Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Controller sues both Mayor and council because of the cuts to the department

This story is finally getting some ink. It has been brewing for a while.

One of the planks in Platform.For-Pgh.org addresses the level of litigation within city government. Too often the decisions are taken to the judges to decide. The best solutions in life are worked out among parties and don't include people in robes. But that's hard work and heavy lifting that takes a grand view -- and Pittsburgh is short in those characteristics with the officials we've had.

PG coverage 'Mayor Murphy and the Pittsburgh City Council have refused and neglected to comply with the reasonably necessary funding requirements of the controller's office and are thereby impairing and/or destroying the city of Pittsburgh's home rule government,' the lawsuit says.

Flaherty's lawsuit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, is the latest court challenge to the city's Act 47 recovery plan: Both the police and firefighter unions have cases before Commonwealth Court attempting to block its contract controls. Flaherty pledged last year to sue if the city followed through on the cuts to his office.

Pittsburgh's controller is an in-house auditor, who performs yearly financial reports, studies government services -- through so-called performance audits -- oversees bidding and contracts, and cuts checks to employees and city contractors.

Underscoring all the possible functions of his office, Flaherty's lawsuit contains 18 pages of appendices listing jobs his employees perform.

Wonder how many pages, or if anyone will ever count and report upon the length, of this blog? What about the number of pages in their platforms? Les has two pages, one sheet, front and back. How long is Lamb's platform. What about Bob's? Do they exist?

Flaherty, who has been controller since 1984, has used the performance audits as a platform to criticize government policies, often going after tax increment financing plans and other business incentives and Allegheny County's property assessment procedures.

That often gets him in hot water with other government officials, which Flaherty claims leads to politically motivated attempts to cut his office down. When then-Mayor Sophie Masloff tried to cut his spending in 1992, Flaherty also sued, and Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick ruled the controller's office should have 74 full-time workers.

Flaherty has used that 12-year-old decision to ward off other cuts, though he said his office has dwindled to 65 full-time workers currently.

Flaherty was a vocal opponent of the Act 47 recovery plan last year, and the latest cuts required by the city, the Act 47 team and the oversight board are another attempt to silence him, he said.

The controller's office is 'treated the worst in the entire city and I'm just tired of it. There was no analysis done on our office. This was punitive, arbitrary, capricious, you name it,' he said yesterday.

Asked if there was some irony in the city's fiscal watchdog trying to block spending cuts, he said, 'I'm not trying to get more money, I'm trying to keep what I have. ... I'm trying to keep the fiscal watchdog office there, or it'll be lost in no time.'

Mayoral spokesman Craig Kwiecinski had no comment on the lawsuit.

Tierd. Hard work. You name it.

We don't need a sleeping watchdog. We don't need a big watchdog office. We don't need need a watchdog without teeth that barks at the wrong things. We do need a new sense of fairness.

1 comment:

Dream Builder said...



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