Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Money, Your Money.....What’s The Big Deal?

Photo: Development Czar Pat Ford

After five months of asking, after 20% of the budget year had passed, after City Council had already transferred $12 million dollars to the URA, Councilman Patrick Dowd finally got his first look at the authority’s 2008 Administrative budget and he didn’t like what he saw: A $2.8 million dollar, 37% increase in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Administrative budget. Among other things, Dowd wanted to know why the increase was so large and where the extra money was coming from. As usual, extracting these answers was a long, aggravating ordeal.

Why did their budget jump 37% in one year? Simple. New Executive Director Pat Ford was reorganizing and restructuring the authority. He had big plans, big visions and big things cost big money.

Where were they getting this extra money? Not so simple. Seems it all started long ago and far away in a project called Parkway Center Mall. Part of the money to build that mall came from a federal UDAG grant. (Urban Development Action Grant) The terms of that grant were such that Parkway Center Mall would eventually have to repay the loan to the City of Pittsburgh. A sizable repayment chunk was due for 2008.

“Then why are you [URA] getting this [repayment] money instead of the City of Pittsburgh?” Dowd asked URA Finance Director Constance Eads.

Eads explained that UDAGs were no longer around. After the UDAG grant program was discontinued, repayment monies were treated like CDGB monies.

“Even so, CDGB monies should still come to the city and not to the URA,” Dowd pressed.

Eads countered that since the URA has a cooperation agreement with the city, the URA has standing to TAKE THE FUNDS.

“What’s the big deal here? Our money …. Your money ….We’re all supposed to be on the same team. What’s the big deal here?” Pat Ford blustered.

Totally immersed in his District Attorney Jack McCoy groove, Dowd snapped back at Ford, “You can’t take the money without asking for the money! That is OUR authority.” (Pun presumably intended by Dowd)

Further Dowd grilling brought to light that the large budget increase would continue in 2009 and beyond. That UDAG repayments were not predictable, not re-occurring and not necessarily enough to cover the expanded administrative budget.

“Well, then how can this budget level be sustained?” Dowd asked Eads.

“Yes …Uh …. That will have to be addressed in 2009,” she answered.

“Precisely my point,” was Dowd’s comeback. “And you’re going to be asking us [City] for money then.”

What were Pat Ford’s overall thoughts, concerns and views on getting into yet another scuffle with City Council?

“How can I work with you [City Council] when you [Dowd] use words like ‘reckless’, ‘unethical’ and ‘irresponsible’ to describe [the URA] in the paper?” Ford was a furious shade of red. “I just want to make some great changes. We’ve been trying but we’ve never been given a chance to explain them. Why can’t we just settle this ‘mano y mano’… man to man …. instead of in the press? Council takes six hours to talk about a billboard but we’re not allowed even one minute to talk about our mission or our plans.”

Normally the epicenter of loud rants and occasional cursings, Councilman Jim Motznik was unusually quiet but did manage to get one important piece of information on the official record for the day.

“I want everyone to know that I take credit for bringing [Pat Ford] back from Florida,” Motznik proudly proclaimed.


Anonymous said...

Who died and made Sen, Jim Ferlo the mayor and Council all rolled into one?

I say it is time the public started to show up at URA Board meetings. Turn on the ights and let's watch the theives scatter.

Anonymous said...

master planning processes. gee isn't that the Planning Department's job?

Why is the URA getting into the business of running city government?

Luke Ravenstahl - great mayor. He lies all the time. He pushes illegal deals. He follows the lead of his handlers. Get's way too cozy with his cam paign contributors.

He has no clue how to run government, or engage in what could be called good politics. Has just about every member of Council pissed - after he and his minions and himself threatens them at every turn.
He is a clown. Dump LUKE. Ok Northside - that is two clowns you have sent to the mayor's office.

Bram Reichbaum said...

What, do you tape the City Channel or something? These updates are fantastic....

Anonymous said...

this city is insane- a government sponsored bank and real estate clusterf*ck of an outfit and most of the voters don't question or know about what they really are. then again most ppl don't think it's odd that we have a parking authority in the parking garage business ...

Bram Reichbaum said...

"Why did their budget jump 37% in one year? Simple. New Executive Director Pat Ford was reorganizing and restructuring the authority. He had big plans, big visions and big things cost big money."

Did he get very much more specific? I can understand keeping things hush before the big "rollout", given the current political environment. However, a 37% jump in spending should require more of an explanation than, "Stay tuned!"

Char said...

No ….. Ford never went into the specifics of the high cost of brilliance. He instead whined about how council never has given him an opportunity to elaborate. All council wants to do is make mountains out of LED signs, says Ford.

Dowd was looking at something while he spoke which may have been URA’s budget. And his line of questioning made me think most of the increase may be personnel related, taking over city departments and functions like planning, etc. But that’s a huge speculation on my part.

I didn’t elaborate more in my post because there’s only so much one can put in a blog entry before you get reader fatigue. But Kraus did hit Ford on his You-Guys-Just-Don’t-Like-Us whine. Kraus reminded Ford that he (Kraus) had specifically asked to be part of the group considering the merits of a Planning/URA merger and up to that very moment …. He had still been excluded.

Kraus also went on to say he didn’t like the idea of moving Planning over to URA because a city needs planning expertise and he fears City Planning would be left raided and inept. Ford egotistically responded that Kraus’ fears where unfounded because he, Ford the Supreme Planning/Zoning/Development Czar would still be around. Albeit just in the URA.

And here we come back to the same brick wall where Ford/Zober/Ravenstahl just can’t comprehend the value of a governmental structure with checks/balances, the wisdom of government following its own laws/ordinances, the preposterousness (if that’s a word) of organizational charts where city employees report to non-city entities.

Kraus used his calm, simple but stern voice to tell Ford it was wonderful that he (Ford) was such a planning wonder. But he (Ford) was no longer in the City Planning department and THAT was the concern. THAT was the point.

Ford had no comeback.

And yes….. for me ….. Televised council sessions is MUST SEE TV.

Anonymous said...

Char, keep working it, you're doing great.

The people want the pressure turned up, go for it Burgess, Dowd, Kraus, Peduto & Shields.

Anonymous said...

Has Rep. Fleck even SEEN the exhibit?

Char said...

I presume you are talking about the Bodies exhibit.

I don't know if Fleck has seen it. I have NOT seen it. The largest point of opposition to this exhibit is that the individuals displayed are very likely Chinese political prisoners who were likely killed JUST TO harvest their organs for China's black market organ transplant market and then turn the bodies into an additional money-making commodity.

If that is true, which it LIKELY is .... please take the time to read and research this yourself ... what this exhibit "looks" like, however "educational" it may or may not be ..... is not the central legal point.

If each body were accompanied by verifiable paperwork showing that the deceased willed his body to science, the state, the exhibit promoters, whoever, to do with it as they wanted ..... Then yes, there would be less of a debate.

I think there would still be a debate. One that people like me would lose. Because I think posing skinned & flayed dead bodies in needlessly sensational positions which add nothing to the educational value but everything to the shock value (I have seen pictures).....I personally think this is more of an obscenity than nude bars, for instance. Or XXX movies.

But alas, we are all so desensitized, less and less is deemed obscene.

Rabbi Daniel Schiff asked an interesting question ... If his last will & testament specifically stated that he wanted his dead body to be cut up and sold for consumption at the local butcher shop, would/should that be legal? Of course not. The illegal status is not due to any health reasons. No, cannibalism is illegal because society has decided a certain amount of reverence and respect must be afforded all humans (dead or alive) in order for the society to remain a civilized one.

Which is why I think these exhibits are both illegal and obscene. But that's my opinion. And differing opinions between different people can and will be debated ad infinitum.

What I would think CAN'T be debated is whether or not the US should aid and abet a criminally barbaric regime by providing them with a lucrative marketplace for the remnants of their horrific crimes against their citizens and all of humanity.

Anonymous said...

看房子,買房子,建商自售,自售,台北新成屋,台北豪宅,新成屋,豪宅,美髮儀器,美髮,儀器,髮型,EMBA,MBA,學位,EMBA,專業認證,認證課程,博士學位,DBA,PHD,在職進修,碩士學位,推廣教育,DBA,進修課程,碩士學位,網路廣告,關鍵字廣告,關鍵字,課程介紹,學分班,文憑,牛樟芝,段木,牛樟菇,日式料理, 台北居酒屋,日本料理,結婚,婚宴場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,尾牙春酒,台北住宿,國內訂房,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,台北結婚,場地,住宿,訂房,HOTEL,飯店,造型系列,學位,牛樟芝,腦磷脂,磷脂絲胺酸,SEO,婚宴,捷運,學區,美髮,儀器,髮型,牛樟芝,腦磷脂,磷脂絲胺酸,看房子,買房子,建商自售,自售,房子,捷運,學區,台北新成屋,台北豪宅,新成屋,豪宅,學位,碩士學位,進修,在職進修, 課程,教育,學位,證照,mba,文憑,學分班,網路廣告,關鍵字廣告,關鍵字,SEO,关键词,网络广告,关键词广告,SEO,关键词,网络广告,关键词广告,SEO,台北住宿,國內訂房,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,住宿,訂房,HOTEL,飯店,婚宴,台北住宿,國內訂房,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,住宿,訂房,HOTEL,飯店,婚宴,台北住宿,國內訂房,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,住宿,訂房,HOTEL,飯店,婚宴,結婚,婚宴場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,尾牙春酒,台北結婚,場地,結婚,場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,尾牙春酒,台北結婚,婚宴場地,結婚,婚宴場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,尾牙春酒,台北結婚,場地,居酒屋,燒烤,美髮,儀器,髮型,美髮,儀器,髮型,美髮,儀器,髮型,美髮,儀器,髮型,小套房,小套房,進修,在職進修,留學,證照,MBA,EMBA,留學,MBA,EMBA,留學,進修,在職進修,牛樟芝,段木,牛樟菇,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,关键词排名,网络营销,網路行銷,關鍵字排名,关键词排名,网络营销,PMP,在職專班,研究所在職專班,碩士在職專班,PMP,證照,在職專班,研究所在職專班,碩士在職專班,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網頁設計,網站設計,網站排名,搜尋引擎,網路廣告,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網頁設計,網站設計,網站排名,搜尋引擎,網路廣告,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網頁設計,網站設計,網站排名,搜尋引擎,網路廣告,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網頁設計,網站設計,網站排名,搜尋引擎,網路廣告,EMBA,MBA,PMP