Tuesday, January 25, 2005

State tries to quiet conflict over city oversight

State tries to quiet conflict over city oversight: "City Councilman Sala Udin yesterday called for abolishing the state-appointed board altogether."

If the state was interested, folks like John Pippy, Jane Orie, Jeff Habay, (hope I didn't just swear), and others who are elected to both houses (i.e., state reps and state senators), would be around here once in a while. We are a wasteland to these people.

Where are these people? Not to be found or seen or heard of.

The best way to quiet the conflict, so it seems all to often, is to ignore it. That is the standard mode of operation for them. The plan is to ignore and it will go away. Well, the city is going away. The city has been ignored.

If we just take away some of the downtown office buildings and put in a few subsidized apartments, then the urban core will be a suburban homestead. Then those who want to ignore will get their way.

On the other hand, when there is someone who does pitch a fit -- it comes from the wrong perspectives. A tootless watchdog barking up the wrong tree isn't helpful, Sala.

Sala ignores the gross overspending that has been a part of the deals cut by the administration. Sweetheart deals that aid others and pound the taxpayers are ignored. Face the facts -- on all sides.

To me, here is how it works. The oversight board is a lot like those faceless folks who are behind the cameras behind the tinted domed ceiling fixtures in a Las Vegas casino. Trouble points include the fact that Roddey and the others on the ICA have not been "faceless." The cameras need to be everwhere. They need to watch everything. But the time to be noticed most of all is when the culprits are being taken away in handcuffs. That's when the guys behind the cameras should come out for a statement.

We need oversight inside of city government. For 21 years our controller has been Tom Flaherty. So, it is a real joke to see his arch rival, Jim Roddey, pulled into that job on the ICA Board. And, it is a double gas to see Flaherrty gear up to run for the position of mayor.

I welcome those cameras (like in the casinos) within the halls of government. I don't like the casinos or slots parlors coming to town, but do like the oversight.

The ICA staff (and board) and Act 47 team need to be fiscal watchdogs that INSURE that the city stays on the straight and narrow. Watch the payments, contracts, spending and budgets. Watch the incomes, taxes, collections and under utilized assets. When things break down, despite repeated pushes to walk the line -- get out the handcuffs. Toss the uncooperative out of there.

Pittsburgh is in a big pickle because we've had far to many elected politicians who can't play well with others. As Sala calls for the abolishing of the state-appointed board altogether -- he proves the point that he can't play well with others too.

It is time to toss him out too.

This is a great time to clean house. The oversight boards and Act 47 team is on the job, we hope. I crave the opportunity to work with them. With the overlords around, the next mayor gets on board a city and helpers are to either side.

Leading Pittsburgh in 2006 is going to be much like riding a bicycle with training wheels.

Sadly, the biggest trouble won't be the bike, its training wheels nor the energy level of the participants. I see the real trouble in the road ahead -- full of potholes. The city has enough money to repave only four miles of roads in 2006. Our city's surfaces are about to crumble.

We'll need nimble leadership and helpers.

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