Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hampton teachers authorize strike...

What's the deal with the threat of teacher strikes in the North Hills lately?

Add another school district to that list since Hampton Township teachers authorized a strike. The contract negotiations have faced hurdles over a variety of issues including health care premiums.

Teachers have not yet set a date to begin the work-stoppage.

From the Post-Gazette:

The main issues relate to teaching and learning conditions, including class size. Another unresolved issue is health care premiums.

The old contract expired June 30. The district has about 3,000 students.

You guys know my views on the issue of teachers paying health care premiums. I'm a bit more interested to get the background on the other issues involved.

Earlier this month, Hampton educators threatened to boycott the next scheduled bargaining session in December due to problems during negotiations.

From the Post-Gazette:

Frustrated with the progress of contract negotiations, Hampton teachers have said they will not attend the next scheduled bargaining session set for Dec. 11.

The teachers' negotiation team was disappointed with the Nov. 13 talks, said Arleen Starr, a representative of the Pennsylvania State Education Association and chief negotiator for the bargaining team made up of seven teachers.

The two sides disagree on more than 50 points, she said.

I'll update this post as more information comes along...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shaler teacher interview in the works...

This Tattler thought it was important to include the opinion of an educator in Shaler Area School District while discussing contract issues. After throwing out the opportunity through the comment section of a previous post, a local teacher has agreed to give their opinion.

Keep in mind, this educator will remain anonymous but I think the conversation will give a much-needed perspective. Keep an eye out for the interview later this week (probably Thursday or Friday).

UPDATE: The teacher interview has taken longer than expected. When I get the information, I'll be sure to post it.

Working to keep you posted...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Shaler teacher's coverage...

Here's a list of some coverage of the recent Shaler situation. I hope you find it useful.

Note: The Pine Creek Journal will probably have something in tomorrow's edition -- I'll provide a link.

UPDATE: Below is Pine Creek Journal's article on the contract rejection.

Pine Creek Journal

Teachers reject contract offer


Post-Gazette

Shaler teachers reject pact but don't strike

Shaler teachers reject pact but won't strike right away

Shaler Area teachers, board agree on tentative contract

Tribune Review

Shaler teachers have tentative contract

Other

KDKA: Shaler Teachers Reject Contract Offer

WTAE: Shaler Teachers Reject Contract Offer

WPXI: No Deal, But No Strike In Shaler

AP: Shaler Area teachers reject pact, but don't strike

Working to keep you posted...

A couple of thoughts...

- Is it me or do you hate Best Buy as much as I do? Especially the North Hills Village location along McKnight Road.

It always seems like there are a bunch of employees just standing around doing nothing. Also, the security station makes this Tattler feel that the electronics store treats everyone like thieves.

Is it just me?

- China Star, a restaurant at McIntyre Square, offers authentic Chinese food in addition to the regular fare. If you want to try something different, the selections are sure to please. While it's not the best I've had, it is always a welcomed change.

- For those of you who live in a cave, Thompson Run Road reopened last week. I'm sure this was welcomed by many Glenshaw/ Shaler residents as well as those living on Siebert Road, which was used as the detour.

- I had Verizon FIOS-TV installed a couple of weeks ago. The biggest difference is the large amount of channels as well as quality of picture. With Comcast, I never had a great picture and Verizon is really good.

Right now, I'm still in the mode of memorizing the channel numbers. While there are definite kinks to be worked out, Verizon could be a welcomed alternative to Comcast. Verizon needs to provide more local channels (PCNC, etc) and improve their OnDemand feature.

For anyone else who did the switch -- what do you think?

HEARTH plan and a missing commissioner...

When the much-disputed HEARTH project was narrowly nixed by Ross Township commissioners last week, one local vote was surprisingly absent.

Jerry O'Brien, Ross commissioner, did not attend the meeting. The plan in question would have been located in his district.

From the McKnight Journal:

A room filled with discontented Ross residents got their wish last week when Ross Commissioners failed to pass a plan that would allow a local non-profit to build an affordable housing community in the township.

The 11 duplexes at HEARTH at Benet Woods would have been open to people earning between $24,800 and $37,200 and who have cleared criminal, credit and housekeeping screenings.

The plan was rejected by a tie vote of 4-4. Commissioners Dan Demarco, Chris Rand Eyster, Lana Mazur and David Mikec voted in favor of the plan. Peter Ferraro, Dan Kinross, Grant Montgomery and Grace Stanko voted against it.

Gerald O'Brien, the commissioner for the ward in which the development was to be located, was not in attendance at the meeting.

Does anyone have information as to why Jerry was absent? This Tattler does have sources to find out why but I am interested to see what you guys know before I ask those people.

As someone who dealt with O'Brien at a large capacity while working for a community newspaper for more than four years until this past August, he was always a strong voice on the board. This seems out of character for him and this Tattler wants to get his whereabouts known.

Feel free to post comments about this issue or E-mail me directly at sirfuller@hotmail.com.

Working to keep you posted...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Shaler teachers reject offer...

Well, this Tattler admits when he is wrong -- and I was mistaken in regards to the teacher's strike. Shaler educators greedily rejected the tentative contract drawn last week over health care premiums, something they have never had to pay for.

From the Post-Gazette:

The sticking point was health-care premiums. While teachers are willing to pick up some of the cost of the premiums for the first time, the proposed payments were too high, she said.

Salaries also are an issue, Ms. Noble said, but not as much of one as health care.

Let's wake up and smell the coffee everyone. We all pay a share (or most of us) for our health care coverage. Why should teachers be treated any differently.

This Tattler thinks it's nice that teachers won't strike right away but these union members need to realize that many community members are paying hundreds upon hundreds of dollars every month for health coverage. Let's be real -- teachers aren't doing this out of kindness but in fear of losing support in the community and beyond.

Paying for health care coverage is a reality that greedy Shaler educators must come to terms with. Yet, another reason to ban teacher strikes in Pennsylvania.

In a letter on the district's Web site from Superintendent Donald Lee:

Shaler Area Education Association has announced that in spite of voting down the tentative agreement they have agreed to return to work on Tuesday, November 27th and continue to negotiate with the district in the hopes they can work to resolve the items that remain in dispute.

This news was certainly welcomed but a bit of a surprise, so I have no more details at this time.

Working to keep you posted...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Teacher strikes...


With the recent teacher's strike at Seneca Valley School District and the possibility of both Shaler and Hampton Schools facing a work stoppage -- what do you Tattlers think?

Should teacher unions be allowed to strike or should they be forced to use arbitration techniques instead?


Thirty-seven (37) states do not allow teachers to strike. Reform-minded state lawmakers want to make Pennsylvania the 38th state to protect taxpayers and children, but they need help to overcome the career politicians who pander to teacher unions.

With seeing so many strikes occur in the region lately, this Tattler thinks that there has to be a better way for both sides to come to an agreement. I understand that rising costs and health care have been hot button issues but how can schools in 37 states come to an agreement without a strike being an option.

What it shows is these negotiations can be done without striking. While this may sound good to some -- banning strikes will not happen in Pennsylvania anytime soon.

From the Pittsburgh Trib:

The enormous strength and influence of teacher unions in Pennsylvania makes the passage of a strike ban unlikely. And even if the General Assembly by some miracle passes a bill outlawing strikes, Gov. Ed Rendell will almost certainly veto it.

So what's your thoughts on this issue. Post a comment and get the conversation going.

Working to keep you posted...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday light display robbed...




Apparently, a huge Christmas light display located along Fairley Road near Siebert Road in Ross was robbed last night. Thieves stole a donation box that supports local organizations.

From WTAE-TV:

A Ross Township family who have been putting a donation box for the Salvation Army and Children's Hospital in their front yard for more than 17 years reported the box stolen on Tuesday.

The residents of the Fairley Street home said someone swiped the entire box, which contained anywhere from $50 to $100. The box was found a short distance from the home, but the money was taken.

This Tattler says stealing from children and the poor is totally disgusting. I hope Ross Police can follow leads to catch these thieves.

If you know of anything, contact Ross Police at 412-931-9070.

Wal-Mart updates...

Has anyone heard anything in regards to Wal-Mart building on McKnight Road in Ross lately? While there was a lot of buzz about this project earlier this year, I haven't come across any new information in a long time.

If any of you have heard anything, let this Tattler know. Either leave a comment or e-mail sirfuller@hotmail.com and I'll follow-up on it.

Working to keep you posted...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shaler strike averted...

After more than five weeks of a teachers strike in Seneca Valley School District -- I'm sure you Tattlers are glad to see that a strike in Shaler Area School District has been averted.

Union leaders and district officials cut a deal earlier this week.

From the Post-Gazette:

The Shaler Area school board and the district's teachers reached a tentative agreement yesterday during a contract negotiating session.

The teachers had given strike notice for next Tuesday if a contract was not reached before that date.

While this agreement will not get the go-ahead until union members vote, the parents of more than 5,000 students should not worry -- the tentative agreement will most-likely be approved.

It seems as if so many teachers strikes are at the front burner in the north suburbs.

Just a while back, North Hills School District almost underwent the same problem but came to an agreement at the "11th hour." Hampton parents now must keep eye on this issue since their teachers may also strike in the near future.

Working to keep you posted...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ross officials deny HEARTH development...

My fellow Tattlers,

Ross Township officials nixed plans for HEARTH's housing development earlier this week. While this Tattler is thinks many came out to the meeting on Monday, this issue is far from dead.

From the Post-Gazette:

Ross commissioners last night rejected a plan to build 11 units of affordable housing on Rodenbaugh Avenue.

The project was proposed by Trek Development Group and HEARTH. Jerry Drozynski, president of HEARTH's board, said it was likely the partners would appeal the decision to Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

While this Tattler is in favor of an idea such as this plan, I feel it would have been located in an area in Ross Township that will undergo dramatic changes in the future. That neighborhood will deal with an elementary school closing in 2009 and this just felt like it wasn't the right spot for this type of housing at this time.

If it were to be proposed in a different area of the township, I most likely would support the plans. While this Tattler understands that free space is scarce in Ross, this plan just isn't right for that section of Ross.

Even though Ross Township commissioners have denied the plans, HEARTH officials plan to appeal the decision. This Tattler thinks they may be successful in their efforts.

Working to keep you posted...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Altmire to have tough time in 2008...

Now that Election Day has come and gone, many are looking forward to the political races next year. While some politicians may slide to another victory, freshman U.S. Congressman Jason Altmire (D-4) may have to go round for round to be victorious.

As this Tattler has said in the past, former congresswoman Melissa Hart will most likely seek the Republican nomination for her former post. Other candidates will likely include Lynn Swann, former gubernatorial candidate and former Allegheny County Councilman Ron Francis.

From USA Today:

After picking up four House seats in 2006, Democrats could have a tough time holding them. Rep. Jason Altmire, who unseated Republican Melissa Hart in 2006, will face her again if she wins the primary. Former football star Lynn Swann also is considering a run against Altmire.

National Republicans are helping Hart raise money and running newspaper ads against Altmire.

So, while this past election may have seemed to be a bore for suburbanites -- next year's races will be a welcomed change.

Working to keep you posted...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

West View Council President Dies...

Over the weekend, West View Borough Council President Daniel Daugherty, 73, died. For those Tattlers familiar with West View, Daugherty was considered by some to be the most powerful man in West View.

He had great influence and led West View for more than three decades.

From the Post-Gazette:

In 1969, he was elected to West View Borough Council and was presently serving his 38th consecutive year as well as holding the position of Council President for the past 36 years. Mr. Daugherty was appointed Assistant Manager of the Municipal Authority of the Borough of West View in March of 1985 and in 1986 was appointed Executive Director of the Authority, presently serving in that capacity.

In 1987, Dan was elected President of the Allegheny County Boroughs Association and in 1990 was elected Treasurer of the Allegheny League of Municipalities. In 2004, Mr. Daugherty was elected Chairman of the Municipal Risk Management Property and Loss Trust and in 2007 was appointed to the Board of Directors of West View Water.

Daugherty will be greatly missed in West View and it's hard to say who else on the borough council could lead the board. It always seemed the other members followed Daugherty's lead and hopefully a new voice will emerge to lead West View in the right direction.

Working to keep you posted...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Verizon offering FIOS-TV...

My fellow Tattlers,

Now local North Hills residents have another option when it comes to cable TV. Over the past several months, Verizon has been working with local officials to be able to offer their cable service in certain suburban areas.

Those in certain area municipalities are now able to get Verizon FIOS-TV.

From the Post-Gazette:

Most people cannot order FiOS-TV yet, only select homes in Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, Peters, Upper St. Clair, Ross, McCandless and some other North Hills communities (Ohio Township, O'Hara), where franchise agreements between the municipalities and Verizon have been signed.


Verizon media relations manager Lee Gierczynski explained that, "While we haven't officially announced the availability of FiOS TV in the Pittsburgh area, we have initially introduced the service on a small scale in those communities and several others, since we have just a few approved markets to sell in at this time.

This Tattler has scheduled an appointment for Verizon's new cable service to be installed next week. Comcast will be picking up the cable box on Tuesday while Verizon is installing on Wednesday. I'll let you all know about it.

The service offers 200 channels at around $43 per month. If you're looking to pay a little less for more channels, this might be a good choice for you. For details, visit www.verizon.net.

Working to keep you posted...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Election results...

Well, the polls have closed and ballots were counted. The City of Pittsburgh remains controlled by one political party and local suburban residents won't notice many leadership changes locally.

The unofficial vote totals are as follows:

In North Hills School District, Jeff Meyer received 5,750 votes; Lou Nudi - 5,359; Arlene Bender - 4,996; Robert Barto - 4,731; Ed Wielgus - 4,305; and Tara Howey - 4,006.

So as you may have gathered, all of the candidates this Tattler endorsed have earned their local constituents' nod. The five seats available will be filled by incumbents Meyer, Bender and Wielgus as well as newcomers Barto and Nudi.

In Ross Township, voters chose to give two incumbents another term on the board of commissioners. Both Dan Kinross (Ward 3) and Grant Montgomery (Ward 9) were re-elected by less than 100 votes each.

West View residents should expect more of the same as one political party continues to run the borough. Incumbents Joseph Nowark and Barry Schell gained the voters' nod as well as newcomer Donald Mikec, brother of Ross Township Commissioner David Mikec.

Two independents did not garner enough votes to take one of the seats including Constitutional candidates Jim Barr and Dave Urban. No republican candidates ran in the election.

West View Mayor J.R. Henry also received votes to finish the term he was appointed to last year. He ran unopposed in the primary.

Seems like much of the same to this Tattler. Hopefully all of these incumbents will come up with a vision to change their respective constituencies for the better.

Working to keep you posted...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Jeff Reed visiting McDonalds...

For all you Pittsburgh Steeler's fans out there -- Jeff Reed will be visiting the McKnight Road McDonald's location near Staples this Friday, Nov. 9 from 4 to 5 p.m. Reed, a kicker, joined the Steelers in 2002.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Election Endorsements - Ross Township...


At the polls tomorrow, residents of Ross Township's third and ninth wards should vote to re-elect their incumbent commissioner. The third ward represents Laurel Gardens while the ninth is near McIntyre Elementary.

However, even though both incumbents received this Tattlers endorsement, it was given very hesitantly. Had stronger candidates ran against either commissioner, these two would have a difficult time getting re-elected.

In the third ward, Dan Kinross is running for re-election after serving for nearly two decades. While he usually has the best interest in mind for township residents, Kinross may want to focus on bigger projects over the next four years.

This commissioner tends to focus solely on getting a plethora of stop and handicapped parking signs installed. He also has taken a stand unreasonably against certain issues such as the new township newsletter earlier this year.

In the ninth ward, Grant Montgomery usually does what is best for his community. Although his attendance record is not the best, Grant consistently has served his constituents. He may want to work on bigger projects that will put his name on the map over the next term.

Working to keep you posted...



Election Endorsements - North Hills...




While tomorrow's Election Day turnout may be quite low because of rain and it being an off-year election, residents in Ross Township and West View will fill several North Hills School Board positions.

In North Hills, there are six candidates vying for five seats. This Tattler recommends that you mark your ballots for incumbents Ed Wielgus, Jeff Meyer and Arlene Bender. Votes should also be placed for Lou Nudi and Robert Barto.

Ed Wielgus has been on the board for several years and is a hawk when it comes to fiscal matters. While he did vote to close Seville, Northway and Perrysville elementaries, Wielgus is a candidate that deserves to be re-elected.

Jeff Meyer is vying for election to a second term and is another candidate that focuses on what is best for the district's finances. It is smart to elect board members that believe in fiscal accountability and because of that, Meyer deserves a second term.

Arlene Bender has served on the board for two decades and tends to vote on what she thinks is best for North Hills students. While that is respectable, this Tattler can only hesitantly endorse Bender because she has consistently voted in favor of tax increases.

Lou Nudi deserves your vote because of his work with various committees in the area and his knowledge of the issues the board may face in the future. He is another candidate that believes in fiscal responsibility when making decisions.

Robert Barto deserves your vote because of his experience in government management. He also has good knowledge of the issues facing North Hills.

If you agree with me or not, just get out there and cast a ballot on Election Day.

Working to keep you posted...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Aldi to Open on Thursday...


My fellow Tattlers,

The new Aldi store will open along McKnight Road at the Shoppes at Northway (Northway Mall) this Thursday (Nov. 8). The store opening is part of a revitalization effort of the more than 40-year-old shopping facility.

Additional renovation plans have added several new businesses to the mall as well as converting a portion of the upper level into an outdoor shopping center. Residents can expect even more changes at Shoppes at Northway as time goes on.

Though the store offers lower priced goods, the opening has not been embraced by all. This Tattler recently read an anonymous comment left on the Tattler.

We live near an Aldi distribution centre in the Wirral, Cheshire, it is a nightmare, supplier's wagons using the area as giant carpark and toilet, refrigeration units running all night long stopping local residents sleep, extreme noise issues when they load and increased diesel fumes.

The whole Aldi thing should be stopped. They are damaging the rural areas, residential areas etc.

I've also received several comments from site visitors who believe the store will bring in a bad element. While I can agree with some comments, this Tattler plans to wait and see what happens.

Aldi officials are holding a grand opening event on Thursday. The store is the 893rd for the chain.

Working to keep you posted...