Story of the day: Here's something I think we can all agree this November's election needs: a bunch of right-wing yahoos showing up at the polls to "monitor" elections. But that seems to be where we're headed, as Tea Party types pledge to ensure that "no one's putting in votes when nobody's looking." This is part of a nationwide Tea Party-affiliated campaign called "True the Vote," which you may well be hearing about in the days to come. In the meantime, here's a primer by former City Paper staffer Brentin Mock.
File this under "things you always suspected but couldn't prove: UPMC is Allegheny County's biggest property owner -- thanks to real-estate deals that often involve the nominal non-profit paying much more for land than it's worth. Sean Hammill and Jon Silver of the Post-Gazette explore the hospital giant's acquisition strategy, in the first of a four-part series that began yesterday. UPMC often pays a premium for property, for reasons that are murky. Sometimes, it seems like a land-banking strategy, to hold parcels it may want to use down the road. There's also the suggestion that UPMC sometimes pays land-owning physicians far more than their land is worth, as a form of enticing them to join the Empire. And yes, prominent mention is made of the damage done to property-tax rolls, and the much-lamented Syria Mosque.
A new Tribune-Review poll has the race between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama essentially tied (Obama's 2-point lead is within the poll's margin of error). That's according to a survey carried out by Susquehanna Polling and Research -- whose polling has been hotly disputed in recent weeks, since its findings are way out of line with polls showing healthy margins for Obama here. New York Times polling guru Nate Silver throws some cold water on those numbers, citing a "house effect," in which ideologically-driven polls tend to produce results that cater to the ideology in question. In any case, Rasmussen -- which is often regarded as one of the more rightward-leaning pollsters -- has Obama up by 12 in Pennsylvania.
Lock up the silverware, O families of Harrisburg: The state legislature is about to return, for a whopping three weeks. Among the issues the legislature will be pondering, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, are: charter schools and funding for capital projects. Among those not likely to get attention until next year: the state's chronic transportation-funding crisis, and addressing massive pension problems. More on the upcoming festivities from the great John Micek here.
I suppose there are people who didn't know that former Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy is gay. For those people, here's him coming out to the New York Times. Notably, McClatchy says he didn't even come out to his own family until shortly before he bought the Pirates -- "because someone displeased with the deal threatened to go public with a rumor of McClatchy’s sexual orientation unless he backed out." That didn't happen, but Cyd Zeigler, who runs a gay sports newsite, says he thinks McClatchy's disclosure will be "a big test" for us. As Frank Bruni reports, "'I'm curious to see how the public, particularly in Pittsburgh, responds,' Zeigler said, wondering aloud if they'll blame McClatchy's private burdens for his team's performance." Prediction: Pirates fans won't let McClatchy off that easy. There are bigots everywhere, but I think this public disclosure isn't going to have fans resenting McClatchy any more -- or less -- than they already do for runny a shitty ballclub and bringing the Nuttings to town.