The Daily Bongo


Friday, May 8, 2009 -- Evening

I read a rather interesting piece in this week's digital edition of US News and World Report (released today). I subscribed to the print edition right before it became a really lame monthly magazine that concentrates on one topic. This past issue was about education. Really lame. I would cancel my subscription except for the fact that it enables me to get the weekly digital edition which has articles about current events, which is what I wanted in the first place. The piece I found interesting was part of a Take Two section that has a point/counterpoint on a topic. This week's topic was "Should Those Behind Torture be Prosecuted?" Clifford D. May took the point that they shouldn't. I thought his point that this is a politicized attack again a previous leadership's view point is a good one. As he said, what if President Eisenhower had prosecuted President Truman for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan because Eisenhower may have felt there might have been another solution to the problem? Also, it makes it difficult for any person to give advice or a legal opinion to an administration because the next administration my prosecute him or her for having a different opinion about a situation. And it does come down to a difference of opinion. The "torture memos" were basically a legal opinion of what would constitute torture. I have to admit that if I knew that someone had information about a terrorist attack and refused to give information, I would do what I could to get the information out of the person. It's all fine and dandy to pretend to live in a utopian world where being nice and sweet to terrorists results in them turning nice and sweet, but that ain't how the human animal works. If you can, check out the digital edition of US News and World Report.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 -- Afternoon

I don't know what is going on in politics in the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Bill Peduto has announced that he is withdrawing his name from the Democratic nomination list for Mayor of Pittsburgh. The primary is going to be held in May, but at this point, Luke Ravinstahl is running unopposed for the office. The sad thing is that no Republicians are running against him so this practically gives Ravinstahl the position. Peduto has said that he isn't ruling out running as an independent in November, but doesn't want to run now because he doesn't want to cause conflict in the Democratic party. The problem is that Ravenstahl has a problem with ethical issues. I wonder if Ravenstahl just is so inexperienced that he doesn't know how to tell lies convincingly or he is so stupid that he thinks he won't get caught in his lies. Either way, he is either stupid or a liar. That doesn't exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy about the future for politics in Pittsburgh. Also, Dan Onorato is running unopposed for the office of Allegheny County Chief Executive. Why is it that no one wants to run against these guys? I'm sorry, but I'd rather see a competition instead of just handing the race to someone. What really sucks is that the Republician party is so ill organized in this city and county that it can't seem to come up with a viable candidate for office.

Thursday, September 7, 2006 -- Evening

Today has been a very busy day for me. I went to work today, but took an early and lengthy lunch break to go to Bob O'Connor's funeral mass. I arrived at St. Paul's Cathedral around 10:30 am and waited for the funeral procession. While we were waiting, I saw Lynn Swann and Dan Rooney and his wife arrive. The horse-drawn carriage arrived at 10:45 with the procession of family and friends. The funeral mass took around two hours and 15 minutes. Father Terry, Bob O'Connor's elder son, gave a homily. Archbishop Donald Wuerl officiated. Bob's daugher, Heidi, and younger son, Corey, both spoke. Heidi was crying so much that it was difficult to understand her. Then Corey spoke, and he commented on how when his father's coffin left the funeral home, he realized it would be the last time he would see him. He said that the family put a Terrible Towel in the coffin with his dad, who was a huge Steelers fan and had season tickets since 1874 in the end zone. Judy, Bob's wife, unexpectedly, also decided to say a few words, and said that Bob loved Pittsburgh and thanked everyone for everything. It was very touching. After the mass, Bob's coffin was placed in a motorized hearse and the procession took a tour of the city on the way to the cemetary. The most touching moment was when Bob's hearse went past the local Coffee Tree coffee shop and everyone there raised their coffee cups to him in a 21 cup salute. Take a look at the pictures that I took of the event.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006 -- Afternoon

Some news is out about Bob O'Connor's illness. It seems that he had a very aggressive form of central nervous system lymphoma. It seems that the treatments that were given did nothing, and the cancer had spread to the spinal cord in the final two days. It seems that poor Bob's days were numbered from the beginning. Also, it appears that he had been having headaches for several months before seeking professional help. The thing that doctors say now is that even if he had gotten treatment earlier because of the aggressiveness of the cancer, it might not have made any difference. That brings up the question of whether his quality of life in the past two months would have been better without treatment. It's a hard call to make because I know that I would want the treatment because I would want to live. However, if you were told that it would only add a few days or weeks to your life with the life being poorer quality, then it would be tricky. I think that most people want to have quality time--alert and somewhat pain free. It just makes the story sadder to know there was no hope.

Sunday, September 3, 2006 -- Late Afternoon

Bob O'Connor is now lying in state in the City/County building today. The local television stations have been making periodic breaks throughout the day to show footage of area when Bob's casket is. The weather has been adding to the somber mood with overcast skies and chilly weather. What I am not happy about is that Luke Ravenstahl received a letter from the City Law department saying that Ravenstahl can complete Bob's full term. That is over three years. The problem that I have with it is that even though Ravenstahl is an elected official and was elected to his post on the City Council, I didn't vote for him to be mayor. I think that the fair move would be to allow Ravenstahl to be mayor until the next general election in 2007. That would give the Democrats and the Republicians time to gather resources and candidates for the race. Others are already planning on contending this statement because the language in the city charter is vague and can be interpreted several ways.

Saturday, September 2, 2006 -- Evening

Funeral arrangements for Bob O'Connor have been announced. There will be visitation at the City-County Building in Pittsburgh starting at noon tomorrow and running through (including night hours) Monday at 10 pm. After that, the family will have visitations at a funeral home in Shadyside on Tuesday and Wednesday. A burial mass will be held on Thursday at 11 am at St. Paul's Cathedral in Oakland. The mass will be given by Archbishop Donald Wuerl. As a memorial to Bob here in Squirrel Hill, ribbons are being placed on trees and light posts on Forbes and MUrray Avenues.

Friday, September 1, 2006 -- Evening

Very sad news this evening. Bob O'Connor died this evening at 8:55. Ever since he went into the hospital on July 6 for flu-like symptoms, he has been on everyone's thoughts and prayers. It's just hard to image at this point that Bob won't be walking down the street, a huge smile on his face, always ready to say hello or say a few words. My sympathies go out ot his wife, children, family, and numerous friends.

Friday, September 1, 2006 -- Early Morning

More information came out about Bob O'Connor last night. It appears that he was on life support earlier in the week, but that he has now been removed from it. According to the doctors instead of it being a day by day situation, it is now an hour by hour. I would imagine that he won't make it through the day and that really saddens me. I remember all the time that I've seen him on the streets here, always smiling and happy. After he won the Democratic primary last year, he held a party right here in Schenley Park. As my boyfriend and I were driving home by work, there was Bob--a picnic going on in the park, standing by the roadside with a sign that said "thank you", beaming and waving at all the people who passed. I guess that's the thing that we should remember about him. That he was happy and that he actually achieved his dream.

Thursday, August 31, 2006 -- Evening

Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor is not doing well at all and was given the Sacraments of the Sick today. That used to be known as the Last Rites and was given to people who were near death. Everyone in the news media is in agreement that we are basically on a death watch right now. I feel really sorry for Bob. He was truly a nice guy, and a fellow Squirrel Hill resident. In fact, he lives just a two minute walk from my apartment. You could always see him walking the streets and getting coffee at the local coffee shops, and he frequented them all. He was always approachable and friendly, and even answered some of my boyfriend's questions about the political scene a few years ago. While he was running for Mayor, I saw him on the street in a powder blue jogging suit, straightening out one of his campaign signs. As he said, he needed to keep on eye on them to make sure they were still properly placed. A nice, good guy, and a real shame that he is so ill and had such a short term as Mayor. As so many people in Pittsburgh, I am going to mourn the loss of a kind soul.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006 -- Morning

Pittsburgh Mayor, Bob O'Connor, has suffered another setback in his bout against brain cancer. This is the saddest story because O'Connor has wanted to be Mayor for years. He has run before, only to lose in the primary to someone else, and now he had his big chance. He was in office for only abit over six months, when he went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms. He was probably thinking that it was something minor--get some drugs, maybe one day enforced rest in the hospital--and then it turns out that he has primary central nervous system T-cell lymphoma, which is really rare, and usually deadly. Supposedly, they were going to start treatment and then send him home, but he hasn't been home since the beginning of July. Then they found out that the chemotherapy drugs weren't working and the tumors were spreading. Last week, they put a shunt into his brain to drain excessive fluid, and then started radiation therapy. Late yesterday, his condition was downgraded from stable to serious. He has an infection from the shunt, and it was replaced late yesterday afternoon with another that has been treated with antiobiotics. He is also being given medication for seizures. Now they had to test for the seizures and aren't commenting on O'Connor's level of consciousness which leads me to believe that he is not conscious. The other news that is unsettling is that the seizures might not be caused by the infection, but from a worsening of the cancer. Poor Bob's travails have really made me think about life. The guy has wanted this job for so long, and after having it for such a short period has such problems. The only thing that is good is that he did make it to his dream. Imagine what it would be like to never realize your dream--to live life without making the attempt or succeeding. At least he had a few months. I'm hoping that he has many more, but it is not sounding good at all, and I'm preparing for the worst.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005 -- Early Afternoon

In local news, Bob O'Connor won the Pittsburgh Mayoral race. It's not like this was a surprise because the city is predominately filled with Democrats, and the Republician entry, Joe Weinroth, was campaigning by stealth and was doing everything to stay below the radar. I have to admit that O'Connor is a personable chap, and comes from the Squirrel Hill area of town (and just lives a few blocks from me). I'm hoping that he will help the city instead of hurting it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005 -- Mid Afternoon

If you live in the Pittsburgh area, this information will be interesting to you. The Allegheny Regional Asset District funding has been frozen for this year at last year's level. What does this mean? Well this is the money that goes towards the entertainment services of the County, such as museums, libraries, parks, etc. I have don't have alot of problems with my money going to some of these entertainment programs. The library is the best example of bang for my buck. My tax dollars go to the library, and then just by registering for a library card, for free, I can then borrow books and DVDs for free. Now I do have problems contributing to some of the other entertainment services that are listed because not only do they take my tax dollars, but they also charge alot for County residents to attend. If a place takes County tax dollars, then they should give a discount to County residents.

Monday, September 26, 2005 -- Afternoon

There hasn't been alot of news about the upcoming Pittsburgh mayoral election. Basically the Democratic party controls the city, and the person who wins the primary for the Democratic party usually sails into the job with little challenge in the November general election. This year there might be abit of a change up though. The Republician candidate for mayor, Joe Weinroth, has gotten the endorsement of the firefighter's union. The reason for the switch in support was because Bob O'Connor, the Democratic nominee, refused to meet with the union until after the election (which will be held on Nov. 8). The news about this endorsement is that the firefighters really do vote as a bloc, and it seems that they were the group responsible for the last mayor's win. The thing is that O'Connor shouldn't count on a win before it actually happens. In the city, things have just been as quiet as can be. You wouldn't think that there was going to be an election for mayor in six weeks time. I hope that this starts the flurry of activity so we can find out what the candidates hope to do for the city. I am really not happy with O'Connor's assumption that the race is won.

Thursday, June 2, 2005 -- Afternoon

Bob O'Connor is scheduled for knee surgery this coming Monday. It appears that he has had problems with his left knee since injuring it while playing football as a teenager. Good luck, Bob!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 -- Evening

Bob O'Connor won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Pittsburgh. O'Connor managed to gather half of the votes while both Peduto and Lamb split the other half. This evening on the way home from work, O'Connor was on the street corner where Scheneley Park leads into Squirrel Hill. He had given a thank you picnic for his supporters, and was at the corner with a sign and waving a thanks to voters. That's the thing that I like about O'Connor. I don't know if that will make him a good mayor, but he does niceness about him that is very endearing. Also, he is very dedicated to his community, and that's just what Pittsburgh needs.

Sunday, May 15, 2005 -- Evening

The primary election for Pennsylvania is going to be held this coming Tuesday. The election for mayor is going to be basically decided then. Why? Because the city is basically a Democratic place, and there isn't much of a chance for a Republican to win in the general election in November. so, whoever wins the Democratic nomination will probably become mayor. Although I like some of the things that Michael Peduto says, I think that I have to give my vote (if I were a Democrat) to Bob O'Connor. Basically, Mr. O'Connor says that the force of his personality will make things better in this city because he will develop relationships with the state and business that will be to the city's benefit. The thing that I have to say is that I have seen Mr. O'Connor in action, and I think he is basically a nice guy. He is always wandering around the Squirrel Hill area, and has always been nice to everyone he sees. Two years ago, my boyfriend was becoming an American citizen, and had some questions about the voting process. He approached Mr. O'Connor in a local coffee shop, and had a lengthy talk about the process. For the past three years that I have lived in Squirrel Hill, I frequently see Mr. O'Connor patronizing local businesses, and being very involved in the community. That's why he would get my vote.

Monday, April 18, 2005 -- Afternoon

I missed the Pittsburgh Mayoral debate yesterday on television, but here are some highlights of the meeting. It seems that all candidates are saying that they are going to cut taxes while also bringing back services. Most didn't seem to be clear on how they were going to do it. I can only assume that they are going to cut areas where there is fat, and that will leave money for the other items. One of the ways to cut the spending will be the merger of government offices between the city and the county. There are three Democrats running in the primary and only one Republican. The candidates are Bob O'Connor, Michael Lamb, and William Peduto for the Democrats and Joe Weinroth as a Republican. So far, I like what I hear from Bill Peduto. Both Bob O'Connor and Joe Weinroth are from the Squirrel Hill area, the place that I now call home.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005 -- Evening

The city Mayoral race is heating up. There are three candiates running for the Democratic nomination in the May 17 primary. The city has severe financial problems and the candidates gave us some insight into how they would handle the problem. The three candidates are Michael Lamb, Bob O'Connor, and William Peduto. I have to admit that I like what I hear from William Peduto. It seems that he is willing to make tough decisions that are needed to turn things around in this city. All candidates say that they favor in lowering the parking taxes in the city that are just extremely high.

Saturday, March 19, 2005 -- Evening

There is a move afoot to merge the city of Pittsburgh with Allegheny County. What this would do is elimate some row offices that duplicate efforts and hopefully save the city and county some money. If this proposal is actually undertaken, the population for Metro Pittsburgh would be 1.27 million people and would become the 7th largest city in the United States. There have already been some consolidations such as moving the city's 911 call center to the location for the county 911 center. Also, the Pittsburgh Magistrates Court was eliminated and made part of the Common Pleas Court system. The city has a major problem. The downtown area has no business in the evenings or on the weekends, and there have been plenty of talks of ways to rebuild the business distrrict. I can tell them what the problem is. No one lives downtown, and when 5 pm rolls around, folks want to go home to be with their families. To stay in the downtown area is not really feasible because public transportation is at a bare minimum, and parking fees are horrendous. The downtown area is like a ghost town by 6 pm, and that increases the unease that folks feel because it isn't a very safe feeling. So what needs to be done is to lower parking fees, and try to get some folks living downtown to make start to make it a place that folks would want to be in after 5 pm, and during the weekends.

Thursday, March 3, 2005 -- Evening

Bob O'connor, who has the Democratic endorsement in the Pittsburgh mayoral race, has a plan to build a streetcar line between Oakland and the Downtown area. There is alot of traffic back and forth between the two areas, and the thought is that putting the money into the streetcar idea will promote development and growth in the areas along the streetcar line, and that it will be an attractive way for students from Oakland to have an easy way to get into Downtown, thereby promoting the businesses there. I would think that it might help out with the public transit problem in the city. We have the most expensive public transportation system that provides little service for the amount that is paid by the users. I think that I'd like to see more details about the plan before I decide if it will actually accomplish what they say.

Thursday, February 24, 2005 -- Morning

Locally, the news is that Lynn Swann has formed a campaign committee to run for governor of Pennsylvania. The election will not be until 2006, and it appears that Swann will be running as a Republican.

Monday, February 14, 2005 -- Evening

Bob O'Connor has announced that he is going to run for Mayor of Pittsburgh. So far, O'Connor has my vote. He comes from Squirrel Hill, and is very visible in the neighborhood. My boyfriend approached him one time at the local Starbucks, and Mr. O'Connor actually gave him some unbiased information about politics in Pittsburgh. If you want to have any influence in the local elections, you really have to be registered as a Democrat. The reason is that most of the local offices wind up being filled by Democrats because the majority of folks in the area vote that way. So the real decisions are made in the primaries as opposed to the general election.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004 -- Afternoon

Tom Murphy has said that he is not going to run for re-election as Pittsburgh City Mayor today. That is wonderful news because he really hasn't been good for this city. The city is suffering financially, and Mayor Murphy has done plenty in helping it down that road. It's really not clear on who will be running for the post, but more than likely the person who will win the election will be a Democrat because the people who live in the city are predominately Democrat. You have to admit that maybe what we need to get is a good fiscally conservative Rupublican in the office.