City Councilor Patrick Dowd says that a much-contested electronic sign slated for Grant Street should -- and will -- be resolved in court. He also left open the possibility that he himself would be the person to file the lawsuit.
(March 11 UPDATE: You read it here first -- This morning Dowd did file a complaint.)
"The question of the legality of the permit cannot be resolved by the legislative branch, and it cannot be resolved by the executive branch. It can only be resolved by the judicial branch," Dowd said in a Mar. 8 interview with City Paper.
The sign, which is slated for a Greyhound station/parking garage on Grant Street, has been a subject of controversy for the past month. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration approved the sign without seeking formal approval by the city's zoning board, planning commission, or city council. That has led to calls that the approval violates city law.
Any lawsuit would almost certainly be filed within the next couple days, Dowd said. Dowd warned that there is a 30-day clock for appealing zoning decisions made by the city. Since Dowd, like other members of council and the rest of the city, learned of the sign in the middle of February, time is growing short.
The city solicitor, George Specter, has promised to furnish a legal opinion about the sign, but Dowd says the clock is ticking: "It will absolutely not happen that George Specter and the city will run out the clock on this. It will be engaged in this third [judicial] branch."
Asked whether Dowd himself would file suit, Dowd said, "I won't comment on that at this point."
During the City Paper interview, Dowd also took issue with critics who felt he has been too slow to criticize the administration. "Just becuase I haven't come out and stood in front of a camera and said,'I, Patrick Dowd, bash the administration in the following ways,' that doesn't mean I don't have my own little projects at work."
As an example, he cited a "deep, deep, deep concern for the way the URA is being operated at this point." Dowd says that he has requested budgets for each of the city's authorities, and that the Urban Redevelopment Authority has not handed one over "in part becuase they were considering significant organizational changes to fulfill the vision of [Executive Director] Pat Ford for the URA." Dowd promised to raise questions about URA governance at every opportunity.
Dowd also said he opposes removing the city from Act 47 financial oversight, something the administration is seeking to do. And he said that some of his critics -- who have faulted him for not being more critical of the administration alongside councilor Bill Peduto and others -- should show a little patience.
"I've been there for less than 8 weeks now," Dowd said. "Give me some time. I'm sure there will be other opportunities for me to be critical, and for people to be critical to me."
Video of Dowd's interview with City Paper will be posted as soon as we figure out how to work the editing software ... hopefully sometime in the middle of the week.