Friday, April 13, 2012

WATER: Old Hand is the Front-Runner [UPDATES x2]

As we know there is a metric googleton of work to be done (and money to be made) on our city's water infrastructure, and we have been pondering who is going to #ahem# guide us through the thicket.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority board tentatively is scheduled to vote Friday on a contract with MS Consultants, an engineering, architectural and planning firm that has worked for various local governments and last year was criticized for a project in Montour School District. (P-G, Joe Smydo)

Of which we recall:

That Ohio-based engineering firm last year billed $64,434 for survey work on West Mifflin Area schools improvement projects, as a subcontractor to the architect. MS Consultants also has done surveying work on the strip club project, according to a letter on file with the city of Pittsburgh. A political action committee funded by that firm's executives gave Mr. Corbett's campaign $1,000 on May 3. (P-G, Lord and Neiderberger)

Upon having read that proper noun, our very first neural synapse shrieked, "Please let those folks not appear in that Risha article, please let those folks not appear in that Risha article." Because nothing which appeared in those articles was by happenstance. But blammo, it appeared in that above Patrick A. Risha "Man with Connections" article which was published a month before its chief subject passed away.

To be clear. The fear here was not that anybody was desperate to enrich their friends with a paltry low-six-figure contract. That would seem far too much trouble for such a slim a reward. The fear was that an adviser was sought out who might sympathize with the sensitivity of how business had been long conducted in water matters around here, who was cognizant where previous bodies had been buried, and who would not upset any stable political apple carts.

The contract was not advertised widely in the Economist and other international media as we had been hoping for such a project. It was advertised primarily on the right-hand side of the PWSA web page. And whose firm is "in the lead"?

The PG broke little new ground, I just wish it could have concentrated a little more on the puppetmaster to this whole joke, NED MERVOS. (Topix forum, No Comment)

What does that mean? Who knows? Who can riddle such things out? Do I know from Ned Mervos? Do I have any idea what I'm writing about when I write of "sensitivity" and "bodies" and "apple carts"? Of course not, I just have a nose, not much of a brain. In the current political climate, every indices suggests that the beat will go on, uninterrupted.

I'm just wondering how Joe Smydo discovered MS Consultants is the "front-runner". And what this will mean in terms of strategies for the real work which will be done in the not-too-distant future. There is a lot of work to be done, and several ways we might go about it. Gates versus wetlands and what not.

UPDATE: Contract approved. Patrick Dowd and Michael Lamb no likey -- supposedly on grounds that the water authority board simply saluted an order from Mayor Ravenstahl's office. Which is a bit strange, because we KNOW authority and commission boards act as mayoral rubber stamps when the Mayor has something that needs stamped; we have known that since the Stadium Authority fracases and the Parking Authority fracases and Urban Redevelopment Authority fracases and Planning Commission and Zoning Board fracases since time immemorial. If function follows form, this is arguably just our legitimate function of government.

Also odd because, at least in print and so far, the critics did not specify objections to the substance of the contract. It is almost as though they just desired today to italicize that this is the Luke's contract. Is this the start of some slow-rolls?

UPDATE, THE DEUX: Yes, there is more to it. Encouragingly, there were other experts on board included as subcontractors. Yet the subcontractors backed out, leading Dowd to argue the remainder is "no longer qualified". Authority chairman Deasy to respond in a week.

ALSO HAVING TO DO WITH WATER: Lawsuit incoming for storm water control laws allegedly being flouted at the Allegheny Riverfront development (P-G, Joe Smydo)