Monday, February 08, 2010

Opponents Of Mt. Lebanon School Work Urge Meeting Attendance

The fliers are flying in Mt. Lebanon.

Opponents of a high school renovation and addition project — at a cost of up to $113.3 million — have been e-mailing a circular urging residents to attend a state-mandated hearing on the project at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 in the high school auditorium.

"The audience for these fliers are primarily people who are not aware of what is taking place," said Bill Lewis, 73, of Mt. Lebanon. "It's kind of a wake-up call."

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Blogger James Cannon said...

Before getting the pitch forks and torches ready, people should understand what the February 22 forum, concerning Act 34 is all about. This is not a school board meeting. There will not be any school board members present, except as member of the audience. There will be no vote, no debate and no discussion. There will be no decision made. This is a forum to pass on the same information that has been disseminated throughout our community for months, to the State Department of Education, in order to determine whether the budget for the renovation of the High School exceeds the “aggregate building expenditure standard”. This standard has a legal definition, which is based on construction and engineering standards for building construction. The standard has nothing to do with opinions, feelings or wishes. If the State finds that it does not exceed the standard, the project continues to move forward. Citizens can offer comments, either in writing or in person to the court reporter present. The comments are then made part of the document that is reviewed by someone with the State Department of Education, who will probably not be present at the February 22 meeting.

February 08, 2010 2:15 PM  
Blogger Bill Matthews said...


February 08, 2010 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If this ill-prepared,inefficiently staffed and under-equipped municipality continues with its inept non-clean-up after last Friday night's snow storm, Mt. Lebanon won't need a new high school. Or, any high school. Or, any schools at all. Here we are folks, facing another day (Tuesday) of school closures. Our taxes are much too high in this municipality for the pathways to our schools to still not be cleared of snow. Please get moving Mt. Lebanon so that our children may return to school on Wednesday.

Nita Fandray

February 08, 2010 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DEAR Nita: Xanax. Prayer. Meditation. This and other help's available for this snow emergency. This is not Haiti. This is not Congo. Let us remember our many blessings.

M. Waddell

February 09, 2010 1:59 AM  
Anonymous Dave Franklin said...

Nita, you've managed to start my day off in the absolute worst way. Are you serious? First, lest any of us require some perspective, EVERY school district is still closed. Every church is still closed. Pitt and CMU are still closed. Banksville, Grant St., Forbes, 5th and nearly every main street in Pittsburgh are barely usable. So to the extent you believe we are somehow lagging behind, please stop.

To suggest that the public works dept is inept, inefficient or somehow failing us, I can only suggest that you drive around Mt. Lebanon and re-evaluate. The roads, sidewalks and parking lots around our community and our schools are amazingly clear, despite being the recipient of the 4th largest snowfall in our region's history. To the extent additional work is required around the schools, it would be to encourage those property owners whose job it is to clear the sidewalks in front of their homes. Unfortunately, this a daunting task for many, especially our senior residents and we should all pitch in to help. To the extent that you STILL think that nothing is being done, drive down to Wildcat Field and witness the 3-story (and growing) mountain range of snow and sludge that has been collected by the Public Works Dept. Simply put Nita, where would you suggest we put the remaining snow and ice that continues to make many sidewalks and roadways impassable, especially for small children?

However, I suppose what upsets me the most is that your comment serves to underscore my single greatest pet peeve about Mt. Lebanon. No matter what level of service, community and personal sacrifice and collective effort, someone always seems to think that it's not good enough. Somewhere along the way, it has been declared that bad stuff is not allowed to happen in our town and if it does . . . well then damnit . . . the consequences must be swept away overnight by some public works "tooth fairy". From where I sit, our municipal staff should be commended, not criticized. We should be offering our praises, rather than demanding "what have you done for me lately?" Frankly, we should all pick up a shovel and lend a hand.

And finally here's a newsflash for Nita and others who believe that their tax bill entitles them to immunity from the natural course of events that occasionally befall us . . . your tax bill will likely go up and the level or variety of services will likely decline in the very near future. That's the reality of the world we live in - even here in Camelot. More and more responsibility for "cleaning up" will ultimately rest with us residents. Thankfully, I think most of us will pitch in and choose to be a part of the solution.

February 09, 2010 9:04 AM  
Anonymous Bob Reich, Jr. said...

The taxes are too high, Nita! But as any good Democrat knows, it's not the municipalities fault. They simply need more money from the residents, especially the rich ones. C'mon commissioners, be brave! The federal government has a progressive tax code, why shouldn't Mt. Lebo? I'd gladly pay a 5% EIT. Please just send me a bill. The check will be "in the mail" shortly after I receive it.

February 09, 2010 9:11 AM  
Blogger Bill Matthews said...

When I read: "This is a forum to pass on the same information that has been disseminated throughout our community for months, to the State Department of Education..." I thought how silly. Wouldn't it be easier just to FedEx the stuff to Harrisburg?

Yes - the Board does not have to attend, but I cannot think of one Board member would be so insensitive as to not attend.

The Board will be there.

The Community will be there.

After all, is it the small closets and one car garages that makes MTL a great place to live, work and play?

No, it is the folks - - all the folks.

February 09, 2010 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm confused. So according to Mr. James Cannon, we would be wasting our time expressing our opinions, feelings, or wishes? Does this mean that the school board directors have made up their minds and won't consider what their constituents have to say? I have to work that night, so there will be one less pitch fork and torch.
Elaine Gillen

February 09, 2010 9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the district’s website “Mt. Lebanon residents are encouraged to attend the hearing and make comments.” and I see no reference to pitchforks or torches, so those must be optional. The reality is that the financial challenge of living in Mt. Lebanon in the near future brings to mind a four letter word – “M-O-V-E”. The costly school project is moving forward while the taxation outlook here appears mighty grim for multiple reasons, and how about that financial market performance during January? Rather than pitchforks and torches, perhaps one will have to bring “Two Men and a Truck”?
--Charlotte Stephenson

February 09, 2010 10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Mr. Franklin and Mr./Ms. Waddell: I stand by my comments about the municipality's slow response the the blast of snow. Perhaps Mt. Lebanon has no emergency snow plan. Since we live in PA, and not the Congo, we should be able to deal with snow (even 20 inches) more effectively. Let's hope that the management of Mt. Lebanon will learn from this experience and be prepared for future weather events. We are doing everything we can in my neighborhood to help each other clear the snow. I am sure that other Mt. Lebanon residents are doing the same. My comments are not personal and do refect the sentiments of many Mt. Lebanon residents and parents of school-aged children. Kindly refrain from making this a personal issue with your suggestions that Xanax and prayer will resolve the issue. We are allowed to voice our opinions. Certainly you may disagree. But, let's be curteous and professional with each other. Thank you.

Nita Fandray

February 10, 2010 1:58 PM  
Blogger Dave Franklin said...

Nita, I received phone calls and emails from some elected officials and municipal employees following my comment. I can assure you that they found your comment to be anything but courteous and professional.

Do me a favor and point to a community who's doing it better or differently than we are this week.

February 10, 2010 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Kim Ressler said...

Speaking from personal experience, the quality of the roads in Mt. Lebanon most definitely surpassed those of our near neighbors as well as the communities between here and Beaver County. Our roads are narrow, winding, and hilly - that doesn't even take into account the range of surfaces. Yes, we pay taxes and expect much from them, but let us also be realistic. A 20" snowstorm is very unusual, not the norm, seeing that it has been 17 years since such a storm happened here. The municipality and school district seem to be doing all they can, but they are facing the same issue we all are as we shovel our driveways - where do we put it all, and how do we keep up? I was extremely impressed at the parking in the Washington Rd. business district - check out Castle Shannon as comparison.

February 10, 2010 3:12 PM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...

What does snow removal have to do with attending the Act 34 Hearing or the High School Budget Forecast?

On Jan 29, 2010 Jose Posti's blog quoted a 37% increase in taxes by 2015-16 as presented to the Audit and Finance Committee, on January 28, 2010, with the public in attendance.

As a member of the Audit and Finance Committee Jose wrote on her Blog," Our current overall six-year projection from 2009 through 2016 is a 37.5% increase based on our operating budget, PSERS and the total high school debt."

No mention was made in the committee meeting or on Jose's Blog that the last two years of the Budget Forecast showed less revenue than expenditures.
In other words the 37.5% increase was created by underestimating revenues at a deficit to expenditures. This was not conservative budgeting and Jose should have known the figures were not right.

It was no surprise the budget increased when this problem was addressed on February 3, 2010, just six days later, with a new Budget presented to the Board with a 45% tax increase.

Everyone is saying the Budget Forecast is going down but this Budget Forecast went UP.

Everyone is saying the High School Project cost is coming in under budget, but the Action Item on the Act 32 Resolution was voted at budget.

The Board formed a Citizen's Advisory Committee of professionals in school design and school construction management; they discarded their recommendations.

Actions speak louder than words.
Watch the School Board actions and listen to their words.

Remember the sign over the Post-Gazette's door:
"Give Light and the People Will Find Their Own Way."

February 10, 2010 4:25 PM  
Blogger Joe Polk said...

Nita -- I would really like to know, with details and examples, of how the municipality did not perform to your (and according to you "many others") expectations regarding the snow removal from the 4th worst snowstorm in Pittsburgh's recorded history.

I am honestly appalled that you would even suggest that our municipality was remiss in its duties. If there are "many others", please ask them to visit this blog and voice their opinions as you have chosen to do.

I would also like hear what your recommendations are for storm responses in the future since you seem to be an expert on them. Please make sure to inform Tom Kelly, director of Public Works, of your plan so that he and his staff can learn what you believe they did so wrong.

I'm glad to hear that you and your neighbors pitched in to help clear snow. Guess what? That's what my neighbors and I did -- as well as most of the people that live in this town. The government cannot be everywhere for everyone at the same time.

February 10, 2010 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MTL has been doing a great job with snow removal! I just think it is quite clear they are running out of places to put it all. The city worked into the night a couple days ago and were filling dumptrucks full of snow to clear our streets.
Maybe Zamagias, they purchased the space across from Pamela's, should rent us some space for awhile to dump our snow.
kelly fraasch

February 10, 2010 5:21 PM  
Anonymous John Ewing said...


February 10, 2010 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a question I wish someone could answer please.
In the recent Trib article... Bill Lewis suggest the HS project could come in at around $85 million.
Jan Klein is qouted later in the same article responding that the $85 million number isn't possible. Apparently, because PJDick's renovation-only estimate is at $103.2 million.
So, if that estimate is the reason we can't do an $85 million project. How is the Remely, Cappucci, Posti hoped for $95 million project realistic?
I mean not only are we tearing down, abating asbestos and disposing of bldgs A & C, constructing a similar-sized brand new bldg. G, but we're adding an expensive bridge, a new athletic facility, moving tennis courts and a multitude of other additions!
Dean Spahr

February 10, 2010 10:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was kidding!
Kelly Fraasch

February 10, 2010 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta love Teddy Roosevelt.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

If the pump fits, put it on.

Marshall Waddell

February 11, 2010 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all commenters, please read the editorial written by the Post-Gazette in today's paper about how poorly the city of Pittsburgh responded to the snow and apply that to Mt. Lebanon (although Mr. Feller was probably not out of town). I was standing in my driveway at 8 pm on Saturday night when Longuevue Drive was plowed. Longuevue is not a heavily trafficked street, and I assume is low on the priority list and towards the end to be plowed. There was no more snow until Tuesday. The township should have had the schools cleared by Monday morning, no question.

Ed Modaro.

February 12, 2010 12:31 PM  
Blogger Dave Franklin said...

Ed, do a favor today. Walk over to the high school or Mellon today and then let us know (a) how long it takes you and (b) if all sections of the sidewalk are passable. Thanks.

PS: you might have just moved your street even lower on the priority list.

February 13, 2010 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father always says to never assume. Longuevue must not be that low on the priority list. We had no power until Sunday afternoon. And there were others in the township that went longer than that. Families were scrambling to stay warm. Remember how it was four-six degrees those nights? Yes, the municipal building was a warming center, but how could we get there? Many had pets that couldn't be left alone. (I am not complaining about the warming center, mind you. It was awesome that the township was providing a place to stay.) I could see my breath in my own living room!! Some of us rode it out and some of us left for friends or families' homes. We had no mail delivered until Tuesday. Did the schools have heat? I don't know because we were too busy trying to dig out. And then we weren't suppose to use water. Do you really think there should have been school?
Just a note to get back on topic. On James Fraasch's blog as well as the District's website, there is information regarding Act 34. Emails are to go to and not the school board directors. And if you want to reserve some time to speak at the meeting, stop by the district offices to get your name on the agenda.
Elaine Gillen

February 13, 2010 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Franklin---In response to your comment about the sidewalks still not being cleared of snow, where are the munipality's code enforcement officers hiding out?

Especially this many days after the storm of the century or whatever everyone is calling it, all sidewalks in Mt. Lebanon must be cleared by now. If the residents are not following the municipal code that mandates them to clear their walkways, then the municipality must step in and do its job. Citations, anyone?

Nita Fandray

February 14, 2010 2:07 PM  
Blogger Dave Franklin said...

There's that community spirit we all know and love . . . .

February 14, 2010 10:11 PM  

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