Archive for the ‘Opening Government’s Books’ Category

Act 47: Unfinished Business

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Yesterday Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and his allies in the state legislature and on City Council lobbied representatives of the PA Department of Community and Economic Development to remove Pittsburgh from Act 47 financial oversight.

While Pittsburgh has certainly made progress since 2003, when out of control spending and shrinking revenues nearly bankrupted the City, the plan that was put in place to create a new model of fiscal sustainability is far from complete.

Councilman Bill Peduto was the sole elected official to speak out at yesterday’s hearing for maintaining oversight until we are truly out of the woods. There are still too many serious fiscal issues left unaddressed to stop now – from pension reform to the City’s relationship with its large nonprofit institutions.

To download the presentation Councilman Peduto gave at yesterday’s hearing, click here.

Posted in Implementing Professional Management Systems, Opening Government's Books | No Comments »

ICA and Act 47 Oversight Boards Weigh in on City’s Finances

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Each year, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) and Act 47 Coordinator — the City’s two oversight bodies — provide us with a progress report of how far we have come in meeting the goals of the Act 47 Recovery Plan adopted by Council in 2009. Both boards share Controller Lamb’s view that, while we have made progress, our work is not yet done. Council has taken several steps to get us to our eventual goal of achieving financial sustainability and the ability to leave oversight, including passing a Debt Management Policy, partnering with Allegheny County to upgrade our financial planning software, and requiring more detailed explanations of how the City’s Capital Budget is put to use. However, just passing the legislation isn’t enough. We have to ensure that it is properly implemented by the administration and the departments charged with overseeing it — and that work is ongoing. To read more about the views of the ICA, you can download their report here.

Posted in Implementing Professional Management Systems, Opening Government's Books | No Comments »

Controller Lamb Releases City’s 2011 Popular Annual Financial Report

Monday, August 6th, 2012

This month, City Controller Michael Lamb released the 2011 Popular Annual Financial Report. The document summarizes the City’s financial position, opportunities, and challenges from 2011 and looking forward. It is a great resource to get a better sense of how we’re doing financially without having to delve through hundreds of pages of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Controller Lamb’s report shows that we have made some positive strides in recent years — but there is much more work to do. To download the report, please click here.

Posted in Opening Government's Books | No Comments »

Pittsburgh Fights for Equal Pay

Friday, April 27th, 2012

posted by Marisa Pereira Tully

April 17, 2012 marked the day to which a woman had to work in order to equal a man’s earnings for 2011. Equal Pay Day, as it’s called, brings attention to the enduring disparity between men’s and women’s wages in our country. Following decades of advancements in opportunities and increasing prominence of women in the media, it can be forgotten that large inequalities still very much exist. On average a woman is paid 77.4% of what a man earns. Over a lifetime, lost wages can total in the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. If the gap continues to close at its current rate, women’s earnings will not reach men’s until the year 2075.

Here in Pittsburgh two groups, the Council of the City of Pittsburgh and a team from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College, recently took up the challenge to combat this inequality.

On Equal Pay Day, Councilmembers Bill Peduto and Natalia Rudiak sponsored a resolution authorizing an audit of compensation, hiring, and advancement practices for City employees with the express purpose of identifying any discrimination. Such an act not only serves to expose any unfair treatment, it also signals the commitment of our City government for wage equality. The resolution comes in response to a 2009 audit commissioned by former Councilmember Doug Shields which found clear examples of wage discrimination, political decision-making, and barriers to advancement in the City workforce. Councilmembers Peduto and Rudiak hope to learn whether the City has made progress in correcting these disparities and what work still needs to be done.

Over at CMU, a group of graduate students and professors teamed up to compete in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Equal Pay App Challenge. The Challenge asked competitors to increase awareness of the issue, make data more accessible, and provide tools for users to combat the wage gap in their own lives. Under the leadership of Professor Linda Babcock, noted gender and negotiation expert, the team (of which this author was a part) created a website that combined a personalized salary calculator with tips and training in negotiation. The website won the Grand Prize as well as the Excellence in Non-Profit Award. To check out the Heinz submission and get your own personalized salary comparison, go to

Posted in Hiring Based on Merit, Implementing Professional Management Systems, Opening Government's Books, Strengthening the Ethics Code, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Pittsburgh Becomes Third U.S. City to Pass a Responsible Banking Ordinance

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

posted by Matt Barron

responsible bankingPittsburgh City Council, yesterday, gave final approval to legislation asking banks that hold City deposits to create community reinvestment plans to outline how they will invest City money back into our neighborhoods. Pittsburgh becomes just the third city in the United States, after Cleveland and Philadelphia, to pass such an ordinance.

Councilman Peduto crafted this legislation after a year of working with community representatives, the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, and 16 of the region’s small, medium, and large financial institutions. The original bill was introduced last year and passed by Council but vetoed by Mayor Ravenstahl. It was then reintroduced by Councilman Lavelle two weeks later. Councilman Lavelle’s bill was very similar to the original legislation but included some provisions that ran afoul of federal reporting guidelines. The proposal was amended to meet all federal requirements and still provide the needed goals of neighborhood investment. After a year and a half of hard work, we finally have a Responsible Banking ordinance in the City of Pittsburgh.

The legislation, while not perfect, will create competition among financial institutions that do business with the City to see which ones can offer the best interests rates while also providing the most home loans, small business loans, and neighborhood grants to areas of the City most in need. It will also provide the public with a detailed record of which financial institutions are excelling in their community investment practices and which still have some work to do.

The process that this important piece of legislation went through is a great example of what is possible when community organizations, the business community, and elected officials sit down together to discuss common goals and strategies for positive change.

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Posted in Opening Government's Books, Reforming the Investment of Public Dollars | No Comments »

Welcome to Reform Pittsburgh Now

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Our site has launched! Start by taking a look at our Theses and our Report Card on Pittsburgh City Council, which will be filled out on Tuesday May 5.

Check back regularly for updates!

Pittsburgh skyline

Posted in Attacking Waste, Fraud, and Abuse, Breaking the Cycle of Pay-to-Play Politics, Creating a Firewall Between Politics and Government, Eliminating Political Walking Around Money, Ending No-Bid Contracts, Hiring Based on Merit, Opening Government's Books, Reforming the Investment of Public Dollars, Strengthening the Ethics Code, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »