Sunday, January 25, 2009

Governor Dogmatic, Lacking in Self-Awareness

"The governor believes that investing in programs that attract more development is always wise,'' Mr. Ardo said. (P-G, Brian O'Neill)

Mmmm, yes. Always wise! Subsidizing programs ("investing" sort of implies that the public owns a stake) that attract more development is always wise!

Never mind that our two stadiums themselves are supposed to attract more development in that area -- or the casino, or the light rail extension. Never mind that if there were an open land auction tomorrow, entrepreneurs would in fact be banging down our civic door, likely outbidding our present business associates -- probably with more interesting ideas, and possibly with more to offer the neighborhood.

Are you familiar with the neighborhood, Mr. Rendell?

No no no -- this development, this third or fourth mid-size amphitheater arriving in Pittsburgh in the current cycle, this project that entails a land giveaway, the forfeiture of sorely needed future property taxes, and a hefty state subsidy in the middle of a recession is going to be the thing that attracts more development (can it be private sector development, already?), and it therefore falls into the category of stuff that is always wise.

What if the Steelers' agents were asking for $100 million? A trillion? Is there a limit to the fact that "investing" in "projects that attract more development" is "always wise"? And does that maxim and do those labels apply to absolutely anyone?

Likewise, Mr. Ardo defended Mr. Rendell's access to tickets from the Steelers.

"I think the public expects the governor of a state whose team is represented in the Super Bowl to attend. I believe that it would be petty to argue that he doesn't deserve to go," he said. (P-G, Mark Belko)

I'm trying really hard not to make a fuss about this 2008-2009 Steelers season. New ethics guidelines are being developed, and for that we should be very appreciative. If the new rules turn out right then our public servants will have richly deserved any good times they have had or will have this weekend.

However, somebody just informed us that Pennsylvania is one of only about five states left in the union that does not limit political contributions.

So Mr. Governor -- are you implying that six years worth of football tickets and entertainments, and six years worth of campaign contributions not only to yourself personally, but to whatever PACs, causes and candidates you support, does not have any impact on your idea of who deserves "investments", despite all common sense to the contrary?

You honestly don't think it's fair to surmise that your relationship to the coolest team in football helped to generate that great gubernatorial weighing-in (and everything that may come with it) on a local issue? Most of us haven't heard from you since -- why, since you helped strike that deal with the Penguins. Thank you so much, by the way!

So don't condescend to us. Acknowledge that there are some legitimate issues, give a nod to the unmistakable influence of money and in-kind gratuities in politics and demand campaign finance reform in Pennsylvania already.

Or don't, and we'll know what we're dealing with.


  1. ANY development in this corridor that involves public or private monies needs to involve the neighborhood.

    Northside United - Pittsburgh United are both a diverse collective group that includes community and religous leaders as well as labor.

    There needs to be a community benefits agreement in place to make sure the commuity profits from these development projects!!

    Fast Eddy could CARE LESS about the neigborhoods!!!!

  2. Good blog, Bram, and kudos HUD.

    I am trying to write a similiar blog. Maybe I will get to it . . . seems Rendell isn't on either of our top friends list this week.

  3. There is an abundance of what I call, "corporate welfare" politicians -- from both of the old parties, the Dems and Rs. Those two parties are guilty in many ways.

  4. Rich Lord raised the red flag about Steelers tickets two or three years ago, noting that Ravenstahl would not disclose the value of Steelers’ and other sporting event tickets he received. Personally, I don’t care about the four million for the amphitheatre, except that it is a specific issue in relation to a general problem. Apparently the Ethics Board and Council are not going to deal with this in ethics reform, and good thing, too. We will be spared Ravenstahl whining that it is nobodies’ business who gives him money or how much they give him and vetoing an ethics bill (after he vetoed a campaign finance bill).

  5. It's unfortunate this is considered economic development. They couldn't receive grants or low interest loans from government programs which promote the arts or social services?

    All three are often solicited by dubious ventures.

  6. Fast Eddy's cut outta that same dyed-in-the-wool cloth as Blogojovich (or at least Patty's pop)! The dif? He has a smarter wife and knows when to spit and when to swallow. Crooked, none the less.