There are eight of them. Their job is to make sure businesses are paying taxes. That's critical -- city officials say more than $10 million a year goes uncollected. But we saw six of the eight employees making little effort to find any of that missing money. What we did see was so alarming the mayor already is promising a tough response. (WTAE, Paul Van Osdol)
The last time a television news reporter alarmed Our Mayor with apparent malfeasance in city government, it was Marty Griffin and dubious spending at the Housing Authority. Pat Ford was swiftly dispatched to conduct a thorough investigation, and then um ... um ... ah ...
Has anyone yet reported that Councilman Ricky Burgess has been appointed to the Housing Authority board, and made its new chairman? He would be the one to ask about the status of that inquiry into alleged wrongdoing, most likely.
But back to today's story at the Finance Department...
"We expect our employees to give us a day's work for a day's pay," Finance Director Scott Kunka said yesterday. "We take it very seriously. We have [the Office of Municipal Investigations] and we have the Law Department involved."
If the allegations prove true, the employees will be disciplined, he said. (P-G, Team Effort)
Disciplined? Maybe I don't understand the public sector. If I clock in for three or four hours in a function that is supposed to profit my employer, and I go home and play video games instead, I will thereafter be considered a liability and a slacker and be fired. Then some eager beaver who rightfully lusts after jobs which provide generous benefits will come along to take my place.
If, however, six out of eight of these folks are found to be slacking at the same time -- who is it that requires discipline?
Neil deMause, co-author of "Field of Schemes," a book that examines the public financing of stadiums and arenas, said he has never heard of development credits being awarded as part of a deal. He said they definitely qualify as a perk.
"Free land is as good as free money," he said. (P-G, Mark Belko)
There's no reason to get worked up about this again -- for once this is exactly what was delineated on Day One of the arena deal in Spring 2007. It's just that there was so much tough talk about "no local tax dollars" being given away -- and only now it's a headline that "development credits" actually mean something? That land is indeed of value?
The real game will be for how much we sell that parcel of land, and what the Penguins will seek to accomplish with the remainder. Remember that in accordance with the Community Benefits Agreement, a Steering Committee is supposed to be Master Planning that land in a Community Oriented way, which will Drive Development -- except it is on a Strict Timetable before it turns into a Pumpkin at Midnight, leaving the Penguins with Carte Blanche.
Under the arena agreement, if the Penguins don't develop at least 2.8 acres of the Mellon Arena site each year, they forfeit the rights to the land.
Do you mean, they really will be made to forfeit the rights? Or, as with the Steelers on the North Shore, is this to be regarded as set-in-stone either way?
Hey -- don't blame us for being cynical. You've conditioned us this way.
However. This Thanksgiving we have something for which to be thankful.
Parties in the bitter Port Authority labor dispute last night reached a tentative agreement on a new contract at International AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C., after four days of special talks unprecedented in their 44-year history. (P-G, Joe Grata)
We don't yet know the details, but as long as management and labor are in agreement, we don't care. I can't fathom what kind of black magic Dan Onorato employed in order to bring these two belligerent parties to a bargaining table in our nation's capital, but if Legacy Costs are actually brought to heel under these new terms, this will be quite the resume enhancer.
If football is a game of inches, political football is a game of oh, about six days.