Tuesday, December 26, 2006

On the Seventh Day of Christmas the City GOP gave to me...

Having finally recovered from my three day nog-bender, I was intrigued at this story about a proposed reduction in Pittsburgh City Council backed by the Pittsburgh Republican Party (Official Cure Song: Maybe Someday). From the P-G Article:

The Pittsburgh Republican Committee today announced plans for a month-long petition drive to reduce the size of City Council from nine to seven members -- including two to be elected at large, a move that could open the door to the first GOP seat on council since the 1930s.

"Over the years the population of the city has decreased but not the numbers of our elected officials," explained an announcement by the group.

City Republican Chairman Robert Hillen today described the drive as non-partisan and said he hoped to gather 12,000 signatures to put the question on the ballot in next year's elections.
Now, I'm of course of mixed minds on this: my innate distrust of politicians versus my innate distrust of the GOP. But here are some thoughts:

First, Council President Jim Motznick Doug Shields notes later in the article If it's a cost-reduction matter, I don't know that it makes sense. We're less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the budget." If the GOP is looking to save money, you would think there would be more effective places to do so.

Second, even if you were going to see some up front savings in salary reducing from 9 members (plus staff) to 7 members (plus staff), you're going to have to cover the increase in workload somehow. You'd probably have to hire extra staff anyway... unless you believe in Dilbert Logic where work that can be done by two can be done by one at half the cost. So if you're not a sociopathic lunatic, you'll realize that the cost saving thing will probably be, at best, a wash.

Thirdly, and this is tangentially related that point #2: something tells me that the "floating" council persons would be less effective for constituent services than the district council persons. Something tells me it will be hard for a floater from Regent Square to give a rats ass about what's going on in, say, Windgap or St. Clair Village.

Fourth, there is a good chance that certain districts will be over represented. It is certainly more likely that the East End will have the lion's share of Council Persons as residents with an at-large scheme. Or, alternatively, you could have a very small, non-geographic ideological core group of people with a pocket Council Person. In either case I can see an inequitable amount political capital allocated to a smaller constituency.

Fifth, there is a good chance that certain districts will be under represented under this scheme. Right now, 2 of 9 districts represent primarily African-American constituents. Is there a chance that 2 of 5 districts will represent primarily African-American constituents, or will they be squeezed out into primarily white districts? Remember back in the day when the City had no minority representation?

Sixth, and finally, setting all this aside, it is pretty obvious that the scheme is merely a way for the City GOP to get a seat on Council. If you look at the proposal carefully, it would be set up like County Council, where the at-large seats are split between two parties. As the Constitution and Green Parties have yet to make significant headway in this area, that other at-large seat will probably go to the GOP. Again, a very minor percentage of the elctorate will be over represented in council.

Call me cynical, but that's just a cynical ploy to lower the GOP loss percentage in the City.

Back to the nog.

No comments: