign; they're already conducting a name-and-shame initiative of their own.
Those laissez-faire mischief-makers at the Allegheny Institute take aim at the ongoing dispute over how to pay for an additional 3,000 seats at Heinz Field. The team's lease at the publicly-owned stadium does foresee taxpayers shouldering much of the cost for such an expansion. But, the Institute argues we should "Forget the legal issues, this is a moral issue," and does some calculations to figure out just how good the team's deal already is. Its conclusion: "[T]he team has been living essentially rent free in this heavily taxpayer-subsidized stadium. Now they are demanding more from the SEA."
Prepare for another chapter in the ongoing battle between Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. In this week's episode, Wagner is airing grievances over a 10 percent budget cut to her office.
Finally, not really a local thing, but well worth your time. You may have heard that, in the wake of Barack Obama's re-election victory, thousands of yahoos from all over the country have been petitioning the White House for the right to secede. (This dovetails nicely with my column this week, which is all about how this time, it's the right-wingers who are pissing and moaning about wanting to leave the country -- just like lefties did after 2004.) Now, the inevitable response: a petition to deport everyone that signed a petition asking to secede. The petition needs 25,000 signatures by Dec. 12 to prompt a White House response: As of this writing, it is more than halfway there.