Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pittsburgh Parking Lease Deal Dead

The Post-Gazette is reporting today the $451 million, 50-year parking meter lease deal Pittsburgh reached with LAZ Parking is dead due to lack of city council support:

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.

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.
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.
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?


Concerned Taxpayer said...

It is so sad that the Republicans on the council have all apparently gotten that taste of power, and have forgotten why they are there.
Just because their mayor wants something, does NOT mean they have to rubber stamp it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

In Pittsburgh, it is a Democratic-controlled council rejecting a Democratic mayor's deal.

M Theory said...

Ballard had an opportunity to give the taxpayers transparency in regard to the CIB. He won't even open them up to so much as an audit.

indyernie said...

Indy's deal as written is dead also, the CC isn't going to support it. I was told last night that the everything is on the table for renegotiation and this time the CC members are involved.

indyernie said...

CT the R's on our council are the one rejecting our should know what they are talking about before opening their (or in this case flexing their fingers) mouths.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Melyssa, The CIB is now audited by the State Board of Accounts, instead of BKD as it was in the past per the state law that allowed new taxes, state tax diversions and state loans to bail out the CIB. I wasn't in the least bit impressed with the SBA's first audit. Of course, their staff is being slashed by the Daniels administration so they don't have a lot to work with to do those jobs.

Ernie, Not a single R councilor has come out publicly in opposition to the deal. The only thing I've heard is some window dressing changes to the deal to make it appear it is more palatable than what it really is. Ballard is much worse than Peterson was on his worst day. I can't believe you haven't figured that out by this point. Not a single R councilor has spoken out against Vaughn and Rivera participating in the vote on the deal despite their obvious conflicts of interest. Vaughn is guilty of doing far worse things than Monroe Gray was accused of doing.

Paul K. Ogden said...


You are correct. The administration is only suggesting "tweaking" the proposal. Once that is done they are then going to trot it out and make the Rs do a party line, political suicide vote in favor of the deal.

You'll have to excuse IndyErnie, he's still drinking he Kool-Aid. The funny thing is he doesn't deny that if Peterson were doing the things Ballard is, he'd be screaming at the top of his lungs. Apparently it's okay to raise taxes and fees, engage in corporate welfare, and line the pockets of political supporters...if it's a Republican doing it.

Had Enough Indy? said...

What's Rivera's conflict?

Gary R. Welsh said...

His firm, The Consultants Consortium, is a subcontractor for ACS.

indyernie said...

Paul you don't know what I think, unlike you I don’t trash my party in public.
Gary the deal is being renegotiated, if passed it will more likely be a ten year deal, less money up front but the city will get more of the back end.
Believe it or not I heard it from the horses mouth and I know several R's who have been open about their disagreement with the deal that the city was trying to pass through.
AND for the record, I’m apposed to the privatization of parking ....period.

Marycatherine Barton said...

I have zero respect for those who put the needs of their political party before the needs of the public/taxpayers/city. Shout out of praise to Pittsburgh's council, and to you three, Mylessa, Paul, and, of course, Gary.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Really, Indyernie, how is that behind the scenes criticsm of the GOP establishment working out? Got anyone to change what they're doing based on your suggestions?

I did what you're advocating for r 20 plus years. It doesn't work. The insiders thrive on keeping disputes behind closed doors. They win (and the GOP loses) when they are allowed to do what they're doing behind closed doors.

Paul K. Ogden said...


Let me make one thing perfectly clear, those suporting the parking deal are NOT putting the interests of the GOP ahead of anyone. In fact what they're doing is inflicting substantial damage on the GOP so that a few insiders can walk away with millions if not billions of dollars.