community-based, non-corporate, participatory media
UNELECTED OVERSIGHT BOARD IS AGAIN HOLDING MEETINGS IN PRIVATE.
by stephen donahue Wednesday, May. 05, 2004 at 8:08 AM
412-361-3022 or 412-802-6542
It is their royal right!
Late last winter the Pennsylvania General Assembly under the leadership of right wing legislators from the city’s North Hills suburbs imposed on the people of Pittsburgh an “oversight board” of five rich white men whose job is to force austerity measures and fiscal responsibility (they call it tough love) on the city. This measure came in response to the city’s fiscal crisis and this oversight board, called the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority for Cities of the Second Class (hereafter simply called the ICA) was given broad powers. The ICA will shortly deliver their demands regarding their relationship to our elected city council, called an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement to the city council. The ICA is authorized by the legislation that set them up to actually withhold city funds if the city council does not obey them. The City Council is an elected body that represents diverse neighborhoods in the city. The ICA is an unelected body of 5 rich white men that represents only the interests of their own kind.
Last March the ICA began to meet but they were doing so in private. The legislation that set them up however does at least mandate that they follow the Pennsylvania Sunshine Law. Back on March 10, 2004 around a dozen activists attended an ICA meeting wearing gags over their mouths. At that meeting the ICA began to listen (a relative term) to the public.
Early on it was easy to sort of excuse the ICA. They had no office, no executive director and no telephone. Now they have an executive director and an office and they are back to holding private meetings. The ICA even is asking ex-officio members of the board, the only woman involved no less, to stay out of certain meetings.
One way that the ICA avoids the public is to conduct their meetings via email. After all there are only five of them. This begs the question as to how the use of email in decision making processes in many groups subverts the democratic process. Regardless however the state Sunshine Law does not allow state agencies to hide behind their computer screen. Decisions made by consensus in informal settings like the Duquesne Club must at least be given the final rubber stamp at a public meeting.
These five white men act as a single entity. They all are rich. They are all tied up in the same power structure. Even at their public meetings, the few that they have had, it is interesting to see them rapidly agree to everything. The closest thing to disagreement witnessed by this writer was about whether the board should meet on Good Friday or not.
DEMOCRACY IN PITTSBURGH IS IN REAL DANGER. This board acts like a king. The five of them coalesce into a single royal highness. They answer to nobody except their rich benefactors. They have digs now in an office building that has the appointments of a palace. Just walk into the Reed-Smith Building at 435 Sixth Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh and see for yourself.
To date public activism around the ICA has limited itself to keeping swimming pools and recreation centers open for the summer. A benign dictator can do that. It will be interesting to see how the public reacts when the ICA punishes the city council for, oh lets say refusing to privatize our city refuse workers.
Those fat cat lawyers in the Reed Smith building had better get used to seeing picket signs (for starters) in front of their building.
5/5/04 They did it again!
by stephen donahue Thursday, May. 06, 2004 at 5:22 AM
Yesterday, May 5, the ICA had another private meeting. There is a non-private meeting scheduled for WED, May 12 @ 3PM on the 5th floor of Heinz Building on 6th Avenue downtown. (The Port Authority board room.)
Come on down and place bids!
by Zacharias "The sixth banker" Antho Sunday, May. 09, 2004 at 12:13 PM
Hey everybody! With Pittsburgh for in debt, guess whats for sale? Democracy? Public services? Rights? Liberties? Actually it is our freedom!
If you don't come down to the bank to claim rights and responsibilities to our managment's debts. We will be forced to sell your city's assets to the higest bidder in the guise of economic security in order to cover the ass of our elected officials and please the small amount of poepl who actully vote and participate in "democracy".
That's right we have to ensure the future generations that our lies about the past were written off as a fault of the worker and progress. It has nothing to do with the fact that I make 300x what you make. Each moment I sign a check to myself and others, I think of how irresponsible you are to even participate in the oversight. That is why I'm unelected and can now change your taxes. Please please, don't take this the wrong way. Be there or be undersold.
DUQ's local newscast yesterday morning noted that the Pittsburgh/Allegheny County intergovernmental group is in St. Paul (and Minneapolis), Minnesota to learn how the twin cities integrated some governmental functions. DUQ's report specifically noted the Met Council as one entity being observed. The Metropolitan Council is a governor-appointed council, unaccountable to the public, that has strong power over the 7-county area around Minneapolis with regards to commercial/residential development, public transportation and roadway planning, and other vital features. The unelected, unrepresentative, publicly unaccountable Inter Governmental Authority now deciding Pittsburgh's fate could become a permanent entity if a version of the Minneapolis area's Met Council is established in the Pittsburgh region. The Minneapolis city council and Hennepin County commissioners have only limited opportunities to control decisions of the Met Council. The same would happen to the Pittsburgh city council and Allegheny County representatives should a Met Council be established in Pennsylvania.
Skewing the facts
by Concerned Citizen Saturday, Jun. 05, 2004 at 12:22 PM
I find your distortion of facts to be disgusting. Your attempt at class warfare is typical. And, your unfounded and almost slanderous accusations
If I may quote from your "article":
" ...of five rich white men whose job is to force austerity measures and fiscal responsibility (they call it tough love) on the city. This measure came in response to the city’s fiscal crisis and this oversight board, called the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority for Cities of the Second Class (hereafter simply called the ICA) was given broad powers. "
Since when is it disdainful to be successful? Is it not P.C. to be a white man? Have these men worked for what they acheived? What are their qualifications to be on the oversight board?
This particular phrase is simply laughable:
"...force austerity measures and and fiscal responsibility (they call it tough love) on the city. This measure came in response to the city’s fiscal crisis..."
What part don't you understand? Which part is conspiratorial? The current administration has shown itself to be incompetent when trying to acheive budgetary restraint. They have spent more than they take it. Simple. They have been doing it for years. If the city were a public company - the stock would have tanked and the CEO would have been fired. In essence, yhey are taking YOUR money, spending it, and running up credit card bills - payable BY YOU.
They can not or will not run the city government in a fiscally responsible way. "Tough Love" is a face-saving euphemism for Tom and crew. In other words: they are incompetent. They can't perform up to expected levels of governance.
We could debate whether to increase tax revenues. But, the fact remains - they are running the city into the ground.