Monday, September 24, 2007

DeSantis Smells a Rat

They don't need any politician telling them -- feeding them -- empty promises and documents that don't have any meaning.

Challenger Mark DeSantis actually looks and sounds like he's about to cry during the segment from Jon Delano on KDKA.

Real, grown-up businessman tears.

He is not outraged by some offhand campaign line or vague pledge to move forward. He is criticizing the actual 313-page budget document that the Mayor intends to present to City Council and the state oversight boards.

Incumbent Luke Ravenstahl trumpets this new budget proposal as yielding $13 million in surplus, all without new taxes or future borrowing. He says:

We've done this by creating efficiencies in government and also controlling spending so that over the next five years it'll cost taxpayers less to run city government.

DeSantis emphatically suggests that they've done this by creating numbers straight out of their own hindquarters.

Too harsh? Consider that he has dubbed it the "Pittsburgh Promise II."

Jon Delano delivered his clincher with what might have been a wink and a nudge:

I have a feeling there's gonna be a lot of talk about numbers in the next few weeks leading up to the election.

Very few of us poor citizens are capable of assessing the truth value of a 300 page municipal budget -- but the truth is out there.


Mind you, if you're Mark DeSantis, there may be a hidden danger in all this. There are enough big issues, like crime, consolidation and his raft of ethics proposals, all of which draw sharper contrasts that may be easier to comprehend.

DeSantis does not really need Pittsburgh to get bogged down in a debate over amortization and depreciation.


Be that as it may, the Comet does have a few questions that could use answering.

1) Does Ravenstahl actually have the authority under Act 47 to raise taxes, even if he wanted to? Remember that he opposed Act 47, and wants us out of it as fast as possible.

2) By claiming we've realized these surpluses by creating efficiencies and controlling spending, does that mean no more borrowing over the five years? In changing our credit card mentality, is Luke essentially saying, "Read my lips, no new debt?"

3) Why is the amount we plan on collecting from the nonprofits going down? Why is it not, like the price of everything else, going up? We have yet to begin negotiations, and we are already settling! Why?

4) DeSantis claims he can trim the budget even while diverting about $23 million from the general fund to pay down our pensions. Care to offer some real specifics? Ravenstahl is already suggesting that city services like police and fire would suffer.

5) Would Ravenstahl be willing to operate his own Mayor's office on half its present budget, as DeSantis intends to do? Is DeSantis being realistic? Is Ravenstahl being extravagant?

1 comment:

  1. All your questions at the end of your post are reasonable ones, and I'm not going to tackle any of them.

    Is there any way the proposed budget could be converted into a PDF and made available? Perferably scanned with an OCR program, rather than as a graphic (see Null Space).

    Here's an interesting thing. Some Council members are promising to pass legsilation that will block the reduction in the parking tax mandated in the orignal Act 47 plan. An interesting fight is brewing.