Friday, July 01, 2005

Pick-up lines for the Pgh Oversight Panel. Women wanted. Hold the phone. My wants are more geared to accountability and democracy.

Today's PG reports that the all white male oversight board, often called the ICA, might be geting a new female member after James C. Roddey leaves his seat on that board. The new member being pointed to is Barbara McNees, President of the Pgh Chamber of Commerce.

The board was called, "Five Guys Named Mo," by Sala Udin. Sala's objections were strong, but in the end they didn't play to total satisfaction with voters, as he's been voted out of council. But, Sala made the point as strong as he could.

The point I'd like to raise again is still valid and not the same as his, of course.

I don't think women want to be "Queen for the Day" -- nor even Queen for the week, month, season, year or seven-year period of operation of the oversight board.

Lamb, Peduto and O'Connor each made mentions in the spring about how poorly Pittsburgh does in a number of gender factors. Women's pay in Pittsburgh is not nearly equal to that of the men, in similar capacities, for instance. We have had nine on city council, and only one (for now) is a women. Our old-fashioned ways are well documented elsewhere.

Nobody needed to die to make McNees a Queen of Oversight. But, nobody needed to vote on that appointment either.

The solution is to still appoint to the boards, but give voters an opportunity to cast "retention votes" on each individual. A retention vote would be a great way to inject oversight from the people into the oversight board.

We can't get away from democracy.

We need to give the oversight board its due and its mandate.

Most of all, there have been bad and good QUEENS and rulers. The top dog in China, on many instances, was a women. Some have been dandy and some have been beasts.

At this junction, we need to put accountability and democracy as well as engagement into the drivers seat. Diversity will work because of the pressure when it comes to the appointments.

Illustrated Example of this sage:

At first blush, a new appointment, such as Barbara McNees would need a majority to stay on the board. So, let's say she is picked to serve and gets the nod and joins in July 2005. She'll show up for the meetings and get to work as soon as possible.

But, there are no meetings scheduled. That raises another big question as to its viability, perhaps a defacto revolution of nonaction is brewing.

Given regular meetings as an assumption, McNees would be a full fledged member and act with all the powers.

At the next election, November 2005, a ballot question asks voters "yes" or "no." Should Barbara McNees continue to serve on the oversight board, (ICA)? If she fails to get 50% of the YES vote, then she resigns her duty on the board. Her term just ended. Then another appointment is made. At the next election, that new person gets to be put on the ballot to either pass or fail the retention vote.

With a retention vote, no campaign spending would be needed. No Political Action Committee efforts either.

People who don't know McNees from Eve might not vote on the question, skipping it and to leave others with strong opinions the option of the decision. People who feel strongly about a women would vote "yes."

Meanwhile, we already have others on the ICA Board. And, we have lots of others on other Authority Boards. The 50-percent YES vote would be needed for the NEWLY appointed members of boards in their first vote. Then as a board member is on the board they'd face other 'retention votes' and the percentage of YES votes would INCREASE.

First months = 50%
Second year = 70%
Fourth year = 80%
Fifth year = 85%
Sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth year = 90%
Tenth year = term limit.

The necessary approval rating would need to increase greatly according to the length of service on the specific board.

So, McNees would face a Nov 2005 retention vote and need 50% as "YES" to continue. Then in two years, in Nov 2007, she'd need to have a 70% "YES" vote to be retained. Then the fourth year, Nov 2009, she'd need 80% to stay. In Nov 2010, she'd need 85%, Nov 2011, she'd need 90% and again 90% for Nov 2012, 2013, 2014. She'd be off the board with a term limit by 2015.

Other people, depending upon when they are appointed, would be on a spring ballot rotation. So, if people got onto the board in Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, March, April -- they'd generally be slated for the April or May ballots for their retention votes. Other months would be up for retentions in November elections.

There would be a lot of retention votes, a new twist to the voter landscape.

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