Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pittsburgh - a city

Ever heard of Pittsburgh?

You know, the smoke belching Iron City of western Pennsylvania?

Well, it ain’t that no more!

Our first view of the city was somewhat “clouded”

They city is dominated by bridges (more than 400 of them) that, among other things, cross 3 rivers.

The Monongahela, and the Allegheny join up to become the Ohio.  Better picture below.

The impact of old-old wealth remains.  Almost everywhere you turn you hear two names.
Carnegie and Heinz.   One of United States Steel fame (pronounced car-negg’-ee, not  car'-neg-eee" like we all do) and the other of ketchup and political fame.

Right next to the Carnegie “children’s center” is Heinz field – where the Steelers play. 

And a stone’s throw from there, just across the Roberto Clemente bridge from downtown is the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC park.

Andrew Carnegie’s legacy to this community is libraries, museums, and cultural centers.  Same for Heinz – be they named for the ketchup king, or his offspring like the late US Senator John Heinz. 

Pittsburgh is a happenin’ place.  And an important place -you can just feel it. Look who was in town when we were there!

From atop one of the Incline Rides looking toward downtown.

From near downtown looking at one of the inclines - cable cars that actually haul working people in suits and ties from homes to offices every day of the week.

 The original Primanti Brothers restaurant in the strip district - that never closes.   People eat well.

 The 3 most notable professional sports teams in the city, the Pirates, the Steelers, and the Penguins (who won Lord Stanley’s cup this year) – all have the same team colors - the colors of Pittsburgh's flag, which in turn, is based on the coat of arms of William Pitt, the 18th century British Prime Minister   - for whom the city is named. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Steeler Nation Report

On a hillside in Latrobe sits the Basilica at St.Vincent College.  Now in it’s 50th year as the summer training camp for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Around the green grassy bowl, during a recent sweltering hot and humid afternoon, sit the faithful – and a couple outsiders from Albuquerque.

“What kind of a season are you going to have?”  The response – “It depends on Ben!”

Every question I asked, got the same response – “Ben, Ben, Ben”

This is Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback.  Long sleeve white shirt and a few jogs the width of the field.  Pads were reserved for the other guys.

Under the watchful eye of Coach Mike Tomlin, in sweats on a sweaty afternoon, they work, work, work!

For more than 3 hours, they practiced.    

That robot looking thing, I think, is a giant Gatorade dispenser.

Practice over, head covered by a Terrible Towl, Ben autographs…and autographs…

Soon thereafter, A-B, Antonio Brown goes through the same exercise.   These athletes know, they wouldn’t be making millions if they didn’t have fans who were ready to pay to see them.

Along another fence, not the big names, but autographs nonetheless.   Here’s # 30 Running Back Cameron Stingily

And here’s #24 Corner Back Doran Grant

Soon, it’s going to be time for some football…

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Democrats Convention Throwback

Democrats in convention – 1972 – Miami


The New Mexico delegation was assigned to the Sea View Hotel – across from the Bal Harbor shops – some of the highest priced real estate in Florida.  The Sea View was owned by a fellow by the name of Dwayne Andreas – who was the head honcho at ADM – Archer Daniels Midland Company – said to be the biggest food company in the world at the time. Condo tenants later included Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill, television journalist David Brinkley, and ADM board member and Washington superlawyer Robert Strauss.   

Perhaps the most visible person I saw while we stayed there was a Canadian man in a white suit with white hair.  When he got on the elevator, I started humming the theme to the TV show Bonanza.   Dum-dee-dee-dum-dum. Dum-dee-dee-dum-dum-dum-dum.

This was the convention that nominated George McGovern to run against Richard M Nixon.  The convention was so disorganized – sessions went on-and-on-and-on.  McGovern didn’t start his acceptance speech until 2:48am eastern time – when all of America (except Hawaii) was asleep.
There were other complications along the way, as my friend Ed Mahr noted in a story from the Albuquerque Journal (the same paper as the above clip was taken)…

From 1972 to 1976…
Democrats in convention in New York City.   A pretty big shot place for a reporter from little ol’ Albuquerque. 

My most memorable recollection – I had left the convention hall and was walking-yes walking- back to the hotel and I saw the limo carrying soon to be president Jimmy Carter driving along a darkened street – he and Roslyn were inside – waving to the empty streets.  The lights were on inside the car, so he couldn’t see there were no throngs of folks watching the motorcade.

Then in 1980, the Democrats again met in New York City.   My most memorable…our video camera broke, and the folks from NBC had set up a repair shop/help desk for all of the traveling correspondents who had come to the big city.   They fixed the camera…and away we went.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Philly Spot

Glad to see Morning Joe on MSNBC found one of our favorite joints for their home during coverage of the Democratic Convention.  It's a real "pub" - public place.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Throwback to Convention Coverage

Cleveland, do you remember me?

As I watch with a passing interest the comings and goings at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland I am reminded of my reporting experiences at a similar convention.

It was 1976 when the republicans met in Kansas City to nominate President Gerald Ford for an elected term as POTUS.

The New Mexico delegation wasn’t even staying in Missouri, we were housed in Kansas City, Kansas.

My job with KOAT was to send back reports on the happenings of the New Mexico delegation.  The biggest news was that Pete Domenici, who had been a United States Senator for only 4 years was being considered for the VP spot.   It didn’t happen.

The connection to Cleveland was through a former associate in radio.  I was hired to cover the Ohio delegation for a Cleveland radio station.  To do so, I had to actually find the Ohio delegation – and then go there and act like I knew what they were doing.   To the listener back home in Cleveland, what did they know?

That Republican National Convention was one of 3 that I attended.

1972 saw a TV news assignment in Miami.  Most memorable?  Walking through the waves of tear gas that was lobbed by cops and demonstrators who were reacting to Richard Nixon’s repeat nomination.

This was a time in local TV when there were no satellite trucks, hookups for going live, etc.  I covered the delegation with a 16mm film camera, then took the raw film to Miami International and shipped it “Counter-to-Counter” on TWA – hoping that it would arrive and still be somewhat relevant.   Of course, the folks back home wanted to see the locals on the TV news – so time and relevance didn’t make that much difference.

Oh, and something else was memorable from that convention.   Here’s a clip by Jerry Crawford from the Albuquerque Journal, August 22, 1972 quoting the delegation chair, Manuel Lujan, Jr.

The final tally was Richard Nixon, 1347.  Congressman Pete McCloskey 1.

Then in 1980 the republicans met in Detroit.   The city was crumbling (not as bad as now).  

The New Mexico delegation was situated in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  

Most memorable from that trip, seeing Ronald Reagan attend a Polish festival.

I think the only New Mexico reporter at this year’s convention is the Washington reporter for the Albuquerque Journal.  The TV stations didn’t send anybody – and the 2nd newspaper doesn’t exist.

C’est la vie!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sacramento Pokemon

Image result for pokemon go images

There's been a lot of talk, news coverage, and all kinds of noise these last few days - not from a political campaign - but from some invisible game/creature or something.

Pokemon Go is apparently a new game, enhanced by Nintendo - the internet - smart phones - GPS - and thousands of people who want to chase a "thing" that doesn't actually exist.   At least I don't think it exists.

While walking down a sidewalk in Old Sacramento Thursday night there was an eery ambiance.

Dozens, yes dozens, of young people were staring aimlessly at their smart phone screens - wandering off in groups and as individuals - all in search of something.

It was fascinating.

A young man and woman pushing a baby carriage (with baby inside) each had one hand on the carriage and one hand on their individual devices.  Off looking for the wizard - or somebody.

There was a group of 4 who were circling the block in search of this thing.

These people weren't out to shoot anybody (I don't think) - they were just in search of some imaginary thing that apparently lives in the clouds and on GPS but doesn't require food or drink or air or ...

It was strange - but it was at the same time - neat.

Not quite as neat as the 1957 Clue game that I came across with the original candlestick, pipe wrench, and other murder weapons.  

No where in sight was Colonel Mustard.

I'll bet he was in the library waiting for Pokemon Go!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016



More than five years into an administration that touts its pro-business policies, New Mexico has dropped further than any other state in the annual survey of business climate by CNBC, the financial news network.
The survey puts New Mexico at 39th among the 50 states, down 15 spots from last year. CNBC attributed much of the decline to workers leaving New Mexico because of the bust in oil production.
CNBC wrote: “Workers have been fleeing the state in droves since the boom died and, because we consider net migration in our workforce category, New Mexico suffers badly.”
Other states hurt by the slowdown in crude oil production were Oklahoma, now at 42 in the rankings, down 11 spots, and North Dakota, which fell six spots to 12th.
Most states adjacent to New Mexico are doing much better. Utah, Texas and Colorado ranked first, second and third, respectively, in the CNBC survey. Minnesota and North Carolina rounded out the top five states.
New Mexico had made progress in the survey during the past years for cutting its business tax rates and easing permitting. That has made the cost of doing business in New Mexico more competitive — a point that’s been emphasized by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, who assumed office in 2011.
New Mexico now has one of the lowest tax rates for manufacturing and offers broad tax incentives to businesses that hire workers when they relocate or expand in the state.
In the survey, New Mexico held its own for business friendliness and the costs of doing business. But it dropped in the quality of its workforce, overall economic growth and quality of life. It ranked fifth in the category of infrastructure in 2015, but fell to 14th this year.
In citing the success of Utah, CNBC mentions not just lucrative tax credits, but its strong education and infrastructure.
“Lured by factors such as tax breaks, affordable real estate, an educated populace and a strong public-transit system, many iconic companies have set up home bases in the state. They are attracted to the pipeline of STEM workers from such schools as Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.” STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
Texas, ranked second in the survey, is also credited with having a diverse economy and strong public amenities. “Texas also boasts the nation’s second-best infrastructure, with two major international airports, one of the world’s most important seaports, an extensive rail network and roads and bridges that are in better shape than those in the rest of the country,” CNBC stated.
Colorado, third overall, ranks first in workforce training and development, according to CNBC. “Colorado workers are the nation’s most educated, and state worker-training programs are among the best performing in the nation. The state is rewarded with one of the best net migration rates in the country.”
Arizona, another neighbor of New Mexico, improved from 34th to 25th. “Arizona is attracting skilled workers these days, an essential ingredient for attracting businesses,” according to CNBC.
Rhode Island was 50th for business climate. Others in the bottom five were Hawaii, West Virginia, Mississippi and Maine.
Once down-and-out Michigan was the most improved state in the survey, going from 22nd in 2015 to seventh this year.
“And with $328 million in venture capital flowing into the state last year, Michigan comes in fourth for access to capital,” CNBC stated.