COUNTY COUNCIL PASSES DRINK AND CAR RENTAL TAXES
Tom Baron, owner and chief executive of Big Burrito Group, which owns Mad Mex and other restaurants in Pittsburgh, said the tax will eat into the livelihood of many waiters and bartenders.
"Listen to your constituents," he said, calling the tax a quick fix to the county's long-term fiscal woes. "This is a poison Band-Aid on a bleeding artery." (P-G, Karamagi Rujumba)
I disagree: "funding transit" is a rhetorical device selected solely to institute a regressive tax with progressive justification. (Burgh Report, The Burgher; with C-P, Chris Young)
Thoughts: Dan Onorato must demonstrate a palpable improvement in the region's mass transit relatively quickly, or he will have earned far more local enmity during his tenure than affection.
CITY COUNCIL PASSES POLICE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDINANCE
The legislation bars the hiring of police candidates with histories of violence and the promotion of those subject to active domestic abuse criminal cases or protection-from-abuse orders, known as PFAs. (P-G, Rich Lord)
Marsha Hinton, chairwoman of the Citizens Police Review Board, said the ordinance has room for improvement. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)
Thoughts: We're sorry, but there will eventually be more acts to this drama. The tension will be over whether to pursue reforms deeper into the police department, or broader across other areas of government.
CITY COUNCIL INITIATES STATE REEVALUATION OF ACT 47
This is a critical vote, not just a symbolic one, because it triggers one method of an end to state oversight. Although it may sound pleasant and a move in the right direction, be careful what you wish for. Instead of asking the state to end Act 47, we should be asking them to help us fix our structural problems and wait until these conditions have been met. (Reform Pgh Now, Bill Peduto, the lone no vote on Council)
"It's worth having ... the state determine whether or not we are still an Act 47 city. If we are, OK, but what do we need to get out?" Ravenstahl said. He declined to take a position on whether the city deserves to emerge from state oversight.
"The secretary will respond in writing in the near future," said Kevin Ortiz, a DCED spokesman. "The plan is to hold public hearings in which the secretary will personally preside and solicit and obtain testimony on where things stand." (Trib, Jeremy Boren)
Thoughts: These public hearings will be interesting, at any rate.
UPMC MAKES PITTSBURGH PROMISE NOT A JOKE
Each 2008 graduate with a grade-point average of 2.0 or better will be eligible for up to $20,000 in college aid over four years. Because Mr. Roosevelt wants the program to drive schools and students to higher performance, he supports tougher requirements and higher levels of aid for following classes. [snip]
[/snip] UPMC's commitment is a political boon for Mr. Ravenstahl and Mr. Roosevelt, coming as the latter faces criticism for his proposal to close the popular Pittsburgh Schenley High School in Oakland in a bid to remake district high schools. Repeatedly yesterday, Mr. Roosevelt called big changes in thinking a prerequisite for overhauling the troubled school district.
The announcement also comes as UPMC, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and other nonprofit organizations are under fire for accumulating large fund balances without paying what critics consider adequate taxes to the city, Allegheny County and the school district. (P-G, Joe Smydo)
Thoughts: Absolutely. This provides Mayor Ravenstahl, Superintendent Roosevelt and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center all with massive degrees of political momentum for pursuing their respective agendas. Keep a low profile and stock up on provisions.