2014: Morning in Midlandish Appalachia!!

The overweening issues are twain in number:

To the bafflement of some of his colleagues on council, Mr. Peduto wants to remain in the program, even though it means continuing to answer to state overseers. The incoming mayor believes the city is still in a precarious financial position. 

“It’s not a question,” he said. “We must stay under Act 47.” (P-G, Moriah Balingit)

Raise your hands if you’re baffled.

As the city moves forward, though, city Controller Michael Lamb warns that the opportunities to put money typically used for city operations into capital projects will diminish, as expenditures rise faster than revenues[…] 

Mr. Lamb warned that the city will continue to struggle to fund infrastructure maintenance and predicted that operational surpluses will diminish as expenditures outpace revenues. (P-G, Balingit Deux)

City Controller Michael Lamb is a lot of things, but he’s never baffled.

Mr. Ravenstahl, a Democrat, hopes that the Republican takeover of Harrisburg increases the chances of cities moving to defined-contribution plans. This is bigger than party loyalty. 

“The system needs overhauled entirely,” Mr. Ravenstahl said. (P-G, Brian O’Neil, 3 yrs ago)

That’s one idea.


And then there is this:

Urban Affairs Officer Valerie McDonald-Roberts said all subcommittees on her team emphasized the need for changes stemming from the grassroots. 

“It needs to come from the ground up, from the people, from the residents,” she said. (Trib, Melissa Daniels)

That old thing.

First let me say this about municipal park rangers: true, I was a little amused at first.

But the more I think about it, a limited professional interdisciplinary team amongst the Departments of Public Works, Public Safety and Innovation and Performance could be just the thing for those “sticky situations” in this heavily forested city and to develop knowledge bases that could prove creative and constructive down the road. Perhaps during disaster relief operations we’ll even be able to send them north of the Wall.  *-UPDATE: More accurate description of team recommendation from John J. Chapman, Comet FB.

Second, the full-bore version of the Office of the Mayor-elect’s City Ethics Hearing Board transition team recommendations are archived here:

UPDATE / CORRECTION: Under Transparency, while the Palm Beach County Commission on Ethics annual report is a good one (pdf) the City of Oakland Public Ethics Commission annual report (pdf) we thought particularly boffo.

There is not any stopping us now! We’re on the move. We do believe the worst is behind us.

19 thoughts on “2014: Morning in Midlandish Appalachia!!

  1. Mark Rauterkus

    Hold the phone. Our significant assets are our children. The physical assets are secondary. Furthermore, what new investments have been made in the parks that are worth protecting in these times of zero capital budgets? Should we protect the 1920 farmhouse in Highland Park? The tulips at Schenley Park? When we did make an investment, such as the tennis bubble at Mellon Park, there is already staff present. A field needs players, coaches and leagues. A park setting is where we learn how to play well with others, and coaching and programming, software stuff, flows from those values. In return, respect is made, and we all treasure those spaces because of the lessons that are delivered there. Security shouts hads off and is something to foil, and is at the opposite end of the spectrum from what SHOULD and COULD happen when respect takes root in our beings.

    I long for the reading of the full report and thank B for posting some now. I will head there in a few hours, after jumping in the Mon this morn.

  2. Bram Reichbaum

    We prefer to place the emphasis on the board's education and advisory roles, but yes, they are empowered already to censure, fine, slap wrists and refer matters forward like a jury.

  3. Mark Rauterkus

    The need for education I understand. But why should it be top down? That statement seems counter culture to all the other vision elements of being more organic, more bottoms up, more universal.

  4. Mark Rauterkus

    Perhaps ethical education could be nested with HR or office of performance and not administered by volunteers. Sure, the board can author and approve. Sure, the board can document history, a better resource than self gratification of an annual report. Ethics should be infused everywhere and not the responsibility of some new employees who report to volunteers.

  5. Mark Rauterkus

    Does majority rule or do all need to find the subject guilty? Two off the cuff wonders: 1) Beyond any doubt and 2) the norm of needing all the jurors to find the accused guilty, otherwise giving a hung decision. So the need for one ex employee could be all employees.

  6. Bram Reichbaum

    Mark – There was talk of quite a bit of collaboration with HR… and yes Ethics should be infused everywhere… but I don't really understand your complaint in regards to board or recommendations in regards to “top-down”? Should there not be officers within government that are charged with processing (“fielding”) public ethics business and encouraging compliance with the ethics code? To the extent that we are recommending by implication that we continue to possess an ethics board (we did not recommend dismantling it) I thought we did about as much as possible to detop-downify it.

    I understand as a Libertarian you don't want to grow government, but these modest administrative positions are money savers in regards to curbing future liabilities and future sub-optimal decision making. How much would be saved if it heads off even one PWSA-style snafu?

  7. Bram Reichbaum

    Robert's Rules of Order, majority rule, yada.

    Ethical matters are not always as cut and dried as any compliance scheme can attempt, and I would imagine an evolving ethical jurisprudence which is built more upon advisories and input on procedures than on complaints, declarations of guilt, and punishment. If somebody looks “guilty” of something proscribed by a code that is not admitted, my own personal advice to the Ethics board would be to duly alert some actual prosecutor or compliance office, and maybe issue an immediate Onyx Thingamagger of Reproach for “skating too close to the line”.

  8. Bram Reichbaum

    Oh! Right. Sorry. That meant, don't train an organization 'til you've trained it's leaders (for efficiency as well as priority) and don't have the City too eager to train the Authorities until the City itself is trained up, and has built confidence in it. Do unto others only as you've done with yourself.

  9. Mark Rauterkus

    If that is the tip of the spear in insults for 2014, I can live with that. It might be a fine year even. But, I have my doubts when it comes to suggestions for park rangers and Ethics Board matters from the TT. Those are the only things I've seen so far.

    In other matters, I need a ticket to the Heinz History Center or a date with one for Monday night.

    Plus, I'd rather not kick off the year as Chelsa did last month. My un-invited door slam was recently delivered by Linda Lane when she gave the State of the District speech and talked of “fewer sports” with a cutting of high school swimming and golf.

    The predictions for 2014 are foggy at best, today.

  10. Mark Rauterkus

    Councilperson O'Connor coaches at Central Catholic, a private school. That is out of the reach of what happens at PPS and Linda Lane. He cares. But he has little influence. In a way, part of this PPS decline makes it better for those other schools. Most of the families with “athletes” have already departed PPS as a district, as per my assumptions. Up to 1,000 kids have departed on many years in the past 10 years. Last year it was more than 300.


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