It looks like to me, per the Pa House website daily report, that SB 218 passed. Of course, I believe it did last year, but Ed Rendell had vetoed it, because its timing would have hurt cities. Now it is here in the spring, and cities have more than six months to prepare.
I have been thinking about the district office thing in district 7. Most council persons do not have a district office, and you can see why. Pittsburgh is a compact city, so a district office is perhaps a poor way to spend discretionary council funds. Still, I interned in federal level congressional offices, and there I came to appreciate district offices.
I have a compromise suggestion, maybe one of many, that may not be feasible or legal, and would require various parties to come on board. In this day and age of mobile offices, you could set someone up with a laptop in a wireless hot spot a couple of evenings a week as a part time district office. A possible venue would be Crazy Mocha, with the owner’s permission, of course (The claustrophobic Union Project would work for a couple *more* nights a week). This person could talk to “walkover” constituents, fill out and electronically file forms for them, and send emails as if from a councilman’s office (in this case Dr. Dowd’s office) to various city agencies as needed, with promises of follow up. You could pay this person as a 1099 subcontractor and possibly kick some money Crazy Mocha’s way for the use of a table (if the possible increased business wasn’t enough). You'd want detailed timesheets, such as the names of people who asked for help. Evening hours would not be convenient for everyone, but they would be convenient for people who in fact usually don’t have the option to visit a councilman’s office. Now, I would apply for (bid on?) this job myself (I can always use a few extra bucks), but I anticipate/hope to be doing taxes from January to mid-April next year. I can see Dr. Dowd assigning the job to a staffer or more likely doing it himself. But hey, if someone wants to bid it out after April fifteenth, you know where to find me (I can be bought for … say 11 bucks an hour).
Maybe this plan would catch on and all sorts of council persons would have to have caffeine fueled evening hours in dimly lit coffee houses. The comparison to the committee man who hangs out in a diner/luncheonette and trades favors for bribes is, perhaps, inevitable.
I guess you can’t help but have noticed email-gate. I am referring, of course, to the Mayor’s silly email to City Council’s President, covered including header and all(?) at the Burgh Report. Good access. I was instantly reminded of Dave Barry’s May 6 NYTimes review of the book “Send”. I think anyone can read the review at http://www.nytimes.com/, but in case I’m wrong, I’ll *refrain* from printing the whole thing here. Meanwhile, I think the Burgosphere should pool it’s collective advertising pennies and send the Mayor a copy. Or perhaps a council person could use some of that discretionary money to do the Mayor a favor and get him a copy. This is my contribution: (http://www.amazon.com/Send-Essential-Guide-Email-Office/dp/0307263649/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/103-6949789-7904615?ie=UTF8&s=books&amp;qid=1180010023&sr=8-1)
Update: sodmeone else printed the Dave Barry Review here: (http://www.clipclip.org/Sharaith/clips/detail/18822)
it is quite funny.