Toughness and savvy under pressure. Community involvement. Sound transportation priorities. Efficiency and collaboration. Independence.
From recent WTAE television and KDKA radio mayoral debates, five exchanges stand out confirming everything we've begun to demonstrate about what to expect under four more years of Wagnerstahl-style machine governance, and how the future with a newer, broader coalition is a lot brighter and open to possibilities.
Bear with me because the full debates aren't online (yet), but if anyone disputes my account let's have at it.
1. Jack Wagner, when required to compliment Bill Peduto, allowed that the latter is "very creative" and that he liked "the financial piece."
I am not sure to what "financial piece" Wagner is referring, but if it was the "midnight" pension solution to the state takeover threat of 2010, that was a generous compliment indeed. Talk about a Mayor being stubborn, sweating out Councilors with deadline pressure, and being unwilling to participate or communicate. Talk about other Council members covering for the Mayor, and assailing Bill Peduto for all manner of supposed treasons. Talk about working with his colleagues and being a part of bringing all his fellow Councilors together in the end. Talk about the ability to negotiate with the state through the crucial last minute and beyond, as Finance Chair. And talk about protecting public assets, keeping taxes down and employees on the job delivering services.
Meanwhile, Burgess, Lavelle and Smith -- Wagner and Ravenstahl allies, all -- were urging us to cave in to the mayor's parking privatization strategy, likely to have burdened us with problems.
The entire episode encapsulates Peduto's own argument for himself.
2. Bill Peduto spoke out about community benefits agreements, and Jack Wagner said, "That's exactly what we did with the TIF at PNC."
|Andy Starnes, P-G|
The mere idea of the conversations Pittsburgh has been having about reforming and improving development policy seems like something Wagner might need to catch up on. He doesn't need to love community benefits agreements like the progressive left, but he will need to have the vocabulary and a respect for the concept.
3. Jack Wagner said that traffic and delays at the Squirrel Hill tunnel is "something that's holding back the region," and that he would like to pursue avenues to "do something about that."
Hmm. Lots of transportation needs. I hate rush-hour traffic as well, and when combined with a tunnel, throw in some construction... buddy, you might as well be driving in a major city.
Might it be the Mon-Fayette Expressway? Read all about it. Interestingly it provides a link to James Dodaro, not to mention by inference the heavy building trades.
Pittsburgh faces major decisions on how to spend its precious federal and state transportation money. I feel about the MFX roughly the same way I feel on high-speed Maglev and the way Indiana Jones feels regarding a lot of ancient idols: "It belongs in a museum!"
4. Peduto wants to work with the County to consolidate the RAD parks and maybe even "merge" the parks system. Wagner came out totally against that, suggesting it's a giveaway to the County (and to Fitzgerald!) to let somebody else get their hands on (spending) those sweet, sweet RAD dollars.
The idea that joint management over top of joint purchasing and joint service provisions could save us significantly, and even enhance service, hasn't seemed to register with Jack Wagner. Mine! Ours! Our money to play with! To each our own!
5. Wagner disagreed with Peduto on the need to conduct a national search for a new Police Chief, calling it specifically a "waste of time" and a "distraction."
The idea of casting a very wide net for such an important position and looking for a special kind of person, who has succeeded in really tackling non-unique challenges relating to both professional management and community policing, sounds a lot more comforting.
In these debates, Peduto is demonstrating that though alas, he may not be our savior -- he could micromanage the many policy initiatives he feels so passionately about, or he could occasionally feud with any Mayor's inevitable rivals, missing out on optimal collaboration -- he would be a lot more independent, collaborative, cutting-edge and grassroots-oriented than what Pittsburgh's been getting.
And Wagner might as well be wearing a sash that reads, "What we've been getting."