Sunday, August 26, 2007

A Sunday Folly...

The Mayor was on the KD/PG Sunday morning program today. He is an affable individual, friendly and generally unassuming. On the other hand, it was pointed out to me recently that he is utterly without humility. This is a characteristic we should be paying some attention to.

And no word on when Mark DeSantis is going to get equal time on KDKA.

He said three things I think are worth drawing attention to. First, he talked about the debt facing the city, saying it is around 800 million. He didn’t say what that includes, so we don’t know if he is including sewage issues and healthcare for retirees, for example. He said the city is making 90 million dollars payment this year on that debt right now. I have heard something about balloon payments, and of course there are the additional taxes allowed under ACT 47 that will be reduced or sunset (like the parking tax), so that 90 million may not be sustainable. When asked what he is doing about tackling the debt issue, the Mayor said the city is not issuing any new debt. So, I guess we could retire the city’s debt in maybe 9 years, if absolutely nothing happens to our revenue stream, we don’t need to undertake any capital projects and our lenders don’t charge us any interest. But this was the Mayor’s response when asked about what he was going to do about this.

The Mayor was asked about the Lemieux tournament. He seemed to feel the matter was closed with the Ethics Board. But he was asked about whether he thought he has received any value, considering who he got to play with. His response was to say there is no quid pro quo in his administration He mentioned he would be playing in something called the Caliguiri Invitational next month? I Googled that, but found nothing (could it be something connected to the Great Race?). I think it was David Shribman who noted that the Ethics Board was considering recommendations for City Council to alter the Ethics Code. The Mayor gave what is now a standard response: he welcomes their input but would reject any absolute dollar limits on what he could accept. I can only assume he meant for entry into charitable events. Ken Rice asserted that he thought the Mayor would not accept entry into a charitable event again if it was paid for by a Pittsburgh company. The Mayor would not commit to that position, rejected it twice.

Finally, at the end of the program, after asking about City-County merger (don’t ask), the Mayor was asked if he thought one party rule was good for Pittsburgh. He said he would leave that up to the voters. I fact he said that twice, after being reminded he had agreed that he had inherited many of the city’s problems. Shribman proceed to say to the Mayor, as a student of history and from a purely analytical point of view, was the one party rule the South had had for years, was that a good thing. At that point the Mayor did suggest there are different types of democrats in Pittsburgh, liberal and conservative. He didn’t identify which he is.

Overall, as I said, the Mayor came across as affable and friendly. On the other hand, he gives us no plan to deal with the debt, other than to hope nothing changes for 10 or 15 years, including that Pittsburgh has no new needs. And the Mayor, convinced he can do no wrong, refuses to accept ethical limitations on his behavior.


Bram Reichbaum said...

Did he say that $90M was going to pay off the debt? I thought that was going into a rainy day fund.

Of all the things I criticized (and it was a lot), I left him alone on the issue of one-party rule. What's he gong to say? "Yeah, all these Democrats are no good?" I guess he could have been a bit more creative in his answer.

EdHeath said...

90 million for debt service is in the 430 million budget. Then there is the surplus, which is incidentally supposed to help us when the taxes and the tax revenue the state let us have expire.