Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mahoney People's Agenda Excludes Unfair Tax Exemptions Elimination

Pennsylvania state Representative Timothy Mahoney The People's Agenda

Unfortunately, the state representative's People's Agenda excludes elimination of unfair tax exemptions.

Known as Keystone Opportunity Zones, the exemptions were the subject of controversy for years in the legislative district of Rep. Timothy Mahoney (D-PA 51st).

The people raised such a ruckus about application of tax freedom for almost 12-years to "housing developments" in a Springhill Township area that a former state legislator presented legislation to prevent any further designation of KOZs for housing developments. (Former state Representative Larry Roberts is seeking a return to the seat now held by Rep. Timothy Mahoney.)

Local county commissioners were well aware of objections to KOZ status for housing developments and subsequently denied a zoning request for Crystal Springs development which consisted of a "golf resort" - convention center - and expanded housing development. Years earlier, during a previous administration of county commissioners, the acreage had received KOZ designation due to the county's lead economic development agency's specific request.

A later administration of board of county commissioners nixed a renewed zoning request for Crystal Springs development which would have expanded the amount of housing to nearly 300-400 homes within the construction range of $250,000 and upwards.

We cover the situation in Resort to KOZ.

However, the KOZ status remains for the development project to continue

On the WMBS 590 radio program, Let's Talk, with Bob Foltz (Tuesday, August 28, 2007), Rep. Tim Mahoney admitted Keystone Opportunity Zones were unfair, not uniform according to the PA Constitution, and unconstitutional.

During our call, he was asked what he would do about KOZs given his agreement they were unfair.

In our September 10, 2007 report, Keystone Opportunity Zones unfair agrees state legislator Tim Mahoney we comment on Rep. Mahoney's excuses for not dealing with Keystone Opportunity Zones immediately.

His excuses were: he had two top priorities he had to finish BEFORE he dealt with KOZs. Those were:

Pennsylvania open records
local real-estate property tax elimination

(It was unclear whether Rep. Mahoney meant the elimintion of the real-estate property tax to apply to all three taxing bodies, school district, municipality, and county)

Rep. Mahoney also expressed his intention to make the KOZs a "third" top priority, after he got the job done on open records and property tax elimination.

We wrote a lengthy email to the legislator wherein he was presented with a request to make the KOZs a top-priority immediately. We suggested several measures he could introduce back then to forestall locating residential housing in Keystone Opportunity Zones, and preventing any additional legislation down the road to expand KOZs in any form.

Letter to PA Rep. Timothy Mahoney (October 8, 2007)

We request PA state Representative Timothy Mahoney to:

do as much as you can to put the final expiration date on KOZs.

It's only fair to add that we've encountered Rep. Mahoney at two commissioner meetings, but did not take either of those opportunities to press the issue. Why not? It is up to the legislator to take action on not only what has been asked of him, but what he himself has agreed is "unfair, not uniform, and unconstitutional." How many times must we make our requests in writing for Rep. Mahoney to uphold his oath of office which includes following the uniformity clause of the PA Constitution.

According to the Herald-Standard article, state Rep. Timothy Mahoney calls his efforts up to now and to continue should he be re-elected "The People's Agenda."

That's odd since Herald-Standard Harrisburg correspondent Kori Walter made a comment on the WMBS 590 program in response to our rundown of Mahoney's position on KOZs and what he wouldn't do... until...

Walter: "it's the people who set the agenda." Walter went on to add the potential that the second of Mahoney's goals, elimination of school property taxes would require alteration of the PA Constitution, and how that could take years.

We find it more than odd, and unacceptable, Rep. Mahoney presents a People's Agenda which to date has not included action to put an end to KOZs for in many cases up to 15 years for "Fortune 500" companies, and residential housing developments.

The People's Agenda of Rep. Mahoney has not dealt with this situation on behalf of his constituency.

And he could as apparently he's got quite the leadership there in the "people's" Harrisburg House behind his freshman effort to open records to the public, and a qualified attorney.

Lawmakers may revise unpopular open-records law
March 12th, 2007 by LVDem
Tim Mahoney had just won the Democratic primary for a Fayette County seat in the state House of Representatives last year when he paid a lawyer about $4,100 to draft a top-to-bottom revision of the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law.

He campaigned on the ambitious 34-page proposal during the election, and introduced the bill as one of his first acts upon taking the seat...

We're not knocking the entirety of the effort to address the state's backwards information access laws. Yet, on that issue, we've covered many times the less-than-expected contents, including the original House bill 443 not applying to past records. (The Senate Bill 1 fixed that defect.)

Pennsylvania Open Records Scam of New Year?

With either legislation, we still have to convince somebody that what we want IS A PUBLIC RECORD. There are still "exemptions."

That's not to say the open records law that resulted after House and Senate concurrence is "totally bad."

One major change from the House version in the Senate version was applying the open records law "retroactively," according to news analysis which we cover in PA Senate Open Records Measure Retroactive.

But the people need to learn what's in the final bill before judging it's the end-all-be-all of the matter.

Word is, the open records law doesn't totally apply to the state General Assembly and will enable the GA to determine through one of its own agencies what is - or is not- the public record.

Pa. Legislature sends open records law overhaul to governor
February 12, 2008 02:41 pm
Mark Scolforo
...the law “does not control what an agency may provide to the public — it only governs what an agency is mandated to provide.”

Landmark open-records legislation awaits Rendell’s signature

...The bill creates a new Office of Open Records in the state Department of Community and Economic Development to assist individuals seeking open records, set photocopying fees and create a standard appeals process for people denied access to records.

...The final bill is like a glass more than half full, said Barry Kauffman, director of Pennsylvania Common Cause. But Kauffman added the bill contains shortcomings, including limited access to legislative records, lack of criminal penalties for officials and absence of a truly independent open records agency...

We'll cover the unsettling aspects of "reformers" who pressed for the open records legislation - and continued support of legislation which didn't meet all expectations, but who now are not OK with what resulted.

Maybe the state legislator representing the 51st district will step forward to explain what he will do about KOZs before the Primary election April 22, 2008 so the people can determine if he's moving on the real people's agenda.

If he doesn't - our criticism of him - stands. (think KOZ elimination will be a question in a round-table discussion sponsored by the Herald-Standard?) Keep watching.

(Net the Truth Online)

Mahoney seeks re-election on heels of success
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard
Updated 02/24/2008 12:06:04 AM EST

On the heels of passage of Pennsylvania's first open records law in decades, which state Rep. Timothy Mahoney began working on when he first took office a little more than a year ago, Mahoney officially announced Friday he will seek a second term.

The Democratic primary will be held April 22...

During his first year in office, Mahoney became the only freshman Democrat selected to serve on the bipartisan Speaker's House Reform Commission. Mahoney said he led the charge for passing the historic open records law that will bring transparency back to government.

Mahoney said he also played an instrumental role in passing other reforms such as enacting an internal rule change that does not allow the state House to vote on any issues, including controversial proposals such as pay raises, after the hour of 11 p.m.

"The people of Pennsylvania can sleep comfortably now," Mahoney said.

He said he is a man who prides himself on action and not words, adding that he looks forward to completing the balance of this session of the General Assembly. He said he hopes the voters will allow him to continue to serve and address what he calls, "The People's Agenda."

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