Hi,

Tomorrow’s birth anniversaries include Benedict Arnold (1741) and Albert Schweitzer (1875).  It is Ratification Day (1784-the act that officially ended the American Revolution and established the United States) and it is Uzbekistan Army Day, a national holiday there.

Well, we won, somewhat.  Buncher has withdrawn their request for $50M Tax Increment Financing.  Buncher said “the public’s negative perception of the TIF was too great to overcome.”  At least they seem to be starting to listen to us.  I would like them to abide by the current code calling for a 95 foot set back from the Allegheny River and to gussy up their plans so it’s actually something we can all be proud of.  There is at least one study out there that architect John Conti quoted awhile back that could be helpful.  When you are planning a development as massive as this, in the grand scale of things, they could come up with some designs that really wouldn’t cost that much.  I’m fairly flexible on this, but my big thing, still, by far, is their plans to demolish a third of the Terminal Building.  (I would consider stopping my whining if they even just cut a minimum hole through the Terminal for just a road and sidewalk, leaving the bulk of that third in tack).

Speaking of TIF’s, the URA is starting to work on a $100M TIF to get the 178 acre site of the former LTV mill in Hazelwood off the ground.  The funding would be for some brownfield work, and installing some of the streets and utilities.  That’s a huge chunk of very valuable land that could really turn into something just below Oakland and five minutes to Downtown.  The development by Almono LP, so named after the ALlegheny, MOnongahela and Ohio Rivers seem more interested in outside input than Buncher and this project might turn into a jewel for the city.

For anyone that’s followed the St Nicholas church saga of the past ten years, they took the bells out Tuesday in preparation for the church’s demolition.  In case you haven’t been following, a group of ex-parishioners didn’t want PennDot to tear it down for the route 28 rebuilding project.  After years, PennDot threw in the towel and redesigned the path of Route 28 that included moving railroad tracks.  Then the Diocese didn’t want the building anymore, the parishioners couldn’t raise the money to create their museum and then wanted PennDot to buy the building and tear it down.  Then the Northside Leadership Conference joined the push to turn it into a national Croation heritage museum.  The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh turned down the latest offer from the city to purchase the building.  It’s a shame, it’s a beautiful building, but I guess enough is enough.

Having lived in South Florida for ten years and really enjoying the Everglades, I always pay attention to what’s going on there.  In particular with preservation and restoration efforts.  What they’ve done over the years has been massive to correct all the mistake we made trying to tame the Everglades to our needs.  Well the temperature and ecology is ideal for Burmese pythons.  People buy the pythons as pets, they get too big and the fools have for years turned them loose in the Everglades.  (It’s the same mentality of putting your batteries in the garbage, I don’t see where the mercury goes, so I don’t care).  Well the pythons don’t have any natural predators in the Everglades and have been breeding prolifically.  There are no small animals left in large areas.  So they are having the 2013 Python Challenge with a $1,000 prize for the longest Python and a $1,500 prize for catching the most.  At first glance that may seem like a good solution, but I’m wondering how many native snakes are going to fall to this and more than that, this competition is open to basically anyone.  There is going to be a lot of non-seasoned hunters running around the Everglades with guns.  Seems to be a recipe for disaster to me.  400 people have registered for this event that begins this Saturday and runs through February 16 at the Miami Zoo.  More info on their web site.  As an update (I wrote this the other day), 800 people have signed up by the opening yesterday.

The live TV over the web company, AEREO, Inc is coming to Pittsburgh soon.  What they do is grab free TV broadcasts that are sent over the air and they have the technology to bring it in to individual tiny antennas and then stream it to their subscribers.  Each subscriber has one of these antennas assigned to them, that’s how AEREO is skirting the copyright issues.  A New York judge has given tentative and somewhat skeptical, ruling in their favor.  So for $8 you get 29 stations, it can come with a DVR service at a higher fee.  I have no love for the big cable or satellite companies, but this really is just not right.  But when you look at all the shenanigans the cable/satellite companies pull on us, maybe it’s just desserts.  :)

Pittsburgh came out on top of the list of cities with the most home owners that actually own their home.  38.6% of Pittsburghers have no mortgage, compared to a national average of 29.3%.  Two big factors are our aging population and affordable housing.  Tampa came in second at 33.2% and Philly came in third at 27.6%.

Ivy League college Harvard has a pretty amazing program targeting lower income, high achieving students.  Not only are they offering free tuition, they also offer free room and board.  Pretty incredible.  Harvard is the only one I heard about, I would assume other Ivy League schools have similar programs.

Gotta run and enjoy this 70 degree day (on my thermometer).  Going on my front porch with a glass of wine and a book, :)

ed

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