by Chris Potter
The stories out of the Port Authority, where Rich Fitzgerald is rumored to be planning a coup to install Joseph Brimmeier as the agency's head, keep getting better. Today, the Post-Gazette reports that shortly after Brimmeier was appointed to the Authority board, a firm owned by his sister bid on a design contract. That part isn't even what's most vexing: The company later pulled its bid. The vexing part is that Brimmeier and his sister both say they didn't realize the firm was bidding at first ... even though Brimmeier's son, who also works for the company, attended an informational meeting on the job. And then there's the part where PAT board chair Jack Brooks tells claims he notified Brimmeier the contract "can't be done." Brimmeier's response? "That is an absolute lie. Jack Brooks never talked to me about it." That's no way to treat a potential future boss!
And just when you thought the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police had enough PR problems, there's this: On Monday, the bureau issued a press release naming an Overbrook man as a suspect in a cemetery theft -- more than a week after the charges against him were withdrawn. (He was apparently a victim of stolen identification.) Spokesperson Diane Richard said the release "was an error that was made because I did not have the rest of the information until [Tuesday] morning." This is all coming just weeks after the bureau caused a stir by forwarding questions from one reporter to every media outlet in town.
A Quinnipiac poll shows that even in Pennsylvania -- where we cling to our guns and our religion -- that some high-profile gun-control measures enjoy broad popularity ... and that gay marriage is supported by a slim majority of folks. Interestingly, on the gun questions, the poll also breaks down results by whether the respondents live in urban, suburban or rural areas. And while the urban/rural split is about what you'd imagine, on many of they specific policy questions -- like an assault-weapons ban -- the suburbs are in line with urban voters. This is another symptom of a conservative mindset losing its hold on everyone except rural voters. And a final note: Remember how Republicans spent some time last year concern-trolling over whether blacks would be alienated by Barack Obama's stance in favor of gay marriage? In this poll, blacks supported gay marriage by a 17-point margin, compared to 2 points for whites.
Meanwhile, in totally unsurprising news, Senator Pat Toomey joined most Senate Republicans in voting against aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy ... even though they include some Pennsylvanians he represents. At least he's consistent.
And another story you could have seen coming: According to a Facebook analysis of its own users' behavior, Steelers fandom transcends the limits of time and space. Of course, we all know about "Steelers Nation," but I found it interesting that our sphere of influence extends even into Ohio: "[T]he Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals hold down their respective metropolitan areas, but lose out to the Pittsburgh Steelers across most of the rest of the state, including the capital. The mighty Steelers' reach extends, incredibly, to pockets of Oregon, Nevada, Alabama, and Alaska, plus the entirety of Hawaii."