Sunday, March 31, 2013

Race matters*

So here is a story today that just seems to me it deserves a lot more numbers.  PG: Pittsburgh Mayor's Race Puts Focus on Black Hopefuls

So the basic stats. City of Pittsburgh 2010 population:  26.1% African American. That does  not really tell you much about voting impact.  For several reasons the population under age 18, and thus not yet voting eligible, is proportionally more African American than the older population. The impact of college students and migration factor in to that, but a bigger bit of analysis. Nonetheless the result is that the population age 18 and over is just 22.1% African American resident the city.  Still far from a final answer.  People tend to overlook the obvious that this is the primary coming up. So for a primary election, only those registered in a major party matter.  How big a difference does that make?  In general, a lot even before you talk race.

So for example.  4 years ago in the 2009 Democratic Party primary, the entire 7th ward (2010 population 13,907) had a total 1,399 votes cast.  Yet in the West End the 20th Ward (which had a very similar population of 13,261)  had 2,067 votes cast in the Democratic Party primary. Quick, without looking at a map, can you name the main neighborhoods of the 20th Ward?? The difference a result of the transient student population in Shadyside, but also the proportion of Republican voters there as well.  Voting registration patterns imply that the preponderance all African Americans resident in the city are registered as Democrats, so their impact is higher in the Democratic primary.

At this point folks usually point out to me that turnout among African Americans voters is lower than for others. It is a very resilient belief out there. The thing is that even if that may be true broadly across the country, I have looked pretty closely at local voting patterns by race in Allegheny County and just don't see it at all. If anything, in some circumstances voter participation among the African American population in the city of Pittsburgh is higher than other groups. Especially among 'younger' voters which in Pittsburgh is everything under age 50 or so.  Given the extremely low proportion of votes from those who are college students, who are less likely to be African American, the result is that AA voters are a big chunk of younger voters in the city.

Anyway, my estimate is that just about 30% of voters who show up to cast ballots in the city's  Democratic Party primary in May will be African American.  Still does not get you to a final answer as to what impact African American voters will or will not have.  It depends a lot on the pattern on the candidates of course.  4-6 strong candidates means only a shallow plurality is seeded to win.  Starting with 30% becomes a virtual lock. Whether or not African American voters support one candidate strongly is another question altogether. 

Again, from my older work, the conclusion was that African American voters vote lots of different ways. Sometimes they vote homgeneously if there is a candidate that has broad appeal.  Sometimes they split the vote nearly down the middle.  My calculations had the 2001 Murphy-OConnor primary in 1999 split the African American vote as close to 50-50 as is statistically calcuable. Literally 50-50. In the Wecht-Dawida primary for County Executive just 2 years earlier in 1999, the split was 89% for Wecht.
The lesson, or at least my lesson, is to not jump to conclusions that the bloc of African American voters goes any one way all the time. Sometimes they support one candidate strongly, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they go with the ACDC endorsed candidate, and sometimes they do not. It just isn't true that they always vote one way or the other and I presume it is a bit insulting to imply they do; even though folks who don't get AA support always tend to think that way. The data says otherwise.

* Apologies to Professor West.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Evermore Redux

Note the update on all things Braddock in Pittsburgh Magazine:Braddock Rising. It is a pale shadow of the earned media Braddock was getting a few years ago, but something. Still, you have to take with a grain a salt yet another headine of Braddock showing signs of life. (NYT even came in to do their own video once).  What really is really worth thinking about is that Tony Buba is now updating films he did on Braddock a quarter century ago.

The latest is the rose colored view... sort of. I note that Chris mostly stays away from what was the perpetual fiction that the decline of Braddock has someting to do with the decline of the steel industry in itself. We've been through that mythos repeatedly.  The article actually notes how the historic Braddock Library needed to be saved from demolition in the 1970s.  Note the timing if something needed saving 40 years ago.

It is painful to note that even developments since that article went to press bode ill for Braddock.  The article highlights what was the most concrete plan to date to bring new jobs to Braddock with the intended relocation of the Woodland Hills School District offices from Churchill.  Yet in news just a few days ago, that plan has already been cancelled. PG: Woodland Hills school board cancels plan for new offices.

But, not to be completely a nabob.  If you ask me the most exciting development in Braddock of late.  I have to admit I have yet to get in to see it myself, but there is a new museum down there I need to get to when it is open. Yes, I know. The location is technically North Braddock. Got it.

What I don't get at all is how little attention is being paid to the greater crime of late.  Nowhere else in the world would the deconstruction of a school district be so ignored.  Yet that is what is happening in Duquesne, PA where nobody wants to deal with the children soon to be left without a school district to care for them. Literally every child is about to be left behind. Just something that does not happen the developed world. Not much interest all around and even less media coverage? Not Braddock's school district I know, but just a stone's throw away. It is hard to take too much hagiography on the Mon Valley if that is the 'news' coming out of Duquesne.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Go North


Things that make Pittsburgh Pittsburgh - Murals of Pittsburgh


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Growing Creatives - Then and Now

Let me say this straight up that I am not taking sides in this, if there really are sides to be had. Still, the Pittsburgh genesis of all things Creative Class makes it noteworthy.  I thought we were past a lot of this, but a round of Rich Florida angst is generated from Joel Kotkin's piece in the Daily Beast: Richard Florida Concedes the Limits of the Creative Class.   Worth reading, but also worth digging into the referenced articles even more, including, or especially, Rich's recent article from January that Joel is using as foil.

update: the inevitable response is out from Rich, also on the Daily Beast: Did I Abandon My Creative Class Theory? Not So Fast, Joel Kotkin

What I have become more thoughtful of lately is how and why the genesis of Rich's Creative Class thesis came while he was still in town here. You can feel his 'eureka' moment in what started out as a far more mundane project where he asked some local focus groups of young professionals and students asking them why they were, or were not, considering staying in Pittsburgh. Could or would have the Creative Class thesis have emerged anywhere else? There is something deeper than the current haranguing in the answer.  

How long has Pittsburgh been conflicted over the role of human capital (i.e. people) in economic development? Here is a prognostication from a half century ago and the Economic Study of the Pittsburgh Region, Volume 3: Region with a Future (page 284). Not the same quote I have repeated here in the past, but from the same source. What will determine Pittsburgh's competitive advantage in the future? kinds of advantage that will be decisive in the latter twentieth century are within the Region's capability to generate on its own initiative. People rather than geography will play the largest role in shaping our future. (emphasis added)
Again that was published in 1963! I have written already that the message went flat on delivery, and figuring out why has become a certain obsession of mine of late. No matter what 'side' you are on, the epitome of creative (class) irony remains this 'promo' video:


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New migration data

Forget SimCity, play with real data.  Über data geeks will obsess on a new interactive migration mapper from the gnomes at the Census Bureau. Here is what it gives for Allegheny County. Much the typical pattern; note net outmigration to retirement destinations, but some interesting net gains from locales in California:

Note for the overly wonked.  This is all from ACS data; so still not the IRS county to county migration data which has yet to be released for 2011 even. So more than a year behind what was the typical schedule through the last decade.  They say it still is coming someday, though I have not heard any specific timeline.

However, new tool is neat and you can zoom in.  What I don't quite get is that Allegheny county appears to be a net gainer of population from the center of shale development in other parts of the state.


Quem são os 17 brasileiros que os EUA querem prender

Still my favorite fugitive.


Monday, March 18, 2013

When the Henry George club ran Pittsburgh - redux

OK...  so the WSJ today has this huge shout out to the Henrgy George vision of land tax: It's a Lonely Quest for Land-Tax Fans, But, by George, They Press On.  I'm sure the Georgists are happy, even if the actual facts in the article are a bit warped.

So the obligatory shout out to Pittsburgh in the WSJ article today:  
Mr. Hayllar was also once finance director in Pittsburgh, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary of having a George-centered system that applies a higher tax rate to the land.
Kind of lost in translation is that the City of Pittsburgh's tiered tax went away with the mass reassessment back in 2001. What's a decade when you are talking about a century I guess? So no celebrating except from those who oppose the whole concept. Of note also Hayllar was the city's finance guy for years before moving east. 

How big a deal was Henry George here?  Mentioned here in the past is that some described the Henry George club as having once run Pittsburgh.

Neogeorgism is neither really as dead as people think, nor as the WSJ article implied. A lot of new ideas in public finance are Georgist in disguise. Out in Philadelphia many have attributed the revivial of city living to the city's broad tax abatement. At the end of the day it captures a lot of how a single tax would work. I know some think we have the same tax abatement here, but it just isn't the same thing. I once argued we should really emulate Philadelphia's tax abatement.  Probably didn't come up at the mayoral debate over the weekend did it?  Point if anyone really gets Henry George mentioned at any future mayoral debate.

But some earned pseudo-media.  It turns out Pittsburgh is going to host the 2013 Conference of the Council of Georgist Organizations in Pittsburgh between August 6-10, 2013.  Save the date! Tell them you heard it here first.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

If you would like to hear these instructions again....

Sometimes it is the little story that says the most about changes in the economy.  So today just this: AT&T to close 2 Pittsburgh call centers, lay off 200 local workers

So 'only' 200 workers. Realize that the big 'cracker' plant many are focused on will have less than 500 jobs in itself when operating someday down the road. Just for context.

But a bigger point I've brought up before.  What occupation has really seen the biggest loss in the region over the the 30 years?  Some sort of millworker?  I am pretty sure that other than typesetter (once needed around the world) the biggest percentage loss locally goes to telephone operators.

Why so many fewer operators in Pittsburgh?  Not just has the number of operators collapsed in general, but Pittsburgh was once home to one of the major international call centers AT&T once maintained.  So no matter where you were, if you needed help with an overseas call, and that help was much more common in the past, you would likely need help of an operator employed in Pittsburgh.  Most are long since gone.  I presume the news today is more for customer service folks, but still the economics are much the same. Fewer and fewer people needed to keep the wheels running.  Otherwise known as labor force productivity.  True all around, but folks forget how much manpower (usually women of course) it took to place a single call. It was once a huge source of jobs all around.

I was going to post  again one of the greatest videos out there explaining the use of the newfangled rotary dial phones.  Reminds me of a question I've been meaning to ask the crowd. How many rotary dial phones are still in use in Pittsburgh?  I know of one successful small business here that still relies on a sole rotary phone.  Anyone know where I am talking about, or have examples of your own?

Instead here is something 'new' and more appropriate for the season. Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty using the "Picturephone" for the first time. Yes, Pittsburgh on the cutting edge of technology long before President Bush called us 'Knowledge Town'.  Note the proto collaboration tool at around 3:50.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Seeking Shipstones

Only a few may have noted a NYT piece last week on the esteemed Intel Talent Competition: A laboratory grows for young scientists.

Some, or most anyone over 30 may remember this was the WESTINGHOUSE Science competition from when it first began in 1942. Why is it not called Westinghouse any longer?  Because of a spasm of corporate hubris a fellow named Michael Jordan eviscerated all that was once Westinghouse. I will summarize thusly:  Finance guy takes over Westinghouse and didn't feel the love running an 'old' industrial conglomerate. (for Pittsburgh, really old)  He decided media was much more entertaining so Westinghouse bought CBS, and then became CBS; quickly shedding much of the core industrial divisions in order to pay for the pathological plan. If you want the longer version read Steve Massey's epic: Who killed Westinghouse? Required reading and really as important to Pittsburgh's economic history than the broader demise of the heavy industry. In the end, why would the new Westinghouse, otherwise known as CBS, care about such things as a science contest for kids?

What Pittsburgh lost was much of the research and development that once housed here by Westinghouse.  And no, I am not forgetting the pieces that have remained and their importance.  Westinghouse as named today is actually the remnant of the nuclear division as originally sold to British Nuclear Fuels Limited. It along with parts of the power generation division sold to Siemens; Wabtec the long legacy of the the Westinghouse air brake and other legacies all still here.  All significant, but even together do not make up for all that was lost. The very fact those pieces remain successful just calls into question the rush to sell them off in such a piecemeal way.

Why irksome?  In this day when more and more emphasis is placed on what is broadly called Technology Based Economic Development (TBED), the concentration of research that Westinghouse once.  Looking back through history, Westinghouse was one of the few companies that sustainably generated spinoffs and new firms here. Examples go from electric water heaters to the most advanced pulmonary ventilators. For a region that had long lagged in entrepreneurial activity, if you took out what Wesinghouse was responsible for, there would not have been not much left over the course of the 20th century.

Then there is the human capital that was lost.  The big Westinghouse R&D operation had some lasting impacts that go beyond the technology. You need large operations to really support entry level hiring en masse for young engineers. Smaller and even mid-sized firms tech firms can't really afford the costs of hiring whole classes of entry level folks.  I would argue that since W went away, there has not been any replacement for that in the local labor ecosystem.  It also was a sponsor for many of the few international immigrants the region was able to attract for decades prior to its end.  The region would be a very different place today if those folks had gone elsewhere.

All comes to mind because today because I see this in the Christian Science Monitor:. ...Why Batteries Matter. I just bet that if W was left intact in Pittsburgh, it would be at the cutting edge of that research.  Luckily, I do believe some of that research remains here.  My version of why batteries matter is actually a comment from Heinlein.  In reality there is no lack of energy on planet earth.  There is a lack of energy where it is needed, when it is needed.

Shipstone?  Try Google.


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Paging Border Guard Bob

Is funny. Pittsburgh reacts to bad news far more than good news. This may be the quietest response I’ve ever seen for the annual dump of population estimates for the Pittsbrughregion. Yesterday the census folks updated their population counts for the Pittsburgh region through 2012. The local coverage of it was quite muted including this from the PG: New Pittsburgh Area Residents Outnumber those leaving for 5th straight year , Trib ever more esoterically: Experts dispute Census find of 1% fewer births, and PBT: Pittsburgh region population slightly up. Each version buried deep on inside pages (or virtual) and without much reverb. There was a time this was a big news here every year.

So here is the thing. It was for the longest time an annual wonkish ritual every year when the census gnomes updated their annual population estimates for the Pittsburgh region. Inevitably the population was going down, even long after the worst of the jobs losses now 30 years ago.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, made several leaps to the conclusion that it all meant ALL THE YOUNG PEOPLE ARE FLEEING from Pittsburgh. It was a ritualistic gnashing of the region’s teeth that fed a very counterproductive angst. Given the annual news cycle, I really can’t fault the powers that be for conceiving of Border Guard Bob. Something (anything!) had to be done. It was like the prime directive to save the region. Energetic folks wanted to fix the problem. Even if Bob couldn't help, we were willing to try all sorts of creative things to achieve the same end. Creative being a bit of a euphemism. I actually wanted Project 84 to move ahead; I suspected someone would have gone to jail for kidnapping.

The problem was that they didn’t understand the problem at all. Getting to the core of population change was a big challenge and Pittsburgh was a very anomalous place by the mid 1990s. Starting around 1995 the Pittsburgh region became the first large metro region in the US to experience natural population decline resulting from more deaths than births. Note the parsing on that sentence: only LARGE metro region. Plenty of smaller metro regions, and innumerable rural counties all were in the same boat. But for large metro regions, only Pittsburgh with its extremely older age demographic was (and continues) tipping negative.

There were 3 big implied flaws in the logic results in the conclusion that young people were leaving… a conclusion viewed as tautological among most denizens of Pittsburgh and even more so by vast Pittsburgh diaspora itself. Vast mind you mostly from outmigration in previous decades. Note plural. So before you could ever conclude young people were leaving, you had to first discount the natural population decline. There are only two factors that mathematically impact population change:  migration flows and natural population change made up of births and deaths. Most other metros had natural population growth, so if you were comparing Pittsburgh to other places you might not realize how different our age demographic was and what it meant. Before you even began to think about migration, you had to separate out the impact of natural population on different regions.

Then not all migration is young people. We can be assured there was, is, and will be well into the future net outmigration of retirees from the region. Nothing we can do to make the weather better and retirees go to warmer climes everywhere and always. So before you concluded the numbers were young people leaving, you should net out what the impact is of elderly migration. Elderly migration is very steady year over year, so any shift in migration trends is very likely coming from migration of those under age 65.

So here we are. Now with 5 straight years of estimated positive net migration for the Pittsburgh region. It is a much older story than it seems. Officially the census estimates shows total net migration (including older and younger migration flows) into the Pittsburgh MSA becoming positive from 2007. One overly wonkish point is that the older estimates numbers from the last decade were never officially ‘backcast’ by the census bureau folks to account for what the 2010 census showed the population to be. Pittsburgh's population in 2010 actually came in a bit ahead of what was estimated. I suspect if recalculated and allocated that data back over the decade, the positive net migration for the region dates back to 2006.

Then still you need to take out the older migration flows which are universally net out from the region. I bet that net migration for those under age 65 turned positive a year earlier that that at the very least. So 2005 is my estimate, maybe earlier.

The third and more fundamental error that I think still confuses people is the impact of IN-migration vs. OUT-migration. Long before 2005 it was clear that Pittsburgh had no problem with the rate at which anyone was ‘leaving’. Seriously, there just was nothing untoward about the rate at which people were leaving compared to other metro regions.  I believe this remains the case. I am referring to IN-migration in total, which includes both flows of folks from elsewhere within the US and international migration.

What was pushing population downward for so long was the low rate at which people were COMING to Pittsburgh. That is an entirely different story than what was universally believed about young folks fleeing in droves. Somehow the verb ‘fleeing’ was always used to describe what was for many the single biggest issue shaping the future of Pittsburgh. Yet, it just was baseless.

So even back in 2002 I felt compelled to write things like this: Young people are NOT leaving Pittsburgh . So much was the cognitive dissonance of all of that that even experts felt compelled to push back.(I was told of other meetings conducted solely to figure out how to 'refute' that oped of mine, so much did people believe in the nabob narrative). For years people thought I was a bit nuts to offer any other narrative other than one of perpetual decline for the region.

I know it may seem like a ‘new’ phenomenon that even net outmigration has abated, but that reflects the fact that we don’t get a lot of relevant data until years after the fact. That and even where it has already been reported on, I continue to get folks tell me they really just don’t believe it. Some nabobism will never go away I know. Even, or especially, among those who think about the region a lot.

Congrats to all who waded through all of that.  I really may have to stop blogging if I can’t mention Border Guard Bob at least once in a while. Sad truth is that I think it remains the case that much of the region thinks young folks, especially young educated folks, inevitably depart Pittsburgh. It is a truth that remains as contrary to data as it is universally believed.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Where have you gone Joe?

So I have to admit I had a certain fondness for Joe Weinroth as mayoral candidate. Remember, he ran against Bob O in the general election 8 years ago. Takes a certain courage to run on principal in a race without any hope of winning. Still he wound up with 27% of the vote despite virtually zero $$ in campaign expenditures and even less support within the Republican party locally or beyond. Then you have to take into account that Bob O was an incredibly popular person going into that race, not just politically, but personally.

Contrast with what Mark DeSantis got just 2 years later despite unified and vigorous support of his party leadership and significant $$ raised and spent on the election. I am just guessing it was 100x the $$ Joe spent.  In the end he wound up with 34% despite running against a pretty bruised LR at the time. Some may remember all the bad PR over the previous year which certainly was responsible for a few of the % points over what Joe got in the previous cycle.

All comes to mind just because wonder if the Republican party will embrace its presumptive nominee for Mayor of Pittsburgh later this year. He certainly is a bit different from either Joe or Mark.. but no matter I suspect he will do better than, say, Harry Frost. Unless of course the endorsed Republican loses within the Republican primary as has happened in the past. Republicans can't really complain about losing elections locally when they lose within their own primary even. It means that even the few stout folks who remain registered as Republicans choose Democrats over their own candidates.

One question for any of the legal beagles out there.  What happens if one of the D's loses in the D primary but wins cross-filed in the R primary?

One advantage Josh has is the quality pre-produced infomercial paid for by National Geographic no less:



Sunday, March 10, 2013

My favorite robot


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Little Sort

So this is all a bit ridiculous, but it is what it is.  Given the obsessions of the moment, here are just some old  maps again reposted from the archives.   I'll tell you that I find myself staring at votes Carmen Robinson wound up with in 2009. And no, that is not to imply she herself is running.  Nonetheless, it becomes a determinative block of votes if indeed this all becomes a buckshot election. More on that below the maps. Also.....since we now have at least semi-serious names being floated from the North/East/South, what I wonder is why there are few mayoral hopefuls (past/present/future) from the West End?

Percentage Dowd 2009 

Percentage Robinson 2009

Percentage Peduto 2005

Percentage Lamb 2005

Percentage Kendrick 2005

But why am I fascinated by the Robinson results?  Here is a table I did over a decade ago for a court case showing my calculation of the election results by race in the long past Dawida/Wecht matchup in the Democratic primary for Allegheny County executive.


Monday, March 04, 2013

My mayoral prediction

Got your attention eh?

I do not lie, I have a prediction to make.  Drumroll....

I predict there will be far fewer actual candidates on the ballot than the current comment-o-rama would have you believe.  I mean, if Mark R. isn't running, is there really an election coming up?

Sorry if you were expecting more.

Ok.. skipping the existential, there are more practical issues.  The higher profile names being floated are all smart political folk by definition.  They realize the uncertainty of a wide open race (and that only one person can win in the end) and many won't want to risk losing... even potentially losing badly.  The lesser profile candidates are going to have a hard time getting to a Mendoza level of money and signatures given the abbreviated timing and having to begin from a standing start. I am not saying there will not be some new candidates since it really isn't that hard to get on the ballot (Les L anyone, or who remembers Josh P?). Just that there will be far fewer than some are pondering.  The real unknown factors are any intentional spoilers who don't really expect to win, but want to be on the ballot nonetheless.

Josh by the way had the best political slogan in years, and put pols twice his age to shame for the amount of earned media he garnered. Actually I don't think there was a candidate that cycle less than 3 times his age.  He must have set some record here in Pittsburgh for not only being the youngest candidate, but also the only voter under 20 in the same election cycle. Some say he got enough votes to sway the election for Murphy over O'Connor that year.  I don't think the numbers really add up to that conclusion, but who knows??

But let's say there is a horde of candidates.  It has happened before. It would mean a lot of pain since there is no way it could not devolve into a circular firing squad. From 24 years ago here is just one headline: Lucchino to Masloff: 'come clean', Flaherty attacks Murphy's loyalty. Jim there didn't even have enough column inches to fit in all the accusations flying that day between them all. 

More interesting from that 24 year old story is that the PG actually referenced a "Greensburg Tribune Review" poll for the race. When was the last time that happened?

addendum: Jim's old story also raises a question for today.  There has been no reporting I am aware of that anyone (D or R) is circulating petitions for the Republican slot in the mayoral primary.  Any sightings out there?


Saturday, March 02, 2013

Filter out the mud, and you can see through the water

I feel obliged to point out that the greatest leap in local government transparency here was put online by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority today:

Kudos.  Yes, I know even fully disclosed it is harder to read than standard Meänkieli, but still.

So I know the workers are kind of mad at the fee being paid to the management company Veolia, a company whose parent is the global French company, to run things down there.  But I have to say it has taken decades to get that modicum of public disclosure.  Worth every penny.

and yes..  for those who do not realize it, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer System is being run by a French owned company.  One of those things that must drive Josh Wander a bit nuts (hey, is he running for mayor as well?).  But I have to tell you, ever since being on the Paris Sewer Tour, I have no doubt the French know sewers.  Now if the PWSA organizes a Pittsburgh Sewer Tour, we really may be on to something. I'll be the first to sign up.

And if you really dislike the idea of the French managing things down there, I also bet they are not outsourcing their billing to Thailand Malaysia, either. Sorry, Thailand on the brain these days for some reason.

That being said. It's scary stuff.  If the details are too much, some of the summary stats are scary in themselves.  The super summary: lots and lots of debt. If you don't read it, a summary graph was in the publication American Water Intelligence last fall. (and NO, I do not read it either.)

and unfortunately, none of that is likely to prevent a downgrade of some of the PWSA's debt in the near term. Update: I may have been wrong and at least some debt is expected to get a slight upgrade.


second order effects

Where forth went the great Pittsburgh diaspora and to what effect? A great Pittsburgh reference in Grantland pretty much says Pittsburgh, or to be specific, a horde of ex-Pittsburghers, is the main reason professional hockey is in Tennessee.  See: The Union Forever- Hard times and hockey on the Nashville Highway

Speaking of the hockey...  Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle is in the news out in Sacramento: Mayor Unveils Comprehensive Plan to Build Arena and Keep Kings in Sacramento

Yes.  In Pittsburgh everything is connected.

.....and that is as close as you will get to a comment from me on mayoral machinations.  Base reality remains far more fluid than I think most realize; punditry is more fraught with peril than normal until the unknown unknown collapses some more. 

OK.. I lie.  Not punditry, but just sheer historical allusion.  PG story today on all the potential candidates suggests the race couldbe between Jack Wagner, Jim Ferlo, and Dan Onorato. Only in Pittsburgh (still) does 20 years ago seem exactly like tomorrow. Note even the byline.  It's the exactly part where Pittsburgh exceptionalism is unmatched.  That article today was just lacking a quote from Cyril Wecht. (another 20-some year old news clip of past Onorato/Wagner match-ups is this... is that the same Matt Drozd??)




Friday, March 01, 2013

The Dialectic of Numbers

I just have to point out the wonkish dielectic in the news yesterday.

Note in the PG is an interview highlighting how Pennsylvania's Department of Labor is highlighting the state's labor force growth: State chief of Labor and Industry sees promising numbers in economic data

Now note the much lower projected growth in the labor force that the state's Department of Revenue is relying on to forecast next year's tax revenues.  Actually, to be clear, the Commonwealth is actually projecting no growth whatsover in Pennsylvania's labor force.  Last I saw a 0% labor force growth is projected every year into the future.  Now go back and read the earlier link to the PG story yesterday.

Growth.... no growth...  growth...  no growth. 

Why it matters is something that impacts virtually everyone touched by the state's budget in any way. As we discussed earlier, which version is correct is  The most important number you never (ever) think about