Dowd claims Pittsburgh wasted $20 million

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Councilman Patrick Dowd outlined what he called $20.2 million in "wasteful spending" by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration today -- almost all of it associated with a water authority debt deal -- and repeated his call for changes in how the city spends money.

"Sadly, millions of dollars, millions of taxpayer dollars, are being wasted through mismanagement and cronyism," said Mr. Dowd, as he stood by a new, $1,010 trash can on an East Carson Street sidewalk. "We cannot afford another day of this sort of waste, let alone another four years."

Spending he considers wasteful includes:

• $19 million in costs and fees -- mostly for insurance -- the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority incurred on a complex $414 million debt deal last year. Mr. Dowd said the professional roles of lawyers and underwriters should have been competitively bid, and predicted that would have cut the costs and fees dramatically.

• $518,000 of the $977,550 the city is spending on ventilation systems for firehouses. Mr. Dowd said that competitive bidding could have slashed the cost, most of which is being paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

• $252,500 spent on 250 new trash cans.

• $91,000 that the Urban Redevelopment Authority could have received, but didn't, when it changed the rules after soliciting bids to manage parking lots.

• $337,000 in payments to police Commander Catherine McNeilly, former URA Executive Director Pat Ford, and former Operations Director Dennis Regan, each of whom were involved in thorny personnel issues.

"This wasted money can be used to improve peoples' lives, to improve a business district," he said.

"We have a desperate candidate with no plan of his own showing himself to be just ridiculous," said Ravenstahl campaign manager Paul McKrell. He noted that Mr. Dowd voted as a councilman to enable the water authority debt deal, and called his subsequent criticisms "nothing short of hypocrisy."

Mr. Dowd said last week that he would ensure that all contracts over $25,000 are competitively bid, put a database of contracts and campaign contributions online, and put his daily schedule on the city's Web site if elected.

Mr. Dowd, 41, of Highland Park, is one of two challengers in the May 19 Democratic primary. The other is Carmen L. Robinson, 40, of the Hill District.


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