Thursday, December 27, 2007

Happy Holidays...

Hey guys,

This Tattler is taking a break until the new year. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!

See you January 2.

Friday, December 21, 2007

North Hills news...

Here are a few news bits from this Tattler's alma mater -- North Hills School District.

~ Apparently a new principal will come to the helm of Ross Elementary School - this Tattler's elementary school.

From the North Hills web site:


Mr. Jeff Anderchak, an experienced school administrator has been tapped as the new principal of Ross Elementary School, the largest of the seven elementary schools in the North Hills School District. Jeffrey Anderchak, assistant principal of McKnight Elementary School in North Allegheny, will join the district’s administrative staff after the New Year.

Mr. Anderchak has served as assistant principal at McKnight Elementary for two years. This experience has provided him several opportunities to develop and expand his administrative and leadership skills. In addition to supervising a staff of approximately 35 teachers, Mr. Anderchak played a crucial role in the overall management of the school and its educational programs.

~ North Hills will soon close three grade schools and Ross Township Zoning Hearing Board has stalled those plans.

From the North Hills web site:

The North Hills School District requested a slope variance from the Ross Township Zoning Hearing Board on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007. Members of the Zoning Hearing Board did not take action on the request. However, they stated that they would either approve or deny the variance within 45 days as required by law.

The school district is seeking approval from the Ross Township Zoning Commission for a slope variance at the Highcliff Elementary School property in order to renovate and expand the facility. Site designs were submitted to the Zoning Hearing Board in September.

Working to keep you posted...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Holidays...


From this Tattler's house to yours, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah (earlier this month), a Happy Kwanzaa and a Happy (whatever holiday you celebrate).

I know my card is a little wacky but I always try to do something a little different.

Here's to another year of laughs and good times. Hopefully, you're there with me to discuss and enrich one another.

Working to keep you posted...

Ross officials give OK to HEARTH development...

After being sued in Federal court in regards to denying HEARTH'S affordable housing development last month, Ross Township commissioners approved the plans earlier this week to avoid the lawsuit. While it came to no surprise that HEARTH sued the township, this Tattler is surprised commissioners backed down so quickly.

From the Post-Gazette:

Ross commissioners have offered to settle a dispute with developers of an affordable housing plan proposed on Rodenbaugh Avenue.

Commissioners voted Monday night to approve the controversial project if the developers withdraw their federal lawsuit charging the township with housing discrimination.
As an added incentive, they offered to pay for paving a widened street where the developers seek to build 11 townhouse units.


From the McKnight Journal:

Ross commissioners approved the HEARTH at Benet Woods complex Monday night by a 5-2-1 vote.

Commissioners Dan DeMarco, Chris Eyster, Peter Ferraro, David Mikec and Grace Stanko voted in favor of the plan. Dan Kinross and Grant Montgomery dissented.

Commissioner Gerald O'Brien, who represents ward the complex will be erected in, abstained.

While O'Brien abstained most-likely because he did not vote on the original plan, he should've cast a vote because this is happening in his ward. If I lived in that area, I would be livid with O'Brien over this.

This is not the first time commissioners have opted against a development that would be approved through a settlement. A few years ago, a plan to build a women's fitness center at the corner of Thompson Run and Sangree Roads was originally denied. After a lawsuit was waged, a settlement was reached and today that eyesore sits in a primarily residential area.

While it would be nice for Ross Commissioners to stand up for their original votes, this Tattler believes there was no way Ross Township could be successful in court. While many of you may not agree with this Tattler about the prospects of the case, commissioners made the right choice on Monday because they avoided further legal expenses that would ultimately come out of the taxpayer's pocket.

Even though plans have now been approved, there are still ways to deal with this development as neighbors and township residents. I can't see this working out well for HEARTH without community support and hopefully they are wise enough to recognize that an olive branch must be put out to their neighbors.

Working to keep you posted...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poster of the year...

Apparently the owner of BarSmart has produced this poster to be hung in bars throughout Allegheny County. They have done this in regards to Allegheny Council's approval of the 10-percent drink tax earlier this month.





Sunday, December 16, 2007

HEARTH sues Ross Township...

After having plans denied by a 4-4 vote last month, HEARTH officials have decided to go ahead and sue Ross Township for the right to build an affordable housing plan in the municipality. This should come as no surprise to those familiar with the plans.

From the Post-Gazette:

The developers of an affordable housing project that was planned for Ross have filed a federal lawsuit against the township and four commissioners there, claiming discrimination against the plan that would have benefited homeless and single women.

The 23-page complaint, filed Thursday, seeks a temporary injunction against the township, which rejected the plan for the construction of 11 townhouse units last month.
The Nov. 13 meeting where the $2.8 million project was voted down drew more than 100 people.


This Tattler has been in talks with a commissioner who voted in favor of the project. This Ross Township leader said:

I voted to approve the development, and legally, the Township could not deny the plan in light of the fact that HEARTH met all of our zoning ordinances. The danger faced by the commissioners who voted against the approval of the plan is that the judge on appeal could possibly award attorney’s fees to HEARTH, and those commissioners who voted against the plan could be personally liable to pay those fees.

While some may be supportive of this project many others came out to rail against the development plans. One North Hills Tattler wrote:

The reasons for opposing this project has been concern for flooding of Roseland Avenue from the water runoff that already exists and will only get worse if 5 acres of a wooded area are cleared.

The other reason is the safety of children on this very narrow steep street. We the neighbors of this area invite anyone to visit this area and let us know if you would want your children walking on this street. Two cars cannot pass each other.

How will cars be able to pull out of driveways on this narrow street?

Working to keep you posted...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

New coverage area???

This Tattler was wondering what you guys thought about this blog covering a bigger area? I was thinking of expanding coverage through most of the city and its suburbs.

What do you think?

Feel free to let this Tattler know which communities this blog should cover. While this Tattler adores the North Hills, I feel we need to grow to get more exposure. It will be a year since this blog was started in January and I think this will be a good way to expand come the new year.

So what do you think? E-Mail this Tattler at sirfuller@hotmail.com.

Working to keep you posted...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Every time a bell rings...

Well, grab the bag of popcorn and box of Dots because you are in for a real treat. This Tattler's favorite movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," will air tonight on NBC at 8 p.m.

Even though I've seen this heartwarming classic about a hundred times, I still manage to get a tear in my eye at the end. It shows you how you really make a difference.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

McCandless leaders may develop a part of McKnight Road...

While many may think that McKnight Road is as developed as it can be, local officials are looking to develop land in McCandless. When Duncan Road was connected to McKnight many thought a tract of land south of Cumberland Road would have quickly been built upon but it still remains vacant.

It looks like local McCandless officials are looking to do just that.

From the McKnight Journal:

Last week, the town planning commission and representatives from Ad-Venture Development, LLC began official conversations about developing the 135 acres along the McKnight Road corridor south of Cumberland Road, just past Duncan Road.

In 1986, McCandless officials saw the area along McKnight Road as an ideal location for a town center development. Officials wrote ordinances to extend Duncan Road through to McKnight Road, and zoned surrounding properties as a "D-Development District," which is a performance zoning district that permits a wide range of uses while being sensitive to natural resources and adjacent properties.

Ever since Duncan Road was connected to McKnight, rumors have run rampant as to what might be built in that location. The biggest rumor that this Tattler has heard is that a movie theater will be built there and Showcase Cinemas North will close.

You can't always trust rumor but it will be interesting to see what commercial properties will be built on this tract of land. If you know of anything feel free to post a comment.

Working to keep you posted...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Walgreens open on Christmas...

This Tattler took a trip to Walgreens at McKnight-Siebert Shopping Center in Ross earlier this week. I was appalled to find that the store will be basically working under Sunday hours on Christmas day (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

This would make sense if that respective store's pharmacy was open but it will be shut down. This Tattler does not live in fantasy land so I am well aware that there is a large segment of the population who do not celebrate Christmas but come on...

Is Walgreen's management thinking that people who have a hankering for a candy bar or over-priced cosmetics will need to stop in? Gas stations being open is a necessity, but a local drug store without a pharmacy open is not necessary.

This Tattler once worked for a local drug store and I feel bad for those select employees who have to work that day, keeping them away from their families for such a low wage. Keep in mind the management who made this decision will most-likely not be working this Christmas.

Is this Tattler crazy?

Working to keep you posted...

Teacher strike poll results...

About two weeks ago, this Tattler created a poll on this blog asking "Do you think Pennsylvania teachers should be allowed to strike?"

Well the results are in and keep in mind this was by no means a scientific poll. With 59 votes cast (I was hoping for more), it came down to a very slim margin.

49% of voters thought teachers should be allowed the option to strike with 29 votes while those who think striking should not be an option accounted for 47% or 27 votes. Leftover votes consisted of "maybe" at 2 and "undecided" at 1 vote.

Many of you readers out there are well aware that this Tattler thinks striking should not even be an option on the table because contracts can be dealt by using other negotiating tactics. However, it is interesting to see this particular poll's results when dealing with such a very divisive issue.

Keep your eyes peeled for our next poll question.

Working to keep you posted...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Looking for a good flick?

Well, this Tattler is first and foremost a TV lover but enjoys good movies every now and then. Below are a couple that I recently saw that are highly recommended!

~ 49 Up - It's a documentary that has been following a group of British pupils every seven years since they were seven-years-old. They are now 49 and it's a riveting sociological venture (though a bit too long).

~ The Joy Luck Club - A movie from the 1990's that follows the lives of a group of Asian mothers and daughters. A great view of how things can change from generation to generation.

~ Coal Miner's Daughter - A biopic of country singer Loretta Lynn. Sissy Spacek won an Oscar for her portrayal of Lynn.

I hope you guys enjoy these as much as I did.

Working to keep you posted...

Teacher's strike poll...

Only one more day left to vote in the teacher's strike poll (on the top right side of the blog's main page). I was hoping for a little more input so vote, vote, vote!

Working to keep you posted...

That darn paperboy...

While I would have liked to blog on a topic I may have found in Friday's paper it was impossible this day as my paperboy insists on throwing my Post-Gazette in my lawn rather than driveway.

After a couple inches of snow, it would be like locating a needle in a haystack. This Tattler will only be able to find it when the snow melts (there goes that paperboy's holiday tip)!

Working to keep you posted...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Allegheny County council approves bar and rental car taxes...

This Tattler is not a fan of tax increases and I'm sure many of you may not be happy with this move. Earlier this week, Allegheny County Council voted to approve two tax levies and most members voted along party lines.

While many Democrats voted in favor of a 10-percent bar tax/ $2 per day rental car tax, most Republicans did not support this effort.

From the Post-Gazette:

Supporting the drink tax were council President Rich Fitzgerald, D-Squirrel Hill, and members John DeFazio, D-Shaler, Dave Fawcett, R-Oakmont, James Burn Jr., D-Millvale, Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, Michael J. Finnerty, D-Scott, Joan Cleary, D-Brentwood, Charles Martoni, D-Swissvale, Robert J. Macey, D-West Mifflin, and Brenda Frazier, D-Stanton Heights.

Opposed were Vince Gastgeb, R-Bethel Park, Jan Rea, R-McCandless, Matt Drozd, R-Ross, and newcomer James Ellenbogen, D-Banksville. Councilman Nick Futules, D-Verona, also a freshman member of council, abstained.

On the rental car tax, Mr. Futules voted yes; Mr. Ellenbogen voted yes; and Mr. Fawcett voted no. All others voted the same as on the drink levy.

The votes of at least 10 of the 15 council members were required to enact the new taxes.
A crowd of restaurateurs and business owners, who packed the Gold Room of the Courthouse, walked out of the council meeting vowing to fight the drink tax.


Kudos to members Matt Drozd (R-Ross) and Jan Rea (R-McCandless) for voting against this levy because this Tattler thinks most tax increases can be avoided. John DeFazio (D-Shaler) unfortunately voted in favor of the increases.

The biggest travesty with this whole situation has to do with the lack of options council members had.

Fat can generally be trimmed off of budgets and it seems like Allegheny County Council members did not embrace that option. Also, the drink tax will most-likely have a detrimental effect on business at local bars and taverns.

This region has enough high taxes, maybe it's time to take a serious look at cuts that could have been made. Hopefully, voters remember this move come election time, especially if Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato plans to run for governor in 2008.

Working to keep you posted...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Pittsburgh shirts on sale...


Well, a friend of this blog and local North Hills resident has created a line of clothing with interesting Pittsburgh slogans that most residents would get a kick out of.

From the Post-Gazette:

The newest line of Pittsburgh T-shirts don't say The Burgh, Stillers, Yinzer or the rest of the black-and-gold cliches.

No, these are inside jokes that speak to your inner Pittsburghness, your ability to laugh at yourself and your city -- lovingly, of course.

For example, a T-shirt that says "Reserved Parking" shows an image of a chair. Another shows an image of the Statue of Liberty hoisting up not a torch, but a Terrible Towel, with the caption "S'Liberty."

These shirts are absolutely hilarious and this Tattler highly recommends purchasing a garb or two. The shirts can be found at http://www.wearpittsburgh.com/.

The man behind this madness also has a great blog at http://www.haveagoodsanwich.org/. Another local blogger who worked with the owner on this project is PittGirl, who continues to stay anonymous about her identity. Her hilarious blog is at http://www.theburghblog.com/.

Working to keep you posted...

Seneca Valley educators file second complaint against district...

And the Seneca Valley saga continues...

Because of the long strike that Seneca Valley underwent recently, school board members voted to extend the school year past June 15 in able to provide at least some holiday vacations during the school year.

Educators apparently filed a complaint against the school district over this action. Doesn't make much sense to this Tattler since the action gives some time off during the holidays.

From the Post-Gazette:

The charge was made last week after the district scheduled June 23 as the final day of classes for students and the school board approved the revised calendar at its Nov. 19 special meeting.
Teachers are claiming the calendar violates Act 88, the law regulating collective bargaining, by not having 180 days of instruction by June 15.


District officials said June 23 was chosen to allow for some holiday vacation time for students around both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The first charge filed by the union was an allegation that the district threatened to reduce its wage increase offer for a new contract by a percentage for each day teachers were on strike. A hearing had been scheduled for yesterday but was postponed.

As I said before, this complaint doesn't make sense. While I'm not an educational expert, this Tattler's common sense tends to think at least some holiday break for those involved is better than none.

Working to keep you posted...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Several local schools are ahead of the class...

Several local schools were listed in a ranking of the best public high schools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Hats off to the parents, students, administrators and especially teachers that made this possible.

While many schools in the North Hills provide a great education, only a handful of districts made the list including Hampton and North Allegheny. This may serve as a bargaining chip as Hampton teachers negotiate their new contract.

From the Post-Gazette:

The top rating goes to 100 numerically ranked "gold" high schools, only two of which are in Pennsylvania: Julia R. Masterman in Philadelphia and Conestoga Senior High in Berwyn, Chester County.

No. 1 in the country was Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Va., a magnet school for science and technology.

Another 405, which are unranked, are considered "silver," including Allderdice, Hampton, Mt. Lebanon, North Allegheny and Upper St. Clair.

From U.S. News & World Report:

The 100 schools that did the best in this analysis earned gold medals. The next 405 schools were awarded silver medals, and an additional 1,086 schools earned bronze.

Like any good photograph, the details of the data gathered for this project reveal a number of fascinating stories. Most notable is the variety among the schools that have earned the highest honor.

This is fantastic that a few local schools have made this ranking. While some may have hoped for more local schools on the list, this Tattler thinks it is a good start for showcasing the talent in the North Hills.

Working to keep you posted...