Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tweeting the Mayor Meeting with Council

Here's my Twitter coverage of Mayor Ravenstahl's appearance before City Council to discuss the Act 47 financial recovery plan. For those not used to reading tweets, the entries below are in reverse chronological order, with the most recent listed first. Please pardon the typos, these are thumb-typed in a rush.

I did correct one embarrassing typing error: some comments were attributed to Councilwoman Burns instead of Harris. Of course I know better. That's an interesting subconscious slip; using the name of a former North Side council member instead of the current one. At least I didn't call Doug Shields "Jeep".

The tweets follow:

  1. Mayor tells reporters his side comment was to the effect the proceeding was a joke. Remark was in a moment of frustration.
  2. Peduto says it's not a threat, but council will not pass plan as is. Done w mayor.
  3. Mayor at Council meeting for more than 2 1/2 hours. Still going.
  4. Shields tells mayor he wants to work with him to fight in Harrisburg for city.
  5. Shields: says this mayor cares about this city -- he has no doubt about that.
  6. Shiellds: this plan is a little screwy if you ask me.
  7. Councilman Kraus, I am told, thinks he heard the mayor mutter that kraus "is a joke".
  8. Mauor expresses concerns that expections are being created there can be widespread changes in the Act 47 plan. Doesn't think it's the case.
  9. Some here think the mayor's muttered side comment was "this is such a joke".
  10. Kraus apparrently thought he overheard mayor mutter "joke" as Kraus was talking. Kraus called him on it, Mayor said he was talking to Huss.
  11. Mayor to Kraus: he was highly offended by council's criticism of his being away on vacation last week. Kraus said problem was timing.
  12. Peduto notes his sense is that council will not support the Act 47 plan as is.
  13. Dowd tells Ravenstahl he cannot suport raising taxes as the plan's "failsafe option"m
  14. Mayor says plan provides options .... Says not passing it is "a blueprint for disaster".
  15. Dowd: concerns about whether mayor can implement in time to get budget without tax increasesm
  16. Burgess says that will put city in "state receivership.". Calls for meeting with council, mayor, Act 47 team to reach unity.
  17. Burgess says if don't adopt plan by June 30, may as well not adopt it ever. Says not approving by then leads to union arbitration costs.
  18. Burgess says his concern is unity. Suggests working together to craft agreement.
  19. Councilman Burgess says he doesn't like to do policy "under the lights".
  20. Peduto: the plan is bad for Pittsburgh if council doesn't amend it.
  21. Peduto tells finance director council will put the options the mayor describes into the plan in writing because "they're not in there".
  22. Peduto: Act 47 "failsafe plan" increases local taxes. Mayor says he's pursuing leasing parking garages instead.
  23. Peduto to Mayor: do you support closing the Greenfield fire station. Mayor: "yeah".. But says at end of day it's Act 47's plan.
  24. Pedutoh plan leaves only options of raising property taxes and wage taxes and real estate transfer taxes on city residents.
  25. Peduto to Mayor: legislators say $145 a year isn't going anywhere. Peduto says voting this plan today will raise taxes on city residents.
  26. Peduto to mayor: hope you had nice vcation. Mayor jokes "firefighters are asking for 5th week of vacation, I can't even has one"..
  27. Mayor's chief of staff Yarone Zober tries to interject during Shields' questioning of Ravenstahl. Shields tells Zober he's out of order.
  28. Mayor: I'm sitting her talking to you nowm Shields: under motion to compel. Mayor: it has nothing to do w/ motion to compel.
  29. Shields complains of mayor's past "resounding silence". Mayor : "I'm here". Shields how do you build relationship if don't meet?
  30. Shields says mayor did not answer his repeated requests to discuss problems. Tells mayor unity is built before, not after.
  31. Mayor: not his plan, would he draw on's the Act 47 team's plan. He's asking council to approve it.
  32. Mayor to Shields question on call foe council unity: mayor says need to act to approve this plan. Says will work w/ council afterward.
  33. Council Prez Doug Shields to Mayor: bottom line is the plan has a $15M hole. Says Act 47 and ICA doesn't have weight to carry city's case.
  34. I'm going to ease off of tweet-by-tweet coverage now, but if anything big comes up, I'll let you all know.
  35. Harris: we've had 5 years for the state to come in and do something and they haben't done enough.
  36. Councilwoman Harris continues to press City Solicitor Specter: show in writing where June 30 is deadline for Act 47 and contract talks.
  37. Mayor: says if if state legislature were to approve increase in LST tax from $52 to $144 and payroll prep tax on non-profits., won't be back
  38. Mayor: doesn't necessarily disagree. But says he's a political realist. Says still facing uphill battle in Harrisburg.
  39. Mayor notes local services tax apply to everyone who works in cituy, not kust city residents. Payne says she'd like commuter tax.
  40. Councilwoman Payne: hopes he's not saying will still raise taxes, but not just those city residents alone pay.
  41. Huss: says he'd rather deal with provisions of plan than eliminating jobs.
  42. Councilwoman Smith: asks for info on impact of potential public safety retirement. Director Huss and administration provide.
  43. Kraus: tells mayor wants cooperative relationship, door is open but says mayor hasn't used it yet.
  44. Mayor: choices are extremely limited... Again points to his proposal to monetize assets to put large influx of cash to pension fund.
  45. Mayor: we have to think outside the box. Need $ for pension fund.
  46. Mayor to Kraus: nobody is losing their jobs here. Kraus: says his concern is ability to recruit and retain workers, including police.
  47. On labor issues, in response to Kraus, mayor supports plan as is. Says plan should be approved by June 30th.
  48. Councilman Kraus to mayor: says he personally has had no communication from him. Doesn't want to hear by press release.
  49. Mayor: if don't approve plan, everything city's accomplished will go up in smoke.
  50. Says guarantees he won't support tax increases . Says if none od other options are implemented, will be back with cuts.
  51. Mayor: depends more on council leadership more than anything he as mayor will do.
  52. Dowd to mayor: you need the $15M by the time you present budget by Sept?
  53. Kunka: any combination of these totalling up to $15M will do job.
  54. Dowd: how do you do this in 2010 without avoiding tax increase? Mayor defers to finance director Kunka.
  55. Tells council not to delay approval......failure could bring state sanctions.
  56. Option E: staff reductions, services cuts, tax increases that he does not support.
  57. Another option: surcharges. Poss. On garages, hospital bed fees, head tax on college students.
  58. Another option; apply payroll prep tax to non profits.
  59. Another option: increase local services tax from $52 a year to $144 a year. (Would need state legis. approval.)
  60. Mayor element one: "monetize assets"....that's selling or leasing parking garages.
  61. Mayor: four elements to his plan to raise revenue to meet long term obligations.
  62. Mayor will not support tax increases that are solely on city residents.
  63. Mayor: Not like cuts other cities are seeing now. Need to be able to make difficult decisions now.
  64. Mayor says city workfoce is overworked and underpaid. Plan woulg give bonuses, modest raises.
  65. Mayor says time to approve Act 47 plan is now.
  66. Mayor says his powerpoint presentation will answer. Says has sufficent savings to get through next 5 years. Plenty of work still to do.
  67. Dowd to mayorh do you support this plan, if so, why? Can you implement. Will you have a tax increase?
  68. Dowd tells mayor plan is a mountain of service cuts combined with tax increase or increases.
  69. Mayor says he has presentation, but Dowd wants to start with Q&A.
  70. Mayor allowed to table with staff.
  71. Dowd asks for Mayor alone, not staff. Burgess says if that happens, he'll invoke right to block mayor speaking.
  72. Burgess motion to approve Act 47 plan fails for lack of 2nd. Dowd moves to reject, asks mayor to come to table.
  73. Peduto: no issue more important -- affects everything, including public safety for next 5 years. Mayor will go first.
  74. 10:59: mayor back in room, last public speaker wrapping up.
  75. Darren Kelly (sp?) Of fire union: points to closing of fire station, elimination of deputy chief positions.
  76. 10:50: mayor and his bodyguard just stepped out and headed into his office as unrelated citizen public comment continues.
  77. 10:40: Mayor sitting in audience as citizens speak out on other concerns during public comment period.
  78. O'Hara says pool of potential applicants is falling. Says council should think about safety implications.
  79. Police Union prez Dan O'Hara: public safety is first, not looking to raid coffers. If you vote for plan as is, city will see deterioration.
  80. Finance chair Peduto apologizes but keeps King to the 3 minute comment for now. Union will get to say more later.
  81. Fire union prez Joe King: there is not a time limit for you to pass this by June 30th. Says current Act 47 plan would still be in place.
  82. 10:18. Mayor Ravenstahl just entered. Meeting about to start. Public comment normally comes first.


Mark Rauterkus said...

All in all, a 6 hour meeting and a one week hold. Productive?

Monk said...

Would anyone expect anything different... 7 days, is what counts