Here it is, late summer, and there are so many weighty issues being addressed right now!
Drilling regs, policing plans and oversight, the capital budget, Hill planning and a courageous and possibly unholy concession to actual real communism, electronic billboards, storm water management -- there's even public transit, though that seems comically out of our hands. If we include genuinely contested gubernatorial and U.S. senatorial races, it's enough to keep anyone overloaded and distracted.
Yet one thing persistently excites our imaginations beyond all else: THE PENSIONS CRISIS AND THE PARKING LEASE.
And one thing, it suddenly springs to mind, lurks squarely in that thing's shadow: Council members Burgess, Dowd, Harris, Kraus and Shields are up for reelection in May of 2011 -- that is, right around the corner from the fallout of this vote. And I guess Lamb also.
(Tangent: potential serious challengers would have to be getting their ducks in a row right about now. Know any?)
What does this mean in terms of the parking issue? It means that if there is an argument to be made that Pittsburgh ought to allow its public pensions to be taken over by the state, you won't hear it out of Burgess, Dowd, Harris, Kraus or Shields, or possibly even from Lamb.
I think that means you can scratch it off the list entirely.
That leaves two real options: either do the deed, or borrow the $200 million plus at interest over 20 years, and raise the parking rates (or like, taxes) considerably anyway.
The Reelectables probably aren't salivating to defend a vote to lease away parking spaces and appear responsible for rate hikes -- but are they any more more excited about defending a vote that still results in a rate hike of some kind, and in new debt, and therefore a decreased ability to raise money for capital needs and withering infrastructure?
And so, the Comet has the deal's odds at 80%...
... and odds for those individuals of reelection dependent upon A) whether they voted to support it and fail to make it appear as a sufficiently inevitable and responsible "tough choice" or B) whether they voted against it and cannot fend off attacks fueled by wounded-feeling city workers, some discouraged corporate-types, and a wrathful Mayor.