Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lease May Die Tomorrow, Period. **

*-CLARIFYING UPDATE: The Lease is obviously in intensive care. Pronouncing it "dead" now is clear meta-gamesmanship, i.e. spin, because its opponents want it to appear dead before Pittsburgh gets a good hard look at its alternatives.

Council seems for now to have backed off killing it tomorrow, though it does retain that option. Patrick Dowd explicitly forwarded that intention at the table, and it received significant support. Only Doug Shields' words of caution (similar to what appears below) seemed to take some steam out of that push. Details in Comment #1.

At this hour, City Council is organizing to vote down Mayor Ravenstahl's pension funding scheme tomorrow during a committee meeting, without holding it for special meetings and showdown discussions with the other plans as many had anticipated. [Live streaming]

Now, let's set aside the fact that I've personally been a bit more than open-minded toward the $452 million deal with LAZ and JPMorgan. Presently, Pittsburgh is not yet in possession of the actuarial data which will actually tell us what is our current pension funding level; those numbers are being crunched as we speak. So we know we can have no details as to what a state takeover would involve under various scenarios, nor do we know how much money must be raised if we seek to avoid one. And if any details on the "Council-Controller" plan exist, they have yet to be released to the public.

So burning one tool at this stage -- the highest-yield tool most especially -- would seem distinctly premature. The possibility that Mayor Ravenstahl may literally still be in the air when tomorrow's vote takes place would make such a move especially notable.

TANGENTIAL ANALYSIS: If it goes down like that, I can tell you what lesson the Mayor will take away from this experience. "Never play around with 'transparency' when it comes to real business again, ever!" I know I'll feel embarrassed to ever demand that he be especially forthcoming with his plans.

MORE: P-G, Joe Smydo (who was paying attention before I tuned in.)

**-UPDATE II: Tweeted around 3:45 PM today, after the meeting and P-G news update:

"Working to find" an alternative ... "Hopeful" ... yeah, best to vote down the Lease deal as soon as you can. You guys need the fear of performing without a net!


  1. When I tuned in, Burgess was in the middle of protesting that his newer plan (which involves the Lease AND a state takeover) had not been discussed yet, so it would be ill form for Council to take decisive action which would deny his plan an airing.

    Shields then chimed in that not all the information was in available, et cetera, and didn't see a reason to hasten the process so -- though he certainly didn't defend or speak encouragingly of the lease.

    Smith said essentially, let's please debate all plans together and may the best one win.

    Peduto said that having looked at it from all angles, he can imagine no way he can be convinced to go along with a lease and he will not, not, not, and is ready to vote no whenever called upon to vote. He also indicated he's moving in the direction of whatever bond plan is emerging.

    Rudiak pointed out that the Parking Authority gets to determine what becomes of the garages, and maybe everyone should keep that in mind.

    Dowd said that if we're going to have more meetings about the lease deal in this short time frame, could we please make sure senior staff from the Finance Dept. is available to defend it in Council on each and very occasion. [Ed. note -- I would hope the Mayor will do so as much as practicable as well].

    Burgess and Harris got into a brief tet a tet regarding whether they were now RULING OUT a decisive vote tomorrow, and President Harris (on sensible procedural grounds) pointedly would not rule it out.

    Kraus mentioned also that he is a no vote, and ready to vote no whenever.

  2. The P-G also has Rudiak declaring No Way Jose.

    It only rational to remember that Council once had five declared Yes votes for a tuition tax, and it's conceivable that new (or properly vetted) information may change things.

  3. Everybody hates everybody. Everybody is right to do so. News at 11:00.

  4. "The Mayor's parking lease plan is dead. It does not and will not have the required votes for passage."

    -Patrick Dowd

  5. The Mayor's parking lease plan is dead. It does not and will not have the required votes for passage.

    They never have the body on camera. When everybody thinks it is safe, Becky and Steve go into the pond for a swim and get eaten by monster.

  6. The monster also ate the definite article.

  7. Does Shane die in the end?

    on one of points Bram passed on.. I don't think the Parking Authority can lease the garages by fiat without positive action by council. City Council has to extend the charter of the parking authority to the maximum 50 years for the deal to go through. Barring that, the LAZ/JPMorgan folks are on some shaky ground and it seems unlikely they would go forward.

  8. The Mayors plan is dead. Trust me. The votes aren't there for it.

  9. If I ever start trusting anonymous people on the internet, I'm going to with people who want to give me millions.

  10. Seriously, who the hell says "trust me" as an anonymous comment???

    WHY ARE YOU TRYING SO HARD to convince us if it's so in the bag?

  11. Apparently, "Come with me if you want to live" works at least some of the time.

  12. The Lease plan is dead not because council hates the mayor or because the mayor is in China or because council is flexing its muscles. It is dead because it is a horrible idea that would do long term harm to Pittsburgh.

  13. When has that been enough to stop something?

  14. So let me get this straight. You really think it's a good idea to vote down our only other revenue-generating option, because a shiny new plan was introduced yesterday that isn't finished and no one has vetted yet? You think that's wise?

    You're really that afraid of what will happen if the Mayor gets a week to look at your plan? You had months with his, you think your plan is so "collaborative" and "sound-headed" that Pittsburgh should just trust you?

    Pittsburgh deserves nothing less than a side-by-side, fair comparison of fully vetted and completed plans. And you know it. This blitzkreig on behalf of yesterday's plan, in which everything surrounding it needs to be obliterated before it's ready to take out of the oven, does not become anybody.

  15. Looks as if the anon comment who said the plan is dead was correct and will continue to be correct.

  16. In a gratuitously self-actualized body politic, the Lease could be renegotiated a titch so that the opportunity could be seized upon most properly, and everybody could move on. Just a passing thought...

  17. Viola! Kraus floats "tweak"!