by Chris Potter
A Downtown task force convened by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has offered up its recommendations for rejuvenating the area. At first blush, not a lot new here -- an emphasis on street-level improvements and marketing. But there's some talk about steering clear of the anchor-tenant enticement strategy -- the linchpin of previous efforts to enhance shopping opportunities -- and more focus on offering incentives to local merchants. Sounds similar to the approach taken by critics of former Mayor Tom Murphy's failed "Fifth/Forbes" plan.
Did you think that, just because this November's elections yielded a clear, uncontested winner, that state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Pleistocene Epoch), would shut up already about voter fraud? Oh, you naive and trusting soul. The Pride of Cranberry, in fact, is very concerned about a single report of a member of the New Black Panther Party who was spotted at a Philadelphia polling place and ... well ... not doing much of anything. But believe you me! There are plenty more trumped-up allegations where that came from. Meanwhile, in actual voting-irregularity news, officials in Philly are still trying to figure out why so many provisional ballots -- 27,000, or more than twice the number cast in 2008 -- were used this election.
And then there's the biggest election irregularity of them all -- the one that is enshrined in our voting laws themselves. Thanks to the way Congressional districts are drawn, even though more total votes were cast for Democrats running for Congress, Republicans hold a majority of the seats. Blame GOP-led redistricting efforts for some of the problem, but maybe not all of it.
Over at the Pittsburgh Comet, Bram Reichbaum sets a new record for punditry by essentially calling next year's mayoral race before any challengers have formally announced their campaign.
US Senator Pat Toomey shows he really wasn't paying attention to this year's election results. Democrats have to blah blah blah spending or else the blah blah fiscal cliff blah blah.
... And in today's protest news, anti-gas-drilling activists will be on hand to welcome state Department of Environmental Protection secretary Michael Krancer to a gas-drilling convention in Downtown Pittsburgh. (Why are these conventions still being held here? Wasn't the city's anti-drilling ordinance supposed to drive them away?) It's at 11 a.m. at the David Lawrence Convention Center. (While you're in the area, a second protest -- this one to protect Medicare, Medicaid and other benefits from being Grand Bargain-ed away in Washington budget talks -- is slated for noon outside Sen. Bob Casey's offices at the old Alcoa headquarters.) And speaking of gas drilling, check out the ongoing soap opera between drillers and state Rep. Jesse White. Gas drillers are saying that White, who has been a sharp critic of the industry, is merely lashing out for not getting ... an airplane ride to the Super Bowl. Not sure that's a great line of attack: in western Pennsylvania, that may actually make him more relatable to voters.