Saturday, January 3, 2009

McCullough Alleges Conspiracy

The county has the money to do any critical road and bridge maintenance without cutting other areas of the budget, [County Councilman Charles] McCullough [R-Upper St. Clair] said. He accused the Democrats, including Onorato and council's majority, of massaging budget numbers in order to hoard cash and give a property tax cut during the 2010 election year, when some say Onorato might run for governor.

"All of their numbers are folly," McCullough said. "Everybody's been cutting deals because they think Dan is going to be the man. Everybody wants a part of that, and they're forgetting about the people."

Onorato spokesman Kevin Evanto and Councilman Jim Burn, chair of the county's Democratic Party, rebutted McCullough's comments. (Trib, Tim Puko)

Anyone heard this one before? It sounds like a thing capable of happening in this universe.

Meanwhile, county Democrats are warning that a property tax hike may now be necessary to replace the funds that had been inappropriately shifted from the transit taxes.

If it comes to that, city Democrats really ought to demand on behalf of their constituents -- particularly those living in struggling neighborhoods -- that any millage hike go hand-in-hand with property reassessments. If taxes must rise, why must they rise even as they grow ever more unfair with each passing year?


  1. McCullough has the resources to back up these allegations, yet all we hear from him is blah.. blah.. blah..

    Show us the numbers Mr. McCullough!Substantiate your allegations. It is easy to call a group of people corrupt. To say they are hiding the money. Back up your statements !!!

  2. Does anyone else think it is funny that Judge Judy Olson was Jane Orie's candidate for Judge?

    Olson is a republican appointee. I am anxious to see what type of decision comes from the appeal.

  3. The appeal ought to be interesting, but it appears that she ruled based on the exact language that was used to justify the basis for the tax in the first place. Doesn't seem to me to have left very much room to maneuver, however, realizing that anything is possible in the political arena never say never.

  4. Folly! I love that word. Works for me when seeing them act on Grant Street.

    It is folly to 'turn back the clock' so as to 'freeze' property tax -- as Dan Onorato has done.

    That is not a viable, long term solution.

    The ploy is to delay -- and the results are the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

    A better solution, one I've proposed years go, is "assessment buffering."

    Furthermore, an even better long-term solution is the land value tax. Tax the land, not the buildings. Allow for fix-ups without a penalty on the home-owners / investors.

    IMHO, that's a one-two punch that will allow the county to get its groove back and lead to more prosperity and fairness to all.

  5. Onorato thinks we're stupid. He thinks that in a few months everyone will believe him when he blames property tax increases on Kevin Joyce and other bar & restaurant owners for "preventing Allegheny County from using funds already collected" or something.

    Onorato's plan all along has been nothing but a ploy to pit drinkers vs. bar owners vs. bus riders vs. home owners. While everyone is angry at each other, Dan comes off smelling like a rose (or so he thinks).

  6. Bram,

    good job on making the PG today.

  7. I can't BELIEVE they listed Christopher Hitchens way up above me like that. Talk about "what are they smoking?" ... :)

  8. I still wish they would just focus on what local writers say.

    I think that column would be more popular if they did that and I think it would introduce more people to the Pittsburgh based blogs.

  9. WASHINGTON (Jan. 4) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson on Sunday announced that he was withdrawing his nomination to be President-elect Barack Obama's commerce secretary amid a grand jury investigation into how some of his political donors won a lucrative state contract.

    This couldn't possibly be a problem here?

    No Matt H, The Huddler, Ravenstahl and Theresa Smith are right. There is no need for local campaign finance reform. This kind of thing never happens in Pittsburgh.

  10. The truth: time for a reality check my friend. If anyone could even come close to proving that "pay to play" politics was going on in Western Pa - that "Cheney like anti christ also known as Mary Beth Buchanan" would have the indictments lined up like "lost souls" to feed to her evil republican bosses in the Whitehouse.

    Also, Ask Corbett where the indictments are for his republican party buddies in the recent house scandal ? SPARE ME !!!!
    CORBETT IS A JOKE! He almost lost his seat - and didn't even carry his home county!!!

    For the official record - The HUDDLER supports campaign finance reform, on both the state and national levels. Just not here in the burgh - where the have nots want to take away from those that "have" the resources needed to win elections.....

  11. The problem is that pay-to-play schemes are incredibly hard to prove; participants generally don't leave contracts lying around, and don't speak in terms of quid pro quo, at least not outside the well-swept confines of the LaMont. That doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Give it time. We're obviously getting better at ferreting it out.

    "The have nots want to take away from those that have" ... dude, whatever helps you look at yourself in the mirror in morning. I'm sure those $10,000 checks roll in with no strings attached, and I'm sure that Pittsburghers who don't have two fifties to rub together receive the same quality of consideration from their public officials. Yeah, it's got to be our poor naive "perceptions" that are to blame.

  12. Bram.

    Our form of democracy is the best of the worst. The best in the world. Our form of government has survived hundreds of years, without campaign finance reform. We just elected a president who rec'd more individual contributions of less than 100$ a person than ever before in history.

    We do not need campaign finance reform. Candidates need to to a better job at raising money!!!

    Public financing is NOT the answer either.

  13. If the "have nots" mean that appropriate tax assessment on the real property value of the "haves" and I am not including the senior population, who, to me, are grandfathered to an area that in the last 20 years became "affluent", then I am of the "have nots" and I support campaign finance reform. Maybe then Dan will get the picture of reality. As far as Pittsburgh proper is concerned, the fettering out of pay to play politics, and you scratch my back big developer and I will scratch yours, smells of the same garbage and allegations of Blagojevich. What is for sale here? Someone always talks. Criminals, of every sort, always slip up.

  14. If all you hear from Mr. McCullough is blah blah blah, you aren't paying attention or lack comprehension. He has outlined in detail the shell game -- unbudgeted windfalls, unexplained payments to or from authorities, falsified revenue projections -- being played with respect to the county budget.

    Judge Olson is, after a month in a robe, one of the best judges on the Common Pleas bench. She is not a partisan. She is smart, experienced and skilled. Few judges on that court could have generated the well-reasoned, well-expressed opinion she issued in the drink tax case. The number who would have even tried to produce a carefully crafted, 25-page opinion during the holiday season might be one. (It seems likely that the quality of her decision changed the county's tune with respect to an appeal over the weekend.) Lawyers with her ability, earning power and experience generally lack interest in a local judgeship. The county is lucky that she is among the few first-rate lawyers willing to serve.

  15. Bram, I assume you are calling for property tax reassessment *after* the State Supreme's weigh in on Stanton Wettick's wet blanket, and after the State Legislature has had (more of) a chance to do nothing. Because anything Onorato and the County Council does before the Supremes do their number invites yet another lawsuit. Reassessment is going to be expensive and controversial enough (look how well saying "it was the only option the state legislature gave us" worked for Onorato re the drink tax). We don't need to start one only to be told it is the wrong type in two months.

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