Trib: "Still doesn't get it: Pittsburgh, for all practical purposes, is insolvent. Yet, Mayor Tom Murphy's proposed 2005 budget includes spending increases of nearly $20 million. An analysis by the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy shows the 2005 budget will grow by 5 percent. The city continues to have 'a very serious spending problem,' the institute notes. And it adds that Hizzhoner and City Council apparently are 'hoping for a magic wand to painlessly solve the city's financial problems.' Earth to city leaders -- there isn't one. "
But magic wands exist
For starters, Mayor Murphy and his Administration has always leveraged the magic wand. He has been good at pulling the rabbit out of the hat. His one-time tricks are that of ledgend. Murphy sold the water authority. Murphy cash-advanced the RAD tax. He has done all sorts of tricks that work once and make us poorer forever.
The next trick Mayor Murphy is going to deploy comes to the vanishing of the ancient tax structure. Our tax structure changed in a radical way in the year 2000.
Sadly, Mayor Murphy gets to do his tricks and present the phony budget and he gets away with it. The media provides cover for Mayor Murphy.
Another wild-card up Murphy's sleeve is a 'free pass.' Mayor Murphy will be asking voters for a free pass in his re-election, in 2005. The mayor will plead his case and the media will eat it up. The TV stations will sell the Administration's Power Point presentations, promoting his neighborhood meetings. And, as the content in the presentations are false and half-truths -- none will be there to ask hard questions.
In the last go-around, Murphy took credit for big investments into the parks, yet glossed over the fact that he closed the swim pools and rec centers. Last summer was a year for "free passes" at the swimming pools, due to SOS efforts. The real question is about the expiration date.
Trib editors, the magic wand and its next trick isn't the sticking point we all crave to fix. We need a hook to yank Murphy off the stage. Then, we need to insert new ideas and new players. The city's financial problems can be fixed when we have serious alternatives put into the limelight.