Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More "Our Hands Are Tied" Balderdash

Dan Onorato was courageous enough to join widow-maker Marty Griffin on KDKA radio. He even fielded some phone calls.

Onorato intends to levy new taxes in order to keep mass transit functioning. A caller named Bill asked:

Why can't they tax the UPMC's, and the Pitt Universities, and all the non-profits that get all the city services for nothing -- get a little bit of money out of them, and make that 25 million or 30 million that they need -- instead of letting them guys declare gigantic bonuses for each other?

Onorato's response:

The answer is simple -- I'm not allowed. Heh heh. There's no legal authority for me to do that.

When pressed a little by the host, Onorato did volunteer that they are "looking at" asking them to help with providing health care for the prison system -- but of course we ask them a lot of things.


There's more than one way to skin a cat.

1) We may not be able to tax them -- but through our planning commission and our zoning board -- we can make it damnably hard for them to get so much as a doghouse approved for construction. That is, unless they make with the payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, and toot sweet.

That's the kind of hardball they play in Boston. People seem to really like Boston. It has a good economy and good services. Pittsburghers are always moving there.

2) As long as we are out there agitating for a state-wide pensions fix, we may as well address the related issue of amending Act 55: The Institutions for Purely Public Charity Act.

We owe it to ourselves to reconsider what really ought to qualify as a "purely public" charity, don't you think?


  1. Thank you, Bram, for saying things exactly as they are. We the public (bloggers included) are as strangely hands-off when it comes to this issue. We've gotten brazen enough to challenge the wisdom of the party's endorsements, the decisions of announted ones, we've exacted revenge on 50+ statewide for the midnight pay raise....... We've even gotten pissed off enough with Pirate's management to take a punch at a sporting sacred cow! (Is there any other type in Pgh?)

    But somehow when it comes to something that everyone knows stinks bad .... we stay (relatively) quiet. We're all guilty of that .... me included.

    We gotta start hounding them like we hound Luke.

  2. Zoning is a city thing, not a Allegheny County thing.

    I'm not really interested in putting up more red tape around here.

    I am, however, very interested in a moratorium on all NET land expansion by all nonprofits. This should be started with a complete inventory of every square inch of land. And, then benchmarks of the property expansion over time.

  3. For some reason, one particular scene from "Animal House" keeps running through my head:

    MAYOR: If you want to build a hospital in my city, you have to pay.

    ROMOFF: Carmine, I don't think it's right for you to extort money from the non-profits.

    MAYOR: You're using my police, my fire engines, my sanitation, and my three Oldmobiles. So if you mention extortion again, I'll have your legs broken.

    ROMOFF: Well -- I'm sure we can arrange a little "honorarium" from the indigent care fund.

  4. Actually, I think the City of Pittsburgh qualifies for disbursements from that fund ...