Monday, December 18, 2006

Spoke today in city hall

I went to City Council Chambers to speak again today for 3 minutes. Some notes follow:

The meeting last week in city council chambers about the Carnegie Library's request for more funding was not advertised. It was a post agenda and was on TV, but not on the web site. We need the business of city governement to occur in public with notice. When meetings happen -- advance notice is justified.

The meeting schedule for next week is not posted yet today -- on either the web site or the little bulletin board in the reception area of the 5th floor of city hall. Telll the people in advance when the meetings are going to be held.

Using a simple Google Calendar, as set up already, for Pgh City Hall, would be effective and free. When I called 3-1-1 with this request -- they were worthless.

When a simple meeting schedule can't be posted in advance with clarity -- people wonder if more complicated things such as the budget can be managed. Or, what the heck are they trying to hide.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is looking for the cover of darkness, however. They've messed up the North Side branch and want to build a new library and abandon its historic, paid for, branch in the public park. I would not be willing to give the Carnegie Library additional funds as they are messing up what treasures and assets they've been charged to preserve.

I worry about 'broken promises' such as the Pittsburgh Promise. What about paying for the college education of those who have been home schooled or attend private / Cathlolic schools and reside in the city? And the funding amounts are 10-times too low, at least. It seems to be another promise that looks like it will be broken.

In other hidden business, I'm still upset at Dan Onorato and the Allegheny County Board of Elections for stopping the Libertarian Party's designated poll watcher from a witness to the tabulations for the November 2006 general election. What's up with that? What are they trying to hide? The law says that parties are allowed three people to witness all tabulations and vote counts. We don't want to run to the courts. I want to see a memo of understanding and letter from the Allegheny County Chief Executive, Dan Onorato, a Board of Election member. Dan can clear up the sins of the past unethical policy. What happened in the past was wrong. Tell the world that it won't happen again.

There were goofy things happening on election night. These facts came out at the Board of Elections meeting when I was there to protest our denied access. Five times a worker who was employed by someone other than the election department, pulled out a 'smart stick' (USB DRIVE) and inserted that into the electronic voting system / network. Witness to vote hi-jacking is strong and should not be ignored.

There are problems. A lack of trust is throughout. The way to fix these troubles is not to be more closed. Rather, be sure to be open, as described by the law and then some.

If Onorato was smart, he'd insist that five, not three, designated people from the Libertarian Party be present for all vote counts and tabulations. Go overboard. The law says three. But he should bend over backwards to welcome scrutiny. Fix it. Don't hide it. And pledge that it won't happen again -- on your letter head in an open letter to the workers and the voters.

Then comes the scrutiny of the 'red light cameras.' I asked Bill Peduto to look at the blog to learn what they are doing in New Mexico. I think if he made such a move in the legislation due in 2007 then there would be more support for the bill.

The tax lein by-back was on the agenda too. Here is another example of another ill set in place by Tom Murphy's Administration that city council played a role in allowing. City council is at fault too, as well as Murphy. But, that was then and some on council today were not part of those decisions. However, they are here now for the clean-up of the mess. But, if they don't understand the history and how their oversight was lacking back then -- they'll be sure to repeat many of the same mistakes.

I don't want to have the tax lein buy backs present opportunities for ONLY the LDCx. The LDCs are Local Development Corporations. Pittsburgh has a slew of LDCs and these LDCs presented a good deal of Tom Murphy power bases. The LDCs have played along with Tom Murphy's ploys and screwed up our city in serious ways. This $6-million investement today should not be another tool in our tool bag -- for LDCs only. Citizens and taxpayers and voters and private individuals should be able to move on these properties -- along with the LDCs. We should not see favored treatments to cronies. Even cronie organizations.

An additional point didn't get raised but was on the agenda. Again, it is a place where Tom Murphy screwed up in the past and the city pays today. And, the city council was sleeping at the wheel in the past.

Bill No. 2006-1008 reads: Resolution providing that the City of Pgh enter into a temporary professional services Contrace or Contracts with UPMC Work Partners for the purpose of paying Workers' Compensation medical claims for expenses which were incurred prior to December 31, 2005, at a cost not to exceed $716,353.

More than a half-million dollars is going out the door because folks in higher level Murphy positions didn't do their jobs. And, city council didn't do its job and be proactive in fixing things before a $700,000 bill must be paid.

I know people at UPMC and at AGH (Allegheny General Hospital). The contract for medical services was switched. Fine. But, it was switched poorly. Now the city pays dearly.

What's $700,000 -- well -- that much pays for all the city's crossing guards. That amount pays for four or five rec centers. It is a good bit of money. That's a big problem that makes for a big fumble. And the oversight is not to be found.

Another gloomy day in the city when looking at the actions of city hall.


Maria said...

"The meeting schedule for next week is not posted yet today -- on either the web site or the little bulletin board in the reception area of the 5th floor of city hall. Telll the people in advance when the meetings are going to be held."

I don't think that there are any meetings next week due to the Christmas holiday.

Mark Rauterkus said...

No. You are not well informed. There is a meeting next week, after Christmas. They will hold one meeting that week.

The meeting date and time is on my Google Calendar -- but not on the city's site nor posted in city hall.

But, they know when the meeting is going to be held. If you call, they'll tell you.

So, they are not in a 'lie.' But they do not reveal the whole truth.