Monday, November 27, 2006

City Council back to nine. Now 6 + 3. Welcome D. Harris.

Darlene Harris, new to city council said that public safety includes building inspection. "There are a lot of buildings that need torn down."

To be or not to be!

That was the quote from KQV Radio. Proudly, my son, 11, heard the news report with her voice while we were driving home from swim practice and said, "buildings need to be torn down."

We have three on council who are women, now. The report said that Pittsburgh's council makes history with three being women. Wow. We are cutting edge now. Western PA really needs more women in elected office.

However, one of the next news stories reported on a Pitt Law Professor who just filed a friend of the court brief about a women who was attempting to keep a judgement about gender discrimination and a wage dispute. She had been under paid on the job next to all the others -- all men. But, the appeal seems to have set a 180 day period for the need to file a complaint. If that fails to be overturned, the rights to equal pay are going to be set back decades.

Last week, Pitt's University Times, a faculty and staff newspaper, had a story about equal pay among university professors throughout the major research institutions. That story gets my attention, given that we live off my wife's salary. Women are not making much progress in terms of their take home pay, so said the article.
University Times Gender Inequity: AAUP report faults higher ed.
Darlene's tenure on City Council might be brief. She is due to face the voters again in a few months. Her seat comes due in the spring, 2007, primary and again in the 2007 general election. Same too with Jeff Koch of District 3.

Darlene's honeymoon has just begun. The clock has started to tick. I figure she'll have some time to coast with decent voter approval to her benefit as the months turn into the spring primary. However, if Darlene talks like a 'yinzer', and if Darlene talks with paper-thin depth of issues, and if Darlene stays without a web site -- alarms will come quickly.

We do have issues with the city and public safety. However, we have bigger issues for city council's attention. City council means little because we have two overlords, the I.C.A. and Act 47 team. Our democracy has expired.

Some want to cut city council from 9 to 5. Others say cut it from 9 to 7. I say, cut it by 50-percent in terms of pay checks for as long as we've got overlords here in Pittsburgh doing the jobs of all of its elected officials.

The people on city council should not be making their full pay checks because they have been replaced. The overlords are doing the jobs once done by those on city council, by the mayor and by the city's controller.

For the past few years, the citizens have been paying city council for doing little. And, we have to pay for the ICA and Act 47 stewards. We are paying triple!

Futhermore, there is no incentive to get back to normal conditions. I want my democracy to work -- if not flourish. But, we shouldn't be rewarding their failures. If we gave city council a 50-percent pay cut, and in turn, cut the pay for all the overlords too, then put the money into escrow until AFTER the city is solvent again -- then we'll have some leverage and might get somewhere.

Getting out of this financial mess is going to take some effort. I agree they should be paid. But, let's pay them after the work is done. Let's hold the bulk of the pay until they've proven that the city is back on its feet financially.

One should never pay a contractor in full as the work is being done?

You pay a good faith amount. You cover the costs and supplies. But, you hold the bulk of the money until after the work is done.

Furthermore, once we come out of our financial funk, I'd suggest that we hold another 50% (that's 50% of the 50%) for three additional years as a guarantee that the city won't slide back into distressed status again.

We don't have any built-in incentives. Nor do we have any guarantees. Both of those problems can be fixed with this solution.

Cut the pay of all elected city officials by 50-percent. Hold the pay cut in escrow. Pay out half of the amount from escrow after the departure of the overlords (both Act 47 team and ICA czars). Pay the final portion from escrow to the credited city officials, or their heirs, three years after the departure of the overlords if the city is still on solid financial footing.

Likewise, cut the pay of the overlords and have them sare the same deals as that of the city council, mayor and city controller.

1 comment:

Dave Schuilenburg said...

Hear you loud & clear brother. That is why I am pondering accepting my neighbors calls for a rematch in the spring. Hopefully the players will have learned the lesson Dowd taught us and will rally behind 1 or 2 candidates instead of 5 or 6. As to my final decision, I will be making it known shortly after the 5+ year process to acquire my citizenship has come to a close early Dec. Stay tuned to my campaign site at for more.