Monday, September 8, 2008

Transparency, Oh My

In a city reknowned for its backdoor policy meetings and general nepotism, State Sen. Jim Ferlo is a momentary breath of fresh air. He is suggesting that the URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) actually post information publicly on its website when awarding new contracts such as who has bid on the projects and what the final bids were. For a little overhead, that proposal could go a long ways toward cooling tempers and letting everyone know what's happening.

In general, I've found that people tend to get pissed when they don't know why something happened even if there's a perfectly good explanation behind it. For instance, even though the highest-paying parking operators did not get picked for re-lease of all the parking lots in Pittsburgh, the one that was picked promised better final rates for consumers. It's easy to pay a high rent when you're planning on gauging those who park at your lot, and as long as the city is making more money, it's fairly reasonable for them to agree to make less money for the relief of taxpayers.

Of course, at the same time, there's a very valid question that employees shouldn't be fighting for cheaper parking in the garages because odds are the only tax people who park in the garages are paying to the city of Pittsburgh is the tax on parking.

Long live the internet and its potential of information overload!

The URA has done a lot of great things for this city. It'd be a shame if the antics of a particular Mr Ford and some questionable wheeling-and-dealing ruined their good reputation. Here's to Jim trying to shift focus back where it belongs.


1 comment:

Bram Reichbaum said...

There's a lot to be said for cool tempers, and transparency is certainly a big enough concept to float. However, Mr. Ferlo has a long history of coming forward with half-acknowledgements, half-measures, and half-assed audits and investigations every time the URA gets burned with something, yet as an organization it only grows more en fuego. (For example -- why do the disclosure rules only apply to contracts in excess of $100K?)

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