Saturday, June 23, 2012


That is, if you have a horse in the whole privatization debate.

NYT via P-G, Paul Krugman

(not his usual Angela Merkel trolling)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let's Tax Pittsburgh's Eds and Meds!

Finally! Hallelujah.

If organizations like Highmark, UPMC and city universities don’t measure up to state nonprofit criteria, Pittsburgh could stand to gain tens of millions of dollars more in revenue from real estate and payroll taxes that are currently waived.

Harris said a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in April found that a nonprofit working in Pike County didn’t meet the state constitution’s criteria to be a “purely public charity.” She said the ruling has opened the door for legal challenges to other nonprofits’ tax exemptions. (EPR, Noah Brode)

Great. Off we go!

Harris said her investigation into tax exemptions would take longer than 18 months to finish. (ibid)

What? So long? With $60 million or more at stake annually, and a fresh legal template at our disposal?

Perhaps once the Mayor's office joins the Council President's effort, things might be sped forward.

MORE: From the Erie Times-News, Ed Patella

ALSO: The PA Supreme Court ruling at issue Bobov vs. Pike, which basically states that the Legislature can not replace the Judiciary's role in defining Constitutional concepts like "Purely Public Charity" simply because the Legislature would like to please hospital and university officials through using a much more lenient test than that which has been used by the Courts in the past. Thanks, Pike! The Ironborn will reave and pillage as it was in the old days all along the northern coast.

UPDATE: District 4 press release reports that Councilor Rudiak has called for a special public session to "examine the economic and social impacts of the large tax-exempt non-profits, with a focus on the region's largest non-profit and employer, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)" The City and County Controllers will be there, some "experts", and Jeffery Romoff CEO of UPMC is invited.

Sharon Needles: Shock and Huh?

If we are all outrageously lucky, this will be very worst thing to have transpired at City Hall between the hours of 10:00 and 12:00 on Tuesday, June 12. But I sort of feel like we've been had.

A few quotes stand out:

"The reason I prefer transgressional [sic] art is because it's the kind of art I like to watch."

[Dowd] was, he says, unaware of the complaints about Needles until the day the proclamation was issued.

On the other hand, when asked afterward if she were trying to use her performances to discuss specific issues, she said flatly, "No. That's not my problem. I'm an artist and I don't [redacted] have to answer for my work." (C-P, Lauren Daley)

Can anyone locate evidence that Ms. Needles has labored in some way to counteract bullying or stereotyping? Or is the extent of her contribution that she has "put herself out there" and been recognized on reality television?

On the flip side of the coin: there is now NO WAY we can justify continuing to refuse Wiz Khalifa civic honors. He has won a Billboard Music Award and an AMA, been nominated for multiple Grammys, notched a number 1 hit single and a number 2 album, and almost every one of his videos does honor to our City and its beloved sports teams. His latest album is named for one of our best public high schools. What does he have to do next, freestyle about the Promise?

After all -- what we do with proclamations is honor the good work people do. It doesn't mean we support everything Wiz Khalifa does. To continue ignoring him would be horribly racist, don't you think?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Drink Your Way Out of a Drinking Problem

Granted it is a wee bit counter-intuitive -- but if Paul Krugman can insist we spend our way out of a recession, anything's possible.

If your problem is...

...the perennial problem of crowd control on the South Side, where dozens of bars and nightclubs share the same 2 a.m. closing time. Thousands of people spill onto the streets, where police say their loitering leads to countless other problems, from brawls and shootings to loud noise and public urination. Cars cruise outside the nightclubs and make East Carson Street, at times, almost impenetrable. (P-G, Sadie Gurman)

Then by all means...

Seems there is an obvious solution. Let the bars stay open as long as they like. Have the state law changed. (FB, Bill Helwig)

Talk about a Win-Win, Win-Win-Win. We can lobby this. Tie it to liquor-license density or what have you; possibly nobody will challenge it. Better yet, to Cities of the Second Class. There's your idea, Mr. Bloomberg, credit Bill Helwig.