Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pittsburgh Promise Again Rears Homely Head [*]

For background on the universities' joint "No" letter, read the P-G's Schackner and Blazina and the Trib's Brandolph.

After delineating various reasons why they think the Student Tax is not ideal and how the Mayor has been less than perfectly constructive:

On the basis of those subsequent discussions and serious reflection, PCHE will not accept your demands. Among the issues your demand presents are the following:

a. When you solicited significant contributions to the Pittsburgh Promise from the non-profit community, you significantly diminished that community's capacity to support the City, a fact that you have acknowledged on other occasions.

That was point "A".

I am reminded of when the Promise's funding was rolled out, and um, it hit a snag, because UPMC had been quietly assured of receiving conditional tax credits from the City for its donations. One council member pointed out that giving to the Promise was not the same as contributing to the City of Pittsburgh, its infrastructure and its obligations; it was rather like giving to Toys for Tots. We are now seeing one way in which officials' energies poured into the Promise seem to be detracting from the core missions of city government.

*-UPDATE: Vannevar has some fun with this: LINK.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Judge James Makes Self Unpopular, and also, Prevailing Wage Legislation

FIRST. That law limiting the number of liquor licenses on Carson Street? Gone!

Judge James found that the ordinance was illegal because the city can't create special rules for bars. The city law was "an infringement on the power of the [state] Liquor Control Board and is invalid" becasue state law reserves most power to regulate alcohol for that agency. (P-G, Rich Lord)

Bruce Kraus must be fit to be tied. All his best laid plans gang aft agley.

NOW. That strip club that was supposed to open in the West End? Happening!

A year ago, the City Planning Commission gave the club a negative recommendation. The commission was supposed to send the information to city council so it could hold a public hearing on the matter, but council said it never received any notice.

Club owners appealed to Judge Joe James, who ordered city council to hold a hearing, but according to a letter obtained by Target 11 from the assistant city solicitor, the recommendation was never forwarded to city council.

Finally, after all the delays, James held his own hearing. (WPXI, Rick Earle)

I think we can sum much of this up with, "No politician in any branch, wing, or clique wanted a vote to be held in which the final unanimous decision would be either very illegal or very unpopular."

It's a shame we needed to violate somebody's right to due process to get here. But moving forward, there are a lot of curious questions about the time line and about how and when the news broke that will probably be asked.

AND FINALLY, Council debated prevailing wage legislation for a while today, with special guest stars from both labor and industry. Do read the Rich Lord update for yourself, it's a gooder.

I'll add a couple of tweets:

That's the real "insufferable" thing. Especially if it's strategic, as in: opposing some legislation but not wishing to be put on the spot to say so and why. I'll take a "squabbling" member present over a dignified member absent any day of the week.

#Sigh#, gonna have to watch this one before the final vote. I wonder will that come this year or next? Kind of makes a difference.

I got no beefs with Dowd, but is he implying that he lacks such a personality? City Council is all pots and no kettles sometimes.

Well that sounds like something which probably happened.

At any rate, the reason I include prevailing wage legislation in this post is that even if we pass it, Judge James will probably overturn it because it makes life too pleasant for the yinzers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mid-Day Update of Joy

Good thing my fishin' hole has WiFi...

Oh yeah, I remember when that happened. That sucked. I could go on.

That's an interesting assertion. Offhand I'd say it's more likely that they are calling the Mayor's bluff before the deal even goes around to the nonprofits, but I don't want to make an exojesus from my own interpretation.

Oh, and about that student tax:

"I don't support that approach," Mr. Onorato said. "I don't think it's going to go through." (P-G, Dan Onorato)

Bear in mind that Onorato will be facing the voters in a matter of months instead of having just faced them months ago -- but man, what I tell you. Even Dan Onorato.

There has got to be a better way to apply leverage on the non-profits -- one that does not involve a transparent bluff that we might cut off our [redacted] to spite our face. Give it up. Surrender the battle, and live to fight the war another day.

Wednesday Open Thread

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