Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fitzgerald Launches Executive Candidacy By Asking Governor To Invoke Martial Law On Assessments

Council President (and county executive candidate, and inexplicably eager heir to Dan Onorato's legacy) Rich Fitzgerald intends to introduce a resolution imploring Gov. Tom Corbett to block a court-ordered property reassessment suspend enforcement of the Pennsylvania Constitution in Allegheny County.

Is this the best idea since Fitzgerald (right, admonishing Onorato for failing to direct sheriff's deputies to take Judge Anthony Wettick into preemptive custody) and Onorato invoked suspension of the law of supply and demand with respect to the drink tax, the most striking example of local leadership since Luke Ravenstahl's police invoked martial law in the Towers dormitory lobby on Pitt's campus, or both?

Infinonytune: I Fought The Law (And The Law Won), The Clash
Infinonytune: I Fought The Law (And The Law Won), Green Day


Felix Dzerzhinsky said...

Don't you think there is something to Fitzgerald's argument that a statewide system of reassessments would be more appropriate? That is what the bill last year (which passed the state House, but not the Senate) would have done.

That said, any basic Alinsky training will tell you that you don't allow a target further down the chain to "pass the buck." So I suppose Fitzgerald deserves criticism on this, or at least that the county ought to go through reassessments regardless of whether other counties do.

That said, it is weird that the two major parties are reversed in what you'd expect their positions to be on this issue. My half-educated read is that: (1) Democrats with county-wide aspirations (like Fitzgerald) want to pander to the wealthier suburbs, and the weak Council Democrats automatically follow the lead of the Democratic executive and/or leading aspirants for executive; and (2) the Republicans figure that the school districts like Mount Lebanon, Upper St Clair, Fox Chapel, North Allegheny, etc., can all afford to just reduce their millage rates in response to a reassessment, and still bring in the same revenue.

By contrast, the school boards in poorer districts like Steel Valley or Pittsburgh will have to increase taxes or else see decreased school revenue. School taxes are the largest portion of local real estate taxes that will be impacted in such a situation; municipal and county taxes are smaller. The sad truth is that a reassessment will not address the issue of inequality in property taxes; it may be fairer as far as county taxes go, but school district-to-school district inequality will remain. And that's even before you start talking about the kids, isn't it?

Infinonymous said...

Entrenched unfairness (big-ticket properties underassessed, lesser properties overassessed) is not the sole issue. Diversifying school funding would be good. Reducing reliance on property taxes would be good. But the Constitution is trump, and if some people would spend half as much time attempting to broaden school funding and shift away from property taxes as they do on defending unconstitutional unfairness to the death, everyone would be better off.

Anonymous said...

Agree 100% with that Infy. Fitzgerald is foolish to carry on this piece of the Onorato agenda.

PK said...

Fitzgerald is crazy like a fox...unfortunately the wailing masses of Allegheny don't give a rat's behind that the taxes are inequitable...as long as they are inequitable in their favor. Give them bread and circuses with their drink tax and eventually relent and/or forget. But cross them on property tax? Fuggeddabouddit.

Infinonymous said...

Or he's crazy like the guy who couldn't even beat a Republican in Allegheny County a couple of months ago. Is devotion to Onorato's policies on reassessments and the drink tax a promising strategy?