Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Mayoral Debate on Neighborhood Development (Part II)

And now for something completely the same: Part II of the Mayoral Debate on Neighborhood Development. Part I in all of its html glory is found here.

Question 3: Regarding the Selling of Tax Liens and the Streamlining of Property Acquisition

Lamb: Lamb came out strongly against the selling of future tax liens and proposed an increase in real estate tax collection efficacy through consolidation with County Tax collection. Also proposed using the Sheriff Sales process instead of Treasurer Sales process in order to save on fees.

Peduto: Proposed buying back existing liens, albeit slowly. Promised that he wouldn't take homes from individuals.

Repovz: Also proposed buying back liens, if money was available. Asserted that government must look out for people.

O'Connor: Mused on why taxes weren't originally collected in the first place. Advocated for "professionalization of tax collection." Said there was "room for compassion" in the tax collection process.

Kendrick: Advocated a change in the assessment process to rectify missassessments. Also proposed the state elimination of the real estate property tax.

Ludwig: Countering O'Connor's proposal, insisted on an elected Treasurer responsible to the electorate.

Analysis: This was, by far, the weakest of the questions so far. Repovz seemed confused at the scope of the problem, defering to strange generalities. Kendrick, thinking out of the box, proposed reforming something not in the perview of the Mayor to reform. Ludwig's suggestion of the elected Treasurer was the highlight of his ramblings, and the only one to make an impression on me. O'Connor danced around the question, again leaning on generalities.

Peduto's response was disingenuous: because of the relocation costs involved, the city rarely takes occupied properties.

Lamb actually seemed to have an actual response to the question at hand, which says to me, again, that he's getting coached by someone at a CDC.

Kendrick: (-)
Ludwig: (-)
Lamb: (+)
Peduto: (-)
Repovz: (-)
O'Connor: (-)

[At this point, my handwriting gets worse and worse... I apologize if I've misquoted or misattributed anything.]

Question 4: Regarding the Strategy for Housing

Peduto: Again proposed the merging of URA and City planning. Pushed the formation of Community Plans to choose which projects to develop. Promoted refocusing efforts to develop "Quality of Place." Advocated the coordination of URA Housing, HACP, and City Housing Finance.

Repovz: Called for the elimination of the URA and to tighten our belts.

O'Connor: Promised to work hard to secure additional Federal, State, and Foundation Funding. Called for the formulation of clear consensus plans for development. Promised to "Professionalize" the URA Board by including Bankers & Real Estate Agents.

Kendrick: Proposed funneling everything through community committees.

Ludwig: Urged the City to stop spending money.

Lamb: Advocated the establishment of a blight elimination fund in Harrisburg.

OK, we have three candidates promising more Community Participation (which should be expected at a meeting of Community Development Corporations), which is fine. Still, one must remember that these CDCs represent a self-selected group of the neighborhood, and do not necessarily represent the views of the entire neighborhood. I'm personally aware of several neighborhoods that have competing CDCs, jockeying for position. If these candidates are willing to subject themselves, and their political capital, to those kinds of stresses, more power to them. Still, by sluffing the strategies off to the community groups, the Mayor can deny all culpability if the projects go south.

I must say, Repovz and Ludwig must be real fun at parties, let me tell you. Nothing like sucking the air out of a room.

Still not sure what Peduto meant by "developing Quality of Place"... also was unaware that the City actually had a Housing Department in City Finance...also not sure why City Planning and the URA need to merge...

O'Connor blissfully unaware that the URA Loan Review Committees (the oversight before anything makes it to the Board of Directors) are actually made up of Bankers, Real Estate Agents, and Community Representatives. According to the URA website the current Board of Directors is made up of a representative of the Mayor's Office, City Council, the State Legislature, the former Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, and a Representative of the IBEW. At least 3 out of these 5 slots are currently political nemeses of an O'Connor Administration. Hmmmm.

Lamb's big idea is the establishment of a blight elimination fund, which, according to his webpage is nothing like the mass blight designations in the '60s. Money for property acquisition is vitally needed in some of the more desperate areas. Lamb is obviously talking to the people that I'm talking to.

Kendrick: (-)
Ludwig: (-)
Lamb: (+)
Peduto: (-)
Repovz: (-)
O'Connor: (-)

And at the end of Part II, it is revealed that Bob O'Connor is Daniel Repovz's father. Search your feelings! You know it to be true!

More soon...


Señor Misterioso said...

I'm voting for Les Ludwig in the hope that he will appoint Yvonne F. Brown as deputy mayor.

O said...

Having watched Ms. Brown speak in front of council on a few occasions, I can speak without fear of contradiction that this would be a most interesting choice.