Monday, March 31, 2008

Todd Elliott Koger Answers Questions (Post-Gazette "My Homewood") 3/27/08

The following is taken from "My Homewood" a Post-Gazette Online Journal (3/27/08).

Three of the four 24th District candidates visited the PG Tuesday: Lucille Prater-Holliday, Todd Elliott Koger and Joe Preston. William Anderson was absent.

I had two questions from you folks, my readers.

1) What can be done from the legislator's position to develop support for HBCCO's Arts & Culture Goals and Objectives as this relates to its Strategic Plan?

Mr. Preston, the incumbent, noted that he has already been working with HBCCO and that his office has funded arts and culture events and initiatives such as the Trolley Museum and the Homewood Avenue mural below the East Busway station.

Mr. Koger said that he was not familiar with HBCCO's strategic plan, but that "any organization with a viable scope of services and positive outcomes" deserves support.

Ms. Prater-Holliday said "We need to do everything in our power to make sure that we provide funding for arts and culture programs for our children."

2) This question was on behalf of those who have expressed an interest in rehabbing a house in Homewood and using it as an investment property: Are there programs that do not require you to reside in the home you want assistance in repairing? If not, what initiative might you propose to create one?

Mr. Koger said, "There should be leadership to guide them through the process to help them identify the funding."

Ms. Prater-Holliday referred to Mayor Ravenstahl's iniitiative to demolish vacant and abandoned homes. If I heard her correctly, she mentioned the figure of $700,000 being spent to have homes torn down, and said that money would be better utilized for rehabbing properties. I say "if I heard her correctly," because I have not been able to find any other mention of that dollar amount in regards to the demo project, and perhaps she said "several hundred thousand dollars."

Mr. Preston gave the longest and most complex answer, pointing out that many of the vacant homes are estate properties that are hung up in probate court, where the estate settlement process can take six years. He also said that he had spoken with Councilman Burgess Monday about vacant homes (the councilman confirms this), and "we can't depend on people on the outside to do things for us."

I listened hard, honest, but I could not tell that any of the candidates answered the question. But so far, the short answer to the question, "Are there programs that do not require you to reside in the home you want assistance in repairing?" is "No."