So the amended amended Act 47 plan was passed, and your council-person hopes you noticed how she/he voted. In the end, I am reconciled, perhaps even satisfied with the way the vote went.
Someone, I think Bill Peduto, likened Act 47 status to a life preserver. I think that is an apt analogy, especially when coupled with Doug Shield’s observation that Pittsburgh is in almost exactly the same situation it was five years ago. So by now we should have learned that we are not going to be allowed to sink into the sea of red ink (to stretch the life preserver analogy). But we can’t just bob in the water waiting for more rescue, we need to start kicking our legs towards some shore. Which is to say that we need some leadership, from a Mayor or one or more City Council-persons, or both. We need someone to look at how other cities have saved money and/or attracted new residents. We need some real creativity (not a Mayor who is planning out next Saturday night’s escapades, even if that is what 30 year olds do).
That said, as I said I am fine with the way the vote went down. I think it was important that the vote five years ago was unanimous. Pittsburgh needed to show gratitude to the State and enthusiasm for the plan. Of course, I gather the conventional history is that the Legislature let us down subsequently. So this time, when there was a vote, after the Act 47 team incorporated some, but not all of Council’s suggestions, and after local State Legislators expressed little enthusiasm for letting either non-profits or commuters shoulder some of Pittsburgh’s burden, it was maybe not so important that the vote be unanimous. After all, the State Legislature could have done more five years ago, and the Act 47 team could have assumed a higher visibility over the last five years and urged the City and/or made suggestions to increase revenues and cut costs. So I think it appropriate that both Shields and Dowd sent a signal that we know the State has not done all it could have. I hope (and do believe) that if either Shields or Dowd thought the vote was going to fail, they would have reversed themselves. I think Shields, Dowd and Peduto positioned themselves exactly where they wanted to be for their political careers and respective future plans. I am thinking now, for example, that Bill Peduto might be eyeing a State Legislative position, or at least the Presidency of Council.
In any event, now we need to (if you will excuse the phrase) move forward, we need to proceed now with Act 47 not as the most we do for ourselves, but as the least of our efforts. We need to do more than we did before.