Friday, July 17, 2009

Gryffindor or Slytherin?

logger "Infinonymous" kindly gave me Hogwarts points I don't deserve when he or she posted :

Mr. Mayo's powers evidently have grown to the point at which he can create links that tie directly to, and highlight, particular portions of P-G articles.

I can't take credit for that. It's some web voodoo the Post-Gazette's implemented on its own.

Try this: select and copy some text in a PG story, then paste it in another document. The result? When you paste, you get not only the copied text but a customized link to the story it came from --- a trick that's both handy and a little creepy at the same time. The virtual "yellow highlighter" effect it generates when you use the customized link does help to show that copied text in its original context -- but how is the newspaper's website commandeering the tools of my browser or operating system?



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sign of the Times: Lamar Responds

The following news release came in earlier today:

Lamar Advertising Appeals Decision Involving Grant Street Signage

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (For Immediate Release) -- Lamar Advertising today filed an appeal to the Commonwealth Court from Judge Joseph James’ order of June 24, 2009 involving the electronic signage at the Pittsburgh Parking Authority Grant Street Transportation Center.

“We are taking this step to protect Lamar’s legal rights in this matter,” said Stan Geier, Lamar Vice President and General Manager. “We spent a considerable amount of money on the display after we received permission from the city. If the city no longer supports the project, as a good corporate citizen Lamar will respect that decision. However, if that is the case, we are entitled to recover our expenses from the city of Pittsburgh.”

Lamar began construction of the display in February 2008 based on a permit that it received from the city in December 2007. In April 2008 the city of Pittsburgh issued a stop-work order.

The appeal will preserve Lamar’s legal rights to a recovery of its project expenses.

“We received a permit for construction of this display, following a well-established procedure with the city of Pittsburgh and with the support of the city administration,” Geier said. “Relying upon that permit, we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the display in early 2008. We have been damaged by the city’s decision to change its mind. We cannot simply let the matter drop.”

Because of the legal delays, Geier said Lamar will begin removing electronic components of the display from the Transportation Center. The company will attempt to re-use the components in other projects, which would mitigate the amount that it will otherwise seek to recover from the city of Pittsburgh.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

City Government Summer Hockey: 5 on 4 Power Play

Imagine the shock waves in Washington if U.S. Senate Democrats used a filibuster-proof majority to approve a raft of President Obama's appointees without interviewing the nominees first.

The Post-Gazette's initial web story on Tuesday captures a flavor of the unusual nature of what happened in city government:

"Pittsburgh City Council divided sharply today before taking the unusual step of opting not to interview 12 nominees to city boards prior to approving them."

Today's PG account notes that about half of the large number of simultaneous appointments had already been approved by City Council in a matter of a few weeks:

Mr. Ravenstahl made 21 nominations on June 22, and council interviewed and confirmed nine of them within the usual two- or three-week time frame.

Council members Jim Motznik and Theresa Smith are quoted in the PG:

Mr. Motznik said the nominees "have been scheduled for interviews, only to have them canceled the night before" by Council President Doug Shields, calling such tactics "the gamesmanship, the political crap that we have to go through."

"I know what my community wants," countered Ms. Smith. "They have elected a mayor of the city of Pittsburgh, overwhelmingly," and mayors pick board members.

The Trib's council coverage doesn't touch on the no-interview approval process, opting for a four sentence story about the opportunity to apply for a new city commission.

Over on Pittsblog 2.0, Mike Madison offered analysis weeks back in June about the background of some of Mayor Ravenstahl's appointments. Council's action passes on the opportunity for citizens to hear from the nominees.

There's conversation about the story in the comments section of this post by on The Pittsburgh Comet.

2 Political Junkies has critical commentary and a biting editorial illustration.