Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If we waste money, how can we expect anyone to offer us more?

From a link on a comment on Bram’s Comet, to an extended video of Pat Dowd’s event about waste in City government on Mark Rauterkus site, I caught an interesting comment. Someone asked about federal stimulus money. Dr Dowd’s response was “if we don’t have a pattern and a culture of showing we know how to use our money, why should we expect more people to give us money down the road”.

Right now Pittsburgh is one of a hundred cities with their hands out. We are in better shape than some in that a lot of the jobs here aren’t so dependent on trade with other parts of the country. We have healthcare (some people come to us, and we have lots of built in patients right now, and for a few years to come), education (again, some people come to us) and a bit of financial, although our banks didn’t have as many houses to sell at bubble prices. But we are also in worse shape in many ways, with a shrinking tax base and debt that is only getting worse in this financial climate. We are going to need outside financial help.

But consider who would help us. The Feds? They will send some money our way, but their priorities are jobs, and our unemployment isn’t that bad. Helping us with debt isn’t as interesting as creating a thousand jobs in Charlotte.

I read a lot on blogs that people feel we have to force the State to help us. Go to Harrisburg and demand the State legislature give us all the money we want. How has that worked out for us so far?

Maybe if Onorato is governor, maybe. But he’s not there yet and may never get there. Is there anything else we can do?

Well, yeah, the whole idea of running government like adults. I mean, I hope Dowd is that adult. I am pretty sure Ravenstahl is not.

So if we set a standard, if we introduce transparency to government in a big way, if we have serious ethics and campaign finance reform, if we tighten our belts in a responsible manner and try to spend our money in the wisest fashion possible, maybe we can attract some State help, if only so they don’t have to deal with an endless Pittsburgh Act 47 saga.

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