ST. JUDE, the patron saint of hopeless cases, no doubt receives a lot of appeals from Pennsylvania (but not concerning the Pittsburgh Penguins - everyone here knows their Stanley Cup quest is far from hopeless). Political causes often need St. Jude's help but nothing in heaven could put a Republican candidate on the November ballot to challenge Democratic Mayor Luke Ravenstahl - another embarrassment given that Pittsburgh is a major city and yet the local party is so enfeebled it can't field a candidate. Josh Wander, a Republican from Squirrel Hill, decided the Friday before the primary to try to launch a write-in effort. It was almost the definition of a hopeless case and so it proved. By his own count, he received 147 votes compared with 497 for Mr. Ravenstahl and 245 for other people. The mayor will be challenged by two independents, Kevin Acklin (a former Republican) and Franco "Dok" Harris in the fall. Given the mayor's strong showing in the primary, his challengers seem not to have a prayer at this stage.
IN THIS purgatory of traffic detours and disruptions, motorists using Route 65, Ohio River Boulevard, have had to endure a special punishment - for going on 21⁄2 years, the two-lane road northbound has been reduced to one lane after a huge landslide at the site of the former Dixmont State Hospital, which was then being prepared for a development that included a Wal-Mart Super Center (wisely, the project was later dropped). But on June 8, work is expected to begin on restoring the road to the four lanes that existed before the earth moved. The job, which is being paid for by Wal-Mart, will take two months and the first month will see traffic restricted to one lane in each direction. Whom should we thank? The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, which pressed Wal-Mart to get going? Wal-Mart, which in the eyes of PennDOT made a good-faith effort? Maybe St. Jude deserves the credit. Motorists had to have said some prayers for what seemed for a long time like a hopeless case.