Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bakery Square TIFs Scrutinized

We are catching up on back issues of The Parkway Left (F-Dzerzh can make the Admiral look like Cecily von Ziegesar).

The blog author criticizes the URA for its handling of the Bakery Square development.

The URA wants the TIF to apply to everything but the hotel, on the ostensible grounds that the hotel would not be located at ground level but suspended in the air. The real reason they want to exclude the hotel from the TIF is to avoid having to enforce a city ordinance which would prohibit the hotel owners from intimidating workers who want to form a union.

F-Dzerzh then makes what would ordinarily seem like a sensible move, going after the arch-conservative Allegheny Institute.

The Scaife factotums' years-long attempts to position themselves as critics of TIF projects and friends of the little guy are undermined by Montarti, who says that the labor peace ordinance is itself on "some shaky legal ground," because "We're singling out one industry here.... The city is basically saying to a developer that they have to accept a union and accept binding arbitration, which [usually] only applies to police and firefighters."

This is one of the few attempts to actually get some accountability for city-led giveaways to developers, so that the little guy will at least get something -- but no, Scaife's hatred of the labor movement trumps everything, his critiques of unaccountable TIF decisions go out the window, and his concern is above all else for the hotel owners' profits, even if couched in a weaselly legal argument.

We sense something. A presence we have not felt since...


  1. Looks like even the Post-Gazette agrees with me on this one -- I honestly wasn't expecting that, because the PG is not a pro-labor paper, at least in its lead editorials.

    Thanks for the shout-out, of course. The last bit is a little cryptic, but if I'm being compared to Obi-wan Kenobi, I can't complain.

  2. "The last bit is a little cryptic, but if I'm being compared to Obi-wan Kenobi, I can't complain."

    No, you misapprehend. Our feeling eminates mainly from those phrases we took the liberty putting in boldface italics.

  3. So Scaife and Nancy Pelosi are kindred spirits..Nancy prohibits unions at her swank CA hotel.politics/party affiliation is trumped by money every time.

  4. The idea that the air space above the development is a separate project is not unprecedented. Although this situation is different there is a trend in development circles where the developer builds the building for a municipality, university or other public, semi-public institution at cost in exchange for the ‘air rights’.

    From what I have read this deal was not structured that way. Sounds like the developer is just trying to avoid a law that has precedence, I guess we will see how this one plays out in court.

  5. Court? Who's suing? Did we miss something?

  6. Sorry - getting ahead of myself

  7. The ordinance itself has already withstood legal challenge, actually.

    Bram -- your references are still too cryptic for me. The first italicized statement is from Eric Montarti of the Allegheny Institute; the second is my argument about the real agenda of so-called "conservatives," namely, that their primary political objective is for rich people to make and keep their profits. Unions cut into that, which is why Scaife hates unions, and his family has hated unions since before the New Deal.

  8. Since you don't have e-mail, Felix, I'll give you a hint. It rhymes with Matt Fjord.

  9. Felix,

    I was thinking in a broader sense. I conceed that "just trying to avoid a law that has precedence" which means the ordinance has withstood legal challenge. What has not had enough litigation to set clear precedence is the vertical delineation of a project between what is publically funded and what is private.

    There are some cases pending in Arizona around similar issues - more regulatory than labor - but nothing in PA that I know of.

    If the city and the URA back the developers is UNITE HERE only going to picket? or will they take it to court?

  10. Unite Here needs to take this issue to court if the URA backs the developer. The hotel although it is suspended in air is attached to the proprty between it and the ground therefore it isn't primary suspended in air as it is a part of the structure that sits on the land. Everything that is above the ground is suspended in the air. So is there a hieght requirement to be considered suspended in the air. The hotel has not promised a living wage to its workers therefore they don't need a TIF from the general public so that they can make the type of profit that they want. Also does everyone really think that East Liberty or Eastside whatever its being called now really needs three hotels. The benefit of the the TIF is to spend money fixing the infasturcture on Penn Ave and the East Liberty side of the circle

  11. Check out the Walnut Capital website compare its directors to the campaign reports see if any names match. Now the TIF are replinishing the political contributions from the developers and the tax payers get to foot the bill again.