Airline Chief Gets the Steely Treatment

Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 23, 2007 | Go to article overview

Airline Chief Gets the Steely Treatment


Appearances aren't everything.

If it looked as though there's a tight relationship between US Airways and the Steelers with last week's unveiling of an Airbus painted in the team's black and gold, that's not the word we hear from folks at US Airways.

Apparently, airline CEO Doug Parker flew in for the announcement in part because he hoped to shake hands with the two heads of Pittsburgh's First Family. Both Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II were invited to the event.

But alas, according to our source, the Steelers instead sent "some marketing guy" -- and universally loathed mascot Steely McBeam.

To make matters worse, US Airways had offered to do a flyover with the Airbus at last Sunday's game against Buffalo, but the team never responded to the offer.

KERRY'S BEHAVIOR. John Kerry's handling of last week's Tasering of a college student during the senator's speech at the University of Florida didn't go over well even in places traditionally friendly to the Massachusetts Democrat.

A contributor to the liberal Huffington Post Web site even went so far as to call Kerry's behavior "pathetic" as student and attention hog Andrew Meyer was being subdued and Tasered.

Wrote blogger Nick Antosca of Kerry, the husband of Pittsburgh pickle heiress Teresa Heinz: "Listen to (Kerry) droning sonorously on in the background as a guy is dragged down the aisles and pinned to the ground."

Antosca continued: "He does say something like, 'Officer, can we - -' but then trails off ineffectually. You can also hear him make what sounds like a joke about Meyer: 'Unfortunately, he's not available to come up here and swear me in as president.' "

Once Meyer was Tasered, Antosca noted, "The guy is screaming in pain and Kerry is still droning on, not agitated, nothing. He should have gotten off the stage and told the cops to get the hell off that guy. It's not what a politician would do, but it's what a man would do."

And that's from Kerry's supposed allies.

QUITE THE PRESCIENT POL. After attending a news conference on an education bill last week with two lawmakers, Gov. Ed Rendell said he would stay to answer reporters' queries on other matters -- as he often does.

He knew tough questions were coming regarding his friend and recent fugitive from justice Norman Hsu, whose nearly $38,000 campaign contribution the governor was intent on keeping until the convicted felon became too much of a political hot potato.

He knew reporters were itching to ask about Republican state Sen. Jeff Piccola of Dauphin County launching an investigation of lobbying by Lionsgate Films and Leslie McCombs -- a Rendell friend and fundraiser and former WPGH-TV anchor -- on the film tax credit Rendell signed into law in July.

How do we know Rendell knew?

As the education announcement ended, Rendell said to Democrat Rep. Dan Surra of Elk County and Republican Rep. Steven Nickol of York County, "You're more than welcome to stick around and watch the carnage."

TOO MUCH INFORMATION. Speaking of McCombs, Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer dug up something we really didn't need to know about the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center lobbyist and Rendell confidante.

Baer called up McCombs' profile on a Web site featuring local actors, actresses and announcers and found a voice-over sampler in which McCombs makes this startling statement: "I like my salsa the way I like my men -- zesty and exciting. …

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