Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Three Big Honking New Ideas **

**- Updated with links to source material and stuff.

KEVIN ACKLIN wants to not-so-much lease Parking Authority garages, but rather partially liquidate the Urban Redevelopment Authority:

The Acklin Plan would avert a catastrophic state takeover of the pension fund without privatizing the city's parking garages, eliminating union jobs, raising taxes, or reducing services. The Acklin Plan also takes an important first step toward refocusing the city’s development policies on neighborhood investment and community development rather than subsidizing large-scale corporate projects. (Acklin material)

This is indeed profound enough to merit calling "The Acklin Plan".

Potential snafus: Is it well-enough thought out? Is there enough unspoken-for property that can find buyers in a timely manner? Is there enough URA liquidity to make up any difference? Are we ever going to get the requisite information out of the URA to determine this plan's feasibility?

Never let it be said that the URA's Rob Stephany can't turn a phrase.

Acklin responds: "The URA said yesterday that they have long had a 'laser focus' on the neighborhoods. I'm sure when people in Beechview and Brookline and Sheraden, in the North Side and the West End and the South Hills saw that quote, they fell out of their chairs."

Meanwhile, Jane Orie is probably thinking: Why don'tchinz do both?


FRANCO DOK HARRIS released a public safety platform.

These three cancers (substance abuse, "structural" poverty, and a lack of "traditional" economic opportunity) produce the atmosphere in which criminals are created. Under my administration we will employ community focused economic development to create economic opportunity and eliminate structural poverty while doing what we can to ensure that our streets are safe in every neighborhood. (Harris material)

One would have to call the lengthy platform "light on specifics" for now, but it's interesting how much of it harkens right back to the URA's turf.

Potential snafus: Do we have a model to demonstrate whether this high-fallutin' concept actually works?

Meanwhile, Luke Ravenstahl is probably thinking: I would argue that this is something that my administration together with Police Chief Nate Harper and Public Safety Director Michael Huss is already doing, and furthermore I would argue that the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime or PIRC which my administration has been working on is in fact just such a plan.


COUNCILMAN PATRICK DOWD wants to figure out how this G-20 business got started and where it's going.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Pittsburgh does hereby exercise the power invested in it by Section 312 and Section 305 of the Home Rule Charter,

1. To establish the G-20 Fact-Finding Committee as a special committee of the City Council...

2. To declare that the subject and scope of the G-20 Fact Finding Committee shall be the objective and comprehensive collection of information and documents in matters associated with the following aspects of the City’s involvement in the G-20 Conference:

The decision to invite and host the G-20 Conference in Pittsburgh...

The planning and preparation for the event...

The costs to the City of Pittsburgh...

The operational decisions made leading up to the week of the G-20 Conference... (Dowd legislation)

Taking a look a what § 312 of the Charter deals with, the word "Irony" comes to mind -- except His Annoyingness would be able to respond that the intent and scope of this investigation are clear as glass, and it concerns a subject of immediately apparent public import.

Potential snafus: Why does he want the Committee to consist of the chairs of Public Safety, Finance, and Intergovernmental Affairs only? Is this to be the Bruce, Bill and Patrick Show?

Meanwhile, Dan Onorato is probably thinking: No.


  1. Hey, i'm impressed, finally some real journalism on this page! Instead of the typical "everything Luke does is bad and everything Bill does is good (or anyone running against Luke," we get some real thought! Are pigs flying...I guess there is the swine flu!

  2. The Bill, Bruce, and Patrick show needs a more sporty name...

    Any suggestions out there?

  3. Isn't a lot of the money that the URA shows on the books promised to certain projects? I thought most of the URA's money is state grant money that has to be spent according to the grant application. I can't say I know much about the URA's finances, but I know they receive a lot of money from DCED.

    I understand they have a lot of property that they own, but most of it is not the best real estate and they took it under their belt to try to help a community.

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  5. First the HUDDLER would like to give Acklin an atta boy for thinking outside the box. But the HUDDLER has many questions… Do we liquidate assets that produce revenue? Or assets that do not produce revenue? How much does it cost to run the parking garages? How much to run the properties owned by the URA? (Many are rented out) Where are we making more profits? What is the cost of this sale in the term of jobs?
    (good paying jobs with benefits, retirement, and healthcare)

    Perhaps we sell off a portion of URA properties and move for a shorter lease of parking facilities? What scares the hell out of the HUDDLER is that right now there is someone counting money and putting it in a paper bag so they can profit from this situation.

    The HUDDLER is a little weary of our government’s history of liquidating or should we call it giving away properties? Many fine examples include the state hospital properties, state office building, former Lazarus department store etc. at fire sale prices in the interest of “development”. If and only if we can get market rates for assets should we even consider selling or leasing. Corporate welfare in this city must stop. Selling assets for ten cents on the dollar to campaign contributors is a crime in most states. When fast Eddy moves out of the state mansion someone needs to count the towels and silverware because this guy is stealing from the taxpayers left and right.

    (sorry about the double posting)

  6. If the URA had assets (property), a reasonable person would ask two questions:
    Are any of the assets (property) currently held by the URA marketable? and, if so...
    Why is the URA holding property it can likely sell for fair market value?

    I'd bet that the URA has mountains of dog properties requiring high pre-development costs. The kind of liquidation Acklin is talking about probably means a below market value return.

  7. Look at the URA numbers on Acklin's web site. They're from the URA's own report. December 2008.

    The report lists 224 million in cash and investments. It lists less than six million in "restricted cash and investments." That's a lot of not-property. That's cash. And liquidity.

    If the URA, especially that weasel Zober (and what incentive would he have to lie about $400 million authority he chairs?), wants to say the money's not there, then they had better explain why their own financials say it is.

  8. The HUDDLER said, "Perhaps we sell off a portion of URA properties and move for a shorter lease of parking facilities?" I like the way she's thinking. Surely there is a way to rightsize the URA. If that coincides with rightpurposing it, so much the better. This is an idea whose time has come.

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  10. Entire song lyric sheets, or anything similar that causes me to strum my fingers five times to scroll down, will be DELTETED. If it's very important, you can Google-search how to link to something.

  11. URA Property Value.

    Has never meant anything. They will sell at below market price to local politicans special interests, Rooney's. Beechview ?

    My thought is it is better to sell. Provided property yields taxes in future. No TIFs...

    Businees in Beechview is ugly!

  12. Anon 7:14...was that english?

  13. Anon 1:45 - It was pidgin english and it was dead on.

  14. Was watching Monk 24/7...TBS marathon. I know...need to get life.

    Similarities: Monk to Lawyer

    "Consider it therapy....

    Starting to cramp up, notice twitch in thumb of right hand. Find that amusing compared to other abnormalities...hard to hold cigarette.

    Cops have been camped out two doors longer camping. Noticed that they are impressed by homeless looking guy that can achieve what I have accomplished in past 2 daze. It is a thing of beauty, women have noticed as well as they jog by. Could be Norman....

    "I'm sailing away set an open course"...beautiful song by the Commodores, no by Styx..."I look to the sea..."

    Doing party tomorrow, 50 bucks to son of dad that cuts my grass. My good bottle of Scotch (bought while in Navy) to all others....and a can of cream style corn bought at Dollar Store as cover dish!

    I'm going to eat them out of house and home, they would expect no less.

    My Mom used to say "If you think you are insane you are probably not. Those that think everyone else is insane probably are..."

    Cramping up and loving it!