Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Modest Open Letter to the Mayor: A Pittsburgh Promise Proposal

Dear Mr. Mayor,
I must congratulate you on your exceptional commitment to the Pittsburgh Promise program and your desire to provide college scholarships to qualified students residing in the City of Pittsburgh.  Indeed, such a program will not only encourage middle class families, who would otherwise flee to the suburbs, to stay in the City and will provide a much need impetus to the Pittsburgh Board of Education to keep their standards high. 
I must further congratulate you on your recent success in receiving a commitment from local health care giant UPMC to donate one million dollars a year in both outright and matching funds to the program.  I am sure that this act will encourage other civic minded organizations to donate what they can to the betterment of the city. 
There are two points, however, that I notice as a cause for concern.  First, even with the generous endowment of ten million dollars over ten years, the program is still a long way from being fully and sustainably funded.  If my estimates are correct, the program will need at least $100 million to be truly functional. 
Second, UPMC seems to seem fit to attach the extraordinary provision that its donation be counted as credit against future taxation, should enabling legislation permitting the taxation of non-profits be enacted.  This, to me, seems to undermine the very outcome desired from a future taxation of non-profits.
As you can see, the twin problems here of an underfunded program and an undermined taxation system basically creates a situation in which no one is better off.  I would like, if I may, present my own solution to our collective problem. 
You may or may not be aware, Mr. Mayor, that I am not just a humble civil servant and part time masked crime fighter.  In real life, I am actually the heir to a vast fortune from my grandfather's invention of that little plastic tag you find in clothes that is supposed to hold on tags.  My father, in a flash of financial brilliance used the money to patent the copyright symbol and bought the rights to the colour taupe.  We have also diversified to include holding in the Repossession and Credit Collections industry, news media outlets that specialize in the disappearance of attractive white women, and Internet porn.  Without displaying too much false modesty, I can assure you that we are very, very wealthy, so much so, in fact, that we briefly considered buying a local newspaper as a hobby and to advance the cause of the International Astronomical Union against the infidels that still consider Pluto to be a planet. 
With that said, I would like to personally donate Five Hundred Million Dollars ($500,000,000) to the Pittsburgh Promise, with no strings attached.
Given the generosity of my donation, however, you'll understand of course that there are strings attached to it.  Also, given the enormity of the donation, you'll of course realize that the strings attached will be commensurate with the amount.  In my opinion, however, my request is not overly burdensome. 
It has not escaped my notice, that the Pittsburgh Region lacks a cohesive, coherent leadership structure.  Some councils of government have had limited success and some cross municipal cooperation has worked, but overall there is generally a lack of coordination for the region's common good.  This problem exists, however, not only outside the walls of Pittsburgh proper, but within as well, where neighborhoods, corporations, politicians, and special interest groups battle for ever shrinking slices of tiny, tiny pie.  While risk is inherent in any major financial investment, I am not comfortable with throwing my money at any organization in such disarray. 
In my mind, there is only one way to solve this general problem: in the event that the appropriate enabling legislation is enacted, I will claim the office of King of Pittsburgh and Allegheny. 
We originally believed that we should ask for an election, an acclamation, or some other conveyance of the public trust, but we soon realized that would only undermine the legitimacy our reign, which must be based on the Divine Right.  Moreover, we can see how certain republican elements in the region would seek to invalidate, what we consider to be, our necessary and proper station. 
We promise to be a benevolent monarch, but you will understand that, as King, we will be assuming certain extraordinary powers necessary to the functioning of the office, including, but not limited to:
* The Crown will assume all publicly owned land in the Region;
* The Crown will be exempt from all taxation;
* The Crown will have the right to collect all taxes and fees;
* The Crown will have the right to raise an army for public defense;
* The Crown will have the right to summon and dismiss County, City, and other municipal councils;
* The Crown will give, upon the advise of his ministers, assent to all legislation; and so forth.
We believe that such powers are reasonable given the extraordinary contribution we are making to this region.  We may consent to be referred to as "King of the Pittsburghers" instead of "King of Pittsburgh" pending the advice of our ministers.
As our first acts,
* We would immediately dissolve all municipal boundaries in the area of "Southwestern Pennsylvania" to form the City-Region of "Pittsburgh and Allegheny".
* We would merge any and all authorities, boards, commissions, and so forth, as necessary.
* We would declare the Official Languages of the Region to be English and Yinzer English.
* We would begin to issue charters, titles of nobility, and letters patent in our name.
* We would establish several orders of Knighthood for Service to the Crown including the Order of the Angry Drunk Bureaucrat (OABD) and the Order of the Unnecessary Post-nominal Suffix (OUPS)
* We would invade Mt. Oliver, burn it to the ground, and sow salt so that nothing would ever grow there again.
* We would allow for indoor smoking, provided that the smoker is, in fact, on fire.
* We would sell the City's rights to the Casino to Erie.
* We will not permit any of our subjects to use the word "defenestrate."
Future acts would include putting down the inevitable peasant uprising in Mercer County and setting up Yinzer colonies in Washington D.C., Myrtle Beach, and South Florida. 
We are already preparing the crown jewels for our royal ascension and are accepting applications for Titles of Nobility.  Should you be amenable to this arrangement, we will arrange a time and place prior to our coronation for you to pay us homage. 
H.R.H. Arthur David Beverly the First, by the Grace of God, of the Kingdom of Pittsburgh and Allegheny and her other Realms and Territories King-Elect, Most Serene Dominus and Imperator, Defender of the Forks of the Ohio, Pater Patriae, OADB, OUPS, PhD
P.S. If you still want to be involved in our government, we can make you Marquess of The Charles Street Valley or Earl of Four Mile Run or something.  Think about it.


Anonymous said...

May I be the Duke of Murdoch Farms?

O said...

Sorry. Murdoch Farms is an Earldom.

Bram Reichbaum said...

It's about time the Forks had a defender.
Your agenda for us poor Pittsburghers is so manifestly wise and just, I take it as prima facae evidence of your legitimate authority.
Consider this comment my application for noble rank, only bid me (as always) do whatever else you may Require.

O said...

Bram, once our office is secured, will be vested with either the fiefdom of Wilmerding or given the position of Sheriff of the Mon Valley.

EdHeath said...

Mt Olivero delenda est.