The dog wags back!

A sometimes funny, somtimes angry, but mostly progressive, blog on the politics and issues of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and America.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Too busy to be Mayor

The Post-Gazette recently reported that "The city of Pittsburgh is paying $200,000 to settle a lawsuit stemming from a police sergeant's actions while working a side job."

Later in the article: "Mayor Luke Grayson said he wasn't familiar with details of the case..." Bloggers have reported that the settlement was less than the fee to have Hooty and the Blowfish play at his birthday bash. "It was awesome," said the Boy-Mayor.

"It is really difficult taking all of these photos. Now I know how models feel!" the telegenic pol was heard to remark. The schedule for his photo shoots "simply doesn't leave much time to keep up with details like actual running the city," spokesperson Peter Pincher added.

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Another day, another phot op

Mayor Luke's press release claimed:

Beginning March 5, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, homeowners and contractors will be able to register and walk their building permit applications through the various departments and reviewers, obtaining a permit that same day, provided they meet zoning/building code requirements and their applications are complete.

So a couple of days you can get a permit in a day - for certain things, under certain conditions.

The Post-Gazette Noted:

Projects that affect neighbors will still have to go through lengthier processes. Major construction permits will be processed in five business days.

Good thing they're leaving some wiggle room. I guess the problem with giant scissors is that they aren't very precise.

What would really help to speed up the process is clear and correct information on the city's website about the eligibility for the one-day process.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Taxing our patients

Rich Lord provided an excellent review of what other cities are doing about non-profit tax exemptions. See the article below:

It is clear that this situation requires some state action and some real leadership from the next Mayor. There also needs to be some new ideas about how to address this problem comprehensively. A letter to the editor addressed the issue of the City's historic division of the property tax into a tax on land and a tax on building. The City eliminated the split system some time ago, but what if it were restored? What if everyone paid tax on the use, value and amount of the land they own, and the buildings were excluded? Wouldn't this encourage less consumption of land by nonprofits and also encourage greater density in construction? If the land tax used separate bases depending on the usage - residential, commercial, industrial, then we could structure appropriate tax systems to pay for the services received. This sounds too simple, so hopefully some tax experts out there will point out the flaws.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Calling our Bluff

(Pubic Information Unlimited)

Legislators in West Virginia are considering a proposal to add table games to the gambling barns of our southern neighbor. This proposal is directly in response to the legalization of slots gaming in the Keystone state. "We can't let the Mountaineers snatch the rug out from under us. We have to raise the stakes," offered Governor Ed "Big Tony" Rendell, "Not only will we add table games, but we're gonna call their "buff" and add table dances too." Insiders say proposals to fully legalize prostitution are also starting to float around the capital in anticipation of further escalation.

"Hey, you're either with the incredible economic opportunities afforded by gambling, or you're against it!," noted the region's former top development official, Ron "Big Rascal" Bryant.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Plowing for Votes

So whose votes has Luke been plowing for? When he ordered city crews out to plow the streets on President's Day, was he seeking to influence the average voter by his concern for the condition of the roads, or was he seeking the votes of city workers who now have a little extra jingle in their pockets due to the holiday pay?

Luke claimed that they extra costs were well within budget because we have spent far less on snow removal this year than we planned. Without looking over the entire budget, it is hard to say whether he's right or if he missed other cost over-runs that he should be concerned about. It doesn't matter because all he had to do was to read the weather reports to see that unseasonally high temperatures were about to melt our roadway troubles anyway, making his gesture empty of any substance but politics. The big concern now will be patching the potholes - lets hope there is enough money left for that!

Hail the New Czar

(IP Newswire)

Kudos to Lukey for creating an economic development czar, a post that the City has been long overdue in filling. The timing is unfortunate in that the appointment was made just as one of the major accomplishments of the last czar, Steve Leper, has come crashing down. Mayoral Challenger, Councilman Bill "Fogey" Peduto was ecstatic, "It's really symbolic, the juxtaposition of the timing reminds me of a Fellini film I was watching by myself last night. But I am more concerned that the symbol of a Tsar suggests oppression of the poor, which I, like the great poet-philosopher, Neruda, abhor." The Councilman continued in this vein for some time.

For his part, the new Most Excellent Czar Patrick (as printed on his official business cards) bristled at the comparison to Steve Leper. "Leper was a dandy, I'm a lion. He's lucky to be safely ensconced in Cincinnati right now or I'd kick his ass," snapped Czar Patrick.

The planning staff is busy preparing for Mr. Ford's coronation ceremony. "With this new position, the City will be better able to reach out to businesses and communities and crush any who oppose us, " the Czar warned, "it won't be your Momma's economic development." Staffers are apparently busy preparing a list of community activists who may be headed for the guillotine. When asked about why his replacement as Planning Director has no experience in such a post and very little time in Pittsburgh, the new Czar demanded, "Who said that, I want the name!"

Jim "Sewer Boots" Motznik is working on a broader set of reforms that he said will modernize city government. "Everyone talks about fixing up the city and I have a plan to do it," the feisty Council Bencher yipped. Motznik's plan would change the title of the Mayor to the "Child-Like Emperor" to make clear that he sits above the Czar, while also creating a new post, "The Royal Regent" but Mr. Motznik would only smile when asked who would fill that role. "Let's focus on the bigger picture here. It's a few steps back to shoot forward kind of thing," yapped the em-booted City politician.