Friday, September 16, 2011

Sewer Issue Spill Over

As part of the furious political battle to determine who will be seen as the least-taxingest candidate since biblical times and in any universe, a side-issue has emerged which verges on something of urgency:

Democrat Rich Fitzgerald accused Republican D. Raja of doing a "bait and switch" as a Mt. Lebanon commissioner by promising to lower taxes while running for office and then, once elected, imposing a sewage tax on residents. (Trib, Tony LaRussa)

Or if you prefer:

Mr. Raja, [Fitzgerald] argued, has not owned up to a monthly sewer fee he approved in Mt. Lebanon last year. (The Republican says it was offset by a simultaneous drop in property taxes.) "What you get from me is you get the truth about what we're going to do," Mr. Fitzgerald said. "What you get from him is a bait and switch and he gives you half the story." (P-G, Timothy McNulty)

We hope Mr. Fitzgerald effectively communicates that his beef is with hypocrisy, not with the wisdom of upgrading sewers and establishing drainage protocols. The creation of a regional "storm water management district" is something that public officials have been discussing for at least a year, and has recently been lent new urgency for obvious reasons. Water flow is something that cannot possibly be managed effectively on a municipality-by-municipality basis or a Good Samaritan volunteer-basis. Many consider such regional management to be desperately necessary and a timely challenge in a region with three rivers, 8,792 streams, mountainous topography and burgeoning new concrete and asphalt developments all over the place.

The very fact that our probable next head of Allegheny County is loudly trumpeting that sewer fees should really be regarded as just another tax, is something that is politically unlucky. We should all hope Fitzgerald and his campaign staff aren't accidentally painting the man into a corner from which he will later need to maintain that sewer investments and drainage regulations are outrages in and of themselves.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Water Bombshell: RDM Slams PWSA *

And then. Get a load of this performance review of the municipal water authority, which apparently was just released:

Problems at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority run the gamut from excess turnover among top managers and over-reliance on outside contractors at much greater cost, to inadequate attention to cleaning and maintaining the system and a lack of accountability at all levels, according to the authority's most recent performance review. (P-G, Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, AKA ShaarDog.)

It's a very fortunate thing that Amy doesn't read blogs or anything of that sort. Things could have gotten seriously out of hand.

*-UPDATE: Apparently this review has only recently been re-released after a very exclusive opening run. Search therein for the term "83-page report". Who is revealing this 2009 report with such guarded discretion and at such portentous junctures?