Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's proposed parking lease is "dead" for lack of support on City Council, two members said Tuesday in advancing an alternative that they contend would shore up the pension fund, provide more reasonable parking rates and keep parking facilities under public management.Those opposed to the 50-year lease agreement are looking at an alternative plan under which the city would sell its parking assets to the city's parking authority and use funds derived from the sale to shore up the city's pension fund. The Indianapolis City-County Council needs to follow suit and kill a deal intended to put a pile of money in Mayor Ballard's legal counsel's pocket and his politically-connected client, ACS.
In all, four council members declared opposition to the mayor's plan and others signaled a reluctance to support it, setting the stage for a "no" vote if council takes preliminary action on the mayor's proposal today.
Councilman Patrick Dowd predicted that the mayor's plan to lease city and parking authority facilities to private investors for 50 years never will get the needed five votes on council.
Private management, the 50-year term of the proposed lease and higher parking rates have been key concerns, even as Mr. Ravenstahl has called the lease the most viable way to generate revenue for a troubled pension fund poised for a state takeover at year's end.
"The proposal is dead," Mr. Dowd said. "We need to get his dead alternative off the table."
Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said she hasn't heard support for the mayor's plan at public hearings.
"The plan is dead," she said. "I'm not voting for it. Most of my colleagues are not voting for it. It's time to get it off the table."
Members Bruce Kraus and Bill Peduto didn't call the plan dead but declared opposition.
Mayor Greg Ballard's administration lied to the public when it claimed it had no other choice than to lease the City of Indianapolis' parking meter assets to the politically-connected ACS because the city lacked funds to modernize the parking meters. It turns out the city is sitting on a pot of excess property tax revenues derived from the downtown TIF district. The administration secretly transferred $4 million to the CIB earlier this year and plans to divert $8 million a year under the terms of an interlocal agreement between the MDC and CIB to fund the $33.5 million give-away to billionaire Herb Simons' Indiana Pacers. There remains serious legal questions about whether the city had authority to transfer these property tax funds via an interlocal agreement without council authority, or whether the CIB had authority to loan $30 million to the Pacers over a 3-year period and spend another $3.5 million in improvements for which the Pacers are legally responsible under their lease to entice the team not to break its long-term lease on Conseco Fieldhouse. What is clear is that property tax revenues have never been used to fund the CIB's operations. Mayor Ballard has repeatedly told the public the CIB relies on no property tax revenues for its operations and would not get property tax revenues as long as he was mayor.
Isn't it ironic that Ballard's supporters in 2007 used the "Bart Lies" meme to oust Mayor Bart Peterson from office based on his pledge not to raise taxes as a candidate, a pledge he later broke on multiple occasions, including his 65% increase in the local income tax increase his last year in office. It turns out Greg Ballard is quite the liar too. You can't believe anything the man says. I will never make the mistake of supporting him again. If he's the Republican nominee in 2011, I will support anyone but him. And isn't it ironic that Dennis Ryerson and the Indianapolis Star are completely silent on CCC President Ryan Vaughn's insistence on participating in the ACS parking lease deal despite the fact that his law firm represents ACS and Vaughn is a registered lobbyist for ACS? Is it because the Indianapolis Star gets its legal advice from Vaughn's law firm?