Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Social Media Solutions

So I have to admit I find this fascinating.  Bram pointed this out first, but there is an online web/petition site of sort opposed to the impending state takeover of the city's pension system.  In fact, except for Bram I am a bit unclear how anyone would know this site was there since I have seen no other mention of it online or otherwise, publicly or privately, nor any variation thereof. 

It's fascinating for a lot of reasons.  I was just listening to a student presentation that included some discussion of how Pittsburgh ranked low on some benchmarking of social media compared to other regions.  May be true, but I sure bet that is all an age artifact.  Still this web site is, in a sense, a local paradigm shift worth taking note of. I'd love to see the web traffic stats for that site.

Whether it will impact anything I dunno?   When it started it was listing every individual who signed it petition.  After a few days it was up to all of 10 entries and thus why I suspect they modified the site and took down the actual list of names. It was curious in that most of the names were not city residents (it posted your 'neighborhood' which the form asks for).  I presume the list exists in the ether somewhere and will be presented to someone, by someone, somehow, at some point before the pumpkin arrives which would imply it will happen pretty soon if the goal is to alther the trajectory on anything here.  

The whole parking/pension imbroglio has taken on such a life of it's own that it is hard to comment on.  But I can't pass on one point.  This anti-takeover site does have a "solution" section that describes in its entirety its  answer as this:
Immediately adopt Pittsburgh Parking Partners Revenue Sharing Services Contract, which provides an infusion of upfront cash solving the pension crisis both short and long term, includes revenue sharing for the city, limits meters' hours and rates, rebuilds city garages, updates the meters and creates a best in class parking operation for the City of Pittsburgh.
Seriously. It's an awfully short solution to such a big problem... If anyone thinks the parking lease in itself, and there are arguments both for and against it, will by itself solve anything in the long run then they are engaging in the same false logic that created the problem here in the first place.  Even if the infusion of cash will get the pension funding up to a nominal 50%... that is merely a level it was at maybe 4 years ago.   So if the situation was not 'solved' a few years ago it will not be 'solved' by getting back to 50% by the end of the year.  It is worst than that of course.  Come January 1 we will start the cycle to again calculate the current liability of the pension system, which is almost assuredly going to be higher than where the pension system was at 2 years ago.  All the numbers we are pretending to be valid in this debate are really mostly based on data from 2 years ago as of January 1.. all of 3 weeks away.  So even with a potential $224 million dollar infusion in the pension system, the funding ratio in reality will have already fallen well below 50% in the future's past.  It is all an arbitrary and mostly meaningless fiction to even talk about the system as reaching that 50% funding ratio anytime soon...   capital infusion or not. I am still waiting for anyone to really talk about long run solutions, vice all this obsessing over this very short term goal of getting over a pseudo 50% before January 1.

As a postscript I'll add that it is another interesting twist that the city's firefighters have filed an action in common pleas court to stop the planned state takeover via litigation.  While not a lawyer, I will sometimes play one online, and the angles of this are a little interesting. I have a hard time figuring who is going to be arguing on the other side against what the union has filed since the city's executive branch is strongly on their side on this point.   Sure seems to me that if every city contract had the potential to supersede state law, the implications are really quite phenomenal and I could think of some other contracts the city should enter into.  Too bad we don't have a lawyer-blogger around who obsesses on the machinations inside city hall to comment on the merits of the case.  and this may be a dumb question, but since this involves a state law applying to a local government (a manifestation of state law) with a public sector union trying to stop a state regulatory action involving two Commonwealth agencies (both PMRS and PERC) then should this case not be filed directly in Commonwealth Court?   But what do I know?

3 Comments:

Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

looks like the website is supposed to be disseminated by means of the "Tell A Friend" feature -- that's how it got to me is my understanding.

As to the 50% funding pretense and "solving" anything -- my impression was, in the LATEST iteration of the lease, there is a "revenue sharing" component that purports to have the power to bring in $800 million to a billion to the city over the course of years 10-50. I took that as the clincher as, okay, this really could help put us ahead of the curve.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 10:35:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

None of my friends mentioned the petition site and I haven't seen it anywhere but Bram's place and now here.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger rich10e said...

not sure if you saw this...
http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/obituaries/s_712905.html

Sunday, December 12, 2010 12:51:00 AM  

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