Mayor Inscrutably Unenthusiastic Towards Today’s Plan, and Perhaps Technically Has Rebuffed It.

This is blasphemy! This is madness!

Wait, no. WDUQ is reporting that though Mayor Ravenstahl won’t sign the measure, he won’t veto it either — thus the law-parts would become law. He says the Parking Authority would have to commission a study before it could raise rates(*). He says he doesn’t like the plan because it relies on taxpayers as a backstop, because it won’t solve the pension crisis and because there’s no guarantee the state won’t take over anyway. (On that first point, Council’s plan states that should parking revenue fail to meet the required total in any year, the city’s general fund would be tapped to make up the difference. No idea how likely or how significant that would be.)

Hmm … well, if he wants zero credit for holding off the state takeover then all the blame if something turns sour later on, then this is the right play call. Unless there’s more to come.

(*) – That … that could be a death knell.

16 thoughts on “Mayor Inscrutably Unenthusiastic Towards Today’s Plan, and Perhaps Technically Has Rebuffed It.

  1. C. Briem

    and I am told it takes 10 days for an unsigned bill to become law by default this way. So if they act tomorrow.. it will be after the first when the 'law' takes effect. Until then, it is just sitting around waiting for a signature that will never come. Waiting for Godot-like.

    Doesn't matter I suppose, but funny.

    Everything in Pittsburgh is a bit out of kilter. Other places have pocket vetos of unsigned legislation. We have pocket passage?

  2. MH

    Even if not, we may as well abide. There are at least three ways this can blow up that I've read to far..

    1. The PA needs a study,
    2. If the mayor doesn't sign it the law doesn't pass for 10 days (i.e. after 1/1/11),
    3. The whole plan is the fiscal equivalent of 'cross-my-heart/double-pinkie-swear/look-my-fingers-are-not-crossed' and the state will only buy it if they are deliberately deluding themselves.

    All of these seem more reasonable than the plan. The mayor has his “I tried everything” story and the council is now setting its own narrative out to the press.

    Me, I'm holding out for the take-over and a forced merger with Edgewood. We'll be called “Edgeburgh” and the marketing will be great.

  3. Bram Reichbaum

    Adding to that list, the Comet Municipal Bond Expert (there really is such a person) advises me that there is a legitimate concern that the revenue from the parking system is already formally pledged first to PPA bondholders. (There's some language about taking on additional debt that makes it sound like the C-C plan would have avoided that.)

    I'd actually like to retract my previously stated concerns about “bearing interest”, as some verbiage the Controller employed today about “present value” seemed to allay those concerns. Though it seems we have enough.

    In a textbook democracy, the executive apparatus would be cranking out fully-cocked, viable financial ideas from its legion of professionals, and the legislative body would be debating and ruminating upon the relative merits and flaws of these proposals with reference to the interests of their districts and constituent groups. I suppose this could work too though.

  4. Anonymous

    He says he doesn't like the plan because it relies on taxpayers as a backstop, because it won't solve the pension crisis and because there's no guarantee the state won't take over anyway.

    The same arguments can be made against the JP Morganstahl lease. You know, the one he was trying to push on the public.

    Like a child who did not get his own way, the mayor will take his ball and going home now.

    Laughable leadership.

  5. Bram Reichbaum

    I'm fairly certain that lease could not have required taxpayers to chip in anything beyond that which they individually pay when they park. And it *would* have forestalled a takeover for at least many many years. That middle point, I have to accept.

    I know! Rev. Burgess should sponsor another “compromise” modification of the LAZ/JP lease agreement tomorrow. It's the only responsible thing to do.

  6. C. Briem

    Bram, I'm pretty sure lots of the details of the actual lease have yet to be written. So I don't think that point can be backed up. There were lots of ways costs would claw back to the city. Here is just one. Too many snow days with money making meters snowed in? That would incur a bill to the city. All sorts of ways the city's risk was going to be written into the lease. or will, if it happens that is.

  7. MH

    I'd think the biggest risk is continued population decline. Certainly seems more likely than everybody deciding to give the Port Authority a whirl. Less likely than the city not being able to remove the snow, but much less costly.

  8. C. Briem

    not what MH said, but it got me thinking on a real pathological angle to all of this. If the city becomes uber-dependent on parking revenue, will it really want to support existing or new transit? Might not be an issue now, but imagine as suggested a future time when the trends in working Downtown shift.

    also.. someone was explaining to me what all the clawbacks that were expected to be in the lease, but I am forgetting the details other than the cost when parking spaces are not free for revenue generation. The Laz/JPM folks are no dummies.

  9. MH

    Chris did say “a future time” and if gas prices go up, I could see it as a possibility. But, if the city becomes dependent on parking revenue, it means the city has held onto its jobs and, probably, its residents. In that case, somebody would be entitled to declare victory.

  10. Bram Reichbaum

    Watching some of today's session now, MH … fwiw Bill Urbanic just said apropos of something else that the city now “significantly subsidizes” garage parking rates. So, neener neener in re our last spat.

  11. MH

    If Bill Urbanic is the kind of guy who would know the numbers, I accept the 'neer'. But, which garages? Some of them must make some money.

  12. C. Briem

    I think it's semantics. I don't think the city sends a check to the parking authority to subsidize anything. it's the opportunity cost of not extracting more via parking fees that is the notional subsidy.


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