Monday, March 2, 2009

Monday Morning Sustenance

During the course of these two years of blogging, Comet Senior Political Analyst Morton Reichbaum has logged countless hours watching the City Channel with great interest -- when not falling asleep or insisting upon watching hockey.

He asked me to clarify, in response to published reports, which of the familiar individuals is now running for mayor.

"The one with the hair," I informed him, "in the middle. The annoying one."

"Oh! Yeah, well yeah, sure, he seems..." Reichbaum took a moment to think of the right word. "He seems wholesome."


Saturday's print edition carried a response to Patrick Dowd's "Robbing Peter to Pay Paul" issues:

"These payments are not new," the Ravenstahl administration noted in a response to e-mailed questions. "If these payments were eliminated, the additional burden would fall on the taxpayers of our city who would be required to subsidize the authority's share of these costs." (P-G, Rich Lord)

1. Correct: these payments are not new. You are perpetuating the same old mistakes of your predecessors, three years running.

2. We are warned ominously of a tax hike. The oversight bodies exist, almost explicitly, to prevent us from raising taxes. Something else almost certainly would have to occur; a realistic budget might be just the thing to trigger more state aid.

3. When the Authorities run low on cash, many of them simply get to raise rates on residents (the Water Authority, ALCOSAN) so it all amounts to the same thing in the end -- except city government itself is more directly accountable.

4. "The Ravenstahl administration noted in an e-mailed response..." From who? Just curious. Was it the Mayor address, the Undermayor address, the Budget Director -- with whom were we exchanging? This just adds some legitimate information and insight.


And now, ladies and gentlemen, the YouTube stylings of District 2 candidate Rob Frank:

Not wanting to be outdone, Georgia Blotzer, Democrat, says we're going to have to produce a video at some point as well -- but not until the petition drive is over and the Listening Tour is fully off the ground. I'll do my best to make sure we use lots of awesome studio effects like star wipes and strobe lighting.


  1. You have this statement WRONG, dead wrong:

    Quote from post: "The oversight bodies exist, almost explicitly, to prevent us from raising taxes."

    In fact, the OVERLORDS exist, almost explicitly, to prevent the city from going bankrupt. The OVERLORDS do not want the city to default on its debt payments and seek forgiveness from its past (and present) spending obligations -- especially the biggie, the under-funded PENSION Accounts.

    That is why the OVERLORDS are in town.

    Raising taxes or not is not that much of a concern. But, perhaps they know that raising taxes is going to tip the city closer to NOTHINGNESS -- hence, -- it isn't purdent for the hopes of getting the past debt covered.

  2. Say what?

    Quote: "a realistic budget might be just the thing to trigger more state aid." ...

    No way.

    What Pittsburgh does with its budget and what triggers are in Harrisburg -- or not -- are NOT linked in the slightest.

    A realistic budget for Pittsburgh can't be hinged upon Harrisburg. Pittsburgh's problems are Pittsburgh's to deal with and own.

    Harrisburg has its own factors -- and the trigger there isn't close to what Pittsburgh can control.

    Harrisburg forced the city schools to give money to the city.

    Harrisburg forced the lower parking tax.

    Harrisburg forced much of the gambling garbage -- and spending of gambling incomes in budgets as far back as 2006. Yep, Mayor Murphy's last budget was made whole, in part, due to requirements of Harrisburg to spend the gambling incomes. Absurd.

    Recall pre-Phantom reveue speak.

    Woops, that's mostly before your watching of cable tv meetings.

  3. Mark, the ICA board has on multiple occasions been to described to me as a legislative Republican effort to make sure that Pittsburgh keeps chipping away at its "unfriendly business climate", and holds the line on taxes. It's not the overlord's primary responsibility, but they seem to have taken that upon themselves pretty eagerly. I don't think a tax hike is a part of anyone's solution, least of all Patrick's.

  4. Agree that a tax hike is off the radar for most, unless, of course, you invest in your property here.

    If the Overlords were a legislative R effort, why TWO sets of them then? And, now that the Rs are sunk, why not their removal.

    Most labels don't hold up to scrutiny.

  5. As I understand it, the Act 47 team and ICA board were set up to make sure that Pittsburgh followed the rules of the five year Act 47 plan. That involved raising taxes early in the plan, as well as cutting people and services. Now that we have reached the end of the five year plan (where we have the surpluses the original plan envisioned), we are cutting back on at least the parking tax. Since we are staying in Act 47 status, we will need a new five year plan. It will likely include some new tax increases and cuts in services, to get us past the deficits that are projected for 2011 or 2012. I seriously doubt it will address our long term debt and pension obligations.

    I think that the two state mandated teams have not done that much for whatever they are being paid for (and I believe at least some of them are being paid). It was only recently that City Council "noticed" too many City workers were/are taking cars home, as regulated in the five year plan. Ravenstahl (of course) vetoed a Council effort to reduce the number of take home cars, but promised to address the issue himself. Not surprisingly, after actually cutting the number of take home cars the Ravenstahl administration slowly and quietly restored the take home cars to public safety and public works supervisors. Where are the two state mandated teams?

  6. According to folklore, Act 47 came first and was fashioned by mostly Democratic leaders, then the ICA came into existence as a response from Republican leaders to ensure dual and more muscular oversight. Or something. I'm not too clear on this, but it likely doesn't matter anymore. Both bodies have taken on a life of their own.

  7. I really like Rob Frank but he is really facing an uphill battle here. Especially with another Mt. Washington candidate in the race.

  8. I like this guy better then that Smith character. This dude is no nonsense. Smith's first day was spent wasting everyone's time with a party and allowing other city employees to hang out.

    I think Smith needs to go.

  9. Did anyone hear what happened to Smith?

  10. Nope. Care to elaborate? Nothing serious, I hope?