Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Regulating Selves = Hard. Selling Property = Easy.

City Council's efforts to regulate campaign contributions are shaping up to be a ghastly twisted shipwreck, which may not get sorted out for months.

"I will support a plan for campaign finance reform, because I do think we need one, but I don't want it to begin and end with the city of Pittsburgh," said city Councilwoman Theresa Smith, a potential swing vote on any amendments. City-level campaign limits are just "a Band-Aid on the situation." (P-G, Rich Lord)

If reform begins in the City of Pittsburgh, why should it end there? One government at a time, guys!

If Theresa Smith, for example, were to vote differently on this issue than did her predecessor, Dan Deasy, then campaign finance reform would become a veto-proof, signed sealed and delivered historic reality.

However, Smith and others describe City-wide reform as a "Band-Aid" -- whereas County-wide reform is somehow completely beneficial and desirable. Meanwhile, the county, we will be told, is not amenable to sensible caps on political donations. So our only recourse will be a watered down bill that accomplishes little towards the purposes of reform -- and not until much further down the road.

Let me try to present a different reality. Campaign finance reform is good in and of itself. Campaign finance reform is healthy for Pittsburgh.

Why should we be forever burdened with the influences and the suspicions surrounding such huge gobs of money, distributed in so pedestrian a fashion?

City officials shouldn't worry so much about taking on some kind of "disadvantage" compared to county officials. They should be proud to do so!

This is about reestablishing some trust and some proportion between city residents and city leadership. It is about eliminating a lot of needless waste and many real, unhealthy pressures. Please reconsider.


Meanwhile, the state has sold our State Office Building for $4.6 million, to River Vue Associates / Millcraft Industries, who plan to turn it into appartments or a hotel or maybe a giant lazer tag arena.

State Auditor General Jack Wagner has questioned the savings. He has argued that the state may end up losing money by having to lease space elsewhere Downtown. He urged the state to ditch the idea of a sale until the economy improved, describing a $4.5 million price as a fire sale. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Can anyone really vouch for this argument, i.e. does anyone know what he's talking about? This sure sounds like a tasty issue, but it all sounds so surprisingly legit and above-board right now.


  1. It depends on a few factors, what did it cost them to move? When they moved, and what it will cost them to lease space? This has to be deducted from the sale price of the building.

    If it is similar to the move of police headquarters and the cost of their leasing space? Well then, not a good deal.

  2. Smith is a punk. I hope she enjoys her 8 months on council.

  3. ADB had a post on this and a commenter that seemed to know something... I guess.


    What an endorsement!

  4. Why are City only campaign contributions unacceptable? I vaguely remember something about how if a City Council person decides to run for county wide office, they are somehow starting at a disadvantage because any pre-existing campaign war chest they have will be smaller. Or maybe the lack of limits on County campaigns will drain the City of talented politicians, since they will want to go where they can raise more money?

    Why can’t we concentrate on what we can address: City campaign finance limits. If my County representative (who ever it is) wants to deal with that at the County level, fine. But I don’t want to wait for the City to do something until the County does. As it is, this election has already been forfeit to the Mayor’s veto of campaign finance reform last summer.

  5. "Smith is a punk. I hope she enjoys her 8 months on council."

    A punk? How so? She will not be unseated in the primary.