Monday, May 1, 2017

Behind the Bubble – May – Special Primary Double Edition

Behind the Bubble – May – Special Primary Double Edition
by Jason Margolis
Special note: Due to the upcoming primaries, BtB will appear in May as a special double edition.  We will then be taking June off, and return in July with the second half of this year’s BtB.

Bob Lee, Democratic Candidate for Ward 2, Forced to Work Around Own Party While Promising to Re-work Local Government

The comparisons between Bob Lee and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns in relation to the Democratic Committee structures are striking, and Lee is not running away from them.

As there is now ample proof that Sanders was undercut by National Democratic Leadership, Lee says he has been similarly “let down” by the MTL Democratic Committee.

A former Independent, Lee says he joined the Democrats because he “thought he could make a difference.”  But the local MTL Democrats did not listen when he and others asked them to endorse their candidate after the Democratic primary.  Instead, according to Lee, they endorsed Silverman in a vote only conducted amongst the endorsement committee, and then proclaimed that any Democrats on the larger committee must support Silverman. This left Lee feeling “kicked off” the local Democratic committee which he is no longer part of (although he is still a member of the Democratic party).

Yet Lee does not feel this incident has hurt him in terms of his hopes of becoming the local nominee, and in fact, has instead energized his supporters.  Lee said that as soon as candidates could file in January, he received 41 phone calls in 10 days from local Democrats encouraging him to challenge Silverman.

Ironically, Lee campaigned for Silverman just 3 years ago.  He said he did so because “[Silverman] said he was going to be an environmentalist … but he has not been.  He went wrong on deer, PAYT, and artificial turf.”  Lee also feels that Silverman could be stronger in terms of representing his constituency, and in the strength of his leadership.

On The Issues

Lee launched into his thoughts on deer management before the question was even asked.  His position is complex, as he said that deer density did need to be reduced by “culling of some kind.”  At the same time, he expressed his distrust of the sharpshooting process in terms of safety and effectiveness, and explained that a longer-term policy was needed.  He also said that in some ways MTL was a “sanctuary city” for deer given its ample food sources (plants, hostas), water sources, and parks with little traffic.  One new solution Lee offered was to sterilize the bucks (who can impregnate many) instead of the does.  He added that many of these does are now having twins in the “bounce-back effect.”

On the issue of taxes, Lee said that he himself faced the Newcomers Tax and, if elected, will advocate for “fair assessment … Someone’s going to have to pay the debt and bonds eventually.  It shouldn’t be on the backs of Newcomers.”  He also explained how more grant funding (as opposed to increasing taxes) can come to “a community that is a leader … people feel we are a well-to-do community, but people forget that many [residents] are not.”  Lee added that MTL needs to think more about the ongoing “overhead” on things they spend money on, and he believes that in many cases MTL has “over-extended” themselves based on “short-term thinking.”

One specific area where Lee believes MTL could be more as a leader is in garbage collection.  He expressed strong support for what some call “Pay As You Throw,” which he believes was mis-packaged to the public.  He added, “Marketing slogans should not start with the word ‘pay’.”  But his passion on the issue was clear, as Lee expressed, “If we start when they are little, and teach them every bit makes a difference [for the environment] – and they make a difference …We should be leaders in the MTL.  Cranberry has this.  Over 9,000 communities have it.  We need to promote it as leadership.  We like to be the #1 in things … which is a good thing … it increases property value and the income base.”  

As an example of what he sees as the frequent short-term thinking by the MTL Commission, Lee turned to the issue of artificial turf.  While acknowledging that as a soccer player he “likes the way it feels,” Lee cited numerous problems with MTL’s turf: “It has a drainage issue.  There are higher banks around there.  We had problems with the other turf, and yet we still built another.  They should have put it on hold as all these bad stories came out about turf.”  Lee also proclaimed that our local government needs to think more about “longer term costs” and that he would “think about the next 10-20 years, not just the 4-year term … In a township, you must think beyond your lifespan.”

More broadly, Lee believes a greater number of local issues should “go through referendum rather than hierarchical managers – civil or commission,” and used PAYT as an example.  He also expressed concerns about the slant in MTL Magazine, and that overall the MTL local government needed more transparency as “transparency is what makes government legitimate.”  

Bob Lee the Person

Lee is running because “I have helped people all my life, my grandparents were deaf mutes.  I was their representative.  It feels good to help people.  That is part of who I am.”

Having grown up in a poor family, and then joining the marines, Lee hopes that “we will get back to what I thought I was defending on those ships.  We have to go in as if we are all trying to get to the same place, just through different means.  We have to talk and listen.  Rs and Ds must learn to work together to solve a common problem … that’s the world I want my grandkids to inherit.”

A self-described “IT geek,” Lee built his own first solar power radio at 8-years-old, and realized “you can change the world with technology.”

Lee and his family have lived in MTL since 1995.


Anonymous said...

WOW. A candidate who actually addresses the issues. I am voting for BOB LEE for Commissioner of Ward 2.


Anonymous said...

Fascinating. The chair of the Mt. Lebanon Democratic Committee tells her membership that they may only support endorsed Democratic candidates while she simultaneously campaigns on behalf of a NON-endorsed candidate for the one available seat on the Commonwealth Court.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lee's experience with the Ds endorsement vote is not unique. The R party follows the same protocol- one must be a member of the executive committee or office holder to vote on endorsements.
IMO, this stifles "rank and file" participation, new ideas and most important, protects the status quo.

Good luck Mr. Lee on your run for office. I'd recommend once seated you use your D executive committee seat to change the endorsement protocols.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that michelle Z. is supporting a non endorsed judicial candidate in the primary? She is not allowed to do that.

Anonymous said...

Jason Margolis' article clearly shows that the top of the Mt. Lebanon Democratic Committee jumped through hoops to endorse Silverman and push the only qualified candidate, Bob Lee, out of the way. Now the top of that same committee is peddling a NON-endorsed candidate for Commonwealth Court?

Corruption at is finest.

Anonymous said...

10:20, if she isn't allowed to do that whom do you think would stop her or censure her? The local executive committee or the County Committee? Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...


If you are correct that the county democratic committee will not ask for her resignation, that only goes to show you the depth of the level of corruption.

Anonymous said...

It sure is hard to kick out an incumbent. However, the fantasy of getting Silverman off the commission is sustaining me.

Anonymous said...

Lee's pro-kill deer mgt position was VERY disappointing. As a result, I'm not voting in the primary. It's the same old, same old. I'm not voting for a pro-kill candidate.

In addition, based on Lee's new theory of deer mgt, i.e. sterilizing the bucks, demonstrates his total lack of deer mgt and deer reproductive science knowledge. The reason that they sterilize or contracept the doe is because one buck can impregnate all the does. So unless you can guarantee that all the bucks are sterilized and then build a wall around MTL and make it a gated community, sterilizing the bucks is senseless.

Lee suggests that MTL is a "sanctuary city" for deer given all the ample food sources (plants, hostas), water sources, and parks. DUH, Laura Simon, the Humane Society of the United States wildlife biologist, and Sandy Baker, the independent deer mgt consultant, both told the commissioners that the main cause of the deer "problem" in MTL was the smorgasbord of flowers and plants planted, that are irresistible to deer, in the flower islands and resident landscapes throughout the community. And that it was this abundant irresistible food source that was attracting deer into MTL. Basically, MTL itself and the residents were feeding the deer. They both agreed that the most effective solution was to launch a community wide campaign asking residents to plant deer resistant flowers and plants. Of course, that safe and effective solution was ignored by the commission, because they're in the pockets of a handful of entitled and politically influential residents who refuse to plant deer resistant flowers. So instead of addressing the problem the commissioners turned MTL into a private hunting preserve and shooting gallery that threatens the safety of all MTL families, children, and pets.

ps - It gets so tiring when new candidates run for office that haven't paid attention to this issue over the last 10 years, and are totally misinformed and ill-prepared to make informed decisions based on the facts.

Anonymous said...

What does "culling of some kind" mean? Good points, 11:20.

Anonymous said...

To May 1 @ 4:55--

DNC to Court: We Are a Private Corporation With No Obligation to Follow Our Rules
IVN - Independent Voter News

"In the transcript for last week's hearing in Wilding, et. al. v. DNC Services, d/b/a DNC and Deborah “Debbie” Wasserman Schultz, released Friday, DNC attorneys assert that the party has every right to favor one candidate or another, despite their party rules that state otherwise because, after all, they are a private corporation and they can change their rules if they want."

nita fandray said...


What is the relevance of your quote above? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

8:58, it's in response to May 1's @ 10:20 that the local head of the MT DS can't endorse someone. If the DNC can endorse whomever they want what's to stop it at the local level.