Lawsuits add to Pittsburgh's financial woes - PittsburghLIVE.com Lawsuits have amplified the costs of guiding Pittsburgh out of its financial mess, according to preliminary budget figures from the city's state oversight board.The coutless lawsuits that the city, and even the county have engaged, in the past decades is horrid.
Much of the higher-than-anticipated costs comes from legal fights the board started or was forced into with former Mayor Tom Murphy, the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority and the city's firefighters union.
I've called for a major shift in the benchmark for litigation. To me it is a no brainer. These court costs have been massive. And, the city has been big-time loosers. The decisions have more often than not gone against the city's best interest. And, for good reason.
The parking lot in Panther Hollow is one example.
The seedy theater in the North Side is another fine example.
As the country song goes, "you gotta know when to fold 'em."
The city's leadership must "Lay the Shovel Down" -- and do much more to cut their losses. Snip away.
The next big case that is brewing, and I already made mention of this on the blog and on the record at city hall before city council is the Bill Peduto sponsored "Bubble Bill." The city should not waste a nickle trying to defend the "Bubble Bill."
Background: In the fall of 2005, the city, at the urging of the women's health clinic and Planned Parenthood folks, drafted a new set of laws that makes a protected area around people that moves around a protected area already designated around the entry of women's health clinics. This new 2005 law came into being because the managers within the Police Department were without strong leadership. They were fearful of backlashes from city hall politicans who flapped in the wind. And, because of police force cuts and a lack of new hires to cover needed shifts.
Make no mistake, the situation was broken because of compounded problems on compounded problems -- all caused from the ill management of Tom Murphy and his administration.
So, city council acted -- and did a classic 'over reach' so as to write new laws. The best fix would have been new directions and understood policies from the police and top brass. And, there was an enforcement issue that needed to be monitored.
The people need to feel safe and respected on the streets -- and near the health clinics. But, the police were only able to toss their hands into the air and look the other way -- if they were even around due to cutbacks, overtime headaches and thin force in general.
Now that the 'bubble bill' of 2005 is on the books it is right where we thought it would go -- into the courts.
The city might need to spend $200,000 or $400,000 on the defense of the 'bubble bill' -- OR -- a wise, prudent city council member could introduce a new bit of legislation that RECINDS the 'bubble bill' and gets the court case to be dropped. That would take about ten phone calls and save $200,000.
Then, with the $200,000 -- the city can open a few swim pools, hire a few crossing guards and get new rat bait for rodent control.
I feel strongly that there are times and places where defending principles are justified. Let's not burn money on the 'bubble bill' -- NOR another dozen fruitless court cases.
Meanwhile, the ICA (oversight board) paid $800k to a law firm -- and that must stop too.
As we settle disputes in the courts -- nobody wins. Judges are bad at finding the best solutions for the long-term health of the region.
We need a better margin of litigation!