Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on February 7, 2003 · Page 25
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 25

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Friday, February 7, 2003
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SECTION INSIDE POST YOUR PROBLEMS page B-4 0)!; 0)1 ocal LOTTERY page B-2 OBITUARIES page B-5 FRIDAY, FEB. 7, 2003 'INCLUDING REPORTS FROM AROUND THE STATE Questions about delivery or service? Call 1-8C0-228-MEWS (6397).: .Reeclell: Give me a wis! list; ! FIRST LIGHT : CI N D I LASH - : That '11 do, Lulu, i That'll do osie O'Donnell wrote a -'song for her. Regis Thiibm presented her ,with a trophy. I George Clooney tried to fix her ;up with liis own pet porker. ; In the four years since she won 'international acclaim for saving her owner's life, Lulu, the Vietnamese potbellied pig, hung out with Oprah, jetted to television appearances and posed for international magazines. She hauled home a gold medal from Tiffany's and heard Elizabeth Taylor huff that .their meeting was "the only time ;I've been in a room when all the photographers took pictures of another woman." ; But never mind all that fois gras and caviar Lulu was offered in fancy New York establishments. This humble pig wanted little more than a hamburger from the McDonald's down the road, a Pop-Tart slipped through the fence by a neighborhood kid or a can of Diet Pepsi snagged from her family's refrigerator. ! Her insatiable taste for homey treats, however, apparently did her in. Weighing about 200 pounds more than her recommended weight of 50 pounds, Lulu died Jan. 30 of a heart attack that her owners believe was brought on by obesity. Shewas5'2. I "Everyone thought they were the only ones who fed her pizza, Gummi.B ears, Dairy Queen ice icream," said her owner, Jo Ann Altsman, 62, of Beaver Falls. "We put her On diets constantly, but she'd sit at the gate and cry for peo-" pie to feed her. She was the smartest, most special pig." i Lulu attracted international attention after she lay down in a road to alert a passing motorist that Altsman was suffering a heart attack in the family's summer home ton Presque Isle in 1998. ; Yet Lulu was happiest at home, watching trashy television shows in the Altsmans' living room or snuggling in her yellow-and-black Steel-ers afghan in her carpet-lined backyard cottage. . About two weeks ago, Jo Ann and her husband, Jack, noticed that Lulu wasn't eating much. On Jan. 30, she ambled across the yard to her cottage, snuggled up in her favorite Steelers blanket and died. The heartsick Altsmans buried her in a trunk, with her blanket and stuffed toys, on a friend's farm. .They rtjade a ceremony of releasing a handful of crimson balloons 'r- the only color they believed Lulu had been able to discern. ; "I just hope my family gets half the condolence calls for me that we've gotten for our pig," Jo Ann Altsman said. "My husband thinks he will get another one, but I'm not ready yet. Whatever we do, we'll never nave another Lulu." ; Cindi Lash canbe reached at clashpost-gazette.com or 412-'263-1973. The wrestling coach js a lock to win this match West Mifflin resident Tony Pinneri kasn't expecting visitors last night. But he had them. Four of them, hiding underneath his deck. So Pinneri, a coach in West Mifflin's youth wrestling program, put on his steel-toed boots and ... Page B-7 It'd just be criminal to he caught without one The latest fashion in jailhouse accessories are the ankle bracelets that 100 more inmates will be sporting while under house arrest. They're a little bit pricey the county expects to pay about $620,500 a year but they're cheaper than the $2.1 million it would cost to keep the inmates in jail. Page B-4 We warned you not to mow your lawn so often in July Two environmental groups came to terms yesterday with government officials regarding air pollution controls in the seven-county Pittsburgh region. The goal is to reduce ozone-causing emissions and make our air more breathable. Page B-7 Expressway, taxes are among priorities By James OToole Post-Gazette Politics Editor Gov. Ed Rendell wants you to know this wasn't just another meeting. "Here, look at this," he demanded, displaying page after page of notes scrawled in red ink in his cramped handwriting. His jottings, compiled after hours of briefings, questions and debate at the University of Pittsburgh, are interspersed with underlines and exclamations: "Great idea." "Idea." "Idea." "Check this." "I've got tons of stuff here that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise," he said, testifying to the value of another of the economic development summits he's been hosting around the state since his election. Rendell spent nearly five hours in Pitt's student union, listening to, and occasionally lecturing, a group of several hundred local officials, business-leaders and academic figures on the economic needs of southwestern Pennsylvania. He was looking for ideas and support for the ambitious, bond-supported investment program that is a key element of his economic development strategy. In a morning and afternoon of presentations and! comments, he urged his audience to prioritize their wish list for the development dollars that he will ask the Legislature to approve. He bemoaned the lack of coordination in the state's job training programs. In response to Mayor Tom Murphy's complaints about Pittsburgh's antiquated tax structure, he offered sympathy but no promises of immediate relief for the burden of the city's tax-exempt land. "This meeting convinced me of the urgency of putting infrastructure dollars in this area as quickly as I can," Rendell said. "If these guys can get to SEE RENDELL, PAGE B-2 Possible contenders for ; City Councitmarr Bob O Connor' 8-t seat start J jockeying for j position in ' District 5. ! Story, Page B-4 IV) Ml hp 5 11 9 If - D .. . e- s- 4,1 r?-,m I yr TTrTTtl lit V t, r, 1 1 . i.i Identity theft j roundupl nets 50 U.S. charges include'; tlieft, counterfeiting : By Laura Pace Post-Gazette Staff Writer Darrell SappPost-Gazette A HARVEST OF KINDNESS Fred Boucher of Somerset, a member of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, helps unload a van filled with food collected for the Pittsburgh Ronald McDonald House in Shadyside. Bureau members yesterday delivered food here and to four other Pennsylvania Ronald McDonald houses in celebration of "Food Check-out Day," the date when the average American has earned enough to pay for a year's food supply. New PennDOT chief targets spending abuses By Joe Grata Post-Gazette Staff Writer Allen Biehler was on the job as Pennsylvania's transportation secretary-designate only four days when he received a letter from state Auditor General Bob Casey Jr. about wasting taxpayer money on clothes, meals, gifts and souvenirs. "When I saw the serious nature of his Jan. 27 letter, I was deeply disturbed," Biehler said. "I immediately issued an order to stop buying giveaway and promotional items until I could see what this was all about" Since then, Biehler has handed the first assignment to his new deputy secretary for ad ministration, Rina Cutler, who joined the state Department of Transportation's administrative team in Harrisburg on Monday. She will meet with Casey's staff and ultimately recommend policy changes to be made statewide. "I'm a guy who cares very deeply about every nickel spent on behalf of the public," Biehler said. "My sense of it is some things here got out of hand" during the last regime, when Brad Mallory held PennDOT's top job for eight years under Govs. Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker. Casey held a news conference in Pittsburgh yesterday to detail PennDOT's misuse of charge and credit cards for $252,116 of purchases ranging from 500 toy "rubber duckies" and 5,000 boxes of Crayola crayons to 2,800 lunches and 1,700 polo and golf shirts. His office checked $369,000 of purchases from the $43 million in charges rung up by 588 PennDOT employees with 1,097 state-issued purchase cards. The audit covered June 16, 2001, to June 15, 2002, and is continuing. "I'm not talking about road crews but people sitting in the offices in Harrisburg and throughout the state concerning those breakfast, lunch and other catering bills," Casey said. "It's a management problem. The purchases of souvenirs, gifts and promotional items often went to peopfe from outside of state government" SEE PENNDOT, PAGE B-8 Attorney Marv Beth' C Btiphanan and Chief U.S. Postal In-' spector Lee Heath appearl in Mt' ' Lebanon yesterday to announce the ', indictments and arrests of 50 people ? accused of stealing identities and' usjrjfi.th.em to commit credit card ' fraud and other financial crimes. Buchanan announced federal; charges against 26 people named in . 21 separate indictments involving; several schemes, including check; forging, counterfeiting and fraud us- ing a "wedge," a device thieves use S to gain data from the magnetic; strips on credit cards. " Allegheny County authorities have charged 24 others with fflehtityl . theft, including five who qsed jlata ; from the Mt. Lebanon tax- office to fraudulently obtain credit cardsL ! Most of the arrests began ye$ter-; day at 6 a.m. and were ongoing., ; According to one five-count inidict- ment, Scott Zimmerman, 22, of the,' North Side, and an unidentified serv- J - er at Don Pablo's Mexican Kitehen ' restaurant in North Fayette iwJped customers' credit cards through a! wedge hidden in their aprons before processing transactions. ! Zimmerman and the other "em-J Eloyee would then give the wedge to loyd Foster, 39, of the North Side,-" who paid them for the information . with money or cocaine. ; Another defendant, Larry Gools-; by, used the information provided by ! Zimmerman to produce counterfeit t SEE IDENTITY, PAGE B-2 1 There's plenty of good reading to sustain us "ow is as good a time as any to curl up with a good book, especially with the dogs of war nip ping at our heels. This column is my annual list of books that meant something to me last year. My usual pointless rant will return next week. "The Rasputin File" by Ed-vard Radzinsky. Russian scholar Radzinsky's compulsively readable account of the palace intrigues of the disreputable monk Rasputin is my current passion. This tale of an illiterate peasant's journey from rural Siberia to the inner circle of Russia's doomed Romanov dynasty reads as if written by one of the great 19th century literary giants. Radzinsky's careful documentation of how Nicholas II and his gullible wife were bewitched by a mysterious "holy man" also doubles as a cautionary tale about the willful stupidity and corruption of national leaders. "Phantoms of a Blood-Stained Period: The Complete Civil War Writings of Ambrose TONY NORMAN Bierce" edited by Russell Duncan & David J. Klooster. As a newcomer to the pleasures of Bierce's vivid documentation of the Civil War, I'm still in the "full of awe" stage when it comes to digesting these unsentimental narratives about the futility and horror of war. Bierce, a rival of Mark Twain's when both lived in San Francisco, has arguably a more bitter and ironic wit He either fought in or was present for nearly every major battle of the war believing in the Union's cause, but never putting his faith in its leaders. This is a wonderful introduction to a man who refused to conform during wartime. "Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to OJ. Simpr son" by Linda Williams. According to the author, a professor of Film Studies and Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, Americans of all racial persuasions are guilty of projecting the worst fantasies about each other in an endless stream of reductive images. Written in an academic Erase style occasionally leavened y penetratingly original insights, Williams makes a strong case for a recognition of America's greatest pastime: the pursuit of virtue through group victimization. "The Body and the Blood: The Holy Land's Christians at the Turn of a New Millennium. A Reporter's Journey" by Charles M. Sennott. As the former Middle East bureau chief for the Boston Globe, Sennott has seen up close the terrible religious passions that have soaked the birthplace of three major reli gions in blood. Sennott eloquently traces the plight of the region's dwindling Palestinian Christian ' community. This is an essential book for understanding how a region that gave birth to "love thy neighbor as thyself" became a cauldron of seething hatred. "Habits of the High-Tech Heart: Living Virtuously in the Information Age" by Quentin J. Schultze. Calvin College professor of communication Schultze has succeeded where even the great Jacques Ellul failed: He's crafted a critique of our technological conceits that is at once lucid, humorous, philosophically nuanced and accessible to the masses. Because Schultze understands how real people operate in the world, he's able to outline strategies for maximizing human freedom in the face of relentless marketing, mechanization and manipulation. "Theater of War" by Lewis Lapham. The happiest time of the month for many of us is when the latest issue of Harper's arrives. The first thing we turn to are Lapham's essays about the latest Constitution-distorting follies I coming out of Washington.- - ' Lapham is the bane of those who use Sept. 11 to justify the wholesale usurpation of American rights and ideals. His skepticism about the direction of the Bush administration's war on terrorism comes through on every page. Most Gratuitous Plug for Two Friends' Books, Dept.: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Mike Seate and freelance journalist Wayne Wise both stepped to the plate and got published last year. Mike's beautifully illustrated and well-written book "Street Bike Extreme" is now the defining text on acrobatic cycling. Wayne's stylish, creepy first novel "King of Summer" is a Stephen King-like meditation on friendship, otherworldly horror and adolescent dread by a Western Pennsylvania lake. Congrats, fellas. I'm jealous of you both.. - . Tony Norman can be reached' " at tnorman(i post-gazettezom or 412-263-1631. E-MAIL: L0CALNEWSP0ST-GAZETTE.COM C PHONE: 412-263-1601 WEB: WWW.P0ST-GAZETTE.COMlj0CALNEWS B EDITORS: TOM BIRDS0NG, SUSAN MANNELLA

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