What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 25, 2006

What's the 311? Brand Ravenstahl!TM

Perhaps you've heard of Pittsburgh's new 311 response line for "QUESTIONS COMMENTS CONCERNS."


Oh right. Sorry. It's the "Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Response Line."

Yes, we had Bob O'Connor's Redd Up campaign, but that was a signature issue with the late mayor, and besides, it's now plastered with Ravenstal'sTM name and image:

And now we have the 311 line plastered with Ravenstal'sTM name and image.

If everything in the city has to now have our "new, young hip" mayor's name and image plastered all over it, how about this:

From Brian O'Neill at the Post-Gazette:

Senate Bill 157 would reform the emergency medical services tax that currently hits workers all at once. Under the proposed reform, workers would pay $1 a week, or $2 every two weeks, depending on the pay period. Employers would pay the municipalities the money at the end of each quarter.

That's how it should have been done from the beginning, but Mr. Ravenstahl wants none of this. He wants the city to get all its money in January. He wants to exempt Pittsburgh and the dozen or so other places that have been declared "distressed." That exemption would last three years. Without it, Mr. Ravenstahl says, the city would take a $6 million hit in 2007.


None of that means it's OK to solve those problems on the backs of working stiffs on one bleak payday every January, as has happened the past two years. When workers find out that their peers in about 700 other municipalities in Pennsylvania can spread their burden over 52 weeks, they're not going to like it, no matter what their income.


"It's regressive to put it in one lump sum and everyone understands that,'' Mr. Peduto said. "The people it hurts the most are those that earn the least. If there is any financial pain to the city, it's much greater to those on a low income.

"We should not be fighting this [reform]. We should be looking for a progressive solution.''
O'Neill also points out in his article that "the city already has already budgeted to absorb the new, fairer system" -- so RavenstalTM can't plead necessity.

I don't know about you, but I'm not expecting to see a MAYOR LUKE RAVENSTALTM SOCK IT TO YOU IN JANUARY TAX billboard anytime soon...

(For some funny takes on the 311 response line, check out here, here and here.)

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