It’s interesting how much things have changed in the last couple of months. The Mayor’s, or perhaps his administration’s, indiscretions have moved from being stupid, frat boy class to closer to indictable political favoritism. The City Council has gone from one of its do-nothing phases to a more confrontational with the Mayor, activist phase. And everyone seems to be acknowledging that Act 47 should have always, or at least should now include a provision for debt relief and for the under funded pensions.
At last night’s Act 47 hearing, called for a few months ago, it is reported that all the players acknowledged the city’s long term problems, and no one made a more than qualified call for an end to oversight status. The Mayor has stopped asking for an end to oversight himself, instead leaving it up to the state (i.e. leaving them with the blame if the City goes right back into deficit). Apparently the Mayor did say that if the city does remain under Act 47 oversight, we need a new plan, one that tackles the debt and pensions. Doug Shields argued that the City has met the criteria to exit oversight status, but he acknowledged we would be right back where we were in 2003, with deficits approaching. He wants the legislature to allow the city to tax non-profits, and wants help with health care costs and the pensions. Others argued for a new Act 47 plan, one that seems to deal with our real situation.
Just because people in this region have faced reality doesn't mean the State Legislature or Governor are. It is possible that the recent call for City/County merger will play well in Harrisburg, despite (or maybe because of) the lack of details for the plan. Meanwhile, I think the Governor is busy trying to get a win for Hillary in the primary.
Meanwhile, a story has broken that Pat Ford turns out to be a close friend of a Lamar executive (h/t to the Comet). The Ravenstahl administration is looking more and more like “lil’ Bush”, which ironically was some commenters’ nickname for Mark DeSantis. The timing of the Trib’s release of this story, the day before the Zoning Board hearing on the billboard and the day after Lamar filed suit about that appeal, could not be more perfect. I can feel Richard Scaife's delight at the City’s anguish. I feel a little bad for Pat Ford, but he seems to have picked up a Dick Cheney-like disregard for procedure and accounting rules. At the very least, he probably needs to be a salesman for some private sector company, preferably as far as possible from public money.
I assume this means the appeal hearing before the Zoning Board will go well.