A few items merit some attention:
Mayor-elect Peduto's employee retirements jubilee legislation advanced in committee.
Four members voted for the bill, three abstained, and one was absent. Darlene Harris, Corey O'Connor and R. Daniel Lavelle said they needed more time to consider the bill.
Ricky Burgess was absent but said later that he opposes it. A final vote is scheduled for next week. Burgess called the offer unfair because it's being offered to employees who “did not earn and did not deserve” it. (Trib, Bob Bauder)
Well, they do not otherwise qualify for it. It is precisely the question before the Council, whether or not they will have "earned" or "deserve" it.
Peduto argues that the total budget impact of his retrofits on city government are likely to be minimal due to other budget moves, and the fact that only roughly half of the small pool of eligible nonunion employees are expected to participate in this.
As we stated last time in a post and some comments, it should be immediately clear that hitting the ground running and without distraction will bring considerable efficiencies. And it can be construed as unfair that employees who built their lives and families' lives around the proposition that the City would operate as it always had, must now see their retirement plans exploded because all of a sudden it will operate some other way.
A specific consideration is litigiousness. If the Mayor-elect essentially proclaims for all to hear, "Sorry, I don't think you're good enough to work for me and you must go," why should a dismissed employee not respond with, "You are only getting rid of me for very bad reasons, such as prejudice or a political vendetta. Cities cannot do that. I am suing, and I am subpoenaing all sorts of things!"
Those cases might rarely be of any merit, but they would certainly satisfy the cheering throngs, and we could not prejudge a single one of them. That makes for an annoying, time-consuming, distracting and ultimately costly slog -- especially for the city's Law Dept.
The Mayor-elect's legislation is not only an investment in a smooth transition, it seems to be measured and right-sized. The Comet very much appreciates the seeming incongruity of seeking new predictable revenue streams while making unexpected investments, but this one is a money saver in the long run.
Near the Housing Authority, things are looking a little rough:
"It sounds to me just like the pure greed of money," said Larry Blair Jr., 46, a car salesman who is president of the Oak Hill Residents Council. (P-G, Lord & Zullo)
It's a long story. Oak Hill in 2009 was quite the thing, but it sounds like the developer has been getting the short end of the stick on upkeep.
Kevin Acklin, who is heading the transition and will be Mr. Peduto's chief of staff, called the housing authority "really the only authority that we haven't found any significant cooperation with." (ibid)
Elsewhere in the city center, rumor had had it that the Planning Commission would formally introduce the Penguins' plans for the Lower Hill, early next week at its final meeting of the year. While an introduction is followed later by presentations, a hearing and perhaps other measures before a vote, this might have been one case where the Mayor-elect's ability to wrangle the direction and appointment of a new Board in real time would be tested. It begins to appear however that the reality of the impasses between the Pens, the community and the next mayor have become so significant, the Penguins might be taking a quick hustle back to the drawing board. We hope it is a pivotally constructive session.
*-UPDATE: Hill groups have composed a letter to the Dept. of City Planning asking that it conduct a fair market housing study for any plan submitted for the 28 controversial acres, and are inviting other interested groups across Pittsburgh to cosign it.
Finally, the Pittsburgh Comet is humbled to disclose that we are working on the Mayor-Elect's City Ethics Hearing Board subcommittee of the Law and Ethics transition team. It should go without saying that this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.
After inspirational introductions by the Mayor-elect and his apostles, roughly fifteen of us were ushered into a spacious college classroom for more specific guidance and instruction from Solicitor-designate Lourdes Sanchez Ridge. Then we were left to it. Our subcommittee has a couple of past members of the Ethics Board to provide insiders' perspectives, and more than enough attorneys besides.
Using the "I Will Make Sure Everybody Gets To Talk" gambit, I ruthlessly seized the chairmanship and proceeded to do pretty much only that. Here is what the team came up with in terms of goals, preliminarily:
For Dec. 2013:
1) Mission statement
2) Identify best criteria mix for Board Members
3) Provide justifications, specifications of funding / support needs
For Peduto's first 100 days:
1) Have that board operational
2) ID opportunities for improvement in the code
3) Have given top City employees (executives, directors, asst. dirs) updated training
4) Clarify Ethics Board reporting duties
For the first 6 months:
1) All City employees trained up.
2) Adequate public reporting of routine Ethics Board business online
3) Be funded through legitimate budget lines or foundation boost
1) All City / City-County Authority personnel as well as Contractors trained & addressed.
What do you think? What did your transition team do?