Senator Fumo admits that his public staff performed campaign work, but does not admit to any wrongdoing.
"It's also a violation to spit on the sidewalk, but I don't know that it's enforced," said Mr. Fumo, who gave terse and often feisty answers to Assistant U.S. Attorney John J. Pease during the first day of what is expected to be a long and blistering cross-examination in Mr. Fumo's federal corruption trial. (P-G/PI, Lounsberry & McCoy)
Together with yesterday's depiction of the Fumo household as a state-funded laboratory and think tank, what we see developing is a lot like the case against Cyril Wecht -- only seemingly at least a little more serious, and without Fumo playing his cards nearly as well.
Patrick Dowd is needling Mayor Ravenstahl in regards to The Sign -- though probably not in any way that you'd like him to.
Dowd's letter reiterates much of the legal history of this case, in which the city solicitor's office argued from both sides of its mouth. On the one hand, George Specter opined, the process Lamar used to obtain an electronic billboard Downtown was of dubious legality and should be ceased. On the other hand, Specter also noted that the process had been used previously -- and that Lamar had a good-faith reason to believe it would be followed again. (City Paper Slag Heap)
One of these days, Pat Dowd, the folks at the Pennsylvanian, George Specter (or somebody other than Specter), Lamar Advertising, Pat Ford and a judge are going to get together in a room and sort this all out. In all probability, it's going to be surprisingly peaceable.
Pat Ford was hired for his passion, his determination, his Reaganesque commitment to the free market and its attendant faith in a certain kind of Providence. He obviously had a tragic weakness for the symbolic trappings of power -- but by no accounts yet did he ever accumulate or procure for himself anything of significant substance. That is, until his handsome severance package -- but that only once he was cut loose.
As you know, today at noon is the time for County Executive Dan Onorato's second Cyber Town Hall. During the first one, Onorato defended the equity of his "base-year" property tax schemata by reference to the fact that almost all property values rise from year to year -- so he is really keeping everyone's property taxes low.
Pgh Is A City wrecked that argument:
Let's get something straight. Housing prices (in a normal society) increase. It's perfectly natural and expected that prices will increase. In fact, if housing prices didn't increase we'd be in trouble. HOWEVER, the increased value of an assessed house SHOULD NOT mean increased property tax. When values go up, the county or the city or whomever, SHOULD adjust the mill rate DOWN so that the net result for them is about the same. Is there a law against that in Harrisburg???
By combining regular property value reassessments with corresponding millage rate decreases, the working class and those in struggling communities benefit from generalized increased prosperity. A rising tide would then lift all boats.
There can be no doubt that reassessments entail serious work and significant costs. However, I do not see why reassessments can not be scheduled for say every other odd-numbered year, and millage recalculations can not go into effect every other even-numbered year, resulting in a manageable four-year cycle. And/or sectional rotation can be employed, with manageable-sized portions of the county being updated continually on a pinwheel. Either way, this would at least be an effort to confront what are clear challenges, rather than bury them in a time capsule or pass the buck until someone else fashions a solution.
So we hope Onorato takes another stab at that particular question -- but the rest of the show was great. We're looking forward to this next webisode. UPDATE: It was awesome. I got two questions in. I'd give the overall performance a B+, we'll post a breakdown eventually.