What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 21, 2007

Yeah, I have a couple of questions . . .

As you may have heard, the spokesperson for the Allegheny County Democratic Committee (ACDC), Dianna Wentz, will be subbing for Lynn Cullen today on WPTT 1360AM (live streaming here).

Wentz will be interviewing her coworkers, ACDC Chair Jim Burn and Executive Director Ian Harlow, “about all the changes and progress being made at the County Committee."

The number to call in to WPTT is 412-333-1360.

Here's a few questions that might be interesting to ask (and also cover some important issues that I never got around to posting about during the hubbub of 2pj's election coverage):
1) Considering that in three of the most hotly contested races Dowd vs. Bodack, Kraus vs. Koch, and Carlisle vs. EVERYONE, the winning candidates in two of those races were not ACDC endorsed and in the third, the winner got ACDC's endorsement only after their first choice was disqualified, how can that bode well for Committee's endorsement process and the Committee's influence over voters? (Making these races even less traditional and old school is the fact that all three winning campaigns had female campaign managers.)

2) How are we supposed to believe that there is a "new Democratic Party" and that the "old machine is gone" as Mr. Burn stated in an article that he wrote for the Post-Gazette when a candidate for Judge, Debra Todd, seemingly fired a campaign staffer, Jason Phillips, at the behest of the Committee because he blew the whistle on the Koch campaign? Even if that's not why she did it, it certainly had the appearance of impropriety of one endorsed candidate helping out another endorsed candidate at the Committee's request.

3) There have been rumors out there that ACDC plans to make their endorsement process even more draconian by either strengthening punishment for Committee members who support unendorsed candidates, or worse still, enacting rules to punish candidates who seek endorsement, lose the endorsement and run anyway. If true, that would seem to make our primaries nearly completely irrelevant Can you state for the record that the Committee is not planning to do either of those rules changes?

UPDATE: You might want to save Q2 for hour 3, when it sounds like Todd will be a guest.


Anonymous said...

Love how they've set up a 'good cop/bad cop' dynamic, with Wentz arguing for the current dem. endorsement system, Burn offering some arguments against.

Wentz keeps calling opponents to the endorsement "anti Democratic Party", rather than anti - Dem endorsement process

Maria said...

Yes, I guess you can't be anti Committee endorsements in primaries without being anti party.


Did you catch the comment by Burn about people blogging anonymously being 'part of the problem'?


Well, he better not have meant me or David, as were are far from anonymous.

I also thought that they got a tad hostile with my call...

matt said...

Well, my goal is just to do compelling radio, silly guy that I am. I am all about butts in the seats first and foremost and I find I do that best when I mix up the guest hosts a little bit.

I welcome all callers, unless you are rude to me, I will gladly pass everyone on through to the show.

Sherry said...

i've been litening on and off. busy day but i didn't want to miss the show. i'm a reg. listener anyway. i thought that was you maria.

p.s. i am interested in "dr." lara's son too!
; )

matt said...


Your wish is my command, seeing as how I dug up this fine gem for show prep this morning. The link of wholesome goodness is http://www.sltrib.com/ci_5934072?1

Gloria said...

Re: Burn & anonymous blogging about the endorsement process & their being a part of the problem

Beginning last week, there's been much discussion about the Dem. endorsement on the Run, Baby, Run yahoo group. Dianna herself took part. Everyone who's been participating in that discussion is identified by their real name, no one's anonymous.

As for being part of the problem, many of us who are complaining did, infact, run for committee, some of us actually are on the committee.

Bram Reichbaum said...

Yeah, seriously. How about Anti *Committee* People?

They may have inadvertently given their insurgents the inspiration for a concise, focused, PR friendly name!

Sherry said...

thanks matt.
that ladt just upsets me on most issues and her belittling of service wives just about had me ranting.
i really think these "experts" that have television or radio shows or advice columns do more harm in most cases than good.
yes, that have broyght some important issues into the light of day but the shows have evolved into
nothing but a collection of quick snappy, snarking, frankly bitchy sound bits and self stroking ego sessions.
i wonder how many people have felt worse about themselves to the point were it could become dangerous, due to experts like dr. laura and dr. phil and whoever comes up next.
it does people good to see that these experts aren't perfect either.

Sherry said...

forgive typos please.
i'm the queen of typo land, you may bow, now. ; )

Maria said...

Yes, the comment that I mentioned was made on the Run, Baby, Run yahoo list and that isn't anonymous.

By the way though, if what was said was true, does it really matter if it was said anonymously?

Moreover, committee postions are made via public elections and yet their votes and their deliberations are made in SECRET.

So who's really being anonymous?

The Burgher said...


Please check out the text underneath the title of the Burgh Report on my homepage.

--The Burgher aka 'Part of the Problem'

Maria said...


Obviously YOU are THE problem!!!!

Mark Rauterkus said...

How nice how everyone on the Run Baby Run BBS uses his or her name. But, how weird how it isn't able to be found on the net.

If there a pointer to that BBS -- say -- where I could see the discussions.

Is it by invite only?

Furthermore, where is the list of people who serve in the D committee? I think that the D list is hidden as well.


Missed the show. Anyone have it via podcast?

dayvoe said...

there should be a pod cast in a day or so.

If the show I hosted is any guide, it'll be up in a day or so and then be on the wptt website for about a week.

justin27 said...

OK, I'm from Seattle so my definition of "progressive" is way different than your's here. But come on, cement on roads = progress? And claiming election victory when the "progressive" side won a schoolboard race? And City Council?? Weren't there like 20 real races? Claim victory when you win a County Executive race or a Mayoral or a Congressional. Altmire as progressive? Doyle?? When you accomplish that then you can try this change/win spin you're attempting!!! And come on even the local rag, the PG from their blog anyway, is totally on to Gloria what's her name's spin. 3 races, low level ones at that, does not a change or victory or tide turn make. And, wasn't the Trib the paper that tried to do in Bill Clinton because he got a ____? You're buying their agenda? You're being used and accomplishing little in the process. What's next? The tide turning progressives running a candidate for dog catcher?? Then it'll be 4 seats you control... Seriously, try a little harder and don't claim victory when there really isn't one. Not saying you won't get one....you just have to be a bit more strategic than you have been so far. But what does a guy from Seattle know about progressive politics?

AnonBloggerEvil said...

baby steps. It took a long time to build up the machine. It'll take a few cycles to take it down. Hey! Seattle boy - quit crying into your espresso and join us in changing this city! :)

Bram Reichbaum said...

Justin27 is neither named Justin nor a progressive nor from Seattle. I would stake my reputation on it.

He is simply an old-school Pittsburgh hack who is running scared from Gloria's utterly brilliant "winning is sexy" analysis, and hoping that by urging us to become "strategic," we'll just join the rest of the pigs feeding at the trough.

Mr.'s Kraus, Dowd, Burgess, and Ms. Arnet: beware this language of "strategic." Of course you should make friends and keep your doors open to everyone. But if you start to feel ill -- expectorate.

Maria said...


The Run, Baby, Run list is private, invitation only.

Maria said...


Before the election we had an 8 to 1 rubber-stamp the DINO Boy Wonder Mayor City Council.

Now, we have a truly progressive block which will provide oversight.

Yes, I do see that as progress.

Also, I subscribe the Howard Dean school of thought which is run for everything. The Christian Right would run for any office, including dogcatcher. Everyone has to start somewhere, and true, long-term success is best achieved via bottom up, not top down victories.

Maria said...

SeattleBoy Part II,

Gloria works her butt off for progressive candidates and causes. Additionally, her Run, Baby, Run group has helped many a female candidate navigate the process to achieve success. So if you are the progressive that you claim to be, I have no idea why you'd be dissing her.

Looks like Bram may be on to something.

Gloria said...

Justin 27,

Thanks for sharing your perspective. From reading your post I take it that you have some knowledge of the political process and what it takes for progressives to win. If that’s true, I sincerely invite you to join us in getting progressive candidates elected.

In addition to your suggestions on strategy, many progressive candidates could use your help with the more banal, but very necessary, tasks of door knocking, phone banking, fund raising, etc. If you’ve already been helping us with the heavy lifting, thank you.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, Pittsburgh is not Seattle. That’s not a diss on either city, it’s just a fact.

What has/is working, in Seattle might not generate the same results here in Pittsburgh. But I and many more are definitely open to suggestions and love to learn what other regions are doing.

In my opinion, two progressive, unendorsed candidates winning seats on City Council is a victory for Pittsburgh Progressives. One progressive, unendorsed candidate winning a seat on the School Board is a victory for Pittsburgh Progressives. The unprecedented number of female campaign managers involved in this Primary’s winning campaigns is a victory for Pittsburgh Progressives.

I, too, am not originally from Pittsburgh and sometimes grow frustrated with the pace of change here.

Happily, as of May 15th, the pace is picking up. For the first time in a long time I know our goal of electing progressive candidates to higher office will become reality in the near future.

P.S. Maria & Bram, thanks for the kind words.

matt said...


Moving back in the comments a little ways, I posted the podcasts on the station's website this morning.


The Bag of Health and Politics said...

If they start to mess with the endorsement process, that'll be the beginning of the end of the committee.

The elephant in the room is the patronage system. Danny O, for all his faults, did actually reduce that. In the old days, when the register of wills had 70 at-will employees, there was a system in place. Committee people could be rewarded for their political "work." City and county agencies were stocked with committee people.

The true effect of Danny O's reforms won't be seen for 10-20 years. The people that worked in the political row offices are now, by and large, staffing county agencies. When they retire, there may be a shift towards a less political, more merit system based, government in Pittsburgh.

The committee knows that their influence is declining. In the old days, if a committee person dared to go against the endorsement, they would quickly find themselves out of a job. Now, there's less power within the committee because the row offices are gone. So people could do what they wanted to do.

So the committee is talking about strengthing punishments for wayward members. Even if they kicked somebody off of the committee, it wouldn't do much good now. There's no teeth now like there was 5 years ago.

They're wrong to make a big scene about it too. If they actively try to dictate to the rest of the party, they'll quickly find themselves completely irrelevant. The real thing to do is focus on areas in the county where the Republicans win, and work to defeat them. That is the one thing that can unite the Democratic Party in Western Pennsylvania.

But that's a different kind of power than the committee is used to having--it's soft power won through hard work, negotiation, and unusual friendships. They're used to the hard power. But that's gone now. Trying to get it back is futile, and is probably a long-term disaster for the party.

Mark Rauterkus said...

Hard power / soft power.

In computer speak you go to solutions via hardware or software.

For years I've spoken about the need to dive into solutions in Pittsburgh by attacking the 'software' not the 'hardware.'

Another way to look at 'hardware' is to think of bricks and mortar.

PNC Park, Convention Center, new T-stops, Fifth-Forbes are all hardware fixes.

We need attention to process, to thinking, to ideas.

Anonymous said...

If you want to be a ACDC member, you have to learn how to eat 12 hot dogs at one sitting and know how to use a bingo dobber, plus if your mildly retarded, you can be a chairman.

Anonymous said...

want to make this a better community OPEN PRIMARY, why should we have to kiss committee people's asses to run for office-- your best candidates are still out there. The ACDC is outdated, old and are mostly full of shit. district 1 on the northside, you have to kiss klingers ass, this lard ass lives in ross twp. WAKE up you morons and have open primary's.thanks areally really concerned citizen--HAHA

Anonymous said...

do you JAGOVS really listen to that drunken jackass lynn cullen??? Next you'll be listening to balloon head FRED for insight.... get a life people

Anonymous said...

The democratic party in the burg stinks, do you realize that with this system, take away one candidate, we are now communism. Think about it. P.S. lynn cullen is still a drunken jsckass.