- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
The BRT: Your government NOT at work
(Read a school-focused take on the BRT at The Public School Notebook's website)
OK I stole that line from Jon Stewart, but what do you say about the Inky’s phenomenal series about the Bureau of Revision of Taxes – the people who’ve been assessing your homes?
What do you say when:
- The BRT’s Executive Director who took full advantage of the city’s DROP program only to return to work with a pay raise two days later says he has “nothing to do” with property tax assessments;
- One member of the BRT’s board became president of Citizen’s Alliance, former Sen. Vince Fumo’s non-profit that was at the center of his corruption trial, and is currently being investigated on abuses including unlawfully increasing taxes on a property that the Senator had allegedly wanted to purchase;
- Agency officials told reporters that a tax assessor, who had reduced an assessment for the BRT board member above, had “died.” She hadn’t and basically told reporters she was encouraged to reduce the taxes on that board member’s property;
- Private deals on commercial properties abound including a 44% reduction in the assessed value of the Ritz Carlton from $35 million down to $19.5 million.
- Two members of the BRT’s board say they don’t know anything about the sunshine law or conducting official business in public?
And there are so many amazing quotes here, quotes you can’t quite make-up like:
Catherine Scott, Local 2187 pres., representing some BRT workers: "I don’t think it’s fair to say none of them work. The level of work varies greatly."
Republican leader Michael Meehan on why the BRT is where old Parking Authority employees go: "At a certain age they can’t be out on the street on a cold day and walking. The BRT is a more attractive place."
BRT Executive Director Enrico Foglia on his non-relationship with Dem. Party Chief/U.S. Congressman Robert Brady: "It’s not like we’re old buddies or nothing like that. I wasn’t real tight with Bobby."
Court of Common Pleas Judge William Manfredi on qualifications of BRT board members: "I haven’t the faintest."
So, as I reported on YPP a couple of times, last year Parents United for Public Education started to challenge the presence of 78-85 BRT employees on the School District payroll, another lovely OPM trick of the agency. At the time, I don't think we were naive about the politics about the decision, but clearly we had no idea of the abuses detailed here.
Since then we’ve spent a year talking to different city and state departments and testifying when we can about the issue. We’re encouraged to read for the first time in today’s story that Mayor Nutter doesn’t think BRT employees belong on the School District’s payroll. But we’ll have to see whether things substantively change.
After all, one of the more distressing quotes might come from the Mayor himself when he says that the agency’s management issues and lack of accountability problems "can wait" while he pushes for full valuation.
"For me, the larger issue is getting the assessment system fixed . . . and being able to ensure property owners that the values we send them are really the values in the marketplace."
Unfortunately, the Inky proves why that assurance just doesn't fly for the rest of us.