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For Allegheny County chief executive: No sane option

"There's small choice in rotten apples," William Shakespeare wrote. But there's "no choice among stinking fish," English essayist Thomas Fuller reminded.

Welcome to the 2011 race for Allegheny County chief executive.

Rich Fitzgerald, the Democrat nominee, is a caricature of the worst 19th-century pol -- swaggering, arrogant and ignorant. Think of his baseless smearing of a Rankin steel company as a "sweatshop." Think of his outrageous "pay-to-play" e-mail to the Marcellus shale industry. Think of his vow to preserve an unconstitutional property-tax system that, in typical "progressive" fashion, shafts the very people he claims he wants to help.

D. Raja, the Republican nominee, is a caricature of the "polibuff" -- a political buffoon. Lots of plans, not a whole lot of specifics. Lofty if not admirable goals, largely beef-bereft. Worse is that Mr. Raja, too, advocates a moratorium on the long delayed but now underway property reassessment -- despite the unconstitutionality of the existing property-tax system and repeated court orders to fix it. As a businessman, Raja should know better. An illegal property-tax system is no harbinger of economic growth.

"Reason and judgment are the qualities of a leader," wrote Tacitus, the Roman historian. With each candidate possessing little of either -- and of what they do possess, it being flawed and poor -- there is no sane option in Tuesday's election. Here's to firmer apples and fresher fish in 2015.

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