Sunday, February 10, 2008

Opinion 250 ... and 1 (1 more opinon, that is, not 251 years)

I gotta hope that the Post Gazette is saving the better for later in its Opinion 250 series. Chad Hermann’s (bless him) piece in last Sunday’s Forum section was a fairly vague indictment of the current Mayor and Chief Executive (and UPMC). That’s something we bloggers have gotten used to doing, but I actually think we should really try to be as exact as possible (given our circumstances) if we want to complain, otherwise we risk sounding like cranks. Meanwhile, David Caliguiri today takes Chad to task in the next installment of the series, saying that Chad was guilty of just talking about the problem instead of doing anything about it (I guess Chad was supposed to lead charge against the barricades). But Caliguiri’s own prescriptions for action are extremely troubling. His suggestion for problems with our pension funds and Port Authority is to spend more money; for the pension funds to specifically go to Harrisburg and demand more money (for PAT he says we should “plan” how to fund additional projects). And Caliguiri thinks “Our outdated tax structure needs to be reformed”, a euphemism for reducing the taxes of the city and the region. So, let’s see, we are going to tell the legislature to give us money for our pension funds, probably tell them they have to pay for an Oakland connector for the trolley, er, subway and then tell them to reduce our taxes.

Now, I understand there is a state component to pension funds, and you would think it would have special obligations to an officially designated “distressed” city. But we need to live in a real world. We have the largest per capita state legislature in the country, which means that each legislator is has to be careful because even a small group of disgruntled voters could have an impact. Yet we have few legislators in the city proper; people like Jim Ferlo and Lisa Bennington have districts that stretch far into rural areas (Ferlo’s district makes it to Armstrong County). Harrisburg is unlikely to listen to Pittsburgh if we bluster about how they have to give us more money and take less from us. That’s why it was so important to elect Mark DeSantis Mayor. If Pittsburgh were seen as trying to reform itself first, it would have carried more weight when we started making demands. Instead, we still have a Mayor who has ordered his department managers not to talk to Council or the media unless they have permission from Yarone Zober.

Both Hermann and Caliguiri think actions speak louder than words, and I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, I have little more than words to offer. The people who have the ability to take action, our elected officials, are fairly content to just talk about problems and spend money we don’t have. Meanwhile, the best I can do is look at our problems and try to find the inconsistencies in what our leaders have said.


Mark Rauterkus said...

David C did something about things -- he jumped on the slots parlor bandwagon when he could.

David C also did what he could to end the great race when Tom Murphy wanted to pitch a fit and make a crisis.

David C also did a great deal of campaign work against Bob O'Connor to insure Tom Murphy's third term -- in a squeaker.

David C needs to keep his paycheck in the private sector, IMNSHO.

EdHeath said...

Well, I don't know a whole lot about Caliguiri. I am aware of him, but I hadn't searched through the PG or Trib to see if he had done anything of note. Nor am I particularly connected to The Party. I was taking his piece in isolation, forgetting that everything in Pittsburgh has a context and a history.

I think the point of Caliguiri's piece is that he really doesn't want to keep his paycheck in the private sector.