Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The 2009 Budget: Final Action*

The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance, led by John Sukernek, age 5 1/2.

"... one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

That seemed to be his favorite part.


Proclamations were presented by Doug Shields to Charlie McCollester and the gang at The Point of Pittsburgh project; by Tonya Payne to salvage artist -slash- community champion Jorge' Meyers; by Bill Peduto to Rabbi Daniel Schiff; and submitted by Ricky Burgess to Jack and Jill of America in Pittsburgh; and by Darlene Harris in formal remembrance of Catherine Baker Knoll. All five passed by unanimous consent.

The first one came replete with a thirty-foot banner and an original musical performance by a solo guitarist.


"Happy birthday to Pittsburgh
Twohundredand fifty years old..."

Verses were assigned to Pittsburgh's many military, labor and civil rights struggles that are told through The Point of Pittsburgh project, as well as verses for the Steelers various different eras of dominance, and then verses and more verses. It was all beginning to smell like an elaborate filibuster of the mayor's budget, until our anonymous folk hero signaled that he was in on the joke.

At length, he brought his epic ballad to a rousing conclusion and exhorted the Council, "Don't forget the workin' man."


During public comments, we opted to do some laundry.

Upon returning, a speaker (Kenneth Miller?) was describing to us all the progress being made in meetings with public officials, including Darlene Harris among others, as to how our city's sports teams can leverage their licensing agreements to combat the violation of child labor abuses and reverse the proliferation of sweat shops around the world.


Down to business.

First came a "technical amendment" changing the name of one line-item from General Services to Finance, which also involved a shift from $37 million to $45 million. This was approved by unanimous consent.

Second came a decision by Jim Motznik to repeal his amendment again seeking to increase the pay of the city's Store Manager, Department of Public Works, by roughly 20%. Motznik said he was acknowledging pressure under certain laws of state oversight, but has received assurances from the administration and others that pay equity between persons of similar job descriptions will be addressed in what has become known as the Race and Gender Pay Equity Study.

Third there was a raft several amendments -- one I believe for uploading Council meetings on the web ($56,000 transferred from fuel costs), another for legal fees incurred by the Lamar Four at the hands of a private attorney ($4,800 out of the Law Department's pie-share), and then maybe something else to make the Lamar Four thing not stand out quite so much. * UPDATE: I think it was Burgess's proposition to bump forward completion of the new five-year plan from June to March.

Patrick Dowd voted against the city paying the legal fees. Aside from that single objection, it was ayes all around.

THEN they all got to discussing the swift allocation of $45 million from the general fund to "something in the nature of an irrevocable fund for the purposes of paying down debt" in lieu of the pensions shortfall.

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