Monday: Tying up loose ends before August recess

Earth to Dave

The Housing Authority’s seemingly exorbitant expenses on outside law firms and consultants came under fire in the press the last couple of days, along with problems it is experiencing in maintaining present residences.

Nonetheless, City Council has today fully and finally passed the proposed Larimer redevelopment plan 7-1, by consent and routinely bundled with other planning & zoning legislation, without further discussion or argument, and without pomp or circumstance. Only Councilor Rudiak voted no.

Comet speculation: And it is true speculation, no special knowledge or hints. HUD officials and investigators may (repeat) MAY have gotten in touch with some Councilors to reassure them, “Look. This is what we have been looking into at your Housing Authority. It’s extensive. It’s deep. It may bear some relationships to what you all are calling InvestigatePGH. And it has nothing directly to do with this Larimer development, which is actually just what we want local Housing authorities to do.” *-UPDATE: A source alerts us to their perspective that this is way off-base; that HUD has always kept itself “at arms length.”

In other loose ends:

Committee bylaws barring late appointments before party votes only apply to endorsements, the judge ruled, not to nomination votes in special elections. (P-G, Tim McNulty)

I done told yinz.

Deb Gross (and here’s a nice bio from 2001) looks prohibitively certain to be the Democrat in the coming special election. FUN TRIVIA: The regular election for that seat is a mere 21 months away.

Finally, our November general election for Mayor will be an affair between Democrat Bill Peduto, Republican Josh Wander and Independent Les Ludwig. Enjoy recess!

20 thoughts on “Monday: Tying up loose ends before August recess

  1. Anonymous

    It seems that only Councilwoman Rudiak is minding the City's limited capital budget dollars. All the rest are lining up with their hands out to get those “free” federal dollars.

    She is the only one that seems to realize that nothing in life is free.

    I have a feeling that the City will be paying the price for these “free” dollars for years to come.

  2. BrianTH

    Alternative hypothesis: the rest of the Council realize that there is an opportunity cost associated with the City's planned capital contribution to the project, but have concluded that the project's likely benefits justify that cost.

  3. Anonymous

    Or maybe Rudiak is just a pretender and only cares about poor neighborhoods and community development when it suits her political needs?

  4. Anonymous

    It seems as though the Judge did in fact agree that the committee (Fitz, Peduto and company) did violate some rules in their effort to bulldoze the committee vote in favor of their rubber stamp.

  5. Anonymous

    Bringing reality into fiscal discussions doesn't mean a person has a leaning one way or the other in these matters.

    Your reasoning is truly dumbfounding.

  6. Bram Reichbaum

    It is nice to be provided clarity on the voting privileges of State committee people and on residents who move from ward to ward. And also on appointees prior to a special election.

    I believe everyone was trying to influence the party vote; that's kind of the point of the entire political exercise. And it's awfully premature to refer to the AC/DC as “Fitz, Peduto and company”… in a couple years, perhaps.

  7. Anonymous

    It must take a lot of skill and connections both to get the city, URA, HACP, HUD, and a developer to cooperate to build a plan like this… and get a community to support it. It must be positively galling to watch the Rev “line-jump” like this, especially if you're not a fan of his politics. But the quality of the work output justifies it. Lessons here.

  8. Anonymous

    Influencing the party vote is one thing but when committee people fear for their job then lines have been crossed! If you believe this didn't happen to more people than me you are mistaken!

  9. Anonymous

    Good reason why jobs and politics should not mix. Too many democrat committee members and chairpersons on City payroll running the government behind the scenes. The same ones that have been doing the same threatening for the past 8 years are now getting a taste of what it is like to be on the other side. Sounds like a case of you made the bed so now you need to lay in it.

  10. Anonymous

    Lie in it. Not lay in it. Unless you're talking about eggs here.

    And, I'm not quite following you. Who made the bed? The committee that voted for Deb?

  11. Bram Reichbaum

    When I read anonymous comments that say “They threatened my job for politics!”, honestly my instinct is to just believe them. I mean, it sounds like a thing that happens in our universe. And it comes with a built-in excuse for anonymity and failing to furnish evidence: if it's true, who could risk it?

    But that's also why those allegations are dangerous. Any employee / slash / committee person not in favor of the new executives can simply lob it anonymously as a smear. Heck, any campaign manager could type it as a smear.

    So a few questions, to probe Anon 11:04's seriousness:

    1. ACDC voting is done by secret ballot, right? How would the threat-makers know if it was time to follow through on their threats, and against whom?

    2. “When people fear for their job”… does that mean threats were actually enunciated, or people simply felt at odds with their employer? Off the job, lobbying is allowed to happen. It has to. But threats cannot. Was anything *said* or implied, and how?

    3. Just for the record, did you land your job in the first place because of committee politics? That wouldn't justify extorting your vote from you by any means. But it might justify replacing you at the earliest opportunity regardless of your vote, which might also be what you see coming. Sorry, have to explore all possibilities.

  12. Anonymous

    Thanks for the grammar correction.

    Bram point no. 3 below adequately addresses the bed making question.

  13. Anonymous

    Or, on the flip side, the guys that have been screaming about bad government never really wanted anything that resembles good government. They just wanted to be the ones in control and threatening people.

  14. Anonymous

    Here we go again. The old “if you work for the City or are in politics” then you must be part of the problem so you get what you deserve. However, the guys on my team that work for the city and are in politics are just trying to straighten out the system so that it functions properly. Except of course that in doing so they need to continue the cycle of threats and cover ups and rationalizing bad government and….. Then, just like Luke's people wanted to punish Tom Murphy's people and now Bill wants to punish Luke's people, if we keep this up someday all the people will be punishing each other. Sounds progressive to me!

  15. Anonymous

    The average worker for the City have not and will not into this broad stroke that you call “punishment”. They work hard all of their careers and all they want to do is serve the citizens of the City by doing their jobs well.

    It is the people that have been appointed above them without any qualifications whatsoever that have reigned terror over the dedicated workers just to mete out favors to show people who the”go to” folks were in government. If we get the true accountability that Peduto promised during his campaign, it will do away with these favors as work should be based upon a business model.

    I challenge the poster to go to any city department or bureau and ask for their 5 year business plan — I am willing to bet that they do not exist with the exception of the Budget Department which is required to have one. How does any department know their training requirements, major purchase requirements, building improvement requirements, etc…without a long term (5 year business) plan?

    Why does the City keep appointing non-qualified persons to directorships/assistant directorships? If we see a change just in this one area, yes, that will be progress — especially in terms of assistant directors and departments that have specialty requirements such as computer technology which the City is way behind the technological curve.

    We need to have directors that lead for the citizens and not to accommodate their friends that are directors/chiefs. If we had had even a semblance of that back in 2006, we would not have civil service rules changed to accommodate the promotion of a chief's friend commander.

    The list can go on and on.

    So, not really looking at punishment as you say; but, professionalism and that starts with Mayor, his/her staff and implemented by a professional Civil Service Department.

    I don't think that is too much for the citizens of their city to expect of their elected leadership.

  16. Anonymous

    Perhaps you misunderstood me. I completely agree with you Mr. Anon. That was my point, i.e., that this bs “punishing” keeps going on and on and on to the detriment of the citizenry. I hope Peduto changes things, but this far that looks grim. It looks potentially even worse than past administrations because his supporters seem to defend “punishment” and strong arm tactics when Peduto and his allies dish em out. They seem to take the approach that is appropriate because past guys did it and now it is their turn. I think Peduto even said that in an article. They will be on a witch hunt for anyone that might be remotely tied to the current Mayor or his supporters. Besides, get ready for the “new” Pittsburgh that will include old favorites like the Costa brothers, Dougy Shields, Chief McNeilly and past solicitors. If Bill truly does what he says he will gain this Anon as a fan favorite, but odds are against it. The administration will be filled with old guard dudes and politically connected committee people – just from different wards.

  17. Bram Reichbaum

    I absolutely did not mean to imply, “if you work for the City or are in politics, then you must be part of the problem,” because I don't believe that. I did however ask the original commenter who complained about intimidation whether they got their job in government solely because of politics and they are otherwise unqualified for it, that is a different thing that relates only to a small (though prominent) subset.

    What you say about the cycle of resentment and punishment is very wise. However my concern is whether that characterization isn't preemptive and in bad faith; an attempt to slime the new administration 5 months before they actually, you know, take office. It strikes me as reasonable to see first who stays, who leaves, and who climbes aboard. Strikes me as even more wise to see first what the new team actually does.

  18. Anonymous

    I don't totally disagree Bram. But early indications are that this administration will not be very different. Sure, there will in fact be different people sitting in important chairs and they will pursue a few different initiatives, but will they actually govern in a different manner and will they actually change the way things work? Bill's people are already running around town making deals. They are already (publicly) looking to see who “supported” him in the race, i.e., donated large sums of cash. The race to replace Dowd has a harbinger of things to come. Was it the worst committee manipulation in the world? No, of course not. But it certainly wasn't clean. I think about the line that the more you step one foot over the line the sooner the line disappears. I don't blame bill for that, it is human nature. That Bram is exactly why progressives do have to work really hard to be pure – not actually pure, but work to achieve purity. Because dipping the toe over the line too many times leaves you standing on the other side with the other bad guys. I think that is what will happen here. Soon enough Bill and Fitz (well, Fitz already) will be just so focused on winning and staying in power that they will rationalize every move and pretty soon they are sipping tea with big muckety mucks doling out deals and favoritism. It will just “look” slightly different. For example, want to give your biggest contributors a sweet real estate deal? Well, just tell them to put a green roof and storm water management plan in place and the URA will open the vault doors. Now, you might say that why is that bad if we are building greener projects – and on its face I agree. But, you have to watch closely. If the vault is open then anyone would build this stuff. However, if favors are given to friends with knowledge the money is there, that isn't good government. Now let me be clear on something. I don't want anyone to get special treatment. If Bill truly runs a clean shop that will be terrific for everyone in the region. I am a business man (with no City business for the record). An open and fair system is what the vast majority of us want. I just don't see things changing here. Unions will still get whatever they want (just maybe different unions) and well connected lawyers and developers will get lucrative deals and important chairs (just maybe different lawyers and developers). And so the cycle continues.

  19. Bram Reichbaum

    I think we'll all be spending the next four years chewing over your concerns, Anon 8:54am. To make it easy on myself I'll respond to your specifics simply from top to bottom.

    1. If there are “early indications,” I'm hungry to learn more about them. I appreciate the necessity of tongues staying vague or shielding their sources, but with little to go on you must forgive my skepticism. It's a necessary counterbalance to both knee-jerk anti-government sentiment and political bad faith, both of which will be at play.

    2. I've personally seen little solid indication (though I'm somewhat actively seeking it) that the identity of winner of the race for CD7 is going to have a determinative impact on either Pittsburgh's or even CD7's future. However, inevitably there's a lot of political perception on the line, and a wise man once said about politics, “perception is reality.” So that perception created by scribes and wags and the momentum its generates could have a huge, very real effect on both. Bill is 100% justified in supporting a candidate that dates far back and has remained loyal to his camp's political pedigree, over a candidate from a camp that has aggressively supported this mayor and opposed Bill, his allies and his agenda. It's unfortunate for everybody that this first clash had to take place now; a referendum about the whispers regarding a political leadership that's still a fetus. Bad luck.

    3. Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say; but it isn't godliness itself. We're a dirty species on a dirty planet. I think we have to judge politicians based both on how pure they remain relative to others, and on the nature of the fruits of their labor when they do roll up their sleeves and wrestle with their adversaries. Although I should hasten to add all we know about “dirt” so far is that a candidate voted for herself and another voted in the wrong committee after encouragement from both sides. Even granting the rest of the accusations, there's still a lot of guilt-by-association going on it seems to me. Future mayor tells party leadership, “I'd appreciate it if you support this person,” and party leadership does what seems appropriate. There was no time to reform the infrastructure as Bill has long said he'd intended. Another big facet of that bad luck.

    4. We'll always have to watch closely. I think unions should often get what they want (even public safety and building trades) though obviously we have to make distinctions, because taxpayers have very important wants too. Board and commission appointments, yes I agree, I would hope we wind up with more unimpeachable professionalism and even some political magnanimity whenever it can be done. Magnanimity is almost surely an ingredient in the tonic we need.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.