Hi,

December’s over and we’re half way through January.  I may survive this winter yet.  :)  And I checked the two week extended forecast and we have a lot days coming up in the upper forties.  :)

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the founding of the Civil Service (1883), Dian Fossey’s birth anniversary (1932), the beginning of the Gulf War (1991), the anniversary of Nebraska passing the Prohibition Amendment giving the majority needed for it to become law (1919) and the observance of Martin Luther King’s birth (January 15, 1929).

Bait and Switch.  That seems to be the mentality of many of our elected officials.  John Weinstein our long time County Treasurer has passed up his cost of living raises since 1999.  That doesn’t mean he’s given them up, they’ve been laying in wait for him to cash in this year for a 35% pay raise.  Oh, and that goes of Chelsey Wagner, our new County Controller.  She’s been in office just over a week and “didn’t know about this coming”.  But did I mention that she did have time to check comparable salaries and she says she’s in line with her peers?  A $24,000 a year raise would be a decent paycheck for one of our city residents that can’t put food on their tables.  Personally I think this $50,000 could be better spent on city services.  As a side note, Sheriff Mullen declined the raise.  He had no comment on this, I would say it speaks for itself.  One out of three concerned about the city.

The Fort Pitt Museum is reopening (I didn’t know it was closed).  :)  Since the Heinz History Center took it over from state control, they’ve been evaluating the operation and needed to close down for a couple of weeks for some housekeeping and maintenance issues.  They did dig through The Carnegie’s extensive troves of articles in storage (there’s about 10,000 items on display compared to 22 million in storage) and found two pistols that were actually used there by Colonel George Morgan and Captain Isaac Craig when the  British took control from the French when it was Ft Duquesne.  The museum has basically doubled attendance since Heinz took it over from 11,000 to 22,000 last year.  It’s amazing what a little marketing like putting signs up and caring can do.  Good for you Andy Wasich, President of the Heinz History Center and Alan Gutchess, Director of the Fort Pitt Museum.  If Mr Wasich or Mr Gutchess happens to see my post, I recommend giving the Fort Pitt Museum it’s own web site instead of a subsidiary to the History Center’s.

What a smart man the Senior Judge Stanton Wettick is (yes, I’m being sarcastic).  He delayed implementing the assessment until 2013.  The county has been battling for ten years on creating a new and fair reassessment.  I’m OK with that.  Finally, under repeated court orders, they haven’t even completed the reassessment and are implementing it for this year.  (They have only completed Pittsburgh and Mt Oliver, the rest of Allegheny County isn’t even finished yet!)!!  Notices of the increased assessment were sent out and residents and businesses had less than two weeks to start the appeal process.  Is there anyone else out there that thinks ten years for the county to create new assessments and we only have twelve days for us to aborb and digest what this means to us is a little unfair?  “They” say most property taxes will remain the same or actually go down because “they” will have to adjust the millage.  I have to make a decision about contesting my new “property value” without knowing what the actual impact will be on my tax bill.  I understand Judge Wettick’s frustration with the City/County over this.  But I believe it is wise to let a year pass so we can see what it all means to each of us.

Why do we have a city at Nome, Alaska?  They had an early freeze and their traditional barge shipment of fuel oil couldn’t be delivered in November and Nome would run out of fuel before the ice breaks in May/June.  And at this point, the ice is only going to keep getting thicker and thicker.  So there’s a 370 foot tanker coming from Russia with 1.3 million gallons of fuel oil.  The Coast Guard sent an icebreaker to cut a path through the ice for it.  They are sitting a couple of miles from Nome’s harbor deciding on the final details on how to get within a mile of it.  Once they get within a mile, they will have to position and secure the ship so the ice can reform around it to keep it stable.  Then lay a mile of transfer hoses from the ship to the fuel depot.  I would imagine we are somewhat subsidizing this.  It’s like when I was in Florida and the federal government subsidized my hurricane insurance.  I personally apprciated it, but thought it was unjust for the rest of the country.  If you want to live somewhere, that’s fine.  But the bill should be on you.

Kevin Quigley, president of the Washington based Peace Corpse Association said they are trying to track down the approximately 100,000 past Peace Corpse volunteers they have lost track of (there’s an alumni of approximately 250,000 past Peace Copse volunteers).  If you are or know any past Peace Copse volunteers, your/their information can be updated by visiting http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/findthe250k/.

I have Google Alerts for The Parador and Ed Menzer.  Anytime someone types that in a search on the Internet, Google sends me an alert of this occurrence.  Ed Menzer doesn’t come up that often, but there’s almost a daily Alert on The Parador.  Unfortunately, it usually is not my Parador, there’s a lot of other paradors out there.  The reason I bring this up is there was an article in today’s Trib about the power of social media in today’s world.  They attribute Verizon dropping their new $2 service charge when customers pay by phone or over the Internet to pressure from social media.  It didn’t take long from when Verizon announced this new fee until they dropped the whole thing.  It was just a matter of days.  The article attributed it mainly to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr to Verizon’s quick reversal.  I say it was my blog!  :)  Seriously, I would imagine Verizon  has a much more sophisticated version of Google Alerts and I’m sure they didn’t say “Ed Menzer’s complaining about this new fee, we better stop it”.  But I do bet they have filters out there that saw me and probably hundreds or even thousands of other bloggers were complaining.  The same thing happened this fall with Bank of America’s planned increase in fees and NetFlix new two tiered pricing structure.  In addition to all the complaints they companies got, NetFlix in particular had a lot of cancelled services.  Power To The People.  :)

Well, that’s about it for today, have a great night and better tomorrow,

ed

 

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