Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mark Harris Campaign Event

What: Campaign Open House
Who: All are invited for a chance to meet Mark Harris, candidate for State Representative
Where: Campaign Headquarters (300 Cedar Blvd, Suite 206 - intersection of Cochran Rd and Cedar Blvd)
When: Thursday, September 7th - 7PM

Join Mark for an open house at the campaign headquarters. All are welcome for this event to get a chance to ask Mark questions about his campaign and the future of our state. Mark is the Republican nominee for State Representative in the 42nd district. You can RSVP by calling 412.253.7312

Mark Harris

Friends of Mark Harris
PO Box 13051
Pittsburgh,PA 15243
(c) 412.389.9966
(aim) MarkDavinHarris
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Friday, August 25, 2006

Traffic Anxiety in Mt. Lebanon

Traffic "calming" proposals make a lot of people tense. Read yesterday's coverage in the P-G South section.

I have to confess that my reaction is -- traffic "calming" in one neighborhood sets a very bad precedent for the rest of the town. The "whack-a-mole" effect, which moves "calmed" traffic to some other neighborhood, is an obvious concern. So "calming" measures follow, again. Where and how do we draw the line?

People I don't know drive fast up and down my street and sometimes don't stop at the stop sign at the corner. I'd be delighted to see the Lebo police department set up shop nearby and write a bunch of tickets for moving violations. But as much as I prefer relative peace and quiet, I'm not about to put up "keep out" signs. Personally, I like the semi-urban feel of Mt. Lebanon, with the congestion, the occasional unanticipated disruption, and the antiquated road engineering that comes with its being an older suburb.

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Trib Skewers Lebo Project

From today's Tribune Review:
Lance: To Mt. Lebanon officials. They continue to toy with a wacky idea to give a developer millions in taxpayer dollars -- through a tax-increment-financing package -- to help him build some very tony condominiums on a tract of land that government control has kept off the tax rolls for three decades.

The developer says that without the $4.5 million subsidy for condos that will have an average sale price of nearly half-a-million dollars, he'll lose money. Hello! That's the marketplace saying it can't support the project. So why should taxpayers? There's a highly technical term for this -- Daffy Duck economics.

Mt. Lebanon can do better. A good place to start would be to have the parking authority that controls the property sell it.

And earlier this week, the Trib's news coverage of the Zamagias project.
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Mt. Lebanon FD Prepares For Fourth Citizens Fire Academy

The Mt. Lebanon Citizens Fire Academy should dispel myths created by television commercials that portray firefighters as making chili and guzzling coffee while waiting for the occasional fire call.

The free, 10-week course, open to all Mt. Lebanon residents, businesspeople and people who work in the municipality, and then to others if space permits, covers such topics as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, fire prevention, and operating a fire hose and extinguisher.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Lebo: HS in the News on Dealing with Sports-Related Staph Infections

The Philadephia Inquirer used the Mt. Lebanon HS experience to frame this feature on the rise of MRSA infections.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ultraviolet Filter OK'd For Mt. Lebanon HS Pool

The Mt. Lebanon school board has approved the purchase of a $31,500 ultraviolet filter for the high school pool that is expected to disinfect and cleanse the water of allergens that were said to be causing asthma attacks in some of the swim team members.

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Lebo: Matt Smith Campaign Picnic

Below is a message from the Matt Smith for State Representative campaign. (I'm happy to post notes about campaign events for Mark Harris. Equal opportunity for the candidates! It's all about getting the word out about this important race.)
WHAT: It's a chance to get together with your neighbors and talk politics over burgers and barkers. Democratic candidate for the State House of Representatives, Matt Smith, wants to meet and hear from the families of Mt. Lebanon. This is when you
can get real close and really get to know who the candidates are. Instead of guessing what the candidates stand for in November you can get in their face right now. Most importantly this is a chance to have fun, chewing the fat (literally and figuratively) with your neighbors. For a change it will be okay to talk politics and all parties are welcome (check your guns at the door please). I would also encourage
anyone interested in the Williamsburg Park renovation to be there to discuss that hot topic and get updates as well.

WHO: Anyone who wants to get out of the house on a Sunday when the Steelers aren't playing. Kids are welcome, that's why we care about tomorrow anyway. Teenagers are especially welcome.

WHERE: The pavilion at Williamsburg Park.

WHEN: This Sunday, August 20th at 2:00. Matt will be there from 2:00 to 4:00 but the picnic will be over when you decide to leave.

WHY: Because the defeat of Tom Stevenson in this spring's Republican primary guaranteed that we would have a new Representative in this district. That
means that your vote is more important than ever. In these historic times it is your civic duty to give as much thought as possible to this important decision.
Most important, it is really fun to meet people who want to put the "party" back in the political Party.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lebo: TIF Coverage

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New Lebo Tax Study: Volunteers Needed

School Board member Jo Posti emails the following:


Please share this information with Mt. Lebanon residents or taxpayers who may be interested and available to serve on this commission. The school board developed the structure and application process at Monday night’s meeting and we would like to encourage as many people who are interested and available to apply in order to achieve a good balance of diversity among members. Please note the short deadline for applications as well as the finite time commitment involved. Additional information as well as an application form is on the District’s web site,

Mt. Lebanon Tax Study Commission to be Formed

Act 1 of 2006 requires all school boards to appoint a tax study commission no later than September 14 to study the existing taxes levied in the community. According to Act 1, the commission selection criteria “shall reflect the socio-economic, age, and occupational diversity of the school district to the extent possible.” The Mt. Lebanon School board is looking for up to eight interested Mt. Lebanon residents and taxpayers who represent specific demographic segments of the community willing to serve on the commission. The commission will study the demographics and tax history of the school district in order to make a non-binding recommendation to the school board concerning future taxes. The work of the commission will be completed by December 11, 2006.The commission members will be selected at the September 11 Board Meeting. The application deadline is August 29, 2006.

Applications may be emailed to
Contact the District Business Office at 412.344.2099 for more information.
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Friday, August 11, 2006

Lebo: Zamagias proposal up in the air?

The following note appeared in my In box this afternoon, sent by a neighbor who did not disclose how the copy was acquired. The original email appears to have been sent originally yesterday afternoon to George Darakos, with Allegheny County. I have no reason to doubt its authenticity:

Statement from Zamagias Properties regarding cancellation of the August 16, 2006 Meeting

In the interests of not wasting the time of any member of the committee, Zamagias Properties has requested that we postpone the TIF Meeting scheduled for next week. In addition we are requesting a temporary suspension of the TIF plan review and meeting process. The development as currently proposed is not economically feasible and thus additional time is needed to develop and analyze options to improve the economics. We have meetings scheduled next week to re-evaluate the projects design and phasing to that end.

In addition, we had anticipated the need for an extension from the Parking Authority due to delays in the physical and financing aspects of the development process and have obtained their approval for an extension to December 31, 2006.

We will keep you apprised of our progress and appreciate your consideration in this matter.

Michael D. Heins
Zamagias Properties
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Five-Year, $46 Million Capital Budget Presented

Mt. Lebanon Manager Stephen Feller has presented his proposed 2007-11 capital budget, a five-year, $46 million spending plan that calls for large chunks of money to go into improving recreation and public works systems.

The proposed budget contains items such as sanitary sewer improvements, an aquatics center, new athletic fields and upgrades to traffic signals.

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Lebo: TIF Deadline Approaches

Lebo residents John Ewing and Joe Wertheim are circulating emails to friends and neighbors trying to draw public attention to an approaching deadline in the Zamagias/TIF application process. Here's the text. John's message refers to a letter from Bill Matthews, which I'll post shortly.

Yet another TIF committee expiration deadline will pass on Monday evening [that's Monday, August 14]. If the expiration is not extended the TIF dies, the commission will be voting on an extension next Monday. I have attached a letter in opposition to the TIF deadline extension from Bill Mathews to Commission President Barbara Logan. If the TIF approval should not be extended Mr. Zamagias can decide to risk his own money for his own profit without a public tax subsidy.

You should let the commission know before Monday evening if you don’t want to divert $10,000,000 from your children’s educational dollars into a developer’s pocket over the next 20 years.

I haven’t heard the TIF committee even has any detailed figures from Zamagias and the committee doesn’t have another meeting until next week. Consider that the TIF committee work was to be finished by now and it hasn’t even started, so why more extensions?

Send your objections to these commissioners. Their email addresses are:

These are the three commissioners Mr. Mathews thinks are most likely to vote for the TIF extension.

Please ask them not to divert you tax educational dollars tax dollars to risky real estate speculation.

Also Joe Wertheim wrote a very cogent email to these three commissioners about the sunshine law. Joe identifies the law firm I referred to in my last email as a firm that does a lot of legal business with the school district. This is the firm that does special education legal work for the school district. Special education parents should take special interest in the contempt this law firm treats actions that are legal i.e. making the TIF committee meetings open to the public.

With Joe’s permission I have copied his email for you below: It was sent to the three commissioners above, the school board’s and commissioner’s members of the TIF committee and Steve Feller, the municipal manager. It says:

Subject: TIF committee

The Sunshine Act and the Right to Know Law "requires all public agencies to take all official actions and conduct all deliberations leading up to official actions at public meetings." "The Act covers all such actions by municipal governing bodies, committees of these governing bodies and municipal boards and commissions." "The 'agency' is defined as the governing body, and all committees authorized by the body to take official action and render advice on agency business. This includes state agencies as well as political subdivisions, school districts and municipal authorities." "All municipal governing bodies and their committees are covered by the Act."

The Sunshine Act "defines a 'meeting' as any prearranged gathering of an agency attended by a quorum of members held for the purpose of deliberating agency business or taking official action. " 'Deliberation' means the discussion of agency business held for the purpose of making a decision."

Despite the opinion offered by Mr. Giglio of Andrews & Price, I fail to see how the Zamagias TIF committee meetings fail to meet the legal standards set forth in the Sunshine Act. These committee meetings are clearly prearranged, authorized by the school board and the municipality, where deliberations and discussions take place with the intent of rendering advice on agency business.

Mr. Giglio stated in his written opinion that "it would be detrimental to the information gathering and formative negotiating process if the TIF Committee were to opt to conduct its Committee meetings as public meetings." He goes on to say that "the Committee should be able to strategize, question and learn about the details of the TIF proposal without oversight or pressure by outside agencies. An open public meeting would likely inhibit open discussion and the free flow of information…"

Outside agencies?? Is that how you look at your constituents? I believe that those of you who were elected are supposed to represent the residents of Mt. Lebanon, not look upon them as opponents, or outside agencies!

The "free flow of information" is, in fact, being inhibited because you have chosen to conduct these meetings in secret.

All this being said, I would like for you to answer one question for me.
Despite Mr. Giglio's opinion, there is nothing which would have kept either municipal or school board representatives from refusing to participate in this committee unless its meetings were open to the public. Why did you not demand this?

Joe Wertheim
Mt. Lebanon
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Condo Development Background to Consider

Making the email rounds in Mt. Lebanon this week: This link to a recent story from the Associated Press noting that economic conditions are changing underfoot for condo developers. As the market for upscale condos softens, potential profits are drying up. Planned projects are going unbuilt, and newly-built units are going unsold. The message for Lebo might be: Is this the right time to invest in the Zamagias project on Washington Road?
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Two New Restaurants Coming to Mt. Lebanon

The losses of Quizno's and Cafe Giovanni will be short lived as there are/will be two new restaurants to take their places. The Market Place has already set up shop in the former Quizno's location and Bistro 19 will be opening up in the same place as where Cafe Giovanni used to be. As an interesting side-note, Teresa Bucco, the architect who is designing the new Bistro 19 is a Mt. Lebanon native herself.

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More Lebo Aquatic Center News

The municipality of Mt. Lebanon has launched its own blog regarding the proposed aquatic center. The address for the site is It is still a work in progress, but basic information about the project and the consultants hired to do the feasability study can be found there now.
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

BlogLebo: Status Report

I'm back in Pittsburgh after several weeks of traveling, and thanks go to Joe Polk in particular for posting here regularly (and also for extending the brand, via I have a lot of catching up to do, but I also want to note that the blog is approaching its one-year anniversary.

Over the year, BlogLebo has combined a number of functions -- collecting and reporting news about Mt. Lebanon from other sources; collecting and reporting comments and commentary about Mt. Lebanon from residents; and reporting our own comments about Mt. Lebanon. Inevitably, it seems, the blog seems to tend toward the negative: what's wrong with the School Board/the Commission/the Parking Authority, etc. etc.

Where criticism is deserved, it should be floated, and there has been much to criticize around Mt. Lebanon over the last couple of years.

However, the good news doesn't always get the publicity it deserves, and by good news I mean everything from the accomplishments of our friends and neighbors to significant milestones for the township as a whole.

So, as BlogLebo gets set to start year two, here's a request to readers and commenters: please send us suggestions, notes, and links to the good stuff, too. Thanks.
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