Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Final recap on the St. Clair event of last week

When I took the floor, I spoke after Bruce Krane. A question had just been raised from the audience to the prior speaker about the election specifics, being a Democrat, who could vote for whom and technical details. The answer from Krane included the mentions, "Do or die. One-shot deal. Game over."

I said, "My name is Mark Rauterkus and what was just said was wrong." I went right into the reply from Krane and how it was so at odds with what I stood for and with what the community was about.

This election on March 14, 2006, is to fill the un-expired term. Next year in the spring there will be another primary election where the one who holds the seat might not even get the endorsement of any party and could be a lame duck. Then in the general election that happens in the fall of 2007, that person could be packing.

The election this community faces on March 14, 2006, is for a short period of time. Game over my eye.

Furthermore, that attitude mentioned by Krane is just like the attitude that was often -- if not ALWAYS -- on display from our former Mayor, Tom Murphy. Tom Murphy thought he held all the chips. Murphy kept all the power and to hell with the rest of the people. It was Tom Murphy's boneheaded attitude that drove me to run for office starting in 2000 for the 2001 primary against him. He was bad for the City of Pittsburgh. His attitude was something we didn't need.

My heart fell to the floor when I heard another in the race start to spout the same B.S. -- stuff that I would have expected from Murphy.

I'm here for the long-haul, as are the good people of Pittsburgh who have weathered some serious storms in the past decades. I'm not going to go away -- and neither are they. Sure, one day we'll all be worm feed, but until then -- count me in as a foot soldier in the good fight and struggles for democracy, freedom and the less fortunate.

This city is too small to be so full of oneself to think that the others don't matter. We are a village and the nay-sayers matter. I'm a nay-sayer to what has gone on around here in the past. I'm a reform minded candidate who is unlike those others who have put the city into debt and oversight status.

I went on in the presentation, in just 3 minutes, to say why I ran for office in 2001 and 2005. We need to raise the discussions to talk about assessment buffering, the botched re-assessment process, the unified tax policy put forth by Bob O'Connor that tossed the baby out with the bathwater. Pittsburgh's legacy is about affordable housing, and that legacy is ending. We are not having a housing boom -- except in blight. We are seeing the effects of poor housing policies, poor taxes (like the deed-transfer tax), and poor management of available resources so as to over-spend, over-reach on foolishness.

I spoke about TIFs that night a bit too.

These times call for serious individuals to take a stand of serious duty.

Today I got to talk, already, with three of the other candidates in the race. While on Grant Street, I poked my head in to check out the ball and chain that is around the ankle of fellow candidate, public sector guy, Ed Jacob. He and I both worried about the lack of discussion on issues of subsidence. But our agreement ended there.

He is worried about the list of the 50 top wage earners in the city and how they are mostly firefighters and policemen. He has a little list of the names cut from the newspaper. The difference between what those 50 are getting paid contrasted to the amount that they should be getting paid ads up to what, exactly, I put to him.

I'll do a bit of the math for you Ed. If they (50 top wage earners in the city) all make $10,000 more than what they are worth -- that's $500,000 per year.

Frankly, I want a highly paid police force that is less vulnerable to corruption. Perhaps if the prison guards were making more they'd be far less inclinded to put the job on the line to push for tricks or drugs. But that is another matter.

Meanwhile, I'm worried about big issues, but of another category. How does the city pay PNC Plaza with a TIF for $18-million. Plus PNC got $30-million from Gov. Ed Rendell, D. That's our money too. I'm mad about that and none of the other candidates, hint to Ed, is talking about those outlandish give-a-ways.

The $30-million from Harrisburg is still my money. Coupled with the $18-million from city sources, I'll do the math for you, we get $48-million. That's 100-times greater than the pimple of a problem of paying top dollar for firefighters and police.

But Ed said that the $18-million was to be paid out over 30-years, so it isn't much of a big deal. First off, the TIFs are not that long. And, he didn't have a come-back as to the proportion of the momumental crisis that is being ignored by them.

We can't put people into public office now if they can't see the big picture. And, if you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, plus go to community meetings from start to finish, you still might never see the big picture.

Ed told me that I would "not want to hear his analysis" about being a candidate for the special election in a heavy D area. He thinks only a D can win the council seat. He thinks that the D who wins the seat is going to be the the D who wins party endorsement. I counter and say I hear him fine. But, the race is going to be about tiny issues UNLESS I'm in the fray. The conversation is about envy and neighborhood power and buddy-loyalty in the D camp, and that's about the best the Ds can deliver. We can fix that conversation's tone and topic points, after some of the Ds break ranks and support others from outside the party, should the wrong folks get the party's backing.

So, who wants to talk about 'big-issues?' I had just been to city council to give a 3-minute talk on TIFs and the PNC Plaza. I would not support any TIF while on council. I'll post that testimony soon.

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