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February 27, 2009 | Link to this story

Lower Fee in Works for Street Openings

Category: News || By

City officials will probably modify McKeesport's $1,000 permit fee for digging up a street.

That's the word from Solicitor Jason Elash, who tells the Almanac the city is working on a fee that will still be higher than the old $180 cost, but lower than $1,000.

Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County --- which operates the city's water system --- has balked at paying the $1,000 fee, with its attorney last week calling the cost excessive and out of line with permit fees in surrounding municipalities.

By implementing a $1,000 fee, the city hoped to recoup the price of repaving streets damaged by utility crews; but because fees are supposed to reflect the cost of administering the permits, there's some question whether the higher charge would have withstood a court challenge.

. . .

A new ordinance --- currently being drafted --- will probably be ready for consideration at April's council meeting, Elash says.

That's why the city and Equitable Gas Co. negotiated a settlement over more than 600 holes drilled by its crews, he says.

The gas company's payment of more than $300 per hole will be more in line with the new ordinance being written, Elash says.

. . .

Equitable was particularly upset, Elash says, because many of its more than 600 openings were only a few square inches each. The company has been turning off gas service and capping lines that served abandoned houses now on the city's demolition list, he says.

"They weren't digging up the whole street," Elash says. "They were basically taking a core sample --- they would drill a hole, turn off the gas line, and then replace the same 'plug' they had removed."

. . .

No agreement appears imminent with Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, according to Elash and City Administrator Dennis Pittman.

The problem isn't just that MAWC won't pay the $1,000 fee, Pittman says.

"They didn't even pay the $180 --- they just ignored us," he says. "If they paid the $180 in protest, it's would be one thing, but if they just blow it off --- well, that's part of our angst."

. . .

Other "angst" is generated because the financially pressed city feels like utility crews are wrecking its carefully plotted street paving budget.

Pittman points to damage done to the intersection of Coursin and Beaver streets, where McKeesport Housing Corp. and other agencies are constructing new homes.

After the city replaced the wheelchair ramps and repaved the street, he says, the water authority dug up the macadam.

"Now it looks like the Ho Chi Minh Trail," Pittman says. "All of the effort we spent to put a crown on the street is lost. It's going to become a sinkhole, then the water won't run off, and it's going to create a pothole."

. . .

Elash says the city would be willing to consider an arrangement that allowed the water authority to perform many street openings at one price. But the authority, he says, countered that it wanted to open a certain number of holes at no cost.

Although the city wants to work with utilities, Elash says, it can't simply waive the fees altogether.

"We haven't gotten the same level of cooperation with the water authority as we got with the gas company," he says. "We're basically at a standstill."

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February 26, 2009 | Link to this story

Drawing a Map

Category: Obscure Ephemera || By

One of the most common questions I'm asked --- other than, "Don't you have a life?" --- is, "Where can I get a good, printable map of the city of McKeesport?"

I don't know if this is a good one, but it should definitely be printable. It's a 1955-vintage map published by the old McKeesport Chamber of Commerce.

It's old, but it should be useful for history buffs and genealogists. I'm going to be mining the (half) vast archives for additional maps; they'll be posted in the "Facts and Figures" section of

(Warning --- this is a large file, roughly 4.1 MB, in PDF form.)

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February 25, 2009 | Link to this story

'Adventureland' Trailer Debuts

Category: General Nonsense || By

A trailer has been released for "Adventureland," the movie that filmed during October 2007 at Kennywood Park and other locations around the Mon-Yough area. (The scene in the restaurant, for example, was shot inside Jodi B's --- formerly the Plaza --- on Ardmore Boulevard in Forest Hills.)

It's a comedy about a college student who has to find a summer job and winds up working as a games booth attendant at an amusement park.

The editor of Tube City Almanac doesn't need to see this movie, because he lived it. He even worked for a couple of months at Bonanza, the shooting game where (in the trailer) one of the patrons throws up.

The movie, directed by Greg Mottola ("Superbad," "Undeclared," "Arrested Development"), opens March 27.

At least the Mon Valley will come off better in this movie than in another film debuting this year --- "The Road," which used Braddock and McKeesport as the setting for a post-apocalyptic nightmare.

Come to think of it, I grew up here during the '70s and '80s, so I lived that movie, too. I'm pretty sure this picture --- supposedly a still from "The Road" --- actually shows laid-off steelworkers from my street in Liberty Borough going out to get their government cheese in 1984.

(Tip o' the Tube City hard hat to Dan Speed.)

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February 24, 2009 | Link to this story

Water Authority Doesn't Dig City Fee

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Every time a utility digs up a street, a future pothole is born. And McKeesport officials think those utilities ought to bear the cost of repairing the damage.

Not so fast, says the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, which operates the city's water system. They argue that McKeesport's fee for what's known as a "street opening" permit is excessive, and they refuse to pay.

That's led to a running dispute has already seen Mayor Jim Brewster threaten to have an MAWC crew arrested for digging up a street without a permit, and the case could yet wind up in court.

. . .

City Solicitor Jason Elash said earlier this month that 80 citations have been filled out against the water authority and are ready to file with Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi.*

MAWC solicitor Ken Burkley hopes that doesn't happen. "All of my dealings with the city have been very good, and we hope to keep it that way," he told the Almanac last week.

The city's permit fee was recently raised from $180 to $1,000. The amount hadn't been increased since 1983, officials said.

"An ordinance is a law, and they're not above the law," Brewster said at this month's council meeting. He called the authority "arrogant."

. . .

Although McKeesport is located in Allegheny County, water service to the city and several suburbs has been provided by MAWC since 1987. The Westmoreland authority bought the McKeesport Water Authority after a series of problems at the old treatment plant under the 15th Avenue Bridge, including contamination by giardia parasites that sickened 300 people.

There have been raw feelings between the city and MAWC lately; the water authority recently closed its office in Christy Park, which means repair crews are now dispatched from New Stanton, and customers must drive about a half-hour for face-to-face service.

"They snookered us when they took over the water business in the first place," Councilman Darryl Segina said.

However, city officials said the immediate problem is damage being caused to local streets by water authority crews.

Brewster counted 120 holes in Jenny Lind Street that he said were the result of MAWC work. "They're creating eventual potholes," he said.

. . .

But cities cannot use street opening permits to pay for street paving projects, Burkley argued. The fee, he said, should be dictated by the cost of administering the permit.

"It has to be directly connected to the cost of the municipality administering their police power," Burkley said. "There is no way the city of McKeesport can ever justify going from $180 to $1,000. If every community we served charged $1,000 for every street opening, we'd have to quadruple our water rates."

Other municipalities in MAWC's service area charge fees ranging from $50 to $200 per opening, he said. "I defy you to find any community that comes anywhere close to $1,000," Burkley said.

An unscientific web search found that Whitehall charges $60, while Crafton, Dormont and Fox Chapel each charge $50.

Blawnox charges $250, while Monroeville charges $25.

Several communities also assess a fee (generally less than $1) for each square foot of pavement disturbed.

. . .

In addition, some municipalities require utilities to post a refundable bond. In Pittsburgh, contractors must obtain $10,000 in insurance before opening a street.

Burkley said the authority would be willing to post a bond "that's reasonable and in line with other municipalities."

MAWC appears to be the only utility disputing the street opening fee. According to Elash, Equitable Gas Co. plans to open 600 holes this year as part of a gas line replacement program, and has agreed to pay the city about $205,000.

"They were willing to work with us," Elash told council this month.

Burkley said the authority is not willing to negotiate. "How do you reach a settlement on the cost of a police power?" he said. "It's got to all be the same."

. . .

The water authority is willing to coordinate projects with the city to make sure that any planned line maintenance is completed before a street is repaved, Burkley said.

And MAWC is willing to come back and fix any street repairs done by authority crews that aren't satisfactory, he said.

"We don't have bad relationships with the municipalities we deal with," Burkley said, "but we can't be a source of revenue for them ... I can't believe it takes 10 times as much to administer a street-opening fee than it does in North Huntingdon, Irwin or Jeannette."


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February 23, 2009 | Link to this story

Think Spring?

Category: Pointless Digressions || By

Jason Togyer photo/Tube City Online LLC

Damn groundhog.

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February 23, 2009 | Link to this story

PSUGA Students Join Dance Marathon

Category: News || By

Penn State photo/Annemarie Mountz

Four students from Penn State's Greater Allegheny Campus participated in the 2009 Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, or "THON," which ran from Friday through Sunday.

According to Linda Curinga, spokeswoman for the McKeesport campus, another 40 local students attended the event at the Bryce Jordan Center at the University Park campus to cheer and boost the morale of the participants.

The 46-hour "no sitting, no sleeping" event is an annual fundraiser for The Four Diamonds Fund, which helps the families of children with cancer who are being treated at Hershey Medical Center.

Penn State photo/Annemarie MountzThe dance marathon is the largest student-run charity in the world.

Students throughout the Penn State system this year raised almost $7.5 million; the highest total raised by any of the commonwealth campuses was $71,070, contributed by the Fayette Campus in Uniontown.

More than $59 million has been raised by Penn State students since 1977, THON organizers said.

Penn State Greater Allegheny students raised money through collection cans and other fundraisers, including a volleyball tournament Jan. 24 at Wunderley Gymnasium, Curinga said.

The local THON chair is Michael Wancheck, a senior information science and technology major from Jefferson Hills, Curinga said. Wancheck was among the dancers last year.

Amber Pistella, a sophomore engineering student from Turtle Creek, is the co-chair, Curinga said.

More than 700 dancers participated in this year's event. Local dancers --- all sophomores --- were Ashley Altavilla, an education major from Greenock; Danielle Soucy, biology major and student senator from Los Angeles; Zach Schmidt, a journalism major from Pittsburgh and president of the Greater Allegheny Collegian newspaper; and Santwon Hines, a business major, resident assistant, and chief of staff to the Student Government Association from Washington, D.C.

Highlights included an unexpected visit by Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno on Sunday afternoon and a Saturday afternoon performance by "Lost Faculties," a musical group of professors and staff led by University President Graham Spanier.

For more photos, visit the Penn State website.

. . .

In Other Business: Applications are being accepted through Friday for the Joanne E. Burley Leadership Scholarship and Alumni Leadership Scholarships at Penn State's Greater Allegheny Campus.

The Burley scholarship --- named for the retired chief executive officer of the McKeesport campus --- is designed for full- or part-time students at PSGA who have participated in campus leadership activities and maintained a 2.75 GPA or better. They must also receive recommendations from Penn State Greater Allegheny faculty and staff.

The alumni scholarship is designed for students with a 3.0 GPA or better who are planning to attend the McKeesport campus next year.

Applications can be downloaded from Penn State's website. For more information, contact Arlene Fath at (412) 675-9048 or

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February 20, 2009 | Link to this story

Officer's Loss Mourned

Category: News || By

The city is mourning the death of Patrolman Lee "Poo" Burke, who died Tuesday of complications from diabetes. Burke was 40.

A 10-year veteran of the city's force, was a McKeesport native who began work as a part-time patrolman in March 1998, according to Jennifer Vertullo in the Daily News. He had continued to serve until very recently.

For the past two years, Burke was law-enforcement coordinator for the city's "Weed and Seed" initiative and had helped with the department's community outreach efforts in schools and neighborhoods.

In June 2007, the McKeesport Healthier Communities PartnerSHIP named Burke "Shipmate of the Year." One of 63 community affiliates of the Pennsylvania Department of Health's State Health Improvement Plan, the MHCP honored Burke both for his work through the department and his volunteer efforts.

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February 18, 2009 | Link to this story

Don't Give Up The (Town) Ship

Category: History || By

To understand why Allegheny County remains a crazy, patchwork quilt of municipalities that can barely support themselves, it helps to realize that when the county was created in 1788, it was comprised of only seven townships: Moon, St. Clair, Mifflin, Elizabeth, Versailles, Plum and Pitt.

Most of McKeesport was contained within Versailles, which (according to the minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania) was to include all land east of the "Youghiogany" river and south of Turtle Creek.

Port Vue, Liberty and other points south were included in Elizabeth Township, which contained "all that part of the Forks between Monongahela and Youghiogany rivers, which lies within the county of Allegany."

Across the Mon, present-day Duquesne, Clairton, Dravosburg and other communities were part of Mifflin, which stretched south from "the mouth of Street's run," while Braddock, East Pittsburgh and other communities were part of Pitt Township.

. . .

Pennsylvania townships originally had very limited governmental authority. If you and your neighbors wanted police protection, paved streets and other improvements, you needed to charter a borough or city.

So in 1794, residents of Pittsburgh carved a borough from Pitt Township, and one year later, McKeesport was founded. (It was incorporated as a borough on Sept. 6, 1842.)*

The process continued through the 19th century. Across the river in Mifflin Township, Duquesne, Homestead and other communities were settled, urbanized, and incorporated.

As those communities grew, the formerly rural areas nearby were annexed. For most of the 19th century, in fact, it was very easy for an urban area to nibble off parts of the surrounding townships --- which implies that the state's founding fathers wanted these townships eventually to go away completely.

McKeesport thus kept chomping away at Versailles, while Clairton, Duquesne, Homestead and Munhall kept gnawing away at Mifflin.

. . .

There were two problems with this system. First, it didn't really pay for a township to encourage any development. Take Versailles Township. The Potter-McCune Co. and G.C. Murphy Co. bought property there in the 1930s when the land was rural and cheap. As soon as they built their warehouses --- increasing the taxable value of their property --- McKeesport annexed them.

Ditto for many city neighborhoods. As soon as a developer completed a housing plan in Versailles Township, the city would circulate an annexation petition among the residents. Usually, they signed. (Believe it or not, there was a time when being part of McKeesport had prestige.)

Second, if you were a township supervisor in Versailles, Mifflin or elsewhere, you wanted to protect "your phony-baloney job," to quote Mel Brooks.

After all, if Duquesne, Homestead, Munhall and Pittsburgh eventually annexed all of Mifflin Township, and McKeesport annexed Versailles Township, you wouldn't be able to hire your cronies. (Their officials would be hiring their cronies instead.)

But it was --- and still is --- much harder to annex a borough. The borough council has to put the consolidation to a vote, and it has to be approved by a majority of the voters.

So in 1942, Mifflin Township became West Mifflin Borough, while Versailles Township was transformed into White Oak Borough in 1948, thus preserving both from the greedy, grasping claws of their neighbors. Similar situations all over Allegheny County locked us into the ridiculous system we have now.

. . .

The fight to establish White Oak Borough was extremely nasty, by the way. The Versailles Township solicitor arrived at the courthouse at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 3, 1946 to file a petition to turn the community into a borough. McKeesport's solicitor was literally the next person through the door with an annexation petition --- but he was a few minutes too late.

The city, the township and the tiny borough of Eden Park spent the next two years in court spitting, clawing and hissing at one another before they declared a truce. (Eden Park packed up for good in 1952, merging with the city. It was the last municipal merger in Allegheny County history, representing a rare outbreak of common sense.)

In the meantime, the state legislature gave townships most (if not all) of the same rights and powers as boroughs and cities, which makes it pointless to have three different municipal classifications.

In retrospect, we would have been better off if more populous municipalities had continued chewing off pieces of townships until only a handful of boroughs and cities remained.


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February 17, 2009 | Link to this story

So, Farewell Then ...

Category: Cartoons || By

(from Popular Communications magazine)

Each month, a certain local correspondent does a cartoon for Popular Communications magazine, which covers radio, TV, computers and other electronics hobbies.

With three of Pittsburgh's analog TV signals scheduled to disappear from the airwaves forever later today, it seemed appropriate to reprint the cartoon from this month's issue of PopComm ...


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February 16, 2009 | Link to this story

City's Semper Fi Club Still Faithful

Category: News || By

Next Friday, a group of local women will gather at a local restaurant for a meeting in friendship and fellowship that's been held every month for 90 years.

They're part of a tradition that stretches back to 1919, when several "Negro housewives" from the city formed The Semper Fidelis Club to promote education, community leadership and civic improvement.

On Sunday, about two dozen members of Semper Fidelis gathered at McKeesport Heritage Center to discuss the group's origins and continuing legacy. The presentation --- led by current Semper Fidelis President Elaine Richardson and Treasurer Laura Green --- was part of the center's celebration of Black History Month.

"McKeesport occasionally gets a bad rap, but it's organizations like Semper Fidelis that make living and working in McKeesport so enjoyable," said city attorney Terry Farrell, president of the Heritage Center board.

. . .

The name --- Latin for "Always Faithful" --- was suggested by one of the founding members, Janey Garland, mother of well-known McKeesport photographer Percy Garland and mother-in-law of Hazel Garland, former editor of the Pittsburgh Courier.

Did the club borrow the name from the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps? Probably, said one of the longest serving members of Semper Fidelis, past president M. Jeanne Dix.

"But we've been just as faithful as the Marines all this time," said Dix, whose family has been involved with the group since the beginning. Dix's sister, Carrie Ann James, is also a member and past president; their mother and grandmother also were members of Semper Fidelis.

Green, another past president, said the club held its first meeting on Sept. 19, 1919 at the home of founding president Annie Marshall. Its bylaws called for the club to focus on religious, civic, educational and social programs for the city's African-American community. Dues were 15 cents per month.

Membership was limited to 35 people, Green said, "and there was always a waiting list."

. . .

Over the years, Semper Fidelis has raised money for many local causes, including UPMC McKeesport Hospital (where a room is named in the club's honor), Carnegie Library of McKeesport, the clock at the corner of Fifth and Walnut streets, Downtown, and the KaBOOM! playground in the Seventh Ward.

Money is generated through dues, bake sales, dinners and other activities.

Semper Fidelis also "adopts" a family each year, contributing food and clothing vouchers to an anonymous needy family originally chosen by Housing Opportunities and now selected by LaRosa Boys and Girls Club.

. . .

Perhaps its best known activity has been the annual Semper Fidelis scholarship awarded to the top two students of color at McKeesport Area High School. The scholarships were initiated by the late Frances Keith Newman, one of the first female morticians in Allegheny County and a pioneering businesswoman in the city.

The most recent recipients were first-place winner Rebecca Davis, a pre-med student at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and second-place winner Gary Bush, a freshman at Hampton University in Virginia.

Past winners have included Bucks County Judge Clyde Waite and former state Supreme Court Justice Cynthia Baldwin; and the late Phyllis Garland, a New York magazine editor and Columbia University journalism professor.

. . .

A review of the club's activities from the 1950s through the 1970s reflects the civil rights struggles of the times. For years, Semper Fidelis sponsored an annual "race relations" or "human relations" tea.

Green pointed out items in the club's newsletters that noted the Daily News was finally going to move Semper Fidelis functions to the "Society" page with other (that is, "white") social clubs instead of segregating them by themselves. In 1957, the club sent a telegram to President Eisenhower, thanking him for sending in the 101st Airborne Division to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Ark.

Semper Fidelis' early members were "black women of courage, vision and faith," Green said, "interested in improving themselves and improving the community."

. . .

These days, one of the club's biggest struggles is coping with the declining and aging population of the Mon-Yough area, and the lack of interest among younger women in joining social clubs.

"Many of us are kind of 'warriors' and have been out there for years, trying to get some new, fresh blood and new, fresh ideas into our organization," said Norine Jenkins, who chairs the membership committee.

Prospective members of Semper Fidelis must be invited to join the club. Sometimes they decline, Jenkins said, but most recognize that an invitation to join one of the city's oldest civic groups is an honor.

. . .

One of the program's highlights was the singing of Sherry Johnson of Trinity Church of God in Christ, Jenny Lind Street, who led the audience in "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing."

At the end of the afternoon, Johnson closed the program with a solo performance of "Great is Our Faithfulness" --- a last-minute change. She selected the song, she said, to reflect the group's name and mission.

On Thursday, Semper Fidelis will be one of five local charities that will receive a donation from the Mon Valley Inaugural Ball Committee, which last month held a dinner dance at Youghiogheny Country Club, Elizabeth Township, to mark the swearing-in of President Obama. A 90th anniversary banquet is slated for October, club officials said.

. . .

Disclaimer: The author is a member of the board of directors of McKeesport Heritage Center.

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February 13, 2009 | Link to this story

To Do This Weekend

Category: Events || By

McKeesport Heritage Center helps mark Black History Month with a program celebrating "Semper Fidelis," a civic organization of African-American women from the Mon-Yough area that's celebrating its 90th anniversary.

Laura Green and other members of the group will host a presentation and discussion with reception afterward. The program is free and begins at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Adjacent displays and scrapbooks featured at the Heritage Center this month highlight the stories of other persons of color from the McKeesport area.

The Heritage Center is located at 1832 Arboretum Drive in Renziehausen Park. Call (412) 678-1832 for more information.

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February 12, 2009 | Link to this story

The 131st Municipality?

Category: History || By

Does Allegheny County have a 131st municipality on O'Neil Boulevard?

Following up our story about the strange status of the house next to Founders' Hall Middle School, I spent several hours searching various legal and newspaper databases, looking for a copy of the court ruling that created White Oak Borough out of Versailles Township.

I don't have the full text yet, but I did dredge up an article from the Sept. 5, 1946, issue of the Post-Gazette which either sheds some light on the subject, or muddies the water even further.

According to this story, the parcel couldn't be included in White Oak, apparently because it wasn't contiguous to the rest of the borough. But the property owner --- Herbert Van Kirk --- didn't want to be annexed to the city of McKeesport.

Apparently the situation has been stalemated for the past 61 years, until the U.S. Census Bureau made an issue out of it. Only in Pennsylvania!

Tube City Almanac has asked the Census Bureau for comment. They are researching the issue and have promised to get back to me.

. . .

Two-Acre Township Waif of Versailles
Tract With One Home Pinched Off Whether Borough or Annexation Petitions Win

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sept. 5, 1946, p. 2)

Herbert S. Van Kirk is a modern day Robinson Crusoe who faces the ordeal of finding himself on a two-acre island in the sea of McKeesport. He proposes to call his island Van Kirk township.

This geographical predicament is imminent because of current actions in the reshuffling of Versailles township, where the Van Kirk family lived at 3524 O'Neil boulevard for many years.

The Van Kirk property, although surrounded by the city of McKeesport, is officially in Versailles township, but none of the current moves to liquidate the township includes the Van Kirk property.

Clear? Well, let's try again.

Things came to a head Tuesday morning when Versailles township residents filed petitions in Allegheny county quarter sessions court requesting the approval of incorporation into White Oak borough.

May Be High and Dry

If the courts approve a petition of the entire township to become White Oak borough, Mr. Van Kirk will be left high, dry and lonesome as the only remaining part of Versailles township.

If, on the other hand the courts approve annexation of the township to McKeesport, Van Kirk will still be living in a separate entity.

It all began in 1938 when the McKeesport school board bought 38 acres of a 40-acre plot of ground owned by the Van Kirk family. The school land became part of the city of McKeesport but the Van Kirks on their two acres chose to remain in Versailles township.

A year ago when the township's third precinct became Eden Park borough Van Kirk's voting privileges were shifted from that district to District Four. Yesterday, with the borough petition and the First district annexation already hanging fire, the Fourth district petitioned for annexation to McKeesport. McKeesport council immediately gave preliminary reading to the ordinance and indicated approval of the move to annex the only remaining township area under the annexation program.

Wants His Own Township

This would liquidate Versailles township --- except for Van Kirk's two acres. State law prohibits the inclusion of Van Kirk's "little world" in any of these petitions.

One solution --- annexation to McKeesport --- has been turned down by Mr. Van Kirk. He said that McKeesport would not tolerate his pistol range.

Last night, while officials declined to suggest a solution to the problem, the bewildered Van Kirk had a statement to make:

"You can say, I guess, that I'm still a resident of Allegheny county in a state of confusion. To solve the problem, I will probably ask permission to form my own township --- Van Kirk township."

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February 11, 2009 | Link to this story

Unplanned Move to City Irks Former W.O. Residents

Category: News || By

Did you ever hear the story of the house that moved from White Oak to McKeesport without budging an inch?

The O'Neil Boulevard home of Rich Tyree and Carol Scott next to Founders' Hall Middle School and the old Vocational-Technical High School is a tiny island of old Versailles Township that was never officially annexed to the city before the incorporation of White Oak Borough in 1948.

Though surrounded by the city on all sides and about a half-mile from the White Oak border, the former Kemp mansion was therefore still legally part of Versailles Township and was long treated as a part of White Oak.

Now, the U.S. Census Bureau and Allegheny County want the home annexed to the city of McKeesport --- and Tyree told city council last week that it's not fair.

"Respectfully, when you buy into a community, you buy into a community," Tyree told council.

Although the city and White Oak share a school district, sewer system, post office and other amenities, Tyree pointed out that payroll taxes are higher in McKeesport (1.2 percent vs. 0.5 in the borough), and city residents must pay extra to use White Oak's Heritage Pool.

. . .

But a few city officials are already smarting over what they perceive as a snobbish or patronizing attitude from some White Oak residents. Several White Oak council members last year suggested dumping the name of the McKeesport Area School District because of what they called the city's "bad image," and at least one member of White Oak council was a vocal proponent of changing the name of Penn State's McKeesport Campus.

(One city councilman has started referring to the borough as "Upper St. White Oak," in reference to the South Hills township regarded as an enclave of the well-to-do.)

That's why tempers quickly flared and Mayor Jim Brewster and some councilors took offense to Tyree's remarks that he doesn't want to live in McKeesport.

A few pointed out that when the Tyree-Scott house caught fire in November 2007, McKeesport firefighters extinguished the blaze.

"I don't think the city initiated the (annexation) process," Councilman Darryl Segina said. "It's a freak thing that happened. There's no reason why (the house) can't be part of McKeesport."

"You would feel different if it happened to you," Tyree replied.

. . .

So-called "county islands" are common in western and southern states where unincorporated communities become part of the larger county, and municipalities grow up around them by annexing surrounding land.

Some states also allow non-contiguous annexations --- unincorporated land that becomes built up can be annexed to a nearby city in order to receive city services, even when it doesn't touch that city's borders.

But Pennsylvania law does not allow unincorporated land or island annexations and discourages creation of municipalities without "adjacent," "compact" and "contiguous" borders. This raises the question why the old Kemp house was left out of the city of McKeesport when the surrounding land was annexed.*

. . .

The paperwork to move the parcel formally into the city limits has been pending since 1999 --- before the 2000 U.S. Census --- but officials said the administration of former Mayor Wayne Kucich failed to take any formal action.

The county has now apparently moved forward in anticipation of the 2010 Census. The decennial federal Boundary and Annexation Survey is already underway.

The parcel's status has apparently been in legal limbo for some time. On county records, it's numbered in sequence with the city's deeds, not White Oak's, and state officials consider the house part of the city; an official state map of White Oak issued in 2004 shows no sign of the parcel.

But the parcel is still shown on a White Oak zoning map last updated that same year.

It's also not the only parcel stranded inside the city of McKeesport by past annexations, according to City Administrator Dennis Pittman. A piece of vacant land near Route 48 was legally part of Versailles Borough but also was surrounded on all sides by the city limits; it's also been annexed to the city.

Scott bought the home from the Kemp heirs in 2002 for $135,000, according to county tax records.

Those same records indicate that the Scott parcel is legally part of the city of McKeesport.

. . .

Tyree said he and Scott object to what he called a lack of due process, and a lack of notification before Scott bought the house that its legal status as part of White Oak was in question.

Segina called for all sides to work together and move forward. "It was the federal government that initiated the process," he said. "So all I can say is, 'Welcome to McKeesport.'"

There was no word on whether Scott or Tyree might pursue further legal action. An attempt to reach them by telephone this week was not successful.

. . .

UPDATE: (Updated Friday morning, Feb. 13, 2009.) Upon further review, nothing in the state borough or township codes seems to expressly forbid creation of a municipality without contiguous borders.

In fact, White Oak is not the only Allegheny County municipality divided into more than one section. O'Hara Township is in three different pieces separated by Blawnox and Fox Chapel boroughs.

According to state law, if "the lands of any person" of a township or borough are cut off by annexation of the surrounding territory, the surrounding municipality may annex the orphaned piece.

Before it can be annexed, however, a petition has to be filed in "the court of quarter sessions," and it has to be signed by "a majority in number of the freeholders in the territory to be detached" from the original municipality.

That suggests that this dispute deserves an airing in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, the successor to the court of quarter sessions. (Disclaimer: Nothing in Tube City Almanac is to be construed as legal advice.)


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February 10, 2009 | Link to this story

Peanut Recall Has Broad Reach

Category: News || By

Don't think that you have anything affected by a nationwide recall of peanuts and peanut butter? You may be surprised.

An amazing number of products that may contain peanuts or peanut butter contaminated with salmonella bacteria could have been sold through Mon-Yough area supermarkets, including many (like ice cream) you wouldn't suspect.

A check of the Food & Drug Administration's website reveals that ice cream, for instance, sold through Giant Eagle, Shop 'n Save and Foodland stores and convenience stores could include ingredients manufactured in one of several plants linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak.

The outbreak has been linked to 600 illnesses and eight deaths in 43 states. FDA officials say the contaminated ingredients came from a now-closed plant in Blakely, Ga., operated by Peanut Corporation of America.

A sampling of the products affected by the recall --- and which may have shown up in local stores --- include certain flavors or varieties of:

Many, many brands are part of the recall (including those sold by Kmart, Wal-Mart and Walgreen's). In fact, more than 1,000 products are now included, including brownies, cakes and pies, candy, cookies, crackers, snack mixes, ice-cream toppings and even pet foods.

Consumers are being encouraged to visit the FDA's website frequently to see if they have any affected products, or if any new products have been added to the recall.

Jars of peanut butter sold through retail stores are not part of the current recall, according to the FDA. Products suspected of being part of the outbreak should be thrown away.

Consumers who want to know if they have products affected by the recall may call the FDA's hotline at (888) SAFE-FOOD (888-723-3366) or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (800) CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

. . .

P.S: In case you're curious about what the factory implicated in the outbreak looks like, I did a little detective work. This seems to be the Google Street View image.

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February 10, 2009 | Link to this story

Luke Quay, Please Come Home

Category: Rants a.k.a. Commentary, Wild World of Sports || By

(Editor's Note: I will now attempt to demonstrate why I should never write about sports.)

I missed this bit from Saturday Night Live in which James Harrison (Kenan Thompson) talked about his 100-yard touchdown run during the Super Bowl.

His plans for the off season? "To lie down." Heh.

. . .

Hooprock: I may not have watched any TV on Saturday, but I was lucky enough to be in the stands at the Palumbo Center as the Duquesne Dukes upset No. 9 Xavier. I've followed Duquesne basketball since I was in high school, which meant keeping the faith through some really dismal seasons.

Watching the resurgence of that program has been an incredible amount of fun. Seeing the Duquesne kids mob the court after the final buzzer was exhilarating.

If the Steelers and Pitt Panthers keep winning, and Duquesne starts beating ranked opponents, there won't be a safe couch in any dormitory in Pittsburgh.

. . .

Fun McKeesport Trivia Fact: During the 1940s and '50s, Duquesne University's men's basketball team was so successful that its gym was too small to hold all of the spectators.

They wound up playing some home games in the gymnasium at the "Voke" --- the old Vocational High School on Eden Park Boulevard. (As they say, you could look it up.)

. . .

Meanwhile: Are you pumped up already about baseball season? If you live in the Pittsburgh area, your answer is probably a resounding "hell, no!"

I could put up with Duquesne's long string of losing seasons, but for whatever reason, the Pirates' 16-year run of complete futility is harder to stomach.

Maybe it's because the taxpayers didn't foot the bill for the Palumbo Center. I thought building a new stadium was going to save professional baseball in Pittsburgh? I guess Pittsburgh has to get a professional baseball team first.

. . .

Along the same lines, Pat Lackey of Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke? has a preview of the coming baseball season which he says is from the Pirates' website.

I have my doubts, because this seems a little too honest:

Coming off of a rough 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 season, hope still springs eternal in Bradenton. Pitchers and catchers report on Friday and on Saturday, manager Jim Leyland Gene Lamont Lloyd McClendon Jim Tracy John Russell will hold the first practice with pitching coach Ray Miller Pete Vuckovich Spin Williams Jim Colborn Jeff Andrews Joe Kerrigan ...

While pundits are expecting yet another losing season for the Pirates, the steady returning veteran presence of Denny Neagle Jason Kendall Kevin Young Brian Giles Jason Bay Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit along with Leyland Lamont McClendon Tracy Russell's insistence that the team will stress good, fundamental baseball this spring, improving young players, and pixie dust, perhaps 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 will be the year that things finally turn around for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

. . .

Yep, I can hardly wait for the sound of the ball hitting the glove, the smell of the freshly mown grass, and the sight of the Pirates sinking to the bottom of the standings without even leaving any foam on the surface.

Officer Jim worked a traffic detail during the Steelers victory parade. He says he's grateful that there won't be any World Series parade in Pittsburgh until long after he retires.

Yes, with three days to go until the Pirates report to training camp, the faint aroma of "fail" is wafting up from Bradenton once again. Is it too soon to say, "Just wait for next year"?

. . .

Of course, there's always the Penguins.

Oh, right. Erm ... did I mention that Duquesne beat Xavier?

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February 09, 2009 | Link to this story

Municipal Notes

Category: News || By

City council will urge the state to reinvest any video poker revenue back into local communities and not into college scholarships.

On a suggestion from Councilman Darryl Segina, council voted 7-0 Wednesday to write Gov. Ed Rendell and local legislators to urge them to legalize video poker and allow municipalities to receive any tax proceeds.

Last week, Rendell recommended the state legalize video poker machines in bars and restaurants and use the resulting revenue --- estimated at $550 million annually --- to fund annual scholarships of up to $7,600 to state-owned universities.

The proposal was widely criticized by members of the state General Assembly, some of whom object to legalizing video poker and others who are afraid it would cut into proceeds from the state's recently created slot machine casinos.

State Police Commissioner Frank Pawlowski recently estimated that 17,000 video poker machines already operate illegally in Pennsylvania.

Segina said legalization of video poker has long been "one of my pet projects," but he objects to Rendell's proposal to route the money to higher education.

"We need the money for the survival of this town," he said. McKeesport last year closed a $1 million budget hole by draining its reserve fund and laying off 10 employees.

. . .

Sixth Ave. Garage Contract Let: City council unanimously awarded a $20,300 contract to U&S Construction of Etna to perform temporary repairs in the Sixth Avenue parking garage.

The work will include shoring up the first floor and reinforcing several beams now restricted from traffic. Eight contractors submitted bids.

. . .

Paper Recycling OK'd: Also approved was a contract with Abitibi Bowater to place recycling bins around the city for collection of newspaper, office paper and magazines.

Paper will not be collected from house to house, but residents will be able to drop recyclables in the yellow and green "Paper Retriever" bins.

Some bins are already in place within the city under agreements with McKeesport Area School District, the Propel charter school on Versailles Avenue, Auberle on Hartman Street, and churches like First United Methodist on Cornell Street and Rainbow Temple Assembly of God on Shaw Avenue. Similar arrangements exist in surrounding municipalities and school districts.

The city will receive between $5 and $20 for each ton of paper collected.

. . .

Shovel-Ready Projects: City officials have submitted a number of "shovel-ready" projects to the federal government for possible inclusion in the Obama administration's economic stimulus plan.

Although there is no guarantee any of the projects will be funded, the city has asked for federal funding to pay for the extension of Marshall Drive from Old Long Run Road to Route 48; improvements to City Hall (the former McKeesport National Bank headquarters on Fifth Avenue); and construction of the flyover ramp at the foot of Coursin Street between Lysle Boulevard and the RIDC industrial park.

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February 06, 2009 | Link to this story

K-9 Officer Honored By Council, Mayor

Category: News || By

A newly retired K-9 officer assisted in 284 arrests and apprehended 40 criminals in his five-year career with the city police department.

Hari, a German shepherd partnered with city police Sgt. Tim Bliss, answered 1,486 calls in McKeesport and the surrounding communities, recovering a weapon used in a December 2004 homicide, tracking a suicidal juvenile in May 2006, and helping officers seize 25 pounds of cocaine and 17 pounds of marijuana.

Accompanied by his wife, Linda, and parents Bob and Brenda Bliss, Sgt. Bliss received a commendation at Wednesday's council meeting on behalf of Hari. The dog has retired from active service because of arthritis in his back legs, said Sgt. Bliss, who also serves as director of K-9 operations for the city police.

Mayor Jim Brewster said the statistics prove the worth of the five K-9 officers on the city's force. "I don't want to underestimate the value of these dogs," he said. "They serve a much bigger role than you might expect."

Besides their abilities to track suspects and find hidden contraband, the dogs are also a valuable community relations tool, said assistant police Chief Al Tedesco. A lot of people who are afraid to approach an unaccompanied police officer will spot a police officer with a canine partner and use the dog as a way to "break the ice," he said.

Bliss and other members of the city's K-9 unite regularly walk beats Downtown in good weather and also visit elementary and middle schools with their canine partners. Hari participated in 58 school assemblies during his career, city police said.

"It's amazing how the kids react when they see the dogs," Brewster said.

. . .

In Other Business: The city has submitted an application through Allegheny County for $2.6 million in funding from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Bethany Budd Bauer, community development director, said part of the money would be used to demolish vacant homes.

If approved, the remainder of the money would be used for new construction in partnership with McKeesport Housing Corp.*, McKeesport Neighborhood Initiative and Blueroof Technologies.

. . .

Preliminary renderings for new street signs, lighting, wastebaskets and other new amenities Downtown have been sent to the state Department of Transportation for approval.

PennDOT must OK the renderings before Fifth Avenue can be reconstructed using $929,000 in state funding.

Brewster said the city will probably get new signage to direct visitors to landmarks like the marina, city hall, the post office and the Palisades ballroom. He said the city is moving quickly to make sure the state doesn't yank back the funding, which was authorized in 2006.

"The project is approved, but the state is broke," Brewster said. "I don't think there's any project on the table that the governor couldn't pull the money from."

Replacing all of the sidewalks between Water and Huey streets would be "cost prohibitive," the mayor said, but new curb cuts for wheelchairs and motorized scooters will be created.

The city has been criticized in the past by advocates for the disabled because many sidewalks either lack wheelchair access ramps or have them improperly installed.


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February 05, 2009 | Link to this story

Parking Scofflaws Warned of Pending Crackdown

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Presidents' Day is "P-Day" in the city. That's "P" as in "parking."

Stung by an epidemic of parking scofflaws Downtown, city officials will begin an enforcement crackdown on Feb. 16. Notices will be distributed to employers and stores in the central business district, said Bethany Budd Bauer, community development director.

"We want to encourage people to come Downtown, but we can't have people parking all over the place," she said.

On any typical weekday afternoon, cars are parked at expired meters, in traffic lanes, or left standing at yellow curbs and fire hydrants.

City officials say they want the parking problem straightened out before the reconstruction of Fifth Avenue begins later this year. And with the city recently forced to lay off 10 employees, every quarter helps municipal coffers.

Parking revenues are supposed to generate about $3,000 per week. This past Monday's collection was $475.

Compliance on Downtown streets is "a joke," Mayor Jim Brewster said. "If you ride down Fifth Avenue, you see every red flag up."

Parking in city lots or garages costs $1.50 all day, while metered parking generally runs 25 cents per hour. Few if any motorists are paying.

Brewster said failure of motorists to plug two bits into Downtown meters represents "a lack of respect" for the city. City officials also were embarrassed last month when someone stole 13 old-type parking meters in the 300 block of Fifth Avenue and are investigating more sophisticated electronic meters.

"When people say that McKeesport has declined, they need to look in the mirror," Brewster said. "It's a very serious thing, and I don't want to hear any whining from anybody."

Although parking revenues are far from the city's most important source of income, they do represent the salaries of two or more employees, he and others said.

Council President Regis McLaughlin said the city also needs to become stricter about collecting on parking tickets. Brewster said police are going to begin putting so-called "Denver boots" --- wheel immobilizers --- on the cars of scofflaws.

Besides lax enforcement, one problem may be a lack of signage. Officials admit that few motorists realize that they can pay for all-day parking --- with in and out privileges --- by stopping into the city treasurer's office. There are no attendants on duty at the Cox's Corner lot, for instance, and no signs explain parking regulations.

"We're going to get our arms around it and we're going to get this fixed," Brewster said.

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February 04, 2009 | Link to this story

Study: McKeesport Hospital Nets Quality Award

Category: News || By

Tube City Online file photo

A national health care ratings organization has given UPMC McKeesport a "Distinguished Hospital Award" for clinical excellence.

Golden, Colo., based Health Grades Inc. says the city's hospital is one of 19 in Pennsylvania with a mortality rate significantly lower than the national average.

In addition, patients undergoing surgery at UPMC McKeesport are less likely to suffer complications.

The study released last week places the hospital --- which has 216 beds for acute care and 56 for skilled-nursing patients --- among the top five percent in the nation for patient survival.

Health Grades Inc. is an independent, for-profit company that analyzes statistics and provides reports to insurance plans and hospitals about health care quality.

The seventh-annual Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence Study looked at survival rates for 26 different treatments for patients suffering life-threatening conditions such as heart attacks, strokes and pneumonia; as well as for patients recovering from surgeries such as joint replacements.

UPMC McKeesport was one of four hospitals in Allegheny County honored by Health Grades, including West Penn's Forbes Regional Campus in Monroeville and Alle-Kiski Medical Center in Natrona Heights, and UPMC St. Margaret in O'Hara Township.

"Many hospitals excel in a given service line, but what differentiates these top hospitals is their quality achievement across a broad range of procedures and treatments," a Health Grades spokesman said.

The data from 2005 through 2007 --- compiled from 41 million patient records at 5,000 facilities --- was "risk adjusted" so that hospitals that admitted sicker patients were not penalized and were compared on equal terms with peer institutions.

The report was released two weeks after officials selected UPMC McKeesport as one of several community hospitals across the nation that will be allowed to perform angioplasties during a clinical trial.

Angioplasties --- widening a clogged artery or vein using a balloon --- are usually done only at hospitals equipped to perform open-heart surgeries.

The "Atlantic Cardiovascular Patient Outcomes Research Team Clinical Trial" being coordinated by researchers from Johns Hopkins and Duke universities will try to determine if patients suffer any higher risk of complications by having an angioplasty done at a community hospital.

Some community hospitals --- including Uniontown Hospital --- have already received waivers to perform angioplasties.

The research team at McKeesport is being led by Dr. Stephen Bowser of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab along with Drs. Simon Chough and Francis Ergina.

Mon-Yough area patients who need angioplasties and do not want to travel to a Pittsburgh hospital will need to consent to enrollment in the clinical trial. About 75 percent of patients who give their consent will be able to receive the treatment at UPMC McKeesport, Bowser said in a news release.

Hospital staff in the emergency room and cardiovascular unit have undergone additional training to prepare for participation in the study, he said.

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February 03, 2009 | Link to this story

Dysfunction Junction? It's Route 30 and Greensburg Pike

Category: Cartoons, Rants a.k.a. Commentary || By

(c) 2009 Tube City Online

Make no mistake --- the recession is hitting local municipalities hard. As one official recently told me, when people get laid off, the first bills they stop paying are taxes and sewage.

After all, Duquesne Light can shut off your electricity, but the borough can't shut off your toilet.

If you don't pay those bills, the worst a municipality can do is lien your house or turn you over to a collection agency, and if you're facing foreclosure and bankruptcy, what do you care?

That's forced many Mon-Yough communities to make hard, unpopular decisions. The city of McKeesport laid off 10 employees and emptied its reserve fund. Versailles eliminated its police department.

North Versailles Township commissioners also had some tough decisions to make. Revenues were way down in 2008. They couldn't pay some of their bills.

None of these problems developed quickly. But their reaction was certainly abrupt. They told all of their employees last week that they wouldn't be paid for up to eight weeks ... yet they expect them to keep coming into work!

Why can't they be paid? Because the township didn't complete its annual audit on time, so it couldn't get a routine tax-anticipation loan that would cover expenses during the first quarter of the year.

Almost every municipality and school district receives these short-term lines of credit at the beginning of each fiscal year, but North Versailles commissioners screwed the pooch.

Or to put it more accurately, they screwed their police officers, dispatchers, public works employees, office employees ... well, you get the picture.

Instead of tending to their responsibilities, according to published reports and local talk radio, two factions of North Versailles commissioners have been busy fighting for control of the township.

The same gang also couldn't get the township's annual budget passed until four weeks after it was due.

Because they can't play nice, 35 to 40 good people are staring at empty checking accounts and wondering whether they should skip the gas bill or the mortgage payment this month. Six part-time police officers were furloughed altogether.

Now some board members want East Allegheny School District to help pay the salaries of the laid-off part-timers. School officials are demurring. Can you blame them? Would you want to step into this mess?

Other reports indicate that Duquesne Light has threatened to cut power to North Versailles' various buildings (the lights in the parking lot at the municipal building have already been turned off, according to one news story) and that vendors (including the garbage collection service!) haven't been paid in weeks.

These problems weren't caused by an act of God. They weren't caused by the economy. They were caused by people who put political vendettas ahead of their sworn duties.

They were caused by a ridiculous power struggle (for control of what? North Versailles?! A township of 11,000 people?!) that didn't have to happen.

Petty fights are not unusual in local politics, but this level of dysfunction is surprising even by Mon Valley standards.

Several commissioners are up for re-election this year. If they run in the primary, then North Versailles voters need to speak loud and clear where it counts --- not just at commissioners' meetings and on talk shows, but at the ballot box. And two years from now --- when the rest of the board is up for re-election --- they need to speak up again.

North Versailles taxpayers and employees, you deserve better than this.

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February 01, 2009 | Link to this story

Yes, They Can!

Category: Cartoons, Wild World of Sports || By

(c) 2009 Tube City Online/Jason Togyer

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February 01, 2009 | Link to this story

The Eyes Have It

Category: General Nonsense, Pointless Digressions || By

We interrupt these tedious mutterings about the Mon-Fayette Expressway to bring you a story about another useless, slimy and painful annoyance in the Mon Valley --- mainly my cold.

Having migrated from my head to my throat to my chest, I thought the dreaded lurgy was on its way out until I woke up early this morning with my left eye stuck shut.

The germs decided to crawl back up my tear ducts and turn into conjunctivitis.

I never had "pink eye" when I was a kid, but now that I'm an alleged "grown-up" I've had it twice. Perhaps I'll be working through other childhood diseases soon. Maybe my crankiness is actually colic. Maybe my baldness is actually cradle cap.

I waited until 10 o'clock to call my doctor, who --- bless his heart --- called me back within five minutes. I won't mention his name, but if you're looking for a general practitioner in McKeesport, email me, and I'll recommend him privately.

He really is a great doctor, and I don't say that just because he bought my book. If you can't afford the operation, he touches up your X-rays. (Henny Youngman, 1969.)

. . .

Anyway, he prescribed eye drops and a general antibiotic. Now there's a problem.

I deal with a small, independent pharmacy that's been in business since the 1950s. They don't have stuffed animals, makeup, People magazine or ice cream. They have a prescription counter, some hard candy, a rack of sun-faded greeting cards, some pills and salve, and I think some liniment.

When I go into get my prescriptions, I deal directly with the pharmacist or his wife, and if I get a rash or a sniffle, he recommends the right pill or liniment, and he doesn't waste my time trying to sign me up for a frequent customer card, or sell me a digital camera or a Steelers bobble-head.

My pharmacy (again, recommendations available upon request) is open on Sundays, but my health insurance was recently switched. Now --- if I want the insurance to pay for the prescriptions --- I can only go to a certain, large national chain of pharmacies.

The same large national chain of pharmacies also owns the prescription insurance plan.

That doesn't seem like restraint of trade or anti-competitive behavior.

Gee, I'm sure glad we don't have nationalized medicine in the United States, or else the free enterprise system might suffer, and large bureaucracies might tell me where I can shop.

But I digress.

Here's another problem --- I've been boycotting this large chain of pharmacies ever since they filed a so-called "SLAPP" lawsuit against a group of historic preservationists in Homestead.

. . .

Normally, none of this makes a difference, because I continue to shop at my local drug store. I just pay cash. And the medications I usually take aren't very expensive (some allergy pills, an asthma inhaler, and the anti-psychotics that keep me from seeing giant fanged bats or buying Pirates tickets).

But the antibiotics were going to run over $200, so I figured I might as well stick that to the insurance company owned by the fancy-pants national drug store chain.

My doctor called the prescription into the big national pharmacy at 10:15. I drove to the big national pharmacy at 12:30.

Naturally, they still hadn't started working on the prescription --- but if I wanted to shop for stuffed animals, makeup, People magazine or ice cream while I waited, the girl told me, it would take about 20 minutes. And she tried to sign me up for a frequent shopper card.

Oh, I wasn't going to fall for their trickery. I just stood there and stared at her through my one good eye.

Why does a drug store chain get to own its own insurance company? And why wasn't my prescription ready when I got there? Because they wanted me to spend more money in the store.

The whole thing bugs me. But I'll get even with them. For one thing, I'm going to continue my boycott.

Also, I coughed in their ice cream case and rubbed my eyes on the stuffed animals on the way out the door.

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