Thursday, December 27, 2007

UPMC drops tax credit bid - Let the games of the Pgh Promise begin

UPMC drops tax credit bid UPMC drops tax credit bid
Goes forward with pledge of $100 million to Promise
Thursday, December 27, 2007
By Matthew P. Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Citing the controversy that has embroiled its $100 million pledge for a city high school scholarship program, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center yesterday said it was dropping its request for a possible tax credit in exchange for its commitment to the Pittsburgh Promise.
This is what victory looks like.

Now we can get rockin on the challenge grant. Now we can rev up the potential boom for the city.

Now, we can begin to look for the arrival of the three wise men. Faith has been restored, partially.

But, Post-Gazette reporters, understand that the balking that happened within council chambers did NOT come from the majority of city council. Two on council put up some objections. That's Doug and Bill. A third, Darleen, asked some deer in the headlights questions.

Then there was Len who was okay with the deal as long as it stroked his special interest too -- and was able to be go to students at Catholic schools. Len is a dead duck in the same flight path as Barbara Burns, hopefully.

The balking of the Pgh Promise was citizen centric.

Yesterday, I was invited to call into the KDKA Radio Show hosted by Marty Griffin. We talked on the air about the deal for more than 20 seconds! (giggle)

He claimed to have 'insider knowledge' that the Pgh Promise was a 'done deal.' I told blew back his 'honestey, openness and integrity' mantra to me -- asking if he talked to the three new members of city council, yet. He was off base in many ways. The Pgh deal is unlike that from Kalamazoo. And families don't want to move to a city where there are backroom deals, special interest calling the shots and more. The college scholarship won't overcome the corruption in a day-in-day-out setting.

Later that day, I posted over at the Burgh Report. In that post I was asked if I would reject the deal. I predicted that the deal would get major changes.

This is what I posted there:

There should be NO business of government within the transaction of one nonprofit giving money to another nonprofit.

It is fine (if not noble) for UPMC to gift money to the Pgh Promise. Wonderful.

However, the city of Pgh has no role in that transaction.

The city of Pgh does have its own budget and its own incomes and expenses. Within the city's 2008 budget, $1.5 (or so) is expected from UPMC as part of the Pgh Service Fund. That is cloaked -- which I hate.

If the city's budget changes, with a loss of $1.5 M, then a new budget must be associated with any new terms.

Finally, if the UPMC deal goes as it was introduced before council -- it is sure to KILL the Pgh Promise. The challenge grant will flop. And, the boom to Pgh among the students, families and potential new residents will never occur.

The side-deal (as structured) makes the Pgh Promise dead in the water.

Changes will need to occur. Mark Roosevelt and UPMC need to think again. And, they will, I expect.

Better to put $8.5 into the Pgh Promise and $1.5 into the Pgh Service Fund -- and do that without any additional strings. Then we can get to work to make the challenge grants come true.

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