I RESPECT the right of the Daily News editorial board to question or criticize my office's reports and audits, but the attack on our evaluation of the city's new Actual Value Initiative (AVI) property-tax system went beyond normal criticism in questioning my motives for issuing the report.
Considering that nearly 20 percent of General Fund revenue comes from property taxes, and that AVI represents a major revision of our property-tax system, I believe that my office has a responsibility to the citizens of Philadelphia to evaluate whether the new assessments are accurate and whether the new system is fair.
We hired an eminent economist and expert in the field of property assessment, Dr. Robert Strauss, of Carnegie Mellon University, to conduct an independent analysis of the assessment data produced by the Office of Property Assessment. He had no vested interest in the outcome. He used all publicly available data to conduct a series of studies. He concluded that as flawed as the current assessment system is, its numbers are more accurate than the values reached under AVI.
The report provides an explanation for the unfortunate results: highly inadequate property information. Very substantial numbers of Philadelphia's property records are missing basic data - like number of bathrooms, bedrooms, workmanship, or presence or absence of air conditioning. With inadequate data being fed into even the best model, the result is going to be highly non-uniform. And that is exactly what Professor Strauss found.
Mass appraisal requires a substantial investment of time and money. I urge Philadelphians - as well as the Daily News editorial board - to visit the websites of other municipalities, such as Orange County, Fla., which provide an immense amount of data on every property, including photos.
Without the confidence that the OPA performed due diligence in collecting the required data, Philadelphians are completely justified in questioning the accuracy of the new assessments.
Admittedly, the results of this report place City Council and the mayor in the position of having to make difficult choices. But to forge ahead with a system built on bad data would be unwise and unfair to residents who were promised property values that are fair and accurate.
Gosnell in Wisconsin
To Signe Wilkinson: Your cartoon regarding Dr. Mengele's . . . excuse me, Dr. Kermit Gosnell's "Little Auschwitz" in Philadelphia was reprinted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It is only in the last few weeks that that example of genocide has been reported in the "lame street media" - much of which still ignores or minimizes that story. The last, and less graphic, consideration of this issue was after the execution of Dr. George ("The Baby Killer") Tiller.
It may be that the noted lack of "coverage" yielded a blackout on the approval of Pennsylvania's much-delayed action against Dr. Gosnell. However, I did not see any reports of support for that action from NOW or like organizations or like-minded supporters of "choice." Therefore, I do wonder at how realistic was your inclusion of a "pro-choice" person in your cartoon.
Since most of the victims of that monster were black, you might have illustrated your figures as such.
Perhaps, you might have replaced that fictional person with a baby bleeding from that wound inflicted by the post-birth cutting of the spinal column.
West Allis, Wis.
Amazing - the only mention of the Benghazi hearings is on page 22 of last Thursday's paper. It is a short blip credited to "Daily News wire services" stating "no major revelations."
Did your reporters even listen to the hearing? Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated under oath that she did not know the facts of the attack, and stated it was the result of "a couple of guys out for a walk and decided to kill a couple of Americans" because of a video no one has yet to see. Mrs. Clinton had a phone conversation at 2 a.m. Libya time during the time of the attack with the ranking American official in Libya.
How about some nonpartisan investigation like: Where was the president during the attack and from the time he left the first meeting and when he left to go to Las Vegas for a campaign event? We knew every second of what President Bush did from the beginning of the 9/11 attack.
Why, if everyone knew it was a terrorist attack from the beginning, was it blamed on a video?
Why did Susan Rice knowingly lie to the press on the Sunday after the attack?
How did the president know we couldn't respond with the military in time when the attack first started? Is he clairvoyant? Did the president give the "stand down" order? If not, who did and do they have the authority?
Why can't our military respond to a hotbed like the Middle East within nine hours?
It appears that the Daily News is either stupid, partisan, lazy or trying to manipulate the news rather than report the news. To place the only incomplete article after such important stories as Jodi Arias and a has-been, never-heard-of supermodel getting an award, is a joke or deliberate.