Thursday, May 07, 2009

Snail mail saves the county.....

... for at least a few more days.

I am fascinated by the seemingly minor news today that Judge Wettick has postponed any ruling on the county assessment imbroglio until next month. According to the story, he met privately with lawyers, but can’t hold a formal hearing at least until he gets the case files back in the mail from the state supreme court. Whether the meeting today was always meant to be an informal meeting, or if he only realized that he couldn't hold a hearing until after summoning the parties I wonder a bit. But it remains a reminder that even in an Internet world, some things are governed by the pace of snail mail.

What it says to me? (repeating and revising some thoughts I had put in comments on a previous post) If he had scheduled a hearing before realizing he couldn't yet, it wouldn’t be the biggest of deals; it would hardly rise to the level of calling it mistake even. But when you consider that this is the judge who I am told has never been overruled on appeal, it’s the little mistakes that are telling. If he scheduled an informal meeting even before he got the file back, the point is much the same. Either way, the man is not giving anyone a moment’s pause.

By all accounts the judge is personally and professionally an extremely reasonable man. But you have to wonder what he is going to say or do if the county once again tries to get out of an actual reassessment. He seems pretty far past a breaking point when you consider he has long since felt the need to play lawyer in this case.. he honestly probably knows more about property assessment than anybody in the state at this point.

What happens next? I suspect that if the county tries to delay a reassessment, he may start out by ordering county to begin by implementing the 2005 reassessment numbers. Those numbers were basically ignored despite the county's own expert testifying under oath that they were pretty good if not better than the numbers being used now. From a purely practical point of view, those numbers ought to be good to go today and would be a much more recent set of numbers than the 2002 numbers in use today. That would certainly shake things up. Would also give the county a lot of incentive to get going pretty fast given how angry people got at those numbers.


Anonymous MH said...

I'm probably going to file an appeal regardless. Force of habit.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 8:36:00 PM  
Blogger EdHeath said...

Waiting on the mail until next month... hmm, Onorato now has some time to think about the consequences of defying a judge, as well as time to file a federal lawsuit and ask for a federal injunction until the federal lawsuit is decided. Alternatively, Onorato has time to make a public show of asking the local state legislative delegation to help him, and if rebuffed, he oculd go ahead and order a new assessment. Maybe Wettick has done Onorato a favor, maybe Wettick decided a little extra time was in everybody's best interest.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 10:43:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Speaking of appeals, recently I've been hearing second-hand playground gossip that both Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh schools are appealing property valuations in East End. These aren't newly purchased homes either.

On the one hand, it's second hand gossip. On the other hand, the last time I starting hearing second-hand gossip of government appeals, the rumors were a far better guide to what was going to happen than what I read in the newspaper. And, the last time I heard the gossip in bars. Now, I'm hearing gossip from sober people.

Saturday, May 09, 2009 3:22:00 PM  

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