Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wednesday: Yeah, There's News*

Today's charges grow out of the operation of the Beaver Initiative for Growth, a Veon-organized economic development program that was funded through state grants. (P-G, Dennis B. Roddy)

That's gold, Jerry.

In response to what he termed a “complete failure of leadership” on campaign finance and eliminating the appearance of impropriety in contracting, Dowd outlined his campaign finance reform agenda: (Dowd press material)

7 points. Try not to be overwhelmed.

*-UPDATE: More...

Mr. Wagner, who has described the deal as a "fire sale," said at a news conference today that he has asked his office of special investigations to determine the full cost associated with the transaction, which involves the relocation of more than 800 state employees to three other office buildings Downtown.

"This is a bad deal. Every taxpayer will pay for it," Mr. Wagner said. (P-G, Mark Belko)

Wagner's review of the sale of the State Office Building will take 60 to 90 days, and is intended to generate "public outcry" in order to "pressure" Gov. Rendell and his department chief.


  1. Thanks for the pointer:

    Good reply from Patrick, all in all.

  2. 1) I will introduce comprehensive, common sense campaign finance legislation that is tied to federal contribution limits within the first 100 days;

    2) I will end the practice of awarding no-bid contracts to campaign contributors;

    3) I will ensure that every contract over $25,000 will be competitively bid;

    4) As an incumbent Mayor, I will not solicit campaign contributions from any firm that does business with the City of Pittsburgh or its Authorities;

    5) I will make all finance reports electronically available to the public on the state and county filing dates;

    6) I will ensure the creation of and integrate searchable electronic databases of all city contracts and all campaign contributions of all city elected officials.

    7) I will publish my public schedule on the city's website so that any Pittsburgher can see who I am meeting with.

    Pretty impressive list - especially point seven. Will Luke and Carmen hold themselves to the same standard?

    7:00 pm - Lemont Meeting w/ Czar Ford and billboard buds.

    (next day)

    8:00 am - Trip to PNC Bank to make deposit

  3. Number seven was a doozy.

    I've got to say, at first blush, this agenda looks very tight.

  4. On the Veon story - so the Allegheny Conference folks don't see Dennis Yablonsky as a BIG liability?

  5. Veon's case is a similar pattern to the case of congressional candidate Steve ODonnell who was exposed of doing literally the same with these "administrative costs", while the head of Life Service Systems, a non-profit in 1997. Veon's case is similar... and now he's going to go down. That's the lowest form... stealing taxpayer money, which is intended to go to a non-profit. We need new legislation to stop these con-artist-like tactics & prevent unjust enrichment.

  6. Clarifications: O'Donnell was never charged with anything. O'Donnel was never accused of anything, except by some political rivals, which does happen. O'Donnell was in fact selected by the Court to assist with the dispersal of assets of a fraud-riddled organization he had left years ago. You can certainly flag him for ever getting involved in an organization in which maybe he should have sensed something was wrong.

    I'm skeptical Life Service Systems, as foul as it was revealed to be for what it was, was even remotely in the same LEAGUE as the Big Beaver Initiative -- my sense is that BBI was conceived of from the beginning as a grant-laundering component of Veon's political machine. But I still have more reading to do.

  7. Yes, agreed Bram in part, disagreed in part. I think the set-up was the same in terms of general principles as Life Service Systems... with large and inflated administrative costs using alot of the HUD money, conveniently alot of that HUD money made its way into Mr. ODonnell's for-profit, professional life services. It was a failed tactic for ODonnell which fried the Dems in the general. The Feds were crawling all over them over this. County commissioner Tom Bayla said that this was a clear conflict of interest. There were several before Markosek, Hafer, and Murphy who pointed this out. See the trib review articles. Its a little naive to suggest that Steve ODonnell did not know what he was doing, for example when he sold a house to the non profit for 70,000 more than it was appraised at. Luckily for the voters sake they found that out before the general election, and were not fooled. However, i do certainly agree w you Bram that Veon's case, which having some of the same general symptoms as ODonnells (ie huge administrative costs luckily not able to be accounted for, such as the case for ODonnell)... Veons operations are much much larger. We'll continue to learn the scope. Good reporting on this. We need to can all these crooks and have new legislation protecting non-profits from white collar criminals. Same general principle... they both stole and profitted from the taxpayers, regardless if they "knew" they were doing it.