Monday, August 24, 2009

Acklin Wants Mayor's Chief of Staff to Resign

Independent mayoral candidate Kevin Acklin is calling on Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to ask for the resignation of his chief of staff Yarone Zober because of a spat in the media between Zober and State Representative Tom Caltagirone over legislation to deal with the pension crisis. The Berks County Democrat is the main sponsor of 1 of 2 measures that calls for state takeover of the worst-funded pension plans. Pittsburgh's is the worst at just 28% of the $899 million it should have to cover pensions for current employees and retirees. Philadelphia's is next worse at about 50%. Last week, the mayor sent a letter to the legislature asking that Pittsburgh be allowed to opt out....claiming a state takeover would force the city to increase its annual payments to the pension fund by $28 million dollars which would lead to reductions in city services or large tax increases.
The Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System says the city's contribution to its pension plan next year could be between $29 million and $66 million depending on a slower rate of increase of contributions, investment returns and if the mayor is successful in leasing city parking garages and using the revenues for the retirement fund.
That caused Yarone Zober to tell the Tribune-Review that Caltagirone is used to "soaking taxpayers" citing Caltagirone's vote for a pay hike for himself and other lawmakers in 2005 and for House Democrats resuming their pay before state employees were given back pay earlier this month. Caltagirone called Zober an "arrogant snit" who needed to be taken to the woodshed.
Mayoral candidate Acklin says "burning bridges" by criticizing state lawmakers is not going to resolve the pension crisis. Acklin says the solution is probably multi-faceted and possibly includes a combining of several municipal pension plans. Acklin said a state takeover is worth discussing.

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