Mr. Ravenstahl said he will dedicate his $2,473 raise to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank next year. He said he will invite his staff to do the same, which would bring the total to $25,000, and would welcome council members doing the same, bringing it close to $40,000. (P-G, Rich Lord)
Eat your heart out, Joe Mistick. This move is what you might call shrewd and decent.
Council put the brakes on its budget process because of concern over a proposed shift of $37.8 million to a "restricted fund" meant to reduce the city's debt. That transfer, and other moves, are supposed to set the stage for a $45 million effort to pay off debt, and reduce payments by a total of $51 million through 2013.
Somehow, that is the crux of Dowd's major present malfunction with the budget.
Yet even the relatively minor ways it got marked up yesterday has stirred controversy...
The mayor said he is wary of the budget amendments council approved.
Council members voted to approve hiring an attorney to represent City Council in 2009 for $66,552 and to spend $133,448 on "education and training" for employees in various city departments
The mayor said he might use his line-item veto power.
"It's my hope that (City Council) will understand their role and responsibility and approve the 2009 budget in the form that it was originally submitted to them," Ravenstahl said. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)
That seems like an overly aggressive standard. If the Council indeed has a role and a responsibility to approve the budget, you'd think that entails a role and a responsibility to try to improve it. This isn't a competition.
This is a competition:
Mr. Lamb said his office expects to begin posting all city contract awards online in the first quarter of next year. He said he believes the city can create a separate system for posting campaign contributions online before the primary.
Contracts are subject to state open records laws, but are not easily available to the public.
Campaign contribution information is filed on paper with the Allegheny County Elections Division. Mr. Lamb said he would like to require city candidates to provide his office with electronic campaign contribution records, but if necessary, he will have staff type in the information. (P-G, Rich Lord)
Might as well put both the contracts and the donations on the same website. That's what people are so curious about, it's no outrageous secret.
What we like about Michael Lamb's initiative is that he gives us a firm timetable for action and results. Makes it seem like he thought it out and feels seriously about it of his own accord. In some fairness to Mayor Ravenstahl, his 2-month old pledge seemed to be taken up operationally by the URA board instead of his own ways and means.
Matt H has a new list of notes for us. We especially like his take on this, which we missed.
Maria and I got into a stupendous row. In the end it got me thinking about the idea of equivalencies between different types of social offenses. Is there really an apt analogy to be drawn between groping cardboard cutouts and burning crosses? Meanwhile, Maria and John hash it out on related subjects.
Burgher Jon points out that shares of Burghshire-Hathaway are trading up sharply.
I was expecting Ruth Ann Daily's prayer for the newspaper to veer into economics and the business model. Instead, she stayed focused on the apparent decline of wholly disinterested, Voice of God journalism (is how I would describe it), until...
This polarization is bad for business: A biased outlet eliminates at least one-third of its potential audience -- a terrible reality for newspapers (and for the broadcast and Internet outlets that rely on them).
But, even worse, it's bad for democracy. There is a strong correlation between newspaper readership and voting -- between staying informed and participating.
I'm not at all sure "polarization" (what I would call "differentiation") is bad for readership or inherently bad for democracy. Certainly I think more people are much better informed now than they ever have been because more media is catering to their specific desires -- including the desire of a liberal Obamaphile to read The Corner regularly.
However, polarization / differentiation is bad for business, which left unchecked can be bad for democracy. Unless the newspaper industry, without quite realizing it, is suffering from a kind of Detroitism.