Friday, July 11, 2008

missing stories

Where to begin?

It just isn't in me to start deconstructing what the Barden financial capitulation could mean for the city and region. At this point, the gaming board really has an obligation to provide at the very least some quick roadmap for what the resolution to all of this could be to make sense of it all. They can't fix the mistakes already made and we will have plenty of time to assign blame, but right now the sheer uncertainty of the way forward has the potential for ever more harm.


The indictments handed down in Bonusgate as it were have all sorts of implications. The headlines go to the indictment of Mike Veon who was the minority whip in the Pennsylvania House, but from a political standpoint he was already booted from office. He can't lose again and it's unclear what successors running for his old seat will be impacted by this. As much as it is not being focused on by the media, what is much more important politically is the indictment of Sean Ramaley. He is currently the nominated D for the 47th State Senate District which has been held by a Democrat, the retiring Gerald LaValle. Can't be good for your election prospects to be indicted in such a high profile kind of way. If a reliable Democratic senate district goes Republican in a body as small as the state senate (50 senators total) it really bodes really ill for Democrats in the Harrisburg. Every single seat counts a lot, especially given how rare it is for a State Senate district in Pennsylvania to ever 'flip'. Basically the Senate is already decidedly Republican (29R-21D) and pushing that to 30R-20D has real repercussions. A supermajority margin like that means a lot things will have to have clear Republic support to be passed, not much chance for swing voters in the middle to be the deciding vote. Does Ramaley remain the nominee?

Turns out I am not the only person asking that question, check out the video opining from the Beaver County Times on that topic. Turns out that the Beaver County Times has it's own YouTube channel. Cutting edge stuff for the Pittsburgh region's media.


OK. probably need to stick to the knitting a bit. Yes, lost in all the other news was the annual release of census data on the population estimates for municipalities in 2007. What is the headline? the City of Pittsburgh dropped in population from 313K to 311K.

The funny thing is that there is nothing really different about the estimate released today for the City of Pittsburgh and most of the other municipalities in Allegheny County. Within Allegheny County the percentage decline for the City of Pittsburgh was right in the middle when compared to other municipalities. 62 of Allegheny County's 130 municipalities had faster rates of decline over the last year while 67 declined a little less or grew a small amount. Other key points include a few things. These really are estimates. Nobody has gone out and counted anything really. These are small area estimates which are the hardest things to get right. County estimates are going to be much more accurate than municipal level estimates. Do I have any real reason to think the numbers are biased low or high? no, but at this point 7 years past the last decennial census we are in a period where there is a real likelihood these annual estimates will be proven to be off. How do they come up with these estimates? They take the county level population estimates which were released months ago and break up the population changes within the county based almost entirely on the number of building permits. Where there are new building permits being issued, more folks within the county are presumed to be moving in, where there is a lower than average number of building permits you figure there is lower growth or faster decline. Also, everyone keeps asking if we are seeing the impacts of say high gas prices on where people are living. These are estimates for 2007, so they are meant to mostly reflect the population in the middle of last year and can't reflect any changes since then. And given the methodology just explained, and given that building permits are applied for well before population movement happens, you really are seeing data reflecting economic decisions made earlier than mid 2007. So it may be some time before any data begins to reflect these things we are mostly conjecturing about such as a return to the city due to gas prices.


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