I wish we were not accepting
UPMC’s rhetoric voguish rhetoric* about how challenging their tax-exempt status is like “holding a gun to their heads”.
We all pay taxes. Dunkin’ Donuts pays taxes. Dollar Bank pays taxes. Going to court to ensure that a profitable enterprise pays the taxes that they owe is nothing like robbing someone at gunpoint, it is like instructing them to “make their bed” or “put some pants on already.”
Be that as it may, it took Pittsburgh one full year, and Lord knows how many hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney fees, only to see the case get tossed out at the first technicality. We might appeal the decision, but legal appeals are not quite like picking up dice and throwing them a second time. The judge had a sound enough rationale, it would almost certainly be further waste.
We could file new challenges against each of UPMC’s hospitals. Aah, that’d be sweet!
There seem to be ten of them. Add Allegheny General and West Penn Allegheny to the mix, because the law insists we have to be faiair, and that’s a dozen lawsuits. Each would require quite a bit more research and elbow grease than simply mimeographing Mayor Ravenstahl’s original lawsuit after editing a few pronouns. Each would entail motions, counter-motions, and years of time, attention and taxpayer expense as the Leviathan drags it out.
Meanwhile, all people who do not think the way we do — people who identify more closely with capital-and-real estate heavy nonprofits than with urban residents and the officials who scramble on their behalf, and people who only pay occasional and shallow attention — can quite correctly note that #NextMAYOR Bill Peduto has never yet even attempted negotiating with the nonprofits using diplomacy and creativity. Sure, that course has been repeatedly rebuffed, and sure we know that a lot of nonprofit honchos would rather be whipped through the streets naked in wintertime than turn over a dime to urban Democrats and their (shudder) pension funds.
But seeing as how this horde of lawsuits would likely take more than three years to litigate (heck, sometimes they last five before even getting to trial!) and seeing as how we all have lives to lead here, and progress to make on many other matters of mutual interest… sigh… a breather aimed at constructive dialogue probably makes sense.
I can’t comment much on the direction peace talks are headed. In theory, a fund that helps finance housing and development could be wonderful! Or, it could warp and bastardize City redevelopment to UPMC’s own advantage at the expense of the common good for generations. A fund would certainly be better if it included upgraded public infrastructure. It would be even better if it addressed our common legacy obligations. But I can acknowledge that maybe Next Pittsburgh has not yet had time to volte-face and fully authenticate its commitment to responsibility and reform, so truce could be a valuable interlude.
The City could always be quietly sharpening its knives, anyhow.
MORE: P-G says as much
FLASHBACK: UPMC and the Upsides to Class War