Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What's the score?

So how’s the primary going? Pat Dowd raised the question of a refinancing deal the Sewer and Water Authority got into, where the mechanism for determining the payments we have to make looks awful risky, and the extra hundred million raised has to be kept in the bank to defray the higher than expected payments. So there is another 400 million the City could be on the hook for, but alas (for Dr Dowd) we won’t find out till June.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ravenstahl called for a war on potholes. It is a pity Mayor Ravenstahl wasn’t in the White House instead of George Bush from 2001-2009 (the youngest President of a major country!). All of Mayor Ravenstahl’s wars, and there seem to be at least a few, are bloodless wars. Most bloggers and newspaper columnists would say they are in fact sham wars, but they seem to play ok with voters. Better than Droopy Dog Paul Tsongas-like bad news from Dr Dowd (sorry Pat, couldn't resist).

By the way, Did anyone catch not this past Sunday’s, but the Sunday before’s 60 Minutes. There was a story on how a particular financial arrangement between transit agencies and banks involving buying light rail cars using borrowed money from banks, then selling the cars to the banks using the same money, then leasing the cars and letting the banks take the tax write for the depreciation, well those deals are in trouble because the insurer, AIG, is no longer truly solvent. It was pointed out to me (by Chris Briem) that Chris Briem had linked to a blog post back in the fall that listed the Port Authority (of Allegheny County) as one of the transit agencies that did these deals. So let’s see, that’s 300 or 400 million for PWSA and who knows, maybe 30 or more million for PAT. Who says Pittsburgh’s better off than the rest of the country. Our bad news seems to be in suspended animation, but it looks just as bad or worse than everyone else’s.

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