Saturday, January 27, 2007

Policy, Politics, and Pittsburgh

There's been a series of, let's say, events that have happened in the City of Pittsburgh recently that, while not connected, seem to outline some of the issues and themes for next few months, if not year.

First, Bill Peduto announced that he was running for mayor last week.* This was about as unexpected and telegraphed as the ending to Armageddon. Bob O'Connor wasn't even cold yet, and pretty much everyone within earshot of the clusterfuck that is Pittsburgh Politics could have told you that Bill was going to run. I'm actually surprised that there haven't been more candidates in this race. It's quiet... too quiet.

On a completely unrelated note, Ravenstahl and Onorato unveiled an agreement for City/Wounty Purchasing. As near as I can figure, this is the same strategy I used in college with my roomates. Although, when I did it, I called it "Dude, while you're up, can you snag me a beer and some chips?"

I can only hope that the Onorato/Ravenstahl relationship doesn't devolve the way that mine and my roomate did, with Ravenstahl cowering under Onorato's desk firing staples at him.

Setting my personal demons aside, the Ravenstahl/Onorato announcement completely pre-empted and overshadowed a demand by Peduto for a timetable on completing a merger. Now, I'm not saying that Ravenstahl is trying to co-opt Peduto's issues (or vice versa), but everybody better check their offices for KGB** listening devices.

Of course, if you believe what you read in the Trib's "Whispers" column, you may think that we're at the beginning of a war between the Five Families. Onorato supporting Ravenstahl; Wagner backing Peduto; Lord knows who the Milliones are backing. If Don Barden doesn't look out, he's going to look like this:

Photo Courtesy of the Carbolic Smoke Ball

And on a final, completely and utterly unrelated note: Pittsburgh City Council is going up to Harrisburg to petition the State to allow for joint municipal pension and health insurance purchasing. The benefit to the City of Pittsburgh is obvious: this would bail the City out of worst part of their debt, allowing them to reduce cost, and hopefully pass this big burden on to someone else. Our debt would be reduced and our bond rating would go up, allowing us to, you know, pave roads and stuff.

I've never quite understood the logic behind the law prohibiting this kind of joint purchasing. Basic economics would seem to indicate that if you start purchasing in bulk, you'll save more on a per unit basis; that's what Sam's Club is all about, right? I mean, it's done for other non-profit organizations as a means to control costs, so you would think that, logically, it would be a boon to municipal corporations and something that every tiny town, borough, or city would be pushing.

But no, that's not exciting enough! We need an arena! Gah!

Hey, while you're up, can you grab me a beer and some staples?

*Check out the pics over at 2 Political Junkies. If you're bored, you can play a game with the pics I usually play at Sam's Club called "Spot the Minority."
**My older brother, the Kinda Good Bureaucrat, he works for the NSA.

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