Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What's the Plan, Stan?

Tell us that the juxtaposition of these last lines from today's P-G Rich Lord piece is not artful.

Mr. DeSantis said that by Oct. 1, he will issue a plan to prevent city bankruptcy. He focused on the city's $800 million debt, its pension fund which is $484 million short of its ideal level, and the money owed by its authorities, calling that situation "unprecedented in the United States."

Mr. Ravenstahl's campaign shot back that he's "the first mayor in years" to submit a truly balanced budget.

Mr. DeSantis also pledged a campaign that treats voters "with respect."

The full issuance from the Ravenstahl campaign (KDKA, h/t 2PJs) explains Luke's response to the demand for a financial plan like so:

If our opponent does not know, the City of Pittsburgh is required under Act 47 and Act 11, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, to have a five year budget and recovery plan. We have that already.


The Comet had previously understood that these prescriptions serve as financial "triage." They stabilize our vitals and stop the worst of the hemorrhaging -- but do nothing to remedy the underlying imbalances. For that, we still require strong medicine.

We could be wrong about this; it is a good place to start the debate.

The Ravenstahl campaign video Financially Sound Pittsburgh has Luke saying that he...

... led the fight to build that rainy day surplus that we now have. We're going to continue to build on that fund balance at the end of 2007, we will have an excess of $60 million in the bank.

So we're turning the corner, we're moving in the right direction, we're making the difficult decisions necessary to be fiscally responsible, and to ensure that the taxpayers' money is protected.

We have heard from multiple commentators that the $60 million surplus is largely an accounting artifice -- and besides which, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the $800 million debt and the $484 million pensions shortfall.

In other words, the truly tough decisions have yet to be made or even contemplated, and to suggest we're already on the road to recovery is to be borderline irresponsible.

Again, these commentators could be all wet, but this is a fine thing for two candidates to be arguing over.


The P-G article also includes this tidbit:

Investigation "would not be the correct word," said Sister Patrice Hughes, chairwoman of the ethics board. Board members have voted to write the mayor a letter asking him to explain his attendance at the invitational.

The Comet regrets the the error.


  1. He's "very proud" of the fact that "his" 2007 budget reduced the parking tax, business priv tax and other taxes????

    Those tax reductions, along with others in the coming years, are part of the 5-yr plan, approved by the oversight boards, which we are REQUIRED to follow. And as for "his" part in crafting that 5-yr plan ..... As councilman he fought it tooth and nail.

    The only "small" thing the 5-yr plan does not address is how we size down our BILLION dollar debt. The "minimum payments" constitute 25% of the yearly budget he is so proud of.

  2. I'd like to hear them describe "the fight" that resulted in the rainy day surplus.

    Please, enlighten us - tell us how you saved all that taxpayer $$$.

    They can’t because they didn’t.

    They did the same they have been doing for years. They simply pushed the debt into the future so that someone else can deal with it.

    Now during the campaign, they can take credit for a "surplus" that doesn't really exist.

    I'm looking forward to the debates.

  3. On the Ravenstahl "budget surplus" point you raised, a perpective.

  4. This isn't round 1 yet. They are doing posture moves for the campaign -- yet to unfold.

    I don't like the "no bankrupt option" that DeSantis has requested.

    Don't get too far along with finance talk -- until you hear that mention that 8 debates are fine. I've not heard that, yet.

    Otherwise, round one will be the last round.

  5. Luke did nothing to achieve the so-called rainy-day surplus. The surplus comes from a bond deal struck while O'Connor was still in office, prior to his hospitalization. Luke didn't know a bond deal from a drug deal at the time this occurred.

  6. A bond deal that cost over 3 million to issue and didn't really do much other than push the debt forward into the future.


  7. "We believe we'll need some additional help from Harrisburg," said Mr. Zappala.

    "I really think it's a good deal for the city, and a good deal for the taxpayers," said Councilman Len Bodack.

  8. So we're taking out a low rate home ...er, city equity loan to save money. Well, cool.

    I wish I could get an exact figure on the totality of Pittsburgh's debt. If it really is $2.6 billion, then an eighty million dollar surplus is nothing to write home about.

  9. Char,

    You don't like revisionist historians?


    It was a bond refinancing bond issue which did decrease the long-term debt, but only the $50 million we consider the surplus......