I'd like to point out a few of my positions:
The primary point that I would make with my candidacy, is that we MUST reform the pension system, or we WILL follow Detroit down the path of bankruptcy via a vicious spiral of less service, higher tax, suburban flight, reduced tax base, more debt -> repeat. Anything less is just rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic.
At the *very least* we need to move new hires on to a 401k style defined contribution system...at least those will be fully funded. It would be better for the city's finances if we could pro-rate the existing pensions as well, but I understand that this could be legally/ethically very challenging.
Ideally, we would fund what .gov functions we need via fees-for-service, but in the meantime shifting to a Land Value Tax, in addition to spurring development, would allow the city to get a fair and predictable income stream from the giant non-profits, as well as allow the non-profits to have a predictable budget line item (instead of the near-extortion we have now). I also advocate reducing the Income and Payroll taxes to the same amount as surrounding areas - this should help with suburban flight of residents and businesses.
A Land Value Tax would also be a fix for the screwed up and unfair property reassessment fiasco...neighbors should pay within a few percent of each other, not double in tax.
I generally oppose TIF's, as they are too easy for connected and monied interests to abuse. In my opinion, there is a place for TIF funding such as compensating for a developer to take on the extra costs associated with a polluted brownfield, or perhaps to retain a historic building/facade. In this sense, I cautiously support the Buncher development...we're lucky they can save any of the building. However, I would of course insist that local concerns be fully addressed (ie: no 'gated' communities).
I also oppose the militarization of local police forces - I would never vote to accept surplus military hardware.
I oppose criminalization of non-violent drug possession - let's save the SWAT teams and jail for real, violent criminals. Having said that, I do support more officers on the beat - we must rewrite the contract to move all desk officers onto the streets, and hire civilians to fulfill desk jobs.
I am very concerned about privacy as well. The PG's article on the Parking Authority making their database of license plates open for 30 days (while commendable that they take Right To Know laws seriously) is a very bad idea. They should not retain this information at all, and if the local police think they need it, it should be kept secured and accessible only via a warrant or court order. What happens with the PAT bus RFID card information, or the parking self-serve kiosk data? If elected, I'd move to make sure our privacy is secure.
My promise to the citizens of Pittsburgh:
I will never vote to increase net debt.
I will never vote to increase net taxes.
I will never vote to violate your privacy.
I will never vote to expand the failed Drug War.
I will never vote to take away your Freedom or Liberty.
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