Thursday, August 31, 2006

Who is left in the city...

So I am just looking at some recent census data from the 2005 American Community Survey that has been coming out over the last month. Here is a factoid of note. The household population (which excludes those living in institutions, college dormitories, and other group quarters) of the city of Pittsburgh in 2005: 274,140 (I seem to have made that number up.. correct number is 284,366)... thats it. and of that number 32K are enrolled in college or graduate school. I am a little curious how many of remaining city residents have some tie to the colleges and universities located in the city.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

even difficult questions need to be asked

Well, it seems the time has come for people to begin talking openly about what will happen when BO can't serve any longer. It's curious that the media has mostly shyed away from the topic, which I suspect is in some ways a reflection of respect for BO. Nonetheless it's getting a little incredulous to believe BO will ever come back to office full force.

There are some public rumblings. WTAE ran this blurb last week that seems to challenge the conventional wisdom that the City Council President would serve out the remaining term of a mayor who leaves office. It seems that one can interpret section 206 of Pittsburgh's City Code such that a special election could be held in the Spring of 2007.

That seems plausible although the argument that the election could be in the spring/primary election begs the question of why there was not such a special election following Mayor Caliguiri's death in spring of 1988?? By the logic propounded in that blurb, there should have been a special election in the spring of 1989, which was in fact the first municipal election after Mayor C's death. There was no such election. (has this section been updated since then? anyone?) Was there even talk of one being held? It could have been a dual election as is common enough, with a special election to fill out the remaining term being held at the same time as the primary election for the next term. but again, there wasn't any such special election. Sophie masloff served through the end of term Caliguiri was elected to.

How big a difference do the two interpretations of the code make. If a special election had been held in spring of 1989, it would likely just have had one candidate from each of the two main parties. The candidates would have been picked by the parties respective committees, not in a primary election. So who won the Democratic endorsement for mayor in 1989? Tom Flaherty, who would therefore have been a reasonable pick to win the endorsement/nomination in the special election as well.

The city could have had a very different counterfactual history. If Tom Flaherty was the only Democrat onthe ballot, he would most likely have won the special election, but he still would have been in a wide open field for the primary, which Sophie could still have won. TF would have then taken office immediately from Sophie in the spring, while Sophie remained the Democratic nominee for the full term starting in 1990. Tom could have served served through the end of the year when a victorious Sophie would have taken over again. but then looking ahead TF would have been in a much stronger position to run for a full term on his own 4 years later. TM could easily still be in the state house.

Anyway... if the ambiguity of city code leaves something lacking.. it really isnt that much better at the Federal level. I know everyone thinks it's pretty clear: if President leaves office, the VP takes over.. if VP is not around the speaker of the house is next up and so on. That may seem clear, but there are some footnotes to all of that and some odd possibilities about what could happen in the presidential succession process that are not talked about much. Maybe in another post I will try and explain that, or at least try to explain why I even know about such things.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

groundhog day in the assessment office

Catching up on some news items from last week. Something that got some attention, but which could have a big impact across the state is the news about Judge Wettick scheduling hearings on the constutionality of current property assessment system in use. My take is that this is all an exercise to get this case moved quickly to appeals and possibly directly to the state supreme court. Worth keeping an eye on.

I understand some may question the importance of historical context in current debates.. nonetheless, it's really hard to understand the current issues in the current property tax debates without appreciating how we have arrived at this point. I like to point out what I consider the most comprehensive study of Allegheny County assessment system ever completed... The problem is that it was done in 1976.. This report is:

Report of Committee to Study and Report on Assessment Practices, Procedures and Policies in Allegheny County. Otherwise known as the Jaffurs Report. by Joseph D'Anna, Robert Gaitens, John McAllister, Edward L. Ivory, Donald J. Lee, Alexander J. Jaffurs, Richard Longini, Gordon Mulleneaux, Emerson G. Hess. June 1976. (Warning, that link will give you the file, but its a really large file scanned from paper.)

So this has been going on a long time. Many if not most of the problems still being dealt with were idenifed back then. Various solutions were proposed, but few fully implemented for a long time if ever. The saddest thing I found in it was an explanation that even inthe late 1970's, the record keeping was abysmal. For example, the only graphic documention on most parcels were Works Progress Administration (WPA) line drawings from the depression. No joke.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Back to the Future

Many of you have seen this already. But one of those projects that will never be finished is an attempt to make some sense of the old papers/reports and sundry research that fills my office. There is just an immense amount of stuff that has been done in the past that is just lost from the region's collective memory. That would be ok except we have such a strong predilection to repeat the past. To address this I am slowing trying to scan and sort some of these reports, at least the ones that exist in my office. The general reference for what I have so far is online at:

http://www.briem.com/FileIndex.html

Like I said, its a work in progress, but I thought I would point out three things I scanned this week. Each is 20 years old or more, but these are remarkable if only because one could write these same reports today. Barring a few tweaks and name changes, they would still be apropos. These three reports are:

Strategy 21. Pittsburgh/Allegheny Economic Development Strategy to begin the 21st CENTURY. a proposal to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. June 1985

High Tech; Future Over the Next Decade in Western Pennsylvania. Roger S. Ahlbrandt Jr. Associate Provost. University of Pittsburgh. Paper Presented at "The Global Economy" The Third Annual COnference on Industry and Society, Indiana University of Pennsylvania. October 24-26, 1984.

A Cry for Leadership. Roger S. Ahlbrandt Jr. Associate Provost. University of Pittsburgh. Presented at the Joint Ventures in Housing and Economic Development Conference. Co-Sponsored by U.S. Deparment of HUD and ACTION-Housing, Inc. October 23, 1984.

I could point out interesting or at least ironic facts from each of these.. but the Strategy21 document from 1984 does have as it's main transportation priority as building something named the Mon Valley Highways... which would beget the Mon Valley Expressway. It's interesting for a lot of reasons, but does point out how most of the key decisions for that were made decades ago.

If you have read all that.. you may be interested in a more systematic attempt to sort out the history of economic development literature in the region. The best place for that is the Regional Economic Development Bibliography and Data Base (TRED/Biblio) which was put together by Jim DeAngelis and Sabina Deitrick. If there are any wayward funders out there, I would love to both update that database and also make it available in a searchable online database as well. Any takers?

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

reading list

So I suppose I should admit this blog is no longer just a provisional obsession.. and if so it deserves a little more structure. So I have added a 'reading list' on the right hand side there. Honestly, a lot of my material comes from these sites. These are just a few sites or publications that relate to labor force issues, urban policy and economic development. And no, they are not meant to be exhaustive in any way.. if anything I selected sites/publications that are not so obvious to the general public, although I know many who read this blog probably are aware of all of these. But with a little luck I have at least a few in there that are new to you. enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

buses, bikes and highways.....

Lots of transportation related items to choose from today..

Port Authority Budget: I suspect that everyone reading this blog knows this all too well, but the Port Authority is facing a cataclysmic budget shorfall in its current fiscal year. This is no secret and received its due mention in the PG story yesterday focusing on Steve Bland, PAT's new executive director. but to be clear, without some major change in transit funding, PAT is facing a shorfall of 60+ million, or roughly a sixth of its FY07 budget. This will be story #1 at some point, but because that point is more than a week in the future, we can pretty much ignore it for now.

New Bike Lanes! Kudos to Bike Pittsburgh for efforts to put bike lanes in Bloomfield. See the informative post on the BikePittsbugh Blog. I have to say I am rather amazed that this is happening given the history of inter and even intra-neighborhood politics in the east end. As someone who bikes a fair amount I like the idea of bike lanes in the city. but as a driver it's important to note that a lot, if not most Pittsburgh streets are just too narrow to make for safe multi-modal passage. Liberty avenue really isn't the worst place to bike as it is. Probably the only reason bike lanes are possible in Bloomfield is becasue there is some width to the avenue now. Where you really need bike lanes are, not surprising, the places where they are the least likely to be put in. Baum Blvd. for example is just painful to get around given the narrowness of the lanes and the speed at which people go by. I went flying over my handlebars and into the intersection at Millvale and Baum once as a car pulled an unexpected Pittsburgh left once. and no, the media and paparazzi didn't care as I lay there on the steet.

New Transportation induced development. Per this article in Commercial Property News. There is a big new warehouse being planned for the area where 60 meets 76. Supposedly the redesignation of interstate 376 is the reason for this. Economists generally assume some rational behavior in markets, thus it's a little hard to see why just changing signs makes that big a difference... but nonetheless, someone thinks it mattered in this case.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Bolans sold?

..... at least the building. In one of my earlier posts I mused about the history of Bolans based in East Liberty. An anonymous comment said they were still operating, but with a more corporate focus. However, I see in the real estate transactions that the main building at 6018 Penn Ave. is being sold to East Liberty Development Inc. (ELDI). Anyone know the details?

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

More on city pensions

The Sunday New York Times has another article in their series on public sector pensions, mostly focusing on NYC though. There is a paragraph in the article that is really telling:
On their face, New York City’s pensions do not look particularly extravagant. As an example, a teacher retiring at age 55, after 30 years of service, could expect to receive a pension of about $51,000 a year today. The New York City police, who are compensated extra for the risks they face on the job, can retire after 20 years, at any age, with pensions of about $53,000 a year.
So somebody considers teachers and police in New York City getting pensions of well over $4K per month as not being extravagent yet you hear some who say public sector pensions in Pittsburgh are too high. I pointed out in an earlier post that current general municipal pensioners in the city of Pittsburgh receive an average of $800 per month. Is that really an unjustified amount? I think sometimes people confuse info from other places and just assume we have the same issues here. I don't care what the differences are in the cost of living between the two regions... it's just not possible to lay the blame of Pittsburgh's underfunded pension liability on its payout rates.

Yet even at these much higher payout rates, the City of New York's pension plans are in relatively better financial shape than Pittsburgh's. The pessimistic version discussed in the NYT piece still pegs their pension funding at over 60% of their expected payouts, that isn't good but it is far ahead of the ~40% for Pittsburgh's plans.. why the difference? There have been much more appropriate contributions (relatively of course) made into the NYC pension plans over the decades. Underfunding of the city's pension system is now the core problem in the city's current fiscal miasma.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

conflicted Pennsylvania voters?

Let's consider the conflicted Pennsylvania voter.. It's something of a mystery why Pennsylvania votes for diametrically opposed candidates, sometimes during the same election season. One example is the 2000 general election where Gore won Pennsylvania over Bush, but at the same time Santorum won over Klink. Yes, I know people have strong opinions about those particular candidates, but it's just one example of a larger pattern. There must be a sizable core of voters who never vote for one party consistently. A sign of independence for sure, but its hard to figure out what that group is really voting for. So here is a map from the 2000 election with a compiled statistic of the difference between the percentage voting for Bush in the Presidential election and the percentage voting for Santorum in the Senate race. Note I have ignored all the other candidates in this computation. If people just voted for candidates in the same party, then the difference in the two races would be near zero, which are the districts in white on this map. The few green areas are where Bush outpolled Santorum and shades of red/orange/yellow indicated areas where Santorum outpolled Bush. Now I know that the major statewide campaigns going on currently have modeled this to death internally. I am not sure that Allegheny County really helps explain the statewide results much anyway. Note that this map does not tell you anything about which candidate did better in different districts, the colors only represent the difference (in percentage points) between the two Republican candidates..

If I were to obsess on this a bit (too late I suppose) I would run the results through a simple regression with income, age and some other things to see if you can see what is driving this 'discrepancy'. I have not looked too hard, but I would not be surprised if there is not something in the public domain describing the mythical Pennsylvania swing voter. Anyone know of anything out there?

but if someone out there is interested in this some more. What I would need to do this for real are statewide results by voting district for these particular races or others. I do have statewide demographics by voting district. If someone wanted to match up their election returns data with this, let me know. I am sure there is a paper in it somehow.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

quake consequences

Not much news on this here, even though it's not very far away. Over the last month there has been a spate of small earthquakes in NE Ohio. Here is news about one just the other day. That's kind of interesting in itself. It reminds me of a a factoid I talk about when teaching labor economics. There were some unexpected results of an earthquake in NW Pennsylvania a few years ago. In 1998 there was a moderate earthquake around Jamestown, PA near Pymuntang Lake.. or about 100 miles NNW of Pittsburgh. It was actually the largest earthquake ever recorded in Pennsylvania, though it did not affect Pittsburgh much at all.. I don't think anyone was hurt, but one big result was that in some places the water table was affected. I am not a geologist, but as I understand it, the quake caused some water tables to drain away. So all of a sudden there was a rash of homes and businesses which were dependent on wells that went dry. The solution is usually to re-drill the wells to hit the water table at greater depths. It was briefly kind of a problem in that there were only so many skilled well-drillers out there and all of a sudden there was a big spot-shortage of these workers. These guys were being pulled out of retirement and from far away to come in and redrill the local wells. It's a great example to show how, in the short run at least, labor markets are pretty specialized for many skills/workers. At the same time, it would not have made sense to start training too many more well-drillers becasue it was a very short term phenomenon for the most part.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Greening the Rustbelt

In the current issue of the Next American City is this article: ENVIRONMENT: Greening the Rustbelt. It is worth a read for some obvious reasons, but note it has a focus on Meadville, PA. Also just out is this piece in the journal of the International City/County Management Association on Sustainability in Public Management. It's kind of interesting because it represents the continued mainstreaming of sustainability in the public sector.

Just to connect this to my recent post where I mentioned Duisburg Germany's Landscape Park.... I didn't get into the environmental part of the Duisburg story. Landscape Park has a focus of trying to re-integrate the industrial artifact into a natural ecosystem. As such it has a lot of unique environmental projects within the park. And as big as it is, Landscape park is just one tiny piece of a greater project to rehabilitate an entire region in the Ruhr Valley, or Ruhrgebeit, that was devastated by centuries of concentrated industrialization. If you think the Mon is dirty at all, it just does not compare to the Emscher river is where all industrial effulent from the region was shunted for a century. In parts it was nothing more than a cement lined canal that was rendered lifeless long ago. The Emscher Park International Building Exhibition which created Landscape park was a 10 year project to preserve over a hundred sites in the Ruhrgebeit and begin the renaturing of the river itself. For those who know how dirty all coking operations are, one of the sites is a former coke plant converted into an art museum. If I had not seen it myself, I would not have believed it was possible. Collectively, the preservation of sites and renaturing the river may be one of the largest environmental reclamation projects ever attempted.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Freakonomics reviewed

So I am violating my self imposed quota of no more than a post a day.. but for those who have read or heard about Freakonomics, the book by Steve Levitt at the University of Chicago. Ariel Rubinstein, who is at NYU and Tel Aviv University and may be described as game-theorist-in-chief these days, has just sent out a blasto with his rather scathing review the Levitt's book. Worth a read.

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Transportation Factoid of the Day

This is not anything new, but there are a lot of fascinating little factoids in the Census' 2002 Fast Facts for Pennsylvania including:

  • Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) registered in Pennsylvania increased 40 percent between 1997 and 2002.
  • Pennsylvania has one SUV for every 9 licensed drivers.

    A longer profile of transportation data the state is produced by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. From this you can learn:

  • Total number of highway bridges in Pennsylvania: 22,092
  • Total that are structurally deficient: 5,418
  • Total number that are functionally obsolete: 4,022
  • Total functionally obsolete or structurally deficient: 9,440 (42.7% which is higher than all but Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.. but all 4 together have a total of 7,049 bridges, so less than a third of PA.)

    and
  • Total miles of track in the Philadelphia area rail-transit systems: 1,151.5
  • in Pittsburgh: 44.5
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    Monday, August 14, 2006

    Pittsburgh expansion friendly!

    Pittsburgh is ranked as the 9th most attractive msa (among almost all msa's I think) for new investment and business expansion per this article from Expansion Management magazine. What is the explanation. In general the article says it is:
    These metros have the best overall secondary school districts, the greatest concentration of workers with post-secondary advanced and technical degrees, high quality healthcare at a reasonable cost, a place where employees can enjoy exceptional quality of life at a reasonable salary, the best logistics infrastructure, and the best business climates as established by the state legislature in terms of taxes and spending.
    Which gets back to one of my chronic complaints about how people usually benchmark education levels for Pittsburgh. It is good for someone to recognize that the Pittsburgh region, and even more so the city, has a significant concentration of highly educated workers. This gets missed often when you see overly simple benchmarking statistics on this. The usualy way one mesures aggregate educational attainment is the proportion with a higher degree in the population 25 and over. Guess what. Pittsburgh has a lot of elderly who are a) out of the workforce already and b) of a generation where higher education was not the norm. We usually show up as 'average' but that is more a refelction of our age demographic. If you look at young working age population that same proportion shows up much higher compared to all other metro areas.

    Also in that there is a commentary of interest here in the region about the interaction of government and the promotion of biotechnology industries. It is from a couple months ago but I must have missed it when it appeared in April.

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    Friday, August 11, 2006

    The "None of the Above" Party

    I'll get back to doing maps on Friday.. but this bruhaha over the potential Green Party candidate for governor is worth some analysis. Makes you wonder, just how many people are in the Green party these days anyway. In Allegheny County the number is 1,745 or 0.2% of the 874K total registered voters. What are the overall trends in voter registration and party affiliation?

    Sometimes you hear people saying that Allegheny County is becoming more Republican. It's one of those ideas that you have to wonder if it comes from any real data or is just reflecting some anectdotal knowledge... or I suppose it could be someone's wishful thinking or fear. So here is the current Allegheny County voter registration by party compared to the party affiliation of new registrants over the previous year(note this is the best I could get this table formated):

    PartyRegistered Between 5/05 and 4/06All Registered Voters
    Consumer00.0%740.0%
    Democrat9,06952.3%531,96260.6%
    Reform00.0%2140.0%
    Green800.5% 1,7250.2%
    Independent1711.0%8,0790.9%
    Libertarian1450.8%2,9840.3%
    All Other3,19818.5%22,2792.5%
    No Party270.2%57,9186.6%
    Patriot00.0%1010.0%
    Republican4,62626.7%251,40728.7%
    Socialist Workers 10.0%480.0%
    Constitutional00.0%4020.0%
    Constitution80.0%1030.0%
    Total17,325877,296


    It is important to note this is just a starting point to get at the question of whether party registration is changing, but it does have one curious result. The recent registrants are not any more likely to be Republican, but they do seem less likely to be Democrat. Not only that, but the nominal result is that they are not registering as true independents but mostly under "other" parties. Data like this makes me wonder about the "All other" party description. It would appear that these new registrants are not choosing "independent" or "no party" but are listing some other specific party that is not listed. Given that this list includes the Green, Reform, Socialist, Conservative (which is different from Republican) and other parties what other party is attracting these people? I honestly would not be surprised if this is more a reporting issue than anything else. Maybe there is some confusion over the difference between "independent", "other" and "no party". I suspect the registrants coming in via motor voter or all those who don't select any party get plopped into that generic category? If you ignore the "all other" new registrants in the calculation, the margin between the percentage Republican and percentage Democrat is nearly identical to the total voter registration base.

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    Thursday, August 10, 2006

    blatant, yet uncompensated, advertising

    Just wanted to sneak this in before the summer ends... Anyone even near the Strip District or Lawrenceville on a hot summer day (or evening) really ought to visit Klavon's Authentic 1920's Ice Cream Parlor on the corner of 28th and Penn. You will not regret it.

    but here is a trivia question that, as best I can tell, even Google will not help answer. Who remembers Mierzwa's?

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    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Sic semper ero debitum - part II

    The NY Times is starting a series on the state of public pension systems in the US. They focus on San Diego just because there has been talk of the pension system there driving the city into Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The sad truth is that the leading edge of public pension underfunding is Pittsburgh more than anywhere else. San Diego’s problems are in many ways transient compared to the structural deficits in Pittsburgh, with a declining population and a total pension liability of at least $850 million. The city has minimal wherewithal to ever re-fund its pension funds without outside help.

    Why is the city pension system in such trouble? Many think it is because the pension system is overly generous somehow. Yet, the average general municipal pensioner in Pittsburgh receives less than $800 per month, many get even less. That's it. Police and fire pensions average a little higher, but many still get less than $1k/month. In many ways, local pension benefits pale compared to some other cities. What did Pittsburgh in was a combination of long term population decline which eroded the tax base, occasional raiding of pension funds over the years to keep the city budget above water, and chronic under-funding of the pension system over decades.

    The irony is that the Act 47 process has had some deleterious effects on the pension system. Because of Act 47 mandated changes in the retirement system, many found it advantageous to retire years earlier than they would have otherwise . Thus a lot of relatively young retirees have started drawing down pension fund cash earlier, and will draw it down for a longer period of time, than they were planning to do. One other impact of the early retirements, the state's contribution into the city's pension system is much lower than it would be. The state contribution is not based on the number of retirees, but on the number of current employees, which in the city's case has been plummeting. By my estimation, the city's share of state pension aid is down by 25% just from 2003. Oh, and lest I forget... $350+ million in debt was already floated to refund the pension in the 1990's. The problem there is that it was borrowed at precisely the wrong time in the late 1990's, not the early 1990's, so the city never benefited from the stock market gains of the mid 1990's. All of the shortfalls must essentially be made up by additional city contributions from its operating budget.. money that just isnt there as you peer into the future. Ever wonder why the 5 year budget that was supposed to be completed last year is still uncompleted.

    One factoid that puts this in perspective. As of Jan 1, 2005, city police had 804 current employees, but over 1,663 retirees receiving benefits. At more than 2 retirees per current worker, I challenge anyone to find such a screwey ratio in any other large public retirement system in the country. That ratio has probably increased given the additional retirements, and minimal hiring, since 1/1/05.

    If you are crazy enough to have read all of that, you can read all the excruciating details in the required state actuarial reports for the city's 3 major pension systems which I have scanned here: the 1) Police, 2) Fire and 3) General Municipal pension funds.

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    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    gas up

    For those who have not seen it, this is the Department of Energy's official breakdown of what you are paying for at the gas pump. This is not Pennsylvania specific, and it is from last month, but its a good starting point to understanding gas prices. How does the price of oil in $/barrel as we see in the news (will today be an all-time record?) relate to the price of gas? A barrel is 42 gallons and a barrel of oil makes around 20 gallons of gas when refined. So, back of the envelope, a dollar per barrel change in the price of oil ought to add say 3-5 cents per gallon at the pump. It's not that simple of course, but roughly. You can track the current price of oil here. It seems like ancient history right now, but compared to the $3+ per gallon now, the last time US retail gasoline averaged under $1 a gallon: the week of March 22, 1999 which is not that long ago. It came close again, hitting $1.04/gallon in December of 2001. In Pittsburgh, you may be able to located where the cheaper gas is being sold at Pittsburghgasprices.com.

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    Monday, August 07, 2006

    should've taken the money and ran...

    Just a snippit of the burgh's economic history via The Deal's Blog . It was exactly 5 years ago that a mysterious buyer, Emil Bernard, offered to buy the nearly bankrupt US Airways. Problem was that the potential buyer had no known assets with which to buy the company. A few years later the SEC would sue the poor fellow for making fake offers like that. The question is... if I just decided one morning to go issue a press release saying I was going to buy say, Alcoa... would someone in the media take me seriously at all? I hope not, but you wonder. If it's a slow news day, you never know.

    Looking forward, it's worth noting the stories that went by last week that said the possibility of further US Airways mergers was contemplated, albeit briefly. Could still happen... Delta? Northwest?

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    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    How to get Steelers tickets...

    ... well, not this year, but this may help next year. Only because I suspect the readership of this blog is so low will I tell the 'secret' of how to get game tickets every year. Mine just came yesterday. For those on the waiting list for season tickets, the Steelers will give you the chance to buy a few tickets each year to a couple games on a first come first served basis. So each summer when I get the order form, I make sure to mail it back the very next day. Being obsessive, I actually go the extra step of taking the letter over to the post office serving the Steelers' office on the North Side, go to the counter and ask the person working to put it directly into the Steelers bin so as to avoid the delay of sorting. May be excessive, but it works. Remember when the Steelers used to sell their extra playoff tickets to those who waited in line, sometimes for days, outside Three Rivers? They stopped that because of the problems that would arise and now the same system works for playoff tickets as well. It must be a decade since I got on the waiting list. Not sure why I didn't think of this when I was an infant, which is probably the only chance I would have had to get season tickets anytime soon. I figure I might have a chance at season tickets when I am retired.. maybe.

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    Wednesday, August 02, 2006

    Contagious popular nonsense

    Lacking anything really worth blogging about today: here is something I had drafted, but thought a little too cynical to post, even for me.... Some wisdom worth taking to heart is in this article in Slate last month: The (ongoing) vitality of mythical numbers. It reminds me of an old Soviet proverb I was once taught:
    В Правде нет известий, а в Известиях нет правды.
    Note I thank the late Alistair Cooke for the title.

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    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    telecommuting

    This would be an easy straight line for someone: I seem to have been made into a tropical storm . Let's hope I fade away. This one has a nasty early projected path.

    .. but something transportation related. Via post on governing.com is an interestring article by Joel Garreau, of Edge City fame, in the Washington Post on changes in rural demographics due to telecomuting. While I can't really say this is a trend in or near Pittsburgh it's something to think about. Anecdotally, I have met more than a few people who live in Pittbsurgh but are actually employed in some far flung metro area, from Long Island to San Fran but are in jobs they can do at home or via some travel. Maybe for Friday I will try and derive some reverse commuting map out of Allegheny County to see if anything interesing pops out. In the 7 county Pittsburgh MSA, the census estimates that somewhere between 25K and 35K people work at home.

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