Friday, January 7, 2011

And Where Is our Money for The Libraries??

Is it on its way?

But Mr. Ravenstahl returned unsigned a bill council passed June 1 allocating the system another $640,000 -- money the system says it needs to keep all branches open through December. The bill now becomes law without his signature. (P-G, Joe Smydo, 6/16/10)

So Pittsburgh has officially decided.

In recent weeks, mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven has said another $640,000 would amount to a "blank check" for the library system and come at a time when the city has its own financial worries. Besides, she said, there's nothing to prevent the library from returning next year and demanding yet another grant to keep branches open. (ibid)

Ah, good points. So how about the fact that we took that all into consideration and Pittsburgh had decided?

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office didn't respond to a request for comment Monday. (P-G, Joe Smydo, 11/02/10)

Can anyone find anything? There have been no major pronouncements -- and the natives are getting restless.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's funding situation took us all a little by surprise. Council representatives overwhelmingly desired that those facilities and those programs stay online until a solution might be found, and forked over enough money to get through midway next year. The mayor aired grievances about how the Libraries are run, and these were considered and examined (some of it interesting). The mayor did not veto the rescue funding allocation, and he and the City wrote a reasonably balanced several hundred million dollar 2011 budget notwithstanding the measly $640,000 it cost. Pittsburgh had decided.

Pittsburgh's in for another weird result soon.


  1. Do you think that changes anything? I had held the Mistick role and resignation as residing outside the substance of the impasse.

    Do you suppose the Mayor wants to hold onto the funding until the board appoints a new Executive Director? Is he perhaps formalizing any encumberances on the money to specify how and on what exactly it can be spent? Maybe he can say you can only spend it at board meetings which are open.

  2. If the Executive Director's role was outside the scope of the impasse, then perhaps it is best that a change was made. Perhaps the next person will understand that funding is issue #1 for the library system and as a result will take a much more active and visible role addressing that issue.

    I do not think the Mayor is withholding funding for any reason apart from the fact that the City cannot and will not be able to solve the funding woes of the CLP - but not for lack of effort. Funds for the libraries need to come from the state and the region.

    The sad thing is, when the library funding crisis started to bubble over, "progressives" in the city started flailing around wildly and blaming the Mayor...but his office was quietly working to bring the sides together and to examine possible solutions. People are so trained by the Good Guys to point at the other side of the 5th floor that they totally and completely misunderstood where the problems stemmed from.

    The Lawrenceville activist, for example, was pasting up flyers slamming the city for taking away the budget slot for CLP support - while failing to remember or learn that RAD is the reason that changed, and the libraries suddenly got WAY more city money as a result. A lot of good energy was drummed up in support of community libraries, and then a lot of that energy was WASTED because they directed it against the Mayor, who was actually one of the first people trying to broker a solution - downright foolish.

    This is remarkably similar to the PAT crisis. Lots of folks have yet to understand the root causes of these issues, and that they are not issues that can be wholly overcome at the city level.

    If our public transportation and library systems fail, it is a failure of the region and state to support them. It would probably surprise a lot of people how hard the mayor's administration works to influence state policy. It's a shame that you hear people criticize them for spending so much time in Harrisburg...if they thought about the big issues we face in this city that need to be addressed at the state level, they'd begin to understand how crucial that effort really is.

    Before I get too far off base, though - one-time fixes are not going to work for the CLP for long at all. Just like PAT, they need dedicated funding - more RAD money, more revenue from the state. It truly is a shame that we let a republican win the Gov. office, because things like libraries and buses are not on his agenda. I guess it was far more important to send Dan and Barack a message of non-support? Give me a break.

  3. gambling = readingJanuary 7, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    The library got all the new table games money that could have otherwise went into the pension fund or wherever.

    Damned libraries! I'm going to not read a book in spite!

  4. Minuteman, my issues with that are 1) we were all VERY clear it was only stopgap funding and 2) it's been decided. So my concern is more mechanical in nature.

    As to hard work and negotiating in Harrisburg for more state money for libraries and other needs, I don't doubt that that's taking place -- but Ravenstahl takes a famously conciliatory approach in all things, rarely rallying passions, enlisting the public's help, ruffling feathers. So it may not SEEM like he's working. Maybe if he held a policy event? Feature a giant inflatable of some kind? Harvey, the 401(k) Ladybug?

  5. Release the was approved by the Council and thus became LAW without his signature.

    Why hasn't Council filed suit against the Mayor for this blatant disregard of the law?

  6. Anon 7:04 -- Well, you file suit against the CITY... and you hope Council doesn't do the suing. Even in their private capacity as citizens with umbrellas.

  7. It is not against the law. The Mayor in Pittsburgh has to approve all expenditures. One of the powers the mayor enjoys under the home rule charter that many have yet to learn. Council can budget all they want but the mayor doesn't have to spend a dime.

  8. Sounds authoritative, Anon 8:20. So you're appealing to the HRC? Can you cite that for us? The nearest thing I can find that is applicable is § 510, and that's not what you want.

  9. I'm going to not read a book in spite!

    If you want to spite reading, get some Dan Brown.

  10. Stop being a jagoffJanuary 8, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    Anon 8:20/Scott Kunka - Council didn't budget the expenditure - the directed the mayor and director of finance to cut a damned check

  11. Look Bram, et. al. - I ain't saying this is exactly kosher, but is is certainly legal. The Mayor has to approve every expenditure in Pittsburgh. In many instances it is probably a good thing because council (and not just this one) are prone to spending money left and right to please constituent groups and someone in town needs to be fiscally responsible.

  12. But this Council probably isn't going to stand for that very long -- so they'll either come up with an "innovative" work-around to get the funding over there, and/or try to trip up the Mayor for serving treif (treif is Yiddish for that which is not exactly kosher).

    Either way most likely lies inanity, but at least it'll be kosher inanity.