Tomorrow’s the anniversary of the Atlantic Charter between Britain and the US agreeing to mutual goals (1941), VJ Day (1945), the Social Security Act was passed (1935), the Cologne Cathedral was completed (1880) and the Navajo Code Talkers Day. Birth anniversaries include biologist Ernest Just (1883) and the comic ballad Casey at Bat author Ernest Thayer (1863).
I had one hell of a day yesterday. For some reason, payroll decided to take the money out of my account a day early. Luckily, Slovak Savings Bank is a small bank that watches out for their customers and we got everything straitened out quickly. The two door refrigerator in the cold kitchen died for the third time this weekend and I went to Penn Fixture on Monday and got a replacement. Didn’t measure the clearance at the door/ice machine space and I’m not even going to re-live that. In course of battling the new reefer, that statue of a chef my nephew gave me that sits on the ice machine was knocked down and fell on the little table next to it I use as a desk. Spoiler alert, I keep my computer on it during the day. After we got the new refrigerator in, they left and I got it cleaned up and turned on; I went to check my e-mails. We cracked the screen on my computer. The mechanics were (are) fine, but I can’t use the Icons to access the different programs, can’t type or do anything. I am so incredibly dependent on my computer (and business is HUGE this month. Even bigger than last month-over 200 room nights sold already!). So I went to HH Greg to get a new one. Of course the computer I wanted they were out of stock, they only had the floor model. The sales guy said it would take an hour or so to un-install the floor model stuff and return it to factory specs. I went back 2 hours later to get it and it was only 50% complete. The manager said it takes up to 5 hours sometimes. I threw a minor (but polite) fit and they gave me a monitor I can use until I finish check-ins tonight and run back out there to pick up the new computer. That’s what I’m using to finally finish this post. Hopefully I can get the new computer up and running tomorrow with all theprograms I use.
It must be in the water. You’ve heard me complaining about the developer Buncher in the Strip District that wanted all kinds of subsidies to develop his 55 acres behind the Terminal building. And he also wanted to tear down 1/3 of that historic building to put a road to access his property. That was the only thing acceptable to him, he even threatened not to build the project if he didn’t get his way. Yea, right, like he’s going to walk away from such a massive undertaking because he couldn’t tear down the Terminal Building. I generally referred to him as the Evil Empire. Now Charles Hammel from Mount Lebanon who owns Pitt-Ohio Express in the Strip is using a loophole to cheat the city out of $2M in transfer taxes. He received $2.9M in state grants, $1M in a URA low-interest loan and a ten year tax abatement to build the wildly successful (ie profitable) Cork Factory Apartments. Now he wants to do a slight of hand in selling it undervalued to avoid paying taxes you and I have to pay when buying or selling a property in the city. The other Evil Empire player in this game, Dan McCaffery, CEO of MaCaffery Industries says, and I quote “It’s another one of those instances where you do something that’s perfectly legal and those in government have a different view.” And he followed up with “I think if it’s not something that should exist, they should go about changing it instead of complaining about it.” Yo, Hammel & McCaffrey, just because you can afford high priced attorney’s on the backs of city tax payers subsidies, doesn’t make it right. Play the game right or move to another city. If any of you know either of these dirt bags, please direct them to my blog.
And then there’s the River’s Casino. They have paid $795M in taxes and donations since opening six years ago. Not only do they live up to the tax code (not that they have much choice here), they have honored their commitments to their neighbors ($6M), they’ve paid $50M towards Consol as well as donating cash and event space for local charities like the libraries, Humane Society Riverlife and many others. They’ve subsidized the free “T” service from the Northside through Downtown (Along with the Steelers and ALCO Parking). They also support local businesses by partnering with us. All of this with no public subsidies, tax deferrals, or other government give aways. Why don’t Pittsburgh’s Evil Empire businesses learn from decent businesses and and be community leaders instead of money hungry oligarchs?
As part of his 31 day trip across America, Willie Baronet was recently in Pittsburgh on his We Are All Homeless project. He drives around and offers homeless people money for their signs. He pulls up to homeless panhandlers and offers to buy their sign, if they come to terms, it becomes part of a piece of an art installation like attaching them to a wall, ceiling, creating digital iterations, etc. Willie is a Dallas based artist that teaches creativity and design at Southern Methodist University and has collected around 800 signs since he started this endeavor in 1993. His goal is to create an installation for each city he’s visited on this trip. If I hear any details of a Pittsburgh installation, I’ll let you know.
On August 16th from noon till 4 pm, The Homewood Cemetery will be celebrating receiving the arboretum certification, there’s only 23 in the entire country. Founded in 1878, it is the final resting place of many Pittsburgh notables like the Mellons, Fricks, Benedeums, DL Clarks as well as jazz icons Erroll Garner and Walt Harper among others. There’s 78,000 interred in the well tended cemetery. To reach the arboretum status, the facility must be well maintained, educational program must be in place, a plan in place to replace trees as they pass on so there’s always a mature canopy, the trees need to be diverse and inventoried and the facility needs to be free and open to the public. WQED’s Rick Sebak will open the ceremony and there will be refreshments, a scavenger hunt, hoop rolling and entertainment by Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh. Allegheny Cemetery is the oldest and most visited, but a trip to Homewood Cemetery will not disappoint you.
Chloe Kondrich was born in 2003. She had undiagnosed Down syndrome that became apparent when she was born. The hospital staff was very uncomfortable when Chloe was born (probably feeling guilty they didn’t diagnose this ahead of time). They listed the the things Chloe wouldn’t be able to do and a nurse gave Chloe’s mom printed material from an outdated website. When the Kondrich’s got involved with staff specializing in Down syndrome, they learned all the things Chloe could do. They started advocating for the rights of children born with Down and their parents. So much so, Chloe was in Harrisburg and signed “Chloe’s Law” with Governor Corbett on July 18. Chloe’s Law requires practitioners to give up to date information on Down syndrome as soon as it is diagnosed in the fetus or the when the undiagnosed baby is born to the parents so they are better equipped to deal with the challenges they are facing and not be left in the dark. A very heart warming story about Chloe is Chloe’s dad is a retired Pittsburgh Police Officer and they’re friends with Sue Sciullo, wife of slain Police Officer Paul Sciullo. The Sciullo’s lost a baby during pregnancy 46 years ago. Chloe told Sue “I see Paul in my mirror” and when Sue asked what she saw Paul doing, Chloe said “He’s holding the baby in heaven.” Sue & Paul’s loss had never been mentioned to Chloe.
Next Saturday, August 16 from 9am until 1pm Penn State’s Master Gardeners will be hosting their annual Gardens in the Park Field Day in both North and South Parks. They will be highlighting basil, garlic and tomatoes, but it’s a great way to meet this gardening experts and field questions not easily answered at a nursery (and you don’t always get accurate information at many nurseries.) More than thirty Master Gardeners will be on hand to answer your questions. Just remember if you are bringing a sample, be sure it is in a zip lock baggie. You don’t want to expose other plants to a problem.
Be good and enjoy,