Framing the Dialogue

News Briefs Volume XII – Burgh Style

News briefs are a collection of interesting news stories…

This version is a glimpse into Pittsburgh politics dominated for decades by Democrats. 

Brief 1:  The Port Authority of Allegheny County (home of Pittsburgh) is the government agency tasked with running a transit system.  As you might expect the agency poorly run and constantly running in the red.  Facing another budget deficit the Authority has not threatened to streamline, become efficient, or even look to reduce labor costs their typical threat is to cut service.  That seems to make sense except that this threat is not meant as a way to cut costs, but to enrage the local citizens to pressure politicians for more money.  This tactic only works every time and lame duck Governor Ed Rendell has stepped and has threatened to”flex”[steal would be my term] federal highway money to save mass transit unless lawmakers raise taxes.  Governor Rendell never met a tax he didn’t like.

Brief 2:  The City of Pittsburgh (home of Pittsburgh) is tasked with running all sorts of things.  As you might expect the City is poorly run and constantly running in the red.  Facing another budget deficit and a very large bill to cover benefits the City has not threatened to streamline, become efficient, or even look to reduce labor costs the mayor of the Burgh has been spending most of his time trying to raise taxes.  Since he and his Democrat predecessors have pretty much bled city residents dry his target is the poor souls who work in the city, but live out side.  Mayor Luke Revenstahl is working to get the Pennsylvania legislature to give him the authority to levy a “local service tax.”  This is a fancy name for authority to take income tax money from workers who do not live in the city.  Some might call this taxation without representation…I do.

Brief 3:  The City of Pittsburgh (home of Pittsburgh) is tasked…I’ll skip the redundancy except for the taxes since in Democrat-controlled Pittsburgh it’s all about taxes.  Taking a clue from New York City, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and some of his cronies are considering a tax on sugar.  I am kidding of course since they are only proposing a tax on sugar drinks.  Cigarettes are generally the focus of “sin” taxes and his buddy gubernatorial candidate Dan Onorato expanded that with a ten percent tax several years ago on “poured” alcoholic drinks.  It is so nice of these folks to try to get you to cut back on your bad habits.  What happens to their tax money if they are successful and you stop smoking and drinking?  Most likely folks will just buy their stuff outside the city.

Brief 4:  See above introduction…Mayor Luke has also proposed a tax on tuition.  If you happen to attend one of Pittsburgh’s many universities, colleges, or other post high school training academies Luke wants to charge a one percent tax on the amount of tuition that you pay.  This is perhaps worse than the income tax in Brief 2 as many of these student are not even from Pennsylvania and quite of few are not from the United States.  Once again Luke is in favor of taxation without representation.

Brief 5:  Enough about taxes already sort of.  Since the cost of operating a business in Pittsburgh is so high many owners decide to depart the boundaries for greener pastures.  The brewers of Pittsburgh’s Iron City Beer packed up their bags and auctioned their equipment.  Logically the new owners of the equipment wanted the equipment except that the equipment was too large to remove via doorways so workers made a hole.  All hell broke loose because parts of the factory are slated for historic designation.  Pittsburgh media ran the story for days probably in their excitement to have a story about holes that were not of the pothole variety.

Brief 6:  No taxes here either, but a major roadblock for small businesses.  Pittsburgh’s City Council is proposing tough environmental standards for construction projects within city limits.  The proposal is to apply to projects that receive public funding, but one of council members let the cat out of the bag with his admission that he’d like the standards to apply to all projects.  The standards are for tighter controls of construction water are hard to argue against.  Their other proposal seems a little harder to swallow as they will only allow diesel construction equipment that have been retrofitted to reduce emissions.  This also sounds good until you consider that the City probably owns thousands of diesel powered engines (from garbage truck, to school buses, to generators) that would not meet these standards.  Do as I say, not as I do.

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