Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Politics of Götterdämmerung

Keeping this in mind, this indicates a redshift:

Council President Darlene Harris and member Patrick Dowd already have raised the specter of abolishing the authority, a warning that the parking authority should start cooperating with council. And soon. (P-G Edit Board)

Circumspection is so 2010. Scientists and futurists will note the term "pension fund" only appeared in this editorial in relation to "state takeover," but that may be like trying to apply quantum theory to toast a bagel when the power goes out.


  1. Put the bagel, the toaster, and a dead cat in a box and seal it up. As long as you don't open the box, for all you know the bagel might be toasted.

  2. my reading of the purpose for the creation of authorities in PA, and most likely elsewhere was to shift debt from a political entity to a NGO
    and put rate increases into the hands of the authority...just the same the political entity gets stuck with the bill in the end.

  3. No authority can be abolished until it has been debt-free for 3 years.

    Good luck with that one.

    How much debt is the Authority holding? $110 million, not including the debt they will need to finance the reconstruction of its Downtown garages.

    Could be another 20 or so years before we get to that point.

  4. Wow is that a stupid incentive structure. You can only be made redundant if you are a careful steward of public resources.

  5. MH:

    I'm sure it wasn't designed to be an incentive at all. More likely it was constructed to ensure that all debts and outstanding issues or lawsuits, etc., had the necessary time to be cleared before handing liability back to its parent municipality or municipalities.

    And I'm not so sure that I agree that the PPA's current debtload is a function of poor stewardship as much as it is a function of its construction. The PPA has no taxing authority so the only mechanism at its disposal to generate upfront capital for projects is its bonding power.

  6. First, kudos to BrianTH for a clever response.

    Second, I was less than confident in my understanding of redshift, and (to paraphrase Inigo Montoya) I respectfully wonder if that word means...

    I may be in need of enlightenment.

    Cheers, V.

  7. That's a distinct possibility, Vannevar. Everything I know about black holes I learned in a 15 minute wikiwalk during the writing of this post. Götterdämmerung was a lot easier.

  8. Beware, Pittsburgh's debt may appear in multiple places depending on its quantum state... or whether you are using cash or accrual accounting.

    Seriously, sometimes I think they use qubits to express the city's budget as much as I can figure the math.

  9. Pittsburgh should put its pension fund into a private consortium that will raise the rest of money to finish the Mon-Fayette Expressway by selling Greek bonds.

  10. Well past time for bringing back the "TICK...TOCK" posts.

  11. Minuteman, two differences between this and that.

    One, in the approach to the end of last year, there was stuff we could do to affect the outcome -- which the dramatic tension was geared to motivate. Here, we have nothing to do but wait and watch.

    Two, if there was anything we could do, you could call me undecided as to what should happen. Briem has me spooked. If running out of money is inevitable, doesn't that change the calculus about what is best? When preventing a crash you work the rigging like mad, when preparing for a crash you lash yourself to the bulkhead.