Friday, February 13, 2009

the other side of the coin

The Canadian Press has an interesting story on the recent history of Pittsburgh's Nova Chemicals. See: Once-mighty Nova Chemicals needs rescuer in the Financial Post. It's fascinating because gives the perspective of a region that lost a corporate HQ to Pittsburgh, not the other way around. Nova isn't doing so well at the moment as is the case for a lot of US chemical* firms, but Calgary where Nova used to have its HQ, sounds like it is exhibiting just a bit of schadenfreude. Looks like some investment from a Canadian public pension fund is being considered, likely because there still are a lot of Nova jobs located there.

* Yes, I know the industry wants us to call it the chemistry industry or something like that. I kind of refuse. I'm sure the marketers had some focus groups telling them the term 'Chemical Industry' had bad connotations for some... but I just can't get past thinking about experiment set for kids when you call it the "Chemistry industry".

About that empty sports arena (no not ours)

Remember when there was talk Kansas City would steal away the Penguins from Pittsburgh. Well, now folks are talking about the New York Islanders moving to KC. KC remains a story in the saga of stadium economics. Some folks get angry at the public financing of our relatively new stadia, but in KC they built the Sprint Center without a major tenant. Imagine how angry people would be here if we spent the money for any of our new venues without teams for all of them. Could we ever wind up with an empty major venue? I think all of the contracts with the professional teams here are pretty solid at keeping the actual teams in town. Arguably the Pirates are the relatively weakest team within their league... but recession or not most do not question the future of MLB. I would think recession pressures may hit hardest on hockey which as a league is the most financially beleaguered. Not long ago, especially during the strike, it was not inconceivable for pundits to consider the possibility that the NHL could fold. Not much chatter of that at the moment and a recent Canadian editorial says the NHL "will feel the effects of the recession less than other sports". But it's an interesting question if the NHL will be around in its present form in 30 years.

Census 1, Commerce Nominee 0

Amid all the hubbub over the withdrawal of Judd Gregg's nomination to be Commerce Secretary, there are some more interesting stories at the nexus of the census and politics.... at least locally. Read this story covering comments made by Acting Lt Governor Scarnati on the importance of the State Supreme Court election coming up. He tells a local GOP group in Centre County that the High Court Election is Vital.

State Supreme Court races, much like the races for most state row offices, are often low profile affairs. But redistricting is coming up we all know. In Pennsylvania, it seems likely the state house and state senate are going to go into redistricting season with leaderships split D and R, respectively. That may bode ill for a easy process as far as redistricting occurs, which is rarely easy anyway. It is likely the state supreme court will have an importrant role in how redistricting plays out. As a result Scarnati calls the race for an open supreme court seat "the year’s most important election". When it comes to the big picture and certainly for national politics over the coming decade, he may be right.


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