We are the 99%

December 18, 2007

UPMC: The Grinch Who Stole Pittsburgh Promise


"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."
- Robert Cindrich, chief legal counsel to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Yeah, UPMC's legal rep actually said that to Pittsburgh City Council. Of course, it's looking like the gift horse is more of the Trojan variety, but it was better than what the Mayor's Office had to say at the Council meeting which was exactly nothing. No one bothered to show up from the Ravenstahl Administration today (after asking Council to fast track the bill).

City Solicitor George Specter was there as the Administration's counsel...or is that as Council's counsel...or...who the hell knows! Council President Doug Shields tried to nail Specter down on that point, as well as who exactly negotiated the UPMC Strings Attached Promise and when, but he didn't get any further with that inquiry either.

In addition to Councilman Bill Peduto's plea that Council cannot give a special right to an individual, corporation or non profit, lots of words were thrown around from various Council members describing the UPMC Strings Attached Promise. They included:
"backroom deal"

"side agreement"

"strings attached"

"pig in a poke"

"Trojan horse"

"spin"

IMHO, they all applied only too well.

The main point seems to be that UPMC wants to say that their giving a gift to another non profit (The Pittsburgh Promise) is the same thing as their paying taxes to the city. Or, to look at it from another angle, UPMC wants a right that no one else has: to designate exactly what their (possible future) taxes would pay for. Still another way to look at it is that UPMC is trying to stick the city with the bill for their "gift."

UPMC kept saying that they didn't want to pay twice -- as if a "gift" to a charity should somehow excuse them from paying local taxes. It doesn't for anyone else of course. Cindrich kept saying that they were not asking for a tax credit or deduction. However, he made it clear that if they were ever taxed, they would deduct the amount that they would have to pay in taxes from the amount that they had promised to The Promise.

Now, UPMC can reap much benefits from being able to say that they donated money to pay for secondary education for Pittsburgh public school kids -- makes a nice commercial, no? Compare that to simply having an extremely profitable behemoth merely paying their fair share to the city's tax base. Where's the glory in that?

Come to think of it though, they may be on to something. Can I give my federal tax bill payment to moveon.org instead of to Bush's War on Iraq? OK, OK, better not to even think about messing with the IRS. How about starting small? I demand that none of my city tax payments be used towards paying Clowncilman (and Luke's Best Boy) Jim Motznik's salary. I could live with that!

(Thankfully, the bill will be held until after a Public Hearing.)

.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are three possible outcomes if this agreement passes
#1- The City is granted the authortity to tax non profits and does not (more likely, can not by law) exempt UPMC. The city then becomes the bad guy that caused the scholarship money to be reduced.
#2 -The City is granted the authortity to tax non profits and is somehow able to exempt UPMC. The city gives up a chunk of changes- could easily be in the $10 million range. Essentially meaning the remaining taxpayers are paying for the Pgh promise
#3- The city is not given the authority to tax non profits. Call that a wash...

Felix Dzerzhinsky said...

I wish UPMC were the only entity that gets to decide where its taxes go, but it's not. TIFs are basically a way for developers to allot their property taxes right back into the development. That said, it's bad news either way. UPMC's blackmail is disgusting, especially after their nearly two weeks of self-aggrandizing PR over this whole thing.

Anonymous said...

UPMC is an evil corrupt corporation that doesn't give a shit about anyone's healthcare.
Their horrible health insurance company jacks up rates every year by using the claims your doctor submits to justify your 'risk'.
Their hospitals are filthy and they will only give you the treatment that your insurance company will pay for, God help you if you have no insurance.
They do not think they should have to save lives much less pay taxes.

Anonymous said...

John K. says: I love it when one left wing organization bashes another. You left wing kooks are reaping what you have sown. You looked in the mirror and have seen the monster you have created and it is you. And you can't handle it. Luke has outed you and this is fun. LMAO

Anonymous said...

Didn't you love Cheif Legal COunsel Cindrich's comment "We don't want to take a double hit." Since when is philanthropy a double hit? The nerve of these guys is amazing. Someone ought to do something to stop this abuse of western pa for the gain of the few at the top of UPMC.

Richmond K. Turner said...

Excellent work on the Photoshopping, Maria! This may be your best work to date. When I first saw it, I immediately envisioned Rob Rogers seeing it this evening, realizing that your work was too close to his hown, and heading back into the officer to rework his cartoon for tomorrow's paper.

Nice work!

Maria said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

there is so much more than meets the eye in this
something is rotten in Denmark

Anonymous said...

I now understand, Luke is the illegitimate son of GWBush.

How can we allow this Kid (Bad one at that)to keep playing ball with the big boys while sinking the city with every move he makes, every lie he stakes and he's blaming everyone else for his so very immature mistakes once again. The arrogance of these young-ins is unacceptable. Didn't they have parents to teach them not to lie, to be humble and admit your mistakes, and learn from them?

I think Little Luke needs a "Time Out" NOW!

Anonymous said...

I am a tax paying citizen and I vote. I have had it with the kid and his cronies insulting our intelligence on a weekly basis.

And Roosevelt, I thought he was going to be on the up and up and really want the best for the city and school district.

Not only does Luke continue to lie "no strings attached" but do they really think that the citizens of Pittsburgh are that stupid to believe any of this crap. "Pittsburgh Promise????"

Well I promise to call 311 on an hourly basis, write letters to the papers. DO SOMETHING.

I take offence that they think they can just slip this in right before the holiday and expect council to have a public hearing the day after Christmas.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, it is time to "Stand up for your rights" and give em hell. It's bad enough having a kid doing on the job training in such a high office.( I didn't vote for him)

There are interns out there that can make better decisions than this brat I'm sure. But for the people of Pittsburgh to allow him to get away with this is the last straw.

I say get rid of the little thugs, it's a shame the election was a sham and we got stuck with the kid, but that doesn't mean we have to sit back and let them make fools of us and our city. Speak out people......the number is 311. Call early and often.

Jazz said...

Any council person that goes along with this "PITTSBURGH PROMISE" bull should be ashamed of themselves and be carted off to jail with the other one that was found guilty of extortion.

Council is always plotting for power but there is no contest here. This is a no brainer. Are there any other members on council that have any? What is up with you people. REMEMBER WHO YOU WORK FOR, the people in your district. Pay attention, Motznick, you are an embarrassment to this city, along with your good buddy Luke.

Anonymous said...

I BEEN LOOKING FOR SOMTHING LIKE THIS ABOUT UPMC I KNOW IT IS OFF THE SUBJECT BUT I GOT TO SAY THAT THEY PAY THERE WORKERS CRAP THEY GIVE THESE LITTLE ASS RAISES IT GOES FROM A 1% TO A 2% THE HIGHEST YOU GET IF YOUR A COMMON WORKER THERE IS A 3% RAISE WHICH IS ONLY 30 CENTS NOW YOU TELL ME THE WAY THE ECONOMY IS CAN THE COMMON WORKERS LIVE OFF THAT WE HAVENT GOT NO COST OF LIVING RAISE ALL THEY WANT YOU TO DO IS WORK OVER TIME AND YET YOU ONLY CAN DUE ABOUT THREE DAY CAUSE THE TAXES SUCKS IT ALL OUT CAUSE YOUR IN A HIGHER TAX BRACKET I BEEN WORKING THERE FOR 13 YEARS BECAUSE THE HEALTH BENFITS ARE GOOD FOR THE MOST PART BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PAY IT SUCKS SO WHAT UPMC STANDS FOR IS U-PAY-ME-CRAP

Joyce said...

I work for UPMC and they truly treat their employees like dirt they tread on. The commercials with all the over orchestrated music and waterfalls and all just irritate me. They are truly an evil empire. The salaries are horrible, but if you work in health care it is practically the only show in town. They make these outrageous profits and continue to cut budgets. They expect their professional staff to be "state of the art" but won't spend a nickel for conferences or ways to enhance skills. They bully and shame and manipulate.

Emilee said...

UPMC treated me like an invalid and still do. I have had nothing but problems with them ever since I started working there in May 2007 and was terminated in November 2007. I would like to create a PSA making the public aware of the courruption that takes place at UPMC. I would definitely like to contact you. Please email me at emily4732@gmail.com