The story of ex-Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier's cross-country fight with ex-wife Aleta Whitaker over the $900,000 she says he owes her is front-page news in Pittsburgh. He says he can't afford to pay and has gone into bankruptcy. Bleier's 23-year-old stepdaughter, Samantha, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that as part of a marital settlement agreement with Aleta, Bleier promised to provide "reasonable living expenses and undergraduate college expenses'' for her until she graduated from college or reached age 24. Samantha says she needs money for language lessons at Berlitz and is trying to get a bankruptcy judge to order Bleier to fork over. According to the Post-Gazette, Samantha and her mother now live in San Diego. Samantha works in a travel agency; her mother married a "high school sweetheart," who owns a "data-processing company and recently earned a law degree." Whitaker, 50, told the Post-Gazette she's settled down to a more basic lifestyle here on the coast. "She has sold from her divorce settlement a Porsche for $38,000, a Ferrari for $26,000, and given away several of her eight fur coats." She also does her own chores now. "If you do your own laundry and put it away, you always know where it is. I live within my means, and I know how to balance a budget.'' On the other hand, she told the paper, her ex-husband, also 50, "has continued to live his lavish lifestyle and continues to spend freely. If he can do that, he certainly can pay what he owes me. It's as simple as that." The ex-football great, now reportedly a motivational speaker who made $600,000 in 1995, insists he's already paid Aleta $1.3 million in alimony and child support since their separation in April 1993 and is all tapped out.
A Nackey for words
Nackey Scripps Loeb, the 72-year-old granddaughter of newspaper baron E.W. Scripps, grew up on his sprawling Miramar Ranch and remembers riding horseback all the way from the ranch to the beach at La Jolla. She married William Loeb, notoriously opinionated publisher of the Manchester, New Hampshire, Union-Leader. Nackey inherited the paper after Loeb died and has continued his trademark style of unvarnished, front-page editorials. Last week her paper blasted New Hampshire Governor Steven Merrill's attempt to succeed Haley Barbour as head of the Republican National Committee. "Evincing flawed judgment -- or political opportunism -- Gov. Merrill quite unnecessarily bounded aboard the Dole bandwagon. And then, as national chairman, he nominally presided over the most inept, least principled Republican presidential campaign in recent memory. Mr. Merrill's tepid support for the New Hampshire primary during and after the insipid San Diego convention again smacked of self-serving careerism."
The furor over stadium expansion is seeping into other long-festering city hall issues. After years of adamant opposition to a public vote on any big spending proposals, on Saturday the Union-Tribune reversed course and grudgingly came out for a stadium vote, citing the 60,000 signatures raised in less than a month. Now political insiders say that other of the city council's pet building programs may have to be put before voters or risk the public's wrath. Topping the list: a new $500 million city hall and office scheme said to be wending its way through the bureaucracy. Another potential victim: the downtown sports arena long sought by City Manager Jack McGrory. The city has already spent more than a million dollars on planning and consultants in an attempt to lure a basketball or hockey team here. Other ballot candidates: the already over-budget, behind-schedule downtown library and a new baseball-only stadium.
Escalator to the moon
When it comes to the business of expanding convention centers, how much is enough? In Chicago, it's $675 million for about 800,000 new square feet. A companion renovation project will bring the tab up to $987 million by next year. When taxpayers ask why it's needed, officials have a ready answer, reports the Chicago Tribune: "Although Chicago and Las Vegas have long been the dominant convention/trade show cities, a host of other cities such as Orlando, San Diego, San Antonio, and even Little Rock, Ark., are upgrading and expanding facilities."
Contributor: Matt Potter