"For months, western Pennsylvanians have seen a Fox Chapel mansion used as he staging area for John Kerry's presidential campaign, perhaps on the theory that a presidential candidate cannot have too many home states no matter how dubious his claim to live in any of them.
"Just last week, as hundreds of thousands of Allegheny County homeowners received their bills for school property taxes, that same Fox Chapel mansion was used to introduce Kerry's running mate to the public and the press.
"There, Kerry struck the themes that have shaped his entire political career: support for more government spending and opposition to middle class tax cuts. These, in fact, may be the only issues on which he's held a consistent position over the years.
"I am sure that countless middle-class homeowners disagree with John Kerry's contention that they neither need nor deserve a tax break. Until now, though, they might have imagined that Kerry and the liberal elitists around him were willing to pay their fair share of taxes.
"John Kerry doesn't have to worry about paying the property taxes on mansion in Fox Chapel, thanks in part to a seven-figure assessment reduction described in Sunday's Tribune-Review, a reduction based on the assessment of the Heinz-Kerry property as "farmland."
"This is more than an insult to the voters' intelligence. From a candidate seemingly unable to venture into public without railing about "tax loopholes," it is the rankest hypocrisy. The Heinz-Kerry estate is no more a farm than are the tens of thousands of back yards in Allegheny County in which a few square yards are dedicated to growing tomatoes or zucchini.
"If John Kerry is going to masquerade as a Pittsburgher, he should at least pay his fair share of taxes-or admit that he is a Boston liberal out of touch with the values of western Pennsylvania."
Snips of the POST-Gazette news:
"As a result, he's way off the mark. Mrs. Heinz Kerry does not receive the so-called 'Clean and Green' write-off because she has chosen not to apply for it."
But in a letter Heinz Kerry wrote, dated March 12, 2002, to former county Chief Executive James Roddey, she said she was "not writing to express my anger, but to point out that my property is being undertaxed."
She said two assessment notices sent in 2000 and 2002 both incorrectly reduced her property value and asked that "someone with the authority to do so will make the proper correction and bill me accordingly."
Romash said Heinz Kerry paid the higher amount.
Romash also turned the tables on Glancy and criticized President Bush, saying he saved $23,679 last year because of an agricultural exemption on his ranch in Crawford, Texas. In 2002, she said, Bush accepted an exemption that reduced the property from $2.1 million to $950,000.
Sam Wilson, head of assessment for Allegheny County, also characterized Glancy's criticism as "politics as usual" and said the Heinz estate is not assessed as farmland.
Although the county Web site lists it as a "general farm," Wilson said anything over 10 acres is put in that category, but it has no effect on the actual assessment.
"If it were underassessed, the school board and municipality would be in there beating it to death," he said. "Whatever's there is what a willing buyer and seller would transfer for that property."
He said Teresa Heinz Kerry has never applied for a reduction in taxes based on assessment of her property as a farm.