Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Archive: November, 2009

POSTED: Monday, November 23, 2009, 6:57 AM
Congressman Sestak

We told you on Thursday that Republicans and some Democrats were slamming Recovery.gov for being full of errors. In a story published Friday, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak expressed his own frustration with the stimulus. Sestak, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Senate against Sen. Arlen Specter, told the political website Politico that Democrats may have promised too much, too quickly. Says Politico:

According to Sestak, moderate and conservative-leaning independents are particularly unnerved by a sense that Washington’s plans for economic recovery seem to be working slowly, if at all.

“There’s no such thing as a shovel-ready job. We oversold things,” Sestak said in a phone interview from York County, where he was participating in an event with veterans over the weekend.

Ben Waxman @ 6:57 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, November 20, 2009, 3:21 PM

The cynical take on Gov. Rendell's announcement that he wants to spend his last year in Harrisburg pursuing governmental reforms is that the plan is all talk. Basically, the argument goes, you've got a lame duck executive making promises he can't keep so that when he leaves office he can say, "hey, I tried."

But check out the DN's take on this today: Not this time. Not with all the recent scandals in Harrisburg.

Whether the governor expects his plan to work or not, the public should get behind him. We should make the governor take his own agenda seriously -- and enable him to move it forward.

Doron Taussig @ 3:21 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, November 20, 2009, 9:20 AM

A few weeks ago, in the inaugural (and thus far only -- but not for long!) installment of our "Follow the (lack of) money" series, Anthony detailed the circumstances and potential ramifications of a reduction in funding for Philly's Housing Trust Fund.

To oversimplify the matter: Mayor Nutter came in to office and committed $15 million over five years to the fund, which leverages the money to bring in state and federal grants that finance affordable housing work (both rehab and new construction). When the city's finances went south, Nutter reduced that commitment, and then reduced it again. The projected five-year city commitment now stands at $6 million.

This reduction is exacerbated by the fact that the fund's other source of revenue, real estate transfer taxes, are also way down.

Doron Taussig @ 9:20 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2009, 4:04 PM

Yesterday, we reported that the GOP was slamming President Obama for mistakes on Recovery.gov, the website where the public can track $787 billion in stimulus funding. The site lists projects in non-existent congressional districts. Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a response from the Obama Administration.

According to Ed Pound, a spokesman for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, the problem didn't originate with the federal government.

Pound said recipients of the money are to blame for the misreporting.

Ben Waxman @ 4:04 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2009, 11:57 AM

Thanks to the indictment of state Rep. John Perzel (R-Pa.), we’ve been hearing a lot lately about shady government use of computer systems.

Well, today Bob Warner writes about a longstanding effort by the city’s Board of Ethics to use computing technology to give voters more information.

The board settled a battle between Municipal Court Judge Thomas N. Nocella and contractor Ernesto DeNofa over their failure in 2007 to submit computerized reports of campaign contributions and expenditures.

Anthony Campisi @ 11:57 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2009, 10:01 AM

At least one elected official thinks this week's charges against State Rep. John Perzel should lead to sweeping reforms. Gov. Ed Rendell announced yesterday that he will spend the remainder of his time in office pursuing major changes in Harrisburg.

Rendell, who will be out of the office at the end of 2010, said the culture of corruption has hurt his policy agenda and must change.

"We've done great things legislatively [but] get virtually no credit for it because we have a process that's broken," Rendell told reporters at a press conference. "Special interests still dominate the scene here in Harrisburg."

Ben Waxman @ 10:01 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 11:53 AM

Why is the Pennsylvania Republican Party criticizing the Obama adminstration for $12 million in recovery funds that came to this state?

The stimulus projects being tracked on the federal government's recovery.gov include a total of $12 million for the 00th, 96th, 21st and 65th congressional district.

The problem? These don't exist in Pennsylvania.

“While many Pennsylvania are still waiting for something positive to come of the stimulus, I guess those living in the 00th congressional district can be proud [of] President Obama, Senator Specter, and Democratic congressional members for 'creating' so many jobs,” said GOP chairman Rob Cleason. “Obama needs to let Pennsylvanias know if and how stimulus money was spent in congressional districts that don't exist.”

The problem is not confined to Pennsylvania. Numerous mistakes in the stimulus progress reports submitted to Congress last month generated similar charges in other parts of the country. For example, Rep. Rob Bishop (R - Utah) mocked the Obama Administration in the the Salt Lake City Tribune for listing $1.1 million in a non-existent congressional district.

Ben Waxman @ 11:53 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 10:33 AM

A significant dynamic of the SEPTA strike that didn't get resolved in contract negotiations was the union's accusation that SEPTA had mismanaged its pension fund. Rather than just making the size of pension contributions a contract issue, the TWU complained about the health of its pension. But the strike ended without SEPTA agreeing to the forensic audit the union had at one point demanded.

It looks like the TWU hasn't forgotten the matter, however. The Philadelphia Weekly reports today that the TWU is considering suing SEPTA:

Local 234, which ended a six-day strike on November 8, has retained the law firm of Kaufman, Coren & Ress, P.C. The issue at hand: Workers want to know what firm the money is being invested with, what the rate of return is and what fees investors are being paid.

Doron Taussig @ 10:33 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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