The CGO 2001 Conference

The 21st North American Conference of the Council of Georgist Organizations

Pittsburgh Airport Holiday Inn, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

August 29 through September 2, 2001

Labor and Land: America's Lost Legacy

Pittsburgh's massive surge of construction in the 1980s, known as "Renaissance II," followed sharp increases in its land value tax in 1979, 1980 and 1982. The city's long tradition of taxing land values dates from the birth of the American labor movement, and is one reason Pittsburgh has enjoyed a high ratio of wages to rents. Fifteen other Pennsylvania cities have followed Pittsburgh's lead, and all have enjoyed similar construction surges. But this year, a county reassessment fiasco mis-valued land so badly that Pittsburgh's city council panicked and replaced land value tax with conventional property tax, at least for one year, and the city is suing the county and the assessment company for failing to comply with Pennsylvania assessment law. Three smaller cities in the same county defied the county, maintaining or even expanding their land value tax rates.

Will the anti-labor interests of land speculators win the day in Pittsburgh, destroying the most progressive property tax reform in the United States? This conference explores the vital connection between land and labor.

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Tentative Conference Schedule (as of June 12, 2001)

Wednesday, August 29: Pre-conference Meetings & Registration

  Registration and reception: Meet new people and reminisce with old friends.

Thursday, August 30: Georgist Organizing

  How We Lost Pittsburgh: A terrible reassessment, election-year grandstanding, a media blitz and our failure to have an organized constituency in place cost us the flagship city for land value tax in the US, at least for this year. Smaller cities kept LVT, and Clairton expanded it. Josh Vincent and various city officials.

  Introduction to Organizing, Part 1: It's a very different activity from advocacy or education. Dan Sullivan and other experienced Pittsburgh organizers, on picking issues, power lobbying, political research vs. economic research, and more.

  Luncheon: Toastmasters’ Table Topics We’ll hold forth for two minutes on topics pulled from a hat.

  Organizing, Part 2: Working with Organizations: churches, labor, business associations, the media, etc. Integrating our message with various agendas to create coalitions and get things done — led by Walt Rybeck.

  Georgist Education: Making the Timeless Timely. Panel on meeting the urgent need for movement-building via education. Lindy Davies, Mike Curtis and Chuck Metalitz on today’s strategies and techniques.

  Pool & Pizza Party (Dinner on your own)

Friday, August 31: Land Valuation and Planning

  First Panel: Assessing Land

    1. Sabre-tage: Sabre Systems’ misassessment of land values. Kevin Forsythe, city controller’s office.

    2. Sabre’s conceptual mistakes Misinterpretation of zoning variances, presumptions about buildable lots, etc. Dan Sullivan

    3. Assessing Urban Land Uniformly: Ted Gwartney, chief assessor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and former chief assessor of British Columbia, Canada

  Second Panel: Is Zoning Necessary?

Joseph Sabino Mistick, head of Pittsburgh’s zoning board under Mayor Caliguiri and executive secretary to Mayor Masloff, shows how nuisance laws and other measures have made zoning unnecessary, and argues that zoning often does more harm than good.

  Luncheon Keynote Address Pennsylvania State Representative William Russell Robinson Special invitations to public officials who ever voted for LVT in Western PA.

  CGO Member Reports Find out what your Georgist organizations have been up to all year.

  Evening Reception & Sing-along: This land really is your land. (Dinner on your own.)

Saturday, September 1: Land and Labor

  The Libertarian Blind Spot: What libertarians must accept to be acceptable to working people and consistent with their own principles. Harold Kyriazi, author of Libertarian Party at Sea on Land.

Land and Poverty in Africa: Kidane Hiwot, director of the Henry George Foundation of Ethiopia, Heather Remoff and Lindy Davies.

Land on the Air: Chuck Metalitz on the scramble to monopolize cell-phone airwaves, and a representative from the lawsuit to stop the illegal sale of public television station WQEX to private concerns for big bucks.

  Luncheon: The Birth of American Labor Al Katzenberger, Treasurer of the St. Louis Teacher's Union, on Labor's Georgist roots, the rivalry with socialism, and how George lost labor's support over the tariff issue.

  Raising Wages Point/Counterpoint on the issue of mandating a "living wage" — and the root cause of low wages.

The Economics of Dumping and Plant Shutdowns: The impact of real estate taxes, both on foreign trade policy and on the incentive to keep local factories running, featuring former Mayor Anthony Spossi of Washington, PA.

  Reception and Annual Gala Banquet (Speakers to be announced)

Sunday, September 2: Wrapping Up

  Open Mike: The meek shall inherit the podium: Don Hurford moderates.

  Annual Friendship Brunch with Conviviality and Jocularity

  CGO Annual Business Meeting for Members and Affiliates of the Council of Georgist Organizations

  Optional Bus Tour Pittsburgh and the Heinz History Museum: This excellent museum is dedicated exclusively to the history of Pittsburgh, from frontier town to industrial giant to modern high-tech city. Advance registration guarantees a seat. Of course, Pittsburgh’s land tax legacy will be woven into the tour. Includes a majestic view of the city from Mount Washington.

  Evening Reception and Parade Briefing: Those who are not going to the Labor Day Parade on Monday can offer encouragement to those who are.

Monday, September 3: Parade & Closing

  Labor Day Parade: Pittsburgh has one of the biggest Labor Day Parades in the country. We will put the Georgist message into the hands of tens of thousands of labor leaders, members, and sympathizers. Those who are not inclined to leaflet can sit back and enjoy the parade.
  Lunch & Goodbyes: Bus returns to the hotel and the airport. Schedule is subject to change without notice.

General Information

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Administrators — Scott W. Walton & Associates, Ltd. (Sue & Scott Walton) (847) 475-0391 or toll-free (888) 262-9015; fax: (209) 396-9072 or by e-mail:

Hotel — Holiday Inn Pittsburgh Airport is located at 1406 Beers School Road in Coraopolis. It is a 25 minute drive from downtown Pittsburgh. Parking is free for conference attendees. Amenities include an indoor pool, voice mail, hair dryers, health club, self-serve laundry, and in-room ironing. Shuttle service to nearby malls and restaurants is also provided.

Airport Transportation — The hotel provides free shuttle service, which runs every hour on the half hour.

Rooms — Sleeping rooms are $79.95 single/quad +tax. To get this rate you must reserve your room by August 10th, by calling (412) 262- 3600 or (800) 333-4835. Please mention that you are attending the Georgist Conference when reserving your room. Room rates cannnot be changed later for guests who forgot to mention the Georgist Conference when they made reservations. (Please note that our special conference rate is not available at 1-800-Holiday.)

Room Sharing — If you would like to share a room, please contact the administrators listed above.

Meals — There are many restaurants nearby. There will be a catered lunch each day and a reception every evening. Saturday evening will feature our annual gala banquet. All conference-package meals will have vegetarian and fruit selections.

Special Needs — Notify the administrators as soon as you can if you have any special needs — see contact information above.

Exhibits/Packet Inserts — A limited number of tables will be available for exhibits. Tables are 6 feet long by 30 inches wide. The cost will be $50 per full table; $35 per half table. Tables may be shared. The exhibit room will be open during all conference sessions. The cost to insert materials in registration packets will be $25 per insert. If you wish to be an exhibitor or to do an insert, please contact the administrators by August 10, 2001.

Registration Policy — Prices quoted on the registration form will increase 10% after August 10th. A 20% administrative fee will be charged if you cancel before August 10th — after that date the fee will be 50% (Excepting documented medical emergencies).

Special Airfare — US Airways has the deal for us this year: a 5% to 10% discount, depending on your circumstances. Discounts will be valid August 26-September 6, 2001. To obtain these discounts you (or your travel agent) must call, toll free, at (877) 874-7687 between 8 am 9:30 pm eastern time. Please refer to Gold File # 41642023.

Can't make this conference? Then mark your calendar for our next one: August 20-26th, 2002 in London, Ontario, Canada

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