Thursday, August 30, 2007

Article in the Pitt News

It is always nice to get some good press in the news. The following link is an article published yesterday in the Pitt News. I personally like how the first paragraph is written...very straight forward and strong...Pittsburgh Strong. Enjoy!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Welcoming the youth back to the 'burgh

I had the good fortune, yesterday, of meeting a great number of returning and new students at the University of Pittsburgh's activities fair. Many of you reading this now may have first heard of me when I introduced myself and gave you a card, I appreciate you reading it and not having it make a b-line to the garbage. Overall it was a good turnout, my table was placed between the Pitt Democrats and the Pitt Republicans...I would say ironic but I think that it was more fitting than anything else. As my friend Nick says, "libertarians take the best parts of the Republicans and the Democrats and leaves the rest out".

At the end of every summer I am very enthused to see so many people returning to the city but it is a half-life of enthusiasm. I say this because it is much like trying to enjoy a Sunday night in high school; it's still the weekend yet Monday looms ominously over the next sunrise. So is it with the influx of students in the city. They come here, get a fine education from one of the many quality Universities that Pittsburgh has to offer, be it Pitt, CMU, Duquesne, Carlow, Chatham etc. only to be forced to leave when they graduate in order to find a decent enough job. And it is not only jobs that need to be found but also a lifestyle conducive to a young graduate student who is too old to go to a local dive bar and too young to get married. As my previous post states, the government is trying to limit the opportunities vital to make Pittsburgh an appealing place to live for young people. It's about time that someone spoke for ALL Pittsburgher's and not just those who are pro-bankruptcy, pro-tunnel, pro-walking bridge, pro-golf tournament and every other pro that should be thrown aside so the real work of improving the city can begin.

In the youth of the city I see hope and I will not cheat them in order to gain the appearance of improvement or cater to special interests at the cost of this city's future. If Pittsburgh is to survive, if it is to keep the youth that it nurtures in the embrace of education, then it needs to give them a home that they want to stay in. We do this by cutting venue taxes so more concerts come, we cut corporate tax so more businesses will return, we promote a more lively and entertaining night life so one doesn't have to try so hard to find something to do. Jobs will get them to stay in the city, fun will make them love it.

If anyone is interesting in helping me get elected, feel free to email me at but even if you don't want to "get involved", if you like what I have to say and if you believe in the vision I have for this city then tell a friend of two. I am not a juggernaut politico powerhouse, I do not have the bankroll of the GOP or the Dems, I'm just an honest man, making a stand, doing the best he can. I would appreciate the help.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Prohibition Lite

Why is the governments answer to everything, taxation and limitation? In case you haven't heard, this has been a hard fought year for the hospitality industry (that's a euphemism for bars and clubs). Between smoking ban legislation, bar saturation bills and now a 10% drink tax to be voted on in December, it has been a long fight for many small businessmen who are trying to run their businesses they best they can. When will government realize that capitalism flourishes when the government does LESS to interfere with the process? Between the oppression tax and the limit on capitalism, the government is trying to impose a softer touch of prohibition. One where it prohibits a legal business to run as the owner sees fit, where the government prohibits the market from figuring out its own solubility, where the government prohibits the people from their own free choice on how to run their lives.

Do not be fooled my friends, Prohibition may start with alcohol, but who is to say it will end there?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Under the river and through the woods to the casino we go

A lot of people have been asking me about the proposed tunnel under the Allegheny. My question is this: Why would the city of bridges need an underground tunnel to connect downtown to the north side? Is this the great solution to our traffic problem that vexes so many drivers? Hardly. The tunnel, let us be serious about it, has more to do with funneling people into a casino than trying to relax traffic concerns.

Does the city of Pittsburgh, you know the place, the city that has been run into bankruptcy, really need a tunnel that will will cost the taxpayers at LEAST $14.5 million dollars from our county taxes? Of course we don't. And that number is based on the the price not going up. In July the cost of the project went from $393 million dollars to $435 million dollars (mind you the initial pitch was for $130 million). We have bridges that are in need of dire repair, lest Pittsburgh becomes a news story like Minneapolis, as our politicians look puzzled as to why our bridges have crumbled while they looked to dig under the city for a tunnel.

My father used to tell me that you can't build a tall building without a strong foundation. It is therefore ironic that the strong foundation for rebuilding the city and setting Port Authority right is NOT found by digging in the ground. Unnecessary tunnels are an additional burden to an all ready strained tax base and it is about time some sanity was brought in to quell the madness.

As mayor, I can assure you all that I can take $435 million dollars and use it infinitely better than building a single tunnel. Once again, port authority has mismanaged resources and have gotten us into a bind. This is the catch 22 that Port Authority has gotten us into; The county or Port Authority will have to pay back the federal government the money they have put up thus far. THAT is the sticking point? To admit they were wrong and pay a penalty? Of course County Council and Port Authority chose not to do what is best for the city but rather bull headedly continued forward with this nigh half BILLION dollar hole in the ground.

As we are all aware, government projects seemingly never come in under budget or even at budget, so the status quo will dictate that a half billion dollar price tag is only the low ball estimate. If I knew that digging holes in the ground was so lucrative I would have done better at it when I was four years old.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Selling out the kids

I ran across a woman the other day, who upon hearing that I was running for mayor had a great deal of passion concerning a topic near and dear to her. Basically, she is concerned about the future that not only her children, but all children in the city. A valid concern I must admit. Why does it always seem that government, when forced to cut something, always dives right in to that which is most needed. I spoke previously about the Fire Departments, but now let us take a look at the programs being denied the youth of this city. I still remember a time when swimming in a public pool was free. Back when kids didn't need to break open piggy banks in order to help mom pay for a refreshing dip when the 90 degree Pittsburgh heat is only eclipsed by the 95% humidity. This issue, though, is bigger than mere swimming pools as this concerned voter and I discussed. We lose after school programs, we close parks, we continue to whittle away at what young, boisterous, energetic children can do. Not only are we stunting their growth but as we all know, a child left to his own devices will find his own excitement. Too often, unfortunately, that excitement comes with negative price to pay. Now, you may be well off financially and think that you will never have to pay this price...until that is, a child the city wrote off on his own devices is sticking a .22 in your back.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think government is the end all be all answer to any problem. But there are situations in which they can help. Finding ways to keep kids in a positive environment, constructively using their time while their parent or parents are working hard to earn a living is one of them. I am not a father. I know I wouldn't have all the answers on how to raise a child but I have my parents, whom I think did a fantastic job raising me, to ask for advice. Many people don't have such a support network, or have come from homes where their upbringing was less than optimal. The woman I was talking with suggested that classes should be offered to new parents on how to parent. I like this idea, in the army we call it "teach the teacher". Seeing how government runs I doubt that they should be teaching anyone anything, but I intend to work with the plethora of non-profits we have in the city to enact a "Parenting Teaching Class" free of charge to the participants and with no added burden to the taxpayers. I feel the benefits would be felt for years to come.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Act 47...take two

I was reading over Act 47 and how it is supposedly going to save the city. It's all well and good until a fire breaks out...then we have to do we call when there are no firefighters? I sat in on a city council meeting a few weeks ago and listened while some Harrisburg pencil pushers hemmed and hawed around answering anybody's question directly about how Act 47 was going and when they (the Act 47 number crunchers) would be done. I can tell you I wasn't the least bit surprised when they sidestepped any real answer. What bureaucrat with a cushy job wants to give it up? Don't get me wrong, I do believe that Act 47's premise that cuts need to be made is a valid one. I do question WHERE some of the cuts come from, though. Of all the fat and wasteful spending the city currently has, with no sign of stopping anytime soon, do we really need to put lives in jeopardy by sandbagging firefighters? Am I to understand that all the pet projects of Mayor Ravenstahl are more necessary than ensuring the lives of the city? Am I getting too dramatic? Answer: No. Firefighters are heroes. My cousin was a firefighter and responded on 9/11 in New York City. What others run from, they run to. Hero's come in many forms...and sometimes they ride in big red trucks waving axes.

I see that I am getting off the point. The point is that WE...the city of Pittsburgh, and not some Harrisburg oversight committee knows what is best for our city and we do not need them to baby us into doing it. The time has come for someone to stand up and do what is right by the people...and it's time for the people to stand up and vote for him. I am in need of your support, and by proxy, the city of Pittsburgh needs you to make a stand with me.

Besides, last time we let Harrisburg decide something we lost a free arena for the Penguin's and now have a casino being placed in a family oriented area. I'm sure the kids can learn about physics at the Carnegie Science Center and then can use their skills to try and beat the roulette wheel. Only slots you say? Yeah...for now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The wheels on the bus go round and round

I was posed a question via email the other day (one that has been broached often while meeting people) regarding the state of the PAT bus system and the inane way it is being run. In this email I was asked what I would do to fix the problem of the bus service. Unfortunately, unlike my other ideas, this one is not so easily remedied. First of all, PAT is run by the county and not the city so my options for how to directly improve it must be implemented by the county. Secondly, I doubt that the people in charge of PAT, cushy in their jobs and driving to work everyday, even realize what the problem is. I wonder if they even know if there is a problem. The fact that Port Authority is losing money isn't the problem...its the symptom. The problem is the mismanagement by the administration and the backward thinking "solutions" that they come up with have robbed a vital resource from the people, not only of Pittsburgh, but of the whole county. Maybe, instead of cutting routes AND raising fares, they should cut their bloated salaries and raise the condition of the buses.

In any private sector company (as most of us understand) if you don't do your job well you will be fired. Simply put, the administration, who has turned a blind eye to the troubles of the Public Transit system and have offered no salient solutions, must be held accountable. If they can't fix it the problem then the county should find someone who can. The status quo will no longer work for many problems in the city and the county and its time that someone smashed the notion that it will.

This is all fine and good but the question is, "what can Tony Oliva, as mayor of Pittsburgh, do to help the find a solution". To that I simply say that the City of Pittsburgh is the financial workhorse of the county and as such should have a voice in matters that directly involve her. As Mayor, I would make that voice be heard. Cutting out vital routes is not an option, especially when the fares are rising. People need to get to work without spending extra hours on a bus trying to piecemeal a course from point A to point B. Small business owners shouldn't lose customers because they are deemed "not important enough" to have a bus line come near.

This is an important issue and I wish I had a panacea to make it all better but you won't get any false promises from me. The best I can offer is that I will make our voice heard. And if that means some out of touch fat cat bureaucrats in PAT (rhyme unintended) get their walking papers then so be it...the voters have been forced to walk long enough, I hope they can appreciate the poetic justice. It is time that those who have forgotten who they work for listen.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I have a webpage...sort of

My website is up and running, though it is currently under construction. There isn't much there other than a link to my blog and to my email address. Continue to check it in the future as I hope to soon have it up and running with plenty of information. If you are an eager voted who can't wait you can email me questions about myself or my politics and I will be happy to post a reply on this blog.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

It's official...thanks to you

Earlier this afternoon I submitted in the final pieces of paperwork in order to be on the ballot in November. The long hours and hard work have led to this first step being attained. I have many of you to thank for it. As I sit here contemplating my first bid for elected office I cannot help but reminisce about the past fortnight in which I met so many nice and colorful people. Of course some weren't nice but with the vast majority of those I met, the experience proved to be enjoyable and entertaining. I hope you don't mind but I think I'm going to share some stories of my first steps toward this campaign and the people I met along the way.

My first day out: I had 600 signatures to get and only about 5 days to get them so I hit the streets of Oakland, meeting up with friends and introducing myself to strangers. That worked to a degree but after 5 pm I decided to head over to Morningside and go door to door. I am a firm believer that I should go to all areas of Pittsburgh to meet and talk with people. By doing this I can learn the issues and concerns of all Pittsburgher's and thus become a better Mayor. This is the thought that kept me moving through the heat wave that met me on my travels and the nigh exhaustion I began to deal with around mile 150 (you should see my sneakers...worn right through the rubber soles). Anyways, my time in Morningside was proving a bit difficult with a series of empty houses and the task at hand began to look more and more daunting. Then I rang on a door and had the great fortune of meeting Mario. Mario was a younger gentlemen with a lovely family who took time out of his day to talk with me about who I am and what I believe in. The response that he gave me bolstered my spirits and steeled my resolve. It was my great fortune in meeting and talking with him because he lifted MY spirits and told me that I gave him hope. Hope that I can turn around the city we both love. I will not allow his hope to be misplaced.

Further along in Morningside, I met Gary who offered to his lawn for placement of one of my signs. To that I silently chuckled to myself. I hadn't even considered signs yet...this was still my first day. But once I get some funds together I plan on taking Gary up on his generous offer.

I can't forget Jeanne or Denise who volunteered their time and effort to help me in my goal. To them both I am greatly appreciative.

I also spent some time in South Side. I went early enough so as to not bother anyone when they were getting on with their libations. On a sidewalk cafe' style eatery I met George who was kind enough to volunteer to help me as well. The wellspring of volunteering that has come from the fine citizenry of Pittsburgh has been astounding. I thank you all.

Nearing the deadline I found myself in Squirrel Hill. I had some very nice conversations with myriad of people with a plethora of differing ideologies and views. As night was falling upon the streets I found myself almost out of steam. I had been at it for 5 days, I slept roughly 4 hours a night, walked about 150 miles and ate very little. All this while under the unmerciful summer hear and humidity that mother nature was throwing at me. I say this not to garner sympathy but rather to illustrate how fantastic it was to come across the final house on my journey.

I rang the doorbell and then my cell phone rang. I answered the call and slightly turned from the door. When I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that someone was there I turned back around and what I saw stole the words from my mouth. I barely uttered, "I have to go" to my friend on the phone before hanging up on him and just stood there, mesmerized by the sight I saw. It was a sheep's head. Not a real one mind you but at the moment I wasn't really sure. The face I had to have made must have been priceless because I hear a wave of laughter in the background. Finally the door opens, the sheep mask wearing gentlemen retreats to his female sheep mask wearing counterpart and a mask less woman greets me. She asks what I am doing and I point quizzically at the sheep couple. They all laughed and told me it was a long story. I quickly recovered and told her who I was and what I was doing. The next thing I know, I am being whisked into the house and being served the most delicious strawberry ice cream while talking politics to the 5 people in the house. It turns out that I have interrupted a "Bad Movie Night" party in which the movie happened to be "Black Sheep". A New Zealand film featuring killer zombie sheep. Well, more genetically mutated rather than zombie...but you can imagine the quality of the film. I have to assume that the wear and tear of the previous week showed prominently on my face because I was quickly offered a plate of food. What were they serving you might be wondering? Why, Lamb of course! At this point the sun had set, my door knocking, thus, had come to an end and the party invited me to stay to watch the rest of the movie. How could I refuse? So I sat down for what felt like the first time in days, at a delicious lamb roast with some tasty potatoes and a tangy salad. After such a week this was a meal fit for a king. Elizabeth, Thomas, Claire, Jeff and Faisal have my deepest gratitude for their kindness and hospitality.

It reaffirms the saying that: 'Pittsburgh is the last city heading east that still says Hello'

There are many more fascinating stories and people who have offered their time and efforts to help me and hopefully I will get around to thanking them all. I am grateful for everyone who took the time to talk with me and tell me their concerns because in order to be the best Mayor I can be, I need to know what the bosses think. And it's about time that the voters are put back in charge. As Mayor I answer to only one boss...the voters of this fine city.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

On the Airwaves

Funny how an easy going guy who wants to change how government operates is such a news story all of a sudden. I received a phone call from Blake who wanted to do a radio interview with me. He asked if it was a good time. Silly me, never one to keep anyone waiting and being someone who tends to tilt when he should withdraw, said sure (mind you I was in East Liberty with buses and traffic flying by). Anyhow, I feel less confident about this interview than I did about the Post Gazette one. Hopefully I didn't come across too convoluted. I really wanted to get my points across and I think I did. Less bureaucracy equals less taxes. Unfortunately, I don't think I made it clear enough that less bureaucracy does not mean cutting the legs out from under Pittsburgh's Bravest and Finest. I firmly believe that those who risk their lives daily, deserve MORE support than they are currently getting. Therefore, some of the fat that gets cut out of the city will go to bolster and support the departments that are the thin line between living our lives and losing them.

Meet the Press

Today started off as an interesting one. I received a phone call from Rich Lord of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette this morning and he asked me a few questions. For all of you who have met me you may have sensed that I am a "look you in the eye, firm handshake" kind of would be correct. On the phone though, dealing with a disembodied voice I am always weary of not coming across as I intend. There is much to be said about looking into someones eyes when you speak with them. The interview was brief but I was very excited and a bit nervous. It was, after all, my first interview since starting my campaign.

Overall I think it went well, I told Rich who I was and why I was running for Mayor.

You can read the article online at:

Now I am off to file more paperwork. There seems to be a whole heck of a lot of paper to push in order to simply get on the ballot. I wonder what the founding fathers would think of all the bureaucracy...after they processed the freed slaves, women's suffrage, airplanes, the Internet, cell phones and everything else that would amaze them, that is.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Campaign Begins

Welcome intrepid Internet itinerants. My name is Tony Oliva and I am running for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh as the Libertarian candidate. I have decided to set up this blog in order to give everyone an opportunity to learn about me and also take this journey with me, in a sense. From the first sentence you may have realized my love of alliteration...a literary device that a very good professor got me hooked on in my youth. Of course, you may think that I am some wordsmith bookworm. While I do enjoy reading a good book my life and times have covered the globe and the experiences I have garnered from them have left me with the feeling that I can save the City of Pittsburgh from the dangerous precipice it now teeters on. If you think that the city is not in need of saving then I am sorry to burst your bubble. With taxes growing ever higher and jobs getting ever scarcer and a city budget getting ever fatter and a city debt sinking ever deeper, the city is indeed in need of saving.

"But Tony", you may ask, "what can YOU do....why are YOU different?" To that I simply say that I am not a politician. I am a military man. I don't mince words, I don't set a goal I don't intend to keep. I am a straight shooter and I have ideas for this city that will once again make it the jewel of the three rivers. I am beholden to no special interests, save for the people of Pittsburgh. In my heart and in my actions, it is in their best interest that will guide my time as Mayor.

A bit about myself, though I have all ready alluded to some. I am a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and a former Airborne Paratrooper in the Army. I was going to make a career out of the military until an accident on one of my jumps made it impossible to continue as a infantryman. Though I could have went to any other city in the country I decided to return home to Pittsburgh because it is where my heart is. What I have found though is unsettling at best. The city is going in the wrong direction and I plan on stopping the slide and turning the city around. It is time I did something for the city instead of just complain about the problems.

Throughout my blog, from now until November, I will keep you updated on my travels, the different people that I meet and how, specifically, I intend on helping the city recover. I know I have an uphill battle ahead of me but heed not the naysayers who say that I won't win. The city is in its hour of need...and I cannot lose. The time is now.